Monday, January 9, 2012

Gothic Greyhawk - What's it About?

We finally got to resume my long-running quasi-AD&D campaign this past weekend.  I say quasi-AD&D, because we're using basically the BX rules with Labyrinth Lord's Advanced Edition Companion - all the good stuff from AD&D without the dubious sub systems.

There are two good reasons for a quick overview of the campaign - first, it seems like two months since a campaign report, and second, the latest events in the campaign hearken back to the earliest days of the campaign, two summers ago.  Memories just aren’t that good for campaign minutiae.

Why Is It Called Gothic Greyhawk?
I have a deep respect for all the creative things touched by Gygax, despite my quibbles with some rules , so when the players clamored for a return to a traditional Dungeons & Dragons experience after our divorce from 4E, it had to be Greyhawk.  Most of these guys had never played the early AD&D modules and they specifically requested a campaign that featured the classics.  Ravenloft was also on the list.

My vision of Greyhawk was to treat it like a folkloric early Medieval setting, emphasizing a strong monotheistic church, devils and fallen angels, ghosts, faeries, vampires, werewolves, witches, and things that go bump in the night.  We set the campaign in the misty river valleys of the Earldom of Sterich, placed the hidden valley of Barovia at the headwaters of the Davish river, and unleashed a bevy of 1st level characters into a hex crawl sandbox centered on Mittleberg - this all began a year and a half ago.

Recent History
The last 6-7 months of the campaign took place in Barovia, where the characters matched wits with the vampire lord Strahd von Zarovitch.  Strahd was nuked by a Dispel Evil scroll about halfway through the time period, but the group spent months fighting a guerilla war against all the free-willed vampires, previously under Strahd's control, that now strove for supremacy over the castle and village.  Notable energy drainers appeared, such as The White Lady, The Top-Hat Man, sexy Gertrude and Helga, Sasha the Vampire Queen, and various minor vampire spawn - including risen PC's previously killed by the vampires, like the cleric Barzai the Wise.

Before the holidays, the group concluded the campaign against the vampires and were in sole possession of Ravenloft Castle (under new management); Mister Moore pledged marriage to the daughter of the previous mayor of Barovia, Ireena, and they've assumed the titles Lord and Lady of the new land.  They immediately started rebuilding the valley.

The next campaign journal resumes with the characters sending envoys out of Barovia, back down into the lowlands, to determine the state of the world.

Useful Background for Upcoming Journals
The big event that characterized the early days of Gothic Greyhawk was when the group released 13,000 hungry dead out of Death Mountain (the LOTFP adventure Death Frost Doom); the tide of zombies and ghouls swept into the river valley, overrunning the human settlements of Mittleberg and Poignard (see map here).  The player characters made a deal with the ancient vampire, Cyris Maximus, to avoid the horde, and they ended up going the opposite direction, deeper into the Joten Mountains.  Along the way they had encounters with a powerful witch, lycanthropes, and the dwarven citadel of Stonegate.

Another element that should be remembered as the story resumes is the conflict between the lowland Oeridians and the Flannish hill folk.  In the early days of the campaign, the lord of Mittleberg was supporting the Church in its effort to send missionaries into the high country to preach to the hill folk; when the latest missionary was murdered by the hill shamans, plans were drawn up for a spring campaign to march an army into the hills and sack the vales where the druidic shamans held sway.  The folk of Mittleberg were swept away by the zombie horde before this campaign ever happened.

The folk of the hills, in their high mountain vales, persisted.

Cast of Characters
Here's the crew - although I need to confirm the current levels are accurate.  Since the campaign started, we’ve had 16 character deaths.

Player Characters:
Mordecai, a Cleric-7: Adam
Forlorn, an Elf-5: Bo
Mister Moore, Magic User-6: Mike
Shy, a Fighter-6:  JR
Leonidas the Paladin-5:  Nogal
Digit, the Elf Thief-7:  Z
Konstantine, Magic User-5: Smitty

Henchmen:Ireena, a Fighter - 5
Phat Kobra, a Dwarf-5
Grumble the Smug, Halfling-5
Donavich, Cleric-4
Boris, Druid-3
Vlad the Inhaler, Magic User-1