Kain Darkwind's Savage Tide
“Sasserine, as we all know, is a wild town. Serpent men, buried temples, gates to Hell—you can’t walk into somebody’s basement without uncovering a Truth That Nobody Is Meant to Know. But, for all that eldritch excitement, our city is still a port— which means somebody’s got to do the loading and unloading and make sure the city’s main industry keeps chugging along. These days nothing happens on the wharves without the Longshoremen.” —Sweet Gregor, Brute
The Longshoremen’s Union is a fixture on the wharves. Operating out of an unassuming storefront facing the wharves, a visitor wouldn’t know this group employs every sweating stevedore unloading the ships on the wharves. The truth is, anyone who wants work on the wharves must join the union. Those who don’t and think they can get away with not paying their dues face a cordial but firm welcoming committee who clarifies the need for joining the brotherhood. Woe to those who refuse. A person has one chance to join. If they don’t, they’re beaten—and if they still refuse, they disappear. Those fools who try to break the union with scabs, or try to cut union wages, are in for a full-scale strike—one that effectively shuts down the city. Thus, no one crosses the Longshoremen’s Union.
Usually, these bruisers are locals with a reason to stay on dry land—strong family ties, a surreptitious weak stomach, or just a desire to live a normal life. They’re big and burly, but while they blow off some steam now and again, they don’t raise the same kind of ruckus visiting sailors do. Sasserine is their home, after all, not just a way station.
Among the movers and shakers of Sasserine, there’s a lot of scorn directed at the Longshoremen. The Captain’s Council and no few local merchants decry the union, claiming it is little more than a gang of thieves and extortionists, worse than the cutpurses haunting the rest of the Azure. Despite the mutterings of the elite, the Longshoremen are in fact one of the few honest organizations in town. This wasn’t always the case. For years, the Longshoremen’s Union was a joke. The bosses lined their pockets with sweetheart deals that left the workers out in the cold. While these corrupt officials got rich, and ship captains paid starving wages to the workers to off-load their ships, the people of the Azure suffered. So long as the Captains’ Council got their cut, they ignored the plight of the stevedores and longshoremen, allowing the exploitation and terrible conditions to persist.
Everything changed about a decade ago. Poppy Bragg, a member of the union, emerged as a force of nature. Dissatisfied with his pay and disgusted by the corruption riddling the upper levels of the organization, he championed the cause of the worker and fought his way to the top. He built a union to be feared and respected. He met with merchants and ship owners and laid down the law, tearing up the old contracts and hammering out tough new ones. At the same time, he insisted his members pull their weight—he’d make sure everyone could eat, he was fond of saying, but he’d be damned if he’d let anybody get fat.
The Longshoremen’s Union has a small office that fronts the wharves. Plain and serviceable, the offices are merely functional. Bragg refuses to let union funds go toward beautifying the place, and so long as the organization sustains itself, he’s content.
The building is two stories, with a meeting hall on the main floor, along with an office and a records room where the union keeps its contracts and funds in a thick iron vault. A staircase leads upstairs to more storage rooms and offices. The only thing that separates this building from those around it is a white flag hanging out front bearing a red silhouette of a muscular man pulling on a rope.
The Longshoremen’s Union keeps a small staff on hand to manage the day-to-day affairs of the organization. Two accountants, a couple of clerks, and some burly toughs can be found here at any time. Poppy Bragg also has an office, but he’s rarely here and prefers, instead, to work alongside the other workers on the wharves.
Hireling, longshoreman – 5 sp