696 Zarveck City – Shadowdark Settlement

The peasants shall obey my edicts under penalty of death. Such is the way of the world. I understand my place in it and so shall they. Even if it hurts them…

Countess Eleanor Zarv

People call Zarveck City the Crown of Zircons after the immense wealth that the Zarv family has accumulated from mining operations in the region. The mines produce primarily iron and copper ore, and an endless stream of zircons which are used in foundries, as an alchemical reagent, and as gemstones for jewelry and decor items. People say the ruler, Countess Eleanor Zarv, wears a crown of zircons.

Civil unrest in Zarveck City has become a concern to the authorities due to the high taxes and the strict, op­pressive enforcement of the law. Things are somewhat more calm in the city’s outskirts where farmers enjoy a bit more leniency. But in the city, things are ripe for trouble. People claim the worst about the countess in an attempt to justify her despotic attitude toward the com­mon folk. Alas, few can ever expect to meet her.

The Capital

Zarveck City is a sprawling metropolis of several tens of thousands of people. The capital is a cosmopolitan settlement where citizens of different ancestries, occupations, and demeanors live. If anything can be found in Zarveck County, it can certainly be found here. From personal services, spellcasting for hire, mercenaries, and even illegal activities. The locals have a saying: “A zircon can buy your way into anything you can imagine…” With enough money or influence, the characters can procure anything in Zarveck City.

City Features

  • Danger. Unsafe. Check for a Random Event when visiting a new area or doing something that draws too much attention from the locals (3-in-6 chance).
  • Townsfolk. Zarvish are warm and welcoming overall but the recent developments and the government’s con­tinued oppression have caused many to become distrust­ful and even outwardly resentful of outsiders and those who enforce the countess’s strict edicts.
  • Taxation. Tax agents at the city gates review people’s belongings and charge a 10% fee for any wealth above 50 gp per person. Adventurers must pay this tax for any treasure and valuables retrieved from dungeons.
 RANDOM EVENT d6 Details
1 An artisan accuses a character of breaking a priceless item by the storefront (8d8 gp). They are ordered to pay lest the city watch is summoned. There is a 4-in-6 chance this is all a ruse carried out by corrupt merchants.
2 Six guards beat some street merchants for failing to pay the countess’s dues. The hapless merchants and any who intervened in their stead are put on the stocks for 2 days.
3 A deep sinkhole falls open in a cobblestone street. The sewage canals can be seen below. A storeroom below betrays the activity of an underground organization. It all belongs to the Zarvish Front, an outlaw organization that condemns the countess’s reign as illegitimate.
4 2d20 city guards march down the streets and detain peo­ple at random. There is a 4-in-6 chance that the charac­ters are ordered to stand down for interrogation.
5 The characters stumble upon a gathering of unruly civil­ians. A man preaches about Indigo, proclaiming him the legitimate heir to the Zarvish throne. The Zarvish Front shall soon make a move against the countess.
6 An adventurer is hung at the gallows for fraternizing with the Zarvish Front. Unexpectedly, the noose breaks and he scampers away into the slums of Zarveck City.

Zola Horses

This establishment provides warhorses, the finest steeds in the county. Ordinarily, only the nobles and wealthy merchants can afford these steeds, but if the characters meet the price, they can acquire the best horse here. The Zola family is numerous and all have specialized in the craft of breeding, caring, and training warhorses.

  • The Mountain Stallion. Varlo Zola spotted a magnif­icent gray stallion in the hills east of Brighton Hill. The Zola family is willing to pay handsomely for this horse. The stallion is to become the countess’s steed.

Dana’s Apothecary

Dana is the daughter of Gilmo, the famous alchemist who lives in Brighton Hill. After a fallout with her father, Dana moved to the capital and opened her own shop of remedies, potions, and philters. She grows in popularity thanks to the usefulness of her alchemical brews.

  • The Alchemist’s Stone. Dana seeks to surpass her father by crafting a legendary catalyst he has pursued his whole life. However, Dana requires a chunk of Soul Emerald to do it. She needs mercenaries to retrieve it.

Farmers’ Store

The large, two-story building is a general store of farm­ing implements and a granary and storage facility for Zarveck City. The person in charge is Balder, a red-beard­ed dwarf. A detachment of the city guard is often on the premises to oversee the shipments of rice bales and grain sacks. Most outgoing shipments go into the city.

  • Tax Evasion. Despite the constant surveillance, Balder has a secret basement where plenty of grain and goods have been stored away to avoid the countess’s dues. Slowly, Balder has used these goods to support In­digo’s claim and the Zarvish Front. If Balder were to be exposed, he would be hung first thing next morning.
  • Caravan Escort. A large merchant caravan shall soon depart from Rivermill but the locals fear that the kobold outlaw, Gulduk, may raid the shipment. Balder is looking for brave sellswords willing to travel to Rivermill and meet with his associate Harold. The job is to escort the caravan across the brigand-ridden roads of Zarveck County and back to Balder’s establishment safely.

The Red House

Popular among many locals and frequent travelers, the Red House provides sought-out services of the intimate kind. The men and women who work here as courtesans are also a reliable source of gossip. Often, the sale of in­formation is more profitable than their trade.

Forlorn Guild

Hidden in plain sight, posing as a brewery, the Forlorn Guild gathers adventurers and attracts patrons of all kinds. People looking for a life of adventure are sent this way to meet the guild leader, Aradnna. Mercenary work is currently outlawed by Countess Eleanor Zarv but Aradnna still manages to secure contracts for the most promising of adventurers. The only catch is that the guild does not provide aid to any adventurers caught by the city guards. Whatever punishment the characters earn, no one from the guild shall come to their rescue.

  • Contract. Aradnna has heard that the townspeaker in Yellowhide requires able fighters to root out what ap­pears to be a calamity of verdant vegetable monsters.

Brighton Hippogryph

This establishment is the largest inn and tavern in Zarveck City. It is the perfect place for adventurers to find lodging, relax, and hear about the latest gossip in the grand capital. The owner is an old-looking elf named Farandir. He once lived in the northern forests but aban­doned the life of a ranger for a life in the capital.

Oaken Shield

This building houses the largest forge in the county. The master-forger, Berandhos, crafts the finest weapon­ry and pieces of armor in the region. Countless artisans beg him to become his apprentice but he refuses all.

  • The Dream. Berandhos dreams of a blade, the finest of all, and wishes to study it to master his craft. He has heard this marvelous weapon is hidden in the county’s southwest hills. He wishes to go there with an escort.

Zarv Palace

The city barracks behind the palace walls are hiring. The city needs a strong law enforcement force due to the rash decisions the countess has made. If the characters wish to side with the current government, they are wel­comed into the force. Due to their adventuring nature, characters are not given guard duty. The city guard em­ploys mercenaries too. The characters are sent out into the county to sniff out the location of the Zarvish Front’s lair. The characters are informed that its leader, an up­start named Indigo, plans to usurp the countess’s seat in the palace, alluding to some blood connection that holds little to no veracity. Or so the captain says.

Audiences. Requesting an audience with the countess leads nowhere unless the characters become more pop­ular. Only after the party deals with the many problems in Zarveck County and reaches Level 4, does Countess Eleanor Zarv take notice of them. She may feel inclined to hire the characters directly for an important quest.


These are alternate outcomes for carousing activities in the county’s capital, Zarveck City. The roll is still modi­fied by the carousing event table bonus (SD page 92).

1 You wake up in the stables in Zola Horses surrounded by the finest stallions but soiled with manure and vomit.
2 You’re locked in the stocks for 1d4 days and fined 45% of your total wealth for breaking into the house of Worship and stealing a silver-inlaid idol of sacred Gede.
3 You wake up in the slums with 25% of your remaining wealth spent. A stray dog is chained to your ankle.
4 You hazily remember donating 20% of your total wealth to a man claiming to represent the Zarvish Front.
5 After starting an all-out tavern brawl in the Brighton hip­pogryph, the city watch takes away your weapons.
6 Petty thieves rob you for 5% of your total wealth. You have a clue, one of them left a handkerchief with a crest.
7 You and the minstrels sang out mean poems about the countess. There is a warrant for your immediate arrest.
8 You survived a perilous demonstration of fire-wielding arcane tricks by a hooded kobold unscathed.
9 By talent (50%) or trickery (50%), you beat a rival adven­turer in the Forlorn Guild in a test of combat prowess.
10 A city guard tried to arrest you after a brawl but he fell and broke his neck on a loose rock. Everyone saw it.
11 You performed a humiliating prank on a despised and corrupt city guard captain. Now, the city watch combs the streets in a manhunt for you. You are to be beheaded.
12 You defeated a dwarf blacksmith in a highly wagered drinking contest. Everyone keeps talking about it be­cause that dwarf is known to be the best drinker.
13 You pulled off a heist. You and a thief broke into Zarv Palace and stole a necklace from the countess’s jewelry box. Fencing the necklace is not going to be easy.
14 You wake up in Zarv Palace’s jail. Accused of assassinat­ing the countess’s cousin and sentenced to death.


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