Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Nightwick Abbey in Hindsight Part 4

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Now comes the fourth and final part of my retrospective on the Nightwick Campaign.  While it was rather short, only about 25 sessions, It was the culmination of ideas that extended back at least to 2008.  The name Nightwick originally belonged to a castle on a map I made for a campaign I never ran.

When all of this OSR stuff was still starting up, my players were divided between die hard 3.x fans and die hard 4e fans.  All of us began gaming early in my highschool career, which was the heyday of 3.5.  I mentioned in my first post that some rather peculiar circumstances led me to be interested in OSD&D despite the fact that I did not spend my formative years playing it.  The OSR added some fuel to this fire, and I had already tried to get them into OSD&D with a failed Castles & Crusades Wilderlands campaign, but the rest of my group found my fascination with it rather alien.

I would, as I still do, make hex maps for games I would ultimately never run since I mostly ran 4e in a heavily modified version of the Wilderlands at that point.  While making one I used a random generator to determine some settlement names.  One of the results was Nightwick Castle.  I thought the name was cool, so I kept it in my mind for future use.

Then one day I was wasting time between college classes, listening to Sabbath and looking at OSD&D blogs.    The particular song was "Black Sabbath" from their first album, and I happened to be in the middle of it when I saw this picture:

Now, I  had seen that cover 1,000 times before, but something about the juxtaposition of the spooky castle, the devil music, and my boredom inspired me.  I began to think about what kind of setting that castle would exist in, and I remembered an intro to a computer game I enjoyed.

The line at the end "must face the demons it unleashed" really got my brain going.  I imagined the milieu being essentially a stand in for the Baltic, with the Sword Brothers replacing their earthly namesake.  At various periods I thought of them as either being a crazed death cult (for a BRP game) or an army of vampires (for an abortive 4e version of Castlevania).  As my regular readers will already know, I eventually decided that the Sword Brothers no longer existed, having been quashed long ago by those who realized how evil they truly were.

I decided to revive the name Nightwick Castle, but I also combined it with some old notes I had for another dungeon.  That other dungeon was also centered around a group of warrior monks who were corrupted by some evil power.  That dungeon was my write up of Gardmoore Abbey (sp?).  It's a small dot in the 4e DMG's map, and I can't check the information contained therein since I recently sold off most of my 4e books.  I decided to smoosh the names together giving me Nightwick Abbey.

Over time I was able to wear my group down and convince them to let me run the setting using Swords & Wizardry.  Those early sessions didn't use Nightwick Village, Lichegate, and the Abbey.  Rather, I set it in an area that was somewhere near the abbey.  It consisted of Hommlet sans the moat house which I replaced with Dyson Logos's The Necromancer's Garden, which I stocked with heavily reflavored monsters and demons.  

Eventually the group changed to WFRP 2e, which most of us were happy with and the Nightwick campaign area (which had no name besides Nightwick at that point) went into hibernation.  It only exited its cave when I moved to Knoxville and started this blog.  The rest of its history can more or less be seen by reading my old entries.  I'm not really sure at what point I dropped my Baltic setting and replaced it with this, but the switch to a Transylvania inspired landscape allowed me to keep the themes of the setting and gave me more mountains.  I like mountains.

One final note: the name The Dark Country is actually a quote from the really shitty movie Howling 2: Your Sister is a Werewolf.  When the protagonists are leaving to head to Transylvania, Christopher Lee referred to it as the Dark Country.  I thought that sounded pretty cool.

Edit:  I should also note that the Halloween season has caused me to miss the Dark Country something fierce.


  1. I think The Dark Country is rad. It has a solid place in my mental catalog of imaginary places. I actually ran a oneshot set there recently, and I would love to do it again sometime.

  2. No, It wasn't very exciting to be honest. I was doing a playtest for some of my B?X type stuff. Basically a caravan on the way to Lichgate got attacked by orcs and a crew of 0 level characters were captured and thrown in a prison cell in a orc cave. We concluded the adventure once they had fought their way to freedom. So we didn't get to see that much of The Dark Country, but I would really like to try playing there again sometime. I think my players have other plans though.