The Real-Time History of the Nehwon Campaign

About the campaign

The Fellowship of Mystery Campaign began in August (Winter), 1989 in my home town of Melbourne, Australia. It was followed by the Stormlands Campaign. The original Stormlands Campaign was a roleplaying game story played in four main sessions from September until November (Spring), 1993. The Stormlands campaign was followed on by Stormlands 2 (Summer 1994 dragging on ridiculously to autumn 1997; 19 sessions c.114 hours), the Old Coast Campaign (autumn 1997 - winter 1998; 13 sessions c.78 hours) and the Wizard's Quest Campaign (summer 1999-summer 2001; 5 sessions c.30 hours), concurrent with Griflet's Adventures (begun November 1997 and still ongoing, on and off). Over the last few years it's been hard to organise regular sessions; we've all been busy and travelling and so forth. Nevertheless, there was time for a few more adventures, the Earth's End Adventure (Autumn 2001), the Greedy City Adventure [set in Lankhmar](September 2002 and April 2003), the Dunmere Hills Campaign (4 sessions, April-June 2005), the Tulan campaign (April-May 2006), the Troubled Waters campaign (10 sessions, June 2009 - June 2010) and the Lord of Three Lands (begun January 2011).

Although there are some common characters and elements across the campaigns, mostly they are separate (as most of Leiber's stories were).

Why Nehwon?

All of these campaigns were set in my version of Fritz Leiber's world of Nehwon. Originally I had made up my own game world. However I realised that I was using so many of Fritz Leiber's ideas that I might as well use his world as well. It has worked out well. Leiber's Nehwon is sketchily described in parts, so I did not feel like a criminal changing and adding my own touches to the land (for example the addition of the elves, who have played a big part in these campaigns). Also, using a literary world means that players can read the books (or the comics) and get at least an idea of what the world is like. A sense of familiarity with a game-world greatly adds to the role-playing experience.

I did consider using other game- or literary worlds as my campaign base: Michael Moorcock's Young Kingdoms (colourful but a bit too slapdash), Ursula K LeGuin's Earthsea (exquisite but in gaming too easy to break the 'balance'), Jack Vance's Lyonesse and the Dying Earth (both wonderfully whimsical but alas I read them too late; my Nehwon campaign had already developed too far for it to be worth the change), M.A.R. Barker's Tékumel and N. Robin Crossby's Hârn (two very detailed fantasy game-worlds - perhaps a little too detailed; I felt somewhat daunted by the volume of information), and H.P. Lovecraft's Dreamlands (interesting, rich setting but too, well, 'dreamy' in the end). There are nevertheless elements of all of these worlds in my interpretation of Nehwon.

Rules

During the Fellowship of Mystery campaign and the first Stormlands Campaign we played using Advanced Dungeons & Dragons rules; afterwards we switched over to a system called Elric! (now known as Stormbringer [version 5]), which I much prefer. I find the Elric! rules (with just a dash of Call of Cthulhu) suit Nehwon's feel very well. 

Scary statistic: I have written more than 70,000 words about this campaign on this website (Griflet's Adventures, taken together add up to about 48,000 words; they were written over four and a half years. That's almost five times as much as I wrote in my honours thesis. Hmmm..

Participants

The participants of the various Nehwon campaigns were: Christian Bickham (Maelin/Corg Kilarn), Eric Blanchi (Cyric of Tulan), Nigel Brockbank (Daphne, Karl of the Krow, Lucidia, the Green-Eyed Spider, Albrecht von Linden, Ryk Krannson, Yucta Axotylata), Sharlene Brook (Melane Portent, Willow), Andrew Burnett (Kurt D'Karo), Nick Daniel (Lorathon Shadowblade, Lana Softhooves, Quarn the Mingol Sorceror, Black Arrow, Ronaldo Vasquez, Aranduil of Waylorn, Davros Thanatos, Landen Donovan), Martina Dunkel (Kissla of Illik-Ving), Steve Evans (Grierdon Ithrain), Ben Frayle (Sly Kite, Strawberry Fields, Finbar the Fabulous, Westley), David Fry (Cunelas, Kur Pelagius of Pleea), Albert Landman (Derrick Silverthug), Polash Larsen (Warren the Wit), Richard Lough (Cela D'Arrana), Ben Maslen (Eric the Gallant, Harg Secondson, Lullaby Blackfoot, Ryn Pipweed, Soron Bigfellow, Strakon the Hare, Sir Vox the Silent, Madwan the Bard, Randel A'Thor, Akbar, Astalin, Christian of the High Passes, Tech-na-Chuk-Chuk-Wakae-Hazar), David Maslen (Devlin Hawkmoon, Dorien Greysky, Arden Starfall, Changeling, Merrick Quickstring, Morgan of Vil-Ning), Patrick Maslen (me, the referee), Brett O'Connell (Kal Zakath, Buttercup, Zhao Liang), Michael O'Connell (Minian Leah, Griflet Graycyon) and Angus Williams (John Smith). Details of these characters can be found in the Heroes of Nehwon section.

But where are Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser?

My campaign takes place after the events described in the Swords series (but maybe not too long after). As described in The Knight and Knave of Swords, Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser have retired to Rime Isle, whose existence remains unknown to most Nehwonians. Their only likely interaction with the wider world is likely to be through their children and lieutenants, Fingers and Pshawri. This is convenient, for it means that there is room for new stories of Nehwon to be told, without cramping the style of the indomitable twain.

Inspiration

There are many literary sources which I have drawn upon when creating these adventures. The World of Nehwon is of course thanks to the Swords series by Fritz Leiber. The Stormlands were inspired by Ulfland from Lyonesse by Jack Vance, The Weirdstone of Brinsingamen by Alan Garner, the undead Roland (Prince Podgett) from Stormbringer by Michael Moorcock and the Red Fallows from The High King by Lloyd Alexander. The Elves were partly inspired by Poul Anderson's The Broken Sword, and partly from the Vadagh from Michael Moorcock's Corum series.

The plot and mood of Stormlands 2 drew upon The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot, some chapters of theTao-te-Ching by Lao Tzu, two poems by Edward Thomas (Lights Out and Melancholy), and Dragons of Winter Night by Margeret Weiss and Tracy Hickman. Polydices' weird destruction globe and Tovilyis drew some inspiration from Nadsokor in The Vanishing Tower by Michael Moorcock. The feel of Tovilyis was also influenced by the ruined Skara Brae from the computer game Bard's Tale III by Electronic Arts. The Great Grassy Ocean and the purple buffalo were from The Neverending Story by Michael Ende. Red Rock was inspired by both Sarkomand in H.P. Lovecraft's Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath and Durin's Stair in The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien.

On the Old Coast, the Gypsy Nation was from Revenge of the Rose by Michael Moorcock. The Diamond Knights were loosely based on the Knights Templar and the fortress Ka-Zoza was inspired by Krak de Chevaliers in Syria. The Tombs of the Kings were taken from C.S. Lewis' The Horse and His Boy. Celedril's tower was from N. Robin Crossby's Bejist in Encyclopedia Harnica 9. Earth's End has drawn from E. Annie Proulx' The Shipping News, Susan Cooper's Over Sea Under Stone and Greenwitch and a verse from The Tempest by William Shakespeare, as well as my own experiences and dreams of rugged coastlines.

The feel of the Dunmere Hills was inspired by The Fatal Shore by Robert Hughes and from the game Myth by Bungie Software. The idea of the Black Caldron was from Lloyd Alexander's The High King (which was in turn drawn from Welsh mythology).

Of course, this long-running campaign has also made use of many published role playing game products, many of which have directly contributed to the geography or inhabitants of the Nehwon Campaign. A complete list of rpg publications used is available on my LibraryThing.