Add-In # 6: The House of Tears

Looming over the city, like a strict schoolmaster, it’s thick stonemasonry decorated by giant statues that at one time, were constructed to give the residence hope and freedom, yet in these dark days the white structure has become a dull grey, blackroot has taken ground and creeps and clings over the giant structure. This is the Royal Magistrate Building, however the locals and the workers now refer to it’s more common name, the House of Tears.

The House of Tears

This superstructure and it’s companion building, the Black Tower, so called because of the black creeper weed is firmly latched upon its walls, is the law. Taxes are paid here, and those that cannot pay them will call these walls their final place of rest . . . If they are lucky.

Evil has taken over this foundation, if this is not right for your campaign, then feel free to change the alignments to better suit what you need. Law is also handled differently from world to world, the following text is but one suggestion among thousands of possibilities, ultimately this is yours.

For this piece, law shall be run by Magistrates, local professionals who have been honored by the King. Magistrates meet once a month to pass judgment upon those who have broken the law, justice in this building is harsh. Simple thievery can be punishable by death, as can lesser infractions. There are other punishments which will be described elsewhere. This is not modern law, it isn’t kind and it isn’t fair. Prisoners can be locked away into the dungeon and it can take years for the magistrate to even get to your case. Confessions are obtained through torture, many times, what you were originally locked up for is forgotten, however the magistrate will still find you guilty. If you do see a trial, you are not allowed to speak for yourself, if someone wishes to speak up for you, then they can do this. You get no legal council, no lawyer. Money and Land are your best way out, however the Magistrate can take all of this from you with a simple nod of his wig.

In dealing with PC criminals, the more famous that they are, the better their chances are of escaping with their lives. How much they resisted arrest will be factored in, they could be judged innocent of the original charge, however be guilty for killing or causing bodily harm to his majesties men. A good factor in speed and pull is the characters level. A PC can see a trial in 1d12 months, minus their level of experience. Thus if a 6th level character rolls a 10, he will see trial in 4 months.

The trial itself, will always be prosecuted by his majesties clerk. He is the only official Lawyer there, and he will always fight tooth and nail to see the plaintiffs hang. This man is a genius and remembers everything, he is also highly charismatic. Those that wish to speak for the defense of their allies, may be forced to make a charisma check against him, a very harsh gamble. Other players should be judged fairly and justly, but if you, the DM feel that their defense is weak, then the life of the prosecuted could hang in the balance of a single roll of the dice.

This building is highly protected, the station guards are all elite men who have been hand picked by the Royal Commander from thousands of soldiers. All troops are at least 5th level or better, they are armed with swords, shields, and plate armor. Tower guards are armed with heavy crossbows and chain mail armor. Their Alignments are all the same, Lawful Neutral. They will do anything that their superiors instruct them to do, regardless of how tasteless or benevolent this chore may be.

Local troops bring all prisoners here and all are subjected to the authority of the Commander. Local troops are basic soldiers of 1st level and up. There are three different classes of patrol troops. Stationary guards protect the city gates, and other areas, these are the Commanders Elite Troops described above, they enforce taxes, and the boundaries. Mobile Units are either 1st or 2nd level soldiers armed with long swords and spears, and protected by chain mail armor, and patrol the city streets in small units of 1d6+4. Above them is the cavalry: 3rd-7th level soldiers mounted on horseback armed with either maces or heavy crossbows, and all carry long swords as well. Mounted Cavalry wear studded leather armor, and command 3-8 mobile troops with the ability to call more if they are needed.

Troops are paid for prisoners that they bring to the House of Tears, thus they will only kill if they have no other choice. Once a suspect is contained, he will be shackled and the highest ranking soldier will bring them to the Black Tower where the Commander’s men will pay the soldier and process the suspect. The suspect will be relieved of all of the goods that he is carrying: weapons, armor, and valuables will be taken to the House of Tears for safe keeping, while the prisoner is escorted down to the Dungeon where he must wait his turn to see the magistrate for his punishment. After a few weeks, the prisoner will be asked if he has any property of value, he may be able to buy his freedom here if his offence was not to harsh. If the prisoner has no property of value, then he will be at the mercy of the Magistrate. At this point, the jailer will also ask the prisoner for a confession, if one his not given then he will be taken to the torture chamber. On the day before punishment, he will be taken down the mile, and be placed in a secured cell within the walls of the House of Tears itself, if the Magistrate get to his case then he will be moved into the court, if not, he goes back into the dungeon.

In the court, the Royal clerk will pull the prisoner’s case (if he has one) and state to the magistrate what offense the prisoner had committed, at this time the prisoner’s friend or family is given the opportunity to approach the bench and plead the prisoner’s case, the clerk will then become prosecutor and say whatever it takes to get the prisoner to be judged guilty. If the magistrate wishes to speak to the accused, it will always be in the form of torture, conducted within the walls of the House of Tears itself, this is done to get further information which the magistrate believes the prisoner to know.

Under no circumstances should the prisoner, or the defense ever say, or suggest that the prisoner is innocent, this will only anger the magistrate as they believe (and enforce all to believe) that they are infallible and are never wrong. Prisoners are never judged innocent, they are either released, returned to the dungeon, or (the preferred method) executed. Those condemned to the gallows will be placed in a giant holding cell right there in the courtroom, Those released will be taken to the holding area were they will be fined accordingly, their property returned to them if so ordered by the magistrate, and eventually released. Those that are to be returned to the dungeon area because of the magistrate being unable to judge one way or the other of what to do, will be tossed into a cell and forgotten about, unless by pure accident. Other punishments include, but certainly not limited to slavery. The House of Tears sells broken prisoners at a local auction twice a year. Unclaimed property which hasn’t turned up missing is also auctioned off quarterly, unsold items are sold for scrap.

Above all else, The House of Tears is a business, it is there to make money and this it does very well.

LAYOUT



HOUSE OF TEARS 1st Floor

Front Gate

Three giant oak doors lead into the building itself, these doors are defended by 2 elite guards armed with pole-arms, swords, and plate armor. This job is highly desired by the men, as it is a great honor to serve this post. These guards are highly decorated with lavish red caps and matching colors.

A. Commoner’s Area

A1. The Grand Hall

In it’s grandeur, it was desired by it’s original architects to give the common man a rich and beautiful area to enjoy and take pride in. Giant statues of gods and goddess of wealth and law stand proudly, however the cursed black creeper weed has infiltrated this once grand hall, and it climbs the walls and statues here as well. Workers try to clear it away, however it just seems to come back even stronger, it is now contained, and doesn’t appear to be spreading, though it has done much damage, squeezing these once proud idols to the point were many are broken or cracked. During the day, this room is filled with people who have business to do here. Elite guards stand at attention by the main doors, and also guard the massive spiral stairway to the second level, however these guards are dressed for functional reasons, verses ceremonial as their compatriots manning the front doors. Swords, shields, and beat up plate armor protect these men who see more action in this room then those whom patrol the streets outside. Those who seek money enjoy this dangerous post. Outbursts are common, and while these men are paid well, they will earn every last silver of it with blood.

A2. Commander Thorinus’s Office

The desk is exposed to the Grand Hall, and serves two purposes. First, arms are not allowed beyond the grand hall, those who break this law will be either arrested or slain. All arms must be checked in at this point, while there the Commander’s Secritary will check to make sure that the Duty for the weapon has been paid, or the owner will be subject to arrest. Secondly, complaints can be filed at this point. If an arrest is made, the reporter will be paid. This is big business in the city, and a thorn as well. Neighbors watch each other and report even the most minor infractions hoping to get some coin out of it. The commander has so many cases that he could not possibly follow up on all of them, however he does his duty to the best of his ability. The commander himself is rarely at this station, he is usually elsewhere, and trusts this to highly skilled men and women who can read and write.

A3. Taxation Desk

In this city, there are many taxes that must be paid, even by visitors. An entrance tax is always collected at the city gates, but visitors are instructed to first report to the Taxation Desk before any other action. Here the city clerk will tax all arms carried, the tax can be subject to the DM’s whims if he wishes to repair damage done to his campaign by giving them too much money, but normally the weapons tax is 1cp per 1gp that the item is worth. Other taxes include taxes for mounts, henchmen, and, depending on what business has led the adventurers to the city, and Adventuring Tax which will also include 1-10% of wealth earned while within city limits. Locals are subjected to many other taxes for property, and business, normally 10% of worth, plus taxable income. Needless to say that a lot of money is kept here, and is protected around the clock accordingly. Much of it will go to the King, and to maintaining the city and the garrison but there is always a small leek in funds that turns up missing as well.

B. Hall of Services

This hallway is lit by lantern, the black creeper weed has crawled in this part of the House, but only slightly. Thin black veins of the weed line the white stone floor and thick grey stoned walls. All pictures and art have been removed from the walls to protect them from harm.

B1. Offices of the city clerk

This room is packed with desks, and all manned by very smart men. They are available to the public to provide help with mathematics if need be (this is of course a trick, this allows the clerk to insure that the correct tax is always applied). All items and money is recorded here, as well as who owns what, the size of all properties in and around the city. Copies of land deeds and titles. A vast wealth of knowledge is stored here. If a seller wishes to sale property, both he and the buyer must do so here, mediated by a city clerk. All small claims complaints can be handle here, as long as both parties show up. If there is enough money involved in a small claims case, then the clerk can issue a warrant to have the other party appear against their will with an escort.

B2. City Library

This library is not public, however the public can pay to get access to the tomes and scrolls which it contains. The library is run by a Librarian whom is a sage as well. The books are mostly in regards to law and history, however there are some here which are questionable as they are written in a text that so far hasn’t been translated, however they are kept here because of their age and value. Wizards may find a spell or two here if they wish to pay to have access to the library. It’s primary purpose is to aid the Magistrate in answering tough judgments based on what has taken place in the past.

C. Magistrate Quarters

Only public officials and their servants are allowed in this area. A private entrence gives them easy access as well as a private carriage houses (not shown). The original number of Magistrates use to be greater, however misfortune has taken a severe toll upon their numbers, taking them down to only 3. A private stairway gives them access to the courtroom directly overhead on the second floor.

C1. Magistrate Chambers

This area offers a quiet place for the Magistrate to work and relax. It features a decorated fireplace, thickly padded chairs, a fully stocked bar, and places to sit and work. Luxury is the best word for it, and no notes can ever be taken here. What is said in this room, stays in this room. Rarely are individuals brought here, unless one of the Magistrates has some special business which he doesn’t want to ever leave this room. A door also provides quick access to the Library, but the most valuable books are kept in this room.

C2. Magistrate Quarters

This area is where the Magistrate get dressed, it has a privy as well as a sink for washing.

C3. Dressing Rooms

Magistrates, while on duty, wear lavish powdered wigs, as well as apply more powder on their faces, with some lip paint. They wear long black robes over clothing. Lord Hawthorn is currently the head Magistrate, he wears a wide decorative white collar around his neck, while the two Squires have none. In court, they all have an equal say, but it is the head Magistrate that ultimately sets the punishments, it is also his job to see that Justice is carried out on a regular basis (monthly).

D. Prisoners Hall

Those who are arrested for such minor offences such as drunkenness, or brawling are taken here. Prisoners who are to be released are also brought here for processing while their property is located, as will those awaiting the gallows. A wooden desk separates the clerk from the prisoners, all misconduct on the prisoners part will be handled with lethal force while in this area.

D1. The Tank

This large holding cell is, on regular business days, used for a drunk tank. They will be held no longer then 12 hours and then released again. On Magistrate day, however, all drunkenness and brawling is ignored, those that are still in the tank are released immediately. Those that have been sent to the gallows will fill up this giant cell and wait for the magistrates to make their way to the square so that they can witness the executions. Executions are public matters, and most everybody in the city will attend them gleefully, and with much fanfare.

D2. Clerks Passage

This small, cramped corridor is secured with lock and men of the best quality. If a prisoner is released, the clerk will go collect the prisoners belongings which are kept in the treasury. This will take a couple of hours or days depending on the objects. The clerk will then take the valuables back and make the prisoner sign for them, or what was there. This clerk will deduct the proper amount of fine from objects of value before the prisoner is released, if the prisoner cannot pay his fine, then surely his defense could (else he wouldn’t be released) once this fine has been paid then the prisoner is escorted out a free man.


D3. Spare Holding Cell

Freedom is such a rare thing, that normally they can get away with just using one cell for this purpose, however if need be, this cell is available as well. Spiders haunt this room, as it so rarely sees any use. Violent drunks sometimes get tossed in here if they anger the clerk with their rowdiness.

D4. South Gate

This small hall provides double protection against escape attempts. Those condemned to hang may try their last ditch efforts to freedom at this point . . . it always fails. Once a prisoner has been condemned to the gallows, he will always make the appointment, even if he is already dead.

D5. Freedom’s Door

This small filthy holding cell will be the prisoners last reminder of this place before freedom. He normally assumes that he will be released immediately, however his hopes to this will be dashed when he is violently thrown into this cell to await his property, and final processing. If the fine cannot be paid in 24 hours, the prisoner is then returned to the dungeon permanently.

2nd Floor

E1. Foyer

This large foyer is decorated with paintings of the current magistrates as well as magistrates of the past. A large spiral stair leads to the Grand Hall. A posh rug covers the center of the floor, however the echoes in this place are still unnerving. Benches and stools line the walls.

E2. Treasure Room

Large chests and lockers fill this room, this is were the lords overflow of taxes are kept. Most of it is money, however there are some items here being kept safe as they have been judged as “to dangerous for an unready public”.

F. Magistrate Court

This large room is the heart and soul of the building and is always heavily guarded while in use.

F1. Witness Box

The area designated to the public. Witnesses are expected to sit in this area until called upon. Highly lacquered wooden benches provide seating. A matching gate surrounds the box to keep the courtroom clear, and to separate the public from officials and prisoners.

F2. Witness Stand

A set of stairs leads up to the witness stand from the box. Witness’s are allowed to stand here only once called upon. It stands 5 feet above the courtroom floor.

F3. Prisoners Stand

Prisoners are led to this stand one at a time and kept in irons. Prisoners are not allowed to speak, this stand gives the magistrate a chance to see the prisoner.

F4. Gallows Cage

Condemned prisoners are placed in this pen of reinforced steel bars to await their fate. Unruly prisoners are beaten mercilessly if their cries are judged to be too loud.

F5. Magistrate Bench

Ten Chairs sit behind a shared desk, however most chairs are left vacant. Magistrate view prisoners and listen to witnesses. It is here that they pass their judgments and conduct official business.

G. Magistrate Hall

The Magistrate are the only people who are allowed to use this hall. It links the chambers to the courtroom as well as provides access to interrogation chamber.

G1. Interrogation Chamber

This cold room is lined with cells and features a torture chamber. It is used for extracting information which the Magistrate feels is being suppressed by prisoners, though some say that this is where the magistrate goes to get their entertainment.

G2. Prisoners Hall

This hall is highly secured with guards posted at each door, it is cut into 3 separate and secured halls that lead from the Courtroom to the Black Tower.

H. Upper Freedom Hall

Those who are judged innocent are led to this room to wait in cells (H2) until they can be escorted down to lower Freedom Hall (D).

H1. The Mile

This room is where prisoners will be led to either freedom hall, or to their deaths. It is also used for an overflow cell if the gallows cage is full, or if a prisoners cries won’t be controlled by beating. Sometimes, executions are handled in this room, especially if the magistrate wishes for these special cases to disappear quietly.

H2. Freedom Cells

Those who await transfer to lower Freedom Hall wait here until the condemned are dealt with. At times, prisoners who have been judged to be expelled from the city are instead quietly executed in the Mile.

BLACK TOWER

Black Tower Rooftop

A large bell is located here, a timekeeper strikes the bell hourly. A flag pole also is used to alert the city to special events. A crank that operates the Black Tower Gate is operated from the roof as well.

3rd Level

G2. Prisoner’s Hall

This area is used to hold prisoners who may appear before the magistrate. Prisoners are brought here from the dungeon a day or two before Magistrate day. Cells are broken down in 5 blocks for the convenience of the clerks who order guards to fetch them. Royal prisoners do not have to endure this. There is no natural light in this area, prisoners are kept in the dark until they see the magistrate. Guardsmen use torches for light.

G3. Secure Room

As a security measure, a small room separates the stairs from the Prisoner’s hall.

2nd Floor

I. Black Tower Hall

This hall is used by both prisoner and workers alike. A small room separates the Kitchen from special cell area.

I1. Armory

Extra weapons and arms are kept in this area. Personal valuables owned by the soldiers are kept locked in secured chests in this room as well.

I2. Dry Storage

Foodstuff and water is kept in this area. Food quality for prisoners is terrible, and that for the soldiers is only slightly better.

I3. Kitchen

Food is prepared here by a cook, servants deliver food to where it is supposed to go.

14. Special Prisoners Cells

The High Class will be allowed to stay out of the dungeon. These cells each have windows that allow light in. Food is usually still hot when it is brought forward as well. These cells will always see the Magistrate before anyone else.

I5. Royal Cell

This is a very comfortable cell used to keep Gentlemen and Ladies of Noble Birth.

Ground Level

J. Entrance Way

The entrence to the Black Tower is controlled by a thick Gate which is usually kept open, but protected by armed soldiers at all times. Prisoners are lead to the staircase and taken down to the dungeon.

J1. Commander’s Quarters

Currently the room of Commander Thorinus. He sleeps and works in this room which is decorated with his personal effects. Thorinus is in command of both Jailors and Soldiers. He hires freelance soldiers when he doesn’t want to use his own men.

J2. Barracks Hall

Men are fitted for armor and other effects in this large room. They also gather here to be assigned to their duties.

J3. Barracks Armory

Weapons and fitted armor are kept in this room for easy access to the men.

J4. Jailor’s Barracks

This room contains beds for off-duty Jailors who wish to stay onsite. The Executioner also can prepare and stay here if he is from out of town.

J5. Mess Hall

Hall designated for eating and relaxing by all soldiers and jailors.

J6. Soldiers Barracks

Soldiers bunks fill up this room and can house as many men as it requires. Many soldiers are local and live at their own homes, however this room is available to all soldiers who require it and many do take advantage of it.

Black Tower Dungeon

All doors on this level are made of either thick oak (average door) or steel (cell door).

K. Dungeon Level Staircase

L. Hall of Screams

This cell lined corridor is always lit by torches which hang on the walls. Prisoners who are scheduled to be interrogated (i.e. tortured) are kept in this unit. All of the cells (L1) which are in use are lit by lamps secured from the ceilings. Prisoners who await torture can easily here those ahead of them. To aid in the clean up of the torture chamber and in this area, these prisoners are not fed or watered for at least 24 hours prior to interrogation.

M. Central Block

This hall is always monitored, prisoners here share a cell with up to four others. The hall is lit only by the guard on duty who carries a torch. None of the cells are lit. Hay lines the floor of the cells, as well as vermin. These prisoners are fed and watered twice a day.

N. West Hall

There are no cells on this hall, and this hall is well lit at all times. All guards on duty must report to the Captain of the Dungeon Guards in his office (N1) every half an hour. The Office is a dank room lit by lamps with a table and a couple of chairs in it. A locked trunk holds extra weapons in case of emergency. A map of the dungeon is updated daily (or at least it is suppose to be.)

O. South Block

All Cells on South Block are communal, up to 30 people can be tossed into these nightmare chambers. The cells in South Block are all 10 feet lower then the rest of the dungeon, the ground is usually flooded. The South Block hall is always kept dark, and lit only by the guard doing his patrol. Extra prisoners can be manacled to the wall here if room is needed, or if a prisoner keeps acting up.

P. East Hall

This hall contains the Dead Room (P1) prisoners who die either during interrogation or before they can go before the magistrate are wrapped up in cloth and thrown in this pit. A local contractor gathers the bodies once a month. Also on this hall is the torture chamber (P2). A rack, an Iron Maiden, and a spiked hot seat dominate this room. The tools of the torturer line the walls, a small desk sits in the corner along with a book and writing supplies so that the prisoners testimonies can be written down immediately.

Q. North Block

Cells identical to those on Central Block line the South wall, while on the North wall is the doom cells. These are small crypt-like cells that confine the prisoner in a laying down position with no room to move or change position. For some unknown reason, these cells are hotter then blazes, and the air here is staler then usual. Those whom the magistrate wishes to simply forget are kept here. The life expectancy in these horrible crypts is 3 months of pure agony and terror, however for good measure, they are only emptied when a new tenant moves in. Each crypt can hold 2 prisoners.

PERSONALITIES

Lord Hawthorn AC 10; HD 0; hp 3
#AT 1; dmg 1d4 (poison dagger);
THAC0 20; SA Type E Poison; INT 16; AL LE
ML 8; XP 65

Lord Hawthorn is a tall, grim looking man of a mature age. When not on duty, he is a very wealthy merchant whom is in charge of most of the shipping in the city. He prefers dark, black clothing, even while not on duty, and always uses his title to his advantage. If pressed into combat, a very hard thing to do as deep down Hawthorn is a coward, he will make only one attack. His method is always the same, he will cower and beg for mercy, if he sees an opening he will attempt to strike out with his poisoned dagger. Lord Hawthorn will cry and promise anything until a guard arrives, at which time he will end this ruse and demand his attacker to be arrested.

Commander Thorinus (10th Lvl Fighter): AC 3; HD 10; hp 57
#AT 2/1; dmg 1d8 (Bastard Sword); THAC0 11; SA specialized
w/ one handed bastard sword; AL LN; ML 14; XP1,400

Commander Thorinus is a battle hardened master of war, he dislikes serving his time behind a desk. He is rarely out of his uniform which consist of splint mail. He keeps his grey beard trimmed, and his long hair tied up. He is a gruff person who dislikes people who waste his time, which is often. There is always something that Thorinus thinks that he is doing, and he is a master of the art of looking incredibly busy. In Combat, Thorinus is fearsome. He is specialized with the one handed bastard sword, which grants him +1 to attack and +2 to damage. Thorinus always fights with a shield which he sometimes uses as a weapon to sap his opponent. He is a no nonsense fighter who will take his opponent out as quickly as possible, be it crippling or killing he doesn’t care.

Because of the size of this add-in, and to fit inside of any ongoing campaign, much of the NPC’s are left to you to fill out as you see fit.


SCENARIO SUGGESTIONS

Scenario #1: The Party is hired by Commander Thorinus to capture a bounty who has escaped the city. This character could have incriminating evidence against Lord Hawthorn, and they want to silence them, or it could be a legitimate bad guy.

Scenario #2: The party is given the powers of Magistrate to investigate the death of a Lord, while there they must enter the circle of Lord Hawthorn, collect evidence of his criminal misdoings, and some how survive long enough to bring the man to justice.

Scenario #3: A treasure map has been discovered, and the only entrance to the game dungeon, is through a secret tunnel hidden somewhere in the dungeon itself.

Clearly this add-in is an adventure all in itself, and can be used to serve many functions to the DM, from relieving PC’s of treasure in the form of taxes, to enforcing the laws of the realm.



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