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5E 5th Edition and Cormyr: Flexing My Idea Muscle and Thinking Out Loud

Jeremy E Grenemyer

What Was Old Ostra Up To?

Ostramagarus the merchant has retired to Waymoot, in Cormyr.

1. How did he make his coins?

By anticipating shortages of goods and being first to market to end the shortage.

Later in his merchant career he began to engineer short-term shortages of goods, then swooped in with his own carts full of the hard-to-find item, which was sold at a premium.

2. How was he first to market?

He used trade agents ("factors") to find and hire adventurers, rangers, and explorers to plumb the wilds on either side of a major trade road within a few days ride from a settlement, in order to find abandoned towers, farmsteads, simple "four square" keeps and other ruins.

3. How did he use these locations?

Ostra's factors paid handsomely for the ruins to be thoroughly explored, cleared out of dangers and mapped.

The factors hired sellswords to work as guards at these locations and paid them to keep safe goods that Ostra anticipated the nearby settlement would soon run short of (and later, goods that he caused a settlement to run out of by buying up all the goods himself).

4. Did the guards stay after the goods they watched over were picked up and sold?

No. The guards were paid to haul the goods to the trade road, load them onto waiting wagons and for escort to the nearby settlement. Once in town their term of service was complete.

5. What did Ostra sell?

Anything and everything, including monsters.

6. Where did he find monsters to sell?

Most of them were bred by followers of Malar in Cormyr, where such breeding is allowed (and strictly regulated by the Crown).

7. Did Ostra keep monsters himself?

Yes and no. Ostramagarus never kept monsters as pets or as guardians of his personal residences (he called more than one location home, having purchased rooms in Cormyr and Sembia, and in the free city of Elversult south of the Dragon Coast), but he did instruct his factors to release recently-purchased monsters into the ruins he used to temporarily hold goods.

8. How were the beasts kept from slaying the guards of Ostra's goods?

For a stiff fee, Malarite breeders can train certain lair-dwelling monsters to obey a few one-word commands.

Ostra's sellswords needed only to deliver the goods to the now monster-guarded ruin, and the beast (or beasts) living their did the work of guarding the goods while the sellswords camped nearby.

9. Were the monsters left behind?

Yes, to act as guardians of the ruin when it wasn't being used.

10. So now that Ostra is retired...

Ostra chose to retire abruptly. He gave no warning to his factors, though many of them had served him for a decade and more. When word arrived, some factors chose to retire as well (after selling Ostra's goods and property under their control, keeping the coins paid for it all) while others chose to take over Ostra's business in whatever city they were based. Ostra had renounced his claim to all that he owned save for what resided in Cormyr, and he left the factors beyond Cormyr's borders to sort things out among themselves.

Ostra's operation had grown such that he had wagons, horses, proper warehouses filled with stored goods waiting to go to market, and numerous hideaways (his word for the monster guarded ruins). Only a handful of hideaways were in Cormyr proper. He kept at least eight hideaways in Sembia, and at least a score of hideaways near the Trader's Road (in the space stretching from Teziir in the east to Iriaebor in the west).

Of the sellswords, some chose to abandon the goods they'd been hired to watch over when no one came to fetch them from the nearby trade road. Others chose to open the goods-filled crates in order to take whatever they could as additional payment, then discovered too late that the "watch beasts" were trained to ignore commands to hold in place when a crate was opened, and to attack and slay crate-openers. Some sellswords tried to turn the hideaways into forts for their own use. A few have succeeded, while others fell prey to traps put in place by Ostra's factors (the valuables protected by those traps left untouched).
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Jeremy E Grenemyer

So, Who Spied On Ostramagarus? Who Were His Rivals? Who Betrayed Him? Some Ideas...

  1. A dragon or two. Mayhap a dragon directed its human servants to use Ostra's hideaways for its own purposes. Perhaps these hideaways were enhanced with yet more monsters teleported in by the dragon. Or maybe a dragon left clues for Ostra's factors to find, so that a potential hideaway could be discovered, when in fact the place had already been cleared of dangers and otherwise "tamed" by the dragon's servants, with the idea of using Ostra's monsters and minions to help secure things the dragon wanted kept secret--such things likely secured below ground and accessible via secret entrances or by short range linked teleportation (such paltry magics have been mastered by many dragons of the Realms).
  2. Ostra's own factors. The hideaways were great places to hide things and people. Maybe one or two of his factors used the hideaways for safekeeping of their own valuables. As well the evidence of their misdeeds.
  3. The Cult of the Dragon. That bunch has always been trouble in Elversult/Teziir. Perhaps the sellswords used by Ostra's factors to haul goods and guard them at hideaways ended up revealing the location of a couple of hideaways to the Cult after the sellswords became converts.
  4. The Crown of Cormyr. I don't know if Ostramagarus was Cormyrean, but I'm sure he would have helped the Crown out if it needed a bolthole for a spy to lay low in somewhere beyond Cormyr's borders (offering one of his hideaways as a place for a spy to disappear to in exchange for a favor to be named later).
  5. Nobles, be they Sembian or Cormyrean. Ostra was not afraid to hurl insults at Cormyrean nobles (see "Elminster Must Die," page 68 [softcover] for an example). No doubt he had his friends and his foes among the nobility. Ostra could have offered his services to enable a noble to punish a merchant or a master of a merchant coster by using Ostra to effect a market shortage and hamper the merchant's business.
  6. Anyone he might have sold a hideaway to. Perhaps Ostra rebuilt one of the foursquare keep ruins, stocked it with obedient guardian monsters, and sold the whole thing off to a wizard or mercenary captain, or to an exiled noble as "a safe place from which to rebuild."

Jeremy E Grenemyer

If you are a player or Dungeon Master in need of Cormyrean surnames for a character or NPC, or if you are a DM in need of a War Wizard name to give to an NPC, I've started a list of such things on the EN World wiki.

The list content is drawn from official sources. I will update these lists from my Excel spreadsheets as time permits.

I hope to add lists of different courtier names (and court titles), highknight names, and so on to the wiki, time permitting.

Roster of War Wizards

Cormyrean Surnames

Halloween Horror For 5E