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The Irongate Project
 

The Hobloggers of Irongate

Version 1.0
by Denis Tetreault, Samuel D. Weiss, and Scott McMillan
 

For centuries, Irongate has been known far and wide for its high quality iron and iron products. The smelting of iron requires large quantities of charcoal, and as a result of the long history of this industry, most of the easily accessible large trees along the valleys of the area for miles around Irongate have been cut to supply the charcoal kilns. Continued clearing of the valley floor for farming also has insured that trees have not grown back over time. The tops of the plateaus surrounding Irongate are covered with large trees, however the steep-sided valley walls make access very difficult, and transport of logs to the valley floors near-impossible (see photo on the Geology of Irongate page), explaining why they are still densely forested. Whether it is for charcoal production to feed the forges, for building construction, or for ship building and repair, the demand for high quality wood is insatiable, making the services provided by the Hobloggers' Guild very important indeed.

The Hobloggers of Irongate are a curious clan of halflings of Stoutish strain that live in and around the Irongate region. Their name originates from the Flan name for halflings ("Hobniz"), combined with their profession. The Hobloggers specialize in logging the tops of the rugged steep-sided hills and plateaus in the region. The Guild has developed specialized portable cable equipment for hobloggers and their tools up and down the cliff faces, and efficiently getting large logs down the steep cliffs and onto the valley floor for transport to the city.

The Hobloggers maintain a guildhall outside the city walls to the northwest of the Valley Gate. While the structure does have bunk rooms, actively working Hobloggers rarely are in residence. The small cottages clustered around the guildhall are inhabited most of the time by the wives (and in some instances, husbands) and children of the members of the guild. The active guild members spend most of their time in the surrounding hills in ever-moving camps, wherever they are currently at their trade. Younger hobloggers will merely rent a bunk in one of the common rooms when they are "off call", however more senior bachelor hobloggers sometimes maintain individual rooms in the guildhall. Most hoblogger families have their own personal residence.

The guildhall is unusual in that it operates as much as a tavern as a guildhall, and as such functions as the social center of the halfling community. The proprietor and guild president is a rotund, amply-bosomed, older female halfling known as Mama Perdalla. Contracts between Mama and the city's charcoal-burners, carpenters and shipwrights usually take the form of representatives from the above gradually raising their offer as they nervously down several mugs of the frothy brown ale brewed on the premises, while Mama stares at them and smokes her pipe. Negotiations are done when she pulls her pipe from her mouth, taps the bowl empty against the edge of the table, spits in her hand and offers it to the chief negotiator.

The guildhall also contains workshops for manufacturing and maintaining the guild's equipment, such as the saws, axes, and complex cabling and pulley systems that have been developed to move logs, halflings, and equipment over the steep cliffs of the region.

The Hobloggers' Guild also has contracts with the Dwarven Khanahl Clan for assistance in moving logs down the Khanahllar (see the Irongate Region) to the City of Irongate itself.

Because of the relative isolation of the hilltops with the best trees, the clan must sometimes hire adventurers to clear out dangerous wildlife before they can bring in their cable equipment to clear out the lumber. Periodically, hobloggers stumble upon things of interest to adventurers. Caves are extremely common around the entire region, and any that appear to have unusual features (such as evidence of predator activity, signs of ancient or recent human/humanoid occupation, unusual rock or mineral formations) may be brought to the attention of intrepid explorers (possibly for a small "finder's fee"). Rarely, very unusual situations arise. Two years ago, a Hoblogger crew spotted some particularly ancient trees on an isolated hill along the western Levasslar, and climbed the precipitous cliffs. Only one of the would-be loggers returned, and he was quite insane, mumbling incoherently about ancient pillars, statues that came to life, and frightening tentacled undead. To this day, no hoblogger crew will go near that particular plateau.

Certainly, one of the most notable currently active members of the guild is a cheerful and modest crew chief by the name of Tam Cosslin (F 10, male halfling, LG, short sword +2 and hand axe +3). Born to a highly respected hoblogger couple, his father a clan elder before his death, Tam grew up in the guild. The stories of Tam's exploits are often the talk of the young hobloggers hanging out at the guild's tavern, stories that tend to grow more outrageous as the evening goes on and the ale flows. The modest Tam is the first who will step forward and correct any exaggerations, however. One of the most popular stories used as a base for fantastic elaboration is the true story of how Tam single-handedly slew a cave bear disturbed from its slumber by the activities of his logging crew. Tam is highly sought after by halflings hoping to train under him, enabling him to be very selective over who he accepts onto his crew, and his crew is simply the best. Many of his former crew members have gone on to lead their own crews. It was Cosslin's Toppers who found, harvested and successfully brought to the Irongate docks the record-breaking trees that became the keel and masts of the two largest warships built at the docks in the last 30 years. The first ship, Procan's Will, completed 15 years ago, saw much action in the tumultuous years since and played a prominent part in many naval "incidents". The second and larger of the two, The Drachenforge, has been two years under construction. Even as it is nearing completion, the nation or organization that commissioned it, or if it will be added to Irongate's fleet, is still only speculation.


Hoblogger Magic Items

There are a variety of standard magic items that hobloggers would find useful in their duties. Rope of climbing, slippers of spider climbing, boots of levitation, enchanted axes and hand axes, ring of featherfall all are of obvious utility. There are also a variety of new and unique items, some commissioned from the Artificers' Guild, that the Hobloggers' Guild has.

Rope of convenience - When one begins uncoiling this 50' coil of seemingly ordinary rope, it continues to feed out until 500' of rope has been played out. Retrieving the rope again yields a coil that has the same volume and weight of a 50' coil.

Axe of gentle persuasion - When used to topple a tree, the woodsman using this axe will chop into the side of the tree opposite to the direction he would like the tree to fall, no matter the weight distribution of the tree or current wind direction.

Iron rope - This 100' rope looks and feels the same as any ordinary rope, however has the tensile strength of a steel cable, and can be used to shift very large logs.

Block and tackle of power - When this equipment is used, all forced applied to attached ropes are doubled (70%) or tripled (30%) as compared to similarly rigged ropes, allowing for much greater weights to be moved.

Rooted boots - Sometimes called boots of Llerg, someone wearing these boots can will them to become immobilized, enabling one to push or pull something with all their strength without their feet slipping and sliding out from under them, even on loose soil. The boots will only function when standing on a natural rock or earth surface. Halflings find these particularly useful when moving large logs, especially considering their size.


Plot hooks involving the Hobloggers' Guild:

• The Hobloggers' guild hires the PC's to clear out a wooded area in the hills where they have repeatedly been attacked by large stinging insects (giant bees or wasps). The source of the insects is a dryad druid inhabiting a very large tree on the plateau where the nest of the insects lies. The dryad is determined to defend her home at all costs.

• To make the above even more complicated, during the course of their encroachment on the wood the PC's find a small, vine-covered shrine dedicated to a nature spirit (the dryad). They recognize the name of the family that dedicated the shrine as a very prominent noble family in the city. If the players don't take the hint and leave to investigate this matter in the city archives, the DM should encourage them to leave the wood at this point by arranging an overwhelming assault by the giant insect servants of the dryad. Investigation reveals that not only did the family indeed dedicate the shrine but one of their illustrious ancestors was married to the dryad and they are her descendants, though this is not well known to most members of the family. Needless to say if any word of the PC's desecrating this grove, much less killing the dryad, were to reach the ears of the noble family, they would be extremely displeased. A diplomatic answer to the problem of the insects will have to be brokered

• If the party contains a cleric, the Hoblogger Guild hires the PC's to clear out a wooded area where they have been attacked by a ghostly wyvern. As the PC's investigate, after driving off the wyvern ghost, they find that the wood is the site of a tomb belonging to a long dead Flan warrior of the ancient Ahlissan kingdom. The ghost wyvern was his mount in life. To exorcise the ghost they will need to enter the tomb complex, which, depending on the party's strength, may be haunted only by the ghost of the warrior himself or he and his entire bodyguard. Of course the exorcism of the ghost of a once noble warrior from his rightful resting place may raise ethical questions among the party members. Rather than attempting to dispell/kill the ghost, the party may decide to take on the unfinished quest that has kept the spirit chained to his tomb.

• Same as above but the dead warrior has become a wight or wraith (possibly along with a bodyguard of lesser wights and wraiths). He was kept in his tomb by a ring of standing stones placed around it but one of them was knocked over by the Hobloggers during the course of their logging. Now he is roaming free and wreaking havoc among the loggers and could become a larger threat to the local farmers as well. In this case there will be no ethical considerations other than removing a great evil.

• The PC's are approached by a group of farmers, some of whom have had their crops washed away. They blame a camp of Hobloggers that have been cutting in a nearby wooded area for the increase in runoff from the hillside and want the PC's to scare off the Hobloggers. The Hobloggers are not easily scared and hire a tough band of mercenary dwarves (or others) to deal with the PC's. Conversely, the hobloggers could hire the PCs so they can practice their trade free from the threat of the mercenaries hired by the farmers. In either case it should result in a climactic conflict between the two groups, hopefully thwarted through diplomacy.

• Hoblogger scouts checking a new wooded area have gone missing. A shoe or piece of equipment was found near an abandoned mineshaft or sinkhole hidden by thick brush and it looks like they may have fallen in. The Hoblogger rescuers who entered the pit by lowering a rope were attacked by giant spiders, ettercaps, hideous mutants of unknown extraction, etc... and fled. Now they want the PC's to go underground and find the missing members of their community.

• A hoblogger crew working on a special consignment has suffered a series of accidents that has slowed the project to a crawl. Well maintained equipment has failed and had to be replaced, an unusual number of animal attacks have plagued the crew, and several halflings have been seriously injured under suspicious circumstances. The PCs are hired to protect the crew and investigate. Shorty after the PCs arrive at the camp, a hoblogger dies in a terrible freak accident. The crew has been assigned with the very difficult task of logging a stand of particularly large, high-quality trees and transporting them at maximum length to the Irongate docks. These trees are destined to become the keels and masts of 3 new warships. Unknown to the crew is that one of their number is actually a polymorphed/shape-changed Scarlet Brotherhood spy who's mission is to prevent these ships from being built at all costs.

• Wandering about the city of Irongate, the PCs run into an insane halfling, mumbling about waking nightmares, statues that walk, and tentacled horrors. This halfling was the sole survivor of a hoblogger crew that disturbed something they shouldn't have on a remote plateau. They may be able to get enough out of him to find the plateau. Deep within the jungle lies an ancient illithid temple, protected by psionic traps that rend the mind, bizarre creatures, animated statues, and an undead illithid priest and its minions.

• A hoblogger crew out on assignment has been attacked in their camp several nights in a row by a group of undead. The PCs are brought in to eliminate the problem. The type of undead can be scaled to match the level of the PCs, and the source of the undead is the site of an old mine disaster that resulted in the deaths of many miners. The surface activities of the hobloggers has disturbed their restless sleep.

Hobloggers as PCs (any edition)

Halfling player characters from the Irongate region could start out as hobloggers as a previous occupation. Such characters would have nonweapon proficiencies (2nd Edition) or equivalent skills/feats (3rd Edition) related to rope handling, mountain climbing, wilderness lore, and plant knowledge. They would have contacts within the Hobloggers' Guild, and possibly know some of the local nature-associated priests in the area. They would also likely have contacts among some of the city guard whose assignment is patrolling outside the city, and local merchants that deal with wood products.

PCs who are still active members of the Guild would likely not be rank-and-file loggers, but would fill any of a number of other support positions within the guild such as scout, ranger, guard, troubleshooter, etc. Much of their time should be dedicated to performing their assigned tasks, and thus the DM would build the campaign around the day-to-day activities of the guild. That does not mean that their lives are boring. Any of the plot hooks described above could be handled by support guildmembers with help from hired adventurers (the other PCs), rather then only hired adventurers. DMs could of course rule that "x-number of work-weeks where nothing unusual happens, however when you woke up this morning, you had a feeling that today would be different".

Hobloggers' Guild (3rd Edition Affiliation rules)

Symbol: Cendrée, two woodsman's axes in saltire couped, proper.

Background, Goals, and Dreams: The Hobloggers' Guild is dedicated to cutting down trees, and selling the lumber and other products in the Irongate region. Some of their leaders make plans to expand into other areas that obviously need the services of good lumberjacks.

Members: Although the majority of the guild's members are simply expert lumberjacks. Those with character classes are typically rangers, druids, or clerics with the Plant domain. A few are beguilers, using their powers to protect their camps and advance their business interests.

Type: Business (racial)
Scale: 10 (regional)
Affiliation Score Criteria: The Hobloggers Guild is open only to Halflings.

 

Criterion Affiliation Score Modifier
Character level +1/2 PC's level

5 or more ranks in Profession (lumberjack),
Knowledge (geography), or Knowledge (nature)

+1 per skill
10 or more ranks in Profession (lumberjack),
Knowledge (geography), or Knowledge (nature)
+2 per skill
Completes a mission for the Hobloggers +2
Discover a valuable stand of trees +2
Cast spells +1
Cast 3rd level spells that affect plants +2

Titles, Benefits, and Duties: The lower ranks of the Hobloggers provide benefits to skills in performing basic tasks. The upper ranks provide leadership and command benefits.


Affiliation Score Title: Benefits and Duties
3 or lower Family member with no benefits
4-10 Branch Trimmer: +2 racial bonus on Profession (lumberjack) checks when working with other guild members
11-15 Tree Topper: +2 racial bonus on Knowledge (geography) and Knowledge (nature) checks in the Irongate region
16-22 Tree Cutter: Additional +2 racial bonus on Climb and Jump check, and +4 racial bonus on Balance checks
23-29 Crew Chief: Gain Leadership as a bonus feat. If you have Leadership already, gain any Leader feat (Heroes of Battle), Landlord (Stronghold Builder’s Guidebook), or Draconic Aura (Dragon Magic) feat as a bonus feat
30 or higher Clan Elder: +2 circumstance bonus on Negotiation checks with other affiliations in the Irongate region, and +4 circumstance bonus on Bluff, Diplomacy, and Intimidate checks in the Irongate region


Executive Powers: Gift, Harvest, Trade

 

The authors can be found on the various Greyhawk forums and chatrooms as:
Denis "Maldin" Tetreault, Sam "Samwise" Weiss, and Scott "smillan_31" McMillan

 

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This page last modified on August 20, 2009