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The Nightstalker of Markesh
System: AD&D 2nd Edition
Requirements: levels 6-7
As the adventure begins, the party is in a tavern trying to pick up information that may lead to a profitable adventure. The only talk, however, is of the string of murders that has hit the city
Graphic: City Map 1
Graphic: City Map 2
Graphic: Level 1
Graphic: Level 2
Graphic: Level 3
THE HISTORY OF THE CITY OF MARKESH
The city of Markesh was founded eightyfive years ago.
It began when Agelmund Greybeard built his castle where the Annis River joins the mighty Mithil River.
Agelmund Greybeard was a strong, energetic man. He was also an ambitious man. Serving in the King’s army did little to satisfy his hunger for adventure and fame. Being born into the lower middle class gave him little hope of ever rising higher than the rank of captain, even though he was one of the most gifted men in the realm in the art of battle.
When Greybeard could take it no longer, he struck out on his own to find riches and wonders. He took with him a dozen good men from is company and they travelled west.
Unfortunately, his term of service to the King had not expired. Greybeard was declared a desserter along with his band of followers. One night, a week after they had departed, they were ambushed by twentyfive of the King’s soldiers. The soldiers were unaware of the skill which Greybeard and his henchman possessed. They were quickly cut down by the more experienced veterans of Greybeard’s troop. Greybeard, however, paid a high price for his victory. His best friend, Markesh, was felled by a lucky arrow as he rose to meet the challenge of the guard. Greybeard was heartbroken and furious. He wanted to return immediately to Altair and slay the King who had ordered their execution. His men talked sense into him, however, and persuaded him to wait and gather his strength. They continued their journey west until they came to the headwaters of the Mithil River. They made rafts and floated downriver. When they arrived at the junction of the Mithil and Annis rivers they went ashore to make camp for the winter.
During the short, cold days the party hunted, fished, and scouted the land. Greybeard decided that this was an ideal place for his base of operations. During the spring the men built shelters and a stockade. Then, as summer came on the small party of warriors went to work in earnest. They cleared the land of evil orcs, horrid ogres, and all other sorts of undesirable inhabitants. In the course of their raiding and looting they became very wealthy and very renowned. They saved more than one village from being overrun by raiding creatures. After each victory their coffers grew full and their ranks increased. More and more men flocked to fight in the service of Greybeard the Slayer.
After three years of fighting, Greybeard had the resources to build his own castle. After two more years the castle was completed. It was named Markesh after Greybeard’s fallen comrade.
Years passed and more and more people came to make their home around the protective walls of castle Markesh. Markesh became a center of trade due to its strategic location on the river. Cities both upstream and downstream paid tribute to be allowed free use of the waterways for commerce. The treasury of Markesh swelled with toll money, and the merchants of Markesh grew rich from the many goods which passed through.
Back in Altair, the King had all but forgotten the desserters long ago. In Markesh, however, Greybeard grew restless. Being king took much of his time, yet he yearned to avenge the death of his dearest friend.
Years passed. Greybeard married and had four children—two boys and two girls. Greybeard’s wife, Aleeta, instructed her daughters in all things which royal princesses should know. Greybeard taught his sons to manage a kingdom, how to handle other people, and how to fight. But most of all he taught his sons his hate for the king of Altair. If he himself could not avenge his loyal friends needless death, then his sons—or his sons’ sons—would some day bring justice to the royal family of Altair.
With this as a base, you can decide which direction to take the campaign. Greybeard could be at war with Altair. Or Greybeard’s sons could be at war. Perhaps an assassin has been hired to seek vengence. Anywhere from 10 to 1000 years could have passed since the founding of Markesh. It is up to each individual DM to decide how he wishes to develop the campaign. This rough backround should provide many different alternatives for adventuring.
As the adventure begins, the party is in a tavern trying to pick up information that may lead to a profitable adventure. The only talk, however, is of the string of murders that has hit the city. From the information that the characters can gather there will be rumors, facts, and some lies. It is up to the party to put together enough information to act on. The following is a list of possible hints. Roll three times for each tavern the players enter; roll once for each individual questioned elsewhere. No more than 6 hints will be discovered by any one party.
1 All the murders took place at night. (True)
2 All of the victims were women. (False)
3 The corpses were mutilated. (Possibly True)
4 Someone saw a woman running from the scene of a murder. (False)
5 All of the victims were killed near the cemetery. (False)
6 A similar string of murders took place 50 years ago. (True)
7 A wolf was seen running from one of the murders. (True)
8 All of the murders occurred at full moon. (False)
9 An axe murderer recently escaped from prison and he is the killer. (False)
10 The murders take place every 13 days. (False)
11 There are more victims than the sheriffs know about. (True)
12 A new cult has risen in the area. They may be responsible. (True)
The murderer is actually a vampire. His name is Draco Similack. He is fairly well known in name, but not is person. Few people have ever seen him for obvious reasons. He poses as a wealthy merchant who trades in spices, perfumes, and makeups. He needs these accessories to help cover up the fact that he is a pale, cold, somewhat dank smelling person (vampire). During the day he has an aide who discourages visitors. To help strengthen his cover, he has on occasion held formal parties for the rich and influential people of Markesh—always at night of course.
Draco does not kill all of his victims. Not even a full-grown vampire needs to drink as much blood as a single human body contains. He has also taken 3 women alive to use as his own personal blood bank. He feeds off of each in turn, but is careful not to drink too much. He kills the townspeople in order to give his prisoners a respite. He also does not need to eat every day. One good feeding can last up to 39 hours, although the longer he goes without a feeding the more desperate he becomes. After 24 hours, Draco will lose one point of strength every hour until he reaches a strength of three. At that point he will turn to gas and be forced to return to the negative material plane for 50 years. Draco does not like it there. Whenever he is there he is forced to serve another being who abuses him in every way imaginable.
Draco’s aide is named Bart. He is a ˝ orc fighter/assassin with 5th level abilities of each. His attributes are: S:17 I:16 W:13 C:16 D:17 CH:7(10). He is not charmed by Draco. He works for the good money and because he hates all life except his own. Draco occasionally will give Bart a girl who has been charmed and allow him to do as he wishes with her. Bart is Draco’s assurance that no holy symbols will be used against him.
Draco also has a pet wolf named Snarl. He is Bart’s backup against things which Draco has no power against. Snarl is a huge dire wolf with 3+3 hit dice and the max 27 hit points.
Draco lives in a lavish mansion in the Riverside district of Markesh. The inside is furnished in rich tapestries, opulent furniture, and gold and platinum chandeliers. Should the party of characters defeat Draco and take possession of the mansion for their own use, the total value of the property and furnishings is 13,000 gold pieces--3000 g.p. for the actual building and 10,000 g.p. for the furnishings. This total does not include any special items found by the party during the course of the adventure. These item will be listed in the body of the adventure and will be introduced as they are encountered. Special items include but are not limited to magic implements, personal money of Draco and his minions, and special art treasures which Draco has collected.
Draco has also started a cult in the area. He and his followers worship Zool. Zool is the being who Draco must serve if he goes too long without feeding. There are various “ holy days ” during the course of a year when the followers join together to offer worship and sacrifices. At these times, Draco will search out a human virgin, charm her with his charm power, and bring her back to be sacrificed to Zool. There is a 5% cumulative chance per day of the adventure that a sacrifice will take place. The party gains a 10% experience point bonus if they can solve the mystery of the murders and defeat Draco before the next sacrifice takes place.
Draco’s ultimate dream is to bring the king under his power and thus rule over mortals as though he himself were alive.
While gathering information, there is a 10% cumulative chance per day that another murder will take place. This will be a feeding for Draco unless the “ holy day ” roll indicates that a sacrifice is going to take place. To help steer the party in the right direction, they must be witness to the murder. If they are already out at night looking for clues then they will be near the scene of the murder as it takes place. If they are in their rooms when the murder occurs, they will be awakened by screams and will then have the opportunity to run out and see the murderer fleeing.
Only a close examination of any of the bodys will reveal the puncture marks in the neck left by Draco. A freshly murdered body will have a significant amount of blood on the neck and chest. The party will be able to follow Draco, but not closely enough to identify him. They will see him run into the trees surrounding his house and then they will lose him. There is a 10% chance per level that any character will notice a large bat flying from the trees towards the house. No one will see exactly where the bat flies to. Each character making the roll should receive 50 experience points. With this lead to go on, the party should be at least mildly curious as to who lives in the house and this should really get the ball rolling.
Strength: 18/74 Constitution: 0
Intelligence: 17 Dexterity: 17
Wisdom: 17 Charisma: 17 (3)
Draco’s strength is standard for vampires. His constitution value reflects the fact that he is actually dead. Draco is very cunning and will be difficult to catch not to mention almost impossible to kill. Draco’s charisma score depends on when he is encountered. As Draco the merchant he is very charismatic. When feeding or encountered before he has a chance to make himself presentable he is quite repulsive.
Strength: 17 Constitution: 16
Intelligence: 16 Dexterity: 17
Wisdom: 13 Charisma: 7 (10)
Bart is a half-orc fighter/assassin of 5th level abilities. He is fierce in combat and cunning in assassination. He does his best to keep the little details of the living world from interfering with Draco’s plans, whatever they may be.
The house is made of stone. It’s two stories high with an observation deck over the master bedroom. The outside is rather austere, but the inside is furnished in the best that one can obtain in Markesh. Most of the trappings are for the benefit of Bart. Draco has no real use for material possessions. He uses his money to buy influence and power. He needs to gain enough status to have the opportunity to become close to the king. As a trusted advisor to the king no one would be suspicious when Draco eventually became master over the king and drove him to insanity. Draco would then become a king and death would rule in the city.
Bart is loyal to Draco. He has been such an outcast his entire life that he has become quite antisocial. He revels in the terror that Draco instills in his victims. Draco pays Bart well and Bart is the one who furnished the house. Even though Bart is not much to look at, he still conducts most of the business for Draco. Draco gives Bart instructions and Bart sees that they are carried out. Bart is also the bodyguard for Draco in those rare instances when Draco needs some human help.
Draco is always active at night. He spends as much time out of his coffin as possible. Along with his coup attempts, Draco has two other interests. One is his study of magic, the other his interest in astronomy. Draco has found after many futile years of trying that it is impossible for him to cast spells. Being from the negative plane, he cannot interact with the energies of the prime plane in a way that can produce magical effects. Instead, his power is to drain power from the prime plane. He is not much more than an energy converter. He drains energy from one system and transmits it to another system. What Draco hopes to discover is a spell that will bring him back to life as a normal human so he can enjoy everything that life has to offer.
Draco studies astronomy so that he knows exactly how long each day will be. He’s also waiting for a total eclipse. At that time his power will be at an ultimate peek. He plans to create an army of vampires under his control. Zool is ultimately behind all of these plans. Zool is a power-hungry god from the negative plane. He wants a foothold in another plane of existence to extend his power and his evil. It all sounds a little ambitious to me but you never know what a vampire can do.
On any given night there is a 25% chance that Draco is out feeding, a 25% chance that he is in the observatory, a 25% chance that he is doing research in the library, and a 25% chance that he is playing the piano in the music room. All of these chances are overridden by the roll to see if a ritual is taking place. They should also be modified by the prevailing circumstances.
During the day Draco sleeps in his coffin and Bart conducts business. Bart has two henchmen watch the house during the day. One is in the house and the other is in the observatory. There is a 25% chance on any night that Draco is out on the prowl. On these nights Bart will entertain his guests—usually women he had to pay to be there. On occasion he will keep these women for a while and then dispose of them. Bart is a very sick individual.
1: This is the office where Bart conducts business. Records of shipping and receiving as well as total stock are in this room. Draco has 3000 g.p. worth of perfumes, makeups, and clothes. He has loans out to other merchants and politicians. These people are on his payroll voluntarily or are being blackmailed. Bart even gets in a little extortion on the side. These debts bring in 10,000 gold annually. None of these people are aware of what Draco really is. Draco’s trading activities bring in 5,000 gold a month. Draco uses most of his money to buy more people and to pursue his magical research. Bart is given all the money that the trading company makes. It is basically his business. The files of the people that Draco owns are in the bottom right drawer. It is locked and requires a bb/lg roll to break open.
2: A very nice bar area. Several fine wines, some brandy, and some whiskey occupy the shelves to the west. There is also a philter of love which Bart likes to use on whatever women he can.
3: The main entry hall. It is entirely paneled in wood. There are doors to north and south. A large staircase leads up to the east and then branches left and right to wind its way up to the second floor. Two hallways leading east leave the room in the north and south corners of the east wall. A large chandelier hangs over the center of the room. It is enspelled with the ability to create light or dark on command. Both are of the continual type spell as explained in the players handbook. It would be an interesting research project for an aspiring magic-user to figure out how that was done.
4: Draco is fond of music. He plays quite well and has even written several pieces that are very good. His work is very melancholy music but it is quite moving. There is a fireplace in the south wall. The furniture in the room is all finely made. In the southeast corner of the room there is a secret door which opens onto stairs leading down.
5: Most of this room is occupied with a large, well-crafted table and chairs. There is a fireplace in the north wall. To the east there is an archway leading to a larger room. Over the center of the table is another of the special magic chandeliers.
6: This is obviously the ballroom. It hasn’t seen a lot of use but it is kept clean. There is a raised platform at the east end of the room. The only other exit from the room is a door in the south wall at the east end of the room. There is a fireplace in the center of the north wall. Hanging over the fireplace is a painting depicting a total lunar eclipse. The frame is inlaid with silver in an intricate design.
7: A round table sits in the east end of the room. Playing cards lay scattered in the center. There is a small table to the west with dice on it and some dominoes on the bottom shelf.
8: The only furniture in this room is the large pool table in the center. There is a cue rack on the north wall and a dart board opposite the rack on the south wall. There is also a fireplace.
9: This is the private dining room. Bart eats here mostly. All of the servants Bart has arrive at the house at 1 hour after daybreak. They do their various cooking and cleaning chores and must leave no later than 1 hour before sunset. They are paid regularly and do their work as quickly as possible. Each person’s knowledge of the manor is limited to the places in which they perform their duties. Bart has occasional henchmen over for lunch or early supper. These henchmen never stay after dark.
10: The kitchen. Long counters dominate the walls. There is a cooking fire in the middle of the east wall. The kitchen is well equipped with all manner of cooking paraphernalia.
11: This is a well appointed bathroom. All of the emenities are here including an indoor toilet and a bathtub. Draco baths the very first thing after rising from his coffin. The servants leave the water on the fire and Bart fills the tub just before his master rises. After bathing, Draco primps with his makeups and perfumes to make him look more alive. The makeup helps hide his extremely pale skin and the perfume covers up the light smell of mildew.
11a: Bart had this secret room built so he could spy on any ladies who came to use it. He usually stays out of sight when Draco entertains. He is not a very charming half-orc and he has a tendency to intimidate people.
12: Bart does his reading here. There is a couch and two overstuffed chairs. The room is well lighted with two lamps hanging in each of the corners of the room. A large double door leads south.
13: Six bookcases dominate this room. They are filled with books on astronomy and magic. If a thorough search is conducted, either of all of the books or through the card catalogue in the southwest corner, two special books will be found. One is a collection of star maps. This work is so complete that any other astronomer will pay 5000 g.p. for the tome. The other book is a collection of spells. It contains the following spells:
Wizard Eye...........4th level
Contact Other Plane..5th level
Guards and Wards.....6th level
The last rune in the introduction to the spells is an explosive rune. If the rune is read it explodes for 12 to 30 (6d4+6) points, and no saving throw is allowed to the reader. Anyone within 10 feet of the explosion takes the same damage, with a saving throw allowed to half the damage. The player must state that he is not going to read the last rune or it is assumed that he does read it.The entire collection of books would be worth about 10,000 g.p. if sold entirely to the Library of Markesh.
14: This is the hidden stairway that leads to the cellars of Draco’s mansion. This is where Draco keeps his coffin, holds his captives, and presides over rituals to Zool.
1: Bart does his fighter/assassin training here. He likes to keep in top condition and form. There are two posts which show the marks of frequent abuse. There are also blood stains in several places on the floor. Two weapon racks stand along the west wall. They hold a weighted long sword, a mace, and a flail. There are two light crossbows hanging on the west wall.
2, 3: These bedrooms are identical. They contain a bed and a small wardrobe. The characters will find nothing of value here.
4, 5: More bedrooms, more nothing.
6, 7: Two more identical bedrooms. Room 7, however, has an occupant. Cragenmoore, a 6th level magician, resides here. He is charmed by Draco to help with his spell research. He has been charmed by Draco so long that his weekly saving throw to break the charm is at -5. He has 14 spell points and knows the following spells:
1st level: #’s 4, 5, 8, 16, 20, 29, 33.
2nd level: #’s 4, 9, 12, 14, 21, 29, 36.
3rd level: #’s 1, 3, 9, 11, 14, 22, 28.
8: This is supposedly Draco’s bedroom. Draco has even gone so far as to bed some of the ladies of the court without betraying his true identity so they could help extend his illusion of life.
It is finely decorated in dark colors. A huge bed dominates the south end of the room. It is covered with expensive furs. There is a dressing table but no mirror of course. In the northwest corner are some spiral stairs leading up. Snarl, Draco’s pet wolf, will be here unless Draco has taken him along on a feeding forray. There is a 25% chance of this.
9: This bedroom looks the same as Draco’s. Bart sleeps here. There are no stairs in this room but there are two large chests.
Both chests are metal and locked. Only Bart has the keys which he wears on his belt. Inside the chests are 5000 g.p., 1000 p.p., a dagger of venom, and a light crossbow which is +3 to hit. There are also 12 special quarrels. The heads are extremely sharp. Encased in the heads are small glass vials with some sort of liquid in them. There is a pin running from the tip of the quarrel to the top of the vial. There is a rune engraved on one of the flanges of each bolt. The rune is inlaid with mithril. These projectiles are quarrels of seeking. Speaking the rune activates the magic in the bolt. For three rounds after that the user can indicate the exact target for the missile by speaking the targets “ true ” name. If this is done, the bolt automatically hits its target. It also does +3 damage plus any other applicable bonuses. Upon impact, the pin shatters the vial and the poison inside is released to go to work on the victim. It is a type D ingestive poison.
There is also a weapon and armor rack in this room. If Bart is caught in bed his +3 studded leather armor and his +2 longsword will be here.
THE OBSERVATION DECK
There isn’t much up here except for the large telescope which sits on a raised dias in the center. The roof is domed and mounted on wheels so that it can be rotated. This allows the viewing window to point to any part of the sky. The telescope is collapseable and magnifies 300 times. In the mount the telescope rests on is a small secret drawer. Pushing on it will open it to reveal a gem of seeing. The gem is highly polished and is mounted in a ring which allows it to be attached to the eyepiece of the telescope. Fully extended, the scope is about 4 feet long and is fairly heavy. It collapses to a one foot section.
THE LOWER LEVEL
1: This is an average looking cellar. There are two piles of boxes. They contain glasses, clothes, paintings, and various other junk. Two doors at each end of the room lead north.
2: The wine cellar. Most of it is ordinary wine but there are a few bottles of very fine wine. Each of these is worth 100 gold.
Roll 1d8 to see how many bottles of good wine there are.
3: All rituals are held here. Cult members arrive at the house around sunset posing as invited guests. At midnight the actual sacrifice takes place and the cult members leave shortly after.
There are no seats. The only furnishings are a large stone table behind which stands a large iron statue of a very grotesque humanoid. Searching the statue will reveal a lever in its back. Pulling the lever down activates the statue. It slowly bends over and pushes on the edge of the stone table. This reveals a staircase leading down to Draco’s tomb.
The stone slab is covered with old blood stains as well as some newer stains. There is a trough cut into the table which channels blood into a cup set to gather the blood. Draco completes all ceremonies by biting the victim and allowing the blood to drain from the wound and gather in the cup. Once the cup is full it is passed to all the members who drink in order of their rank.
4: This room holds the guardian of the cells. It is a displacer beast named shadow. Shadow has 6 hit die and 45 hit points. His tentacles strike for 2-8 points each. He can also attack one opponent in front of him with two claws and a bite. These attacks do 1-6/1-6/1-8 points of damage. Shadow is -2 to hit and +2 on all saving throws which must be aimed.
5, 6, 7: Each of these cells is identical to the others. Each one contains a captive woman for Draco to feed on. When a woman is held here for too long her blood becomes less tasteful. Draco will kill her and replace her. One woman can last about 30 days before needing replacement. The women are taken care of sufficiently if not elegantly. They get meals and a place to sleep. After the second feeding most women are pretty well out of it and can do little but eat, sleep, and whimper.
The room is not lit unless the characters bring light with them. The room is pretty barren. The most striking thing is the large mahogany coffin. If the characters enter during the day then Draco will be here. At night the characters are unlikely to get this far without facing Draco. There are 3 ghouls here as a protective factor for Draco. He has been defeated before in another place and he has no desire to be defeated again.
In Draco’s coffin the party will find:
1: A map of a secret passage into the kings audience chamber.
2: Three unused longevity potions.
3: A scroll with the 9th level magic user spell wish. This hasn’t been used because Draco needs a higher level magic-user than the one he has. He hasn’t been able to locate one who can assure him of success. The magic user must be at least 18th level or have very special gifts in the use of magic. Draco will take no chances on his best shot to become human.
KEY FOR CITYMAP1.PIC
Any buildings not numbered can be used for whatever the DM decides. The open space to the west of the fighters guild is actually filled with residences as is the space west of the barrel maker.
1. Home of Bardas Ulfalas—Warder of Riverside district
2. Home of Agelmund Farwalker—rich merchant
3. Garrison barraks
4. Garrison stables
6. Shadow of the Gods Inn
8. Leather worker
9. General store
11. One-eyed Pete’s tavern. Pete is in league with some thieves who work out of one of the warehouses.
14. Furniture maker
19. Bank/Money changer
21. Half Moon Rising Tavern
23. Fighter’s Guild
25. Tack and Harness
27. Mirrors/Glass etcher
31. Magic supplies
KEY FOR CITYMAP2.PIC
1. Draco’s home
2. Draco’s warehouse
4. General Store
5. Magic implements—Zeezo’s
6. Crooked Limb Tavern
7. The Fallen Maiden Brothel—part of the Crooked Limb
10. Priest’s House
13. Alchemy Production
15. Dye Maker
16. Cloth Making
18. Metal Refinery
21. Weapon Maker
22. Leather Worker
23. Tool Maker
24. Money Changer
30. Morganna’s Inn
31. Livery Stable