The Fenlanders

January 31, 2008

The marshes on the southern bank of the Nephen River opposite Kiban are home to a reclusive collection of people known as the Fenlanders. Descendants of runaway serfs and outlaws, they now live secretive lives, outside the society of the Kingdom of Kaldor but within its borders.

by Leitchy


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The Bloody Raven

January 28, 2008

This mini-adventure is suitable for use as a fill-in between larger adventures in any campaign, a sidetrack to allow the PCs to discover a hideout, or as a location for a climactic battle with a hated enemy. It is generic enough that it could be located anywhere, but it has been designed for use with the Khuzan Outpost (qv), a dwarven hunting lodge that has been abandoned for a thousand years. Together, these form a well-constructed adventure for any GM.

by Kerry Mould


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Khuzan Outpost

January 28, 2008

This outpost could be located anywhere at the discretion of the GM. The best place would be just off a major trade route (modern trade routes follow ancient Khuzdul highways) or in a river valley (where the game would have been plentiful). Due to the age of the outpost, it could easily be located in the heart of a modern kingdom or deep in the wilderness. The only location requirements are an outcrop of limestone and a forty-foot cliff face. It has been designed to by used with The Bloody Raven (qv) but this isn’t strictly necessary, of course.

by Kerry Mould


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Friends, Foes & Followers — Part 9

January 28, 2008

Part 5 of 14 in the series Friends, Foes & Followers

Friends, Foes & Followers is a GM resource that uses a common format for presenting 2 pages of information about a character. The characters can be used in any way the GM sees fit; as NPC opponents, helpers or even emergency PCs for that unexpected player, making these resources no GM should be without. A companion to The Earl’s Progress (qv) and Caldeth Townhouse (qv), this edition includes twelve NPCs suitable for use as part of the adventure or separately within a noble household or entourage. It has NPCs from all levels of Hârnic society, including nobles (Laranian cleric, squire and noble offspring), guildsmen and highly ranked commoners (steward, ostler and harper), and commoners (servant, domestic, falconer, teamster, yeoman and scout).

by Kerry Mould


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Caldeth Townhouse

January 28, 2008

Like all Great Clans, Clan Caldeth has a townhouse in the kingdom’s capital. It’s a place that is separate from the royal castle, a retreat where nobles can gather to plot and scheme, to rest and feast, and where they can entertain to impress others with their power and wealth. Caldeth Townhouse continues the tradition of fine workmanship from the Hârn Writers’ Guild, and contains a truly magnificent illustration by Richard Luschek, and the usual high standard of interior maps from Thomas Shook. This article can be used on its own for any noble’s townhouse or even the dwelling of an extremely wealthy merchant, but it is a companion piece to The Earl’s Progress (qv).

by Kerry Mould


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The Earl’s Progress

January 28, 2008

Medieval lords travelled a great deal, as it was necessary for them to administrate their far-flung fiefdoms and to communicate with their lord, liegemen, friends and family. In this 88-page campaign module, you’ll find such a trip undertaken by Sir Declaen Caldeth, 19th Earl of Vemion. Follow him as he travels from his home in Minarsas to his most distant holdings, stopping off to visit the King at the Royal Tournament of Chivalry in Olokand, and also visiting his townhouse in the capital, Tashal. In order to complete your set, you will also need to obtain the Caldeth Townhouse (qv) module, as well as Friends, Foes, and Followers — Part 9 (qv),which details many of the principal players. With maps, illustrations, and a huge helping of adventure seeds, ideas and hooks, this publication just goes to show what fans can produce.

Winner: Best Fan Article 2005

by Kerry Mould


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Friends, Foes & Followers — Part 8

January 28, 2008

Part 4 of 14 in the series Friends, Foes & Followers

Friends, Foes & Followers is a GM resource that uses a common format for presenting 2 pages of information about a character. The characters can be used in any way the GM sees fit; as NPC opponents, helpers or even emergency PCs for that unexpected player, making these resources no GM should be without. With layout and editing by Kerry Mould and illustrations by Juha Makkonen, this installment contains:

  • a Sarajin cleric from Ivinia,
  • her sister the scribe,
  • a twisted renegade Savoryan mage,
  • a gambling crazed mercantyler,
  • an unguilded thief,
  • a herald with his fingers in many pies,
  • a yeoman longbowman,
  • a knight in khuzan armour,
  • a member of the Crimson Dancer,
  • a Bujoc hunter,
  • a Hodiri horseman, and
  • a knight whom you don’t want to meet on a dark night.

by John S. Daniel II


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Friends, Foes & Followers — Part 7

January 28, 2008

Part 3 of 14 in the series Friends, Foes & Followers

Friends, Foes & Followers is a GM resource that uses a common format for presenting 2 pages of information about a character. The characters can be used in any way the GM sees fit; as NPC opponents, helpers or even emergency PCs for that unexpected player, making these resources no GM should be without. With layout and editing by Kerry Mould and illustrated by Richard Luschek, this installment features:

  • a wealthy Ivinian weaponcrafter,
  • a thugish journeyman hideworker,
  • one of the urban poor who is not all he seems,
  • a sickly Ivinian skald,
  • an experienced mercenary (medium horse),
  • a Khuzan siege engineer,
  • a crazed Ilviran cleric (is there any other sort?),
  • a short huscarl (medium foot),
  • a lovelorn clansman (unarmored foot),
  • a caravan guard with ambitions,
  • a forester with bedroom eyes, and
  • a brigand with a grudge.

by John S. Daniel II


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Gargun – An Ecological Disaster?

January 20, 2008

DiscussionThe gargun, also known as Hârnic orcs, were brought to Hârn by Lothrim the Foulspawner from some other realm of reality, probably through the Godstone under the Earthmaster ruins in his capital of Elkall-Anuz. However they arrived, by 250TR, they had spread throughout the island. In other words, they are an introduced species, a non-native life-form the local ecology hasn’t evolved to cope with. What can we learn from the introduction of foreign species on Earth that we can apply to the game world of Hârn?

Earthly Examples
There are a number of examples we can use from our own history to provide us with information. An introduced species can adversely affect its new environment in a number of ways. Gargun are pure carnivores (they don’t eat plant material of any kind), they are intelligent and have a racial memory, and they swarm when numbers grow too large. At a brief glance, this sounds like a recipe for disaster.

Let’s look at some examples from Earth to see if we can build up a better picture.

Example 1
Introduced pure carnivores, feral cats and weasels, have had a devastating effect on the native bird populations of New Zealand, because these birds evolved for millennia without any natural mammalian predators. Many became flightless and relatively slow moving. On small islands of that archipelago, there is no doubt that cats have wiped out all native birds. On the two main islands, bird life was also adversely affected, but few species have been extinguished (although a number are close).

Hârn isn’t a small island; its landmass is quite extensive, and the distance from a major continent isn’t nearly as far as New Zealand from Australia, its nearest big neighbour. The Hârnic ecology is also more varied than New Zealand; there have always been predators of all sizes, so prey animals have learned to adapt. Gargun are pure carnivores but so are mountain cats, wolves, yelgri and wyverns, all of which are native to Hârn. Once you’ve learned to dodge a pack of yelgri or a hunting wyvern, prey animals like deer can probably cope with smelly gargun.

Example 2
Cats have also had a negative effect on the reptiles and small mammal species of Australia, although just how great an effect is debatable. Population density is low, probably because cats need a lot of protein (meat) and there just isn’t enough to sustain higher numbers. Inland Australia is mostly semi-arid or full desert and native species are widely distributed, so most of the time a mother cat simply can’t find enough food to support more than one kitten from a litter. In fact, the largest concentrations of feral cats occur where there are also large concentrations of rabbits, another introduced species. There is some research that shows feral cats appear to have reached a kind of equilibrium with the indigenous fauna.

Hârn isn’t a barren land like Australia. Its forests are teeming with life because there is abundant rainfall. There is also a wide variety of habitats, from heath, through mixed forest, right up to alpine conditions in the deep mountains. There are many large rivers and countless streams and brooks. And let’s not forget one very large lake in the central interior. The soils around river valleys is fertile and, as a result, life is fecund indeed. Hârn can probably support another carnivore.

Example 3
Goats strip the land bare, eating everything green. In the resulting harsh conditions that they themselves help produce, they even strip the bark from the last trees thus compounding the situation. In a very real sense, goats are responsible for the deserts of the Middle East. Gargun have a similar effect. They will strip all available prey animals from an area that they can find (and that means everything; deer, bears, wolves, everything). This means that most large, and many smaller, meat-bearing animals would vanish from the area surrounding an active gargun colony; either because they’ve been killed and eaten or they’ve fled.

However, gargun have a couple of traits that mitigate this problem. They are known to keep prey animals in pens. This may mean they practice a crude form of animal husbandry, although this has not been expanded upon in the source material. I don’t see a couple of hundred gargun subsisting on a few tethered goats; there would be a need for a great many animals to sustain a viable herd over the long term, so this probably means that a few animals are not eaten right away, but kept by order of the gargun king for special occasions.

The second mitigation is much more radical; gargun are cannibalistic. This practice would drastically reduce their impact on the surrounding environment in two ways; it reduces the need for meat from outside the colony and it reduces the number of mouths that need feeding.

Summary
Nature is incredibly resilient; after six hundred years of the gargun living on Hârn, the natural ecology of the Isle of Hârn has probably returned to an equilibrium of sorts. The in-built cannibalistic trait of the gargun means they provide their own checks and balances—to a degree. The relatively low numbers of gargun that survive for any length of time in a colony probably have an impact on the local area, but that impact is counter-balanced by the reduction in all levels of the food chain.

A reduction in prey animals outside the colony means the attention of diners turns naturally to inside the colony, and the old, slow, weak, and the unlucky get to be the main course at lunch. Thus the colony’s numbers are further reduced (until the next hatching, anyway) and the pressure is further eased on the animals outside the colony. Nature rebounds and repopulates the vacant niches, meaning the colony population increases, meaing increased pressure on the prey animals…and the cycle starts all over again.

Roleplaying Opportunities
So how can we use this information in our games? Here are some thoughts I had; feel free to add more in your comments.

  • The heroes are travelling through the countryside, living off the land. Any wilderness experts in the party will suddenly realise that they have been travelling through an area where there are far fewer bird calls, and less recent sign of game. The environment has an odd stillness about it, as if frightened of something. The cause is a newly established gargun colony, spawned from whatever existing colony is the nearest.
  • The reduction in larger carnivores has led to an explosion in the population of a small pest species (voles, dormice, lemmings, or whatever you feel fits best). Having eaten themselves out of house and home in the wilderness, these pests invade outlying manors, destroying grain and vegetable stores, gardens and crops. If they aren’t stopped, the manors will face an uncertain winter.
  • Herd beasts are disappearing, and there is little sign of their where-abouts. A nearby gargun colony (say, a couple of days march from here) has a new king, and he plans to raise these herb beasts in the manner of humans. He has told his warriors to collect as many herd beasts as possible and bring them back-alive-to the colony. Meanwhile, other gargun are clearing fields around the colony to house the beasts.

Wrap-up

Do you not agree that gargun have settled into their niche and that Hârn’s ecology is regaining its balance? Does this post have any value apart from (maybe) an interesting topic to think about? Please share your thoughts and leave a comment.

64 Foot Dak — the ‘Lorkin’

January 20, 2008

A dak is a type of ship; specifically, a merchant vessel. This is one part of a special double release from HWG. Friends, Foes & Followers — Parts 4, 5, 6 (qv) includes nine characters inspired by the Sci-Fi series “Firefly” transposed into the world of Hârn as seagoing folk instead of spacefaring folk. Their ship is a 64 foot dak, a medieval type of ship known to us as a cog. Despite its connections to FFF6, it can be used separately for any seaborne adventures, perhaps starting with Sail Ho! (qv).

by Kerry Mould


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