This is based closely on CONAN THE ROGUE, by John Maddox Roberts. The novel includes a map of the city in addition to the usual world map!

I've included all the main and minor characters in Sicas. The novel's MALTESE FALCON co-plotline is not reproduced here, as it begins in Nemedia with non-natives of Sicas. Thus, what follows here is a near complete breakdown of the town and its movers and shakers. PCs could easily come into this environment and stick to one side, or keep switching sides, with the end result being lots of adventures all in one nasty urban location. The end result should probably always be the town being placed under martial law by the king (as soon as he finds out about the corruption), and every villain executed. To mix things up, if the PCs aren't interested in cleaning up the town, the GM can bring in a Conan/Clint Eastwood-like double-dealer who plays all sides against each other, forcing the shutdown of the town by the king. All good things must come to an end! :twisted:

SICAS is a Royal Burgh of Aquilonia. As it contains a silver mine, it is under the direct
control of the king, rather than any nobleman (all mines belong to the crown). The king
appoints a reeve to oversee administering the town and a mine factor for administering to
the silver mine. Both report to the king’s inspector in Tarantia. It costs 2 sp to enter or
leave the town.

The gate guard (only 1 is ever on duty) insists on obtaining visitor’s names and business
(written down) unless bribed (1 gp per crossing per person). Gate guards can be bribed to
be on the lookout for persons passing through (1 gp per incident) and they can be trusted
in this regard, but the briber must come to the gate guard to get his information; the
guards will not seek their “employer” out unless bribed further. Most town guards are
ex-beggars, knock-kneed and cowardly, many elderly. They are poorly trained and
equipped. They will not take any action against anyone, lawbreaker or not, unless directed
by the Reeve, though they will report unusual activity or suspicious persons to the Reeve
at the first opportunity. People bribing them 1 gp never count as “suspicious” or

Bombas, the King’s Reeve. Fat, greedy, nervous, paranoid, pretends to the nobility.
Hates but tolerates his confederate in crime, the mine factor Xanthus (hatred arose over a
dispute over the dead woman Lorinda, whom they both loved when they were young) and
the town’s chief burglar, Maxio, whom he believes stabbed his brother Burdo in the alley
behind the Wyvern. Although he is given a cash allowance from the king in Tarantia to
employ and equip 100 fighting men to enforce royal law, Bombas pockets the money,
hiring only a few dozen ragged, poorly equiped incompetents at low wages to man the
gates and collect tolls. For his personal security, he has hired the sadistic Aquilonian
schemer Julus (expelled from Maxio’s band) and two ruthless Zingarans (brothers,
Adchzat and Adchzar). Bombas keeps one set of books for the king’s inspectors at his
office and the real set locked at the old fort. Bombas has office, living quarters and
dungeon all in the same building. He is very interested in newcomers and will send some
of his men around to summon troublemakers to his office for questioning. Those he does
not like the look of he will throw in his dungeon unless they can pay exorbitant fines
(50-500 gold). He is willing to pay handsomely for information leading to the arrest of
Maxio, or for his death. He wishes the removal of certain unruly gang leaders, just as
Xanthus does, as if the town remains too lawless, it can only attract the king’s attention,
ruining his embezzling empire. Bombas receives a cut from every illegal transaction in
Sicas; he initially asked for 10%, then 15%, now 25% as he grows more and more
paranoid about being discovered by the king.

Xanthus, Royal Mine Factor. Rich, greedy merchant, thinks Sicas is “his” town, and
pretends to the nobility. Hired Ermak’s mercenary band to break a miner’s guild strike by
burning down their guildhall and kidnapping their women and children as hostages.
Keeps them in an old fort converted to a prison half a day’s ride away in the countryside.
There they are guarded by a dozen of Lisip’s men and one of Ermak’s professional
mercenaries. The fort is barred from the outside, making the guards have to use ladders to
climb down to open the gate. Only Lisip’s lead medallion (showing a Wyvern) will gain a
stranger entrance to the fort. Xanthus is willing to pay to have someone clean up “his”
town by removing Ermak, Ingas and other gang leaders. He doesn’t want the town too
clean, but clean enough so he can get back to business as usual and before the king’s
inspector notices that the town is “wide open”.

Rista Daan, merchant. He is willing to pay handsomely for the return of his daughter
Rietta from the cult of Mother Doorgah, but he knows she will only run away again
unless their hold over her can be broken. He will pay up to 1000 sp for this job.

Rietta Daan, daughter of Rista Daan. She is near death from malnutrition and
mind-numbed by drugs, locked away in the third floor of the Temple of Mother Doorgah.
She believes she is suffering under a curse (as all females in her line), which causes her to
be plagued nightly by a demon, and the only way out is death, suicide or magical
protection (which the temple of Mother Doorgah claims to provide). Her mother told her
the story, but she was insane and dreamt it all up. She threw herself from the top of
Daan’s mansion while he was away on one of his many business trips. When she came
upon the cult, they bade her steal a large sum of gold from her father in returnn for their
protection against the demon that drove her mother mad.

Ermak, Mercenary. He commands Ermak’s Company, a group of free-lancers. Before
Sicas, they spent considerable time fighting in the Ophirian civil war. Hired by Xanthus
to break up the miner’s guild strike, they decided to stay on, hiring themselves out time
and again to the highest bidder on a per job, short-term basis. They are the most
dangerous fighting force in the town, and the only one of professional training and
equipment. They do not hire out for back alley skirmishes, only major offensives or as
location/event security. Ermak and his men delight in the current situation, as it fills their
pockets with coin and they have no true equals in the town in a “fair” fight on open
ground. If things go poorly, Ermak will send to Ophir for the rest of his company,
effectively doubling his numbers.

Copper-Nose, Minor Gangleader, “The Jackals”. Copper-Nose earns his name
from his missing nose (disguised by a copper prosthetic). Other members of his group
include “Spider” (spider and web tattoo over his left eye), Falx “the Lucky” (as in lucky
he’s still alive, as he’s missing a hand, walks with a limp, is missing one eye and ear, and
has a crooked neck from a lynching), and “No name” (has a great red tattoo of a Khitain
character over his face, establishing he is marked for death if he ever returns to Khitai,
and he is missing his tongue so he cannot relate what crime he committed). This gang is
minor, more interested in gambling than mayhem, and currently aligned with Lisip,
though this can change at any moment. They are initially friendly to other scum unless
provoked (this doesn’t mean they won’t cut your throat if you turn your back on them).
They hang out at the Wyvern, dicing away most nights at a game of “Shemitish Suicide”.

Ingas, Major Gangleader, “The Red Butchers”. Ingas and his men all wear red leather
armor (Ingas is the only one with expensive, decorated armor). His men are sadistic,
swaggering bully-boys who make their living by burglary and murder, though they are not
particularly talented in fighting. To help make up for this deficiency, they employ two
handed Khorajan cleavers (swords), as it only takes one hit to bring an enemy down.
Ingas is the disinherited son of a minor Tarantian noble; he wears his badge of dishonor
openly on his breast, proclaiming his status as an outcast and a man with nothing to lose.
His men claim the Iron Skull inn in The Pit as their private domain. Hates Lisip and

Lisip, Major Gangleader, “The Wyverns”. Lisip’s men do not murder their burglary
victims, adhering to the Burglar’s Code, but they have secretly stooped to virtually
enslaving the wives and children of the Miner’s Guild. Otherwise, they appear to be a
“respectable” group of thieves. They claim the Wyvern inn as their headquarters, but it is
considered neutral ground for all but Ingas and his cut throats.

Maxio, Major Gangleader, “Maxio’s Band”. Maxio’s men do not murder their
burglary victims, adhering to the Burglar’s Code. They are planning a robbery of the
Royal Storehouse, then to leave town forever. Things have grown too hot, with the
constant enmity of the Reeve and skirmishes with Ingas and Lisip. Maxio does not know
that the Royal Storehouse, supposedly near full as it is almost time to send to the king, is
actually already plundered by Bombas the Reeve, who plans to set fire to it, then blame it
on burglars.

Delia, Harlot. Maxio’s mistress, the pleasingly plump, huge-breasted harlot Delia, is
willing to sell Maxio out as she is sure he is dumping her. Delia knows about the Royal
Storehouse robbery plan and wants revenge. She is looking for a new man to “keep” her.
She also suspects that Julus, the Reeve’s bodyguard and chief enforcer, stole Maxio’s
dagger and used it to stab the Reeve’s brother, Burdo, then use the vacancy to enter the
Reeve’s service as right hand man after being kicked out of Maxio’s band. Delia
maintains a slovenly, cat-filled apartment above a store on the Street of the
Woodsworkers. If she is home alone, she leaves a white cloth hanging from her window.
She is friendly and refreshingly honest, but she is also greedy, talkative, a glutton and a

Bellas, Headman, Miner’s Guild. The miners are all free men, but have suffered
horribly in recent times under the tyranny of mine factor Xanthus. When Xanthus started
fleecing profits (unknown to the miners), he had to make up for the shortfalls by
increasing production. With increased production, more accidents, deaths and cave-ins
occurred. The miners went on strike, but Xanthus hired Ermak’s mercenaries to beat them
up and burn down their guild hall. While this was happening, Xanthus had hired Lisip’s
gang to kidnap all the miners’ women and children, forcing them to get back to work. A
few of Lisip’s men remain at the mine to whip any miner who gets lazy or unruly. Only
someone authorized by Xanthus or Lisip is allowed into the mining camp. Anyone who
can get them back their families will earn their undying friendship. They will fight to the
death to save their loved ones, as well as seek bloody revenge themselves upon the
Reeve, Ermak, Lisip and Xanthus once their families are safe.

Temple of Bes (Bel). This temple to the god of thieves is run by a priest who acts as the
main fence in the town. The temple’s outer vault contains a good selection of mundane
stolen goods. The temple’s inner vault holds items of greater value (art objects, gems,
jewelery) and has a secret exit to the river just outside the town. The priest/fence is as
friendly, honest and trustworthy as any such man can be (though his greatest loyalty is
still to be secured with coin, say 100 sp). He is devout in his religion, and wants the town
restored to the days of “respectable” thieving, where burglary victims weren’t murdered
in their sleep. He maintains a pair of acolytes and a half dozen armed guards of good

Temple of Mother Doorgah. Formerly the temple of Mitra (the state religion), it has
been taken over by a husband and wife team of con-artists (Great-Souled Andolla and
Holy Mother Oppia) who are using the Vendyhan religion of Mother Doorgah to form a
cult of young and foolish sons and daughters of the wealthy. They use sleep deprivation,
malnutrition (gruel), ceaseless chanting and obesiences, mind-numbing drugs (consumed
in the “Milk of Mother Doorgah” during daily rituals), and by sermons on the
worthlessness of material goods except as a means of sacrifice to their goddess. Mother
Doorgah is worshipped in her benevolent aspect of huge-breasted naked beauty and
benovolence here rather than her aspect as Destroyer and Devourer of Entrails. Andolla
fancies himself a great wizard but is only a dabbler; he has several dangerous books and
scrolls of spells he is trying to decipher. His wife thinks his dabbling is harmless but
foolish; she is only interested in material wealth and physical pleasures and dislikes
sorcery. The evil pair brainwash their acolytes into begging or stealing huge sums of gold
from their wealthy families. Currently, they have Rietta, the daughter of wealthy merchant
Rista Daan, locked up in a room on the third floor, where they use a bellows in the cellar
to pump small doses of black lotus extract into her room to create visions of demons. The
statue of Mitra has been removed and replaced by one of Mother Doorgah, and the statue
can be manipulated by various devices in the cellar to rotate, cause its arms to move, or
create lighting effects through tiltable braziers at its feet (making the titanic breasts
appear to tremble). The statue has a concealed (near impossible to open), cleverly
ventilated vault in its base in the cellar; a few men could hide out in it. The vault is empty
save for shelves and candles, and is unknown to the cult (or any but priests of Mitra).
Sicas is located in southeastern Aquilonia, midway between Tarantia and Shamar (which has a river crossing). It is on a triangular strip of land bordered by two rivers: the River Ossar and River Fury.

Directions from Belverus in Nemedia:

"There are two easy routes to Sicas. The southern road will take you into northwestern Ophir; then it swings north and crosses the Tybor at Shamar. From there, you could take the royal high road toward Tarantia. About halfway to Tarantia, a road branches southwestward, and Sicas lies only a few miles beyond. However, there is civil war in Ophir just now and the border crossings are heavily guarded. You would be best advised to take the northerly route. The high road between Belverus and Tarantia is a good one, with many towns, villages, and wayside inns along the way. It intersects the Aquilonian high road just south of Tarantia, and from there you must proceed southward to Sicas."

"Sicas's population is about 10,000. In the nearby countryside, the usual domestic livestock ar raised: cattle, sheep, swine, and so on. Most of the land is cultivated, and there is river fishing. The major source of wealth, however, is from a great silver mine that lies near the city, just across the Ossar. When discovered three centuries ago, these silver desposits were vast, and for a while, Sicas widely famed as the City of Silver. After a few decades, these early deposits played out, and ever since then, the ore has yielded a more modest but still quite respectable poundage of silver annually.

"This may be of some interest: As a source of precious metal, Sicas does not fall within any feudal fief, but rather is is direct property of the crown. As such, ithe local authority is a King's Reeve, who administers justice and is commander of the royal garrison. As commander, he is authorized to have one hundred men under his command."

"There is a little more: Sicas has a small production of woven and dyed wool. All the usual crafts are practiced. There are no ancient or famous public structures, although a few rather fine buildings were erected during the years of great prosperity when the silver was plentiful and fortunes were made. There are temples for the state cults, including a rather splendid Temple of Mitra."

---John Maddox Roberts, CONAN THE ROGUE
A statue of Selkhet, the evil scorpion goddess of Stygia, often depicted as a scorpion with a beautiful woman's face. The novel, CONAN THE ROGUE, offers up several different, conflicting versions of the origin and nature of this item. It holds a malignant power to amplify any sorcery cast in its presence, making even a dabbler into the mightiest of wizards within a week, so long as they remain in its presence. However, those in its presence are eventually warped and changed into bestial shapes and come under its control until slain or the statue removed or destroyed.

Piris, an effeminate long-lashed homosexual fop, who is a noble of Shadizar and reeks of lavender perfume. He claims the black scorpion statue was stolen from his family. He offers 1,000 gold coins of Koth upon its return. He offers 100 silver for expenses (but will pay up to 200). In truth, he does not have much more than the 200 sp. He wields a stiletto daubed with deadly poison; one scratch equals death. This is Joel Cairo (Peter Lorre) from THE MALTESE FALCON.

Brita, a beautiful Aquilonian wench, waylays the party en route with a staged rape by brigands. The brigands flee at the first sign of interruption. They have been provided with the finest racing horses and easily escape. Brita claims she was attacked while stopping at a wayside shrine of Mitra, and they dragged her into the nearby woods. She says she was on her way to Sicas to find her runaway sister, Ylla. Their parents are dead and she must save her sister from an evil rogue named Asdras, who ran off with her to Sicas and has her under his spell. In truth, she is a deadly assassin also after the black scorpion. This is the two-faced evil babe from the MALTESE FALCON.

Casperus, a noble/scholar (sorcerer) of Numalia in Nemedia, sends his arrogant bodyguard, Gilmay (who fights with two shortswords or uses a small crossbow concealed under his cloak as a "persauder"), to summon the PCs to him shortly after they enter Sicas. Casperus is a gluttonous blob of revolting flesh, but finely clothed and bejewelled. He is extremely verbose and polite, and seems amused by everything (especially when outfoxed). He claims to know the real origins of the black scorpion, admits to having some "small" sorcerous power (tracking PCs with a scrying glass) and offers the ungodly sum of 50,000 Aquilonian golden lunas for its safe delivery to him. He offers up to 5,000 gp in advance.

Gilmay takes an instant dislike to the PCs and uses force whenever possible to bring them to his employer. He promises that they will cross swords if they don't perform up to his boss's expectations, and quickly.

These last two are, of course, Casper Guttmann (Sydney Greenstreet) and his too cocky for his own good triggerman (Elisha Cook) from the MALTESE FALCON.

As for the rogue Asdras, he is found dead (taking the place of Sam Spade's partner, Miles Archer in THE MALTESE FALCON), killed by Brita, but hopefully her guilt is unsuspected by the PCs, as she plays her role as helpless woman to the hilt. Her sister, Ylla, is entirely fictional, used by Brita as pretense for being in Sicas and seen all over asking questions. :twisted:
Broccoli_Head said:
Cool! I guess this one would be better suited if the PCs want to be from more northern Cimmeria? :wink:

Yup. Reading the novel CONAN THE ROGUE, as well as watching THE MALTESE FALCON movie are pretty much required to pull off the "black scorpion" plotline. Otherwise, there's enough info here to use Sicas as an adventure site.
For the black scorpion plotline, it should also be noted that all of the interested parties (Casperus, Piris, Brita) will seek to doublecross and murder whoever brings them the scorpion, and each other. The only coin the PCs will most likely ever receive from them is whatever their upfront commission/advance/expenses might be, plus whatver they can loot from their corpses. :twisted:
UM, I like that in Conan the money isn't gp it's sp. Its more realistic.

The bribe for the gate guard says gp. Should that be sp instead?
bastion_korupt said:
UM, I like that in Conan the money isn't gp it's sp. Its more realistic.

The bribe for the gate guard says gp. Should that be sp instead?

Yes, the bribe should be expressed in silver pieces.
Iron_Chef said:
bastion_korupt said:
UM, I like that in Conan the money isn't gp it's sp. Its more realistic.

The bribe for the gate guard says gp. Should that be sp instead?

Yes, the bribe should be expressed in silver pieces.

Oops. I meant the gate guard bribes should be 10 sp (1 gp). Conan is flush with gold and is free with his bribes in this novel. Technically, one could probably get away with cheaper bribes on a successful Bluff (haggling), Diplomacy or Intimidate check. The guards are all old drunks or ex-beggars, after all.
For those of you who might have missed it, here's the link to my original instant campaign for Conan, which is a whirlwind tour of town and country starting in western Shem, then on to Zamboula, ending up in Zamora (Yaralet, Arenjun, Shadizar, Yezud), with an optional continuation into Corinthia. Enjoy!
John Maddox Robert's Homage to Dashiel Hammet's great work.

Truly fun to read, but much too difficult to railroad your PCs.