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!

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Which Greyhawk Modules To Run?

Okay Greyhawkers, quick random topic because it's a weekend and I haven't got a broader topic until me and Anna Meyer return to Legends & Lore in February. "Which modules have I never ran that I would love to someday?" Go ahead and shoot down these five choices, but everyone's tastes are different of course! I can tell you for certain I've never run these adventures, which is strange because some I've ran more than once, like Greyhawk Ruins or White Plume Mountain. At any rate, here we go in no particular order:

1. Expedition to the Barrier Peaks. With the recent 5E release of the Lost Laboratory of Kwalish, I'm kind of considering this one now.

2. The Sentinel/The Gauntlet. One of my friends I believe had this two part adventure, I acquired them later on, but they always seemed intriguing to me.

3. Falcon's Revenge (and others). Okay I admit I own 2 or 3 of these modules, but have never read through them. Still, it's set in Greyhawk City, it has to be half way good, right? Also, why is Falcon getting revenge in part 1?

4. The Secret of Bone Hill. It's a classic. It's low level. It's by Len Lakofka. Why haven't I ran this?

5. Queen of the Demonweb Pits. I'm pretty sure I've never ran this, I've never been big into drow overall. I do like Lolth though. I ran Baba Yaga's Dancing Hut a million times but not anything drow-themed. What the hell?

That's all for now Greyfriends! What modules do you desire to run?

Sunday, December 30, 2018

New Gazetteer at Greyhawk Grognard

Greetings Greyhawk enthusiasts! It's almost the end of another Common Year, and my esteemed colleague, Joe Bloch over at Greyhawk Grognard has come through with his best Baklunish article yet! Lately he has been updating the western Baklunish lands and pantheons in the spirit of Gary Gygax's 80's era Dragon magazine columns. Now the pages of "Dragonne" magazine takes us Beyond the Flanaess to catalogue the lesser known nations of the Baklunish West that until now have only been referenced in brief over the decades.

This article is set in the fashion of the World of Greyhawk Guide, posed as the lost Volume IV (which the boxed set is volume III). This work thus wonderfully encapsulates all the sections and formatting you would expect in this scholarly type of guide. Here, the sage presents the following realms:

Ataphad Islands
Bakhoury Coast
Janasib Islands
Malikate of Komal
Sharifate of Risay
Qayah-Bureis Islands

In addition there is information on geographical areas such as the Gulf of Ghayar: Tyurzi Mountains, Rumikadath River and the Verdured Heights.

Mr. Bloch further enhances this guide by adding random encounter tables for these regions just as they are featured in the original Flanaess Glossography. Also, what good World of Greyhawk guide wouldn't be complete without a Darlene inspired map of this entire Beyond the Flanaess region? Joe had mapped the entire world of Oerth in this style years ago. I imagine he will keep working outward now cataloguing the regions just like in this well-written article.

Download this now. It's a MUST HAVE.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Greyhawk Online Returns!

It's a Needfest miracle, Greyhawk fans! Thanks to my friends, particularly W.K. Nolen, the fan hosting site Greyhawk Online has been given a shot of life and a modern front page upgrade. Greyhawk Online was created as a sister site to Canonfire! to host pages for creative Greyhawk fans, such as Grodog's Greyhawk and my own World of Greyhawk comic strip that ran on GHO from 2005 to 2009 until I migrated over to Maldin's Greyhawk until 2011. Speaking of which, coincidentally the full run of 325 Greyhawk comics is now available on Maldin's Greyhawk and will eventually be updated on Greyhawk Online when time permits.

Old fans and new alike can revisit these familiar websites like mine, and perhaps even have their own creative content hosted (join the Greyhawk Wiki) or linked here to share with the rest of the Greyhawk community (see recent additions like the Greyhawk Channel and various blogs). So for Gygax's sake, check out GREYHAWK ONLINE now, you won't be disappointed.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Needfest Thank You Cards

It's almost the end of the year, which means it's time for me to look over my Needfest bounty of Greyhawk gifts and offer some thanks...

First, I am happy to say thank you to my Legends & Lore co-host Anna Meyer for a successful season on the Greyhawk Channel. We really killed it, averaging 20-30 repeat viewers per show. I made some new friends already through this show and even had great guest-hosts like Joe Bloch from Greyhawk Grognard. Wonderful!

Second, I'd like to thank my friend Scott H for giving me a copy of Hawk & Moor (trilogy 1) by Kent David Kelly. I never heard of this series, but its an amazing study into the life and history of Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. Dry biographical reading material for a young audience, but for an old grognard like me, the Greyhawk references and origins are eye-popping. I can't wait to see more.

Third, gotta give a Needfest thank you card to DMShane for producing the Greyhawk Channel. The number of shows he now hosts keeps outpacing my blog, but my appreciation goes well beyond that to the community that's rallied around it I the form of a vibrant Discord group for subscribers (see the bottom of the page in the Twitch link above). He is even taking it to IRL as well, with a planned GenCon 2019 meet-up unlike any before. I wish I knew for certain if I were going.

Gotta give a fourth thank you card to the old-schoolers who are really building the community back up in other media. Bryan Blumklotz is a driving force with the Canonfire! Facebook group and I'm happy to see not only my old comic strip re-released, but also Bryan's heraldry back in the limelight. Then there is Greyhawk Online being resurrected by W.K. Nolen. Keep checking back for updates for Greyhawk content on this website!

A fifth Needfest card goes to Lord Gosumba for bringing his quite ancient 1E/2E Knights of Ulek campaign to the present day on Twitch. I'm sure he will be a big name in the community for years to come.

I'd like to thank Wizards with a sixth Needfest card for putting out Art & Arcana by Michael Witwer, Sam Witwer, Kyle, Newman and Jon Peterson (and Joe Manganiello). I've never been hyped about a coffee table book like this before. It pushes all my nostalgia buttons at the same time. I actually want the deluxe copy, that's how much I like this book. I highly recommend this work of art history.

Finally I'd like to give my last Needfest card to Scott Casper, for the Castle Greyhawk comic. For those who still haven't seen our effort, Scott wrote a fully-realized, well-grounded story set in the early Gygaxian Greyhawk setting. There is nothing else like this in Greyhawk fandom. It was a joy illustrating the adventures of Tenser, Yrag and Robilar. Now coming to an end in 2019, the final chapter will come with some bonus material for our loyal readers.

I hope everyone has a warm and fun Needfest this winter. Hopefully soon I'll be able to show off my holiday themed one-shot for my friends next week....stay tuned ;)

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Cold Things in Greyhawk

Cold Iron Avail You, Greyhawk fans! It's fast approaching that time of year, yes that's right, Needfest. Today I'm going to do an easy, fun post to coincide with my show with Anna Meyer on the Greyhawk Channel, Legends & Lore. If you haven't seen the show, we sit around and riff on all things Greyhawk from maps to modules. Today's theme since it's winter is "cold places" in the Flanaess. You'd be surprised how many there is and these are just the ones I remember off the top of my head. Let's run down the list, enjoy!

Cold Marshes: This vast swamp, even more vast than the one called the Vast Swamp, just happens to be in the cold north, separating the boggy land of Blackmoor from well, everything else. This place is naturally known for the dangerous mists within and if stories are true, lost treasures. What's fun about the Cold Marshes is the denizens here: ice toads, ice trolls, hyena-men, bear-men, and the best, Frost-Men. These humanoids resemble regular humans, except they have icy skin and their left eye shoots a cone of frost. Now that's what I call an icy glare!

Icy Sea: This vast sea to the north of the Flanaess is normally frozen except during the late summer months. It has everything a seafaring barbarian could want; seals eating fish, walruses eating seals, whales eating walruses and a leviathan lord eating the whales! Watch those titanic floating islands of ice, they are hard to spot in the fog. Side thought, does the Land of Black Ice produce black icebergs?

Land of Black Ice: Speaking of which, there is no region more hostile to visit than this place. Okay, maybe the Sea of Dust. Alright, maybe the Sea of Dust and Rift Canyon. Okay alright, Sea of Dust, Rift Canyon or the Vast Swamp. At any rate, the Land of Black Ice is a glacial expanse of unknown origin and explanation. Dangerous arctic monsters lurk here including the ubiquitous blue bugbear. This is a land of natural hazards and also a land of mysteries. There is a warm hidden valley, a City of the Gods and even ancient ice-buried automatons (see Raiders of the Black Ice in Dungeon #115). DMs, there is plenty of room to create stuff here if you can talk your players into braving the black ice.

Cold Run: This chilly tributary is found in the northern Flanaess (of course) starting somewhere south of the Wastes and cutting through the ominous Fellreev forest where it eventually meets up with the much bigger and more traveled Artonsamay River. What is there to say about this waterway? No really, I'm asking, because I've never used the Cold Run in my games. Never mind, found it. According to the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, the Cold Run has eels and pike. I'm willing to bet where dangerous fish are found, there is also giant eels and giant pike. And where there is giant fish I'd wager there is giant fishermen too! That's the best I got.

Wintershiven: The capital of the Theocracy of the Pale. This city of 39,000 isn't particularly a nice place to live. It is said winters in the Pale are harsh and unforgiving like its people. Locals say there is two "seasons" here, the unbearable winter and the barely bearable "summer". Interestingly this city was burnt to the ground once and rebuilt again before the Pale eventually earned independence to be religiously oppressive. What else is there to say about Wintershiven? Well it's run by the bureaucratic church of Pholtus. Because of this, there is really no reason to travel to Wintershiven, unless you are a zealot as well. DMs you will have to crafty to talk heroes into coming here, preferably in the summer.

Coldwood: Not far from Wintershiven to the south, is an area within the Adri Forest called Coldwood. This place used to be the ancient elven City of Summer Stars before its prince, Darnakurian went mad and slaughtered everything with a magic sword called Hunger. Now a cursed chill hangs over the remains of this forest ruin and stoic elven guardians remain in place to prevent anyone from entering or leaving. If that isn't tempting to your players I don't know what is! DMs you can read more about the Coldwood and Hunger in the unpublished Ivid the Undying, free to download on the interwebs. Enjoy!

Hanging Glacier of Alisedran: Probably the strangest of the cold places on the list, the Hanging Glacier can be found in From the Ashes. It tells a tale of an explorer named Alisedran who was deep in barbarian territory for some reason within the Corusk Mountains (ahem, hex J-16 to be exact). What the mad man described was a glacier that drops off a cliff and shatters into a sheet of ice shards, falling down in slow motion like a massive "feather fall" spell was cast on it. The ice shards has many strange properties according to the story, evidently ranging from alchemy to summoning and breathing underwater. Whatever the case, this glacial area is definitely not a smart place for adventurers to locate, unless their goal is fighting ice monsters then it's an XP gold mine.

Snow, Ice, Frost Barbarians: The Thillonrian peninsula is home to three ancient Suel tribes that migrated here a millennia ago. Known in the common tongue as snow, frost and ice, they are respectively called Schnai, Fruzti and Cruski in the barbarian dialect called the Cold Tongue. I won't go into much more detail, they are a viking-esque culture who can be encountered in most of the "cold" locations covered in this post.

Icespire: Here's a creepy cold location that I recently covered. Icespire is in the South Province (Ahlissa) and is one of those places that you think of in movies or cartoons when an icy curse befalls the land. Read it for yourself, but trust me, this isn't the safest place to go on the "cold theme" list, including the Land of Black Ice. Here we go again...

Icehand Plain: Last but not least. First featured in the excellent book, Iuz the Evil, this place is usually just an empty camp off the Road of Skulls 364 days of the year. It's true importance is that on the last day of Sunsebb each year, Iuz holds a massive pep rally for all his chiefs, warlords and high priests. During this rally, Iuz manifests a giant floating hand of black ice that points to each leader as he judges their loyalty. If they displease the Old One, then they are blasted into dust! In my opinion, this is all a ruse to scare his evil henchmen. Maybe one hapless creature gets killed to make an example, but I bet it's all predetermined. He is the god of deceit after all. At any rate, real of not, the Icehand Plain rally is a devilish place to have players stumble upon if the DM wants them to realllllly be intimidated, or if the players want to wipe out the entire core of the Empire of Iuz in one fell swoop. Whichever. Good luck heroes!