THRESHOLD! The northernmost town in the Duchy - and your last stop before your adventures begin. Threshold, the gateway to mysterious castles, lost temples, deadly caves and caverns. You have heard the stories and legends, now you wish to see for yourself.
The Duchy of Karameikos came into being when Duke Stefan Karameikos III of the Thyatian Empire traded his ancestral lands for control of a wild border region west of the Empire known as Tralandara. For the last 30 years, he has been trying to develop it into a modern nation. Much wilderness remains. The population of the country is divided between the Traladaran natives. who form the bulk of the population: Thyatian nobility, who emigrated to the Duchy with the Duke; and small communities of friendly demihumans: dwarves, gnomes, elves, and halflings. Internal threats include tribes of humanoid monsters (goblins, hobgoblins, ora and bugbears) and the rebellious Baron Ludwig von Hendriks. who controls an area of the Duchy known as the Black Eagle Barony.
Most thieves are independent The Kingdom of the Thieves is strong in Speculanun. It is for neutral thieves, specializing in complex burglaries. The Iron Ring is a secret society of slavers and assassins (mostly chaotics of any class) that is very widespread.
Taxes and Tithes. Four times a year, a 25 % tax is levied on everyone in Karameikos by the Duke. Sales taxes run 5 % , merchants pay 1 % on all valuable cargoes. Clerics are expected to tithe 10% to the church, and many give more. This may seem harsh, but that is what pays for the military and for developing the Duchy. The situation is much the same in other parts of the world.
Coins In the official coinage of Karameikos, a copper piece is a kopec, a silver piece is called a crona, and a gold piece is a royal.
The following are the major points of interest in Karameikos:
Towns and Cities. Threshold (pop. 1,000) is the base far early adventures and has its own section.
Specularum (50,000) is the capital, and many details of its life and politics appear in the last adventure.
Kelvin (20,000) and Luln (1,000) are major population centers, ruled by Baron Demand Kelvin I1 and Townmistress Sascia (a high level fighter), respectively.
Fort Doom (10.000) is the main population center of the Black Eagle Barony, the only place in Karameikos where slavery is legal.
Highforge (6100 gnomes, 1000 dwarves) is a major demihuman community ruled by Dorfus Hilltopper, the Gnome-King.
Rifllian (1700, mostly elves) is a trading post where humans and elves meet, run by the elven Chief Trader, Prestelle.
The other small towns and villages are fairly typical and unlikely to figure in the adventures in this collection.
Forts: Castellan Keep, Duke’s Road Keep, Radlebb Keep. River Fork Keep, and Rugalov Keep are military posts that guard the borders of the Duchy. Each has a garrison of about 240 men, led by a high (8th) level fighter with lower level officers. About 20% of each garrison can he mounted, and about 20% can take the field with crossbows.
Other places: Koriszegy Keep is haunted and very dangerous.
Threshold Threshold is a logging community of about 1000 ably ruled by Sherlane Halaran, baron and Patriarch of the Church. The town is large for its population, filled with widely-spaced homes surrounded by vegetable gardens and livestock pens.
Local points of interest include:
Town Hall. This is a very large building in the center of town, used for confiscated weapon storage. town meetings, public declarations, trials and entertainments.
Fogor Isle. This island is the seamy side of town; it is not patrolled at night.
On the north end of the island is the blackened tuin of the Old Mill, burned 11 years ago. The ruin often becomes infested by giant insects and must be cleaned out periodically.
Tarnskeep. Baron Halaran’s castle is a small, sturdy fortress, just north of town. It has a curtain wall, four towers and a large manor house.
Dam and Weir The dam keeps large boats from traveling upriver. The weir can be opened to allow lumber to be floated downstream.
Logging Camp. Most of the logs cut locally are floated downriver to Specularum. where they are used for building, ship construction, and so on.
Ruins. North of Threshold, on the west shore of the lake, are the quiet ruins of an ancient town where no one ventures.
Town Law. Threshold is usually peaceful, and its citizens want to keep it that way! Within town limits, no weapons other than daggers, swords, and staves may be carried. Other weapons must be turned in and will be kept in the town hall, to be returned when the owner leaves. Wearing armor, while not illegal, will result in repeated questioning of those not obviously arriving or leaving town. No public casting of magic-user spells is allowed. and penalties for causing property damage or injury with magic are severe. The laws are enforced by the town guard. who are mostly first-level fighters; high level support can be brought in if necessary. Most NPC adventurer’s mind their manners while in town-few places on this frontier can match the services provided by Threshold!
Entering Town. New arrivals are met by Sergeant Arthol of the town guard. who outlines the local rules and regulations, collects weapons, and issues receipts. Take this opportunity to have the players identify themselves by class and profession, and state in their own words what their business in town is. Directions to local inns, merchants. and other points of interest can be given to the players at this time.
Inns. Threshold has many inns. Rates vary, but private low-level adventurer lodgings average about 10 gp per week, including meals, while sleeping in the common room averages 1 sp per night.
Merchants. Most starting player characters will already have equipment when they enter Threshold. For those who don’t, many individual merchants sell their wares in Threshold, and trade with Specularum is lively. Items imported into Threshold cost 150- 200% of the list price, including: metal armor l weapons, warhorses and other trained animals, oils. exotic cloths, glassware, metal goods (locks, etc.), parchments and inks, wines and ales. Magics, rarely available, are sold by private individuals; there are no magic shops. Merchants usually pay no more than half the value of an item brought in for sale by adventurers if they are interested at all. Ships other than rafts must be ordered in Specularum and brought upriver (these can be very expensive).
Thieves’ Guild. Neutral character thieves can join the Thieves’ Guild (part of the Kingdom of Thieves), which offers certain advantages: fairly trouble-free fencing of gods, some expedition hacking and other services, for which the thief is expected to turn over 15% of his or her income. Although most of the thieves in Karameikos are independents, character thieves who operate in town without guild consent might run afoul of the guild as well as the tnwn guard.
Training. Although magic-users are rare, at least two or three 7th level teachers are available to player character magic-users in Threshold. Most other class-related special training is available here also.
The Church. The Church provides needed support for adventurers, and is most important as a source of aid when the character are badly wounded or find cursed items. Clerical aid for those not in good standing is usually more expensive, when available.
Banking: The standard fee for money changing (including exchanging gems or jewelry for coins) is 10%. Funds can be stored without charge if they are left at least one month. otherwise there is a 10% charge. Borrowing more than the most trifling amount (5gp) requires the starting character to put up an item of at least double value until the loan is repaid.