WIP - Creating Rescue of Hommlet - a Chainmail/OD&D game

One of the games I'm running at the 2020 GaryCon is "Rescue of Hommlet."
A discrete summons has reached your ears, for the good people of Hommlet are in fear for their lives! A militia of foul brigands from Nulb have been spotted near the old Moat-house of ill reputation! What evil lurks there and beyond? Find out, brave heroes, using Chainmail (and a bit of Original D&D) as the rules of engagement!
My inspiration for this was rediscovering Alderron's'"Compleat Chainmail" PDF. It's a lovely little book that integrates how to use the Chainmail fantasy war-gaming rules as the entire combat mechanism in an OD&D game. I've been fascinated with this idea since first thinking about in the early OSR blogging days.

A secondary impetus of this scenario was playing in Paul Stormberg's recreation of the Battle of the Moat-house a couple of years ago. I had a blast playing Chainmail in both mass combat and man-to-man on the hallowed grounds of D&D history. I left that game wanting more.

This is where I have to take a step back and make a confession - I've never played or ran the venerable module T1 - Village of Hommlet. In fact, to further deepen the stain of my "crime", I've never really played much in the Greyhawk setting. I've stepped into it during a game or two at conventions, and I've obviously been exposed to it through reading about D&D history and looking at the old Supplement I for OD&D, as well as the Grayhawk box set. However, the vast bulk of my D&D/AD&D has always been home-brew or using the Basic/Expert modules of B2 - Keep on the Borderland, X1 - Isle of Dread.

So doing a game in Hommlet, while using Chainmail + OD&D, is stepping into sacred territory! My research into what other people have done with the T1 module, as well as the famous T1-4 Temple of Elemental Evil, has turned up near religious discussions (and fights!) about the subject.

Whew. No pressure, especially running such a game at an event like GaryCon!

I thought it would be interesting to document the steps I'm going through in researching and creating the scenario, as well as any special preparations like terrain.

So what is the basic scenario that I'm thinking of?

The scene/setting of this scenario will be approximately the time of when T1 takes place. My idea is that the Temple of Elemental Evil is reborn, much as laid out in T1-4. A force of evil will threaten the village of Hommlet, coming from the dark town of Nulb and the temple itself.

The first "act" would be a skirmish of sorts, as a force from Hommlet goes to investigate the Moat-house. I see this as an intro to how the Chainmail rules would work in this scenario, as well as setting the scene for the second act.

The second act would be a larger conflict between the forces of Woe from the temple as they march on the Moat-house to reclaim it in force... OR, perhaps, based on results from the first act, they are marching to stop the victorious forces of Weal from continuing further. I like having battles and skirmishes feed subsequent ones - it makes the actions and activities of the players have significance - and I will make sure the players know!

I've set it up for 8 players, so I see the possibility of a Weal vs. Woe situation, given enough players. I think that would be fantastic and certainly reflective of how the games were once played, with player vs. player action.

In sketching out the initial orders of battle, I've take a look at forces are available in the T1 module. It was very interesting to go through the module with that in mind and I've come up with an initial list of forces:

Forces of Weal Forces of Woe
Leader - Rufus, Fighter 6
  2 guards of Rufus, Fighter 2
Mercenaries - 16 men
   Lieutenant - Fighter 4
   Captain - Fighter 5
Village Militia - 55 men
   Ostler Gundigoot, Sergeant - Fighter 2
   Elderly Farmer, Captain - Fighter 4
   Spinster Daughter - Fighter 1
Elmo - Ranger 4
Burne - Magic User 8
Spugnoir, Magic User 2
Calmert, Cleric 3
Terjon, Cleric 6
Brother Smyth - Druid 3
Jaroo Ashstaff - Druid 7
Furnock of Ferd - Thief 4
Leader - Lareth, Cleric 5
18 "New Master" Guards
   3x Sergeants - Fighter 2
   Lieutenant - Fighter 4
13 Brigands
   Leader - Fighter 2

Small Ogre
6 Bugbears
9 Gnolls

12 Zombies
4 Ghouls

Giant Lizard
13 Giant Rats

Zert - spy, Fighter 2
Kobort, Fighter 2
Turuko, Monk 3

Giant Snake ?
6 Giant Frogs ?

Now some NPCs from Hommlet won't be involved in the fighting, such as Rannos Davl, Gremag, and Nira Malubb, the money changer. I also decided that Black Jay wouldn't fight in this battle, unless Hommlet itself was threatened.

Some other notables from Hommlet would have interesting choices to make! I ruled that Spugnoir the traveling mage would be lured into joining the forces of Weal with the promise of treasure as well as the experience gained from being near the great wizard Burne . Furnock would join with the folks of Hommlet, believing he could get a decent cut of the money. Kobort and Turuko would join up with the forces of Woe, as would Zert the spy.

The Moat-house would provide the bulk of the Forces of Woe for Act 1. I ruled that the humans/humanoids from the dungeon, and brigands from up above would be working together. I also ruled that Lareth would have brought the undead (zombies and ghouls) of the moat-house under his sway, so they will count as members of Woe. I also think it's possible that the gnolls or bugbears have trained the Giant Rats and Giant Lizard to fight for them, but less likely that the Giant Snake and Giant Frogs would follow. I'm still considering it.

In terms of just numbers, then, the forces of Weal would have:
71 soldiers (militia, mercenaries)
16 NPCs

The forces of Woe consist of:
58 soldiers (guards, brigands, bugbears, gnolls, zombies)
9 NPCs
6 Creatures (ogre, ghouls, lizard)
13 Lesser Creatures (giant rats)

At first glance, it looks like the edge might be in Weal's favor, with more NPCs, especially magic using NPCs. The ogre and ghouls might make things interesting, but I'll have to take a look through Chainmail/Complete Chainmail and see how those creatures (and the paralysis that ghouls bring to bear) might factor in.

So that's where I'm at right now. Next up is looking at the module T1-4, seeing what forces are in Nulb and the temple would be available. Then thinking about Act 1, "Weal comes investigating the Moat-house", might be set up and play out.


  1. This might interest you, Michael, given your hopping into Greyhawk with Hommlet: https://knights-n-knaves.com/phpbb3/viewtopic.php?p=262157#p262157

    It's a Chainmail after-action-report for playtesting The Battle of Emridy Meadows, to be run at GaryCon in the spring too :D


    1. Thanks for the link, Allan! Guess Hommlet will see a lot of action in March!

      Now this battle is the one that initially sacked the Temple and Moathouse?

      And I hope to have a fun table like Welleran!

    2. Indeed =)

      And yes, the BoEM was the "historical" battle that initially nuked the ToEE forces. Paul Stormberg also wrote some good posts about it on DF (which are referenced earlier in the K&KA thread as I recall, if you're curious about his take).


    3. Thanks Alan.

      I'm curious what you think of my analysis and a potential order of battle at the start of T1? And some of the choices I made?

  2. I would take a look at Swords and Spells. I think it was suggested when I did my version of Emridy Meadows, but I forgot about it. It would have made the spellcasters more interesting in the battle. Chainmail spell casting is a bit more limited by comparison.

    Complete Chainmail didn't seem to address spellcasting but it did reference Swords and Spells for some things.

    1. That's a great suggestion. My plan was to use OD&D as the mechanism for everything except combat, and use the Compleat Chainmail system for combat. If we get to mass combat, I'll probably mash in my concepts from my Book of War "Fellowship" mod, where I took the OD&D spells and figured out what would apply best to mass combat.


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