Part Two of the Great Tour of the half-ruined metropolis of Kezmarok.
The Great Hostels
The sale of intoxicants is strictly—and lucratively--regulated in the city. The typical constellation of seedy inns, taverns, and other watering holes is simply not seen in Kezmarok (though a few illegal speakeasies stubbornly exist). Instead you have enormous, teetering centuries-old edifices, the great hostels, sprawling across entire city blocks.
Because half of all the income from booze, powders, and smokeable herbs is owed to the City, the hostels have spread their commercial range across a range of activities—food, lodging, games, gambling, nefarious meetings, bawdy theater, romantic trysts, etc-- and thus have become central hubs of social life in the city.
Though each varies wildly in its character, each hostel does have a few common features. Each hostel is from 3-6 floors high with a dizzying array of sunny verandas, patios, trellises and balconies jutting out over the streets and structures below. Each floor caters progressively higher to a classier clientele, indeed after the second level customers are only those who pay exclusive membership dues and undergo initiation rites. Such “club” membership has become important to the status jockeying of residents.
A sample of the Great Hostels:
Finestra, Lodge of a Thousand Mirrored Gazes. Famed for its many, baroquely-famed mirrors and gawking, ever-judging clientele. Past the swill served on the first floor, the food and drink is quite good.
Ulthnarn of the Hanging Blade. The martially-themed Ulthnarn is noted for its many games of skill and chance, indeed it’s the only hostel that has a full hobbit-boloing arena. Gentlemen’s games can be found on the upper floors.
Duke Mraz’s Folly. The hruz, hallucinogenic mollusk paste, is out of this world as is the food. Decorated with strange shiny polished suits of armor.
Games of the Great Hostels
Daemono. Tile-filpping game played with two-sided mosaic pieces. One side traditionally exhibits solid whites of Law, the other a multitude of vibrant colors for Chaos. The game is mostly played by the better sorts of the city.
Stonelegging. Two participants are in the ring. Live cockatrices are introduced into their trousers. The first one whose leg is petrified loses. In the better establishments a mage is on hand to reverse the process. Stonelegging is the NASCAR of Kezmarok.
Brinksman. Card game using bluffing, bluster and dumb luck. Anyone clearing the 21-count limit is slapped with a sand-weighted stick by custom.
Wrestling. Conducted in the nude except for gaudily covered harnesses. A sheet must remain between the wrestlers at all times for propriety’s sake.
Hobbit boloing. A wild Halfling is released into the ring. The first participant to knock him down wins the purse. All the contestants lose if the wee one escapes to the far gate.
Stave-fights. Just like it says, duels with quarter staffs. Usually conducted on narrow high-raised platforms. Sometimes combined with stonelegging and/or wrestling on slow nights.
Hippogriff races. Sadly now defunct.