Well, some of you may remember my involvement with the Living Greyhawk campaign of yore. I was active in our local region, the Principality of Naerie. Small stuff – wrote a module, collaborated with Sampo Haarlaa on another, worked on the final Gazetteer, which incidentally is available from the download link on the blog sidebar, there. Well, that campaign is over, but the modules remain, all two thousand of them.
From the Principality of Naerie side, we’ve now decided that the modules aren’t doing anyone any good if they’re gathering pixelated dust in the dark, dank recesses of someone’s hard drive. So, I present to you the fourteen adventure modules by me or Sampo Haarlaa, plus collaborations. These were originally posted to the Naerie Yahoogroup back in April, but for ease of access, I’m now presenting these here.
The collection is not complete – one notable thing that’s missing is COR7-18 Into the Mist, Sampo’s Core module. The collection also lacks a handful of introductory modules he wrote for Onnwal and the Bone March around 2002-2003, though he assures me that these are not a great loss. Apparently he has lost the original texts, and even I have not been able to scare them up from the depths of the web. We do have a special bonus module, though, the unreleased Lordship of the Isles module The Luminous Cloud that the Spanish Triad was supposed to translate and release over there as a regional. There’s also Bordermarch, which debuted at Ropecon last year, well after the campaign was over.
Generally, Living Greyhawk modules were password-protected. These are not. If you also want the Adventure Record files, e-mail me and I’ll zip them up for you. The Luminous Cloud and Bordermarch don’t have ARs. Also, a word on the module codes… For instance, ISL6-01 The Luminous Cloud. ISL is the three-letter region code. In this case, it’s Lordship of the Isles, which was Spain’s region. The number after that is the number of the year. Year Six was 2006, which would’ve made the module available for play until the end of 2007. The final number is its release number. Every region could release eight regional modules annually, plus four introductory modules and any amount of mini-missions and convention interactives. These limits were in place mostly for balance reasons, I understand. The APL thing stands for Average Party Level – modules were written so they worked on many levels of play.
I would’ve liked to do this with a single zip file, but WordPress doesn’t allow me to upload one, so we’ll have to do this the hard way, with separate download links. Many of these modules get rather involved with the lore of the setting, and it may not be a bad idea to download the aforementioned gazetteer for a reader’s companion. But, without further ado… fourteen great modules that kept us entertained and coming back for more for four years.
Splintered Suns and Scarlet Signs – Metaregional Modules
These metaregional modules were playable all over Europe, during the campaign. The module code fluctuated from ESA to TSS and back again, dependent on the phase of the moon on the first Tuesday of the month, or something. I never understood the logic there, but it sure fucked up all alphabetisation schemes.
The Splintered Suns metaregion was comprised of the Principalities of Adri and Naerie, the Free Kingdom of Sunndi, Onnwal, Bone March, the Lordship of the Isles, the Sea Barons and Dullstrand, and some lands between. Especially southern Ahlissa saw action in the metaregionals, as did the Solnor Compact and Medegia.
The strength of Ahlissa rests in the hands of the Great Guildmaster and his formidable merchant vessels. Sometimes these ships have more than bounty of Ahlissa in them and trouble ensues. Now a merchant is dead, his secrets with him but some loose ends remain… A one-round investigative scenario for APL 4-10.
This is one of the finest investigative adventures I’ve seen for D&D. The usual pitfall of investigatives in D&D is that they try to take a normal investigative module formula and just hammer it into D&D. Unless it’s a really low-level module, this usually fails. The game comes with such a wide variety of divination spells for finding hidden items and people and having chats with murder victims that the whole Agatha Christie repertoire is just shot. Every good module must take into account the abilities of the PCs at the level of the module, and with investigative scenarios this is especially true. TSS5-04 pulls it off perfectly.
Since 590 CY, the Ahlissans have worked to build a fortification to guard the Adder’s Pass that separates Principality of Naerie from the Kingdom of Sunndi. The work is nearing completion but acts of sabotage have hindered the progress. Perhaps you can discover what is really going on? A one round meta-regional set in Principality of Naerie for character levels 1-11 (APL 2-8). Recommended for groups of adventurers who do not have conflicting loyalties.
A Point of View takes the same tack as The Sun and the Nightingale – take a story element that the D&D ruleset tends to break too easily and develop ways to counter the unconventional tactics of PCs. In this case, the element is a small border fortress. There’s also a pretty nifty story, cameos by NPCs we learned to respect and in some cases fear (I was ready to piss my pants when the White Lady rode in, and Damar Rocharion and Walennor didn’t exactly make it better). Both The Sun and the Nightingale and A Point of View are also very intelligent modules, and will mercilessly punish players who make certain stupid assumptions. The one in TSS5-04 hopefully doesn’t apply outside the campaign, though, since it breaks an adventure formula that you don’t get outside the strict scenario writing parameters. Incidentally, the playtest draft included brothel price charts. They were cut from the final.
Patriotic Knights, a group of Oeridian supremacist and rabble-rousers, and their allies have suffered blows in the past but are hardly a spent force. Now, yet more fuel is thrown into the flames that threaten to tear Naerie City apart. Riots, robbery and revelations, all within one hectic day in the city. Recommended for well-balanced parties who have had past dealings and no enmities with the Nasranite Watch. Closely connected to ESA6-05 A Point of View, NAE6-05 Sharafon and NAE7-03 Incognito and introduction to the year 8 meta-regional trilogy Trouble Within. A one-round Splintered Suns metaregional set in Principality of Naerie for Character levels 2-13 (APL 4 to 10).
This one was originally supposed to be a regional module, but was co-opted by the metaregional coordinators for a metaregional to fill a gap in the schedule. I’m not entirely sure how it worked out, since the central NPC is a signature Naerie character and the plotlines it deals with mostly originated in regional modules. Still, a good module, and I especially like the end fight at the lowest APL. This one apparently offended the playtester group, because it portrayed the commoners as bloodthirsty rabble who thought that public executions are good entertainment for the whole family. Out of all the things in Simpi’s modules you could be offended about (there’s a [deserved] personal dig at another module writer in A Point of View, and Into the Mists contained a gay couple in direct response to a certain fan’s homophobic tirade), this one was pretty unexpected. The scene was inspired by Kingdom of Heaven, incidentally.
14 years ago the armies of Ivid destroyed most of Pontylver in an orgy of violence. Now its harbor has finally been fully restored, and its docks have produced the first ships to rebuild the Ahlissan fleet. This is cause for a celebration and all are invited. This close to the cursed grounds of mainland Pontylver a few wonder if it is a good idea, wondering whether violence will strike. A one-round metaregional with an optional encounter set in Pontylver in Ahlissa for character levels 2-15 (APL 4 to 12).
This was our metaregional finale, pretty much. It’s epic, big in scale and magnificent, and has an ending so nifty it deserves to be made into a movie. Old Debts tied into the larger plotlines at the end of the campaign, such as the reversal of the Flight of Fiends. It also ties in with some of the themes explored in And All the Prince’s Men… and some of our regionals, and, of course, the canon of the region’s history. I think this is one of Simpi’s more challenging modules, from a sheer combat point of view. Old Debts also contains a Darwinistic dumbass test that will get overconfident PCs killed or at least seriously hurt. You can probably tell by now that Naerie modules did not suffer fools lightly.
The Lordship of the Isles – Regional Modules
The Lordship of the Isles was a region given to Spain, where the Triad promptly sat on it and did nothing. Simpi even wrote up this entire module for them, had it playtested and sanctioned and sent it to them for translation and release. They did nothing. This is a great pity, since their region was one of the most interesting in the setting. It had been taken over by the Scarlet Brotherhood (think Shaolin Nazi Communists, and you’re not too far), and was still during the campaign an occupied territory. The role of the freedom fighter fell naturally to the player characters and there was great potential for all sorts of Secret Army shenanigans, sabotage missions and the promise of eventual liberation by Ahlissans or Sunndi forces. Alas, it was not to be, and the only thing we have is this.
A ship beaches near Sulward and a local pickpocket brings the news into town. Several groups want to investigate it but who will get there first? One-round regional module for APL2-6.
Not a spectacularly awesome module, which is why it was never rewritten for Naerie or even offered up as a metaregional module after it became clear that Spain was a dead zone. Still, it’s a solid piece of work, and probably fits most campaigns with more ease than the rest of these. In the playtest copy, several NPCs were still named after players in our local circle. I like the opening scene, set in a tavern inside the hollow shell of a dragon turtle. It sets a nifty ambiance, tells that we ain’t in Kansas anymore. An important thing about the regional system was having an individual feeling and tone for every region, and this one starts by setting itself apart from Naerie, or the City of Greyhawk, or Onnwal, or Sunndi.
The Principality of Naerie – Regional Modules
Now we come to the real meat. This isn’t everything we released – fortunately, we had many excellent authors – but it’s everything that Simpi or I had a hand in. During its five years of adventures, Naerie saw political turmoil, a couple of assassinations, Living Greyhawk’s only Circle-sanctioned orgy (not included here), and every shade of grey. Simpi, who practically ran the show in the triad, didn’t really go for the good vs. evil thematic present elsewhere, and instead built political themes with no easy answers. The central conflict was between the United Kingdom of Ahlissa, which was the lawful neutral iron fist in a velvet glove that drove out the Scarlet Brotherhood and annexed the formerly-independent region, and the Idee Volunteers, who were this ragtag bunch of freedom fighters who wanted to kick out the Ahlissans and form a free Idee. It made for interesting dynamics between player characters and really fun scenarios. Another theme explored in one of our series was the Victor Hugo-esque mercy vs. vengeance theme going on with the prison camps full of Scarlet Brotherhood slave soldiers.
We occasionally got told that we’re playing wrong, that D&D isn’t meant for these kinds of things, which was always really funny.
You have come to Naerie City in time for Richfest. Weather is pleasant, people are polite and there is always something new around every corner. Unfortunately, someone sent some uninvited guests and it will be up to you and the Nasranite Watch to clear up the situation. A one-round regional adventure for APLs 2-10.
Sampo Haarlaa’s first Naerie regional. He doesn’t think much of it these days and personally, I agree that it’s not that great, though it’s not really bad, either. It just… is. It does introduce Damar Rocharion, the Vic Mackey of Naerie City Watch, though, and I like the carnival competitions in the beginning. One thing that’s not in the text that I always did when running this was that if the PCs manage to kill the wizard’s familiar at the end before entering the mansion, the XP hit is enough to take him down a level, depriving him of some spells.
Baron Berik Oedil is re-marrying and the Barony of Ingmalt is preparing for the festivities. However, it seems someone does not like the idea and suddenly you find yourself drawn into a web of intrigue. A one-round adventure for an APL 2-8 party who are skilled in both diplomacy and swordsmanship.
The first and best of the three Year Five modules that Sampo wrote for Naerie. When Nightingales Sing is the beginning of a couple of plot threads that snuck around in the background before resurfacing for resolution towards the end of the campaign, and introduced a couple of really cool NPCs, such as the old Baron Berik Oedil, who in a movie would be played by Clint Eastwood, and Traneth Etali, Knight of the Chase, who’d be played by Clint Eastwood c. 1965. As a module, it has a certain investigative element, and the opportunity to be a total dick for some extra bonuses. An excellent module.
Breddol the Sage once again needs someone to visit the caverns of Gefjon Isle and the sleepy village of Bandhar. It’s been two years since the last trip, but surely things haven’t changed that much? Or maybe they have… Either way, it’s time to board a ship and return to Gefjon. A one round scenario for APLs 2-8.
This one is actually a sequel to a Year Three introductory module called The Stone Strider. I think it’s technically the first Naerie module released, but we’d all like to forget it and prefer to think that NAE3-01 Daughter of Idee, by Steven Zwanger, was the first. Aaaanyway… Return to Gefjon is a bit of a sandbox, and there are several directions the PCs can go and many solutions to the problems – some of them quite unexpected. I’ve never actually run Return to Gefjon, but were I to do so, I’d probably play up the isolation of Bandhar and present them as a bunch of rural hicks with a hint of Lovecraft – especially since both sahuagin and kuo-toa swim these troubled waters…
Sapling Wood is haunted by a curse that terrifies the folk of Falenthorpe. All attempts to lift the curse have failed and people are being taken by the spirits in the wood. Can the heroes find the woods’ secret or will they perish like so many others before them? A one round scenario for APLs 2-8.
The third of the Year Five Naerie regionals. Heart of the Wood holds a special place in my heart because it introduces the village of Falenthorpe, which later lent its name to the Naerie message boards. This was because it’s possible in the adventure to gain the ownership of a house in Falenthorpe. As more and more PCs played the module and acquired the house – which was not difficult – it became an in-joke that Falenthorpe was the tax paradise where rich adventurers build their houses. In the grocery store, an egg would cost ten gold and the storekeeper would be the only original inhabitant left (the tavern owner would, of course, be a retired adventurer). In the evenings, Ahlissan loyalists and Idee sympathisers would lob trash over each other’s garden fences. There was even a whole introductory module we thought up about this setup, but never wrote. Anyway, this is a pretty nifty module, where the forest environment comes through nicely and really matters. I also like the end fight.
A trip to Gornor’s Cove lets you see some old and new acquaintances. But is there something darker going on in the town than everyone knows? A one-round Principality of Naerie scenario for characters of level 1-11 (APL 2-8). This module is a follow-up to NAE6-02 First Bite and it is recommended that you have played that module first.
I’ve always visualised this module as the Naerie plotlines standing still for a moment for a breather, to take stock of the situation. In the bigger picture, it ties together some plotlines and sets the stage for some others, but there is no big plot payoff. However, it works as a module and has no obvious flaws. There was some potential for an interesting recurring villain, but the campaign consequences swung so that she got killed. Well, not a great loss, we have enough bad guys to last years. Not a bad module.
You rarely notice them. Sometimes you see them in the streets or on the docks. Many remain in labor camp servitude. Others have made the Menowood their new home. Hepmonaland warriors rampaged through Naerie in the service of the Scarlet Brotherhood, but now they are slowly becoming part of the population. Will they always remain on the fringes of society? You will help decide. A Naerie regional adventure for character levels 1-11 (APL 2-8). This module will have important effects on future plotlines. Parties that share an ideological point of view are recommended for this module.
This is one of Naerie’s absolute best modules and sets the stage for the prison camp plotline, with its subtle political commentary, realpolitik and moral greyness. As an interesting point of note, in every table I’ve seen play Sharafon except for one, the final battle had the party split along ideological lines and beat each other black and blue. I played this series with a character who himself once fought for the Scarlet Brotherhood, which brought interesting depth to the proceedings. We also meet Traneth Etali again, in a most unexpected place – especially since most of us had thought he’d died.
In the days of yore, the keeps of the Eddri Line defended the County of Idee from the forces of the Great Kingdom. In their duty they were unsuccessful, for the attack came from a different quarter, yet some never admitted defeat. Now the forts lie empty and forlorn in the hills – right up until some stalwart fools with a deathwish come traipsing through their halls. A one-round regional adventure set in the Principality of Naerie for character levels 1-12 (APL 2-10).
My first Naerie module and the only one I wrote alone. (If you want to get techical, there actually is a Sunndi mini-mission that I adapted for Naerie, but I don’t count that.) I’m pretty happy with Unyielding, all things considered. It’s not as good as the rest of the Naerie regionals, but the players have been happy, and I think it can hold its own. If there’s something I’m unhappy with, it’s that the damn thing ended up too short. I’ve never seen it run the full four hours a LG module technically should. The basic concept of the module is that of a dungeon crawl that you can complete without a single fight and that actually rewards noncombat solutions. I haven’t seen anyone accomplish it, but it is theoretically possible.
While the Serpent Guard has been destroyed, authorities in Felten & Gornor’s Cove still require assistance in discovering their past. The trail of the serpent began in village of Radoc, on the outskirts of Hollow Highland and it is here where the secrets will be revealed. A sequel to NAE6-01 First Bite and NAE6-03 Legacy of the Serpent. A one-round regional set in Principality of Naerie for Character levels 1-13 (APL 2 to 10).
The sequel to Legacy of the Serpent works a lot better. It’s a difficult module and especially the end fight is a tactical challenge. If I recall correctly, we never bagged the villain, either. What I really love about this one is the Deadwood-esque milieu of Radoc. It’s a crapsack town, ruled by an incompetent lackwit and policed by the Keystone Kops. However, there’s a promise of a turn for the better, if things aren’t totally screwed up during this module. Amusingly, the Radoc in the final gazetteer houses at least three high-level former player characters. One of them, Eremis the High Priest of Kelanen, ended the campaign with two different powerful evil outsiders having dibs on his soul. We had plans for an adventure where Eremis would die of the myriad curses he managed to accumulate during his career, and the PCs would be left cleaning up the mess when a balor and a pit fiend would start duking it out in the middle of Radoc.
It is a festive time in Naerie City, as Keoland and Ahlissa prepare to sign the historic Azure Sea Treaty for mutual cooperation against the Scarlet Brotherhood and the great cathedral of Wee Jas is reconsecrated after a decade of disuse. However, nothing ever goes smoothly in Naerie and even less so when the members of the Scarlet Sign are concerned. Can the heroes of the Principality present a unified front against their age-old enemy, or will all come to ruin? A one-round regional set in Principality of Naerie for Character levels 4-14 (APL 6 to 12) and the final adventure for Principality of Naerie. Warning: This adventure features untiered encounters.
And here we have the Naerie finale, the big bang that ended the plotlines of the Principality of Naerie. We wrote in references to every previous Naerie module, and get loads of returning NPCs, including every assassin that ever got away in a Naerie module. The adventure was partly inspired by the movie Smokin’ Aces. It’s got challenge, it’s got scale, it’s got ways for stupid players to get themselves killed, it’s got former player characters, it’s got something for everyone. I love it to bits. That “untiered encounters” thing, incidentally, means that there are encounters that are the same for all APLs, which should be a warning for the players that there are some things you should not even try to fight.
With the outbreak of hostilies in northern Ahlissa, Prince Barzhaan is keen to secure the borders of Naerie and the best opportunity comes after negotiations with the Kingdom of the Iron Hills. Now someone just has to go out mark where the border goes… A one-round outdoor adventure set in Principality of Naerie for character levels 1-4 (APL2).
And here’s the new beginning, a new Naerie for new characters. Elements of Bordermarch are inspired by the movies Raja 1918 and Sauna. I haven’t seen it in action myself, but I think it looks like it works, and player reports have been mostly positive. There’s something wonky with the PDF and the DOC file I converted it from, and I can’t find a way to remove the yellow highlighting. It annoys the hell out of me and if someone can tell me how to remove it, I’d be much obliged.
The Principality of Naerie – Introductory Adventures
One more module. The introductory modules were modules designed only for first-level characters. Stuff that was easy for the beginners, without difficult fights relying on equipment that a starting character would not have, and so forth. Because of the way experience points gains worked out, you could only play three intro modules with a single character before he hit second level, which sometimes resulted in more active players having several second-level characters with three intro modules each. Intro modules were not retired like normal modules were, but a region could only have four of them active at a time.
One of the more outrageous ideas we had for an intro module would’be been a scenario that was actually set during the days of the Scarlet Brotherhood occupation, and which would’ve featured a bunch of events that were later referred to in other modules, like the Burning of Poelitz. After that, the characters would’ve tacked on 14 years to their age and gone on to adventure in the present-day Naerie. It would have been awesome. Instead of that, I have to give you this. A bit disappointing.
An easy job takes you to Eragern where an old grizzled soldier tells you about things he saw in the war. Will you follow the way he points you? An introductory adventure for 1st-level characters only.
It’s a dungeon crawl. You go to a dungeon and crawl a bit. As far as I can tell, The Temple Below was written in an afternoon so we’d have a fifth introductory scenario and The Stone Strider could be retired. It’s not exactly bad, but it’s not exactly good, either. Lacks ambition.
The above modules are the property of their respective authors, except for the World of Greyhawk elements that are the property of Wizards of the Coast and the Dungeons & Dragons 3.0 and 3.5 rulesets and their accessories. No challenge to these copyrights is intended.