Welcome to Madripoor
Madripoor’s capital city is named after the island itself. Like most large cities, Madripoor has a variety of districts, each one offering a unique personality to entice tourists searching for anything from highbrow culture to low-class thrills.
Capitol Square houses the government buildings including the president’s house. The Parliament building also features an excellent museum that displays local art and a pictorial history of Madripoor. It also has a large collection of native artifacts and relics.
Orchid Park, located on the edge of the business district, is a favorite place for working people to take lunch and for tourists to admire the collection of local flora in the Amsterdam Gardens. The garden boasts a carpet of brightly colored flowers the year round. It takes a team of 20 skilled gardeners to keep the gardens at the peak of their splendor.
The business district boasts some very elaborate and modern buildings, but the tallest is only 12 stories. Fear of high-force typhoons has kept the height of buildings down. The city’s offices are mostly trading companies that deal in Southeast Asia. They chose Madripoor as their base because of the fair tax laws, the sacrosanct nature of Madripoor’s banks and the perceived stability of the government compared with other nations in Southeast Asia.
Beyond its business center, Madripoor City has many more faces to offer its visitors.
The Avenue Ponce de Leon has earned its nickname of Glitter Street. For five blocks, tourists can enter a veritable Oz of fun and entertainment. It is the heart of the entertainment district and rivals New York City’s Broadway for dazzling marquees and brightly lit displays.
Here tourists can enjoy professional theater of high calibre, or a revue that rivals the Folies Bergere in Paris. They can choose to dine in sumptuous splendor or in elegant coziness.
Glitter Street was created especially for the tourists. They can walk the street bar hopping or just for an interesting stroll. Men and women in formal or eveningwear is a common sight on the sidewalks of nearby Lindo Park. On a night with a full moon, the park has inspired many a man to pop the question and many a woman to accept, both blushing in the soft, Indonesian moonlight.
Madripoor’s cuisine is one of the most varied in the Far East. Made up of dishes from Southeast Asia along with adapted culinary traditions from Great Britain, Portugal and Scandinavia, Madripoor has a mix and match approach to cooking that is uniquely its own.
Most dishes are heavily spiced, a tradition from the days when foodstuffs had to be shipped in and there fore salted, dried or pickled to preserve them. Allspice, ginger, pepper, lemon juice, cumin and other native and imported spices are blended to create Madripoor’s distinctive cuisine.
Meals often start out with heavily spiced and delicious pickled herring. Seafood like shrimps, crayfish and mako shark can be ordered deep-fried, barbecued or broiled, ready for dipping in any one of several native sauces.
Another island favorite is, of course, the ubiquitous conch (pronounced conk). This shellfish shows up in appetizers, soups, main and side dishes or all by itself on a bed of rice and sprayed with lemon juice or tabasco for the adventurous.
Most dishes are made with seafood, prepared to be incredibly fresh and tasty. Often a patron can choose his dinner while it still swims in a tank.
O Lugar: This restaurant offers the finest in nouvelle cuisine, which means the portions are delicious but very small. The ambiance is one of crystal and dark mahogany. The chandeliers create a thousand pinpoints of lights on the walls, ceilings and patrons. After nine, the lights are dimmed and late diners can share quiet moments to the accompaniment of a string quartet or a pianist.
The Major’s Garden: Well (if not imaginatively) named, this restaurant is owned by Colonel and Mrs. Parkhurst. The Colonel spent his early military years in Indonesia and when he and his wife retired, they sold their belongings and moved to Madripoor. The restaurant does not serve a large crowd. It has only 20 tables dispersed throughout a garden setting of lush flowers and tropical plants. Mrs. Parkhurst tends the garden and she will be more than happy to give any interested patron a guided tour.
New World Inn: Though its name sounds rustic, the New World Inn is actually quite fashionable. This renovated townhouse features several dining rooms with only three or four tables each. Specials are available every day and the wine cellar is well stocked.
Everything from Las Vegas splash to bistro calm is available along Glitter Street.
The theaters run performances of plays as soon as the rights become available. Many big-name stars tread upon the boards down here since often their expenses are paid on top of their salaries. They also get to enjoy one of the top tourist resorts of Indonesia.
Nightclubs run the gamut from the enormous, with floor shows, revues, bands and dancing, to the intimate, with one song stylist and piano touching every emotional chord in the house.
The Golden Fleece: Sometimes described as bright, splashy, and loud and a whole lot of fun, the Golden Fleece is recognized worldwide. The dance revue in the large main room occupies three stages placed strategically so no one has a bad seat. The center can be used for dancing or, when raised, as a center stage for the main attraction whether it is an internationally known singer, musical group or comic. Off the main room are smaller, quieter rooms, each with its own bar and tables, where patrons can go if they wish to engage in conversation or just escape the noise for a few moments.
A Casa do Tigre: One step through the door of A Casa is like stepping back in time. The main attraction is jazz played by Madripoor Blue, the house quartet, often ably assisted by a female vocalist. The mood is subdued. People come here not for a boisterous time, but to enjoy the music and the atmosphere. No food is served, but the drinks are generous and those requiring them are prepared with the island’s fresh fruit juices.
The French Twist: If there is anything in Madripoor that can be termed a “singles establishment,” the French Twist is it. Young tourists and islanders come here to dance to the latest pop and rock hits played by the DJ. Conversation is impossible against the onslaught of loud music, essential to the club’s “pick-up” atmosphere.
Of course, the local police know that Glitter Street is one of the city’s treasures. They simply make sure that the streets are safe. There are police walking patrols on every block. Of course, they are dressed in their finest dress uniforms for the benefit of the tourists.
The police presence makes Glitter Street significantly safer than A Selva.
It wouldn’t be entirely fair to say that the section of Madripoor City called A Selva is deadly to anyone who enters. But anyone who intrigued enough to investigate this colorful part of town would be well advised to tread cautiously and keep one hand on their wallet.
There’s no way to keep a red-light district from developing in any large city and Madripoor is no exception. A Selvo is the crime-ridden section of the city, but certain elements are drawn to it like a magnet.
To venture into the back alleys and dark side streets is foolhardy and even the natives avoid them like the plague. There in the shadows lurk muggers, drug sellers and others who would rob or even kill any tourist who turns his back.
But there is also the clubs. These clubs thrive on the reputation of A Selva to bring in the curious and adventurous. They hire the largest bouncers and enforce maximum security to make sure their patrons are as safe as possible, but fights regularly break out and the police are nightly called to the area to restore order.
The Broken Shell: The Shell typifies the bar/nightclub on the wrong side of town. Though once quite attractive, the building has seen years of neglect and is merely a shell of its former self. The patrons are all local toughs, fishermen, smugglers, and other criminals, excluded from the finer tourist establishments by patrols of the police and sometimes soldiers. The underworld elements rarely make a fuss, however. The police are content to contain them here and let them go about their undoubtedly illegal activities away from the tourist trade.
The Broken Shell is reputed to be the place to visit when in the market for drugs, illegal trade items, hired muscle, or even a hit man. No questions are asked, but anyone who isn’t a regular patron should go about his business and then quickly leave. The regulars might easily take a mind to beat up any unwanted outsiders.
NPCs in A Selva
Native Language: English
4th-level faceman (NPC); CR 4. SZ M; v/wp 30/14; Init +2 (+3 class, -1 Dex); Spd 15 ft.; Def 11 (+2 class, -1 Dex); Atk: punch/kick +4 (1d3+1); Face 1 square; Reach 1 square; SA None; SQ Adaptable, linguist +3, Cold read 1/day, backup 1/session; SV Fort +4, Ref +0, Wil +3; Str 12, Dex 9, Con 14, Int 15, Wis 12, Cha 18; Skills: Bluff +11, Diplomacy +11, Gather Information +11, Search +9, Sense Motive +8, Sleight of hand +6, Sport (Football) +6, Spot +8. Feats: Charmer, The Look. Gear: 72 BP. Gadgets & Vehicles: 2 GP.
Background: For a man in a wheelchair, he gets around pretty well. However, he rarely leaves his nightclub in the A Selva district, a club he has had especially renovated to allow him complete access.
Of a Black Irish father and Indonesian mother, O’Rourke looks much as any other islander does. His father emigrated to Indonesia to escape British soldiers interested in his part in the bombing of a fleet of army trucks.
O’Rourke grew up in an Indonesian environment with an Irish heritage. He was well read in James Joyce and could sing old folk songs in faultless Indonesian. When he was in his teens the strapping young lad found a new hero in Ernest Hemingway. He read of the pure, clean deeds that men do and the magnificent, clean thrill of living with danger and conquering nature.
He became fascinated with deep-sea fishing and spent summers crewing for a fishing boat. He would have been very happy spending the rest of his days on the sea, but his father intervened. He had O’Rourke apply to the best American universities. The smart young man got into one of the Ivy League schools, though mainly to fulfill their requirement of minority students.
Then he went out for football.
The years at sea had developed O’Rourke’s muscular body and made him very adept and quick. By his sophomore year, he had several pro teams looking at him with great interest. They wanted to sign him immediately, but O’Rourke’s father insisted he finish his education.
Out of college, he signed with a Midwest team and became a national star as a halfback. His was a glorious career and he became a media favorite. He worked the brogue accent that was almost real and, combined with his oriental looks and charm, made him a perfect TV guest and interviewee.
Then, when his career was at its zenith, there was disaster. On a fishing trip into the South China Sea, his boat was caught in a storm and dashed on one of the small islands in the Acauda Isles. O’Rourke held onto the unconscious skipper of the boat with one hand while clinging to the rock with the other. The skipper made it through with only a concussion and pneumonia. O’Rourke had shattered a nerve junction at the base of his spine when he hit the rocks. From that time on, he was confined to a wheelchair.
He never returned to the United States and had no desire to go back to his father. He had his business manager sell most of his interests and bought a nightclub on Madripoor. With the same charm that he exuded over the TV cameras, he won over the tourists and the local newspaper. They covered his club’s opening with a fanfare usually reserved for visiting dignitaries.
He kept the Hemingway-inspired faÃ§ade of macho and good humor going and is today hailed as being a brave man beset by unfortunate circumstances. Virtually everyone is his friend.
Privately, though, O’Rourke is bitter. He feels cheated out of his best years and uses the island and his nightclub as a retreat where he controls everything and no one can interfere with his self-pity.
Reactions: O’Rourke knows most people in A Selva and hears many rumors. If the characters ever have an investigation in this area, it is very likely they will be directed to O’Rourke.
He will share information, to a point. To win the man’s confidence will require some expert role-playing on your part and perceptiveness from your players. You will have to play O’Rourke as being happy-go-lucky and unconcerned about everything but him. If the players have their characters talk about his accident, you must get the players (Sense Motive checks all around, DC 18) to notice that talking about the accident bothers him.
If the characters confront him about the accident and stand up to O’Rourke about his selfish attitude, make a Will save opposing a character’s Diplomacy roll. If it fails, then the character has gotten through and broken through the defenses. If the character is smart enough not to exploit this weakness, he will have a friend for life, a source of information and a safe house in A Selva.
Catharina de Groot
Native Language: Dutch
2nd-level civilian (NPC); CR 1/2. SZ M; v/wp 5/10; Init +3 (+1 class, +2 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; Def 13 (+1 class, +2 Dex); Atk: punch/kick +0 (1d3-1); Face 1 square; Reach 1 square; SA None; SQ None; SV Fort +2, Ref +2, Wil +3; Str 9, Dex 14, Con 10, Int 11, Wis 12, Cha 17; Skills: Appraise +5, Bluff +8, Cultures +4, Languages +3, Swim +4. Feats: Silver Tongue. Gear: 55 BP. Gadgets & Vehicles: 1 GP.
Background: Maybe Catharina de Groot could have avoided her fate. Maybe if she had been brighter. Maybe if she had been less wild. But it happened and now she is living with it the best she can.
de Groot’s parents were from a wealthy Copenhagen family. But the mansion in the city became just another prison for the bored, beautiful young lady. Maybe everything came too easily for her. She whizzed through school, making honor rolls without even trying. She was very popular because of her looks and breeding. She never suffered from lack of male attention.
Maybe at that point in her life Catharina needed more of a challenge. She found one on a trip to Indonesia. There she met Cristoval. He was rough and aloof, not like the other boys back home who fawned over her. He was swarthy and handsome. He was certainly not a smooth operator. Worse, though, he openly stared and admired the young blond. She was used to males being shy and uncertain around her.
Something akin to the childish urge to play in the mud drew her to Cristoval. The challenge to conquer someone who was so strong mixed Freudianly with the urge to be protected by this mysterious man with the strong body and tattoo.
Because she was always used to being in control, she never recognized the symptoms of losing that control. During her vacation, Cristoval carefully isolated her from her friends. They spent long days in the country. She was caught up in the macho mystique Cristoval exuded. Here was someone who would protect her and keep her from harm.
When it came time to return to Copenhagen, Catharina cashed in her ticket to stay with Cristoval. That’s when he introduced her to his friends.
A yacht party, with lots of beautiful people and lots of powerful drinks set the stage for the next step in her fall. Cristoval made sure her drinks were made from the high-proof liquor. When she awoke, she was in a cabin on the boat with only a dim recollection of the night before. The party was over and all the guests, including Cristoval, were gone. The owner of the boat, Kinzo Ishida, explained the situation.
Cristoval owed him a lot of money. When they came on board, he told Cristoval he would forgive all debts in exchange for his blond woman. Cristoval never thought twice. To get out from under his debts he would give Kinzo anything.
Catharina tried to rebel, but the boat was out at sea and she had no escape. Kinzo treated her like a prisoner, She turned to drinking and drugs to numb her nerves. Finally, when she had lost almost all her dignity, she gave in and become the quiet, compliant hostess for Kinzo. She never complained when she found out he was a smuggler or when he would show her off to his cronies.
In time, Kinzo became bored with his compliant, somnambulistic toy and eventually put her ashore.
Knowing her family would never forgive her or accept the things she had done and had become, Catharina stayed in the islands. She had learned to survive by her wits and became an island hopper. She travels in the twilight world of crime. Never quite getting involved in the actual dirty work, but using her looks and wiles to get information that she sells to interested parties. Sometimes she is hired to get close to a particular person and find out what they are up to.
Reaction: de Groot is a callused person. She has very low self-esteem and measures her worth by how much people will pay her. Her first meeting with a character could be under these conditions.
For example, a villain, suspicious of the characters, could hire de Groot to befriend one of them. She arranges to meet the character either on the beach or in a bar and feigns affection and interest. She will keep tabs on the character and report whatever she finds out to the villain.
She could also work for the characters. She has no particular loyalty. If the characters are kind to her, she will laugh at what she perceives to be their naivete. “Everybody’s for sale,” she’ll say, “you just have to find the right price.”
Though she may be beyond redemption, de Groot could be a continuing NPC in your campaign. With her method of earning money, she could turn up almost anywhere in the world if you see fit.
Native Language: Chinese
8th-level fixer/4th-level pointman (NPC); CR 12. SZ M; v/wp 46/9; Init +7 (+5 class, +2 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; Def 20 (+8 class, +2 Dex); Atk: punch/kick +8 (1d3-1); Face 1 square; Reach 1 square; SA None; SQ Dexterous, procure, evasion (no damage on save), sneak attack +3d6, uncanny dodge (Dex bonus to Defense), skill mastery, uncanny dodge (can’t be flanked), assistance (1/2 time), lead 1/session, tactics 1/session; SV Fort +6, Ref +11, Wil +11; Str 8, Dex 14, Con 9, Int 18, Wis 14, Cha 14; Skills: Appraise +21, Bluff +17, Bureaucracy +9, Computer +11, Diplomacy +9, Forgery +21, Gather Information +11, Hide +17, Innuendo +17, Languages +6, Listen +8, Move Silently +17, Open Lock +17, Search +15, Sense Motive +9, Sleight of Hand +13. Feats: Master Fence, Career Operative, Iron Will, False Start, Sidestep. Gear: 70 BP. Gadgets & Vehicles: 11 GP.
Background: Born into a noble family line that met disaster when the people’s revolution took control, Tung has never quite forgiven the world for what she considers a major injustice. Her royal status was abruptly and illegally taken away. To maintain a lifestyle to which she had always wanted to grow accustomed, Tung turned to profitable crime, including blackmail, pandering and drug smuggling. She had some dealings with the Tong and the Yakuza, but they experienced a falling out.
It seems that Tung’s accountants and the Tong’s and the Yakuza’s all disagreed over how much money was being made. The Tong blamed the Yakuza and vice versa. Neither one blamed Tung though she was, in fact, guilty. She got away with over five million dollars worth of gems and raw opium, embezzled from the Tong and Yakuza.
Now she controls a major heroin and jewelry smuggling route between Southeast Asia and Australia. From her luxurious apartment, hidden behind the faÃ§ade of a crumbling tenement, she still moves people around like chess pieces, always attaining her desired goals.
Reaction: Madame Tung jealously protects little empire and will not be happy if anyone tries to muscle in. She is strictly small potatoes and if threatened by a larger organization, will gladly join forces with the characters to fight it. However, the characters should be careful since once they have outlived their usefulness, Tung will attempt to have them killed.