Farther in from the antechamber, the tunnels branch out and become more complex, going up and down as well as to left and right. Traveling upward but directly ahead leads to the Guild area. The direct passage is well-marked, with Guard posts along the way, officially to prevent merchants from getting lost but unofficially to keep an eye on anyone leaving the main passages. Farther out to the side lie the dwellings of the middle classes of Gethamane — long-established Guard and farming families, respected artisans and hunters and prospectors who have done well from expeditions into the underways.
These sets of rooms have usually been in the hands of a single family for generations. The rooms grow cluttered with the family’s heirlooms and detritus and are frequently crowded, if the family has grown and not married or adopted its children out to another family. Rooms in this area are seldom free and only become so if an entire family should perish without willing its property to anyone else or if some crime against the city should result in a family being exiled, slain or enslaved. In such a case, ownership of the rooms reverts to the Council, and the Master of Gethamane chooses to whom they are awarded. (The Guild has been trying to get its hands on some of these rooms for centuries now, but previous Masters have avoided deeding these rooms to anyone connected with the Guild, however high a bribe is offered.)
This is also the area that contains public buildings that aren’t important enough to be in the central area with the Gardens and the Council buildings, but are useful to Gethamane as a whole. Craft halls, minor associations, schools and similar establishments can be found in this area. Either they are set up in rooms that are rented to them by particular families, or a major family from the organization owns the rooms and charges a small fee to all the other members. It is very difficult indeed for a new organization to get itself territory in this area. To do so would require a debt of gratitude by, or the major blackmail of, one of the families who could rent the organization a room.
Naturally, not every single room is occupied or claimed. However, the few rooms that are left are far to the edges of the Outer Ring and have often been used as dumping grounds for rubbish for centuries or are close enough to a family’s territory that the family could make a plausible case before Gethamane’s judges for owning the room. Some thieves in the area use such rooms as lairs, building nests in the years of collected litter and detritus. While the beauty of Gethamane’s structure is evident, so is the clutter of centuries of inhabitation. Families react to the buildup of their own rubbish by shifting it into other people’s areas or dumping it in public places — while trying not to get caught doing so, of course. The people who own property in this area consider themselves the pillars of Gethamane, the ones who actually get the work of the city done. While they are courteous to visitors (especially wealthy ones), they will call the Guard to chase away beggars, lowlifes, bravos or other undesirables. Several acting and entertainer families own properties in this area and use them to present performances. While these families are not considered high society, or even upper middle class, the Gardens and the Outer Ring both tolerate them rather than drive them into the Upper Ring. After all, if these families should be based there among the poor, it would be that much harder for the rich to visit them and enjoy their performances.
Some of the more notable locations in this area follow.
TIMBER HALL Edit
This large room is surrounded by several small ones and is the center of work for most of the local carpenters, woodcarvers, furniture makers and other woodworkers.
Wood collected by the gatherers outside or brought in by the Guild and purchased by local merchants is carried here to be crafted by its owners or resold. The actual owners of the rooms, the Ragith family, make a handsome profit out of charging a very low toll fee to everyone who enters and a higher fee to those who want to rent one of the small rooms for a long-term project or a private meeting.
CHARACTER CONCEPTS FOR THE OUTER RING
Warrior: Janissary Vault Member, Guard
Holy Man: Temple Priest, Philosophy Cell Member
Savant: Philosophy Cell Member, Historian
Criminal: Petty Thief, Merchant Preying On Newcomers
Entertainer: Actor, Flautist
Bureaucrat: Dole Checker, Gate Clerk, Timber Hall Accountant