The Winterworn Keep (Caves of Utter Chaos, Part 4)

June 5th, 2017
Conventions, Gary Con, The WEGS Fray, Caves of Utter Chaos

The Caves of Utter Chaos dungeon crawl adventure started out as a fun riff on Gary Gygax’s Keep on the Borderlands; something that would fit neatly into a three-hour event slot at Gary Con IX. After a week of fleshing out the dungeon and its monsters, I decided to leave the dungeon for a bit and take a stab at the base of operations for the adventurers. That’s when the Winterworn Keep came into view. (Click to see all prior Caves of Utter Chaos thread posts.)

Perched above the valley where the Skewered Mountain squats is the imposing Winterworn Keep. Those within this stronghold maintain a careful watch over the chaos bubbling below. It is a half day’s march down a treacherous cliff-side trail to the valley o’ chaos, and then another full day’s trek to the Skewered Mountain. The winding trail down is patrolled and fortified for defense against enemy forces (who might attempt to use the trail to assail the keep). The keep’s escalated positioning is so very strong that only an insane army would mount such an assault. But, then again, that’s exactly the type of enemies dwelling in the Caves of Utter Chaos.

A Cool Old Castle Litho

Is that an ogre swinging from the gibbet?

The Winterworn Keep is the spearhead for the Thundervold, a stepped plateau that gradually descends to the civilized lands of the Wegswyrld. The plateau itself is sandwiched between two very angry mountain ranges known for their thunderous outbursts that shake the mountains to their very root. Just as sailors who take to the open sea, those who live in the Vold are certain of their courage.

The Thundervold plateau contains eight small kingdoms. Winterworn Keep is located in Hrootdurn, the northernmost and, in winter, coldest kingdom. Together the eight kingdoms are known as the Thunder Lords and they are allied as one to protect the Vold. Each kingdom dedicates a strength of warriors to the Winterworn, as that stronghold is the Vold’s wall against a chasm of chaos.

I noted in Part II: Monsters that, once created, the Caves of Utter Chaos dungeon started filling up with monsters, seemingly on its own volition. The same was now occurring at the Winterworn Keep, as a beacon for its stalwart inhabitants. Once again, the module was expanding beyond its needs – and a large unexplored swath of the Wegswyrld map was coming to life. My mind kept opening doors that one need not open for an intro crawler. Just who was in charge of this dungeon outing?!?

While the Winterworn Keep was becoming a pretty cool place to start the adventure, there was that half-a-day trek down the trail and another full day hike unto the Skewered Mountain. All this before the adventure even started! Might as well just add a tea-party beforehand and call it “There and Back Again”.

No… I needed a base camp closer to the Skewered Mountain and Caves of Utter Chaos.

Welcome to Yown Town, folks!

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