Thursday, 2 May 2019

"You are all refugees in a tavern"...

"You all meet in a tavern" is classic stale D&D fare that no one minds and no one loves.

Reading Martin Kallies' gripe with tavern meetups over on Spriggan's Den not long after reading Blackrazor's musing on Luln, the original B/X home base got me thinking. Let me first re-quote the passage about Luln before we get into what that says about the assumptions of the starting setting:
"Composed primarily of persons who have fled Black Eagle Barony, merchants who have come to trade with the Baron, and some non-humans who have left the wilderness, Luln is a base town for adventurers exploring the Haunted Keep, also called Koriszegy Keep and the surrounding land. Somewhat lawless and open, the town can provide most of the basic needs to any group of adventurers. The town is poorly defended, relying on the goodwill and capabilities of both the Baron and the Duke for its defense. Approximately 500 people live in the town."(from Cook/Marsh, page X60)
The idea of the starting place of D&D-land being a place composed of refugees makes a lot of sense to me. The conceit that the region has seen upheaval lately - perhaps the boundaries of "borderlands" has been forcibly moved by the forces of Chaos, and subsequently people are on the move to try and find safer lands, settling and moving through a mildly safer but already precarious borderland.

In such a land, the frequent assumption of some established protection for communities, some higher law and order holding communities together, is null. Villages might well be very young, most of everyone is a bit rootless and those who have roots in the area are dealing with the massive changes and struggle for resources the waves of fugitives has brought to the land.

Russ Nicholson
It is a place ripe for plunder by orcs and other opportunistic raiders. A place, in the absence of well established community protections, is in dire need of someone to stand up to the dangers plaguing the region. A few good men passing through the area (being themselves also of rootless origin) able swing a sword and cast some spells might well find common ground for banding together to make use of their talents.

This also reinforces some of the assumptions of OD&D-Land as a land where there might actually be more people roaming as Reavers of the Wastelands than there are huddled up in permanent settlements. It's a dog-eat-dog world out there and every village is crying out for champions, lest it perishes before someone comes along. The vibe I am getting is Allansia (the primary region of the Fighting Fantasy setting), five years after the city of Salamonis has fallen (probably at the hands of Balthus Dire).

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