Monday, December 31, 2012

New Fiction: Black Gus

For a while now the guys in my gaming group, the cast of the podcast Gamerstable, have held an open call for short story fiction based on our actual play podcast sessions. This submitted story much to my delight is about a villain from our live recording of a short 3.5e Hold of the Sea Princes game I ran for our newest player Shannon (The Road to Port Calm). With that said, I am pleased to present for your perusal, the motivational story of Black Gus by Brent Phillips. Kudos Brent!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

What Is Anna Up To?

Anna Meyer of Greyhawk mapping fame has been busily updating people about her cartographic adventures this winter. Here's a recap of some of her efforts:

Anna's redesigned website.

Anna's goals for 2013, including her remaining sections of the Flanaess project, ideas on how to get published and new projects for the future.

A tutorial pdf download on how she makes her maps using Bryce.

Anna was recently interviewed by the Roll For Initiative podcast. Good insights here and she gives props to the Greyhawk community!

Anna's project now ventures into the Sheldomar Valley then the fringes of the south and west, including a certain area of the Flanaess that I'm more than familiar with...

Keep an eye on the facebook group Flanaess Geographic Society for more of her activities.

Update 05/09/2021: Had to remove some old links to material that has either been pruned or archived by Anna. Sorry folks!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

New Article: Hochoch

Welcome back Greyfiends! With the holiday winding down at last, it's time for me to play catch up on some Greyhawk related items floating out there on the net for a while. Today I have got to rave about and article I've had my eye on for a while.

The new article in Dragon #418 is Backdrop: Hochoch by Claudio Pozas. This one was well worth the wait and if it ends up being the only Greyhawk content for the next year, I am glad I stuck with my D&D Insider subscription to read it. Claudio covers all the material you'd expect and more, including various Flan translations and citing previous Greyhawk publication history. At eight pages, I doubt anyone has seen a more comprehensive write up of this area since The Liberation of Geoff. The article paints Hochoch and the rich surrounding geography of Geoff as the perfect place to launch a campaign. After reading all this article has to offer I'm troubled as to why I've never used this region before! If you can get your hands on this issue I highly recommend it.

The article first covers the extensive history and demographics of Hochoch then moves on to give a colorful overview of the geography, climate and peoples of the land. There is a decent section on important locations in the town of Hochoch like Hochoch Keep followed by power groups of the town such as the Red Griffons and the Knights of the Dispatch. Beyond Hochoch the backdrop features an array of useful info on the shadow dragon haunted Dim Forest, the ancient Otywood, the Midwood Vale and the Rushmoors where lies the setting for N1 Against the Cult of the Reptile God.

Backdrop: Hochoch also has a sublime bird's-eye-view illustration of the town by Zoltan Boros (I think he was the former ruler of Ket) and a splendidly old school style map of Hochoch with an inset showing Geoff done by Wizard's Mike Schley. Lastly, the best part of the backdrop article is that it's editionless material. Kudos to Mr. Pozas and the rest for putting this together. I hope some other overlooked parts of Greyhawk can get a fresh write-up like this someday.

Update 05/09/2021: Link changed. You can get your hands on this excellent article and issue over at DMsGuild.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Needfest Comics!

Happy Needfest, Greyhawkers. This is the first time in several years that I don't have a Needfest Special comic to throw out there. Maybe next year...Until then, here is a review of my Greyhawk holiday classics for those who have never seen them, or for those who might enjoy re-reading them.

A Needfest Story

How the Gruumsh Stole Needfest

Twas the Night Before Needfest

Raxi the Bald Blue Rat God

1st Annual Musical Extravaganza

2nd Annual Musical Extravaganza

3rd Annual Musical Extravaganza

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Castle Greyhawk: Casting Time

Ambush! If you haven't already, you need to read the twenty-fourth episode of our Castle Greyhawk graphic novel. Follow the link to read the entire story from the beginning where you will find the director's cut material by author Scott Casper. Alternatively you can also read the current page compliments of Maldin's Greyhawk.

Artist's Commentary: Tenser finally gets to break bad with some magic. I'm digging the flair with which he casts his only spell. The glowing hands and magic glyphs is pretty impressive for what is merely a 1st level spell. I can't wait till you see what comes next. There was some fun angles in this one and I'm getting better at the shadowy backgrounds. Until next time, Happy Needfest!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Thoughts After Seeing the Hobbit

Last night I went with my gaming group to see a midnight showing of The Hobbit. This is not a movie review however, and as ridiculous as it should be for any fan of Greyhawk to not know the plot of the Hobbit, I don't consider anything in this post a spoiler. This is mainly some thoughts I had after the movie concerning how I run my Greyhawk campaigns. We all know Gygax put all the same tropes in D&D that Tolkien uses in his stories so let's move on to what stuff I've been lacking in my games...

Dwarves: As strange as it sounds, my campaigns hardly ever feature the dwarven (dwur) race. Sure, an occasional player will make a dwarf fighter or something, but no effort is ever made to explore their culture or history in Greyhawk as scarce as it may be. This is all my fault and until I saw this movie in its full cinematic glory, I never realized how diverse and interesting dwarves could be. You can't get the same feel for dwarves watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy even with Gimli and Moria thrown in. I'm sure my friends picked up some ideas as well.

Warg Riders: I use goblins and orcs sure, I use dire wolves and so on, but I've been neglecting the combination for a long time. Somehow a giant snarling wolf makes a plain old goblin seem more intimidating. I'll remember them for future reference if my players are ever in the Pomarj or Iuz.

Glowing Magic Blades: I can't remember the last time I heard mention or read about magic blades in D&D glowing in the dark (or in Bilbo's case near orcs). I want to say this was standard for blades (daggers mainly) back in 1e/2e yet I've played 3.5 Edition for so long I really don't remember anymore.

Mountains: Half the danger of the Hobbit is all the rugged terrain they have to cross and the Misty Mountains is a good example. The Fellowship of the Ring also had a tough time with this place, as well as the mountains of Gondor and Mordor. Lately I've been running sea based campaigns and before that was years of adventure paths that were mainly centered around Greyhawk City, Riftcanyon or various megadungeons. It's been so long I've forgotten how fun it can be making characters cross a mountain range such as the Hellfurnaces, Yatils or the Corusks. I used to commonly set things in these ranges. I need to get back to them.

That's all for now until part two The Desolation of Smaug premiers on December 13. 2013, then The Hobbit: There and Back Again on July 18, 2014. Yes guys I was right, the last two movies are half a year apart. ;)

Monday, December 10, 2012

Songs of the Sheldomar

Over the years, one of the best topics of discussion during Thursday night Greytalk has always been the Kingdom of Keoland and the Sheldomar Valley. From the boxed set to Greyhawk Wars and into the Living Greyhawk campaign, the Sheldomar has been a vast region, wide open for development by both fan-made and published sources. While the topic has languished for sometime, it recently gained new traction. Building on that momentum is a collaborative blog called Songs of the Sheldomar by a certain gaming group that knows quite a bit about things in that corner of the Flanaess. Have a read, there is an excellently detailed survey of the kingdom and its surrounding realms, plus more. I look forward to more insightful posts and feedback from this Greyhawk blog. Good luck!

Update 05/09/2021: I'm not sure when, but this blog has vanished. Broken link removed.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Preview: Dungeon #209

Well after my last post on Wizard's Dragon #418, I should checked their upcoming list of stuff for Dungeon #209 as well because there is a Greyhawk module in it. Nothing new of course, but for completion's sake I present:

The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan
By Harold Johnson, Jeff R. Leason, and Stephen Radney-MacFarland
Lost Tamoachan is about to be rediscovered. This 4th Edition D&D adventure for 7th-level characters updates the classic AD&D adventure module C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan.
This I can only guess is the same module that was being given out in print a year ago in conjunction with their D&D Encounters program (which I never got a hold of incidentally). A review will be forthcoming at last.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Preview: Dragon #418

It's been a while since I last plugged something new from Dragon or DungeonWizards has for whatever reason, went back to publishing all their articles in one complete document instead of releasing individual articles throughout the month. For blogging purposes I liked being able to pick out specific topics when they became available. Now it's like the old days when I had to wait a month, buy the issue (yes folks you still a D&DI subscription) and then skim for that one part useful to me. Anyhow, looking at the preview of the articles for Dragon #418  I am rather intrigued by some of their entries:

Editorial: King of the Monsters
By Stan!
This month’s theme — Doom & Gloom — is brought to you by the tarrasque.
(Ah yes! Who doesn't like the Tarrasque? I smell some old school topics coming...)
The End Is Nigh!
By Dennis Johnson
Meet the new and improved tarrasque and its twisted cult following.
(Hm, has there been a 4th Ed version of the Tarrasque yet? How do you make it new and improved? I need to know! And a Tarrasque cult? I got some ideas for that....)
Backdrop: Hochoch
By Claudio Pozas
The beleaguered town of Hochoch is the last, best hope for the Grand Duchy of Geoff, but it needs a few good adventurers.
(Claudio, you rock! Keep the Greyhawk standard high!)
History Check: The Tarrasque
By Jeff LaSala
Learn the secrets of this primordial, party-eating monstrosity.
(So much Tarrasque in one issue, gotta love it.)
Ye Olde Creature Catalogue
By Tim Eagon
Behold four monsters plucked from the Palace of the Silver Princess, the halls of Castle Amber, and other classic dungeons.
(I like the name of this column. Amber and the Palace are not specifically Greyhawkian, but I'd bet one of the other two featured in this interesting will be.)
Wondrous Weavings: Tapestries of Power
By Jennifer Clarke Wilkes
Deck the halls with the finest magic tapestries money can buy.
(Nothing exactly old school or Greyhawk here, I just like magic tapestries.)
That's it. I'll keep an eye on how this issue turns out, until next time Merry Needfest!

Update 05/09/2021: Updated link to issue 418, now available at DMsGuild.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Maps, Maps and More Greyhawk Maps

I'm behind on a few Greyhawkian bits of news and luckily for me they're all map related! First up is the next two installments of Braggi's epic Adventurer's Atlas of Greyhawk series. Part 3 The Northern Lands of the Central Lakes and Part 4 Furyondy, Veluna, Dyvers and the Domain of Greyhawk is ready to be downloaded for your perusal. You will not be disappointed.

Next, we check in on Anna Meyer's ongoing Atlas of the Flanaess project. She has recently finished with area 44, the southern Yatil Mountains region. 

Last but not least, have you read the twenty-third episode of our Castle Greyhawk graphic novel? Well this one includes the beginnings of a map to the Castle Greyhawk ruins (seen above). Follow the link to read the entire story from the beginning where you will find additional story  exposition by author Scott Casper. I can't believe how far we've come in this project. Alternatively you can also read the current page compliments of Maldin's Greyhawk.
Artist's Commentary: This page was fun to draw, it had some dynamic movement like Ehlissa throwing a torch or Yrag charging ahead, and there was some nice details such as Tenser daintily holding his hand-drawn map (do players still map for themselves anymore?) and the tattered curtain from whence the Trampier-esque kobolds are sure to lure the heroes into trouble. Kobolds, what could go wrong?

Update 05/09/2021: Had to remove broken links to Anna's individual map sections. Go to her site to find newer, better maps of the Flanaess!