Thursday, May 19, 2016

5 Reasons to Visit the Sea Princes

Welcome back avid fans of the World of Greyhawk as I resume my ongoing feature titled "5 Reasons to Visit...". Be sure to go back and check my overviews of NyrondKeolandFuryondyBandit Kingdoms and the Great Kingdom. Again, for most people who have played D&D you should at least be familiar with the classic adventures set in Greyhawk and possibly, some of you also know the setting's gritty details. With 5 Reasons I seek to put a spotlight on five good plots and places in (ideally) each of the nations of the Flanaess. Perhaps a new DM will be intrigued by these locations or an experienced one will be reminded or inspired to revisit these areas. As always, comments, suggestions and additions are appreciated. Enjoy!
1. Sybarate Island: The Hold of the Sea Princes is one of my all-time favorite locations to campaign. By now, I've written a ton of personal accounts, custom NPCs and city locales for my adventures set here. What's surprising however is that the Sea Princes already has some nice published adventure locations. One such place is Sybrate Island the smallest isle of the Hold and the setting for UK1: Beyond the Crystal Cave by Dave Browne, Tom Kirby and Graeme Morris. This 1E module for levels 4-7 is highly unique in feel from other D&D adventures due to it's Old English inspiration from places like Propherio's Garden to new characters like the Green Man. UK1 is also set apart because it's a module that also allows players to succeed without hack and slash. Crystal Cave was highly received by critics, but remained underrated in the Greyhawk community. UK1 did however some recognition in 2005 with a Hackmaster homage and a 4E D&D update. This little remote island can be a nice place to send players for a short, magical interlude.

2. Duchy of Berghof: Following on the heels of UK1 is UK2: The Sentinel and UK3: The Gauntlet both by Graeme Morris. TSR must've given Morris the undeveloped Sea Princes to be his playground cause nowhere in the hold is more developed than the charmingly remote Duchy of Berghof the setting for his "Adlerweg series" which involves a quest for two artifacts one of which is a glove. These two modules while not the best plot-wise, have some beautiful regional maps, that were quite unmatched in Greyhawk publication history for much of 1E and 2E.

The Duchy was later updated for Living Greyhawk in an article by Paul Looby and Stuart Kerrigan. Moreso than UK1, Berghof is a fully realized subrealm within the greater Sea Princes nation. One could set an entire campaign based on these two modules and still have plenty of adventures to run in the neighboring Hold, Hellfurnaces or off Jeklea Bay.

3. Port Toli: The capital of the Sea Princes is the port of Monmurg. There is a lot that could be written or developed on this place, but the best we have currently is this unpublished map by esteemed Greyhawk author Gary Holian. In my own home campaign however, the most interesting city is actually Port Toli. In the base timeline of 576 CY, Prince Jeon II and his allies sought to end the slave practice that made their nation prosperous, so their main rival at the time logically had to be the prince of Port Toli. Toli is named for an old Keoish house who founded the port before pirates came along and conquered the coast and settled down. Port Toli is the best place for an urban-based pirate-themed campaign that runs on loose morals (at least before the Hold's unfortunate subjugation by the Scarlet Brotherhood in 584 CY).
Port Toli is situated in a perfect place to strike out on voyages to exotic locales like the Amedio Jungle, the Olman Isles, the Hellfurnaces or even across the Azure Sea to yes, the Scarlet Brotherhood. In my own campaigns I've made this city of 11,000 into the ideal place to repair vessels, trade cargoes, sell loot, acquire rare contraband, conduct deadly duels and rub elbows with haughty evil nobles. The only thing it's lacking is a proper map. Anyone?

4. Hokar: Another city that is under-developed is the inland city of Hokar (22,000 according to the LGG). This place, due west of ort Toli always intrigued me for its location next to the Kamph Mountains nearby the aforementioned Duchy of Berghof. It's only canonical information comes post-Greyhawk Wars where its the capital of a resistance of ex-slaves and commoners rebelling against the occupying Brotherhood.

I prefer to contemplate it's importance pre-Wars at the height of the Sea Princes nation. I've imagined this large city on the edge of the mountains, as a burgeoning mining town and given it's position, it has to also be a hub of trade between the main ports and all inland landowners as far west as Berghof. There is a lot one can do with Hokar as you can see, from urban to wilderness. As such I recently created my Mines of Hokar dungeon crawl campaign here and even created a town map to go with it. Does any one else have experience with Hokar? Feel free to add my campaign ideas to yours!

5. Westkeep: This city factors heavily into the history of the Sea Princes in their ongoing conflict with the rival kingdom of Keoland. The Siege of Westkeep saw the death of Keoland's King Tavish in fact. Westkeep's location on the edge of the expansive Hool Marshes makes it the best launching point for adventures or hunting expeditions in a swamp environment (indeed I7: Baltron's Beacon is set across the river from Westkeep).

Post-wars, Westkeep is a strategic city that has become disease riddled and lawless during the continued overthrow of the Scarlet Brotherhood-controlled Sea Princes. Added to this bedlam, Keoland seeks to take Westkeep back from the foreign invaders before the disaffected Sea Princes can liberate their own land. Given all this danger and strife, Westkeep in any era is a good place for political intrigue and epic battle.

Lastly I'd like to remind people that Greyhawk Reborn is a growing force in 5E convention play and their adventures are largerly set in the Sheldomar Valley and Sea Princes area. So for more on the Hold check out their site or attend their games at a con near you!


Anonymous said...

Enjoy your posts. A map that locates the region within the wider Flanaess would be helpful.

Mystic Scholar said...

Very nice. I've never even considered these modules before. Now I'll have to look them over. Thanks Mike!

Gabriel Perez Gallardi said...

I'm running a 5e campaign set in the Yeomanry border with the Sea Princes. Will certainly look into those modules. Thanks!