So, I'm quite late to Jeff's original challenge, but since I'm fleshing out Vermistadt for an upcoming 1E AD&D campaign, I thought I'd go back and tackle those original questions. The setting is really meant for 0E D&D (though most of it was from a mini campaign I developed for Advanced Heroquest many, many years ago), but I see no reason that it can't host some 1E AD&D play.
What is the deal with my cleric's religion?
The Gods of the world of Moog and by extension the City State of Vermistadt, are a dark and dour lot, wholly unconcerned about the grim existence of their mortal supplicants. At best, they are distant, pitiless figures who like Howard’s Crom value courage, tenacity and persistence. Clerics are empowered with spells and use them to try and further the religion of their deity, but it is a difficult task particularly since the agents of the Dark Gods are aligned against them. Evil is ever present in the world and the Dark Gods happen to be far more active than their counterparts.
Where can we go to buy standard equipment?
There are markets in most neighborhoods within Vermistadt though certain rare items (plate mail and firearms for instance) may not be readily available and you’ll need to travel to a different neighborhood within the city.
Where can we go to get platemail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended?
That’s a tough one. There are master armor smiths in the city, but not many of them and they’ll be located in the more wealthy boroughs, where you may find travel a bit difficult. I’d recommend talking to the locals who trade in weapons and arms.
Who is the mightiest wizard in the land?
Most would answer The Green Lady, Queen of Spring, The Emerald Witch, Her Most Benevolent and Serene Majesty Caelfyrnael the Dread Queen of Vermistadt. Now, most would say that because they fear her spies and assassins, widely held to be hiding everywhere in the city. Those who dare speculate on such matters might suggest that, though the Dread Queen is indeed fearsome, that her sister the Summer Witch Maethnir is considerably more adept at the deep magics. The learned understand that the wizard Rambrecht Hofstetter whose tower lies in the Ten Markets neighborhood is virtually unsurpassed in the Arts, though his rival the wizard Faustus Niederlitz of Blighting (the Coliseum district) is equally admired for his abilities. Beyond the city gates, Dietmar Tolzen, the Archmage of Isendorf is reckoned to be a wizard of unsurpassed lore and arcane acumen.
Who is the greatest warrior in the land?
The current Champion of the Pits is Klaus Konigsman though many would argue that gladiatorial sport does not compare with the daring do of adventuring and mercenary work. The swordsman and famed adventurer Johannes Hirtzelteuber of the legendary Young Rascals mercenary group is widely esteemed for his skill with the blade. The dwarf Baragon the Bald carries a fierce reputation as being a slayer of both men and fell beasts. The master duelist Elendaine Swiftwing is also a terrible foe, known throughout the city for his skill with the rapier.
Who is the richest person in the land?
Again, we must discount the Dread Queen and her vast estate and holdings, but beyond Her Most Benevolent and Serene Majesty, this must surely be Lord Mandred Falkenheim. Lord Falkenheim is of course the patriarch of the great Falkenheim family, the first name in the gold and mineral trade so closely associated with Vermistadt.
Where can we go to get some magical healing?
There are six temples in Vermistadt and the priests there can often be found administering to the sick and needy, though a tribute of gold talons is typically a requirement. Most neighborhoods have a practicing alchemist or two that you should get to know.
Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions: poison, disease, curse, level drain, lycanthropy, polymorph, alignment change, death, undeath? The Sisterhood of Our Lady of Mercy that administers to the poor and others in the Temple of C’pu are known for being the most benevolent healers in the city. Supplicants are rarely turned away, though some may not willingly agree to their price, nor the tenets of the Faith of C’pu.
Is there a magic guild my MU belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells?
There are a few in fact, and players may apply for consideration at such time as they can demonstrate the ability to cast second level spells. The Esoteric order of the Dragon is the most highly regarded and consequently the most selective. The Consorts of the Lady are firmly aligned with the Dread Queen and her court. Though they enjoy much largesse within the city due to their status, the Consorts are not entirely an independent organization and are often regarded as nothing other than talented thralls. The Ancient Order of the Laughing Mage is a pseudo religious order and secret society which adheres to the teachings of Vat Oldy M’m. A number of noteworthy magi are members of this guild, Faustus Niederlitz being the most well-known. The Silent Fellowship, another secret society with a presence throughout the Duchy seems to be actively working against the crown which is off-putting to say the least, at least within Vermistadt itself. Membership is widespread and it’s a common belief that both Rambrecht Hofstetter and Dietmar Tolzen are among the leadership.
Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC? Vermistadt has fourteen distinct neighborhoods and most support an Alchemist. The Royal Academy and the Grand Library of Vermistadt are both excellent places to procure a Sage or do one’s own research if one is so inclined.
Where can I hire mercenaries? Mercenaries may be found throughout the city. Generally speaking, it’s best to hire criers and post notices while working the local taverns in order to attract the best candidates. Certain neighborhoods are best avoided due to the scoundrels and lowlife that reside there. On the other hand, if you’re actively seeking murderers, cutthroats, and other low-born villains well then Blackhill, the Dumfries and the Devil’s Breakfast Table might be where you should be focusing your recruiting efforts.
Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law? The Law in the city is quite harsh and armed folk of low-born status, which is almost everyone really, are considered a threat to civil society. Insurrections can begin with the single thrust of a war sword and the Dread Queen does not allow folk to travel Her streets in armor, brandishing weapons of war. Certainly the Watch are exempt from this edict and are found throughout the city. There are a few exceptional neighborhoods, where a nobleman of long, distinguished lineage maintains the peace for Her Most Benevolent and Serene Majesty. In these districts, the noble is responsible for arming his men and the local militia.
This certainly creates an opportunity where thieves might expect to profit, should they be successful in evading the Watch or the Militia. To that end, no Gentleman, not even one who is of low-birth is forced to walk the streets unarmed. Daggers, rapiers and flintlock pistols are considered fashionable and along with cudgels and quarterstaffs give no offense, nor pose little threat to Her Majesty’s peace. Similarly, leather jerks, outer garments and the like maybe worn with no more than a buckler.
Wanton sorcery is considered an affront to civil society and imposes an extra level of Circumstance when employed in the commission of any crime. Of course, those who are in a proper Wizard’s Guild are not as concerned so long as one does not burn down an Inn or the like.
Which way to the nearest tavern? Out the door, and left down Leasing Street, then take the 2nd alley on the left. Stairs up at that point lead you to the Randy Ferret and it’s a proper tavern for the locals. Since you’re clearly not from Butchertown, you may wish to keep walking on Leasing ‘til you hit Tanner’s Way, bearing right there. Just a few short steps you’ll see Handsome Molley’s a fine inn for visitors such as yourself.
What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous? The Black Wyrm of Cragnaowan is a plague upon the country folk living in the low hills northwest of Ründfell. The demise of that fell beast would certainly profit its slayer. The Beastlord of the Southern Gloamingwood is also a notorious villain, sending frequent war parties to harry villages throughout the Duchy.
Are there any wars brewing I could go fight? Not really. Things are quite peaceful here in the Duchy. The last war of significance was during your Grandfather’s time and took place in another region of the Olde Empire. It was quite a long and sordid affair concerning land disputes and the rights of succession of some Duke or Lordling. Mercenaries from Vermistadt were involved, but history suggests that the Dread Queen remained neutral.
How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes? Absolutely. The Royal Coliseum in Blighting is one of the city’s noted landmarks and many adventurers and mercenaries have gotten their start in the pits. One can also find considerable sport in the prize fighting and wrestling of Grievinghall. Most of these events take place in the large taverns of the old fishing village, now the principle port of Vermistadt. Larger events are scheduled in the Royal Gymnasium also located in Grievinghall.
Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight?Indeed there are, but they are so numerous that it would be deserving of its own post. This is a massive city so intrigue and "sinister agendas" are sort of stock and trade. The Ancient Order of the Laughing Mage and The Silent Fellowship mentioned above certainly have agendas that players may find themselves aligned against though some groups may wish to align themselves. Within the neighborhoods, there is generally an organization or two that holds power and certainly presents a challenge or opportunity for the players. Some of these groups like the Young Rascals are rightly famous and known throughout the city. Other are more secretive like the Minions of the Beggar king.
What is there to eat around here?
Vermistadt is a river town that's grown into a thriving city so fish, eel and mussels are still found in abundance. A wide variety of goat cheeses are also popular among the populace. Salted shiners, pickled and wrapped in brown bread is a local favorite.
Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for?
Beneath the very cobblestones of Vermistadt itself, the buried city of Hollowheim awaits the bold explorer. Abandoned by the dwarves in ages past, Hollowheim has 5 known entrances, 4 of which are fiercely guarded by certain organizations. There are rumors of other means of egress, but these secret entrances are either jealously guarded or lost and forgotten.
Where is the nearest dragon or other monster with Type H treasure?
One need look no further than Hollowheim beneath the city, rumored to be crawling with dragons and other fell beasts.