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Black Orchard

Tabletop Adventures Presents:

By Martin Ralya

Black Orchard, the second spaceport in Tabletop
Adventures Destinations line, is in business to shift
cargo and lots of it. Visitors and passengers alike
are well provided for here, but the primary bread
and butter of this port is heavy cargo. This
destination is a fully described spaceport providing
a location for refueling, diagnostics and refitting of
any vessel. Black Orchard is a great location for
picking up a load or recovering from a recent
encounter with a strange nebula or nanotech life
form. The port can be dropped into any space
travel sci-fi campaign with little or no prep just
read the overview, and youre good to go. Black
Orchard is 100% description (no rules material or
crunchy bits), making it entirely system-neutral.
Throughout this PDF you will find sections of text
that are designed to be read aloud to your players.
They follow this format:

Scene Name
Read-aloud text. [Notes for the GM, not to be read
aloud.] Additional read-aloud text.

Where Can I Use This Spaceport?

Black Orchard is written to be placed on a world
with breathable atmosphere and Earthlike gravity
and situated just outside a large city.
If you would like to use Black Orchard on a less
Earthlike world, you will need to change a few
details for example, if the atmosphere is not
breathable, Black Orchard personnel (and everyone
who lands there) should be wearing breathing gear.
If Black Orchard is not placed adjacent to a large

population center, additional periphery structures

and underground space will be necessary to house
the large cadre of support staff here at the port.

A compact spaceport built to accommodate cargo
ships and trade, Black Orchard is a commercial
venture owned and operated by an alliance of
merchants called the Commissars. This group of
fourteen merchants have spared no expense in
outfitting this port for business.

Black Orchard from the Air

As your ship drops in low, skimming towards
the spaceport, it is plain see why it is called
Black Orchard. Five immense columns jut up
along the length of a vast expanse of
permacrete, each one topped with a wide disk
of some sort from which dangle numerous
appendages. Dozens of ships dot the otherwise
featureless rectangle that surrounds the five
towers, and you can see several smaller ships
taking off on the far side of the port. As you get
closer, you see movement on each of the
structures articulated crane arms attached to
each tower are lifting up pieces of spaceship
hull and probing inside open hatches. Closer
still, and you can see hundreds of people
moving across the open expanse, climbing in
and out of docked ships and scuttling up and
down the massive towers.

Black Orchard

Black Orchard is a high-tech industrial spaceport, a

buzzing hive of activity that never closes and rarely
slows down. By day, it is a flurry of motion, with
ships coming and going and ground vehicles
darting to and fro; by night it is a sea of light,
brighter than the nearby city by a factor of three.
The spaceport takes its name from the five trees
that dominate its landing area and which can be
seen from anywhere in the city, as well as for miles
around. Ranging from 300 to 600 feet tall, all five
trees are roughly similar in appearance.
Each is a massive metal and permacrete tower
essentially a huge column capped with a disk 150
to 250 feet wide. Narrow stairways, ladders and
gantries criss-cross the columns, while the disks
each fully 40 feet high are a maze of girders,
cranes, hoists and machinery. From each disk
dangle several dozen armatures of various sizes,
lengths and types, giving the whole assembly the
appearance of an enormous metal willow tree.
Coupling this with the fact that large sections of the
towers and disks are painted black shows where the
spaceport got its name: Black Orchard.
Black Orchard is imposing even awe-inspiring,
for first-time visitors but not terribly attractive: an
endless expanse of gray permacrete covered with
landing markings, broken only by the five
enormous columns and a handful of buildings. This
is because most of what makes Black Orchard
(often just called the Orchard) tick is not on
display. Portions can be seen, such as the high-tech
gear that is packed into each of the armatures that
hang down from the columns, but a lot more is
tucked away out of sight.
One thing that is impossible to miss, however, is
the fact that the Orchard gets a lot of traffic. You
could travel through a dozen systems in any
direction before finding a spaceport as busy as
Black Orchard, although you would find many
prettier ones. The Commissars who run the Orchard
do not care about appearances, they care about
money and money comes from taking on ships,
refueling and refitting them, and getting them back
on their way as soon as possible, which is exactly
what Black Orchard does best.

Spaceport Layout
Black Orchard has a very simple layout: a rectangle
of permacrete the landing area half a mile wide
and a mile long, from which rise the five massive
towers and a handful of low buildings.

The Flats
The landing area, which is called the Flats, is
never bare. There are always several dozen ships on
the field, as well as hundreds of people, plus the
spaceports fleet of ground vehicles, cargo loaders
and so forth.
The ports defensive tower, dubbed the Long Knife,
sits roughly at the center of the Flats. As it is the
tallest of the five towers, this gives it the widest
possible field of fire against ground-based targets,
and an unlimited field of fire against airborne
targets. The other four towers are arranged in a
ragged line, two on either side of the Long Knife,
extending the long way of the field. The Orchards
other structures are mainly hangars for ground
vehicles, and they are scattered across the landing
Black Orchards guts are beneath the Flats: a
network of tunnels, subterranean storage areas and
housing for a small portion of the spaceports staff.
There are access points throughout the landing area,
and a small-scale subway system runs between the
towers, as well as out to each corner of the Flats. A
lot of the ports best gear is kept underground,
where it can be piped to any tower or ship on the
Flats that needs it.

Landing on the Flats is a harrowing
experience. From a few miles out, it looks like
a huge space big enough to land a capital
ship on, no problem. At about a mile out, with
the thrum of the engines all around, it looks
like a much trickier prospect. A few dozen
ships are already docked amidst a sea of guide
lights so many lights that from this distance,
they provide no guidance whatsoever. And in

Black Orchard

the blink of an eye you are on top of the place,

darting between egg-shaped cargo ships and
weaving to avoid one of the ports enormous
towers. As you brace for your landing,
everything around ground cars, hover
platforms, dozens of technicians, pilots and
loaders seems to freeze for a moment. Then,
all at once, your ship drops onto the
permacrete, and time speeds back up to

On the Ground:
From the ground, the towers dominate the
skyline. The closest one stands several hundred
feet tall, and the massive disk at the top casts a
shadow that swallows nearby ships. Hundredfoot-long booms swing by overhead, skimming
silently through the air, while all around is
controlled chaos: the shouts of cargo handlers,
the catcalls of a squadron of fighter pilots, the
whine of the ground cars electric engines. On
the surface under your feet, painted lines
stretch away from you in every direction,
apparently color coded by destination. The air
is heavy with the smell of ozone and hot metal.
Picture a modern-day airport with all of the
runways pushed together, and you have the Flats. A
mile long and half a mile wide, the Flats serve as
the landing area for all of Black Orchards traffic.
This vast expanse of permacrete is covered in
markings: landing lanes for atmospheric craft, blast
radius markings for pedestrians to avoid when large
ships are taking off, colored lines that lead from
area to area and many more.
This open-plan landing area could very easily be a
disaster, were it not for two factors: the Orchards
state of the art base-to-ship communications
network, and the fact that it is such a large area.
Over the years, Black Orchard has built up such a
good reputation with pilots and ships captains that
nearly everyone who visits the port has heard of it,
and anticipates the openness of the Flats. And so
far, it has worked; there has never been a major
landing accident at the Orchard.
Underneath the Flats is the tunnel network that
connects the towers, the ports various buildings

and several sections of the landing area to the

subterranean areas of Black Orchard. There are
three basement levels below the Orchard, all
connected by tunnels wide enough to accommodate
small ground vehicles. The ports fast-moving
subway system also runs through this area,
transporting goods and people throughout the
Orchard. Guard barracks, housing for spaceport
staff, guest quarters for ship crews waiting out
extensive repairs, warehouses, repair shops and
even a few restaurants all lurk beneath the
Orchards surface.

The Towers
The Five Trees:
Black Orchards five towers jut out from the
surrounding surface like the fingers of a giant
hand, each supporting a disk that bristles with
dangling crane arms and other machinery. At
first glance, each tower appears to be an island
of calm amidst the chaos of the spaceport all
around. But after watching them for a moment,
it is clear there is nothing calm about any of
them. The top of the tallest tower is a
porcupine of weaponry, some of which seem to
always be in motion; robots scuttle up and
down the shaft of another tower, while men and
women in blast suits dangle from a third,
hundreds of feet over the field. Elevators,
ratcheted conveyers and hoists raise and lower
material and equipment up the outside of each
tower, while lights blink all along their lengths.
Although they look generally alike and perform the
same basic functions, each of Black Orchards five
massive trees has its own name, as well as its
own set of specialized functions (listed in
parentheses after each towers name, below).
Whether basic or specialized, it is the armatures
that perform most of these functions, connecting up
with the ships below, hauling material and so forth.

Basic Functions:
These functions are common to all five towers,
which gives Black Orchard docking control plenty
of flexibility when deciding where incoming ships
should be directed.

Black Orchard

Armored pipes run up the center of each tower
column, carrying fuel, oil, lubricants and other
fluids that many ships (both atmospheric and transatmospheric) need. Attachments in the base of each
armature the long cranes that dangle from the
disks atop each tower allow them to connect up
with whichever hose they need, and from there the
fuel can be piped to the ships on the ground below.

Computer banks in each tower are connected to the
armatures, and the armatures themselves are
outfitted with a wide range of software and
connectivity options. These can be linked up with
shipboard networks, allowing the Orchards techs
to run diagnostic checks on the ships that dock
there. These tests can be used to isolate problems
and determine the best course for repairs, and the
spaceports computers are top of the line they
bring a lot more power to bear
than the average shipboard

All five towers are set up to
handle basic repairs, swapping
out hull plates, detailing and other
refitting work on the ships
docked beneath them. Parts can
be hauled up inside the body of
each tower and then lowered
down by the armatures, or they
can be hoisted up from below by
Specialty repairs are better
handled by the individual towers
that are best equipped to deal
with them: Armadillo Tower for
hull work, the Widow for sensors,
Gatling for weapons systems and
Igor for anything truly unusual.

Loading and Unloading

Most loading and unloading at the Orchard is done
by ground vehicles, but every tower has at least a
couple of armatures that can haul cargo. This
allows the station to service ships of all shapes and
sizes, and to load or unload cargo from places

aboard those ships that are difficult to reach from

the surface.

Air Traffic Control

There is a small docking control station atop each
tower, right at the center of the disk. These stations
are linked by the ports computer network, and
supported by a fleet of tiny camera drones, as well
as by other stations at the outlying edges of the
Flats. Each towers station is responsible for
general traffic management which is extensively
cross-coordinated as well as takeoffs and landings
for the area immediately around its own tower.

Long Knife (Spaceport Defense)

Docked by the Long Knife:
Fully 600 feet tall, this tower dwarfs the other
four and unlike its cousins, the top of the
Long Knifes disk is not bare. A forest of
cannon, lasers, rail guns and
missile batteries covers every
inch of the disk, making the top
of the tower look like a sea
urchin. Drones hover around the
tower, their cameras and sensors
aimed at the permacrete surface
far below as well as the sky far
above. As you watch, you see a
trio of hoverbikes approach the
tower from the far side of the
Flats. Two guards ride on each
bike, and without even slowing
down they dart into a hangar in
the edge of the disk, narrowly
avoiding a crane arm that is
swinging around to service one
of the ships below.
The tallest tree in the Orchard, the
600-foot-tall Long Knife bristles
with sophisticated weapons systems.
Very few attacks have ever been mounted against
Black Orchard, and the Long Knife is the main
reason why.
This tower has an unlimited field of fire against
airborne targets, and a wide (though not unlimited)

Black Orchard

field of fire against targets on the Flats. The Long

Knife can bring any or all of its multiple weapon
suites and systems against these targets, and it is
fully capable of engaging up to fifty foes
simultaneously. Against a single target, the Long
Knife can unleash a fury that few ships can
On top of that, the
Long Knifes disk is
stuffed with drones
and robot fighter
craft, as well as air
and other manned
attack craft. Guards
are on standby at all
engage targets that
Knifes fields of fire.

Tower (Hull Repairs)
Docked by Armadillo Tower:
Giant clamps hold several layers of hull
sections in place atop the Armadillo, giving it
the appearance of its namesake. Crane arms a
hundred feet long and fifteen feet thick project
out from beneath this dome, two of them
maneuvering a hull section that must weigh as
much as a small ship into position over a
docked freighter. Tiny robots scurry up and
down the arms as they move, and you can see a
hundred more scattered up and down the
length of the tower as well as flitting through
the air all around the cranes, a swarm that is
never still for a moment. Thick metal cables
extend from three more arms down to the
ground, where you see a ground crew
attaching them to a second massive hull
section, preparing to pull it up into the air.
Armadillo Tower looks the part, with massive hull
sections turtled over the top of its disk like
armored plating. Robots scuttle up and down this

towers columnar body, hauling smaller hull

elements and directing the Armadillos massive
reinforced armatures in their repair efforts.
Like the other towers, much of the material the
Armadillo Tower uses in its repairs comes up to the
disk through the center of the column, but the
largest hull sections can only be hauled up from the
ground. To this end, all of the Armadillos
armatures can be repositioned, allowing several of
them to work together to maneuver hull elements
that weight hundreds of tons.
The Armadillo is the most automated of the towers,
as it specializes in the most dangerous and least
delicate work. Most of the robots that swarm all
over this tower are roughly crab- or spider-shaped,
with tools in their multiple legs and sensor arrays in
their heads. In addition, a fleet of airborne bots
hovers around Armadillo Tower like a cloud of
bugs, providing real time visual updates to the
crane crews (human and AI) as they maneuver hull
sections hundreds of feet in the air.

The Widow (Sensor Tech)

Docked by the Widow:
Being in the Widows shadow is a bit eerie.
The towers twenty sinuous arms weave about
high overhead, moving with unsettling grace as
they insert branching metal pseudopods into
nearby ships. Halfway up the tower, several
technicians are guiding a hover platform out of
a door in the side of the column. The platform
is stacked high with sensor gear, and you
watch as one of the towers articulated arms
reaches down, plucks a piece of equipment
from the platform and ferries it towards a ship
on the far side of the tower.
The most spider-like of the five towers, the Widow
looks quite fragile or at least, as fragile as a metal
spire 400 feet tall and 50 feet wide can look. Where
the other towers have between six and ten
armatures dangling from their disks, the Widow has
twenty and unlike their counterparts, the Widows
armatures are highly articulated and flexible, and
look very little like cranes.

Black Orchard

Sensors are part

spaceship ever
built, and the
Widow is one of
Black Orchards
busiest towers.
Its delicate arms
weightless when
delicate deep space radar arrays and other fragile
components. The sinuous armatures of the Widow
look just as graceful when they burrow into a ships
hull. Each of the Widows many arms can bifurcate
their tips almost endlessly, spawning smaller and
smaller elements until, needle-like, they can slide
between hull plates to follow delicate sensor
networks beneath a ships skin.

Gatling (Weapons Systems)

Docked by Gatling:
Gatling is wider and shorter than most of the
Orchards other towers, and its exterior is
covered in thick plates of armor and blast
shielding. The disk on top is similarly armored,
and you cannot see any of the towers inner
workings. Two dozen loaders and technicians
dangle from the armored disk, each suspended
by a slender metal cable and wearing a
shielded suit. Pairs of loaders work together to
maneuver ammunition into waiting ships, while
others guide the towers armatures towards
missile batteries, laser arrays and other more
sensitive targets.
Gatling is unique among the five towers because it
uses the most human workers. Many spacers would
say that handling live and often incredibly potent
ammunition is work best left to robots, but the
folks who run Black Orchard respectfully disagree.
There is something to be said for having a pair of
eyes (or, more commonly, several pairs) checking

out your ships ammunition feed mechanisms,

barrels and laser charging batteries.
The exterior of Gatling is heavily armored much
more so than any of the other four towers. Under
this thick metal and composite skin run dozens of
vertical conveyors, hoists and padded elevators, all
of which carry ammunition up from the bowels of
the Orchards deepest subterranean levels. Nonvolatile ammo (like railgun slugs) is then piped out
along the armatures, where it can be loaded directly
into ships docked around the tower.
Missiles, explosive shells, highly charged batteries
and other dangerous items are handled by human
loaders and techs. These loaders dangle from the
towers disk on powered cables, controlling small
cranes, hovering platforms and other machinery
that lets them safely get ammunition from the tower
to the ships below. On
a busy day, up to fifty
loaders hang from
various heights.
Three of Gatlings
armatures are given
over to specialized
allowing this tower to
work on or, if
necessary, build from
scratch nearly any
weapons system ever

Igor (The Weird Stuff)

Docked by Igor:
The tower looming overhead has a somewhat
unfinished look to it, with uncoupled hoses
dangling from the central column and a
damaged armature visible high above. Sections
of the disk look jury-rigged as well, including
at least one area that one would swear was
covered in some kind of mold or lichen.
Alongside the refueling and repair armatures
that can be seen dangling from all of the
towers, Igor also boasts several that appear

Black Orchard

much more specialized, each with its own set of

odd protrusions at the end. Scorch marks up
and down the column complete the towers
peculiar appearance.

The Orchard maintains a staff of about 500 people,

divided into two groups: surface staff and network
staff. Surface staff are the loaders, drivers and
technicians who work the Flats and run the five
towers, while network staff spend most of their
time below ground, moving cargo and attending to
the ports visitors. Most of the ports employees
commute from the nearby city Black Orchard is
not set up to be a community, let alone a selfsustaining one.
Any stays here are strictly short term. On a typical
day, the Orchard plays host to 500-1,500 visitors,
with roughly half that number onsite at any one

When a ship limps into Black Orchard after its

latest encounter with a strange nebula, phasing
alien fungus or nanotech life form, this is where it
docks. This aptly-named tower has more than a bit
of the mad scientist in it: scorch marks from strange
explosions mar the columns surface, and remnants
of an armature that had to be removed after being
consumed by nanites still dangle forlornly from the
Inside the tower, much of Igors space is given over
to swappable modules equipment and software
suites designed to tackle specific problems. The
standard loadout includes hazmat (hazardous
materials) equipment, biological analysis gear and a
probe armature equipped with a multitude of
sensors in addition to the towers more mundane

Cast of Characters
Black Orchard is run by an alliance of merchants
known as the Commissars. Although ruthless in
their pursuit of profits, they recognized years ago
that in order to make money with the Orchard (and
they make a lot of money running this spaceport),
they would need to be willing to spend it first. Over
the years, Black Orchard has become their baby,
and they spare no expense when it comes to
outfitting the port with the latest equipment. There
are fourteen Commissars altogether, nearly all of
whom visit the Orchard regularly (and always

In addition to the surface and network staff, Black

Orchard employs 100 security guards. Heavily
armed and armored, these guards are there
primarily as a deterrent by and large, the Orchard
is a very safe port. They are equipped with a variety
of antipersonnel weapons.

Bringing Spaceport
Black Orchard to Life
Black Orchard is imposing, functional and very,
very busy. No matter where one is on the Flats,
there is a tower looming hundreds of feet overhead
and of course, the Long Knife in the distance
towers over the rest. Ships large and small are all
around, along with a multitude of people. Every
few hundred yards, there is a ground entrance into
the ports tunnel network. Hover platforms, ground
cars and people come and go constantly.
For all that, though, it is a surprisingly quiet place.
There are no walls to reflect sound back to the
characters while they are out on the Flats, and much
of the heavy machinery is hundreds of feet
overhead, dangling from the various towers.
Walking from one end to the other, an individual
would encounter pockets of bustling, noisy, chaotic
activity interspersed with pockets of relative calm,
with no ships within a hundred feet.

Black Orchard

Anyone straying from the painted guide lines on the

Flats will know it in short order stray far enough,
and a ship will skim by overhead, engines roaring.
Ground crews and guards will converge on you,
politely herding you back to a safer area.

Plot Hooks
Spider, Spider:
One night, the Armadillo goes completely dark
all systems shut down, the armatures hang limp and
non-functional. The armada of robots that normally
swarm up and down the tower are conspicuously
absent. A nanotechnological virus has been hiding
in Igor for the past several weeks, building strength
and biding its time, and it picked tonight to take
over the Armadillos robots all of them, all at
once. It then used the robots to power down the
tower, and it has set its sights on the Long Knife
next. Is it trying to take down the spaceport, or
simply looking for bigger guns? Either way, the
robot army must be stopped.

Trouble Down Below:

While their ship is docked at Black Orchard, the
PCs are approached by a Commissar in need of
assistance. She tells them that a band of thieves has
infiltrated the tunnel network beneath the Flats,
hoping to make off with some particularly valuable
cargo. Wanting to resolve the situation without
making the security breach common knowledge
among the Orchards staff, she offers to pay the
PCs handsomely to track down the thieves and take
them captive all without alerting anyone else to
their presence.

Scrapyard Scam:

buy scrap metal even whole ships, if the stations

techs have deemed them beyond repair. A month
ago, the scrapyard changed ownership, and the new
owner prefers to make his own scrap. A day or two
before the scrap trucks are scheduled to drop by,
the new owner sends out teams of saboteurs (hired
goons, for the most part) to sneak into the Orchard
and subtly damage a ship or two hoping that the
owners will have no choice but to sell them for
scrap. Naturally, one of the ships they pick belongs
to the PCs

The containment fields aboard a ship carrying a
menagerie of ferocious, dinosaur-like creatures fail,
releasing several dozen of the beasts out onto the
Flats. The Long Knife cannot engage them without
hitting people or ships on the tarmac, and it looks
like they are more than the Orchards security
forces can handle. Can the PCs turn the tide?

Weapons Free:
The PCs are out on the Flats when, without
warning, one of the ships docked under Gatling
goes haywire. Its forward guns begin strafing
nearby ships and people, and one of its starboard
missile batteries takes out several of the loaders
who are servicing the ship. Chaos erupts, with
people running every which way as the ship
continues firing at random. With help from the
guards, can the PCs figure out why the ship went
nuts and stop it before it destroys everything in
range? It will not be long before the spaceports top
brass decide to bite the bullet and turn the Long
Knife on it, despite the risks. Did the ship really go
haywire? Was it a virus, sabotage or a more
unusual cause?

Every week, massive hauling trucks from a nearby

scrapyard drive through Black Orchard, looking to


Martin Ralya
Vicki Potter
Marcella Ganow
Elizabeth M. Scott

Interior Art:
Gillian Pierce
Border Art:
Danillo Moretti
Fonts: 2006

2006 Tabletop Adventures, LLC

Spaceport Towers and Landing Area:

Gatling (Weapons Systems)

Igor (The Weird Stuff)
Long Knife (Spaceport Security)
Armadillo (Hull Repair)
The Widow (Sensor Tech)

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Help for the Harried Game Master.

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Help for the Harried Game Master

Tabletop Adventures Print Products

Available now at Retailers and Tabletop Adventures website.

Against the Darkness - $16.00
An exciting game of modern Vatican horror, conspiracy and investigation in which
demons, ghosts and vampires exist to torment and feed upon an unprepared
humanity. The only defense is a small and steadily shrinking cadre of holy
defenders, who face unspeakable evil with only faith, knowledge, and miraculous
powers to keep them alive. Despite these powers, combat with a true demon is a
terrifying proposition. Death, crippling injury and insanity are all more-than-likely
outcomes of a mission.
Against the Darkness is an easy-to-learn RPG game, with a simple 4-6-8 dice
system. Even better, the game is robust enough to challenge experienced gamers
and has the tools to provide horror connoisseurs an adrenaline high.

Bits of Darkness: Dungeons Duo - $21.00

Tabletop Adventures brings Bits of Darkness: Dungeons and Bits of Darkness:
Dungeons II together in one book, to deepen the shadows of your crypts,
catacombs and dark places. Contains 350+ descriptions of various sizes to add
suspense and create terrific atmosphere for your dungeon crawl. Let your
adventurers encounter the Chapel of Sacrifice, Volcanic Workshop or Well of the
Abyss; your dungeons will never be the same again. Augment your imagination with
this indispensable resource for the dark and forbidding places of your world.

Bill Webb of Necromancer Games says, "Other than my

dice, this is the only product I use every time I play."

Mother of All Treasure Tables - $27.99

Treasure suitable for the lowliest of pickpockets to the greatest of kings!

Written by Tabletop Adventures; Published by Necromancer Games.

Never before has such a book been available, to provide with a simple roll of the
dice a random selection of imaginative descriptions - treasures that include rare
rare ivory and iron pots, weapons and walking sticks. Here in a single volume are
nearly 700 totally mundane treasures rich in imagination, but with no magic
abilities to overpower or unbalance your game.
Open the book and see for yourself! No one can read just one
Treasure Value
Table I
Less than 10 gp
Table II
50 gp
Table III
100 gp
Table IV
500 gp
Table V
1,000 gp
Table VI
5,000 gp
Table VII
10,000 gp
Table VIII
30,000 gp
Table IX
50,000 gp
Table X
100,000 gp and up

Buy it Today, Play it Tonight!