Atlas Rules Resources Adventures Stories FAQ Search Links
A Travellersí Guide to Specularum: Specularumís Stronghold District part 2by AllanP with Giampaolo Agosta from Threshold Magazine issue 26
This article continues the exploration of the streets of Specularum’s Stronghold District that was begun in the previous issue of this magazine. Readers are also directed to the Specularum-themed issue of THRESHOLD Magazine (#21) which provides more background on the capital of the Grand Duchy of Karameikos.
On the city map included in GAZ1: “The Grand Duchy of Karameikos”, a number of blocks within the Stronghold District are marked as “Radu Territory”. These are the first three blocks (1,2 & 3) described previously, together with blocks 7, 8 and 10 which are detailed within this article. These are the blocks of residences and businesses that are owned by the Radu clan. The population of the district is either employed by the Radu or is tied to them through debt or family connection.
Military defence of the district’s gates and walls is provided by the 3rd and 4th Squads from ‘A’ Company of the City Guard stationed at the Duke’s Road Gate and Stronghold Gate respectively1.
Many of the buildings in the district date back to the days when the settlement was the Free City of Marilenev and the era when Iija Radu fortified the district. These constructions have stood the test of time, but a few people wonder why the Stronghold District suffered minimal damage during the Thyatian invasion of 900 AC, while other areas suffered greater damage.
Going south down Harbour Way from the Stronghold Gate you will find the District Captaincy (S7), the area’s administrative offices which include that of the District Constabulary’s Superintendent. Beyond that stands the District Night Watch Station (S102), the operational headquarters of the local brigade that fight fires and other similar occurrences in the neighbourhood2.
Commercial businesses on this block include a brewery (S69), one of the clients of the cooper (S70) situated nearby. There are several “independent” businesses on this block including a butcher’s shop (S66) operated by Stephanos Lutovich [Neutral Human Traladaran male], a member of the Butchers’ Guild known for being forgiving but deceitful; he is a member of the Torenescu faction. Other nearby businesses are a bakery (S65), grocer (S67) and a dairy (S68). They are independent in the sense they are not directly employed by the Radu or have family connections but owe the clan in some way. A DM running players through this part of the city might involve them in local disputes between the independent traders and the Radu, which might lead them into more complex activities that could lead to encounters with the Veiled Society.
At the southern end of Harbour Way is a lumber yard (S73) that provides raw materials for many businesses, including the nearby furniture maker (S71) and a carpenter (S72) - Laina Radescu [Female Chaotic Human Traladaran], a member of the Carpenters’ Guild known for being modest but vengeful. Laina is a member of the Radu faction. She is very proud of having the townmaster, Lord Lucas Tormandros, among her customers. Other woodworkers can be found around here.
The dominant building on this block is the Merchants’ Guildhall (S13). Wholesale trade, both domestic and import/export, is controlled from this palatial edifice which has a statue of its patron, Zirchev, in its large courtyard. The major trade goods3 coming through Specularum are common wood, animals, hides, furs (both common and rare), common metals, weapons, tools, armour and mounts; but other items are also handled. The Merchants’ Guild has a powerful influence in the city4.
Another Guild has its base in the Stronghold District - on the block north of the Merchants’ Guildhall stands the Armourers’ Guildhall (S8). Not as large as that of the Merchants, it is nevertheless a striking building for one of the minor Guilds. The Guild maintains a small forge (S84) nearby, that is used for important commissions. This forge is maintained by Stefan Dmitrev [Male Neutral Human Traladaran], a member of the Blacksmiths’ Guild known for being loyal and proud. Stefan is a member of the Torenescu faction. The District Court House (S4) is also located on this block and is where criminals are brought from the holding cells in the District Captaincy for trial. Those sentenced to imprisonment will be transferred to the City Jail in the city’s northern ward.
There are several businesses located on this block, including a traditional Traladaran Feast Hall (S74) where some merchants may entertain those whom they wish to do business with. The Feast Hall is run by Andros Sergiov [Male Neutral Human Traladaran], a member of the Innholders' Guild known for being forgiving but deceitful. Andros is a member of the Karameikos faction. Those requiring someone to argue for them in court may utilise the services of an Advocate (S75). Cassius Vanianicus [Male Neutral Human Thyatian], is a Scribe (S78), a member of the Scriveners’ Guild known for being dogmatic and vengeful. Cassius is a member of the Karameikos faction. Several other professionals also operate from this block including an Interpreter (S79), and an Accountant (S80) - all whose skills may be summoned to participate in trials at the local court house or elsewhere in the city as well as providing services to other businesses. The land agent (S77) is one of a number who administer the sale/exchange of ground and property in the city and across the Estate of Marilenev to ensure legal proceedings are followed and that appropriate taxes are paid.
A locksmith (S82) provides services to secure all manner of things from houses to storage to chests to cells and even chastity belts! Needless to say, the craftsman may be called upon to open some locks. There is a bookseller (S76) and a scroll shop (S81) both selling written material of various forms – not necessarily magical. Who knows what secrets or clues may be found in a tome or parchment that has ended up for sale in these premises? The shop of a dressmaker & tailor (S83) stands prominently on a corner; originally providing clothes for ladies of the district, it also trades in robes of various designs for court house officials and Guild councillors.
East of the Court House block more commercial businesses can be found: a general store (S86), a potion maker (S87), a confectioner (S89) and a spice shop (S90). There is a wine shop (S88), run by Klas Azurianov pMale Lawful Human Traladaran], a member of the Vintners’' Guild who is known for being peaceful and open-minded. Klas is a member of the Independents faction. A dyeworks (S91) stands in the centre of the block and is operated by Anya Sergos, [Female Neutral Human Traladaran], a member of the Dyers’ Guild known for being cautious but vengeful. Anya is a member of the Radu faction. The offices of another advocate (S85) (“you can’t have too many lawyers” is a recognised Guild saying) are also here.
Opposite the gates to the Radu docks, where Harbour Way and Goods Way meet, one block is predominantly given over to warehouses (S16) and granaries (S17). This is one of the areas where goods entering or leaving the city are stored on behalf of merchants who negotiate prices for the supply. Often a busy place as goods are stocked, the workforce is under the control of the Yardman’s office (S95). Transport of cargo onto and away from the site is managed through the Carter’s office (S94).
The Brokerage (S92) is the clearing house that provides a forum for the efficient sale of large quantities of goods. The services offered include the appraisal of goods by the Valuers’ office (S93), as well as the sale and purchase of quantities at wholesale prices. Brokers are skilled at assessing values, managing the levels of stock, as well as being adept at financial arrangements to get the best deals. If visiting this institution, players might encounter foreign merchants who do not have contacts with the local traders seeking the best prices for their goods, or there might be a party of adventurers looking to make money of large quantities of treasure they have amassed.
Not far from the Duke’s Road Gate stands the Shrine of Zirchev (S11). A place of pilgrimage for some arrivals in the city. A public city well (S12) is found in the middle of the paved area that runs eastward from the shrine. The small buildings on both sides of the paving include small shops selling religious paraphernalia, and the residences of the minor priests who maintain the building and its services through donations, notably from the Merchants’ Guild. The residence of the chief priest (S96) is nearby.
Two other notable buildings are located on this block: a School (S9) and the District Tax Office (S10).
Those entering Specularum through the Duke’s Road Gate will see the impressive Radu Manor (S15) directly ahead of them. It is located at the highest point of the district and invited guests will note the views of the city that afforded from its upper floors. This is the ancestral home of the Radu clan. There are a number of memorials to past clan leaders in the grounds, but the most dominant is the bust of Petros Radu (S14) that sits on a column in the formal garden. The Manor is the home of the current clan leader, Anton Radu, and his wife, Victoria. Anton’s brother, Cartha, lives in the west wing of the Manor. While some animosity has grown between the brothers in recent years, Cartha recognises the value of remaining resident in the Manor, giving him access to Anton’s plans.
The other residences on this large block which benefits from landscaped areas are the homes of members of the extended Radu clan. Notably there is the home of Zweis Radu (S97) where Anton’s eldest son lives with his wife, Rebecca, and their four daughters and only son5. Close by is the home of Antonito Radu (S98), the younger son of Anton, with Antonito’s wife and young son.
The three blocks south and east of Radu Manor contain the residences of various6prominent Traladaran families. High hedges and trees along the exterior perimeter of these blocks shield the residents from the traffic of wagons and workmen that pass along Goods Way between the dock gates, warehouses, and the Duke’s Road Gate. The residences on these blocks include the family homes of the Calihar (S99), Inexdio (S100) and Kaison (S101). It was Antonio Radu’s clever marriage to Dorisimo Calihar combined with his ruthless tactics that enabled Antonio to save the Radu clan from being diminished by the arrival of the Thyatian occupiers in the years between 900 and 950 AC. The leader of the priests at the Shrine of Zirchev is a member of the Inexdio family. Anton Radu arranged the marriage of his son, Zweis, to Rebecca Kaison.
Another look behind the Radu Veil
When researching the Radu presence in the district, I re-read Andrew Theisen’s article “Unveiling the Radu Clan” from issue #1 of this magazine. I have expanded on the circumstances surrounding the family of Zweis Radu here, suggesting some information about Zweis’ unnamed daughters.
Zweis, the first child of Anton Radu and Victoria Artho was born in 960 AC. (According to Andrew7, “Zweis is a ruggedly featured man 40 years of age.”) By the time he was 17, Zweis’ father had made arrangements for his son to marry the daughter of another noble family. However, Zweis had already begun a romance with a girl from a lower-class family.
“As a youth, Zweis Radu fell deeply in love with a peasant girl, Marika Petrescu. Theirs was a doomed affair, though, for Anton Radu had already betrothed his son to a more influential Traladaran family while building his power base.”8
Anton arranged for Marika to be sent away to give birth to Zweis’ child, and to stay away from the city. Soon after his 18th birthday, Zweis married Rebecca Kaison9. Over the course of the following years, Zweis became embittered with his wife as their offspring were female – no male heir to continue Zweis’ line. Dorisimo Radu (named for her father’s grandmother) is born in 979 AC, Ilyana (named for Rebecca’s grandmother) is born in 981 AC, Victoria (named for Zweis’ mother) arrives in 982 AC, and the fourth daughter, Katerina (named for Rebecca’s mother) is born in 983 AC. It is not until 985 AC that Rebecca gives birth to a male child named Theodosius.
“Though he has several daughters, Zweis was long frustrated by what he saw as his wife's inability to produce a son for him, and often took it out on her verbally and physically.”10
“Zweis Radu despaired of ever siring a male heir and took his frustrations out on his wife and four daughters.”11
Unknown to Zweis, the true father of Theodosius is Vasile Torenescu, with whom Rebecca has had an affair, primarily in revenge for the way Zweis has treated her and her young daughters.
In 997 AC a 23-year old Pieter Petrescu12, now a priest of the Church of Traladara, arrives in Specularum and claims his birthright. He is publicly accepted into the Radu Clan as Pieter Radu, son of Zweis. (In truth, Pieter’s biological father is Zweis’ uncle, Cartha Radu.)
Zweis has taken little interest in his four daughters as they have grown, and even less since the arrival of Theodosius. So disdainful of his daughters initially and now focussed on his son, Zweis has not even attempted to arrange marriages into other prominent families for the girls. This lack of paternal involvement has given the four sisters a freedom that they have vowed to use to hurt their abusive father for the way he has treated both them and their mother. The family’s noble status has given the girls the access and opportunity to gain a number of skills (scholarly and physical) enabling them to upset a number of Zweis’ schemes and plots throughout the city. Rumours of the girl’s clandestine exploits have begun to circulate, calling them “The Scarlet Sisterhood” (a reference to the colour of the masks that the daughters have adopted as disguise for their operations). The “Sisterhood” already has some contact with the city’s Thieves’ Guild, and the girls’ activities are coming to the notice of Duchess Olivia and her network. A DM might consider using these somewhat renegade females in encounters if running their players through a city adventure.
3See GAZ9: “The Minrothad Guilds” and GAZ11: “The Republic of Darokin” for background on merchant trade.
5For some thoughts on Zweis and his family, see the sidebar “Another look beneath the Radu Veil…” that accompanies this article.
9Rebecca is named on the Radu family tree on page 75 of “Karameikos: Kingdom of Adventure”. Theisen introduces the family’s “several” daughters in his issue #1 article.
12In Threshold Magazine #1, Theisen asserts Pieter is 26 (in 1000 AC) implying his birth was in 974 AC. However, Zweis would have only been aged 14 then, probably unlikely to have impregnated Marika Petrescu at that age. Additionally, I have placed the marriage of Zweis and Rebecca in 978 AC, allowing for Rebecca to give birth to 4 daughters, before the birth of Theodoosius. His age and birthdate have been adjusted accordingly.