The Green Dragon
The Green Dragon is a weekly information broad-sheet printed by Gorshan Press on Broadway, Llaza. It is not a newspaper as such, more a combination court circular, small ads and almanac.
The Green Dragon is printed as a poster on a sheet of paper roughly three feet by two, with a masthead above densely packed print divided up into type-set columns but otherwise lacking in any particular order. Generally, official announcements from the Llaza Council and Merchants League come first, and tidal details are printed at the end. Everything in between is whatever anyone is willing to pay to be printed - adverts for services for hire or wanted, secret messages between paramours or conspirators, even poems and short stories. The Green Dragon is distributed weekly throughout Llaza and posted in various public places (The Plaza, Fermi's Emporium and so on). This is done freely - the profits come from fees paid by those who provide the material to print, charged at a yen per character.
The technology behind the printing press has been around for about twenty years in Llaza and thereabouts, but Gorshan Press are the only printers to use movable type. They are also one of the oldest printers in Llaza, and they have a lucrative government contract which makes them relatively large and respectable. As well as the Dragon, Gorshan Press prints leaflets and posters for private concerns. Gorshan Press is one of the few printing companies that prints books, albeit slowly. Most of the other presses don't bother because books tie up resources for too long and aren't really profitable. In this venture, Gorshan Press has ties with Arketes College for producing academic works and what are known as The Classics, well-known writings such as Teshnuvar's "On the Workings of the Universe" and the anonymous "Rolls Of Heaven".
Gorshan Press is owned by an eccentric patron named Gorshan Reniq Astavar. Gorshan lives in one of the island palazzi that surround the main islands of Llaza, isolated from any neighbouring isles and reachable only by boat. He is a recluse, admitting few people to his island and even going so far as to have a household staff composed almost entirely of vugs. Many strange rumours circulate about him, but he is a generous man, as the Gorshan Wing of Arketes College testifies, as well donating to many other charitable works, rumoured to include the Narvinda Manrupashnar. He has little interest in politics or the other powerplay that goes on in Llaza.
Gorshan's main plenipotentiary, and one of the few people to have met him, is a woman called Ranasha Qin. Ranasha runs the Press in Gorshan's name and will never give away details of her employer. She is fiercely loyal to Gorshan, but friendly and personable otherwise.
Using The Green Dragon
The small ads in the Green Dragon are an excellent resource for planting adventure seeds, as well as providing on-going background information. Creative gamesmasters may want to create Green Dragon broadsheets between adventures, where alert players may notice ongoing clues and details, as well as perhaps the consequences of their previous adventures.
For an alternative adventure outline, the offices of Gorshan Press on Broadway may become the target for rival printers or disgruntled scribes of the Nine Brush Company who want to see and end to the "new-fangled" printing press. Player characters may be hired by Ranasha Qin to guard the premises, or by the Nine Brush Company to attack it, or become involved in an intelligence gathering function for either faction.
Gorshan Reniq Astavar, Owner of Gorshan Press
Gorshan Reniq Astavar is actually a green-skinned Atala human called Ik Flim. Flim was once a minor businessman from the Hudan Technocracy who became engaged in running guns to lands like Llaza and the Ashoyin Protectorate. His partner in crime was an unscrupulous army quartermaster called Gar Zembik. Zembik would steal the guns, Flim would get them out of the country. The government of Hudan dislikes its alchemical wonders to be sold to outsiders and tracked the gun-runners down. Flim escaped whilst his partner was caught and punished.
Flim took with him several casks of Orrian fire-powder and other rare alchemical ingredients, as well as most of the money accrued from gun-running. He started a new life in Llaza, using Hudanese engineering knowledge to build his printing press and his ill-gotten gains to fund it. The technology in the press is not obviously Hudanese, and since it is not a product of alchemy it has so far evaded the notice of the Hudan government and their Retrievers. Flim, however, is paranoid and hunted, hence his secrecy. Atala are not unknown in Llaza, but uncommon enough that he would provoke comment. For twenty years he has stored his alchemical powders, afraid to sell them in case word should get back to the authorities of Hudan.
Various radical factions in Llaza would be interested to learn that Gorshan has explosive powder in his house (the Red Sword for one). Depending on the players characters' allegiances they may either be hired to break in, or prevent a break in. Meanwhile, the Hudan authorities might have tracked down Gorshan and chosen the same night to launch an attack of their own, giving plenty of scope for sneaking around bumping into assassins from different places. Flim's former partner, Zembik the army quartermaster, might also return with an axe to grind to add another layer of complication.
Alternatively, Gorshan's reclusive nature could be exploited by someone else who needs a cover to hide behind. Flim could be kidnapped, or murdered, and a high-ranking member of an organisation like the Followers of Vuul or the Black River Society could take his place. That organisation then has access to Gorshan's resources like his money and Orrian alchemy to carry out whatever schemes they wish. Player characters could be brought in to investigate, perhaps hired by a concerned Ranasha Qin.
Flim's link to the outside world, Ranasha was a street girl who Flim funded through education and Butterfly training. She owes him her life and freedom and is extremely loyal to him, refusing to reveal his secrets to outsiders (she doesn't know about his past as Ik Flim, however). Although rumour appends a carnal motive to Flim's attentions, he is more like a father figure to her. Having risen from nothing himself, it pleases him to help others in the same way. It is likely, however, that he cynically cultivated her loyalty to allow him to operate in relative secrecy. The main thing that motivates Flim is money. Ranasha would excuse Flim's past if she discovered it, but not that he has used her.
(c) 2011 The Creative Conclave.