Campaign of the Month: March 2016
Ptolus, City by the Spire
The City by the Spire is a sophisticated place where a lot of people and organizations all attempt to conduct business and carry out sometimes complex tasks. The flow of information is vital to these pursuits. In Ptolus, however, there is a greater concentration of magic and extremely powerful people than elsewhere in the world. So naturally, some of the means of communication that have evolved are quite beyond the ordinary.
One of the occupations that thrives within Ptolus is that of the courier. In such a bustling city, couriers carry messages and packages back and forth across town: payments, invitations, friendly communications, contracts, gifts, deliveries, official documents, and more. Large businesses and organizations frequently have their own couriers and delivery people. A common courier carrying a message or small package earns 1 sp (plus tip). Larger packages often cost 1 sp per ten pounds; additional fees that may double the price apply if more than one courier must deliver the package.
Challenging the traditional couriers is a relatively new business called Shadow Sendings. Shadow sendings are magical missives. They look like shadowy birds the size of a robin, but they are featureless and ephemeral. They flit through the air and unerringly travel to their destination to carry a message that contains verbal and even visual information.
The second most common way to spread information in Ptolus is through the broadsheets or newspapers. Ptolus has dozens of these publications, all of which are fairly small and pursue their own agendas—there is no such thing as journalistic integrity in Ptolus, nor is there a such thing as Freedom of the Press. Some broadsheets are free, but some cost a copper piece. A few of the more stable and/or interesting ones include the following:
The Courier: The largest, most prominent of the broadsheets, The Courier attempts to disseminate unbiased news, focusing on important events and stressing news from across the Empire. The paper has a pro-Empire bias that it attempts to hide.
The Guilder: This sheet focuses on news and gossip relating to the various local guilds. Control of its production changes frequently, usually when one guild takes it over from another. So, while The Guilder has a heavy, unabashed bias, that bias changes from time to time.
The Market Voice: Focusing on economic news and information, The Market Voice covers events and happenings in both Market districts (favoring the South Market, however). People interested in print advertising look to The Voice, and so do interested shoppers.
The Midtown Partisan: The Partisan is a less-than-reputable, irregularly distributed gossip sheet concerned with the activities of the noble families, usually portraying them in an unfavorable light.
The Noble Record: Once a competitor of The Courier, this infrequent broadsheet focuses mainly on the events of noble society, entertainment news, and fanciful fictions about actual people. No one ever seems sure whether to look at these stories as exaggerated reporting or yarns meant for amusement.
The Ptolus Herald: This anti-Empire newspaper remains unabashed in its biased portrayal of events and heavy-handed editorials. The City Watch has raided The Herald a number of times under the orders of the Commissar, but it always starts up again.
The Undergrounder: This seedy broadsheet focuses on events and people involved in the criminal underworld. It also of late has begun reporting news that deals with the “other” underground of Ptolus—the Undercity and Dungeon.
Lastly, the Bellringers’ Guild is a small operation that disseminates information. Its bell-ringing criers wander about town spreading short bits of news, primarily for those who cannot or will not read. The guild, based in Oldtown, spreads only the news it is paid to spread, often by the Commissar in order to circulate vital information or warnings to the populace.