Jump to content
Puckohue

Sewers, smuggler's tunnels etc

Recommended Posts

During the Hero Wars it might become interesting for some characters to explore alternative ways to enter and/or exits towns. What's the general take on sewers smugglers' tunnels etc in Sartar?

Personally I think sewers would be non-extinct in Sartar but on the other hand the towns were built using magic so as long as someone thought about it they ought to be present.

Smugglers' tunnels... I don't know. Maybe the long term traders in some places - Like Joh Mith in Jonstown - have tunnels. Maybe some rulers have secret escape tunnels from their forts.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Indus Valley civilization appears to have had open sewage canals leading out of the city. This isn't quite a proper avenue for sneaking, but it does mean that someone putting some rock slabs above something like that and enclosing it from view is not entirely unfeasible, even as far back as early in Bronze Age times.

Once you introduce the arch (which is well-documented in Glorantha), and upscale the cities to large metropolises, underground systems for sewage are even more feasible. On the face of it, they would be limited by the size of the city above - however, as many Gloranthan cities have been built, razed, and rebuilt above ruins, I don't think it's unreasonable for a town to have an oversized sewage (or even aquifer) system compared to its current population.

There's also a possibility for other underground passages: Rome famously hosted the persecuted Christian minority in its myriad of catacombs, and Paris is similarly a swiss cheese underground, not only from catacombs, but also form centuries of mining and quarries.

On the topic of aquifers (man-made or not), it's possible that there is a seasonal variation to these - when they're full during the rainy season, they can't be traversed, but when the dry season sets in, some tunnels might be passable for a person. Just a thought.

Lastly, it's possible that some ancient walls or defense-works might have secret escape tunnels in them, that are only known to a few. Another alternative is of course straight up bribery. The Watch Captain needs something extra on the side to feed his apetite for fine crockery or whatever.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Riverine durulz settlements like Duck Point and Quackford will have quite a few subterranean passages (think Borderlands) of varying levels of secrecy and accessibility, exiting into local watercourses. These will be quite uncomfortable for those not duck-sized and will frequently be flooded, notably at their egress into The Stream or C-SR.

Other wettish settlements with duck populations may also have their own scarcer and more rudimentary tunnels, of a similar character. Ducks are not great engineers, though—and too selfish to spend coin on Stability magic—so these can be rather dangerous affairs.

Some of these may be secret smuggling tunnels and bandit lairs, in which case I suspect you'll see a few suspicious looking ducks waddling slowly along the streets, whistling as they desposit mud from their trousers, Great Escape-style...

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
21 minutes ago, Quackatoa said:

Riverine durulz settlements like Duck Point and Quackford will have quite a few subterranean passages (think Borderlands) of varying levels of secrecy and accessibility, exiting into local watercourses. These will be quite uncomfortable for those not duck-sized and will frequently be flooded, notably at their egress into The Stream or C-SR.

Other wettish settlements with duck populations may also have their own scarcer and more rudimentary tunnels, of a similar character. Ducks are not great engineers, though—and too selfish to spend coin on Stability magic—so these can be rather dangerous affairs.

Some of these may be secret smuggling tunnels and bandit lairs, in which case I suspect you'll see a few suspicious looking ducks waddling slowly along the streets, whistling as they desposit mud from their trousers, Great Escape-style...

Maybe there's a Beaver Spirit that makes this easier. Sounds very beaverish, at least.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Most cities would have sewers for rainwater, but no cloacas. Liquid human waste is likely to be collected in earthware, and "solid" waste is likely to be collected in buckets. There are various uses for this among dyers and tanners, and for making clay plyable (both as bricks and for pottery). Use as fertilizer might be left to animal waste.

If you are thinking of the Vienna sewer in "The Third Man", that's in all likelihood a combined rainwater and waste water sewer, possibly even fed by some spring water. The water quality there may be little worse than the open rivers in industrialized or heavily populated parts of the world in the seventies or eighties. (I have an old handbook for engineers designing waste water treatment plans which has a formula for the self-cleansing power of a river before it reaches the next settlement...)

Rainwater sewers needn't be underground - open or covered trenches in the roads for major water removal, possibly into cisterns if the city is located atop a rise (like e.g. Clearwine, Jonstown, Swenstown) rather than in a valley (Boldhome).

Tunnels that lead external waterways below the city to feed the wells are possible if there are springs available near the city. There is one below Jerusalem. Hattusa appears to have had one, too.

In Nochet, water from the Lyksos River is diverted into the city, supporting about three quarters of the population. The northeastern district appears to be situated on a slight rise that culminates in Orlanth's Hill (at least that's what I would infer from the Darkness Era map of Nochet which shows the era when Choralinthor Bay had been reduced to a fraction of its size, leaving the main deepwater approach to the city (Delver Vale) completely dry). The sewers of that part of Nochet actually are feeding the cisterns there, so they are anything like a cloaca (or so one would hope). It is not just possible but likely that road sewerage is treated transported separately from roof runoff, as it is practically impossible to keep beasts of burden or free-running husbandry from defecating on the streets, and clearing the streets of these droppings cannot be done during times of high traffic.

Polluting waters with cloaca sewage probably is highly disrespectful to the entities of that body of water.

There may be places that have regular shipping canals underground, if situated near rivers. Barges may be poled, or pulled along ropes or series of rings set into the tunnel walls. Loading and unloading such barges would happen in cellar grottos.

Given the presence of sea trolls in the Choralinthor area, grates or locks before these entrances/exits are likely. A troll nightwatch herding a pack of sea trolls might even be hired to ensure that noone approaches this without paying off these guards.

Water spirits can be used as an alarm system by the priesthood of the resident water entities. But then, wetway smugglers are likely to be cultists in good standing.

Wherever you have canals leading into the city, smugglers may use the underside of their vessels to carry contraband in waterproof vessels past any inspections. Floating small containers down aqueducts feeding into the city is another possible way for the smugglers, but this requires control over the grates protecting these aqueducts from blockage.

 

Dry tunnels beneath a city or fortress are different. Some species like trolls (or rather their trollkin and possibly specialized insect breeds whose maggots can dissolve certain types of rock for sustenance - we're talking darkness creatures, after all) or krarshtkids are known to leave undocumented tunnel systems. (The wise Krarshti assassin band will buy trollkin slaves to do their tunneling and reserve krarshtkids for deeper (possibly underwater) tunnels, or long distance approaches.)

The city of Rome had underground quarries for the volcanic tuff that forms much of the base for that city of the seven hills. These, and the catacombs that served as underground cemetaries, make up another possible source for insufficiently overseen passages. Other cities (like e.g. Lüneburg) are situated atop salt deposits that may be mined from under the city, with occasional cases of collapsing tunnels and collapsing houses above.

Some cities are built atop the remains of previous incarnations of those cities that may have been lost e.g. to dragonfire. In such cases, underground passages may have survived, and may have been integrated into trollkin or krarshtkid warrens.

Dwarf tunnels beneath human cities are possible -- in case of Boldhome, a few are guaranteed. Their entrances may have been collapsed, however. Fairly irreversible to human sappers, but probably a lot less irreversible for rock dwarves. "Open" dwarf tunnels are bound to be trapped with a plethora of devices that can be deactivated temporarily only by providing the correct passage tokens and/or spells.

All "dry" tunnel systems aren't, unless they have sewers themselves. Wading through ankle-deep mud may be common.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Joerg said:

Dwarf tunnels beneath human cities are possible -- in case of Boldhome, a few are guaranteed. Their entrances may have been collapsed, however. Fairly irreversible to human sappers, but probably a lot less irreversible for rock dwarves. "Open" dwarf tunnels are bound to be trapped with a plethora of devices that can be deactivated temporarily only by providing the correct passage tokens and/or spells.

I was about to post this. Any city the Mostali helped build (including all of Sartar's largest cities and both old and new Pavis) would have access tunnels connecting it to the nearest Dwarf city so that the builders could "commute" back and forth. Mostali would also dig underground quarries to obtain construction materials and build a connected drainage system for the city and their tunnels. Many of these works could still be present. Demolition is time consuming and Mostali are busy people with other priorities. Much easier and more echo-gnomical to just to set some doublepluseffective traps than waste precious black powder to collapse the tunnels. Plus every tunnel is sacred! Every tunnel is great! If a tunnel is wasted, Mostal gets quite irate! And of course, those tunnels might come in handy some day. Functional World Machine!

Mostali works could also intersect with, or later be caused to intersect with, lava tubes, natural caverns, troll digs, and Krashtkid tunnels. I once set an entire campaign in the maze of tunnels under Old Pavis and a recurring villain was the centuries old Dwarven construct still trying to maintain the tunnels and keep them pest free. Adventurers definitely qualify as pests. It would reset the traps they deactivated or triggered, clean up the corpses they left behind, and occasionally try to exterminate them when they got too annoying. EXTERMINATE! EXTERMINATE!

YGMV but tunnels are fun!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Joerg said:

Some cities are built atop the remains of previous incarnations of those cities that may have been lost e.g. to dragonfire. In such cases, underground passages may have survived, and may have been integrated into trollkin or krarshtkid warrens.

 

This was to be my thought but Joerg may have hit 'em all with that doozie! I would imagine thief warrens and travel paths underground and in passing walls, (this could be tunnels, bribable guards) as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Joerg said:

In Nochet, water from the Lyksos River is diverted into the city, supporting about three quarters of the population.

More than just the Lyksos as the aqueducts bring additional water from three directions into the city.

Nochet definitely has aqueducts, which feed the cisterns (and baths), and then waste water (plus additional flows from the Lyksos) flow out through sewers.  Attached is a peek at my under-Nochet map (northwestern part of city).  Water flow in this section is west-to-east with the flow of the aqueducts/river and slight downsloping of in-city aqueducts and sewers helping to ensure water doesn't back up. Surface nightsoil, of course, is collected (or perhaps disposed of is a better term) by trollkin and delivered to shrines of Black Esrola as subsequent fertilizer.

NochetUnderground.JPG

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cities, especially ancient cities, have many little gates known as posterns in the walls. These gates are for raiding parties to sorty out during a siege and are usually hidden from direct view. Over time city walls change and these little gates can be forgotten, superseded by new walls or gates or sealed up. Now, normally city-dwellers don't like the idea of illicit gates in the walls or tunnel running under them, the city walls are well regarded by townsmen, however posterns can be occasionally opened illegally for the right price.
In most historical places a variety of organisations looked after the walls and gates and it might be some minor noble or craft guild that looked after some tower, gate or stretch of wall. This makes it easier for characters to pay their way through a postern.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Again SPOILER ALERT

There is the semi-secret tunnel through Gimpy's that really is known and guarded by the Lunars but here are a few others mentioned as well. Alas. ownership of Pavis and the Big Rubble is required. But know that not only do such passages exist but who has that knowledge is a very valid question worth asking and answering before it's to late. 

Temples offer many ways of getting into a city. Fer instance, hidden inside "sacred items" that would be profaned if examined by an infidel. Guided teleports...

25 minutes ago, ChalkLine said:

 In most historical places a variety of organisations looked after the walls and gates and it might be some minor noble or craft guild that looked after some tower, gate or stretch of wall. This makes it easier for characters to pay their way through a postern.

Wow. solid stuff there, all of it, not just the quoted part!

In contested area, there is usually a game of oneupmanship twixt the competing authorities on finding and creating secret tunnels, hidden entrences, smuggling tactics, and ways to circumvent/entrap and find such, Berlin, Casablanca, Pavis all have some great stories with this as setting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, Joerg said:

It is not just possible but likely that road sewerage is treated transported separately from roof runoff, as it is practically impossible to keep beasts of burden or free-running husbandry from defecating on the streets, and clearing the streets of these droppings cannot be done during times of high traffic.

Poul Anderson, in some of his works had horses going about in diapers to prevent this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Mark Mohrfield said:

Poul Anderson, in some of his works had horses going about in diapers to prevent this.

Which ones would that have been? I think I read most of his works (outside of the Conan environment), but I don't recall anything like this.

Doesn't help much with the pigs roaming the streets of Nochet, or the fowl. I know of no early modern city that had regulations like these to deal with the horse manure on their increasingly cobbled or otherwise paved roads.

Bird droppings will foul the runoff from roofs, but then river water carries quite an organic load, too. Allowing such water to sediment and to let nature have its way before pumping or carrying the rested water into the cistern (or to use the cistern in such a way) will reduce the freight of contaminants, but not down to the level that drinking the water directly will be safe. There is a good reason why people drink beer, herbal teas or broths, or water with added wine or vinegar, rather than raw water.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They could learn about some Krarsht tunnels. That could get very interesting - why would an informant betray such a secret? What is their real motivation? Who or what is lurking in the tunnels?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another possible reason for tunnels or voids that pass beneath city walls is that there may have been prior construction.
Historically many cities have been destroyed and rebuilt on the same site, and the construction has not matched up with earlier construction. Galleries and rooms in the foundations of earlier construction may have been simply built over when new construction was undertaken. Long-lost storerooms, dungeons and tombs are all possibilities.

Another thought is long-forgotten siege works may exist. Under-mining work may have been abandoned when a city was taken or a siege was raised, leaving precarious old works leading under the walls. As these were temporary and designed to collapse when built they would be extremely dangerous if any length of time has passed, making them equivalent to 'trapped' environments. Some digging may be required to access the city . . . .

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
38 minutes ago, EricW said:

They could learn about some Krarsht tunnels. That could get very interesting - why would an informant betray such a secret?

The Krarsht-supported criminal groups may have uneasy alliances with other counter-social groups, and a failing alliance with e.g. a gang of Lanbril thieves may result in such information seeping out, or at least being spied out by former allies taking a closer look at those guys, following the money and/or the magic.

 

38 minutes ago, EricW said:

What is their real motivation? 

That's the real clinger here. Groups affiliated with Krarsht - even in a roundabout manner, like probably the Black Fang folk of Pavis who will have taken Lunar coin during the occupation, possibly from the coffers available to Gimgim the Grim, often have some goals of their own (beyond simply continuing existence) and also are supposed to act in the interests of their customers or sponsors. These may be subverted by yet other interests, and iterate ad nauseum. Different leaders will have different contacts and influences.

 

38 minutes ago, EricW said:

Who or what is lurking in the tunnels?

For advice on how to deal with circular tunnels etched into the bedrock, read the reminiscences of Paulis Longvale in Cults of Terror or Cults Compendium in the Krarsht cult. Basically, don't scout too far inward, come back with chaos-hating allies and shrewd equipment.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/24/2019 at 8:15 AM, Sir_Godspeed said:

Maybe there's a Beaver Spirit that makes this easier. Sounds very beaverish, at least.

IMG the lowland Dragon Pass duck clans herd beavers for carpentry, for pulling swamp chariots and sleds, and for fur and meat.  So they're kind of like horses.  The lowland clans also herd giant snails, and they're kind of like cows.  Then there are highland clans that herd and ride sheep.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

With regard to enclosed sewage tunnels, GMs should be encouraged to keep a variety of gases up their sleeves. Confined spaces are great places for the accumulation of gases and terrible places for people to crawl about in.

Carbon Dioxide - Nothing exotic, but an oxygen-poor environment that'll make you confused, sleepy, and weak. Denser than air, so it settles into low points and can displace breathable atmosphere.
Carbon Monoxide - Just plain poisonous and all-too-common. Slightly lighter than air, so it rises toward breathing height.
Methane - Combustible and explosive, depending on concentration. Lighter than air, so it'll bubble up out of fluids and collect in ceiling spaces.
Hydrogen Sulfide - Another common "swamp gas" (along with CO2 and methane). Poisonous, flammable, and stinks to high heavens. Heavier than air.

These gases don't accumulate at dangerous concentrations everywhere in sewage tunnels, but they're common enough to make me give the ending of The Shawshank Redemption the hairy eyeball. Used sparingly, they make great natural traps to employ against intrusive adventurers. Ventilation is your friend.

I recommend the following link as a jumping-off point: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/confinedspaces/hazards_solutions.html

!i!

Edited by Ian Absentia
Clarity
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/25/2019 at 12:01 PM, Ian Absentia said:

These gases don't accumulate at dangerous concentrations everywhere in sewage tunnels...

Well, I'm going off the deep end now.  I've been drawing up a table for incremental POT zones for various common gases, including POT-X (explosive/flammable potency) for the more volatile types.  I'll keep you all apprised.

Did I mention that I deal with these sorts of things for a living?  There are perfectly good reasons to bring along "bird in cage" and "10-foot pole" when dropping down a hole.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 4/24/2019 at 4:53 AM, Quackatoa said:

Riverine durulz settlements like Duck Point and Quackford will have quite a few subterranean passages (think Borderlands) of varying levels of secrecy and accessibility, exiting into local watercourses. These will be quite uncomfortable for those not duck-sized and will frequently be flooded, notably at their egress into The Stream or C-SR.

Other wettish settlements with duck populations may also have their own scarcer and more rudimentary tunnels, of a similar character. Ducks are not great engineers, though—and too selfish to spend coin on Stability magic—so these can be rather dangerous affairs.

Some of these may be secret smuggling tunnels and bandit lairs, in which case I suspect you'll see a few suspicious looking ducks waddling slowly along the streets, whistling as they desposit mud from their trousers, Great Escape-style...

How well do durulz get along with giant beavers, Stewart? (Speaking of damp construction projects)

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, jeffjerwin said:

How well do durulz get along with giant beavers, Stewart? (Speaking of damp construction projects)

Ha! Years ago, I did indeed look at ducks and giant beavers in a manner that is embarrassing to recall and I try to pretend never happened. (Honestly, I despise half the stuff I've pratted about with over the years.) I'll plead the Fifth!

(It did lead to whippet- and beaver-broo hybrids in a campaign, though. Which was quite funny.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
24 minutes ago, The God Learner said:

Sounds interesting. I'd recommend adding a mythic/magical/Gloranthan twist on top of that work.

 

Yeah, the hole I'm headed down is more of a general BRP-thing.  I got started on it, though, when I was adapting my Thieves' World boxed set to Glorantha (New Corflu!) and found myself shaking my head at the sewer tunnels running beneath Sanctuary.  Too many Health & Safety violations.

!i!

  • Haha 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Would the Krashtkid digestive system create methane or other potentially dangerous gases, perhaps?

I mean, they are Chaotic, they can be written to do whatever, I suppose, but it could be a narrative explanation for the gases, at least.

The same goes for Uz, I guess.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...