Please note that this latest entry on this old thread is written some considerable time after the previous post.
I recently purchased both DCC #20 (Shadows over Freeport) and the Green Ronin module Death in Freeport and I was surprised at the big differences in the Freeport info supplied in DCC #35 and that contained in the Green Ronin module. Then I found this old thread and can see (and understand) Harley's reasons for this.
Another issue with using the Green Ronin module within an Aereth campaign is that the history and timeline provided in the GR module doesn't mesh very well with the history and timeline provided in DCC #35. I am not at all surprised by this and I would never have expected any of the DCC #35 authors to go this far, but it does present issuette's with using the Death in Freeport (and presumably later GR Freeport modules) in Aereth.
At some point in the future, after my Shattered Gates of Slaughtergarde campaign (Aereth set), I intend starting a Freeport campaign within Aereth, building towards the use of DCC #20, and therefore have started work on providing a greater integration of the the two companies products history wise.
To do this, I have produced :-
a) A modified version of the Green Ronin history and timeline of Freeport, firmly anchoring it within Aereth.
b) A modified version of the DCC #35 Gazeteer entry for Freeport aligning it with the information provided in Death in Freeport
c) Some brief guidelines on changes required to Green Ronin Freeport modules to ensure that GMs can easily use the integrated versions.
I have done this for my own personal (non-commercial) use and offer the text below for your comment and polish. Feel free to comment, constructively or otherwise
When you do comment, please bear in mind that I am merely sharing how I intend to go about using Freeport within Aereth. I am not insisting anyone use my material, but feel free if it helps. Otherwise there are plenty of good ideas above such as the use of Freeport as a Nexus between worlds.
A Brief History of Freeport
While the current city of Freeport is only a few centuries old, the site has been inhabited for far, far longer. Some three and a half thousand years ago, the then landlocked surrounding area was known as Valossa, occupying the southern foothills of the Dragonspire Mountains, nestling between the countries of Lirea to the west and Saramanthia to the east. Stretching a thousand miles south west to north east, Valossa was home to the only Drakon colony outpost of Ssorlong. These sorcerous reptiles ruled significant swathes of territory in Aereth when humanity was young and the Naga and Sphinx empires flourished. The Drakon pioneered magic and science when the elves still hid in their woods.
All was not well in Valossa, however. The serpent people had long worshiped Lagos, the great reptile god. But in the country’s latter days, a cult dedicated to the worship of the Faceless Lord, a dread force, sprang up in their cities. Called the Brotherhood of the Yellow Sign, the cult spurned Lagos and embraced the entropy of the Faceless Lord. The leaders of the serpent people, arrogant and vain in their high towers, allowed the cult to fester among the discontented.
By the time the priests of Lagos were roused to action, it was too late. The Brotherhood of the Yellow Sign, under the guidance of the Faceless Lord enacted a ritual to disrupt the Eldritch Coalition of Lirea in their plan to activate the Pillars of Expulsion to bring the War of Divine Right to an end in the Northlands. The brotherhood were successful and the coalition’s plan was subverted. The Empyrion Ocean rose and covered the lands of Lirea and eastern Valossa and the only Drakon colony in the Northlands was shattered for all time.
No witnesses survived to tell of the Faceless Lord’s role in the calamitous end to the War of Divine Right, but evidence abounds of the destruction it wrought. Mighty Valossa was rent asunder, and sea water rushed in to drown the serpent people in their millions. Those who survived were driven mad, losing their civilization and magic in one terrible moment. Much of Valossa sank beneath the waves, leaving only the mostly uninhabited mountainous west and a few scattered islands as evidence of the once great colony. Whilst scattered pockets of mountain communities remained, the heartland of Valossa was drowned and the country effectively ceased to be at that moment.
The crazed serpent people fled underground, where their degenerate descendents live to this day. A few sorcerers and priests of Lagos survived the Faceless Lord’s wrath with their sanity intact. They retreated into the shadows as the elves and dwarves rebuilt their own realms further to the North. The centuries passed, and few remembered the Valossa had even existed or even that the serpent people had once lived outside of Ssorlong.
The Rise of Freeport
The largest surviving part of Valossa is the southern foothills of the Dragonspire Mountains and known as the Serpent’s Teeth Peninsular. The name may be a distant echo of the Drakon Colony, though locals ascribe it to the shape of the mountains themselves. The north coast of the Serpent’s Teeth Peninsular had a natural harbor called A’Val that was easily defended. As humanity took to the newly formed Lirean Sea, the harbour was quickly found by roving captains. At first, it was a place to rest, get fresh water, and refit.
Before long a village sprang up, and as the years passed this village turned into a town. It was able to thrive by offering services to passing ships and refuge to those unwelcome elsewhere. The sailors took to calling it “Freeport,” and the name stuck. With its remote location and natural attributes, Freeport became a magnet for buccaneers. Before long they had taken over the town, which became a notorious pirate haven. What made Freeport work in the early days was the simple pirate code: Do whatever you want on the high seas, but don’t go against your comrades in port. That meant no stealing, no killing, and no kidnapping. Duels happened on occasion, but they were formal affairs conducted outside the city walls. Most satisfied themselves with drunken brawls, and of those there were plenty. By and large, though, the peace was kept in Freeport and the status quo existed for centuries.
About one hundred years ago, the era of the rogue buccaneer came to an end. After the renowned pirate Bloody Jack Danscombe managed to plunder the tribute fleet of the Empire of Crieste, lone privateer ships increasingly faced threats from the organised navies of the Northlands, in particular those of Crieste, the main naval force of the Lirean Sea. At one time a single privateer could hunt merchant ships with impunity, but now it was a fox to the hounds of naval squadrons. As crew after crew was hunted down and destroyed by the Criestine Navy, the pirates of Freeport realised they had to change their ways.
Freeport’s captains realized it would take a navy to fight a navy, so they decided to form a force of their own and go raiding en masse. The only problem was choosing a leader. After much bickering, the pirates settled on two captains for the great fleet. Drac and Francisco were fierce rivals, and the assembled captains believed anything the two could agree on would be a good decision. It was not an ideal situation, but the pirates had surprise and numbers on their side. The combined fleet went on a three month raid, now known as “The Great Raid” that netted more money, valuables, foodstuffs and booze than Freeport had ever seen. It was a spectacular success, and Captains Drac and Francisco were not slow in claiming credit. Before long, each had declared himself Sea Lord of Freeport.
War in Freeport
The next ten years were tense ones in Freeport. The Great Raid set off a panic among the maritime nations, which spent huge amounts of money and resources building up larger navies. The Sea Lords were forced to fight battle after battle against determined foes. Freeport itself was assaulted on three separate occasions, but its defences proved too strong for the attacking ships.
This undeclared war had no clear victor. Freeport withstood the assaults and inflicted several stinging defeats on its enemies, but attrition was high on both sides. In the end the conflict petered out as the warring navies ran out of ships and crews to hurl into battle. After a decade of constant fighting, there was a long lull, during which each side licked its wounds.
During the war, adversity kept the pirates united. When the pressure eased, however, trouble was not slow in coming. The Sea Lords had long hated each other, and this animosity flared up anew—with deadly consequences. After a series of provocations, real fighting broke out in Freeport for the first time in its history. The followers of Drac and Francisco killed one another in the streets, breaking the pirate code that had bound the city together.
Neither Sea Lord gained an upper hand. Before the conflict could be resolved, word came of yet another hostile Criestine fleet bound for the city. The pirates called a truce, and the fleet sailed out to defend Freeport, united once again—or so it seemed. Captain Drac realized this ongoing war was one they could not ultimately win: The only chance for survival was to become a part of the world that was trying to destroy them. Drac entered secret negotiations with Crieste, using a wizard as a go between. He agreed to betray Francisco in exchange for a truce and recognition of Freeport as a free city. The Criestine leaders were only too happy to sign such an agreement and end the ruinously expensive war.
With no knowledge of his comrade’s duplicity, Captain Francisco led the fleet to the attack. Once his forces were engaged, Drac’s ships simply sailed away, leaving Francisco’s fleet exposed and without support; they were quickly surrounded and destroyed. In the meantime, Drac returned to Freeport to announce the new city-state and claim his new regime.
A Nation Emerges
Captain Drac quickly consolidated his power. He declared himself the sole Sea Lord of Freeport and eliminated his remaining enemies before they could organize against him. Some of the other pirate captains left Freeport for the Barrier Isles in the Southlands rather than serve Drac, whom they despised for betraying Francisco and blamed for violating the pirate code. Most, however, seeing which way the salty wind was blowing, chose to remain in Freeport and ride out the storm.
As it turned out, Sea Lord Drac’s reign was less bloody than anyone had believed possible. He ruled Freeport with a firm hand for the next twenty years, turning a pirate haven into a commercial hub of substantial importance. He set up trade routes with many countries of the Northlands, cracked down on rogue pirates, and organized a Captains’ Council. Drac’s word was still law, but the Council was in charge of the city’s day-to-day affairs and advised the Sea Lord on important matters.
Although Drac fancied himself a king, he resisted the urge to take the title. Somehow he knew that the citizens of Freeport would not accept something so contrary to their natures. Similarly, he knew that he could not found a dynasty. The Captains’ Council would never submit to Drac’s son, a mere boy who lacked the experience of those salty dogs. But Drac needed to ensure the survival of Freeport as an independent city-state after his death. With melancholy in his heart, he chose another old hand, Captain Cromey, as his successor. Furthermore, he even set into law a requirement that the Captains’ Council approve the Sea Lord’s nominee. At the end of life, Drac chose the interests of the city over his own glory, and for this he is remembered as a great man in Freeport.
A Period of Growth
The next fifty years were profitable ones. Freeport continued to grow, which necessitated building a newer and larger city wall. As new trade routes to the east opened up, the city became an even more important maritime center. Freeport was largely able to stay out of the wars that broke out on the continent, although it did cement alliances with Crieste and the Theocracy of the Lance. All in all, this was a period of stability and growth, with a succession of competent Sea Lords assuring the city’s continued importance.
A Bad Seed
Things began to change twenty years ago, when a descendent of Captain Drac succeeded the outgoing Sea Lord. Marten Drac is rumoured to have used blackmail and assassination in his rise to power, and he most certainly used them to maintain his position. Marten ruled for only four years, but the damage he did to the city was substantial. A series of burdensome duties and taxes fattened his coffers but drove away many merchants. More ominously, he drove through a new law—over the objections of the Captains’ Council—that required the Sea Lord of Freeport to be a descendent of the original Captain Drac.
Marten’s youngest brother, Anton, who became Sea Lord on Marten’s death, saved the city from complete disaster. Anton Drac proved to be cut from the same cloth as his illustrious great grandfather and was able to undo the worst excesses of Marten’s reign. He abolished the unfair duties, as well as providing incentives to win back lost trade. He also provided limited naval aid to the city’s now allies, Crieste and the Theocracy of the Lance, earning their thanks and their business. Anton’s one failing was that he did not abolish Marten’s succession law. He was regularly urged to do so by the Captains’ Council, but the Sea Lord could never quite bring himself to do it. Despite his enlightened rule, he did consider Freeport to belong to his family. This was to prove his undoing.
A Half-Decade of Deceit
Five years ago, the Scourgelands invasion of the Grand Duchy of Leherti began, involving nearly every nation on the continent. Anton stayed out of it at first, but he knew he would have to honor the existing treaties with Crieste and the Theocracy, both of whom had mobilised for the defence of Leherti. He announced to the Captains’ Council that the Freeport navy would go to the aid of its allies in the spring—the first time the full fleet had sailed to war since the days of Drac and Francisco.
The Council was torn on the issue, approving the move by only a single vote. Anton allowed enough time for preparations to be made throughout the winter. Unfortunately, this also gave his enemies several months to concoct an ambitious plan. In fact, it was so ambitious that many suspected the plotters had outside help from agents of governments that wanted Freeport to stay neutral. Rumours continue to circulate to this day.
Toward the end of winter, as the Sea Lord was inspecting the fleet on the docks, a single yellow-feathered arrow flew from the crow’s nest of an anchored ship, piercing Anton’s chest. The wound should not have been mortal, but the arrow was enchanted with death magic. Anton died on the spot, leaving Freeport without a Sea Lord for the first time in a hundred years. The assassin was cornered and killed before he could talk, and his body disappeared before priests could try to speak with the dead man’s spirit. The Captains’ Council dismissed the attack as the act of a lone renegade. The Council had more pressing business to attend to, namely, who would succeed
At this juncture, Milton Drac stepped onto the stage of history. A distant cousin of Anton, Milton appeared as if from nowhere. He was not a member of the Council, but he enjoyed tremendous support there. Those most likely to oppose him were strangely silent, as if they feared the consequences of such an action. In a matter of weeks, this previously unknown Drac became the new Sea Lord of Freeport. Milton’s first official act was to cancel all military aid to the allied nations: The fleet was to restrict its activities to guarding commerce, nothing more, which as the Scourge had little in the way of naval forces, proved to be an empty gesture to the allies.
As war raged on the continent, Freeport stood neutral. This was a grave disappointment to the nations counting on its navy to transport their land forces and to keep the armies supplied, who branded Milton a traitor. Some called him the puppet of foreign agents or a religious cult. Milton pooh-poohed these accusations and continued his rule of Freeport with little opposition. After cancelling the fleet action, Milton used the war chest to build a monument to his ambition: the Lighthouse of Drac. It has been under construction for the past five years, on the closest island to the city. Meant to be one of the wonders of the age, the Lighthouse soars towards the heavens, taller than any structure in the world.
The Sea Lord’s stated goal is to make Freeport the pre-eminent maritime power of the world overtaking Crieste, the Southern Province and Kalia in the power stakes. However, the reality has fallen short of that ideal. The Lighthouse of Drac, or “Milton’s Folly,” as some have taken to calling it, nearly bankrupted the city. Taxes and duties have risen steadily during its construction, and an army of migrant workers was needed to finish the structure on time. It is finally approaching its scheduled completion date, three months from now. Milton is planning a gala celebration for its inauguration, and ships from around the world are expected to attend. This is an event not to be missed—or so Milton hopes.
Date Notable Events
-300 A Drakon tribe leaves Ssorlong in the south and a new colony is established in the northern land of Valossa
-15 Lirea and Western Valossa are destroyed in the climactic end of the War of Divine Right
2400 Future Freeport founded on the northern coast of the area once known as eastern Valossa
3098 Bloody Jack Danscombe plunders the imperial tribute fleet. The Criestine backlash against pirates begins.
3100 Captains Drac and Francisco lead the combined ships of Freeport as a unified fleet for the first time ever instigating the Great Raid of the Lirean Sea. Having returned laden with loot, each declares himself Sea Lord of Freeport. The Freeport-Crieste war begins.
3110 Drac betrays Francisco by signing a peace treaty with Crieste and assumes sole control of the city.
3130 Drac dies and is succeeded by Captain Cromey, initiating a period of prosperity.
3180 Marten Drac becomes Sea Lord, nearly bankrupting Freeport; institutes Drac succession law
3184 Anton Drac succeeds Marten and repairs much of the damage but does not repeal the succession law
3195 Invasion of Leherti by the Scourge begins. Anton Drac assassinated; Milton Drac becomes Sea Lord. Freeport withdraws it’s support for the war against the Scourge.
3196 Construction begins on the Lighthouse of Drac
3200 Present day. Lighthouse opening due in 3 months.
Use the entry below to replace the one provided by the Gazeteer of the Known Realms in DCC 35.
Freeport, City of
Ruler : Sea Lord Milton Drac & The Captains Council
Population: 42,601 (humans 65%, half-orcs 19%, dwarves 6%, elves 5%, monstrous humanoids 4%, halfings 1%)
Resources: Slaves, mercenaries, black market trade, fish, whale oil
Capital: The City of Freeport
Once an infamous pirate city, Freeport now promotes itself as a legitimate trade power. In truth, the pirate tradition (after a hundred years of reasonably honest rule) has achieved a resurgance in Freeport, and it’s presence is only partially camouflaged by a fanciful veneer of respectability. Many of the city’s privateers have become pirates, and those that have refrained are hiring themselves out to the highest bidder, regardless of legality.
Amidst the soiled city streets, life has become difficult. Gangs fight wars over drugs, slavery, and crime, while mad cultists dedicated to foul and unspeakable gods plumb the ruins of ancient civilizations for power, knowledge, and secrets of the past.
Milton Drac monitors his domain like a rat atop a pile of rotting corpses. The Sea Lord is a master at keeping his rivals busy fighting one another, leaving little time or resources to challenge his control of the city’s fleet. It is whispered that Drac sees and hears all that transpires in his city. While there might be some truth to his near-mythic powers, the more likely answer is that Drac keeps his people so poor and desperate that they are eager to sell out their fellow citizens for a single worn copper.
The captains of Freeport are true privateers, willing to sail for any cause or crown if the colour of the coin is right. The Captains Council prohibits Freeport captains from engaging one another in battle, but gold has a way of bending this code, resulting in grudges between mercenary captains that can stretch on for years.
Milton is currently obsessed with his Lighthouse due to be opened in three months time, but the Captains’ Council still attempts to govern Freeport. Their task grew more arduous over the past five years, as more and more of the city’s money was sunk into Milton’s Folly. Services have degenerated: The garrison has shrunk and is largely confined to the Old City; the docks are policed haphazardly, if at all. Crime has skyrocketed, but as long as it remains in the shadows the Council is content to look the other way. Known pirates from outside of Freeport have even taken to frequenting the port again. As long as they bribe the dock officials, they can enjoy what Freeport has to offer. Ironically, the city is returning to its roots.
Notes to GMs
When running Freeport Adventures published by Green Ronin, it is important to bear the following in mind, which will necessitate slight changes to the modules as written.
• In Aereth, Freeport is not situated on the island of A’Val but is instead on the North Coast of the peninsular that marks the south-east tip of the Dragonspire Mountains.
• As Freeport is on a Northern Coast, the compasses on Freeport maps are 180degrees out of alignment (North is South and vice versa)
• In my Aereth, the Serpents Teeth are not the island chain in which Freeport is situated but rather the name for the lower end of the Dragonspire Mountains
• In my Aereth, the Serpent People who founded Varossa are Drakon, a colony of the Southlands based Drakon.
• In my Aereth, the timeline of some of the events of Freeport’s history have been amended to allow them to better mesh with recorded events in Aereth’s history.
• In my Aereth, the Serpent People of Varossa initially worshiped Lagos, not Yig
• In my Aereth, the god that usurped the worship of the Serpent People was the Faceless Lord (Zhuhn), not the Unspeakable one.
Finally, all of the above has been produced using only material provided by the adventures Death in Freeport and Shadows Over Freeport. I have not run either of these modules yet, so I cannot swear hand on heart that the meshing of Green Ronin Freeport and Aereth is 100% seamless. Also, I cannot confirm if any of the above is compatible with any of the other Green Ronin published Freeport material.