As I work more and more on the Zumka… this marketplace in the middle of the Lost Age with a porous form of reality, I wondered at some of the people the PCs might find there when they arrive and walk its winding ways.
If you roll a d12, here are some of the people you might meet walking through this strange place:
d12 – Zumka Visitors, Sellers, and Buyers – Oh My!
- A pair of Dreamless, patrolling the market and looking for trouble in their gray uniforms. These two “Grey Men” may both be men, women, or a mixed gender pair. Fraternizing is not unheard of among the Dreamless and they are a well compensated security force. They are firm, polite, will not stop for idle chit-chat, and will randomly go charging into the crowd when they are somehow notified an event is happening elsewhere.
- A man or woman standing stock still and staring into space. But if you watch carefully you can see their head move slightly as if whatever they are watching is moving. You may also find a tourist showing this behavior and screaming incoherently or trying to get others to see whatever they see.
- While at a stall, you find a shopper staring at you as though you are among the most beautiful or most horrific things he or she has ever seen. The individual then gets the seller’s attention, points to some of the goods for purchase, and makes a complicated hand gesture. The goods change hands and the buyer goes on their way. If asked about the exchange, the seller simply smiles and says “The Speakers have their own ways of working the market” but will not expand on that statement.
- A shaggy man or woman stumbles through the crowd reeking of smoke. The individual stops members of the crowd and whispers something, then continues on. If they get to you, they pause and say one word before moving on: “Unclear.”
- A young lady wanders through the marketplace with an impossible flower in her hair. Colors so bright they assault your eyes reflect in the sun and if you get close enough, it smells heavenly. If you ask where she got such a magnificent thing, she directs you to the Zumka Gardens with a huge smile and explains there is much more where that came from.
- A large shape trundles down the path before you, covered in what might be a robe or a simple blanket. As you get closer, you wonder whether it is carrying cargo on its back or really is that impossible shape. And when you finally get close enough to potentially look beneath the cloth, it fades away – either falling through the ground or seemingly disappearing through an invisible door. Looking in the area reveals nothing, though those with magical sight may see some clues…
- A man smokes a large, bulbous pipe as he strolls through the market. With each puff, you see a dark smoke rise and disappear from the bowl. If you get closer, you swear you can see the shape of an eye form with each small cloud above the smoker. And if you get close enough, you see the eye glare balefully in your direction. If asked about it, the man looks at you as though you have three heads but tells you he got his vapor weed at the stall outside the Den of Worlds.
- An older lady wearing the robes of a priestess, all in black, walks purposefully through the market as though searching for something or someone. If you stop her, you immediately notice that her eyes are completely black. If it’s night-time you may catch the reflection of the night sky, though you wonder if it’s the same night sky above you. She smiles demurely when she sees you and seems to quickly dismiss you as though you were not what she was seeking. She says “May the Gods smile upon you” and moves on – ignoring any questions you may have.
- Three young priests (male, female, or both) wearing bright blue robes are helping an old person in distress on the side of the row between two stalls. One has a waterskin. One offers shade. And one has provided a padded blanket as a seat. They speak quietly with the individual until they have calmed and look more at ease with their situation. One of the three will help them up and escort them to their destination while the other two collect their things and wander on. If stopped, they will happily speak of the principles of the teachings of Mitra – Simplicity, Brotherhood, and Service – and how it is their duty to help those in need and that the PCs should stop by the Temple of Mitra on the outskirts of the Zumka if they have further questions.
- A young man plays a short stringed instrument and sings tales as he wanders through the marketplace. On his hip is a large hat into which passersby are are tossing coins. He sees your party and heads your direction singing “As the earth cracked open and the fires flowed, the heroes charged in, they were so bold, to save the day so we’ve been told, to fight the monsters long of old…”
- A child runs headlong through the crowds and bumps your leg and continues into the throng. A moment later you see two Gray Men chase after the kid. [Chance for a pickpocket of the PC’s purse or they may have deposited stolen goods on the PC.]
- A cloud of smoke belches from a colorful tent near the center of the Zumka. Nearly a dozen men and women flee the area, coughing and rubbing their eyes. If you head to the scene, you find a bear of a man smothering a flame with a blanket and two others scrambling madly to pour buckets of water over the hot coals. By the time they put out the fire, a crowd has gathered along with the Gray Men who are helping with the clean-up. If asked, they describe the place as a lodge where people go to cleanse the evil spirits. They use smoke and steam to push out impurities. If the bear of a gentleman sees you asking questions, he will come give you an orange pebble and tell you he’ll give you a great discount tomorrow…
This gives you just a little glimpse into the madness of the Zumka. I look forward to sharing more with you over the coming weeks!!