Cutthroats of Lankhmar

Newhon's City of Sevenscore Thousand Smokes, based on the Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories by Fritz Leiber.
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Cutthroats of Lankhmar

Post by Big Mac » Mon Oct 10, 2016 11:20 pm

The blurb for Cutthroats of Lankhmar says that it describes some districts of the City of the Black Toga:
Amazon.com wrote:Cutthroats of Lankhmar (Advanced Dungeons and Dragons 2nd Edition) Paperback – March, 1995
by Wes Nicholson
Image

Cutthroats describes in vibrant detail the Mercantile, Festival, Park, Cash and southern River Districts of the City of the Black Toga. Learn all about the gangs, guilds, fences, ships, merchants, and bars in the southwestern portion of Lankhmar.
Is this another city or is "City of the Black Toga" a nickname for the City of Lankhmar?

And if this is about the City of Lankhmar, how much of the city is it describing? (Does this book fit with one or more other books to detail different quarters of the city?)
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Re: Cutthroats of Lankhmar

Post by Havard » Tue Oct 11, 2016 9:13 am

Whoah, is that a Hamster Swashbuckler on the cover? :)

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Re: Cutthroats of Lankhmar

Post by Big Mac » Tue Oct 11, 2016 9:25 pm

Havard wrote:Whoah, is that a Hamster Swashbuckler on the cover? :)
It does look like one.
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Re: Cutthroats of Lankhmar

Post by AllanP » Tue Oct 11, 2016 10:33 pm

The Wikipedia entry for Nehwon has an extract from one of Lieber's works that reads
...Lankhmar, thick with thieves and shaven priests, lean-framed magicians and fat-bellied merchants—Lankhmar the Imperishable, the City of the Black Toga.
So I guess nlack toga are all the fashion in Lankhmar.

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Re: Cutthroats of Lankhmar

Post by BlackBat242 » Wed Oct 12, 2016 6:17 am

And the name is F&GM canon, not a creation of the RPG set:
Dominating the Land of Lankhmar and crouching at the silty mouth of the River Hlal in a secure corner between the grain fields, the Great Salt Marsh, and the Inner Sea is the massive-walled and mazy-alleyed metropolis of Lankhmar, thick with thieves and shaven priests, lean-framed magicians and fat-bellied merchants - Lankhmar the Imperishable, the City of the Black Toga." —From "Induction" by Fritz Lieber
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Re: Cutthroats of Lankhmar

Post by The Dark » Fri Oct 14, 2016 1:32 am

Havard wrote:Whoah, is that a Hamster Swashbuckler on the cover? :)

-Havard
I think it's a rat. They figure into a couple of the F&GM stories.

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Re: Cutthroats of Lankhmar

Post by Big Mac » Sat Oct 22, 2016 1:33 pm

Thanks AllanP/BlackBat. That's exactly what I wanted to know.

"City of the Black Toga" is a strange name for the city. I guess you could be right about black togas being fashionable. Is there a novel canon organisation (or a RPG canon organisation) where black togas are the "uniform"?
The Dark wrote:
Havard wrote:Whoah, is that a Hamster Swashbuckler on the cover? :)
I think it's a rat. They figure into a couple of the F&GM stories.
Do those rat-people have a canon name? Are there D&D stats for them in Cutthroats of Lankhmar?
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Re: Cutthroats of Lankhmar

Post by ripvanwormer » Thu Nov 03, 2016 11:45 pm

Big Mac wrote:"City of the Black Toga" is a strange name for the city. I guess you could be right about black togas being fashionable. Is there a novel canon organisation (or a RPG canon organisation) where black togas are the "uniform"?
From "Ill Met in Lankhmar" by Fritz Leiber:
Fritz Leiber wrote:"Damn Lankhmar's night-smog! What a hell of a city!"

"It's the nearness here of the Great Salt Marsh," Fafhrd explained.

And he did indeed have part of the answer. Lying low betwixt the Marsh, the Inner Sea, the River Hlal, and the flat southern grainfields watered by canals fed by the Hlal, Lankhmar with its innumerable smokes was the prey of fogs and sooty smogs. No wonder the citizens had adopted the black toga as their formal garb. Some averred the toga had originally been white or pale brown, but so swiftly soot-blackened, necessitating endless laundering, that a thrifty overlord had ratified and made official what nature or civilization's arts decreed.
Big Mac wrote:Do those rat-people have a canon name? Are there D&D stats for them in Cutthroats of Lankhmar?
In Cutthroats of Lankhmar they're standard AD&D wererats, and that's what they're called. Saltam the innkeeper is a wererat who wants to spread his lycanthropy as far as possible so that when the next invasion of the rats from Lankhmar Below happens, there will be many city dwellers who will side with the rats. So far he has created at least seven other wererats, including Margath, who desperately wants to regain his humanity. That's probably Margath or one of Seltam's cronies on the cover.

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Re: Cutthroats of Lankhmar

Post by Big Mac » Sun Nov 06, 2016 10:04 pm

ripvanwormer wrote:
Big Mac wrote:"City of the Black Toga" is a strange name for the city. I guess you could be right about black togas being fashionable. Is there a novel canon organisation (or a RPG canon organisation) where black togas are the "uniform"?
From "Ill Met in Lankhmar" by Fritz Leiber:
Fritz Leiber wrote:"Damn Lankhmar's night-smog! What a hell of a city!"

"It's the nearness here of the Great Salt Marsh," Fafhrd explained.

And he did indeed have part of the answer. Lying low betwixt the Marsh, the Inner Sea, the River Hlal, and the flat southern grainfields watered by canals fed by the Hlal, Lankhmar with its innumerable smokes was the prey of fogs and sooty smogs. No wonder the citizens had adopted the black toga as their formal garb. Some averred the toga had originally been white or pale brown, but so swiftly soot-blackened, necessitating endless laundering, that a thrifty overlord had ratified and made official what nature or civilization's arts decreed.
Thanks. So not just black cloaks there, but also a high amount of soot in the city. That might imply that the PCs sometimes walk the streets of Lankhmar surrounded by smog.
ripvanwormer wrote:
Big Mac wrote:Do those rat-people have a canon name? Are there D&D stats for them in Cutthroats of Lankhmar?
In Cutthroats of Lankhmar they're standard AD&D wererats, and that's what they're called. Saltam the innkeeper is a wererat who wants to spread his lycanthropy as far as possible so that when the next invasion of the rats from Lankhmar Below happens, there will be many city dwellers who will side with the rats. So far he has created at least seven other wererats, including Margath, who desperately wants to regain his humanity. That's probably Margath or one of Seltam's cronies on the cover.
Are they also supposed to be wererats in Lankhmar novels, or is that something where the Lankhmar story has been adapted to fit with the mechanics of D&D monsters?
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Re: Cutthroats of Lankhmar

Post by ripvanwormer » Sun Nov 06, 2016 10:42 pm

Big Mac wrote:Are they also supposed to be wererats in Lankhmar novels, or is that something where the Lankhmar story has been adapted to fit with the mechanics of D&D monsters?
They're not supposed to be anything in the Lankhmar novels, because these characters (including the character on the cover) were created for Cutthroats of Lankhmar. They're allied with the rats of Lankhmar Below, who in the novels are a group of 13 super-intelligent rats who lead ordinary rats, but the wererats aren't supposed to be the same thing as them.

There's a little bit of information on the super intelligent rats of Lankhmar in 2nd edition Legends & Lore, page 156, under "Cults of the Beast." There are only 13 of them.

Although the AD&D Lankhmar line attempted to simulate Fritz Leiber's novels, they were also AD&D supplements aimed at the audience of AD&D players, so sometimes they'd add AD&D creatures that weren't in the novels, but the authors thought could fit in the world anyway. This is an example of that. Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser never fought wererats in the normal AD&D sense of the word, but you could imagine them doing so.

As I mentioned in another thread, though, one of the sailors in The Swords of Lankhmar mentions that he believes a character is a
"were-rat," so at least the concept of wererats exists on the world of Nehwon.

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Re: Cutthroats of Lankhmar

Post by ripvanwormer » Mon Nov 07, 2016 1:13 am

Another weird thing about this book: according to Cutthroats of Lankhmar, it's possible to buy wines in Lankhmar that originated on Oerth or Toril.

Elven wine from Toril costs 50 rilks a glass. It is only available once every 50 years or so.

The Vintners' Guild has acquired 12 bottles of a rare wine from Oerth called Splendorine, which dissolves gold on contact and neutralizes poison. I've never read about this in a Greyhawk source, but I'm going to say it comes from Tusmit, since the pasha there is titled His Exalted Splendor.

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Re: Cutthroats of Lankhmar

Post by BlackBat242 » Mon Nov 07, 2016 5:54 am

Big Mac wrote:Thanks. So not just black cloaks there, but also a high amount of soot in the city. That might imply that the PCs sometimes walk the streets of Lankhmar surrounded by smog.
So... like in mid-1800s London, then. ;)

Or current-day India/China.
http://inhabitat.com/delhis-air-polluti ... ings-smog/
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Re: Cutthroats of Lankhmar

Post by Big Mac » Tue Nov 08, 2016 8:08 am

ripvanwormer wrote:
Big Mac wrote:Are they also supposed to be wererats in Lankhmar novels, or is that something where the Lankhmar story has been adapted to fit with the mechanics of D&D monsters?
They're not supposed to be anything in the Lankhmar novels, because these characters (including the character on the cover) were created for Cutthroats of Lankhmar. They're allied with the rats of Lankhmar Below, who in the novels are a group of 13 super-intelligent rats who lead ordinary rats, but the wererats aren't supposed to be the same thing as them.

There's a little bit of information on the super intelligent rats of Lankhmar in 2nd edition Legends & Lore, page 156, under "Cults of the Beast." There are only 13 of them.

Although the AD&D Lankhmar line attempted to simulate Fritz Leiber's novels, they were also AD&D supplements aimed at the audience of AD&D players, so sometimes they'd add AD&D creatures that weren't in the novels, but the authors thought could fit in the world anyway. This is an example of that. Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser never fought wererats in the normal AD&D sense of the word, but you could imagine them doing so.

As I mentioned in another thread, though, one of the sailors in The Swords of Lankhmar mentions that he believes a character is a
"were-rat," so at least the concept of wererats exists on the world of Nehwon.
Ah! Right! Thanks for that clarification. It makes a lot more sense now.

I think that wererats are a good idea, if the sailors say they exist. But I agree with your point of them being a concept. I'll have to read up on the 13 super-intelligent rats before I can get an idea of how well wererats fit in with them.

I'm kind of reminded of the mice in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. :)
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Re: Cutthroats of Lankhmar

Post by Big Mac » Tue Nov 08, 2016 8:12 am

ripvanwormer wrote:Another weird thing about this book: according to Cutthroats of Lankhmar, it's possible to buy wines in Lankhmar that originated on Oerth or Toril.
Pub crossover support! I'll drink to that! :D
ripvanwormer wrote:Elven wine from Toril costs 50 rilks a glass. It is only available once every 50 years or so.

The Vintners' Guild has acquired 12 bottles of a rare wine from Oerth called Splendorine, which dissolves gold on contact and neutralizes poison. I've never read about this in a Greyhawk source, but I'm going to say it comes from Tusmit, since the pasha there is titled His Exalted Splendor.
It doesn't seem like spelljamming ships could only visit "Lankhmarspace" every 50 years. I wonder if some sort of periodic connection to the Great Wheel would be more logical. :?
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Re: Cutthroats of Lankhmar

Post by Big Mac » Tue Nov 08, 2016 8:17 am

BlackBat242 wrote:
Big Mac wrote:Thanks. So not just black cloaks there, but also a high amount of soot in the city. That might imply that the PCs sometimes walk the streets of Lankhmar surrounded by smog.
So... like in mid-1800s London, then. ;)

Or current-day India/China.
http://inhabitat.com/delhis-air-polluti ... ings-smog/
Sounds about right.

You can see why some elves would be opposed to the expansion of human civilisation in certain campaign settings.

I wonder if anyone has ever made a list of medieval businesses that cause pollution. If they have, then that would be a good thing to pick from when trying to design smog filled cities or "low town" parts of cities that have clean parks in other areas.
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Re: Cutthroats of Lankhmar

Post by BlackBat242 » Wed Nov 09, 2016 9:34 am

Large-scale leather-tanning operations produce considerable acidic liquid waste*.

Then there is mining** - and refining gold & silver (which often produces significant quantities of arsenic in the liquid waste, and which used to use mercury).


* http://history.eserver.org/medieval-pollution.txt (contains descriptions of pollution from animal processing and tanning, and medieval regulations controlling that pollution.)
http://www.jstor.org/stable/41959519?se ... b_contents

** http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co ... 04730.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2015_Gold ... ater_spill
http://www.miningfacts.org/environment/ ... e-mercury/
http://www.madehow.com/Volume-4/Mercury.html
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Re: Cutthroats of Lankhmar

Post by ripvanwormer » Tue Nov 15, 2016 11:24 pm

From The Swords of Lankhmar by Fritz Leiber:
Their behavior made old folks and storytellers and thin-bearded squinting scholars fearfully recall the fables that there had once been a humped city of rats as large as men where imperial Lankhmar had now stood for three-score centuries; that rats had once had a language and government of their own and a single empire stretching to the borders of the unknown world, coexistent with man's cities but more unified; and that beneath the stoutly mortared stones of Lankhmar, far below their customary burrowings and any delvings of man, there was a low-ceilinged rodent metropolis with streets and homes and glow-lights all its own and granaries stuffed with stolen grain.
I'd thought the plague of rats was solely the responsibility of the 13 rat exemplars, but there's also this alternate myth explaining why Lankhmar's rats are so intelligent.

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Re: Cutthroats of Lankhmar

Post by Big Mac » Wed Dec 14, 2016 7:52 am

BlackBat242 wrote:Large-scale leather-tanning operations produce considerable acidic liquid waste*.

Then there is mining** - and refining gold & silver (which often produces significant quantities of arsenic in the liquid waste, and which used to use mercury).l
Great points!
Those are great links. I guess you need to put yourself into a different mindset and change the "facts" you are presented with, to figure out what the people of Lankhmar would be doing.

There is of course magic, as a solution in a fantasy society, but if AD&D products for Lankhmar give it restricted magic then they would probably be a lot less likely to use magical solutions to the problem. (Maybe that is why other campaign settings do not have people wearing black cloaks.)

I can't see Lankhmar itself having a gold or silver mine. Not unless that was mentioned in the books. Is there any indication that unprocessed ore would have been transported into cities back then?
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Re: Cutthroats of Lankhmar

Post by Big Mac » Wed Dec 14, 2016 8:03 am

ripvanwormer wrote:From The Swords of Lankhmar by Fritz Leiber:
Their behavior made old folks and storytellers and thin-bearded squinting scholars fearfully recall the fables that there had once been a humped city of rats as large as men where imperial Lankhmar had now stood for three-score centuries; that rats had once had a language and government of their own and a single empire stretching to the borders of the unknown world, coexistent with man's cities but more unified; and that beneath the stoutly mortared stones of Lankhmar, far below their customary burrowings and any delvings of man, there was a low-ceilinged rodent metropolis with streets and homes and glow-lights all its own and granaries stuffed with stolen grain.
I'd thought the plague of rats was solely the responsibility of the 13 rat exemplars, but there's also this alternate myth explaining why Lankhmar's rats are so intelligent.
An entire underdark rat empire! That's awesome! :cool:

Shame they didn't do anything with it.
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