Saturday, May 31, 2014

New Article: Beyond Feudalism

Over at Wizards there's a new retrospective article by Shannon Appelcline titled Beyond Feudalism.

This article talks about D&D's origins in medieval feudalism starting primarily in Greyhawk but then going beyond and branching out into new genres such as pulp and horror. If you got some free time on your hands, I recommend this nostalgically good article. Check it out.

Update 05/31/2021: Changed links. There's a part two in case you're interested.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Greyhawk PDFs: D&D Classics

With all the talk about 5th Edition ramping up toward release, I took a moment to look at Wizards' ongoing release of out of print D&D material on PDF over at their D&D Classics site. Usually every week one or two old Greyhawk products are rereleased for sale there, like City of Skulls and Treasures of Greyhawk last week.
As the top 100 hottest sellers list shows, Greyhawk is in demand for download (based on copies sold divided by days on sale):

#4 City of Skulls
#12 Temple of Elemental Evil
#14 Treasures of Greyhawk
#21 Against the Giants
#32 Vault of the Drow
#36 Descent into the Depths of the Earth
#39 Queen of the Demonweb Pits
#40 From the Ashes
#51 Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh
#66 Greyhawk Ruins
#68 Against the Cult of the Reptile God
#71 Iuz the Evil
#77 Danger at Dunwater
#79 The Final Enemy
#80 The Village of Hommlet
#90 Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil
#92 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan
#98 The Secret of Bone Hill

That's 1/5 of the totality of published D&D to date. Not too shabby! By comparison (cause why not) Forgotten Realms only has six products in the top 100 and five of them are from 4E. Weird, at any rate classic settings Dragonlance and Mystara are also hot items on this site. It means nothing overall to the future of D&D, but it is good to see the classics outdoing the flagship in this respect.

Update 05/31/2021: No update, just a comment that I'm sure by present day way more of the classic D&D collection is available on this site. It's nice to see that Greyhawk led the early wave of releases.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Castle Greyhawk: Blade to Blade

Welcome back Greyhawk fanatics! I'm astounded that we've already hit page twenty-five in the second chapter of our ongoing Castle Greyhawk graphic novel. Follow the links above to get vital plot points from yarn-spinner Scott Casper. Alternatively you can view the pages HERE, courtesy of Maldin's Greyhawk.

Artist's Commentary: The battle is locked! This page had a funny complication. When I started drawing rough sketches I had Terik and Robilar fighting Gronan instead of Drake. Luckily I figured that out before I inked anything permanently. Not the first time I've goofed and had to fix things on the fly.

I am really looking forward to Tenser versus Gronan next episode. Tenser's 18 INT has to count for something, right? We'll find out soon!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

5th Edition Recent News

Blogs everywhere are covering 5th Edition's news, so at first I was staying away from the topic, but today's updates at ENWorld featured a few things that caught my eye and are worth a bit of commentary.

"Sidebars in the new DMG help DMs to customize the game to match past editions of D&D."

I am anxious to see these sidebars. What parts of previous editions would I bring back or leave out? I don't even know where to start! That reveal alone is worth perusing the book to me.

"Then the WotC rep hinted at a D&D movie being in the works."

I don't know if this is news or a threat. Seriously though, until D&D as a franchise is treated with at least a fraction of the respect that Hasbro gives Transformers or GI Joe, you can't expect long time fans to be excited by a hint or otherwise.

"New emphasis on villainous organizations in the 2014 D&D Monster Manual to match the number of monsters in it."

I'm not sure what to make of this. When I hear villain organization I don't think monster manual first. That is unless your organizations are nonhuman. I hope they steer clear of borrowing Greyhawk orgs for this. Perhaps they mean Cult of the Dragon from FR (since that's their theme for the first modules).

"Also, the D&D Starter Set is now down to $12.66 on Amazon. Those retail prices are coming down already. The Player's Handbook is down to $30, Dungeon Master's Guide is $40, as is the Monster Manual."

This is a good sign. Public sentiment was a bit grumbly on the price.

"The flumph is confirmed to be in the MM."

Aww yeah, flumphs! Just what I always wanted. I would love to hear how they arrived at this decision. Who championed the flumph and why. I wonder what poor monster got bumped?

The more I see of this news, the more I think I will buy into this edition at least for the Core set. Beyond that, it'll take a Greyhawk or a print Dragon Magazine revival to really make me a hardcore fan.

Update 05/31/2021: Removed broken link to pruned ENWorld post.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Gamerstable Podcast: Rangers and New Comic

Over at the gaming podcast Gamerstable the gang and I recently covered the broadly interesting topic of Rangers. Have a listen and see what my friends think of this popular character archetype.

Speaking of rangers, this episode also includes a sneak peak of a new webcomic I've been developing on the side with fellow cast member Shannon, titled The Adventures of Ivy. Ivy is comical parody of our recent Mines of Hokar D&D campaign. I'm hoping it'll be a nice addition alongside my artistic duties in Castle Greyhawk. Enjoy!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Rulers of Greyhawk Through Editions

Today I had an idea to make a list of the procession of rulers in the World of Greyhawk setting. I'm sure most long term Greyhawk fans know this stuff, but to see it all in one spot may at least make for an interesting study. Just so you know, for obvious reasons I don't have data on rulership changes in the Living Greyhawk Campaign. I'll start from the1983 boxed set and work my way out (So the order is 1983, From the Ashes, Living Greyhawk Gaz). Red is an occupying ruler. Here we go.

Ahlissa/South Province: Chelor, Reydrich, Reydrich (Xavender I is Overking of the United Kingdom of Ahlissa however). 
Almor: Kevont, Szeffrin, Karn Serrand (rules from Rel Deven)
Bandit Kingdoms/Bandit Lands: Various, Iuz, Iuz (1)
Bissel: Walgar, Imran Tendulkar, Larrangin
Blackmoor: Bestmo, Besmo, Bestmo (2)
Bone March: None (last was Clement), None, None
Bright Lands: No exist, Rary, Rary (3)
Celene: Yolande, Yolande, Yolande
Dyvers: Margus, Margus, Larissa Hunter
Ekbir: Xargun, Xargun, Xargun
Frost Barbarians: Ralff, Hundgred, Hundgred Ralffson
Furyondy: Belvor IV, Belvor IV, Belvor IV
Geoff: Owen I, Owen I, Owen I
Gran March: Petros, Magnus Vrianian, Magnus Vrianian
Great Kingdom of Aerdy: Ivid V, Ivid V, (Missing, kingdom split)
Greyhawk: Nerof Gasgol, Nerof Gasgol, Nerof Gasgol
Highfolk: Loftin Graystand, Loftin Graystand, Tavin Ersteader
Horned Society: The Hierarchs, Althea, Althea
Ice Barbarians: Lolgoff Bearhear, Lolgoff Bearhear, Lolgoff Bearhear
Idee/Naerie: Fedorik Eddri, Vasiliek, Barzhaan
Irongate: Cobb Darg, Cobb Darg, Cobb Darg
Iuz: Iuz, Iuz, Iuz
Keoland: Kimbertos Skotti, Kimbertos Skotti, Kimbertos Skotti
Ket: Zoltan, Zoltan, Nadaid
Lordship of the Isles: Latmac Ranold, Frolmar, Frolmar Ingerskatti
Medegia: Spidasa, No ruler, Gartrel (rules from Nulbish)
North Province/ North Kingdom: Grenell, Grenell, Grenell I
Nyrond: Archbold III, Archbold III, Lynwerd I
Onnwal: Ewaer Destron, Kuranyie, Kuranyie/Jian Destron (rebels)
Pale: Ogon Tillit, Ogon Tillit, Ogon Tillit
Paynims: (Various)
Perrenland: Franz, Karenin, Karenin
Pomarj: Unknown, Turrosh Mak, Turrosh Mak
Ratik: Lexnol, Lexnol, Evaleigh
Rel Astra: Drax, Drax, Drax
Rovers of the Barrens: Kishwa Dogteeth, Durishi Great Hound, Durishi Great Hound
Scarlet Brotherhood: "Father of Obedience", Korenth Zan, "Father of Obedience" (4)
Sea Barons: Sencho Foy, Basmajian Arras, Basmajian Arras
Sea Princes: Jeon II, Hammandaturian, Hammandaturian
Shield Lands: Holmer, Katarina, Katarina
Snow Barbarians: "King of the Schnai", Ingemar, Ingemar Hartensen
Spindrift Isles (Lendore Isles): Councils of Five and Seven, Anfaren Silverbrow, Anfaren Silverbrow
Sterich: Querchard, Querchard, Resbin Dren Emondav
Stonefist/Stonehold: Sevvord Redbeard, Sevvord Redbeard, Sevvord I
Sunndi: Hazendel, Hazendel, Hazendel I
Tenh: Ehyeh, Ehyeh, Ehyeh III/ Iuz (contested)
Tiger Nomads: Cligir, Cligir, Gajtak
Tusmit: Jadhim/orem, Muammar Qharan, Muammar Qharan
Ulek, County: Lewenn, Lewenn, Lewenn
Ulek, Duchy: Grenowin, Grenowin, Grenowin
Ulek, Principality: Olinstaad Corond, Olinstaad Corond, Olinstaad Corond
Ull: Draske, Draske, Bruzharag
Urnst, Conty: Belissica/Lorgan, Belissica, Belissica (5)
Urnst, Duchy: Karll, Karll, Karll Lorinar
Valley of the Mage: "Mage of the Valley", Jaran Krimeeah, Jaran Krimeeah
Veluna: Hazen, Hazen, Hazen
Verbobonc: Wilfrick, Wilfrick, Langard
Wild Coast: (Various), Turrosh Mak (half), Turrosh Mak (half)
Wolf Nomads: Bargru, Bargru, Bargru
Yeomanry: Crispin Redwell, Crispin Redwell, Marius Lindon
Zeif: Murad, Murad, Murad

I found it fun and interesting how the complexity of ruler's names changed over editions, with authors gradually adding surnames or roman numerals; especially with barbarian rulers such as the Snow Barbarians which goes from a nameless king to a fully realized name.
Also interesting, 21/51 countries listed maintained the same ruler over a relatively short timeline of 15 years. I don't know if that's realistic or not, but given the turmoil of wars I guess it should be less.
Not surprisingly Free Cities tend to have the most stable governments and longest tenured rulers, as do the conflict free Baklunish nations. Even raucous Ull has only had one leader change in 15 years.

More Notes:
1) Forces of Iuz occupy the Bandit Lands but each town's rulership still technically varies.
2) Archbaron Bestmo, is called Besmo in FtA. A typo surely, not that it matters.
3) I couldn't find reference to the Bright Lands in FtA but I'm fairly sure Rary the Traitor was in the same era.
4) The secrecy of the Brotherhood is funny. So the FoB is unknown in 1983, but his identity is leaked in Greyhawk Adventures, confirmed by FtA, then it is reestablished as unknown in the LGG. Okay!
5) An old canon discussion. There was some confusion whether the ruler was Belissica or Lorgan. It seems evident Lorgan came first but was soon replaced by Belissica who is countess up through LG.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Castle Greyhawk: Fall Back

Welcome back Greyhawkers I'm eager this week to promote page twenty-four in the second chapter of our ongoing Castle Greyhawk graphic novel. Follow the links above to get all important exposition from fiction aficionado Scott Casper. Alternatively you can view the pages HERE, courtesy of Maldin's Greyhawk.

Artist's Commentary: Not sure why this page was so hard to draw. I was trying to get the right force behind Drake's sword swing and it took me a few tries and a few breaks before I was happy. Then the second and third panels kind of vexed me, but after a few hours of persistence I got them done. The rest kind of fell into place after that with minimal effort. It happens.

I like this battle that's boiled over. I hope Tenser has a good Armor Class because I doubt his Constitution is better than Gronan's. It should also be interesting to see how Terik handles Drake. He's barely fending off his attacks and Terik is a veteran!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

More Mysterious Places From the Fringes

Okay folks, I got nothing to report this week, that means instead I'm going to try creating a few new mysterious places of the Flanaess. My last batch turned out to be quite well regarded, so I hope you can find some inspiration in this latest trio of adventure locales. Enjoy!

The Wasted Spur: The Northern Wastes are avoided by all but the hardiest creatures and peoples, such as the Rovers of the Barrens. There are many strange mysteries within this unnatural wasteland and one prevalent rumor is that a race of magical subterranean lizardmen have been responsible for artificially defiling this region for ages. If there is any credence to this tale a good place for explorers to start would be the Wasted Spur.

There are very few landmarks in the wastes, but this short, jagged hill range in the northwest wastes is dotted with caves. The area surrounding the Spur is perpetually gray, lifeless and overcast, and what's worse, mad tribes of Qullan (see Fiend Folio) roam the fringe looking for something, perhaps anything to kill. Once those that penetrate the wastes climb the Wasted Spur, they may find more answers than they bargained for in the Underdark.

The Sable Wood Totem: In the realm of the Ice Barbarians is a forest where a rare fir tree grows, the sable wood. When harvested in the winter and properly treated, the wood turns a lustrous black. The barbarians of this land so cherish sable wood that they will not export it. Deep within the Sable Wood itself at the foothills of Corusks is a place avoided by god-fearing Cruskii called the Sable Wood Totem. Along the headwaters of a gentle stream is a totem pole made of jet black sable wood. The pole is two feet wide, nearly twenty feet tall and is the only of it's kind in the entire forest.

The carvings on the surface of the Sable Wood Totem range from monstrous faces to large glyphs and their significance has eluded the barbarians of the northeast. The iconography of the totem conforms to no known Suel deities, including Vatun. Druids do not claim to have any dealings with this site and have no oral history of someone creating the totem, which never shows signs of fading or decay.

The worst detail of the totem's site that keeps even druids away is the presence of bones all around. These bones are picked clean and mostly come from animals and birds, but some bipeds (and perhaps giant-kin) are not unexpected. A force of some kind keeps the place untouched and anything that wanders into the area for long evidently turns up part of the landscape. Rumors of treasures and ancient buried magic keep foreigners searching for the Totem at any rate.

The Great Spawning Pool: The Pelisso Swamp on the northern face of Hepmonaland is a region few in the Flanaess have ever heard of; even locals of the south seas are hard pressed to give any information on this narrow tropical wetland. This is for good reason because no one, not even Hepmonaland savages dwell there. Dangers abound in this primeval swamp, and one such place is the Great Spawning Pool. Reputedly discovered by the Scarlet Brotherhood or agents thereof, the Spawning Pool is centrally located in the Pelisso and it is a place of nightmares.

Monsters come to this deep, fetid part of the swamp to breed and birth more of their kind. Adventurers ranging into the marsh are sure to find lernaean hydras, thessalhydras, great basilisks, giantic snakes, lizards and likely worse. According to sages and monster hunters, the feeding frenzies and alleged magical properties of this area contribute to the size and frequency of monsters here. There is nothing of value here for adventurers unless it is to test their mettle or perhaps to extract a rare material component from some monster's carcass. Either way, life as it were, will go on in the Great Spawning Pool. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Walkthrough Map: G1

Over at Wizards, the very talented cartoonist Jason Thompson has a new walkthrough map in his series that showcases the classic Greyhawk module G1: The Steading of the Hill Giant Chief. Be prepared to marvel at the detail in Jason's comic homage to this "gigantic" lair. Check it out!

For your viewing pleasure, here are the rest of Mr. Thompson's module walkthroughs:

Expedition to the Barrier Peaks
Tomb of Horrors
The Isle of Dread

Update 05/31/2021: Changed broken links to the above walk-thru maps with the complete list of maps on RendedPress. Also added a link to Mr. Thompsons' site where he sells prints of these maps.