The benefits of smoking (in a fantasy world)

In my continuing efforts to push the boundaries of silliness ever further I present to you: fantasy tobacco!

Smoking has never been so judicious!

Ahhh. The joys of childhood…

Duskbloom  Tobacco

Yes Albert, if you say so.

Also called the “Third Eye Tobacco”, you must use a pipe to gain its benefits otherwise it doesn’t work. Go figure. Smoking duskbloom tobacco has a positive effect on problem-solving and overall thinking.

Effects:  You gain advantage on intelligence skills checks for one hour.

Average price: 3cp for 12 uses

Grave-cured Tobacco


Air-dried in the long disused Best Forgotten massgrave, grave-cured tobacco is smoked mostly by the Vestige residents for its vaunted power of warding evil spirits, useful in this sad neighborhood. Outside of the Vestige few folks, except perhaps those with an intense superstitious inclination, feel the need to pay its steep cost.


  • Undead have disadvantage on attack vs smoker up until one hour after consuming.
  • Blowing smoke at an undead (5′), as an action, triggers a turn undead as a level 5 cleric, dc 13

Average price: 5sp for 12 uses

Mephitic Tobacco

How it came to anyone to consider Mephitic Tobacco as a possible source of enjoyment is puzzling to say the least. You cannot call this an aroma, or even, an acquired taste. Even long time users (there’s a few of these knuckleheads around) acknowledge the sheer foulness of Mephitic Tobacco.


  • If chewed: If you chew Mephitic (daily, for at least a month) you gain the ability to cast the poison spray cantrip.
  • If smoked: Take 1d4 poison damage.  As an action, you can summon a smoke mephit. It appears beside you and obey your commands (but not without making obnoxious comments) for one minute before disappearing.


Average price: 2 sp for 12 uses

Taverns, dives, pubs & cabarets of S&T


The Crooked Fingers

Owned by Old Mindy’s Crew

Fencer in the backroom.

Lechers & Liquors Club

Owned by Maffeo’s Unrepentants

Disreputable, even by Disgrace Ward standard.

The Blackened Teeth

Owned by the Sons of Arson

The most impressive fireplace in town.

Poporo’s Bordello

Live girls (and some dead ones)

Owned by independent, pay tax to Bonemongers

Poporo the Necro-Pimp owns this nefarious joint.

The Fleeing Beauty Boardinghouse

Owned by independent, pays “tax” to Sons of Arson and Fetid Brigade

Rent rooms on second and third floor. Fourth floor is off-limit.

The Pierced Barrel Pub

Owned by the Broken Wheel Syndicate

Best halfling brandy in town.

The Stray Bullet

Owned by the Broken Wheel Syndicate

Changed hands a couple of months ago. Ex-owner forcefully ousted.

The Red Orphan

Owned by the Furniture Mishandling Club

Expect mimics.

The Turtle Shell

Owned by independant, doesn’t seem to pay taxes to anyone

Inside the shell of a dragon turtle (big specimen). Neutral. Don’t wear gang colors.

A Pair of Bludgeons

Owned by Golden Râ, higher-up of the Church of Sempiternal Deprecation

Members only. Fat, greedy merchants talk business.

The Domain

Owned by the 77 Red Dragons

Non-ghouls will feel some unease. At the very least.

Up the Ladder

“Watch your step”

Owned by independent, doesn’t seem to pay anyone

Drunk clients are often lowered by rope so they don’t break their neck falling from the 90 steps ladder.

Busy Wheelbarrow

Owned by independent, pays tax to the Northwall Creepers

Offers a service of “transportation” back home. Efficient if not very comfortable.

The Hidden Atrium

Owned by the Hidden Atrium Masks

Hidden. Really.

The Hourglass Cabaret

Owned by the Hidden Atrium Masks

Managed by charming Madame Colombina. The most haut-de-gamme you can find in the district.

The Passage’s Hole

Owned by the Passage’s Middlemen

Surprisingly spacious once you’re in.

Dart & Dime Cafe

Owned by Fate’s Favorites

Have gambling tables. No cheating.

The Dryad’s Bosom

Owned by Fate’s Favorites

Good food, try the needlefish.

The Winning Cockatrice

Owned by the Marfark Street Mumblers

Fighting pit. All kind of fights. Floor is one big red stain. Bloodthirsty crowd.

Listing a Tyrant’s life

Perfection, of a kind, was what he was after,
And the poetry he invented was easy to understand;
He knew human folly like the back of his hand,
And was greatly interested in armies and fleets;
When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter,
And when he cried the little children died in the streets.

W.H Auden, Epitath on a Tyrant

When I first started thinking about S&T, I knew I wanted it to be political. I rapidly felt the need to have a kind of pendulum effect between two eras in the setting’s fake history: a strict authoritarian rule which would naturally be followed by a period of lawlessness and civil disarray. This leads me to some more (vague) thoughts:

  • some people are genuinely nostalgic about the period when there was stricter control and they forget or just don’t want to remember how it was so terribly oppressive
  • tyranny really is just around the corner, a few unfortunate events and a well-placed charismatic figure is all it takes
  • It’s all about scale,  local leadership is far more accountable
  • The absence of local leadership, be it forcefully removed or just lacking, is awfully detrimental to the people


The authoritarian rule I mentioned is in fact divided between three tyrants, one after another. I don’t yet feel the need (or I’m too lazy maybe) to be very precise about these characters as the actual play will be at a point further in time, but I have to create some modicum of lore about them. Could come in handy.

So here’s a list of quirks I can use to flesh out these tyrants. I’ll keep the fantasy stuff for another time.  I didn’t invent anything new really, just stole eccentricities from a bunch of dead dudes (thank you Muammar Gaddafi, you’re malignant life helped my purpose).

The Tyrant has:

  1. burned down part of the city to make some space for a project of his.
  2. a harem with dozens of multiracial concubines.
  3. the habit of staging fake combat/sport/art performances where he can demonstrate his rather mediocre skills.
  4. female bodyguards in very alluring attires.
  5. written a treatise on proper behavior that is now set in stone everywhere.
  6. orchestrated a massacre of a minority group.
  7. the deep conviction that his people loves him, even with a rebellion raging all around.
  8. taken all of his armies in one big convoy to show off at a neighboring power’s frontier before going back.
  9. built a 50′ statue of himself.
  10. built a 50′ statue of his favorite pet animal.
  11. been pleased that the people chant whenever they see him.
  12. claimed that he received mandate from the gods.
  13. demanded that be erased all things concerning a famous hero.
  14. claimed to be the rightful successor of a famous hero.
  15. the habit of keeping exotic/dangerous pet animals.
  16. one or more secret prisons, nobody knows what happens inside.
  17. a few delusional pet theories that he likes to share in long-winded public speeches.
  18. the habit of receiving young virgins at least once a week.
  19. banned a long list of goods that he personally dislikes.
  20. a favorite sport team that doesn’t seem to be able to lose no matter how bad they play.
  21. a crush on a well-known beauty. She fled in exile.
  22. large portrays of him on the buildings of the city. Its a capital offense to put graffitis on them.
  23. the monopoly on a luxury good. It used to be available, now it’s his.
  24. once ordered a man to be executed. He didn’t chant with the crowd.
  25. once ordered a man to be executed, he wore a hat that was more ornate than his.
  26.  once ordered a man to be executed. He coveted the man’s wife. She killed herself.
  27.  once ordered a man to be executed, he was way too ugly.
  28. once ordered a man to be executed, he remembered him of someone.
  29. once ordered a man to be executed, he was his best friend.
  30. once ordered a man to be executed but then felt generous. He commuted the sentence to prison for life. The man was never seen again.
  31. built an extensive tomb to be buried with riches and his entire staff of (killed) servants.
  32. a bath made of gold.
  33. an artificial lake excavated in order to please his favorite concubine.
  34. often said that he doesn’t hold any power. The people have power. He’s merely the Guide.
  35. spies everywhere. Watch your words.
  36. no trust for spies. Not one bit.
  37. secretly helped the rebels organize so that he could better crushed them.
  38. named his half-wit older brother to the office of Minister of Public Health.
  39. banished his youngest son after a failed attempt on his life. He loves him very much.
  40. always consulted oracles before taking his most important decisions.






Monsters in the City



They’re street cleaners, removing offal, dejections, basically any organic waste. Sometimes they get a little less discriminatory about the unmoving quality of their sweepings.

That’s something I came up with while reading Jeff Vandermeer’s book:


What I’m stealing for my setting is only the cruder idea of the Gray Caps of Vandermeer, who aren’t even mushroom creatures as such, but are fuzzily described as smaller humanoids with a weird civilization based on advanced fungi technology.

The total creepiness and sinister threat of the Gray Caps I leave out, only because it won’t do thematically for my setting, but it was a very good read!



Far from the primeval forest of its youth, amidst the housings and the bustling urban activity, lives a strange creature: a cosmopolitan dryad. The most surprising thing? It chose to be there…


Of course, it could have had a better tree in the wild. But the crazyness of the crowd, the thousands of overheard tidbits of gossip, even the occasional surge of violence, this dryad loves it all!

Sometimes an unfolding event catch its fancy so much that it overcomes its usual shyness and asks a friendly-looking passerby about it. It rewards interesting information with some of its tree’s deliciously invigorating oranges.

A steroid user.


Ogres are anabolic steroids (ogrenabol) users, of course. Humanoids taking ( by ingestion) ogrenabol gain tremendous strength but it has a terrible side-effect: intense deformity.  Ogrenabol was synthetized by hobgoblin chemists almost a century ago. It’s not illegal but it’s costly.

Now, I like this concept… But I haven’t the faintest idea what I’m gonna do if a player wants to test ogrenabol for his PC… Oh well, let’s cross the bridge when we’ll come to it, I guess…



Cockatrice pit fighting.

Now, let’s assume that the cockatrices are, somehow, evolved(1) creatures and as such, likely to fight each other if left to their own devices, shouldn’t they be resistant  (at least) to each other’s petrifying bite? Let’s say, to keep it simple, that they have advantage vs petrification (2).


  • their owners have thick leather gloves
  • their wings are clipped so they don’t fly away
  • champion cockatrices may have a little bonus to their attack or save or both


Freshwater Dragon Turtle

The freshwater dragon turtle is a lot smaller than its oceanic cousin. Many of these beasts have found their way in the canals of the City where they seem satisfied to operate as living rafts, transporting both people and merchandises, for a fee. Being as intelligent (int: 10) as their gargantuan relatives, these dragon turtles accept partnerships with a “pilot” (that don’t have any piloting to do) who will negociate fees and seek clients, for everyone’s convenience.


Approaching their nesting sites, at the bottom of the Sacred Lake, is a sure way to be attacked by these otherwise peaceful creatures.

The freshwater dragon turtle is of huge size, is CR 6 (compared to 17) and  steam breath is very rarely exhibited amongst them.


Galeb Duhr

A Galeb Duhr typically come into existence, however briefly, in the aftermath of a brutal street fight that saw a lot of brick/pavement throwing. It’s supposed that the creature’s existence – formed from the very stuff that litters the street – is a defense mechanism set in motion by the ambient angst and the City’s magic.

Most of the time, the Galeb Dhur brutalize some of the nearby offenders and then simply resume its inert state. Sometimes though, it lingers and endangers until forcefully put to rest…

District Invasion

As if the numerous troublesome gangs weren’t enough, outside parties often invite themselves to the woe of the inhabitants.

Gargoyles from the Folly


There’s many clutches of gargoyles living among the Folly’s dizzying heights. They’re very territorial and constantly at each other’s throats. They mostly keep to their high above ground perches but recently, the Covellites gargoyles, under pressure by an alliance of Realgars and Pyrites, have started making forays into the Harlequin.

Thrill-seeking Enclave Elves


Boredom can be a powerful driving force, suffer a couple of centuries of it and I’m sure you’ll agree. A manifestation of this is expressed by those elven interlopers going for a stroll in the “bad neighborhood”. Most of the time, such a group is escorted by hired arms and the elves themselves are comically clad with antique (and mostly useless) armors.  Less often, these Enclave Elves want to really test themselves and get some action. Some are actually quite good at it.

Kwaggers from… the Kwag


Be they of any races, kwaggers are kwaggers. Crazy, violent slum people who don’t even seem to want to better their lives. But then, the Kwag is literally a nexus of bad energy. Folks who live there don’t stay sane very long. Sometimes things spill out, a gate gets destroyed or a levy-bridge breaks, slamming down, and the Kwaggers swarm over, howling and clawing like madmen.

Notches on a Blood Cudgel


It’s a bit contrived but I was searching for a way to upgrade damage output for weapons that normally do 1d4 (for my beat’em up setting), as a way to balance weapon-using classes with the monk class (1).


Sometimes called blood cudgels or shillelaghs, these are clubs made from a bloodroot tree and specially imbued  with magical potency but oddly, you’ve got to “prove” yourself by beating the crap out of people. Many people…

30 + 1d20 notches required

  • You make the roll when you first acquire a blood cudgel.
  • K.O, dropping a foe to 0 hp counts as a Kill.
  • You cannot “upgrade” a blood cudgel which have been notched by someone else.

Once you have enough notches, the blood cudgel counts as a magical weapon and its damage dice is one higher (d4 to d6 or d6 to d8 with this feat).

In addition, a blood cudgel may potentially gain special damage if it is used to kill monsters (i.e gaining fire damage if it kills an efreet). At the DM’s discretion.

A blood cudgel costs 80 gp, is a simple weapon and is not widely available.

  1. As Dubs kept remembering me, annoyingly but… he was right!


Class variant: Flâneur


I won’t mess with the mechanics of the rogue as it is one of the few character classes that is perfectly okay within my Streets & Turmoil D&D setting but here is a little more flavour coming along with the flâneur. As always, the players will be free to do as they wish (almost) but it seems to me that a rogue character could well be played with these lines in mind:

The flâneur belongs to the same social and moral universe as the spy, agent de sûreté and, somewhat later, the detective. Like them, he strives to be both all-seeing and invisible (though, just as spies were commonly spied upon, so too the flâneur is himself not infrequently the object of physionomie) and, no less than Vidocq or Hugo’s Javert, he is a Protean figure capable of assuming a variety of disguises in order to pursue his scopophiliac passion undetected.

extract from The flaneur and his city by Richard D.E. Burton

The flâneur is a keen observer, so much so that using physionomie knowledge he can, from the dress, gait, etc. in a mere moment gain, like Burton says: “god-like power-through knowledge over the Other.”


Well I think that would help explain a few things about the features of the rogue class (versatility, skills strength, backstab ability and so on).

Magic Items – Mean Streets

So what kind of magic items can you find in a “rough-and-tumble fantasy setting”? Here’s a few samples:


Brass Knuckles of Button-Seeking


Weapon, rare

Right on the button. Sleep well!

You gain + 1 to attack and damage rolls made with this magic weapon. In addition, the chance to score a critical hit is increased (19-20).

Chain of Inescapability

Weapon, rare (requires attunement)

You gain + 1 to attack and damage rolls made with this magic weapon. An opponent hit by this weapon cannot choose the disengage action nor can it use any kind of extradimensional movement as long as it is faced by the owner of the Chain.

Fist Cane of Brutality


Weapon, uncommon

When you roll a 20 on your attack roll with this weapon, the target takes an extra d12 of force damage.

Lupin’s Briefs of Heroics

Wondrous Item, legendary (requires attunement by a bard)

Antique underwear of a Hero long gone. How the hell did you get them?!

While you wear these legendary briefs you can use bardic inspiration on yourself.

Hand Wraps of Grasping


Weapon, rare

You have advantage on grapple checks when you’re the attacker. Doing so, you have a reach of 10′. In addition, you have advantage on Strength (athletics) checks that involves climbing.

Hat of  the Watchful Eye

Wondrous Item, uncommon


You need to watch your back on these streets.

The hat have three charges. You can spend a charge to gain advantage on Wisdom (perception) checks for 10 minutes. The hat regains 1d3 expended charges daily at dawn.

Slimy Padded Vest of Ooze Summoning

Armor (Padded), very rare (requires attunement)

If you’re weird enough to wear this disgusting vest, you gain a + 2 bonus to AC.  In addition, you have advantage on Strength (athletics or acrobatics) checks to escape a grapple.

Each time you have lost 22 hit points (cumulative) while wearing this armor, you can use an action to summon a gray ooze that will be under your control until next dawn (and then liquefy). You can have up to 4 oozes under your control at the same time.

Hand Wraps of the Grave

Weapon, very rare

A ghoul stole it from a corpse. A buried one I mean.

You gain + 1 to attack and damage rolls made with this magic weapon. In addition, each time you hit the target takes another 1d4 cold damage.

This item have 5 charges. You can spend one charge to cast Chill Touch or more than one to increase its damage. To regain expanded charges you must put the Wraps of the Grave on a corpse for one night.

Brass Knuckles of Combos

Weapon, rare

When you make an attack roll on a target you already hit you gain a + 1 to attack and damage rolls made with this magic weapon. This is cumulative up to + 4. If you attack another target this benefit is lost. After a +4 bonus the combo is stopped and it begins anew.

Paldrons of Shoving

Wondrous Item, uncommon (requires medium armor proficiency)

Gives the wearer + 1 AC and advantage on Strength checks (athletics) for shoving an adversary.

Gloves of the Gecko

Wondrous Item, rare (requires attunement)

While wearing the Gloves of the Gecko, you can climb (without a check) any surface (even upside down) at a rate of 20′ maximum.

Wand of Smelling Salts

Weapon (staff), rare

The Wand of Smelling Salts has 3 charges. As a reaction, you can use 1 charge to remove a stunned conditon on yourself or someone within 5′ of you.


The Furniture Mishandling Club

ec79677462d55591972cc5f6776ce7f3Les bahuts, monsieur, répliqua l’architecte, les bahuts, meuble obligé d’une maison moyen âge ! Le moyen âge et le bahut sont inséparables ! Le bahut, madame, ajouta-t-il, en se tournant vers Malvina, le bahut, c’est le coffre au linge, l’armoire à glace, la commode, le secrétaire de nos aïeux. Le bahut et le prie-dieu, voilà la grande ébénisterie du xive siècle !  (Louis ReybaudJérôme Paturot, 1842)

The members of the Furniture Mishandling Club (FMC) are known far and wide for their love of barricade building and their signature magic ability to cast animate object on, well, any furniture they can put their hands on. They even create furniture golems!



The FMC loves gratuitous mayhem but it has also a knack for extortion (great many houses have been emptied by its operators). They now have under their control three sub-precincts, delimited with their infamous, almost impassable barricades.

One such particularly impressive wall of furniture is purely defensive. The FMC blocked the gate leading to the Kwag Slums, to prevent an invasion on their eastern side by those crazy Kwaggers.


Gang Activities

  • extortion
  • intimidation
  • thieving
  • beating
  • reselling
  • tax to enter territory
  • cut from woodcraft’s guild

Most Noteworthy members

King Bahut (leader, dwarf)

The grizzled leader of the FMC was a member of the Resistance who fought against the Third Tyrant a century ago. It seems like he developped an obsession of barricades from this bloody era. He’s quite the brilliant guerilla tactician but he’s not entirely sane. He’s often found sitting on a gigantic, damaged throne that moves around.

Master Stool (dwarf)

A dwarf martial artist, he still laugh like a devil when he succeeds in tripping an opponent over  an animated stool with an adroit push of his quarterstaff, even after so many times.

Chairman Lookup (goblin)

Almost always on top of a barricade, the so-called Chairman loves to throw things from above. Chairs, bricks, rocks, nets, dead rats; he always prepare a good stash of ammos. He has a monkey pet that have strange, red, evil-looking eyes.

Maatelaah, Queen (of the) Bed (hobgoblin female)

When she’s not expertly directing the building of yet another pile of furniture, “Queen” Maatelaah loves to terrorize the neighborhood with a bunch of thugs, snatching anything she wants, the animated bed following her dutifully serving as transport.

Captain Chiffonnier (human male)

The pedantic “Captain” Chiffonier has a much profitable business relation with the woodcrafting’ s guild. Taking away so much furniture from the people in the vicinity of the FMC also creates a need and such an unscrupulous fellow as Chiffonier wants what he thinks is his due.