Barrowmaze ACKSified!

For a map look here:
 will start running Barrowmaze Complete the coming Friday to three of my friends - all of them playing Dwarves! I am using the ACKS ruleset, which emphasizes realm building and demographics, especially as high-level PCs can become actual rulers. So here I will flesh out the Aerik County (using ACKS demographics, it's too small to be a proper Duchy) and modify it to suit the ACKS rules. I will also add several new minor adventuring locations in case my players will want to take a break from Barrowmaze itself. I also changed the map from 5-mile hexes to 6-mile hexes as is customary in ACKS.
The Aerik County is 18 six-mile hexes in size, which is a small County. In the past, it was 27 hexes, a much larger County. However, the moribund Empire receded, and so did the County. What was once a prosperous frontier County shipping timber and ore to Imperial lands is now a shadow of itself. The Yellow Plague ravaged it a decade ago. Lizardmen and froglings - and worse - now threaten its residents. Viscount Ironguard, an aging knight, functions as the de-facto sovereign ruler despite owing de jure fealty to the Empire. Greatly shrunk in size and wracked by internecine warfare, the Empire can neither project military force to this County nor collect taxes from it.
This region is very sparsely populated. Between economic decline, frogling raids, and the devastating Yellow Plague, the County of Aerik declined from an average of 40 families per square mile to 30 families (200 families per 6-mile hex). The total population is 3,720 families. The plague and raids hit the rural population harder than the larger villages. Furthermore, given the frogling, lizardman, and bandit threat, many peasants prefer to huddle closer to the larger villages, where the Viscount's men offer some protection. Thus, the urban population is unusually large - 520 families out of 3,720. Most of these families practice agriculture, logging, and mining near the main three villages.
The County seat, and largest village, is Ironguard Motte. It is a Large Village of 261 families (1,304 people), a Class-V market. The ruler is, of course, Viscount Kell Ironguard, a level 7 retired fighter.
Bogtown is a Small Village of 87 families (431 people), a Class-VI market. It is ruled, de jure, by Elderman Herik Anguson, a level 5 thief. The true ruler, however, is the County's criminal kingpin, Alzo Danuth, a level 6 thief. This, ironically, makes the tiny Bogtown a better-defended village than the much larger Helix. Any would-be invader will have to content with the local gangsters - a motley crew of tough thugs.
Helix is a Village of 172 families (860 people), a Class-IV market. Its ruler is Krothos Ironguard, a level 3 fighter. He is particularly weak and unskilled for the ruler of such village. Father Othar, the Cleric of the Unconquered Sun (level 5 cleric), holds much of the actual power and oversees the lion's share of village administration. Such weak leadership, as well as the small contingent of men-at-arms, makes Helix a prime target to bandits, lizardmen, and froglings. It also makes it a perfect target for ambitious would-be conquering adventurers who want to be kings.
The County is considered Wilderness and thus should have had a garrison budget of 4gp/family per month, but in practice the forces are much thinner, equivalent to approximately 2gp value per family per month, for an actual  total of 7,570gp per month. Out of these, the Viscount has at his disposal a unit of Light Cavalry (60 horsemen, 2,850gp, battle rating 3.5), a unit of bowmen (120 bowmen, 1,450gp, battle rating 1.5), and 3 units of light infantry (120 men each, 720gp each, total 360 men, 3,270gp, battle rating 1 each). (using Domains at War: Campaigns troop tables, these include specialist salaries). A total of 540 men, battle rating 8. Knowing the risk of attack, Viscount Ironguard keeps his forces concentrated at the castrum of Ironguard Motte. Only one unit of men-at-arms - light infantry - patrol the rural areas and serve as town guards in Helix and Bogtown. In case of an attack on one of these villages, the Viscount will dispatch a larger contingent of troops to counter it, but will keep his cavalry and one infantry unit at the Motte to guard against further attacks.
This force is weak, as even a force of 240 lizardmen have a battle rating of 9. If the lizardmen will ever launch a concerted attack on Ironguard Motte, they will pose a dire threat to the realm. Thankfully, so far tribalism and disorganization prevented such an attack, but if a strong leader will arise in the swamp, great peril will come to the Aerik County.
St. Marcus used to be part of the Aerik County. However, economic decline, raids, and the Plague brought about Viscount Ironguard's retreat from this Small Village (Class-VI market). The local population is 76 families (380 people). A decade ago, before the Plague came, the population was triple that figure, and now most of the village stands boarded up and abandoned. Abbot Kasimir, head of the nearby Monastery of St. Marcus (level 3 Cleric) administers the village. I can set my The Rot Beneath adventure here, if the PCs will want to take a break from Barrowmaze and pursue another adventure for some time.
I have added an abandoned town called Mountainside in southern Wyrdwood, and well as a small abandoned Dwarven Vault called Krum Tok in the southern Moon Peaks. I have three Dwarven characters so an abandoned vault will fit in very well as a side quest. In my larger setting, the Empire receded, which led to the decline of the Aerik County as well. Thus, Mountainside was abandoned, especially after the nearby Vault fell. After all, Mountainside was an important stop on the trade route from the Vault to Ironguard Motte.
Mountainside probably became a Frogling nest (or maybe contested between Froglings and Lizardmen?), while the vault is inhabited by something worse. Maybe an Aboleth? A Dwarven Mechinist Automaton possessed by a vile Elemental spirit?

Don't tell my players, but in my own campaign there's a powerful demon whose body, life, power, and mind were split apart and moved to distant locations by ancient sorceror priests to prevent him from laying waste to the world. His life force was sealed into three diamonds which were later used by dwarves to power a mechanical behemoth... So maybe that'd make a good vault guardian?


Also I notice this is one of those threads that's there's a duplicate version of, but that the bug where you can't access the duplicate is fixed. Hooray!

Great idea! I think I will use this.

And yes, I noted the existence of a double-posting bug here as well...

this is relevant to my interests.  I'm trying to leave Barrowmaze as a general point of interest in a sandbox campaign.  In particular I'm hoping to figure out a way to give them a hint to an entrance that starts in a more difficult part of the dungeon (since they're already quite high level).

Barrowmaze is an adventuring hot-spot. The nearby village of Helix is an adventuring boomtown. It should be easy enough to hear the local adventurers tell in hushed tones about vast treasures guarded by horrible monsters deeper into the Moor, maybe even with directions.


Barrowmaze is an adventuring hot-spot. The nearby village of Helix is an adventuring boomtown. It should be easy enough to hear the local adventurers tell in hushed tones about vast treasures guarded by horrible monsters deeper into the Moor, maybe even with directions.



The big challenge for me is plucking a rumor like that out of the text without having to read the whole thing.  After all, my players might not even take the hook.

I tried posting a sessionreport on the Actual Play forum here, but it somehow got deleted by the very buggy forum software. So here is the link to the session report on my blog:

Great write-up! I love Barrowmaze very much; it's one of my favorite published mega-dungeons. 


Now running a game in it, as well!