Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The City of Shem

Shem is the capitol city of the Iron League and the resting place for the first item on the quest - The Lute of Harmonious Order. The link above leads to the 'modern' version of the state. At the time of the campaign, the Iron League is still a part of the decaying Empire of Zorono, ruled from Shem by an imperial governor representing the Senate of Golatha. For a map I used the city of Thay from Cities of Harn and simply replaced the existing key with my own. In fact, I lifted ALL of these maps for my major cities! This was before I had access to computer graphic programs, and I spent more time designing monsters and encounters than drawing maps. At some point I'll get around to producing my own map, but it will no doubt be in a similar style to these.

Here are my notes on Shem from the original campaign...

The city of Shem is the heart of the Iron League. Here the Five Tribes mingle freely with each other and the rest of Quindia. Each tribe elects a representative that serves on the Council of Shem, though the real power lies with the Imperial Governor. Intrigue runs rampant and alliances may be forged and broken in a fortnight. Another important official in the Iron League is the Warlord who leads the state's army in the field. The current Warlord is overseeing the near perpetual war with the kobold hordes to the west and headquartered at the outpost of Sandstone on the Fortress Road.

The city of Shem is a bureaucrat's dream. There are processes for everything, requiring literal forms be filled in triplicate. Litigants are as common as whores since most of the population cannot read or write. Taxes on the tribes are fair, but taxes on travelers can be brutal. To pass any gate in Shem requires a toll of 1sp per pair of legs (3sp for a mounted man, 5sp for a cart drawn by two mules and a driver, etc). Similar tolls might be levied by garrisons along the Fortress Road as well. Any travelers seeking to bypass these tolls who are obviously not tribesmen will be assumed to be brigands, outlaws, or spies and will be arrested. Inside the walls of Shem any weapon larger than a dagger (and not counting ammunition such as arrows or quarrels) requires the bearer to obtain a permit at the cost of 1gp per weapon. Should an armed man be stopped on the street and not be able to produce the proper number of permits, he may again be subject to arrest (though many patrols supplement their wages through bribery to ignore these violations, releasing the suspect on the promise that such permits will be obtained). Finally there is a 5gp sell-sword tax that may be levied at any time on foreign adventurers and mercenaries. A license is issued to the adventurer and is good for one year. A character who cannot produce his license when asked will be taxed again! Many prospective employers may not hire characters without licenses as fines may be levied against them as well.

Numbered buildings the PC's may be interested in (correspond to Thay map):
5. Merchant's Guild - a place to find information on the antique dealer?
27. Temple of Theril - patron of the arts, may have knowledge of the Lute
28. Murphy's Tavern - waterfront inn, caters to adventurers
29. Jorlone's Inn - closest inn to the west gate
30. Crown and Olive - closest inn to the east gate
31. The Sybil Inn - closest inn to the south gate, most expensive of the four
33. Chandler - adventuring equipment
34. Jeweler - exchange gems for 10% fee
36. Merchant - the antique dealer the PC's seek, named Orsil
37. Clothier - to replace Strom's cloak
44. Lexigrapher - maps, etc.
47. Collection Office - obtain permits, licenses, etc.
61. Weaponcrafter - in case Memnoch wants a new axe

I typically only keyed specific locales as I need them and just made sure I had a few places ready to go that I thought the PC's might need. I don't remember why Strom needed a new cloak, but I know we use to use weapon breakage rules. Memnoch must have rolled a natural '1' and failed the save vs crushing blow. This would shatter the wooden haft of a weapon, nick a sword resulting in a -1 to hit until repaired (these were cumulative), break a bow string, etc. Critical hits (natural '20's') by enemies also required a save for armor. If the save failed the armor would be reduced by one AC rank until repaired - a shield was simply destroyed. Memnoch may also have lost his axe in the underground river incident...

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