Monday, June 27, 2011

Castles in OD&D

Of the three little brown books, often refereed to as OD&D, there is one sections I have always found myself glancing over: Volume 3 Underworld and Wilderness Adventures. While I often read over the reference the dungeon portion of the booklet, I seem to gloss over or forget everything past page 14.

Determined to look it over, I'm going to starting writing about a few of the more interesting sections in some detail on this blog. Call is "Selective Underworld and Wilderness Adventures Page 14 to Cover," if you will (although that's a bit of an ungrammatical mouth full even for me).

Castles: According to page 15, castle inhabitants other than Patriarchs are either hostile or neutral towards adventurers. Thus there's a 1 in 6 chance of a castle being friendly to outsiders, a 2 in 6 chance of being neutral, and a 3 in 6 chance of being hostile (I'm counting Evil High Priests in this category, as well). Not very good odds for the survival of low level adventurers, in my opinion.

Castles ruled by Fighting-Men can be made more friendly by defeating the castle's champion in a jousting match. Otherwise, the party much pay a 100 to 600 gp toll to enter the city at all--quite a steep fee in my opinion, but the payoff of one month's room and board, two week's additional rations, and the use of the castle's heavy warhorses is quite a nice reward for a successful tilt.

Even neutral a magic-user will send the party on a quest via a Geas spell "with the magic-user taking at least half of all treasure so gained" or demand a 1000 to 4000 gp toll or a magic item. I guess players need to have a good reason to deal with a magic-user in order for that deal to be worth it. Actually, I quite like this set up, as it keeps high level magic-user from becoming too frequent or friendly.

Clerics, on the other hand, only demand at 10% tithe--which is a manageable feat for character of any level. Although the cleric could also send the players on a Quest (as per the spell) if they do not want to pay the toll. Not as bad as the magic-user if the players are low level, but much worse for higher level characters (unless they accept the quest).

In addition to a magic-user, fighting-man, or cleric ruler, there will also be a number of guards and retainers in the primary occupant's service. Each type of occupant will have a different type of head guard, which can be rolled for. For example, a Superhero may have 8 Myrmidons, 4 Roc being ridden 4 heroes, 4 Ogres, or 10 Swashbucklers. A Wizard, on the other hand may have 4 Dragons, 4 Balrogs, 4 Wyverns, or 4 Basilisks.

The walls will also be manned by 30 to 180 (3d6x10) men, half light footmen with crossbows and half heavy footmen. Likewise, A Fighting-Man has of chance of having a mid- to high-level magic-user or cleric in his service; a magic-user for a Fighting-Man or Apprentice; and a cleric for 1-6 assistants.

Overall, I think the use of these rules could make for a very fun campaign, albeit a difficult one for lower-level adventurers. The only real problem I have is that these rules don't make for very inviting home bases for characters. They are much better suited for castles in distant lands or small kingdoms previously unknown to the players.

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