News from the Land o’ Nod

Lulu August Sales Contest
I decided to throw my hat into the ring for the August sales contest at Lulu. I don’t think I’ll win, but its free to enter, and if I did manage to pull in a prize, it would help pay for some art commissions for my projects. As an added bonus, for entering the contest you can get 10% off my books with the coupon code “FOUND” until August 31. You can find my Lulu storefront by clicking HERE.

Pars Fortuna Online Playtest
I’m considering setting up an online playtest of Pars Fortuna. My idea is to set up a blog dedicated to Pars Fortuna, create some pre-gen 1st level characters that players can claim. The first 6 players in would then be presented with a dungeon in the blog, commenting on the blog to register their actions and them giving one or two days to do so. As soon as a character dies, the next player on the list jumps in with their character and so on. If I do this, it will happen in September.

NOD #4
I’m slowly but surely plugging away at #4. I have some mini-dungeons to finish and a few more areas to write up for the Venatia sandbox. The issue should also include the Medieval Bestiary, Mining & Minerals and an article dedicated to turning fantasy RPGs into superhero RPGs for my cost conscious readers. I hope to get it out at the end of August or the beginning of September.

Pars Fortuna Basic Set?

Basic sets are a well-regarded bit of nostalgia in fantasy gaming and apparently are making a comeback in the modern iteration of Dungeons and Dragons. They also happen to be an excellent way to introduce a game to new players!

It occurred to me that I could create a “basic rulebook” for my little game experiment, Pars Fortuna that would cover levels 1 through 4, four of the twelve playable races, a nice assortment of monsters (low level and mid-level) and magic items, all the cantraps (level 1 to 3 spells), all the basic rules needed for play, a dungeon adventure and all the bits of advice I can muster. My goal would be to present this item as a free download and for sale “at cost” on Lulu.com, to be followed by the full game at normal prices (I don’t know how long it is going to be, so I don’t know how much it will cost yet). The full “Expert Rules” will include all 12 playable races, spells and monsters, and would include a sandbox along with deeper levels of the dungeon in the basic rules.

I’d love some feedback to whether this seems to be a good idea or just a silly gimmick. Let me know what you think!

On Ibis, City of Sorcerers – Part Three

This continues the preview of Ibis, City of Sorcerers.

Part One (with map), Part Two

C. The Souk
The Souk is both a street and a market that stretches across the enter of Ibis, beginning in the accom-panying map, and extending well to the east. Along the souk are factories, dozens of markets (i.e. armor market, animal market, cooper’s market, etc) and a few counting houses, not to mention a large guard tower with its own dungeon. The road is paved with limestone from start to finish.

Crowds: The Souk is always crowded with people. At any given time, most of the citizens of Ibis, at least those without servants, end up on the Souk shopping for necessities and luxuries. Water bearers are common, as are peddlers selling honey cakes, boiled eels, salted dates, candied scarabs and other delicacies. Entertainers perform with pipes or juggle or do bits of acrobatic daring in the middle of the street for copper scruples. Guardsmen are ever present, clad in ring mail and carrying light crossbows and pole arms and usually accompanied by a sergeant in a dashing yellow turban with an ostrich feather.

Random Encounters
1 Adventurers (see end of article for sample NPCs)
2 Guardsmen (1d6 + sergeant)
3 Mages (two, preparing to duel)
4 Pick Pocket (save or lose a wallet ot purse)
5 Noble Retinue (Aristocrat with bodyguards and slaves)
6 Priests (1d6+6 carrying an idol and chanting)

Guard Tower: The guard tower is a remnant of one of the gatehouses that guarded the entrance to the old city. In fact, it still has a gate, though it is always left open for the old wall has since been torn down and recycled into building material for newer buildings.

The guard tower consists of an east and west tower, both rising four stories in height and being 20-ft in length and width. The west tower has a cellar that is used as a temporary dungeon – a few manacles on the walls and a hot poker for troublesome prisoners. The top story of the west tower serves as an office of sorts for the captain of the guard, Khnemu, a surly old gentleman missing an eye and most of his teeth.

Khnemu can be seen from time to time passing from tower to tower (they connect on the third story, over the portcullis) or wandering the souk inspecting the activities of his men. He wears a shiny cuirasse over a scaret tunic and baggy pants of white or grey and carries a light mace and dagger. In tow is a taller man with narrow eyes and a long, waxed mustache. This is Khnemu’s lieutenant, Zahur, a fair man with an eye for the fairer sex and a plan to outlive his captain and eventually ascend to his vacant position.

The remainder of the towers is given over to basic supplies, weapons (light crossbows, bolts, pole arms) and barracks for the fifty men assigned to the Souk and the surrounding streets and alleys.

Merchant Stalls: There are nine merchant stalls on the portion of the Souk that appears on this map. It is rare that one is closed during the day (1 in 20 chance). In general, assume that a merchant has what a player is looking for on a roll of 1-4 on 1d6.

C1. Jamila (3 hp) runs a stall selling hot drinks (tea, from a rusty samovar) and rolls spiced with cinnamon. The quality is poor, but the food is cheap and thus the stall always attracts a large crowd, mostly of laborers and bearers. The men and women chatter away at the stall and a person who spends a little time a few coins will usually (90%) pick up a rumor or two. Jamila (2 hp) is an elderly woman with reddish-brown skin and thick, silver hair that hangs down to her waist and is usually clasped back in copper bands. She is helpful enough, but move slowly, so most of her regular customers help themselves.

C2. Nexu (5 hp) is a clumsy oaf who runs a fruit stand, selling dates, figs and almonds. He currently has a croopy cough, turning often from negotiation (he loves to barter) to cough into his sleeve.

C3. Nit (4 hp) is a painfully thin woman with yellowish, leathery skin and limp, black hair. She always wears a tattered black robe and sells religious scrolls (hymns, not spells) and incense. Her work is of low quality and her prices very cheap. Nit (3 hp) treats haggling with contempt, for she considers her wares to be sacred and, thus, worth every scruple she asks. Most folk find her unpleasant to deal with – her eyes are always flitting about nervously, and she never smiles.

C4. Serq the bubasti (a cat-woman, see NOD #3 for more information) runs a fragrant booth selling bottles of scent. Her perfumes are excellent, and she is capable of concocting scents to attract and repel all sorts of natural (and monstrous) creatures. The centerpiece of her stall is a wooden idol of Bast, the cat goddess of the Nabu, and her own three black cats. Serq is cheerful and mischievious, but a bit on the covetous side, especially when a handsome stranger is nearby. She enjoys chit-chat, and it can be difficult to get a word in edgewise once she starts gossiping.

C5. Ubad is a nervous man in thick blue robes and a blue veil. He explains his veil by claiming to be a nomad from the vast desert of Nabu, but a true nomad could see through this easily for his accent is wrong and his slang is gibberish. Ubad speaks with a hollow, raspy voice. He serves watery soups with bits of unidentifiable meat floating in it, and cold, sweet tea that he keeps packed in wet towels. While his drinks seem popular with customers, few eat the soup because they suspect that Ubad is a ghoul.

C6. Funsani (3 hp) is a mournful, sickly widower who sells fish pies and other pastries. His stall consists of three of four wicker chairs beneath a shade and a wooden cabinet (that he carries on his back when coming and going) containing his wares, which he bakes fresh each morning. Funsani is a soft-hearted man and very sentimental (he has a locket with a lock of his dead wife’s hair in it).

C7. Hathor (1 hp) is a middle-aged woman who sells robes, tunics and other bits of clothing, all of the finest quality and intended as formal wear. While she often has one or two objects pre-made (or never purchased by the person who ordered them), she makes most items from scratch, and can usually be found in her booth sitting cross-legged on a woven mat, sewing or embroidering. She keeps two or three bolts of cloth in her stand, but has more cloth in her home. She is a devout worshiper of her namesake and attends prayers daily.

C8. Sabola (6 hp) is sadistic old bastard who runs a booth selling talismans, herbs and holy water, all of it authentic and of high quality. His talismans have a 1 in 6 chance of granting a +1 luck bonus to any roll, but will only do this once. Sabola has six children who help in his booth and who often receive a sound cuffing from their father when they are lax in their duties. He gets his wares from a holy woman who lives on the outskirts of town, and who can perform faith healings for a price.

C9. Moswen (6 hp) is a callous and barbaric woman, a true chaotic with a cynical sense of humor. She is tall and broad shouldered, and most suspect (correctly) that she has ogre blood flowing in her veins. That said, Moswen is married to a (corrupt) guardsman and has born him five atheltic children, two or three of which are usually helping at her booth. She sells maps to the various ruins and sites in the Nabu Desert (with about a 15% accuracy rate) and also deals in poisons, but only with folk who speak the cant and know a pass-word they can get from the local thieves’ den.

Last Days of 15%-off Sale on NOD #2

Just an FYI – if you’d like to take advantage of the 15% off sale Lulu is offering on the print version of NOD #2, head over to my storefront today or tomorrow. NOD #2 is normally $9.00, but with the sale is only $7.65.

In NOD #2 you can explore the wicked city of Ophir – more than 60 encounters! It also contains a narrative naval combat system, new classes (thief, assassin, venturer, elan), fourteen magic candles, alternate treasures, books & scrolls and ideas on running urban and wilderness adventures. Plus – a serialization of George MacDonald’s classic fantasy novel PHANTASTES.

Just use the code “BEACHREAD305” to get the discount. And if you do buy it (or anything else I’m trying to shift) – Thanks!

And stay tuned to this blog later today for another peek at the city-state of Ibis.

Deviant Friday – Mahmud A. Asrar Edition

Today we wander back into pin-up land with Mahmud A. Asrar, Anjum on DeviantArt. Most of Anjum’s work is in the superhero genre and Star Wars. Enjoy five of my faves …

Dejah Thoris – because showing pin-up art without showing Dejah is just a crime. By the by – how many people think she’ll end up looking like this in the new Disney-produced Mars movie?

Wonder Woman – nice redesign on the costume – better than the official redesign in my opinion.

Valkyrie – always one of my favorite comic book heroines.

Red Sonja – again, pin-ups without Red is just wrong.

Rom – One of these days I’ll post my monster stats for “Astral Knights”, based on this guy.

Note: This has become the second most popular post I ever made on this blog – far outstripping other Deviant Friday posts. My question to those to continue to visit – what brought you here? I suspect it was Dejah Thoris, but I’d love to know if it’s something else. Thanks!

On Mines and Mining – Part Three

Entries D-L. Click for Part One and Part Two.

Diamond
Diamond; Major Gem

Diamonds are the hardest known minerals. Perfect diamonds are clear and colorless, while other diamonds contain impurities that lend them a tint. These colors, in order of their rarity, are yellow, brown, blue, green, black, translucent white, pink, violet, orange, purple and red. Diamonds are the product of deep, volcanic eruptions and thus appear in volcanic areas, often in river deposits. Diamonds can also be formed by meteor impacts. The name is derived from the Greek for “un-breakable”. Indians venerated them as religious icons. The undead are vulnerable to diamonds.

Feldspar, Moonstone and Sunstone
Moonstone; Minor Gem
Sunstone; Medium Gem

Feldspar is an igneous rock formed from magma flows. It is one of the most common rocks in the Earth’s crust. The name derives from the German for “field” and “a rock that does not contain ore”. It is a common ingredient in the production of ceramics and it is used as an abrasive.

There are two forms of feldspar that are considered precious stones. Moonstone is a feldspar with a pearly, luminescent luster. Moonstones were believed to cause lycanthropy. Sunstones are a transparent, reddish feldspar with a spangled appearance. Sunstone is believed to ward spells, evil spirits and poison.

FlintFlint (7 cp / lb); Architecture, Equipment

Flint has been mined since prehistoric times. It is a form of quartz known for its hardness. Flint occurs as nodules and masses in sedimentary rocks such as chalk and limestone. Inside the nodule, it is a dark grey, black, white, green or brown in color, and usually glossy. When struck, flint splits into sharp flakes or blades. This process is called knapping, and was used during the stone age to made tools and weapons. When struck against steel, flint produces sparks. This alone makes it useful to adventurers. Because of its ability to create sparks, flint was used in flintlock firearms. Flint was also used a building material. Nodules of flint will explode if heated by fire.

Garnet
Garnet; Medium Gem

Garnet is a group of minerals that has been used since the Bronze Age as gemstones and abrasives. Among their number are carbuncles (almandine), a deep red stone that occurs in mica schists. Carbuncle was believed to have been present in the Garden of Evil. Pyrope (“fire eyed) is a transparent garnet colored deep red to nearly black. Uvarovite is a bright green garnet that occurs in crystalline marbles and schists, but it too small to facet. Carbuncles are supposed to give one the keen sight of a dragon.

Glass
Faience (5 gp / lb); Art
Glass (3 sp / lb); Art

Glass is made from silica and other compounds, typically soda, lime, lead and even pitchblende. The impurities might make the glass easier to work, glossier or tinted. Naturally occurring glass, like obsidian, were used by primitive people to make tools and weapons. The first true glass was made in the Middle East. The earliest glass products are beads, but by the Bronze Age people were making colored glass ingots and vessels. By the Middle Ages, most of the glass items we are used to today, such as windows, dining ware and mirrors, were in production.

Faience is an early ceramic invented by the Egyptians. Faience contains no clay. Rather, it is composed of crushed quartz or sand, with small amounts of lime and other ingredients. In the early days, it was given a blue-green glaze and used as a substitute for precious stones of that color, such as turquoise or lapis lazuli.

Gold
Electrum (50 gp / lb); Art, Coins
Gold (100 gp / lb); Art, Coins

Gold, or aurum, is a shiny, yellow mineral that has been valued by humans since ancient times. It is found in quartz deposits, usually with silver, sometimes in the form of electrum. The Romans uncovered gold deposits by unleashing pent up water to wash away the top soil. The quartz was then mined with picks and shovels, crushed, and washed in placers to separate the gold.

Gold is inert and malleable, making it an excellent material for coins and other art objects. Gold was alloyed with copper to create orichalcum and hepatizon. In quartz deposits, It was found as a natural alloy with silver called electrum. Electrum is harder and more durable than gold, so it was used as an early coinage. Unfortunately, the difficulty in determining the exact ratio of gold to silver in electrum meant it was impossible to determine the true value of an electrum coin. For this reason, silver soon replaced electrum as the metal of choice for coinage. Most electrum is 75% gold and 25% silver and copper. For fantasy coinage, it is simple enough to assign electrum coins a value between gold and silver.

Gold was associated with the Sun. It was believed to be the perfect, most noble metal because it is inert and only dissolved in aqua regia. The secret of turning base metals into gold was not merely a quest for wealth. Rather, the mystic alchemist was attempting to reach perfect spiritual purity, transforming his mortal form into a divine form.

GraniteGranite (3 gp / lb); Architecture

Granite is an igneous rock formed from magma. It has a coarse texture and can be pink to dark grey to black. Outcrops of granite tend to form tors or rounded massifs, and sometimes occur as round depressions surrounded by hills. The name is derived from the Latin for “crystalline rock”. Granite is hard, tough and heavy, and thus favored as a building material. Some of the pyramids were built of granite blocks, or a combination of granite and limestone.

Hematite
Hematite; Minor Gem
Ochre (6 sp / oz); Pigment
Tomb Dust (100 gp / lb); Trap

Hematite is black to reddish brown to red mineral found in bodies of water or near volcanoes. It usually occurs in banded iron deposits, which are found in primordial sedimentary rocks, usually with thin bands of shale and chert. Hematite is an iron-bearing ore (see Iron), but has many uses in its own right.

Hematite gives ochre clay its color. Ochre was a common cosmetic in ancient and medieval times, being used by Egyptian women to color their lips and Pict warriors to color their bodies for war. In powdered form, it is used as a trap in tombs. The powdered hematite is scattered thickly on the floor to be stirred up by tomb robbers. Once airborne, it irritates the skin, eyes and nose, eventually causing siderosis, a lung disease. Hematite is used as a gemstone in jewelry, especially as an engraved gem.

Hematite is believed to have the power to heal wounds and can aid fighters in combat. It is also supposed to be good for ailments of the blood.

Iron
Copperas (5 sp / lb); Equipment (Ink)
Iron (8 sp / lb); Equipment
Iron Pyrite (2 sp / oz); Equipment (Guns)
Steel (5 gp / lb); Equipment

Iron, or ferrum, occurs in the mineral iron pyrite and in banded iron deposits. Iron pyrite, also called brazzle or fool’s gold, looks vaguely like gold ore. Iron pyrite creates sparks when struck with steel, and is thus useful for starting fires and igniting guns. Banded iron deposits are found in primordial sedimentary rocks with thin layers of shale and chert. Banded iron deposits also contain hematite and lodestone.

Iron was first gathered by humans from meteors. This meteoric iron had a high nickel content, and was used to make tools and weapons. Iron was harder and more durable than bronze, and thus highly valued. The Hittites traded silver for it at 40 times the weight of the iron. Bog iron was used by the Celts and Vikings, and in Colonial America. Bog iron occurs where iron is eroded from stone by a river and then settles in a bog.

Iron is smelted from iron pyrite using bloomeries, blast furnaces and fineries. Most processes create either wrought iron or bar iron, which can be used to make cast iron objects. There are various methods for refining iron into steel by removing carbon impurity.

Iron pyrite is used in wheel-lock firearms. It was also used to make copperas (see below). This was done by heaping it up and allowing it to weather, the acidic runoff being boiled with iron to produce copperas. Copperas, in turn, was an ingredient in vitriol, or sulfuric acid (see Sulfur).

Alchemists used iron in the production of copperas, which they nicknamed the green lion. Copperas is iron-sulphate, a blue-green powder. It was used in the manufacture of gall iron ink and in wool dyeing. Gall iron ink was the standard writing ink of Medieval Europe. It was made by mixing copperas with gallotannic acid and gum arabic. Gallotannic acid is extracted from oak galls and fermented. Gum arabic is the sap of the acacia tree. The result of the mixture was a pale grey solution which darkens to a purple-black color when put on vellum or paper. It cannot be erased or washed away, only scraped, making it a good ink to use in spellbooks and important documents. Gall iron ink must be stored in a stoppered bottle and becomes unusable after a time. Its high acid content eventually destroys the paper and vellum it is put on.

Folklore often held that fairy-folk had an aversion to iron, or were in fact harmed by it. A Referee might want to allow iron or steel weapons to do +1d6 points of damage to fairy creatures, and maybe +1 damage to elves. This would leave elves using bronze weapons.

Jade
Jade; Minor Gem, Muscial Skill

Jade is actually two metamorphic stones called nephrite and jadeite. Nephrite is white or a variety of greens, while jadeite might be blue, lavender, mauve, pink or emerald green. Translucent green jade is the most valuable.

Jade has been carved since prehistoric times. It has the same toughness as quartz and has been carved into beads, buttons, axe heads, knives and all manner of art objects. Jade is usually worked with quartz or garnet sand and polished with bamboo or ground jade.

Jade’s name is derived from the Spanish for “loin stone”, as it was reputed to cure ailments of the loins and kidneys. It was the imperial stone of China and considered more valuable than gold or silver. It was the favored medium for carving scholarly items and opium pipes, because inhaling the fumes through jade would insure long life.

Jet
Jet; Minor Gem

Jet is a black or dark brown mineraloid that forms from decaying wood under extreme pressure. In essence, jet is a precious form of coal. Jet has been used in jewelry since 17,000 BC. Hard jet is the result of carbon compression and salt water, while soft jet results from fresh water.

Lapis Lazuli
Lapis Lazuli; Minor Gem

Lapis lazuli is a rock, not a mineral. It occurs in limestone deposits in Badakhshan province in Afghanistan. The rock has been mined, and valued, for 6,000 years. Lapis lazuli is made into jewelry, carvings, boxes, mosaics, ornaments and vases and is also used to clad the walls and columns of palaces and temples. Lapis lazuli is also ground into a powder to make ultramarine pigment for painting. It was used by the Assyrians and Babylonians for making seals and favored by the Egyptians for making amulets.

Lead
Lead (1 gp / lb); Alloy, Coins, Forgeries

Lead, or plumbum, is a bluish-grey metal that is very soft. It tarnishes very quickly, taking on a dark grey color. Lead is found in a mineral called galena. Galena is a silver-grey mineral that contains lead, silver, sulfur and arsenic.

Galena was initially mined from surface deposits using the fire-setting technique. It was then followed into veins that usually followed vertical fissures. Surface deposits are found in blighted areas, as lead is poisonous.

Lead was originally smelted from galena in boles, large fires built on a hill that used wind to stoke the flames. This required two days of strong wind and left a large heap of ore. Later, water mills powered bellows that stoked furnaces fueled by “white coal” (dried branches). The ore would be washed and smashed into bits and then smelted in these furnaces and cast into ingots. By-products of this smelting included silver and arsenic.

Galena was used in its own right as kohl, an Egyptian cosmetic for the eyes that was used to reduce the glare of the desert sun and to repel flies. Kohl was also used into Elizabethan times to give the skin a noble pallor.

Lead was most famously used by the Romans to cast pipes for their water and sewage systems. The Romans also used it to make terrerae, tokens distributed by the emperor that entitled the holder to food or money, and as a food preservative. The Chinese used lead to mint coins. Lead is part of the copper alloy called potin, which was also used to make coins. Geishas in Japan used lead carbonate for face-whitening make-up. Lead was also used in forgeries by plating it with gold.

Alchemists once made “sugar of lead”, or lead acetate. The substance has a sweet taste, and was used as a reagent to make other lead compounds, a fixitive for many dyes and as a sugar substitute. The Romans would produce it by boiling grape juice in lead pots. This would yield a sugar syrup called defrutum, which was further concentrated into sapa. The syrups were used to sweeten wine and to sweeten and preserve fruits. One possible result of using this syrup is, of course, lead poisoning.

Limestone
Limestone (1 sp / lb); Architecture
Quicklime (2 sp / lb); Alchemy
Travertine (2 gp / lb); Architecture

Limestone is a sedimentary rock comprised of calcite with measures of chert, flint, clay, silt and sand. Limestone makes up about 10% of the world’s sedimentary rocks, and is a common building material. The Great Pyramid at Giza is made entirely of limestone blocks. The English used a variety called beer stone in their churches. Crushed, lime-stone makes a solid base for road construction. Limestone can also be roasted down to create quicklime. The English once used quicklime as a weapon against a French fleet, throwing it in the eyes of their opponents. Quicklime was also an ingredient in Greek Fire, for when combined with water it increases its temperature to above 150-degrees and ignites the fuel.

Lodestone
Lodestone (25 gp); Magnet

Lodestone, or magnetite, is the most magnetic of the minerals. It can be found in the form of black sand on beaches and in banded iron deposits with hematite (q.v.) and iron (q.v.). Lodestones are black minerals.

From the Rainbow Bridge of Asgard …

Thor is (well, was) probably my favorite comic book – specifically Walt Simonson’s Thor. There is a new one coming out called Thor: The Mighty Avenger that looks rather fun from the look of these previews …

I especially like that they have him in mail, rather than that ridiculous looking metal quilt he’s been sporting the last few years.

On Ibis, City of Sorcerers – Part Two

This post details the River of Death (area A) and the Street of Kings (area B), along with some of the booths on the Street of Kings. Part One is here.

A. River of Death
By the time the River of Death flows into the marshes, it divides into numerous channels both big and small. Ibis is built on the banks of the largest channel at a place where the land rises about 15 feet above the surface of the river. The river here is black with sediment and its banks are choked with papyrus reeds and inhabited by crocodiles and hippos. An ancient nixie dwells in the river, seducing men and then drowning them when they attempt to embrace her.

Crowds: During the day, the river is always busy with mercantile barges and fishermen. At night, the river is largely empty.

Random Encounters
1 Crocodile (3d6)
2 Hippopotamus (2d6)
3 Nixie (max hit points)
4 Royal Barge (Nobles, bodyguards)
5 Smuggler (Thief Lvl 3 with 3-6 underlings)
6 Specter

A1. Smuggler’s Tunnel: A tunnel here is obscured by reeds and barred by a locked grate. The tunnel allows enough room for a man in a rowboat or on a raft to pass through without scraping his head. The tunnel leads to a small loading dock with a locked door. The door opens into a secret room in the cellar of the House of Three Leopards [1].

B. Road of Kings
The Road of Kings extends from the northern gate (the Thoeris Gate, named for the giant statues of the hippo-headed goddess that flank it) to the Gate of the Moon that opens to the west. Along most of its length it is paved in dingy limestone and cut by wheel ruts. In several places (such as [13] on the map) it is marked by a deep, open sewer with small drainage tunnels that lead to the River of Death and are known to harbor the city-state’s ghouls.

To the north on our map, the Road of Kings passes by the Nomarch’s Palace, a large fortress and the city’s treasury. To the west, it leads to an industrial area of tanners, phosphorous makers, smiths, dye shops, shipyards, stone cutters and an orichalcum foundry.

Crowds: During the day, the Road of Kings is crowded with artisans, beggars, townswomen and other folk just going about their business.

Random Encounters
1 Adventurer (see end of article for sample NPCs)
2 Caravan (1d6 traders with 2 camels each)
3 Guard (1d6 + sergeant)
4 Mage (two, preparing to duel)
5 Noble Retinue (Aristocrat with bodyguards and slaves)
6 Priest (1d6+6 carrying an idol and chanting)

Nomarch’s Palace: The nomarch’s palace is a sprawling complex of dozens of buildings (guest houses, barracks for the Mameluke guards), mostly faced by white marble, and gardens (kitchen, medicinal, orchards and pleasure gardens). The entire complex is surrounded by a 20-ft tall wall patrolled (inside and out) by Mamelukes (see below) who are sometimes accompanied by chained leopards. A small portion of the gardens appears on the map [20].

The main structure of the palace is a three story rectangular building comprising over 200 chambers, including a shrine of Bast, guest rooms, a massive throne room, chambers for the nomarch and her ladies in waiting. major domo and other servants.

• Besheva, Gynosphinx: HD 8 (47 hp); AC 1 [18]; Atk 2 claws (1d8); Move 18 (Fly 24); Save 8; CL/XP 9/1100; Special: Divination, dispel.

• Faki, Major Domo, Magic-User Lvl 7: HP 26; AC 9 [10]; Save 9; Special: Spells (4th); Black robes, long, pointed shoes tipped with golden horns, a polished ebony staff of divination tipped with a ruby worth 1,000 gp, silver dagger, scroll of protection from evil. Mature aristocrat with tanned skin, black hair and long beard, brown eyes, heavy-set. He is mean with money, but virtuous. Keeps a harem.

• Mameluke: HD 3; AC 3 [16]; Atk 1 weapon (1d10); Move 12; Save 14 (12 vs. spells); CL/XP 3/60; Special: Adept spells (1st). Chainmail, shield, curved long sword, jezzail (treat as heavy crossbow). The Mamelukes are slave soldiers raised as warrior-mages loyal to the nomarch.

• Mameluke Captain: HD 5; AC 3 [16]; Atk 1 weapon (1d10); Move 12; Save 12 (10 vs. spells); CL/XP 3/60; Special: Adept spells (2nd). Chainmail, shield, curved long sword, pistol (treat as light crossbow).

Merchant Stalls: There are 16 merchant stalls on the portion of the Road of Kings on this map. It is rare that one is closed during the day (1 in 20 chance). In general, assume that a merchant has what a player is looking for on a roll of 1-4 on 1d6.

B1. Bes the Spice Merchant (2 hp) offers a small variety of spices. He charges double the normal price for his spices, but they are of the best quality and are double-wrapped in cheese cloth. Bes is a drowsy man (his wife keeps him awake all night with her snoring) with very dark skin and a bald head.

B2. Mukamutara (4 hp) is a grouchy old woman with beady eyes and a perpetual sneer. She always has a bright green parrot on her shoulder. Mukamutara is a witch of some minor ability, and sells magical charms and protective amulets. Her charms are of very high quality (10% chance of actually working) and go for 10 gp for a basic love charm to 100 gp for an amulet that protects one from possession by evil spirits. Mukamutara has a problem with men, and charges them triple what she charges women.

B3. Astennu (2 hp) is a nervous, chubby little man who designs and sells a wide variety of turbans and hats. His hats are mediocre, but his prices are a bit steep. Astennu keeps five ostrich feathers (worth 5 sp per feather) under his counter. He also sells a balm made from beeswax and other secret ingredients that he claims cures the gout (or any other complaint a customer might have, including mummy rot! Of course, it has no curative abilities).

B4. Tumaini is a retired adventurer who sells adventuring supplies (rope, torches, 10-ft poles) and maps (he has one that he claims leads to Necropolis, and another to the ruins of Timulus). His prices are quite reasonable and of good quality. Tumaini has a booming voice and is tall and muscular. He would be quite handsome if not for the gaping scar across his face and his glass eye (which always seems a bit off-kilter) received in battle with a wyvern.

• Tumaini, Fighting-Man Lvl 3: HP 14; AC 8 [11]; Save 14. Keeps a shield and curved short sword handy, and a dagger on his belt. Nervous around mages.

B5. Raziya (2 hp) is a trader who once plied the length and breadth of Nabu, Pwenet and the Wyven Coast. She is now too old to run a caravan, but her three sons have taken over the business and keep her supplied with a miscellany of armor and weapons. Currently, she is hawking a set of polished bronze greaves, a suit of armor made from bulette hide and a suit of full plate mail that bears the mark of Guelph and is thus of the highest quality (though it smells like something died in it – which is accurate). Raziya is quite greedy, but has a soft spot for a handsome man. She wears loose silk pantaloons of blue and yellow, a purple bodice set with tiny pearls (really alabaster) and a billowy chemise of peach and green.

B6. Nassor (3 hp) is a dour man with a booming voice who calls out “Bows – Bows – Finest on two continents!” as he works on a short bow of laminated horn. He currently has three short bows and two long bows ready to go, along with two dozen arrows of various weights and lengths and a few bow strings. Nassor’s bows look good, but are not of the highest quality (-1 to hit), though they are sold at half-price. He likes to gossip, and seems distressed (he owes money to the local thieves’ den).

B7. Gahiji is a pleasant little man with a round belly and several jiggling chins. He dresses in a simple white robe and adorns himself only with a band of iron on his left pinky. Gahiji has a sallow complexion and dirty blond hair. He is a necromancer of middling abilities who sells minor enchanted items (potions, scrolls, maybe a magical dagger or amulet) taken from tombs and burial sites by the city-state’s ghouls. Roll three minor magical treasures for Gahiji’s stand, and allow for a 10% chance that he has a medium magic item and a 1% chance of a major magic item. Minor items usually sell for around 1,000 gp, medium for 5,000 gp and major items for 10,000 gp.

• Gahiji, Magic-User Lvl 3: HP 5; AC 8 [11]; Save 13; Special: Spells (2nd). Wears a ring of protection +1.

B8. Nuru (1 hp) is a stone carver who produces little idols of Bes from soapstone and (1% chance) more valuable materials like turquoise, lapis lazuli or alabaster. Her partner, Shabat (COM 3 hp), is an excellent cook who sells humus and cold vegetable soups from the same booth. While Shabat is rather petite and plain, Nuru is more heavy-set and a bit androgynous with her short hair and baggy clothes. Her idols are of average quality, but she sells them at a dear price. Bartering annoys her.

B9. This raucous booth is filled with a dozen squawking birds (parrots and a macaw) and a few yapping little dogs. The animals are trained by Zesiro, a loud, obnoxious woman who loves to haggle.

B10. Kamilah is a rather mannish-looking woman (maybe an exiled amazon?) who runs a booth selling crossbows of excellent quality and, for those who know the thieves’ cant, concealable weapons like spring-loaded daggers and slim swords hidden in walking sticks. Kamilah is cheerful and loves to barter. Those who get the best of her are usually invited to the Spotted Sphinx for a drinking bout that might last long into the night.

• Kamilah, Fighting-Woman Lvl 1: HP 6; AC 9 [10]; Save 16. Owns leather armor, a shield, heavy crossbow (+1 to hit), short sword and dagger. Usually just keeps a dagger handy.