The Gygax 75 Challenge Week Four

The Gygax 75 Challenge Week Four

This challenge, popularized by the amazing Ray Otis, is drawn from an article written for Europa, a wargaming newsletter, in April of 1975 by Gary Gygax. You can download Ray’s challenge which includes the text of the original article here:

Ray has put this up as pay what you want, I hope you can donate at least a dollar to him but even if you are not able to please download the PDF as I am not going to reproduce his work here. My weekly entries will make more sense if you read the pamphlet. 

Week Four: The Town

This week we are to detail the town outside the dungeon. 

Our tasks this week:

1. Find or sketch out a city map.

2. Look at the equipment lists for your game.

3. Locate/describe at least five of the following in a short sentence. (Ray lists a number of things one would find in a town)

4. Create at least 5 NPCs each with a “DNA.” Ray explains DNA is a distinguishing trait, a need, and an agenda.

Extra Credit this week:

1. Create 4-5 hirelings or specialists

2. Generate 7-9 rumors that are going around the town

3. Describe stuff!

I am only going to detail one of the towns that the dungeon might appear at. 

For task one I’m going to use to generate my coastal city map.

The other tasks and extra credit are encapsulated in the following descriptions.

Prominent locations in the town.

1. The Wooden Raven. A rowdy tavern that respectable people avoid. This is a full service establishment that not only serves food and drink but also has rooms available on the second story, think the bar in American Ninja 2. The owner is a tough looking, tattooed lady named Marion who boosts she can out drink any man. Her father had been an adventurer and she grew up around adventurers and other interesting people. She has her finger on the pulse of the seedier side of things and it is said for the right price you can find anything at the Mermaid. 

2. The Bell. This is a popular tavern that is a little more friendly than the Mermaid. The Bell stays busy and has reasonably priced food. While it also has rooms available they are not only on the pricier side but often reserved. Arlo Arevenese, the owner, is willing to “break” a reservation for someone desperate to book a room but he will explain that he has to charge double because they will have to reimburse the party that had it reserved. Arlo is a large, if plain looking man whose wife is a beautiful, if slightly older, woman. She is rumored to spend money as fast as The Bell brings it in. She sponsors the Seaside Theater Company and likes to host balls for important visitors to the town. Rumor has it that the theater company’s performances are cursed and a small number of audiences members have disappeared each year for the past decade. This is denied by the theater company and the town guard. 

3. Horse & Bull Armory. This is a well stocked warehouse that sells every type of non-magical weapon and armor imaginable. If it isn’t in stock the proprietor, Samuel Hawken, and his team will make it for the customer. Higher quality weapons and unusually sized armor is available on a custom order basis. Hawken has an interest in Rico’s Roughnecks, a mercenary company he helped found, that is for hire. Clients interested in hiring the Roughnecks should start by contacting Hawken. The Roughnecks are selective in the jobs they take and require detailed contracts which they will follow to the letter. 

4. Temple of Set. This is the temple of the snake god, a cult that has grown in recent years as the leadership has appealed to the disenchanted youth. They have temples in every major city and even in some smaller towns. Basically the same as seen in 1982’s Conan the Barbarian (What do you mean you haven’t seen it?! Choke yourself! Not with your hand, with my hand!) The temple is said to house great riches. They do have an public office staffed with priests to answer inquiries and to perform healing and cure curses, for a price. 

5. Dr. Marvel’s Tinctures, Herbs, and Leeches. Dr. Marvel’s is a large three story building with an attached stable that has a number of medically related businesses operating out of it. Dr. Marvel manages the storefront on the ground floor and rents the upper floors to the other occupants. The ground floor is a market for all types of medical supplies, mostly non-magical in nature. The second floor is occupied by Theodoric the Barber, and his understudy York, who will perform surgeries, amputate limbs, fit artificial limbs, and do light dentistry. For a substantially increased fee they will perform house calls. The stable is run by Edward Wilbur who is known to be very good with  sick and injured animals. The windows on the third floor are usually shuttered and it is not open to the public. On stormy nights activity can occasionally be seen on the roof amidst the lightning flashes and rumor has it that even on calm nights you can often see lights of unusual color flash behind the shutters. 

Hirelings / Specialists in the town.

1. Rico’s Roughnecks are on the pricer side for mercenaries, hired men at arms, and caravan guards but have a great reputation. If a patron meets their approval but either can’t afford them or requires more menial hirelings (torchbearers, treasure haulers, or perhaps teamsters to manage animals and wagons) the Roughnecks have connections that can provide those services.   

2. The Temple of Set will hire out the equivalent of AD&D 1E 4th level clerics and fighters to go with adventuring parties for a price. Notably they are happy to hire to parties that are lower level than would normally be able to hire NPCs of that level. That price is not only double the rate listed for someone of that class and level but also the requirement for the body to be brought back if the hired priest or warrior is killed. Parties that have tried to cheat the Temple have disappeared in the past. If hired the priest or warrior will bravely fulfill all the required duties, they have accepted death, and will not withhold magic or cheat the party in any way. When they get back they will tell their superiors at the Temple everything they observed while they were with the party and if a body is brought back the Temple will use that to talk to the deceased’s spirit to get the same information. 

3. The local branch of the thieves guild can be contacted through the Wooden Raven and will hire out ‘specialists’ for double the standard rate. They also can provide loans. Loans can be secured with for a ‘lean’ against just about anything of value the inquirer has to include property or family members. The thieves guild is not above selling family members into slavery if they are not reimbursed and the interest rates on any loans are quite astronomic.  

4. The Society of Galen, a guild of wizards, maintains a tower in the city but it is only open to member’s of the guild. Guild members can use the research library, purchase spell components, scrolls and the occasional magic item here. There is also the small chance an apprentice will be available to accompany a party but they will be 1st level and the expectation is that they will be brought back alive. There are repercussions for guild members that take apprentices along just to get them killed. 


1. Dr. Marvel’s will buy monster, and non-monster, bodies and body parts if approached discreetly.  

2. Some of the members of the Seaside Theatrical Company have been seen going to the Temple of Set

3. There is a tribe of man eating, shaggy haired, white apes that live in the northern forest. 

4. If you want a love spell, blessing, or curse cast on someone it is said the Temple of Set can provide those services discreetly although often the price is more than just coin. 

5. The man that runs that stable at Dr. Marvel’s is said to be a druid and have a special affinity for animals. While he will care for abused animals it is said the animals tell him everything and often those abusive owners fall on bad times once they cross his path. 

6. Between theatrical productions it is said that underground fights are held at the Seaside Theater, the purses are supplemented by the bets placed on the floor and they are split down the middle between the theater company and the winner. It is not usual for participants to be crippled or killed in these events. 

7. Prince Barin, the lord of the castle in the mountains, has calculated the pattern in which the floating dungeon moves and is determined that his champions will be the first to succeed in the wizard’s challenge. 

8. There is a secret tunnel between the caves on the coast and the caves on the haunted isle but the tunnel is treacherous and protected by the dead. 

That is all for this week, next week we’ll take a look at the larger world. Until that time please be excellent to each other!

2 thoughts on “The Gygax 75 Challenge Week Four

    1. Good catch, it was originally the Mermaid and I changed it to the Wooden Raven for a cheap joke. I failed to replace that last Mermaid when I changed it.

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