4 Office Of Public Records

The pirates who originally founded Freeport would flip over in their watery graves if they knew the amount of paperwork that the municipal functioning of their little settlement now generates. All the shipping manifests, tax documents, city planning maps, deeds of ownership, building permits, and court records have to go someplace if there is any hope of keeping track of things. The designated resting place for all such papers is the Office of Public Records, located on Sandbar Street in the heart of the Warehouse District.

When Freeport was founded, no one gave much thought to things like record keeping, receipts, deeds, or indeed much besides collecting booty and stabbing enemies. It wasn’t until Captain Drac turned Freeport into a true city-state—until there was government—that the city had a need to track things like that. After several years of details going missing, inconvenient fires, and dozens (if not hundreds) of forgery attempts, the Sea Lord declared one central office would hereafter track and control all records.

Initially, the Office was housed in the Sea Lord’s Palace and controlled directly by the Captains’ Council, but the merchants and traders of the city protested—they never directly accused the Council of tampering with records for their own ends, but the implication was certainly there (as was the tampering). Similarly, suggestions to make the record-keeping a private concern, or house the files in the Merchant District, were shot down by the Council. In the end the creation of the Office in the Warehouse District was a compromise, and no one expected it to last—but more than a century later it’s still there—as are many of the original documents stored there, now lost under decades of dust and disinterest.

The Office of Public Works operates out of an old two-story storehouse. It’s sturdy enough, but not in the best condition; occasionally the Council contemplates moving the Office into more modern premises, but frankly no one cares enough. A sign beside the front door declares the building’s purpose. During the day, merchants, functionaries, sailors, and others come and go to the Office, looking to deposit paperwork or view old records.

Anyone expecting the interior of the Office to boast well-organized shelves stacked with carefully filed and categorized piles of papers hasn’t been in Freeport very long. A wide variety of rickety shelving and boxes, no two alike (most salvaged from old ships or unwanted furnishings), are crammed with papers and documents. No visitor can hope to make sense of the filing “system,” and may find a century-old manifest lodged in a old beer keg alongside a map of the sewers under the Freeport Institute and the catering bill from last week’s meeting of the Captains’ Council. The lighting in the building isn’t great, so visitors often need to bring a torch or lantern as they explore; fortunately, the building and its contents are protected from fire by enchantments supplied by the Wizards’ Guild. Still, one should be careful—even a small fire could inflict untold damage on the smooth running of the city.

Prominent NPCs
Old Reed: The only person who can make sense of the files is the cantankerous caretaker of the office, a craggy ex-ship’s cook named Old Reed. He seems to have an unerring sense of where things are in the massive collection of paper. Reed has been caretaker of the Office for several decades now, and spends most of his days searching through files to settle disputes or gather information. It seems like a thankless job, but in truth, Reed enjoys it; he’s well paid, quite comfortable, and frankly he was never cut out for the life of a ship’s cook. That doesn’t stop him grousing about his work to anyone who’ll listen, though, and anyone who actually listens to his complaints may find him very cooperative. Reed lives in one corner of the Office, which boasts a hammock, a kitchen, and privy.

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