This series of posts (I, II, III) serves as an introduction to the Guild KEEP for staring off a 1E AD&D campaign based upon various ideas and notes, A Gm will need or access to: PHB, DMG, MM, Deities and Demigods and Oriental Adventures or a sharp Knife to cut away what is undesired.
In part I blame everything that forms the basis upon two people Steven S. Long and Gary Gygax. Gygax because of Gygax, and Steve because he probably is the one who posted this as interesting. Aside from these two paragraphs the rest should be usable as a basis for a reasonable base from which adventurers can search the ruins of Ormegarten for whatever they need to fulfil their missions personal or professional.
The nearest reasonably safe place for characters to use as a base of operations is a well-tested and heavily defended Guild KEEP. Unlike many other fortifications this began as a trading post to trade with draconic servants and perhaps the dragon itself yet outside of his immediate demesne. Post the passing of the dragon the Guild has had to invest in and bring in a portion of the Wolfqueens military to maintain the initial location in hopes of settling more of the surrounding lands as well as keeping hostilities down until they can be resolved. If the characters are escorting an NPC to the area they will behave, though in some cases poorly, unless using the Guild Keep as a part of the adventure.
This Guild Keep has only survived several incursions from the forces of darkness and chaos by being well organized for defense and security as well as receiving a mix of volunteers and conscripts (both are called Wands, or the Order of Wands) from the more civilized lands. During conflicts, most of the Keep will arm to provide for the common defense while those who are non-combatants will support by supplying the defenders with anything from bringing food, water and ammunition to aiding the wounded and taking away the dead. Sentries are trained to be alert and know that being incautious could harm the Keep. Patrols of guards interact with the sentries as well as checking the outer walls and vary their paces and paths used in order to be difficult to plan for.
Commanders check upon their troops every hour or two ensuring the upkeep of morale as well as verify the positions are manned and keeping an eye upon any situation themselves. In all cases there is a 25% chance each armored defender/man-at-arms etc.… may actually be a female, though in most cases they will be not known as such to members outside of the guard itself unless they choose to identify themselves as a female. The Keep is not wealthy enough to afford magical protections and countermeasures not noted below, but there are no ways to approach the Keep unobserved much less for people to pass undetected inside without magic and in some cases, that too will fail.
Although the Keep is under the purview of the Seneschal, this is not a singularly military Keep but one which supports trade as a way to increase The Guild of Cups, crown revenue and power in partnership. The guild masters know they cannot march an army into the kingdoms on the other side of the Broken Lands much less through those troubled areas so instead seek to use the Keep system as feelers and probes for a route to the fertile trade opportunities they believe must exist on the other side of the Broken Lands.
Inside of the protection of the Guild Keep itself there are several interesting characters that provide for the common defense as well as may possess interesting items, skills and talents useful to the player characters. Behaving poorly, boorishly and other ill-mannered pursuits will be frowned upon if not making the misguided fellow the target of rumors and scorn. Many of these characters have strong opinions about each other in part because they are starting to get crammed together too tightly. The townsfolk are generally law abiding and concerned with building and preserving an honest society under duress.
If any member of a group should be caught in a criminal act the hue and cry will be raised as citizens will try to prevent escape of the lawbreaker (without risking their lives) until the guard arrives within 1-2 turns unless otherwise noted. The Guard will use force up to and including lethal actions if necessary. Those offenders taken alive are investigated and judged by the Seneschal, if found guilty (70% of an accurate judgment, with 20% of a miscarriage of justice and 10% of the time either a warning or requiring a service for freedom) they will be punished appropriately. The Guild Keep and inhabitants as well as Areas of the Keep are noted below K1+ and in CAT1+
DM Note: When starting a new campaign, a way to introduce the player characters’ states that they were part of a defense push or recruitment like the members of certain historical and fictional protective orders. This version assumes the characters as Wands (the group name for those who militaristically serve the Stave ruling Wolfqueens) have some experience with the Guild Keep having been brought here to serve for their freedom or as dedicated defenders of the area. This lets the Gm start quickly without many entanglements. For ease of play this assumes the characters were 0th level lackeys until they performed well during the last threat to the keep. The characters who have taken this option are aware of the common parts of the Keep. Should the players wish to recall important parts of common or obvious information about the Guild Keep it is considered likely they will know that information. If a random % is needed to determine if a character knows something not obvious (but not a secret) use Int x 1d4%. Finding out about secrets should be roleplayed for that is a part of the fun.
- The character was a part of a Unit defending the walls; the unit managed to kill a horrific enemy while suffering great losses but ended up with some serious loot. The character gets financed to start his career with this event as well as an additional 50 gold.
- The character was a part of a Unit that managed to free a captured Thane (and possibly some Hounds and Coursers) as a part of a rescue or a ransom, during the trip back to the keep the Thane showed the character the basics of the Flower of Knighthood martial art.
- The character was in a unit got separated and cut off from the keep during a sortie. Forced to retreat away from the immediate area of the keep the unit spent a few days in the field before returning to help break the siege by attacking a few units from the rear.
- Smuggling in food is essential in order to maintain the defense and the morale of the Keep during infrequent sieges. Foragers however can be easily cut off and killed making it a risky business. Fortune was with your group as they managed to ambush a returning successful opponent foraging party enabling the foragers to bring back loot as well as double the supplies they ordinarily would. The character because of the extra discipline may reduce the likelihood of falling for excellent drink by 1 in 6 (if it is 5 in 6 it becomes 4 in 6 etc…)
- The character was a Torch and Board bearing combatant for a group of archers using the flaming arrows trick. Since holding a light source can make a target of the bearer day or night this is likely to get the lackey killed. Somehow the character survived incoming fire during the encounter long enough to be condemned as sufficiently heroic. While the character is holding a shield or under the influence of a shield spell his AC is one better
- The character managed to befriend one of the more powerful characters (Mao, Gretchen, Franco, Selpun, Frostbeard or the Priest) this friendship resulted in being espoused for freedom earlier than usual. A good short tale on how this friendship blossomed will earn the player Character a single transaction between the two characters at twice the value for the PC. Otherwise the character, while not being indebted to each other, will likely be able to find their friend in the keep and speak easily about subjects they would otherwise be secretive about.
Finally, the Gm should add to the descriptions of the Guild KEEP signs of the siege. The Dm is encouraged to be innovative but first decide how near of a thing it was. This could influence descriptions of areas, add encounter ideas and quests and generally deepen the game play. An example would be: an unlucky attack broke the stained-glass window at K17 (Below) the players stumble across the priest directing his assistants in inspecting the glass (one on top of a rickety ladder held by the other two) having been busy until now they determine the only way to repair the damage is though collecting materials to infuse in the glass to make the colors. Still needing other hands, the priest may offer the job to the players who must collect tilling’s, a branch from the drumwood if it exists and a semi-rare local lichen and mineralized water (eventually the characters will realize the tilling’s must come from area AE, a branch from AA, lichen from R1, the water must come from any area that mentions blind cave fish) in order to properly match colors
Keep Rumors these are some of the rumors that may be found about the local area
- An “Eastern Dragon Clan” is moving into the area in revenge for the slaying of their beloved icon. (if true, the players could find themselves in a first contact situation)
- The Mountain itself is spewing forth its evil like pus spilling from a wound in revenge for the slaughtering of its beloved master. (if true the characters may need to find a way to pacify the mountain, its magics or kill it depending upon how the players and the Dm wish to have it go)
- Wanderers mention coming across a small cottage wherein there is a strange man who sits awake yet cannot remember he stands guard over an unnaturally beautiful woman who he seems to think remembers yet cannot awake. The handsome man mutters to himself that if she should just awake he would remember and then sleep. And she would take his place as being awake yet forgetful.
- It is rumored that Franco was trained by a Blue Dragon out of the desert.
- Not all are as it seems, there are dark forces at work within the keep. Mao Ping is secretly rich. The darkest of these rumors insist his wealth is from using his ‘art’ to send secret messages often for enemies of the good lands.
- the valley is sentient, perhaps a legacy of the dragon, something that led to its destruction or even something moving in afterwards.
- There is a terrible Were-beast that stalks the valley seeking to haul off the unwary to a terrible doom.
- Teeth of a monstrous mole that died when it came to the surface of the earth is somewhere in the area. These have several properties that may be accessed by any spell caster of 7th level or higher.
- If a stave dies while being carried something dire happens to the bearer.
- A new temple is to be built (this could reference area L the rumor being old or a suspicion about Mao being bandied about)
- Fire is useless against the denizens of the Broken Lands and some even draw strength from Flames, Especially magical ones!! (at the Dm’s option this may be true for Pyre Beetles as one way to make the campaign interesting)
- Perhaps the Dragon was corrupted or weakened by a local (magical or environmental) instability letting the warrior cunningly get in and out.
DM Note: there are several NPC’s who would like help in the KEEP. In addition to whatever appropriate fiscal rewards negotiated through roleplaying (and the DM is advised to keep these small) completion of each minor mission should net between 100 and 500 xp (judged by the Gm to place on par for difficulty) to be split among the party for aiding their fellows as well as being noted as worthy of attention, interest and friendship from the aided NPC. Some of these are incompatible with each other (the Alchemist and the Smith have a few potential conflicting desires as an example) and the Dm is free to add more as seen fit.