Freeport: City of Adventure
“Jes look around ye and take in all the different people from all over da world. Ya might call it a meltin’ pot, but it’s more like a chamber pot if ye ask me.” ~ Rheumy Pete, Street Preacher
Freeport’s virtues and vices draw people from all over the world. It is the destination of the hopeful and the hopeless—a city bursting at its seams. So full are its districts, not even the best accounting by the Captains’ Council can adequately assess Freeport’s population.
The city swallows visitors, their faces adding to the throng that pulses through the streets like blood through the veins of some sleeping giant. They find life here is many things. It’s challenging, frustrating, and above all dangerous, but it’s never boring. There’s no such thing as a dull day in this city.
Freeport is a tolerant city and accepts just about anyone, partly because the earliest settlers came here to be free from the stifling governments of the Continent. Most Freeporters recognize the same spirit in any who would leave behind their homelands to start all over again.
Freeport is, in many respects, a human city. Humans founded it, the majority of its leaders have been human, and most influential citizens are part of this prolific race. While humanity may be ubiquitous, Freeport is also home to numerous other humanoid races, and members of all the standard races can be found in varying numbers throughout. Freeport has its fair share of elves, dwarves, gnomes, halflings, to say nothing of orcs, hobgoblins, and dozens of other races, ranging from the different shades of more common races to the downright strange and disturbing.
For the most part, these people get along, setting aside old grudges to profit in this bustling city. This said, there is tension in the city, with various neighborhoods looking at others with envious eyes, lamenting when a filthy orc family moves next door, or looking suspiciously at a halfling holding up the wall at a nearby inn. From time to time, the pressure of so many people, with so many differing values and customs, flares up. e result is a brief explosion of violence and rioting until it seems anarchy will reign, only to lapse back to the normal simmering climate of this diverse city.
Humans founded Freeport, and they remain the dominant race in the city. So numerous are humans that if all the other races were combined, they would still not make up more than a quarter of the people living in the city. For this reason, Freeport is known as a human city, even though nearly every race and culture is represented amongst the population. Humanity in Freeport takes many shapes and sizes. Humans from all over the world come to this city, and every imaginable skin color, hair color, and language can be found here.
Humanity may be the dominant race in Freeport, but this fact does not create any sense of solidarity or give them a sense of entitlement or superiority. Sure, some bigoted humans may sneer at the riffraff in Bloodsalt, and nobody likes goblinoids, but Freeport humans don’t make distinctions between themselves and most others who call the city home. The reason for this cosmopolitan outlook is human Freeporters often hail from many lands, with different languages, outlooks, customs, beliefs, and everything in between. It is the fusion of cultures that gives Freeport its character, and if the city is willing to turn a blind eye toward a person hailing from a violent and sinister city, surely they can accept dwarves, elves, and others, right? For the most part, yes they can.
It is important to note that Freeport’s muddy heritage infuses the city, creating an often-unsettling fusion of architecture, cuisine, and dress. Matters of religion and philosophy are equally diverse, and Freeport embraces those of just about every theological stripe. This aspect of Freeport is comforting to visitors and immigrants, since it usually guarantees there’s something or someone from home nearby.
Few dwarves have cause to leave their homelands for a port city of any sort, never mind one situated on a small island. Those that do wind up here are mad, exiled, or lost, yet once they set foot here, they find they don’t want to leave. Some suspect dwarves stay because they can’t bear the thought of another ocean voyage. Luckily, they often have unique talents that give them an edge in commerce in this dynamic city.
Freeport dwarves are a curious lot. Since most dwarves have deep roots in their homelands, and given their famous dislike for the sea, it takes something serious for a dwarf to pick up and start a new life in Freeport. Dwarves must come to terms with the large orc and goblinoid population allowed to walk the streets with impunity. Though there are many reasons why dwarves would never come to Freeport, the amazing thing is that they do. Many are exiles, fleeing their homes for an accused or actual crime, while others may just be down-on-their-luck adventurers, winding up here with no way to get home. Of course, some bold or mad dwarves might end up in Freeport for the promise of gold, wealth, or in pursuit of some ancient foe in need of killing. Regardless of how and why they come to the city, they’re here and they fit in just like anyone else.
Freeport is also home to a number of other peoples, some similar to humanity, others strange and even monstrous. The most common of these other races are halflings. They come from the Continent and are willing to work hard alongside other Freeporters to make a new life. While most people get along fine with halflings, the fact that Finn, the crime lord that rules the Eastern District, is a halfling is not lost on them. That and the natural roguish tendencies of many young halflings breed suspicion when dealing with these diminutive folk. Due to the influence of Finn, halflings are most common in the Eastern District.
Halflings infest Freeport. They’re everywhere. To them, Freeport is a magnet. They seem helplessly drawn to the busy streets and alleys here and over the years, they have fast become one of the largest minority groups in the city. What puzzles many is that there aren’t halfling vessels, and there’s never been a mass-migration of halfling populations. They just seem to show up. This leads some to compare these diminutive people to rats, and it’s commonly believed on the Docks that a ship is as likely to have halflings as it is to have other vermin. Of course, no one’s foolish enough to say such nonsense around such folk, for everyone in Freeport knows that Finn, a crime lord of considerable power, doesn’t tolerate abuse of his people. More than one foul-mouthed bastard has wound up face down in the harbor after crossing a halfling.
Elves also have a presence in Freeport. Also drawn from the Continent, they often struggle to find a place in the city. They have some advantages over other newcomers because Freeporters tend to afford elves a bit more respect and tolerance. Despite the smattering of elves that live here, few elves can tolerate the city’s excess. Freeport’s noisome odors, dense population, filthiness, and violent atmosphere offend the delicate nature of these people.
As with dwarves, few elves have reason to settle in Freeport. Those elves that make the journey to Freeport may be merchants, adventurers, or diplomats from some other nation. Some elves are corsairs, sailing the seas and plundering continental ships like the sea dogs of Freeport. Most elves that settle in Freeport are attracted to the sense of life, the loose societal structures, and the freedom Freeport offers to those who come here. While they may disagree with the ignorance and violence and terrible odors wafting up from the Docks, some find a way to set aside their misgivings and embrace the wild and raucous nature of the city.
Where dwarves and elves are unusual, gnomes are far more common, and one of their own is even on the Captains’ Council. Freeport appeals to their adventuring sensibilities. As natural entertainers and tricksters, they find the action here much to their liking. Gnomes live in the Docks,Scurvytown, and the Eastern District, but they can be found causing trouble just about anywhere. Many find work as entertainers, performing in small productions in the playhouses of the Eastern District or thrilling the crowds of the Docks. One of the ongoing difficulties with gnomes in the city is the conflict between them and the small kobold and goblinoid population. There have been more than a few murders on both sides, keeping the Watch busy.
In the World of Freeport, the crag gnomes have none of the playful qualities attributed to gnomes of other settings. While they share the same hatred of goblinoids and kobolds embraced by others of their kin, their animosity led them to a very dark place, one that would leave them ever changed by their implacable hatred of their racial nemeses. Crag gnomes are dire fellows, grim and consumed by an unquenchable lust for magic, driven by their need to preserve themselves from the depredations of their perceived countless enemies.
In ages past, the gnomes and kobolds fought a terrible war, with each side escalating the conflict until the gnomes abandoned their love of caprice and freedom in favor of winning, regardless of the cost. They turned to the other creatures of their lands, the gargoyles in particular, and enslaved them to serve as their thrall soldiers. Forged anew by the fanatic Iovan, this cult of personality united his people under the banner of the Autocracy of Iovan. What love of humor and jest they once held died, burned away by the appalling losses at the hands of the kobolds and others. Even though they achieved much in their wars against their reptilian enemies, by the time the kobold host was eradicated, the gnomes were no longer content, and pushed to swallow more territory until their growth was checked by a devastating war with the dwarves of the continent, which ultimately saw the demise of their leader and their plans for expansion dashed.
Although broken and defeated by the implacable dwarves, the gnomes were not utterly destroyed. Iovan may be dead, but his heirs have continued his work in the form of the Arcane Conclave. Under the harsh commands of this brutal dictatorship, the crag gnomes, as they have come to be called, toil without end to construct terrible war machines in the effort to rebuild the Autocracy of Iovan and mount a new war against the hated dwarves. Those who disagree vanish—cast out, executed, or locked away in the bowels of their subterranean cities for the rest of their days.
Average Height: 3’4” – 3’9”
Average Weight: 50 – 80 lbs.
Ability Scores: +2 Intelligence, +2 Charisma
Speed: 5 squares
Languages: Common, Dwarven
Skill Bonuses: +2 Arcana, +2 Stealth
Animal Affinity: Crag gnomes have a strange, almost spiritual affinity for tiny burrowing mammals (rabbits, badgers, weasels, and the like). Once per day, you can cast the Commune With Animals ritual without cost, even if you do not formally know it or cannot normally cast rituals. You may only target tiny burrowing mammals when doing so. (You can choose to learn the ritual normally, in order to commune with other animals, but you must meet all prerequisites and pay all costs as normal.)
Bastion of Illusion: You gain a +1 racial bonus on your Will defense, and a +5 racial bonus to saving throws against illusion effects.
Hasty Stealth: If you have cover or concealment when you make an initiative check, you can make a Stealth check to escape notice.
Battlefield Trickery: You can use battlefield trickery as an at-will power.
Battlefield Trickery (Crag Gnome Racial Power)
Through a combination of swift, deceptive motions and innate illusions, you avoid providing the opening your opponent expects.
At-will, minor action, personal
Effect: The next ranged or area attack you make, so long as it occurs before the end of your next turn, does not provoke opportunity attacks.
Wherever human and elven societies intersect, there are bound to be half-elves, and Freeport is no exception. Indeed, half-elves are easily more common here than their fullblooded elven kin. The city offers a great deal of tolerance and even a little envy toward these folks, welcoming them into the city and valuing them for their talents and skills. Half-elves fill the same roles that humans do, being pirates, tradesmen, mercenaries, and everything in between. Their natural adaptability and sharp wits help them carve out a place for themselves and many have become quite successful in business—both legitimately and otherwise.
Half-Orcs and Orcs
Orcs have had a presence in Freeport for generations. Previous Sea Lords, merchants, and others have used them as labor, bringing them into the city from far-flung places on the mainland to do the heavy lifting, farming, mining, and scut work no one else wants to do. As a result, Freeport’s population of orcs and their half-breed spawn grew, until they were as prevalent in the city as any other humanoids short of humans. Eventually, their brutish and violent ways pushed some people too far and the orcs and their kin faced hostility from unexpected quarters. The people of Scurvytown used violence and intimidation to push these folks out of the city into the poisonous atmosphere of Bloodsalt, where they languish still. Not everyone in Freeport shares this hatred of the orcs, but the damage has been done and tensions between the orcs and the rest of Freeport have steadily grown in recent years.
For many years, orcs were not much of a problem in Freeport. As a people, orcs seemed disinterested in sailing, and those that did take it up lacked the means or the cunning to pilot ships beyond sight of the Continent’s coastline. However, Milton Drac’s Lighthouse demanded a great deal of labor—cheap labor—and importing orcs to do the heavy lifting seemed the wisest course. Suddenly, orcs began to drift into the city, squatting in Scurvytown and creating a filthy ethnic borough just for themselves. Once entrenched, Freeport’s orcs had little interest in moving on. They stayed in the city, offering their muscle at half the price of other workers.
As expected, their cheap rates, racial advantages, and natural wickedness bred resentment in the city. Riots and racially motivated attacks were fast becoming the norm in Scurvytown. Things took a turn for the worse after the Great Green Fire. In the aftermath of the devastation, the Wizards’ Guild made it a point to hire only savage humanoids to reclaim the land. Even though the Wizards sought to protect the more desirable elements from the appalling destruction and poisonous chemicals, the folks of Scurvytown saw this as an attempt to do the work on the cheap, bypassing honest human men who needed the coin as badly as the orcs. Unable (rather unwilling) to confront the wizards on this, the agitators in Scurvytown played upon the bigotry and a rash of riots and attacks spread through the district. Savage humanoids were no longer welcome here and certainly no other district wanted them, so the orcs, goblins, and others drifted into Bloodsalt.
Certainly, orcs are generally a destructive and evil lot and so Freeporters were somewhat justified in pushing them out, but where they erred was in extending their wrath to anyone who even resembled an orc. This led to terrible acts of violence against half-orcs, goblinoids, and even ugly humans. Luckily, much of the violence has died down with the mass exodus, but few orcs are foolish enough to try their luck by walking through Scurvytown without numbers on their side.
To most Freeporters, goblins aren’t much different from roaches and are accepted as just a byproduct of living in a city. Freeport experienced a great population boom a few years ago when the Wizards’ Guild began recruiting nonhumans to use as labor. This led to an influx of savage humanoids that were largely unfamiliar with living in human communities. While they are tolerated, they aren’t welcome anywhere, especially not in the Eastern District or Merchant District. In fact, the goblins have been driven out from just about everywhere into their tiny neighborhood in Bloodsalt where they suffer abuse at the hands of the hobgoblins and the orcs. Since they caused a great deal of upheaval throughout the city, they were relegated to Bloodsalt, a newer district created just for them. Although largely contained to the edge of the city, goblins and hobgoblins, along with their larger kin, can be found mingling with other folks in the city, and goblin peddlers and hobgoblin mercenaries are fast becoming common sights. A few goblins may try to make an honest living, but the widespread racism of Scurvytown and the general disdain from the rest of the city means most fail and are forced to turn to crime to make ends meet.
Where orcs are naturally dimwitted and goblins too weak and foolish for most to think anything of them, Freeport’s hobgoblins are cut from an entirely different cloth. They may be lumped in with the rest of the savage humanoids, and they certainly are warlike and violent, but they are a disciplined lot, and when they fight, they do so with an uncanny knack for tactics. Had they wanted to, they might have fought back against the Scurvytown hate groups and won, but Draegar Redblade, their community’s most outspoken leader, advised them to go peacefully into Bloodsalt. There was grumbling, but few opposed Draegar’s command, and soon after, Freeport’s hobgoblin population had fully relocated.
The reasons behind Draegar’s move didn’t take long to reveal themselves. Bloodsalt was a disaster, lawless and dangerous, and the Watch had no interest in policing this ghetto, so when Draegar stepped forward to offer the services of his men to attend to Bloodsalt, the Captains’ Council didn’t have much of a choice. With one deft move, Draegar essentially took control over Bloodsalt and expanded his base of power through an entire section of the city. The hobgoblins are the law here and as such are widely feared (and hated) by others forced to live within the district’s bounds.
“Don’t be so quick to dismiss the tales of the Azhar. Their fiery dispositions, ruthlessness in battle, and, hell, their damn appearance all support their claims of efreet blood.” ~ Adelmar Galden, Explorer
The azhar (singular azhari) are a race of native outsiders that ply the waters around Freeport. Traders, explorers, and pirates, they are among the finest sailors in the World of Freeport. They claim descent from the efreet of the fabled City of Brass, though if true, it is a distant kinship. Despite their fiery heritage, they are a race of great seamen, famed for their sailing prowess. Azhari merchants (and no few pirates) are fast becoming a common sight in the World of Freeport.
Play an azhari if you want….
- to be linked to a fiery heritage.
- to explore the high seas for adventure.
- to sail from port to port with the bounty of your escapades.
- to be a member of a complex society struggling between tradition and change.
To the unfamiliar, an azhari looks like any other human, albeit with swarthy skin and bronze hair. All azhar have the same gleaming red eyes reminiscent of the flames of their descent. Although it’s often hard to tell from a distance, an azhari has an iris—often of a slightly darker color—and a pupil that is invisible without close inspection.
Playing an Azhari
Just talking to an azhari reveals why no one denies they are scions of the efreet. ey are a tempestuous people, boisterous, filled with courage and pride. They are quick to anger, quicker to laugh, and live a life of passion. They crave excitement and hate the quiet, seeking to fill the silence with conversation, song, music, or anything else to distract them from boredom. They are impulsive to the point of being reckless. They never back down from a fight, withdrawing only if there is no chance of victory. No mission is too dangerous, no voyage too fraught with peril for them to refuse the adventure. They are adventurers to the core, and the fiery souls burning within them drive them to daring acts of heroism and appalling deeds of villainy.
Producing skilled sailors and born explorers, the azhari race offers an interesting mix of abilities and resistances. This makes them a unique addition to any adventuring group exploring Freeport and beyond. Exploration is the cornerstone of azhari society and all set sail as a right of passage to prove their worth to their people. ose who return with grand tales and grander treasures gain greater standing in their communities and so most azhar embrace the adventurer’s life, if only for a time.
The azhar speak their own language, a lilting, sing-song tongue they speak rapidly—so fast non-native, though fluent, speakers have a hard time keeping up. Most azhar slow down their speech when dealing with non-azhars, but when angry or trying to conceal their conversation, they resume their normal cadence. e azhari people’s dealings with other races has forced them to also learn the languages of their trading partners. Just about every azhari knows at least a smattering of Common, while the more learned people dabble in other languages. In all cases, whenever an azhari feels intense emotion, he’s bound to slip into Azharan without even realizing it.
Azhar tend to follow naming conventions used by their distant genie-kin, keeping alive their proud heritage in the names they pass along to their children. Azhari names also designate social class, with children of famous sailors or heroes gaining the name of a parent or another relative of equal standing. Such a name carries grave responsibility, for the child is responsible for not sullying the gift she was given. Those named for the greatest azhar heroes find themselves
faced with the burden of not only living up to the standards of their people, but also upholding those of the dead from whom their name was taken.
Azhari Characteristics: Adventurous, boisterous, courageous, impulsive, passionate, proud
Male Names: Amjad, Essam, Fath, Hamzah, Kameel, Ra’id, and Shihab
Female Names: Afya, Basilah, Durriyah, Fadilah, Hasibah, Mishael, and Nibras
All azhar hail from the Sultanate of Kizmir, a young country on the Continent. Just a century ago, the first Sultan led his people onto the continent, bringing savage war to the beleaguered kobolds. The gnomes of Iovan, sensing an opportunity, used the attack to finish their war against their ancestral enemies. Thus were the kobolds destroyed, scattered, and brought to ruin. The sudden appearance of this new nation plunged the continent into a new war, the Second War of the Southern Seas. The conflict seemed about to encompass more territory when Kizmir moved quickly and ended the war by sacking the Ivory City of Newtown.
With the tenuous peace bought by the ruination of Newtown, Kizmir was free to expand its territory and construct a massive fleet of warships and merchant vessels. They plied the seas and gave the Ivory Ports their first serious competitor. The azhar settled into their lands, rebuilt the cities taken from the kobolds, and constructed new port cities to protect their shipyards. As the fledging nation began to stabilize, the culture acclimated to its new home, and the azhar wrestled with competing values imported from their neighboring nations. The conservative members fiercely held onto the ideals of their past, worshipping their heroes and reinforcing the class dominance of the sailors. However, in stark contrast to the classical beliefs of the azhar, it was a growing trend of those who sought to make a new home on the land to build permanent structures, to welcome the social norms of the Ivory Ports and elsewhere, and essentially transform the entire culture of the azhar.
As one would expect, this has been a point of tension within the Sultanate and there has been no shortage of clashes between the entrenched prior generation and the newer rebellious generation. The former has come to see their conquest as a mistake, believing they as a people should pick up and set sail for new conquests, while those living in the Sultanate are quite content and would rather focus their resources on improving the lives of their people. On occasion, there are flare-ups, but most of the world is unaware of this widening division.
Average Height: 5’6” – 6’2”
Average Weight: 135 – 220 lbs.
Ability Scores: +2 Strength, +2 Charisma
Speed: 6 squares
Languages: Common, Azhar
Skill Bonuses: +2 Acrobatics, +2 Athletics
Elemental Origin: Your ancestors are native to the Elemental Chaos, so you are considered an elemental creature for purposes of effects that relate to creature origin.
Fire Resistance: You have resist fire 5 + one-half your level.
Gifted Sailors: You gain a +1 racial bonus to any activity involving sailing.
Might of the Efreet: You can use might of the efreet as an encounter power.
Might of the Efreet (Crag Gnome Racial Power)
You carry the blood of the fiery efreet in your veins. You have a reserve of power from which you can draw in times of need.
Encounter, fire, minor action, personal
Effect: You gain a +1 power bonus to your next attack against an enemy who has hit you since your last turn. If your attack hits and does damage, it deals an extra amount of fire damage equal to your Charisma modifier.