History of Silverfox Mill
The town of Silverfox Mill was founded based upon the presence of the elusive Silver Fox, an animal whose fur is greatly coveted by nobles. Silver foxes are inherently evil creatures, blessed with great cunning through their unseelie heritage. They set traps, serve as spies for witches and evil fey, and use their minor magical abilities to great tactical advantage in combat. The foxes in this particular area served the witch Anna. While Anna seldom bothered with the fledgling town those who crossed her path did not fare well. It was not long before the silver foxes had been eradicated, and all that remained was their name. Anna soon followed them into legend at the end of the hangman’s rope and was buried in an unmarked grave in the Sarenrae temple. As a safeguard against retribution the priest wove an enchantment that the soul of the most recently buried would suppress Anna’s magic.
Sidebar: The Real Silver Foxes
Silver foxes are a species native to Russia and valued for their fur. What make them notable are the breeding experiments conducted on them in an effort to produce a domestic fox for fur farming. This information is an important subtext for the ‘inherently evil’ silver foxes of Etzem, as it deals with Nature vs. Nurture and how it might apply to humans.
Moving to other resources Silverfox Mill began some modest farming and logging operations which attracted one or two craftsmen. Upon the heels of the craftsmen was the Usury Guild, led by Urslav. Urslav is a most devious soul, convincing customers to take out loans for things they do not need. Once under contract victims are forced into a perpetual slavery; unable to pay off their debts but never burdened enough to default. Being an Okada Sanctioned Liveryi the guild can only take proper legal recourse against defaulters. Urslav, however, is the bastard son of the Jixdenii Savanarola family; no one dares default on their payments.
The town is beginning to crumble under the financial pressures despite the efforts of the now deceased Osric Skanderbag. Osric grew up in the town of Silverfox Mill, and at a young age exhibited a talent for the arcane. While he had no real interest in traveling to Azuraiii his parents insisted, pouring their life savings into sending their son away for training. Osric did not take to life in Azura and returned midway through his studies. While not powerful enough to be considered a true wizard by Azuran standards he had a firm enough grasp of the arcane to become a competent mage in his own right. Using his magical abilities to help others and being a generally kind and agreeable person Osric was much beloved by his fellow townsmen. Regrettably it was this pressure to be the town hero which would lead to the present.
When the gypsies passed through one year Osric discovered Codex Cipher 7, the journal of the necromancer Tiziv. Recognizing the powerful arcane knowledge the book held Osric insisted he have it, only after the caravan had left did he realize the magic was necromancy. Osric set the journal aside. It was months later when the crops had failed for the second year in a row and the town was on the verge of starvation that Osric came back to the book. He knew a spell that would return the rain and freshen the soil, but he was not powerful enough to preform it. Pouring over the journal Osric rediscovered a ritual which consumes the soul of the dead (the recently dead being more powerful) and improves the abilities of a caster for the duration of a single spell. The history of Anna and her caretaker lost to memory Osric exhumed the most recent victim of starvation and preformed the ritual, breaking the chain of guardians.
Unfortunately for Osric the rush of power obtained from such a profane act is addictive. Osric continued to use the journal; telling himself that reviving the silver foxes would allow the town to escape Urslav’s grasp. It was during this time his mind began to slip into dementia, and sensing himself drifting over the edge into evil and madness he arranged his own funeral as well as a last request – that should a group of heroes come to town they be charged with eradicating evidence of his fall from virtue.
i It is important that the Usury Guild have some sort of legitimate authority to operate. As written this is the Okada Livery system, but it could be the authority of a king.
ii Jixden is a port city of thieves and thugs. Any such city of origin is serviceable so long as Urslav has mob connections.
iii Azura is the city of the mage tower. Any distant arcane academy will do, but due to the nature of magic in Etzem Azura is a brutal and twisted place.
iv The Codex Cipher is a series of books which once belonged to the Revenants and is linked to the overarching plot of Etzem.
Father Basil (Cleric)
The gray-haired cleric looks rather dour, and ready to complain about the decline of morality in a long-winded sermon as you suffocate from the smell of myrrh.
Father Basil was born and raised in Silverfox mill, and has entered his dotage without setting foot outside the town. Basil was pressured into the faith by his mother at a young age, but has long since taken up the duties as a matter of course (with the notable exception of his fathering Adoran). While the townsfolk do not confide in him as they do with father Adoran his gravitas and reputation as an impartial arbiter make him highly respected.
The majority of the information Basil can provide is that of the public record:
- Claudia is the only living descendant of Anna, her great, great grand-niece.
- A portion of farmer Reman’s land (including the lone apple tree) was obtained from Claudia’s grandmother for livestock.
- Urslav has filed all of the proper paperwork to take up residence in Silverfox Mill as a branch of the Usurer’s guild.
- Urslav currently holds a lien against Reman’s farm.
You are quickly approached by this black haired girl.She has an attractive doll-like face which wears the slightest pout, and her skin glistens with sweat as though she had just finished exerting herself.
Claudia began selling her own body as soon as the men of the town would pay for the pleasure. She despised the poverty of her family and the manual labor required in taking care of livestock, and inherited nothing when her parents died of starvation several winters back. Strong-headed and too clever for her own good her greatest desire is luxury and power without responsibility. Claudia resents the ‘new girls’ who turned to prostitution to pay Urslav’s debts, and has become more aggressive in pursuing patrons. Claudia does have a ‘favorite customer’ in the guard Titian, who she claims is her fiancé. Whether the relationship between the pair is genuine or not is still a matter of debate about the town, but the pair have been together for quite some time now.
Claudia has no patience for those who are not paying customers, but can be coerced into speaking if given money or convinced it will remove the inquirer:
- Claudia believes that the Black Anna sightings are an intimidation tactic on the part of Urslav. She does not believe the woman is real, but will admit being her descendant.
- Respa, one of the ‘new whores’, was a drug addict and friend of Nilla.
- Nilla most likely came from Jixdeni and made friends with Respa as both like to feign nobility. It was Nilla that got Respa using drugs.
- Winny, one of the ‘new whores’, took out loans from Urslav to purchase clothing and fashion items.
Half-moon spectacles sit on the nose of the man meticulously plucking leaves from a plant and sorting them into piles. He looks up at the sound of your footsteps and you notice his eyes are clouded.
The man known as Kentor was a fearsome member of the Red Left assassins in Jixdenii many years ago. Having contracted cataracts at a young age his sense of vision is poor (though not entirely gone). After a botched high profile assassination on the Savanarola Family Kentor retreated to Silverfox Mill, tailed by the white Persian which now resides in his windowsill.iiiKentor is rusty on his abilities but still quite capable. Until recently he was supported by Osric, partially as a friend and partially as a blackmailer.
Kentor’s knowledge on Osric’s endeavors is limited to the materials provided and Osric’s intent to revive the silver foxes. Kentor also supplies drugs and poisons to trusted customers but will not disclose much on the subject. The only subject he is willing to talk freely on, and with great venom, is Urslav. Kentor hates Urslav for ending his career, and brings out a sadistic side to the otherwise temperate man.
- Kentor will confirm or deny any named brothel girl as a ‘customer’ if convinced it will facilitate catching the killer.
- Kentor finds nothing morally reprehensible about selling drugs. He does not force them on his customers, and merely indulges those too weak to break their habits.
- Osric was practicing necromancy, most likely in his own home. Kentor knows nothing of the package left for ‘adventurers’ or its contents.
- Kentor - “It’s said the greatest trick the devils ever pulled was convincing the mages they weren’t in Etzem. Personally I think it was setting up an Okada-sanctioned liveryiv and sharking loans tailored to keep an individual paying for life.”
- Kentor - “If you think getting the livery revoked will make things better you’ve as much in your head as Urslav’s sister. Revoking the livery would mean they no longer have to abide any laws to get what they want, the limit is their cruelty.”
- Kentor can give the location of the Usury guild in Silverfox Mill, quickly followed by a breakdown of the guard detail.
- The sick children most certainly have been poisoned.
- As a Jixdenite Kentor believes in the Revenants. He describes the Starving Cat as a white feline with a black collar and odd eyes. She feeds of secrets, using the cats of the city as spies, and whisks away lost children.
Dressed rather garishly the man behind the bar moves quickly to take orders, flitting about like a sparrow between customers and chatting all the while.
Puck (affectionately Puck Slakesbeer) had always wanted to be a bard, with a great love of stories and a modicum of musical talent. Instead he inherited his father’s joint tavern and inn and has lived contentedly ever since. Puck cares little for local gossip, but can recall heroic tales and town legends for anyone willing to listen to his half-tuned theatrics.
- The Tale of Black Anna (see appendix)
- The Terror of the Revenants (see appendix)
Seriph (Town Miscreant)
This young girl has a crooked smile, and her face is smudged with dirt. Her brown hair hangs in her eyes though she does not seem to care.
Seriph is the town delinquent, a resident petty thief and orphan. It was believed she belonged to one of the gypsy caravans but on their return none in the caravan recognized her. The town is largely complacent and has had a hand in her raising, each donating some piece of 'missing' food or clothing. She can most reliably be found in the jail cell, for pickpocketing, petty thievery, and recently grave robbing.
Seriph knows a great deal of useless town gossip, but her most valuable information is on the movements of the townsfolk and Titian in particular.
- Titian has been trysting with Claudia near the graveyard.
- Titian has been leaving her unguarded at night while he thinks her asleep.
- Osric had been digging up corpses from the cemetery. The opportunistic Seriph realized there was wealth to be had picking the caskets.
- The town children only eat a few of the apples picked from farmer Reman’s tree. They sell most for trinkets, toys, and sweets.
- Fetz does not allow his daughter to partake in the apple-thieving but she does anyway.
Titian (Town Guard)
Armor slightly askew this muscular guard smiles and strokes his facial hair as if he is thinking of better things than sitting in front of a cell.
Titian is a town guard, just like his father and his grandfather. While his grandfather took the job seriously two generations have resulted in an apathetic guard fit for little more than babysitting the town jail. At heart Titian is fun-loving and would rather be outdoors, but enjoys the small measure of authority given to him by the position and believes it is too late to change careers. Being easygoing he will take bribes for small favors, smuggling some treats to a prisoner or looking the other way in a bar fight, but refuses if it would compromise the overall safety of the town. His affair with Claudia is a longstanding one, well known to the town, though it is believed he will never make her an honest woman. He knows she is capable of handling herself, and will not rush to defend her unless she is in real danger.
A book of accounts tucked under one arm and modest dress, you would easily mistake this man for a scholar. His long blonde hair is tied back to keep it from his eyes.
Since the invention of the printing press there has been the mass dissemination of culture through media. There is no reason for any fully developed world to not have such cultural touchstones as the Puppeteer or Villainous Monologue. Being an educated and worldly man Urslav is well-aware of these conventions and fully willing to exploit them.
Urslav is the bastard son, and only remaining son, of Giovanni Savonarola. During his formative years Urslav traveled with his mother between Jixden, Celtimark, and occasionally Okadav, reading tales of heroism on the long sea voyages. Urslav was still a young boy when he came to the realization that his father was one of the chessmaster villains he admired. After watching Kentor’s assassination plans fail,and his father’s designs fall apart shortly after, Urslav ceased to put stock in such endeavors. With an infuriating mixture of sophistication, talent, work-ethic, and an ability to capitalize on luckhe has the potential to achieve any aim. Much to the chagrin of his father he appears to have no ambitions beyond his current position at the edge of the law, at least none that anyone knows of.
In true Jixdenite fashion what Urslav knows is a complex function of what others know, what he wants others to know, and what he wants others to think he knows. As information is not free he will seldom say anything beyond stating the current events, but the manner in which he says things reveal he has more insight.
- The prostitutes are referred to as being “eaten” or “gnawed” rather than murdered.
- Anna is “alive and well in the hearts of her family, as are all the deceased”
- Why children would pick apples is beyond him. They prefer sweets, after all.
- Mrs. Bovery (Valandarius' Doctor)
- Carl (Waponsmith)
- Craig (Town Guard)
- Eliza (Valandarius' Servant)
- Fetz (General Merchant)
- Kara (Valandarius' Servant)
- Lonnie (Armorsmith)
- Nilla (Prostitute)
- Osric Skanderbag (Deceased)
- Reman (Farmer)
- Respa (Dead Prostitute)
- Taylor (Tailor)
- Lord Valandarius (Gentleman)
- Winny (Dead Prostitute)
i Jixden has a high percentage of prostitutes, Nilla’s origin is unimportant but adds flavor.
ii Kentor’s origin city must be the same as Urslav, as the two have history together. His working for the Red Left Assassins means he identifies strongly with the plight of those oppressed by the Jixden Families rather than nobility.
iii The cats of Jixden have special importance to the city and some can speak. The relevancy of this cat is dependent on the campaign setting.
iv See note i about the Usury Guild’s legitimacy.
v The cities Urslav visited during his childhood are largely indicative of his current character but are a minor detail.
This section details the shops, merchants, and prices in Silverfox Mill. These are the places most adventurers rely on in a town for their various supplies though they may serve other plot-related functions.
This shop is clean and highly organized. Clearly labeled potions sit in triplicate upon shelves specially designed to keep the uniform bottles from falling. Pieces of dusty and outdated alchemical equipment gain a second life adorning the windowsill along with a large Persian cat.
The Alchemy shop is managed by Kentor who avoids and is avoided by Urslav. As such Kentor has not taken out any loans and the prices at his shop are reasonable and his stock is comprehensive. The drugs and poisons are kept in back, and only retrieved by Kentor if given the appropriate passphrase.
- Potions: Kentor has three of every minor potion and oil at 115% cost
- Poisons: Bloodroot, Blue Whinnis, Oil of Taggit, Medium Spider Venom (for special customers only, 130% cost)
- Drugs: Harlot Sweets, Opium, Slaver's Drops (for special customers only at 70% cost for first time users, 200% cost for repeat customers)
- Ingredients: any of 150 GP or less at 105% cost
You are barely able to step into this armory. The clutter about the floor extends up the walls, and rattles with the pounding of iron and steel.
The armory is run by Lonnie, a simple man who is not one for haggling as he knows he is not merchant-minded and soft at heart.
- Lonnie has all leather and hide armors for purchase at 150% cost. Padded, wooden and cloth armor is available by commission for 10% extra.
- Armor in good condition can be sold to Lonnie at 50% cost.
This general goods store has a very small selection, all neatly arranged and of good quality. A lean young girl plays about the shop, her duster dolls sweeping the floor as they dance.
General goods are sold by Fetz, a good natured man supporting a wife and daughter. Fetz was unfortunate enough to be changing careers from the town gravedigger to a local merchant when Urslav came to town, and was summarily fleeced. Fetz goods are of good quality, but his prices are unreasonable to compensate for his debts.
- Fetz’s stock consists of goods less than 25 GP priced at 180% cost.
- He will buy used goods in good condition at 20% value.
In addition to selling goods Fetz can be questioned about his time as a gravedigger he can provide the following information:
- Anna is buried in the Sarenrae temple.
- Grave-robbing has recently been a problem, with the thieving of whole bodies in addition to goods.
- Fetz gave up grave-digging because he ‘felt Anna watching’.
- Fetz can recall the lore regarding his profession; that the last soul buried in the graveyard is appointed to watch over Anna and seal away her magic.
This store is decorated with all manner of bells, chimes, and about a half dozen trip wires. Every inch of space between the goods is occupied by some sort of trap or contraption intended to foil would-be thieves.
Carl is the old proprietor of the weapon shop. Carl put down his hammer years ago, and lives off the stock he accumulated in his youth. Aware that his entire livelihood could be ruined by thieves he has become somewhat paranoid.
- Carl carries all simple weapons with a 40% chance of having a masterwork version. He has a 70% chance of having any martial weapon and 10% chance of having any exotic weapon.
- His prices are the only reasonable ones in town, buying goods at 60% cost and selling at 110%
Silverfox Mill is not overly devout, and recent hardships have taken their toll on attendance and tithes. The temple to Sarenrae is preferred by most townsfolk for their spiritual needs while the temple to Erastil takes care of more earthly concerns.
Temple to Erastil
While the sign proclaims this to be a temple to Erastil the simple brick facade devoid of spire or stained glass gives the appearance of a prison. Entering the chapel it quickly becomes clear this place of worship is also the town courthouse, and jail.
Father Basil is the custodian of the temple to Erastil and spends most of his time here. As its appearance indicates most of the worship conducted in these halls is legal in nature. Father Basil is the authority for settling disputes, overseeing estates, legalizing marriages, presiding over trials, and almost any other legal matter. When the jail cell is occupied, frequently by Seriph, the guard Titian is posted as night watch. Since the pair care nothing for each other their bickering can be heard throughout the building.
- Healing is 10 gold tithe per channel (1d6 positive energy to all in the party) up to 3 times per day.
Temple to Sarenrae
A half dozen Corinthian columns support the face of this whitewashed structure. A handsome young priest lectures in the well-kept grounds to a handful of women entirely uninterested in the sermon.
Father Adoran is the handsome young priest of Sarenrae, but despite the attentions of the town women he remains enamored with the faith and set on a life of celibacy. This is no coincidence as Adoran was raised as an orphan by priest Basil, and it is a well-known town secret that he is Basil's child. Adoran has only discovered this in recent years, but is determined to compensate for his impious birth.
- Healing is 10 gold tithe per channel (2d6 positive energy to all in the party) up to 5 times per day.
Beyond his healing services father Adoran is a valuable source of information. Though he will not break confidence unless it is an emergency he is very much aware of the history and social climate of the town.
- Adoran can confirm that Anna is buried in his graveyard, but he does not know where.
- Adoran has been receiving more parishioners since sightings of “Black Anna” have begun.
- Some brothel girls hold animosity against Claudia for her rejection of the new workers and hermonopolization of customers.
- Osric was not one for divine faith, but he was close to the alchemist Kentor.
- Father Adoran does not care for Kentor, as he believes him to be supplying some of the brothel girls with drugs.
There are very few service buildings in Silverfox Mill, but both the brothel and the Alabaster Cage are doing good business despite the economic downturn.
This cute little house could easily blend in with the dozens of others on the street if it were not for the windows covered in parchment and lit with candles. Beyond the soft glow vague shadows move to sultry music and erotic moans.
All possible patrons of the brothel are immediately approached by Claudia upon entering. While there is no pimp or headmistress Claudia is the oldest of the girls, and the most assertive in obtaining patrons. After an outbreak of scabies a few months after the usurers showed up the place has been fairly disease-free. The brothel has recently adopted a male prostitute (Lingan) who could not afford the interest on his farmland.
- 5 silver per girl per lay
Tavern/Inn – The Alabaster Cage
With decorative wrought iron bars over the windows the Alabaster Cage seems to be one of the few establishments in Silverfox Mill to escape the creeping poverty. Patrons come and go regularly, and drunks are shooed off the stoop by the proprietor. The sounds of a bard can be heard from within.
The Alabaster Cage is managed by Puck (on page 7). Customers rotate throughout the day, and being the only tavern in the town all manner of townsfolk bide their time listening to Puck.
- Lonnie the armorsmith (during evening)
- Titian the guard (during the noon when off duty)
- Claudia the prostitute (50% chance with Titian)
- Fetz the merchant (during evening, 10% chance)
- Three loud men playing cards
- One drunk in a corner
- Two guards talking
- 1d4 other patrons
The food and lodgings are of good quality and reasonable price.
10 sp per night for both room and board.
Ale is served at 2 copper per drink. (2 silver to buy a round for everyone)
This simple shanty on the outskirts of town has no windows. Guttering candles illuminate the interior piled with enough books and trinkets to put an eclectic wizard to shame.
Urslav can be found here at all hours, writing away in his ledger as though he never stopped. While it never appears as though there are guards around the place they are simply out of sight to give Urslav peace while he works.
The Tale of Black Anna
Anna’s parents were good people that knew how to raise their sons, but not their daughter. The knee-high girl ran wild through the forests rather than staying at home to help her mother.
It was in the deep of the wood that she found a fox caught in a trap. Now, little Anna saw the silver fur so soft and shining and wanted nothing more than to pet the creature.
“Mister Fox, what must I do to touch your soft fur?”
“You must free me, my girl, before the hunter comes to take me away.”
So the child freed the fox, which fled before the approaching hunter with narry a farewell. Standing guilty over the empty trap the angry hunter took her back to her parents for punishment. She was locked in the woodshed without supper, and for a girl as wild as she it was the worst of fates. It was late in the night when she heard a voice at the door.
“Why, little girl you are trapped. I will free you, but you must come and live with me in the woods. You will protect my people, you will teach us of traps and we will teach you of magic.”
Now, the little girl so young and so wild and hungry and angry accepted the offer. When her mother came for her with breakfast porridge she was nowhere to be found. From then on the hunters found their traps empty, and the beasts taught her wicked secrets. With neither mother nor father to teach her better she grew into a monster which terrorized the town for many years, stealing the souls of those who offended her and locking them in wooden bodies that did her bidding. When her mother and father died the townsfolk rose up, capturing her and hanging her on the apple tree in her brother’s yard.
So take care, little girls. Stay with your mother and accept your punishments with grace or you too may find yourself on the end of a rope.
The Terror of the Revenants
There are a number of Revenants, at least one in each major city though it is believed there may be more. The city is considered their territory, and all within their territory must offer fear if not respect. Every Revenant is unique, and immortal:
- Jixden is home to the Starving Cat. This white feline is said to steal away children, turning them into cats which serve as her eyes and ears throughout the city. As such a Jixdenite will never harm a cat.
- The Twain is not one, but two Revenants who make their home in the tower of Azura.
- Below Celtimark is the Hush, very little is known about her but Celkies will never begin a song without asking her blessing.
- The White Rabbit is the scourge of Okada, poisoning with a terrible wasting illness. A Livery will never accept sweets from a stranger. His true form is only ever seen by children; a pale man with pink eyes and a split upper lip.
- New Kentor is the domain of the Clacksman, though his true residence is in the ruins of Old Kentor.
Additional Ideas (1)
This is the first part of Silverfox Mill, the portion regarding plots and events is Part II and can be found under the Plots section of the citadel.
Silverfox Mill is part of the Etzem Campaign and as such is unfinished, lacking links and context for a number of things. Statistics are given with the pathfinder system in mind.
Some ideas have been taken from Tales of Terror and others have been taken from Strolen submissions. If you wish to link or receive credit simply comment below and I will create a link compilation at the end of this submission.