Saturday, April 27, 2019

Avengers Endgame Thoughts

Hello Greyhawkers. It's been a long, busy week, but I did manage to see Avengers: Endgame and I must say, after 10 years of amazing Marvel comic movies building up to this finale I got some thoughts to share in relation to running a D&D/RPG campaign (not just Greyhawk). Also, no don't worry, there won't be any spoilers in this post. If you haven't seen the movie do so NOW. If you haven't seen any Avengers movies, what's wrong with you? Okay let's start in no particular order...

1. Adventure Paths, much like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, are hard, but if you can finish it the memories and emotional pay off will be worth it. Be it the Against the Giants/Queen of Spiders, Age of Worms or your own series of adventures. If you intend to do the long-campaign, see it through!

2. A central uber-villain like Thanos is worth his weight in gold. This guy has to be untouchable, but so personally hated by the PCs that they will try to defeat him/her no matter the odds. I think of heavy villain types like Iggwilv, Iuz or Vecna.

3. Villains can win. Yeah they can and it only makes the players want to try harder to undo what victory the bad guy may achieve. In the module Vecna Lives! there is a scenario in which the arch-lich wins. Does he? Probably not in 99.9% of games played, but if he does, it ups the stakes for your entire campaign.

4. Call backs to old NPCs or locations or events is a great way to reward players. Referencing something a PC has done to change the world is a good way to acknowledge that the players have mattered and their time is not wasted. If such a place or person is revisited, the platers will want to defend it just that much more. It's also a good way for a DM to show that no minor detail or random NPC you may meet in a Greyhawk tavern is unimportant because they might matter some point in the future.

5. If you're going to have an epic finale, be sure there is plenty for every hero to do. Having a character be the "chosen one" is fine in many stories with only one central character, but RPGs are usually ensemble casts. Give them stuff to do and personal goals to tie up at the end. this is why I feel quests like Five Shall Be One's quest for the five Blades of Corusk is great, because it requires all the heroes to be invested in the story and lend a hand in victory.

6. Character death should be epic, not pointless. This is of course easier said than done. But if the PCs live as well, there should always be an opportunity to take one for the team. The struggle against Kyuss in Age of Worms was quite good at handling climatic situations in this fashion.

7. Sometimes a new player thinks outside the box better than veterans. If this ever happens it is a breath of fresh air for DMs and a shot in the arm for long time players. I've seen it happen occasionally over the years. Never discourage creative plans and ideas, no matter how silly or over the top they may seem at first.
8. It's okay to move up the timeline. RPGs these days work in at accelerated pace. It's easy to do an Adventure Path like Savage Tide, that takes less than a game year to finish but takes the PC from 1-20th level. So your PC may be ultra powerful and rich now, but has he really developed? As a DM, adding incremental timeline changes gives the players an opportunity to change not just their stats but their character's personal story moving forward.

9. Cross-overs can work. Are you a DM that runs more than one game group? Do they play in a shared world like the World of Greyhawk? If you ever get to mix these game groups up and let them cross over the teams, it can make for some interesting relationships and new group dynamics. I used to run games like this frequently and we still proudly talk about those games decades later.

10. Have an easily defined villain plot or quest. If you're playing an RPG involving intrigue, investigation or horror then sure, it can be good to slowly dish out information and build to a reveal. In an epic fantasy quest, sometimes it's good to know the danger up front and what will happen if they fail. All the stuff in between is the meat of the story and for a DM can be fluid at this point. Iuz's demons will overrun the Flanaess unless you get the Crook of Rao, And....GO!

11. A good villain or hero never stays gone for long. It's more true for comic books, but in a game like D&D it's easy for recurring villains or even heroes to be brought back into the story if needed, such as clones, simulacrum, resurrection, raise dead, reincarnation, undeath, etc. If done right this can span a wide timeline gap like in Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure and the sequel Maure Castle which was also written 20 real years apart.

12. Sometimes villains can make great allies or can even be redeemed. If you haven't tried to have a villain team up with the PCs to take down a greater threat, you are missing out on some great roleplay opportunities. Imagine the possibility of a romantic storyline with a villain like in the movie Willow, or something familial like Thor and Loki or Raistlin and Caramon from Dragonlance.

13. The story goes on. And when you finish your epically long campaign, sometimes it is nice for your heroes to lay the ground work for your next campaign. Pass the torch so to say. This could be like a legacy game where the Circle of Eight loses and adds new members, or maybe the timeline changes and you carry on the name of a previous PC. Or maybe your PC becomes a ruler of a nation that your next character hails from and is sent on the next quest by this mentor. There's many ways to tie up the end of a campaign and let your PC leave a permanent mark on the world.

Monday, April 22, 2019

A Few New Greyhawk Articles

Greetings seekers of all things Greyhawk! Today I bring you three new works from various luminaries of the Greyhawk community. Let's get it started!

First up is the final installment of Joe Bloch's wonderful series of articles expanding the Baklunish Pantheon. If you haven't seen this already be sure to back track and download all his articles on his blog Greyhawk Grognard. In the final issue, Joe features classic deities Geshtai and Zuoken, then adds newcomers Suwat, Waadi and Malakim. They are loving produced and well-written and researched to the point you will swear it's canon!

Next up is actually two entries by one author. Blake Ryan has been building up steam as he releases new Greyhawk articles on D&D fan-site Tribality. His latest contributions to our lore is quite original. First he writes about a place called Zulpar, a lair of the Mind Flayers found in the Underdark beneath the Rakers mountain chain. Remote and scary indeed!
The second is Syrmyr, the lair of a nasty sea hag in the White Fanged Bay near Stonehold. Why would one want to go to such a cold and dangerous place? Mr. Ryan supplies plenty of good reasons in this article. Enjoy!

Last up is a new article at Canonfire! titled Beasts of the Scarlet Brother (5e Update) by Paul "Woesinger" Looby. In this, Woesinger updates an article he did for Dungeon #106 with fellow Onnwalian, Stuart Kerrigan way back in the heyday of Living Greyhawk. Now you can enjoy critters like Dreamstealers, Yeshir and Mazchedeen for your own 5E campaign. Good work, we need more 5E conversions like this.

That's all for now!



Friday, April 19, 2019

Old D&D Commercials

Hey hey, Greyhawk fans. It's a slow weekend. Who wants to play some D&D?





Sunday, April 14, 2019

Greyhawkery Link Updates

Greetings Greyhawkers! Today is a lazy weekend, so I started to refurbish some of my defunct stuff on my front page.

First off, if you go to my Greyhawk Articles page, I have updated the links to some of my stuff from the Oerth Journal and so on. Many thanks to Greyhawk Online for making the entirety of the Oerth Journal ezine available again. Now you can see all my best Ull-related articles!

I also have updated my old World of Greyhawk Comic page as well. Now you can go back and read all my wacky stuff from many years ago like the Cultists of Tharizdun and Gods in Space, plus easily reference my most recent comic, Castle Greyhawk by author Scott Casper, from the beginning!

Enjoy!

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Greyhawk News Tidbits

Good fortune to you Greyhawkers! Today I have a few Greyhawk related news tidbits to throw out. Let's get started:
Our very own Bards of Greyhawk have an extraordinary announcement on their Facebook page. They are going to be doing a Kickstarter to promote a short comic drawn by D&D artist and legend, Jeff Dee!

HUGE ANNOUNCEMENT!
Jeff Dee made a comic book for Bards of Greyhawk!

We will soon be launching our very first Patreon later this month as we celebrate our 4th Anniversary to announce and begin raising funds for the production and distribution of this fantastic new D&D comic book with eight pages of amazing color illustrations by living legend TSR / Dungeons & Dragons artist, our friend. Jeff Dee! Like and Follow our page to be the first to get in on this exciting opportunity!



I for one, cannot wait to see more of Dee's classic illustration.



Next up is another offering from Blake Ryan at Tribality. He is running a series of short articles on northern towns in the World of Greyhawk. Next up is Djekul, a town of 3000 in the land of the Frost Barbarians. Mr. Ryan's has a way of taking an undeveloped town in Greyhawk and packing a ton of useful game info into it, without it being a slog to read through. Any DM looking for a new location to send their PCs or a humble home base for a rural campaign could not do much better than the info provided in Djekul. Check it out.



Lastly, the Greyhawk Channel will soon be announcing their Summer Season schedule. However, I am going to broadcast early that me and Anna Meyer's talk show, Legends & Lore will be moving to Wednesdays 7-9 pm CST on June 5th. I'd like to give many thanks to all the loyal friend of the show who have been coming each week. We hope that the move up in the week won't affect people coming to watch, in fact we hope it will INCREASE turn out as we won't be competing with other D&D shows on in that same evening. We will have a short hiatus in May then will be back with more lore and guests in June. Stay tuned!