The Bitch's Bite
The sound of snarling hounds and hearty laughter can be heard drifting from a well-lit building. Operating out of central Marn east of the school and north of the firehouse, it is well within easy walking distance from the historic district and guard barracks. The Bitch’s Bite is a dog fighting ring where a number of guards and other patrons come for their evening entertainment. Sometimes the ring is called simply The Bite or The Bitch, depending on the formality of one's company.
The Bitch’s Bite generally appeals to low class sensibilities, and its bar reflects that. Offering many more options in ale and beer than it does in wine, the bar nevertheless has a wide variety of alcoholic beverages and simple snacks. The meats available are limited mostly to lamb and beef, though some unusually expensive ham is also available; patrons often toss scraps of these meals over the fence to the winning dogs.
The patrons are restricted to the first floor in the main room. This room is where the dogs fight: there are two 8 ft. diameter pits dug into the center of this room. The pits are a little less than two feet deep and have a three and a half foot glass fence around the rim. One of the glass panes is broken from an old brawl. The dogs are led in from opposite sides of the ring; they are led right through the tables with the intention of building up to the main event, snarling and barking the whole while. The canine’s ferocity can leave an impression, which is exactly what the establishment wants.
After this, the dogs are customarily held at opposite ends of the ring for a moment. This is so the patrons who want to see the dogs have time to place any last minute bets.
Like any good sport, the ring has a grandiose announcer who acts as if everything is much more important than it is. Announcing crowd favorites as they duel to the death, his voice is heard all over the Bite and is familiar to common patrons. He often isn’t present for frequent minor duels, and the establishment keeps his voice for important fights.
The building itself is constructed from various kinds dark and light wood, often in mismatched patches. Numerous steel lamps adorn the walls, over just about every table. The building is fairly large, about 95x80 feet, and two stories tall. The bar and food stand is right in-between the two entrance doors so that customers can enter, grab some food, and then find a seat with minimum inconvenience. Overall, the place gives off a rough vibe despite the obvious care that it has undergone.
Exceptionally street savvy personalities will immediately pick out the wide wooden vent or curtain-like system on the ceiling. Ostensibly to keep the ring from smelling of dog crap and blood, (a job which they do actually perform to some degree) their true purpose is to allow eavesdropping in just about any section of the bar.
The main office, where information is bought and sold, is across from the bar, on the other side of the rings. One guard is usually stationed outside the door.
The secondary office is on the second floor, behind two vents. These vents aren’t for eavesdropping; they instead provide what amounts to a one-way view of the rings. It is the only actual room on the second floor. This office contains most of the files and forms for both the selling of information and the day-to-day affairs of the ring.
The dogs are trained in a yard out back behind the establishment.
The True Purpose
The Bite has a disreputable set of rumors surrounding it. They don’t know the half of it. While many law abiding citizens and even guardsmen frequent the Bite, the ring is also a haven for criminals. The back half of The Bite can be rented out by anyone for a token and minimal fee. The Bite provides plausible deniability. If anyone asks where you were, you were just visiting the Bite to bet on the dogs. Of course, the trivial fee isn’t want the Bite is really after. The owner, an elf named Jacel Varti, has crawlspaces installed in the ceiling and can listen to the conversations that take place. Many understand and accept this, while many others purchase a room in ignorance.
This actually extends to the entire ring. There are two back rooms without these vents. The cost of these rooms is actually significant, since it means the establishment cannot sell the information.
The Bite’s main room itself can also be used to trade shady information. If one is willing to risk being overheard by random passer-bys or drunken guardsmen, all manner of shady deals can and often are made within. The Bite can’t catch all of these, but there is always a chance.
The Bite has four “bouncers” whose real job is serving as Jacel’s bodyguards and information guards. Aside from being exceptionally well armed -two of the four have single shot gnometech muskets with bayonets- there is nothing terribly noteworthy about the guards. Not to say they are incompetent, but they are all non-magical humans without outstanding skills. It is for this reason Jacel has let it be known he’s hiring.
In addition, there are several lightly paid infiltrators who frequent the bar and listen in on conversations where Jacel cannot. Many also work as dog handlers and/or have ties to other criminal organizations.
Few of the common staff, including the noncriminal trainers, the cooks, and announcer, know much more than the surface of the Bite’s true purpose. Though by working there one must inevitability guess at it, there is a general policy of willful ignorance. None at all know all the files like Jacel himself does, and most information deals are conducted directly through him. The ignorance of the hired help is intended to keep would be thugs from beating information out of the workers and secure Jacel’s power.
Notes for Roleplaying
The Bitch’s Bite is a great setting for just about any meeting involving a sell-sword, drug dealer, rebel, or thief, or guards, in part because it easily kicks off later plots. Because anything said within has the possibility of being overheard, your character’s enemies or rivals might later manage to get info on your character through the ring. The first plot set in this doghouse kicks off a plot for both Jacel and your rival, and you and your rival later. That’s three threads for the price of one!
Also keep in mind that no matter how noble your character is, there is a good chance they won’t see the dog fighting ring as cruel. They didn’t have many animal rights laws back then, if any, and going to a dog fighting ring would probably be comparable to going to a modern day action movie. There are of course moral dissenters, but they are usually dismissed under the tide of bored young people who need violent, flashy entertainment.
One last thing- while the guards do have muskets, keep in mind how primitive these guns are. For a long time, guns were significantly less powerful than bows. Blacksmiths would actually pull out pistols and shoot the armor they made to prove how strong it was. In addition to general inaccuracy, it may be better to treat the muskets as spears which happen to shoot something out of the top. Your character's armor will stop these bullets, and the guns aren't presice enough to aim for exposed skin.