The Eternal City
The Free Companies
By long-standing tradition and decree of The Curia, the poor and destitute (or merely adventurous) are permitted to form Free Companies to explore the vast ruins of the City. A person may join a Free Company to avoid prison, indenture or as an initiation into a Guild or certain orders within The Church.
Free Companies are identified by Color and Sigil, determined randomly by the Officials of Mustertown at charter. All members are required to wear their armbands identifying themselves as members of a Free Company while in Mustertown or the ruins.
There is a complex and formalized betting tradition on the Free Companies. A person can bet on just about any facet of an exploration; if the party will return, when the party will return, over-under on how many are left alive, number and value of prizes they return with, how many limbs are missing from party members, etc. The main way of determining the status of a Free Company, however, is measured by how many Relics they return with from each expedition. A Relic is anything of worth retrieved from the city more than mere coinage. Works of art, magic items, gems and jewelry or anything really that is unusual or potentially valuable. The value of any Relic is determined by an appointed Official in Mustertown.
A cottage industry of providing leads, maps and hints to Free Companies is the chief industry of Mustertown. People who run such businesses are referred to, sarcastically, as a Doge. The quality and honesty of a Doge is a constant worry for the leaders of Free Companies. The better Doge are licensed by The City but cut-rate shops can be cheaper and occasionally offer exclusive rights to the odd Relic.