Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Theocracies of Greyhawk

Greetings Greyfans! Today I'm gonna run down a subject regarding the nation-states of the Flanaess, namely which are theocracies or in other words, realms governed by a (usually) single religion. The aim of this post is to help players and DMs locate a suitable homeland for their devout characters.

The World of Greyhawk is polytheistic overall so there is hundreds of gods and churches everywhere, even Ull. However, some are absolutely ruled by the dominant religion of its populace. For brevity's sake I am not including the jungles of the south or the steppes of the west. These places are certainly inhabited by a pious culture in their own right, but for now we are dealing with the Flanaess proper. Also for ease, I am also going to view these nations as they were in CY 576, the base time of the World of Greyhawk boxed set. Let's have a look:

Theocracy of the Pale (Ruler: Supreme Prelate Ogon Tillit, Cleric 14th of Pholtus) This is the easiest country to spot of course, it has theocracy right there in the name. Nestled in the northeast between mountains and the secular Kingdom of Nyrond, this nation is supremely ruled by the religion of Pholtus, god of light, law, order and the moons. Really, Pholtus wants to be it all and here, from the capital of Wintershiven, the Blinding One is the one and only deity that is real. This is humorous because when Gary Gygax first created D&D he had no established pantheons, but after a while one of the first gods he did name for Greyhawk was indeed, Pholtus. The Pale is a lawful land, nominally lawful neutral to the point of puritanical rule. They hate heretics and don't mind using fire. Your cleric or paladin of Pholtus would do well to start in the Theocracy of the Pale and adventure out to spread the faith with their hymn, "O' Blinding Light".

Grand Theocracy of of Dimre (Bandit Kingdoms) (Ruler: Szek Winvid, Cleric 10th of Pholtus) Oh was one Pholtus theocracy not enough for you? Well then, check out Dimre, an eastern sliver of the "bandit kingdoms" bordering on the Artonsomay River and Phostwood. Dimre was founded by a heretical splinter faction from the Pale whom believe that to understand the light one must walk in the darkness as well. Shady indeed. Needless to say Ogon Tillit hates this domain, as does the folk of Tenh and Nyrond which get raided by the holier than thou bandits. The Theocracy of the Pale has gone as far as sending its own raids into Dimre, but this effort so far has been a stalemate. Players interested in playing a even grittier version of a Pholtus cleric could come from Dimre, if his adventuring mates can stand it.

Prelacy of Almor (Ruler: Prelate Kevont, Cleric 12th of Heironeous) This used to be the western cleric fief of the Great Kingdom of Aerdy. What happened was, while the Great Kingdom got lazy and decadent, Almor prospered under the guidance of Heironeous, god of justice and thus became independent. Having the Kingdom of Nyrond to back you up isn't bad either of course. It's a good, peaceful, pious land, buffering the evil of Aerdy from the west with its noble knights and cavalry. What could go wrong? Players who want a sort of rural, idyllic, free nation to hail from might choose Almor. Oh, and be prepared to defend it.

Caliphate of Ekbir (Ruler: Caliph Xargun, Cleric 16th of Al'Akbar) What survey of theocracies would be complete without a Baklunish nation? The Caliphate of Ekbir on the shores of the Dramidj Ocean is arguably the most holy and good aligned realm in all the World of Greyhawk setting. It is a destination for pilgrims all throughout the west. Ekbir grew from a village of survivors of the Invoked Devastation into a thriving port city, rivaling their ahem less-pious neighbor, the Sultanate of Zeif. While the religion of Al'Akbar, demigod of faith and duty is predominant here, many other deities are openly revered here. Devout to the core, Ekbir is also known for its glorious heavy infantry and impressive war-fleet. If you are looking to make a lawful cleric or paladin from an exotic, "arabian nights" culture, Ekbir is always the best option.

Archclericy of Veluna (Ruler: Canon Hazen, Cleric 19th of Rao) Alright, so if Ekbir or Almor isn't serene enough for your character's background, check out Veluna. This archclericy broke from the vile Great Kingdom long ago with it's much bigger ally, the Kingdom of Furyondy. Veluna is sublimely safe, nestled between good aligned Furyondy, the elves of Highfolk and the gnomes of the Kron Hills. Ruled by the religion of Rao, god of peace and serenity, Veluna has in fact only seen war twice in its 250-year history, once during the Short War and in the famously heroic Battle of Emridy Meadows. Despite the placid, sagely nature of Veluna, Canon Hazen is quite possibly the most powerful cleric in all the Flanaess. Players wanting to serve a high priest representing good morals and not just murder hoboing everything against their god would be advised to consider coming from Veluna.

See of Medegia (Ruler: Holy Censor Spidasa, Cleric 15th of Hextor) Then there is Medegia. The Holy See is the eastern clerical holding of the ever-fracturing Great Kingdom. In the oppressive realm of Medegia, Spidasa and the church of Hextor, god of war is absolute. While this clerical fief has grown rich and autonomous like its good twin, Almor, the Holy Censor still has the ear of the Overking in Rauxes and thus has free reign to do what Hextorians do best, kill stuff. The raiding forces of the See are not well liked among the civilized races of the Grandwood Forest or the Hestmark Highlands. Players wanting to play a grim-dark cleric who serves a sinister, scheming high priest could not do more evil than the See of Medegia.

Iuz (Ruler: Iuz, god of evil, pain, oppression) I was kidding, you can always do more evil in Greyhawk. Should we count the self-titled land of Iuz the Evil as a theocracy? I'm certain it seems to fit. Here we have a literal demigod who is both the absolute ruler and the sole object of worship by his people. This is no mere dictatorial cult of personality, Iuz can back up his claims of godhood with magic and demons summoned from the after-life. His bloody cult is involved in the inner-circle or "government", acting and speaking in his name abroad. So yes, I think the land of Iuz qualifies, even though the numerous humanoids, demons or whatever creatures that inhabit his realm have their own profane patrons. While Iuz is still in power and walks the Oerth his divinity is unchallenged here. Adventurers take note!
What more do you need to know about Iuz and it's cruel, blighted capital, Dorakaa? Well just imagine Mordor from Lord of the Rings with open borders and a lot more magic. Players twisted enough and DMs crazy enough to allow clerics to come from Iuz will undoubtedly be fun to play, if not short lived.

Honorable Mentions. These are not technically theocracies, but they have a pious slant to their culture.

The Shield Lands (Ruler: Holmer of Heironeous, Cleric 7th/Fighter 10th) The valiant, albeit foolhardy Knights of Holy Shielding follow the god of chivalry and justice, acting as the vanguard of good against the evils of Iuz, the Horned Society and the Bandit Kingdoms.

(Ruler: Beygraf Zoltan, Cleric 3rd/Fighter 14th) This Baklunish nation is at a crossroads of many cultures and religions. Indeed, the beygraf is the defender of the "True Faith" and is a cleric in addition to a formidable warrior.

Spindrift Isles (Ruler: Council of Five (elves) and Council of Seven (humans)) There is not much known about these isles saved that the southern isle is exclusively of Suel descent and religion while the northern isles are entirely elven, leaning toward the worship of Sehanine. Trouble is brewing.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Legends & Lore Returns

Hello Greyhawkers! Last week, the premier episode of me and Anna Meyer's Greyhawk Channel show, Legends & Lore went very well. If you missed out, it can still be seen on Twitch. Be sure to check in and share your Greyhawk knowledge with us every Thursday at 8pm EST.

Once I get my act together I also plan to put additional content or perhaps even take questions for the show, here on Greyhawkery if you readers are so inclined. Old school and new Greyhawk fans alike, see you there!

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Legends & Lore Premiers!

Welcome back Flanaess faithful! Today is the day. Anna Meyer and myself will be discussing all things Greyhawk tonight (and every Thursday) at 8:00 pm EST. On our new The Greyhawk Channel show titled Legends & Lore. What topic will we talk about? You got me, stop in and find out. Join in with the viewers in chat and we might talk about anything really! If you miss the show though, there are videos saved on Twitch and on Youtube. See you later and enjoy!

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Greyhawk Channel Fall Schedule

Greetings Greyhawkers! Today I'm promoting the fantastic line-up of shows this fall fro the Greyhawk Channel. This season is a nice mix of ongoing campaigns and new ones. Check it out below:

Ongoing series:

The Dying Kingdom See more thrills and chills and heavy drama in the vile Great Kingdom with the wonderful Dani Neary.

Secrets of Castle Greyhawk The amazingly talented Sean (PowerscoreRPG) continues his story, exploring the dungeons and lore surrounding this fabled ruin.

Return to Greyhawk and Mordenkainen's Path of the Planes. Head honcho, DMShane marches on with his main story lines and playing groups. Where will the heroes venture next? Possibly into the mists of a new plane?

Fortune and Glory continues, also ran by DMShane. I have no idea what fortunes and glory has been found so far, but this show has been a boon to the most loyal Greyhawk followers who get to play with this channel.

Queen of Spiders The fine folks of this show, creep on through the Underdark lead by the bad boy of DMing of Grant Ellis.

New comers:

Birthright of the Pomarj This story rages on from the orcish POV. Half-orc warlord Turrosh Mak is a name no one will forget. Little Red Dot has the wit and enthusiasm to tell this tale of honor and war!

Orchard Unsure of this one, I believe its a story involving feywild. I need to check in on it because it is DMed by the smooth stylings of ProRestarter.

Savage Tide Adaptation of the popular high seas, demon-fighting AP from Dungeon Magazine. DM Eric Vulgaris is more than up to the task.

Uprising in the Perrenlands A rollicking adventure set in an under-appreciated part of the Flanaess, the mercenary land of Perrenland. Scratticus is a genius for setting up and DMing this one.

Rise of the Temple of Elemental Evil Ran by sure to be an amazing re-visitation of the classic adventure set in the World of Greyhawk. I'm excited for this one.

Legends & Lore Saving the best for last is a show co-hosted by map making pro Anna Meyer and me! Come see us as we talk Greyhawk lore, maps, Greyhawk Channel stuff and more. It's a casual interactive stream to support all the fine folks above. Tune in next week!

Saturday, September 22, 2018

New Greyhawk Map Gift

Hola Greyhawkers! Things are humming along nicely this Harvester season. Hopefully by Brewfest I'll have more exciting Greyhawk news to bring you regarding the Greyhawk Channel, it's new shows and where it's going in the future. For now I have an amazing gift to show off. A good friend of mine, Nicholas found this hand-drawn map of the Flanaess at a ren-faire in upstate Illinois and knew I had to have it. Now, I've never seen this particular map design floating out there before, so I don't know if it's original or copied/stolen artwork, hard to tell with these kind of events. It does seem to be a print, so I certainly cant be the only one with this map. Needless to say I'm thrilled to own it just out of rarity.

The detail in this map's terrain and labels is exhaustive. Whoever the artist might be (it is not signed), this person is not some hack, but a knowledgeable gamer, in my opinion. Give me a comment if you own this same map or know who drew it, I'd like to compliment them. Otherwise, thank you again Nicholas and until next time, happy gaming all!

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Rumors of the Barrier Peaks

Hey Greyhawkers! Today I'm pointing you toward a rare opportunity to create something for the Greyhawk and D&D at large. Over at Wizards they are taking submissions for rumors to be included in a special Dragon+ adventure based on the classic module Expedition to the Barrier Peaks. Go check it out, you have until Sept 26th to add your custom rumor, I've already made mine!

"In prior community polls, we’ve asked for your thoughts on elemental trinkets, things carried in a giant’s bag, and unusual lich phylacteries. This time, we’re asking for rumors regarding the famed Barrier Peaks. Who can say what’s true or false, but what strange rumors circulate around local taverns about these mysterious mountains (in 150 words or less)?"

Good luck, and until next time!

Saturday, September 8, 2018

New Greyhawk Grognard Articles

Hello Greyfriends. I would be remiss if I didn't promote the amazing Greyhawk work going on over at Greyhawk Grognard. In the last week there has been a lot going on, starting with a two part study on the classic Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, then Mr. Bloch writes a treatise on design principles for the World of Greyhawk setting. Last and most importantly to me, he does an original take on creating a wholly Baklunish pantheon of deities for the much neglected nations of the west.

Joining the likes of Istus, Geshtai and Xan Yae now are gods and goddesses such as Al'hutha god of the sun and truth, Banlasa, god of healing and redemption and Nasri goddess of assassination and banditry. There is many more, and the full article download ("Dragonne" magazine) is marvelously put together with additional deity stats and profiles, plus a new "cleric" character class, the Rashaw. You must check this article out. Greyhawk Grognard has touched on an unfinished area of Greyhawk lore that Gygax himself had intended to flesh out. In terms of quality and research, I'd push forward this new Baklunish pantheon as approved for any Greyhawk campaign. I know the base people of Ull, whom normally eschew good deities, will be taking notice of Nasri, Ya'huth and Duhl Parath. Kudos!

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Upcoming on the Greyhawk Channel

Hello Greyfolk. Short post today but I'm here to do a shout for The Greyhawk Channel on Twitch. DMShane hasn't put out his full Fall line-up yet, but some possible show teaser titles so far include Birthright of the Pomarj (sounds awesome), Savage Tide (the popular Paizo adventure path) and Legends & Lore (hmmm). Given last season's huge line-up, I imagine there will be many more and possibly some current shows continuing on to the end of the year. Stay tuned!

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Classic Dragonmirth

Howdy Greyhawkers! Today I have a treat. We are going to look back on some old comics from Dragon magazine, no not Wormy or Snarfquest or What's New with Phil and Dixie, I'm talking about the less flashy black and white comics that came before those in Dragonmirth. Readers with any level of artistic or writing talent could submit comics to this column. As a 5th grader back in the 80's reading my first Dragon (#85 - the cover called out to me), I loved two things most about the magazine, the cover art and the comic art in the back. I always came back to the material in-between later.

Needless to say I never got the guts to submit a comic up until Paizo Publishing had control of Dragon and Dungeon mags and I was offered a chance to submit a comic strip idea based on my long running Greyhawk comic strips. Sadly Paizo soon lost the license to the print mags and Wizards took them digital. Sans comics. A dark day indeed. Well, we still have these gems below. Some are better than others mind you, but remember, these people had the guts and desire to be published comic strip artists where I failed. Enjoy and look for more classic Dragonmirth!

Dragon #85 Denton Elliott

Dragon #86 Craig Smith

Dragon #87 Bob Lilly

Dragon #89 Craig Smith

"He Says He's An Iron Golem" Dragon #91 David Hutton

Dragon #94 Robert Albanese

Monday, August 27, 2018

5E Greyhawk Artifacts: Kanteel of the Oldest

Greetings friends of Greyhawk! Today I'm going to try something out. After recently musing about one-sided battles with Istus and Ulaa, I started thinking about the unique magic items belonging to the gods of Oerth. Well, for the most part they are actually relics and artifacts of which no mortal could hope to copy. Time and again though, some of these magic items fall into the hands of PCs either by accident or by design. One such artifact is the Kanteel of the Oldest, the musical instrument of the "Laughing Rogue" Olidammara, god of wine, rogues and revelry. A kanteel (actually spelled kantele) is a Finnish/Karelian stringed instrument. The information below is my attempt at a 5E conversion. Enjoy!

Kanteel of the Oldest

Wondrous item, artifact (requires attunement by a bard)

The Kanteel of the Oldest is an exemplary example of its kind, vastly superior to even an instrument of the bards in every way. A creature that attempts to play the Kanteel without being attuned to it must succeed on a DC 20 Wisdom saving throw of take 4d4 psychic damage.

 Spells. You can use an action to play the Kanteel and cast one of the following spells (save DC 18) from it: calm emotions, charm person (as 3rd level version), charm monster* (as 6th level version), creation (as 6th level version), dispel magic, fog cloud, legend lore or programmed illusion. Once the Kanteel has been used to cast a spell, you can't cast that spell again from it until the next dawn.

 Easy Come. Olidammara occasionally lends this artifact to mortals or allows it to be stolen for a time. While the Kanteel is on your person, any spell slot you expend to cast a bard spell counts as a spell slot of one level higher.

Easy Go. Ownership of the Kanteel is always temporary. Olidammara can call the Kanteel of the Oldest to his person at any time, even across planar barriers. When the Kanteel vanishes, you receive a permanent Blessing from Olidammara (see DMG page 227).

Destroying the Kanteel. While this instrument looks fragile and ancient, it is impervious to all damage and magic, short of that caused by another artifact. Usually Olidammara will summon his Kanteel back to his hand should anyone manage to scratch it. Bardic lore says the Kanteel's strings will break permanently if it is played in front of an audience of three or more unappreciative demon-lords or arch-devils.


*see Xanathar's Guide to Everything

Sean K. Reynolds, Core Beliefs: Olidammara, Dragon #342

Gary Gygax, Deities & Demigods of the World of Greyhawk, Dragon #70

Gary Gygax, World of Greyhawk Setting

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Quick Birthplaces For Greyhawk

Greeting Greyhawkers! Today's subject is one that has come up in my home games in the recent past. Where does my new character come from? New gamers, unfamiliar with the geography and history of the Flanaess will not have the slightest idea where to establish their character's home land. The 1983 World of Greyhawk boxed set conveniently solves this with some random tables based on fantasy races. One is for humans and the other is for demi-humans (elves, dwarves etc). You'll have to find these charts yourself, but for an example here is one I did recently for tieflings and dragonborn in Greyhawk.

It can be daunting to choose a homeland and build a backstory, so this guide below will help you pick one much quicker since instead of ethnic birthplaces or somewhere based on alignment, I'm selecting the most common areas of the Flanaess based on character class. If you want to be more specific later on then wonderful, but for a new Greyhawk enthusiast, this can get you started much faster and will take less explaining at game time. When in doubt, the City of Greyhawk is always a good choice for a birthplace because it is central to the setting map. Everything else below is in one of four quadrants from this middle point. Note, the nations below are from CY 576 timeline.

Barbarian North or the Barrens (NE)
Hepmonaland or Bright Desert (SE)
Amedio Jungle or Dry Steppes (SW)
Bitter North or Iuz (NW)

Furyondy or Highfolk (NW)
Keoland or Wild Coast (SW)
Irongate or Great Kingdom (SE)
Barbarian North or Nyrond (NE)


Bitter North or Vesve Forest (NW)
Barbarian North or the Fellreev Forest (NE)
Adri Forest or Sunndi (SE)
Dreadwood or the Gnarley Forest (SW)

Dreadwood or Gnarley Forest (SW)
Highvale/Vesve Forest or the Bitter North (NW)
Barbarian North or Nyrond (NE)
Sunndi or Great Kingdom (SE)

Keoland or Celene (SW)
Great Kingdom or Irongate (SE)
Furyondy or Iuz (NW)
Nyrond or Urnst States (NE)

Valley of the Mage or Wild Coast (SW)
Baklunish West or Iuz (NW)
Bandit Kingdoms or Barbarian North (NE)
Great Kingdom or Spindrift Isles (SE)

Iuz or Baklunish West (NW)
Wild Coast or Pomarj (SW)
Bone March or Bandit Kingdoms (NE)
Great Kingdom or Bright Desert (SE)

Scarlet Brotherhood (SE)
Baklunish West (NW)
Wild Coast (SW)
Nyrond (NE)

Furyondy or Perrenland (NW)
Barbarian North or Nyrond (NE)
Irongate or Great Kingdom (SE)
Keoland or Yeomanry (SW)

Hold of Sea Princes or Wild Coast (SW)
Great Kingdom or Scarlet Brotherhood (SE)
Bandit Kingdoms or Nyrond (NE)
Iuz or Baklunish West (NW)

Shield Lands or Ekbir (NW)
Keoland or Verbobonc (SW)
Theocracy of the Pale or Nyrond (NE)
Irongate or Almor (SE)

Veluna or Ekbir (NW)
Keoland or Verbobonc (SW)
Great Kingdom or Almor (SE)
Theocracy of the Pale or Nyrond (NE)

Friday, August 17, 2018

Greyhawk: Let's Fight Ulaa

Welcome back Greyhawkers. Following up on my last post about battling Istus, I'm going to have some fun discussing the same scenario with Ulaa, the Stonewife a Greater Deity first seen in the original World of Greyhawk Guide. Ulaa (pronounced OO-lah) is the goddess of Hills, Mountains and Gemstones. She has an uncertain origin, appearing to have traits of human, dwarf and gnome alike. Ulaa is also the wife of Bleredd god of mines, metals and smiths, a nice synergy because in AD&D rules she is very tough.

To recap from last time: in the old days of AD&D, PCs could potentially take on gods (despite what canon says about gods staying off Oerth). The 1E Deities & Demigods was first to give stats and rules on the powers of immortals, later referred to as avatars in the Greyhawk Adventures sourcebook which gave players a better chance to somehow prevail over a deity in combat. That said we are going with the full-power Ulaa in the boxed set; let's examine how hard it will be to cut down the goddess of gems in battle.

No matter her appearance, Ulaa is armored head to toe in adamantine chainmail (-7 AC) and carries just two weapons:

1. A military pick +5 (which she declines to name cause a +5 weapon isn't as cool as her other one)

2. A hammer of thunderbolts named Skull Ringer which is the meanest weapon in the game. Ulaa can throw this weapon every other round. so the pick does get some love. It's important to note how deadly this hammer is when hurled; Skull Ringer will instantly kill giant-kin and golems if thrown and against small/medium humanoids it will instantly kill as many HD worth as there is damage. So if Ulaa is fighting pesky orcs, she can kill 25 in one throw (not sure how that works in D&D rules, like an area of effect?), or instead, pretty much annihilate your 25th level fighter in one hit. No save.

Now it is possible to get the jump on Ulaa. She is just a 14-level fighter with an 18 dexterity after all. If your PCs are lucky enough to hit the Stonewife, she has a rock-solid 321 hp and 90% magic resistance. Ulaa might let you hit her in fact, since she is only harmed by +5 weapons and heals 1 hp/round while in contact with the earth. I suppose one could try to steal her pick and use it against her...

Even unarmed, Ulaa has powers at her disposal such as...

Earthquake: One of the sickest cleric spells in AD&D. Among its devastating effects, it opens a crack in the ground that can possibly insta-kill your character. 1 in 4 for small and 1 in 6 for medium. Good luck!

Dig and Move Earth: In case the earthquake didn't get you the first time I suppose?

Wall of Stone, Stone Shape and Passwall: So she can avoid your attacks you know, then open a hole to throw Skull Ringer at someone or just pass through and use that military pick for fun.

Summon Earth Elemental: Of course a goddess of earth would have an elemental buddy. This one is 24 HD. Don't think of turning him against her either, harmful elementals flee in terror from Ulaa.

There you have it adventurers, respect and run away from Ulaa. She is definitely an under-appreciated, underestimated deity in Greyhawk publication. As written, Ulaa sounds like she has more in common with Thor than Bleredd. Hm, now there's a thought!

Friday, August 10, 2018

Greyhawk: Let's Fight Istus

Greetings fans of Greyhawk. Today I'm going to muse about Istus, the Lady of Fate, Great Deity of the World of Greyhawk pantheon. Istus is pivotal not only to the destiny of heroes as her portfolio and the module Fate of Istus would suggest, but she is also a mean combatant according to the 83 Boxed Set.

Back in the days of AD&D, it was entirely possible for PCs to take on gods. The 1E Deities & Demigods is loaded with stats and rules on the powers of these beings. This template carried over to the early Greyhawk products and articles thus giving the DM an option if divine wrath ever needed to be carried out. These gods were damn tough but not impossible to kill. Hit points capped out at 400, AC never went higher than -10 (AC 30 by today's rules, thanks Matrox*) and most had very high magic resistances.  Let's examine how ridiculous it is to tempt fate herself in combat.

Istus resides on her own pocket plane most of the time, but when on the Prime Material Plane she assumes various forms from ancient crone to noble lady to simple shepherd girl. While amongst mortals, Istus never carries an obvious weapon, though her spindle, from which she creates her webs of fate is her true weapon. Despite this, any object she uses always hits; she controls fate after all. So yes, she could kill you with a cloak pin. Also, forget trying to sneak up on this little girl, she is the goddess of future events, she already knows whether you're attacking or not.

Provided you are still persistent enough to push Istus, her spindle has the following powers (insert your own rules).

Strand of Binding: You're trapped in iron chains. Istus is being nice.
Strand of Cancellation: Your favorite magic item? Never existed. Even artifacts are only partially affected.
Strand of Death: I like to think of this one as rapidly aging your character 1,000,000 years instantly.
Strand of Hostility: Suddenly its your destiny to protect Istus, even against your friends. Yikes.
Strand of Passage: Pesky hero, let's send you away to the Plane of Shadow, or the Ethereal Plane, or heck, Faerun.
Strand of Sending: She's feeling nice and just sends you several years into the future.
Web of Enmeshment: Whoa you're trapped in a maze of your own mind!
Web of Entropy: Great! Now she's just drained all your magic and spells in this area.
Web of Stars: This one transports everyone including Istus to her bizarre homeplane of webs and starry portals. Good luck finding your way out unless you are a genius level intellect.

So Istus basically toys with opponents or outright slays them. Even if you got a few hits in, she has 377 hit points (a ton in 1E terms) and is only harmed by +4 weapons. Even if you loaded up with big blades like the Sword of Kas and Blackrazor, she can once per day move into the future and back to heal herself. Congratulations for making it this far foolhardy adventurer. It is lastly mentioned she is served by a strange companion, a time elemental prince. As far as I know this type of creature doesn't exist in any other D&D rules, so I expect it can do all the above and then some. (*and now I know they do, thanks ProfArmitage, see comments below) Perhaps your PCs should pick on someone else easier, say Hextor or Erythnul.

Until next time...

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Greyhawk, GenCon and GaryCon

Hello Greyhawkers, Gen Con 2018 was last week and I of course missed out on a chance for some meet-ups and gaming. I know DMShane and many fine players and fans from the Greyhawk Channel were there as I sadly followed the event on Twitter. My friend Carlos Lising was also at Indy. running some old school Greyhawk that he previewed at last GaryCon in Wisconsin. With so much hype in the community lately I'm hoping to not miss out on GenCon 2019. I'm anxious to see some new faces and hear about their Greyhawk experiences.

To that end I am already prepared for GaryCon 2019, where I will invite any and all fans of the Greyhawk setting to track me down to hang out with the likes of Carlos, Scott Casper and more (or head to Black Blade Publishing booth to see Greyhawk maven Allan "grodog" Grohe). As for GenCon 2018, since that just ended, have there been any good stories? What games were ran? What cool cosplays did you see? I'd love to know.

More next time.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Inner Planes of Greyhawk

Hola Greyhawkers! This week is GenCon and like many of you, I am not there. Boo! So while Greyhawk is certainly being played by the masses I have some new maps to show those who haven't already seen them. Over at old school fansite The Piazza, Greyhawk super-fan ripvanwormer has created some cool maps based on a multitude of D&D references. Rip got his inspiration from Havard's map of the Plane of Fire for Mystara. This is an incredibly cool idea that I wish I had thought of first.

The Oerth Plane of Fire is similarly a place where the inner plane mirrors the world it touches on in a twisted way. It uses the same Flanaess/Eastern Oerik landmass but the locations of this fiery world correspond to places linked to the regular World of Greyhawk in canon such as Tovag Baragu. Most however are reflections like the Land of Black Ice becoming the Land of Black Flame. I love it.

The latest variation of these inner plane maps is the Plane of Shadow a world cast by the shadow of Oerth according to ripvanwormer.  Places like the Dim Forest, the Valley of the Mage and Carahast's Caves of Sleep have obvious connections to the shadow realm.

All three of these maps are an amazing work, please check them out, and keep an eye out for more I'm sure!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Greyhawk Grognard: Boccob God of Magic

Welcome back Greyfiends! Today we are saddled with the announcement by Wizards that their next two supported worlds are Eberron and that other one from an obscure card game. Never fear though! Joseph Bloch at Greyhawk Grognard has some 5E deity material to sooth the heartache of being snubbed again. This week he features Boccob the Uncaring, god of magic. Learn some lore, new magic and how to make a cleric of this powerful deity. Oh, and be amused by one of my classic comics. This one seems fitting, considering current game news. Enjoy and thanks Greyhawk Grognard!

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Original Greyhawk Mods

Hail Greyhawkers! Today I'm promoting the work of my good friend and avid Greyhawk writer, Carlos A.S. Lising. Carlos has been busily making old school modules and running them at GaryCon. I had the privilege to play in a few of his games these last couple years, and now they are available at DriveThruRPG. Disclaimer, these modules for obvious reasons are sold as generic fantasy but it doesn't take much Greyhawk knowledge to insert them into your home game.

Here is the blurbs on his modules. Please give Carlos some love and check out the link above.

"A terrible theft has occurred at the famous menagerie in the Free City!  Daring thieves have managed to steal into the zoo of the fantastic and spirit away a pair of prized Rust Monsters.  Their trail has gone cold at the edge of the vast forest to the south of the city, so the distraught nobleman who owns the beasts has been forced to turn to the druid and ranger protectors of the timberland for assistance.  Will your doughty group of nature priests and woodsmen be able to locate and return the valuable monsters to safety?" 

In Gnomine Septem
"The covetous eyes of fifty hungry bandits have fallen upon a humble hillside village at the edge of a daunting mountain range.  Now, only seven fearless worthies -- hailing from a gnomish monastery -- stand between these villains and the innocent folk in their sights.  Will your humble heroes be able to defend these meek farmers from their enemies, or will evil grow still greater in the land in the shadow of the peaks?"

Kill Markessa!
"Of the infamous Flesh Traders, perhaps none was more fearsome than the elven enchantress known simply as The Marquessa. Her unspeakable experimentations that twisted the flesh and bones of the innocent into horrific abominations continue to fill the good folk of the land with dread, even now, fifteen years since the slaver's ring was smashed by a band of legendary heroes and she was forced to flee into the night. At last, however, her whereabouts have been uncovered and a new group of adventurers has been assembled to bring her to justice!"

Die, Markessa, Die!
"A brave fellowship of heroes failed last year to bring the notorious villianess known as The Marquessa to justice -- and as a result, the innocent folk of the land have suffered greatly.  However, the elusive and sinister enchantress has been located once again, giving the forces of weal another opportunity to extinguish the grim sihlouette she casts across the region.  Will your characters be able to succeed where before them legends have failed?"

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Greyhawk Order of Battle Lists

 Hail Greyhawkers. Today I'm perusing old Dragon mags again, this time delving into Dragon #37 an old issue indeed from May 1980. What makes this issue significant is that this is the release year for the World of Greyhawk setting (Folio). Up to and including this point, Gygax and company had worked up the D&D fanbase with news and tidbits about the RPG setting and that month's From the Sorcerer's Scroll column by Gygax summed up the current state of things, having had some false starts along the way.

Among the many projects promised in this article (some finished in future editions, others forgotten entirely) was the idea for a miniature mass combat rule set to go with a line of minis. Now the minis were indeed made, or perhaps the first run of them. Gygax had grand plans for these products to play out the wars of the World of Greyhawk using the specific troop strengths and types outlined in the Folio (and the revised 1983 Guide), in addition to his battle and troop updates found in later Dragon articles featuring new events of the Flanaess. Gygax in Dragon #37:

"Steve Carpenter of Miniature Figurines Ltd. is currently designing a set of miniatures rules for warfare on the World of Greyhawk. These rules will set forth the orders of battle of the states of the Flanaess and add to the information pertaining to the “World.” At the same time, miniature figurines of the various troops are being assembled, so that details of what various units look like will also be known—say the Overking’s Guards or the Knights of the Hart. In addition to having adventures, campaign participants will soon be able to fight major battles which will affect the course of things. The figure line could eventually number in the hundreds of sets, with possibly a thousand different figures. The initial release will be in the 50-set range, according to Steve. Of course, I’ll be contributing to the miniatures rules, and I’m helping to select figure types. The rules and figures will be significant contributions towards developing the “World,” but more is needed."

What came of the rules is beyond the search of this post, though I imagine Battlesystem and Chainmail 2.0 were later attempts to revive this project albeit without using the rich tapestry of Eastern Oerik as their setting of conflict. Only the failed Greyhawk Wars "board game" even tried to capitalize on all the build-up started by Gygax. A shame. What's further interesting about this article is the bonus content by Gygax detailing some notable NPC's armies. So not only was this "Order of Battle"as Gygax called it, to be about nations and knights, but also wizards and warriors:

"Finally, as a bonus for reading through all of this, you will find same Order of Battle information for certain renowned figures in the World of Greyhawk. They will possibly appear in the general army lists, but then again they might not make it. Either way, you will have the information first."

My guess is they would have been included. In fact, the heraldry on the cover of the Greyhawk Folio includes the green dragon standard of Robilar and the scimitar of Tenser for no other reason, but in the context of a war-game that never came out, these shields make more sense. The lists feature the forces of Bigby, Mordenkainen, Robilar, Tenser and enigmatic Unnamed Erac's Cousin. Each of the entries tease some interesting back-stories as well that dubiously bring the canon history of these characters into doubt.

Bigby for instance has a hidden fortress that is presumably between the Shield Lands and the Bandit Kingdoms. His force of 800+ soldiers sometimes includes either  elves or dwarves. Nowhere else in Greyhawk publication does Bigby sport this kind of might. He is either a shy, quiet mage posing as a merchant in the east or is hanging out in the Wild Coast/Greyhawk City as a Circle of Eight wizard.

Also intriguing is Mordenkainen's sizable cavalry force of 4000 riding into the west (to aid an evil associate no less) and not coming back. So where are they? Did they go to the Obsidian Citadel in the Yatils? No further mention is made in Greyhawk publication to him having these troops. Mordy in later Greyhawk books has plenty of allies and guards but no need for ground cavalry.

Worst yet is Robilar, whose forces make him look entirely capable of the treachery he is involved in during From the Ashes and Rary the Traitor. Robilar is well known for having Otto and Quij the orc as henchmen, but here he also has a 600 strong, lawful evil army, half of which are orcs. Robilar's keep west of Greyhawk is sacked for his misdeeds and the army hides out in the Pomarj region. So that means they are either bandits or perhaps allies of Turrosh Mak/Slave Lords?

One other thought about wizard and warrior armies, the AD&D rules conveniently provided that every "name-level" PC gained a stronghold and attracted followers. This class design was surely meant to emulate and perpetuate the war-game facet of Greyhawk. The practice fell off fast in following editions of D&D of course. Okay, I won't even get into the rest of lists, find the issue and check it out. It's quite a good read, and maybe if you do want to do a war-based Greyhawk campaign, these troop lists will provide you with some inspiration for other special NPC units.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Map: West Greyhawk Quarter

Hail Greyhawk fans! Today I bring a strange find from my D&D vault (attic totes). It's a very beat-up, hand drawn map of the City of Greyhawk's new "Traveler's Quarter" from my long running 2nd Edition campaign.

Sure it' crumpled, crude and half colored in, but this was our attempt to expand west-ward based off the City of Greyhawk Boxed Set's poster-map. Sadly I have numerous keyed locations on this map, but can't find which notebook I kept them in. I do know the colored in sections were the personal properties of the player's own characters; Dain Hill and the rise adjacent to the Old City wall especially. Q2 is another I recall because it has a road running through it's middle. That is the Brothers In Arms, the HQ for the PC created Adventurer's Guild. The PCs had a lot of money and power back then, mainly from exploring the Greyhawk Ruins (one of them was even mayor after Nerof Gasgol!) However, they got tired of my drama involving guilds, thieves, taxes and court-rooms so they started their own guild for adventurers like themselves.

Their real estate enterprise attracted more and more outsiders who couldn't find homes inside Greyhawk following the Greyhawk Wars. This western quarter also led to some new gates and roads. To the south is Hero's Gate, the north is Bridge Gate and at the end of centrally located Traveler's Avenue is West Gate. The Travelers Quarter eventually expanded and was made a full part of the city by 623 CY. If I ever find the key for the all the locations I'll share the info. This was a good creative era of our Greyhawk campaign. Building things and making maps of them was always a big part of our down-time activities. I'd love to do stuff like again someday. Perhaps in my Sea Princes campaign. Hm...

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Dragon Magazine #70 Ads

Hail Greyhawkers! It's a lazy day off so I'm gonna have fun. My last post got me thinking more about old Dragon ads and how as a youth I enjoyed looking at those almost as much as the articles or comics. Nowadays gaming ads don't attract me. They're too well made. Boring! Some of these old school ads though were quite humorous in today's light. Okay fellow gamers, let's go back in time and riff through a randomly chosen issue, Dragon Magazine #70 from 1983:

The adventure is indeed mine! This first ad is a full page ad for Basic and ExperD&D (of course TSR will splurge in their own magazine). I love these games, I still own both boxed sets today. What I enjoy is the photo ads of the 80's. So, what they show here is five people (2 girls too, ahead of their time) playing around the tiniest round table ever. This would never fly in today's gamer culture with all our books, dice towers, tablets, cell phones and not to forget, snack and beverages! Also, hey scoot down guys...there's a whole other side of that table you can sit on! ;)

It's a book...

Yeah it sure is, but no thanks. If it's a game, it's one that 11 year-old me could never get into because Basic D&D rules was all the math I could handle. Or maybe I'm just not into sci-fi RPGs. Speaking of which...

1. I'm not a fan of Star Trek as an RPG. (Sorry fans) but hey who wouldn't want to own a starship?
2. The Correspondence Game? Oh man, this is 1983. There is no email, or message boards, or instant messengers. You had to command your space ship through SNAIL MAIL?
Shields up! *licks stamp, seals envelope, walks to mailbox*

 Bahaha, vorpal blade. Snicker-snack. Bandersnatch Leathers. Clever ad. Dice bags have been a hot commodity forever evidently. I also like that they have small and large sizes rated by how many dice they hold. I don't think I've ever seen that as a selling point before. Wait, 4 to 6 weeks for delivery? My dice are gonna be sad until then.

Who am I kidding, I've used zip-lock bags for dice before.
 I know yall have heard of Dragonbone. I never got one of these and I sort of wish I had. For you young bloods, this is the 1983 version of a dice app. I'm sure it works as accurate as a dice app too, which is to say I don't trust them!

At any rate, one year guarantee. Not bad! How many RPG accessories have you ever bought that have a warranty of some sort?

$24.95 ?! In 80's money that is *checks* that is $63.02 ! On second thought, I'm glad I didn't buy Dragonbone.

Oh no SCi-fi RPGs again! Actually, Space Opera ads ran in Dragon as far back as I can remember. Never bought this game, probably never will (though I bet it's more fun than ST or Traveller), but I always admired their sharp black and white ads at the bottom of pages. Very eye catching!
Fantasy Games Unlimited made this game as well as games like Bushido and Villains & Vigilantes.

One thing I have to pause and point out too. Dragon #70 was in the early years of published Greyhawk. 1983 is when the World of Greyhawk boxed set first came out. In the magazine, Gary Gygax and company were doing articles and columns to support the setting such as the Deities & Demigods of the World of Greyhawk. All I wanted to say though is look at that beautiful calligraphy. I can only assume it was done by Darlene herself though I can't find actual credit in the magazine. A shame.

And lastly, there is minis. Dragon Magazine was always stocked full of ads for minis from great companies like Grenadier, Ral Partha, Citadel, etc. I could show you those old models and you'd turn your nose up at their quality compared to today. So instead, I'm showing an ad for a game store called Hobby House that will send you a FREE lead mini for the cost of one catalog which is evidently $1.00 ($2.53 for you millennials)

Lead minis. Ah those were the days before we cared about lead poisoning. We painted our lead minis with lead paint while we drank water from lead lined plumbing. If you are also from this era and still reading my blog, then kudos gamer for surviving long enough to enjoy this retrospective with me!

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Dragon #200 Ad: Mystara

Hey Greyhawkers! Today I'm wistfully working on a writing project that I've been chipping away at for quite a long time. I'm also listening to the Twitch debut of Valley of Soot & Skull on the Greyhawk Channel. In the meantime, I have a question for all your readers, is it possible to be outraged 25 years after the fact? Check this ad out:

This is an advert for the Mystara setting in Dragon Magazine #200 way back in 1993. I have nothing against Mystara. I love Mystara. I hate whoever the art/advertising director was in 1993. I don't think I need to explain anymore. Just soak it in....

/rant over

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Evil Alternate Oerth

Cold iron avail you, Greyhawkers! Today I'm entertaining an interesting and obscure facet of World of Greyhawk lore. Namely, alternate-Oerths. According to fan-scholars on the subject, Oerth has four known alternate, parallel worlds: Aerth, Uerth, Yarth, and Earth. For a lengthier explanation of how these realities work check out Ripvanwormer's interesting take on CanonfireSummarized they look like this:

Oerth = home of the World of Greyhawk game setting and timeline we all know.

Earth = This is our world. It is also the home world of the mace wielding deity St. Cuthbert and the technology of Murlynd.

Aerth = Essentially the setting of Gary Gygax's Dangerous Journeys RPG and books.

Yarth = Is the home of Gygax's Gord novels, the Sagard the barbarian stories and quite possibly the original home of Mayaheine before she was brought to Oerth by Pelor.

and finally there is Uerth = The "gothic" world. This is a place of pulp horror fiction and could possibly be the location of Rhop a land from which the nomadic Rhennee left for Oerth. 

Rip's theories are well reasoned and authoritative in my opinion. However, in published canon we have learned Uerth is far worse than just an HP Lovecraft world; it's the EVIL MIRROR UNIVERSE OERTH. This development came 10 years ago, in 3.E's Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk by Paizo Publishing's own Erik Mona, Jason Bulmahn and James Jacobs in what was basically the last major Greyhawk adventure ever printed. What follows is for DM's only. It contains major ***SPOILER*** material. You've been warned, ready?

 Not yet.

Still with me?

Okay then. In the adventure there is an artifact called the Orb of Opposition. Touching it transports a character's evil duplicate to Oerth. Enough said. Without giving too much more away, the following NPCs have mirror opposites floating around:

Lord Robilar's evil doppleganger is thus Bilarro.
The utterly evil Iggwilv (Tasha) is replaced by the "good" Ahsat.
Mad Zagig Yragerne has a double named Xagig.
Nolzur has a copy called Rulzon.
Quaal is mimicked by the evil Aluuq. 
Keoghtom's evil version is Komoghet. 
Musical Heward is opposed by the evil Wedrah.
and Murlynd has the evil double named Lyndrum.

All quite anagramatically funny yes, that is a classic Gygax hallmark, but making Uerth a literally intrinsic evil realm opens up VAST possibilities for a campaign that wishes to gate to and from this world. For example I could do this:

Iuz the Old One, demigod of evil and pain becomes Zui the Young, demigod of good and life. A being whose embattled land is a holy island surrounded by a sea of abject evil. (I'd say that anything higher than a demigod or demonlord is unaffected by the mirror world effect, so Nerull is still Nerull and Pelor is still Pelor.)

Celene, Kingdom of the Elves ruled by Queen Yolande becomes, Celune, Realm of the Dark Elves ruled by Queen Andeyol.

The good Kingdom of Furyondy is now Furyon ruled by the anti-paladin King Vorleb.

The wicked Great Kingdom becomes the once Grand Kingdom of Uerdy -now fractured and overrun by millions of peasant zombies, while undead-slayers and paladins like Saint Gothkar roam the land defending the weak.

Adventure hot spot the Tomb of Horrors becomes the Crypt of Terror a place created by the mage Karereca, that openly challenges evil, greedy treasure seekers to risk their lives for fame and fortune.

The Temple of Elemental Evil becomes the Temple of Elemental Good (of course) where an angelic ally of Zui is bound after her defeat in the Battle of Meridy Fields.

The Free City of Greyhawk ruled by wealthy neutral oligarchs becomes ,well, the Free City of Grayhawk. I imagine the balance is important after all since this place maintains its neutral stance, albeit attracting a more vile sort of adventuring lot.

Irongate the city fortress of good humans and dwarf-kind becomes Ironmaw a city of evil inhabited by vile humans, drow, duergar, hateful gnomes and yes, cannibal halflings- their city is only part of a larger faction called the Iron Horde.

The noble Kingdom of Keoland is now the Kingdom of Keoghlund a vast empire whose spy network, the Knights of the Watch cause fear and mistrust in all citizens.

The nautical Hold of the Sea Princes here, becomes the Domain of the Sea Princess. All must fear this narcissistic princess and her deadly pirate fleet!

Finally, the tiny, brutal land of Ull on Uerth becomes the paradise Luu where peaceful herders mingle with unicorns, gentle giants and other fey denizens. BLECH!

I could go on like this for multiple posts and never run out of things to adapt. And yeah, I know Oerth is already a world of ascendant evil, but like I said Uerth can be this twisted mirror-version of the World of Greyhawk that turns the evil dial to 11. Good luck Greyhawk fans, I hope you take this ball and run with it now!