Monday, July 15, 2019

Oerth Journal #29 Released!

Attention Greyhawkers! In case you haven't already heard, you need to head on over NOW to Greyhawk Online and download the newest issue of Oerth Journal, the seminal fanzine of the Greyhawk fandom. OJ #29 is chock full of amazingly cool articles and NPCs (the theme is "Folks" of Greyhawk) written by an equally amazing lineup of authors and artists from the Greyhawk online community:

Lee "Tanith1st" Murphy
Chris Siren
Will "Giantstomp" Dvorak
Tony "VorpalDM" Milani
Jay "Lord Gosumba" Scott
Thom Vandervenne
Michael J. Gross III
Devin "MysteryCycle" Parker
Michael "Milcheax" Crisefi
Ted "Bear" Gervais
Joey Julian
Belial Lyka
Patrick "Frogsama" Germann
Blake Ryan
NPC Bree
Denis "Maldin" Tetreault
Bryan "Saracenus" Blumklotz

and last but not least
Kristoph "Icarus" Nolen

Be sure to also download the bonus material for issue #29, because this Oerth Journal was too awesome to contain everything in one document. Enjoy Oerth Journal #29 and when you are done reading and adding this content to your campaign keep an eye out for next issue which will cover the theme of "Feuds". Congrats to all the authors on this publication.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Tribality: New Greyhawk Articles

Greetings Greyhawers! It's summer in the land of Ull so we need some cool topics to cover. As always, our friend in the community Blake Ryan over at Tribality continues to put out some amazingly good Greyhawk articles to keep the creative juices flowing.

First is a look at Eru-Tovar, the nominal capital of the Wolf Nomads. This is a fun take on the adventures, culture and factions one might find in this nomadic region of the setting. I really like the mention of Long Fang Riders as it summons memories of playing Warhammer 40k Space Wolves. The Long Fangs in that were veteran warriors, who were literally "long in the tooth". I imagine the same goes for Eru-Tovar's elite riders. Also, DMs should take note on the hardships the Wolf Nomads endure by being next to the evil of Iuz. This is a dangerous yet rewarding area to send players.

Lastly, is Mr Ryan presents an article on an overlooked facet of the Greyhawk setting and that's its connection to the Feywild. This term for the home lands of faeries and sylvan creatures in lore is one of my favorite recent updates to the D&D dictionary (including Shadowfell). In Greyhawk the Feywild and Fading Lands are related. The Fey Wild is a place of mystery and nature where Seelie and Unseelie Courts rule. For a visual, Ryan evokes some of my favorites like Alice in Wonderland or Willow, I might add movies Pan's Labyrinth and indeed Labyrinth!

The article goes a step further and provides some useful areas to access the Feywild from Oerth, including not only the well known Welkwood (by the elven realm of Celene), but also a tropical region (Turucambi) and a Baklunish cultural region (Pinnacles of Azor-alq). He also gives some useful lists on what type of creatures and magic items you might find in the Feywild. All in all, this is a good DM's resources for sending players to another plane for a side-quest.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Greyhawk: Let's Fight Nerull

Welcome back Greyhawkers. Today I'm revisiting one of my favorite columns and that is fighting deities! If you haven't seen the previous ones, head back and read about Istus, Ulaa and Trithereon. This time we are going to tempt your players with the ultimate showdown, death himself: Nerull!

First let's quickly recap: in the old days of AD&D, PCs could potentially take on gods (despite what canon says about gods staying off Oerth). The 1E Deities & Demigods was first to give stats and rules on the powers of immortals, later referred to as avatars in the Greyhawk Adventures source book which gave players a better chance to somehow prevail over a deity in combat. That said we are going with the full-power Nerull stats from the original World of Greyhawk boxed set; let's examine how difficult it will be to beat death at his own game.

Make no mistake players and DMs, Nerull is the personification of death and night. He is the Foe of all Good, Hater of Life, Bringer of Darkness, King of All Gloom and the Reaper of Flesh. Killing Nerull in combat may as well be like trying to kill Beory, the Oerth-mother when she is the personification of the planet! Of course, in this scenario, Nerull has chosen to take a form to tread the plane of mortals in person and do some culling, but the heroes are here to stop him for whatever reason because Nerull obviously cannot be reasoned with!
 No surprise to anyone at your game table, Nerull appears as a seven-foot tall, rusty-hued skeleton in a black cowled cloak with sickly green hair (or is it vegetation?), eyes, teeth and finger-nails. Not a pretty sight. The cloak and his rusty bones provides an impressive AC -6 (26 in present D&D). Nerull carries one object, his not-at-all unassuming sablewood staff.

Nerull has superior senses in every way including magical darkness. It is said he cannot be surprised except by "extraordinary means". Perhaps this means, invisibility, or maybe the heroes just pretend to be dead bodies to ambush him, I don't know...however, bony Nerull is lightning fast with a Dexterity of 21. One more thing to note, in AD&D rules, Nerull can only be harmed by +5 weapons. In later editions like 5E this could mean magic weapons in general or maybe just legendary weapons. That's up to each DM. Let's assume your heroes know this, since he is literally the grim reaper, and they brought their best holy avengers and artifact swords. Also, Nerull has 100% magic resistance. That means wizards and clerics are on support in this fight. 

If the PCs manage to go first in combat and can hit and harm Nerull, they will find he has 400 hit points, which in AD&D is the highest possible total allotted to gods' avatars. In later editions Nerull probably has something ridiculous like 2000 hit points, but that doesn't matter because unless the PCs manage destroy Nerull in one well-orchestrated round, Nerull only needs to attack once. 

1. His staff is called Life Cutter and on command a scythe blade of red magical force emanates from it the tip. It is a +5 weapon which means he can harm other gods with it, much less pesky heroes. Those hit by the scythe must make a Saving Throw vs Death Magic or die instantly! Now in AD&D characters could be instantly killed by a single attack. This is why the Tomb of Horrors is so famous. The players should expect no less of the god of death. In later editions (which I'm not going to reference) I'm sure Life Cutter is nerfed by a saving against additional necrotic damage. At any rate, Life Cutter sweeps in a path 10' long in a 180 degree arc. All creatures in that path are hit automatically, even if they are astral, ethereal, incorporeal or gaseous in form! Even if you happen to make your saving throw, the unlucky bunch in that arc of death take 5-30 damage. Fortunately for the heroes, he only gets one attack per round. So spread out...

2. Now, Nerull has been around since the beginning of time, so he is probably bored of killing mortals with his scythe. That is why he will most likely toy with the characters in other ways. One way he can do this is by casting a "clump of darkness with ebony tendrils" to attack his foes. Yes folks, Nerull is the originator of Evard's Black Tentacles spell. Except these tentacles can kill you fast. It's a 10' diameter blob with 4 tendrils that stretch 10' per round into a quadrant. Anyone touched by a tendril has to make the same Save vs Death as Life Cutter. Even surviving this a hero takes 3-18 corrosive damage and is grasped until it's destroyed. Lucky again, Nerull can only use this once a day.

3. If Nerull is particularly bored or distracted, he can summon three demodands to fight for him. Demodands are from Nerull's home plane of Tarterus. While not particularly fond of Nerull, the demodands likely will enjoy having a stretch on Oerth and will delight in killing your characters.

4. While the PCs are busy fending off black tendrils of death and nasty demodands, what is Nerull himself doing? Having fun of course! He is the patron god of assassins after all so maybe he wants to kill the PCs one at a time. Since he can fly at will and travel to virtually any plane when he wants, this means the Reaper doesn't stand still in a fight. Adventurers trying to hide or stand in the back ranks can expect special treatment by Nerull. The god of death has a tool belt of murderous cursed magic items to use on his enemies, such as the Necklace of Strangulation, the Rug of Smothering and my favorite, the Bag of Devouring. You know it's personal when Nerull uses these tricks on your poor character.

So there you have it. Nerull can be defeated by a properly armed and sufficiently high level party, but no one is coming out of this fight unscathed. Even if destroyed, Nerull will be back for the victors someday, he has all the time in the world. In the more likely event of a TPK however, Nerull will just leave the character's bodies there for someone else to clean up. And if the heroes are resurrected, Nerull will be just fine with killing them a second time... 

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Greyhawk Channel Summer 2019

Welcome Greyhawkers! Summer is heating up on the Greyhawk Channel at Twitch. There is literally a Greyhawk show every day of the week and then some. Besides staples of the channel like Return to Greyhawk, Mordenkainen's Path of the Planes and of course Legends & Lore with Anna Meyer and myself, there is some new faces and stories to check out.

So far my favorite new entry is Seekers of the Scorpion Crown DMed by Lex from the youtube show DankDungeonsTV. This adventure is set in the Bright Desert and has some clever title graphics and maps to go along with it.

The map for Seekers is by Daniel F Walthall who is an aspiring fantasy cartographer. This is a well researched and colorful rendition of the region first popularized in Rary the Traitor.

Do you like high seas adventure? Eric Vulgaris' Savage Tide game continues on Tuesdays, but this time there is more! Friday, there is two, count em, two Saltmarsh shows. Ghosts of Saltmarsh earlier in the day is handled by the veteran duo of Grimjack and DMShane. Then later in the day is Saltmarsh Stories which haven't seen yet, but from the sounds of it, adds even more nautical adventure to the lineup.

I also have to point out a couple other shows ongoing this summer by original GHC cast members now running their own games. Sandwiched between the two Saltmarsh shows is The Old Faith, a creepy romp in the Dreadwood Forest, DMed by NPCBree. Then there is the Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan ran by WingedHorizon.who is probably the best person I know who can capture the feel and fear of this Greyhawk classic.

Also, these two and many more of the stalwart fans and cast members of the Greyhawk Channel (not me) should be descending on Indianapolis very soon! Gen Con 2019 fast approaches on Aug 1-4 and they will be there in force running a bunch of games and hopefully streaming some content for the rest of us who can't attend. There is plenty more shows to tell you about, some I haven't even got to see yet. Give them all a look, hang out, meet the cast, maybe throw some love their way. Who knows, maybe you could have a show on the Greyhawk Channel someday!

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Ghosts of Saltmarsh Campaign

Greetings again, friends of Greyhawk! Today is just some personal gaming news. Thanks to the release of Ghosts of Saltmarsh, I've been inspired enough to get my own Hold of the Sea Princes campaign running again after a short hiatus.

I recently threw together this map of the Jeklea Bay region to show what a widely interesting and underdeveloped area the Sea Princes really is like. Saltmarsh does not show on this map, but for those who don't have a map handy, it is due north of Monmurg on the coast of neighboring Keoland. It is just under 60 miles away (2 hexes)! Most of greater Keoland is much much farther away than that. For this reason, it is incomprehensible to me as a Greyhawk enthusiast, that you might be encouraged to run an entire Saltmarsh campaign and NOT use the Hold at all. I'd wager to say the plots and placement of all the GoS adventures, besides the three U-series modules, would work fantastically in the Sea Princes. They would definitely make more sense travel-wise than crossing the vast Azure Sea as well.

At any rate, with the Hold so damn close to Saltmarsh it is imperative to me, that this country gets developed in any shape or form through the DMsGuild. What we currently know of Monmurg and Prince Jeon II could barely fill an index card. I'm not necessarily asking for a full gazetteer write-up of the Sea Princes, that's easy to find, just handy references to what's right across the bay from Saltmarsh; to give the tiny town more context (like what's being traded, smuggled, notable pirates, ships, intrigues) and to push the boundaries to what's acceptable for publication on that site.

My Sea Princes campaign picks up with the Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh (5E version) next week. I am also running a side-campaign that has so far tackled the Ghost Tower of Inverness, The Lost Laboratory of Kwalish (5E, really fun, try it out) and is now heading to White Plume Mountain. Good times!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Greyhawk Talk: Anna Meyer News

Greetings Greyhawkers! Today I'm spreading two news items. First, I'm promoting tonight's Legends & Lore show on the Greyhawk Channel. I was out last week due to the Stanley Cup, so thanks to Bryan Blumklotz for filling in for me. You can fill in any time. Seriously ;)
This week me and Anna Meyer are going to discuss Wizards' new book Ghosts of Saltmarsh. There's already been a lot of talk involving this book by now, but I might have some extra points and we will certainly discuss how this book will affect our campaigns and maps.

In addition, Anna recently announced that she will be soon be releasing a true type Greyhawk Gothic Font created by Greyhawk's original goddess of cartography Darlene! This collaboration is the stuff of dreams in the Greyhawk community. I for one cannot wait to use this font on some of my Greyhawkery graphics. Stay tuned to our show, Legends & Lore, Wednesdays at 7:00 pm central to hear info on the font and more coming from Anna's wonderful world of map-making. See you there!

Thursday, June 13, 2019

St. Louis Blues Win the Stanley Cup

Warning: Non-gaming related post ahead!

WOOOO! Greetings, my Greyhawk friends! If you've known me for any length of time, you'll know I have three obsessions. One is the World of Greyhawk (naturally) the other is the comic, Mighty Thor, and the other is hockey, namely the St. Louis Blues of the NHL. This week they won the Stanley Cup in a decisive game 7 over Boston Bruins. The same Boston Bruins who swept the Blues in four games 49 years ago. I'm almost 47, so that's how long this quest for redemption has been going on for our fan base. This is like the century-long struggle that was recently ended by Chicago Cubs fans in baseball.

Not only did they win 16 games to take the prize, they had to claw all the way from last place in the league in January, to get to the playoffs. How is that in D&D terms? Your character just got beat up going through a dungeon, then with one hit point left and a broken sword, you just rolled a bunch of nat-20's to slay a dragon. Okay that may be extreme, but it is definitely in the same realm as the 1980 U.S. Olympic team defeating the USSR.

At any rate, when it comes to my favorite three things, 2019 has been a damn fine year for me so far. I got to be on a Greyhawk panel with many of my friends at Gary Con, I got to see movie Thor kick ass one more time in Avengers: Infinity War, and now, my favorite hockey team finally lifted the most-difficult trophy to win in all of sports! I'm gushing with pride, my head is still in the clouds and I'm happy to shout it out on the internet: St. Louis Blues, Stanley Cup Champions!