To me, the most interesting part of Alfoli is Diervale, the city of criminals on the border between Alfoli and Reigzen. The city formed on the coast mainly as a shipping center to Hespen, located at the narrowest point of the channel with a deep water port. It’s formation coincided with the founding of Altiera and Resnith, upriver shipping cities to the North and South. The food, lumber, and minerals shipped through them eventually made those two cities wealthy enough not to need Diervale’s help crossing the channel. Diervale began to lose some of its sea traffic.
Nations formed to the North and South, taking Altiera and Resnith as their capitals. It was all Diervale could to remain an independent city, on the tenuous border between the two nations. Politics in the city were greatly influenced by smugglers, who used it frequently as the only independent port along that coast. The money they brought seemed more valuable the the protection of either nation and they remained independent, playing the two against each other. With neither nation trusting the other with troops so close to the border, it became a refuge for criminals from both nations.
Now, criminals run the city. There is still a mayor who controls a thug police force and the prison. The mayor is a pawn under the control of one or more criminal circles. When the power dynamic changes between the crime gangs, the mayor is often a casualty as new powers put someone they control in his place. The longest lived mayors are those who can change allegiances quickly enough to be accepted by the new powers. This is largely a matter of being aware of the rise and fall of the crime gangs. The mayor keeps close ties in all of the groups and may be the most knowledgeable on the city.
The crime gangs house themselves in some of the bigger buildings in the South and West parts of the city and compete constantly for power. The gangs vary in their focus and level of specialization, usually having at least a few pick pockets, burglars, assassins, beggars, and thugs. Also varying is the degree to which they fight directly against other gangs in the city. Many instead use their resources for jobs outside the city in the two nations that bring in real revenue. This revenue can be used to grow the gang and improve equipment. These gangs often control the city.
The tavern keepers down by the docks control the favorite hangouts of the criminals, as well as most of the prostitution and smuggling in the city. Their grip on the docks means that any goods coming in by sea come through them (with the exception of the smuggling gang that controls the old smuggler’s cave dock and are known for their discretion when bringing in secret goods). Some of the tavern keepers are also rumored to be involved in patrons mysteriously disappearing, whether taken into slavery or shanghaied into service with pirates, pirate hunters, or militaries.
Merchants within the city are mostly ex-criminals escaping prosecution in the city. Though they require the city for safety, they don’t want a part in the gang wars or the risk of continuing to commit crimes in the nations they’re wanted in. While there are some merchants who haven’t committed known crimes, they are certainly seedy characters, willing to work with dangerous criminals for the higher profit margin.
The farmers using the land in the area live almost exclusively in the farm houses outside the city. It is a very profitable business, for those bold enough to try it. The land is cheap, the food sells at high prices in the city, and the risk is high. It is not for most farmers.
How do you like Diervale? I’ll be expanding on the details later. Would it make an interesting place for a quest or even a campaign? Would your players enjoy a campaign where they’re involved in the gang wars or maybe run and up and coming gang? Anything else you want to know about? Let us know below.