Monday, February 24, 2020

A Few Greyhawk Items

Heya Greyhawkers! March is fast approaching, so let's quickly run over a few Greyhawk items on the interwebs.

First, registration already started for higher badge categories, but standard registration for Gary Con XII starts any day now. This is because the company handling Gary Con's events has had server issues, so there registration page is down currently. Keep checking, it should be back any day now. If you are attending, be sure to check out some of the cool seminars the community is hosting this year!

If seminars isn't incentive enough to attend Gary Con, Greyhawk Online will be debuting copies of Oerth Journal #32 there. The theme is "Infinite Oerths". I cannot wait to see what our line up is this year.

Speaking of Greyhawk Online, on the front page is a new 5E adventure by guest author Nathan Doyle titled, Owner of a Broken Hart. Mr. Doyle's module is a sequel to Who Watches the Watchers from Oerth Journal #30. Go there now and download his new adventure for levels 6-9!

Lastly, be sure to keep up with the latest chapters of Thomas Kelly's epic story, The Hateful Wars: The Saga of Kristryd Olinsdotter. Check back weekly for more chapters and other contributed works. Greyhawk Stories is your number one location for Greyhawk themed fiction. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Greyhawk A-Z: Magic Swords

Greetings Greyhawkers! Coming off the heels of a very good Legends & Lore show with Joe Bloch from Greyhawk Grognard, I realized I'm behind on posting. This is mainly because I've been plugging away at a Sea Princes article for Oerth Journal. So let's do an easy one, one of my A-Z lists of named magic swords in Greyhawk! The setting has many, many named magic swords and surprisingly I can't find a sword to fit every letter of the alphabet. If I overlooked one, please correct me. In the meantime, I will fill the empty slots with honorable mentions. Let's get started:

Afterglow: The flaming sword of Lendor, god of Time. Not sure why he needs a sword if he can just stop time and stuff. Look at him though, a god of Time who can straight up strangle a chimera with his bare hands!

Blackrazor: The most dangerous, most iconic and THE most evil sword in all D&D. Plucked from White Plume Mountain, Blackrazor currently in use for my Greyhawk home campaign and may very well be the end of it too!

Crowdpleaser: This is the short sword of Nazarn hero-god of gladiators. It is not certain this is a magic sword, but given his ascension, it must be! Also, Nazarn, first seen in Living Greyhawk Journal #3. is the only half-orc deity that I can think of in any publication.

Dreamsinger: One of my favorites. This white-steel sword, tied to bards, is one of the five Blades of Corusk. It is also the one that sets off the adventure to gather them all in Five Shall Be One. In the original module I believe it's a broad sword, but in my own adaptation for 5E I decided to make it a rapier, given the popularity of that weapon in recent editions.

Edge: Speaking of Blades of Corusk, this is one of the five which when combined allegedly allows the owners to summon Vatun the Great-God of the North. *spoilers, it might not* Edge is an extremely sharp bastard sword that can fire daggers from its pommel. Whoever wrote Five Shall Be One must've been a fan of the movie Sword and the Sorceror

Fragarach: Known as "the Answerer", this sword from celtic legend, was dropped into Greyhawk lore by Gygax. It has ties to Prince Thrommel, Kelanen and has been copied several times. For more info, check out this comic I did way back on the subject.

Greenswathe: Another Blade of Corusk. I am partial to these swords, so you may see them all in this list. Greenswathe was very unique in that it is a scimitar, it is tied to druids and its a golden blade. It's rather out of place in a module that is about viking barbarians.

Harmonizer: Yes, that's right, another Blade of Corusk. Harmonizer is a confounding weapon though. It's a two-handed sword, but made for thieves/rogues. This is because it's very light. But before you jump for joy, Hamonizer likes to play fair, matching opponents skill. Very un-rogue-like. It's also a Defender blade, so yeah, it's probably my least favorite of the three, because it's a mess to DM.

Incarnadine: So this sword is new to me, I only discovered it in making this list. Incarnadine is from Return to the Tomb of Horrors (Bruce Cordell) and is one of a pair of dragon-slayer long swords that can be found in this sequel. The text says Incarnadine prefers to slay red dragons, which is interesting. I don't recall swords specifying type of dragon, but I kind of do recall arrows of dragon-slaying had to be specific. If anyone can clarify I'd like to know. Also interesting, the adventure says this sword may have additional powers or sentience at the DM discretion. Nice!

Just: because I can't find a "J" sword doesn't mean there isn't one in publication, so give me a comment if you know one. Just for fun I'm gonna name the nine Swords of Answering that are modeled off of Fragarach. Answerer, Rebutter, Concluder, Last-Quip, Replier, Retorter, Scather, Squelcher, Back-Talker. I believe you find these in AD&D Unearthed Arcana, but here is a link showing their alignments.

Kelmar: This is the two-handed blade of Kord, god of Strength. Kord likes to fight monsters so its fitting this is a dragon-slayer. It gets better...Kelmar is a vorpal dragon-slaying sword. Only versus dragons though. Yes even Tiamat! But not Bahamut, he is off limits. And if the wielder of Kelmar doesn't go after the dragon, well screw it, the sword jumps out of the sheath as a Dancing sword and kills on its own! Exciting stuff.

The Sword of Lyons: This magic short sword is from A3: Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords and as I've never ran the module before, it tickled me to discover how cool this blade would be to use in a campaign. It's just a plain +1 sword, but it is always invisible. When in its sheath and carried the owner is invisible. Thus when the blade is used the wielder becomes seen again, but the Sword of Lyons is always invisible. That's wild!

Muspelblindir: This weapon is one you won't see every day. Muspelblindir, possessed by a fire giant in Against the Giants: Liberation of Geoff, is a giant-sized sword of giant slaying. This giant has trust issues I guess? Muspelblindir is a cool name, clearly invoking Muspelheim from norse myth, the text says the sword, whose steel glows like hot coals, is translated to "who slays with fire." Yes indeed!

Nurbilac: Say what? Yeah I never remembered this one either until I did some research. The magic sword Nurbilac comes from an article in Dragon #256, A Treasure Trove of Tomes by my good friend, author and bibliophile, Scott Casper. The article is an original study on literature and historical texts from the World of Greyhawk. the entry on the Historical Reign of Ulek tells of Count Cartair of the County of Ulek and his exploits. In this text he possesses a magic blade named Nurbilac. What does the sword do? We don't find out. But a bard can inspire troops by invoking the story of Cartair and Nurbilac, so that has to count for something.

Omarannin the Laughing Blade: This sword belongs to the famous rogue Rakehell Chert and is featured in Dragon #299. What makes this short sword unique is every hit forces a saving throw or the target busts out laughing like the spell Tasha's Hideous Laughter. Yeah, this one sounds quite fun. I'm gonna bookmark that sword.

Pillars of Heaven: Are a set of swords mentioned in LGJ #3 regarding Kelanen along with his acquiring Fragarach from an alien god. I'm not sure of the context of these swords and if Fragarach is one of the Pillars, but the text says Kelanen found the resting place of three of the Pillars of Heaven, implying there are more than three of them! If so, what are the other swords? Was Sureguard and Swiftdoom two of the Pillars? Or, perhaps they are the Blades of Corusk? So many swords!!!

Q: Why does Quaal not have a sword named after him? Just tokens? Ah well here's an article I did on the Sword of Kas.

Red Light of Hades: This is the sword of Pyremius god of murder and fire. It might be the coolest sounding sword name in all Greyhawk. What does it do? Well first it sheds a reddish light, so it lives up to the name. Second, it's a +5 sword that only Pyremius can hold. Impressive. The best ability however is if it hits a paladin that character must make a saving throw of lose all their paladin powers. I repeat, lose all paladin powers. Worse yet, it takes a Wish and an Atonement spell to get the powers back. Man, Pyremius can murder your career too!

Sureguard & Swiftdoom: Mentioned earlier, I can't ever separate these two swords since they are my favorite sentient blades and best friends of Kelanen, hero-god of swords. One is a frost-brand, the other a flame-tongue. Kelanen and his swords used to be some of my favorite comics to do back in the day. Check it out.

Tensers Sword of Deadly Strikes:  Tenser is a wizard whose spell theme indicates he feels inferior to all the fighters he hangs out with. His named sword of Deadly Strikes is just one of MANY combat items created in the module Return of the Eight. This one is particularly potent for when the command word is spoken it deals maximum damage each first strike, for 1d6+3 rounds. That would be a nice one to convert from 2E to 5E.

Umbra: Remember Incarnadine from earlier? Well Umbra is the sister long sword of dragon-slaying from Return to the Tomb of Horrors. Umbra likes to kill black dragons though. Much like its mate, this sword may have additional powers. I may just skip this module and steal the pair of swords for my campaign!

Vilharian: Now this is a sword that somehow slipped past me over the years. Detailed in LGJ #4, Vilharian is an ancient Suel weapon that managed to find its way over to the Flanaess after the cataclysm and was lost in a duel versus Kelanen himself. Then it changed hands, once being lost in the swamp during the Siege of Westkeep and again lost in the sea Battle of Jetsom Island. This is an intelligent, wizard-bane +5 sword that also protects from fire and ice, and why not, controls the weather as well! Pretty powerful...

Xan Yae: the Lady of Perfection from the Baklunish pantheon, has a pair of falchions with no names, but a very strange set of properties. One, they are knife sized but can grow to 3-feet in length at her will. Also in keeping with her balance aspect in battle, one blade is +6 while the other is +1 then the modifiers gradually shift each round from +5 to +2 until they are +1/+6 and then all over again. Never mind that she has five bare hand attacks that do 6d6 damage. The falchions are for show. 

You: probably know a sword that starts with a "Y" but I'm not finding anything good. So instead let's finish off the five Blades of Corusk. One of my faves is Stalker, the long sword meant for rangers. This blade has many powers that make the PC stealthier and better at being a ranger, like handling canines. Oh yes, and the blade itself has a quirky shadowy aura when you stare at it too long. Fun!

Z: I'm out of gas at this point. If anyone has some swords they want to nominate feel free to use the comment section. This was fun when I started, but turned into quite an exercise. Until next time everyone! 

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Greyhawkery Statistics

Heya loyal readers of Greyhawkery. So here's a different subject. Let's look at the Blogger stats for Greyhawkery, cause I'm coming up on some milestones and I'd like to share with my audience.

First of all this will be my 891st published post. Nine away from 900! With my posting schedule of twice a week, I don't think I'll make it to 1000 this year though. On the other hand, I did just hit my 1000th comment on the blog. Thank you to all my friends and readers who have chimed in for support, discussion and at times corrections! Keep up the good work.

 I've been doing Greyhawkery since fall of 2010. In that roughly nine plus year span, I have had 1.26 MILLION page views. I'm not sure what the average is, but last month I had 12,000 page views. My all-time record though was in July 2016 when I had 53,000 page views in a month.

My most popular post of all-time by far was 5E Greyhawk Deities which doesn't surprise me. Strange enough, my top 3 includes the Sword of Kas Through the Editions and DM Reflections on Potion Miscibility.

My top search keyword associated with the site interestingly is "Oliphant" because of this post from 2011 about a mini-game called Elefant Hunt in Dragon Magazine. Also, besides Google as my top referral for traffic, I owe alot of my modest success and longevity to Joe Bloch at Greyhawk Grognard. Thanks pal, I hope I've been able to send some eyeballs back in your direction over the years!

That's about it. I'm not looking for fame or anything, but it is nice to see I got a following to keep me afloat. More Greyhawk next time!

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Greyhawk Stories: The Hateful Wars

Greetings Greyhawkers. I'd be remiss if I didn't promote the wonderful new fiction posted by super-fan author Thomas Kelly at Greyhawk Stories! Mr. Kelly's epic story is aptly titled The Hateful Wars, the Saga of Kristryd Olinsdotter. The Hateful Wars is regarded as a defining event in the World of Greyhawk setting yet until now, little detail was actually known or published about this period of war. Join in each week as Greyhawk Stories brings a new chapter of the tale to life for the first time!

Start with the prelude, Something Wicked then check out chapter one, Ehlonna's Blessing. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Two Greyhawk News Items

Hail Greyhawk faithful! Just a couple quick announcements today. The first is the upcoming episode of Legends & Lore with Anna Meyer and Jay "Lord Gosumba" Scott where we will be talking History. Yes, a broad subject. I have no idea where this will go, but I've done enough research over the years I think I can wing it! Oh we might also be having one or two guests appear to give some Greyhawk historical lessons as well, so tune in tomorrow and have a chat!

Lastly, I need to raise awareness of Joe Bloch's latest effort in bringing converted 5E Greyhawk to the community. Go to his blog Greyhawk Grognard for his first offering: Wizards of the Flanaess. This article is a thorough resource of character options to follow in the footsteps of the most iconic spellcasters in D&D, adding lists and adapting unique "name spells" from previous publications. This download is invaluable to any campaign that focuses on wizards and the Circle of Eight. I look forward to more from Mr. Bloch. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Greyhawk Locations to Build

Hail Greyhawkers! Today's topic is a new one that I felt would be fun to muse about, and that concerns unique or remote locations in the Flanaess for players to establish their strongholds. One of my obsessions lately has been the survival video game Conan: Exiles. In this game, when not fighting undead and dragons, building elaborate castles or bases is my favorite part. Also, one of the hallmarks of D&D is player characters becoming high enough level to build their own strongholds and wizard towers. In either game, choosing a location is important.

In the World of Greyhawk, finding a cool place to start a domain might be harder than you think. Here is a few suggestions. Mind you, there is hundreds of unused hexes to claim, but you'll see from my commentary why I think these would be nice areas to set up shop. Since I don't have the patience to look up hex coordinates on the Darlene map. Sorry. Instead I've made cut out maps and marked the hex for you. Enjoy!

This first map shows a spur of the Yatil Mountains on the northwest coast of Lake Quag. This hex could either be a highland retreat, much like Mordenkainen's Obsidian Citadel in the very same mountain range or if you prefer, nudge it to the very coast of Lake Quag. This part of the map is north of the also remote Mounds of Dawn, in an area that I'm sure is debatably part of Perrenland. I chose this spot in fact, because its equidistant from Perrenland, Tiger and Wolf Nomad culture. For an idea what kind of monsters may lurk in this wing of the Yatils, perhaps turn to the 1983 Greyhawk Glossography or the AD&D module Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth.

Next up is a look at a region in the Thillonrian Peninsula, specifically the very southeast end of the long mountainous landmass. At a point between what I assume is the lands of the Snow Barbarians (Schnai) and Ice Barbarians (Cruskii) is an inlet or fjord that borders a mountain hex. I think this is a perfect place to situate a private stronghold including a port for a barbarian hero to launch their own nautical quests or raids at Aerdy.

Given the general inaccessibility of this spot, there is a also an opportunity here for some special construction by dwarves, giants or even draconic themes. I like the area politically too, because the neighboring human clans and kings will vie for your character to be on their side in events, or who knows, if you play out the 2E modules Five Shall Be One/ Howl From the North, you could unite these warrior kingdoms from this base of operations!

The next map shows a spot in the central Flanaess near the mouth of the Nesser River. This desert-like hex borders the well-trafficked Woolly Bay and is within 120 miles of the Bright Desert (Bright Lands depending on your era). I chose this hex because it may very well be in unclaimed territory. If it is owned by the Duchy of Urnst there is definitely no settlements here. Interestingly, those putting a keep or tower on this hex would be able to search a wealth of nearby ruins such as the coastal remains of Itarr, arid buried temples of Sulm within the Bright Desert or even to the far north, the infamous Maure Castle.

As the hex appears arid on the Darlene map, resources would be quite scarce, so an aspiring lord will have to be very good at trade and diplomacy. If a port is set up here, players could also be involved in the trade that flows to Hardby and eventually to the Greyhawk itself. This sets up some nice interaction then with peoples and pirates across the bay in the Wild Coast and Pomarj.

This last location is on the border between the Grand Duchy of Geoff and the Earldom of Sterich within the foothills of the Crystalmists as they turn into the feared Stark Mounds. This hex is a mere 60 miles from the city of Gorna, making it the only selection so far that is not remote. However, the location is deep enough within the Stark Mounds that it is debatably not part of Geoff or Sterich. In either case, resources and trade would be abundant.

The dangers presented in building your stronghold here are many however, so only the highest level heroes should go looking to establish themselves here. This is a region of great turmoil with giant-kind who are continually a threat to overrun entire nations. Unless your stronghold is properly defended, this hex would be among the first affected by a giant incursion. See the classic AD&D adventures, Against the Giants or Liberation of Geoff for a wealth of information. 

Furthermore, the Stark Mounds are especially famous for sword wraiths that inhabit old battlefields here. While having undead in your back yard is not a good selling point for most characters, it might be a good detterant for the aforementioned giants. These graveyards could also be a boon for wizards (necromancers) who want a free army for their tower. The possibilities are endless. 

Until next time, share some of your own campaign's unique and interesting locations for player strongholds.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Greyhawk Foils: The Lords of Westkeep

Howdy Greyhawkers! Lately, I've been digging through old notebooks and computer files looking for something from one of my home campaigns that I haven't already showed on the blog (or that is coherent enough to show off). Amazingly I think I found something good that I forgot to share, namely the adventuring company who calls themselves "The Lords of Westkeep". My Hold of the Sea Princes campaign is fairly well documented on Greyhawkery and this NPC group was created to be a foil for my players in the Mines of Hokar story line. The Lords of Westkeep are not all bad, in fact, some are down right likeable which made their presence in the Mines aggravating because they were the PC's main rival in acquiring the object of the Mines of Hokar quest, the lost golden Toli Captains. These rare minted coins, of which there are 33 scattered throughout the cavern-dungeon complex, are desired by the Marquis of Hokar in his goal to impress the enigmatic pirate group known as the Fivefold Council. Needless to say, whoever gets the most coins to the Marquis, gets the most reward.

The Lords of Westkeep

The Lords of Westkeep is a group of five “dungeoneers” who mainly search the monster riddled mines of Hokar in the Hold of the Sea Princes. Where they’ve been and how they came together is more interesting than their day job. The Lords, as they call themselves, consist of three main members and two later additions.

“Breaker” Lorgan (CN human rogue 4) Breaker is a professional thief originally hailing from the swamp frontier town of Westkeep. A wanted man in Keoland and the Yeomanry, Breaker formerly ran with a gang of bandits once led by the infamous Black Gus. Gus and Lorgan were good friends since childhood (they wear matching silver skull rings) but eventually as they got older, Lorgan wanted more fame and fortune so he joined a man he met in Westkeep named Malvin Greyblade to start an adventuring group in the town of Hokar. Breaker Lorgan sports distinctive sideburns, wears custom leather armor with many pockets for tools and weapons and is continually seen smoking a pipe.

Malvin “Mal” Greyblade (CN, half-elf fighter 4) is a swordsman who studied his art under tutors in great cities such as Port Toli and Gradsul. He is a patron of Kelanen, the hero-god of swordsmen and mercenaries. Greyblade is somewhat popular in the Hold not only because of his adventures, but also from tales of his romantic prowess. Mal first met Breaker Lorgan in the town of Westkeep, their eventual base of operations, and turned him to a more lucrative pursuit than burglary and banditry. Their party was soon joined by a mutual acquaintance, the gambler Brother Caylen. Greyblade is the most comely of the Lords of Westkeep. He carries a rapier and dagger, befitting his fighting style, and always wears the best fashions of the Sea Princes even when spelunking the depths of the Mines of Hokar.

Brother Caylen (CN, human cleric 4) is a worshipper of the god of gamblers, Norebo. Caylen hails from the great metropolis of Greyhawk where he has ran up some debts and made a few enemies. Now residing in the Hold, he most recently joined two friends to form the Lords of Westkeep in order to ply a monster haunted dungeon in search of gold for the local Marquis. Never without dice or cards, Brother Caylen is shifty eyed and wears chainmail under a black hooded robe. He carries a mace under this robe for when games go bad at the table.

Amagaro the Outstanding (NG, human wizard 4) is a later addition to the Lords of Westkeep. Amagaro has no homeland; he once traveled with a caravan of performers where he was a “strongman” (yes an 18 STR wizard). Bored with simple feats of strength, Amagaro studied the art of magic from the elder circus mage in his free time. As fate had it, the caravan disbanded and left Amagaro stranded in Hokar looking for work. Malvin Greyblade and Breaker Lorgan saw his last performance, and they were so impressed with the strength and good nature of this wizard, they had to have him in their party. Amagaro is a genial fellow who wears commoner robes, often sleeveless, and carries a staff that once belonged to his mentor. Amagaro is tall, bald and has bushy eyebrows.

Tommo the Minstrel (CG, halfling bard 4) is from the nearby County of Ulek. Enamored by human and elven culture, the little minstrel travelled west to write and play ballads about heroic figures he would meet. Malvin Greyblade as chance would have it, is his current interest and as such Tommo is only a honorary member of the Lords of Westkeep. Tommo never goes into the Mines of Hokar, but instead waits at the nearest tavern to hear his friends account so he can retell their exploits. Tommo and Amagaro share a close friendship, both being entertainers. Tommo is always cheerful and optimistic. He appears more like a foppish court room fool, wearing a floppy hat, belled shoes and playing a small lute.