A combination of a small return to convention-going, Grogmeet at my local FLG Fanboy 3 in November, and the need for a gripping, exciting kick-off scenario for the next Season of OpenQuest Thursday, which sees our rough borderlands troubleshooters moving in noble circles at the Imperial Court, drove me to write this upcoming adventure.
Goblins running wild in the Empire of Gatan has always been a problem. Either feral packs from population explosions in their native lands or organised raiding bands led by their Orc brethren, from the Goblinoid Strongholds beyond the Empire’s Border. Ten years ago, Emperor Ilmar got so fed up with them, that he made an Imperial
Proclamation that was read out by town criers across the Empire. The proclamation classified Goblins as vermin and decreed by law that landowning nobles, should appoint a Master of the Goblin Hunt whose job is to coordinate the local peasants in efforts to exterminate any Goblin infestation found upon their lands. A bounty was placed upon the collection of Goblin heads, and the formation of a professional class of Goblin Hunter was encouraged throughout the Empire.
Every year the best Goblin Hunters, sponsored by the five Dukes of Gatan, assemble at Castle Uprising in the Imperial Heartlands, near the Imperial Hunting Forest. After a great feast, attended by the Emperor, they enter the Valley of the Hunt, which has been carefully stocked with Goblins and other related creatures. Whoever brings back the most goblin heads at the end of the day, is declared the winner of the Great Goblin Hunt.
This year your band of adventurers have been invited to join the Fifth Annual Goblin Hunt, for the glory of your sponsoring noble and your personal financial gain.
This adventure is about getting the player characters to interact with the nobles of the setting, including the big movers and shakers, in a way that doesn’t involve lots of talking and chewing scenery. As previously stated, OpenQuest is a Fantasy Adventure Game.
So what better way to get both the intrigue and action by involving the characters in an Imperial Hunt.
Two castle visits came to mind as the inspiration for the adventure locations in the adventure.
Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire. Whole sections of the castle were built around providing the Kings of England with accommodation and entertainment on their grand procession of the Kingdom and getting a bump up in power at court. It was a tactic that worked and eventually saw the family relocate further down the road at Chatsworth House and being in the Royal inner circle of confidants and advisers. The castle is right next to the castle is a deer hunting run that was reserved for the nobles use.
Castle Rising in Norfolk. I’ve known this Norman castle from visits to my grandparents in my childhood. It has only been recently with family holidays that I’ve learnt about its history as a Hunting Lodge created by the Norman Earl who built the castle and created Deer Hunting land around it.
As well as the obvious thrill of the hunt itself, some other themes are working in this adventure.
Are Goblins evil or a victim of misrepresentation? The adventure deals with a genocidal hunt against Goblins. When I wondered what the Nobles would be hunting, I decided to push the boat out, this being a fantasy game and have Goblins as the target. In the Empire of Gatan setting, Goblins are presented as evil enemies, typical of most fantasy settings. But this adventure puts that under the microscope, and there’s evidence in the adventure about the true nature of Goblins being completely different to what the characters have been taught.
Exploration of blood sports. As well as practicalities of how the hunt is conducted, there will be opportunities to see in action and get involved in the various social games of one-upmanship that are being played out between the nobles, for whom its merely part of a social calendar of events throughout the year and an important chance to impress the Emperor who is in attendance. Also how species have been created specifically to provide sport for the hunters.
The Class System. The Hunt is conducted in a valley where peasant farmers lived before they were relocated by the Emperor’s decree to live around the Castle that is the Great Master of the Goblin Hunt’s seat. Therefore, those peasants are still about and look on unhappily as their Noble masters feast at the castle in preparation for the Great Goblin Hunt, which is the sole reason for them being kicked off their ancestral lands.
As with all my convention games, this will get a write-up and be published at some point, probably as part of a book about the Empire of Gatan that I’m planning called “Dark Corners of the Empire”.
To be honest, I never quite knew what to make of the Gatan setting in OQ2 – I just didn’t know enough of the historical period it is set in, so it just boiled down to “generic fantasy empire” in my head. But between what is in OQ3, “The Lost Outpost” and now this post, it finally takes shape for me. I really liked reading “The Lost Outpost”, and from what I’,m reading about “The Goblin Hunt”, its starting to look like Gatan is, in some way, about subverting fantasy tropes by reading them through a more historical lens. I’m looking forward to “Dark Corners of the Empire” and more Gatan material in general!