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The Amzaan Da'Kaam (or, the omnipresent goblin market)


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So, this is a thing I've been kicking around for a little while; I finally got my thoughts typed up.


The Eberron campaing I run got its start with the adventure in the back of the 3.5E Eberron Campaign Setting. One of the unexpected hits of the adventure was Skakaan, a goblin merchant deep in the Sharn undercity. My players have returned to shop with Skakaan on numerous occasions, well past the point he should have been useful to them (he was originally a shop for first-level characters; they're now over tenth). I've introduced one of Skakaan's cousins, and spent some time pondering how to make it all make sense. This is what I've come up with.


For your consideration, thrown pottery, acclaim or revilement, I present:


The Amzaan Da’Kaam




The open-all-night, anywhere, anytime goblin market


As the party pushes through the crowd to the center of the plaza, a gravelly voice lifts above the noise of city life. “What do you need? Akbaali provides, yes! Step forth and see! Akbaali can make it yours!â€

Finally emerging from the crowd, you can see the square is dominated by a fountain, gushing clean water that sparkles through the air. Children carry buckets back and forth from their homes while thirsty travelers drink from a communal ladle; a town guard stands nearby, her watchful gaze ensuring traffic around the fountain continues to flow. But there, on the flagstone ground, tucked into a corner of the fountain’s low wall, is a patch of stillness and the source of the hawking voice.

                “Yes, you see something interesting, indeed! Come closer, peruse Akbaali’s wares and be amazed!†Small and sun-brown, the goblin sits cross-legged on a threadbare carpet, surrounded by piles of all manner of merchandise. He genuflects without standing and opens his arms to encompass his wares. “look, kind customer, and find. Akbaali is happy to meet you today!â€

Near the edges of the carpet are rusted bits of metal pipe, tarnished pans and dirt-encrusted silverware, goods more likely from a junkyard than a warehouse. It is clear this wizened merchant subsists on poor customers in need of basic items, more concerned with low prices than high quality. With all this spread at your feet and the goblin smiling expectantly, you politely inspect a leather-wrapped dagger and return it to its place on the carpet after seeing the cancerous rust covering the blade.

                “You turn away now? Akbaali has what you need, it is as I have said!†Arrested by the low voice, you take a second look at the items nearer the goblin. To his left, several worn baskets and beaten pots appear to overflow with spices from impossibly far-off lands; though caked with mud, several sealed amphorae promise spirits unheard of in this climate. At his right, a pile of inconspicuously rough-spun cloth covers the liquid shine of silk, and a mildewed leather hat sports a jeweled band. At your intake of breath, the goblin grins widely and produces a sheathed dagger, glowing unmistakably with magic, from beneath his well-worn cloak.

“You are happy now, to make Akbaali’s acquaintance, yes?â€


The gist:

Amzaan, once little more than a simple grunt in the Dhakaani army, has built an enterprise which reaches throughout the Five Kingdoms and beyond, with operatives on every continent. As a purveyor of fine items, both magical and mundane, Amzaan has made it his business to have everything a customer might need, no matter where, no matter when.


NB: The ancient goblin Da’Kaam was a mobile marketplace of both goods and ideas, a caravan, workshop and university all rolled into one. Although the components of his network of shops don’t often move, Amzaan took the ancient name as a symbol of his dedication to providing consumers with goods and services regardless of their location.


How it works:

In a given location (a large city, a crossroads near the national border, a hollow tree in the haunted forest; ie, anywhere the DM requires), a lone goblin sets up a stall. This stall will primarily appear as a junk shop, a moth-eaten carpet strewn with cracked pottery, moldy books and half-empty ink pots. On closer inspection, items of higher quality can be seen hidden amongst the dross, and the goblin merchant seems able to produce almost anything requested from within the folds of his brown and travel-worn cloak.

                This is the primary way an adventurer is likely to encounter part of the Da’Kaam: as a customer. What isn’t immediately apparent is that the goblin’s cloak hides a portal (essentially a Ring Gate) and a few extradimensional storage spaces. The goblin may have any number of items stored within his or her cloak, and the portal provides access to a well-stocked warehouse which exists nowhere near the stall’s location.

                When a customer asks for an item not already in the merchant’s possession, he closes his cloak over his hands and puts them through the portal within. A pair of rings allows his hands to pass freely through a gate which would normally be painful—or deadly—to organic flesh, and arcane marks invisibly tattooed on his palms identify him to the eyes on the other side.

                The “switchboard†is a room lined with portals, manned by several goblins. When a hand emerges from a gate, a goblin rushes over with a sharp knife, ready to sever the limb if need be; the knives are sheathed when a mark is identified, and the task of reading an order given in hand-sign begins.

                Once the order is complete the goblins in the switchboard call to the warehouse floor below, and set in motion a flurry of movement throughout the well-organized shelves. Within moments, the requested item is placed in the waiting hands and drawn back through the gate. Meanwhile, the merchant has continued his friendly patter, keeping the customer occupied until he appears to seamlessly remove the item from his cloak.

                Obviously, this is a great expenditure of energy and not undertaken lightly; the merchants in Amzaan’s network are well-trained, often very high-level rogues or bards with maxed ranks in Sense Motive. If a customer seems likely to walk off without paying, or is simply browsing and has no real intent to buy, the merchant usually knows this long before actually requesting the item. The merchants also refrain from providing too much to any given customer; although it may be an open secret among many adventurers, the Da’Kaam strives to maintain a plausible deniability about the source of its wares. This also means low-level adventurers aren’t likely to get particularly over-powered equipment through one of the Da’Kaam’s merchants; a merchant simply isn’t going to ask the Warehouse for a Holy Avenger if he knows the customer doesn’t have more than 25 gold pieces.

                The Da’Kaam also retains a small army of investigators, bounty hunters and assassins, in addition to keeping up very good relationships with local law enforcement agencies. If a merchants’ cloak is stolen (an unlikely scenario if the merchant is still living), it will be tracked down swiftly and the thief dealt with (a task often made simpler by the identifying marks of newly severed hands).

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((NOTE TO MODERATORS: I’ve split this into several posts in the hopes of making it easier to navigate; if it’s better to have it all in one post feel free to consolidate it or to ask me to edit my initial post.))


What does the Da’Kaam keep on hand?

                Almost anything an adventurer, scholar or student might need: magic scrolls and potions, high-quality arms and armor, ancient relics, tomes of knowledge or power. There are a few limitations on what can be passed through the cloak-portals, but the Warehouse probably has even those items. Living creatures, full suits of armor and extremely potent magic items won’t go through for various reasons: the gates will cause harm to living tissue, large or bulky items make it difficult to hide the nature of the merchants’ cloaks, and very powerful magic can disrupt or be disrupted by the transport through the gates. For such items, the merchant can instruct a customer to meet at a specified location later, where another member of the Da’Kaam can bring the item by other means.

                A given merchant is likely to keep fairly common items in the storage spaces of his own cloak. The on-hand inventory for a specific merchant should probably be determined by the likely availability of items in a location one size category larger than the actual location of the stall.


Where is the Warehouse?

                Anywhere the DM needs it to be, although it is a large and well-organized place; once a location is determined, it would be very difficult for Amzaan to move the Warehouse.


How is the Warehouse stocked?

                Amzaan himself is an artificer of no small skill, and the designer of the cloaks used by his merchants. When he began the Da’Kaam, he made many of the items for sale himself. As the network grew, this became untenable, and he hired more artificers to make new items, as well as adventurers to retrieve harder-to-produce items from the world. Those who know about his network believe it likely many of the dragonmarked individuals missing over the last century have gone to work for Amzaan, as much of his operation is facilitated by Cannith, Kundarak and Sivis technologies, to say nothing of the utility of Lyrandar, Orien and Tharashk expertise. Although Amzaan’s merchants are all goblins, he has no compulsion against hiring members of different races in other positions.


The Da’Kaam in a game:


Obviously, PCs can encounter the Da’Kaam just like any other merchant. The idiosyncratic goblin merchants (there is a “brand image†maintained across the network, an affably third-person way of speaking combined with a disheveled and disorganized faceade) can be fairly memorable, and once they recognize the signs, players are likely to seek out the Da’Kaam even without knowing the scope of the network. But there are other opportunities, especially if the PCs are regular customers to a particular merchant.


·         Protection: For whatever reason, this merchant’s normal retinue of bodyguards is nowhere to be found. The merchant needs to close shop and make his way to another location, and will pay well if the PCs help.

o   This may be part of a larger plot: what happened to the bodyguards? Are rival merchants trying to drive the Da’Kaam away?

o   This can also be reversed; perhaps rival merchants or a local thieves guild wants the PCs to engage the bodyguards or the merchant.

·         Procurement: The PCs are approached by a “buyer†for the Da’Kaam. There is a nearby cache of treasure, which the buyer would like to peruse. The PCs are welcome to keep any cash or simple items, but wants to see any uncommon items, relics, etc. The buyer may come along for the job or not; if a large amount of treasure is expected, the buyer may provide a Bag of Holding or similar item.

o   This may be a milk run into a local catacomb, or a deep exploration into uncharted territories; the end goal may be a particular item known to the buyer, or simply a trove of unknown content.

o   This may also put the party in conflict with the Da’Kaam if they are seeking the same treasure trove as the party’s current employer.

·         Delivery: The PCs witness an attack on a lone traveller and try to defend him. Although the attackers were driven off, the traveller was grievously injured. Seeing the party is capable, the traveller reveals he is a courier and asks the party to deliver an item to a merchant. The merchant will pay well upon receipt.

·         Theft: Any number of organizations would enjoy seeing the Da’Kaam brought low: the Great Houses, who have lost revenue and scions to the merchant empire; the Emerald Claw or Cult of the Dragon Below, who would love the supplies and funds to be had from raiding the Warehouse; royalty of the Five Kingdoms, seeking lost relics of the crown; even former customers who feel bilked in some way may all have a grudge against Amzaan and his organization. An entire campaign could be set around finding and besieging the Warehouse.

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 I like it. Definitely makes the party think twice before they go up against some goblins or kobolds, knowing they could be part of the organization instead of just some random loot-bags.


I have something similar in an individual named Ali Al'Rasgul ("a little rascal"?), who physically resembles the fat Arab guy in The Mummy, and speaks and acts like the world's most obnoxious used camel salesman, lol.


No matter which city the party finds itself in, at least once or twice every level his seen-better-days desert-style tent can be found in the local marketplace, and he always seems to know just when the party needs him and what they're looking for.

His shop sells all the common non-magical gear, and he always knows somebody who can get uncommon or rare items, alhough he doesn't always mention where they came from. He also knows exactly where the party needs to go and what to do to find any magic items they need.

Despite his appearance and act of being just a slightly shifty merchant, Ali Al-Rascul is actually basically a Planeswalker: a major player on a global scale and at least a medium player in places as far away as Sigil. His tent is essentially a TARDIS, travelling wherever he needs to go and much larger on the inside than out - in fact, his tent is also a travelling Nexus, with doorways to Sigil, the City of Brass, and every other campaign world...


Edited by Mad Jack
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I think I am going to have to borrow a bit of this idea for my homebrew world, which mostly just exists as a bunch of ideas, and a few minor stories. I've decided that goblins, as a race, are not evil. Over the entire race they are the embodiment of chaotic neutral, with a strong emphasis on chaotic. Sure some tribes are evil, often to the point of needing to be eliminated , others are quite willing to live amongst, and trade with the other races, and while most of my goblins are not what one would call smart, they can be very very clever

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Glad you guys like it. I put it here for the taking, so do whatever you like with it!


I am a little ways through a writeup on the Warehouse itself, probably have that over the weekend.


Tim, that's exactly in line with my thoughts on goblins, and jives pretty well with Eberron. The race may be largely evil, but they aren't all bad. And they are (or Buglips has taught us anything!) faaaar smarter than the other civilised races give them credit for.


Jack, your al'Rasgul sounds right up my alley. I love memorable merchants, especially when they can be good plot hooks for the PCs at some point!

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 Feel free to borrow him if ya want - I also have a tavern with a mildly rude name that has occasionally stalked the PCs in every campaign I've ever run, always showing up completely whole and untouched (and sometimes in a different location) after a few days/weeks/months no matter how many times they burn it down (hell, sometimes the locals burn it down just for giggles)...

 Feel free to inflict that one on your players as well. ::D:

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