One of the first settlements to be established in the asteroid belt is a curious place known as the Grotto. Built inside an asteroid that was hollowed out by dwarven miners, it consists of a lake and piers for docking aetherships, along with a sprawling tavern, inn and brothel.
Refer to the map above for the following location descriptions.
The mouth of this artificial cavern is about two hundred feet wide, broad enough to admit all but the largest of aetherships.
More than five hundred feet long and almost seven hundred feet wide, this body of water provides hydration for the inhabitants of the asteroid colony as well as a save place for atherships to land.
Each of these platforms is fifteen feet wide an 150 feet long, and provides a place for aetherships or their longboats to tie up and unload passengers and cargo.
4. The Sign of the Cup and Loaf
This large, two-story structure is the heart of activity in the Grotto; refer to the map and location descriptions below for details.
Each of these small outbuildings has the expected bench with a hole cut through it, and sits over a fifteen-feet-deep pit.
Located along the edge of the artificial lake is the Grotto's elemental obelisk, which provides warmth, air and gravity in the settlement.
Inhabitants of the Grotto
In addition to the many visitors who pass through the grotto on a short-term basis, presented here are some of the regular locals.
- Ioannis the satyr runs the Sign of the Cup and Loaf; he is assisted by a dozen faun employees. These are carefree beings who enjoy serving good food and drink to happy visitors; if a situation turns hostile, they call upon the centaurs to deal with it. Ioannis in particular is fond of outlandish stories, and has been known to by a round of drinks or meals for those who have interesting tales to tell.
- Half a dozen centaurs, led by Sophia, act as dockhands for vessels that pass through the Grotto, and serve as law enforcement when necessary. While the Grotto has few laws, stealing from or doing significant harm to others is not permitted. Sophia is a tough customer, but respects those who prove themselves worthy of it.
- A lunar naga, Mira, resides in the Grotto; nobody knows just how she pays for room and board. She is fascinated by watching the stars, and often swims across the artificial lake in order to gaze out from the cavern's entrance.
- A swarm of ratfolk, led by a male named Nartamus, handle upkeep around the Grotto—and, in doing so, gather up any useful items or information that they can. Just what they do with this information is unknown, since they otherwise keep to themselves.
- Two of the regular bar patrons are a kitsune named Yuriko and a tanuki named Hiroshi. She is an incorrigible flirt, while he is a generally jovial drunkard. They are fixtures at the end of the bar in the Sign of the Cup and Loaf's main room.
In addition to the aforementioned characters, the GM could use this location as a chance to introduce Gonzalo the mercane from Crossroads or even some of the janni from the cold red desert world.
The Sign of the Cup and Loaf
Refer to the map above for the following area descriptions.
Under normal circumstances the doors are left wide open, except in times of crisis; otherwise, the place sees business twenty-four hours a day. Two centaur bouncers are normally posted at either entrance, however, to keep out those who are looking to bring trouble into the establishment.
2. Bar and Dining Hall
This area is wide open to the ceiling twenty feet above, although four large chandeliers—elaborate sets of concentric wrought-iron hoops filled with candles—hang only fifteen feet above the floor. Each of these is connected to a heavy rope and pulley system that is anchored at the railing in the center of the balcony opposite the bar. These ropes are particularly strong, having hardness 3 and 8 hit points. While rather roughly hewn, the tables in this area are also especially stout. They can hold up to three hundred pounds without ill effect; beyond this they must make a Fortitude save with a DC equal to the excess pounds divided by ten.
The bar is stocked with beer and wine, as well as more exotic beverages at the GM's discretion. For food, the house specialty is a stew with many and varied ingredients (that is, whatever is available in port) known as salmagundi. Fawn servers make their way about the room, while Ioannis the satyr stays behind the bar.
Unlike the rest of the building, which has wooden floors, the floor here is made of cut stone. A large
oven stands against the outside wall, while a preparation table occupies the center of the room. The
cabinets are loaded with crockery, cutlery and other such supplies.
All of the dry goods, bottles, barrels and tins are stored in here, along with extra candles for the
chandeliers and linens for the rooms.
Each of these rooms boasts a bed, table and chairs, wardrobe and storage trunk. Although there are
thirty-eight of them in total, roughly a dozen are occupied on a continual basis by the Grotto's regulars. Rooms can be let by the hour, night, week or month, depending on a guest’s needs.
The tables on this level all have a full view of the bar and dining hall below. The railing has hardness 5 and 10 hit points. In case someone feel the need to do so, the ropes attached to the chandeliers have
sufficient length to allow a person to swing anywhere on the bottom floor of the establishment. Doing
so, by the way, requires a DC 12 Acrobatics check, once the rope has been cut loose. Should one of the chandeliers be allowed to crash to the floor, everyone in the four squares underneath it must make a DC 15 Reflex save or suffer 4d6 hit points damage. Swinging from the chandeliers themselves requires a DC 15 Tumble check, although they have the same chance of breaking as do the tables in the dining hall (see above).
7. Master Bedroom
These are Ioannis’ private quarters, a fact that can be noted from the high-quality lock on the
door (DC 30 check to open). Inside there is a large, four-poster bed complete with curtains, along witha table and chairs and a carved wooden stand for the satyr's lute. All of these are carved from matching dark mahogany, and are very valuable because of it (1000 gp for the set).
Underneath the aforementioned rug there is a loose board in the floor; it is protected by a very
small crossbow trap that fires poison bolts (DC 25 to find; DC 25 to disable; +6 attack; damage 1d4
plus poison; DC 18 Fortitude save to resist 1d6 Strength damage). Concealed herein are a pouch
containing 10,000 sp.