The Purple Pen
Artist's hangout, Llaza.
An enormous yacht has been permanently moored near the southern shore of West Isle in Llaza, and its name is the Purple Pen. It was seaworthy once; now it's been rebuilt as an enormous floating club for the serious artists of Llaza and the surrounding Fnoi Province, but its fame has spread along the Anhoi and even to the old Empire itself. There's a two drink minimum, really bad food, and pretension is always on the menu.
The deck serves as an impromptu performance hall; underneath the canvas awnings you can see musicians, poets, authors, and plays, live and for a moderate fee. Below deck is the main lounge, two smaller rooms for games or private parties, and several cabins for patrons who need a place to sleep, or just sleep something off. The ship's holds house the kitchen and stores.
Some of the Pen's regulars include Ereshnupar (Ari2/Exp3), an Imperial ex-pat who was shamed out of Reflected Glory because of her inflammatory ideas. She is principally a playwright, and is proud to stand in antithesis to every value of Imperial theatre: her plays use little in the way of sets and props, are done in modern dress, and she prefers to perform them in the round. She dwells upon themes of ideological alienation, the conflict of the individual versus society and the search for true happiness. In examining these themes, she makes frequent use of familiar Imperial legends, satirizes and critiques the government, and resorts from time to time to shock tactics to either emphasize a point or just annoy people (even she won't admit which). Her career in the Empire ended when her play "The Magister is a Gentleman" opened in Reflected Glory to the sight of a naked actor covered in (animal) blood. She now lives in Llaza, where she is mainly known for her anti-Empire leanings.
She has married a local actor named Feder Pullias (Exp3), even though he is largely thought to prefer members of his own sex. Ereshnupar and Feder can often be found on a couch in the lounge, smoking whatever is handy, while Ereshnupar holds forth on whatever has outraged her this week and speaks of grand designs for her next play, which is several years overdue.
Another regular is a musician who calls himself Weran the Astonishing (Exp6). He dresses oddly and has numerous off-putting mannerisms, including a stare of sufficient intensity and duration to dsicomfort just about anyone. What money he earns he tends to waste at the Pen or lose whilst gambling, and his personal hygiene is sometimes in question. However, anyone who's ever heard him pick up a double pipe will vouch for his musical talent. There is a rumour that he was once a virtuoso somewhere upriver, but a rival had a curse placed on him that ruined his mind. He can often be found in a far corner, staring and scratching odd phrases of musical notation into the tabletops.
The proprietor of the Pen is a failed poet himself, and goes by the name of Teresh (War2). He doesn't talk much, but rumour has it that his family forced him to join the Imperial army after he published an ode to his married lover. When he does talk, it's usually to offer advice and encouragement to his patrons in their times of darkest need. At least part of his profits from the Pen go towards buying the output of his customers: paintings and sculptures decorate the main lounge, and in the back is a library of rare and unusual books, although they vary somewhat in quality.
Being misunderstood and depressed is in style in the Pen, as is being pretty much crazy (or at least acting like it). The staff will proudly inform you that they've had three suicides on the premises. It's considered an amazing privilege to get aboard the Pen, but unless you can get one of the regulars to vouch for you, good luck getting past the bouncers: two petite sisters with unmatched knowledge of martial arts and very sharp swords (Ftr4/Mnk3).
Using the Purple Pen
Apart from being a variant on Ye Olde Adventurer's Inn as a base of operations, the Pen can serve other plot functions. Teresh's library and collection of antiquities may house an item of interest to the PCs, or their enemies. At the least, Teresh may be a source for fencing any ill-gotten art objects.
Many of the patrons of the Pen have a past that can catch up with them. The curse placed upon Weren the Astonishing may have other repercussions beyond eccentric behaviour, perhaps Weren has been programmed to assassinate an important personage or to further the goals of some nefarious cult. Other members of the Pen may pay willing adventurers to seek out the wizard who cursed their friend and return him to sanity. There may be some, however, who feel that a bit of insanity is vital for artistic endeavour.
Denizens of the Pen are often found inhaling the fumes of Golden Yaama, as outlined in the Chrysanthemum Garden. They may also experiment with more dangerous substances, such as Black Yaama and through this fall afoul of Kalog the Knife or other underworld operatives. A threat to their favourite narcotic at its source, the distant Empire of Fon may lead adventurers on a quest over the seas to this unusual island nation.
(c) 2007 The Creative Conclave.