Scott: Last time my answer was South Province, and I still love that region (the only time in recent years I’ve written anything for Canonfire was when South Province needed some representation in a project), but my last two campaigns have been set in the City of Greyhawk. To an extent, I’ve tried making this the Greyhawk City of the Original Greyhawk Campaign, but I do get lazy on occasion and borrow from Carl Sargent’s amazing City of Greyhawk boxed set. I don’t want to go 100% boxed set version because I’ve already done that -- that was, in fact, my second Greyhawk campaign ever back around 1990. But it’s also just too good to ignore.
Anyway, short version is that my answer is the City of Greyhawk, or perhaps I should say the Domain of Greyhawk -- since Castle Greyhawk is in the domain, but not in the city!
Mike: Scott wisely changes his answer from 2012. The South Province (Ahlissa) can be a cool place to make your own, but the City (and yes, Domain) of Greyhawk is too iconic in my view to deny. for that reason I too choose Greyhawk as my favorite location. Unlike Scott, I was never versed in Gygax's novel/home game version of the city, but my best campaigns have always been built around the 2E city boxed set, the updates from Roger Moore's The Adventure Begins and the later Living Greyhawk Journal (and Denis Tetreault map) additions. Greyhawk has all the best NPCs, organizations, economy and yes, magic.
People know me and assume from my extensive Ull and Sea Princes writings on Greyhawkery that these are my favorites, but the Gem of the Flanaess and its surroundings (of course the iterations of Castle Greyhawk) is where most of players have enjoyed adventuring and establishing their characters homes. Every time I run a game there it's like returning home, so it's never difficult to DM. Good start Scott, let's continue...
Q2. If you could actually be one Greyhawk deity which one would it be?
Scott: Last time I said Boccob, but that was a joke answer. I don’t want the responsibility of being a greater god. I’d choose to be a quasi-deity, like Heward. He gets to hang out with the gods, play the organ at their parties, but doesn’t have a portfolio or sphere of influence he has to worry about.
Mike: Scott has had years to reflect and become humble. Boccob was a choice of more than a few people in the Ring too. I myself was very tempted to take the Uncaring, then it dawned on me. No I'm not talking about Pelor, or Pholtus! I would chose to be Wee Jas, goddess of Magic, Death, Law and Vanity. Am I vain, no never, but if I were a god I'd have to shake Scott's concern about responsibility. Sure, Heward is a fine choice, alot of the Quasi and Hero-gods get to adventure around still, party with all the Mordys and Zagygs out there and he's right, don't have to answer to anyone. But for me, after some thought I'm WEE JAS. Yeah, yeah, she's a goddess and I'm fine with that! No one else went for her, so surprise!
Boccob has magic and is greater. Nerull has death and is greater. Wee Jas however kind of plays the middle at times, which is very like me. She can be greater or intermediate depending on her mood perhaps? She is lawful, which is also like me. She is also vain and ambitious for more portfolios. This part is not like me, but if I'm Wee Jas, then heck with it!
Q3. You have one wish. Which Greyhawk module or accessory would you do over or fix?
Scott: I never got this question eight years ago! I’ve seen a lot of answers already that seem like really good answers, but I am going to stake my claim on the Rob Kuntz Archives. His maps and keys to El Raja Key (or Maure Castle, as we know it on Oerth), including some of the levels that also became part of Castle Greyhawk, are on that CD-ROM product (maybe not the original original versions, though; I suspect the keys were rewritten sometime in the early 1980s, given some of the monsters you can encounter there). I have been fleshing out those levels with more detail for recent campaigns. While not technically a “fix,” I am tempted to share my more detailed version of El Raja Key.
Mike: Mr. Casper shows he is a paragon of old school Gygaxian Greyhawk. I'm a big fan of Kuntz too, I love Maure Castle probably more than Castle Greyhawk in fact. Eli Tomorast is my boy! I also have the CD-ROM Scott talks about and it's a wealth of unpublished lore. I got at Gary Con, so I'm not sure where you can still get a copy from. Maybe Scott will know? Anyhoo, I imagine bringing RJK's El Raja Key to life in a finished product would fulfill the wishes of quite a few friends of ours in the community.
Myself though, I have ranted several times in the RoFQ column about the Five Shall be One/Howl from the North/Greyhawk Wars storyline. I will stick with this being my hill to die on for a revision. Sargent was merely taking Gygax's cues and was steering the Flanaess to war. I like wars as anyone who has read Greyhawkery knows. The quest for the 5 Blades of Corusk should have united Thillonria to go conquer lands to the south, Bone March, Pale, North Province, etc. That's how it played out in my 2E campaigns and I think GH Wars as published could have its Great Kingdom/Iuz subplots and still allow for the barbarian faction led by a very real and freed Vatun to carve a new power group in the north. If not that, the mods could be reworked for a South Seas variation like I did in 3E for my players. Instead of questing in the cold north the blades are scattered across the tropics. Instead of barbarians, you need a party of Suel pirates. Good times!
Q4: You're putting together an all-star Greyhawk NPC group. Who is your number one pick?
Scott: I love Tenser, Robilar, Terik, Yrag, Ehlissa, Murlynd, and all the characters from our Castle Greyhawk webcomic. Eneever Zig, the wizard who goes into the Castle Greyhawk dungeons with Gord and Chert in Night Arrant, has featured prominently in two of my campaigns now. If I’m going by canon characters -- I am going to stick with our main protagonist, Tenser.
If I can include non-canon NPCs, though….I loved using this mage named Mokli in my old South Province campaign. He was based on Quinton, from the comic book Thieves & Kings (created by Mark Oakley). He’s supposedly extremely powerful, but he dresses like a poor apprentice and is never seen casting a spell, ever. He showed up at various points in the campaign, looking for the PCs because he had vital information to tell them about what they needed to do next -- but then something would always happen that would interrupt him and keep him from being able to tell them. It made him seem like he knew a lot about what was happening behind the scenes of the campaign, but every time it was a bluff -- I didn’t actually have anything prepared to tell the PCs. They were good sports and always played along. I’ve been blessed with some great players over the years.
Mike: Good ol' Tenser is a bold choice. He is indeed a wonderful protagonist throughout all Greyhawk lore. He is near and dear to the Greyhawk Domain as well, and someone who a quasi-deity like Heward would hang out with too! I definitely enjoyed drawing Tenser (and all those NPCs he mentioned) for the comics all those years. You could see his progression in power through the chapters, though we never quite got to the pinnacle. Still, as NPCs go he would be a much better team leader than Mordy who always manipulates from the shadows. Also Scott, since we're pals, I will give you Mokli as well. I like nostalgia and sometimes your own creations are better. Yup another mage to run with Tenser. Wizards is where all the glory is at in Greyhawk.
For myself, I like wizards too. I was tempted to go with an obvious good choice like Mordenkainen, Rary or even Tomorast, but as cool as it would be to have a guy with demon-hands on my team, I realized that I need a more powerful and classy #1 pick. You guessed it, I'm going with Iggwilv the Witch-Queen of Perrenland. She is quasi-deity level, she can make artifacts, she can trap demon-lords and she has a lot of connections in the D&D multiverse. Am I worried about Iggy usurping me? Heck no, I'm Wee Jas remember? Girl power! Okay, one more question to go...
Q5. If you could possess one artifact or relic from Greyhawk lore, which would it be?
Scott: If I’m Heward then naturally I want my Mystical Organ (insert your own dirty jokes here). But I also want the Mighty Servant of Leuk-O because I always pictured that being Voltron.
Mike: Okay Scott you talked me into it again. Since he is Heward and has to impress at those parties in Tenser's Castle, I will grant the Mystical Organ is a given. The Mighty Servant though, yeah that gets the job done. Mentioning Voltron definitely plucks at my 80's cartoon heart-strings too. So there you go buddy, two for one! Well played!
To finish off this truly epic round of the Ring, I am going to go with the best artifact in all of D&D and probably RL mythology, the Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga. Skip Twitchell first picked the hut back in round 4 and that stuck with me. If I'm the ultimate deity of magic and death with the ultimate witch queen at my side, then our base of operations is going to be mobile and plane-hopping! Baba Yaga would have to be in this witchy group too, I can't kick her out of her own home after all. Who knows, maybe when we visit the City of Greyhawk, Heward and his organ can entertain us at a party inside the hut. Well that was a load of fun everybody.
Thanks to Scott Casper for his entry. I hope you were tickled by my answers as well. There is still time, send me an email if you'd like to share your five answer with the Greyhawk community!