Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Children of Kord

Hail friends of Greyhawk! Today I'm musing about all the children of Kord god of strength. In fact, I'm entirely surprised there isn't any officially named in canon. At least to my knowledge. Why is this a shock? Well Len Lakofka set them up to be some heroic progeny way back in Dragon Magazine #87. Perhaps it's a tease, but even your next character could be the Child of Kord. How? Let's have a look at some 1st Edition lore...

Kord is worshipped more than any other Suel deity. Thriving churches dedicated to him can be found in the Barbarian States, northern Ulek, Almor, the Great Kingdom, Hepmonaland, and on Lendore Isle. Small isolated churches may be found among peasants over the entire route of the Suloise migration"

Kord is all over, especially within the Thillonrian Peninsula. So basically any character, especially barbarians, could have a chance to be a demigod child.

"Kord is quite the fool for a pretty face. He favors elven and human women, but has also consorted with other humanoids and even giants. The world is full of his sons and daughters, but few, if any, of them can claim demigod status (less than 1%). Any figures who can make that claim must have scores of 18 to 20 in two of these three ability areas: strength, constitution, and dexterity." 

So, Kord is not only loved Oerik-wide but, like many AD&D gods of Greyhawk, he flaunts the fact that true deities aren't supposed to directly enter the Prime Material Plane without the consensus of the pantheons. Clearly then, carousing with mortals in alternate forms is the classic mythology loophole.

"To determine whether an offspring of Kord is entitled to demigod status, roll 2d6+6 for each of the character’s ability scores. Two of the results must be 18 (rolls of 12, modified), and the numbers must be assigned so that the character has scores of 18 in two of the three physical abilities: strength, constitution, and dexterity."

Now the chances an elf having a modified 18 DEX is pretty good, but the other stats means Kord more than likely has children among giants or ogres before medium sized humanoid-kind. Even so, the rules of this edition allow you to try and build your character as a child of Kord upfront (unlike the scant 1% chance of being psionic after the fact). The 2d6+6 system guarantees a decent PC with minimum stats of 8, average of 13 yet there is no certainty you'll get two 18+ stats. The d4 roll is what separates the demigods from the pretenders though...

"If this criterion is met, roll d4 for each ability score of 18: a result of 1 or 2 means no adjustment, a result of 3 raises that ability score to 19, and a result of 4 raises it to 20.

Only those characters who pass all these tests and end up with two scores of 19 or higher among strength, constitution, and dexterity can dare to claim their birthright and openly profess Kord as their father. Kord will not deny such a claim; instead, on the child’s 17th birthday Kord will come forth to give the young warrior a great task based almost entirely on fighting ability. Those who pass this test will acquire limited special powers (see the lists below)."

How's that for a 17th birthday party? What's even better for the PC child of Kord is ALL starting ages in 1E (even humans) are already in that range, meaning a player who defies the odds could not only have two exceptional stats, but also some additional powers (assuming the PC can pass this test of combat) at only 1st level!

"Although passing this final test does qualify the character (in Kord’s eyes) to call himself or herself a demigod, the overriding power of Lendor keeps Kord’s offspring from dominating the Prime Material plane"

Well that's a relief.

"Each demigod character gains from 2-4 special powers; roll d8 once for each of the following lists."

List #1 :
1. Save vs. poison is 3
2. Save vs. death is 4
3. Save vs. all forms of fear is 3
4. Immune to quest and geas spells
5. Mask alignment at will
6. Immune to normal missiles
7. Immune to sleep, hold, and slow
8. Roll twice, ignoring 8s and duplicates

List #2:
1. Heal self once/week
2. Jump or levitate at will
3. Enlarge self at will, as 10th level M-U
4. Climb walls as 7th level thief
5. No non-proficiency penalties applied
6. Can cast silence on self at will
7. Blood rage: Will go berserk (+2 to strength) if damaged 50% or more in combat, fighting until slain or until everything within 60 feet is killed
8. Roll twice, ignoring 8s and duplicates

Now all these "powers" are quite tailored to the AD&D system, so for an enterprising DM to adopt the Children of Kord into their modern D&D games, it will require a bit of creative game design.

So, you've successfully made a child of Kord...Now for the last paragraph of info on these rare quasi-deities.

"Kord’s children may never be lawful, nor may they be paladins, illusionists, monks, or druids. Any of his children who do not enter his clergy and who reject the fighting profession (by not becoming a fighter or ranger) and any of his offspring who display cowardice will be disowned, which might mean (30% chance) that Kord himself will come to the Prime Material plane to slay the offending character."

No one said being a Child of Kord was going to be easy. For those who hung in there for this long article, here's a bonus Kord comic of mine from Oerth Journal #21.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Unmapped Cities of Greyhawk

Hail Greyhawkers! Not much going on this week so I'm thumbing through the old 83 Guide and thinking about all the cities and towns that have been mapped in official Greyhawk publications (and there's alot of them!). Now I can imagine during the heyday of Living Greyhawk many many more towns were laid out, but I can't credibly count those since its not accessible anymore, nor should I count fan-made material as much as I want to (I recall a fantastic Radigast City and Rel Astra map out there) but Google is your friend in that case.

Here are some major towns I believe have never been mapped but need to be, in hopes maybe I'm wrong or some enterprising cartographer online takes on the challenge. This list is by no means exhaustive, it's just a sample.

Dantredun (pop 666): Blackmoor's capital. Small but can be a nice base of operations for northern adventures.

Enstad (pop 6950): The main capital of Celene. An elven city! I know its an isolated nation, but why has no one designed this yet?

Ekbir (pop 29,400), Zeif (pop 40,300), Lopolla (pop 23,400): All Baklunish capitals. Exotic middle-eastern flavor architecture and lay out. Would be quite a challenge.

Krakenheim (pop 3300): A viking-like town home to the Frost Barbarians. With the fjords and such, this would be a picturesque place to draw.

Irongate (pop 44.000): I know it was wrote up in Dragon Magazine and there was once an Irongate Project online done by my friend Denis Tetreault, but he never did get far on the city map itself.

Gradsul: The main port of Keoland. A big city indeed. This one is high on my wishlist.

Eastfair (pop 29,100): Capital of the North Province. This place would be a nice addition as much of the Great Kingdom development has been southward.

Admundfort (pop 21,300): The largest city set on an island in Oerik. Would look quite nice.
Update: Stuart has correctly pointed out this town has a map is in Iuz the Evil. I was testing you guys....yeah that's the ticket...

Monmurg (pop 14,200): The main capital port of the Sea Princes. It sticks out on a peninsula and has much sea traffic As I've done many Sea Princes campaigns, including one where I mapped Hokar, this is a map I'd most likely do myself someday.

Nevond Nevnend (pop 23,800): Capital of the Duchy of Tenh. I know zilch about the place, but the name is so weird I'd love to see it on a map key.

Ulakand and Kester: Okay okay I know, no one has made maps of these towns in Ull. Give me a break I've only had about twenty years to do one. Someday!

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Greyhawk Channel Summer Schedule

Hey Greyhawk mavens! Today I'm once again promoting my good friends at The Greyhawk Channel. The family of streaming Greyhawk campaigns keeps getting larger! Check out this summer schedule put out by mastermind DMShane:

Shane himself runs three days a week with his original Return to Greyhawk plus his spin-offs Vile & Villainous and Mordenkainen's Path of the Planes Vets from RtG show will be running their own games now. Travis is heading Lords of Pain which will be a political intrigue set during the Greyhawk Wars, and as teased before Dani will be running The Dying Kingdom which is assuredly a jaunt through the ever dangerous Great Kingdom ruled by Ivid the Undying.

New to the fold are fellow GHC enthusiasts like Sean from the DMsGuild and PowerScore blog fame. He has started a run into the famous ruins of Castle Greyhawk. Not to be outdone, Grant is doing the long play by running the entire Queen of Spiders series, which means plenty of Underdark, Kuo Toa, Drow, and naturally Llolth herself.

Encounter Role Play has a couple other talents in on the summer block. Most intriguing to me is Lindy's show, Vecna Lives. I really want to see how this quite evil, classic module plays out in 5E rules. Last but not least, Greg has a game called Valley of Soot & Skull.which is tied to the current events of the Shield Lands.

There you have it. All this in one shared universe of campaigns on the Greyhawk Channel. DMShane is surely not done adding new games either!

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Updated D&D Story Odds

Hail Greyhawk faithful! Today I'm finally chiming in on the recent Wizards news of their next D&D story line, the two part Forgotten RealmsDragon Heist and Dungeon of the Mad Mage. Followed closely by a teaser that in July two new (old) worlds would be announced for future publication. I'm not here to comment on them per se, except to keep tabs my long running list of choice story lines that Wizards has left to revisit. One comment I do need to make however: why call it Dungeon of the Mad Mage? It's Undermountain. We all know it's Undermountain. Are they also genericizing FR content now or is it a trademark thingee?

At any rate here is some of my previous story line round-ups. Below I'll recompile this list plus add stuff from prior to my odds-making and recent 5E adaptations all put into some sort of chronological order.

Closest comparison 1E inspiration: Dragonlance series? / 5E: Hoard of the Dragon Queen/Rise of Tiamat

1E inspiration: Temple of Elemental Evil / 5E: Princes of the Apocalypse (by way of board game)

Closest comparison 1E inspiration: Vault of the Drow/ Queen of Spiders? / 5E: Out of the Abyss

1E inspiration: I6: Ravenloft 5E: Curse of Strahd

1E inspiration: G1-2-3: Against the Giants 5E: Storm King's Thunder and Tales From the Yawning Portal

1E Adaptations: Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan, White Plume Mountain / 5E: Tales From the Yawning Portal

1E inspiration: Tomb of Horrors / 5E: Tomb of Annihilation and Tales From the Yawning Portal

2E inspiration: The Ruins of Undermountain 5E: Dragon Heist/Dungeon of the Mad Mage (COMING SOON)

What's left to use in 2019? Here's my new odds for future reference.

My hands down favorite right now. This epic boxed set has just the right components for a D&D mega event. It has extra-planar monsters, a backdrop of the war between Chaos and Law (implying use of the new MToF if you change this to the Blood War) and it has an iconic multi-part artifact quest which could easily span two books.

Staying strong on my list, this weird module is by fan favorite Bruce Cordell and involves the Far Realms which has sort of been brought closer (pun) since the publication of MToF. Firestorm Peak would make a good alternative to Barrier Peaks. For bizarre monsters you can't do much better than this one.

I'm moving this one up my list. D&D may soon need to tone it down and have a more "ordinary" villain to confront players. An evil organization like the Slave Lords can threaten a wide area and could easily be adapted to be something like the Zhentarim.

Even though Paizo recently covered witched in Reign of Winter AP, it is not outside the realm of possibility for Wizards to also take PCs on a planar hopping trip in her endlessly fun hut.

WGA4: Vecna Lives!Odds 12:1
This is one of the strongest Greyhawk modules still out there and it hasn't seen a sequel since 2E. Since they've recently used Acererak for ToA I don't see this coming soon, but Vecna does have ties to both Planescape and Ravenloft making him a strong candidate for a story line.

Dead Gods/ Odds 12:1
I think this Planescape adventure (or any other really) might be in prime position for a rehash given recent releases. Out of the Abyss has shown WotC isn't afraid to use big demon-lord type of villains.

This theme would be Lovecraftian horror, nominally set in a dungeon but could be branched out. Big-T and his cult is definitely an uber-threat to the world, so why not?

The crashed spaceship theme was teased years ago by Chris Perkins' when he tweeted a picture of a Froghemoth. This turned out to be for Volo's Guide to Monsters. Would Wizards really jump the shark and mix scifi and fantasy together this soon? I'm not as sure as I once was.

Five Shall Be One/Howl From the North/ Odds 20:1
I adapted this one to 5E for my home game, but gave it a pirate twist instead of barbarians. The chances Wizards takes up this specific 5 part magic sword quest seems slim, but they should do the theme because it would be epic and everyone loves swords.

Jungle based adventure was off 5E's radar until the Tomb of Annihilation but I still give these type of stories some value. There is certainly plenty of tropical monsters in 5E already developed to cover this kind of story.

And lastly, for fun....

The Doomgrinder/ Odds 1000:1
Don't even ask. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Coming Soon to Greyhawk Channel

Howdy Greyheads! Today I'm promoting a teaser for the new upcoming campaign on The Greyhawk Channel to be ran by Dani Neary (@ImperialScum) called "The Dying Kingdom". Just the name is intriguing to me. It's also good to see DMShane branching out his Twitch channel to have other DMs running games. He is a tireless hero of the community.

Here is the teaser for Dani's game starting on Tuesday, June 12th. Enjoy!

"CY 582. Shit is about to hit the fan in The Great Kingdom"

Friday, May 25, 2018

Greyhawkery Updates

Hey Greyhawkers! Lazy Mortellan strikes again. I am here to bring up some quick Greyhawkery news.

First off, I have added new content to my primer list on the front page of the blog. Adventures in Greyhawk is a round-up of all published modules (not Living-Greyhawk or Dungeon) set in the World of Greyhawk, which I further classify into five categories of usefulness in my own opinion.

Second is Regions of Greyhawk. This section of the primers is not entirely finished (cause reasons) but I am slowly chipping away at it. These are summaries of each nation in the Flanaess, much as they are presented in the original set, but grouped into special geopolitical sub-sections and updated with new canon info as needed. Note, these are all baseline 576 CY entries, so no spoilers for your players to see.

Lastly, go and join the CanonFire! A Greyhawk Resource group on Facebook. Bryan "Saracenus" is running replays of my silly old Greyhawk Webcomic twice a week. Every day he is featuring content both old and new related to Greyhawk and the fansite Canonfire. Enjoy it all over again!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Poll Result: Which Wizard Would You Follow

Hey Greyhawkers! Coinciding with the internet buzz about Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes, I'm gonna muse over my latest (and possibly last due to Blogger) poll, Which Wizard Would You Follow? Greyhawk is a land of many mages, none as famous as the Circle of Eight. I gave a major section of the group to see who people like if they were say an apprentice or henchmen of these notable wizards. Read on and enjoy.

Top of the list with 34% of the vote is Tenser. It was a close race but the lawful good archmage won the most followers. Tenser is one of the most potent wizards in history having plumbed the dungeons of Castle Greyhawk, owning a magical castle on the Lake of Unknown Depths and created a vast spell repertoire to his name (who hasn't heard of his Floating Disk?).

Why Follow Tenser? For all his fame and glitz, he is the most honorable wizard in the Circle to serve. On the coast of the Nyr Dyv near his castle is a hamlet named Magepoint. This small village is entirely populated by Tenser's forces, all experienced veterans led by an elven fighter-mage named Cymria of Celadon. Tenser as mentioned is the moral center of the Circle for good, where most of the mages would try to follow "the Balance" he is one to hire heroes to do Good quests, or act out in defense of the Flanaess personally. His name-spells suggest this as many are martial themed such as Tenser's Transformation (gives fighter skill), Tenser's Flaming Blade or Tenser's Giant Strength. You can find many of his name-spells in either the Player HandbookGreyhawk Adventures or Return of the Eight.

Next on the poll, not surprisingly is Mordenkainen with 27%. Mordenkainen is the defacto leader of the Circle of Eight. He is not necessarily the most powerful archmage in the group, nor its most likable. Mordy is however the most cunning and has his irons in many fires on Oerth and across the planes. Much like Tenser (both are from the Wild Coast as well), Mordy comes from humble adventurer roots having explored Greyhawk Ruins and Maure Castle - he likewise has a castle and an array of spells created in his name such as Mord's Faithful Hound and Mord's Disjunction.

Why Follow Mordenkainen? If you seek fame and fortune Mordenkainen is the wizard to follow. His Obsidian Citadel is deep in the Yatil Mountains a place where only the best of the best can get access and is defended by giants, a silver dragon and griffon riding fighters. His library of magic and knowledge of the outer planes, especially the Blood War between the lower hells and abyss is phenomenal. He travels to other prime worlds like Faerun to hobnob and trade spells with other archmagi like Elminster. For a neutral wizard, Mordy is very active and will keep his apprentices and henchmen busy on quests to gather information or items he needs. Beware though, Mordy is growing increasingly unhinged (he cut his hair off!) and might send you to your certain death (see Vecna Lives!)

Next up with 13% of the vote is Mordenkainen's long time adventuring buddy, Bigby. Bigby is the wizard best known for his hand themed spells like Bigby's Interposing Hand, Bigby's Crushing Hand and many more! Bigby once was from the Great Kingdom but has since moved into a modest house in Onnwal (see Treasures of Greyhawk).

Why Follow Bigby? For starters he is the real neutral voice in the Circle. Tenser chases evil, Mordy often plays his own side, but Bigby is the cautious voice in the party who tries to slow down their plots. Once an active adventurer like the others, Bigby now fronts as a merchant in Scant the capital of Onnwal and would make an unassuming mage to serve. He has all the powers and magical access of his colleagues, but doesn't show it off to the point of being defensive (his name-spells show it). Bigby as a master is a good choice for those who don't want to get caught up in every epic quest - yet could if the need arises.

Following Bigby with 10% of the vote is the only female member of the circle, Jallarzi Sallavarian. The youngest of the eight wizards, she was sponsored and pushed through to membership by Tenser in an attempt to give the group of neutral, old males some more Good direction. She is noted for her distracting beauty and her pseudo-dragon familiar, Edwina.

Why Follow Jallarzi? Why not!? She has a fabulous home in the City of Greyhawk, she is allies with other women in power like Constable Derider Fanshen and High Matriarch of Pelor Sarana and she trains lesser mages of good alignment. Jallarzi may still be new to the Circle but she has the trust of Tenser in the least. Adventurers whose patron is Pelor and show their loyalty to the defense of Greyhawk's domain would be her best followers. Don't get ideas of romance with Ms. Sallavarian though, she is rumored to be very friendly with Kieran Jalucian of the Guild of Wizards.

Let's finish up. Coming in last are two wizards who really are bad ass in their own right: Drawmij with 4% and Rary with 3%. Rary is the evil Ketite mage whose power is on par with Mordenkainen and eventually turned on the Circle and ran off to the Bright Desert with Sir Robilar. Drawmij is the aloof mage who lives under the Azure Sea and has a hatred of the Mage of the Vale. There is much to be read about these two and their spells in the books Rary the Traitor, City of Greyhawk boxed set and Greyhawk Adventures.

Why Follow Rary or Drawmij? The low vote for Rary is surely because of his switch from neutral to evil. Who would want to follow a notorious mage who offended not only the Circle of Eight and the entire city of Greyhawk, but his own brother, the sage Arkalan Sammal? Rary rules a remote, hostile desert with plenty of his own magical comforts and a defensible tower, yet most of his henchmen patrol and live abroad. Followers of Rary would surely be sent out to search ruins for lost magic in order to build up him and the realm. It's a thankless job, but you'd have fewer moral constraints to your quest.

Drawmij on the other hand is a neutral mage whose concerns are the seas. He is silent and secretive also making him a poor choice for a mage to follow (unless you are amphibious perhaps). Drawmij has magics few other wizards have ever seen however. He has boats capable of exploring the deepest oceans, time and dimensional magic items and an exotic undersea palace that once belonged to the Grand Druid. A follower of Drawmij might be on land instead, among the courts of Keoland and Celene perhaps as he does keep contacts in these nations, as well as keeping tabs on his enemy the Black One of the Vale.

Of course fellow mages Otto, Nystul, Otiluke and others from post-wars didn't make the poll. I imagine if they were included they'd finish even lower than Rary or Drawmij. Whatever the case, becoming a henchmen or apprentice for an uber-mage is an accepted trope for fantasy like Greyhawk. Maybe next time instead of your DM suggesting an NPC benefactor you can now suggest seeking one out on your own!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Greyhawk Grognard: Events of the Northwest

Hail Greyhawkers! Today is a good day because Joseph Bloch at Greyhawk Grognard has finally added recent events in the Baklunish Northwest thus completing his roster of retro-articles based on the old Gary Gygax Dragon Magazine run of Greyhawk's World. Now those looking for updates on Zeif, Ekbir, Tusmit, the Plains of the Paynims or Ull can be satisfied! He has already done three other articles based in the Flanaess, follow the links over at his blog and enjoy!

This installment is particularly enjoyable for me because he has given some new intrigue to my adopted homeland of Ull and given a shout out to its most notorious local villain. Here is a tidbit:

"When high summer arrived, the sacred wells of Geshtai, which provide water to most of the town, were poisoned one by one. The uproar was enormous, and the Kha-khon of the town spared no expense to protect those remaining and bring the perpetrator(s) to justice, to no avail.
For weeks, rumors swirled that the town was under a curse from some long-forgotten Baklunish god who had been slighted in some way. Another rumor blamed the wizard Abi-Dalzim, long thought destroyed or lost in the dungeons of genies on the elemental planes, and supposedly returned for vengeance."

Well done Joseph. I owe you another round for making this entry!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Comic Redux: D&D Advert

Welcome fans of Greyhawk! It's time to dig back into my long shut down Greyhawk Comic archives and have some fun. Here is one from several years ago. If anyone remembers these ads, you're in for a treat because this comic was the first in a series I did using the Greyhawk gods as characters in the ongoing story...

"This week I was thumbing through my collection of classic Mighty Thor comics and came across this print ad. You have to see it to believe it... 
More at the bottom. Enjoy.

"Wow when it comes to treasure seeking that Boccob is a real jerk eh? The following parody comic really is from TSR's old print ads that appeared in many comics way back when. The ads were an ongoing storyline that abruptly ended after eight episodes. I have no idea who drew the first installment, but the rest are clearly by classic D&D illustrator Bill Willingham. Those were good times." 

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Infinity War and Greyhawk

Hey Greyhawkers, it's your gleefully lazy friend here. Today I'm musing on the hottest movie in the world (right now) Avengers: Infinity War. If you haven't seen the last ten years worth of Marvel movies then what is wrong with you? This particular movie is based on the Infinity Gauntlet era of comics from the 90's; a series that I am proud to say I own and followed to a point. The main thrust of Thanos lore was in Silver Surfer comics sad to say because the Surfer cannot appear in the movie versions. At any rate, the topic here is how a "macguffin" (or macguffins) like the Gauntlet or the Infinity Stones can be a compelling save the Oerth type story arc for your Greyhawk campaign. No spoilers here!

D&D is full of numinous objects to collect or destroy, we call them artifacts and relics. Everyone has heard of these type objects (you can see a list of them in my primers on the front page) and for the most part they are objects like swords, orbs or even a hand. While dangerous in their own right, few are world-shattering. Now there is such a thing (2E is the last I heard of it) as resonating effects. If two or more artifacts are brought together they give more power than the individual parts. One infinity stone is powerful in the hands of a character, but two sets you on a path toward being an epic figure, perhaps god-like eventually.

There is a few good examples of this Infinity Stone-like resonating powers in Greyhawk such as the Five Blades of Corusk or the Regalia of Might (evil, good and neutral). The Rod of Seven Parts is the best one however, since it's a singular object once assembled (much like the Gauntlet). Collecting all seven pieces of the rod is a long term quest which if it fell into the hands of a big bad like say, Iuz or Iggwilv, would make them even more ridiculously powerful than before and require an assemblage of heroes to help take the villain down. Defeating a near deity/demigod isn't easy, but it's not unheard of in D&D.

For example, the old 3.5E Dungeon adventure path: Age of Worms was a high-level quest to stop a nigh invincible demigod from emerging on Oerth. This series also included the Ro7P to a small degree. The 2E module, Vecna Lives! was also a quest to defeat an ascendant arch-lich from completing his master plan to become a greater god. Very Thanos-y. The more recent Rise of Tiamat story-arc in 5E also involves a plot to prevent world catastrophe with the mother of all dragon's return.

You say you're tired of the same old Iuz and Vecna? What other Greyhawk villains are crafty and devious enough to spark a macguffin quest on this scale? I got a few. Eli Tomorast is definitely fills that niche as a power seeking madman with resources and a stable base of operations. Rary the Traitor is another no-brainer. He is a very high level wizard with many enemies and also a remote base to work out from in the Bright Desert. He already seeks the Scorpion Crown, but what if that is just his "gauntlet" and there is some stones it requires to really unlock it's power? Too many wizards messing around in Greyhawk? Okay, might I suggest then Warduke. Warduke is originally from generic D&D action figure fame, but came to Greyhawk lore in the Paizo era, featured in Dungeon Magazine #105. He is an ominously evil, high-level fighter who is also a Hierarch of the mysterious Horned Society. Few warriors in Greyhawk except Warduke can command the gravitas of Thanos and basically slash and burn his way to ultimate power.

I'm sure there are many other candidates, those are the first few that popped in my head. In summary, if you are floating the prospect of running a high-level, epic campaign then it's perhaps it's time to try saving the world by gathering the "Infinity Gauntlet" or stopping evil from doing so first.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Map: Valley of the Mage and Dim Forest

Hola, Greyhawkers! Today I'm here to share a map I drew recently. My friend Boshie has been taking part in the Greyhawk Channel's Vile & Villainous stream and she is playing a Shadar-Kai warlock from the Shadowfell (Plane of Shadow for us old dogs). What is a shadar-kai you ask? Well I guess they were first made in 3rd edition as a fey race, then morphed in 4E and now are a playable elf variant race in 5E. That's all I know about them really.

The map was my attempt to help her explain her backstory because Greyhawk isn't known for shadar-kai, but canon does say that the Black One, the Mage of the Vale has been planning to turn himself into a Shade.The Black One already treats with shunned valley elves, so I figured this secluded valley would be the best opportunity for other shadow-folk to enter Oerth. They would also perhaps inhabit the Dim Forest outside the valley proper. I recall there is a shadow dragon who lives in that wood as well. So the map is just a copy of the Darlene map that I drew in like 15 minutes on a piece of Black Blade Publishing's small pad of hex paper and used colored pencils. Nothing special or difficult, but it made a good focused reference for her character's backstory. I really love the versatility of the tiny hex paper.

Download this map for your own use. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Greyhawk Stuff OnTthe Web

Hail Greyhawk fans! Been busy as of late so let's turn our view out and see what is going on in the RPG world related to Greyhawk...

First up is a new installment of the classic Greyhawk's World articles reinvigorated by Greyhawk Grognard. This time he covers events of the Central Flanaess namely lands such as Dyvers, Urnst, Wild Coast and yes Greyhawk itself. Check it out and download this well written document for use in your own campaign!

Next up at Wizards is the Podcast of Foes. This is a series of RPG podcasts covering the release of Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes. Take note my friends at Return to Greyhawk, a live stream show, is the anchor for this two week parade of podcasts. Should be interesting! Check out this calendar of shows and times for more info.

Lastly over at Drive Thru RPG they are doing Mordenkainen's Marvelous Bundle. This set of PDfs includes Mordy related products from all editions of D&D! Check it out if you don't already own these books.

Oh that Mordenkainen, what a shill! More next time.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Deven Rue Greyhawk Map

Hail Greyhawkers! Light blog day for me folks as I'm too busy doing real life work-stuff. Today I'm promoting Vile & Villainous again on the Greyhawk Channel. And also again, I'd like to mention Deven Rue is working on a Greyhawk map. Here is a sneak peak at the prelim sketch.

Looks good so far! I can't wait to see her ink work and color, you'll be amazed how it turns out. Follow Deven on Twitter to see more of her work, and subscribe to the Greyhawk Channel community so you can get in on some wacky game discussions on their Discord group.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Vile and Villainous

Hey Greyhawkers! I'm a day late but I'm here to promote the Greyhawk Channel's latest new campaign on Twitch, Vile & Villainous where the players get to be shady characters in the service of the Land of Iuz. This particular show includes my good friend Boshie who is also an entertaining video game and IRL streamer. Check out her channel. The "evil" party also includes map maker extraordinaire, Deven Rue. What sort of trouble will they get into? Only time will tell. Tune in Mondays! In the meantime check the Greyhawk Channel and watch their videos of the day.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Poll Result: Which Monster Should Attack?

Hey Greyhawkers! Today I'm going over the results of my last poll Which Monster Should Attack Town? This was an easy-going fun poll, not much to do with Greyhawk per se, but we can analyze where these monstrous threats are coming from if you as a DM want to shake up your campaign. Let's go!

Coming in tied for first (30%) is the two most popular mega-monsters, the Red Dragon and the king of D&D monsters the Tarrasque. Red dragons are of course the evil, fire breathing variety and are generally the strongest in most fantasy literature and art. The tarrasque is a unique creature which like a dragon, slumbers and comes out to feed and destroy towns before going dormant again. The only difference between the two is red dragons want your treasure, the tarrasque just wants to kill anything that moves.

Where to use a Red Dragon or Tarrasque? This is quandary because the tarrasque can be buried virtually anywhere, ready to pop out. I'd suggest placing the monster in the already dangerous hills of the Pomarj or perhaps somewhere isolated but still inhabited like Perrenland's highlands. However, if you really want to maximize your threat to civilization put the tarrasque in the Cairn Hills not far from Greyhawk itself. The tarrasque is an indiscriminate killer that can only be stopped with high-level combat or magic. It's appearance could be instigated by evil forces, but then again the Big-T is a force of nature itself so fighting him could be a situation where good and evil must band together. Who needs the Doomgrinder?*

As for red dragons, there is plenty in Greyhawk canon to draw from if you want a Tolkienesque Smaug-level threat. The main bad dragon is Brazzemal the Bright who can be found either in the Hellfurnaces or in the Rift Canyon depending on your source, he is first seen in Hall of the Fire Giant King. There is Farcluun a rather intelligent yet powerful red found in the dungeons of the Greyhawk Ruins. Finally, there is another epic red in the Crystalmist Mountains named Sulphacitezus from the book Treasures of Greyhawk. All of these dragons can make a cunning and ultra-deadly foe for PCs and a terror on any towns nearby.

Coming in second with 16% of the vote is the surprising Roc! For those who don't know, a roc is a gigantic bird of prey known from mythology often depicted carrying off an elephant in its talons. It is featured in the popular fiction The Arabian Nights encountered by Sinbad the sailor. In Greyhawk fiction I believe there is a roc on the cover of Dungeonland. So yes, this is Rodan-level death from above for monster buffs out there.

Where to use a Roc? This one could go many directions too. Given the roc's mythological background it would fit best in the warm Baklunish culture preying on ships sailing the Dramidj Ocean or perhaps picking off caravans crossing the Dry Steppes. In the east Flanaess, a roc can easily roost in any mountainous areas near the Azure Sea or Solnor Ocean. It's a top of the food chain monster, probably only threatened by dragons and mankind. In the most extreme case, a roc could threaten your local villagers used as a flying mount for a cloud giant. That's double trouble!

Next in line with 10% of the vote is the Purple Worm! This is just what you think it is, a colossal sized worm that burrows and swallows whole everything in its way including unwitting heroes. The purple worm is an iconic D&D creature featured in the Monster Manuals from way back, it is often seen in the Underdark and not on the surface however. This doesn't mean a DM can't lure one to the surface though. A confused hungry purple worm on above ground is just as deadly.

Where to use a Purple Worm? The first place I can find them on the World of Greyhawk encounter charts is the Sea of Dust. This immediately brings up images of Dune's sand worms. That begs the question, can purple worms be domesticated as a mount by some intelligent species to invade outside the desert? You're welcome evil-DMs. Ideally however, they can be found near any dungeon ruin, ready to creep up looking for new sources of food.

Speaking of giant things, coming in with 8% of the vote is a Titan. Again, this is a mythological giant, even greater in size and strength than even storm giants. A titan is supposed to be a near god-like being and are typically represented in D&D as being in Greek-garb and have special abilities according to their sphere of interest. While not generally evil, an enraged titan could be trouble for a town either directly or collaterally.

Where to use a Titan? The titans are not prevalent in Greyhawk on their own per se, so they can appear virtually anywhere. They could be the divine agents of a deity like Pelor however showing up to exact vengeance on a wicked town. Titans as such will rarely come into conflict with PCs, but they could be nice to break out if players start to get on an ego-power trip at higher levels. Now speaking of titans...

Lastly and most surprisingly at 6% last is the Kraken! No not the monster from Clash of the Titans, I'm talking the one we all know about, the colossal intelligent squid kind. With its size and giant reaching tentacles, the kraken would be the most awful terrible and epic creature to unleash on a small harbor town. If the tarrasque rules land, then surely the kraken (is that singular or plural?) rules the deep oceans.

Where to use a Kraken? In canon Greyhawk has/had a kraken in Grendep Bay near the barbarian lands. The town of Krakenheim is derived from this tale. If there is giant squids in the cold north, then surely there some in the vast deeps of the Azure Sea ready to be called up by evil such as sahuagin to wreck havoc on cities like Irongate or Gradsul. Or maybe your PCs are into high seas exploration off the map into the tropics? Well then there is definitely some krakens out there, ready to haul down a ship or terrorize the local natives.

*No, really, do not play Doomgrinder what ever you do! It will wreck your campaign and is in general a huge waste of time.

Whatever your choice of monster, remember the long lasting effect they can have on your campaign could be significant. Players, beware and behave!

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Greyhawk Stuff Online

Good day Greyhawk fans! I don't have any new content myself this week, but I can surely point you toward a few outlets of Greyhawk fun and information in case you missed it. Ready?

Over at Greyhawk Grognard is a great series finishing Kuntz and Gygax's "Greyhawk's World" updates from Dragon Magazine that were left hanging so many years ago. First was the Sheldomar Valley, followed by the more recent West Central Flanaess. It's top notch, seamless work, trust me check it out if you are interested in the political and military milieu of Greyhawk.

Next up is my friends at the Greyhawk Channel. They keep growing and growing with more shows and a burgeoning fanbase. All the campaigns are interconnected as well. The most recent additions are Mordenkainen's Path of the Planes an "epic plane-hopping adventure from the master of mages" which is timed with the upcoming release of Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes. Also there is DMShane's biggest challenge yet, an all evil group in Vile and Villanous "wicked fun in the World of Greyhawk".

I don't know how TGC juggles all these games and players, but kudos to these folks for having the desire and energy to play in our favorite setting on a regular basis. Support them by following, subscribing an maybe even joining in the fun on their Discord. There is also a Youtube channel where you can watch past episodes. Enjoy!

Lastly, if you haven't already, join the Canonfire! group on Facebook. It's under new administration and is growing fast! For those who have never been to Canonfire! it is the oldest fan site dedicated to Greyhawk on the internet with features like articles, a Greyhawk wiki and active forums. Support your fellow fans and visit both these Canonfire! sites.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Return of Mysterious Places From the Fringe

Howdy Greyhawkers, it's a good day to revisit one of my favorite article segments that I haven't done in a few years, Mysterious Places From the Fringe. It's just a spin on the mysterious places articles from Living Greyhawk back in the day, except I make them up off the cuff based on no canon or anything, just my own encyclopedic knowledge of the Flanaess map. What DM doesn't need a new location for adventurers to visit? The World of Greyhawk is full of them after all! Check out my previous articles and then continue on to this year's batch. Enjoy.

Dagon's Mouth: There is many unknown dangers posed to sailors and pirates on the seas south of the Flanaess' safe shores. Intrepid vessels seeking riches hid within the vast Vohoun Ocean avoid a certain uncharted region called Dagon's Mouth. All that is known of this demon haunted zone is told by survivors who have returned on rafts made of wrecks of their ship. It is said that Dagon the primordial demon prince of the darkest depths literally lairs here, rising up to claim any craft daring enough to tread across these stormy waters. Other maddened sailors tell of sighting a string of small islets where everything is wrong to the senses even the color of the sky. They are sure death prevails here as staying on land any length of time causes one to waste away despite the evidence of ruins not far from the cursed shores.

The Red Colossus: North of the Mounds of Dawn in a spur of the Yatil Mountains is a place that few go besides humanoids and venerable clans of deep gnomes. Hid within the craggy peaks is a gigantic time-lost statue half buried in the side of a mountain. It is carved in the likeness of a strange humanoid giant facing north, with its legs and one arm half in the rock and another arm raised to the sky. The statue is a curiosity because it is made of a reddish rock not part of this region, but similar in hue to the clay formations seen in Exag to the south. The age of the colossus is not certain save that not even the local giant population claim to know who made it. The red statue radiates overwhelming transmutation magic however and some daring Underdark denizens have tried tunneling below and within to learn more of the colossus. Though no credible riches have been discovered here, wild claims are made that the colossus has weird magical effects such as resurrecting the dead, granting wishes and even visions granted for those who scale to the top of its out-stretched palm.

Beltar's Well:  The Spine Ridge between the Vast Swamp and the Tilvanot Peninsula, is said to have abundant untapped mineral wealth, if one can get past the dangers of humanoids and monsters. Somewhere in the trackless hills of this region is a place called Beltar's Well or depending on the translation it can be attributed to nonhuman gods such as Baphomet, Laogzed, Yurtrus or Vaprak. Whatever the case, the well is a shaft in the heart of a rocky formation where reputedly, monsters occasionally emerge from the Underdark or perhaps a gate to another plane, then venture out into the world beyond. Fortunately the well is not that wide, though monsters have clawed and gnawed at its interior over the centuries. These rents have created ample handholds for any lesser beings who try to climb down the Well in the opposite direction. Many humanoids are dared to do this as a rite of bravery or adulthood, while less hardy species believe there is unclaimed riches ready to be pulled forth if they can only find the muscle to go down and find out.

01000100: Locked deep in the Land of Black Ice is a dark hillock covered by eons of glacial growth. This hill is nearly impossible to locate, only once spotted and noted in the journals of a sage who tried (and failed) to follow in the footsteps of Henriki Ardand and find the fabled Rainbow Vale. The hill only known as 01000100 is named so due to a series of deeply etched lines carved upon an ebony stone archway built into the hillside (01000100 01000001 01001110 01000111 01000101 01010010). It took the sage's entire expedition many hard hours to chip the black ice away as it seemed to regrow as fast as it could be cleared, yet the nature of the numbers and a hidden entrance was eventually exposed. The sage's journal abruptly ends after the initial foray inside the hill. Evidently those explorers that survived abandoned the search for the Vale and had no recollection of what happened, returning with no evidence except the sage's journal and if rumors are true, a shard of some silvery metal puncturing the leather cover. Today, hill 01000100 is surely buried again in black ice waiting for another hapless band of adventurers to try and discover its mysteries.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Greyhawk Map: Nyr Dyv Ship Wrecks

Welcome fans of Greyhawk! Nothing new from me this week, but if you are looking for a great gathering of Greyhawk fans look no further than the Flanaess Geographical Society on Facebook. Today I'm promoting cartographer Ronald Calbick and his inspiring Nyr Dyv shipwreck map. All I can say is wow, what a clever idea for a map that has been covered in many many official sources, yet still is largely undeveloped. As many long time gamers know, Gygax based the shape of the Lake of Unknown Depths on Lake Superior, close to home for Gary. Mr. Calbick himself throws an homage in his map's text regarding this:

"Most of the names and info are arbitrary, although there is some input from fellow gamers to be found here as well. Most of you will likely notice the tip of the hat to Lake Superior."

A few comments for DMs looking to use the map. One, Ronald leaves some wreck sites unnamed for your own personal ideas. Always a good idea. Secondly, the wreck found near Leukish while anachronistic totally fits in with Gygaxian Greyhawk, one only needs to read about the Jungle of Lost Ships. Lastly, the Nyr Dyv is no simple body of water to do salvaging. Players and DMs would be wise to read this article to get a good feel for what the Lake of Unknown Depths is like. Well done Ronald, I look forward to more maps from your in the future and perhaps others from the FCS.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Greyhawk Mini Map

Hey Greyhawkers. Not much going on this week sad to say so let's do an easy post. Here is a map of the Greyhawk domain I threw together a week ago for my campaign. It's using Black Blade Publishing's newest mini hex paper from Gary Con X.

I originally posted this on Twitter and it caused some confusion because I drew it in 20 minutes and some thought it was a full size hex map.

Here is a second pic for scale. Nope, it's tiny! I love this paper. I need more ideas to use it! That's all for now. What do you think?

Saturday, March 10, 2018

GaryCon 2018 Recap

Howdy Greyhawkers! Well I'm back early from Gary Con X in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Even though I was only there two days I had the most Greyhawk-y experience yet again. Here's the run down:

First, no I didn't see Mike Mearls (two straight years). They must've kept him under lock and key somewhere. It's not a big con though, oh well. So no, I didn't get a chance to ask any questions. I did see Jason Bulmhan of Paizo Publishing, but I wasn't there to talk Pathfinder 2.0 playtest news. So, moving along...

I got see good friend and old school Greyhawk historian Allan Grohe once again. He was working the Blackblade Publishing booth where I got issue 2 and 3 of their quarterly periodical, The Twisting Stair. I'm eager to use their article on treasure maps and player mapping techniques (thanks for the hex paper grodog). Allan and I also discussed getting more Greyhawk fans together at GaryCon next year (on or off the even list). So if anyone is a fan of the setting and will be attending next year, keep on eye on my blog for future info. Alas I couldn't attend his Saturday session of his ongoing Castle Greyhawk campaign. Last year we got to play with Luke Gygax. There's no telling who is guesting in it this year!

I also spent some good time with my friends Anna Meyer of ghmaps.net and Scott Casper the mastermind behind our Castle Greyhawk webcomic. Scott was hard at work running a game for a full table in some far away hall (GaryCon is such a labyrinth) while Anna talked about her future Greyhawk mapping endeavors (yes Anna Greyhawk map 2.0). We also took part in our first ever pick up game together, hosted by the extraordinary Carlos A.S. Lising. The party was a group of rangers and druids in the Gnarley Forest looking to rescue two rust monsters from thieves who stole them from Lord Henway's Menagerie. Crazy fun.

If you think that was all I also got to stop and say hi to Darlene the artist behind the original World of Greyhawk map a few times. She is amazing as always. There was a few legends of D&D in the artist row with her, including Larry Elmore and Jeff Easley two guys whose cover art has inspired me from an early age. The GaryCon website said Erol Otus was supposed to be there, but sadly I didn't see him. That would've been my holy trinity of D&D cover artists.

Later that evening I also had a chance to finally have a meeting of the Greyhawk blogs with Joe Bloch of Greyhawk Grognard. I was loopy from no sleep and he had drove twelve hours to get to the con, so we were both a bit chatty. I'm not sure I want to remember what Greyhawk projects we discussed, but I'm sure he will remind me some day soon. Joseph was running his BRW Games booth where he was selling Adventures Dark & Deep and his infamous Castle of the Mad Archmage. If you don't read Greyhawk Grognard, what is wrong with you? His latest post in fact is an homage to Gygax's Dragon update article series. The column was cut off before all the Flanaess was covered, so Joe did one on Keoland and Sheldomar Valley. Check it out and Make Aerdy Great Again!

Day two we took part in another game ran by Carlos titled Die, Markessa, Die! It was the latest in his Markessa series where a group of heroes must once again tackle a lair of the depraved elven Slave Lord, Markessa. Yeah, she got away again, but maybe next  year we will catch her! My friend Jayson was the MVP of the event and got a copy of the module! Spot on AD&D printing and layout. Carlos has even more incredible projects on the horizon. He is my spirit animal.

So there you have it, the most Greyhawk one can enjoy in a short span. I really hope to top it next year. Thanks to all my gamer friends (old and new) for the invites and time spent with Jayson and me. See you in 2019.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Greyhawk Poll Result: Which Sword Would You Carry

Hey Greyhawk fans! It's GaryCon week. I hope to see more than a few of the community in Wisconsin. Until then, let's muse over my latest front page poll: Which Sword Would You Carry? That is sentient magical swords. There are many so I kept the list to a handful. Let's get to it:

Coming in tied for last on the list at 4% is Dreamsinger and Swiftdoom. Dreamsinger is from the 2E module Five Shall Be One. Too bad this weapon got such a low vote, it is the sword that gets the ball rolling for the quest to find all five Blades of Corusk. It is a unique empathic broadword in that Dreamsinger gives the bearer visions of how to find the other artifact weapons. Without Dreamsinger it is quite impossible to find the other blades. This sword is tuned to bards unfortunately, meaning if you are a thief, great! But in the hands of a bard it unlocks even more powerful effects like a magical fire spear. In my Sea Princes campaign I updated Dreamsinger to be a rapier to better reflect current D&D trends, plus there is no broadswords in 5E. You can check out my conversion here.

Meanwhile, not many people picked Swiftdoom, one of hero-deity Kelanen's two, yes count them two sentient blades. Well they are hard to distinguish at a glance, but Swiftdoom is a bastard sword +6 (another relic of AD&D weapon lists) firebrand that always strikes first. Among Swiftdoom's laundry list of powers is vampiric healing; a nasty enough effect to have for a fighter without peer like Kelanen. In the hands of a lesser adventurer, Swiftdoom would make them legendary for sure.

Speaking of legendary, the infamous Sword of Kas comes in second with 7% of the vote and this is probably for good reason. This magical blade has changed so many times over the editions. It was a short sword, then a two handed sword, then a longsword and back to short sword, or whatever. Read about here. Originally seen in the earliest days of D&D but featured prominently in the module Vecna Lives!, the Sword of Kas is definitely an evil sword bent on trying to kill its creator the Arch-lich Vecna.  However, it has built in limitations when going after Vecna. So for that reason and many more, Kas' sword is not that desirable of a weapon for adventurers to own. To destroy? Maybe yes...

Next up with 15% of the vote is Swiftdoom's sister sword, Sureguard. Kelanen packs two sentient blades, this one is a broad sword +6 (yeah DMs where can players get one of those?) that is also a dancing frostbrand defender. Yes you read that right. The defender ability alone makes this sword quite impressive, but in tandem with Swiftdoom, Sureguard is a defense/offense dream. Keep dreaming though, because the Prince of Swords will not give these blades up over his dead body.

Speaking of dead body, many of you picked (29%) the legendary sword Fragarach. Another broadsword, this sword called "the Answerer" is seen in the classic adventure Temple of Elemental Evil. It is a chaotic good weapon whose main power is to unerringly counter attack any foe who hits the wielder first. Deadly accuracy, but the blade plays fair. Legends say it came from another plane, notably Earth the home of Manannan Mac Lir, from whose myths the blade was borrowed. Somehow though it ends up on Oerth in the hands of one Prince Thrommel, who has not been seen for a while...To see more on Fragarach (including its copies), Swiftdoom and Sureguard check out this comic of mine from way back.

Lastly at 38% we have the most desired magic sword in all Oerth history: Blackrazor. One of the objects of White Plume Mountain is to recover this sword from the evil lair of Keraptis. Blackrazor is a soul draining weapon that is definitely an homage to the sword Stormbringer from the Elric saga. It's secondary effects and sword type varies between editions, but they all agree, Blackrazor is Evil and likes to eat souls, even its owner's if given a chance. Just like its cousin Stormbringer, Blackrazor is not just a sentient blade, it's rumored to be a negative energy entity of some kind. Why would any hero want to carry this sword? Probably for bragging rights, or intimidation factor, or maybe they just don't know better. Now you do.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

The Greyhawk Channel

Well met Greyhawk fans, today I am once again promoting the live streaming efforts of good friend and showman extraordinaire, DMShane. His Twitch empire is growing faster than Iuz can conquer the north so as a result he has rebranded to The Greyhawk Channel. This channel comprises all his various events such as the flagship Return to Greyhawk campaign, the self-explanatory Classic Crawls, interview show The Green Dragon Inn and the Guardians of Greyhawk campaign. Yes folks, I feel lazy compared to this channel and I've been doing blogs and comics for many years. Be sure to check out and follow his channel daily, there is always something going on or hosted there. I  will see you all on the Greyhawk Channel chats!

Sunday, February 25, 2018

750th Post: New Greyhawk Hex Map

Hello Greyhawk fanatics! Today marks my 750th post on Greyhawkery! Wow! So I've been blogging for two editions of D&D now and doing art for three. For this milestone post I'm going to display my finished color map of the Kester Environs that I drew during my art-stream on Twitch last week. This map shows the details of a single hex taken from the Darlene map (paper courtesy of Blackblade Publishing). Namely the town of Kester in Ull. If anyone is interested I have the original black and white file too. Also, hopefully next week I will have another art stream (still working out the bugs), just click my link and follow GreyhawkMike. Until then check out Kester's Environs.