Saturday, May 16, 2020

More maps from F Seran

F Seran, artiste de Lendore, has kindly provided a link to his DeviantArt page where he goes by Fred-le-Nervien. Of particular interest to Lendophiles will be the maps of the Greater Restenford vicinity, Garrotteville, and Lac Farmin. It should be noted that the maps are annotated in the native dialect of the Lendores. These would work wonderfully as player handouts.

Not all of the art is cartographic in nature. There are some cool architectural drawings, military stuff--much of it WWI themed--and some good old fashioned fantasy art as well. Check it out already!

Thursday, February 6, 2020

New Map of Restenford

A one f. Seran has drawn up--by hand--this very nice illustrated map of Restenford. As with all the best maps, it is in French. Extra nice touches include:

  • a dude getting in some rowing (sculling?) out on the Restin River
  • not one but two sets of gallows (potences?); one at each gatehouse.
  • some jagged rocks to the shoreline south of the Restin mouth. Or maybe they're icebergs?
  • an awesome ship out in the bay waiting for the tide to change so that it can sail into port. Or maybe that's the crew rowing to shore in the nearby skiff.
  • the "burnt out guard station"
Anyway, I think this is a wonderful illustrated map and so should you. Thank you f. Seran for your contribution to the field of Lendorology.

Friday, March 9, 2018

New Maps of Restenford

1. Map of Monmouth, NJ by John Speed.
Years ago, I posted a selection of maps of Restenford that I'd
scrounged from various internet sources. Recently, a budding young cartographer named R.R. Calbick sent me a map of R'ford that he rendered up, modeled after the work of John Speed who, back in the day, made those cool old-timey maps with the buildings rendered into 'em that we all know and love. See figure 1.

Anyway, Mr. Calbick rendered up Restenford for us in a similar style over three separate maps including the original Restenford, a somewhat streamlined Restenford that has suffered the destruction of several buildings, and, in the third map, we see that someone in Restenford finally dips into the treasury to beef up security with improved guard stations, a wall surrounding the north side of the village and, finally, an adequate lighthouse so that the poor gnome can finally ply his trade with his head held high.

2. Antebellum Restenford, by R.R. Calbick

3. Post Antebellum Restenford, by R.R. Calbick. Note the expanded graveyard.

4. Apres post antebellum Restenford by R.R. Calbick
A point of further interest: these maps were sent to me by a one Lenard Lakofka. Yes, that's right, the inspiration for this here blog has finally tracked me down and, rather than slapping me with a cease and desist order or going full-Welcar on me and releasing the hounds, he hooked me up with Mr. Calbick and his awesome maps! Furthermore, he's also provided some other cool resources as well, which I'll get to in a later post. For now enjoy the visual treat of Restenford cartography.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Notes from the Nystul campaign

In pursuit of further knowledge of the Restenford realm, I found myself wandering around over at the Dragonsfoot Archives the other day and found this old issue of Footprints magazine from 2005 lying around in one of the stalls in the mens room. What's intriguing about this issue to you and me is that it's got an article written up by the original Lord of Lendore, Mr. Lakofka himself. The article is a description of the "Nystul Campaign," during which he took several members of the Nystul family on a guided tour of Lendore Isle back in the late 70s-mid 80s. The bulk of the text is dedicated to house rules and meta-y stuff written with that tone of braggadocio you often hear when old timers talk about how things were back in the day. But around page 16 he starts to get into some of the historical details of the campaign. Here are the highlights:
  1. After clearing out the castle at Bone Hill, the Nystuls refurbished it, renamed it Voxbonder Abby, and dedicated it to the god Phaulkon.
  2. The Duke of Kroten was indeed evil, as one might have surmised by the existence of his malevolent spy occupying the bait shop in Restenford.
  3. The Nystuls deposed said duke and his henchmen at some point in the campaign.
  4. To the north of the city of Kroten was an evil town called Grellton which was named after the deity Grell.
  5. Grell had his name changed to "Llerg" when the Suel deities went public because there was already a monster called Grell in the Fiend Folio
  6. Presumably this Grell character is also the namesake of the dearly departed Grellus, Baron of Restenford.
  7. It's too bad that TSR didn't change Grellus's name to Llergus.
  8. Grellton was renamed as Dwarfhaven after the Nystuls were done with it.
  9. No mention is made in this history of Garrottenford or the assassination of Baron Grellus. 
  10. That's too bad because I would like to know what the Nystuls would have called Garrottenville after they were done with it.
  11. In a room under Voxbonder Abby There was a "teleporter" that transported you to Asmogorgon, a fortress occupied by devils, demons, and at least one stone golem.
  12. Lakofka promised to provide a history of Asmogorgon at a later date; it's not clear if that history ever came to be.
  13. It's not clear if the teleporter existed there when the place was part of the original Bone Hill Campaign or if it came into being only after the transformation to Voxbonder.
  14. There was a similar teleporter under temples or castles in each of the following locales: Kroten, Lo Reltarma (capital of Lendore Isles), the aforementioned Grellton/Dwarfhjaven, and a place called Manville--which is named for Manticores, so careful there.
  15. Though in dire need of a change, there is no indication that Manville was renamed by either the Nystul crew or TSR.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Garrottenford Map

Reader Ethan has compiled the two vicinity maps from L1 and L2 into one single map; something I've wanted to do forever but, thankfully, now I don't have to. Go here to check it out.  Nice work Ethan!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Restenford and the Assassins Knot

It's taken me almost 6 years to get to the topic that inspired this bloggertation in the first place: the link between L1 Secret of Bone Hill and it's follow up L2 Assassin's Knot. Or, more specifically, how did the Lakofka's vision for L2 change between the writing of L1 and the final form of Assassin's Knot.

Garrotten: We're a suspicious lot.
For those of you not in the know, L2 starts off the day after Baron Grellus of Restenford has been murdered. Pelltar calls upon the PCs to investigate the matter because he's too high profile of a character to do the snooping himself. Plus he claims not to be interested in politics, even though we all know that he's been pulling the strings of Restenford for years now.

He may be too high profile to conduct the full investigation, but that doesn't stop him from inspecting the crime scene. And, fortunately, he's discovered three clues, each of which implicates, he believes, a separate person who was seen in Restenford on the night of the crime. Each of these suspects is a resident of the egregiously named town of Garrotten, a day's travel to the south. A search of the inns, drunk tanks, and brothels of Resty that morning turned up none of these gentlemen; clearly they've fled back to G-town one step ahead of the law. The case is ironclad, right?

Once the PCs travel down the coast to idyllic Garrotten which, as the name not so much implies so much as screams in gigantic, bright green neon letters, is home to a highly secretive assassins guild, will quickly learn that each of the suspects is a prominent, respected member of the community, Abraham the Innkeeper, Balmorrow the Theater Director, and Harpur the High Preist of Osprem. Each claims to have spent the entire day alone in their quarters and thus has no alibi, even though each lives in a communal residence in a small town where even a trip to the outhouse would fail to go unnoticed--it should be noted that the Garrottenford map is possibly the only published D&D material ever to include latrines. Surely at least a servant would have brought them their meals? Nonetheless, none of them has even the slightest motive to want the Baron dead, nor does any of them have the means to sneak into a castle and murder a dude who, despite being an incompetent ruler, is still a pretty tough fighter.

For those who don't know, here's the lowdown on the murder plot as written in L2 Assassin's Knot: the deranged abbot Qualton, suffering from psychosis induced by a psionic attack--how many D&D modules ever incorporated Psionics into the narrative?-- thinks that if he kills off the baron and marries his daughter, he'll get to be the replacement baron and move into Grellus's regal abode. So he makes contact with the assassins down in Garrotten. But since the Lord Mayor of Garrotten, who is actually a lady named Arness, is in bed with the assassin's guild--possibly literally?--she decides to use Qualton's plot to her own advantage. Ultimately, depending on the success of the PC's investigatory efforts, the assassins will kill off the Baron's wife and daughter and finally Qualton as well, leaving the Baron's seat empty for Arness to usurp. 

But by implicating three innocent and highly respected members of the community, the assassin has brought the focus of the investigation squarely onto G-town which is problematic for a few reasons:
  1. The assassin responsible for Grellus's murder is the head of the notorious guild of hitmen that gave Garrotten its name. Have you ever heard the expression don't shit where you eat? By extension, you should also not shit somewhere else and then intentionally leave a shit-stained trail of shit-scented footprints back to your dining room table.  Especially when...
  2. The baron's murderer is not only a professional assassin and CEO of the Garrotten A-guild, but also has a day job working as an advisor to Arrness, Lord Mayor of the town. Arrness is hoping to capitalize on the plot by filling the power vacuum created by the Baron's death--though let's be honest, he was never holding much power anyway. How pleased can she be that now, just as she is ready to set her putsch in motion, she has to deal with a team of investigators at her doorstep? Especially when...
  3. If the guild was looking for a scapegoat, they had the perfect patsy in the form of Qualton the Abbot, who, besides being thoroughly unstable--which they certainly must have learned when they vetted him as a client--is actually guilty of the crime since he hired the assassin in the first place! Frame him for his own misdeeds and let his psychosis shine through during the trial and your work is done for you; no one bothers casting a glance Garrotten-ward, despite its name.

But what really intrigues me is that evidence in the write-up in L1 indicates that the sequel was supposed to be set in Restenford itself, not in far flung G-town. A few clues exist that might give us an idea of Lakofka's original intent for the follow up module:
  1. Qualton, Abbot of Phaulkon, having lost his marbles because of a psionic attack, is intent on marrying the Baron's daughter in order to take over the Barony. His write-up in L1 specifically says to keep his lunacy under raps until L2. Clearly the PCs were intended to interact with this dude.
  2. In addition to his other real estate in town, Pelltar has a lease on the tower in the Baron's castle. There is specific language in the terms of the lease that allow him access to the tower even in the event of the Baron's death. Obviously this was meant to allow the action of L2 to seep into the castle. As an aside, what kind of landlord signs a lease with that kind of language in it?
  3. The dude in the bait shop is actually a spy for the Duke of Kroten. This has absolutely no bearing on anything in either L1 or L2 but I've always wondered if it was originally supposed to have some significance. Was he, in addition to spying for the Duke, the point man for the Guild? The guy who knows a guy who knows a guy who can get stuff done for a fee? If so, would the Duke have known about the assassination effort even before it happened, therefore making him complicit?
In L1 it seems obvious that it was Lakofka's original vision for the sequel that the PCs would be skulking about in Restenford looking for a killer, not racing off to Garrotten right away. The indication that Pelltar would have access to the tower at the Baron's "castle" even in the event of the Baron's death is only significant if the plan was to have someone taking hold of the Baron's throne right away; someone who does not want Pelltar seeking justice for the baron's murder. This implies that maybe Pelltar has to surreptitiously hire the PCs to investigate the crime. Which would make sense if Qualton did manage to take over the Barony; obviously it would be in his best interest to obstruct the investigation at every turn.

Perhaps the bait dealer was intended to be a red herring to distract them from the case. Or else the Duke of Kroten had some beef with Grellus, and his spy was gathering intell. Or maybe he doubles as the point of contact for the assassin's guild. And perhaps there was never meant to be an assassins guild--maybe it was supposed to be Kroten who took out Grellus. 

Or perhaps Fairwind, the Baroness, was in on the hit, having been humiliated by the milquetoast Grellus's continued incompetence. That actually makes more sense from a quick transition of power stance since Abbot Qualton's insane plot was never going to see him on the throne. But judging by her "haughty" ways and lawful neutral alignment, it seems more likely that she just wants to put as much distance as possible between herself and this backwater burg full of rabble rather than sully her footwear on the streets of Resty ever again.

My suspicion is that TSR decided that they didn't want to spread the adventure out over two separate publications which would have required aspiring DMs who bought L2 to then go out and acquire L1 in order to be able to run the thing. Admittedly, I woulda' been pretty freakin' annoyed if I'd had to do that back when I ran L2 in the 80s. Remember, in the pre-internet days you could only buy what your local supplier put on the shelves, so if they didn't have L1, you couldn't just go track it down on AbeBooks or wherever. So, in order to make L2 a self-contained module, they moved the action down the coast and left Restenford in the dust. And while I find this a bummer in that I think Assassin's Knot would have been a more interesting adventure if the Restenford angle were explored more deeply, this is somewhat offset in that we get a second, fleshed-out town setting on Lendore Island.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Rumors of Restenford: Flaming Hooves

In fantasy, as in reality, unsubstantiated rumors are often excellent sources of inspiration, and L1 takes full advantage of this with its rather extensive rumor table that provides information about the setting but also loads of red herrings and as-yet-undeveloped adventure hook.  Here is perhaps my favorite inspiring rumor on the list:
"One night I was coming through Kelman Pass when I saw a woman on horseback ride by and cross into the Dead Forest.  Her horse's hooves were on fire."
This rumor is interesting for being, well, pretty dang intriguing: who is the woman on horseback?  What's she doing in the pass at midnight?  Where'd she get that badass horse?

Watch your toes, lady.
Furthermore, the illustration on the copyright/title page of the module depicts a barefoot young woman--who is perhaps missing a few toes from her left foot--riding a flame-hoofed horse and wearing a fur lined metal skullcap.  This is clearly an illustration of the aforementioned "rumor." Pretty cool, right?

Couple this with the fact that the rumor is in italics, so we know that it's a crock.  This is extra significant in that, since this might be the one image from the body of the module that the players are most likely to actually see, if they also hear the rumor about this babe, they are that much more likely to believe it to be true under the logic that they wouldn't publish a picture of a fake rumor would they?  It's a fantastic red herring.

Further-furthermore, rather than starting off with "Old Man Codger once saw ..." or "Legend has it ..." this rumor is told in the first person; this is an eyewitness account.  That is to say, whoever tells you this is not merely passing on hearsay but is intentionally lying to you.  If you're talking to a 9-year-old kid, or an anonymous drunkard in the tavern then, fine, they're just trying to impress you or amuse themselves, no harm done.  But if you abide by the Lakofkian stipulation that only Characters of Level are in possession of knowledge from the Rumor Table, then it may very well be Peltar or the Baron laying this load of crap at your feet.  In which case, rather than offering insight into the adventure setting, the rumor is telling you something about the person you're talking to.  If Almax the Druid is feeding you this rumor then maybe he has a sense of humor--he's willing to pull one over on an unsuspecting adventurer.  Or maybe he doesn't care for the adventurers and is deviously sending the party off on a goose chase in the woods.  And since the person telling you this is determined randomly, the Rumor Table suddenly becomes a sort of Random NPC Personality Generator

This could be further evidence of the genius of Lakofka, but given the prominently placed illustration of Hottie the 3-toed Cossack,  I like to wonder if this rumor was initially meant to be true but the associated encounter was cut from the module for space considerations or some such. In an ideal world, Lakofka would have released L3 Nightmare of Kelman Pass some time in 1982.  And also in that ideal world L2 Assassins Knot would have been based in Restenford instead of that ridiculously-named town to the south, but that's the matter of another post.