The chaotic city of Bartertown is perched at the entrance to the Dwarf kingdom of Throal, having sprung up more or less by accident from its beginnings as an open-air market. Gradually, the market’s merchants set up permanent establishments to take advantage of the thousands of customers Throal offered while sidestepping Throal’s law and high taxes. The side effect of this was a limited law enforcement, the ranks of which failed to grow in pace with the city’s burgeoning population.

The noticeable absence of law enforcement allowed Bartertown to become increasingly dangerous and even violent. To increase safety and the renew the city’s prosperity, the city magistrate Clystone recently increased taxes to pay for enough guards to effectively combat the rising tide of crime. While, for the most part, the merchants greeted this move with public acclaim, privately their disdain led to increasing tax evasion and the growth of a vigorous black market, only making the problem of crime worse.

In the past few years, Bartertown’s problems have turned increasingly deadly. The magistrate’s forces clash regularly with smugglers and other crime syndicates, and these encounters all-too frequently result in the ordinary folk of Bartertown being caught in the crossfire, culminating in a steady exodus of people from the city and a rapid decline in Bartertown’s population.

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