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 L2) and a junior sergeant (human Fighter L2). The infantry are overseen directly by Kerrann (LN male human Fighter L4), the keep’s sergeant at arms, who reports directly to Shinnea Dyrgivann (LG female half-elf, Cleric of Heironeous L7), 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 L2) and two junior sergeants (human Fighter L2) each led by a sergeant (Fighter L3) and one of Shinnea’s lieutenants (Fighter L6). 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 L5), 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 L6). 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 of Pelor L5) and the spells of the keep’s castellan, Parrick Gurmian (N male human Wizard L12).
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.