It’s Midgard Monday! Each week, we visit a corner of the wide world of Midgard. Look for standalone content you can drop into your own campaign—whether it’s in Midgard or your own homebrew. Find new inspiration for your game, each Midgard Monday!
Messori Harbor is a busy port city in the Republic of Trombei. Vast quantities of grain and beer leave this city bound for other parts of the world, and all manner of goods pass through its markets. Unsurprisingly, the city also has its fair share of criminal elements.
A prominent criminal group in Messori Harbor is the Red Eels, a band of cutthroats and pirates.
Over seventy years ago, Marco Garzola, a grizzled pirate, almost lost his life to a sea dragon attack. He suddenly found an attractive proposition in the city of Messori Harbor and gathered his former crew to start a nice, safe protection racket with theft and smuggling on the side.
Nowadays, the Red Eels are a proper thieves’ guild with a hand in many illicit enterprises throughout the city. While content to leave most decent folk alone, they have no qualms with violence. A hallmark of the guild is that anyone who crosses them gets no second chance. This has resulted in surprisingly little friction with the local constabulary, who view the Eels as more of a nuisance than a threat. Keeping many of the city guard on the Red Eels’ books helps, of course.
Over 150 Red Eels work in or around Messori Harbor’s alleys and waterways. Most pass as dockhands or other honest folks when not on guild business. Most Red Eels are human, but several dwarves and some ravenfolk and minotaurs fill out the ranks. More than half of the gang are expert sailors or swimmers and often use barge poles (see Tome of Heroes) or daggers as weapons. They otherwise use bandit statistics (see SRD).
In addition to the rank-and-file, the Red Eels include several specialized members, including fixers (see Tome of Beasts 3), thugs, mages, and priests (most of whom serve Nethus, King of the Sea, or Mavros, Master of War).
They also keep trained wharflings (see Tome of Beasts) as other guilds might keep attack dogs, using the creatures’ natural larcenous proclivities to pick pockets of wealthy merchants and sneak aboard ships to open doors or release moorings. The guild has half a dozen members who raise and handle these creatures. Each handler has between one and eight wharflings under their control.
Joining the Red Eels is a tricky proposition for outsiders. They typically accept only those with maritime experience or known Messori Harbor residents, but could make an exception for someone with seagoing experience and a recommendation from a trusted local.
Those who do get a chance to join must first pass a test of loyalty, which involves stealing an item worth at least 100 gp from one of the many foreign ships docked in the city and giving it to the guild. Those who pass become members and get a red eel branded on the underside of their tongue. The process often prevents a newly inducted member from speaking or eating properly until it heals.
The Lower Deck
The Red Eels’ lair is a sprawling series of shopfronts and warehouses linked by secret tunnels and rooftop pathways, known in the guild as “the Lower Deck.” The lair connects to the harbor by a short pier that typically sports a few trained watchers passing themselves off as bored fishermen.
Outsiders who get into the Lower Deck find various traps and defenses waiting, including falling nets, spiked pits, and areas that the Red Eels can selectively flood with water from the nearby harbor or sewers by raising and lowering hidden walls throughout the complex. The Eels often use these flooding rooms to get rid of prisoners, sometimes releasing swarms of wharflings or hungry ion slimes (see Tome of Beasts 3) into the chamber to finish the job faster.
Guild Leader: Benedetto “Dull-Head”
The current leader of the Red Eels is a muscular male subek (see Southlands Players Guide) name Benedetto. His crocodile head and humanoid body shimmer with striking green scales, except for a series of scars on his face where the scales grew back dull and flat. Out of earshot, the Eels call him “Dull-Head.” Anyone who calls him that to his face gets an out-of-season sample of flood fever.
Benedetto became leader of the Red Eels after the guild’s former leader promoted him on her deathbed. This aroused suspicion, but no one has ever called him on it. A female alleybasher ogre (see Tome of Beasts 3) named Gethudril serves as Benedetto’s bodyguard and is never far from his side.
Benedetto secretly serves Akmal the Fat (see Midgard Worldbook) in keeping dissidents and spies out of Messori Harbor. He uses the guild to target specific individuals for expulsion or removal under the pretense of maintaining the Red Eels’ hold. Even the subek’s closest allies are unaware of this. It would put him in danger if the guild ever found out.
Use gladiator stats (see SRD) for Benedetto, with the following weapon action available to use in his multiattack:
Poisoned Scimitar. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d6 + 4) slashing damage plus 7 (2d6) poison damage.
Here are some possible adventure ideas involving the Red Eels:
⦁ A popular Trombei naval officer owes the Red Eels a great deal of money. He knows the “no second chances” creed of the Eels, and asks the PCs to broker an agreement with the guild to leave him alone. The guild will let him “escape” if he never comes back to Messori Harbor . . . and if the PCs do a job for them.
⦁ A family of weresharks (see Tome of Beasts 2) is kidnapping Messori Harbor citizens, and the Red Eels are being blamed for it. As the PCs look into the disappearances, they run into the Red Eels, who are also on the hunt for the culprits.
⦁ A few Red Eels learn Benedetto’s secret, and their attempt to overthrow him fails. They turn to sympathetic PCs for protection from his retribution.