Gygax’s Legendarium: The Battle of Brown Hills

Gygax’s Legendarium was a blog originally created by (I believe) +Grendelwulf to archive some of Gary Gygax’s original articles and writings. The site has since gone down, and emails to the original point of contact (geffyl@aol.com) bounced back, so I’m taking the last archived version of the site and re-posting these articles here to keep them alive. If the original owner of the site or any copyright holders have qualms with this, please let me know, but until then, I hope this serves as an interesting historical note from one of the creators of Dungeons & Dragons.

The following article first appeared in Wargamer’s Newsletter #116, November 1971, and is a battle report of a game featuring the rules of CHAINMAIL.

Wargamer’s Newsletter #116, November 1971

Originally posted at The Old Metal Detector at Vintage Wargaming.

Wargamer's Newsletter #116, November 1971 - image 1

Wargamer’s Newsletter #116, November 1971 – image 1

Wargamer's Newsletter #116, November 1971 - image 2

Wargamer’s Newsletter #116, November 1971 – image 2

Wargamer's Newsletter #116, November 1971 - image 3

Wargamer’s Newsletter #116, November 1971 – image 3

[EDITOR: A transcript of these images follows.]

BATTLE REPORT OF THE MONTH

THE BATTLE OF BROWN HILLS

(A Fantasy Combat Fought with the CHAINMAIL Rules)

by

Gary Gygax

Having run across an old map I had drawn of a mythical continent, complete with many fantastic inhabitants, I decided to use it as the basis for a game. Lake Geneva was to play host to the Madison, Wisconsin, group so I got busy. The “Situation” was described as follows:

“East of the Desert of Sorrow stretches the nearly unbroken barrier of forbidding mountains. Furthest south, dipping into the place where Gnyxyg Sea meets The Ocean, they are called Mountains of Bitter Cold. At the place where the Broken Land joins them they become known as the Home of Dragons, and it is somewhere within their vast area that is hidden the Cave of Shifting Runes. Furthest north they are known as the Giant Mountains, due not to the stature of their peaks – albeit this is undiminished, but rather for the creatures who inhabit the labyrinthine caverns therein. A spur of the chain turns first eastward, then circles north again, to enclose the hidden and unwholesome valley of Lake Iuz. the lesser peaks of the spur are the Dwarfrealm.

On the coast north of the Giant Mountains are the lands called Drearshore, and the peninsula of Lands End. It was from here that Chaos armed its host, swarmed into the Valley of Iuz, and began to harry Dwarves, causing them to flee southwards into the Brown Hills and bringing news of the massing evil to the men of the Old Kingdom. From the town of Yon to the city of Hither the news travelled, and the paladins at Great Keep were called forth by the Count of Aerll. All of Law was to meet in solemn council at the hamlet of Lea. In a short time the men of the Meadowlands were joined by a band of the warlike elves from the wood near the Carinstones, as well as a large band of horsemen from beyond the Silent Forest, the eastern border of all the land.

The encampment of the Count was made in the Cloverfields, between Lea and the Brown Hills. It was here that intelligence reached him that the Horde of Chaos had debouched from the pass at the headwaters of the Darkling River, skirted the Marshes of Oozing Slime, and now were only a few days from him. Despite the fact that only three-quarters of his forces had been marshalled, the Count marched at once due west across the narrow waist of hills, and took up a strong position to await the enemy.”

CHAOS: Objective: With all of the northern peninsula under your sway, the time has grown right to extend your holdings into the desirable Meadowlands, the remains of the Old Kingdom, and even beyond! Opposition is certain, and you must defeat it decisively if you hope to cross the Brown Hills and capture the Great Keep. Thereafter you should meet few problems…fail, and you are doomed to retreat northwards, probably forever.

Order of Battle:

  • The Warlock Huldor ap Skree (abilities: Fire Balls, Phantasmal Forces, Spell of Darkness, Conjuration of Elementals).
  • The Giant King, Verdurmir.
  • 10 Ogres of Iuz.
  • 20 Orcs of the Mountains with sword and shield.
  • 20 ” ” ” ” ” bows.
  • 20 ” ” ” Vile Rune with sword and shield.
  • 20 ” ” ” Longspear.
  • 20 Heavy Infantry, men from Lands End, plus 1 Anti-Hero leader.
  • 15 Light Horse, men from Drearshore, plus 1 Anti-Hero leader.
  • 15 ” Horse|archers from Drearshore, plus 1 Anti-Hero leader.

LAW: Objective: Yours is a happy land, rich and peaceful. The threat of losing all to the hosts of Chaos is a terrible one and can be met in only one manner — you must

[EDITOR: End page 1.]

smash them, and drive them form your land forever. No quarter can be given. Note that if your war chest is taken it will provide Chaos with the monies necessary to equip more forces.

Order of Battle:

  • Count Aerll, Super Hero, armed with an enchanted sword.
  • The Magician of Cairn (abilities: Lightening Bolts, Wizard Light, Circle of Protection).
  • 24 Heavy Infantry plus 1 Hero leader with an enchanted sword.
  • 20 Medium Horse, men from the East, plus 1 Hero leader.
  • 10 ” Horse archers, men from the East, plus 1 Hero leader.
  • 10 Heavy Horse, knights from the Meadowlands.
  • 12 Elven Archers.
  • 2 Light Catapults with 10 operators.
  • 3 Wagons, 1 containing the war chest full of gemstones and gold.
  • 10 Longbowmen plus 1 Hero leader.

[EDITOR: An image of The Brown Hills is inserted here with a key for “General Movements” of the armies of Chaos and Law and the Elves.]

Each opponent opened the battle by attacking on the left and holding with the right. Both wizards were stationed in the centre. Chaos was deployed thus: Rune Orcs, Light Horse, Mountain Orcs, Ogres, Giant, Longspear Orcs, Horse archers and men. Law was arrayed so: Medium Horse, Foot, 2 Wagons, Longbows, 2 Light Catapults, 1 Wagon, Count Aerll with 10 Heavy Horse and 12 Elves. When the Giant, orcs, Horse-archers and men on Chaos’ left came forth, the Count charged the Giant while the Knights rode against the Horse archers. As the two mighty combatants were locked in melee the Anti-Hero leader of the Foot rushed up and smote the Count sorely.

The entire right wing of Law began to crumble then, and although the Elves destroyed the Longspear Orcs, Verdurmir and the Lands Enders passed through the catapult fire, destroyed one, and captured the other. In the process all of the Heavy Horse were killed or driven off. The Magician strove in vain to slay the Giant with his Lightening, succeeding only in twice driving Verdurmir back.

In the middle most of the action centred around an Air Elemental which has been conjured, then loosed by ap Skree, vile warlkock that he was. Finally, after waiting over half ot he game to see how the attack on their right and centre was fairing, the Ogres dealt the finishing blows to the army of Law — they and an unexpected visitor!

The charge of the Medium Horse cut through and scattered the Orcs of the Vile Rune, who held the extreme right of Chaos’ position. They continued to hack and slew through their foemen, although they faced Orcs, Ogres and Light Horse. They were forced to withdraw for a short time when the Warlock caused darkness to descend upon the field. However, when the Magician joined in their attack up on the centre, his

[EDITOR: End page 2.]

sorcerous opponent gave up that spell, conjuring instead a Fire Elemental. Alone, the Magician withdrew towards the approaching wagons, hoping to escape with them and the few survivors of the Count’s force. At this point a marauding Dragon passed overhead, espied the treasure, and attacked in a great, fiery greed. His breath shrivelled horses and men alike, including the kind Magician.

All of Chaos was now convergin towards this spot. And although the Dragon attempted mightily to retain his spoil, he was finally killed by Verdurmir, an Air Elemental, and several Ogres (all but one of whom was slain).

ANALYSIS: The dice really made this battle difficult for Law, for a 3rd turn roll of 11 killed their Super Hero. Nonetheless, they fought on, and their morale dice continued to remain unusually high throughout the game, so it made up for the bad luck at first — at least in part. Had their Wizard been brought into play earlier, the game might have been won by them, for Chaos unnecessarily withheld his powerful unit of Ogres for far too long. Thereafter, they played well and did the proper things in order to retain their victory. Had they lost the treasure, the victory would have been too costly, and no further games would have been fought with this scenario. Chaos was represented by the Madison group, and they opted to stay within the Brown Hills and regroup. Law, as well as the Dragon, were played by our own (LGTSA) members. Survivors of the battle are listed below, and both will receive reinforcements. If the battle at Great Keep goes in favor of Chaos, there will be still other lands to conquer, so we may be fighting this campaign for some time yet.

CHAOS:

  • Warlock
  • Giant
  • 7 Ogres
  • 56 Orcs
  • 14 Heavy Infantry
  • 11 Light Horse
  • 10 Horse Archers
  • 1 Light Catapult (captured)
  • 1 Wagon (captured)

LAW:

  • 1 Hero (with magical blade)
  • 4 Knights
  • 7 Medium Horse
  • 8 Heavy Foot
  • 4 Elves
  • 3 Longbowmen

NOTE: The enchanted sword of the Count Aerll was lost in the field, and Chaos did not search for it. So far, neither has Law enquired of it.

[EDITOR: End page 3; end of article.]


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