In Uruk, there is room for an abundance of character types. In this section, we'll detail a few prominent archetypes which would be common in the theme and are recommended for those who are struggling to find an idea on their own. Don't feel constrained to play one of these types of characters and if you do choose to play one, put your own spin on it.
We'll also be detailing 'featured' roles which we are actively looking to fill. These roles are not in any way more important than any other role -- they're just helpful in filling out the skeletal outline of the game at its beginning. As an admin team, we have no desire to lead or put the RP of this sim onto rails where things become boring and predictable. These 'featured' roles may very well become irrelevant to the game as the city undergoes changes.
Men and women that fight for coin rather than country, mercenaries come from a diverse set of backgrounds and points of origin. Often experienced fighters accustomed to a rough-and-tumble lifestyle, mercenaries are a common sight in the land of Shem. Shemtish cities often rely almost entirely upon mercenary companies in times of war and crisis to man their walls, to drive off desert bandits, even to keep the order internally as staff on the city guard. Uruk, in particular, is a commercially-driven center that has a firm hold on the caravan routes that criss-cross the desert and its Trade-Princes of Uruk have a reputation among mercenaries as reliable patrons . Given recent events in surrounding countries, most mercenary companies have started to come apart at the seams due to the unusual peace that has settled over both Shem and its neighbors which has acted as a draw to many mercenaries who wish to distinguish themselves in its much-talked-about arena. Uruk is a city where a fighter might still become rich and famous through the strength of their sword-arm and due to its recent population boom, there are many other opportunities for work as bodyguards, guardsmen of the city, and protectors of its caravans.
Men and women devoted to one of the many gods of the vast collected canon of our setting, priests and priestesses often wield immense influence over even the most doughty of fighting men prowling the Thurian continent. In Uruk, in particular, the cult of Ishtar dominates as the Earth-Mother is the city's patron deity. Ishtar's temple is a grand affair, staffed by dour priests and priestesses that offer carnal services in exchange for gifts to the ubiquitous goddess of the Shemites. Priests and priestesses of Ishtar are known as strong political operators, savvy and perfectly at home in many a royal court. The cult of Mitra, as well, has gained prominence over the years in Uruk which is an aberration in comparison to other Shemtish cities. Most of them care little for the dour, goodly deity of the Hyborians but few would deny their skill as healers through means both mundane and (so it is whispered) magical. In a city where bloodsport is a central focus, those who might stitch these valuable gladiators back together are quite important indeed.
But not all priests and priestesses serve these gods, chief among the influential circles of Uruk. Many serve gods from distant lands that are a reflection of their heritage. Some even serve gods that are spoken of only in fearful whispers north of Stygia's border. It is said that many cults operate within Uruk's painted walls, often behind closed doors where the prying eyes of the public might not intrude.
Any man or woman passing through Uruk might apply to one of the two major training houses for participation in its weekly games. These dour combatants come from every walk of life. They are perfumed nobles, mercenaries, guardsmen, merchants, even the occasional devout of a deity might opt to shed their blood and the blood of others in its arena. The roar of the crowd is an intoxication to almost all, as is the possibility of immense wealth and fame. Champions are objects of fascination and of veneration to the people of Uruk. Coin comes to them freely, and a reputation built in the arena might propel a political career or be used to destroy that of another. They are the movie stars of Uruk; its professional athletes, its sex symbols, its heroes and its villains.
If a fighter comes with a bonafide reputation earned through participation in one of the many campaigns that used to dominate the region, they are often admitted to one of the two major training houses that offer training and guidance in return for a part of the fighter's purse. These training houses are controlled by shrewd political operators and only through them may participation in the games be secured. If a fighter is new to the game, they must first catch the eye of one of these trainers either through rumor, scouting, or participation in the less lucrative and more wild fights that often take places in the underbelly of the city or one of the caged rings in Uruk's taverns.
A fighter is more than just a brute that waves about a sword in the city of Uruk, however. They are tools for the wealthy and influential to gain popularity among the masses of the city at large. A fighter may be chosen by such a person for patronage, wherein their fees to the training houses will be paid in full and many other such gifts may come their way. The patron shares a portion of their purse in return as well as a share of the glory won by the fighter on the arena's blood-soaked sands. Many battles are fought in this way -- not by the fighters exchanging blows -- but instead by two wealthy patrons using them as proxies to win the love of the crowd and elevate their political aspirations or advertise the wares of their shop.
As mentioned previously, a gladiator might devote the whole of their existence to the pursuit of becoming a champion of Uruk's arena. Alternatively, it might be a part-time job used as a launching pad for other pursuits.
When a city has as much foot-traffic as Uruk, many lucrative possibilities present themselves. A man or a woman might become quite rich by plying their wares in such a city, catering to the abundance of foreigners that find their way to its fabled streets. In Uruk, money is power and gold can pass flush into the hands of a clever merchant offering a unique or quality product to its many travelers. The caravans that Uruk, in turn, controls are a source of immense wealth to those with stakes in their cargo. Many goods come to the city from afar through these channels and those shrewd enough to play the game might win big. Of course, they could just as easily lose it all.
But there are many kinds of merchant roles available to players in Uruk. A more meager pursuit might be more entertaining to many. Playing a con man, or a fortune teller, or other similar types can present interesting play. Many of Uruk's people are highly superstitious and a belief in magic is almost ubiquitous. A bit of sleight-of-hand could go a long way though such games are dangerous at best and deadly at worst.
Where there are people, there will be innkeeps, tavernkeeps, slavers, whores, madames, pimps, and pushers. Keep an open mind when considering such a role -- there are an abundance of options.
Where there is life, there will be crime. Even the most grandiose of ivory towers will cast a long shadow, and in that shadow will lurk those seeking to take advantage of the naivety of the haughty lot that inhabit it. In Uruk, there is a flourishing criminal element. Many stroll through its wide streets and winding alleyways like wolves in search of oblivious prey. Thieves, cutthroats, pickpockets, kidnappers, brigands, and your common thug rub elbows with their betters in Uruk's open markets, its taverns, its brothels, and even its temples. Just as there are many opportunities for legitimate businesses in Uruk, there are an equal amount of opportunities for illicit pursuits.
Uruk's arena generates an immense amount of wealth for both the Trade-Prince and the criminal underbelly. Gambling is an institution in Uruk, perfectly legal in essence but tightly controlled by certain criminal elements which often take the bets of the masses. Manipulation of the odds, manipulation of the outcome even is sometimes practiced by these gangs and cadres. Some say that the City Guard or even the Trade-Prince may have their hands in such sketchy operations.
As mentioned in the introduction -- this sim is not one driven by its administration. Crime in Uruk is entirely what you make of it. Dream big with your characters, spin the wheel, and risk, risk, risk. A well-placed bribe here, a clever adjustment of the odds there and a wily criminal might find their hands the ones upon the wheel that steers the ship of Uruk's fate.
There is often little to distinguish the men and women of the Uruk's City Guard from its criminals. They are known for accepting bribes, for wrongful imprisonment, for being bullies to those that would thumb their nose at their authority within its walls. Mostly recruited from the large pool of foreign mercenaries or former (or even active) gladiators, the city guard can present a broad avenue for roleplay. Playing such a role straight, however, is difficult in Uruk. It's a decadent city, a corrupt city, a city driven by wealth and as such, there are many, many temptations for those who would uphold the law. Many times, their focus is simply protecting the sovereignty of the sitting Trade-Prince rather than upholding some ideal of justice.
On the payroll of the Trade-Prince, the guard is often incredibly loyal to whomever might wear the crown and their allegiance is often the deciding factor as to who might continue to wear it. They are not kingmakers and do not wield the political influence of many similar bodies in our historical past (such as the Praetorian Guard). But the guard can also not be entirely ignored. They must be paid. They must be bribed. They must be acknowledged in some way and can certainly not be left alone by those who would pursue the top of Uruk's gilded heap.
The epitome of the gilded heap, the aristocrats of Uruk have carved out a tiny empire of their own. Luxuriating in their wealth, they are often the target of those who would see their station rise. For generations, they have sat in lofty palaces with everything at their fingertips, but it would be folly to assume it will always be so. In the past, the Trade-Prince is chosen from the nobility, but they must earn that. Bribes, marriages, business deals, patronage, all are paths to maintain the life they are accustomed to. More commonly, the nobility choose a gladiator to sponsor, and their social status moves up and down the ladder based upon the performance of that gladiator. Nobility include the three noble houses of Uruk, as well as traveling nobility.
But as wealth spreads in Uruk, the line between nobility and others are blurred. Money does not grow on trees, and without a stable source of income, a noble is more likely to find themselves on the streets than on a throne. Generations of wealth are beginning to run out. For those that do not actively seek to maintain their position, the only way to go is down.
Not all people who venture to Uruk are sure of what path they might tread upon reaching it. Many are simply tourists initially -- they come for the spectacle of the arena as a passing fancy but oft-times are driven to stay by unforeseen turns of circumstance. Do not feel pressured to fit neatly into one of the roles listed, or to even have a sure idea of what you might want to do in our game.
It is entirely possible to play a simple traveler and let the experiences your character encounters guide and shape what they might do in Uruk. Sometimes, starting with a finite concept is an obstacle to your RP rather than an asset. It's not a horrible thing to let the RP take your character in an unexpected direction.