Location: Abyss / Pazunia

Aaah, Shackleton… now there’s a place with a vibe meaner than a hungerin’ Abyssal maw. Lurking in the shadows of Pazunia like a peery jailer, it serves as the gate town to Carceri, the grand prison plane itself. While some might argue on the technicalities of it being a “gate town” — givin’ the one-way nature of its infamous gate — the locals ain’t too bothered with philosophical banter, they’ve got a goldmine right there, they have.

The Abyssal side of the gate, well now, it’s a bit of a sight. Imagine if you will, a market of misfortune, a bazaar of the damned where everything has a price, especially the desperate sods who find themselves in Shackleton by mistake. The locals, a bunch of enterprisin’ individuals, I must say, have found quite the niche market; givin’ berks the one-way ticket to Carceri, a place where hopes go to die. It’s a bit of a business venture, you see, they nab wretched and unlucky travellers and planewalkers. It’s usually with poison or sleeping magics; the traveller thinks they’re getting a bargain room in one of the inns, or a cheap meal in an eatery. Once the poor sod is unconscious, they’re stripped of their possessions and jink, and then it’s off to Carceri they go. They’re bundled through the portal, semi-conscious or otherwise. What happens soon the other side? Who cares! That’s the horrible attitude of the locals here. Every so often a mysterious hag traveller arrives, leaving soul gems and magical trinkets smuggled out of Carceri as payment for the safe delivery of the unfortunate unwilling portal hoppers.

Ever enterprising, the amoral bashers of the burg have a number of other business ventured beyond portal napping. First off, ye got the Cage-Makers, masters of craftin’ imprisonin’ devices, from cells to bindin’ circles. The finest in the multiverse, if you’re lookin’ to hold someone or somethin’ with no intention of lettin’ it roam free again. Ah, but they don’t just peddle in the physical, oh no. They’ve got sorcerers who specialise in mind cages, trappin’ a being’s consciousness in loops of their own worst memories or fears. Handy, if you’re into that sort of thing.

The burg’s also home to the “Shackle Smiths”, craftsmen who forge the unbreakable chains used to bind the more unruly prisoners transported from Shackleton to Carceri. Imagine, metal wrought from the very depths of despair, echoes of hopelessness weaved into every link. No amount of wishin’ or magical mumbo jumbo can break those, cutter. The tanar’ri pay good jink for these things.

Now, given the locale, there’s naturally a lot of despondent souls and schemin’ types, which has given rise to a side industry catered to the more… miserable aspects of existence. Brothels that promise to fulfil the most depraved of desires, taverns servin’ spirits that drown not just sorrows but entire memories, givin’ ya a fresh slate of guilt-free misery to start with each morn.

Let’s not forget the guides, savvy bloods who know the ins and outs of Carceri. Now, it’s a one-way trip through the gate, but these folks have got ways and means, knowin’ other secret paths and passages that might even let you get out again. For a substantial fee, they’ll help ya navigate the perilous terrain — if you can trust ‘em.

So, Shackleton, it’s a place of desperate enterprise, a market of misery where fortunes are made from the lost and the damned. Not exactly your cup of tea, unless you like your brew bitter and brimming with regret, that is. But hey, there’s no denyin’ it’s a place like no other, in its own tragic, twisted way. It’s the sort of place where a cutter with a sharp mind and a sharper blade can make a pretty penny, as long as they don’t mind the moral quandaries that come with sendin’ berks to a one-way trip to misery. It’s a brutal, hard place, but in the harsh realities of the multiverse, Shackleton stands as a testimony to the cutthroat entrepreneurial spirit, don’t it? Just mind you don’t end up on the wrong side of the gate, cutter.

Source: Jon Winter-Holt,

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