Sunday, October 7, 2012

Ring of Five Questions: Anna Meyer

Welcome back faithful Greyhawk readers! Last time out I interviewed a pro in Chris Pramas, this time however I'm switching things up. My next victim, ahem, guest is one of hardest working fans in the Greyhawk community. Besides actively gaming in the setting, this talented artist specializes in well researched, richly rendered Greyhawk maps. She has lent her cartographic skill to the Oerth Journal before, but her main goal is to map the entire setting and she has her own website devoted to this ambitious project - the Atlas of the Flanaess. Over the years an online following for her stunning maps has developed into a full blown social group, the Flanaess Geographical Society. We've all seen or heard about her maps, now it's time to question her about the World of Greyhawk itself. Hailing from California via Sweden, welcome to the Ring: Anna B. Meyer.

Q1: You've spent countless hours staring at the Flanaess so this should be difficult. What is your favorite part of the World of Greyhawk?

Anna: During my years of mapping and all the research that has come with it I've been surprised over and over again by the number of interesting, fascinating and at times spectacular places all over the Flanaess.
Despite all the adventurous and famous places I have spent so much effort mapping my favorite realm is one of the least known on the continent. It has a central location and is often mentioned in many of the old modules, still it's a realm that has largely been left out of the stories of Greyhawk. My favorite part of Greyhawk is the Faerie Kingdom Celene, the elven place next to some of the most iconic paces like The Village of Hommlet and the Temple of Elemental Evil. It has majestic forests, mountains and rivers full of creatures both celestial and foul, from the smallest annoying pixie to maybe even dragons. This is where I would settle and have my own tree house if could.

Q2: You've been called a mapping goddess, but if you could actually be one Greyhawk deity which one would fit you best?

Anna: As a woman and an elven fan it is tempting to go for an elven deity or Mayaheine. But the one that would fit me best is probably the Oeridian goddess Johydee.

Q3: I hear you have a home campaign set in the Rel Deven area. What era of the Great Kingdom do you prefer?

Anna: My first campaigns were my versions of Hommlet, the Temple, the Wild Coast and the Pomarj. We played through the wars in Furyondy and Shield Lands with excursions into the Horned Lands. As a new GM I often fell into the trap of "saving the world" adventures, and the Greyhawk wars gave me a perfect chance to play that type of a campaign. The reason I chose to locate my latest campaign in Rel Deven was that I was researching the area for my mapping and I could get more out of my work by making a campaign set there in CY 598 just after the end of the Living Greyhawk campaign. For me it has turned out a lot more fun than I imagined, lots of local intrigue between good and evil and tons of references to old Greyhawk lore.
I really like the mess that the implosion of the Great Kingdom cased, an area with lots of "grey" in it (pun intended). Both as a place that has a lot of Greyhawk tone to it, but also as a place with more than the usual good vs. evil struggle. Here are noble houses and historic connections, a vital part in creating more of a gray environment with even more dimensions.

Q4: Anyone who has ran D&D should have a favorite villain. Who is yours, someone from canon or a creation of your own?

Anna: My favorite canon villain is Lord Vuron, Grazzt's Steward. He is smart, special and intriguing, I loved to play him in some of my early campaigns. But he died at the final battle in the Gord books so I had to come up with a new favorite. This time I played it safe and invented my own, a drow cambion and Iuz half sister - Zezztra. She is the daughter of Grazzt and Eclavdra. When she grew up she was left in the care of Vuron who was very fond of her, so she grew up with kind of two fathers and later found out she had kind two mothers Eclavdra and Leda.  She likes Leda despite the fact she killed Vuron. Zezztra grew to know what real affection means, a rare thing among demonkind. She hates most of her kind and that had led her to take up the profession of assassin, specializing in fiends. She work from time to time as Grazzt's elite hitman. Her alignment is neutral with some faint good tendencies, which is handy when you need to go unnoticed. She has the strength of her father, the intellect of her mentor and the charisma of her mother, in all making her a survivor even among the fittest. Her profession has taken her across the Flanaess and many other realms and she has become one of the top assassins in the known multi-verse. She wants the world to be a better place and strive to make it better, fully knowing that she will always be tainted by her heritage. She enjoys as much to see the fear in her victims eyes as the joy of the people she indirectly helps. She would like to kill Lolth, since it would be way to gain the approval of her dad, and a way to overcome her past all in one. But she needs to build her skills a bit more to be sure she can make that happen. There are lots of others to practice on in the mean time.

Q5: For fun: You've been given creative control over a new edition of Greyhawk, What (if anything) would you do to the Flanaess physically or politically to shake it up?

Anna: The Crook of Rao's influence had its supremacy and it's being countered and overcome, opening up for the next round of events shaking the Flanaess. I would make the next upheaval the "Return of the Overking" in the form of Duke Szeffrin rallying the Death Knights to his banner to reconquer the Great Kingdom under Rauxes again. This time in his skewed form of "pure Aerdy rule" without the Baalzy overcoat. Maybe he can rally Grenell behind his banner. What about the house Naelax and its diabolical dealings, are they defeated or will the Hells crave their lawful right? That is one area I would look into, and what I'm doing in my campaign right now.
My next area of interest would be to try and work out what Iuz is up to, his ambitions can't be satisfied by any means. He wants to become a true god and increase his influence, meaning getting more to either worship or fear him. I would make him start to consolidating him power by converting parts of his realm into a demi-plane to give him more power and to be able to tweak even the physical to his needs. There will be lots of work for brave adventurers to try and stop him from literally destroying the good lands.
I miss the Horned Society and its Hierarchs and their backers in the netherworld would not take defeat from an abyssal upstart like Iuz without a fight, so they might come back with a vengeance. It will give the good guys some much needed competition among the Evils.
The Seldarine court will not sit on the sidelines this time and urges Celene and the elves to join the fight. Knights of Luna will start a covert battle against its foes. The same goes for the Circle of Eight, I will have them takes sides in a cold war like scramble for position and the upper hand in the power struggle. They are all in great need of brave and skilled adventurers to help them out.


Scott said...

I'm waiting for Anna to need a break from cartography long enough to write up a Rel Deven Gazetteer.

Anonymous said...

Awesome, Anna! I love the 'Return of the Overking' idea. :)


Anonymous said...

Thank you Mort for giving me the chance to express some of all the thoughts you come up with when you're studying Greyhawk a bit too much.

I'm not much of a writer, but I'm keeping notes and it might be possible to make something of it.

Anna B Meyer

Havard: said...

Great interview! Anna's maps are beautiful. :)