Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Children of Kord

Hail friends of Greyhawk! Today I'm musing about all the children of Kord god of strength. In fact, I'm entirely surprised there isn't any officially named in canon. At least to my knowledge. Why is this a shock? Well Len Lakofka set them up to be some heroic progeny way back in Dragon Magazine #87. Perhaps it's a tease, but even your next character could be the Child of Kord. How? Let's have a look at some 1st Edition lore...

Kord is worshipped more than any other Suel deity. Thriving churches dedicated to him can be found in the Barbarian States, northern Ulek, Almor, the Great Kingdom, Hepmonaland, and on Lendore Isle. Small isolated churches may be found among peasants over the entire route of the Suloise migration"

Kord is all over, especially within the Thillonrian Peninsula. So basically any character, especially barbarians, could have a chance to be a demigod child.

"Kord is quite the fool for a pretty face. He favors elven and human women, but has also consorted with other humanoids and even giants. The world is full of his sons and daughters, but few, if any, of them can claim demigod status (less than 1%). Any figures who can make that claim must have scores of 18 to 20 in two of these three ability areas: strength, constitution, and dexterity." 

So, Kord is not only loved Oerik-wide but, like many AD&D gods of Greyhawk, he flaunts the fact that true deities aren't supposed to directly enter the Prime Material Plane without the consensus of the pantheons. Clearly then, carousing with mortals in alternate forms is the classic mythology loophole.

"To determine whether an offspring of Kord is entitled to demigod status, roll 2d6+6 for each of the character’s ability scores. Two of the results must be 18 (rolls of 12, modified), and the numbers must be assigned so that the character has scores of 18 in two of the three physical abilities: strength, constitution, and dexterity."

Now the chances an elf having a modified 18 DEX is pretty good, but the other stats means Kord more than likely has children among giants or ogres before medium sized humanoid-kind. Even so, the rules of this edition allow you to try and build your character as a child of Kord upfront (unlike the scant 1% chance of being psionic after the fact). The 2d6+6 system guarantees a decent PC with minimum stats of 8, average of 13 yet there is no certainty you'll get two 18+ stats. The d4 roll is what separates the demigods from the pretenders though...

"If this criterion is met, roll d4 for each ability score of 18: a result of 1 or 2 means no adjustment, a result of 3 raises that ability score to 19, and a result of 4 raises it to 20.

Only those characters who pass all these tests and end up with two scores of 19 or higher among strength, constitution, and dexterity can dare to claim their birthright and openly profess Kord as their father. Kord will not deny such a claim; instead, on the child’s 17th birthday Kord will come forth to give the young warrior a great task based almost entirely on fighting ability. Those who pass this test will acquire limited special powers (see the lists below)."

How's that for a 17th birthday party? What's even better for the PC child of Kord is ALL starting ages in 1E (even humans) are already in that range, meaning a player who defies the odds could not only have two exceptional stats, but also some additional powers (assuming the PC can pass this test of combat) at only 1st level!

"Although passing this final test does qualify the character (in Kord’s eyes) to call himself or herself a demigod, the overriding power of Lendor keeps Kord’s offspring from dominating the Prime Material plane"

Well that's a relief.

"Each demigod character gains from 2-4 special powers; roll d8 once for each of the following lists."

List #1 :
1. Save vs. poison is 3
2. Save vs. death is 4
3. Save vs. all forms of fear is 3
4. Immune to quest and geas spells
5. Mask alignment at will
6. Immune to normal missiles
7. Immune to sleep, hold, and slow
8. Roll twice, ignoring 8s and duplicates

List #2:
1. Heal self once/week
2. Jump or levitate at will
3. Enlarge self at will, as 10th level M-U
4. Climb walls as 7th level thief
5. No non-proficiency penalties applied
6. Can cast silence on self at will
7. Blood rage: Will go berserk (+2 to strength) if damaged 50% or more in combat, fighting until slain or until everything within 60 feet is killed
8. Roll twice, ignoring 8s and duplicates

Now all these "powers" are quite tailored to the AD&D system, so for an enterprising DM to adopt the Children of Kord into their modern D&D games, it will require a bit of creative game design.

So, you've successfully made a child of Kord...Now for the last paragraph of info on these rare quasi-deities.

"Kord’s children may never be lawful, nor may they be paladins, illusionists, monks, or druids. Any of his children who do not enter his clergy and who reject the fighting profession (by not becoming a fighter or ranger) and any of his offspring who display cowardice will be disowned, which might mean (30% chance) that Kord himself will come to the Prime Material plane to slay the offending character."

No one said being a Child of Kord was going to be easy. For those who hung in there for this long article, here's a bonus Kord comic of mine from Oerth Journal #21.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Unmapped Cities of Greyhawk

Hail Greyhawkers! Not much going on this week so I'm thumbing through the old 83 Guide and thinking about all the cities and towns that have been mapped in official Greyhawk publications (and there's alot of them!). Now I can imagine during the heyday of Living Greyhawk many many more towns were laid out, but I can't credibly count those since its not accessible anymore, nor should I count fan-made material as much as I want to (I recall a fantastic Radigast City and Rel Astra map out there) but Google is your friend in that case.

Here are some major towns I believe have never been mapped but need to be, in hopes maybe I'm wrong or some enterprising cartographer online takes on the challenge. This list is by no means exhaustive, it's just a sample.

Dantredun (pop 666): Blackmoor's capital. Small but can be a nice base of operations for northern adventures.

Enstad (pop 6950): The main capital of Celene. An elven city! I know its an isolated nation, but why has no one designed this yet?

Ekbir (pop 29,400), Zeif (pop 40,300), Lopolla (pop 23,400): All Baklunish capitals. Exotic middle-eastern flavor architecture and lay out. Would be quite a challenge.

Krakenheim (pop 3300): A viking-like town home to the Frost Barbarians. With the fjords and such, this would be a picturesque place to draw.

Irongate (pop 44.000): I know it was wrote up in Dragon Magazine and there was once an Irongate Project online done by my friend Denis Tetreault, but he never did get far on the city map itself.

Gradsul: The main port of Keoland. A big city indeed. This one is high on my wishlist.

Eastfair (pop 29,100): Capital of the North Province. This place would be a nice addition as much of the Great Kingdom development has been southward.

Admundfort (pop 21,300): The largest city set on an island in Oerik. Would look quite nice.
Update: Stuart has correctly pointed out this town has a map is in Iuz the Evil. I was testing you guys....yeah that's the ticket...

Monmurg (pop 14,200): The main capital port of the Sea Princes. It sticks out on a peninsula and has much sea traffic As I've done many Sea Princes campaigns, including one where I mapped Hokar, this is a map I'd most likely do myself someday.

Nevond Nevnend (pop 23,800): Capital of the Duchy of Tenh. I know zilch about the place, but the name is so weird I'd love to see it on a map key.

Ulakand and Kester: Okay okay I know, no one has made maps of these towns in Ull. Give me a break I've only had about twenty years to do one. Someday!

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Greyhawk Channel Summer Schedule

Hey Greyhawk mavens! Today I'm once again promoting my good friends at The Greyhawk Channel. The family of streaming Greyhawk campaigns keeps getting larger! Check out this summer schedule put out by mastermind DMShane:

Shane himself runs three days a week with his original Return to Greyhawk plus his spin-offs Vile & Villainous and Mordenkainen's Path of the Planes Vets from RtG show will be running their own games now. Travis is heading Lords of Pain which will be a political intrigue set during the Greyhawk Wars, and as teased before Dani will be running The Dying Kingdom which is assuredly a jaunt through the ever dangerous Great Kingdom ruled by Ivid the Undying.

New to the fold are fellow GHC enthusiasts like Sean from the DMsGuild and PowerScore blog fame. He has started a run into the famous ruins of Castle Greyhawk. Not to be outdone, Grant is doing the long play by running the entire Queen of Spiders series, which means plenty of Underdark, Kuo Toa, Drow, and naturally Llolth herself.

Encounter Role Play has a couple other talents in on the summer block. Most intriguing to me is Lindy's show, Vecna Lives. I really want to see how this quite evil, classic module plays out in 5E rules. Last but not least, Greg has a game called Valley of Soot & Skull.which is tied to the current events of the Shield Lands.

There you have it. All this in one shared universe of campaigns on the Greyhawk Channel. DMShane is surely not done adding new games either!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Updated D&D Story Odds

Hail Greyhawk faithful! Today I'm finally chiming in on the recent Wizards news of their next D&D story line, the two part Forgotten RealmsDragon Heist and Dungeon of the Mad Mage. Followed closely by a teaser that in July two new (old) worlds would be announced for future publication. I'm not here to comment on them per se, except to keep tabs my long running list of choice story lines that Wizards has left to revisit. One comment I do need to make however: why call it Dungeon of the Mad Mage? It's Undermountain. We all know it's Undermountain. Are they also genericizing FR content now or is it a trademark thingee?

At any rate here is some of my previous story line round-ups. Below I'll recompile this list plus add stuff from prior to my odds-making and recent 5E adaptations all put into some sort of chronological order.

Closest comparison 1E inspiration: Dragonlance series? / 5E: Hoard of the Dragon Queen/Rise of Tiamat

1E inspiration: Temple of Elemental Evil / 5E: Princes of the Apocalypse (by way of board game)

Closest comparison 1E inspiration: Vault of the Drow/ Queen of Spiders? / 5E: Out of the Abyss

1E inspiration: I6: Ravenloft 5E: Curse of Strahd

1E inspiration: G1-2-3: Against the Giants 5E: Storm King's Thunder and Tales From the Yawning Portal

1E Adaptations: Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan, White Plume Mountain / 5E: Tales From the Yawning Portal

1E inspiration: Tomb of Horrors / 5E: Tomb of Annihilation and Tales From the Yawning Portal

2E inspiration: The Ruins of Undermountain 5E: Dragon Heist/Dungeon of the Mad Mage (COMING SOON)

What's left to use in 2019? Here's my new odds for future reference.

My hands down favorite right now. This epic boxed set has just the right components for a D&D mega event. It has extra-planar monsters, a backdrop of the war between Chaos and Law (implying use of the new MToF if you change this to the Blood War) and it has an iconic multi-part artifact quest which could easily span two books.

Staying strong on my list, this weird module is by fan favorite Bruce Cordell and involves the Far Realms which has sort of been brought closer (pun) since the publication of MToF. Firestorm Peak would make a good alternative to Barrier Peaks. For bizarre monsters you can't do much better than this one.

I'm moving this one up my list. D&D may soon need to tone it down and have a more "ordinary" villain to confront players. An evil organization like the Slave Lords can threaten a wide area and could easily be adapted to be something like the Zhentarim.

Even though Paizo recently covered witched in Reign of Winter AP, it is not outside the realm of possibility for Wizards to also take PCs on a planar hopping trip in her endlessly fun hut.

WGA4: Vecna Lives!Odds 12:1
This is one of the strongest Greyhawk modules still out there and it hasn't seen a sequel since 2E. Since they've recently used Acererak for ToA I don't see this coming soon, but Vecna does have ties to both Planescape and Ravenloft making him a strong candidate for a story line.

Dead Gods/ Odds 12:1
I think this Planescape adventure (or any other really) might be in prime position for a rehash given recent releases. Out of the Abyss has shown WotC isn't afraid to use big demon-lord type of villains.

This theme would be Lovecraftian horror, nominally set in a dungeon but could be branched out. Big-T and his cult is definitely an uber-threat to the world, so why not?

The crashed spaceship theme was teased years ago by Chris Perkins' when he tweeted a picture of a Froghemoth. This turned out to be for Volo's Guide to Monsters. Would Wizards really jump the shark and mix scifi and fantasy together this soon? I'm not as sure as I once was.

Five Shall Be One/Howl From the North/ Odds 20:1
I adapted this one to 5E for my home game, but gave it a pirate twist instead of barbarians. The chances Wizards takes up this specific 5 part magic sword quest seems slim, but they should do the theme because it would be epic and everyone loves swords.

Jungle based adventure was off 5E's radar until the Tomb of Annihilation but I still give these type of stories some value. There is certainly plenty of tropical monsters in 5E already developed to cover this kind of story.

And lastly, for fun....

The Doomgrinder/ Odds 1000:1
Don't even ask. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Coming Soon to Greyhawk Channel

Howdy Greyheads! Today I'm promoting a teaser for the new upcoming campaign on The Greyhawk Channel to be ran by Dani Neary (@ImperialScum) called "The Dying Kingdom". Just the name is intriguing to me. It's also good to see DMShane branching out his Twitch channel to have other DMs running games. He is a tireless hero of the community.

Here is the teaser for Dani's game starting on Tuesday, June 12th. Enjoy!

"CY 582. Shit is about to hit the fan in The Great Kingdom"

Friday, May 25, 2018

Greyhawkery Updates

Hey Greyhawkers! Lazy Mortellan strikes again. I am here to bring up some quick Greyhawkery news.

First off, I have added new content to my primer list on the front page of the blog. Adventures in Greyhawk is a round-up of all published modules (not Living-Greyhawk or Dungeon) set in the World of Greyhawk, which I further classify into five categories of usefulness in my own opinion.

Second is Regions of Greyhawk. This section of the primers is not entirely finished (cause reasons) but I am slowly chipping away at it. These are summaries of each nation in the Flanaess, much as they are presented in the original set, but grouped into special geopolitical sub-sections and updated with new canon info as needed. Note, these are all baseline 576 CY entries, so no spoilers for your players to see.

Lastly, go and join the CanonFire! A Greyhawk Resource group on Facebook. Bryan "Saracenus" is running replays of my silly old Greyhawk Webcomic twice a week. Every day he is featuring content both old and new related to Greyhawk and the fansite Canonfire. Enjoy it all over again!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Poll Result: Which Wizard Would You Follow

Hey Greyhawkers! Coinciding with the internet buzz about Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes, I'm gonna muse over my latest (and possibly last due to Blogger) poll, Which Wizard Would You Follow? Greyhawk is a land of many mages, none as famous as the Circle of Eight. I gave a major section of the group to see who people like if they were say an apprentice or henchmen of these notable wizards. Read on and enjoy.

Top of the list with 34% of the vote is Tenser. It was a close race but the lawful good archmage won the most followers. Tenser is one of the most potent wizards in history having plumbed the dungeons of Castle Greyhawk, owning a magical castle on the Lake of Unknown Depths and created a vast spell repertoire to his name (who hasn't heard of his Floating Disk?).

Why Follow Tenser? For all his fame and glitz, he is the most honorable wizard in the Circle to serve. On the coast of the Nyr Dyv near his castle is a hamlet named Magepoint. This small village is entirely populated by Tenser's forces, all experienced veterans led by an elven fighter-mage named Cymria of Celadon. Tenser as mentioned is the moral center of the Circle for good, where most of the mages would try to follow "the Balance" he is one to hire heroes to do Good quests, or act out in defense of the Flanaess personally. His name-spells suggest this as many are martial themed such as Tenser's Transformation (gives fighter skill), Tenser's Flaming Blade or Tenser's Giant Strength. You can find many of his name-spells in either the Player HandbookGreyhawk Adventures or Return of the Eight.

Next on the poll, not surprisingly is Mordenkainen with 27%. Mordenkainen is the defacto leader of the Circle of Eight. He is not necessarily the most powerful archmage in the group, nor its most likable. Mordy is however the most cunning and has his irons in many fires on Oerth and across the planes. Much like Tenser (both are from the Wild Coast as well), Mordy comes from humble adventurer roots having explored Greyhawk Ruins and Maure Castle - he likewise has a castle and an array of spells created in his name such as Mord's Faithful Hound and Mord's Disjunction.

Why Follow Mordenkainen? If you seek fame and fortune Mordenkainen is the wizard to follow. His Obsidian Citadel is deep in the Yatil Mountains a place where only the best of the best can get access and is defended by giants, a silver dragon and griffon riding fighters. His library of magic and knowledge of the outer planes, especially the Blood War between the lower hells and abyss is phenomenal. He travels to other prime worlds like Faerun to hobnob and trade spells with other archmagi like Elminster. For a neutral wizard, Mordy is very active and will keep his apprentices and henchmen busy on quests to gather information or items he needs. Beware though, Mordy is growing increasingly unhinged (he cut his hair off!) and might send you to your certain death (see Vecna Lives!)

Next up with 13% of the vote is Mordenkainen's long time adventuring buddy, Bigby. Bigby is the wizard best known for his hand themed spells like Bigby's Interposing Hand, Bigby's Crushing Hand and many more! Bigby once was from the Great Kingdom but has since moved into a modest house in Onnwal (see Treasures of Greyhawk).

Why Follow Bigby? For starters he is the real neutral voice in the Circle. Tenser chases evil, Mordy often plays his own side, but Bigby is the cautious voice in the party who tries to slow down their plots. Once an active adventurer like the others, Bigby now fronts as a merchant in Scant the capital of Onnwal and would make an unassuming mage to serve. He has all the powers and magical access of his colleagues, but doesn't show it off to the point of being defensive (his name-spells show it). Bigby as a master is a good choice for those who don't want to get caught up in every epic quest - yet could if the need arises.

Following Bigby with 10% of the vote is the only female member of the circle, Jallarzi Sallavarian. The youngest of the eight wizards, she was sponsored and pushed through to membership by Tenser in an attempt to give the group of neutral, old males some more Good direction. She is noted for her distracting beauty and her pseudo-dragon familiar, Edwina.

Why Follow Jallarzi? Why not!? She has a fabulous home in the City of Greyhawk, she is allies with other women in power like Constable Derider Fanshen and High Matriarch of Pelor Sarana and she trains lesser mages of good alignment. Jallarzi may still be new to the Circle but she has the trust of Tenser in the least. Adventurers whose patron is Pelor and show their loyalty to the defense of Greyhawk's domain would be her best followers. Don't get ideas of romance with Ms. Sallavarian though, she is rumored to be very friendly with Kieran Jalucian of the Guild of Wizards.

Let's finish up. Coming in last are two wizards who really are bad ass in their own right: Drawmij with 4% and Rary with 3%. Rary is the evil Ketite mage whose power is on par with Mordenkainen and eventually turned on the Circle and ran off to the Bright Desert with Sir Robilar. Drawmij is the aloof mage who lives under the Azure Sea and has a hatred of the Mage of the Vale. There is much to be read about these two and their spells in the books Rary the Traitor, City of Greyhawk boxed set and Greyhawk Adventures.

Why Follow Rary or Drawmij? The low vote for Rary is surely because of his switch from neutral to evil. Who would want to follow a notorious mage who offended not only the Circle of Eight and the entire city of Greyhawk, but his own brother, the sage Arkalan Sammal? Rary rules a remote, hostile desert with plenty of his own magical comforts and a defensible tower, yet most of his henchmen patrol and live abroad. Followers of Rary would surely be sent out to search ruins for lost magic in order to build up him and the realm. It's a thankless job, but you'd have fewer moral constraints to your quest.

Drawmij on the other hand is a neutral mage whose concerns are the seas. He is silent and secretive also making him a poor choice for a mage to follow (unless you are amphibious perhaps). Drawmij has magics few other wizards have ever seen however. He has boats capable of exploring the deepest oceans, time and dimensional magic items and an exotic undersea palace that once belonged to the Grand Druid. A follower of Drawmij might be on land instead, among the courts of Keoland and Celene perhaps as he does keep contacts in these nations, as well as keeping tabs on his enemy the Black One of the Vale.

Of course fellow mages Otto, Nystul, Otiluke and others from post-wars didn't make the poll. I imagine if they were included they'd finish even lower than Rary or Drawmij. Whatever the case, becoming a henchmen or apprentice for an uber-mage is an accepted trope for fantasy like Greyhawk. Maybe next time instead of your DM suggesting an NPC benefactor you can now suggest seeking one out on your own!