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.
mortellan"



"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!