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!