Saturday, 25 September 2021

The Why of Strongholds

It's a hazardous undertaking for civilisation to expand into wilderness. There are wild animals, monsters to contend with, hostile people who were there ahead of you, and other expanding kingdoms closing in. Everyone feels better knowing there are thick stone or wooden walls nearby they can shelter behind when they need to.

This stronghold protects a:

  1. A ferry or bridge
  2. A forest
  3. A trade road
  4. A border route
  5. A mountain pass
  6. A temple

An advantage is:

  1. An underground stream below the castle.
  2. Extensive cellars, cool and dry. 
  3. Good farming land nearby.
  4. Vantage points overseeing all approaches.
  5. Old-growth trees for timber.
  6. Protected from weather by a rock outcropping.

A problem is: 

  1. Crumbling masonry.
  2. Too small for the numbers it needs to shelter during a siege.
  3. Top floors of the keep were destroyed by fire.
  4. An infestation of vermin.
  5. The building is cursed.
  6. The lord is deathly ill.

Money raised by: 

  1.  Charging a fee to passing merchants.
  2. Taxing the local community.
  3. Operating a silver mine.
  4. A provision of the king.
  5. Contributions from wealthy landowners.
  6. Pillaging locals and kidnapping for ransom.

A historical fact is:

  1. A previous lord was killed in a mutiny.
  2. A previous siege was broken by attackers catapulting diseased corpses over the walls. 
  3. Troops here won a famous victory against enemy forces.
  4. The current lord's family were murdered by a witch he insulted.
  5. A demon was imprisoned in the dungeon for many years.
  6. The stronghold was used to test a new magical weapon. It failed.

An outside threat is:

  1. Bandits making hit-and-run raids on locals.
  2. Monsters preying on isolated people.
  3. Enemy forces just across the border.
  4. Seasonal weather will soon make the terrain impassable.
  5. A plague is spreading through the area.
  6. Raging fires.

An inside threat is:

  1. A tunnel from the outside has been dug into the cellars. 
  2. The priest is a secret member of a heretical sect.
  3. The farrier is an enemy agent prepared to poison the horses.
  4. Most of the stored grain has been stolen.
  5. The guards' discipline is lax.
  6. The lord is mad.

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