Thursday, January 30, 2020

Rumbles from B2 The Keep on The Borderlands By Gary Gygax - Cha'alt/Godbound Campaign Commentary

I've been going over my Cha'alt/Godbound notes & on the side reading through Gary Gygax's B2 Keep on the Borderlands module again. I've played through, been killed in, dungeon mastered, this module over & over again. I'm convinced that B2 Keep on the Borderlands is a military module in the sense that the PC's are called into a backwater village, area, & former battle ground between the forces of Law & Chaos.
Yeah this is a beginning & introductory module for B/X Dungeons & Dragons but this is one of its strengths. This is the module where so many players PC's died & they cut their teeth in the plains & woods of the Borderlands.

When you go looking at two great internet resources for B2 there are two that come to mind one is Zenopus Archives B2 Keep on the Borderlands section & the second is of course Dragon Foot's B2 Keep on the Borderlands Index . We of course used an unholy combination of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons mixed with B/X Dungeons & Dragons. But here's the part that did in mine & my uncle's head; "The following text appears in the 1st print that was removed for the 2nd print:

While originally designed to be played with BASIC D&D, the situations and places used in KEEP ON THE BORDERLANDS may also be used by players of ADVANCED DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS.

To use with AD&D, the DM will find no difficulty in using the maps or room descriptions of the Keep and the Caves of Chaos. He or she may wish to expand or ignore the wilderness map and perhaps substitute personalized ideas for those listed. It will be necessary to alter some of the information on the characters found in the Keep to be consistent with AD&D. Likewise, the monsters found in the Caves of Chaos should be converted to AD&D (hit dice, alignment, damage, etc.). For experienced players it may be useful to include some more challenging monsters and more tricks and traps.

As the party increases in level, care should be taken to see that they do not rule or take over the Keep. This may be done by having the main characters of the Keep increase in level and magic items to remain above the average of the party. If the party is 6th level on average, the Castellan should be 9th or 10th level. Alternately, if the DM wishes to use this area for future low-level play, he or she may encourage the players to travel elsewhere in search of adventure."

Our party came back into the Caves of Chaos & cleaned the place out with an army of hirelings & mercenaries hired with the treasure from the caves. But little did we know what trouble we were headed into! In fact my uncle didn't take that advice & our party after dying in the moat house of  T1 Village of Hommlet  numerous times! Came back to take over the keep. His version of the keep resembled the famous painting 'Windsor Castle From The South'. But make no mistake at this was a Sword & Sorcery version of Greyhawk. Our PC's didn't murder the royals already in the keep. No instead they were called in on a battle that was brewing in the south. 
We moved in & they died in the battle that was played out as a war game. And this is where the trouble began. We had to keep up with numerous adventures to keep the treasure & economy of the local region running. 

Windsor Castle from the South artist unknown made about 1685 

In order to get the locals back on their feet & Hommlet into shape we had to use numerous dungeon treasures to fund our operations. And we ended up in the deep end of the pool especially in Blackmoor. Especially messing around the time & space gate deep below 
the Caverns of Quasqueton. That time space gate enabled us to adventure on Gamma Terra, & into the time slips of Dave Arneson's  Blackmoor. And found ourselves in the dungeons of 'Empire of the Petal Throne' rpg . Note that we almost died horribly in the dungeons of Petal Throne.
For some reason that time gate resembled the one from the original Star Trek's episode 'City on the Edge of Forever'. So we were no strangers to gonzo fantasy & science fantasy adventures.

The problem is that the high level  PC's of my uncle's game are still sitting on the thrones of  the Borderlands & Hommlet!? My uncle ended up dying in the 90's but I've kept his notes through many explayers, ex girl friends, an apartment fire, & seven moves. That note book isn't far from me. And over the years I've used this version of Greyhawk being in the shadow of Hyperborea. Lit by the same weird red giant sun as the one in Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea rpg system.
Like Homer's Illiad & the Odyssey the gods themselves could die on the battle fields of Greyhawk. The fact is that no one was safe from when war shook Greyhawk. Even a few of Arthur's minor knights bit the dust that day.

"Eric Pape's illustration for Lyrics and Old World Idylls
 by Madison J. Cawein (1907). " King Arthur shook And headlong flung Sir Accolon. Then took, Tearing away, that scabbard from his side And hurled it through the lists, that far and wide Gulped in the battle breathless. Then, still wroth, He seized Excalibur; and grasped of both Wild hands, swung trenchant, and brought glittering down On rising Accolon. Steel, bone and Brawn That blow hewed through. Unsettled every sense. Bathed in a world of blood, his limbs lay tense A moment, then grew limp, relaxed in death." (Cawein's "Accolon of Gaul" (1889), p. 285)"

What does any of this have to do with Cha'alt?  Quite a bit as the Cha'alt wave activate below 
the time & space gate deep below the Caverns of Quasqueton. This is going to alert the royals of Greyhawk. And several NPC's are going to venturing to see what the problem is. 

These NPC's are champions of Law in the Moorcock sense of it. My uncle was a great fan of Gary Gygax's Greyhawk novels  & his character Gord The Rogue. Our characters followed the dangerous path of eternal champions & it was a very painful one indeed.

These NPC royals are going to bringing in their own armies to see what's happening on this Earth. Note that the time space gates can cause time slips & jumps causing all kinds of havoc with past & future.
Note the following changes from standard Greyhawk: 
  1. This is a Sword & Sorcery version of Greyhawk & much closer to AS&SH in scope & tone. 
  2. The gods of Law & Chaos are much more active & hands on here. 
  3. Death is very real & dangerous. 
  4. There are numerous gates between Blackmoor, Mystara, & Greyhawk. 
  5. The division of Elves, their gods, & the evil god Elves is very real here. 
  6. Fey & Fairyland have much more sway here & are straight out of mythology. 
  7. This is a Greyhawk that has charted a path similar to the Greyhawk out of Gary Gygax's Greyhawk novels  & his character Gord The Rogue. But Gord was ousted in a take over & became an agent of the gods of neutrality. 
  8. Luz & his ilk are extremely active! 
  9. The powers of Mystara interfere in Greyhawk & vice versa. The Tienne d'Ambreville, the most powerful wizard in all Glantri has been a pain in the arse numerous times. 
  10. The forces of Chaos include those of Lawful Evil on their flip side  version of Evil Law in other words Hell & the Inferno. Both of which are connected to the Abyss but the whole thing is murky at best & the affairs of evil & black wizards. 
Cha'alt's Lovecraftian forces are looking at this tasty morsel called Greyhawk now?! And there are already adventurers within California working for the royals of Hommlet. Can the halls of the Black Pyramid cope with the forces of Law?! What about the samples of 
 xanthium-183 that have made their way to the laboratories & alchemy labs of Greyhawk?! 

Note that my player's PC's can & will throw all of this into utter chaos. I'll have to roll with the punches & move on in the campaign. This is too be expected & welcomed! 

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