Thursday, February 28, 2013

Reading: Gygax Magazine #1

Well folks, I finally got issue one in the mail of the quarterly Gygax Magazine. And it's a print issue to boot! As you can see from the pic to the left, Gygax Magazine is a throwback to the old days of Dragon Magazine and boy does it show! From the tone of the cover art and logo to the interior fonts and table of content layout, this magazine makes you nostalgic from the get-go.

Not only does Luke and Ernest Gygax get articles spotlighted inside there is a good mix of classic authors featured such as Tim Kask, Lenard Lakofka, Dennis Sustare and James M. Ward. Sprinkled inbetween is a cavalcade of new faces and current industry leaders like Steve Kenson and Wolfgang Baur. All the articles are supported by traditional black and white illustrations, some by artists you'd expect to see in a Dragon Magazine clone like Jeff Dee, Diesel and Tom Wham. And of course, what D&D magazine would be complete without a trio of full color comics? Rich Burlew (Order of the Stick), Jim Wampler (Marvin the Mage) and Phil Foglio (What's New? with Phil and Dixie) all offer up their best at the end of this magazine.

The content of the articles themselves varies from reminiscing about the early days of D&D to your typical insights on bridging the gaps of D&D editions and gamer generations. There's no word whether they'll be allowed to use official D&D settings yet, with this lineup one can only hope someday. There is useable game offerings in this issue though for current systems like Pathfinder. So hopefully there's bound to be something in here for everyone. You'll have to buy a copy yourself to see. ;)

What impressed me most about the issue however, was that I read it from cover to cover. Not just the articles but the game ads, the credits, the artwork. It may have been the newness factor, but I once relished getting Dragon in the mail just like this and would immediately pour over every inch of it. That is till around the end of 2nd and the beginning of 3rd edition, then something changed in the tone of the magazine. I can't put my finger on it but here was no heart I think. I started to cherry pick articles to read (no pseudo-Greyhawk related material in Gygax #1 btw) that would apply to the game I run and then ignore the rest. It also may have been an overwhelming focus on crunch and full color art that assaulted my brain back then. With Gygax Magazine I think they found that old school formula again. My only complaint is I have to wait three months for the next issue!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Castle Greyhawk: Pants On Fire

Welcome back good readers, it's been a few days now so it's time to plug page twenty-nine of our long-running Castle Greyhawk graphic novel. Follow the link above for additional flavor text by super-scribe Scott Casper. You can also view the latest episode here, courtesy of Maldin's Greyhawk.
Artist's Commentary: This page turned out to be a daunting exercise, but the result is I love drawing that big-lug of an eiger. I employed a few artistic tricks to composing this page that I learned from years of doing Greyhawk comic strips. I won't reveal my exact methods or the blunders I covered up. It's only nitpicking details I would care about anyhow. That said, I'm particular proud (again) of the pose of Yrag sitting up to stab and of the ogre fleeing; he is rather quick for a big guy.
 
Ehlissa burning his britches also brings a question to mind for you readers. Has anyone ever used a torch/spell to set a giant-sized monster's clothes/gear on fire to scare it? I suppose Heat Metal works to make a creature drop an item, but does any version of D&D support rules for burning held/worn articles of clothing, or is this just DM fiat?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Update on A-Series Art Contest

Mission Accomplished!

Wizards sent an email stating my humble illustration, "Markessa Defends Her Lab" was chosen to be published in their reprint of the A-Series (Against the Slave Lords) megamodule this year. I have a good feeling most if not all of my fellow artistic friends in the Greyhawk community got in as well since there was talk about the contest being light on entries. I think this is great of course for everyone, but bad for prospects of them doing this type of contest again.

Having gone through this process once, my guess is Wizards will not go through this exact means of getting fan art in the future. In the very least, using Facebook for a voting system failed horribly. One, alot of people I chatted with don't even use Facebook (shock) so it's hardly the best gauge for D&D-fan voting. To make matters worse, I heard it was easy to vote for yourself multiple times and it showed. Last I checked a week ago, my illo had only a couple dozen votes for the entire period (and extention) of the contest, while others accumulated thousands of votes in a fraction of the time. Voting should've been done on their own site where users have one account and get one vote. But hey I understand why they put it on a big social media site. Broken voting or not, I wonder how many fewer entries there might have been otherwise! At any rate I'd be happy with just a panel of industry names as judges next time. If there is one. Thanks for including me, Wizards. This is one reprint I will buy.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I Like Greyhawk, But Not That Much

I like classic D&D, I like Blackmoor and I really like Greyhawk, but Wizards of the Coast's new reprint of the OD&D booklets? Uh, no thanks! I'd rather have the original copies in a shoe box. What do you guys think? Is this reprint over the top?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

10 Cool Greyhawk Monsters

I've been skimming some classic Greyhawk works lately, last time I mused about setting specific magic items I've never used in a Greyhawk campaign. Today I've decided to list some wicked monsters appearing in one or more Greyhawk products, that I'd like to use more in my campaigns. If any of my players read this, look on and despair because they're fresh on my mind!

1. Bullywugs (Dwellers of the Forbidden City, Dungeonland) They were in Fiend Folio and the D&D cartoon back when I was still new to the game. I need more bullywugs in my game!
2. Juggernaut (Temple of Elemental Evil, Tomb of Horrors, Greyhawk Ruins) The mobile cousin of the mimic. Just the name is enough to get player's attention.
3. Tyrg (Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure) A cross between a tiger and a dog with a stunning howl. Nasty!
4. Horg (Greyspace) You're better off not knowing about these critters...
5. Froghemoth (Expedition to the Barrier Peaks) This creature would look real nice in front of a mob of bullywugs!
6. Manscorpions (Rary the Traitor) Combining the aspects of nature's best two backstabbers.
7. Cave Fisher (In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords) They know all the best places to nab adventurers.
8. Gibbering Mouther (Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan) My love of monsters with no discernable vital spots is legendary.
9. Thassaloss (From the Ashes) Compliments of Iuz, a bone golem and then some.
10. Bodak (Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth) Aww yeah. You don't want to tangle with them for very long.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

10 Cool Greyhawk Magic Items

Let's talk magic items. The World of Greyhawk setting has one of the richest collection of spells, magic items and artifacts in D&D history. Because time is short and editions come and go, it's easy to overlook, underuse or completely miss alot of them. Concerning cool and interesting magic items, here is a short list of some that have never graced my gaming table (or so I recall).

1. Razor Claws of Chakyik (Greyhawk Adventures) Anyone can carry a magic sword, these gauntlets turn your character into Wolverine!
2. Ring of Boccob (Unearthed Arcana) Who wouldn't want an item named for the god of magic?
3. Bonerod (Iuz the Evil) Shoots bone shards and animates dead? Yes please.
4. Black Opal of Syrul (Scarlet Brotherhood) I don't care what it does, it sounds evil.
5. Leomund's Labile Locker (Temple of Elemental Evil) Bag of Holding? Pshaw!
6. Tenser's Sword of Deadly Strikes (Return of the Eight) Tenser can get medieval once in a while.
7. Green Eye of Johydee (Slavers) Your thief is not sneaky enough? Try this item out.
8. Oracles of Greyhawk (Greyhawk Adventures) Kind of like crystal balls, but for info not spying.
9. Shoes of Fharlanghn (Land Beyond the Magic Mirror) Don't leave home on a quest without them.
10. Tome of Recording (Vale of the Mage) A book that automatically records conversations in up to six languages. Why haven't I used this before?

For 3rd edition and later DMs, you can get an excellent download of converted Greyhawk magic items HERE by Rick "Duicarthan" Miller. Even if you don't play 3e, it is a good catalogue of most of the aforementioned items originally scattered throughout many older publications.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Castle Greyhawk: Ogre Attack!

Welcome back good readers, it's time for me to catch up and plug page twenty-eight of our Castle Greyhawk graphic novel. We're almost to the thirty page milestone, wow! Follow the link above for more action packed backstory from Scott Casper. You can also view the latest episode here, courtesy of Maldin's Greyhawk.
Artist's Commentary: Now this is more like it! I'm a big fan of ogres (as most know from my Ull articles) and I'm a big fan of overpowering encounters. Yrag is tenacious though and I'm pretty sure the wizards are smart enough to be useful without anymore spells. Side note, when is the last time you saw a D&D character use a torch as a weapon? Common in movies, not so practical in gameplay I wager.
This page had alot going for it that I enjoy. The bookend wizard panels, some cool perspectives, a reflection in Tenser's shiny helmet (I've always wanted to do one of those), and the best part, Yrag getting knocked on his ass blocking the club. That bit of action really ramped up the excitement for me in what was a slow methodical build up to this kind of danger (including the nuisance kobolds). The ogre has them on the ropes, I can't wait till you see what comes next!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

New Greyhawk Maps and Fiction

Welcome back Greyfiends. Today I'm highlighting a few frontpage items from Canonfire! for those who have not seen or deserve a second look. First up is an interesting bit of fiction titled Omnipotent View - How Does One Interrogate a Dragon. This short piece is another in a long series of "Omnipotent View" articles by Richard Di Ioia aka Longetalos who is an old but prolific Canonfire author who has recently returned to contribute some good content to the Greyhawk community. Follow the link above for more of his over thirty articles then head here to read his most recent tale.

Next is another bit of fiction by Mystic Scholar, the next dark installment of the Sir Ivon saga titled Even the Undead Can Know Fear. Mystic writes:

"The slaying of Refruchard could not be an accident, could not be just some sell-sword getting 'lucky.' No, Refruchard was too old a vampire for that to happen and whoever it was took the head. This action revealed that the slayer knew the truth of Refruchard's vampirism and possessed knowledge of how to deal with my kind. There was 'someone' here; a hunter of vampires . . . there had to be! But who?"

The plot thickens. You can go back and read prior episodes using the link above, then enjoy the current story HERE. Enjoy!

Lastly is the 8th part of Braggi's epic work: The Greyhawk Adventurer's Atlas Part 8 - Old Aerdy West and North. Braggi writes:

"This installment examines the Duchy of Tenh, the Theocracy of the Pale, the County and Duchy of Urnst and the Kingdom of Nyrond."

You can download this atlas HERE.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Wizards Art Contest Submission

Okay folks, as I mentioned a while ago Wizards of the Coast has put on an art contest for new illustrations to grace the pages of their reprint of the Against the Slave Lords (aka the A-series modules) this year. The deadline to enter is February 10th so I'm early in submitting my entry. What is important is the pictures will be voted on by the D&D community and a panel of Wizards' employees. Get on over to their contest facebook page, click on the "vote" tab and help a long time Greyhawk fan get his art and name credited in an official D&D book. There's not many illustrations posted up yet, and some are quite damn good, but I still like my chances. Thanks in advance my fellow Greyhawkers!

 
My entry is an homage of an illustration to an encounter with the villanous Slave Lord "Markessa" from A2: Secret of the Slavers Stockade.