Bludd is the highly addictive, hallucinogenic alcohol brewed from the hide of the ice heart cactus. When it was banned in 146 by the fierce politician and former soldier Ericcson the Ernest, its production and distribution went underground, led by the infamous “Bludd-King”. An unknown Erpheronian of assumed male gender. The Bludd-King saw the sheer profit that could be gained by bleeding the bludd addicts dry of cash, and claimed a monopoly on the business. Any who saw the prosperities of dealing and decided to jump on the bandwagon went "mysteriously" missing...
Originally the bludd dealers were only a handful of
dastardly entrepreneurs, supplying solely to the city of Olddon, and its
surrounding townships and hamlets. But there has been a boom in applicants,
fueled by those who wish to seek the riches of dealing for themselves, or those
just enjoy beating up things. And now, thanks to the "fad" of Bludd-Dealing in
present day, there are “Bludd Dens” located in every major city and town in Santharia.
The Bludd Dealers are so notorious that even the youngest child knows the rhyme, and the oldest crones remember it from their youth.
"Old King Gore was a merry old soul,
"Now every grunt had a
This quaint little rhyme makes them seem a bit jovial and
benign, but the damage and fear this band of thugs cause on city dwellers cannot
be described in mere verse. The nickname of “Bane of Society” is very well
Their services are no longer limited to the production and supplying of bludd, but have expanded into the offering of “Cheap loans”, “Protection”, unbranded booze, hand to hand combat training, silver-stalk hobbitweed, and many, many other services that will quite literally cost you an arm and a leg...if you don't cough up the cash on time!
Bludd dens can be found under many guises, so they can be quite difficult to find. Many are located in the homes of people you'd least expect. So, keep your eyes on old Mrs. Appleblossom from down the lane... seriously! Some even say that the thieves underground are helping the Dens move from town to town undetected, sharing their vast knowledge on the art of disguise with the dealers. The thieves would then be earning a few bob and a barrel of bludd or two on the side!
Appearance. You've most likely already built up a stereotypical mental image of the common thug: Stalky, loudmouthed, smelly, tattooed and most of all very stupid. And that is nearly a hundred percent accurate, at least for the grunts of the business. Most Bludd-dealer thugs are former sailors and convicts who wish to have a good time. Wine, women the lot! But they are only the muscle of the operation, used when someone is behind on a payment. The real brains are mush less conspicuous. The job of Courier for example is one of the most important jobs of the business, as they're the ones who deliver the goods to the needy clients, and you cant just have some big oaf plodding down the main street waving a barrel of bludd around, can you? As I mentioned earlier the law has to keep a vigilant eye at all times, for couriers are those who you'd least expect to be dealing. In fact the majority of “captured” couriers have been married/pregnant woman, or the elderly. The most famous courier of all was Berthasa Bellis, who managed to deal for 350 years! As no one thought to look twice at the shrivelled old Aellenrhim music teacher. In fact she only got caught when one of her meddling students found a “curious” vial stashed under her desk. The reason I say “captured” is because the law has no clue what goes on within the bludd dealer syndicate, their only information comes from the captured couriers or drunken thugs that they've picked up off the street(not once have they managed to get their hands on a henchman!), not that it matters much anyway as the Blood-King goes far out of his way to make sure that lowly members know as little as possible. Rumour has it that it is in fact the dealers who have the upper hand, as they have members who are in high positions inside the law system, feeding back information to the Blood-King on who knows too much and needs to be “taken care of“.
The Blood-King is one of the most feared people in the kingdom, even though he is rarely seen by the public, the fear most likely a result of countless exaggerated rumours. All that is known is that he is tall, but not abnormally so, thin but still muscular, and that he keeps his long sword by his side at all times, the blood-blade, information built up from his few public sightings. He only makes an appearance on matters of great importance where even his closest henchmen, cannot be trusted. It is unknown how a new king is selected when one dies or abdicates, wither his right hand assumes the position or it is a hereditary allocation. But words on the wind and the syndicate state that the present Blood-King is still the original founder of the dealers and he doesn't intend to move on anytime soon. Like the couriers the King is disguised whenever possible, taking the form of a hooded beggar or merchant, setting out into the city, becoming his own spy.(or some say that he just enjoys to live a common life once in a while.) But no-one, not even in the syndicate has ever seen his face. His true features remain shrouded at all times hidden by a haunting leather mask, supposedly the face of his greatest enemy, Ericcson the Ernest, sliced off when the two came face to face in Olddon, a trophy of his victory over justice.
One might ask, “how does someone lunge around many barrels of illegal liquid unnoticed? and how can he produce the stuff en masse?”, and one might answer “how the hell would I know about the workings of a secret society?” however there is one record that could hint about the transportation of bludd, in the year 607 an unknown buyer bought over the well established company “Bark and Blade lumber co.” All that is known that this unknown buyer must have been filthy rich to purchase such an already booming company which had offices in just about all major cities. One theory suggests that the king bought over this company, and has been using specific hollow lumber logs filled with bludd from his production plants to penetrate the walls of the cities. However when the guards have conducted random raids upon Bark and Blade warehouses nothing of illegality could be found. And even the present manager in chief of the company claims to know nothing of the bludd dealers, and states that they are nothing but a myth. Or so he, Mr. Frederic Bellis says.
As far a production is concerned, it is no difficult process, and what helps matters is that there is no law against the actual harvesting and storage of the ice heart cactus (as of yet). As long as the heart shaped pod remains submerged in water it will remain alive until it can be brewed and fermented, so transportation from the north is no problem. In recent times a green druid master-gardener has developed a way to grow the cactus in artificial indoor circumstances, after some intense interrogation he spilled this info upon the dealers, and now cactus growing can be conducted within the den.
Although, they may seem barbaric, the dealers are not without chivalry completely. And once you are within their ranks, you are treated like family. Even regular clients gain protection from the guild. And a dealer will always go out his way to help another regardless of rank. Even the Blood-King himself can show a little respect, in fact one of his well known sayings is "everybody deserves two chances...after that you're dead meat!!" however every member must abide by these three golden rules:
Coat of Arms. The true symbol of the Bludd Dealers is much
debated, for many different interpretations have been seen. For instance, when a
client cant pay up, and they have been dealt with accordingly by the grunts, a
bloody blade is always painted on their doorway representing that the price has
been paid. And many thugs have the famous Dealer saying “Become the man” tattooed
upon their body. However, supposedly in each Den there is a flag bearing the
dealers true emblem, making it clear that the dealers are the ones who lord over
this domain. This fabled symbol is called "The oriflamme of insurgency".
According to an artists impression, the appearance of this flag is thus: The
background is completely white apart from a vivid red heart set in the direct
centre, to the left of the heart is a black dagger ripping a gash in the heart
causing 146 tiny drops of red to fall down onto a black city silhouette below.
Territory. Over the years the Dealers have managed to root themselves deep into city society, engulfing more and more into bludd addiction. Even those who are bludd clients are often asked to do a few favours instead of monetary payment, increasing their influence. And just cause most of their schemes go on within the city walls, rural communities are anything but safe, in fact the bludd brewing and fermentation is said to go on in small "farms" dotted across the Sarvonian landscape. Although the syndicate began as a Northern guild it has edged south and Dens are now more concentrated in the Santharian kingdom, even though the Blood-King supposedly prefers to conduct operations from his hometown.
Organization. The Hierarchy of the Bludd Dealers is a very important part to the syndicate. In order to move up in the ladder, you first must prove yourself at being more than excellent at your previous position. The only way you can be elevated is by a member of higher rank than yourself, usually one up in the ranks, the only exception being the move of scumbucket to spitbucket, it is not a spitbucket that decides this movement but a minion instead. The reason being that spitbuckets are far too biased (and stupid) for the task. However, anyplace within the hierarchy can be challenged (excluding the position of minstrel) even that of right hand and Blood-King, however all takeover bids to date have been very unsuccesfull for these two positions, and nowadays members have become wise enough not to dare, thus keeping their lives...The challenge is resolved by a test of skill decided by that of the higher member, this can be anything that they wish, however a fight to the death is more honourable and cliche.
As far as enrollment is concerned, it is a very simple process. Those who wish to join the ranks only need to hint to the tavernkeeper at a “selected” tavern that they are interested in joining. He will organize a meeting with a syndicate representative, (usually within a crowded place). And if they think you are “clean” you will be given directions to the nearest Den. This simple system has been surprisingly successful as someone wishing to infiltrate the guild has never passed the second stage...or at least no infiltrations have been reported...
Technically not a member of the syndicate, but occasionally when payment cannot be paid, or is not wanted, clients will have to work for the dealers to earn their fix...
Not necessarily the position where all new applicants are assigned to, this is where the brainless thugs are placed. All brawn and the largest of the groups, they reap the money from the clients, handing it back to their spitbucket. If a local person or rival gang is becoming too much of a threat, the scumbuckets are the ones that make them disappear.
There is one spitbucket assigned to a cluster of scumbuckets. They pass on the orders from higher up, and make sure they are executed exactly to standards. With a much greater salary, this is a highly competitive position, due to the fact that any scumbucket can challenge the spitbucket to his/her position, usually resulting in a fight to the death. The spitbucket will usually invoke fear into his followers, and weed out threats before they get too powerful for their own good...
The police of the grunts. They make sure that the rest are abiding by the rules. Usually disguised as spitbuckets so that they can see the true workings of the lower positions, not a facade conjured up only at the presence of a Swillbucket.
Organizers of all the thugs, the “new services” such as loans, training etc. are also their responsibility. Pawns are usually both skillful with a blade and with their brains, having to keep the rowdy thugs in check and also carry out financing and teaching. The most family like of all the positions, the Pawns always stick together!
They are never active with the dealing process. They supply there talents in the many Dealer festivals that take place, and in turn gain the respect and protection of the syndicate. Every den will have a minstrel, they brighten the mood with some mythical tale, offer moral support or even just to have a good drinking game with. They will never advance through the guild, but there place can never be challenged, and the minstrels have a lot of respect and some say within the working of a den.
The workers of the production plants. They don't really come in contact with other members, and aren't often notified of the workings of the syndicate. The least numerous of the groups as only two or three work per farm, yet one of the most well paid. Due to the fact that not much skill is involved in the brewing process, it is mostly ex-spitbuckets that make up this section.
The riders of horse and carts that transport the blood from the plants to the city. Riders also carry the raw cactus from its northern home to the plant. One of the most adventurous and laid back positions, The Blood riders have their very own system of work, in easy shifts as follows:
1) Half the Riders head from their hometown to the northern wastes, to collect the harvested cactus... 2) Bring the cactus to the production plants, reside in residential halls of the plant until process is finished... 3) Cart the finished bludd to the dens in cities for distribution...4) Return home for a holiday while the other half of the riders set of on the journey...and the cycle continues.
One of the most important positions. Inconspicuous and cunning, they distribute the bludd that they receive fresh from the botanists shipments. They also collect orders, and store the details of clients, in case they decide to turn on the dealers and become an “anonymous tip off” as it were... Unlike the other positions couriers always have another job in society, not only to distract from their illegal alternative profession, but to supply information to the Henchmen, on the other factions of society.
An informant in a high position in society. Usually a nobleman or a guard, who owes the Blood-King a favour... they supply the majority of information on the inside workings of the law.
The masterminds of the syndicate. There is usually one per city to oversee all the trivial actions which go on in the within in. They are in charge of all the funds that go in and out of the syndicate, and manage all lower members making sure that everything is running smoothly. If someone within the syndicate defies the rules, then the henchmen choose a fitting punishment... merciless and gruesome is usually there style...
A mysterious woman, said to be the best friend and adviser to the Blood-King. A powerful mage that helped the King get to where he is today. Highly intelligent, she is the brains behind the whole syndicate, even the henchmen quake in fear at her presence. Rumour has it that she has seen as many if not more years than the Blood-King...
The Head and founder of the blood dealers. No-one crosses his path and lives. Constantly hides his face with a mask, the supposed sliced face of Ericcson the Ernest, his greatest enemy. Although he is very ruthless and has no mercy or compassion, the fiend is highly wise and cunning and is said to be an amazing strategist. No one is sure how a new blood-king is elected, but word is the original king hasn't passed on. Yet.
Importance. The Dealers are nothing but the bane of society, leeching it of not only gold but proper citizens. However some might be so bold to say that without such underground orders like the dealers city life would lack panache. The increased numbers within their ranks and their deep connections with other underground organisations, makes the dealers a force to be reckoned with. There may come a time when their forces get too big, the threat being too great, and when that time comes there will be a war. The nobles versus the underdogs. At first, instinct will guide towards the aristocracy, they lead so they must be right, however if you look at the whole situation close enough you'll see that both sides are after the same thing. Absolute power.
According to political documents, in 145, Ericcson the Ernest, an intelligent yet pompous politician, renowned for his tendency to ignore the troubles of the lower classes, petitioned for the addictive hallucinogenic substance “bludd” to be banned across Erpheronian territory. Following a riot and fire that began as a tavern fight and escalated to a city wide dilemma. Supposedly the over consumption of bludd had caused some men to bubble into a violent spree, leaving 4 dead. Being a vulgar peasant beverage the upper classes where more than happy to give favour and pass the bill, also giving Ericcson a seat on the council of elders for his services to the city. However, blood was a very valuable part of the lower economy and when it was removed from society in 145 (and subsequently banned in the Santharian kingdom following Ericcsons campaign there in 146), hundreds lost their livelihoods. Many were left unemployed and the homeless rate skyrocketed. However what you don't see wont hurt you, so the lord and council turned a blind eye upon the situation. leaving the peasants to struggle on their own.
Tired with the predicament a band of rallied tavern owners and former brewery workers banded together forming B.I.R.M (Bludd industry reestablishment Movement). Their aim being to politically rally the council into releasing the restrictions on bludd. It is unsure how many joined this group, however some say it exceeded hundreds. They met in the taverns during the day, discussing and recruiting new members, and protested in the wealthy quarters of the city by night, keeping the city awake with their chants. Unfortunately B.I.R.M was short lived, as Ericcsson abused his position of council, and claimed that the movement were planning to over throw the Lord. As soon as this rumour had circulated the members of B.I.R.M were being exterminated like rats. Weeded out, put on trial which they were destined to lose, and executed. Eventually they were silenced, and bludd was forgotten about in the peasantry and they just moved on. However, Diaries and political agenda state, that in late 146 the remaining members of B.I.R.M went underground, under the leadership of a fierce tavern owners son beginning to produce and deal blood out to old addicts from secret locations in the countryside. No longer bearing the name of B.I.R.M but that of the Bludd Dealers. These rumours were quickly dispersed by the council, growing weary of the whole bludd debate, wishing for no more blood to be spilt on its behalf. Yet suspicions did arise following the sudden and strange disappearance of Ericcson the Ernest from his Olddon villa...
Not much more can be found on the operations on the dealers, until the year 607 during the purchase of the Bark and Blade lumber company from an unknown nobleman. But folk say that they have been rising in numbers up until this point, slowly creeping down into the Santharian kingdom. One Dealers tale on the subject on this purchase states that when the Blood-King and Right hand were camping in a forest, evading the guards on the road. They were ambushed by a handful of pendrowe. Being outnumbered, they ran, narrowly escaping with their lives. Apparently they dashed out of the forest only to stumble on a lumber encampment none other than that of the Bark and Blade, wishing to relieve himself of the pendrowe's curse he bought over the company, and pulled the cutters back from the forest in which he had escaped. That night he had a vision, of a new larger guild, and thus the hollow log blood transportation system was born, as if the pendrowe had rewarded him for his actions. Some would even go as far to say that the Blood King, and the pendrowe of the forest now fight under the same blade as it were.
“Who gave one man the right to rule over life, decide
what we do when we do it and how its done?