Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Swords & Sorcery Commentary On B2 Keep on the Borderland By Gary Gygax For Your Old School Campaigns

 "The Realm of mankind is narrow and constricted. Always the forces of Chaos press upon its borders, seeking to enslave its populace, rape its riches, and steal its treasures. If it were not for a stout few, many in the Realm would indeed fall prey to the evil which surrounds them. Yet, there are always certain exceptional and brave members of humanity, as well as similar individuals among its allies - dwarves, elves, and halflings - who rise above the common level and join battle to stave off the darkness which would otherwise overwhelm the land. Bold adventurers from the Realm set off for the Borderlands to seek their fortune. It is these adventurers who, provided they survive the challenge, carry the battle to the enemy."

 "Such adventurers meet the forces of Chaos in a testing ground where only the fittest will return to relate the tale. Here, these individuals will become skilled in their profession, be it fighter or magic-user, cleric or thief. They will be tried in the fire of combat, those who return, hardened and more fit. True, some few who do survive the process will turn from Law and good and serve the masters of Chaos, but most will remain faithful and ready to fight chaos wherever it threatens to infect the Realm."

 B2 Keep on The Borderlands By Gary Gygax is the quintessnial B/X adventure & came with the Basic Dungeons & Dragons set for many years. And yet here is one of the most recognizable Basic D&D adventures & one of the most easily adaptable for a wide variety of games including other OSR retroclones. B2 was meant to make sure that both the players & the dungeon master were able to become proficient at Basic Dungeons & Dragons. This blog entry is going to pick right up from this blog entry here. 

The adventure plot according to the B2 Keep on the Borderlands wiki entry; "Player characters begin by arriving at the keep which they can adopt as a base before investigating the series of caverns in the nearby hills that are teeming with monsters. These Caves of Chaos house multiple species of vicious humanoids. Plot twists include a treacherous priest within the keep, hungry lizardmen in a nearby swamp, and a mad hermit in the wilderness. It typifies the dungeon crawls associated with beginning D&D players, while permitting some limited outdoor adventures." The two big factors are the string of fortresses along the ancient borders & the nearby Caves of Chaos. The question is why are the fortresses there & why have the Caves of Chaos exploded with humanoid forces?
Let's assume that the for the sake of argument that B1 Insearch of The Unknown By Mike Carr twisted into a part of Sword & Sorcery campaign that B2 follows the same path. Something within the Caverns of Quasqueton might have stirred up the forces of Chaos around the keep. This also is tied to activity within the Temple of Elemental Evil. Why would there be multiple species of humanoids within the Caves of Chaos?! Simple the humanoids are actually under the influence of some Lovecraftian horror or god. 
These influences overide the natural inclintation of the humanoids allowing them to organize on an instinctive level. This becomes very dangerous to the inhabitants of the keep as the military forces gather at the temple of Chaos within the caves. 

The keep is a part of a series of keeps that have fallen into ruin. The keep is focus point for the locals to trade, as a safe place from the wilderness surrounding the keep, and there are literally hundreds of monsters waiting to take back the keep & return it to the chaos of the wilderness. 

Over the years of using B1 & B2 the PC's have taken over the fortress  of Rogahn the Fearless and Zelligar the Unknown instead of the keep. This isn't a problem as long as the PC's have a handle on the humanoid forces around the keep. There for I've placed the keep near the hidden valley of the fortress of  Rogahn the Fearless and Zelligar the Unknown. Usually near the ancient borders of the wilderness of Hyperborea. All of this is preperation for setting up the PC's to take on the challenge of T1-4 The Temple of Elemental Evil! We'll cover that coming up! 

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