Ghars was a small farming village turned market town in the Eastern Plains of Cormyr, near the Vast Swamp, in the mid–14th century DR.[1][2]

Geography[edit | edit source]

From Ghars, a trail ran east-north-east to Besert and then to Thunderstone.[3] Roads around Ghars linked the local farms to the town.[4][5] The town was over 60 miles (97 kilometers) away Wheloon, at least as the dragon flies.[4]

The surrounding lands were largely farmlands and swamps.[6] However, lying hidden in a valley some 10 miles (16 kilometers) to the southwest were the so-called Golden Ruins.[7]

Inhabitants[edit | edit source]

Circa 1367 DR, Ghars was home to around 1,200 people.[1]

Government[edit | edit source]

Ghars was governed by a mayor; in the mid-1360s DR, this was Mayor Tobald. He seemed to do little more than kiss babies and cut ribbons to open new stores.[8] The nominal lord of the town was Lord Sarp Redbeard, who was the lord of Wheloon. Grodoveth served as an envoy between King Azoun IV, Redbeard, and Tobald.[4]

Trade[edit | edit source]

Ghars was a market town serving the surrounding farms.[9] Local farmers came to sell their produce here. From there, to ensure they could be sold fresh, fruits and vegetables such as radishes were taken on fast coaches with frequent horse changes to have them arrive in Marsember or Suzail. In Suzail, they were often marketed as "Hultail's best", despite never going through there.[1][4] Barthelm Meadowbrock, the wealthiest merchant in town, owned a fleet of swift of wagons for this trade.[4]

Barley, oats, and wheat were milled in Ghars and transported more slowly to Hultail, and then to Wheloon via barge. The grist mill was driven by oxen, owing to the limited water supply.[1] It was also owned by Barthelm Meadowbrock.[4]

Ghars was also home to the skilled smith Aunsible Durn, who forged agriculture tools like horseshoes, plowshares, and scythes, and even various polearms. People traveled for miles to purchase his wares, or at the least the tools.[1]

There was a messenger service for delivering messages.[4]

Defenses[edit | edit source]

Owing to the threat of raiders out of the nearby Vast Swamp, Ghars was garrisoned with a sizeable force of the Purple Dragons. They also served as a police force and were considered unbiased and uncorruptible.[1] In the 1360s DR, they were commanded by Captain Flim.[10]

…so that we can do our bit, if the realm should—gods on their thrones forbid—be invaded.
— One local "squire" on his armed workers[1]

Local farmers with a bit of wealth to spare liked to outfit their workers with bills, halberds, and pikes from Aunsible Durn. Purportedly, this was to have a militia in the event of attack, but many folk in the area thought this just an excuse to have a rough-and-ready honor guard to parade around while the would-be squires wore their fancy armor at weddings and festivals.[1][4]

History[edit | edit source]

Once a village threatened by raiders from the Vast Swamp, the arrival of a Purple Dragon garrison and sundry other services helped Ghars grow into a market town by the 1360s DR.[1]

In the Year of the Staff, 1366 DR, the retired War Wizard Benelaius moved into a cottage outside Ghars, becoming a subject of much speculation.[8]

By the start of autumn in the Year of the Shield, 1367 DR, Ghars was suffering a drought, having gone tendays without rain. Many wells dried up, crops were meagre, and farmers worried about their finances.[9] The farmland was left dry and hard. An idea was floated to irrigate the farmland with water from the Vast Swamp, but many feared it poisonous, if not likely to turn a drinker into a lizardfolk.[11] Thus, what water remained was stored in a newly built public cistern managed by Khlerat. Meanwhile, at the arrangement of Barthelm Meadowbrock, Cormyr's Merchants' Guild was set to hold its Grand Council there, which puffed up local merchants and drew agents of the Iron Throne and Zhentarim; the Purple Dragons arrested one of the former and two of the latter in two months. Furthermore, townsfolk (typically farmers returning late from market and patrons leaving the newly opened Swamp Rat tavern) reported seeing the axe-wielding ghost of the bandit chieftain Fastred in the land east of the town, northwest of the Vast Swamp. It was the talk of the town; some thought it real, others a fake.[9][4] Adding to the danger, unbeknownst to all, a rogue hydra out of the swamp prowled the roads at night, pursuing riders.[12]

I don't know what was more alarming that autumn in Ghars—the drought, the roving agents of the Zhentarim and the Iron Throne, the ghost, or the upcoming visit of the Grand Council of Cormyr's Merchants' Guild. In retrospect, I guess it was the murders.
— Opening to Jasper's account of events in Eleint, 1367 DR.[9]

Finally, on Eleint 17, blacksmith's assistant Dovo was found murdered and to have been impersonating the ghost all along.[13] Captain Flim of the Purple Dragons garrison, Mayor Tobald, and Doctor Braum examined the scene[10] and Mayor Tobald appointed Benelaius, his servant Jasper, and active War Wizard Lindavar as magistrates to investigate the crime.[14] But the next day, king's envoy Grodoveth was also found dead, and in Fastred's tomb.[15] Meanwhile, townsfolk cleaned up, beautified, and hung banners, garlands, and wreaths in preparation for the Merchants' Guild visit.[16] That night, the visiting adventuress Kendra slew the hydra and rescued Jasper from its maws.[12] Merchants' Guild members and their retinues arrived mid-afternoon of Eleint 19. Mayella Meadowbrock, Barthelm's daughter, presented each with their gifts and Barthelm gave a welcome speech. The Sheaf of Wheat hosted a grand reception that night.[17] Finally, Benelaius had Captain Flim and the Purple Dragons round up a number of suspects and escort them to a midnight meeting at his cottage. There, he exposed Mayor Tobald as the murderer of Dovo and Grodoveth as part of an Iron Throne spy ring, using Dovo's Fastred disguise as a cover. Moreover, he revealed Tobald's attempting to assassinate the Merchants' Guild Grand Council—and incidentally the town's entire population—by poisoning the water cistern with blackweed. This was all to sabotage Cormyr's economy to the benefit of the Iron Throne and Sembia. The plot was foiled and Tobald escaped into the Vast Swamp, where the real ghost of Fastred caused him to drown.[18] The drought finally broke the next day, Eleint 20, with rain coming heavily.[19]

Ghars still stood in 1479 DR.[3]

Description[edit | edit source]

Before Hesketh Pratt opened the Swamp Rat, Shortshanks's tavern was the only game in town for those who wanted an informal atmosphere in which to drink, since the Silver Scythe and the Sheaf of Wheat concentrate more on Ghars's definition of "fine dining," which basically means food that won't bite back.
— Jasper's restaurant reviews[4]

Jasper, no fan of his home town, described it as an "unspeakably weary little town"[8] and "the dullest spot in Cormyr"[20] and just shabby and sleepy.[16]

The town lacked a good supply of water, instead getting what it needed from wells.[1] During the 1367 drought, a cistern was built on the west side; a huge barrel raised on stilts, it was the tallest structure in town. All available water from wells was taken here.[4]

Ghars had a town hall, to which was attached a small public library.[21]

Notable Locations[edit | edit source]

Aunsible Durn's smithy
Sheaf of WheatSilver ScytheSwamp Rat
Bold Bard

Notable Inhabitants[edit | edit source]

Appendix[edit | edit source]

Appearances[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 Ed Greenwood (July 1995). Volo's Guide to Cormyr. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 182–183. ISBN 0-7869-0151-9.
  2. Chet Williamson (July 1998). Murder in Cormyr. (TSR, Inc.). ISBN 0-7869-0486-0.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Brian R. James (July 2008). “Backdrop: Cormyr” (PDF). In Chris Youngs ed. Dragon #365 (Wizards of the Coast), p. 18. Archived from the original on 2018-11-23. Retrieved on 2020-03-02.
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 Chet Williamson (July 1998). Murder in Cormyr. (TSR, Inc.), chap. 5, pp. 25–31. ISBN 0-7869-0486-0.
  5. Chet Williamson (July 1998). Murder in Cormyr. (TSR, Inc.), chap. 8, p. 46. ISBN 0-7869-0486-0.
  6. Chet Williamson (July 1998). Murder in Cormyr. (TSR, Inc.), chap. 9, p. 53. ISBN 0-7869-0486-0.
  7. Richard Baker, Bruce R. Cordell, David Noonan, Matthew Sernett, James Wyatt (March 2007). Cormyr: The Tearing of the Weave. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 151, 152. ISBN 978-0-7869-4119-3.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Chet Williamson (July 1998). Murder in Cormyr. (TSR, Inc.), chap. 2, p. 6. ISBN 0-7869-0486-0.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Chet Williamson (July 1998). Murder in Cormyr. (TSR, Inc.), chap. 1, pp. 1–2. ISBN 0-7869-0486-0.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Chet Williamson (July 1998). Murder in Cormyr. (TSR, Inc.), chap. 10, pp. 59–60. ISBN 0-7869-0486-0.
  11. Chet Williamson (July 1998). Murder in Cormyr. (TSR, Inc.), chap. 21, p. 135. ISBN 0-7869-0486-0.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Chet Williamson (July 1998). Murder in Cormyr. (TSR, Inc.), chaps. 16–17, 25, pp. 10–104, 158–160. ISBN 0-7869-0486-0.
  13. Chet Williamson (July 1998). Murder in Cormyr. (TSR, Inc.), chap. 10, p. 55. ISBN 0-7869-0486-0.
  14. Chet Williamson (July 1998). Murder in Cormyr. (TSR, Inc.), chap. 12, p. 71. ISBN 0-7869-0486-0.
  15. Chet Williamson (July 1998). Murder in Cormyr. (TSR, Inc.), chap. 20, pp. 126–129. ISBN 0-7869-0486-0.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Chet Williamson (July 1998). Murder in Cormyr. (TSR, Inc.), chap. 23, p. 144. ISBN 0-7869-0486-0.
  17. Chet Williamson (July 1998). Murder in Cormyr. (TSR, Inc.), chap. 28, pp. 178–181. ISBN 0-7869-0486-0.
  18. Chet Williamson (July 1998). Murder in Cormyr. (TSR, Inc.), chaps. 29–32, pp. 184–215. ISBN 0-7869-0486-0.
  19. Chet Williamson (July 1998). Murder in Cormyr. (TSR, Inc.), chaps. 33, 37, pp. 218, 245–246. ISBN 0-7869-0486-0.
  20. Chet Williamson (July 1998). Murder in Cormyr. (TSR, Inc.), p. 4. ISBN 0-7869-0486-0.
  21. Chet Williamson (July 1998). Murder in Cormyr. (TSR, Inc.), chap. 13, p. 74. ISBN 0-7869-0486-0.
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