Züringer Bank of Kos (Bank)

Michael O. Varhola

“The Züringer Bank of Kos” is a rules-free description of a place that might be found in many different sorts of communities and cultures and was written as a specific example of a Bank, one of the more than 70 places described in the Skirmisher Publishing LLC book  City Builder: A Guide to Designing Communities . It is intended to stand by itself or serve as bonus content to that volume and includes an adventure hook that suggests one way it might be used in a campaign setting. Other material of this sort includes the  Vena Meridianus Baths , an example of a bathhouse, and Jadzia's, an example of an apothecary shop. 


Headquartered on the European mainland in mountainous Helvetia and owned by a consortium of Gnomish clans, the Züringer Bank has branches of varying sizes throughout the cities of the Mediterranean. When it opened a branch in Kos some two decades ago, many people were surprised that the Gnomes decided to build on a small hill in the suburbs outside the city that, when occupied by homes, had been the site of dozens of mysterious deaths.
 
Like some of the more well-informed residents of Kos, the Züringer Gnomes knew that the deaths were caused by the presence of subterranean poison gas that had been released into the lower levels of the houses after a fault was opened by an earthquake. Far from being dissuaded by what they call the “Breath of Ploutos,” however, the Gnomes made the carbon monoxide gas an integral aspect of the security measures for the bank they built on the forsaken hill. 

The Züringer Bank of Kos looks like a small, column-less, cube-shaped temple or mausoleum of white limestone with a slate-tiled roof and highly-polished bronze double-doors at its single entrance. It is decorated with friezes depicting various sorts of wealth and their acquisition or creation. It is run by a dozen Gnomes of various ages and levels of ability, all of whom have expertise as both financial specialists and spellcasters. 

Cash and other liquid deposits are kept in a large basement vault, into which the heavier-than-air poison gas from the areas below is pumped when the bank is closed. Everything in this area and the ones below it are scaled with Gnomes in mind and are thus restrictive and difficult for larger creatures to move around in. 

Safe-deposit boxes and other special charges are kept in an even-more dangerous subbasement that is always flooded with the deadly gas, and the boxes within them are kept in small vaults secured with two keys, one held by the bank and the other by the client renting the box. An ancient, life-sized obsidian statue of a young Human male with empty eye-sockets, shrunken vestigial legs, and a pair of bat wings sits cross-legged in the middle of this area. The Gnomes retrieve items from the subbasement by employing magically-conjured “unseen servants” or small clockwork automata, which are immune to the gas. 

Other security measures at the bank include a wrought-iron fence around the periphery of the hillock