City of Brass
A few people in the commune continue to bring trouble to the group, but there’s no consensus to drive them out. Rodharn steals from the locals. Hengritte is addicted to spirit potions and deals them on the street to fund her habit. Mijktar and Esven are friendly with a lot of locals, but get into fights all the time with some of the other young adults.
A faction of the local neighborhood want you out. They claim that you’re pulling everyone down, making all the poor underclass of the city look bad through your seedy lifestyles and behaviors. They reject your bohemian lifestyle and your do-it-yourself attitude. They want all squatters out of their neighborhood. They want you to pack up and go, taking your loud partying to the brothels, and removing your all-hours anvil strikes and wood sawing to the Clank, where it belongs. They make noise and cause trouble, but are not a direct threat. They can pressure local Kickstone residents to refuse to do business with people of the commune, making life a little tougher all around. (But also see Borough Captain, below.)
The Brass Clubs
Local law enforcement is a group of self-appointed police officers who use brass-shod clubs. They enforce their own brand of justice, including a lot of rules they make up themselves, using intimidation and violence, sometimes through near-fatal beatings. They have some air of officialness, since the elected borough captain supports them. They keep running into Mijktar and Esven, and it’s a matter of time before someone on one side or the other gets killed.
The City of Brass’s boroughs annually elect a captain to enforce rules, sort of like a mayor. For a decade, the Ash Borough and all of its slums have elected a gnoll bully named Harhai, who has strong ties to the Blackguard (organized crime). He basically wants nothing to do with the citizens of Kickstone and just lets the Brass Clubs keep order there. Unfortunately, the Betters have sent their matriarch to Harhai to ask him to raze the buildings used by the commune. Razing buildings requires a municipal permit. Harhai just wants this problem to go away.
There are many crime rings in the City of Brass, but Blackguard is their granddaddy. All other criminal enterprises risk their lives by acting without the blessing of the Blackguard. Kickstone is mainly beneath the notice of the group, but there is a Blackguard presence here. The handful of stores and taverns that operate here all pay the Black Tax: a small black cloth pouch tied to the front door with coins in it for “protection.” No one wise would dare to steal the Black Tax. They will find you and kill you and leave your corpse as a warning to others. Lately, a low level operative in the ring has been dating a guy in Kickstone, and he noticed that no one in the commune is paying Black Tax for the goods they make there (and sometimes sell or trade).
This guild is huge and powerful and generally pays no attention to little slum neighborhoods, unless it’s “recruiting” laborers. Occasionally, the Guild will sweep through Kickstone and grab a couple homeless folks and press them into work gangs in quarries or the sewer tunnels. Eventually, they’re released or escape, and the Guild doesn’t really chase them down. Recently, the Scrapers, the sewage segment of the Mason’s Guild, decided they needed a convenient station to serve as a waste removal point for the vast, underground sewage tunnels, and the most convenient place to put that is somewhere in Kickstone. Naturally, no one in the neighborhood wants the Guild to tear down their homes, and when push comes to shove, citizens quickly volunteer that there’s an unowned cluster of buildings over there that the Guild could reclaim, once the squatters are shooed away. The Scrapers are still in the planning stages, trying to get the necessary permits to add a waste station, but the city’s wealthy need clear sewers and there’s enough support (and bribes) to push this project through… probably.
Uvert the Vampire Wizard
A vampire has taken up residence in an old Kickstone tower. At night, the vampire or its minions scour the streets for victims to kidnap. These lost souls are captured and taken back to Uvert’s tower lair to feed the vampire, and sometimes to serve as fodder (or even just components) for magical experiments. Uvert is as evil as it gets. Generally, people don’t know about Uvert at all, but they do know that folks are disappearing, but that’s just a fact of life in Kickstone.
Organized religion provides comfort and support in the City of Brass, offering a message of hope in the afterlife, and pragmatic care in this life. However, some say the cost is too high. Aid comes only to those who serve the Lanterns and attend ceremonies several times a week. These rituals drain worshipers of precious spiritual power, siphoned away as a sacrifice to the Gods of Fire and Light. Nonetheless, the true believers claim that these sacrifices are a small price to pay for the eternal blessings they will receive when they die, and the sense of peace it brings them every day. However, the Holy Lanterns disapprove of the freewheeling way of living of the commune and are constantly trying to insert religious structure into those sinners’ lives.