District - The Bazaar

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District - The Bazaar

Post by Admin on Sat Mar 23, 2013 2:31 am

There is an ever-changing, always busy area of Menzoberranzan; a crowded, untidy labyrinth of stalls and hagglers whose fame has spread across the Underdark. In the city, it is known simply as “The Bazaar”. Menzoberranzan’s ongoing trade fair attracts merchants and goods from all Faerun, and even a few items from Kara-Tur and fabled Maztica. Merchants and shoppers of all races and lands are welcome—and it is even whispered that some of the more mysterious traders (who go about masked and cowled, gesturing silently) come from “places beyond the stars, Above the World Above,“ or other planes of existence! Slaves are bought and sold here, surgery (rare in the Underdark), potions and herbal medicines are available, and there are even certain booths where one can arrange to send or receive messages to and from locales and folk in the World Above.

The Bazaar, by decree of the ruling Council, contains no permanent structures— even long-established and favored booths must be moved around. The longest a stall or booth can remain in one spot is 66 days. This law prevents any proprietor from owning ‘floor-space’ in the Bazaar, and buying more (so as to make the Bazaar ever-smaller, as the desirable space is locked up, until it dwindles away to nothing, and the city loses its riches). It also forces visiting buyers to tour the Bazaar, searching for favored stalls or merchants they’re looking for— so they see everything, and opportunities for impulse buying are as numerous as possible. Proud merchants boast that one can “buy anything at the Bazaar, for coins enough,” and they’’re not far wrong, —not since wizards took to “teleporting” in fresh surfaceworld produce and items, for those who can pay enough.

The Archmage of Menzoberranzan arranges to have the Bazaar patrolled, by warriors-in-training from the Academy (led by an instructor), augmented by trainee priestesses and wizards (these duties are rotating, and paid). The firm intent of such policing is simply to keep the lid on violence, not to muscle in on haggling, arguments, or the fun of shoppers; unobtrusive firmness is the order of the day. This is not to say the ruling Council always adopts a ‘hands-off’ or neutral position towards the Bazaar. Someone who breaks their rules, or sells things they don’t approve of (such as access to worship services of deities other than Lolth, spells that purport to neutralize House defense glyphs, or female drow slaves guaranteed to be former priestesses of Lolth) will soon meet with an “accident” that destroys their stall, typically with them in it. Then whispers will begin, started by priestesses, that the displeasure of Lolth was involved, and others should take heed.

Two fixture Bazaar establishments of interest to visitors are:

Daelein Shimmerdark’s Decanter: Named for its handsome, charming (smartmouthed) young proprietor, this stall stocks rare and fine drinkables from the Realms over— -at prices only drow nobles (and desperate or homesick surface-world merchants) can afford. Love- and sleeping-potions, and even liquid poisons, can also be had here, by those who know just how to phrase their whispers, and how much extra to offer. (Daelein also provides directions to those wishing to sell stolen goods discreetly).

Vhurn Bhaelyndryn’s Bestiary: This establishment is heavily-guarded (by a dozen drow and gnoll overseers at a time, armed with snatch-hooks, clubs, weighted throwing-nets, and quarter staves). It provides pack lizards and riding lizard mounts (see the Monsters chapter), and harnesses, goads, lead-lines, and carrying frames for them. At least one of each sort of lizard are always harnessed and ready. These cost four times more than the rest of the expensive stock (three times if the buyer throws trade-in mounts into the deal), but this fee includes immediate help from the overseers, in delaying pursuit, patrols, and other forces (short of angry high priestesses) seeking to detain the purchaser and any companions from leaving the city.
The fat, affable Vhurn (an old, scarred drow warrior) also sells “Underdark packs,” containing torches, ropes, grapnels, spikes and a mallet, a tinder box, flasks of lamp oil in a metal carry-box, a hooded signal-eye lamp, a probing pole (10′ pole with a reel on one end that releases a weight-tipped, marked plumb line—for measuring drops and chasms), food, and a spare dagger, rock-hammer and prying-bar.
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