Sunday, March 18, 2018

Greyhawk Mini Map

Hey Greyhawkers. Not much going on this week sad to say so let's do an easy post. Here is a map of the Greyhawk domain I threw together a week ago for my campaign. It's using Black Blade Publishing's newest mini hex paper from Gary Con X.

I originally posted this on Twitter and it caused some confusion because I drew it in 20 minutes and some thought it was a full size hex map.

Here is a second pic for scale. Nope, it's tiny! I love this paper. I need more ideas to use it! That's all for now. What do you think?

Saturday, March 10, 2018

GaryCon 2018 Recap

Howdy Greyhawkers! Well I'm back early from Gary Con X in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Even though I was only there two days I had the most Greyhawk-y experience yet again. Here's the run down:

First, no I didn't see Mike Mearls (two straight years). They must've kept him under lock and key somewhere. It's not a big con though, oh well. So no, I didn't get a chance to ask any questions. I did see Jason Bulmhan of Paizo Publishing, but I wasn't there to talk Pathfinder 2.0 playtest news. So, moving along...

I got see good friend and old school Greyhawk historian Allan Grohe once again. He was working the Blackblade Publishing booth where I got issue 2 and 3 of their quarterly periodical, The Twisting Stair. I'm eager to use their article on treasure maps and player mapping techniques (thanks for the hex paper grodog). Allan and I also discussed getting more Greyhawk fans together at GaryCon next year (on or off the even list). So if anyone is a fan of the setting and will be attending next year, keep on eye on my blog for future info. Alas I couldn't attend his Saturday session of his ongoing Castle Greyhawk campaign. Last year we got to play with Luke Gygax. There's no telling who is guesting in it this year!

I also spent some good time with my friends Anna Meyer of and Scott Casper the mastermind behind our Castle Greyhawk webcomic. Scott was hard at work running a game for a full table in some far away hall (GaryCon is such a labyrinth) while Anna talked about her future Greyhawk mapping endeavors (yes Anna Greyhawk map 2.0). We also took part in our first ever pick up game together, hosted by the extraordinary Carlos A.S. Lising. The party was a group of rangers and druids in the Gnarley Forest looking to rescue two rust monsters from thieves who stole them from Lord Henway's Menagerie. Crazy fun.

If you think that was all I also got to stop and say hi to Darlene the artist behind the original World of Greyhawk map a few times. She is amazing as always. There was a few legends of D&D in the artist row with her, including Larry Elmore and Jeff Easley two guys whose cover art has inspired me from an early age. The GaryCon website said Erol Otus was supposed to be there, but sadly I didn't see him. That would've been my holy trinity of D&D cover artists.

Later that evening I also had a chance to finally have a meeting of the Greyhawk blogs with Joe Bloch of Greyhawk Grognard. I was loopy from no sleep and he had drove twelve hours to get to the con, so we were both a bit chatty. I'm not sure I want to remember what Greyhawk projects we discussed, but I'm sure he will remind me some day soon. Joseph was running his BRW Games booth where he was selling Adventures Dark & Deep and his infamous Castle of the Mad Archmage. If you don't read Greyhawk Grognard, what is wrong with you? His latest post in fact is an homage to Gygax's Dragon update article series. The column was cut off before all the Flanaess was covered, so Joe did one on Keoland and Sheldomar Valley. Check it out and Make Aerdy Great Again!

Day two we took part in another game ran by Carlos titled Die, Markessa, Die! It was the latest in his Markessa series where a group of heroes must once again tackle a lair of the depraved elven Slave Lord, Markessa. Yeah, she got away again, but maybe next  year we will catch her! My friend Jayson was the MVP of the event and got a copy of the module! Spot on AD&D printing and layout. Carlos has even more incredible projects on the horizon. He is my spirit animal.

So there you have it, the most Greyhawk one can enjoy in a short span. I really hope to top it next year. Thanks to all my gamer friends (old and new) for the invites and time spent with Jayson and me. See you in 2019.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Greyhawk Poll Result: Which Sword Would You Carry

Hey Greyhawk fans! It's GaryCon week. I hope to see more than a few of the community in Wisconsin. Until then, let's muse over my latest front page poll: Which Sword Would You Carry? That is sentient magical swords. There are many so I kept the list to a handful. Let's get to it:

Coming in tied for last on the list at 4% is Dreamsinger and Swiftdoom. Dreamsinger is from the 2E module Five Shall Be One. Too bad this weapon got such a low vote, it is the sword that gets the ball rolling for the quest to find all five Blades of Corusk. It is a unique empathic broadword in that Dreamsinger gives the bearer visions of how to find the other artifact weapons. Without Dreamsinger it is quite impossible to find the other blades. This sword is tuned to bards unfortunately, meaning if you are a thief, great! But in the hands of a bard it unlocks even more powerful effects like a magical fire spear. In my Sea Princes campaign I updated Dreamsinger to be a rapier to better reflect current D&D trends, plus there is no broadswords in 5E. You can check out my conversion here.

Meanwhile, not many people picked Swiftdoom, one of hero-deity Kelanen's two, yes count them two sentient blades. Well they are hard to distinguish at a glance, but Swiftdoom is a bastard sword +6 (another relic of AD&D weapon lists) firebrand that always strikes first. Among Swiftdoom's laundry list of powers is vampiric healing; a nasty enough effect to have for a fighter without peer like Kelanen. In the hands of a lesser adventurer, Swiftdoom would make them legendary for sure.

Speaking of legendary, the infamous Sword of Kas comes in second with 7% of the vote and this is probably for good reason. This magical blade has changed so many times over the editions. It was a short sword, then a two handed sword, then a longsword and back to short sword, or whatever. Read about here. Originally seen in the earliest days of D&D but featured prominently in the module Vecna Lives!, the Sword of Kas is definitely an evil sword bent on trying to kill its creator the Arch-lich Vecna.  However, it has built in limitations when going after Vecna. So for that reason and many more, Kas' sword is not that desirable of a weapon for adventurers to own. To destroy? Maybe yes...

Next up with 15% of the vote is Swiftdoom's sister sword, Sureguard. Kelanen packs two sentient blades, this one is a broad sword +6 (yeah DMs where can players get one of those?) that is also a dancing frostbrand defender. Yes you read that right. The defender ability alone makes this sword quite impressive, but in tandem with Swiftdoom, Sureguard is a defense/offense dream. Keep dreaming though, because the Prince of Swords will not give these blades up over his dead body.

Speaking of dead body, many of you picked (29%) the legendary sword Fragarach. Another broadsword, this sword called "the Answerer" is seen in the classic adventure Temple of Elemental Evil. It is a chaotic good weapon whose main power is to unerringly counter attack any foe who hits the wielder first. Deadly accuracy, but the blade plays fair. Legends say it came from another plane, notably Earth the home of Manannan Mac Lir, from whose myths the blade was borrowed. Somehow though it ends up on Oerth in the hands of one Prince Thrommel, who has not been seen for a while...To see more on Fragarach (including its copies), Swiftdoom and Sureguard check out this comic of mine from way back.

Lastly at 38% we have the most desired magic sword in all Oerth history: Blackrazor. One of the objects of White Plume Mountain is to recover this sword from the evil lair of Keraptis. Blackrazor is a soul draining weapon that is definitely an homage to the sword Stormbringer from the Elric saga. It's secondary effects and sword type varies between editions, but they all agree, Blackrazor is Evil and likes to eat souls, even its owner's if given a chance. Just like its cousin Stormbringer, Blackrazor is not just a sentient blade, it's rumored to be a negative energy entity of some kind. Why would any hero want to carry this sword? Probably for bragging rights, or intimidation factor, or maybe they just don't know better. Now you do.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

The Greyhawk Channel

Well met Greyhawk fans, today I am once again promoting the live streaming efforts of good friend and showman extraordinaire, DMShane. His Twitch empire is growing faster than Iuz can conquer the north so as a result he has rebranded to The Greyhawk Channel. This channel comprises all his various events such as the flagship Return to Greyhawk campaign, the self-explanatory Classic Crawls, interview show The Green Dragon Inn and the Guardians of Greyhawk campaign. Yes folks, I feel lazy compared to this channel and I've been doing blogs and comics for many years. Be sure to check out and follow his channel daily, there is always something going on or hosted there. I  will see you all on the Greyhawk Channel chats!

Sunday, February 25, 2018

750th Post: New Greyhawk Hex Map

Hello Greyhawk fanatics! Today marks my 750th post on Greyhawkery! Wow! So I've been blogging for two editions of D&D now and doing art for three. For this milestone post I'm going to display my finished color map of the Kester Environs that I drew during my art-stream on Twitch last week. This map shows the details of a single hex taken from the Darlene map (paper courtesy of Blackblade Publishing). Namely the town of Kester in Ull. If anyone is interested I have the original black and white file too. Also, hopefully next week I will have another art stream (still working out the bugs), just click my link and follow GreyhawkMike. Until then check out Kester's Environs.

Monday, February 19, 2018

World of Greyhawk Largest Cities

Welcome again Greyhawk fans. Today I'm taking a break from otherwise more important projects to discuss a random subject that came to mind while I was reading about the Free City of Greyhawk. In the lands of the Flanaess, Greyhawk is considered the largest single city in population. It's a hub of trade, knowledge, adventure and more given its central location on the map. For those reasons the World of Greyhawk setting bases everything around this city's point of view. Put simply we are supposed to consider Greyhawk as the most important city. But if it wasn't the largest city in population would that take away from the Gem of the Flanaess' grandeur?

In the United States, where D&D was originated, we consider New York City as the finest, most important metropolis in the world. That's our point of view here. It's certainly the most populous city in the US. But in the world? It's not top ten. It's not even top 20. It's not even the biggest on its own continent. Does any of this census stuff lessen the city's standing in the world to anyone? It is definitely more influential than over half the cities ahead of it. Let's look at the Flanaess' biggest cities and see if Greyhawk holds up in the population department.

 Note: the first list is from Gygax's 1983 Guide, the second list is 2000's Living Greyhawk updated population figures.

Greyhawk 58,000 

Greyhawk 69,500
Rel Mord 46,500 

Ekbir 63,700
Irongate 44,000

Rel Astra 61,000
Dyvers 42,000

Dyvers 52,000
Rauxes 41,000

Irongate 51,400
Zeif 40,300

Gradsul 49,400
Rel Astra 39,800

Rel Mord 46,500
Radigast City 39,100

Radigast City 44,800

Ekbir 29,400

Zeif 43,500
Eastfair 29,100

Dorakaa 40,000
Looks like having the biggest population does matter for the City of Greyhawk as it stays in first. The actual population of Rel Astra in the Guide is questionable, could be 63,000 making it 1st overall but since the LGG has it at 61k I believe the 39,800 is correct or is at least an attempt to clear up that confusion. Irongate and Dyvers are consistently top 5 as they should be. Both these cities could easily be alternative urbans centers for DMs tired of the same Greyhawk setting. 

Dorakaa's inclusion in the Top 10 of the LGG is dubious since its only 10k in the 1983 Guide. Rauxes falls out of the list because it is blown up after the Greyhaw Wars. And lastly, why does nearly every major city in Greyhawk get a population boost by the authors of the LGG except Rel Mord which stays exactly the same? Ekbir got a huge population boost knocking the capital of Nyrond down the list. This is unfortunate because Rel Mord in many ways should be 2nd only to Greyhawk. At any rate, draw your own conclusions. For now, Greyhawk is and shall remain king.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Ideas For Greyhawk Maps

Good day Greyfriends! It's a slow week, but I am heartened by the uptick I've been seeing of Greyhawk community interest online. Whether its because of the token announcement of a Mordenkainen book I don't know, but hopefully the likes of Anna Meyer, Return to Greyhawk, Greyhawk Grognard, Greyhawk Reborn and various Facebook groups can keep pushing Wizard's buttons. For my own part, you know I have more projects than I can handle, so let's create some more. Here is some ideas for various Greyhawk themed maps I'd love to see or create myself:

Updated Resource Map. The small map in the 1980/1983 Greyhawk Guide showing regional resources of the Flanaess is one of my favorites. The LGG updated each nation's resources with new entries like livestock and ship building. A new map with this info is high on my list of DM utility maps.

Battle Maps. This one is also a long term dream of mine. We've all seen the Flanaess map that shows the migrations, but it would be just as interesting and informative to see the direction of various battles and wars. Just hearing about the Battle of Emridy Meadows, the Short War or the Hateful Wars is nice, but where do these forces originate and what direction do they advance or retreat? A simple themed map with arrows can teach players about the conflict faster than a long, boring treatise on the subject.

Ancient Flanaess Maps. Another handy map for history lessons on the fly. What did Eastern Oerik look like 500 years ago? 1000? and so on. I've meddled in making one before but the research of canon often shuts me down. A good example, someone once made an amazing series of maps showing the evolving size of the Great Kingdom of Aerdy. (map to the left) I need to find the link to this map. Also what DM wouldn't like to know what the Flanaess looked like when elves and dwarves held sway? Or ancient Flannae civilizations? There would even be geographical differences, like larger forests or cities that are now ruins. The applications for such maps are unlimited.

Update: Got a link to those historical maps here courtesy of Greyhawk Grognard (thanks Joseph).

Magic Aura Map. This one is extreme so bear with me. It would be daunting to research but fun to see all the magical sites (such as Tovag Baragu and other permanent gates) and ley lines (sites of druids, lost lands, wizards towers, etc) and lingering auras (Dry SteppesSea of Dust)  present in the Flanaess, all charted on the map somehow in levels of intensity. The utility is that wizards would know which areas to go or avoid in a general arcane knowledge sense.

Monster Hunting Maps. How about a reference map for common D&D monsters for PCs use in game? You could have areas marked where dragons or giants are found and what type. Heck you could even get create and tag owlbears, ogres or otyughs. Anything! Hand that out to hack n slash players and let them pick a destination.

Population Density Map. This one I've done before with a color coded population density map of the Great Kingdom based on data from Ivid the Undying; unfortunately it was hand drawn and crude (see to the left). I'd love to see one of the entire Flanaess someday. This type of map is more informative and esoteric, something only a hardcore Greyhawk DM's could care about. However, such a map would be easy to show to players to tell them, yes you are traveling to a populated area or no you are heading into wilderness, without need of a history or politics lesson.

That's all I got for now. Anyone else have some crazy ideas for a Greyhawk themed map?