Mysterious Places06/26/2007

Ford Keep
Mysterious Places

Ford Keep
Ford Keep area map.

Few dispute that trade is the life’s blood of the Free City of Greyhawk. Certainly, the free city’s Directing Oligarchs have no illusions as to whence their wealth and power derive. Thus, when the Greyhawk Wars brought fire and ruin to their borders over a decade ago, the Oligarchs moved decisively. At their direction, a string of keeps was built to secure the routes along which Greyhawk’s trade flowed.

One of the most important of these is Ford Keep, some ten leagues south of Greyhawk City along the Selintan River. Ford Keep guards Wainford, the point where the Western Road from Dyvers crosses the Selintan and joins the River Road. Thus, Ford Keep commands one of only three fords along the Selintan, the river itself (Greyhawk’s main artery of trade) and the junction of two main roads, one leading to Greyhawk’s main rival, Dyvers, the other to Hardby and the northern Wild Coast.

The keep’s strategic importance was not lost on the dwarven engineers who built it in 585 CY. The square donjon tower is constructed from Cairn Hills granite and is surrounded by a square of 20 feet high curtain walls topped with parapets and crenulations and bolstered by four corner towers and a gatehouse. The walls are in turn encompassed by a moat (10 feet wide and 20 feet deep) fed by the waters of the nearby Selintan. A drawbridge provides access to the gatehouse, where two pairs of ironbound bronzewood gates, three iron portcullises, and a plethora of arrow loops and murder holes ward the enclosed passage into the bailey. Besides the donjon tower, the bailey holds a barracks for the garrison, stables for the keep’s cavalry troop and a smithy. A well and an extensive food store in the basement of the tower ensure that the garrison can withstand a lengthy siege without fear of hunger or thirst.

The Greyhawk Militia garrisons Ford Keep with a small force of thirty-five infantrymen split into five squads. Each squad of seven men comprises six militiamen (human warrior 2) and a junior sergeant (human fighter 2). The infantry are overseen directly by Kerrann (LN male human fighter 4), the keep’s sergeant at arms, who reports directly to Shinnea Dyrgivann (LG female half-elf, cleric 7 – Heironeous), the garrison’s captain. Typically, two squads guard both the tower and gatehouse on alternating watches, with the final squad held in the barracks as a reserve.

Ford Keep also houses a score of cavalry, mounted on light warhorses. They are usually divided into two patrols of eight militiamen (human warrior 2) and two junior sergeants (human fighter 2) each led by a sergeant (fighter 3) and one of Shinnea’s lieutenants (fighter 6). Shinnea dispatches a patrol along the Western and River Roads on alternating days.

The captain also has a half-dozen mounted scouts (three ranger 1, two ranger 3, and one ranger 5, equipped with longbow, longsword and studded leather armor) at her disposal. Led by the free-spirited Andyr (CG male human ranger 5), they range in pairs throughout the keep’s hinterlands, ever alert for signs of trouble. Although he is an able leader, Andyr is apt to interpret Shinnea’s orders very loosely, much to his captain’s irritation. She is right in thinking that Andyr takes pleasure in finding ways to irk her, especially by achieving all the goals she sets him, but by the most unorthodox means possible. Were it not for his obvious skill, Shinnea would have stripped the scout of his command long ago.

In addition to the complements of foot and horse, Ford Keep has a small artillery troop led by the unflappable Morrzen (LG female dwarf expert 6). Under her expert direction, a heavy catapult on the roof of the main donjon and ballistae on each of the corner towers command the ford and the approaches to the keep. Morzen’s not-inconsiderable arsenal can be supplemented by Shinnea’s powers, as well as the prayers of Ford Keep’s other priest, Larik (NG male human cleric 5 – Pelor) and the spells of the keep’s castellan, Parrick Gurmian (N, male human wizard 12).

Parrick helped to build Ford Keep and has been here ever since. As such, he regards the castle almost as his own and takes his role as castellan very seriously. He apprenticed under no less distinguished a mage than Kieren Jalucian, one of Greyhawk’s Oligarchs and Master of the Free City’s Guild of Wizardry, and is married to one of Jalucian’s grand-nieces. Despite snide whispers about nepotism, Parrick won his position on merit, though his unquestioned loyalty to the Oligarchy certainly didn’t hurt his chances. The mage occupies the top two floors of the donjon, squeezing a small laboratory and a pair of apprentices in along side his private chambers.

Although his command is relatively distant from Greyhawk’s troubled borders, Parrick’s life is not as straightforward as he might wish. Bandits are a perennial threat to trade along river and road. As Dyvers lies at the other end of the Western Road, Parrick takes great interest in tidings from the City of Sails often corresponding with Gerrund, his brother (also a wizard), who spends much time there. Parrick’s youngest brother, Dernan (a wizard like his brothers), vanished in Castle Greyhawk several years ago, and though Parrick has expended great efforts, he has been unable to uncover his fate.

However, as troubling as these concerns are, Parrick’s greatest irritations arise closer to home – in the hamlet of Wainford itself.


The hamlet owes its existence to the ford, a broad shelf of rock where the Selintan is no more than about six feet deep. Though too deep for many folk to wade, horses, and wains can ford the river here with little difficulty (hence the hamlet’s name). However, the shallows pose a problem for the many sea-going vessels that ply the Selintan. As laden cogs sit too deep in the water to pass, they must be either unloaded or hauled over the ford (or both for especially deep-keeled vessels). This has long been a lucrative source of income to a sprawling and unruly clan of families dwelling on the western bank of the river (known locally as Porterbank). Not content with honest labour, these Porters are notorious for negotiating a price, unloading a cargo and then upping their price to reload it. Captains foolish enough to protest often find valuable items of cargo mysteriously going missing and a hostile band of armed porters ready to answer any accusations with force. Experience has taught many ship’s masters to lay aside some extra coin to cover such extortion when calculating their margins. Given that the Porters have friendly ties with several Rhennee clans, few consider crossing them. The threat is such that even the Greyhawk Guild of Thieves reluctantly tolerates their extortion racket.

Wainford’s other source of income comes from the fact that it lies one day’s travel by wagon from Greyhawk City. A large coaching inn and stables, The Drover’s Repose, on the eastern bank of the river (Stablebank), takes full advantage of the passing trade. The Repose offers its customers food, drink, beds for the night, and companions of negotiable virtue (usually recruited from Greyhawk City via the Thieves’ Guild). The Harrenn family has owned the inn since anyone can remember, and they are the unquestioned authority on Stablebank. While outsiders have tried to open inns in competition, their premises have proven remarkably prone to sudden destruction by fire. Ford Keep’s garrison has proved a great boon for the Harrenns’ business, much to the disgust of Shinnea, who has repeatedly asked Parrick for permission to shut the inn and its vice racket down.

Unsurprisingly, the Porters and the Harrenns have been feuding since as long as anyone can remember. There are regular brawls when the bravos of one side or other trespass onto the opposite bank looking for trouble. These rarely produce more than a few broken bones, but inevitably, there are fatalities, which kick-off rounds of tit-for-tat killings. In recent times, Parrick has swiftly halted these with carefully weighted threats. Although both factions have tried to recruit the castellan and his garrison to their side, Parrick wisely keeps himself above the feuding. Instead, he shrewdly uses the factions’ rivalry to his advantage, gratefully receiving rumours from the Selintan and Nyr Dyv from the Porters and whispers from Greyhawk City from the Harrenns in return for vague rewards and promises.

Old Mother Harrenn (N female human wizard 5), mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother to most of the Harrenns in Wainford, is a skilled apothecary and occasionally offers her wares to passing travelers. Once per adventure set in the Domain of Greyhawk, PCs passing through Wainford can check to see if she is selling anything. There is a 30% chance that she has one of the following items available:

  1. Silversheen (250 gp; DMG)
  2. Elixir of swimming (250 gp; DMG)
  3. Elixir of vision (250 gp; DMG)
  4. Elixir of love (150 gp; DMG)
  5. Dust of dryness (850 gp; DMG)
  6. Salve of slipperiness (1,000 gp; DMG)

Living Greyhawk FAQ: Handling Buying and Selling

This is a legal method of purchasing an item for use in the Living Greyhawk campaign. If a PC wishes to purchase one of the items above, list the item and its price in the Items Bought box of the adventure’s AR, noting that the PC purchased the item at the Drover’s Repose. The PC must pay for the item immediately and only one of each item is available on a given day. Purchasing the item does not give the new owner the ability to craft the item. The item’s price cannot be reduced through haggling.

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