Pirates of the Broken Coast
Five Fingers, Port of Deceit
Ruler: Lord Governor Eilish Doyle
Population: 120,000 Thurians, 22,000 Tordorans, 6,000 gobbers, 4,000 Midlunders, 3,500 Scharde, 3,000 Radiz, 2,500 Caspians, 2,500 Ryn, 2,000 trollkin, 1,500 Sinari, 1,000 Morridane, 1,000 Umbreans, 500 Khards
Military Presence: Five Fingers has a small Royal Navy presence, although the city is a favorite port for military personnel on leave. There are 860 members of the Fingers Watch, who are possessed of varying degrees of morale, loyalty, and training.
Description: Five Fingers is the infamous Port of Deceit, a city of intrigue and industry scattered across several rocky islands where the Dragon’s Tongue River spills out into the Bay of Stone. The city earned its name from the five channels or “fingers” of the river’s mouth that empty into the bay, creating channels between the islands. Five Fingers is a bastion of corruption, a mercenary haven, a pirates’ den, and a gambler’s paradise without equal. It is a city offering all manner of pleasures for those with the coin to spend, and a place where any commodity can be bought or sold. The city is dominated by the criminal underworld and governed by a labyrinthine bureaucracy, brutal street laws, and a complex system of graft. Lord Governor Eilish Doyle is the titular ruler of the city but he must maintain an uneasy relationship with the high captains, the crime lords of Five Fingers, to allow the city to prosper.
While the lord governor sees to the legitimate administration of the city, the high captains keep the criminal elements in line, providing authority to which gang leaders, privateers, and smugglers must answer, allowing the steady flow of illicit commerce. Working together, they are able to solve most problems facing the city, and between the governor’s control over the city’s legal processes and the high captains’ influence outside the law, little escapes their grasp.
It is something of an open secret that the crime bosses operating in Five Fingers pay a handsome tithe directly into the Bandit King’s coffers. So long as coin continues to flow, the king has turned a blind eye to much of the illegal activity taking place in the city.
The struggles between the high captains define many aspects of life in Five Fingers. The high captains sometimes work together on shared interests, but more often are at odds as they struggle for control over specific districts where the extortion racket makes up a substantial portion of their income.
Dozens of islands make up Five Fingers, but the city is primarily built upon five main channel islands and bordered to the north by the high, steep cliffs of the Bold Shore. Atop those cliffs and near the roadway is housing that is still counted nominally as part of the city. The Bold Channel sweeps north of Bellicose Island, and along with its southern counterpart, the Heir’s Channel, the waterways are the deepest inlets to the Dragon’s Tongue River. Larger ships that ply both the ocean and the river come through these channels, which are kept clear of debris. King’s Channel is the central finger, sweeping south of Doleth Island and Chaser Island and north of Captain’s Isle. It is deep but its currents are treacherous and known for dangerous eddies and tidal whirlpools. Only expert pilots attempt to navigate the channel when the tide is on the move, but it is safe at other times.
Last are the Broken Finger and Choked Finger Channels. Both are tight and difficult to navigate but also lead to several populous islands. A series of rocky strips and sandbars wait to wreck or bottom out any vessel that tries them. Smugglers favor Choked Finger to the south with their smaller and nimbler ships. By contrast, larger warehouses and trade groups are located in the northern and central islands, given the easier access to the larger ships that ply the northern fingers. Bellicose Island is the northernmost island, commonly called Bull Island. It is the best laid out and most easily-traversed of the islands, since it was rebuilt after the great fire of 458 AR. A wide stone bridge connects it to the Bold Shore and the Western Tradeway. Originally established by the Orgoth, the road provides the most direct route for land caravans heading elsewhere in Ord. West of Bellicose is Squall Isle, which is known mostly for its lighthouse that marks the division of the northern channels for incoming ships at night or in thick fog. The rocky island is largely uninhabited. In the midst of the Heir’s Finger channel that runs south of Squall and Bellicose rest the sparsely populated Three Maidens islands. They are used primarily as waypoints for the bridges between the major islands, though the western Maiden is a coal resupply point for steamships.
Between the Heir’s and King’s Fingers Channels are several significant i slands. Headmost a nd Blackstone I slands a re t he westernmost of them. Doleth Island is the westward of a pair of islands called the “Twins,” linked closely by bridge and rigging. Chaser Island is the eastern twin. Connected to Chaser by a small island called the Hump is Bellow’s Isle. Despite its size, Blackstone is sparsely settled, except for the quarry and labor prison maintained there. Headmost Island dips below the ocean’s surface at high tide, so buildings upon it are erected atop stilts. Perhaps the most famous island is Doleth, also called “Dicer’s Isle” or “Bolis Isle.” It is the location where Scion Bolis ascended to Thamar in 271 AR.
Chaser Island is noted for its markets, which sell produce and locally made goods such as tools and weapons forged on neighboring Bellows Isle. Unfortunately, the high captains’ turf wars spill over into the streets here and disrupt the lives of regular citizens.
Captain’s Isle is the largest and most populous island, and the center of government in Five Fingers. The offices of the lord governor and his bureaucrats and the Fingers Watch headquarters are located there. Nearly sixty thousand live on the island, and ten thousand or more come in daily for work. The high captains struggle among themselves for control of various districts, but do so carefully and subtly, since the island’s trade and business are essential to the city. The island is also home to the largest and most popular entertainment districts. The last major island is Hospice Island, named after its function during the Beggar’s Plague of 536 AR. Even today it is crowded with the sick and the poor, who live in squalid conditions and suffer from outbreaks of disease. Most of the city’s population avoids Hospice Island, save for the brave priests who live thereupon and try to improve health conditions.
There are many other small islands that lack the prominence of the larger islands but still help make up the whole of Five Fingers. Some of them exist only as hazards to navigation, like Hullgrinder Island and the Drowned Isle. Others are claimed by various interests, such as Crane Island, which is an artificial island that caters to a number of mercenary companies. Blackstone Island is both a prison and a quarry, while Bellows Island hosts many smithies and machine shops. Most of the remaining small islands are the homes of fishermen, particularly those less successful than the fishers of Headmost, or they hold distilleries, smithies, or small fortresses. Five Fingers sprung up without planning during several bursts of growth over the years, and its streets and alleyways meander without purpose, dead-end into cul-de-sacs, or narrow until the road vanishes between leaning buildings. The city was a stronghold for the Orgoth during the Occupation and a number of their old structures still exist below the street level of the largest islands, connected by dark passages. Walkways, gangways, and bridges connect the buildings; many of the upper-level walkways and rope bridges are made from old salvage from ships’ rigging. Entire networks of such precarious structures have been connected over the larger islands to form “the Rigs,” lurching neighborhoods that tower above the streets of almost every island. The Rigs are favored havens for the city’s numerous gobbers and bogrin.
The city is policed by the Fingers Watch, an organization that is overwhelmed at the best of times but which is vital to the health of the city. Underpaid, under-trained, and overworked, most of its watchmen lack for necessary equipment and discipline due to insufficient funding. Most of the funding for the watch comes from levies on the residences in each district, but the funding is not shared across the islands and so the watch in the poorer districts is underfunded and prone to corruption. Accordingly, more than half of the watch is confined to Bull’s Island and Captain’s Isle. A nominal watch presence is maintained in every district, but in the poorer areas it consists of little more than a few volunteers watching for local fires or answering specific requests for help if they can. Most of Hospice Isle, Squall Isle, and the Wake Isles, as well as a large portion of Dicer’s Isle, go without patrols entirely. The watch’s job is to maintain public order, but the volunteers are reluctant to confront dangerous or well-armed troublemakers.
If one thing ties the disparate islands and people of the city together it is the web of conspiracy that permeates every level of Five Fingers society. Fingers is a favored city of King Baird, who finds its atmosphere convenient for conducting the clandestine negotiations by which he rules his nation. The gambling hall and tavern known as the Laden Galleon has become King Baird’s home away from the capital, and the quiet meetings in its depths can affect the political landscape of the kingdom. His agents lurk in the shadows of the city, keeping the king safe and his plots secure while unraveling those of his rivals. Both the Greylords and Khador’s Section Three are known to use Five Fingers to stage operations in Cygnar, and each group maintains safe houses throughout the city. Cryx conducts business in Five Fingers through Scharde smugglers and pirates, using the port to quietly move goods and agents onto the mainland. But no clandestine groups hold more power in the city than the Thamarite cults that have penetrated almost every aspect of Five Finger’s society. Like the criminal element, the cults find Five Fingers more accommodating than most cities in western Immoren. Among the most influential of septs active in Five Fingers is the Shroud, a group of powerful necromancers who work to hunt down lost Thamarite relics, such as the remains of Scion Bolis, one of the most important figures in the city’s history.