Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Greyhawk Mini Map: Adri Forest

Greetings Greyhawkers! It's Low Summer, everyone I know but me has vacation plans, and this week there is no Legends & Lore stream. So for this post I decided to break up the monotony of my Ull and Sea Princes NPCs and do a quick mini map (pen and colored pencil). While this map of Adri Forest may look big, it's really only the size of a postcard. I don't know why I chose to draw this map, maybe it's because I've been staring at the color green the last few days while I paint my house! 

At any rate, the Adri is a huge, dense forest with a lot of history and geography going on. This map is a hex-to-hex copy of the Darlene map with elements from Ivid the Undying thrown in, like the Coldwood which I first became enamored with in Dragon #208 when they did an excerpt of Carl Sargent's work. I also know places like Knurl and Innspa are well discussed these days in the Greyhawk community. Those are two local towns that I know relatively little about. If you like my "cartoony" style of maps suggest another region I can zoom in on and try next time I'm bored. Enjoy!



Monday, June 13, 2022

Ull: Land of a Thousand Villains - Khafir the Slicer

Well met Greyhawk faithful! This week's entry to Ull: Land of a Thousand Villains is a baddie drawn from the original Fiend Folio. Despite the book's reputation for some of most vile creatures in all D&D fandom, let's see if this particular antagonist ends up being sympathetic to you and your players. This is Ull after all...  

Life in Kester is harsh, and tragedies are all too common to the point locals can become inured by its daily presence. This makes the back alleys of the city a haven for all manner of dangerous creatures”.

Khafir the Slicer (skulk, male)

   A few years ago, news of a back-alley serial killer known as Khafir the Slicer first spread among the rumor-mill of Kester. The Slicer, nicknamed by fearful beggars who discovered his eviscerated victims, has allegedly never been seen, nor has his home been found. Despite this, locals know the Slicer as Khafir, because the name is often marked in a grisly fashion on his victims or on nearby walls. Another calling-card of the Slicer is broken mirrors, leading some to wonder if Khafir is a vampire, though no blood is ever drained from the deceased. The truth is even more strange, in truth Khafir lives among the commoners of Kester yet beneath their notice. The only person who has claimed to see the Slicer is a nine-year old street urchin that considers Khafir an imaginary friend and protector, much to the scorn of other street gang youths.

   DM’s Campaign Notes: Khafir the Slicer is a lone Skulk. (see Fiend Folio, AD&D, or Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes, 5E) The Slicer has been living in Kester for a long time now, thus he has advanced knowledge of the city’s roads, alleys, and shortcuts. Due to his natural “invisible” camouflage, the Slicer can move about day or night unseen by all but those with mirrors, or at times by certain small children. Lonely and generally paranoid, Khafir used to kill indiscriminately in order to survive, but he has now become skilled enough to inhabit the town without bringing too much attention. Khafir leaves his name scrawled at murder-sites not only to scare away troublemakers who get to close to finding his hideout, but also in hopes that another skulk recognizes this and makes contact.

   Khafir’s hideout changes as needed, and he has got exceptionally good at concealing his presence. His current home is in the shop of an apothecary, that according to signs hung on the entrance is either “closed” or “will return shortly”. All doors to the shop are locked, and the windows are dark and curtained. Persistent customers are directed by another sign to leave written orders with some payment through a slot in the door. So far, these rare orders have always been fulfilled, though no customer has ever seen who delivered the goods. In reality the skulk made the apothecary vanish and is now doing his best to keep up appearances as long as possible. The Slicer has no use for money, being able to take what it wants with ease. He has taken to watching over local street children, stealing them food and money and leaving it discreetly to be found. So far only one child has actually glimpsed Khafir. Surprisingly this development has now led the skulk to become protective of the kids, indeed more than a few adult thugs have met their end after harming these street youths.

   Khafir the Slicer makes an excellent villain for an urban-based murder mystery plot, as PCs follow the trail of bodies and clues to their inevitable source. The Slicer also makes a good foil for roguish characters who sneak about Kester at night or become too rich and arrogant. Given circumstances of the campaign, this villain could even become a valuable ally for certain character classes that are not so quick to judge.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Greyhawk Monsters: Thessalworg

Welcome back Greyhawkers! I tried my hand at 5E monster design recently with the Briar Golem. My next attempt, the Thessalworg is based on my love of the creepy weird Thessalhydra which first appeared in MM2. Thessalhydras are a magical combination of a hydra and some stock "thessal-monster" with a huge maw a pincer tail and acidic drool. Other monsters have gone on to reproduce with the progenitor Thessalhydra leading to weirder things like the Thessalmera and Thessalisk. We later find out in Age of Worms AP that a lich named Thessalar originally from Faerun but currently living in Rift Canyon is responsible for their genesis. So yes, DMs feel free to add the Thessalworg to your monster toolbox. If your players complain, blame it on the Forgotten Realms. Enjoy!

THESSALWORG (5E)
This horror is an unforeseen branch in the family of magical hydra hybrids called thessalmonsters. It partly resembles the thessalhydra, except that instead of the giant maw in the center of the ring of snake heads, it has a large wolfish head. Unlike sentient speaking worgs, the thessalworg is a slavering beast, that in particular attacks normal worgs and other canines on sight. Thessalworgs can be found in most any climate or terrain, either singly or in packs.

THESSALWORG (5E)
Large monstrosity, unaligned

Armor Class 13 (natural armor)
Hit Points 45 (6d10 + 12)
Speed 40 ft.

STR 16 (+3)
DEX 13 (+1)
CON 15 (+2)
INT 5 (-3)
WIS 9 (-1)
CHA 7 (-2)

Skill Perception +3
Damage Immunities
acid
Condition Immunities blinded, charmed, deafened, frightened, stunned
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 13
Language -
Challenge 2 (450 XP)

Keen Hearing and Smell. The thessalworg has advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on hearing or smell.

ACTIONS

Multiattack. The thessalworg makes two attacks: one Bite attack, and either one Flurry of Bites attack or one Tail Pincer attack. Alternatively, it may use its Acid Saliva.

Flurry of Bites. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d6 + 3) piercing damage plus 5 (2d4) poison damage.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (2d6 + 3) piercing damage. If the target is a creature, it must succeed on a DC 13 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone.

Tail Pincer. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d8 + 3) slashing damage, and the target is grappled. As an action, the target can escape the grapple by succeeding on a DC 13 Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check (its choice). Until this grapple ends, the thessalworg can’t use its tail pincer.

Acid Saliva (Recharge 5-6). The thessalworg spits a glob of acid at a point it can see within 30 feet of it. Each creature within 10 feet of that point must make a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw, taking 14 (4d6) acid damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Ull: Land of a Thousand Villains - Didajin

Hail Greyhawkers! This week's humble offering from Ull: Land of a Thousand Villains is one I think DMs and players alike may grow to like. Not all bad guys have to be evil. Some can be sympathetic and useful. Enjoy Didajin.

“The inhabitants of Ull have an uncanny will to live. In fact, many individuals are quite clever at overcoming their obvious disadvantages.

Didajin (half-elf, male, wizard 2/ rogue 2)

   Didajin is a former hedge mage who worked for one of Ull’s decadent Pit Masters. Ten years ago, he lost his sight when he was splashed in the face by a bottle of acid meant for his employer. Since he could no longer do his work blind, the ungrateful Pit Master released him from service and effectively made him a homeless beggar. It is said after Didajin was blinded, he developed other heightened senses to help survive on the streets. Today Didajin still frequents the fighting pits, and markets where he can move through crowds and take in the smells and sounds of Kester. He is known about town as an excellent informant, and is always seen with his pet camprat, a notoriously stealthy creature that picks pockets and steals from market vendors.

   Didajin is the lowest of low in Kester society but is unusually left alone by street gangs and enforcers. This is because of a long-held superstition in Ull about the god Ralishaz cursing those who harm a blind man with blindness themselves. Didajin uses this superstition to his advantage, often as a distraction for his camprat to steal something useful. The blind mage typically wears long, tattered robes and ragged headscarf that also conceals his acid-scarred eyes. His robes contain numerous concealed pockets to stash objects and weapons, including the wand focus he used as a hedge mage long ago.

   DM’s Campaign Notes: The blind mage quickly adapted to his new lot in life, in large part due to his familiar Kassik the camprat. Using the permanent arcane bond between them, Didajin can still see and hear through Kassik’s senses, even communicating telepathically, while they are within 100 feet of each other. It is this secret that has made the pair an effective pick pocket team in the crowded markets of Kester. Their shared senses also allow Didajin to practice magic. Though he still knows what spells he learned as a student and can study his spell book with the aid of Kassik, Didajin has never been able to advance in power. This ill-fate has left Didajin bitter and jealous when it comes to dealing with the wealthy and other wizards in general.

   Didajin is a good low-level foil for adventurers who openly display their wealth in the town of Kester. If the blind beggar is treated well after he is captured in some act of theft, he can be turned into a valuable source of information and access due to his harmless appearance. Camprats resemble prairie dogs and can be found in the 2nd Edition sourcebook, Greyhawk Adventures (AD&D). Alternatively, a DM can use the stats for a standard rat familiar from the Players Handbook.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Sea Princes Nobles 576 CY - Commodore Silas Oratero

Welcome back to another installment of the Sea Princes Nobles of 576 CY. According to the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer there is 30 noble domains, so yes, I will be doing 30 nobles in the long run. My previous posts were about the two top nobles, the Princes of Port Toli and Monmurg. Today I present Prince Jeon II's most trusted advisor and friend, Commodore Oratero. This character is taken directly from my own Sea Princes campaign, and I hope he will come in handy for your Greyhawk game as well. Enjoy!
His Mighty Nobility, Silas Oratero, Commodore of Jetsom Isle; Monitor of the Lion, Captain of the Rhola Prince. (House Rhola, Prince’s Fleet, Fighter 14)
As the greatest naval captain Jetsom Isle has ever known, Silas Oratero once took on a young and adventurous Prince Jeon II as his first mate aboard the Rhola Prince. Now older, he has been promoted to commodore of the Princes’ Fleet, and his grand caravel is well-known along the Keoish coast. The distinguished commodore and his family have been loyal to House Rhola for many generations. Indeed, he is presently married to Viola of Monmurg (fighter 2), a first cousin of the prince. Their home for many years is a humble villa built well inland from the bustling southern coast of Jetsom Isle. Commodore Oratero however is more often found at sea, or across the strait in Monmurg conferring with his fellow commodores on matters concerning the Hold of the Sea Princes.
Politics and Intrigues: Due to the commodore’s unimpeachable service to the Hold, and his long history with Prince Jeon it is generally accepted in the House of Peers that Silas Oratero can speak on authority for the Prince of Monmurg. He wisely does not exercise this authority very
often and is seen as trustworthy even by the captains of the rival Keoland Navy. Silas is on good terms with the commodores of Flotsam and Fairwind Isles (both in the Toli Armada), this has kept inter-fleet fighting at a minimum for a long time. Lately he has grown concerned however, that the Toli Armada has allowed too many of their ships to mutiny and join the hated Crimson Fleet. As commodore of the Princes’ Fleet, he will always command a medium to large-sized fleet in times of war.
Commodore Oratero makes a good contact for mid-level adventurers who need a base of operations in the Hold of the Sea Princes to launch their own nautical voyages or take on swashbuckling missions on behalf of the prince. Players who pledge their own sailing vessel to the Princes’ Fleet will certainly earn the respect of this ranking noble.
House of Peers in the Sea Princes
The Hold of the Sea Princes comprises thirty domains, divided amongst a dozen noble houses. A few of these houses can trace their lineage back hundreds of years to the first Suel migrations, while most are merely fabricated hereditary titles of pirate captains who settled down a century ago. While the Hold is currently ruled by the Prince of Monmurg, the Prince of Port Toli has led the House of Peers for much of the Holds’ history. In political situations, the twelve houses are evenly divided between naval factions called the Princes’ Fleet and the Toli Armada. Those Sea Princes captains who choose to avoid house politics, nominally defer to a fleet named the Hold Flotilla in times of war.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Ull: Land of a Thousand Villains - Ghular the Vanisher

Heya Greyhawkers! Time for another villainous addition to the Ull rogue's gallery. Unlike the previous two installments which appeared in Oerth Journal, this one is a wholly new creation for the blog. Be the first to use this wicked antagonist in your campaign, let me know how it goes, and if Ghular the Vanisher is not for you, just wait. There will be more! Enjoy.

Outsiders think that the people of Ull do not value life. On the contrary, some know the exact value of a life”.

Ghular the Vanisher (human, female, wizard 5)

   Ghular is a ghost in Ull society. His name is well-known in certain circles, but Ghular enjoys a level of anonymity that most people in Ull never attain. It is assumed by locals that Ghular lives in the town of Kester where most of his ransoms take place. He is usually self-serving, but has been known to work for warlords, slavers, cults, and allegedly a few Pit Masters of Kester. Ghular is called the Vanisher because his victims are said to disappear without notice; abducted from their own homes, taken away in the middle of a crowded market, or silently seized while traveling overland. No one knows where Ghular lives, it is speculated he has many hide-outs throughout Ull.

  
DM’s Campaign Notes: Ghular is actually a woman. Ghular (only she knows her actual name) was once a trained mage of the Mouqollad Consortium, an unassuming, small-time appraiser who worked for a disreputable Tusman merchant. She alone knew how the merchant cheated and held out pay from his hirelings. Returning from Kanak one day, Ghular was caught using her magic to steal from the caravans’ pay-chest. Admonished for this act, the caravan left her tied up in the middle of the Dry Steppes. Ghular escaped from her bonds, and safely schemed her way to Kester by capturing and releasing the son of a nomad chief. Thrilled by the adventure Fate thrust upon her, Ghular started a new career as a ransomer.

   Ghular strives to remain anonymous, working in disguise through middle-men, paid muscle and messengers. Ransom schemes frequently involve misdirection, money drop sites, and anonymous bag men. Despite these elaborate measures, Ghular is always within eyesight of an exchange to make sure her schemes go as planned. Those who double-cross the Vanisher often vanish next. The Vanisher makes a good villain for both urban and wilderness campaigns. Player characters can be sent to foil a ransom plot, or perhaps be hired as middle-men for one instead. Ghular is a low-level mage but has specialized her spell-list towards stealth and capturing single targets alive. Suggested spells and magic item effects for her include Sending, Clairvoyance, Fly, Gaseous Form, Phantom Steed, Levitate, Hold Person, Alter Self, Rope Trick, Nondetection, Ray of Enfeeblement, Invisibility, and of course Sleep.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Ull: Land of a Thousand Villains - Sheik Chagan Vachir

Welcome again Greyhawkers to another installment of Ull: Land of a Thousand Villains! If you haven't read the previous baddy, Nura bint Ramil, please check out that post first to see what this column is all about. Today's villain is another revisited NPC from my Greyhawk writing past. Sheik Chagan Vachir first appeared in my Oerth Journal #19 article on Ull. In this post I am expanding on this information with more background material and suggestions on how to use this NPC for your own campaign. Rest assured, later entries in this column will be entirely new creations so stay tuned. Until then, enjoy!

Sheik Chagan Vachir, Pit Master of Kester (human, male, rogue 10)

   Sweaty, disease-marked, and profoundly decadent, Sheik Chagan Vachir is the foremost Pit Master of Kester, a rugged frontier town where blood-sports are the main source of entertainment. The Pit Masters are collectively about a dozen independently wealthy Kesterians whose power and influence are in part due to the popularity of the fighting pits, where their hedonistic rivalries are celebrated by the masses. Sheik Vachir in particular is known to excel at scouting and rearing the best non-human gladiators in Ull. Among his most storied fighters are the late ogre champion Bruzhog the Maul, the aging Abular paragon of minotaurs and the infamous half-orc Bruzharag the Misbegotten. In recent years, the sheik’s main rival among the Pit Masters is the upstart female, Nura bint Ramil who alone in all of Kester rejects his salacious advances.

   DM’s Campaign Notes: The sheik’s distinctive amber-hued pavilion tents can be found in every market selling a variety of wares, but the largest of them sits permanently on Kester’s fighting pit grounds and is the site of many debauched parties before a gladiatorial event. Despite spending most of his time in public at this grand tent, Vachir and his trusted retinue reside safely inside a walled manor within view the pits. Indeed, his manor is regarded as one of the most heavily guarded locations in all of Ull. The sheik is not married and has no (living) family. He employs a variety of henchmen, many of whom proved themselves in the fighting pits as a test of skill and loyalty. A few of Vachir’s choice lieutenants are foreign-born fighters and rogues, including one wizard that is an accomplished alchemist.

   Chagan Vachir is a vile schemer with seemingly unlimited resources and contacts. It is whispered that he may even be a member of the enigmatic Yellow Cartel, a power group based in Ull whose illicit network is starting to spread to every major region of the Flanaess. The sheik is always protected by a number of personal magic items meant to keep him from harm. While he has many enemies and rivals, he is most afraid of his monstrous thralls, preferring to control and train them through the use of hired muscle and alchemical concoctions. To that end, the sheik is always looking to add a new mage to his retinue who knows the art of potions and charms.

   Sheik Chagan Vachir is the top of the pyramid for social interaction in Kester. It is commonly known the Pit Masters, including Chagan, only pay lip service to the rule of the Orakhan. Those wishing an audience with him, usually must work through the lesser Pit Masters to gain his attention. Bribery will not work on him, and he only bets with his peers, however the sheik can easily be swayed if a party has captured an interesting monster alive. Vachir is not proficient in arms, but he is fascinated by exotic weaponry, and may at times pay a visitor just for the privilege of admiring their weapon.