One of the founders of our hobby and one of the most unsung contributors to Dungeons & Dragons, Len Lakofka has passed away at the age of 76.
Along with the many adventures, classes, spells, and rules he created, Len was also father of the Suel in Greyhawk, designer of their gods, and namesake of the Lendore Isles.
The value of his work goes without saying, but his presence will be sorely missed. The adventures of Leomund go on.
"Armistice" (Dungeon #84) is an interesting scenario, describing a war between two client chiefdoms of the Pale, but it has a few problems. This is my attempt to fix it, without contradicting any of the content, issue by issue. In some cases, a creative explanation will do.
1. "Armistice" has the feel of a Red Sails campaign that got shoe-horned into the Flanaess. However, much of nearby Stonefist has a Slavic feel (see Gygax's commentary on Stonefist barbarians in Dragon #63), so why not?
2. The inhabitants of the Nebo Valley, originally from the Vesve, could be a Bakluni/Flann mix, explaining place names like Chaical and Tarkhan (p. 131).
3. When does "Armistice" occur?
The intro' (p. 127) implies that the chiefdoms became Palish client states in 588 CY, that they sent troops to the Nebo Valley during the "next year" (i.e., 589 CY), and that they've been fighting for over 6 months ("the troops in the valley have been cut off for six months"), so I first thought that it occurs in the winter of 589/590 CY. However, Chief Larosh tells the adventurers that they've been sending troops to the Nebo Valley every spring "for the past ten years" (p. 128), making it the winter of 598/599 CY. They're only stopping now because Prelate Tillit told them to knock it off. I wonder if the author intended to set it at so late a date. Perhaps "588" is a misprint for 578? Incidentally, wouldn't Prelate Ogon Tillit be dead by 598 CY? In Living Greyhawk he was, anyway (IIRC). Of course, the author wouldn't have known that writing back in 2000.
4. Where are these places?
What we know:
Larushka and Bezhumni were both were threatened by the Frost Barbarians (p.127), not Stonefist, so they probably should be closer to the Frutzi than the Fists.
Larushka and Bezhumni are close enough to each other to be perennial enemies (p. 127).
The two chiefdoms have to be out of the way enough to explain why the Pale didn't seem to notice them until just recently (588 CY? But see below, p. 127). I would suggest north of Rakervale and past the Brilliant Castle line.
The Larushki are accustomed to fighting in "open terrain and level ground" (p. 130), so it might be best to not put them in the Griffs, but next to them.
The Bezhumen are mountaineers (p. 130), so they should be in the Griffs.
The "mighty" Yakinaj River flows through Yakinaj Pass (pp. 127-129). We can assume that "mighty" is a relative term, but it does have to be deep enough to accommodate boat navigation (p. 128). I suggest that the Yakinaj is a tributary of the Yol River. The Yakinaj might contribute to the Troll Fens' existence.
The Nebo Valley should probably be somewhere smack dab in the Griffs, since "the Griff mountains enclose the Nebo on all sides" (p. 129). It should be at least a "two-day journey before entering the valley" from Larushka (probably by boat), but is a three day trip on foot from Chyebirsk (p. 128). I interpret this to mean a two day boat ride from the Larushki "capital" of Muskovya to Chyebirsk, then a three walk from Chyebirsk to the Nebo Valley.
If the Larushka and the Bezhumen are an isolated bunch, then one might assume that something even further into the Griffs would be even more isolated, but Chyebirsk is described as a "fortified town" (p. 128). Like the "mighty" Yakinaj River, "town" might be a relative term. Leaving that aside, who controls Chyebirsk? If either chiefdom ran Chyebirsk, it would explain why the other side has been "cut off", but it wouldn't explain why their own forces have been cut off for the past six months (p. 127). Could Chyebirsk be yet another independent community in the Griffs? The timing (the past six months) suggests that they're responding to pressure from the Theocrat (p. 127)? Or maybe the "town" was established by Prelatal forces?
Larushka: T2-46? We can assume that part of the Troll Fen region is dry.
Bezhumn: S2-46 and/or T2-45?
Nebo Valley: T2-44 and T2-43?
5. Bezhumni and Larushka each sent over 800 men to fight in the Nebo Valley (p. 129). That would imply an adult population of at least 3,200 adults for each chiefdom, maybe over 16,000, particularly since none of them are experts or commoners (see training standards, 6, below). Those are large communities to have been "off the radar" for so long, but other communities (e.g., Dullstrand) were never detailed for a long time, either. The vast majority of those 1,600+ men have been lost, which would be catastrophic, but many of the "losses" may have actually been deserters.
6. Typical Larushki and Bezhumen warriors in the Nebo Valley are (D&D3) 3rd level warriors (pp. 132, 136, 138, 142). I can sort of see that, since some (but not all) of them have been fighting for 10 years. But no one ever bothered to train them to fighter standard? Too busy for 10 years, I guess. But if the warriors are typically 3rd level, then why are typical clerics only 1st level (p. 142)? If they just arrived, why don't they just tell the boys to go home? 😉
7. Even if you assume that the forces on either side only had a little over 800 men each (p. 129), the leaders in the Nebo seem a bit high ranking, particularly the Bezhumen (p. 142). Maybe they just suffer from Tanzanian Field Marshal syndrome. Oh well.
8. The Nebar are typically 1st-4th level commoners, experts, or warriors (pp. 130, 132, 133). No natural, untrained sorcerers? No clerics, druids, or adepts? Even rangers seem to be rare. The suggested guide is an Exp4 (p. 134). Oh well. The author leaves the details to the DM (p. 133). So maybe a sorcerer, some adepts, some rangers, a scouty-type rogue, or even a scout, if you use the later supplements would be reasonable. But maybe the rangers et al aren't interested in helping the PCs?
9. "...some of the valley natives remember stories of the mysterious 'silverhairs' who helped rebuil[d] their villages after the Year of the Wolf..." (p. 134). Considering that this occurred less than 180 years ago (the Nebar left the Vesve 200 years ago, and "thrived" in the Nebo "for decades", p. 131), wouldn't the elves remember the winter werewolves themselves? Maybe some of the older half elves would remember as well?
10. Languages: Katya made sure that the Silver Hackles learned Common, so that would seem to be the Nebar's native language (p. 144). What is their native tongue? What about the Larushki and the Bezhumen, for that matter? I'd suggest dialects of Flann. It would give the Flann speakers something to do when dealing with the Larushki and Bezhumen, and maybe the lycanthropes as well, assuming that their Common is only so-so.
11. I assume that "Antonin Bogatyr" is his Bezhumen slave name (p. 142).
12. Wouldn't it be more appropriate for Tyegg the Boarmaster's favored enemy to be animals rather than Larushki (p. 143)? Meh.
13. Isn't 100 gp a bit much of a reward for every soldier recovered from the valley (p. 140)? The chiefs want them back alive to CYA, and their families might be happy, but still... Maybe these communities are really rich?
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