Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Great Greyhawk Couples

 Happy Valentines Day, Greyhawkers! I don't think there is a Greyhawk equivalent to this holiday unless it's a holy day to Myhriss goddess of love. At any rate, that's a topic for another day. The World of Greyhawk is well known for its mega-dungeons, artifacts and warfare, but is it known for romantic storylines? Let's take a look...

Jallarzi Sallavarian and Kieran Jalucian: This is one of my favorite Greyhawk couples. Jallarzi is the only female member of the famous Circle of Eight in the City of Greyhawk and her paramour, Kieran is the Master of the Guild of Wizardry and Principle of the University of Magic Arts. I am going to assume they met when she was a prodigy student of his at the UMA because Jallarzi was 33 when she joined the Circle, and KJ only looks 30, but is clearly very old according to the City of Greyhawk boxed set. Scandals aside, I can see the attraction for them; Kieran is not only an archmage, but he has a 17 STR so he is no aged-wimpy sage. Jallarzi, described as "distractingly beautiful" has a 17 CHA and a pseudo-dragon pet. What's not to like? The pair are seen all over the city and even slum in the Old City in disguise with magic. Their wizardly careers are probably the only thing keeping them from being official. Work and well, that thing that happened in Return of the Eight...

Iggwilv and Graz'zt: Aww yes, you knew I would mention this couple (well off and on). They are the best confrontational pair in the entire setting. Iggy and Graz' even have a child together (spoiled demigod Iuz, such a dysfunctional family). Iggwilv is an aspiring demonologist-witch queen-conqueror. Graz'zt is an aspiring Prince of Demons-would-be conqueror of the Abyss. Clearly the pair's egos are not big enough to fit on one infinite plane. There is a lot of good game info on this diabolical couple I don't have the room to tell it all! Want to know EVERYTHING about Iggwilv though? Check out this amazing post on Power Score.
Cobb Darg and Elayne Mystica: I'm not sure if these two are a romantic pair, but they should be! Cobb is the old wily ruler of Irongate and Elayne is the albino Suel archmage of the same city. There has got to be a spark there, and I'm certain she knows Mayor Darg's secret heritage.

Queen Yolande and (various) Consorts: Elven culture might be different than human-kind in regards to courtly romance since they live so long and are many times xenophobic. Queen Yolande of Celene has had many consorts over the centuries, and the murder of one even started the Hateful Wars that drove all humanoids out of the Lortmil Mountains. I'm sure Yolande has moved on by now, though given her isolationist stand, does she ever look outside Celene for companionship?

Karin Keoffel and Yrag: I'm willing to bet you don't know who is Karin Keoffel. She happens to run the Fruit of the Mill in the lower part of Greyhawk, she is 44 years old and is cheerfully in love with her mercenary boyfriend "Yr". Whether she knows Yr is actually Yrag, a magically preserved 200 year-old adventuring legend is not known. What is for sure is that Yr/Yrag definitely loves his girlfriend and has gone to lengths to discreetly protect her, such as gifting magic items and telling the Guild of Thieves to back off her business. If that isn't love I don't know what is!

Iuz and Zuggtmoy: Iuz has many henchmen and allies he could choose as his consort, but in Greyhawk lore (and novels?), the Lord of Pain for some reason has an infatuation with Zuggtmoy the Demon-queen of Fungi. Despite being a power-couple they both have spent time in prisons, so their relationship has always been strained. Despite this I suspect Iuz loves her more than she loves him back. So much so, that Iuz literally gave Zuggtmoy his soul to guard on her abyssal plane. Like that won't ever come back to haunt him some day!

Lady Evaleigh and Gord or Alain IV of Ratik: The comely Evaleigh is a noblewoman from the County of Knurl and was featured as a love interest to Gord the Rogue in Gygax's early TSR novels. How that turned out, I'm not 100% certain, since I never read them all. Evaleigh however did make into the game setting as the widowed ruler of Ratik. She married the son of Baron Lexnol, Alain IV and he was soon killed by gnolls. Evaleigh had to assume rulership after Lexnol then became disabled upon hearing the news. Tragedy!

Wee Jas and Norebo: I would be remiss if I didn't mention this dynamic Greyhawk deity couple! Wee Jas the goddess of death and magic could only be won over by the roguish charm of Norebo right? After all he has been reputedly with every female deity it is said. Unfortunately, being gods of the Suel Pantheon, there's a good chance they are related! Why she puts up with him and his cheating ways in the first place is a matter of theological study. I know cause I've done plenty myself!

Honorable Mentions. I could go on and on, but here is some other couples I think would be worth musing about in future valentines posts...

Dragotha and Tiamat: Draconic love. Till death do they part?

Lorana Kath and Lord Kargoth: Both death knights of the Great Kingdom. A couple that works together!

Sotillion and Zilchus: Married deities of business, wealth and leisure. Gee, I wonder who they remind me of...

Markessa and Markessa: This Slave Lord likes altering the minds and bodies of elven women into doubles of herself. Self-love?

That's all for now. What other great Greyhawk NPC relationships are there?

Friday, February 8, 2019

Colorful Places of Greyhawk

Greetings Greyhawkers! Today I bring you another fun topic on Greyhawk geography. This one follows suit with the post I did on "Cold Places" in the Flanaess. This time let's look at the colorful places found in the World of Greyhawk. In our world there is plenty of colorfully named locations such as the Black Sea, Greenland or Yellowknife. Naming places with colors is catchy and evocative and that's why Gygax made ample use of it in his setting. Let's take a look...

Land of Black Ice: This is the first place I think of when you mention the color black on the Darlene Flanaess map. Is the ice literally black or blue-black or transparent showing off stone below? Does it absorb heat or repel it? I have too many physics questions about this place. For more on the Land of Black Ice check out my most recent article on cold places mentioned above.

Blackmoor: Naturally next to the black ice is the grim-colored Blackmoor. While it might not be Dave Arneson's original Blackmoor, the Blackmoor we get in the World of Greyhawk is an homage that includes the same gloomy environment, the castle of Blackmoor, the mysterious City of the Gods and the even more mysterious villain Egg of Coot. Want to spice up your Blackmoor or heck play the Mystara version? Go to Havard's Blackmoor Blog.

Azure Sea: The biggest and boldest blue on the map is naturally the Azure Sea. Azure according to Wikipedia is bright blue, like the color of the sky on a clear day. I'm no expert on physics, but perhaps this means the Azure Sea is more clear and calm than say the Solnor Ocean or the warmer Drawmij Ocean? I'd love to hear theories because I know on Earth, there is a difference in our oceans and seas.

No I'm not being facetious, there is a town called Blue on the east coast of the Pomarj. Why is it called Blue you ask? Good question. I really don't know at the moment. I do know it's been a fisherman and pirate haven for centuries and most recently it's now a port in control of the Slave Lords or Turrosh Mak's Orcish Empire or both? Whatever the case, Blue is a nice rough port to stop at for PCs who want to get in some roguish trouble.

Gold County: So gold is yellow of course, but where is the Gold County you may be asking? It's a southern part of Furyondy along the Velverdyva River bordering Verbobonc and Dyvers. In other words it's safe, quiet and wealthy while up north they are battling Iuz 24-7. Not only do the nobles love hiding out here, with their gold, there is also an abundance of sunflowers on the plains. Yellow indeed.

White Fanged Bay: White immediately gives you the impression of cold. Set along the Icy Sea, this is a frozen coast noteworthy for its walruses and seals. Ivory and fur can be had by any enterprising barbarian willing to trek to White Fanged Bay. With that much food in a crowded area, what's the chances there's white dragons as well?

White Plume Mountain: Speaking of white in the north, there is one iconic location that is not cold, but rather a volcano. White Plume Mountain, the home of Keraptis the wizard, is the destination of many a treasure seeker wishing to recover the lost magic weapons that were stolen away to this dungeon. You can find a version of this module online for just about any edition of D&D imaginable. Good luck!


City of Greyhawk: Naturally, the city that started it all would be named for a color. Growing up I would always spell the color gray, grey because I'm a D&D nerd. I definitely know Grayhawk would look weird to me. The City of Greyhawk may be nicknamed the Gem of the Flanaess but I believe the name of the town does indeed come from a species of hawk living in the area. I also suspect Gygax chose grey for the name of his famous campaign, because gray is a neutral color, much like the free city itself is neutral politically. It is also centrally located on the map, in a neutral position from all the law and chaos swirling around it. Perfection.

Grayflood River: A tributary of the Thelly River, this gray-sounding river is what forms the boundary between the South Province (Ahlissa) and the Iron League member state of Sunndi. One can imagine, in more peaceful times this was a decent river to cross and trade. Nowadays with the Great Kingdom ruled by mad-men and undead, the Grayflood sounds as dismal as its name.

Silverwood: This tiny forest within the Duchy of Ulek is just what you imagine it might be from the metallic sound of its name. It's a primeval wood, out of bounds for mere men and inhabited by sylvan elves, unicorns, treants and other fey creatures. Ironically there is no actual silver here, but the inhabitants value their trees more than silver!

Iron Hills: By now you're thinking, yeah the World of Grey-hawk has a lot of gray in it. The Iron Hills is yet one more, this one is though is known for its dwarven clans, indeed the place is actually the Kingdom of the Iron Hills. Given it's proximity to the city of Irongate and it being an ally of the Iron League, you can see a theme here.

Irongate: As mentioned before, there's also Irongate, another grayish metal themed place and what I imagine as Minas Tirith from Lord of the Rings, but on the coast. This city (ruled by a dragon some say) has never been conquered, not by a thousand Aerdian nobles, nor the sneak attacks of the Scarlet Brotherhood. Want a good aligned place to start a campaign, especially with dwarves and gnomes? Try Irongate!

Greysmere: Not enough dwarven lore for you? Okay one more. In the Abbor Alz Mountains is a clan of dwarves living in an underground town called Greysmere. If you'd like to know more about this place, grab a copy of the City of Greyhawk boxed set. I'm moving on...

Scarlet Brotherhood: Another great example of a color capturing the mood of a name. This remote peninsula region isn't the name for a nation per se, but rather a semi-secret, evil organization led by dangerous Suel monks and assassins. Unlike the Red Wizards of Thay in Forgotten Realms, if they were called the Red Brotherhood, they wouldn't sound half as sinister would they? (hmm Red Monks of Ilshar?) The Scarlet Brotherhood source book is all you need to get in order to know all the inner workings of this power group. Highly recommended.

Redspan: This red-colored city is in the Duchy of Tenh. What I know about it is mainly from the book, Iuz the Evil. This fortified town used to protect the duchy from the Bandit Kingdoms, but it couldn't withstand Iuz's forces. DMs looking for a contentious city on the edge of war in all directions could give Redspan a look.

Redhand: One more red themed place for you is Redhand. This is the bandit principality that touches on the Nyr Dyv coast including the town of Alhaster. It might be heretical to the fine folks who worked on the Bandit Kingdoms for Living Greyhawk, but if you want easy accessed info on Redhand, check out 3.5 Edition Age of Worms AP by Paizo in the pages of Dungeon Magazine.

I seriously cannot find a purplish place in the Flanaess. Unless you want to count "Mauve" Castle which is ridiculous because that's a sorry misrepresentation of Maure Castle from the novel Saga of Old City.

Greenreach: Well I'm quite stunned by how hard it is for me to find places named for shades of green in Greyhawk. Greenreach, an Iuz town near the Vesve Forest is one. As you can imagine, it's a staging area for the demigod's attacks to the west. Listen up heroes, someday you may very well have to raze Greenreach before tackling the big names in the Land of Iuz.

Celadon Forest: Celadon is a shade of green, kind of like jade color. The great Celadon Forest is in between the Duchy of Urnst and Nyrond. It's an old forest, home to sylvan creatures, elves, good woodsmen, rangers and so-forth. It's a wonderfully green base of operations for nature-oriented characters.

Copperstead: Yup, orange is just as hard as you'd think to find. Copper is an orangish metallic color though and coincidentally the village of Copperstead lies within the aforementioned Celadon Forest! This tiny hamlet is the HQ for the little-known Defender of Celadon.a group of woodland freedom fighters trying to repel a brutal local baron.

Gamboge Forest: Oh that sneaky Gygax, he almost got this shade of orange past me. Gamboge is a saffron like color like the robes used by Buddhist monks. The Gamboge Forest therefore must be orangish right? Well unfortunately, there is no mention of this, but maybe in the Fall the leaves here are very orange in color? Not surprisingly this a home to sylvan elves, halflings, gnomes and the like, caught between the political drama of Nyrond and the Pale. Sounds like a cool place to visit.

Sepia Uplands: The shade of sepia is a (reddish) brown color of course. The Sepia Uplands sound like they must be as monochromatic as the sepia photos we remember from history. It's an hilly region along Lake Quag, mainly controlled by Perrenland, but also bordering the Wolf Nomads and extending into the Vesve. Quite picturesque!

Bronzeblood Haunt: Bronze is a brownish color right? Metallics are hard to judge. At any rate, this eerie ruined castle is found within the lawful and good Kingdom of Furyondy. Want a cool place to send players without the need for a long trip? Try this place. For more info, check out this article on Furyondy.

Sablewood: Sable is actually a very dark brown, going on black. I couldn't decide which entry to place it, so I made it last. The Sablewood is in the extreme NE of the Thillonrian Peninsula in Cruskii. The fir trees in this wood of course are valued for their deep (black) color when treated. The barbarians love sable wood so much they don't export it! According to the Trees of the Flanaess section in the boxed set (yes Gygax loved tree-lore, don't judge), sablewood branches make excellent arrow shafts. Now you know where the "black arrow" comes from.

Phew! That's it! I'm sure I missed some obscure color-coordinated place in Greyhawk. If I did chime in and let me know. Until next time!

Friday, February 1, 2019

Castle Greyhawk Finale

Greetings Greyhawkers! This week I am proud to announce that Scott Casper and I have reached the conclusion of our long running Castle Greyhawk comic. It's been several years and over 160+ pages of amazing story and art.

When we started this comic back in 2012, Scott had already written a virtual novella based on the original home campaign of Gygax, involving such notable Greyhawk characters as Tenser, Robilar and Mordenkainen. It was when he approached me to do an illustrated adaptation of these short stories that I was inspired to jump at it since I had already ran out of material for my long running Greyhawk Comic strip. For seven years I've lived and drawn these characters doing incredible things I've never done in an actual table top RPG setting. My only regret is that I chose to do it in greyscale instead of full color. However, I am sure I would have never accomplished half the work load if I had done so. Then again, how many D&D fans have done one if not two comics based on their favorite setting? So yes, no regrets at all in hindsight.

If you are just now finding my blog Greyhawkery, or Castle Greyhawk, and are new to every contained in this story, well this is mainly the story of the wizard Tenser. The exploits and adventures of Tenser and his off and on again compatriots happen around the free-city of Greyhawk, which is central to the published World of Greyhawk RPG setting. Nearby is the dungeons of the ruined Castle Greyhawk once home to the famous mad archmage Zagig.

The story of Castle Greyhawk also features the hardworking mage in training slash barmaid, Ehlissa. She is a strong, fearless adventurer in a world dominated by so many powerful male figures. One of these individuals is the noble, but reclusive fighter Yrag whose experience leads to taking the young wizards on their first foray into the infamous ruins.

As the story progresses, you will become familiar with another fearless warrior named Robilar. As time goes by Robilar falls in with Tenser and company as well to search the dungeons for treasure. Along with him comes a whole cast of adventurers and henchmen such as Quij the orc, Terik the fighter, Otto the mage and Serten the cleric.

Mind you, this story isn't one big dungeon crawl either, the story also takes you across the streets of Greyhawk, into inns, taverns, wizards towers and even a local bandit's fort. There is so much going on in this five-chapter story that I can't begin to tell it all. Start from the beginning and read Castle Greyhawk. In the future I hope to post up compiled versions of the chapters for ease of reading.

Until then, thanks for at least reading about my latest feather in the cap. Thanks once again to Scott Casper for his hard work and amazing direction. Every panel you will see in this comic is drawn by me, but it is executed exactly how Scott imagined it first. Congratulations my friend on having your dreams come true!

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

5E: More Greyhawk Wars Magic Items

Last time I featured three unique magic items named in the 2nd edition era board game Greyhawk Wars, but were never found in any other supplement before or after. Today we look at the last three of this set as I try to convert them to 5E rules using the spirit of the board game descriptions. Enjoy!

Gloves of the Paladin
Wondrous item, rare (requires attunement by a cleric, druid or paladin)

These supple leather gloves were first created by the temple of Heironeous to aid the Knights of Holy Shielding in their crusade against the evils of the Bandit Kingdoms, Iuz and the Horned Society. While wearing these gloves, you have the divine ability to lay on hands as a paladin of the same level. If attuned to a paladin, the gloves double the pool of healing points available to the wearer.

Dura's Deadly Poison
Wondrous item, rare

Dura, also known as the Siren of Stiletto Street, was once an assassin from the City of Greyhawk, before she was forced into exile for using her talents on a close friend of the lord mayor. Found in a small make up container, there is enough of this very fine powder for one use.
When you use an action to cast the dust from the container it fills a 15 foot cone. Each creature in that area takes 4d6 poison damage and must succeed on a DC 13 Constitution saving throw or be poisoned. At the start of each turn a poisoned creature takes 4d6 poison damage and at the end of the turn, repeats the saving throw. On a successful save, the poison damage they take in the subsequent turn decreases by 1d6. The poison ends when the damage decreases to 0.

Drawmij's Dagger
Weapon (dagger), rare (requires attunement)

The Archmage Drawmij has created many exotic items and this dagger is among his earliest signature weapons. You can use a bonus action to toss this magic dagger into the air and speak the command word. When you do so, the dagger begins to hover, flies up to 60 feet, and instantly attacks up to four creatures of your choice along that path. Each creature may only be struck once. The dagger uses your attack roll and ability score modifier to damage rolls.
After the hovering dagger attacks for the fourth time, it teleports back to its sheath. If you are more than 60 feet from the dagger it flies back to your original spot and falls to the ground. The dagger can't be used this way again until the next dawn.

Friday, January 25, 2019

5E: Greyhawk Wars Magic Items

Good day Greyhawkers! I am here to present some interestingly original Greyhawk magic items that I have converted to 5E rules (since this is the current edition I run). My old post from several years ago on Unique Magic Item Cards found in the Greyhawk Wars boxed set was never fully capitalized on by others so now is the time! These items cannot be found in any form outside the "boardgame" rules until now. Enjoy the first set of three. I'll try to work on the last three next post.

Bowl of Storms 
Wondrous item, rare

This item was originally created by the Sea Mages of Gradsul for use by the Keoland Navy. While this bowl is filled with water, you can use an action to speak the bowl's command word and cast the control weather spell. The bowl can't be used this way again until the next dawn. The bowl affords no protection to a user or his ship from the weather summoned.
The bowl is about 1 foot in diameter and half as deep. It weighs 3 pounds and holds about 3 gallons.

Rary's Bulls-Eye Bow
Weapon (long or shortbow), rare (requires attunement)

Rary first crafted this bow when he served as Archmage of Ket for use by the Beygraf's palace lookouts. When the first arrow is nocked on this bow, the next ranged attack roll you make against a target in that combat round has advantage on the roll. In addition, your target gains no benefit from cover, other than total cover, and you suffer no disadvantage due to long range. Subsequent attacks from this bow in the same round are made at the user's normal attack roll.

Bigby's Bottled Breath
Potion, rare

Bigby was always experimenting with force spells, this potion was an early attempt of his to bottle one of his named spells that had unintended results. After drinking this potion, you can use a bonus action to exhale spectral force at a target within 30 feet of you. The target must make a DC 14 Strength saving throw, taking 4d6 force damage on a failed save, or half as much on a successful one. If the saving throw is failed the target is also pushed 5 feet away. The effect ends after you exhale the force three times or when 1 hour has passed.
Alternatively the user can try to break an object within range that isn't being worn or carried. The user makes a Strength check at +5 bonus.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Amazing Greyhawk Art

Greetings Greyhawkers! Some of you may have already seen this beautiful piece of art on one of many Greyhawk Facebook groups already, but I'm spreading the love as best as I can! I get quite excited when creators do Greyhawk fan work. Most of the time it might be an article or map, but every so often someone much like myself will do illustration set in Greyhawk. That folks, brings me joy.

The work below is signed by fan nicknamed Lady Loth. It depicts two sergeants of the Nyrondese Royal army. The heraldry is spot on.

I don't know much more about this artist. If anyone knows her, or is in her gaming group, send a message. Thank you for your time and creativity!

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Greyhawk Justice

Well met Greyhawkers! It's interesting to me that since I dual-classed away from 20th level innkeeper to last year become a 1st level minion for the Guild of Lawyers and Scribes, that I know way more about our criminal code than back when I was a young gamer putting my friends through hell by invoking the criminal codes of the City of Greyhawk boxed set, one of my favorite sources of all time. I'm getting pretty good at knowing the charges and sentences for felonies, misdemeanors and the common petty crimes one may commit in the real world. 

In the City of Greyhawk boxed set's Folks, Fueds and Factions book, the criminal code is covers serious (felony) and minor (misdemeanor) offenses, tried by judges and magistrates from the Guild, and in rare high profile cases a trio of ruling Directors of the city. Then there is the petty offenses handled by the People's Constables.created in 575 CY as a way to shake down poor citizens for even more money by using the nearly 100 zany by-laws created by mad Zagig Yragerne centuries ago.

Here is some laws you won't find at your local court house or city watch station (with my own special touches):

Genocide (Felony) Sentence, Death. No exile, banishment, mutilation or prison may be imposed. Conspiracy or Attempted Genocide carries the same severity of sentence.
This is a very rare crime, dating from a time when racial killing of half-elves by a secret gang of half-orc assassins was rife.

Importation of Controlled Magic Items (Felony) (evil relics and artifacts or dangerous magic items like a Sphere of Annihilation) Sentence, permanent exile and banishment (either voluntary or forced), enormous fine may be imposed, 90-95% of defendant's wealth and assets, including forfeiture of citizenship rights in the Domain of Greyhawk.

Magical Interference With the Integrity of the Person (Felony) (this includes the use of spells such as magic jar, polymorph other, hold, charm and other magic which causes the affected person to lose volitional control of his mind and/or body.) Sentence, permanent exile and banishment (either voluntary or forced), mutilation may be imposed (in a fashion befitting the crime such as severing the tongue of a spellcaster.)

Possession of an Unlicensed Monster (Felony) (such as otyughs and black puddings kept as status symbols) Sentence, heavy fine, 60-80% of defendant's wealth and assets, prison may be imposed if minimum fine cannot be paid.

Blasphemy Against a Priest (Misdemeanor) Sentence, 14 days to 2 years hard labor, fine of 1-20% of wealth up to 1000 gp may be imposed.

In a city full of many diverse and rival religions this code is likely to keep the peace between temples and ensure profane cults remain in hiding.

Use of Magic in a Public Place Without Due Cause (Misdemeanor) Sentence, 14 days to 2 years hard labor, fine of 1-20% of wealth up to 1000 gp may be imposed.
In a city full of wizard guilds, divine temples and foreign adventurers this law is likely meant to keep magic use from interfering with mundane city life (such as casting stone shape on city walls, or entangle in a crowded market.

Fondling a Waterfowl on the Processional (Petty) Sentence, fine of 1 cp to 10 sp.
This law is interpreted as carrying, but Zagig preferred the word "fondling". 

Helping a Halfling Across the Road (Petty) Sentence, fine 1 cp to 10 sp.
This can be construed as occurring when-ever one merely accompanies such a halfling.

Conspiring to Belch in the Direction of a Scribe/Sage/Learned Gentleman in a Public Place (Petty) Sentence, fine 1 cp to 10 sp.
Not the act of belching, just conspiring. How does one conspire to belch?

I'll have to remember that one at work next time. That's all, I hope this inspires you to come up with your own criminal code offenses!