You know my Markainus City

You know my Markainus City

“Is outta sight… she’s all right”

Dear Readers,

Some of you may wonder why I bother writing these articles.  Well truthfully it’s because I love AD&D, I always have, however I don’t get to play very often and I miss it.  I also consider myself a creative person, I have lots of ideas and theories and it helps me to write them down, if I don’t these ideas bounce around in my head and I can’t get rid of them!

I don’t have a blog so it is my intention to treat this column as such, it will be a dumping ground of my thoughts, ideas, and creations.  My sincere hope is that some of what lands in these pages will be taken and used in some form in your campaigns.  My biggest problem is that I feel I could write on most any AD&D subject, but I don’t always know what subject to choose.  I want the information to be useful to you in your campaigns so I may choose to do an ecology article to try and add flavor to a somewhat generic creature description, I may present certain ideas I have implemented over the years, or I may present something I have created.  However, what would be most useful to me is if you the reader would let me know WHAT you would like me to write about, all suggestions and comments are more than welcome.

Those of you have read my modules know they are based in the village of Rashtan (a village within my own campaign world).  I tried to make Rashtan both detailed enough to add flavor, but at the same time generic enough that it can fit in any campaign setting.  From time to time I will present other locations within my campaign world that can hopefully follow the same premise and can be used by others.

This week I present a city from my campaign.  It is the closest large city to Rashtan in my setting and is often where characters first meet.  I am only defining some of the key buildings and NPC’s leaving plenty of room to add whatever you need for your game.


A walled city with a population of around 3000 people in and around the city, it lies near the kingdom’s established border, Markainus is renowned for its warrior training centers.  Experienced and aspiring warriors travel from all across the land to attend and teach the vaunted warrior training academies.

Because of the close proximity to the wilderness it is not unusual to see many elves and Rangers in the city as well.  It is said if you are looking for an excellent tracker there is no place better to go.

The city is ruled by Lord Milkar “Dragon Slayer” Therodes, a large gruff man known for his great strength and fighting ability who is a long time companion of the king.

1. Dragon Steel Academy

This is the largest and most prestigious of the warrior training academies. It was founded by Lord Milkar the Dragonslayer himself and a majority of its graduates go on to join the city guard or set off for adventure.

The head instructor is Adam Varlander an accomplished warrior in his own right. There is a major rivalry between Dragon Steel Academy and Griffon Skull Academy, they hold a tournament each year with the winner laying claim to the golden axe, a trophy of a battle axe made of gold.  This tournament has been going on for the past 2 decades, and has become a city wide festival as many travelers come to watch, and merchants to sell their wares.  Merchants from across the city sponsor one academy or the other.

The academy complex is made up of 3 buildings surrounded by a 10 foot stone wall.  The largest building is the actual training ground, mostly a large empty building with sawdust covered floor.  This is where weapons training occurs.  The next largest building is the student barracks, and the final building is the instructor barracks.

The academy is a 9 month program and houses up to 100 students at any given time and almost always has every one of those slots filled.  The students learn the use of the Pole Arm (Bardiche, Halberd, or Glaive), Long sword, Light Crossbow, Morning Star, and Dagger.  Also, they learn how to handle trained war dogs (war dogs are often used by the city guard) and proper military terminology, strategy, and procedures.

2. Griffons Skull Academy

Second largest of the academies and Dragon Steel Academies main rival, Griffon’s Skull Academy was founded 25 years ago by Olric Johansen who was once a highly ranked officer in the City Guard.

Once per month Griffon’s Skull holds an open recruitment day where perspective employers can come and meet with the trainees.  While some trainees end up in the city watch, most are hired by merchants or noblemen as guards or set off on adventure themselves.

The academy complex is surrounded by a 10 foot wooden wall and the posts on each side of the gate are topped with a bronzed griffon skull.  The complex consists of 3 buildings, a training ground, a trainee barrack, and instructor barrack.  The academy can house up to 100 trainees at a time, however at any given time it generally has 60-80 enrolled in its 7 month course.  Trainees learn the use of Spear, Short Sword, Mace, and Light Crossbow. They also learn basic military terminology, strategy, and procedure.

3. The Silver Blade

This inn is the largest in town, it is located at the heart of the city, and with its affordable price (1 gp/night for room, stable, and dinner) and good accommodations it is the main stop for adventurers passing through town.

The Inn is run by Ronald Silverwell a retired adventurer.  It is 3 stories tall and has 20 available rooms (10 on each floor 2&3) each room has two small beds.  There is also a common room sectioned off on the 1st floor where guests can stay for 5 sp/night (room and dinner not included)

The 1st floor also contains the tavern, where guests may order drink or food and sit at one of the 15 available tables, or along the bar.

4.  Great Library of the Five Sages

This large four story stone building was established by five sages, each with their own area of expertise.  The sages own the library which also operates as their place of business with rooms and studies for all five sages on the 4th floor. For visitors entry into the library is 2 gp per day or a monthly pass for 50 gp.   The library opens at sun up and closes at sun down, it contains tomes (non magical) on any common and many uncommon subjects, these tomes are not allowed to leave the library.  The library is guarded by a number of men at arms hired from the griffon skull academy, and it is common to meet adventurers there any given day.  Because the sages own and live in at the library they are not available for long term employment, however all five will accept short term employment.

The five sages are

Martel Dundan – Human
Major Field (Fauna) Special Categories – Reptiles, Amphibians, Arachnids
Minor Fields (Humanoids & Giant kind)

Helgrim Poinfer – Human
Major Field (Supernatural & Unusual) Special Categories – Dweomercraft, Divination
Minor Fields (Physical Universe, Flora)

Washburn Watley – Human
Major Field (Humankind) Special Categories – History, Legends & Folklore, Law & Customs, Sociology
Minor Fields (Demi-Humankind)

Pontifax Flabeldorm – Gnome
Major Field (Demi-Humankind) Special Categories – Art & Music, Languages, Psychology
Minor Fields (Flora)

Gilsed Tallgrass – Elf
Major Field (Flora) Special Catagories – Flowers, Herbs, Trees, Grasses & Grains
Minor Fields(Fauna, Humanoids & Giant kind)

5. Chimera House

A small academy on the western edge of the city, the Chimera House is where the less fortunate go to train.  While the other large academies take up the children of the wealthy, upper middle class, or well known.  Chimera House has training for low costs and tends to draw those who can scrape together a few gold pieces each month.

The school is owned and ran by Grunkle Bardor, a grizzled veteran of many skirmishes who originally hails from a kingdom to the south.  While the other schools manage to place many of their students in the city guard or higher caliber merchant guard positions, Chimera House mainly provides men for less wealthy merchants and mercenary companies.

Grunkle will normally charge a fee of 5 sp to 1 gp (whatever he can get) to those who wish to interview his students for hire, he also gets a cut of the hiring fee. While not the finest specimens, Grunkle will sometimes get a diamond in the rough student who can compete with anyone from the larger academies, and even those that are not the most physically imposing do receive solid training.

The complex is smaller than the other schools as they house fewer students and instructors, it consists of two buildings, 1 is the training ground, the other houses both students and instructors.  The school may house up to 80 students and will typically have 40-50 students in training at any given time.  The course is 5 months long and the students learn use of the Spear, Sling, and dagger, they also learn basic military strategy.

6. Seven Sisters Sell Swords

This business, ran by the Holdron sisters, has been in operation for a decade.  Originally it was simply the sisters hiring themselves out as sell swords, but over time they have taken on other young aspiring warriors and mages and acted as their agents finding them work.  Of the seven sisters two (Sylvia and Delphie) have been slain, and the four oldest remaining sisters ( Sandra,  Floria, and twins Telindria and Selindria) have retired.  The youngest sister (Shanon ) is still for hire, however to hire her personally is expensive indeed as her fee is 1000 gp/week and 40% split of all loot and magic items.

The Seven Sisters will not hire their recruits to just anyone and if the client has a bad reputation in how they treat hirelings then they will be shown the door.  The sisters only deal with the best of recruits and this is reflected in their prices and recruits abilities.  They act as agents for fighters and magic-users only, from new recruits to the more experienced.

Fighters will have a strength of at least 16, a constitution of at least 14, and no other score below 11.  Magic-Users will have an intelligence of at least 15, dexterity of no less than 13, and no other score below 12.

There will be 5-9 (1d4+4)  fighters available from levels 1-4 and 2-5 (1d4+1) magic-users available from levels 1-3 (use Tables A and B to determine levels).  Race is to be determined using Table C for fighters and Table D for Magic-Users.

There is a 10% chance there will be a Fighter/Magic-User available for hire, this hireling will always be level 1/1 and has an equal chance of being an elf or half-elf.  Fighter/magic –users will have a minimum strength of 15 and intelligence of 14, no other stat will be below 11.  Their weapons and armor should be determined as fighters and their spells as magic users.

The minimum length of contract is one week, and the full length of contract must be paid up front.  If the contract time passes and the hireling is still performing duties (I.E. the party is stuck in a dungeon past the contract length) then on return the additional time must paid along with a 25% premium. In addition the hiring person must promise a 20% share of any treasure and magic items found during the length of the contract to each recruit.   This share will be paid to surviving family if death occurs.

All recruits come equipped as follows.

Fighters level 1-2 will have either ring mail, scale mail, or chain mail (use Table E to determine armor) and shield, and 3 weapons in which they are proficient with one being a distance weapon (use Table F to determine distance weapon) determine the other 2 weapons randomly using Table G.

Fighters level 3-4 will have either Scale mail, Chain Mail or Splint Mail (use Table H to determine armor), shield, and 4 weapons in which they are proficient with one being a distance weapon (use Table F to determine distance weapon) determine the other three weapons randomly using Table G.

Magic-users will all have robes, traveling spell book (determine spells randomly they should have 5 1st level spells with 1 being read magic and only as many 2nd level spells as they can memorize at a time), enough components to cast all of their spells 5 times, and one weapon they are proficient in (1d6 1-2 dagger, 3-4 dart, or 5-6 Staff).

All henchmen will also have a backpack, two weeks of iron rations, tinder box, small belt pouch, and a large sack.

Use Table I for Hiring Cost.

TABLE A – Determine Available Fighters Level

Dice Roll (d12) Level
1-6 1
7-9 2
10-11 3
12 4

TABLE B – Determine Available Magic-Users level

Dice Roll (d12) Level
1-5 1
6-10 2
11-12 3

TABLE C – Determine Race of Available Fighter

Dice Roll (d100) Race
01-75 Human
76-84 Elf
85-93 Dwarf
94-98 Half-Elf
99-100 Gnome

TABLE D – Determine Race of Available Magic-User

Dice Roll (d100) Race
01-80 Human
81-90 Half-Elf
91-100 Elf

TABLE E – Determine Armor for Fighter level 1-2

Dice Roll (d12) Armor
1-3 Ring Mail
4-9 Scale Mail
10-12 Chain Mail

TABLE F – Determine Fighter’s Distance Weapon

Dice Roll (d12) Weapon
1-5 Light Crossbow
6-7 Sling
8-9 Heavy Crossbow
10-11 Javelin
12 Short Bow

TABLE G – Determine Fighter’s Random Weapons (if rolls duplicate a weapon roll again)

Dice Roll (d100) Weapon
01-08 Axe, Battle
09-11 Axe, Hand
15-25 Dagger
26-29 Hammer
30-34 Flail, Footman’s
35-40 Mace, Footman’s
41-49 Morning Star
50-60 Pole Arm *
61 Scimitar
62-79 Spear
80 Sword, Bastard
81-84 Sword, Broad
85-92 Sword, Long
93-98 Sword, Short
99 Sword, Two-handed
100 Trident

*Roll on sub table G-1 to determine Pole Arm

SUB-TABLE G-1: Pole Arm

Dice Roll (d100) Pole Arm
1-20 Bardiche
21-27 Bec de Corbin
28-38 Fauchard
39-48 Glaive
49-55 Guisarme
56-68 Halberd
69-78 Partisan
79-84 Pike, Awl
85-89 Ranseur
90-94 Spetum
95-100 Voulge

TABLE H – Determine Armor for Fighter level 3-4

Dice Roll (d12) Armor
1-3 Scale Mail
4-9 Chain Mail
10-12 Splint Mail

TABLE I – Hiring Cost

Profession Level Cost per Week in gp
Fighter 1 40
Fighter 2 100
Fighter 3 250
Fighter 4 400
Magic-User 1 75
Magic-User 2 200
Magic-User 3 400
Fighter/Magic-User 1/1 125

Use the same morale adjustments as described in the Dungeon Masters Guide for henchmen.

7. Armor and Arms Emporium

Located next door to the Seven Sisters this large building is a weapons and armor warehouse.  There are at least 10 employees here at all times each has advanced knowledge of all common weapons.

As for inventory any weapon listed under the ARMS equipment section of the Players Handbook can be found here new sold at book price.  There is also a 50% chance that there will be a used version of any weapon asked for at ½ book price, such used weapons will be in fairly good shape, but will receive a -2 on all saving throws.

Padded, leather, studded leather, ring mail, scale mail, and chain mail armor in human size is available for purchase at book price.  For non human size the armor must be made and will add 10% to the cost.  Splint mail and banded mail can also be special made but costs an additional 10% over book price for human or non human sizes.

Helmets of all sizes and wooden, small, and large shields are also available at book price.

8. Arlov’s Alchemy

Arlov Sanbaski is the most prominent alchemist in town, while there are other smaller shops Arlov is the best known and has a reputation for honesty and efficiency.  Arlov is a middle aged thin man with short hair and bulging eyes, he employ’s 3 apprentices and his shop tends to smell of formaldehyde.

Arlov will hire out his services for single projects, however he will not agree to employ permanently to a single individual as his business is doing well.

9. The Wooden Splinter

For everything The Silver Blade is, The Wooden Splinter isn’t.  This weathered two-story wooden building is a low end inn & tavern on the bad side of town.  The booze is watered down, the food is bland, and the second story serves as a common room where a person can sleep wherever he can find an open spot for 1 sp/night.  Fights are common place as are more nefarious activities.  The tavern is run by “Angry” Jack a former city guardsman who was expelled from service for abusive behavior.  Even though he is no longer a guardsman Jack maintains contact with many current city guards so things that would have normally shut his business down are over looked.

The Wooden Splinter is actually owned by the thief’s guild, while still in the guard Jack was on the take from the guild, and after he was expelled they brought him in to run the tavern and use him for his contacts.  There are always at least 2-5 members of the guild in the tavern at any given time.

10. Trading House

A busy place on any day this large stone well guarded building in the heart of the city is where travelers and locals both come to Trade foreign coin for coin of the realm, trade one type of coin for another (IE silver for gold), and deposit coin with a banker.  There are a large number of money traders and bankers working out of the trading building and their general fees are.

Exchange foreign coin for coin of the realm – 5% fee.
Exchanging one type of coin for another – 2% fee.
Banking – 3%/month.

In general most reputable shops in town will only accept coin of the realm for payment.

11. Lord Therodes’s Keep

This is the keep of the ruling lord of the city, the keep has 15’ high stone walls and the city guards barrack here as well.

12. Stronghold of the Company of the Mighty Fist

This non-descript two story wooden house in the less wealthy section of the city is occupied by a small adventuring band who have dubbed themselves Company of the Mighty Fist.  They are in fact a group of four friends who grew up together and set out on the path of adventure.  After getting themselves lost in the wilds they stumbled upon a long forgotten burial mound of a forgotten orc chief.  After facing down rats, bats, other creepy crawlies and eventually a few animated skeletons the group found a small amount of tribute that had been left for the chief.  Taking their new found wealth the group purchased the rather humble home to live in and use as a base of operations (some people are just lucky I guess).

Important NPC’s

Lord Milkar “Dragon Slayer” Therodes
Level: 11
Align: LN

S: 18 68% I: 11 W: 12 D: 15 C: 16 CH: 14

HP: 91 AC:  -2

Equipment: plate mail +2, shield +1, long sword +3, ring of regeneration, wings of flying

Background: A veteran adventurer Milkar has traveled the lands far and wide fighting bests of all kind.  Extremely strict and disciplined he brings his personality to how he runs his city.  Laws are strictly enforced and the city watch is well armed and well trained.  Milkar spends a lot of time outside of his keep in the city, and it is not strange to see him with his personal guard riding the streets.

Shanon Holdron
Level: 6
Align: LN

S: 17 I: 13 W: 12 D: 17 C: 15 CH: 15

HP: 48 AC: -2

Equipment: chain mail +2, shield +1, battle axe +2, ring of fire resistance, horn of valhalla (bronze)

Background: The last of the famous seven sisters who will hire her services Shanon is a seasoned warrior who can hold her own against just about any man.  She is very picky on who she will join as she does not sell her services out of need since the family business does so well.

Falen Trek
Level: 7
Align: NG

S: 16 I: 14 W: 14 D: 17 C: 17 CH: 13

HP: 68 AC: 1

Equipment: short bow+2, short sword +1, cloak of elven kind, chain mail +1, hand axe +1

Background: Falen is a well known ranger in this area and when in town stays at the Silver Blade.  He is an expert on local humanoid activity and spends most his time tracking their movements and activities away from the city.

Krim Misredin
Level: 11
Align: LE

S: 10 I: 14 W: 13 D: 17 C: 12 CH: 16

HP: 49 AC: 0

Equipment: dagger +1, ring of protection +2, bracers of defense AC 5

Background: One of the cities most prominent bankers, the handsome middle aged Krim is also leader of the local thief’s guild.  He uses his legitimate banking and money changing business to launder illicit money brought in by his guild.  His involvement is not known by the public and he is in fact considered an influential wealthy business man.

Hymia Roberts
Level: 7
Align: LE

S: 13 I: 13 W: 12 D: 16 C: 15 CH: 17

HP: 33 AC: 5

Equipment: dagger of venom, Ring of protection +1, cloak of protection +2, slippers of spider climbing

Background: Hymia is the beautiful consort of Krim, at least that is what the general public believes.  She is in fact a highly trained assassin who serves as Krim’s body guard as well as his lover.   Her demur demeanor and appearance often put her at a great advantage as she is not expected to be anything more than a shy quiet lady.

Company of the Mighty Fist

NOTE: When ever dealing with the Company of the Mighty Fist the DM should make the group extremely lucky, they seem to be blessed and no matter how stupid their decisions are it always seems to work out for them.

Shimmering Brightblade (AKA Reggie Thatcher)
Level: 2
Align: CG

S: 16 I: 7 W: 10 D: 9 C: 12 CH: 10

HP: 14 AC: 5

Equipment: scale mail, shield, spear, broad sword, light crossbow

Description: The enforcer of the group if not the brightest, Shimmering (Reggie) wants nothing more than to be a great knight like in the tales of the bards.  He has changed his name to Shimmering Brightblade and will spend hours arguing with anyone who tries to tell him his name is Reggie Thatcher (his real name).  He is extremely protective of his friends and will not hesitate to defend them.

Backus Huesfess
Level: 3
Align: N

S: 9 I: 13 W: 13 D: 15 C: 10 Ch: 15

HP: 12 AC: 7

Equipment: sling, short sword, leather armor, potion of gaseous form

Background: Leader of the outfit Backus is charming and cunning.  He does the talking, negotiating, and decision making for the company and acts as their front man.

Halbridge Painter
Level: 2
Align: NG

S: 9 I: 18 W: 7 D: 10 C: 10 CH: 12

HP: 7 AC: 9

Equipment: Robes, Staff

Background: Halbridge was an extremely bright boy with a photographic memory.  Regardless of his intelligence however he was often duped into making bad decisions as he was always very easily persuaded. His family enrolled him as a mages apprentice, his master was impressed with his ability to retain knowledge, however he was not so impressed with the boy’s decision making.  It was no wonder then that before his apprenticeship was over his childhood friends persuaded him to leave his masters study and join them on adventure.

Dorson Lightfoot
Level: 2
Align: CN

S: 10 I: 10 W: 15 D: 12 C: 11 CH: 11

HP: 15 AC: 4

Equipment: hammer, shield, chain mail, luck stone

Description: Some people are born lucky, Dorson is one of those people and he knows it.  That is why as a teen he decided to devote himself to the worship of the god of luck.  Often times when a decision needs to be made he simply flips a coin letting his god guide his decision.  He keeps with him at all times his good luck charm, a piece of shiny quartz that is actually a magical luck stone that he found on the streets as a child.

Map of Markainus (click for full size version)

The Looking Glass

This week I am presenting another of the Fire and Forget staves from my upcoming module.

Fire and Forget Staff (Fire)

This is a magical oak staff that has been enchanted to hold a Flame Strike spell.  When the command word is spoken, the spell is cast at the 12th level of ability.  After the spell is cast the staff becomes a normal quarter staff and cannot be recharged. These staves are usable by any spell casting class including rangers and paladins who have reached the appropriate level to memorize and cast spells.

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  1. Greymist

    Todd, I have been listening to the podcast since about March of this year, but this is my first trip to the web-site. Your articles are great! I don’t spend time at Dragonsfoot, but if you have stuff to download I will be heading over there to get it.

    While I would like to see you continue to cover a mixed bag of topics, I have to admit that I am a sucker for campaign material like this article. As long as the material is generic enough to use with minimal changes, I will be happy.

    Also, your magic items are great.

    Keep up the good work.

  2. Todd Hughes

    Thanks so much Greymist, I try to keep things generic enough that they can be placed in any campaign world from a published one to a homebrew. You should certainly check out the dragonsfoot downloads, there is tons of good stuff there not just mine but all of it.

    Here is a link to the 1st edition resources at DF

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