Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Megadungeons Article on io9.

My best friend pointed this io9.com article out to me today. They review some of the greatest megadungeons in fantasy history and Greyhawk is represented twice! I won't go into anymore detail, just go and read it for yourself, it's not bad. But I will say they do mention a new megadungeon keyed to D&DNext (set in Faerun) called the Doomvault. Sounds intriguing nonetheless.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Castle Greyhawk: Under Fire

Look at that, it's already time to promote page twenty-three in the second chapter of our ongoing Castle Greyhawk graphic novel. Follow the links above to get essential story elements from yarn spinner Scott Casper. Alternatively you can view the pages HERE, courtesy of Maldin's Greyhawk.

Artist's Commentary: This page wasn't too complex but it did end up being a bit challenging. We got through it though. Featured prominently in this page is Terik. He is in all but one panel of this page. When I draw a character that much I tend to get a more consistent look, but once in a great while I'll overlook a small detail. Scott's got my back though. One other thing I've struggled with through the entire chapter is keeping Terik's heavy shield the same size. I decided somewhere along the line that it was a big battle worn metal shield like the Spartans carried. It's nothing special to look at, and is certainly easier to draw than Yrag's kite shield from last chapter. I'm still not sure if I like drawing shields or not. They're definitely easier than archers, but that's another commentary for another day.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

D&D Puns and Stuff

Okay folks, not much new to show off this week so I'll regale you with some of my gaming puns that I regularly tweet (yes I tweet: @GreyhawkMike). Hate 'em or love 'em, puns have been a staple of my D&D humor for years. Standard apologies if you've hard any of these before. Enjoy (or not)...

  • Skeleton armies have a particular skull set.
  • Combat tactics: Fallen Footmen need Archer support.
  • Alcoholic Genies crawl into bottles.
  • Humanoid drunks go to orcaholics anonymous.
  • We had to pay to use the Troll bridge because we missed the Faerie crossing.
  • On the hole I always fall for pit traps.
  • If those Harpies have treasure they're not talon.
  • I think my next dungeon is going to have lizard men, kobolds, a hydra or basilisk and a few dragons in it. Or should I "scale" it back a bit?
  • When battling a dragon you don't need a plan, just wing it.
  • After going back to my roots, I overused Treants. Time for me to branch out again.
  • Battling a Rust Monster tests a fighters' metal.
  • Cockatrices and Gorgons turn people to stone? What a cock and bull story!
  • They say two heads are better than one, but it does take some Ettin used to.
  • Yuan-ti? Of course I want tea. That's a silly question.
  • When does all the mythic creatures party? Satyr Day!
  • Perseus wanted to ask out Medusa but he was too petrified.
  • Why are Ogres so jumpy? You would be too if you ate Brownies and Sprite all day.
  • Most D&D players hate solving riddles. They think it Sphinx.
  • Crossbows are no fun to be around and Shortbows are no good in a conversation.
  • Where in a forest can you find a unicorn? Near the Centaur.
  • Gelatinous cubes are fearless because they have nothing to ooze.
  • Wizards are easy to hit in melee because they skipped Armor Class.
  • I hadn't seen my mom's sister Galadriel for a thousand years and she remembered my name. It's true, an elf aunt never forgets.
  • I made a rogue-sorcerer once. It wasn't too bard.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Spells Between the Covers

Thank Geshtai It's Friday! I don't have much new to offer this weekend, so let's look at one of my old Greylore comics from a few years ago. Delleb and Fharlanghn present a series of forgotten Greyhawkian tomes from Bruce Heard's article, Spells Between the Covers from Dragon #82. You'll surely learn something new about Greyhawk if you check out this alliterative lecture. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Greyhawk Wars As Backdrops

This in depth topic came to mind today. In a fantasy campaign world, be it the World of Greyhawk, Mystara, Dragonlance and so on, does it benefit having a war going on as a backdrop? In my experience it does even if the plot of your adventures never end up engaging in those conflicts directly.

Wars create a palpable tension in every location that heroes travel. Naturally the larger the war, the harder it becomes for characters to cross heavily defended boundaries on personal quests or to avoid being conscripted by one side or the other. Wars also create scarcity for goods, weapons and magic, which can affect PCs economically for good or ill. Furthermore, their best intentions, characters entering a warzone could be mistrusted by both good and evil rulers as spies or profiteers.

We all know Gygax built in many political hot spots in the Flanaess for the early publication history of Greyhawk, then in 2nd Edition those seeds were taken to their next logical steps with Greyhawk Wars/From The Ashes. By 3rd Edition and the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer many of those gains were undone and overall the Flanaess enjoyed a relative peace (Living Greyhawk Campaign developments notwithstanding). During those three or four timeline advances the face of the map changed politically, but adventure went on unabated. The wars between the Shield Lands and the forces of the Bandit Kingdoms or Iuz never deterred heroes from searching White Plume Mountain. Even though the Scarlet Brotherhood and the Great Kingdom were attacking every major port and city in sight, the unassuming Tomb of Horrors still lay nearby for anyone daring enough to travel there.

With things on edge once again at the end of published Greyhawk's time line, here is some potential new wars that could erupt if you want to have something epic going on in the background (or up front depending on your DM's mood):

The Rise of the Mahdi: Besides the crossroads land of Ket, not much has transpired west of the Yatil-Barriers range in many generations. The mysterious Mahdi of the Steppes has been rallying the faithful to his banner as foretold in the Prophecy of the Phoenix. Now that he has the nomads of the plains behind him, his sights are set on the civilized lands of Zeif, Tusmit and Ekbir.

Reunification Wars: Oeridians are a warlike culture and the fractured Great Kingdom of Aerdy is still a sore subject to many noble contenders from Ahlissa to the North Kingdom and even their cousins in Nyrond who can trace their lineages back to Aerdy's founding. Sooner or later these ambitious rulers are going to try and piece the puzzle back together and if it can be achieved, the center of power in the Flanaess could change dramatically.

The Great Jihad: Either the Mahdi of the Steppes, or a noble such as the Sultan of Zeif or Caliph of Ekbir has managed to unite the Baklunish states as their Padishah. The Bakluns' renewed zeal has led them to enter Ket and push back against the evil infidels to the east such as Furyondy-Veluna, Iuz and Keoland who have warred ceaselessly for centuries. It could also be a cultural grudge, the reborn Baklunish Empire seeking to avenge the ancient wars that brought their lands to ruin so long ago.

The Azure War: The major sea faring nations on the Azure Sea (Keoland, Sea Princes, Pomarj, Scarlet Brotherhood, Iron League and so forth, have become enflamed in unbridled naval actions over trade routes, resource acquisitions and unfinished past wars. Piracy further complicates the dangers of traveling by sea as they are hired by all sides to be privateers. No port is safe on the Azure.

The Real Greyhawk War: The Orcish Empire of the PomarjRary's Bright Lands and possibly even a resurgent Temple of Elemental Evil could all spell trouble for the Domain of Greyhawk. With so many evil forces building on every side, could they possibly march on the Gem of the Flanaess itself? Such a siege could disrupt life throughout the central Flanaess and lead to a lot of intrigue within the city.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Castle Greyhawk: Safe Shelter

It's a new day and I'm ready to promote page twenty-two in the second chapter of our ongoing Castle Greyhawk graphic novel. Follow the links above to get the full story from comic scribe Scott Casper. Alternatively you can view the pages HERE, courtesy of Maldin's Greyhawk.

Artist's Commentary: Oh boy, what are Robilar and Terik up to now? I enjoyed putting this page together, probably because Scott had the entire things dreamed up quite nicely so it made things easy for me. All I know is, ruins are a nice change over from the wooden fort (burn baby burn). I don't know why though, my brain somehow insisted that I draw every damn block of stone! No matter, the characters are on the move, so to say, since they are camping after all. See you next issue!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Two Module Adaptations

Tireless Greyhawk fanatic, David Prata of Deitybase fame, has recently made this great post over at Dragonsfoot and Canonfire:

"For those who may be interested, I've uploaded to Dropbox my adaptation of B3 Palace of the Silver Princess that I ran at Gary Con this year. Titled B3.5 Palace of Queen Ehlissa, this AD&D® adventure combines both versions of the original module with the WORLD OF GREYHAWK® legend of Queen Ehlissa and her Marvelous Nightingale.

I've also uploaded
S2 White Plume Mountain Reconciled, which I ran at TotalCon in February. With this adventure, I simply wanted to collate and reconcile the information presented in four different incarnations of White Plume Mountain across three editions. This one is more bare-bones than Queen Ehlissa and only includes the adventure text; the map from the original module is required for play.

Months of labor went into both of these, but of course neither is an original work, so I'm happy to share them freely. I hope my fellow gamers get some enjoyment out of them. Happy gaming!"

The ancient backstory on Queen Ehlissa and her realm in B3.5 is simply amazing; it's my favorite fan work of the year. For anyone wanting to run an old school module set in the Flanaess, or if you're like me, a Greyhawk fan who wants to collect anything and everything about Greyhawk lore there are MUST HAVE downloads. Enjoy!

Update 05/31/2021: Changed broken links to Davaid's work, now on the internet archive.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Castle Greyhawk: Out of the Frying Pan

I'm a week behind on announcements as usual, so let's get to page twenty-one in the second chapter of our ongoing Castle Greyhawk graphic novel. Follow the links above to get extra exposition from literary maestro Scott Casper. Alternatively you can view the pages HERE, courtesy of Maldin's Greyhawk.

Artist's Commentary: Scott is always pushing me to try new things it seems, so when I read the script for this page I was quite inspired. This format is unlike any we've done before plus it's execution was both simple (with the three close-ups) and complex (with the new look flame effects). The finish product is quite stunning if I may say so (it's also an obscure Trampier homage to boot). My favorite touch is how Drake's helmet is licked with fire. If those two bandits get out of this alive, all their gear is going to be a bit charred. Their anger on the other hand is already boiling over.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Mysterious Places From the Fringes

Nothing is particularly striking me today so I'm going to try to brainstorm/post about one of my favorite topics from Living Greyhawk and Canonfire, mysterious places of the Flanaess. None of these adventure locations exist on the map (yet) but I will say I'm sticking to the fringes of the Darlene map since there is less canon on these regions. All sites have been created by me off the cuff. I ask readers to please use and develop them at your own convenience (if I don't myself at a future date). Let's see what pops in my brain. Enjoy!

The Hidden Aerie of Sorontir: Somewhere among the tallest peaks that make up the Rakers where few have dared climb, is a breathtaking region of cliffs and nests belonging to an ancient convocation of giant eagles. Deeper yet within tunnels off of this aerie is the secret hold of a time-lost order of eagle riders loyal to the elven city of Eriadan. What ever befell these elite warriors and what remains of their legacy is still waiting to be found by eager explorers.

The Ghost Gate of White Fanged Bay: Fishermen and ivory hunters have dwelled in relative obscurity along the coasts of White Fanged Bay for centuries. These semi-nomadic peoples have many legends to tell and one is about the occurrence of the Ghost Gate. Every generation or so the native herds of the region are drawn to the coastline of the frigid bay at night where they madly howl, growl and stamp at a mysterious light on the water. Many hunters who have witnessed this phenomena make wild boasts of their catch that night, but true accounts tell of a strange song emanating from a glowing disc balanced on the waves. A few claims say fishermen have tried to row out to the ghostly gate but what they saw is only speculation.

The Maw of the Burneal: Far to the north bordering Blackmoor and the cursed Land of Black Ice is the primeval Burneal Forest. Many questions are still asked as to what cultures once thrived in the frontiers of the Flanaess and to some sages, the Maw may hold some answers. Lost somewhere in the leagues of trackless forest, the Maw is known best by the native Uirtag tribes who say the site is haunted and death is certain if entered. What little information that has been gathered tells of a squat building made of blackened metal but covered in centuries of foliage. Natives call it the Maw because animals and people who have dared to enter the opening of this place awaken the ghosts inside and their bodies are eviscerated; their bones spewed out in all directions.

The Great Shell: There is few adventurers who haven't heard of the Tomb of Horrors or that it resides in the midst of the Vast Swamp. The swamp is called vast for a reason and things have crept there for eons before Acererak's arrival. One such site often looked for is the Great Shell if bullywug legends can be credible at all. As their stories go there is a lost hillock that is actually the corpse of a titanic dragon turtle god who lived in the Age Before Ages. According to the bullywugs it was slain by the spear of another elder god who trespassed into the turtle's territory. So it goes, fragments of the divine spear still can be mined from this hill and used to create smaller magic spears, javelins or arrows.

The Grand Mirage of the Dry Steppes: Traders and explorers of the exotic know that beyond lawless Ull is the old decayed lands of the fabled Baklunish Empire. The Twin Cataclysms left the area a blight, but many magical mysteries persist to this day such as the Grand Mirage. Those foolhardy travelers who have strayed from caravan trails have come across a site unlike any other in recent memory. An area manifests randomly within the boundless steppes as if a mirage, but witnesses are all too adamant it is a real place. What is stumbled upon is a tiny market and water well seemingly preserved from ancient times. The serene occupants of this Grand Mirage are friendly, helpful to travelers in need of healing and food, though they are blissfully unaware of what transpires outside their village. Sages speculate the Grand Mirage is the work of Istus the goddess of Fate. Items have reputedly been brought back from this place but the entire location and its denizens always vanish by the next dawn.