Sunday, July 31, 2011

Greyhawk Battle Menu


I've still been thinking about my project list from Friday, and the Battles of Greyhawk series is something I would like to shed some more light on. Besides the Battle of Emridy Meadows (detailed in length in the original campaign Guide), most famous battles in the setting are briefly mentioned in either timeline form or when Gygax did his development articles in the ancient pages of Dragon Magazine. This means besides the known results, alot of the data and fluff about a historic Greyhawk battle is left open to interpretation. There is many places to start (or restart) so I was wondering, just going by the names of the battles, do any of these jump out at you? Perhaps I could motivate myself to write an article or two based on popular request. Have a look, but note this list is by no means complete. I have found over 60 canonical battles (or wars) in my research, so this is mainly some cherry picked ones that should in my opinion be the most interesting.

Battle of a Fortnight's Length (Aerdy vs Nyrond)
Battle of a Thousand Banners (Aerdy vs Iron League)
Battle of Opicm River (Iuz vs Rovers)
Battle of Blackwater Bend (Iuz vs Wolf Nomads)
Battle of Critwall Bridge (Iuz vs Shield Lands)
Battle of Shamblefield (Aerdy vs Frost Barbarians)
Siege of Westkeep (Keoland vs Sea Princes)
Fields of Padyr (Baklunish-Suel War)
Battle of Loftwood (Ratik vs Bone March?)
Gahru's Folly (Aerdy vs Grandwood)
Battle of Jetsom Island (Sea Princes vs Keoland)
Battle of Medegia (Aerdy vs Lordship of the Isles?)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Greyhawk Project List

Sometimes I have so many ideas for projects swirling in my head that the only way to get anything done is to first, procrastinate and do none of them! That is what this post is all about. I figure typing out my thoughts will help me focus my time better by giving me a place to reference them and with any luck get some feedback. I had a good run in the last calendar year, finishing my Cultist Saga, starting this blog Greyhawkery, producing a gorgeous Greyhawk map and beginning an incredible Sea Princes campaign. Here is what I got planned going forward:

More Greyhawk comics (Naturally, though a new original idea would be keen, even if not GH related).
Gazetteer of Kester (I did one for Ulakand that is unpublished, Kester would be my masterpiece of Ull writing)
Mysteries of the World of Greyhawk: Revealed 2 (The first one was my creation myth, the topic of this one would be the afterlife).
NPC sketches from my Sea Princes campaign (I used to do this alot, but I've got away from it over the years. There is so many NPCs in a sea-based campaign that visual aides tend to help players).
Gencon Special (Doesn't look like I'm going to be motivated to do anything special this year. I'm not even going to the con. Maybe next year.)
Battles of Greyhawk (Man I'd really like to get back on this article series idea. I did Emridy Meadows long ago and then did some stat research on many others, but never pulled the trigger on a 2nd article).
Pirate Flags of Greyhawk (For my Sea Princes game, I'd like to have some heraldric flags for different pirate/naval groups, such as the Crimson Fleet and so on. This is a wish list item and not a high priority for me yet).
Caption Contests (I ran those in my comic, they would be a good fit for the blog).
Postfest Article (Canonfire has article rushes time to time. I skipped the last one on Side Treks, too bad cause I had a groovy idea).
Oerth Journal Article (Once I see something more on the progress of the new OJ staff, I may contribute something again. I got faith in you guys!).
Greyhawk Literature (I'd like to get back to my dormant idea for a novel, but poetry has been easier on the brain lately).

The sad thing is I won't get to half of these in the next year, or even two, but in the meantime I'll most likely succeed at other projects that I haven't even thought up yet! Ah well!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Greyhawk Poetry Corner

Lirr is the Oeridian goddess of Prose, Poetry, Literature and Art. Of all the deities in the World of Greyhawk, she might be the most highly underrated. Indeed, what would Greyhawk be like without her muse-like inspiration guiding its classic artists and authors? To honor this forgotten goddess of the Flanaess, today's post is the first of a series of poetry gleaned from the four corners of the map. I think you'll find the styles familiar and themes quite Greyhawkian. Enjoy!



"Bitter North"

Black Ice and Cold Marsh;
Telchur's laugh freezes the Sea.
Bleak landscape confines.


"Zoltan"

There once was a beygraf from Ket,
Who took over Bissel, no sweat.
The mullahs were insulted,
That they weren't first consulted,
So they threw him off a minaret.







"Thingizzard"

I met an old crone named Thingizzard,
Who had the powers of a wizard.
When I spurned her affections,
She gave me bad directions,
To the cave of an undead lizard.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sea Princes #12: Hard Night in Port Torvin

The Sea Prince vessel, Bird of Prey is finally back at it's starting point of Torvin after a wild voyage and a lengthy stay in Sasserine. But before their cargo could be unloaded or the crew allowed to disembark, the captain called Mr. Hammond into his private chambers on some serious business...
 
This session's protagonists:
Victor Emmitt Hammond (fighter, spy caught)
Araxo Tydan (rogue, brothel bought)
Henri Morgan (rogue, thugs fought)
 
Captain Rennaud and his officers met with Hammond to offer him the position of bosun. Old Man Cassen, Rennaud's bosun for several years decided to finally retire in Torvin, leaving the spot open. Mr. Hammond graciously accepted, moving him down from the crow's nest to the deck where he is still responsible for looking over everyone's shoulders. After this, they all came out on deck to face the assembled crew and Cassen's departure and Hammond's promotion was announced to much revelry. Then they were barked at to get back to work unloading the ship...
 
Later that night, the characters were about Port Torvin celebrating at various locales (What Cuahto and Pickles were up to no one is for sure). Araxo took Mr. Morgan into town and showed him around his home port (recall his step-father is the Count of Torvin), in particular the "Lighthouse" an old tower turned into a seedy brothel. Araxo felt it important to show the former Cuthbertine guard what the sinful side of life was like. In there, they met Madame Rose who welcomed them courteously as any noble. Araxo knew that his father owned half of the establishment, as he did with most businesses in Port Torvin, but he gleaned upon an idea to start some of his blackmarket activities in seaport brothels such as the Lighthouse. All he needed to do was see Rose first then his father to buy out his interest in the place.
 
While Araxo spoke with Rose, a few girls were keeping Henri occupied, but this enfuriated a local "swamp ranger" named Melvik Grunge, who had been waiting patiently for his turn and now was being stepped over by some VIP. Swamp rangers make a living hunting for dangerous creatures in the nearby Hool Marshes and are thus uncouth and scuzzy in appearance. Confronting Henri on the stairs, Grunge got rough with Henri to the point of throwing a good punch, yet before he knew it Araxo had dashed up the stairs to knife him in the back at the same time Henri drew a blade and sneak attacked him from the front. Grunge yelled in pain and rolled down the stairs and laid there alive but bleeding. Then his friends came out of their rooms upstairs to see what was amiss...
 
Henri and Araxo faced down three more half-naked swamp rangers. One broke a bottle to improvise a knife and the others seemed unarmed. Araxo intimidated one ranger back into his room by announcing he was a Tydan and bluffing he had more followers with him, but the other two weren't deterred, seeing their friend laying on the floor below. Henri acrobatically went past the broken bottle ranger and knifed him down, while the other combative ranger was tackled from behind by the whore he was roomed with earlier. Order was eventually restored and port guard called to clean up the rabble. The night then progessed as originally expected.
 
Meanwhile, the captain took his other officers and crew to the Hammerhead tavern to celebrate Cassen's retirement. Piper Kellin performed tales for the crowd about the Bird of Prey's recent battle withthe Hideous and also another inappropriate song about men dying too soon after retirement...Hammond worked the room and at one point noticed a couple cloaked strangers eavesdropping on his captain as he talked about his idea for the next voyage, some undetailed venture with Count Tydan to begin in a week. Seeing that they were spotted by Vic, the two cloaked men got up and tried to exit the Hammerhead discreetly. Vic would have none of it and threw himself like a human missile to tackle both to the ground. He then announced to the stunned quiet crowd that the men on the floor were spying on the captain, causing several of the nearest Prey crewmates to get up and take down one of them while the second barely managed to scamper out of the bar. Even though a few gave him chase, they came back empty-handed. 
 
Captain Rennaud and Vic took the captured spy into a back room and interrogated him. Surprisingly he did not give much resistance. The man admitted he was an informant from House Toli (the main house rival of Prince Jeon and his allies like Count Tydan) who was working on behalf of a client from the Kingdom of Keoland to follow the comings and goings of the expatriate captain known as the "Blackguard". This proves to be a scandalous intrigue in the future!
 
Speaking of House Tydan, Araxo went to see his father the next day. Unfortunately he was rudely, and likely intentionally made to wait a couple hours before gaining an audience. Once there, Araxo intimated his desire to buy the Count's half of the Lighthouse, a prospect that mildly amused his step-father. What did he care if his step-son wanted to play at whorehouses in his free time? It was but one of many petty investments he had and at least it was staying in the house of Tydan. He graciously accepted the buyout, subtly intrigued that his wayward son had accumulated a decent fortune from his first voayge. But what Araxo didn't know yet was he would soon be entering into another investment for House Tydan.
 
Game notes: The PCs are 3rd level and we're starting on the second voyage next session. I haven't been tracking experience as normal for D&D. Instead I've taken to the method I used successfully from Mutants and Masterminds by awarding levels only after certain points in a storyline. It keeps bookkeeping at a minimum and the players can pursue whatever goals they want without worrying about missing out on sessions. I'm toying with levelling some of the NPC crew along with the PCs.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Fiction: Origins of the Silver Wolf

“Time is what we already have plenty of,” Revafour pointed out. “What I’d be interested in having is knowledge, unless Luna and Seline have asked you not to speak of it…”

“Perish the thought,” Weimar said in mock horror. “Far be it for me to betray their confidences-they simply haven’t mentioned it. They wouldn’t mind at all…”


From the pen of Canonfire's prolific author CruelSummerLord is a new piece of fiction, Origins of the Silver Wolf: Many Paths Become One. The tale begins with the adventuring companions Revafour and Weimer Glendowyr up late at the Red Lion Inn, recounting tales of their past. I have to point out, the part with the gorgons and minotaurs is worth a glance at this story in the very least. I won't think of those monsters the same ever again. CruelSummerLord's characters actually first appeared on Canonfire way back in 2002 with A Tale of the Companions of the Silver Wolf and in 2007, Trail of Dreams: The Silver Wolf.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Gygax Statue

I'm not sure anyone else has been discussing this in the gaming blog-scene, so here it goes. About a week ago I seen some new rumblings about the Gary Gygax memorial project in Lake Geneva. Looks like it is going strong with the recent approval for a plot of parkland. Now it's on to crafting the statue itself. In the article Mrs. Gygax describes design ideas for the statue that Gary and her discussed before his death. I can't wait to see the finished product!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Sea Princes #11: Banquets and Booty

Welcome back to another session of my Sea Princes campaign. When last we watched the daunting crew of  Bird of Prey they had met with the Crimson Fleet's Hideous to pay ransom for the kidnapped Anna Taskerhill. Cpt. Rennaud had other plans however and sent some of his men into the Hideous during negotiations and they successfully rescued her during an all out melee. Let's see what happened when the smoke cleared. Our dramatis personae for this session...

Victor Emmitt Hammond (fighter, got first pick)
Araxo Tydan (rogue, arrogant prick)
Brother Pickles (cleric, made men sick)

Having returned to the Bird of Prey, the heroes (along with Scar Medorga and Cpl. Morgan of Sasserine) found that they had defeated the Crimson Fleet's Hideous in a pitched boarding action. The notorious pirate captain Ironclaw McGrath surrendered to Cpt. Rennaud in single combat, as did his first mate, Symeon Flynch (who the crew met in Narisban). Only one of the Hideous crew escaped, carried aloft by a trio of retreating harpies; a mysterious pirate wearing a gold headband named Sinister Silas. Casualties were had on both sides, three harpies and ten crimson pirates slain and only three of the Bird of Prey: Zeebo of Garl (a human raised to be a gnome), Hilgarde of Hokar (Rennaud's chronicler mercilessly cut down) and Megaron the Bold (Cuahto's nemesis, he fought valiantly and will have songs sung of him by Piper Kellin). Poor Charlie Duffle, a young deckhand from Berghof, was severely wounded and lost a left arm.

As required, the pirate officers were given into the custody of Major Trowton of the Taskerhill guard (who fought well beside the Blackguard). Of the remaining pirate crew, Rennaud pressed three of them into his service that he judged were the most redeemable. All three accepted their new ship and swore on the Prince's Articles. They are named Two-Bit Jack, Shank (an actual gnome) and the nervous W.B. McGarnagle. The Hideous was piloted back to Sasserine under the major's command with an escort of the Bird of Prey and the Bevenin family's Pearly Eye (which was no help). The Taskerhills graciously offered to buy the pirate's caravel from the Blackguard, in addtion to Lord Taskerhill's generous rewards for bringing back his daughter, Anna.

In port Quartermaster Skullbreaker Rotario divided out the shares to the surviving crew with Lt. Tydan and Brother Pickles each getting one and a quarter share, and Charlie Duffle getting a bonus 500gp for his missing arm! A large harpy cage was taken by the captain for future use as well as some clay pot grenades, and a hold full of rum and food. Victor having spotted the pirate ship first, got his choice of the plundered weapons by law. He chose Captain McGrath's own cutlass (etched with a talon clutching a real bloodstone). Brother Pickles however made his own discovery on the Hideous, Mr. Flynch's hidden "spice rack" (gotta love a 4 intelligence). That evening Pickles cooked up a hot celebratory meal for the crew, innocently laced with baccaran (a potent hallucinogenic) and devilweed (a commonly smoked drug). Needlessly to say everyone was roaringly happy with the meal.

Once the crew cleared up the next morning, the captain and his select entourage were invited to Taskerhill manor for another fine celebratory feast. Five courses of noblese food, including frumenty, roasted boar, poached fish and capon pasties.  Piper Kellin provided some of his usual inappropriately timed musical entertainment, Anna sang an old family song for her father and Victor Hammond unabashedly moved on, sneaking out half way through the feast with a flirting serving girl.

After spending their hard earned money in port for a few days, the Bird of Prey was ready to set out again for its home, Port Torvin. The trip there through Hold waters, was uneventful except for one incident. Stowing away on the ship was Cpl. Henri Morgan of the Taskerhill guard, who decided it was better paying and more adventurous to be with the Blackguard than in Sasserine. He was allowed to stay on but only due to his valorous action. His loyalty to the Bird of Prey will surely be tested on their second voyage from Torvin...

Game notes: The effects for the drugs baccaran and devilweed can be found in one of my favorite accessories, the Book of Vile Darkness (3e). The food and events of Lord Taskerhill's feast were randomly rolled from charts adapted from the classic RPG Pendragon. This ends the first tour of the campaign. There may be a short summer break due to vacations and work, but a new voyage will soon unfurl!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Fiction: That Infamous Key Part 6

A brand new episode of Mystic Scholar's Greyhawkian fiction series: That Infamous Key (based on the adventure Mad God's Key) is up for your reading pleasure. For those of you who have just arrived, there are links to the previous episodes at Canonfire.com. Mystic, Eileen and company get into a prickly situation, they cure some ill thieves and in the process get some more answers in their search for a certain key...

Friday, July 15, 2011

Harry Potter & Greyhawk

At long last, the final installment of the Harry Potter franchise, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Pt 2) is hitting theaters tomorrow. I'm sure by now most people who game have either seen the movies, read the books, or like me done both. It may just be me, but when I first experienced these stories I saw alot of good characters and concepts (especially horcruxes) I wanted to use in a D&D campaign. Indeed, never since the Hobbit has supposed "children's ficition" moved my imagination this much. Yes, I am talking about the feasibility of running a wizard school campaign in Greyhawk! Crazy you say, grognards? Perhaps. But all the information you need to build one is there in canon, all you need to do is to pull it all together:

The School
This part is easy, in the most central place of all, Greyhawk City, we have the University of Magical Arts ready to be used!

"Across the whole of the Flanaess, the rich and the humble alike dream of sending their children to Greyhawk's prestigious University of Magical Arts." -Living Greyhawk Journal #5

Built by the mayor-archmage Zagig Yragerne, this structure is hard to miss in the city. It is a pyramid with no doors, windows or mars of any kind, and a wall surrounding that. New students are met at a pre-arranged spot at the pyramid and are allowed in by a mage using spells to bypass the school's protections. The university has an underground auditorium and nine floors, each corresponding to a level of arcane study.

Tutors and senior students may come and go from the university at will, but the youngest students aren't allowed to leave the pyramid at all for their first two years! Students who finish this apprenticeship (and are thus first level wizards) are then allowed to leave the school and "explore the world". Because of this practice, students of the university generally return to train for their further levels. (Note: this means students of the higher levels may be quite older than those starting out.) There is generally 100 new apprentices on the first tier, 60 1st level mages, 40 2nd level, 20 3rd level and decreasing so on as the students become more advanced and move on. Admission to the University of Magical Arts requires sponsorship of another wizard, approval of the board of tutors and an initial fee of 100 gp. The school takes applicants from most races and all over the Flanaess, with the Greyhawk domain area being most common of course. 

Important NPCs
When running a magic school like in Harry Potter, you need a host of characters. The teachers are a good place to start and luckily there are a few in canon already:
Kieran Jalucian (Principal and also Guildmaster of Wizards) (Wiz 21)
Tobin Potriades (Senior Tutor from 576-591 CY)
Abrazaldin Hosk (Senior Tutor 591-present) (Wiz 20)
Darnak Khorshan (Head Porter, both the university and the Guild of Wizards have dwarven security) (F6)
Ephraim Blackrod (Master of Ceremonies, a ceremonial title but does hold real power in the school)

Playing Youths
The first reservation most gamers would have is playing children. In Harry Potter they start at Hogwarts at an awful young age but the school encompasses several years and age groups, thus by the end of the saga the main characters are respectably matured enough to be decent adventurers. This in mind, a DM can adjust the starting ages for his wizard school along with what the players are comfortable roleplaying. I can speak on this through experience; I ran four full game years of a "hero high school" campaign using Mutants & Masterminds and if you gradually adjust the game from a non-lethal "light hearted" storyline to a "darker" more dangerous one, the age of a young PC really doesn't matter since most of the action occurs among peers of their own age. If you follow the Harry Potter stories, this is how things progress.

Now one of the first logistical problems of younger characters is they aren't physically or mentally on par with the adults that they encounter at their school. There are a few solutions to this. First, in the hardback AD&D book Greyhawk Adventures, there is an interestingly extensive ruleset for playing "0-level" characters. Apprenticing characters using this must train and build their skills and attributes all the while under the tutelage of  an instructor. Even alignment is formative with morality and ethics being tracked in this 0-level system. Perfect! A less intensive way to handle the age disparity (as we did in M&M) is to simply lower the baseline attribute for point buy characters. As the character ages (at whatever rate the DM determines), these stat points raise back up until they are considered typical "young adult" PCs. There are other perks you can give for aging up to young adult such as a few extra skill points, feats, or whatever the DM can imagine. Also remember, most editions of D&D have optional rules for "level training", that is you are not allowed to actually raise a PC to the next level until time and money is invested. These systems would be good to look into for simulating the time and energy spent in the University.

An All Wizard Campaign
Some players might blanch at the thought of everyone playing the same class since it lacks the balance needed for a traditional D&D game. Being a wizard in Harry Potter is common but in Greyhawk it is not. This is problematic but not a total loss as long as the first couple years of apprenticeship takes place inside the wizard school environment. All a clever DM has to do is tailor the plots and obstacles toward a group of wizards, and since most things inside a well regulated wizards school are not out to kill the PCs even low hit point wizards don't have to perpetually worry about being slain. Once the PCs are allowed to leave the pyramid and roam the city or beyond, is when they may begin multi-classing and occasionally taking on non-spellcasting companions. Yet, everytime they return to the University the stories will certainly center on wizards.

Finishing Touches
The University does have competitions in the Free City Arena with the other colleges of Clerkburg. The nature of these events isn't certain (though I have my own ideas) but it wouldn't be a stretch to say the University has its own intramural version of Quidditch that is played there or beneath the pyramid.

Want that Harry Potter flavor to your magic? Try this site that lists latinized names for D&D spells. It's not silly, Ancient Suel is generally considered the 'latin' of the setting.

Main villain? Guh! Do I have to do all the work? How about a student sponsored by the renegade Seeker, Eli Tomorast? That would set the PCs up for a lifelong enemy!

Essential sources for the University: City of Greyhawk Boxed Set (1e/2e), Greyhawk: The Adventure Begins (2e), Living Greyhawk Journal (issues 4-5), Greyhawk Adventures (1e/2e) and one last book, College of Wizardry (2e). I never owned this book, but if any accessory was ever written with this type of campaign in mind, this has to be the one.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dragonmirth Reborn

One of my favorite parts of reading Dragon Magazine "back in the day" was all the comics. There were full length features like Finieous FingersWormy, Snarf Quest, What's New and so on, but there also was a section called Dragonmirth that featured shorter comic strips. Nothing more than one to three panel gag comics based on D&D these pages were by no means less humorous than the full length-color series in the same issues. Indeed, prolific gaming cartoonists like Aaron Williams (Nodwick) and John Kovalic (Dork Tower) got their starts doing short Dragonmirth comics. As a life-long cartoonist myself, Dragonmirth was very appealing to me for that reason. I often dreamed to get a minor strip in Dragon as a foot in the door, but I never got the nerve to actually submit something. Only years later when Paizo was about to have the rug pulled out from under them and have the Dragon/Dungeon licenses taken away by Wizards, did I actually pitch something to the magazines. I'm sort of glad it didn't get accepted since Wizards promptly squashed comics in their online version.

Fast forward to this summer. In its ever backpedalling effort to win back fans, Dragon has brought Dragonmirth back from the dead. Now we have a new host of weekly comics that are being tried out, from professional artists and amateurs alike. I will admit, I'm a little sore that I didn't hear about the return of Dragonmirth sooner, there wasn't any open call for comic strips that I'm aware of nor can I find any special mention about submissions now the column is up and running. In my own expert judgement and given the nature of the internet vs. print versions of Dragon, most of these comics will fail, but a few may last a while we shall see! And who knows, maybe ol' Mortellan will finally get a chance to shine in Dragon one day (although I'd much rather be in print).

Below is some links to the new comics they've put out thus far. Feel free to comment about them.

Epic Campain (by Aaron Williams) Aaron has been doing this for a long time and his distinctive style of art style seen in Nodwic continues here.
The Keep on 16th and Valencia (by Jason Thompson) This one has a manga-anime flair, as explained in the artist's bio.
Alignments (by O and Dern) This one has promise.
Claypipe and Tinder (by Micah Farritor) I really like the art style of this guy. This one could've come from the old mags with its B&W look.
The Critical Hit (by Laubenstein and Taylor) This one has great art, but the writing and typography is terrible. It was was so bad, I even tried my hand at improving it (sorry fellas).

Monday, July 11, 2011

Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan 4E

Bart Carroll over at Wizards has posted recently in his D&D Alumni article about the release of a 4th edition conversion of the 1st edition tournament module, The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan. My knee jerk response to this article was "what took them so long?" On further reflection it looks like it could be a good read, if one can get their hands on a copy:

"The Lost Crown of Neverwinter season for D&D Encounters starts up on Wednesday, August 10th. If you run one session during the month of August as a Dungeon Master, you might get your hands on the special bonus adventure: The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan, updated for 4th Edition. (The special bonus adventure will arrive 6-8 weeks later, and because we have limited supplies, this offer is only while supplies last.)"

So the release is tied to the apparently popular D&DE program and not the focus of the next storyline. It does still show that Greyhawk is being developed for 4e in stealthy bits. For Tamoachan's sake, this one might be a decent showing:

"Originally written by Harold Johnson and Jeff R. Leason, Hidden Shrine was staged as part of an ancient ruined city, and it was "…once the northeastern capitol of the Olman empire, which covered much of the southern continent centuries before current history began." The World of Greyhawk boxed set would place these distant ruins at the very edge of its map, somewhere within the "savage lands south of the Olman Islands and southeast of the Holds of the Sea Princes."

"Stephen Radney-MacFarland designed the conversion, taking care to preserve the original module's sensibilities and challenges."

So S.R.M. was behind this conversion (I thought he was hired by Paizo?), that should be a boon to Greyhawk fans as he was heavily involved in the heydey of the Living Greyhawk campaign. I tip my cap to Wizards for going to an author with Greyhawk community cred. I believe "keeping the original module's sensibilities and challenges" refers in part to Wizard's current trend backwards in adventure design which I also covered recently. Beyond that, Stephen has apparently taken care to preserve the analog Olman culture and much of the nastiness of the Shrine, but to fit with today's 4th edition concepts:

"Still a ruined temple of the Olman people, their background has been slightly reworked so that now this "…human culture worshiped not only powers from the Astral Sea, but also a collection of primal spirits, fey creatures, vampires, and even monstrosities of the Far Realm. They built city-states that banded together as empires and waged mighty wars against enemies both internal and external. These people were the Olman."

"All that is currently left of the Olman civilization," the new background continues, "are the scattered tribes of their degenerate descendants, now prone to Demogorgon worship and savagery." The Hidden Shrine remains one of their derelict structures that still holds "…great treasures and the legendary magic of the Olman. All feature deadly traps and creatures still bound to the dead empire. The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan is one such temple. Dedicated to Zotzilaha, vampire god of the underworld, and built to imprison a powerful Far Realm entity, it is filled with lost secrets and merciless traps."

The article goes on with more about monsters and traps, but you get the idea. Given that I'm running a campaign in the tropics of the World of Greyhawk currently, this announcement has certainly piqued my interest, and perhaps I'll have to break out the original before long. If anyone eventually gets their hands on this updated module, I'd love to hear about its content. Until next time!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sea Princes #10: Rescue Mission

Welcome to another session of my Hold of Sea Princes campaign. When last we saw, the crew of Captain Rennaud's Bird of Prey sailed into port at the city of Sasserine to deliver home the wayward daughter of the lord of the Taskerhill family. It was planned to be a time of rejoicing but nefarious things were afoot. Here is our dramatis personae...


Victor Emmitt Hammond (fighter, talon grabbed)
Araxo Tydan (rogue, illicitly gabbed)
Cuahtehmoc aka "Cuahto" (ranger, verbally jabbed)
Brother Pickles (cleric, opponents stabbed)
Cpl. Henri Morgan (rogue, loyally tabbed)

Proud Olman deckhand, Cuahto made to provoke his tormentors, Megaron the Bold and Handsome Griff as they left the ship on their shore leave. Megaron was ready to take the bait, but only through the slick and confident demeanor of Griff did they ignore the challenges. That's when first mate, Araxo Tydan dragged the riled-up ranger along with him to make some more contacts in town. Asking around, it was soon learned that most black market trade went on in the district of Sasserine called Shadowshore.  Going straight for the top, Araxo used his silver tongue to get an audience with the reprehensible Emil Dracktus, lord of Shadowshore. After going around several times in their cant, Dracktus gave Araxo a contact named Barrasso to get in touch with anytime he was ready to do business in Sasserine. 

Meanwhile, Cpt. Rennaud, Skullbreaker Rotario and Victor Hammond escorted Anna Taskerhill back to her family manor in the Cudgel District and at first the gate guards did not believe she was who she claimed to be but soon they came before her father, Lord Kalmadar Taskerhill and the entire court was overjoyed at her safe return. As the crewmen mingled with Anna's adoring family and friends a singing was heard from outside the hall. Everyone was drawn to it and that's when the flock of harpies attacked! Diving at the crowd, many fled while others stood transfixed. Anna on the other hand was grabbed up in the talons of one and was carried away to the north. Captain Rennaud and Vic were also grabbed by their steely talons (each wore an arcane metal anklet) and were taken to the sky a short distance to be dropped on Parrot Island. Here, the last departing harpy gave a shrill message to them:

"The Ironclaw will release the lost daughter for the Owl's nest-egg. Sail alone toward the setting sun or by sunrise she becomes Osprem's handmaiden!"

Once off the island, Lord Taskerhill was informed of her capture and ransoming by the Crimson Fleet's own Captain Ironclaw McGrath of the Hideous (the same ship they had encountered back in Narisban when they found Anna) notorious for his tamed harpies. Rotario quickly went to round up the most of the crew who were on leave (Five were not found) and Victor got back to the ship to get their vessel ready for a hasty departure. Once the captain had returned to the ship, he was joined by several men of the Taskerhill house guard, including Major Trowton and Cpl Henri Morgan. They carried a treasure chest, ready to pay for her return from the pirates if necessary. Speculation abounded on board as to what the "Owl's nest-egg" was, but Araxo learned discreetly that the captain is also known as "the Owl" in some parts shedding some more light on his past. A plan was soon formulated among the assembled forces to double-cross Cpt. Ironclaw before he could.

Not too far out of Sasserine to the northwest, Victor spotted a ship anchored off on the horizon bearing the flag of the Crimson Fleet (red with a black skull). Before the Bird of Prey could close the entire distance another ship was noticed on a course to intercept. Major Trowton recognized it as the Pearly Eye, an Amedio Trading Concern ship owned by the Bevenin family, the Taskerhill's rivals and to whom Anna was originally betrothed. Apparently the family had been tipped off to Anna's return and capture by someone in the Taskerhill court. As the sun began to set the three ships anchored and began to angrily parley. Captain Rennaud claimed to Ironclaw he did not have what this so called nest-egg, Major Trowton was angry that the Bevenins were intruding on a ransom negotiation and Ironclaw was further enflamed when he was tipped off that the Bird of Prey had a rare black-powder cannon discreetly pointed at their ship.

All the while, the PCs (including Scar Medorga and Cpl Morgan) took a launch was taken under cover of dark to the aft of the Hideous. Climbing up a rope they gained intrance to Cpt. McGrath's cluttered chambers. Seeing no sign of Anna so far, they rifled through the room. Among the knick-knacks pocketed, they found a map of the south seas, a golden key and the captain's personal log. Going out of the room they heard sounds of a fight brewing outside, and soon found the room Anna was held in, yet not before a team of four pirates were sent down to retrive her for Ironclaw.

The away team fought valiantly (Brother Pickles harpooned one guy and reeled him in), easily overcoming the pirates. At one point, a loud explosion was heard resulting in an iron ball tearing a big hole into a side chamber near their melee. With Anna rescued, the team made their way out the stern and down the rope while a battle still ensued elsewhere. Before they could all get back to the rowboat, a single harpy was loosed and attacked them. After firing arrows, harpoons and insults at the winged wench, she fled the scene and the crew was free to make it back to the Bird of Prey, still unsure of the outcome of the greater battle going on...

Game note: I'm not sure if I mentioned it before, but I'm using cannons Murlynd be damned! As this is a lower magic campaign than even what I'm used to running for Greyhawk I think the use of cannons is a fair trade off for ubiquitously using fireballs instead. And y'know, it feels more like a pirate campaign this way. However, I don't have any plans for using pistols or rifles yet.
 

 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Fiction: The Knot Part 2

"For some, the knot loosens. For others, it tightens."

Canonfire's own Ragr has recently posted the second part of his excellently gritty urban tale, The Knot. In this installment we are introduced to a new character, the weary but streetwise Chief Constable Braydon Flynt. The Chief has his hands full as a well-dressed man is found murdered in the wrong part of town. That's when the investigation begins. Yes folks, it's CSI: Greyhawk!


"The killer may have earned the
experience, but the victim got the
point!" (YEAAAAAAAH!)

Oh yes, and there is also a bit more of the youthful Ryel from part one in this episode. I can't wait to see where this story goes next!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

GH Comic #311: Celestian Lost

When last we watched, the crew was marooned in the Sea of Dust. Zagyg and Murlynd went one way, while Celestian stubbornly went his own way after finding a mysterious bag buried in the sand. Later on, the forces of Lawful Evil came searching the same spot for said bag. Let's see how Celestian is progressing...

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Happy Richfest! (601 CY)

I hope everyone is having a good holiday week so far. In the spirit of the holidays, I'd like to commemorate the Living Greyhawk Campaign which, if it was still in operation would officially be on 601 CY (the 103th anniversary of Greyhawk City's becoming a free city.) The closest analog to a holiday at this time of the year in the World of Greyhawk setting is Richfest (note, the following information is derived from Greyhawk the Adventure Begins).

Richfest is the seven week holiday that falls between the months of Wealsun (low summer) and Reaping (high summer). In Greyhawk City the only day of this week that is an official holiday is Richfest 4th or Midsummer Day. On this day businesses close up and all but the most vital city employees are exempt from work. Midsummer Day is also called the Holy Day of Pelor (god of the sun) as this is the height of summer. On this day the public is invited to attend a festival beginning on the grounds of the temple of Pelor in the Garden Quarter. A service runs from dawn till noon and then in the afternoon a huge feast is given to all in attendance.


pictured: clerics of Celestian
as they idealize themselves.

The festivities do not end there. The priests of Pelor then parade down the central highway of the city, the Processional, handing out more food and healing to those who need help (especially children) while at the same time shaming well-to-do citizens into donating money to the temple. Unbeknownst to the charitable priests, during this time they are under the watchful protection of both the Guilds of Thieves and Assassins, many of whom received the same kindness from Pelorians as children in past Richfests.

Midsummer Night then turns to the Grey College Observatory where the clergy of Celestian (god of the stars) hold a ceremony during the dual full moons, Celene and Luna. This is a night of great portent as astronomical phenomena is almost always seen, in addition to the eclipse of Luna by Celene. This is also the time of year when there are the greatest number of werewolves out hunting in the Flanaess.

Richfest is also celebrated in the nearby towns of Narwell (Foundation Day) and of course Elmshire where thousands of halflings spend the entire week doing their usual merrymaking and eating.

And sometimes fireworks!