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The Black Lobster

by Andrew Wright

The Black Lobster Tavern
Artwork © Iain McCaig
Beware Blacksand ... an open sore on a dying leper! Even those who dwell there call it the 'City of Thieves', for it attracts every pirate, brigand, assassin, thief and evil-doer for hundreds of leagues around. Danger lurks in every corner of every street, as the strong prey on the weak, and the weak prey on one another.

A typical inn: The 'Black Lobster' in Port Blacksand. The 'Black Lobster' is a renowned dockland inn, much frequented by pirate crews and their captains. It is owned by 'Laughing' Guidon Allierté, who also owns two taverns in Rimon, and three in Halak, further down the coast. As a result, the 'Black Lobster' is left to itself most of the time, run by a succession of barmen under the watchful eye of Allierté's nephew, Halron, who is more concerned with drinking the profits then making them! The Allierté family have owned taverns in Allansia for many years, and they have built up strong ties with several pirate captains, who always bring their custom to Allierté's joints when in port.

The 'Black Lobster' is a typical city tavern, with a single average-sized bar and a number of small booths. Its rooms are filthy and bug-ridden, but at least they are not shared with other guests, and they are not overpriced at 1 Gold Piece a night. The bar serves a number of local ales and spirits, as well as seamen's grog made from cane sugar all the way from Arantis. Its clientele is invariably half pirate and half adventurer (often looking for passage on a pirate ship).

Mh'ark Ghazcoin, Titan: The Wide and Dangerous World, 284 AC, the Year of the Fox, Salamonis: Scrolls from the Halls of Learning.

YOU are Halron Allierté, nephew of 'Laughing' Guidon Allierté, and overseer of The Black Lobster. In all honesty, you've probably been running the tavern for far longer than you'd care to admit, however, there are certainly worse jobs available in Port Blacksand. The perks of the job are not too bad either, and as long as you are not too greedy or noticeable in skimming the profits to fund your continual drunkenness, then you are also safe from the legendary ire of your uncle Guidon.

Besides, the tavern has a violent reputation, and few barmen work here long enough to discover your frequent trawls through the Strongbox in search of drinking funds. Those barmen that do find out generally keep well quiet about it, lest they wind up on the wrong end of a sword during one of The Black Lobster's nightly tavern brawls. The very smartest barmen leave town immediately...

One night however, things took a sudden lurch into troubled waters. The great Allansian hero Chadda Darkmane had been entrusted with a quest by the wizard Yaztromo. This was to stop the evil sorcerer known as Malbordus the Storm Child, before the latter acquired five mysterious dragon artefacts from the ruins of the Lost City of Vatos, deep within the windswept sands of the Desert of Skulls.

All very impressive, but of what relevance to a simple dockside tavern in Port Blacksand?

The problem lay with Chadda Darkmane, who, en route to Vatos, passed through Port Blacksand and the Black Lobster. Darkmane was looking for passage on a ship heading south, and bribed you to introduce him to Gargo, first mate on the pirate vessel known as the Belladonna. After Gargo left to notify the Belladonna's captain, one of the Black Lobster's frequent brawls started up, during which Chadda Darkmane slew a gunner from the very same ship - the Belladonna. You reported the death to the first mate Gargo, but neglected to identify the killer - after all, you had just taken his gold. How were you to know that Chadda Darkmane would then betray the Belladonna to a Dwarven man-o-war whilst sailing along the Skull Coast?

Regardless, the Belladonna and her captain were of some standing in the complex hierarchy of the southern pirates. Your act of carelessness in not identifying Chadda Darkmane as the killer, making it easier for him to infiltrate and betray the ship, was considered highly treasonous by the leadership of the Pirate Coast. Pressure was brought to bear on your uncle Guidon to send somebody north to Port Blacksand to keep an eye on you, in the event of any further traitorous behaviour on your part. That somebody was Thord Death-Dealer - barman, bouncer, freelance thug, and paid-up member of the Brotherhood of the Knife, known to all as the Guild of Assassins. Should you mess it up again, he will thus be your executioner...

Thord Death-Dealer was originally a northerner from the Dragon Reaches - a lithe, compact, scar-faced warrior - who had been working for your uncle for years, in various capacities, and he scares you worse than any Demon. Since he started working at The Black Lobster, the roles have been reversed with him the overseer and you the barman. Although you still have some degree of control over the contents of the Strongbox, you dare not complain about the new division of labour, in case Thord should report your drunken over-spending to Guidon.

Further complicating events has been the arrival of the new Cook, a member of the weird race known only as FLAYERS - bizarre humanoids with a jellyfish-like head (from which dangle numerous claw-tipped tentacles), no arms, and a sullen and occasionally hostile personality. You suspect Thord hired him, after the old cook mysteriously disappeared, but Thord claims innocence in the matter. There is no denying the new Cook is capable, it's just that you find his appearance rather disturbing...

Lastly, The Black Lobster Tavern employs three serving wenches named Raetha, Laksi, and Oon-Mai. Since Thord's arrival however, they have further scaled back their working hours, and sometimes whole days can pass without any of them making an appearance.

This is the current unhappy state of play at The Black Lobster Tavern. Dare YOU step into Halron's shoes?
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