Post by davegibsongreyhawkdm on Nov 6, 2017 13:42:36 GMT -5
What starting points have you used for a VOH/TOEE campaign start? It describes in VOH that PCs ride into town from the wild coast poorly mounted, badly equipped, with no large sums of cash. In the past I have started Greyhawk campaigns directly at this module suggested starting point, without gaming any start in the wild coast and overland journey to Hommlett. I was considering if it would be worthwhile to instead start the PCs in the wild coast, say in Narwell, where they could buy mounts and gear and pick up some rumors and background? And then journey to Hommlett with some introductory adventuring along the way? These players all have zero 1e experience. If you have used a wild coast start in your campaign, where have you started PCs and what kind of introductory adventuring have you done on the way to VOH?
That's exactly how I've set up my theoretical next game. Play starts in Narwell, which I've developed in some detail. The players can meet various NPCs (including TOEE cultists/agents, St. Cuthbert priests, and merchants who ply the forest-road route) that will point them in the direction of Hommlet and the Temple ruins, and can also get in over their heads with the local crime-bosses in Narwell giving them a good reason for an expedient change of scenery. This is consistent with how T1 mentions that characters with some prior experience (up to 2nd or even 3rd level) are suitable for the adventure as long as they don't bring in a lot of money or magical gear.
Post by davegibsongreyhawkdm on Nov 6, 2017 14:12:14 GMT -5
That sounds great! Do you have any Narwell details/maps and/or maps/details en route from Narwell to VOH that you are willing to share? Do you have some specific rumors/hooks that you plan to use for PC motivation leading from Narwell to VOH?
Not yet, because I'm not actually running this campaign. I've got a bunch of notes on Narwell and the surrounding area written in long-hand in a notebook, but no maps or specific encounters or anything like that yet. It's very hard for me to find motivation to do that kind of stuff unless I've got an actual-play deadline looming in front of me.
Scott did exactly this in a campaign he started one time. We started in Narwell and explored a ruins and small dungeon that I believe was formerly a shrine of St Cuthbert. We fought a ghoul and found some trunks containing uniforms with the Fiery Eye sewn on them, and a little bit of treasure ("You know these guys are seriously invested if they had T-shirts made up" someone commented). I know the intent was to lead into T1 with a connection to the brigands, but unfortunately we never continued with that party. But I knew what Scott was doing, and I thought it was a great idea. One of the stumbling blocks I always run into with T1 is that players never want NPC help if it means giving up a large share treasure. With 2nd or 3rd level characters, they have a chance to do the moat house dungeon on their own.
Post by davegibsongreyhawkdm on Nov 17, 2017 8:45:16 GMT -5
I am looking into development of the town of Narwell to start the campaign to VOH. It states in the WOG folio that there is a 2,900 human population + many Demi-humans and humanoids. Would this be say 300-500 per each Demi-human and humanoid populations at Narwell? What rough mixture of different Demi-human and humanoid types would be expected? Would the humanoids be solely half-orcs and orcs, or would other types be present like kobolds, goblins, hobgoblins, ogre magi, evolved lizard men, and/or wererats? Would chaotic evil type humanoids reside in Narwell?
IMO, one of the defining traits of EGG D&D and Greyhawk, one of the things that should differentiate Greyhawk from other settings, is that it's very humanocentric. Take Hommlet for example, not a single Demi-human in the hamlet. I believe the "many" listing for Demi-humans and humanoids in the Guide refers to the whole of the Wild Coast, including the eastern half of the Gnarley, Welkwood, and Suss, and not the cities. Demi-human/humanoids within the city would be incidental. Also, Narwell should probably be one of the centers for the followers of St. Cuthbert, who probably do their best to impose order within the town, which would not be very attractive to the more free spirited Demi-humans, or the less civilized humanoids. It is the Wild Coast though, so bands of humanoid mercenaries passing through wouldn't be unheard of, and a small number of gnomes from the Gnarley/Kron hills might be encountered.
Specifically, IMO, you'd find a scattering of half orcs mixed in with the population, transient bands of orc mercenaries, kobolds: no, goblins: no, hobgoblins: same as orcs, ogre magi: no: not openly at least, but one disguised as a human visiting the town as part of some plot maybe. Lizard men: No. Wererats: probably, but not in the open. CE humanoids, no.
Post by geneweigel on Nov 17, 2017 16:06:15 GMT -5
I agree once you start saying that farmer lizardwoman has a crop in town then you've lost something. If its a an animal-headed type its got to be treated like a snarling creature-man and everyone knows it or people just putting up with some weird semi-human being in a pub or it just loses something. Families of orcs living in a slum is right out. Just get rid of any notion of permanency and picture lizardmen and other monster men as permanent transients and then you have the right image.
Dave, you may want to play up the outcast angle for the Wild Coast, as well, since it is described as a place of malcontents, ne'er do-wells and people who don't fit in well, elsewhere. So, it may have places that are atypical. Whenever these conversations about whether there are humanoids in cities and towns come up, I am of two minds. On the one hand Greyhawk is humanocentric, and there should be some contrast maintained between 'town' and 'dungeon' environments, otherwise it is just a hodgepodge. But on the other hand, you could sometimes have oddball places like the cantina in STAR WARS, or "The Dragon's Tooth" tavern in the D&D cartoon that had orcs, troglodytes, bugbears, ogres, trolls, etc. in it, just to shake up expectations -- 'brigand towns' and the like.
I had an idea to make Badwall in the Wild Coast something like this, since it is so close to the Suss Forest and the Pomarj, just to distinguish it from the other Wild Coast towns... Like a town that is collapsing as a civilized place yet still thriving as a place to hire mercenaries. Not that I'd start out novice adventurers in such a place, but it could be a location they may hear of or visit later on.
I had ideas similar to you guys to start out players in or near Narwell as a prelude to going to Hommlet, with a ruins to explore similar to the sample dungeon in the DMG, or perhaps ruined chapel of St Cuthbert or other deity, where they could get a bit of treasure and xp and perhaps find a few helpful, minor magic items like potions of healing, +1 shield, etc. before moving on up to the village of Hommlet. But I also had a completely different campaign sketch of the characters starting out around Narwell yet being drawn in another direction, towards the south, with the Wild Coast being more dangerous and rough the further south they went, and perhaps dealing with the cause of the corruption behind the Suss Forest. But it would depend on what the players are, and what their interests become. For druids, it could be about restoring a forest to its natural state; for elves or dwarves, it could be about dealing with an old threat to their nearby realms; for good aligned characters, it may be about confronting a growing, shadowy evil with a tie into the expansion of the humanoids and Slave Lords of the Pomarj; and for more neutrally aligned or 'selfish' characters, it may simply be about following up on rumors of great treasure or magic to be had there (the last is always the default). But like Trent pointed out, it doesn't always pay to plan things out too far ahead until you find out organically through play what the players are interested in or where their actions take the campaign.
Last Edit: Nov 20, 2017 21:55:41 GMT -5 by GRWelsh
I've played it both ways, preamble adventure, and just rolling them into town. I think VoH is probably the best campaign module ever written. Most modules are more or less fluffed up Con/tournament adventures. Hommlet is, to the core, a campaign adventure. You have the famous level of detail of the town. One of the only low level AD&D adventures that really works treasure in with experience and training rules in mind. Long term allies, etc. I went back and forth, but I've settled on just rolling the PCs into town as complete newbies. I think the module intended a lot of interaction with the local NPCs, and I've noticed that if you make the PCs any more self reliant, they will pass on that opportunity. The one idea I did have was at character creation stress the situation. The party usually maxes out on equipment and doesn't take the trek from the Wild Coast into consideration, like it's no big deal to walk to Hommlet from Narwell when horses are available. The PCs should probably start out riding into town but with with armor begging to be upgraded. Make those first few coins or the armor scavenged from the brigands much more valuable.
Post by davegibsongreyhawkdm on Dec 4, 2017 0:52:05 GMT -5
Thank you all for the response comments - it's helping with my DM preparations!
With the opening to this campaign underway as the DMG sample adventure into a burned down Norebo monastery, I am testing the PCs to see if they can get the hint to bring in extra party resources for the sample dungeon adventure, with the Ferd garrison leader offering up to five heavy footmen for hire. Three PCs went out for the initial expedition, and after dispatching the large spider, they were cornered by four bandits and had to fight for their lives!
Dungeon adventuring is a perilous undertaking at first level, and in my view, odds are heavily stacked against even a VOH moathouse 2nd to 3rd level PC party of three to six, unless they at least hire on a some men-at-arms and preferably some NPCs. Hopefully the educational nudging will work without repeated TPK failures!
What level do you think Burne, Rufus, Terjon, Jaroo, Y'dey, Otis, and Murfles were when EGG brought that PC party to town? That's seven PCs - do you think they adventured with hired mercenaries and other NPCs in their party at VOH and then Nulb?
Gary says in the intro to T1 that "the experienced players were assigned characters with levels above 1st or 2nd" which I'm guessing is a typically-roundabout Gygaxian way of saying 3rd level. Going from the player-list given in Rob Kuntz's El Raja Key DVD, my guess is that those experienced players with 3rd level characters were Ernie (Burne) and Tim Kask (Jaroo). The other players, who presumably started at 1st level, were Heidi, Cindy, and Luke Gygax (Y'dey, Murfles, and Otis, respectively), Skip Williams (Rufus), Tim Jones (Terjon), and possibly somebody else I'm forgetting. That Otis is higher level than all the rest in T1-4 I think is a reflection that Luke continued playing him actively - through at least the G and D series - whereas the rest of the PCs probably didn't see much action once the Temple adventure ended.
I probably have this written down somewhere, this is just going from memory: Burne, originally spelled Berne (pronounced ber-NEY) was Ernie. Jaroo was Tim Kask. Otis started out as an NPC, but was taken over by Luke after his PC died (this is where Otiluke comes from). I can't remember who played Y'dey and who played Rufus, but I think that's it. Everybody else was just a character written for the adventure. When Gary first ran the adventure the 4th level undercover NPC ranger the party met was Otis. After Luke took him over, Gary worked the higher level Otis into the published adventure and invented Elmo to replace him.