Post Greyhawk Wars: 585 CY
A walled city of 21,000 people, Woodwych is the home of Baron Bastrayne who administers the lands for some 40 miles around this city, and the small settlements along the road to Hammensend and on to Urnst. Bastrayne feigns support of his king, and Bailiff Radnen Gryppe manages to dispatch some 70% of the tithes and taxes demanded by the crown.
Bastrayne is in good favor with the king. He delivers more money than most, so Archbold will not hear ill of him. Bastrayne also projects the image of a strong ruler. He denounces the "terrorists of the Celadon Forest, and gives glowing accounts of how his troops are imposing order and protecting the vital trade highway west.
Bastrayne has been successful in preventing most accounts of the truth reaching Archbold, by imposing martial law on Woodwych and even having his elite, Headstrong personal Baronial Guard harass and arrest anyone threatening to go to the king. It is whispered
that desperate messengers who rode out for Rel Mord were ridden down and killed by the Guard.
Woodwych is, thus, a grim and hard city, ruled by its militia. There are 800 troops garrisoned in Woodwych, with 300 stationed elsewhere in the surrounding land, most patrolling major roads. They are not evil men, but the king didn’t pay them at the start of the
year while Bastrayne has done so. Actually, Bastrayne and Gryppe deliberately withheld wages for a month so they could get the militia on their side, blaming the king for non-payment.
Bastrayne has successfully persuaded most of them that people in the lands can afford to pay the taxes the militia collects. To many ordinary soldiers, having food for one’s family, decent equipment, and wages is all that matters. Bastrayne also waxes eloquent on Nyrond’s need for a strong army so the militia believe that what they are doing is right, not just for them but for the whole nation.
To be sure, there are good folk in Woodwych who see what the Baron is doing, but they are cowed and afraid. The Baronial Guard is mostly heavy infantry and cavalry, but it also includes a dozen or so “specialists” who are feared by all as spies. While Bastrayne may not be evil, there are rumors that evil men have found their way into the guard.
Opposition to Bastrayne has sparked into anger and violence in the lands around this walled city, especially within the Celadon, where even a group of his own Baronial Guard has defected. It’s a matter of time whether violent overthrow, exposure of corruption, of fleeing abroad settles Bastrayne’s fate first.