Sunday, December 28, 2014

Castle Greyhawk: Spells and Spears

Merry Needfest fellow Greyhawk fans! After a week lull I'm again set to promote the third chapter of our ongoing Castle Greyhawk graphic novel. Check out page eight and read some dynamic exposition by seasoned author Scott Casper. On our site you can also check the archives and follow the entire Castle Greyhawk story from the very beginning.

Artist's Commentary: This page was a lot of fun to draw. Little touches were fun here like the subtle glow of a magic sword or billowing phantasms reacting to a spear. In the previous installment Murlynd used a scroll to summon a noxious cloud and now Tenser uses a beefed up version of a spell he invoked back in chapter two atop the bandit parapets. No simple magic missiles and fireballs for this group. I can't wait to see what they cast next!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

5E Greyhawk Magic Items

Well met, it's almost time for Needfest in the World of Greyhawk and I figured, what better time is it to gift a few 5E conversions upon the loyal fans of the Flanaess? These three magical treats come directly from the pages of the classic sourcebook, Greyhawk Adventures. It's my first stab at adapting magic items to a new edition on this blog, so it's important to point out that the material below is originally the work of James M. Ward and is of course wholly owned by Wizards of the Coast. Enjoy, and Merry Needfest!


Lucky Ring of the Wild Coast
Ring, very rare (requires attunement)

This magical ring was created by a wizard who liked to gamble, though his greatest gamble was to use it under the suspicious eyes of the Thieves Guild. The ring increases a gambler’s chances of winning, and is prized among the rogues of the Wild Coast.
   While worn, the user gains Proficiency in any ability checks using a dice set. Furthermore, you have advantage on any ability checks that involve gambling with dice only.  

Shield of Greyhawk +3
Armor (shield), legendary (requires attunement)

This metal shield bears Greyhawk’s coat of arms, and was created by the Society of the Magi. It now hangs in the audience hall of the Lord Mayor’s mansion, and is well guarded.
   While holding this shield, you have a +3 bonus to AC. In addition you can use an action to cast the dispel evil spell. The shield can’t be used this way again until the next dawn.

Lantern of Greyhawk
Wondrous item, legendary

This hooded lantern was found by looters in the abandoned castle of Zagig Yragerne, the Mad Archmage. Exactly why he used it remains a mystery, though many people suspect that it served as a guard against the supernatural creatures with which he dealt.
   While lit this lantern burns for 6 hours on 1 pint of oil, shedding light in a 30-foot radius and dim light for an additional 30 feet. As an action, the lantern bearer can shed a magical light for up to 10 minutes that renders all invisible creatures and objects visible. Likewise, out of phase and ethereal creatures and objects appear ghostly and translucent.
   This magic light also automatically turns or destroys undead within 30 feet as a 14th level Cleric.



 

Friday, December 19, 2014

5E Greyhawk Conversions Anyone?

Hey folks, it's been a slow week so I have a question/request for the Greyhawk community. Has anyone started doing conversions of published Greyhawk material (monsters, magic items, spells, etc) for the new edition of D&D yet? If so I'd love to check them out and possibly even feature them here on the blog. I'll eventually try my own hand at converting once I'm more familiar with the system. Happy gaming and happier holidays.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

New DMG: Crossing the Streams

I recently got my copy of the newest edition of the Dungeon Master's Guide and boy, it sure is a throwback to the old AD&D DMG. Ah, but that's a review for another day. No what I want to highlight today is the section of the book titled Flavors of Fantasy which I'm sure most Greyhawk fans with this book have already picked up on, cause I think it's worth pointing out to the masses who aren't sure what Greyhawk involves. When it comes to describing Greyhawk the setting it isn't as easy as saying medieval fantasy; that's because, as this book explains, Greyhawk "crosses the streams."

To preface, the section gives the Forgotten Realms setting as an example of Heroic Fantasy, Darksun is mentioned among Sword and Sorcery examples and Dragonlance is a prime example of the DMG's take on Epic Fantasy. There are more flavors such as Ravenloft's Dark Fantasy and the War backdrop for Dragonlance. Astute Greyhawk readers will already note that our favorite setting comprises all of these flavors and more:

Crossing the Streams
"The renowned paladin Murlynd, from the world of Oerth, (as featured in Greyhawk novels and game products) dresses in the traditional garb of Earth's Old West and wears a pair of six-shooters strapped to his waist. The Mace of St. Cuthbert, a holy weapon belonging to Greyhawk's god of justice, found its way to the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in 1985. Somewhere in the Barrier Peaks of Oerth, the wreckage of a spacefaring vessel is said to lie, with bizarre alien lifeforms and strange items of technology on board...

...It's okay to send your characters hurtling through a magic mirror to Lewis Carroll's Wonderland, put them aboard a ship traveling between the stars..."

Great stuff, especially the reference to the 1985 module City Beyond the Gate from Dragon #100. Though many don't realize it or under-utilize it, Greyhawk back in Gygax's heyday was really just a testing ground for every imaginable genre. To plainly compare Greyhawk with the Forgotten Realms or Dragonlance is to hold back on a lot of what makes the setting special, namely it's quirky, anything-goes side. Sure, crossing the genre streams may not be for every DM, but it's good to know that Greyhawk is flexible enough to allow these odd elements (even as one-shot adventures) without breaking the campaign world in the process.

How is this relevant in today's RPG gaming? One only needs to look at one of the hottest games out there now by Monte Cook, Numenara (and spinoff The Strange). These games host worlds that are genre mashups to the extreme. Surely nothing that can be found in these wildly popular settings could not be done to a lesser extent in the World of Greyhawk. To each their own of course. It is good to see Greyhawk given such a unique slant in this DMG and I hope this may inspire DMs to try an alternative Greyhawk campaign someday.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Castle Greyhawk: Cloud Kill

Welcome back friends of Greyhawk! After some technical issues I'm ready to promote the third chapter of our ongoing Castle Greyhawk graphic novel. Check out page-seven and read some essential story script by stalwart writer Scott Casper. On our site you can also check the archives and follow the entire Castle Greyhawk story from the very beginning.

Artist's Commentary: This page posed a challenge for me not because of anything to do with Scott's direction, but because my laptop died halfway through finishing up the photoshop and text. I lost my hard drive and about five hours of work. Somehow I have major computer problems every holiday season for the last several years. Since I saw this issue coming I already had a new laptop at hand, but I have a problem with clinging to old technology way to long and I have a habit of forgetting to back up files. So yes, I pretty much had to do this page twice. Not a process I want to repeat.

About the art itself, I love this page. There's some good action poses of several different characters, not just one or two taking up all the screen time. Also, I kinda like drawing these ogres. I like to imgaine each one has his own personality and backstory. The horned ogre is like the chief/father of this tribe, while the ogre with the wolfskin is the most capable hunter. His beady friend is young and prefers to use a cleaver than get his claws dirty, unlike the ripped howling berserker ogre whose hands are scarred from battle. Then there is the spear wielding ogre from chapter one who has seen action before and likely lost some face after his rear was set on fire. Lastly there's the half-burnt ogre who evidently had a run in with a fireball once and his hefty, warty pal who's in the back of the party for more reasons than one. Unfortunately, I think this experienced group of adventurers will make short work of the ogre clan. Ah well we shall see, more next time.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Coming Soon: Oerth Journal #27

Good news on the Greyhawk community front. The longest running D&D fanzine, Oerth Journal is springing to life yet again with an announcement of an upcoming 27th issue! The theme is Races of Oerth and if I know the staff of writers like I do this should be a quality issue. Stay tuned!

p.s. welcome back to the OJ, Duicarthan!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Castle Greyhawk: Coin Toss

Welcome back faithful Greyhawk heroes! It's way past time to continue with the third chapter of our ongoing Castle Greyhawk graphic novel. Check out page six and read some integral dialogue by comic scribe Scott Casper. On our site you can also check the archives and follow the entire Castle Greyhawk story from the very beginning.

Artist's Commentary: I'm really growing used to drawing Serten, and his affinity for light effects has been a nice change from the dark shadowy nature of dungeons up to this point. I am also going to love drawing ogres again. Astute readers will remember that Tenser and Yrag met one back in chapter 1. This time he has brought some friends. Even more astute readers will know who what movie the first ogre in line comes from. Even EVEN more astute Greyhawk fans will know what country the embossed coin comes from. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Citadel of Eight Illustrated

Tenser, level 7
Over the years I've gathered quite a collection of old Greyhawk material, from various sources including many things one would never expect. Digging through the archives I found one such item that piques me both as a Grey-historian and as an artist. This pdf is the tournament characters for a Greyhawk game ran at some unknown GenCon during the 3rd Edition era. I don't have any information on the adventure itself except what is hinted in the character backgrounds.

The pregenerated characters are of the famous Citadel of Eight during their mid-level careers; Mordenkainen the Mage (Wiz10), Tenser (Wiz7), Robilar (Fgt8), Quij the Orc (Bar4/Rog4), Bigby the Mage (Wiz7), Serten (Cl7), Yrag (Fgt8), and Riggby the Patriarch (Cl7). Whoever wrote the adventure did a great job statting out these legendary NPCs and providing useful roleplaying information and background for each.

What is most eye-popping to me is the profile illustrations that go with each character. Whoever the artist/s was for this adventure has my eternal respect. Many of these are characters that I myself have been illustrating for the Castle Greyhawk Comic. These drawings of all the citadel members are done in a clean style that is quite expressive. Based on these, I'd love to see what other illustrations the adventure itself held. If anyone knows who the author of this Gen Con module is or can place the name of any artist, please give me a comment below. Until then, enjoy!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

All Rogues Campaign

The Gamerstable gang is always throwing around ideas for new games or campaigns. A few of us recently playtested one of these ideas with 5E rules. It was a homebrew "all rogues" game and for all purposes it went extremely well. That one shot game then reminded me of a Greyhawk campaign I once started on but never got off the ground (this would've been around 2nd edition era); an all rogue Free City of Rel Astra urban campaign. It was to be a game of politics, con jobs and turf wars. Just my fortune I never throw away notes, and today I found the binder! Let's see what inspired material I had cooked up:

Power Groups & NPCs of note

Blackhands: The PC's starting gang. Lenient and low key with politics
Shadow Rogues: Assassins, Information
Red Rogues: punks, bullies, muggers, fighting over city blocks
Astra Boys: youth gang, broke off of the Red Rogues
The Establishment: organized thieves guild with strong political power
The Clan: lycanthropic freelancers
Secret Police: incognito, spies (I assume they work for Lord Mayor Drax?)
Islers: neutral families with ties to the city of Roland
Blue Banner: a consortium of merchants at war with the thieves guild
Spider: independent dark elf thief
Passing Shadow: independent/shadow rogue (has Johydee's Mask)
Ditch: independent assassin from Rauxes

Before you think Rel Astra is a lawless free-for-all, here's a break down of Rel Astran City Watch:

Streetwatch (blue tabard with Rel Astran ship and sea shell heraldry, electrum pin)
Contraband Division (white tabard as above, gold pin)
Homicide Division (plain clothes, platinum pin)
Harborwatch (dark green tabard with symbol as above, silver pin)
Vicewatch (plain clothes, platinum pin)
Prisonwatch (black tabard as above, silver pin)


"I can tell From the Ashes,
it's the Fault of the Drow!"

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Praise For Greyhawk Reborn

Years ago, in the aftermath of the RPGA's Living Greyhawk Campaign's demise a new group heralded as Greyhawk Reborn rose from the ashes. The fine staff behind this living campaign is made up of former triad members, RPGA writers and avid fans of the setting. I have to give Greyhawk Reborn heaps of praise for going strong now into the newest edition of D&D. Now I admit that I haven't paid much attention to either organized play group over the years mainly because I've been lucky enough to have my own robust home games. I've always been active in the community at large by writing articles, comics or whatnot, but never in the arena of writing adventures or going to smaller events like GR's recent interactive at MEPAcon in Pennsylvania.

Hopefully I can change this. I'm already a follower of Greyhawk Reborn on Twitter and recently I've enjoyed reading their new GHR Camapign Guide for 5E. I'm impressed with their list of deities (with cultural names in place like the Baklunish pantheon's Tharoth for Nerull) and I like their easily adaptable character bonus abilities for human subraces. Looking forward at D&D's future I hope Greyhawk Reborn will stay active and grow with the renewed interest that I see in this edition. One more thing, I hope GR or anyone involved with the campaign will be attending GenCon in 2015. I regularly attend this convention and would love to add GR to my list of things to do and people to meet.

See more about Greyhawk Reborn over at Greyhawk Grognard in this July interview with GR head honcho Dave Guerrieri.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Castle Greyhawk: All Business

Welcome back loyal Greyhawk readers! I'm a week behind and it's time to continue with the third chapter of our ongoing Castle Greyhawk graphic novel. Check out page five and read important story script by literary enthusiast Scott Casper. On our site you can also check the archives and follow the entire Castle Greyhawk story from the very beginning.


Artist's Commentary: This page was rather busy but slowly I'm starting to familiarize (or re-familiarize) myself with each character's distinctive look. This is a hard hitting group; strong in magic and heavily armored fighters. The lengths Tenser and company go to search or scour an area is more military than thievely. They need a sneaky type. I'm sure I've mused this before, has there ever been a thief/rouge character of any note in Greyhawk? Gord comes to mind but that alternate reality is not really in our scope. I guess they'll have to take Castle Greyhawk by force!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

What's Up At Wizards?

I just took in the weekend news round-up over at ENWorld which follows every word that comes out of Wizards' corner. There's some interesting ideas coming (or not) in the near future. Here's my summary with links to the ENWorld news clip:

OGL: If 5th Edition gets an "Open Game License" this will spur more creativity from the gaming community and third party publishers. 4E didn't have one and look how long that lasted. Pathfinder RPG and a few other notable games however, are the legacy of 3E and the OGL. I'm optimistic about this one.

D&D Branding: As a long time D&D player, this speculation is somewhat exciting:

"There has been discussion about the overall "brand" strategy for D&D, which Perkins commented on. He mentioned that "...people at Hasbro that never cared about D&D before, care about it now; Hollywood is fighting over it" and assured folks present that "the role playing game is the heart of D&D, just like comics are for Marvel". He did note that "D&D has world wide cultural penetration, though Forgotten Realms does not."

Hasbro has done very well with properties like GI Joe, Transformers and uh, My Little Pony, so it's only a matter of time before those are played out and they put their corporate muscle behind D&D. I'm not expecting Greyhawk anything, but who knows? Also, perhaps this branding talk is what's holding up OGL talk?

No Print Dragon/Dungeon Magazines: This always tugs at my heart strings and I'm fine with letting it go. This article pretty much puts that question to bed. I tried their D&D Insider subscription all through 4th Edition (they made it lapse this month) and their production value was top notch in my opinion. It's still the best venue for aspiring D&D authors to try and break into the industry.

Two "Stories" A Year: Wizards has a new model which focuses all attention on a smaller less system bloating stories, basically two each year. I see the less is more approach as a positive. My own experience playing in the Tyranny of Dragons storyline has been quite good despite being an old Greyhawk grognard. The fact Wizards is trimming down their release schedule however, means their story lineup is already planned through 2018, That is some crazy Marvel Studios type preplanning.
Morrus writes: "So, this'll happen a couple of times a year. Tyranny of Dragons now, Elemental Evil in March, and presumably something new in Fall 2015. Mearls mentioned in his Reddit AMA that Planescape and Eberron were both "on the radar", Spelljammer "isn't at the front of the line, but it is in line", and that for Forgotten Realms they "want to provide a broad update on the Realms, but nothing to report yet". The storyline/sourcebook model seems like a great way to re-introduce settings, though - especially those with strong flavours."

Yes indeed.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Autumn in Greyhawk

Hello Greyfriends, autumn is my favorite season of the year so let's have an esoteric look at what weather conditions are like on Oerth in the Domain of Greyhawk. The World of Greyhawk boxed set as most know has the most elaborate weather generation system in all of D&D. For this post however I'm going to break open Roger E. Moore's quite excellent book from 2e, Greyhawk: The Adventure Begins. In this sourcebook he streamlines the climate rules of Greyhawk with this sensible if not blunt explanation.

"A few words should be said about weather as experienced by the average adventurer. First, almost no one bothers to measure it. Thermometers are not in great use in the Flanaess because they are fragile and mercury is hard to acquire; only a few sages, priests, and wizards have them for research purposes. Instruments exist that measure air pressure, humidity, wind speed, and so forth, but again, these are considered the province of the learned and homebound, with little practical application given them by explorers, treasure hunters and adventure seekers. To be fair, nearly all lower-class commoners and even many nobles have a similar regard for the value of meteorological equipment."

On autumn in the World of Greyhawk; there is but two months considered autumnal here (not including Brewfest, the week long festival leading in to autumn). One of the best things about this setting is the variety of cultures and their own names for things. In the case of seasons, the first month (October to us) is called Patchwall, or Brightleaf in elven lands, Hare by the nomads of the northern reaches and Feast by the peoples of Hepmonaland. The second month is Ready'reat (November), also called Tinklingice by the elves, Hawk in the north, and intriguingly Lovers in the jungles of the south.

Using The Adventure Begins, here's the current autumn condition for Ready'reat in the Domain and City of Greyhawk (assuming average die rolls and chances of change):

Sunrise 6:43 am
Sunset 4:42 pm
(10 hours, which is noted as a normal day's march. Also, unlike temperature, apparently adventurers do keep track of time.)
Sky partly cloudy
Temperature cool (40-55 degrees if you must know)
Precipitation none but 42% chance of light to heavy rain tomorrow
Winds blowing from the south (must be the Woolly Bay effect).

Now because I'm curious and for comparison, I will use the Weather Generator from the Glossography:

Sunrise 6:46 am (3 extra minutes to sleep in)
Sunset 4:45 pm (3 extra minutes to prepare for vampires)
Sky partly cloudy
Temperature low 35, high 57 degrees (a bit colder but close enough)
Precipitation 40%
Wind 4-9 mph (the Glossography says prevailing winds in the Flanaess come from the north and northwest during fall and winter)

Overall not too far off, so the streamlined weather rule tables in TaB are definitely worth using for DMs who don't need too precise information. More next time!





Friday, October 31, 2014

10 Spooky Greyhawk Locations

With October and Halloween winding down let's have a look at some places in Greyhawk that are quite spooky - that is to say spookier than most adventure locations in the Flanaess. The Tomb of Horrors goes without saying so I'll go from there. In no particular order, enjoy!

1. C2, Ghost Tower of Inverness: For obvious reasons, this is always one of the first places that pops into my mind when I think haunted. Located in the Abbor Alz Hills, the object of this classic first edition module is for the numinous Soul Gem.

2. Dungeon of Bleeding Walls: This place just sounds nasty. Nominally set at map coordinates N3-64 in the Wastes, this dungeon is featured in the boxed set Iuz the Evil. It's a place of wererats, vampires and of course, acidic bleeding walls. Would you stay in a dungeon that was bleeding?

3. Necropolis of Unaagh: This eerie location set in the Bright Desert is from the sourcebook WGR3, Rary the Traitor. Unaagh is the ancient burial ground of the evil realm of Sulm, a place where virtually any kind of undead can be found and lording over all is the lich Drokkas who has aspirations to restore Sulm as an empire of death (watch out Rary!).

4. Saltmarsh: U1, The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh is one of those seminal works of Greyhawk that every DM should run for their players once in their life. The story unfolds in the haunted mansion of an evil alchemist. No spoilers for this secret site, you'll have to check it out yourself!

5. Gibbering Gate: Set in of all places the Barrens, one of my favorite scary Greyhawk locations is the underrated insane asylum, Gibbering Gate. Found in the source book Iuz the Evil, this citadel is run by the illusionist Jumper and includes many demons and undead, notably a balor who presides over the Court of Delirium. This is a good spot for a DM to stick high level PCs who offend the Old One because they might get out but not with their sanity intact.

6. Halmadar's Crypt: The 2E module Vecna Lives! is a high level study in the use of horror and overwhelming evil. The mood is set early on as the story begins at the crypt of Halmadar the Cruel in the Kron Hills. The fact the Circle of Eight is doing the investigation is your first clue this is a place normal folk shouldn't poke around in!

7. WG4, Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun: Lost amid the vast Yatil Mountains, there is no place on Oerth that best embodies the strange madness inducing themes of H.P. Lovecraft than WG4. What starts as a standard dungeon becomes quite harrowing the farther in your explore. This module is only for the bravest PCs and the most demented DMs.

8. The Caves of Deadly Shadows: Found in the 2E boxed set From the Ashes, this Yatil Mountain location set in hex R5-81, just sounds like a terrifying place to lure characters into. Besides the normal hazards of spelunking, there is your normal variety of undead shadows here as you would expect. But that's not all! The caves are also home to many other kinds of shadowy creatures, all ready to pounce on hapless heroes such as shadow dragons, skulks, nabassu and yes even the characters' own shadows. Yikes.

9. Maure Castle: The site of WG5, Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure, is in my opinion, easily more fearsome than its more well-known neighbor to the west, Castle Greyhawk. The denizens and dangers of this place, from the Great Iron Golem to wandering bodaks and the guardian demon Kerzit are unconventionally scattered so that foolish heroes may not expect trouble until it hits. Expanded upon in the pages of Dungeon Magazine (#112 and beyond), there is a creepy backstory to the Maure family that underlies the placement of every room and treasure in this megadungeon.

10. T1-4, Temple of Elemental Evil: Naturally this place is among the scariest locations in Greyhawk. The original cover of this module is easily the most frightening in all the game, if not D&D itself. Nestled in the wilderness near the good nation of Verbobonc, we've all heard the Temple's story and this place has been returned to on more than one occasion across the editions. Much like WG4, this module deals with evils so iconic and powerful it defies logic why any sane person would go into this place.

Monday, October 27, 2014

D&D Conversion Manual

This is an off-theme topic for today. Going through my piles of old D&D material I came across an interesting paperback document I bet not many people still possess, the D&D Conversion Manual by Skip Williams. More specifically this was the manual to help switch your 2E characters over to the then new 3E rules. I remember this booklet being a big deal. My group had played 2E for quite a long time and the rules to 3E were slowly being leaked in Dragon Magazine to drum up interest. I believe it worked, because the campaign we were in the middle of when the books hit the shelves was switched over to 3E thanks entirely to this document.

In 22 pages Skip made us forget about 2E, showing how exceptional strengths like 18/91% was now a more impressive sounding 22 strength. The manual broke us of THAC0 and we learned Armor Class now went up instead of down. There was also three new streamlined saving throws down from that old clunky five. All the nonweapon proficiencies we grew up with were repurposed into skills with ranks like Etiquette became Diplomacy, Mountaineering became Climb and Healing became well, Heal. Class names changed, spell names changed, magic item names changed. Then there was feats. Actually, those needed no converting from last edition cause it was completely new and shiny, but they were teased at to get your interest.

It wasn't long though before it before we realized it was too much work retrofitting our favorite PCs to the new edition and just rolled with a new Greyhawk campaign. The rest is history. By the way I am not panning 2E, it was extremely fun and lasted a long time and I would play it again if someone else ran it. What I am panning is 4th Edition. I can't remember, but did Wizards do a similar conversion document or marketing campaign for 4E? I doubt it, and if they did it certainly didn't work. With 5E however, I feel it has the same word of mouth appeal that 3E had, though as far as I know there is no conversion documents to support it either (though I'm sure smart minds are working on it). And though the ability to spread hype through magazines is gone, the 5E playtest packets, the convention rules previews, online sneak peeks and the release of the free PDF Basic Rules went a long way toward establishing that buzz in the game. That has to be a reason why I'm excited about 5E going forward.

That said, whatever edition you enjoy, go with it I say. I'm about to run a special Halloween session of the AD&D Ravenloft module using 3.5E. The module as written is perfect, but it's easier for me to convert to 3.5 rules on the fly now. I got Skip to thank for that.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Castle Greyhawk: Easy Decisions

Welcome back Greyhawk mavens! It's time to continue with the third chapter of our ongoing Castle Greyhawk graphic novel. Check out page four and see lead in dialogue by fantasist Scott Casper. On our site you can also check the archives and follow the entire Castle Greyhawk story from the very beginning.


Artist's Commentary: Ah it's a classic homage this installment. It's going to be interesting to see how a wizard-fighter heavy group navigates this chapter. This page is a prime example with poor Tenser being relegated to a task usually left to the more roguish types. Tenser does have climbing experience though, for those who remember chapter one's adventure in the big oak tree against giant centipedes!

I've been enjoying the lighting and mood of this story. Serten's continual light stone has been a minor artistic pleasure to me. You always hear about those magic baubles in home games (remember the old continual light coin in a tube trick?) but to see one rendered is fun.

One more thing. While the party searches the big statue, what is Murl and Mordy up to? I can't wait to see what sort of trouble this group gets into next time!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Important People & Places of Greyhawk

Welcome back Greyhawk fanatics. On this busy weekend I haven't had much time to write or draw anything, so I decided to dig into my old campaign notes and see what crazy Greyhawkery I was creating 25 years ago. Back in my youth I used to take awesome notes and historical records of everything. I've grown lazy in my old age evidently. In my digging through timelines, hand-drawn maps and old character sheets I found a list I made of Important People & Places from my "Golden Age" of Greyhawk, the 1st Edition AD&D. The list below isn't complete, but perhaps some of these location names and NPCs will spark the imagination of some DMs out there. I cannot remember what hardly any of these concepts used to be or why they were so important back then, so feel free to use these ideas however you see fit.

Places
The Pits of Alcon (Bandit Kingdoms)
Nunora (pop 320)
Chinak (pop 3500)
White Yeti Tavern (Soull)
Cold Dagger Tavern (Vlekstaad)
Isle of Minatra (isle of great suncat)
Tenacotala Isle (Tezcaolan tribe)
Emerald Woods (apparently in the Bluff Hills)
People
General Hyelac of Schnai (F10)
Tundrahillekk (white dragon, Corusks)
Ongoyo (chief of Chinak village)
Hanblod the Owl
Baron Hurlock of Jotsplat
Hindar of Snadheim (Rng 2)
Zinian (evil sorceress)
Norrod (vampire master of worgs)
Bujhall the Slavemaster (Tusmit, F14)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

New Monster Manual and Demons

So I've been skimming the new Monster Manual this month and I have to say overall it's my favorite since the first MM in 3rd Edition. This book has just the right balance of fluff and crunch. The stat blocks seem to owe more to 4th Edition than prior iterations, but I have no complaints with the mechanics nor is this a review of that subject. The fluff is what I enjoy reading; and depraved as this may sound, as a Greyhawk fan I'm inevitably drawn to the section on Demons.

The manual entry provides several well-written sections on everything about demonkind from how they elevate in power to abyssal invasions and demonic amulets. Demon summoning and binding is covered, including the obligatory mention of my two favorite tomes, the Book of Vile Darkness and Demonomicon of Iggwilv.

Most of the time when monsters are converted to a new edition, their lore gets subtly expanded upon. The section on Demon Lords does a good job at concisely describing the major players of the Abyss such as Demogorgon, Orcus and Lolth. Then there's this bit bout Graz'zt which caught my eye:

"Rewards for Outsiders. Although most demon lords rise up from the vast and uncountable mobs of demons rampaging across the Abyss, the plane also rewards outsiders that conquer any of its infinite layers. The elven goddess Lolth became a demon lord after Corellon Larethian cast her into the Abyss for betraying elvenkind. Sages claim that the Dark Prince Graz'zt originated on some other plane before stealing his abyssal title from another long-forgotten demon lord."

Yes, evidently during last edition those wily sages expounded that Graz'zt might have been an arch-devil of Hell before leaving to take on the Abyss. That explains his more human-like appearance and demeanor. Graz'zt is one of those characters that has an abundance of backstory accumulated over the editions and novels. Graz'zt has a full family tree of demons and demigods and to think he started on a different plane is a development I like. I can only imagine the other lords hate Graz'zt and Lolth even more because of their migration.

The manual continues with sections on regular demons, bringing back the classic "type 1-6 " designations based upon strength. I also like this edition's demon entry because they've included Yochlol the rarely seen vile Handmaidens of Lolth. In addition I am pleased to see the Goristro featured again. This titanic demon got his AD&D start in Dragon Magazine then later only popped up in supplemental books, yet recently the Goristro is now a core book critter.

That's all for now. Happy gaming!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Castle Greyhawk: Let There Be Light

Thank you for returning loyal Greyhawk readers! I'm here to further promote the third chapter of our ongoing Castle Greyhawk graphic novel. Check out page three to read bonus exposition by the sagacious Scott Casper. Alternatively you can view the page HERE, courtesy of Maldin's Greyhawk. On our main site you can also check the archives and follow the entire story from the very start.


Artist's Commentary: I'm starting to like this chapter a lot. Not only is there a big cast of notable characters, but I've been artistically employing techniques I've refined from the beginning of this story to present. One such thing is lighting and shadows. The cave in this full page scene is not the busiest background I've drawn, but it's definitely the best and most shadows I've done to date. Practice makes perfect.

Astute readers will also notice the homage in the far corner of the cave. Perhaps we'll see more of that late on...

Thursday, October 9, 2014

5E White Plume Mountain Conversion Notes

As reported at ENWorld, there is a nifty free download by member Bumamgar that converts encounters, monsters and magic items from S2 White Plume Mountain to 5th Edition rules. It's not an overly long document which is good and the conversions of Blackrazor, Whelm and Wave are worth checking it out alone. For those DMs who are changing with the editions I'm sure this will be among the first of many such Greyhawk related resources to come.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Comic Rewind: Sureguard and Swiftdoom

One of my favorite things about Greyhawk's deity lore is Kelanen the hero-god of swordsmen and his two intelligent swords Sureguard and Swiftdoom. There is probably plenty of examples of intelligent weapons in fantasy literature and D&D in general, but does any character have TWO of them? Kelanen might not be so fortunate however as my comic from 2010 suggests. That's because intelligent items don't always have the same intent as their owner. Check it out and enjoy the puns!

p.s. be sure to read the annotations at the end of the comic.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Rations in 5th Edition

I can't believe how this topic even got started, but it was odd enough that I compulsively researched it for here. This week our Sunday gaming group was preparing to make new D&D characters, a task that has been done time and time again over decades. The DM for this new edition is not me, but my friend stated early on he wanted to use encumbrance rules. Thus began the frenzy to make weight under "encumbered". A lot of home games ignore encumbrance rules for expedience which is fine unless you consider the spirit of D&D has always been about trying to simulate the experience of delving a cave in full gear. That frenzy led to of all things, another glossed over item, rations. Apparently 5th Edition rations weigh too much. Let's compare!

To start, 5E lists "Rations (1/day)" as dry food, jerky, dry fruit, hard tack and nuts. I'd say that can be considered preserved food. For 5 sp you get 2 lbs of rations that is supposed to last a day. That would be 14 lbs for a week of food which according to my friends is ridiculous even for a simulated fantasy game. Let's start going back editions and see.

In 4th Edition (thank you D&DI subscription) Rations per day are pretty much the same cost, 5 sp but they weight only one lb. If this seems more reasonable that's because it was the standard for a long time.

Long lived 3rd Edition (and it's offspring Pathfinder) have a day of Rations at 5 sp and a weight of 1 lb. There is a notation in these OGL products that rations weigh a quarter of the listed amount when made for Small characters. So Halfling rations weight .25 lb.? This laughable notation was already called out as bunk by my friends. Fine for containers and clothing, but not food. Let's move on.

1st Edition (and perhaps 2E as well) handled rations slightly differently (as well as encumbrance). There was Standard Rations (unpreserved food) and Iron Rations (preserved food). My guess is "iron" was dropped in later editions and was the default ration. Standard rations for one day cost 8.5 sp (4.3 sp in today's exchange rate) and 28.5 coin weight. Coin or g.p. weight was the encumbrance system in early D&D and was an abstract of actual weight and bulkiness. 10 coins = 1 lb. Thus, standard rations weighed almost 3 lbs. That's the unpreserved stuff mind you.
Iron rations which is our focus, come in at 14.3 sp (7.1 sp) per day and weigh 10.7 coins, or a tad over 1 lb. Par for the course right?

And now to be complete, old red box Basic D&D used a similar coin weight system to AD&D. They too had Standard and Iron Rations. Interestingly, the descriptions say standard rations are good for throwing to monsters for a distraction. Never considered that. Anyhow, basic food is expensive. One day of Standard costs 7.1 sp and one day of Iron is a whopping 21.4 sp. Basic rules liked to be expedient with gear weights as they focused on treasure carrying. According to the rules, all an adventurers' miscellaneous gear and provisions (rope, spikes, sacks, wineskin, rations, etc.) weigh 80 coins, a measly 8 lbs! This of course could be chalked up to the fact its not bulky if stored and carried properly. Going by advanced rules, if you only carried a week of iron rations that would come out to about to 7 lbs. I'm sure rope and bars of metal weigh more than biscuits and dried meat, but hey that's why its basic rules.

Back to the present, why in the world did the 5E designers think rations needed to be upped to 2 lbs per day? I know weights probably fluctuate for all gear through-out D&D's history, but as you can see Rations had been fairly consistent until now. If encumbrance and food is diligently tracked in a campaign, carrying a week of food for these hapless adventurers becomes a very big deal. Is that small bag of gold more important than their next meal? Time to buy a mule.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Castle Greyhawk: Split the Party

Thank you for returning faithful Greyhawkers! I'm again happy to promote the brand new third chapter of our ongoing Castle Greyhawk graphic novel. Check out page two to read additional material by formidable author Scott Casper. Alternatively you can view the page HERE, courtesy of Maldin's Greyhawk. On our main site you can also check the archives and follow the entire story from the very start.


Artist's Commentary: The story continues to unfold in the famous dungeon. This time we find the infamous group of Murlynd (the fancy dressed guy), Mordenkainen (the sinister looking one) and Yrag (our burly armored fighter), are in fact part of a larger group consisting of Robilar, Terik and Tenser (from chapter two) plus the cleric Serten. Serten to me is an obscure fellow that I hope you'll grow to like in this new chapter.
There's going to be a lot of plate armor and magic in this one. So tune in next installment!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Graz'zt Conversion For 5th Edition

It's a good sign that the 5th Edition of D&D is a success, when it's still less than two months out of the gate and fans are converting material like mad. The latest item to catch my eye is a conversion of the Dark Prince, Graz'zt by ENWorld member, Sacrosanct (in addition to a Barghest and Cave Fisher). As my gaming friends know, I love everything Graz'zt related so this bad ass CR30 monster stat-block is a feast for a DM's eyes. I personal think it's too soon to bring out the big guns, but in the wild frenzy to make unofficial D&D conversions it's you snooze or you lose! Enjoy!

Speaking of Graz'zt, I wonder what the demon prince himself thinks of Sacrosanct's work? Check it out...

Edit (9/30): This post and the cartoon got a HUGE boost of recognition on ENWorld last week. As of this edit there was some 78,000 views of the Graz'zt Show. Perhaps the Dark Prince should get his show renewed eh? Thanks Morrus.



Sunday, September 21, 2014

Zombies of Greyhawk

Time for an offbeat Greyhawk topic. I recently finished reading the collected works of the Walking Dead graphic novel and I must say it's amazingly good. Then it got me thinking how zombies in D&D aren't as scary as in pop culture. Sure D&D zombies don't die instantly when hit on a called shot to the head but there is no viral zombie outbreaks in the World of Greyhawk (yet) or any other setting for that matter (not sure about Ravenloft). That's because nobody wants to see their 10th level fighter get bit on a lucky "20" and then have to cut his limb off to save his life. Zombies also come in many flavors in movies and TV, but in D&D they tend to be slow, generic 2 HD bodies animated by necromancers and they don't eat brains. On the bright (dark) side, there is in fact different types of zombies in D&D plus some cool zombie lore for Greyhawk if you know where to look. Here's a short list of some good zombie material (and I'd like to hear about others I overlooked).

Sea Zombies: My favorite, the Drowned Ones debuted in Greyhawk Adventures hardback and are direct creations of Nerull god of death. As such they cannot be turned. They are fast in water, can use weapons and have a horrible stench. Some even retain spell-casting ability. Yikes.

Delglath: First seen in Ivid the Undying by Carl Sargent, this insane cleric of Nerull rules the city of Rinloru in the fractured remains of the Great Kingdom. In a region where undead are in abundance (animus and death knights galore), Delglath stands out by intentionally trying to turn all his subjects into zombies. So far he has over 3000 in his city alone!




Ju-Ju Zombies: These intelligent zombies were created by soul draining magic. Not only are they smart, ju-ju zombies' leathery gray skin makes them so tough that only magic weapons can harm them.

Dahlvier's County: Speaking of ju-ju zombies, in the Horned Lands from Iuz the Evil lurks Count Dahlvier a lich who remains neutral in the war between Iuz and the forces of Good. His castle, reputedly built on the ruins of an ancient elven city, is defended by an army of 1500 ju-ju zombies led by ghasts. Better bring a lot of magic arrows.

Ravenous: These hungry zombies are found in Hepmonaland from The Scarlet Brotherhood sourcebook. Ravenous were created by the evil god Meyanok from the cursed population of a city. They may be the closest thing to modern zombies that I've found in D&D with their insatiable hunger and a touch that drains Constitution points eventually killing a person and causing them to rise as a new ravenous zombie. Beware!

Lastly is a creation of my own (though I never made stats), called the Dry Ones. These zombies, a variation of sea and ju-ju zombies, are found in the lawless frontier land of Ull near the forlorn desert tower of Abi-Dalzim. Dry Ones are created by animating a humanoid after they are slain by the spell Abi-Dalzim's Horrid Wilting. The resulting creature is resilient as a ju-ju zombie and lethal as a drowned one, yet not as smart. These zombies don't hunger for brains, instead they thirst for water and are able to desiccate living beings by contact. Don't be caught out alone in the fringes of the Dry Steppes!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Electrum in 5th Edition

Welcome back electrum! I'm sure a lot of you older gamers who have the new edition of D&D have noticed that electrum coins are in the Player's Handbook again. For those who are newer to the game I'll explain why this is interesting.

In the first edition of AD&D, the coinage breakdown was like this:

1 gp = 20 sp = 200 cp = 2 ep = 1/5 pp

This was slightly unwieldy so in second edition they moved to a system more like Basic D&D's:

1 gp = 10 sp = 100 cp = 2 ep = 1/5 pp

Electrum still existed in the rules, but soon the decimalization of D&D's coins continued with third and fourth edition:

1 gp = 10 sp = 100 cp = 1/10 pp

Despite not being in the rule books for over a decade, electrum was still present in certain settings, like Greyhawk (like in the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer) at it's standard exchange rate. Now in the 5th edition PHB we find this:

1 gp = 10 sp = 100 cp = 2 ep = 1/10 pp

Electrum is back in the pages of D&D for no real functional reason, but it is yet another reminder that the game has gone back to its roots. This direction is great news for old-school Greyhawk fans, so dungeonmaster's, break out those electrum coins!

Electrum Names in Greyhawk
 
anvil: Principality of Ulek
axeman: Shield Lands
bright: County and Duchy of Urnst
bright ship: Sea Princes
bright skull: Iuz
dolphin: Lordship of the Isles
eagles: Bissel, Geoff, Gran March, Keoland, Sterich
fez: Tusmit
galley: Dyvers, Ekbir
great lunar: Highfolk
halfgold: Rel Astra, Yeomanry
haf-kronar: Frost, Ice and Snow Barbarians
hafmark: Perrenland
knight: Furyondy, Verbobonc
lucky: Greyhawk
marcher: Tenh
marid: Zeif
mirrorpool: County of Ulek
noble: Ahlissa, Bone March, North Kingdom, Sea Barons, Sunndi
scepter: Ratik
shinepiece: Nyrond
shootingstar: Duchy of Ulek
silver sun: The Pale
staff: Veluna
starcloak: Celene
wader: Onnwal
wagon: Ket

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Castle Greyhawk: Back to the Dungeon

Thank you for tuning in Greyhawkers! I'm proud to promote the brand new third chapter of our ongoing Castle Greyhawk graphic novel. You can start here with page one where there is bonus exposition by stalwart author Scott Casper. On our main site you can also check the archives and follow the entire story from the start. Alternatively you can view the page HERE, courtesy of Maldin's Greyhawk.


Artist's Commentary: Always exciting to start a new direction in the story. Scott has started us off underground which means more stony interiors and less wooden palisades. I can handle that. I've improved my shadow play significantly since the beginning of the series. I wish I could've had a more consistent hand at the art from the start, but that's how comics go.
So here we have Mordenkainen for the first time. I'm especially enjoying him. Most who are familiar with Greyhawk know Mordy was bald and sinister in the 3rd edition era (for some reason) but before that he was rather handsome and well groomed archmage in the Wizards Three articles in Dragon. And before that in the pages of Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure you had both the older mage on the cover and the younger one (presented here). I'm hoping for a mix of all eras.
Yrag is back, that hardy dependable armored warrior. After drawing Robilar and Terik for a year I'm actually happy to see him again (no chainmail). Murlynd is the surprise of the series, and here in this early grouping he is dressed quite ostentatiously, like a 17th century musketeer. I can't wait to see what he brings to the adventure.
Is that all for this chapter's cast? Just you wait and see!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Greyhawk Comic Rewind

It's a gloomy, slow Saturday morning so I'm digging into my archives to show off a bit of Greyhawk nostalgia. This is a comic I did back in 2009 about my most "cherished" Greyhawk book. Prepare to gasp in horror. Enjoy.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Why the Gem of the Flanaess?

A long while back there was a discussion in our weekly Greyhawk chats about the Azure Sea and that sparked an esoteric question in my head which I thought better explored in length here: Why the Gem of the Flanaess?

For those not intimately familiar with the setting, the Gem of the Flanaess is the nickname of the Free City of Greyhawk, the literal central focus and namesake of the World of Greyhawk. The City of Greyhawk Boxed Set addresses this exact question in the opening chapter of its gazetteer. Put another way, why is Greyhawk so important in the world and why should you base your campaigns out of it? I postulate that while the city is nice and centrally located, given the evidence of history post Greyhawk Wars, if a dungeon master wanted, the setting focus could theoretically shift. The book says:

"A number of key factors have contributed to Greyhawk's key position in the affairs of the Flanaess. Among them are its location, long history, economic versatility, and the vigor and variety of its population.

Greyhawk has long been the beacon for men and women of learning, or great faith, or high magic...

...currently active adventurers are also drawn to the city. The nearness of the great ruin, Castle Greyhawk, has proven to be the most irresistible draw..."

All are important factors. Greyhawk as it goes, started as a minor trading post in a good location. As the Flanaess became more settled during the height of the Kingdom of Aerdy, it grew somewhat, but didn't quite explode until the time of mayor Zagig Yragerne his era of learning and construction and then ruin of his wealthy castle within the last 250 years. In fact, the Free City of Dyvers, (a former capital of Furyondy) which is also on the Nyr Dyv water-system a mere 120 miles away, was a much bigger and more important city for a time, that is until Greyhawk sapped away much of its cultural and economic influence. If it can happen to Dyvers, so too can Greyhawk lose it's luster.

Greyhawk is certainly a hot-bed of adventure, but those same dangers could someday keep trade away trade and scare off the variety of people that it is so proud of having. How? Iuz's empire is just across the lake in the Shield Lands and to the south-west is the orcish empire of the Pomarj, then to the south-east is the Bright Lands. Greyhawk while neutral, is very rich so I highly doubt the city, though strong in its own right would be safe from conflict. Castle Greyhawk (Greyhawk Ruins version) itself is also a danger to the long term security of the city. Not to mention, if the player characters somehow manage to clear the dungeons of all its wealth, where will adventurers go next? Maure Castle?

Then there is the trade route quandary. Pirates of the Pomarj and Wild Coast plague the way south through the Woolly Bay, the Nyr Dyv is relatively safe (don't trust Rhennee bargemen), but does have its own aquatic dangers, then that leaves the east-west roads. As I mentioned, Dyvers is an economic rival and the Duchy of Urnst to the east is on good terms yet if you see the map its a bumpy road traversing the dangerous Cairn Hills and nearing the Mistmarsh swamp. The Gem of the Flanaess may be centrally located, but it's by no means easy to access.

Now that I've bored you to death, where else would be fitting to move a campaign focus given the socio-political problems surrounding Greyhawk? Here's some possible suggestions:

The World of Irongate: Irongate (detailed in Dragon #351) is comparable in every way to Greyhawk. Fairly centralized free city, large multi-racial population, natural resources, fortifications and high magic. Situated in the east-center of the Flanaess, it's main political concerns is the outed Scarlet Brotherhood, pirates and the fractured kingdoms of Aerdy. Unlike Greyhawk which relies on roads and rivers, Irongate has a major seaport to trade and explore leagues beyond its reach. As for adventure, the place is reputedly an extra-dimensional nexus and is in proximity to adventure locales like the Tomb of Horrors.

The World of Gradsul: Gradsul, to the southwest of Greyhawk is the main port city of the Kingdom of Keoland. Much like Irongate, it is a largely (49,400) populated center of trade on the Azure Sea. It has a similar reach to exotic resources brought up from the south seas islands and jungles, much too far for Greyhawk to attract. Gradsul isn't a free city, but it is certainly the most prosperous and heavily defended one in Keoland. It's only military concern is the piratical Sea Princes. Gradsul can make a nice urban locale for political intrigues and from this base adventures be sought in the nearby Dreadwood Forest, the Hool Marshes or just a ship's voyage away.

The World of Rel Mord: To the east, this capital of the Kingdom of Nyrond is another major populated city (46,500) as well as a center for learning like Greyhawk (The University of Rel Mord). Rel Mord is usually at odds with the Great Kingdom, but as of the Greyhawk Wars, they aren't as much of a concern. Rel Mord is along a river-way like Greyhawk and is centrally located in the kingdom as to make it the hub of all roads going to the Urnsts, the Theocracy of the Pale or even to Aerdy. Adventurers can try their hand at the ruins of Almor or go west to Maure Castle.

The World of Lopolla: Want to have a Baklunish/Arabic feel to your game? Lopolla, the capital of Ket to the far west of Greyhawk is situated in another hub of trade and travel between the Yatil Mountains and the Barrier Peaks. Lopolla is a large (27,300) multicultural center spanning the peoples of the Flanaess proper to the Baklunish west. After the Greyhawk Wars, things settled down for Ket so they're not entirely at odds with their easterly neighbors anymore. Loads of adventurers can be attracted to nearby treasures in the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth or the make an Expedition to the Barrier Peaks. After those, Lopolla can be used as a springboard to further quests Beyond the Flanaess.

The World of Verbobonc: Lastly to the west, there is the humble Viscounty of Verbobonc. While it is smaller than Greyhawk (12,700) it is just as diverse in population and lays near the same river trade route as Dyvers and the Gem of the Flanaess. This minor city is much more buffered from the threats of Iuz or the Pomarj thanks to Furyondy and Celene giving it a chance to grow where Greyhawk might languish. It is also still close enough then for adventurers to travel to the same local hot spots that we all know. Verbobonc much like it's bigger neighbor however, has its own local adventure attraction, the Temple of Elemental Evil.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Castle Greyhawk: Daybreak

Welcome back Greyhawkers! At long last I'm happy to promote page thirty-two the final installment in the second chapter of our ongoing Castle Greyhawk graphic novel. Follow the links above to get bonus script from imagineer Scott Casper. Alternatively you can view the pages HERE, courtesy of Maldin's Greyhawk.


Artist's Commentary: This chapter certain has been a fun ride. The action was ramped up and ongoing from early-on and the way it ended it just how I'd want it to if this was played out in my home campaigns.
As always, Scott has a clear vision of how his story should be portrayed and I do my best to make those visuals come true. I've said it before, so much of my favorite art in Castle Greyhawk has been rendering the fabulous landscapes these characters travel through. From dungeons to bandit forts or ruined walls, I have never done so much detail on backgrounds in my life. That alone has been worth the time spent the last two years. I can't wait to see how Chapter Three develops. Stay tuned!

Monday, August 25, 2014

5th Edition D&D: Greyhawk Deities

The role of Greyhawk's gods in the new Player's Handbook for 5th Edition have probably been covered elsewhere in the blogosphere by now, perhaps even since the free PDF was put out. However, this is my first real study into the references made about our favorite setting's deities. I'm not trying to catalogue every barest mention either, it's just a perusal to see how well the D&D team did their Greyhawk lore. So here we go:

Appendix B: Gods of the Multiverse gives a nice short explanation on how the Greyhawk pantheon works, with its ethnicities and overlapping portfolios.

There is a list of 25 Greyhawk gods near the back of the book, along with separate lists of Forgotten Realms (37 if you're keeping score), Eberron, Dragonlance and Nonhuman deities. For comparison, there were 14 Greyhawk-specific deities when the setting was default in 3rd Edition's core rules. The later splat books added at least 24 more Greyhawk gods, some of which are already in this new book, so 5th Edition is clearly already off to a grand start.



This is the lineup:

Beory, goddess of nature, symbol green disk. Easy enough!
Boccob, god of magic. Eye within a pentagram. Mentioned among a list of other Knowledge Domain gods like Thoth. Yes, you need him.
Celestian, god of stars and wanderers. Symbol is an arc of seven stars inside a circle (This obscure symbol is right). Nice surprise there, was last mentioned in Complete Divine.
Ehlonna, goddess of the woodlands. Unicorn horn. A good holdover from 3E.
Erythnul, god of envy and slaughter. Blood drop symbol (Naturally). He gets props in the War Domain section for clerics.
Fharlanghn, god of horizons and travel. Circle crossed by horizon line. True. Nice to see he stayed on.
Heironeous, god of chivalry and valor. Lightning bolt symbol. No brainer here, from the War Domain listing as well.
Hextor, god of war and discord. Six arrows downward in a fan. Can't have a War Domain without Heironeous' brother.
Kord, god of athletics and sport. Four spears and four maces radiating from a center point. I guess I never paid much attention to the lines, but they can be weapons evidently.
Incabulos, god of plague and famine. Reptilian eye with a horizontal diamond. Good to see this underused god of death moving up in the lists to see.
Istus, goddess of fate and destiny. Her spindle symbol is on target. She too is brought up to the main list again, as should be.
Iuz, god of pain and oppression. He of the grinning human skull symbol was in Complete Divine like so many non-core deities, but when making a short list of Greyhawk gods he has to be on it.
Nerull, god of death. Skull and scythe symbols are easy enough to imagine when it comes to a death god, and it's proper that Nerull is on this list.
Obad-hai, god of nature. He of the oak leaf and acorn carries on the Nature domain tradition in the cleric section.
Olidammara, god of revelry (not rogues?) The man of the laughing mask symbol made the Trickery Domain along with my favorite, Loki. That implies rogue I guess!
Pelor, god of the sun and healing has his typical sun symbol and gets a nod in a grouping of Life Domain deities but gives the light domain spotlight up for...
Pholtus, god of light and law is instead mentioned among Light Domain deities like Apollo.
Ralishaz, god of ill luck and insanity, with his three bone casting sticks, sneaks onto the core lists for the first time!
Rao, god of peace and reason is another good knowledge god. His white heart symbol is correct, though some show a heart shaped face. Rao like others previously only made it into Complete Divine.
St. Cuthbert, god of common sense and zeal. He is listed as LN this edition which keeps changing between editions from LG to LN. A move I can only guess is to round out the alignments on the list.
Tharizdun, god of eternal darkness has both his familiar dark spiral and inverted ziggurat symbol. He is given the Trickery domain which is odd, but there isn't an extensive list of domains yet.
Trithereon, god of liberty and retribution is back in the big leagues. His Triskelion symbol is correct.
Ulaa, goddess of hills and mountains makes for a good choice for this list as she is LG and a female deity (one of five). She had never been in a 3E core book previously.
Vecna, god of evil secrets of course has to be here. His Hand and Eye symbol is unmistakable. He is one of seven knowledge gods in this list. Greyhawk has a lot of lore.
Wee Jas, goddess of magic and death finishes off the list. One of four death domain gods on the list, it's good she is also the Knowledge domain or players might not be able to make a character of her with current rules excluding Death Domain until the Dungeon Master's Guide comes out.

All in all it was a respectful showing of Greyhawk's pantheon and the information concerning them. I look forward to seeing what other gods can be brought into focus in the coming years.







Friday, August 22, 2014

Castle Greyhawk: Mutual Respect

Welcome back Greyhawk maniacs! Because of Gen Con and reporting on the con, I'm (of course) a week behind on promoting the thirty first page in the second chapter of our ongoing Castle Greyhawk graphic novel. Follow the links above to get expansive exposition from wordsmith Scott Casper. Alternatively you can view the pages HERE, courtesy of Maldin's Greyhawk.


Artist's Commentary: Chapter two is starting to wind down and after a lengthy all night struggle, Gronan and Robilar are too bushed to keep fighting. It's been a wild ride since the first page where we meet Robilar and his trusty bow and later pages with Gronan leaping and breaking things. I can now draw both characters from memory! (Drake as well, great character)
There's one more page after this then we'll have to see what Scott has in store next for Castle Greyhawk!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Mike Mearls Interview at ENWorld

Hey Greyhawk fans, GenCon is nearly a week old already. Time flies, but the news and recaps keep rolling in from that wonderful convention. One that I nearly missed is an interview of Wizards head-honcho Mike Mearls by Christopher Hackler over at ENWorld. Check it out because Christopher asks some good questions about the future of D&D I haven't seen elsewhere and Mearls' opinions carry a lot of weight obviously. Here is some pertinent parts:

"...Are the plans for either Dragon or Dungeon Magazines?"
"Right now, we don’t have anything to announce. Part of the reason we moved the magazines to an online format was the dramatic drop in the subscription base over the last few years. Bringing a digital magazine out on a regular basis is no small undertaking, either. So, we’re taking our time to make sure we have a good plan that puts material out there that people want and that makes sense from a business stand point."

There's probably no sane reason for them to continue with the full magazine format anymore. The D&DI format of online magazines even seemed to stall during the 4e era so they went to breaking up the monthly slate into separately released articles (with non-essential content made free to read). Gygax Magazine showed (albeit quarterly) that people still care about classic printed game magazines, but their production and delays to get out is a headache that I can't see Wizards wanting in the digital age. Now a yearly collected "best of Dragon/Dungeon" would be smart and might even make a nice printed product, perhaps a GenCon exclusive if they wanted.

"...are there any plans for which setting might be updated and revisited next? If not, and it was your decision alone, which setting would be the next to be supported and why?"
"We don’t have any specific plans we can talk about now. When we look at setting support, we’re looking at more than just products. The various D&D settings have acquired robust, active communities over the years. It doesn’t make sense to simply bring a setting back into print unless you can also find a way to support that community and making it a vibrant, living thing.

Personally, I’d love to see a big, Greyhawk hardcover sourcebook. The fifth edition rules system would work very well with Greyhawk. You wouldn’t need a lot of new class options, but the background system would be very handy for drawing out the differences between different regions. It would also be cool to get an in-depth treatment of the Free City of Greyhawk and the surrounding region. The original City of Greyhawk boxed set powered many of my campaigns in high school."


Mearls is messing with my heart here, but this shows he is definitely in our camp so the chance definitely exists for a new Greyhawk launch. The key part of his answer is about supporting the community and making it vibrant. To bring Greyhawk back would require a Living Greyhawk type revival (Greyhawk Reborn anyone?) or a spin-off of their current version the Adventurer's League. Yeah it's not enough to put out a couple splatbooks and call it a day anymore. Wizards wants to drive a whole theme of stuff around it now (Tyranny of Dragons). The World of Greyhawk setting can more than provide this kind of an extravaganza.

"...Are there any plans to perhaps update some of the classic earlier adventures to the fifth edition? If the decision was entirely yours what classic adventure would you like to see updated first?"
"We definitely knew that people like having the option to update their favorite adventures. We’ll have some guidelines on converting material from prior editions in the fall. In terms of updates we publish, it’s a bit too early to talk about that. We know that classic adventures are a big part of what has made D&D great, and we want to embrace that going forward.
My personal preference would be a deluxe update of the Saltmarsh series. It’s a fun trilogy that includes a nice variety of challenges and a nifty final dungeon against a band of sahuagin. It might not be an adventure that sits at the top of most gamers’ lists, but I’ve always had a fondness for it."


More Greyhawk on Mearls' mind. I think converting previously published Greyhawk material to fifth will be a hot item this time around compared to fourth. Stay tuned this Fall!

Again, check out the full interview HERE.