Friday, April 12, 2019

K is for Kelvin

[over the course of the month of April, I shall be posting a topic for each letter of the alphabet, sequentially, for every day of the week except Sunday. Our topic for this year's #AtoZchallengeRevamping the Grand Duchy of Karameikos in a way that doesn't disregard its B/X roots]

K is for Kelvin. Both the barony and the man from which it takes its name.

[many hours later]

Apologies for the lateness of this post...things came up today that just had to be handled. Mm...let me see if I can get something out before midnight. It's a little pressure, but it sure beats watching Jose Altuve got yard against the M's with bases loaded.  *barf*

Okay, first the brief: Kelvin (the town) isn't on the B/X Karameikos map. It first appears as a village in Mentzer's Expert set. "Village" in both Expert sets is defined as a community of less than 1000 people...which is a little confusing when Mentzer's map shows Luln as a "town" but keeps the same B/X text stating Luln has only 500 people.

But we'll worry about Luln tomorrow...Kelvin is clearly a newer (and smaller) settlement, though over the course of post-BECMI adventure modules it quickly grows to dwarf little ol' Luln. The Karameikos gazetteer (GAZ1) increases all the original population's ten fold: Specularum is increased to 50,000 people, while both Luln and Threshold are up to 5,000. Kelvin, however, is enormous: 20,000 people...a major city by B/X standards, and the second largest community in the entire Grand Duchy (the Black Eagle Barony, at half the size, is a distant third place).

Kelvin was founded shortly after Duke Stefan came to power. The first Desmond Kelvin, "an officer and a gentleman," was "of crucial importance" during the short-lived Marilenev uprising (revolt) that occurred in response to Stefan's arrival. For his action, he was awarded the rank of baron and given lands north of Specularum where the great Volaga river forks. While uninhabited at the time, the site of the new Baron Kelvin's town is built upon the ruins of the ancient village of Lavv, onetime home of hero-king Halav...though the people of Kelvin are completely ignorant of the site's history. The town has grown and thrived due to its location as a center for trade; not only are the rivers a prime mode of transportation for merchants shipping goods, but Kelvin lies upon the Duke's Road, connecting Specularum to distant Selenica in the Republic of Darokin. It is a crossroads for traders and caravans, and has built to accommodate both, with plentiful campgrounds, stables, and inns.

In the present (1000 A.C. by the Thyatian calendar), Desmond Kelvin II is the current baron. Raised in a military tradition, he entered the clergy at the age of 13 so as to join the Order of the Griffon, the military branch of the Church of Karameikos. The baron's age is not provided; he is simply described as young, ambitious, and "the very model of military efficiency" (a little cold and curt). In GAZ1 he is a 10th level cleric, and has explicit designs on marrying the duke's eldest daughter (Lady Adriana) in order to someday be heir to the ducal title.

What's more interesting though is the way the young baron is described in the later 2E sourcebook, Karameikos: Kingdom of Adventure. While KKoA is mostly a word-for-word copy of the GAZ1 material, it takes Karameikos ten years into the future, including the events of 1992's Wrath of the Immortals (in which Archduke Stefan declares himself King and Karameikos an independent kingdom). Nearly all the NPCs from GAZ1 are aged a decade, and their backgrounds updated to reflect the passing of years. For some, this means little: "King Stefan" is 62 instead of 52, but is otherwise unchanged. Others have undergone more transformation: Lady Adriana, a mere youth of 20 in GAZ1 (and newly returned to the palace after advancing to 4th level as an adventuring fighter) is now a 30 year old settled mother of two, and the de facto heir to the throne (and has risen to 10th level).

However, she is NOT married to Baron Kelvin. Instead, she has wed the heretofore unknown Lord Devon Hyraksos, 33 year old son of Stefan's old ally, War Minister, and naval leader Admiral Lucius Hyraskos. Devon is a perfectly nice chap (i.e. "boring") and a "childhood friend," though there is some discrepancy here (Devon's own entry states he first met Adriana...and failed to recognize her...during her days of incognito adventuring). The most interesting things about the prince consort is his half-breed heritage (his father was a Thyatian nobel, his mother a Traladaran), the fact that he was born out of wedlock (in 1000 A.C. the Admiral had been married 20 years, but Devon was born in 977 A.C.), and his love of fighting pirates hand-to-hand...a practice that will probably, ultimately, be his downfall.

What's MORE interesting, though, is the effect the princess's marriage has had on the good Baron. When Adriana "spurned his advances and instead chose to wed Devon Hyraksos, Desmond was crushed and his resentment turned to anger." Even better, Hyraksos "is blissfully unaware that he has an enemy in Desmond Kelvin." Oh, boy...something to work with.

[I know it's not terribly original, but who doesn't like a good Iago-type villain? Will the play end up like Othello? Or like the Count of Monte Cristo? And what part will the player characters play in the drama?]

Well, a lot of guys would be ticked after courting the girl (and her father) for the better part of a decade before losing out to some swashbuckler type. Plus, inexplicably Kelvin got reduced in level (from 10th to 9th...while most characters got a bump up between the sourcebooks)...perhaps he had a bad run-in with a wraith that did nothing to improve his mood?

They never do list Kelvin's
actual age.
ANYWAY: lots of ideas for re-skinning the good Baron. Make him an old, lecherous man (a la Walter Frey from Game of Thrones...I mean, he's got the castle on the river crossing right?) with a penchant for young wives and a lust for vengeance against slights and indignities. They never do say how old he is.  Or make him an actual goody-good cleric...the most saintly man in Karameikos...who had hoped to bring law, order, and sanity to the decadent and debauched capitol.

Okay. Got to go.


  1. I economically modeled it as a peat mining city on the edge of the bogs because it lacks firewood and farmland necessary to supply its own population and the capital down river. The black eagle barony has more farmland per citizen.

    1. Yeah, I was just looking over my GAZ1 map last night and noticed it's kind of in the middle of a swamp. Which is understandable given its proximity to the rivers.

      I really don't know enough (or anything) about medieval "urban design" but I'd guess this would be a common issue with communities being build close to water sources. Venice handled it one way; Tenochtitlan (Mexico City) handled it quite differently. you see Kelvin as more of scotch drinking town?
      ; )

  2. I've never heard of this game/book - not sure which! Popping by on the A-Z Challenge

    1. @ Debbie:

      Welcome to the blog! Thanks soft stopping by!’ve never heard of Dungeons & Dragons? It’s been around for a while...

  3. I'm not sure whether to be touched or offended.

    1. Ha! Sorry man. Different Kelvin...YOU, of course, are too cool to need a “revamp.”
      ; )