695 Zarveck County – Shadowdark Region

Nobles and merchants all made their fortunes mining zircons. People say the countess wears a dress embedded in hundreds of these tiny, sparkling rocks.

Common Belief

Zarveck County, the Land of Zircons, is a sprawling region that features fertile lands for farming, verdant forests, and some of the richest mines. The rulers and stewards of these lands, the Zarv family, have profited from large mining operations for generations. They are an opulent, decadent lineage of nobility that makes all decisions from their high castle in the capital, Zarveck City.

The current head of the Zarv Family is Countess Elea­nor Zarv. She has been in power for 3 years. Alas, her popularity drops by the day as the conditions of the gen­eral population have decreased significantly during her reign. Kobolds scourge the eastern folds of the county. Elves assail the north near Brighton Hill. And common brigands and masterless warriors roam the lonely roads looking for easy prey. Despite the townsfolk’s demands for increased security, the countess has remained a far­away figure that appears to care little for the lives of commoners and the peasantry. To add insult to injury, the countess has increased taxation and levies since last Spring. Farmers and laborers claim for a revision of these changes as the rate of taxation may be a factor during the following winter. Life has never been harsh­er in Zarveck County. For this reason, many people turn to mercenary work and adventuring. There are plenty of places to explore in the county to find wealth and glory.

Regional Play

This supplement encompasses several locations in a region named Zarveck County. This territory is ripe for low-level adventures. Tables and succinct rules for traveling and carousing in the capital, Zarveck, are included. This area contains challenges from levels 1 through 4. If preferred, the characters may start this campaign as citizens of any of the described settlements in Zarveck County. The party is expected to follow the scent of rumors or adventure hooks to explore the few settlements in the region. They may also delve down into the intricate Shadowdark passageways within dungeons in search of treasure, renown, and glory. News travels fast in the Land of Zircons. If the characters become important enough, they may be summoned for an audience with the ruler, Countess Eleanor Zarv.

Levels 1-4 Region

  • Travel Danger. Check for a Random Travel­ing Encounter each day of travel in Zarveck County (4- in-6 chance). Roll twice per day if the characters move fast, in a large company, or in a caravan (see Traveling).
  • Mist. Curtains of dense, humid mist roll down from the nearby hills and mountain ranges and obscure visi­bility. When cloudy, this heavy mist may fall at any time. Traveling like this is dangerous as many creatures take advantage of the limited visibility to prey on travelers. In settlements, the locals perform a holy sign to ward their homes from the dangers that lurk in the mist.
  • Law. Criminals are sent to the constable in the near­by settlements for swift justice. When a trial is required, culprits are sent to Zarveck City for the bailiff’s assess­ment and a court date. The law is swift and merciless in Zarveck County; very few are sent to jail because capital punishment is the preferred method of justice.
1 People say in hushed voices that Countess Eleanor Zarv is not a legitimate heir to the Zarv family. Some say she was adopted, others say she is an illegitimate daughter, a bastard. Some think the leader of the Zarvish Front, Indigo, is the true heir to the opulent, noble family.
2 People gossip that in Yellowhide, where they grow the largest vegetables, some of them now move and talk. Some claim that a pumpkin devoured livestock animals.
3 In the hills east of Zarveck City, rangers claim there is a forlorn dungeon that no one dares explore after a valiant adventuring party was almost killed by the traps therein.
4 Something is going on in Brighton Hill, merchants claim that forest elves guard the roads and assault the towns­folk. The elves seldom interacted with the settlement before. Something has triggered their animosity.
5 The lair of a kobold sorcerer named Gulduk is located in the rocky crags north of Rivermill. The kobolds demand a monthly tribute from the secluded town lest they awak­en the rage of Gulduk, the Fire Spirit. The townsfolk requested aid from Zarveck City but no one has come.
6 There is a legend that a mighty, legendary blade forged of zircons is hidden in the southwest hills of Zarveck County. The legend says this blade is protected by a mighty guardian. Only a true-born hero may challenge this timeless protector to a fight and earn the blade.

Zarveck City

The tall spires of Zarv Castle can be seen from afar, above the sturdy city walls. All manner of plantations and farms extend for miles around the sprawling city.

The county’s capital is the home of most people in the re­gion. It is supported by the large farming region around it and imports from nearby settlements. In recent months, Zarveck City has become a gathering hub for adventur­ers and mercenaries. As the situation in the county be­comes more difficult, more people turn to adventuring. Most of them gather in a secret society known as the Forlorn Guild. The authorities disavow this organization and have threatened to raid their base if the mercenaries mess with the nobles’ activities. This is a serious threat for would-be adventurers because the punishments for criminals in Zarveck City are severe. Two adventurers were recently hung from the palace walls to make an example to others. Some people claim the countess is afraid of free-lancer adventurers as they pose difficulties to her strict reign and the collection of taxes and tithes.

Brighton Hill

The fragrance of summer flowers and sweet fruits precedes the appearance of Brighton Hill and the flower-bouquet sculpture in its midst. North of the town, endless forests cover the fertile territories.

Brighton Hill is the second largest settlement in Zarveck County but it is only an unfortified, small town near the northern forest. The locals have plantations of sweet fruits and edibles that are later exported to the capital.

  • The Elvish Rage. In the past few months, stealthy el­vish parties have attacked travelers. They never kill the locals but steal their things and do their best to scare them off. Lately, some elf rangers have even broken into town buildings to sack them. The locals ignore what rea­son causes the elves to behave like this. In the past, the forest elves kept to themselves and seldom interacted with human populations. Today, they run rampant.
  • Healing Herbs. It is known that Brighton Hill’s apoth­ecary buys all manner of rare ingredients and herbs.


Yellowhide is a small village known for its leather-work and the cultivation and harvest of enlarged vegetables and fruits. The village tannery is the largest building in town; it supplies leather products to the whole region.

  • The Green Festival. Farmers congregate to thank the goddess of harvest once per year. The main attrac­tion is a contest where farmers show off their largest produce. Usually, the largest piece of produce wins.
  • Flesh-Eating Pumpkin. A local farmer and a mage apprentice used arcane secrets to enlarge vegetables for the festival but ended up creating a dangerous breed of carnivorous plants. A pumpkin attacks the livestock. This shall ruin the local leather economy if left unsolved.


Rivermill was once a small border settlement with a large watchtower that doubles up as a mill. It has since grown into a small village. The settlement is far from the capital. Separated by so many hills and forested regions that communication with the authorities takes too long. Sometimes, the village is altogether ignored by the coun­ty’s capital and left to fend for themselves.

The Draconic Threat. A tribe of pesky kobolds in­habits the rocky crags north of Rivermill. Its leader un­earthed a wizard’s spellbook and learned a few tricks from it. Now, he calls himself ‘Gulduk, the Fire Spirit’, and demands tribute in the form of meat and coins from the locals. No confrontation has occurred thus far.


Zarveck County is small enough that most locations can be reached in a single day. Places deep in the forest or in the rocky ranges take two days of travel. During such journeys, something may occur (4-in-6 chance).

ENCOUNTERS d10 Details
1 A curtain of mist creeps in. It preludes dark, tall clouds and lightning. A violent thunderstorm is imminent.
2 A baby mammoth flees a pack of 2d6 wolves.
3 Two hill giants trudge along carrying three horses. They may be persuaded to sell them (Reaction check).
4 An orc sits inside a weathered henge of stones. His kin were slaughtered by envoys of the Zarv family. He may join the party if they oppose the nobles (Reaction check).
5 2d6 kobolds loyal to Gulduk emerge from a cave and fling rocks and flaming excrement at the characters.
6 A giant snake coils in the mud of a dried-out riverbed (DC 13 WIS to notice). It attempts to ambush the party.
7 A merchant caravan travels to the capital. The six guards may mistake the party for brigands (Reaction check).
8 A scouting party of three elves shoots arrows at the party from a forested region. If pursued, the elves blend into the forest and flee. They avoid melee combat.
9 A hooded man approaches. He claims to be from the Zarvish Front. He offers an introduction to the guild’s leader, but only if the heroes oppose the countess’s reign.
10 3d6 peasants fearfully inspect a dying cave creeper by a hillside cavern. A moment later, it turns out to be a hunt­ing strategy, the vermin monster rises and attacks.

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