1 Fool S Market

The Temple District has plenty of legitimate religions, but it is also home to innumerable crackpots, fakirs, and zealots, each proselytizing their own strange take on the subject of divinity. The mad, deranged, and misled gather here, hoping to find others who share their odd predilections for religious inspiration. For most, they wind up even more alone, lost in a sea of searching and hopeful people, each claiming to have some other version of divine inspiration, some other story, some other belief to which they desperately cling in the hopes of finding meaning in this dangerous world. For them, the Hall of the Gods is their shelter; for here, in this massive temple, all are welcome.

History
The Hall of the Gods, or Fool’s Market as it has come to be known, occupies the old Temple of Andrade. Three decades ago, Andrade's priesthood all died under suspicious circumstances. Some claimed they were accidentally poisoned, while others suspected they were murdered, perhaps as a lead up to the rise and fall of Milton Drac. In any event, the temple stood empty for almost twenty years. Given the lack of real estate in the Temple District, it was only a matter of time before religious squatters moved in and claimed the building for themselves.

The people who staked a claim were a group of philosophers and scholars who were keenly interested in studying religion and its impact on Freeport. They invited some of the smaller clerics working in the district, urging them to set up shop in this large temple. At first, a few small, legitimate faiths were established under the same roof, but as the years passed, more and more religious types came and set up their own shrines. It didn’t take long for scores of different religions, each with its own priest, shrine, and idol to pack the Hall. Although some of the priests are genuine, many more are not. These charlatans are here to make a few quick coins. Once they’ve made a mint, they pack up, change their dogma and god and then drift over to some other corner in the temple.

Description
Hanging above the pitted and rusting iron doors is a crudely painted wooden sign that announces the building as the “Hall of the Gods.” A riot of multicolor-robed men and women gather on the steps, debating the finer points of their respective faiths, chatting about their latest revelations, or flailing about in the throes of some otherworldly entity. Many hand out cheap pamphlets that explain the tenets of their beliefs, while others call out blessings, promises of salvation, or whatever else they can think of.

There’s little evidence remaining of the temple’s original purpose. The new priests have stolen or defaced the old icons, incorporating them into their religion to serve as holy relics and oddities that somehow prove the truth of their message. Even the inscriptions and holy symbols that once decorated the walls have all but vanished, cemented or painted over to make the place a house of all gods rather than just one.

The main worship hall is now full of small shrines and altars dedicated to a dizzying number of deities. One or more faithful servants are at each stall, praying, chanting, intoning, swinging their censers, or calling out to visitors to come and hear their message. The place is full day and night, so moving through the area is slow and laborious. Each “vendor” offers a pitch about his religion and why the visitor should follow the path he reveals, and if they could toss a few coins his or her way, all the better.

Prominent NPCs
Gamey Rind: Not all of the people that fill the Hall of the Gods claim they’re priests or even have much to say about the gods. Beggars, vagabonds, and the shiftless collect here, clogging the aisles and cluttering the streets around the temple. One such man is Gamey Rind, a colorful character in his early fifties, stinks of sweat and wine, and spends more time swilling whatever he can afford. Most importantly, he is gifted with the occasional and rare prophetic outburst. Generally, his pronouncements are weird and disconnected, but when the foretelling is upon him, his eyes roll back in his head, and he vomits a little. As his body shakes, he spews out a random phrase or a dire warning. At first, people discounted him as mad, but after his prophecies began to come true, people reassessed the old man. Some have even tried to sponsor him, inviting him into their homes, but each time, Rind refuses, claiming he prefers the streets than to be closeted away in some rich man’s study.

Sister Regina: Sister Regina is appalled. Newly arrived from the Continent, she came to Freeport in the hopes of revitalizing her church. When she found her temple, she discovered a gaggle of charlatans, mystics, and twits overran it. She quietly selected a corner of the hall and erected an altar to the proper god of the temple. She’s not ready to use violence to throw out the rest, believing naively she can reveal to them the error of their ways by showing them the path to Andrade.

Regina is a young woman with long, brown hair worn in braids. She wears a red robe trimmed in silver and an amulet of her goddess around her neck. She’s idealistic and tries to see the best in every situation, but the resistance she’s faced since coming to the city is worming its way into her heart. She genuinely believes most people in the temple are good, if a bit foolish, but their unwillingness to join her is fast proving too much to suffer.

Rudimar Harrow: A sickly young man with dark hair and haunted eyes, Harrow claims to have been raised from death following a terrible outbreak of plague in a distant city. He came to Freeport to reveal the secrets of the afterlife to mortals and warn them to honor the Warden of Souls properly lest the newly dead find themselves lost in Limbo. Many think Harrow is mad, and perhaps he is, but when he’s in the throes of a sermon, he speaks with an almost otherworldly power, filling the hearts and minds of listeners with frightening visions of horrific Hell.

Pastor Warten: Most of the altars and shrines inside the Fool’s Market are temporary, as easy to tear down as they are to assemble. Priests come here and vanish just as quickly as some new belief bubbles up in the throng. Pastor Wasten is the exception, for his shrine to the God of Fish has stood since the week after the Hall of Gods opened its doors. He’s the one who painted the sign out front, so he’s a bit more involved in the day-to-day management of the place, encouraging newcomers in their beliefs and offering wise bits of advice to those who’ll listen.

Wasten’s story is particularly absurd. He claims ten years ago, while piloting his fishing boat in the deeper waters, a giant whale burst out of the sea, swallowing both him and his vessel and all of his catch. For days, he lived inside the whale, subsisting on fish he had caught and passing the time dicing with a merman named Charles. Wasten might have been content, for Charles was good company, but he missed Freeport and all his friends. Charles, seeing his companion’s distress, suggested Wasten pray to the God of Fish for guidance, for all mermen knew this god was wise and blessed those who shed salty tears—the tears of creation fashioned the seas, after all, and gave home to the fish.

Wasten did as instructed, and moments later, seven fish swam up and out of the depths of the whale. The merman urged the fisherman to follow them, claiming they would lead him home. Wasten bid his companion farewell and swam deeper into the great beast, wriggling his way through the tunnels, seeing strange cities and people, waving to them all as he went. The fish led him deeper and deeper, until the walls seemed as if they would crush the life from him. Finally, Wasten saw the light, and pushed through the last few feet only to find himself in a dirty alley in the Docks. He admits it’s strange that a whale’s anus is connected to side street in Freeport, but, he claims, that is the miraculous part of his tale. From that day forward, Wasten has been Freeport’s first and only priest of the Fish God.

Most people are sure Wasten’s tale is the result of a bit too much wine from the Rusty Hook or a bad loaf of rye down in Scurvytown, but he denies it, claiming the whole experience is the pure and complete truth. To show his dedication, he wears a large fish on his head and hangs smaller fish from his dirty robes.

Talbous Mog: The first few years Talbous Mog resided in Freeport, he prowled Scurvytown and the Docks, selling his healing services to the criminal scum of the city. He charged outrageous prices for anyone who needed a bit of discreet repair. It never mattered who or what he helped, so long as the gold was good and fast in coming. His mercenary nature gained him the title, Apostle of Greed, and eventually, he wore out his welcome. Rather than leaving Freeport, he set up shop in the Fool’s Market, offering miraculous treatment to anyone with the money to pay for it.

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