Welcome back again Greyhawkers. If you've been following, this is the fourth round of my ongoing Return of the Ring of Five Questions column! If you're coming into this column for the first time this is a community participation feature of Greyhawkery. Go back and read the previous installments then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your five responses. Remember, you can be as short or wordy as you like in these responses. Also, I will keep taking entries until the end of 2020 so hang in there, I will get to your answers eventually! Now, let's enter the Ring once again, this round we pit two of my favorite Greyhawk fans together, Joseph Bloch author of the gaming blog Greyhawk Grognard as well as RPG designer for BRW Games, and Skip "Sir Xaris" Twitchell RPG writer and editor for among many things Total Party Kill Games and the fan site Canonfire! I have met both of these men at conventions and appreciate their comradery, now let's get to the answers!
Q1. What is your favorite realm or region in the World of Greyhawk setting?
Joseph: For roleplaying, the central Flanaess; Greyhawk, the Kron Hills, Wild Coast. For wargaming, the Iron League; in fact I'm painting some armies to do exactly that.
Skip: Boy! Where to begin? Every hex on the World of Greyhawk map is an exciting place for adventure. However, I would have to admit that my favorite spot is where I begin most of my campaigns – in the northwestern Vesve on the north bank of the Deepstil River where exists (in my campaign) The Keep on the Borderlands. That area of the map has a diverse racial mixture in the nearby geography which does two important things for me as a DM. First, it is easy for a player of any character race to find a nearby location for his or her new PC to originate from. Second, it allows me to present a wide variety of interesting NPCs to the players while maintaining a sense of reality and believability to the campaign story. Human woodsmen, peasants, soldiers, and merchants live in and around the Keep. The Wood Elven realm is on the south side of the Deepstil. Chakyik and Wegwiur raiders come from the north. Dwarves are in the nearby Clatspurs. Gnomes and halflings live in the Sepia Uplands, especially the portion that is within the Vesve itself. Itinerant merchants and mercenaries allow even more opportunity for diversity.
Skip dives in and makes a splash with the NW Vesve for KotB. I know I've seen people place this classic module all over the map, and I still think Skip's campaign makes a very good case. Sadly, I have not used this area much besides in my 2E wars. Speaking of wars, nobody knows more about old school Greyhawk armies and wargaming than Joe. You can't go wrong with a good Aerdy war as I can attest. Much like him, I have also done a majority of my campaigns in the central Flanaess. Moving on...
Q2. If you could actually be one Greyhawk deity which one would it be?
Joseph: Fharlanghn. No one else has the potential to know more about Oerth and all of its secrets and byways.
Skip: I think I would be Pelor. Neutral Good, smiting evil, and bringing hope to the downtrodden.
Mr. Bloch makes a good point, Fharlanghn has a magic disk that projects a map of Oerth. He has been everywhere, man. On the other hand, Pelor is more popular and loved, cause sun god and healing and stuff. Then again, being the god of travel means more time to yourself...
Q3. You have one wish. Which Greyhawk module or accessory would you do over or fix?
Joseph: Q1 Queen of the Demonweb Pits. But then again, I actually am doing it over and fixing it. :-)
Skip: Well, I adjust every module I run to fit my image of the World of Greyhawk, so I would use my wish for something else. I would wish for Wizards of the Coast to open Greyhawk up for 3rd party publication in the DM’s Guild.
Jospeh is always doing deep dives on these AD&D mods on his blog. In doing so he surely knows every hex and square that Gygax put down on paper. If anyone can fix a module, it is him! Speaking of fan authors, Skip speaks for so many of us in the Greyhawk community (especially Joe Bloch!) who just want people who have played in and love the setting to be the ones who pass down this knowledge in future publication to a new audience. For now a Wish spell is our best chance.
Q4: You're putting together an all-star Greyhawk NPC group. Who is your number one pick?
Skip: As a DM, I would pick an evil NPC group to challenge my PCs, and my favorite BBEG is Iggwilv. So, Iggwilv would gather together a few of her fellow baddies to hunt the party down. These might include her daughter, Drelnza, the inimitable Warduke, her son’s servant, the dwarf Obmi, her former lover, the clerical lich, Lerrek, and a fellow mage, say, Evard.
Sir Xaris does not disappoint with this question, Iggwilv being the #1 pick I assume, but then he lays out her entire Evil Entourage. What always amazes me about Greyhawk is how I know all these NPCs he casts, but then realize I've only used Iggwilv (and maybe Warduke) on my players. Damn! Now, don't excuse Joe's brevity for dismissal of question #4. Gord is an excellent pick and totally in character for a grognard such as him. Picking Gord among just Greyhawk NPCs is like saying pick your favorite hero from fantasy movies/literature. Greyhawk doesn't have a lot of iconic NPCs outside wizards in my opinion, so Gord is basically the Conan of Greyhawk. He does it all.
Q5. If you could possess one artifact or relic from Greyhawk lore, which would it be?
Joseph: Assuming you're talking about in-game, then the Mace of St. Cuthbert. In real life? The Crystal of the Ebon Flame.
Skip: I am uncertain if any of them would be of particular usefulness in the real world, but I would enjoy owning Baba Yaga’s Dancing Hut. I would have to hide it away from prying eyes, but it would lead to a world of adventure within.
Joseph wisely goes for a major relic that will protect his character and not corrupt him (assuming he likes to play good PCs, right Joe? haha) Now he really throws me with the Crystal of the Ebon Flame. Here is an item I've never used and also don't know much about. Since he wants it IRL, I had to consult the tomes and well, the powers are random through editions, and it may very well be tied to Tharizdun. Maybe joe doesn't play Good after all...
Skip finishes this round of the Ring of Five off with the only pick that beats all of them, the Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga. I love love LOVE this item because like Skip says it's a whole world inside. I've used it multiple times in game, but to have the Hut IRL would be like having the TARDIS in a modern sense. It would be fantastic, well, until Baba Yaga comes looking to take it back...
That one was a lot of fun! I got two more epic entries to share with you all next time. Stay tuned!