Freeport: City of Adventure
For all the people that live here, Freeport’s not a huge, sprawling metropolis. It’s a modest city huddling in all its ugliness at the southern end of the largest island of the Serpent’s Teeth. That the city grew haphazardly is not lost on those who venture here. In many ways, it looks like it was cobbled together from whatever materials washed up on shore, and yet, there are still fine places in the city. The walls of the Old City loom over everything, and one can’t ignore the beautiful estates of the Merchant District. That said, Freeport is not pristine with whitewashed buildings and perfectly symmetrical streets. The City of Adventure has grown without regard for planning—and it shows.
Freeport has a character of its own, but it’s one that reflects the nature of the people that live, work, and die here. It started as a small village but grew far faster than the founders ever expected. Therefore, much of the city has been added haphazardly, with new sections built to accommodate the influx of new settlers. As Freeport grew, neighborhoods formed, bound by common interests, wealth, and influence. In time, these clusters developed into the current districts.
Locals call the Docks the “door to Freeport” because it’s the easiest place to moor ships. From the pre-dawn light till after sundown, this is one of the busiest parts of the city. Half of the Docks are the wharves that stretch out into the harbor to accommodate the deeper water vessels. The wooden walks connect to a boardwalk that runs across the entire district, extending from the Warehouse District to Scurvytown. You can find just about anything you’ll ever need here, as clever merchants like to get the jump on their customers before letting them move deeper into the city. The rest of the district caters to Freeport’s particular breed of clientele: seamen. Pubs, taverns, flophouses, gambling houses, and bordellos offer countless diversions in which to sink a sailor’s pay. Crime is a constant problem, as brawls spill into the narrow streets, pick pockets and cutpurses worm through the crowds, and bravos and toughs lurk in the shadowy alleys waiting for the perfect mark to stroll by. Murders happen, not as often as some claim, but a body appears in the harbor often enough people think little of it.
Scurvytown squats to the east of the Docks. For years, this was easily the meanest part of town, being a large slum run by gangsters and crime lords, where even the Sea Lord’s Guard only ventured en masse. While Bloodsalt has eclipsed this district in terms of violent crime and lawlessness, Scurvytown is still a place best avoided. The relatively cleaner and safer streets of the Docks give way to a place crammed with old homes, decaying shops, and watering holes no one in their right mind would frequent. The people of Scurvytown are a hardened lot, accustomed to the harsh nature of the streets and criminal rule. They put little stock into Freeport’s elite, and they border on naked resentment when they encounter one of Freeport’s merchants or so-called nobles.
Those who have the means and ambition to rise above the slums of Scurvytown find a slightly better life in the Eastern District. The middle class citizens of the Eastern District don’t have it easy, though, since they are surrounded by five other districts—two of which are Bloodsalt and Scurvytown. The area borders as many districts as the Old City but does not have enormous walls to keep out unwanted elements. The Watch does have a presence in the Eastern District, but everyone knows the crime lord Finn really rules these streets.
People here try to scrape out an honest living far from the chaos of the waterfront districts, but doing so is not always easy in a city like Freeport. Drac’s End is so named because the original Drac had once envisioned carving much deeper into the surrounding jungle, but it was here his ex-pirate workers were stopped dead in their tracks—sometimes literally—by the creatures then inhabiting the jungle. Since Drac’s plans for expansion ended here, it acquired this somewhat ironic moniker.
Sailors have always been a superstitious lot, and since they founded this city, it’s not surprising Freeport has a thriving religious community. No matter the year or season, the people of Freeport have plenty of reasons to pray. Having recently survived a killer hurricane, a barbarian invasion, a great fire, and a mad Sea Lord, it has never been clearer to Freeporters their fates are in the gods’ hands. The city has no official religion, though the God of Pirates has far more worshippers here than in any other single place in the world. Other deities are well represented, too, corresponding with the great diversity of the city’s population.
In stark contrast to the poverty of Drac’s End stands the Merchant District. This is where the wealthiest people in Freeport live and sometimes even work. The shops here cater only to the highest class of customer, and the streets are lined with well-maintained stones and trimmed with handsome lights and well-kept greenery. Wave Avenue, the top address in town, runs right through the center of the district, like the spine that holds the city’s economy together. It’s said more deals are done on Wave Avenue than in the entirety of the Eastern District.
As the center of trade for the entire region, Freeport needs to have a place for the easy storage of goods of all kinds. Unlike the wharves down in the Docks or Scurvytown, the piers of the Warehouse District are all heavily guarded and in good shape. The business done here involves serious money, and the docking fees are commensurately higher to cover the cost of the increased security. That this area borders directly on the Merchant District is no coincidence. The powerful and wealthy prefer not to have to walk far to watch over their goods.
This is where it all began under the original Sea Lord Drac. The massive wall that surrounded the city in its earliest days still stands, though Freeport has long since sprawled far outside their confines. While the five gates that control traffic in and out of the Old City are still in working order—ready to be slammed shut and barricaded against riot or invasion—they’ve only been used once in recent memory, during the barbarian invasion. In places, the old brickwork in this district is falling down, but this is still the seat of rule in the city. The Courts are here, as well as the Sea Lord’s Palace.
Bloodsalt was an accident. Formed in the aftermath of the Great Green Fire and the Wizards’ Guild’s recruitment policy for hiring only nonhumans, this place began as an encampment and rapidly became a permanent addition to Freeport. Bloodsalt is more of a ghetto for orcs, goblins, and hobgoblins than a proper district. There’s little in the way of order, and violence rules the day. People are wise to avoid this place, for there’s no justice here.