Monday, March 18, 2019

Greyhawk Map: The Wastes

Hail Greyhawkers! Today I have another random mini-Greyhawk map drawn by yours truly! If you want to check out some of my previous quickie maps, go HERE. What you are seeing is the Wastes in the northern reaches of the Flanaess - but you are viewing this desolate region from the Icy Sea which means yeah you are upside down.

The Wastes have always intrigued me as a feature since the 80's Darlene map. Indeed, the original Guide to Greyhawk doesn't even detail the Wastes in the section titled "Wastelands"! The accompanying Glossography also does not given encounters for the Wastes which is a shame. Later products would start to develop this place. The most notable feature is the Burning Cliffs first seen in Greyhawk Adventures which allegedly may be connected to the Elemental Plane of Fire, a nice touch considering it is adjacent to the Icy Sea.

Later sources conflate the Barrens and the Wastes into the "Barren Wastes" but the Barrens are actually the grasslands where the nomadic Rovers ride. It is a place where one can find centaurs, gnolls and the strange humanoid qullan. To the south and west is the Cold Marshes and Blackmoor. The Wastes themselves are said to be the blasted remains of a culture from long ago (of course). The remaining features of the Wastes can be seen in the book Iuz the Evil; Icegate, Tomb of Tzunk's Hands, Folly and the Dungeon of Bleeding Walls are all adventure spots that DMs are encouraged to create on their own.

One other source I overlooked when drawing this is the obscure adventure, Ex Keraptis Cum Amore by Andy Miller in Dungeon #77. In this sequel to White Plume Mountain, we are treated to another wizardly dungeon site near the Burning Cliffs called the Melted Fane. If anyone is intrigued by the map to the left, you better find this issue to find out more!

That's all for now. Stay tuned for my next random map.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Where Is Saltmarsh?

Hello Greyhawkers! The title of this post is of course facetious, it's part of the World of Greyhawk. But for a small port first introduced in 1981's U1: Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh, it's surprisingly a house-hold name in popular culture (27th all-time) while at the same time under-appreciated in the setting that spawned it. Allow me to explain:

WotC's new book Ghosts of Saltmarsh is taking up the iconic seaport and allowing it to fit into any campaign world. And that's fine. Indeed, the 3.5E DMG2 first expanded on Saltmarsh, taking a one page description of the town in U1 and developing it into a fully realized campaign location, 33 pages in length.

Where is Saltmarsh? According to U-series authors Dave Browne and Don Turnbull, Saltmarsh is in Keoland, fittingly at hex coordinate U4/123. The U series is initialed as such because it was written by TSR's United Kingdom division. I wonder then if this is why Saltmarsh for all its rave reviews is hard to find referenced in other Greyhawk sources.

The original Darlene map of course doesn't feature towns this small and it predates the creation of the module in the 1980 World of Greyhawk Folio. The module however DOES predate the 1983 World of Greyhawk boxed set. In the boxed set Glossography booklet there is a listing of hex locations for modules set in the World of Greyhawk. None of the U series modules make this list. Thankfully the modules themselves give its hex location.

Furthermore, a ton of modules was released from 1981 onward such as I1: Dwellers of the Forbidden City and L1: The Secret of Bone Hill. On the back of all these modules would be advertisement listings to help you collect the whole library of D&D products. Shockingly, UK mods don't appear on the American module ads, but the U and UK series mods sure as heck reference the home office's work. Now the reality of business between oceans and promoting each others works may have been an obvious geographic choice. Even so, I can only conclude short of being featuring in Dragon Magazine, that the U1 got popular by word of mouth!

Despite being an underground hit, the dearth of Saltmarsh references is pretty steady until the second DMG is put out towards the end of 3.5E (set 7 years after the events of the U-series). Earlier works in the same edition like The Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, does not list Saltmarsh among major towns (Keoland is quite large). Worse, the Living Greyhawk Journal #1, has an article about Keoland by my friend Gary Holian. However, this well-developed article does not show Saltmarsh on it's close-up map (it shows Seaton though) and only mentions Saltmarsh in the caption of a piece of art showing the haunted house of the module (named Makaster House).

What else references Saltmarsh? A Dungeon Magazine #77 adventure titled To Walk Beneath the Waves by W. Jason Peck, makes mention of the module being set in the Flanaess near Saltmarsh. By the way, this mod must've slipped by WotC while they were combing Dungeon for aquatic adventures in GH like The Styes and Tammeraut's Fate. Fortunately, Paizo's 4-part World of Greyhawk map from Dungeon (118-121) is a hex for hex update of the Darlene map and does give Saltmarsh it's proper placing.

In summary, Saltmarsh the adventure defied the odds and became a D&D icon. That Wizards would take the town, build upon it, or even suggest it be played in another setting is entirely fine then, because the town deserves the spotlight for once.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Greyhawk Going on at Gary Con XI

Greetings Greyhawkers! It's been a wonderful weekend as I just had a small dose of Gary Con XI. Yeah I was only there for barely half of it with my best friend Jayson "Valkaun" King, but I do have a lot to report on the Greyhawk front! Let's go!

Getting the big news out of the way first, me and Jayson walked by D&D super-celebrity Joe Manganiello in the hall. I got to give him a shout out and he said "hey man". That was my mere brush with the new D&D fandom. Joe aside, I was IN a panel on Friday called Celebrating the World of Greyhawk, A Fandom Renaissance.  My co-panelists were Allan Grohe, Bryan Blumklotz, Carlos Lising, Anna Meyer and Kristoph Nolen. Those who have been in the Greyhawk community for a ling time probably know most of us, but if not...
  •  Allan Grohe owns Grodog's Greyhawk and is part of Black Blade Publishing
  •  Bryan Blumklotz is known for his heraldry pieces and runs the Canonfire Facebook group.
  •  Carlos Lising writes amazing old school adventures and runs Casl Entertainment.
  •  Anna Meyer does incredible maps at annabmeyer and co-hosts Legends & Lore.
  •  Kristoph Nolen is an artist who manages Greyhawk Online and co-edits the Oerth Journal.

The panel covered a wide range of topics, mainly concerning promotion of Greyhawk fan-works across many platforms, such as blogging, publishing and streaming shows like DMShane's ever-growing Greyhawk Channel, and Jay "Lord Gosumba" Scott's old school channel. The ultimate goal is uniting the community once again in order to let WotC know that there is still a strong call for published Greyhawk products in the future.

The turn out for the panel was incredible, mind you Gary Con is a small venue, so the smaller conference room crowds allow you to interact with the audience much easier. Everyone present was a long time fan. I found many in attendance have read my blogs, comics and seen my streaming shows with Anna. It was very gratifying to put new faces to names and talk about shared memories. Those who made it to the panel were also treated with a collection of handouts including the first print version of the newly resurrected Oerth Journal #28 produced not only by the six of us, but many contributors from the Greyhawk Community such as Joe Bloch, Denis Tetreault, Jay Scott, The Oliver Brothers, Len Lakofka,  Jeffrey Garrison, Will Dvorak, Rick Miller and Dave Guerrieri.

Be sure to keep checking for the download of Oerth Journal #28 at Greyhawk Online! Also, for those wanting the info on my Gary Con handout the Ulakand Mesa map, go HERE to get the map and keyed information. Enjoy.

Special thanks to Tony Milani for bringing a gigantic printing of Anna's Flanaess map to the seminar for every to see! Also a huge shout out to Amanda and Linda for their support!

What else was happening at Gary Con? Carlos Lising ran some more Greyhawk adventures such as When Comes the Witching Hour:

"In 586CY, Lady Ariana Silverfox disappeared while exploring the depths of Castle Greyhawk. Now, almost fifteen years later, divinations have revealed that the adventuress yet lives somewhere in the remote hinterlands of Perrenland. Will your band of heroes prove capable of finding the explorer and returning her to her family? An adventure set in the World of Greyhawk for character levels 9-12."

And the latest in his Markessa series, Markessa, Thy Name is Evil:

"One by one, a brave fellowship of heroes have infiltrated the strongholds of the villainess, Markessa. Still, despite their best efforts, the enchantress yet draws breath and continues to work her experiments upon the flesh and souls of the innocent folk of the Wild Coast. Can your heroes put an end at last to Markessa's evil? An adventure set in the World of Greyhawk for character levels 9-12."

Be sure to join his Patreon for Casl Entertainment.

Could there be more? Why yes, our panel got to have a sit down with Gary Gygax's son Ernie, whose original character Tenser is the protagonist of Scott Casper's novella and web comic Castle Greyhawk. It was an honor to present Ernie copies of some art prints from the comic's climatic last page. He sat and talked with us for a while about things from his dad's campaign and what it's like living in Lake Geneva where it all started. Our Greyhawk panel just happened to follow the Gygax family panel as well. Kristoph Nolan had the honor there to give the family early copies of our seminar handout. It was a good day.

I also saw some cool banners about the con, showing classic mods:

Something interesting is coming next month from Harold Johnson... 

I got my newly acquired AD&D Manual of the Planes signed by cover artist Jeff Easley.

Lastly, there is also news that Goodman Games will be doing a 5E adaptation of Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, the third in their series starting with Keep on the Borderlands and Isle of Dread.

Well that is all I can recall. I'm sure there was more newsworthy stuff that happened on Saturday and Sunday that I missed, but for now, Gary Con is the place for Greyhawk. Thanks and hopefully I will see you there next year!

Sunday, March 3, 2019

5E: Which Greyhawk Classics Are Next?

Hail Greyhawkers! Today I am going to do an in-depth survey of which adventures or classic themes remain for WotC to adapt to 5th Edition. It's been a remarkable run so far for 5E, with Wizards' handling of nostalgia driven storylines and online entertainment. I wonder if they can keep up the pace? To that end, I want to also utilize a wonderful article The 30 Greatest D&D Adventures of All Time from Dungeon Magazine #116. A panel of D&D's best authors chose the top 30 and it shows that when it comes to classics that remain fresh with each edition, Greyhawk is the king of D&D. Let's have a look:

Classic (#30): Ghost Tower of Inverness by Allan Hammack

5E: None
Comments: Living Greyhawk did a "return to" Ghost Tower module in 3.5E and 4E did one for their Encounters game event. As I'm running this module as I write this post, I can say with conviction there is a lot of potential for a 5E version though the trope of a ruined castle/tower owned by a wizard is very common in classic D&D. 

Classic (#29): Assassin's Knot by Lenard Lakofka
5E: None
Comments: This is the second part in Lakofka's L series, started by the equally classic The Secret of Bone Hill (perhaps #31 in the top list?). These modules were early examples of sandbox style of play. Individually or together, I could see them end up in a 5E anthology book like Yawning Portal.

Classic (#27): Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh by Dave Brown and Don Turnbull
5E: (converted) Ghosts of Saltmarsh
Comments: Ghosts of Saltmarsh also includes the rest of U series, Danger at Dunwater and The Final Enemy. This book is significant because it not only serializes three Greyhawk modules, it also brings in some Dungeon Magazine classics for the first time like Tammeraut's Fate and The Styes.

Classic (#26): City of Skulls by Carl Sargent
5E: None
Comments: This module from 2E is unique due to its part in the time line of Greyhawk during the Greyhawk Wars. The theme of infiltrating a city to rescue a kidnapped noble has only been done perhaps in 5E Dragon Heist, though Waterdeep hardly compares to the capital of Iuz the Evil. It is so intricately tied to Greyhawk, that it would be surprising to see this classic updated to 5E.

Classic (#23): The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun by Gary Gygax
5E: None 
Comments: This gothic horror module will likely come soon to 5E since the namesake cult in this book is quite popular in D&D lore. Thematically cults have been over done in D&D, including a few times in 5E story lines to date, but this one is rather unique. Likewise, Tharizdun has been mentioned in 5E products already so it's only a matter of time!

Classic (#22): The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth by Gary Gygax
5E: None
Comments: As mentioned before, this is a sandboxy module of mountain and cave exploration. The villains and monsters found in Tsojcanth were original for its day. Lost Caverns was last expanded in 3.5E Dungeon Magazine, but a 5E update would surely be free to roam again. Alternatively Tsojcanth could end up in a 5E anthology book with the other remaining classics from S1-4, Realms of Horrror (Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun and Expedition to the Barrier Peaks).

Classic (#20): Scourge of the Slave Lords by various authors
5E: (reprint) Against the Slave Lords 
Comments: This adventure path is comprised of the A series of modules dealing with the theme of defeating an evil slave trading organization one piece at a time. This series was compiled in Scourge and later expanded in 2E's Slavers. Most recently, there was a new episode (A0) added to the slavers series for their Against the Slave Lords AD&D reprint. There seems to be slight chance WotC will use this plot since it was already explored in a reprint, though the rules remained 1E. 

Classic (#19): Against the Cult of the Reptile God by Douglas Niles
5E: None
Comments: This modest low level classic is set near Keoland and involves themes of an evil cult and investigation. Like I mention before, evil cults are a constant theme of D&D plots. This module would be best seen in an anthology of classic cult modules like Forgotten Temple and the Temple of Elemental Evil.

Classic (#18): Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan by Harold Johnson and Jeff Leason
5E: (converted) Tales From the Yawning Portal
Comments: Tamoachan is a popular jungle themed dungeon and has seen revision in 4E once and though it is Mayan influenced, the theme of jungle exploration is currently one that Wizards covered in Tomb of Annihilation. It's inclusion in Yawning Portal comes as no surprise.

Classic (#13) Dwellers of the Forbidden City by David Cook
Classic (#10): Return to the Tomb of Horrors by Bruce Cordell
Classic (#3): Tomb of Horrors by Gary Gygax
5E: (themes and converted) Tomb of Annihilation/Tales From the Yawning Portal
Comments: As mentioned above, ToA is about jungle exploration and lost cities (ties to the classic Isle of Dread and Dwellers). ToA also utilizes the antagonist of ToH, a module that is so popular that it has been seen in novels and expanded upon or adapted for every edition of D&D.

Classic (#9): White Plume Mountain by Lawrence Schick
5E: (converted) Tales From the Yawning Portal
Comments: Wizard's ruined dungeons are commonplace, but WPM is unique for being built inside a volcano and it features a few classic magic weapons like Blackrazor. This module has seen updates and adaptations in nearly every edition as well.

Classic (#8): Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil by Monte Cook
Classic (#4): The Temple of Elemental Evil by Gary Gygax and Frank Mentzer
5E: (theme and board game) Princes of the Apocalypse, Temple of Elemental Evil, Out of the Abyss
Comments: The theme of an evil elemental worshiping cult is taken in a wild new direction in 5E, without directly taking the Temple out of Greyhawk. A tie in board game of the namesake however, failed to pay homage to its roots. It is also worth noting the demoness villain of this megadungeon, Zuggtmoy, is also featured in Out of the Abyss. ToEE is popular enough in D&D to warrant a full 5E adaptation someday, perhaps in an anthology book like Yawning Portal.

Classic (#5): Expedition to the Barrier Peaks by Gary Gygax
5E: (sequel) Lost Laboratory of Kwalish 
Comments: Barrier Peaks' themes of magitech and weird monsters wasn't reimagined here so much as given a suitable sequel to Gygax's original. The special adventure was done for charity, instead of a regular story line event, so I wonder if this theme will be revisited someday.

Classic (#1) Queen of the Spiders by Gygax and various authors
5E: (themes) Storm Giants Thunder, Out of the Abyss
Comments: Queen of the Spiders' adventure path components are classics in their own right. Themes seen in 5E include giant antagonists, Against the Giants (G series), fighting through the Underdark, Vault of the Drow (D series), and defeating demonlords, Queen of the Demonweb Pits. Somehow, given Lolth and drow are heavily in Out of the Abyss, I expect this plot to see another pass in the years to come if only because of author R.A. Salvatore.

Some other select Greyhawk adventures of note:

Age of Worms: This adventure path from 3.5E Dungeon Magazine involved stopping an evil cult bringing a destructive deity to Oerth. One could argue that is the plot of 5E's first story line, Tyranny of Dragons.

Savage Tide: Another huge adventure path set in Greyhawk. This series involves nautical elements, demons and it drags the Isle of Dread into Greyhawk. As the plot involves themes like madness, Demogorgon and abyssal politics, I'd say Out of the Abyss covered this one.

Vecna Lives! Vecna Reborn, Die Vecna Die: Vecna is a core deity in D&D. His exploits are well known and developed since 2E. Vecna has not been featured in 5E yet. Perhaps the antagonist of lich Acererak in Tomb of Annihilation would cover this base, but really there is too much material left here for Wizards not to use Vecna someday.

Five Shall Be One, Howl From the North: This two part adventure deals with themes of barbarians and cold, wilderness exploration. So far 5E has not gone this route yet. FSBO is note worthy in that it is a quest for five magic blades to free a trapped god who will unite the barbarians of the north. After having adapted this story in my campaign to the south seas, I can tell you the originals are weak and a 5E update could only improve it.

Greyhawk Ruins/ Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk: The modules based on Gygax's most famous mega-dungeon. I can say with certainty these won't see a 5E revision since the themes of a dungeon belonging to a mad mage is exactly that of Undermountain (#17 classic) which was recently updated in the apt title, Dungeon of the Mad Mage

Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure/ Maure Castle: This megadungeon by Rob Kuntz is a classic in my opinion. It's see a conversion and expansion during 3.5E in Dungeon. However, like Castle Greyhawk, I can't see Wizards ever going here due the enormous length and similarity in theme to DotMM.

TL;DR version:
D&D has found it's groove by weaving new story lines into classic modules, while also dishing out anthologies of 5E adapted modules to promote old school themes. It's a formula they won't deviate from soon, but given the lists of classic Greyhawk adventures to draw from, they are already more than half-way through their pool of themes. In the future, WotC will need to turn to either other game worlds, like Dragonlance (Dragons of Despair, #25 classic), Ravenloft (#2 classic, adapted in Curse of Strahd 5E), Planescape (Dead Gods #14 classic) or the pages of Dungeon Magazine to find some diamonds in the rough that with any luck, will become the new classics.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Greyhawk in Dragon+ and Gary Con XI

Hail friends of Greyhawk. You may or may not have already seen, but the newest issue of Dragon+ (a periodical I have slacked in reading) has a new article that is a must read. Behind the Screen: Greyhawk by John Roy and Luke Gygax is both a nostalgic ride to the early years of Greyhawk and D&D and also a quite thorough summary on the mood and themes of the setting for those thinking of running Greyhawk for the first time. It covers all the sources for 5th Edition or in classic books on DMsGuild, that one would need (up to and including the newest announced book, Ghosts of Saltmarsh) for a proper Greyhawk campaign.

Kudos to John Roy for writing this piece! There is also a mention in the article of Luke Gygax's panel, Growing Up Gygax, at Gary Con XI in March. I will be there possibly because I'm also in a panel at the con, Celebrating Greyhawk: A Fandom Renaissance which is right AFTER Luke's. Come see me along with Anna Meyer, Bryan Blumklotz, Carlos Lising, Kristoph Nolan and Allan Grohe. Hopefully we get some spill over from the Gygax panel to talk more Hawk!

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Greyhawk Map: Lordship of the Isles

Greetings Greyhawk mavens! As we get closer to GaryCon again I am starting to feel anxious to talk Greyhawk. To pass the time, I started drawing mini-maps of sections of the Flanaess, with some clever artistic touches thrown in. I doubt I'll do a whole lot of these, but I'm looking for corners of the map that are often neglected, that might look more interesting if you have a magnifying glass put on them.

This first map I'll show you, is just a straight hex for hex reproduction of the Darlene map of the Lordship of the Isles-Oljatt region. The map does not show all of the lordship though, as the archipelago continues northward including the capital Sulward. Nor does it give Hepmonaland much love. I wanted to draw attention to the isles and the Pelisso Swamp. The Lordship depending on what era you use, is an underused, underdeveloped area. In the pre-wars era it is a land of buccaneer explorers who flaunt the rule of the Great Kingdom and the Sea Barons. (my preferred era) Post-wars they are capitulating sea lords who serve as the defacto navy of the Scarlet Brotherhood.

As you can see, within this small window there is a lot going on here. Complex coast lines, colonies, monsters, many ports of call. One of my dreams is to set a campaign here to compliment my Hold of the Sea Princes high seas adventures. The Living Greyhawk Gazetteer has a bit of good info on the Lordship, but the isles as well as the surrounding coasts is really untamed territory for DMs in my opinion. Enjoy!

p.s. This map was made using hex paper provided by Black Blade Publishing.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Taxes in Greyhawk

Greetings Greyhawkers. They say in many parts of the prime material plane, nothing is certain but death and taxes. In the World of Greyhawk setting, death is ever present and at times a literal avatar to fight against. But taxes? This too is all the game, there is no avoiding it humble, heroes. Let's take a look:

City of Greyhawk: The Gem of the Flanaess is neutral and wealthy, perhaps supported by a robust system of taxation managed by of course, the dwarven head of the Greyhawk Revenue Service, Glodreddi Bakkanin. Visiting the city, one might be hit with a Ship Tax (3sp to 5gp), a Cargo Tax on imports (up to 1%), a Precious Metal Tax (1%), except for Urnst platinum (.5%). There is also a Freesword Tax (3gp) annually, and a Guild Tax (5sp to 5gp) annually. Glodreddi is always looking for new tax schemes and is also responsible for the People's Constables whose only job is to write citations for crimes so petty they are essentially tax collectors in disguise.

Furyondy: Think it would be nice to live in the good Kingdom of Furyondy? Think again, this place is in perpetual war with Iuz and has to maintain its existence through taxation. Chancellor Rayman Delbeith oversees the collection of funds for his king. The king can collect tithes and taxes due to a Nobility Tax and a Land Tax since all the nobility are technically only leasing their homes and titles from him. This is a low tax and cannot be raised without a vote of the provinces. There is also a Capital Tax created to help rebuild Chendl during the wars.
In turn the provincial rulers tax their retainers and subjects. Nobility Taxes on knights (10-50gp and up to 1000gp for a Count) annually. Hearth Taxes are imposed for luxury items like stone fireplaces (3-20gp) per year.
Furyondy rulers collect taxes many other things in this hard time. Harbor Tax on ships (10sp to 4gp) per day, tolls on roads and fivers (1cp to 5sp), Magic Item Tax (2-30gp) per year, Freesword Tax (1gp) per quarter, Foreign Resident Tax (2sp to 20gp) per year, Inheritance Tax (5-30%), Luxury Tax (5-25%) and then there is Tithes on goods produced usually starting at 15% multiplied by each provinces' rate.
Speaking of these rates, The Marklands source book shows each provinces' multiplier for these base Chendl taxes and services. So for example, the Barony of Kalinstren is x1.6 base costs and County of Crystalreach is x1.7 whereas Duchy of the Reach is only x.8 and Gold County is x.75 the base.

Nyrond: So Furyondy isn't the only large kingdom who will tax you to death. Nyrond is just as cash strapped. You can expect to use all the same taxes as Furyondy plus it has novelty ideas like Fencepost Tax (1cp) per per post! There is also a Boot Tax (3sp) annually for every pair of foot wear you own. Not surprisingly tax evasion is rife in the Nyrond.

Great Kingdom: This huge land once stretched across the Flanaess but is now fractured, but still very large and powerful. Here, the populace of Aerdy also face similar taxes outlined above, but here it can be much higher. In addition the Overking has implemented special taxes like a Castle Tax to help build more keeps and castles in the kingdom and a Worship Tax to harass good religions.

Keoland: Not to be left out, the Kingdom of Keoland to the southwest is currently in a less desperate period of time than its peers, if one discounts the Giant Troubles and high seas piracy. A DM can expect this medieval kingdom to excise the same sort of taxes mentioned earlier, but at an average to lower rate depending on your campaign. Interestingly, the king here cannot create new taxes, only the Council of Niole Dra may do this.

That's all for now. You can imagine from the above examples how taxation in the World of Greyhawk can become a facet of concern for players and a reason to find more treasure, or perhaps even a reason to smuggle in their hard earned loot. Wherever the PCs decide to reside, be it Ket, Veluna, Irongate or even the land of Iuz, a tax collector will always be lurking in wait to pay a visit.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Great Greyhawk Couples

 Happy Valentines Day, Greyhawkers! I don't think there is a Greyhawk equivalent to this holiday unless it's a holy day to Myhriss goddess of love. At any rate, that's a topic for another day. The World of Greyhawk is well known for its mega-dungeons, artifacts and warfare, but is it known for romantic storylines? Let's take a look...

Jallarzi Sallavarian and Kieran Jalucian: This is one of my favorite Greyhawk couples. Jallarzi is the only female member of the famous Circle of Eight in the City of Greyhawk and her paramour, Kieran is the Master of the Guild of Wizardry and Principle of the University of Magic Arts. I am going to assume they met when she was a prodigy student of his at the UMA because Jallarzi was 33 when she joined the Circle, and KJ only looks 30, but is clearly very old according to the City of Greyhawk boxed set. Scandals aside, I can see the attraction for them; Kieran is not only an archmage, but he has a 17 STR so he is no aged-wimpy sage. Jallarzi, described as "distractingly beautiful" has a 17 CHA and a pseudo-dragon pet. What's not to like? The pair are seen all over the city and even slum in the Old City in disguise with magic. Their wizardly careers are probably the only thing keeping them from being official. Work and well, that thing that happened in Return of the Eight...

Iggwilv and Graz'zt: Aww yes, you knew I would mention this couple (well off and on). They are the best confrontational pair in the entire setting. Iggy and Graz' even have a child together (spoiled demigod Iuz, such a dysfunctional family). Iggwilv is an aspiring demonologist-witch queen-conqueror. Graz'zt is an aspiring Prince of Demons-would-be conqueror of the Abyss. Clearly the pair's egos are not big enough to fit on one infinite plane. There is a lot of good game info on this diabolical couple I don't have the room to tell it all! Want to know EVERYTHING about Iggwilv though? Check out this amazing post on Power Score.
Cobb Darg and Elayne Mystica: I'm not sure if these two are a romantic pair, but they should be! Cobb is the old wily ruler of Irongate and Elayne is the albino Suel archmage of the same city. There has got to be a spark there, and I'm certain she knows Mayor Darg's secret heritage.

Queen Yolande and (various) Consorts: Elven culture might be different than human-kind in regards to courtly romance since they live so long and are many times xenophobic. Queen Yolande of Celene has had many consorts over the centuries, and the murder of one even started the Hateful Wars that drove all humanoids out of the Lortmil Mountains. I'm sure Yolande has moved on by now, though given her isolationist stand, does she ever look outside Celene for companionship?

Karin Keoffel and Yrag: I'm willing to bet you don't know who is Karin Keoffel. She happens to run the Fruit of the Mill in the lower part of Greyhawk, she is 44 years old and is cheerfully in love with her mercenary boyfriend "Yr". Whether she knows Yr is actually Yrag, a magically preserved 200 year-old adventuring legend is not known. What is for sure is that Yr/Yrag definitely loves his girlfriend and has gone to lengths to discreetly protect her, such as gifting magic items and telling the Guild of Thieves to back off her business. If that isn't love I don't know what is!

Iuz and Zuggtmoy: Iuz has many henchmen and allies he could choose as his consort, but in Greyhawk lore (and novels?), the Lord of Pain for some reason has an infatuation with Zuggtmoy the Demon-queen of Fungi. Despite being a power-couple they both have spent time in prisons, so their relationship has always been strained. Despite this I suspect Iuz loves her more than she loves him back. So much so, that Iuz literally gave Zuggtmoy his soul to guard on her abyssal plane. Like that won't ever come back to haunt him some day!

Lady Evaleigh and Gord or Alain IV of Ratik: The comely Evaleigh is a noblewoman from the County of Knurl and was featured as a love interest to Gord the Rogue in Gygax's early TSR novels. How that turned out, I'm not 100% certain, since I never read them all. Evaleigh however did make into the game setting as the widowed ruler of Ratik. She married the son of Baron Lexnol, Alain IV and he was soon killed by gnolls. Evaleigh had to assume rulership after Lexnol then became disabled upon hearing the news. Tragedy!

Wee Jas and Norebo: I would be remiss if I didn't mention this dynamic Greyhawk deity couple! Wee Jas the goddess of death and magic could only be won over by the roguish charm of Norebo right? After all he has been reputedly with every female deity it is said. Unfortunately, being gods of the Suel Pantheon, there's a good chance they are related! Why she puts up with him and his cheating ways in the first place is a matter of theological study. I know cause I've done plenty myself!

Honorable Mentions. I could go on and on, but here is some other couples I think would be worth musing about in future valentines posts...

Dragotha and Tiamat: Draconic love. Till death do they part?

Lorana Kath and Lord Kargoth: Both death knights of the Great Kingdom. A couple that works together!

Sotillion and Zilchus: Married deities of business, wealth and leisure. Gee, I wonder who they remind me of...

Markessa and Markessa: This Slave Lord likes altering the minds and bodies of elven women into doubles of herself. Self-love?

That's all for now. What other great Greyhawk NPC relationships are there?

Friday, February 8, 2019

Colorful Places of Greyhawk

Greetings Greyhawkers! Today I bring you another fun topic on Greyhawk geography. This one follows suit with the post I did on "Cold Places" in the Flanaess. This time let's look at the colorful places found in the World of Greyhawk. In our world there is plenty of colorfully named locations such as the Black Sea, Greenland or Yellowknife. Naming places with colors is catchy and evocative and that's why Gygax made ample use of it in his setting. Let's take a look...

Land of Black Ice: This is the first place I think of when you mention the color black on the Darlene Flanaess map. Is the ice literally black or blue-black or transparent showing off stone below? Does it absorb heat or repel it? I have too many physics questions about this place. For more on the Land of Black Ice check out my most recent article on cold places mentioned above.

Blackmoor: Naturally next to the black ice is the grim-colored Blackmoor. While it might not be Dave Arneson's original Blackmoor, the Blackmoor we get in the World of Greyhawk is an homage that includes the same gloomy environment, the castle of Blackmoor, the mysterious City of the Gods and the even more mysterious villain Egg of Coot. Want to spice up your Blackmoor or heck play the Mystara version? Go to Havard's Blackmoor Blog.

Azure Sea: The biggest and boldest blue on the map is naturally the Azure Sea. Azure according to Wikipedia is bright blue, like the color of the sky on a clear day. I'm no expert on physics, but perhaps this means the Azure Sea is more clear and calm than say the Solnor Ocean or the warmer Drawmij Ocean? I'd love to hear theories because I know on Earth, there is a difference in our oceans and seas.

No I'm not being facetious, there is a town called Blue on the east coast of the Pomarj. Why is it called Blue you ask? Good question. I really don't know at the moment. I do know it's been a fisherman and pirate haven for centuries and most recently it's now a port in control of the Slave Lords or Turrosh Mak's Orcish Empire or both? Whatever the case, Blue is a nice rough port to stop at for PCs who want to get in some roguish trouble.

Gold County: So gold is yellow of course, but where is the Gold County you may be asking? It's a southern part of Furyondy along the Velverdyva River bordering Verbobonc and Dyvers. In other words it's safe, quiet and wealthy while up north they are battling Iuz 24-7. Not only do the nobles love hiding out here, with their gold, there is also an abundance of sunflowers on the plains. Yellow indeed.

White Fanged Bay: White immediately gives you the impression of cold. Set along the Icy Sea, this is a frozen coast noteworthy for its walruses and seals. Ivory and fur can be had by any enterprising barbarian willing to trek to White Fanged Bay. With that much food in a crowded area, what's the chances there's white dragons as well?

White Plume Mountain: Speaking of white in the north, there is one iconic location that is not cold, but rather a volcano. White Plume Mountain, the home of Keraptis the wizard, is the destination of many a treasure seeker wishing to recover the lost magic weapons that were stolen away to this dungeon. You can find a version of this module online for just about any edition of D&D imaginable. Good luck!


City of Greyhawk: Naturally, the city that started it all would be named for a color. Growing up I would always spell the color gray, grey because I'm a D&D nerd. I definitely know Grayhawk would look weird to me. The City of Greyhawk may be nicknamed the Gem of the Flanaess but I believe the name of the town does indeed come from a species of hawk living in the area. I also suspect Gygax chose grey for the name of his famous campaign, because gray is a neutral color, much like the free city itself is neutral politically. It is also centrally located on the map, in a neutral position from all the law and chaos swirling around it. Perfection.

Grayflood River: A tributary of the Thelly River, this gray-sounding river is what forms the boundary between the South Province (Ahlissa) and the Iron League member state of Sunndi. One can imagine, in more peaceful times this was a decent river to cross and trade. Nowadays with the Great Kingdom ruled by mad-men and undead, the Grayflood sounds as dismal as its name.

Silverwood: This tiny forest within the Duchy of Ulek is just what you imagine it might be from the metallic sound of its name. It's a primeval wood, out of bounds for mere men and inhabited by sylvan elves, unicorns, treants and other fey creatures. Ironically there is no actual silver here, but the inhabitants value their trees more than silver!

Iron Hills: By now you're thinking, yeah the World of Grey-hawk has a lot of gray in it. The Iron Hills is yet one more, this one is though is known for its dwarven clans, indeed the place is actually the Kingdom of the Iron Hills. Given it's proximity to the city of Irongate and it being an ally of the Iron League, you can see a theme here.

Irongate: As mentioned before, there's also Irongate, another grayish metal themed place and what I imagine as Minas Tirith from Lord of the Rings, but on the coast. This city (ruled by a dragon some say) has never been conquered, not by a thousand Aerdian nobles, nor the sneak attacks of the Scarlet Brotherhood. Want a good aligned place to start a campaign, especially with dwarves and gnomes? Try Irongate!

Greysmere: Not enough dwarven lore for you? Okay one more. In the Abbor Alz Mountains is a clan of dwarves living in an underground town called Greysmere. If you'd like to know more about this place, grab a copy of the City of Greyhawk boxed set. I'm moving on...

Scarlet Brotherhood: Another great example of a color capturing the mood of a name. This remote peninsula region isn't the name for a nation per se, but rather a semi-secret, evil organization led by dangerous Suel monks and assassins. Unlike the Red Wizards of Thay in Forgotten Realms, if they were called the Red Brotherhood, they wouldn't sound half as sinister would they? (hmm Red Monks of Ilshar?) The Scarlet Brotherhood source book is all you need to get in order to know all the inner workings of this power group. Highly recommended.

Redspan: This red-colored city is in the Duchy of Tenh. What I know about it is mainly from the book, Iuz the Evil. This fortified town used to protect the duchy from the Bandit Kingdoms, but it couldn't withstand Iuz's forces. DMs looking for a contentious city on the edge of war in all directions could give Redspan a look.

Redhand: One more red themed place for you is Redhand. This is the bandit principality that touches on the Nyr Dyv coast including the town of Alhaster. It might be heretical to the fine folks who worked on the Bandit Kingdoms for Living Greyhawk, but if you want easy accessed info on Redhand, check out 3.5 Edition Age of Worms AP by Paizo in the pages of Dungeon Magazine.

I seriously cannot find a purplish place in the Flanaess. Unless you want to count "Mauve" Castle which is ridiculous because that's a sorry misrepresentation of Maure Castle from the novel Saga of Old City.

Greenreach: Well I'm quite stunned by how hard it is for me to find places named for shades of green in Greyhawk. Greenreach, an Iuz town near the Vesve Forest is one. As you can imagine, it's a staging area for the demigod's attacks to the west. Listen up heroes, someday you may very well have to raze Greenreach before tackling the big names in the Land of Iuz.

Celadon Forest: Celadon is a shade of green, kind of like jade color. The great Celadon Forest is in between the Duchy of Urnst and Nyrond. It's an old forest, home to sylvan creatures, elves, good woodsmen, rangers and so-forth. It's a wonderfully green base of operations for nature-oriented characters.

Copperstead: Yup, orange is just as hard as you'd think to find. Copper is an orangish metallic color though and coincidentally the village of Copperstead lies within the aforementioned Celadon Forest! This tiny hamlet is the HQ for the little-known Defender of Celadon.a group of woodland freedom fighters trying to repel a brutal local baron.

Gamboge Forest: Oh that sneaky Gygax, he almost got this shade of orange past me. Gamboge is a saffron like color like the robes used by Buddhist monks. The Gamboge Forest therefore must be orangish right? Well unfortunately, there is no mention of this, but maybe in the Fall the leaves here are very orange in color? Not surprisingly this a home to sylvan elves, halflings, gnomes and the like, caught between the political drama of Nyrond and the Pale. Sounds like a cool place to visit.

Sepia Uplands: The shade of sepia is a (reddish) brown color of course. The Sepia Uplands sound like they must be as monochromatic as the sepia photos we remember from history. It's an hilly region along Lake Quag, mainly controlled by Perrenland, but also bordering the Wolf Nomads and extending into the Vesve. Quite picturesque!

Bronzeblood Haunt: Bronze is a brownish color right? Metallics are hard to judge. At any rate, this eerie ruined castle is found within the lawful and good Kingdom of Furyondy. Want a cool place to send players without the need for a long trip? Try this place. For more info, check out this article on Furyondy.

Sablewood: Sable is actually a very dark brown, going on black. I couldn't decide which entry to place it, so I made it last. The Sablewood is in the extreme NE of the Thillonrian Peninsula in Cruskii. The fir trees in this wood of course are valued for their deep (black) color when treated. The barbarians love sable wood so much they don't export it! According to the Trees of the Flanaess section in the boxed set (yes Gygax loved tree-lore, don't judge), sablewood branches make excellent arrow shafts. Now you know where the "black arrow" comes from.

Phew! That's it! I'm sure I missed some obscure color-coordinated place in Greyhawk. If I did chime in and let me know. Until next time!

Friday, February 1, 2019

Castle Greyhawk Finale

Greetings Greyhawkers! This week I am proud to announce that Scott Casper and I have reached the conclusion of our long running Castle Greyhawk comic. It's been several years and over 160+ pages of amazing story and art.

When we started this comic back in 2012, Scott had already written a virtual novella based on the original home campaign of Gygax, involving such notable Greyhawk characters as Tenser, Robilar and Mordenkainen. It was when he approached me to do an illustrated adaptation of these short stories that I was inspired to jump at it since I had already ran out of material for my long running Greyhawk Comic strip. For seven years I've lived and drawn these characters doing incredible things I've never done in an actual table top RPG setting. My only regret is that I chose to do it in greyscale instead of full color. However, I am sure I would have never accomplished half the work load if I had done so. Then again, how many D&D fans have done one if not two comics based on their favorite setting? So yes, no regrets at all in hindsight.

If you are just now finding my blog Greyhawkery, or Castle Greyhawk, and are new to every contained in this story, well this is mainly the story of the wizard Tenser. The exploits and adventures of Tenser and his off and on again compatriots happen around the free-city of Greyhawk, which is central to the published World of Greyhawk RPG setting. Nearby is the dungeons of the ruined Castle Greyhawk once home to the famous mad archmage Zagig.

The story of Castle Greyhawk also features the hardworking mage in training slash barmaid, Ehlissa. She is a strong, fearless adventurer in a world dominated by so many powerful male figures. One of these individuals is the noble, but reclusive fighter Yrag whose experience leads to taking the young wizards on their first foray into the infamous ruins.

As the story progresses, you will become familiar with another fearless warrior named Robilar. As time goes by Robilar falls in with Tenser and company as well to search the dungeons for treasure. Along with him comes a whole cast of adventurers and henchmen such as Quij the orc, Terik the fighter, Otto the mage and Serten the cleric.

Mind you, this story isn't one big dungeon crawl either, the story also takes you across the streets of Greyhawk, into inns, taverns, wizards towers and even a local bandit's fort. There is so much going on in this five-chapter story that I can't begin to tell it all. Start from the beginning and read Castle Greyhawk. In the future I hope to post up compiled versions of the chapters for ease of reading.

Until then, thanks for at least reading about my latest feather in the cap. Thanks once again to Scott Casper for his hard work and amazing direction. Every panel you will see in this comic is drawn by me, but it is executed exactly how Scott imagined it first. Congratulations my friend on having your dreams come true!

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

5E: More Greyhawk Wars Magic Items

Last time I featured three unique magic items named in the 2nd edition era board game Greyhawk Wars, but were never found in any other supplement before or after. Today we look at the last three of this set as I try to convert them to 5E rules using the spirit of the board game descriptions. Enjoy!

Gloves of the Paladin
Wondrous item, rare (requires attunement by a cleric, druid or paladin)

These supple leather gloves were first created by the temple of Heironeous to aid the Knights of Holy Shielding in their crusade against the evils of the Bandit Kingdoms, Iuz and the Horned Society. While wearing these gloves, you have the divine ability to lay on hands as a paladin of the same level. If attuned to a paladin, the gloves double the pool of healing points available to the wearer.

Dura's Deadly Poison
Wondrous item, rare

Dura, also known as the Siren of Stiletto Street, was once an assassin from the City of Greyhawk, before she was forced into exile for using her talents on a close friend of the lord mayor. Found in a small make up container, there is enough of this very fine powder for one use.
When you use an action to cast the dust from the container it fills a 15 foot cone. Each creature in that area takes 4d6 poison damage and must succeed on a DC 13 Constitution saving throw or be poisoned. At the start of each turn a poisoned creature takes 4d6 poison damage and at the end of the turn, repeats the saving throw. On a successful save, the poison damage they take in the subsequent turn decreases by 1d6. The poison ends when the damage decreases to 0.

Drawmij's Dagger
Weapon (dagger), rare (requires attunement)

The Archmage Drawmij has created many exotic items and this dagger is among his earliest signature weapons. You can use a bonus action to toss this magic dagger into the air and speak the command word. When you do so, the dagger begins to hover, flies up to 60 feet, and instantly attacks up to four creatures of your choice along that path. Each creature may only be struck once. The dagger uses your attack roll and ability score modifier to damage rolls.
After the hovering dagger attacks for the fourth time, it teleports back to its sheath. If you are more than 60 feet from the dagger it flies back to your original spot and falls to the ground. The dagger can't be used this way again until the next dawn.