Saturday, September 15, 2018

Rumors of the Barrier Peaks

Hey Greyhawkers! Today I'm pointing you toward a rare opportunity to create something for the Greyhawk and D&D at large. Over at Wizards they are taking submissions for rumors to be included in a special Dragon+ adventure based on the classic module Expedition to the Barrier Peaks. Go check it out, you have until Sept 26th to add your custom rumor, I've already made mine!

"In prior community polls, we’ve asked for your thoughts on elemental trinkets, things carried in a giant’s bag, and unusual lich phylacteries. This time, we’re asking for rumors regarding the famed Barrier Peaks. Who can say what’s true or false, but what strange rumors circulate around local taverns about these mysterious mountains (in 150 words or less)?"

Good luck, and until next time!

Saturday, September 8, 2018

New Greyhawk Grognard Articles

Hello Greyfriends. I would be remiss if I didn't promote the amazing Greyhawk work going on over at Greyhawk Grognard. In the last week there has been a lot going on, starting with a two part study on the classic Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, then Mr. Bloch writes a treatise on design principles for the World of Greyhawk setting. Last and most importantly to me, he does an original take on creating a wholly Baklunish pantheon of deities for the much neglected nations of the west.

Joining the likes of Istus, Geshtai and Xan Yae now are gods and goddesses such as Al'hutha god of the sun and truth, Banlasa, god of healing and redemption and Nasri goddess of assassination and banditry. There is many more, and the full article download ("Dragonne" magazine) is marvelously put together with additional deity stats and profiles, plus a new "cleric" character class, the Rashaw. You must check this article out. Greyhawk Grognard has touched on an unfinished area of Greyhawk lore that Gygax himself had intended to flesh out. In terms of quality and research, I'd push forward this new Baklunish pantheon as approved for any Greyhawk campaign. I know the base people of Ull, whom normally eschew good deities, will be taking notice of Nasri, Ya'huth and Duhl Parath. Kudos!

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Upcoming on the Greyhawk Channel

Hello Greyfolk. Short post today but I'm here to do a shout for The Greyhawk Channel on Twitch. DMShane hasn't put out his full Fall line-up yet, but some possible show teaser titles so far include Birthright of the Pomarj (sounds awesome), Savage Tide (the popular Paizo adventure path) and Legends & Lore (hmmm). Given last season's huge line-up, I imagine there will be many more and possibly some current shows continuing on to the end of the year. Stay tuned!

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Classic Dragonmirth


Howdy Greyhawkers! Today I have a treat. We are going to look back on some old comics from Dragon magazine, no not Wormy or Snarfquest or What's New with Phil and Dixie, I'm talking about the less flashy black and white comics that came before those in Dragonmirth. Readers with any level of artistic or writing talent could submit comics to this column. As a 5th grader back in the 80's reading my first Dragon (#85 - the cover called out to me), I loved two things most about the magazine, the cover art and the comic art in the back. I always came back to the material in-between later.

Needless to say I never got the guts to submit a comic up until Paizo Publishing had control of Dragon and Dungeon mags and I was offered a chance to submit a comic strip idea based on my long running Greyhawk comic strips. Sadly Paizo soon lost the license to the print mags and Wizards took them digital. Sans comics. A dark day indeed. Well, we still have these gems below. Some are better than others mind you, but remember, these people had the guts and desire to be published comic strip artists where I failed. Enjoy and look for more classic Dragonmirth!

Dragon #85 Denton Elliott

Dragon #86 Craig Smith

Dragon #87 Bob Lilly

Dragon #89 Craig Smith

"He Says He's An Iron Golem" Dragon #91 David Hutton

Dragon #94 Robert Albanese

Monday, August 27, 2018

5E Greyhawk Artifacts: Kanteel of the Oldest


Greetings friends of Greyhawk! Today I'm going to try something out. After recently musing about one-sided battles with Istus and Ulaa, I started thinking about the unique magic items belonging to the gods of Oerth. Well, for the most part they are actually relics and artifacts of which no mortal could hope to copy. Time and again though, some of these magic items fall into the hands of PCs either by accident or by design. One such artifact is the Kanteel of the Oldest, the musical instrument of the "Laughing Rogue" Olidammara, god of wine, rogues and revelry. A kanteel (actually spelled kantele) is a Finnish/Karelian stringed instrument. The information below is my attempt at a 5E conversion. Enjoy!



Kanteel of the Oldest

Wondrous item, artifact (requires attunement by a bard)

The Kanteel of the Oldest is an exemplary example of its kind, vastly superior to even an instrument of the bards in every way. A creature that attempts to play the Kanteel without being attuned to it must succeed on a DC 20 Wisdom saving throw of take 4d4 psychic damage.

 Spells. You can use an action to play the Kanteel and cast one of the following spells (save DC 18) from it: calm emotions, charm person (as 3rd level version), charm monster* (as 6th level version), creation (as 6th level version), dispel magic, fog cloud, legend lore or programmed illusion. Once the Kanteel has been used to cast a spell, you can't cast that spell again from it until the next dawn.

 Easy Come. Olidammara occasionally lends this artifact to mortals or allows it to be stolen for a time. While the Kanteel is on your person, any spell slot you expend to cast a bard spell counts as a spell slot of one level higher.

Easy Go. Ownership of the Kanteel is always temporary. Olidammara can call the Kanteel of the Oldest to his person at any time, even across planar barriers. When the Kanteel vanishes, you receive a permanent Blessing from Olidammara (see DMG page 227).

Destroying the Kanteel. While this instrument looks fragile and ancient, it is impervious to all damage and magic, short of that caused by another artifact. Usually Olidammara will summon his Kanteel back to his hand should anyone manage to scratch it. Bardic lore says the Kanteel's strings will break permanently if it is played in front of an audience of three or more unappreciative demon-lords or arch-devils.

Sources:

*see Xanathar's Guide to Everything

Sean K. Reynolds, Core Beliefs: Olidammara, Dragon #342

Gary Gygax, Deities & Demigods of the World of Greyhawk, Dragon #70

Gary Gygax, World of Greyhawk Setting

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Quick Birthplaces For Greyhawk

Greeting Greyhawkers! Today's subject is one that has come up in my home games in the recent past. Where does my new character come from? New gamers, unfamiliar with the geography and history of the Flanaess will not have the slightest idea where to establish their character's home land. The 1983 World of Greyhawk boxed set conveniently solves this with some random tables based on fantasy races. One is for humans and the other is for demi-humans (elves, dwarves etc). You'll have to find these charts yourself, but for an example here is one I did recently for tieflings and dragonborn in Greyhawk.

It can be daunting to choose a homeland and build a backstory, so this guide below will help you pick one much quicker since instead of ethnic birthplaces or somewhere based on alignment, I'm selecting the most common areas of the Flanaess based on character class. If you want to be more specific later on then wonderful, but for a new Greyhawk enthusiast, this can get you started much faster and will take less explaining at game time. When in doubt, the City of Greyhawk is always a good choice for a birthplace because it is central to the setting map. Everything else below is in one of four quadrants from this middle point. Note, the nations below are from CY 576 timeline.

Barbarian: 
Barbarian North or the Barrens (NE)
Hepmonaland or Bright Desert (SE)
Amedio Jungle or Dry Steppes (SW)
Bitter North or Iuz (NW)

Bard:
Furyondy or Highfolk (NW)
Keoland or Wild Coast (SW)
Irongate or Great Kingdom (SE)
Barbarian North or Nyrond (NE)

Druid: 

Bitter North or Vesve Forest (NW)
Barbarian North or the Fellreev Forest (NE)
Adri Forest or Sunndi (SE)
Dreadwood or the Gnarley Forest (SW)

Rangers:
Dreadwood or Gnarley Forest (SW)
Highvale/Vesve Forest or the Bitter North (NW)
Barbarian North or Nyrond (NE)
Sunndi or Great Kingdom (SE)

Wizards: 
Keoland or Celene (SW)
Great Kingdom or Irongate (SE)
Furyondy or Iuz (NW)
Nyrond or Urnst States (NE)

Sorcerers:
Valley of the Mage or Wild Coast (SW)
Baklunish West or Iuz (NW)
Bandit Kingdoms or Barbarian North (NE)
Great Kingdom or Spindrift Isles (SE)

Warlocks:
Iuz or Baklunish West (NW)
Wild Coast or Pomarj (SW)
Bone March or Bandit Kingdoms (NE)
Great Kingdom or Bright Desert (SE)

Monks: 
Scarlet Brotherhood (SE)
Baklunish West (NW)
Wild Coast (SW)
Nyrond (NE)

Fighters:
Furyondy or Perrenland (NW)
Barbarian North or Nyrond (NE)
Irongate or Great Kingdom (SE)
Keoland or Yeomanry (SW)

Rogues: 
Hold of Sea Princes or Wild Coast (SW)
Great Kingdom or Scarlet Brotherhood (SE)
Bandit Kingdoms or Nyrond (NE)
Iuz or Baklunish West (NW)

Paladins:
Shield Lands or Ekbir (NW)
Keoland or Verbobonc (SW)
Theocracy of the Pale or Nyrond (NE)
Irongate or Almor (SE)

Clerics: 
Veluna or Ekbir (NW)
Keoland or Verbobonc (SW)
Great Kingdom or Almor (SE)
Theocracy of the Pale or Nyrond (NE)

Friday, August 17, 2018

Greyhawk: Let's Fight Ulaa

Welcome back Greyhawkers. Following up on my last post about battling Istus, I'm going to have some fun discussing the same scenario with Ulaa, the Stonewife a Greater Deity first seen in the original World of Greyhawk Guide. Ulaa (pronounced OO-lah) is the goddess of Hills, Mountains and Gemstones. She has an uncertain origin, appearing to have traits of human, dwarf and gnome alike. Ulaa is also the wife of Bleredd god of mines, metals and smiths, a nice synergy because in AD&D rules she is very tough.

To recap from last time: 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 sourcebook which gave players a better chance to somehow prevail over a deity in combat. That said we are going with the full-power Ulaa in the boxed set; let's examine how hard it will be to cut down the goddess of gems in battle.


No matter her appearance, Ulaa is armored head to toe in adamantine chainmail (-7 AC) and carries just two weapons:

1. A military pick +5 (which she declines to name cause a +5 weapon isn't as cool as her other one)

2. A hammer of thunderbolts named Skull Ringer which is the meanest weapon in the game. Ulaa can throw this weapon every other round. so the pick does get some love. It's important to note how deadly this hammer is when hurled; Skull Ringer will instantly kill giant-kin and golems if thrown and against small/medium humanoids it will instantly kill as many HD worth as there is damage. So if Ulaa is fighting pesky orcs, she can kill 25 in one throw (not sure how that works in D&D rules, like an area of effect?), or instead, pretty much annihilate your 25th level fighter in one hit. No save.

Now it is possible to get the jump on Ulaa. She is just a 14-level fighter with an 18 dexterity after all. If your PCs are lucky enough to hit the Stonewife, she has a rock-solid 321 hp and 90% magic resistance. Ulaa might let you hit her in fact, since she is only harmed by +5 weapons and heals 1 hp/round while in contact with the earth. I suppose one could try to steal her pick and use it against her...

Even unarmed, Ulaa has powers at her disposal such as...

Earthquake: One of the sickest cleric spells in AD&D. Among its devastating effects, it opens a crack in the ground that can possibly insta-kill your character. 1 in 4 for small and 1 in 6 for medium. Good luck!

Dig and Move Earth: In case the earthquake didn't get you the first time I suppose?

Wall of Stone, Stone Shape and Passwall: So she can avoid your attacks you know, then open a hole to throw Skull Ringer at someone or just pass through and use that military pick for fun.

Summon Earth Elemental: Of course a goddess of earth would have an elemental buddy. This one is 24 HD. Don't think of turning him against her either, harmful elementals flee in terror from Ulaa.

There you have it adventurers, respect and run away from Ulaa. She is definitely an under-appreciated, underestimated deity in Greyhawk publication. As written, Ulaa sounds like she has more in common with Thor than Bleredd. Hm, now there's a thought!