Now 100 miles away from Branham, Steamtown is a temporary, mobile town that provides living quarters, goods, and services for approximately 900 workers of the Pradjna Northern Express Railroad. Along with the laborers, there are approximately another 100 residents that offer goods and services to Steamtown’s residents.
The settlement is made up almost entirely of temporary buildings and tents, moving periodically as more track is laid—Steamtown is never more than 8-10 miles away from the end of the track. Most of the time, the bulk of it is on the south side of the track, with some support buildings on the northern side. Steamtown is very much the wild west; rule enforcement is quick and decisive, fights are common, and workers tend to get into trouble when they aren’t working. Racial tensions between the goblinoids and humans have also grown taut, and they are mostly kept separated, with only the humans and gnomes keeping positions of authority. Goblinoids who have come to escape their own tribes are quickly disillusioned and usually harbor great resentment—while they are technically not slaves, they are not treated well. Most of them have contracts that bind them into virtual slavery, as they would owe a monetary penalty for leaving early (which is never less than a year). Occasionally the leaving date is listed in the contract as a progress goal, replaced instead with clauses like, “after so many miles of rack has been laid”.
Warehouse and Loading Docks
A couple of spurs lead off the main tracks, running into loading docks on one side and several warehouses on the other; as goods are delivered, they are unloaded and stored here. One of the smaller building houses demolitions, and is always locked and well-guarded. Unlike most of Steamtown, these are generally clapboard buildings, not tents.
Another set of spurs leads off the main tracks to a large covered area where trains and equipment are repaired using a large, portable forge.
Just on the other side of the warehouses are where the 600+ goblinoids live in several rows of tents, jam-packed with goblins, orcs and hobgoblins. The tents themselves are not in good repair, and many do not have floors—most are drafty and leak. A vacant field separates the living quarters from a row of squalid latrines.
The tents for the humans (and gnomes, the 150 overseers and foremen) are less crowded and in much better repair than the goblinoids’, and their much cleaner latrines receive far better maintenance.
The center of Steamtown contains several tents where all kinds of goods and services are available, albeit at high prices. Just to the south is a ramshackle collection of marquees where the merchants live. Successful merchants have tents that rival nice houses, while others are little more than a lean-to in the mud—a few special traders are detailed below.
Elridge’s Magical Moving Pictures
Elridge (CG Male human wizard 5; +9 Diplomacy, +9 Sense Motive, +9 Bluff) uses a mix of props and illusions to create realistic scenes of the workers’ homelands. Laborers give a detailed description of what they want to see, and he prepares a show to that effect. His tent can seat up to 20 patrons, each paying 4 silvers to see the show (which generally lasts for about 10 minutes).
Unesco’s Curious Things
Unesco (CN Female gnome wizard 3) makes small items from scrap alligotonium [detailed later this month on Magic Item Monday! -MM]. These range from magical utensils to grooming devices, knick-knacks, and all kinds of miscellaneous trinkets—while generally useful, such items can often cause minor injuries and mishaps.
Gronk (CN Male orc expert 1) specializes in preparing goblinoid food—the fare given by the company or at the saloon is rather limited for goblinoids otherwise. The orc chef exploits this gap in the marketplace with his expert care and large variety of strange cuisine.
This houses the foodstuffs and livestock that the company keeps on hand to feed the workers and company men; it is guarded at all times by at least four fighting men (Human fighter 2).
Just to the west of the human housing are two very large tents, the bigger one for humans and gnomes, the smaller for goblinoids. These are the public areas for the workers and simultaneously act as a cafeteria, saloon, gathering hall, or church (and is used for any other function that requires a large space).
The housing here is mainly for the professional workers (almost exclusively human or gnome) and the enforcers (exclusively human and gnome). There are about 50 enforcers who double as guards for build and surveying expeditions, and about 50 surveyors, demolition experts, engineers, and other skilled employees needed to build the railroad. The building serves as offices as well; the pay and quartermasters do their calculations here alongside engineers and surveyors drawing up blueprints, enforcers reviewing security measures, and company official holding meetings.
Railtown is where the heads of the company stay, each in their own private railcar. There are three railcars that are here most of the time, while others come and go.
Also knows as “The Timerian”, Borys is the head of the enforcers. He is a short gnome with a nasty disposition who despises goblinoids and can be short with humans; he is the face of the company for the PCs [and star of an upcoming Statblock Sunday! – RT].
Presop (CG Female gnome cleric 3; +10 Heal) has 2 railcars—one is her personal residence and the other is a small chapel. Presop serves as the only priestess in Steamtown and being well versed in human, elven, and gnomish pantheons, happily performs ceremonies for the residents. Goblinoids tend to either be left on their own or can come to a goblinoid-only gnomish ceremony; not surprisingly, few attend. She also serves as doctor and healer, though her magic is limited and generally only suffices for individual cases. The cleric quickly runs out of healing during a large accident, and usually heals humans, elves, and gnomes before tending to other races.
- Boss Myers
Boss Myers (LN Male human aristocrat 3) inhabits the most luxuriously appointed railcar. He is in charge of the overall project and is answerable to no one here; a board member of PNE, he has carte blanche to do whatever is needed to get the railroad built. Myers generally passes the burden along to Borys, giving the gnome free reign to enforce law throughout Steamtown—so long as progress is made, complaints about heavy-handed tactics fall on deaf ears.
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