Doggerland

This page will have details added as I manage to write them up for the AD&D campaign that I am currently running at the Wednesday RPG club. 

Doggerland - A Potted History
This new campaign is based in my antediluvian imaginary world of Doggerland (see previous posts on the blog for an update on what went on there). This game is set around 1000 years after the events in that game - in the year 963...

The Cantwaran Confederation collapsed soon after the death of Bran mak Morn due to there being no strong leader to keep the disparate tribes and warlords together for a common purpose.

The League of Borre and the Divine Bergen Hegemony managed to hold out for a while longer before they too began to slowly diminish in influence. Both retreated back to their original environs leaving a void between the three regions that fell back to barbarism.

After a couple of hundred years in the doldrums, the Thuringian Empire gained momentum in the east and became increasingly richer through the trade of exotic spices, new technologies and a new monotheistic religion, and was therefore able to start its expansion back into Doggerland. This took a while to gain momentum, but once it did the various territories of the Cantwaran Confederation were only able to resist for a short while, before eventually succumbing to the advances by the Thuringians.

The large area of dense forest and roiling rivers left behind after the four main powers retreated became a place for evil tribes of men to rise up once more. Ancient cities became lost within the dense forestlands and creatures of nightmare haunted what remained. The great evil of Cromm Cruach, the great worm lord of the Void, that had been kept at bay was now able to exert his influence over the lands once more.

The new order and equally new eastern religion brought forth by the Thuringians was seen by many to be their salvation. Others saw it otherwise and fought hard for their homelands.

The map below shows the current situation in Doggerland. The individual territories of the old Cantwaran Confederation have become part of the hegemony of the Thuringian Empire – divided up into counties and duchies and ruled by the Thuringian elite. However, the majority of the people still worship their old gods and resent their new overlords. Rebellion is boiling in many places.

Borre has become quiet of late but dragon ship raids along the coast have begun again in earnest. The Bergen Hegemony has become very introspective but their strange rituals and equally strange religion has meant that they do not take part in the goings on in Doggerland.


Vannin - Where it all takes place
This RPG campaign takes place in Vannin, a few leagues south-east of the main fortress capital of the county of Loidis. The people of this ex-Cantwaran Confederation territory are just beginning to feel the strain of the yoke that their Thuringian overlords are exerting upon them. The Thuringians have replaced the upper echelons of society with their own people and are just beginning to make their presence felt more effectively. All Old Faith temples have been razed and new churches for the worship of Sol Invictus have replaced them. A large proportion of the population have converted to the new monotheistic religion with its many saints but some just pay lip service to the new religion whilst they worship the deities of the Old Faith - a multi-faceted pantheistic religion concerned with man’s place within nature and the universe - in secret in groves within the forests that abound this region. There are also rumours spreading of an old evil returning from the east. With the Old Faith on the back foot in Doggerland, the old enemy Cromm Cruach and his multitude of demon accomplices, is once more in the ascendency. Below is a map of Vannin and its immediate neighbours.


The map below represents the small area in which the adventures take place. The River Abis and the most northerly part of the Great Gnarley are the main topographical features, with the Imeryds Run and Darenth rivers too small to appear on the map above. The main river confluence just to the north of the Abis in the upper map is just off map to the right in the lower map.


As I unveil the campaign world, this blog page will reflect the area maps and details of the places that the PCs travel to. So, to start, here is a brief overview of High Beeches...

High Beeches
The action for this campagn begins in the small hamlet of High Beeches; a tiny area of the campaign world but with a lot going on. It is a tiny hamlet nestled in a wide river valley on the edge of the farthest reaches of the Great Gnarley (a huge forested area that stretches from High Beeches to the Silver Lake). Its denizens practice both agriculture and animal husbandry meaning that it can supply many of the surrounding towns and villages with a variety of foodstuffs.

 

Darenth Ford
The second village that the adventurers have got to is Darenth Ford. This is the largest village that the adventurers have seen so far. It is also the first place that they have encountered the ruling Thuringian elites in their particular neck of the woods. Each individual family lives in a walled off croft and toft with their fields on the hills around. A few of the villagers farm animals too, so the village has a rather mixed economy.


This is a plan of Sir Richard's manor. It consists of several buildings, all made of stone which is in contrast to the majority of the usual buildings contsructed in Vannin, that are built in wattle and daub with thatched roofs. Other buildings that the Thuringians construct are cruck and plaster with wooden shingle roofs; the majority of inns and taverns are constructed in this way.


Ostverk
The adventurers have also passed through Ostverk, a tiny hamlet with fewer buildings than even High Beeches! The small chapel devoted to Sol Invictus is constructed of wood and caters for a congregation that only numbers a dozen or so villagers. This village gives itself over to agricultural produce only.

Staneford
This is the main village where the plot comes together. It is heavily based on the Village of Hommlet module T1 by TSR (so no peeking please players). The buildings are all cruck and plaster with many having stone foundations. It is also the home of the first fortification that the players have seen. The NPCs are also much more powerful than those they have encountered so far.


The Moat House in the Fens
Just a few hours' journey eastwards from the village of Staneford, situated in the fens by the banks of the Imeryds Run, is a ruined moat house which used to be an outpost of the Temple. This was razed after the threat from the Temple was negated. Rumours abound that the bandit raids reported over the last year are centred around this old fortification. Old game trails through the fens and parts of the Gnarley Forest are back in use and signs of activity are growing more numerous.


Both of these images (as well as many of the black and white images contained within the main text of  the blog entries) are copyright TSR/Wizards of the Coast - used without permission but purely for game playing purposes.

The Dungeon below
Below the moat house is an extensive dungeon complex built to accomodate the nefarious plans of the original owners of the fortification to forward the expansionist policies of the Temple.

Used without permission - TSR/WotC
Nulb
The village of Nulb is a run-down village that has yet to come under the auspices of the Thuringian Empire. It is a place full of ne'er-do-wells; pirates, brigands and other distatsteful members of society tend to congregate here, especially since the rise of the Temple a decade ago. Seemingly, the renewal of bandit raids in the region coincided with an increase in the number of pirates and brigands sailing up the river to Nulb from Castleford. The normal barge- and fisher-folk who ply their trade upon the river tend to stay away from their troublesome neighbours but disputes often spill over to harm the innocent.
Map of Nulb
Many of the buildings are run-down and shabby, made of the cheapest and worst quality materials. The only buildings of note being: the two inns, the Boatmen's Tavern and the Waterside Hostel; the blacksmiths (the local smith makes very fine weaponry and armour); the herb shop where all manner of healing salves and potions can be found; and the Temple to Woden (the church of Sol Invictus not being present in the village yet).

Some commerce moves along the roadways, but the majority of trade is by water, up and down the Imeryds Run that naturally pools at this point in its journey, making it deep enough for larger ships to reach this far inland. However, the waterways are patrolled by pirates and travel upon the river at this point is deemed too risky for most small-time merchants.

The Waterside Hostel
One of the larger establishments in Nulb. Run by ostler Dick Rentsch and his side-kick Wat it is a den of ne'er-do-wells if ever there was one. At the Battle of Imeryds Run, this was the primary target for the adventurers as they thought it contained the remnants of the moat house denizens.

Abiswick
This is a large village/small town that nestles upon the river terraces above the great river Abis. It has a small docklands area that enables some commerce to take place and a large round watch tower built to the same specifications as the one in Staneford. The population is about double that of Staneford; perhaps 7-800 souls who partake in a mixed farming/fishing economy. Many traders pass through the town between Loidis and Castleford either by river or road. The main inn is the Rampant Lion

The ruling Thuringian elite consists of the following personalities, who all reside in the tower high up on the motte or the Sol Invictus temple:
Lord Gilbert (a high ranking knight)
Lady Emma (his chaplain)
Lady Clothilde (his vizier)
5 mounted knights
2 lances of gendarmes
40 men-at-arms

The Broch
This was the mad druid's abode in an especially old and spooky part of the forest a few leagues south of Abiswick. This is where the terrible weather had been affected by magical means. It was made back in the times of the old Cantwaran Confederation about a thousand years previously. It consists of a core stone-built broch that had its outer wall vitrified to make it smoother and stronger.


The Druid's Broch
Steeplefell
A sleepy village a little off the beaten track but still close to one of the main trade routes between the Silver Lake and Abiswick. Not much had really happened in this village until a rogue druid decided to make off with most of the village's young maidens. The main inn in the village is The Gryphon.


The Pool of the Standing Stones
The heavily forested area around Steeplefell is dotted with the remnants of the Old People. One of these ancient sites consists of a ring of ancient stones that surround a large pool of water. It was rumoured that the missing maidens were taken to this pool by the visiting druid and then handed over to a bone devil in the employ of the demoness Zuggtmoy.


Castleford
Castleford is the largest town in the county of Loidis other than the capital itself. It is home to around 1,600-1,700 souls. The town is divided into five districts within the walls; the Castle, the Upper Quarter where the nobles live, the Merchants' Quarter, the Artisans' Quarter and The Wynde - a warren of narrowly winding streets and a den of iniquity if ever there was one. Outside the castle walls are two smaller districts; the Western Docks and Mill outside the western gates, and the South Walk outside the southern gates. The docks cater for trading vessels that ply their trade up and down the Imeryds Run and onto the great River Abis to the north. The Mill is situated upon the island where it can take advantage of the fast flowing channel on the town side of the river. All of the town's grain is milled here.
The Town Council consists of twelve members of the upper echelons of Castleford society;
The Castellan, the baron Tancred
The Vizier, the lady Mathilde
The High Priest, lord Ralph
3 Priests from the various non-Sol Invictus temples within Castleford
4 Merchant representatives
2 Artisan representatives

Within Castleford there is a large military contingent. This contingent contains the bulk of the army that patrols and defends the southern and eastern areas of Loidis, whilst the military from Loidis itself defends the western and northern areas. There are around 400 troops stationed here; far more than to be expected for such a small town.

The Temple
The Demoness Zuggtmoy was imprisoned within the self-same temple she raised to spread her dominion over Doggerland. Only a few of the old heroes from that previous encounter exist, thus facilitating the need for a new breed of heroes to take over the mantle and both destroy the Temple and banish Zuggtmoy once and for all.
The Temple (courtesy of TSR/Wizards of the Coast)
The Temple is located within an especially degraded area within the Gnarley Forest a few hours' journey east by south-east of the village of Nulb.

Thuringian Military Organisation
Mounted Contingents (recruited from landed classes and some freemen):

Knight (heavy cavalry) - Warhorse, chain/plate armour, shield, lance, sword/mace/axe, side arm
Hobilar (scout/medium cavalry) - Sturdy pony (12-14 hands), leather, shield, lance, sword, side arm
Gendarme (mounted archer) - Light warhorse,  leather/padded, bow, sword, side arm

Lance - a unit of 6 mounted men-at-arms for light patrol duties consisting of...
A knight (medium warhorse)
A hobilar (sturdy pony classed as light warhorse)
A scribe/page (usually unarmed as s/he relies on spells for defence)
3 gendarmes (light warhorse)

Conroi - a unit of 10-30 troops...
Led by a senior knight on a heavy warhorse
Scribe/page for spell power
Deacon for healing prowess
Up to 30 knights on medium to heavy warhorse

Foot soldiers (recruited from freemen and some landed classes):

Castellan - Captain of a castle - usually of noble birth, i.e. a knight
Vizier - a highly ranked mage and scribe
Canon - a highly ranked cleric to administer to the spiritual needs of the men
Sergeant - aide to a castellan

Millenar - Leader of 1,000 men-at-arms
Centenar - Leader of 100 men-at-arms
Vintenar - Leader of 20 men-at-arms

Men-at-arms are usually sectioned in units of 20 or so soldiers led by a vintenar. They can be armed with a variety of weapons but tend towards armour, shield, polearm/spear, sword and side arm

The local Thuringian lords can also call upon the might of their conquered/subjugated peoples in the form of local fyrds or warbands depending upon which territory they come from. These will have their own organisation but subordinate to the Thuringian military order.

Guilds and Other Bodies
Most towns and villages in Vannin had their own social and political structures before the arrival of the Thuringians. Villagers would look to their council of elders (usually made up from the head man, a religious official, the smith, the miller and any important dignitaries (traders or merchants of families of good standing). Meetings would generally be held either on the evening of the New or Full Moon. All matters of village life would be discussed with an open forum for 'normal' villagers to have their voices held or grievances aired.

The local military would have consisted of all able bodied men between the ages of 16 and 45, who would take up arms in a state of emergency - they had no actual standing armies (only the local lords had their own contingency of hearth guards - professional warriors who defended their lords). These local militia would be poorly trained and poorly equipped and generally would not last five minutes in a real battle. However, they were ideal for holding out against bandits and brigands as they would win through weight of numbers rather than skill at arms.

Larger towns would consist of guilds, mayors and so. Each town could afford to pay for a local standing town guard (semi-trained and reasonably well-armed they could hold their own defending their town but would suffer if they had to face a well-trained professional army). The taxes raised from the people, tradesmen, merchants and guilds would pay for much of the defensive expenditure as well as the usual everyday running of the towns (upkeep of roads, lighting, sewerage and so forth).

The towns are generally where guilds are to be found. There are many merchants guilds and also trades guilds - one for each type of business (black smiths, silver smiths, bakers, millers etc.), as well as guilds for the local thieves, assassins, magicians and illusionists.

Guilds tend to be made up of their most senior members (who make the decisions on how the guilds are run) as well as the actual tradesmen and many lay members (apprentices, family members, servants etc.)

Merchants' Guilds
These are found in most large towns and their membership is made up of most of the merchants based in the local area (not necessarily just that particular town).

Thieves' Guild
These guilds are secretive and will consist of members who are not just thieves by trade. The town's thieves' guild will also house a whole host of beggars, pimps, prostitutes, slavers, brigands and bandits as well as strong-arms who are often used by the state officials to collect unpaid taxes.

They speak a secret language that consists of slang words, hand signs, and body and facial movements. Each guild will have its own set of code and passwords as well as something (a tattoo, an item of clothing or jewellery etc.) that identifies the thieves as members as well as those who are friends (sometimes on short-term arrangements).

Any thief that is new to the town must make themselves known to the guild master and explain his reasons so that he is not suspected of trying to encroach on their manor.

2 comments:

  1. So Loidis is Leeds? (Because at the map it looks like it.)

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  2. That is correct. In my Doggerland campaign, that is set thousands of years before the great flood, Loidis is a city that was built on the location of present day Leeds. Loidis is also the old name for Leeds.

    Some of the other names are for towns and villages in that area too, but also from my home area or just plain made up.

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