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Zyfraan Reldeng: alchemist and king’s cousin

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Zyfraan Reldeng

6’2” 168lbs, Tayan, Alchemist
Cousin of the Mekong Reldeng king, Michairius the Nineteenth, and high standing member of the the Alchemists’ Guild & the Royal Sage school, Zyfraan is a well-respected member of the magical community. Zyfraan’s name is spoken of as one of the best alchemists alive. His education is of the highest standard and he continues his learning of spells and runes to this day. His great resources are almost all channelled back into his learning spells to assist his production of magic items. Many alchemists abroad know of his work. Zyfraan runs an alchemists shop, attached to the Concatenated Guild of Alchemists, near the Summer Palace in Tiben Xian.

Zyfraan has silver-grey hair that reaches the middle of his back in a cue. He wears red robes with hems enruned in gold and has access to a great number of magical items. Zyfraan actively monitors the mercenary companies and well-heeled freebooters that pass through the city of Tiben Xian for snippets of ancient lore and to study any magic items they may possess. He pays well and is completely trustworthy.
Notable Skills:
Zyfraan is a well-accomplished and powerful alchemist. He specialises in potions and smithing magic items but has earned respect for his knowledge of runes and the associated spell theory. He is a capable teacher for those who could use a “master-class” in rune magic and theory.
Zyfraan is so focused on enchanting items, making potions and learning new ways of enruning that he can be considered to have knowledge of almost every related spell. He may also have a few unique spells. His one diversion to runes and magic-items is defensive magic; of which he is moderately skilled. Zyfraan’s powers are usually enough to take care of himself against the common thugs and criminals should his personal guard, assigned by the king, be too slow or overwhelmed.
Combat abilities:
Zyfraan has no martial skills relying on bodyguards, magic items, enhanced reflexes and defensive magic
Notes: Zyfraan is an advanced polyglot, speaking 12 languages and 30 dialects. He is also a senior guild master of the Concatenated Alchemists Guild in Mekong Reldeng.

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Younger Days: my first maps of Khara Thel


Here’s some pics of my earliest maps of the surface of Khara Thel. I think these maps are 25 years old this year and they show it.


first map of Ferromaine 2


first map of Ferromaine 2 detail



It’s funny how real landforms show up in maps. Makes me think they get stuck in one’s mind and come back out through a pencil. This is a place in my home-state called Lakes Entrance. Looks quite a bit like Lake Windemere and its nearby bays.

the real landforms

Lakes Entrance (VIC, Australia)

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Vayeth: unique metal

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The confirmation of a Vayeth find can mobilise armies to secure its lodes. The metal is incredibly strong and resilient but it’s highest value is its strength in easily holding enchantments. However, it can be processed further into True Vayeth which is the metal of the Dædanic Age’s finest artifacts. Legendary items like the Sword of King Michairius the First are forged of Vayeth.


Vayeth is a unique metal that has been found mostly in Kiltayre. It is dug out from deep within the magnetic lodestone under dormant volcanoes. It is a matte-grey metal that has a greasy appearance. In truth this is because vayeth is rarely refined properly (see True Vayeth).

Typical Cost: if they are ever available, and it is a once in a lifetime event, items of Vayeth cost a minimum 100,000 times their normal list price.

d20 effects: Vayeth items as weapons have +2 enhancement to hit, reduce opponents AC by 6 vs. armour (natural or worn), +2 enhancement to damage, +10 to resist destructive magical effects, and are of the highest class for penetrating Damage Resistance. When enchanting items of Vayeth the XP cost is one-third..

True Vayeth

Vayeth that has been properly refined and forged takes on a glorious silver translucence that holds the highest polish. The only known items made of true vayeth are great artefacts of power from the Dædanic age. This metal is so hard that if forged into a sword it will not dull whilst still cutting any non-vayeth material: the depth of cut limited only by the wielder’s strength. Vayeth edged weapons always treat all non-vayeth armour as quilt or soft-leather.

Typical Cost: if they are ever available, and it is a once in a lifetime event that will attract royalty from nearby kingdoms, items of True Vayeth cost a minimum 250,000 times normal list price.

d20 effects: True Vayeth items as weapons have +3 enhancement to hit, reduce opponents AC by 6 vs. armour (natural or worn), +3 enhancement to damage, +11 to resist destructive magical effects, and are of the highest class for penetrating Damage Resistance. When enchanting items of True Vayeth the XP cost is quartered.

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Ulstutz: exotic steel

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While a cursory examination would mistake a blade of ulstutz as wootz, or folded, steel it is really a much more sturdy material. Ulstutz is a layering of hard and soft magical steels that is differentially hardened for the purpose of the item. It has a pattern like rippling water and is very strong, particularly for edged and penetrating weapons or plate armour.



d20 effects: +2 enhancement bonus, except for; +4 enhancement bonus for plate armour, +4 enhancement bonus to damage when made into edged or puncturing weapons, edged and puncturing weapons of ulstutz count as adamantine vs. DR.

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Taller than common orcs the Tharkhor are the greater race of Goblinoids of Khara Thel. They are often intelligent and can learn a handful of languages. Amongst Tharkhor there is formal education with uncles. Female Tharkhor are kept in separate harems to the rest of the Goblinoids of any citadel and jealously guarded from common orcs potentially polluting the bloodlines. As soldiers the Tharkhor are shock troops, heavy infantry and heavy cavalry. They favour heavy plate armour and often wield war mattocks, heavy swords, hammers and maces into battle. They are very strong, even for their size, and can endure sunlight even thought it hampers them. The Tharkhor are, thankfully, slow breeders and their numbers are few.
Height: 6’ to 7’
Abilities: darkvision 120 ft., daylight hampers (moderate penalty to all actions), greatly resistant to damage, moderate resistance to shock
Average lifespan: 90 years, although most are soldiers and live about 50 years

d20 effects: +3 Str, +1 Con, Darkvision (120ft.), Stay conscious and active to –5 hit points, daylight puts them at –1 to morale.

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Salves (healing ointments)

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These various unguents and ointments are collectively called salves. In Khara Thel the general use of the word salve is in a healing context.

Orc Salve (aka  Black Salve)

A bitter black salve that is grease-like in appearance and texture. It will heal wounds well but leaves dark scars (something orcs take pride in).
Cost: 15 gp for a tub of 10 doses
(Manufacture notes: an above average difficulty recipe, 2 oz. Gauthimilar & 4 oz. of Luminous Vrak & 5 oz. scrap melon juice, prepared through a bronze retort and then an iron alembic)
d20: as Cure Minor Wounds, and a Heal check can add excess to DC as extra hit-points healed. Eg. DM determines DC to be 18. Heal check total is 22, add 4 extra HP healed with the black salve.

White Salve

A smooth white salve that heals quite a bit better than black salve and leaves natural scarring or more often none at all. Looks and feels like refined tallow or lard but smells herbal and a little alkaline.
Cost: 45 gp for a tub of 10 doses
(Manufacture notes: a quite difficult recipe, 4 oz. Mordakress & 6 oz. of Apsusar brew & 1 oz. of Arlan, prepared though a bronze retort and then a steel alembic)
d20: as Cure Light Wounds, 1d8 + 2, and a Heal check can add excess to DC as extra hit-points healed. Eg. DM determines DC to be 18. Heal check total is 22, add 4 extra HP healed with the white salve.

Gold Salve, Great Salve  or Cyclops Salve

A potent healing preparation in great demand: unfortunately the ingredients are rare. It is a golden-amber colour and looks like thick honey but with the consistency of a fine grease. Smells of spice, moss and bitter-herbs.
Cost: 300 gp per tub of 10 doses
(Manufacture notes: very advanced recipe; 4 oz. of Mordakress & 2 oz. of Arlan & 2 oz. of Reglen brew & 1 oz. of Kelventari & 3 oz. of Gauthimilar, prepared through steel retort and then a steel alembic)

d20: as Cure Light Wounds, 1d8 + 6, and a Heal check can add double excess to DC as extra hit-points healed. Eg. DM determines DC to be 18. Heal check total is 22, add 8 extra HP healed with the white salve.

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Rum Town: slums of Ferris

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This ramshackle section of Freeport is effectively walled off from the rest of the city. No less than fourteen watchtowers and gatehouses monitor egress and entry to Rum Town. Within its narrow dark streets the seediest parts of Ferris operate. A small section of waterfront takes in various goods and people from sea travel. Rum Town was once a royal distillery that grew its rare crops within the protection of its walled fortifications. A fire was set by Krakmoor saboteurs, when the delta was being fought over, and it was ruined. After the battle for Ferris was won by the Iron Claw forces the area was sold off with subsidies for building tenements with more than a dozen living quarters. The poor and criminal moved in and were thus contained by the existing walls – as was planned all along. That was centuries ago and Rum Town has festered away to the point where the watch rarely enter its walls.

Trivia: “A Tale of Rum Town” is set almost entirely within the walls of this ward.

Rum Town is notorious around the Bay of Carnarvon as the seediest place in the Kingdom of Iron Claw but within its own confines are the infamous Warrens. An arcing mile on the west of Rum Town where the oldest and most run-down tenements lean over the narrow streets. Buildings here look threatening to fall and some are clearly propped against others or even the wall itself where the stone is within reach. The Warrens is a mix of abandoned buildings, squatters, and ruins that is an urban wilderness for the most dangerous. A gang that strikes fear into the hearts of even the toughest Rum Towner, called The Shrikes, masses like a swarm against intruders after dark. Some say that there are even goblins in the Warrens but few believe the homeless that tell such tales.


Rum Town update

Designer notes: I put this map together as an experimental “grunge” style. It ain’t too bad.

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Quarry Town: ward of Ferris

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Almost a satellite of Ferris this town is like Picton but on a larger and more independent scale. Bordering Quarry Town are some of the finest wineries in all of Iron Claw. It is a peaceful place with a disproportionately large amount of watchmen and guards. Forestry reserves stretch for miles amidst the fertile farms. Hunting lodges and Inns are common here to cater for minor aristocrats passing through or getting away from their duties in the city.

The old quarries to the west of Quarry Town are the subject of strange rumours. Local hunters whisper over their ales that aristocrats bring in strange beasts, and even giants, for sport – using the old quarries to prevent their prey’s escape. Most people not in their cups simply laugh. As if no-one else would notice giants being brought into the area.


Quarry Town_Ferris


The Lateriders Inns are a collection of small inns and stables that cater for those who don’t make it to Ferris before the gates are locked for the night. Some are owned by the coaching lines in case of those times where a wheel breaks or the road is obstructed and their coaches are delayed. Guests usually stay for free, in such situations, if there is room but meals are pricey for what they are.


Old Gatehouse was once the northern portal into Ferris. It is almost a fortress in its own right and has now become a barracks and stable for the guard. They are often out riding about the city’s northern walls drilling their cavalry and footmen to keep them in excellent fighting condition. The hill fort nearby is on one of the many spires of old volcanic rock that penetrate the area. It is nearly 200 feet above the river and provides an excellent view for miles in all directions.

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Port Stricknish: whaling city

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A whaling city whose people are mixed blood northman and tundra people. Large hearty men with strong backs toil on ships and in dangerous long boats. They hunt sperm whales for meat but most of all the precious head oil & ambergris. Death and injury are common and many fall back to carving whalebone and trading their wares: needles, chests, combs, jewellery boxes, etc. The whales come to feed on the seemingly endless swarms of herring that mass in the bay a few leagues from the mouth of the Stricknish River. These herring also feed the populace, salted, smoked, rolled, spiced, and pickled. Some travellers call it Port Stinkfish, and visitors quickly find out why.


Port Stricknish and surrounds


Port Stricknish location



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Olstenbridge: Noble House

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Rigid and militaristic are the two strongest characteristics of the Olstenbridge nobility. The sons are all schooled in the knightly way and many members have won favour through acts of courage or chivalry. However many sons have fallen on the field of battle and Olstenbridge as a house is beginning to wane. Currying favour is not easy for one who expects just reward for just effort and it is now that the family come to the game of politics they have the realisation they are late studies. Duke Olstenbridge of Port Lenongard leads the catch up in the courtly game of wiles.


Trivia: in the novel, “A Tale of Rum Town” the Grissom Delvers completed a mission to recover an Olstenbridge family heirloom before wintering in the city.

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