LWC – What’s in a Karg?

The Long Winter Campaign will feature a number of small, stone fortifications, represented by castles on the Outdoor Survival map.  These fortifications are commonly called kargs, taken from the dwarven word for stone fortifications, usually built in mountainous regions.  In the post-Cataclysmic world, karg specifically refers to a pre-Cataclysmic stone fortification, which is probably at least partially in ruin, but still livable.

The Outdoor Survival Map; the castle icons represent kargs

The Outdoor Survival Map; most of the castle icons represent kargs

The Spells of Ending damaged nearly every fortification and city in the region.  Yet, despite their dilapidated state, kargs still present the strongest possible defense.  Not even the dwarves posses the engineering skills to build such formidable structures in the post-Cataclysmic age.  So, most damaged kargs are still in use, their breaches repaired as best as possible with wooden palisades and ramparts piled from ancient rubble.

A crazy old wizard probably lives in this tower-karg.

A mad wizard’s tower-karg.

Kargs are typically small-ish forts, built at strategic points, and capable of supporting a few dozen soldiers at most.  During the Old Empire, kargs served as fortified watchtowers and outposts, protecting this border province from barbarian incursions and goblinoid raids.  In the Cataclysmic age, a karg represents an extremely powerful fortification, usually home to a lord, or the headquarters for some powerful faction (such as the Paladins, Rangers or Druids).  Some of the more remote kargs have fallen into the hands of the monstrous races, the powerbase for an ambitious orc warlord or a goblin pretender king.

This karg is on the larger side.

This karg is larger than most.

They typically have small ‘dungeons’ for the keeping of prisoners and storing of provisions.  In many cases, these dungeons have been expanded to store additional supplies for the long winters.  A handful of the old Imperial kargs were built on the ruins of even older fortifications, and the process of expanding their dungeons to accommodate more supplies exposed long-sealed depths.  Some lords may permit adventurers to more fully explore these deeper dungeons…in exchange for a share of any treasures recovered, of course.

This karg needs a little work.

And this karg needs a little work.

Finally, it should be noted that new stone kargs cannot be built.  No one, not even the dwarves, retains the knowledge to build such solid structures ( wooden palisade forts, on the other hand, can be easily built).  So, if you want a nice, stone fort, you need to go out and find one, and then you’ll probably have to take it from its current tenants.  This provides an opportunity for the players to get into the kingdom building game, if they so choose.  All those pre-positioned stone forts make nice targets for would-be warlords.

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7 Responses to “LWC – What’s in a Karg?”

  1. Tiorn Says:

    A question about the karg conditions…

    Is it that the knowledge on building/repairing them is lost?

    Or that the knowledge is still available, but the environment is just way too hostile to invest time and resources into it, when all the time and resources is pretty much already spoken for (with bringing in food and supplies before the next Winter sets in)?

    • EdOWar Says:

      Good question, and it’s some of both actually. The knowledge has largely been lost (though there may be some ancient engineering books out there to be found), there’s no expertise base of engineers and stonemasons, and few resources available to undertake the construction of formidable stone fortifications. It’s far easier to simply repair existing kargs, or to build wooden forts where there are no kargs to restore.

      • Tiorn Says:

        I recall watching a documentary about the US Army having to move equipment rapidly to Alaska during the early stages of WW2. They ran into major problems trying to build a road through the wilderness over the permafrost. It would thaw out during the Summer and pretty much turn into a swampy/muddy mess that they couldn’t do anything with. Bulldozers would get stuck and even sink into a quicksand-like mud field.

        I’m guessing that your campaign environment would have very similar conditions. My thinking is… that because of the permafrost-like conditions, perhaps the mud would somehow be unsuitable for making mortar. It could be done and the kargs could be repaired, but the mortar would probably be too weak to hold for long. The best soil would be reserved for farming, of course, and to try to use it for mortar would put food supplies at risk.

        Then, there are additional ingredients used in making mortar as well… so maybe that could be a ‘lost’ knowledge… not knowing what or how much to add to the permafrost mud to make it suitable as mortar.

        Just my thoughts. I’m sure if any faction in the campaign could figure out how to do it, they would have a tactical advantage in the region. And they would more than likely keep that secret to themselves as well. lol

      • EdOWar Says:

        Those are all good points, and anyone who could figure out how to make big, stone fortifications would have some advantage. But you’d also still have to deal with the logistics of building a stone fortification. Even in the best of conditions it would take years to build a castle, and the LWC is hardly the best of conditions. 🙂

      • Tiorn Says:

        Exactly… it would be just so time consuming and time is probably the rarest thing available to them. Even what little ‘brick & mortar’ repairs they could make could be quickly ruined by a poor mix of permafrost mud or an attack by an opposing faction whose scouts spied the repairs as they were taking place.

        The Romans knew how to mix concrete, but yet that knowledge was ‘lost’ for centuries after the fall of the Empire.

        And then putting it in the perspective of battlefield tacticians, for example, Patton was quoted as saying that fixed fortifications were monuments to human stupidity. A battle savvy leader would probably believe that it was imperative to make sure that enemies could not make effective repairs to their defenses.

        Its interesting to think about. Trying to put myself in the position of a faction leader, I think it would be very important to try to figure something out as a tactical advantage. But, of course, it would have to take a backseat to priorities for survival.

      • EdOWar Says:

        Once again, all great points. Repaired sections of kargs are definitely their weakest point, and yet no weaker than a wooden palisade fort.

        There are considerable social and logistical implications to a setting like the Long Winter, which makes designing it so much fun.

        One thing I hadn’t considered, which you brought up, was the presence of so much mud. Naturally, an area with such long winters would be layered in mud during the warmer months, further complicating farming and travel. More food for thought. Thanks for your comments. 🙂

      • Tiorn Says:

        Yes, indeed. The mud would be a problem. Which would make irrigation and water drainage engineering even more important, taking more time away from other things. And dealing with nature or sabotage to keep that engineering intact as well. Something like an alpine meadow would probably be the most favorable farming land, since water would drain away naturally for the most part, meaning not so much mud. Anything elevated with a suitable crowned slope to allow excess drainage. I remember back in my little league baseball days, our league switched from one location to another because the new location had a ‘great drainage system’… all that meant was that there was a slope for excess water to run-off the field. lol

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