Monday, June 21, 2010

OD&D Castle Composition in Random Wilderness Encounters

There are at least four castles in the Dordogne setting I’m using - these are Beynac, Castelnaud, Commarque, and Fayrac. I’ve written here before about my interest in devising a method to stock them - I don’t require a high level of verisimilitude, but having something to base my attempts on would be helpful. The first example I thought of (as maybe most of us would) was the keep from B2. Erin at the OD&D Guild charted this nicely, but I thought for kicks I’d see what the old beige books had to say on the matter.

Volume 3, “The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures” has a table on page 15 with regard to the subject, entitled “Types of Guards / Retainers in Castle.” Granted, this table is for use with random wilderness encounters with castles, but for fun let’s roll on it to see what comes up.

I’m glad to see I’ll be rolling a d6 on it. First roll result = 4. “Necromancer.” This necromancer has a 50/50 chance of being hostile to the party should they pass within one hex (actual distance not directly stated) of the castle. The suggested map to use for something like this was Avalon Hill’s “Outdoor Survival” map - thanks to Thomas Denmark at Original Edition Fantasy for the best online image I could find of the map itself. Note Book 3 says that if you use this map, all of the indicated ponds you should actually assume are castles. The closest to one another I could easily see are only 3 hexes away. Sounds like it would work for my Dordogne map: a couple of pages later, scale is described: “Assume the greatest distance across each hex is 5 miles.”

The table becomes a bit more arcane at this point. I interpret it to mean that having rolled for a Necromancer to inhabit the castle, I should now roll d4 to see what special guards or retainers there are there. Result = 4 again, which indicates d12 Gargoyles. This result is footnoted with the number 12, but I can’t seem to find where this footnote lives. It doesn’t seem to be anywhere in Book 3. Hmm, how many Gargoyles? d4 or d6 again, or something else? No idea. If you haven’t the book handy, you might find it interesting that also listed are such creatures as rocs, ogres, hippogriffs, vampires, and other possibly dubious entries as castle guards.

Moving on to human guards, the rules indicate that if hostile, my Necromancer here requires a magic item from the passersby as toll, and if none are available, d4x1000 gp. clerics will require a 10% tithe from passersby. Since clerics aren’t directly listed on this table, I think I should surmise that Necromancers would demand this. Evil H.P. (Evil High Priests) are noted there though. It says that if no payment is possible, clerics will send the adventurers on some form of Lawful or Chaotic task, utilizing Quest (5th level cleric spell.) I like that. I also like that Fighting Men within castles will "demand a jousting match... or 100-600 Gold Pieces... " that Magic Users "will send passersby after treasure by Geas if they are not hostile... " and that clerics require a 10% tithe or will send the adventurers on some form of Lawful or Chaotic task via Quest (5th level cleric spell.)

Page 16 of Book 3 indicates that in addition to men or monsters accompanying castle residents, from 3d6x10 men will be there as guards, one half of whom will be light crossbow armed and the other half of whom will be heavy foot soldiers. There’s another sentence here about the composition of such guards being mounted, but I can’t quite make sense of it. Compare these figures to the total number of 202 officers and troops in the Keep on the Borderlands.

Finally, there’s another table for the chance that a higher level MU / Fighters/ or Clerics (or MU apprentice or d6 cleric assistants) are in the castle. Should they appear, these will be from as low as 3rd to as high as 8th level.

Though I don’t think I’ll be relying too much on OD&D as inspiration for castle stocking even though we’re playing a S&W Whitebox game, it was an interesting exercise to see what Mr. Gygax might have been playing or thought reasonable back in the days of the original Grayhawk (sic) or Blackmoor campaign. I'm glad for the game spurs of random maniacs running out from the castles to engage the party in some fashion. I'm looking forward to using that in some fashion.


Dr-Rotwang said...

May I suggest using the 1st Edition DMG?

Talysman said...

1. The table caption says "Type of Guards/Retainers in Castle (The number after indicating the type die to use to determine how many)". The wording is clumsy, but it means that those "footnotes" after each creature name aren't footnotes, they're the die type to roll to determine number appearing. So, there are 1-12 gargoyles in your castle.

2. The occupants are listed as level titles, so there are in fact two clerics in the occupant column: "patriarch" and "evil high priest". So, your necromancer (magic-user) doesn't collect tithes, but casts a geas on the party, unless he's hostile.

3. The note about mounted inhabitants is confusing, but it seems to mean that if the main occupant will have a horse if his retainers are able to ride horses as well, or if they can move at the same rate as a horse. This seems to exclude the wizard who owns 1-4 basilisks, the fighters who have griffons and rocs, and the patriarch who has 1-8 hippogriffs. The griffons, rocs, ad hippogriffs will have riders.

What you might want to use instead is Kellri's old school encounters reference (CDD #4, in the download links sidebar on his blog.) It's more detailed, and still usable even if it was designed for 1e.

ze bulette said...

@Dr-Rotwang: Thanks, I'm sure there are other sources as well. Here I was just interested in looking at what the OD&D books had to say on the subject.
@Talysman: Ah yes, of course! How silly of me to have missed that, very obvious now. And so are the titles too. It's so rare that I open these old books that it seems I'm a bit lazy at reading them when I do. Thanks for the notes and pointing out Kellri's CDD. I've looked that over before but wouldn't have thought of it again.

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