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Zamora is the proper name for the so-called spider-haunted "City of Thieves", but this colloquial title is nearly universal amongst the people who know of it.

It is the capital city of the kingdom of the same name, and seat of power for the king. It was also the location of the strange and mysterious Tower of Yara until it was destroyed during the events of "The Tower of the Elephant".


Zamorian religion is very complex with Bel, god of thieves, honored above his cohorts.

Notable Areas[]

The Main Gate[]

The walls of Zamora have long ago fallen into disrepair, but the main gates on the western road leading into town are still standing; fifteen feet tall at the top of the stone spires, jutting five feet above the packed earth and stone walls, with niches for lanterns held in place with hooks and chains. There are always at least two guards present; four or more during the caravan season, but the guards only stop and question people they deem suspicious. And these suspicions, by the way, can be easily alleviated by the application of gold into a guardsman’s hand.

Anyone entering the city as part of a merchant caravan or within a train of travelers won’t be stopped and questioned. Lone travelers or anyone who looks suspicious will be asked their business. Four guards are usually stationed here, in shifts. The rest of the city watch patrols the various neighborhoods in groups of two. Depending on the neighborhood, sometimes multiple patrols will be assigned.

The city watch will only investigate overt acts of thievery; people who are new to the city, the young, and the inexperienced will be chased vigorously through the crowds, with weapons drawn and much fanfare. Caught thieves will be paraded before the sullen crowd, as if daring the population to call Zamora “the City of Thieves”. It’s all theater, and everyone knows it, but they play their parts, all the same.

The Market Place[]

Here is the source of commerce in Accursed Zamora. Whether you need to hire transportation, buy a new sword, purchase nice clothes, or restock your provisions, the market is the place to do it. Not only is the main market here, but also the homes of just about everyone who works in the district. Player characters attempting to sell items might not get a fair price for their treasures, but then again, they won’t get robbed at dagger point, either.

City guards are present and they make an effort to be vigilant, but they cannot be everywhere at once. For that reason, many merchants employ hired muscle to help them with shop security.

Most common items, gear, and weapons and equipment can be found among the many stalls. Prices will be somewhat higher, and customers are expected to haggle down to something close to the listed value (but not always).

The Maul[]

The smallest district in Accursed Zamora is no less densely packed, being a carved-out niche of the temple district and the market district. It’s only four blocks long, and spans the adjoining streets on either side of the main thoroughfare. It is impossible to see from the roofs because of the covered awnings and leaning boards that block out the sun and also prying eyes. First time visitors who venture out of the Maul will invariably get lost in the snarl of cul-de-sacs and alleys and will certainly encounter some of the locals, who are happy to lead them back to the main street, for a small donation, of course. The length of the Maul is lit with lanterns and torches, creating stark pockets of warm light and pitch black shadows. The paved stones have long since been worn away or pried up, since the packed dirt makes less sound when walking.

Not everyone in the Maul is a thief by trade; some are thieves only in the eyes of others. Mercenaries, sell-swords, and other strong arm thugs can be found easily enough in the taverns and drinking halls. Anyone with a larcenous intent will eventually make their way to the Maul to conduct their business. And the traders know exactly how much they can cheat the thieves of Zamora without fear of reprisals. That esprit de corps does not apply to merchants outside of the Maul, however, and they are more likely to prey upon a desperate thief in need of quick cash.

The main avenue in the Maul is famed for its array of taverns, inns, and recently dead bodies; to some it has become known as Crookback Street, though whether such a name is likely to stick, who can say? It was originally an outdoor market with small buildings and vendor’s stalls on either side. At some point in the city’s long history, a series of arched frames were placed regularly down the street, with stretched canvas tarps covering them. Over the years, the tarps have been replaced by wooden planks, cloth sacks, and other patchwork repairs, maintaining the cover, if not the integrity, of the enclosure. Narrow buildings and small kiosks crowd the street on both sides of the street, selling all manner of dark delights from pleasurable company to deadly poisons. Here the trade craft of the thieving profession is out in the open, and guards are paid well to never turn down the darkened street, where disagreements usually are settled among peers.

Even more narrow side streets lead deeper into the district to other less reputable and more unsavory establishments. Slaves are bought and sold out of sight and assassinations plotted and paid for. Back alleys wind and turn, like a labyrinth, depositing wanderers onto side streets outside the Maul, or worse, right back into it. Despite these narrow confines, the denizens of the Maul all display a relaxed, if not unguarded, demeanor. The laughter is free and easy, but there’s always one hand resting on the pommel of a dagger or sword.

In the center of the Maul is the remnant of the original market, now a pavilion of debauchery. Most of the businesses on either side of the stalls and tents are solid stone, with domes and arches and other trappings to remind people that the city was once a better place. The largest tavern is located here, a cheerful nest of cutthroats and brigands called The Serpent’s Pit, where characters can carouse and try to find gainful employment.

Other establishments around this open-air market sell goods and commodities at a hefty mark up. Haggling is expected here, and considering that so much of the merchandise is stolen, the profits are high. Specialized thieves’ tools are available at listed prices.

The Capital District[]

This fortress-like mansion looms high over the city, surrounded by tall, sturdy walls, and buttressed on three sides by the city guard’s barracks and town armory. The king’s personal guard lives inside the walls, and they — along with the king — are seldom seen. Also included in this district are the blacksmiths, butchers, and other essential shops that service the guards and the castle, as well as the wealthiest members of Zamorian society. In the capital district, the shop keepers and artisans will not waste time with anyone who does not look and act like a member of the upper class. Any disguise or ruse that is less than perfect will ensure that prices for goods and services are doubled, or even tripled.

The Temple District[]

The large, boxlike structures with domed ceilings that line the Royal Road leading up to the always-closed gates of the capital have seen better days. Those temples closest to the King’s presence enjoy a measure of traffic from citizens and visitors alike. The priests of Anu and Bel, and a host of other gods and goddesses, fling incense about and say their prayers and chant their songs and ring their bells dutifully, if not piously. At the far end of the street, near the east gate, is the cult of the Spider-God, fresh from Yezud, attempting to curry favor with the rogues that skulk there looking for unwary zealots to rob. In the center of the district is a tall, smooth, featureless tower, surrounded by high walls and many guards.

Not far from the East Gate entrance is an open courtyard with statues and a central fountain that now merely trickles water. This is the Courtyard of the Philosophers, and it is here that the clergy and the unhinged gather daily to debate the laws and scriptures and edicts of their gods and religions. One or two city guards are on hand in case an argument escalates into a physical squabble. There is no temple or church in Zamora that is not well-protected from thieves. Any character attempting to rob a church is in for a surprise. Even small, unpopular religions like the church of Ibis have guards on hand in the evening to deter anyone from trying to make off with the week’s offerings.

The Tower of the Elephant[]

This is the home and lair of the wizard Yara, known colloquially as the Tower of the Elephant. Yara is a priest, and also a sorcerer of renown and is unequivocally the political power in Zamora. He is widely feared by all, including the king. It is no secret that he has the king’s ear and is the true power behind the throne. This allows Yara to conduct his research and experiments with impunity and to act as he pleases. The tower stands high above the city, a tempting prize for many a thief who has attempted to penetrate its defenses and lost their life. Interfering with any part of Yara’s operation, even unknowingly, would invite a powerful enemy who would make life very difficult for the player characters.

The tower remains the most famous point in the city, and still draws crowds of admirers, despite its reputation. It is not simply the astonishing architecture of the place which has so secured its infamy — the strange odors and sounds which regularly emanate from the enormous, crystal edifice and spread across the city like storm clouds are also loathed and feared by residents in equal measure. The interior of the tower is, likewise, a mystery. Its corridors are never the same, with some claiming that the tower can be seen to rotate at night, twisting itself into impossible geometries as though it were alive. Others claim the tower is sentient; after all, they reason, it was raised in a single night — perhaps it simply walked here, an animate edifice which Yara tamed for himself. Stranger things have been known, they will say (though do not ask them to name one). Some say the round, smooth-walled tower is haunted by ghosts, summoned by Yara, and no one can dissuade the thieves of Zamora from this story. More than one thief has fallen from the walls, or been found dead in the garden (mauled by a strange animal), or simply gone mad from the effort. City guards swing by the abandoned garden on their patrols, but don’t stop to investigate unless they hear or see something. The gardens teem with terrifying creatures: lions and other, crueler, stranger things which those who have glimpsed them claim could not have been real. Whether they are or not remains to be discovered by men and women bold — or reckless — enough to enter those eerie grounds.

Old Town[]

This portion of Accursed Zamora was razed to the ground in the dim past by countless invaders. These ruins have been reclaimed and repurposed by the working poor and the lower classes. As many as fifteen or twenty families may live in a single, partially demolished temple with a wooden roof and tarps to keep the occasional rain at bay.

Parts of Old Town rise up over gentle rolling hills and mounds, and few remember that it’s these mounds that are actually the rubble of larger buildings, such as temples and museums, that were destroyed so long ago. Some of these ruins actually extend beyond the walls of the city to the north and east — for the walls now protecting the city are new, rebuilt over the destruction. These ruins on the outskirts of the city hide deep, dark secrets. The general population considers them to be both haunted and cursed, and will not willingly venture into them. There are at least four entrances to the crypts below Old Town, and one of these leads to the ruins on the other side of the wall. What is below Old Town is mostly cleared out, except for a few lingering animals who call the crypts home. But there are a few places not discovered that would be ideal for adventurers to explore and possibly loot.

The Ruins[]

Zamora is an old city, ravaged by wars, sorcery, and neglect, and there are portions of the ancient city that are now little more than a rough foundation for the current residents. These ruins extend well outside the partially collapsed city walls on the south and east sides of the city. There is no shortage of caves, tunnels, or even sewer mains that lead down into the dusty and crumbling remnants of the city. Some of the sites are rumored to be as old as the Zhemri culture, but this may be nothing more than idle gossip among thieves.

There is still much to explore amid the ruins outside of Zamora, and these are the perfect settings for novice thieves in need of experience. Does an ancient cult gather here, to enact hideous rituals in worship of unimaginable gods? Has a princess been kidnapped and hidden away in the ruins, or does a bandit chief use these ruins as the staging post for his raids on caravans? Who knows? The point is, it might be worth your characters’ while finding out.

Inhabitants of renown interest[]

  • Hadranor: King of Zamora.
  • Yara: The former high priest of Bel before he was destroyed in the events of "The Tower of the Elephant".
  • Costranno: Undead Argossean Sorcerer. Follower of Gol-Goroth and Yog-Sothoth, along with other beings of the outer dark.


The alternate name "Arenjun" was attributed to the city by later authors, however Robert E. Howard never used this name, instead referring to it as "Zamora".


  • Conan the Barbarian #42 (Sep 1974).
  • Savage Sword of Conan #1 (Aug 1974).