Saturday, January 31, 2015

Castle Greyhawk: Search For Loot

Welcome back faithful Greyhawk readers! I'm on a roll doing the third chapter of our ongoing Castle Greyhawk graphic novel. Check out page eleven and read some witty banter by intrepid author Scott Casper. On our site you can also check the archives and follow the entire Castle Greyhawk story from the very beginning.

Artist's Commentary: I have a bad reputation for not handing out treasure. Random encounters like the eiger battle here, are when creatures are away from their lairs. It only stands to reason they could only carry what loot and gear that's practical on their way back. Only the players (or in this case Robilar, Tenser and company) carry a king's ransom everywhere they go. End rant.
This page was a delight to draw. The dead ogre being searched by Serten and the huge axe inspected by Terik is my favorite panels of the page. I felt as if there's a weight to these pictures and their poses. Another idle thought, I've been enjoying the glow of magic swords in this chapter. I feel as glowing blades have become superfluous in gaming over the years and one would rarely be fascinated by that anymore. Being able to render these minor fantasy tropes to see has been well worth it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Greyhawk Reborn Will Be At Gen Con 2015 news from Greyhawk Reborn! One of my wishes has come true, there will be Greyhawk to play at Gen Con 2015. Here is their promo letter and a link to a questionnaire to help them plan for this convention appearance. Check it out!

"Are you a Greyhawk fan? Would you like to walk the Flanaess once more? Would you like to be part of tales on Oerth again?
From the ashes, Greyhawk is reborn! As the longest running 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons living campaign, Greyhawk Reborn began two years ago, starting in 613 CY, 15 years after the end of Living Greyhawk, using the D&D Next Playtest. The year is now 615 CY and Greyhawk needs heroes once again at Gen Con 2015!
Once more explore one of the oldest, most beloved campaign worlds of all time. The world of Greyhawk will come alive again as your characters, your HEROES, wander upon the Flanaess, pushing back the darkness. Venture forth anew in the realm that brought you classics such as The Village of Hommlet, White Plume Mountain, Against the Giants, Slavers, and the Living Greyhawk campaign. Revisit places such as Saltmarsh, Greyhawk City, the Vast Swamp and the Amedio Jungle. Create new player characters in your favorite world with classic races and classes. Create mighty warriors, powerful wizards, saintly clerics and dubious rogues. Your characters’ actions will continue to shape the world of Oerth. 
More commonly known in the Mid-Atlantic region, Greyhawk Reborn has active players in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Virginia, New York and New Jersey. In addition, we also have a group running their first convention in Los Angeles, California." 
CLICK THIS LINK to complete a brief questionnaire that will provide the GHR Staff feedback to ensure we schedule just the right amount of tables to satisfy the Greyhawk Reborn interest and curiosity. We would hate to request three tables and find that we are turning people away at “The Best Four Days in Gaming”! When you’ve finished, please forward the link to your friends!
Learn more about us on our website at GreyhawkReborn find us on Facebook!
Greyhawk Reborn is not sponsored, associated or affiliated with, or endorsed by Wizards of the Coast or Gen Con, LLC in any way.
Update 06/7/2021: Removed old links. Updated GHR website link.

WotC Closing Down LISTSERV

As reported across the gaming sphere, WotC is closing their old LISTSERV mailing lists:

"On February 15, 2015, Wizards of the Coast will terminate our LISTSERV system that manages this (and other) mailing lists. We've watched the usage of these mailing lists dwindle due to the rise of other communication platforms, such as forums and social media. Given this decreased usage, we have made the decision that it was time to turn them off."

Back in the day these mailing lists were a valuable forum for discussion of many fan-favorite game worlds including Mystara and Greyhawk. For those folks who like to collect and save every bit of online lore and commentary out there, you'd best start making your archived backups now.

I myself occasionally dabbled in the LISTSERVs in the early 2000's but I never got into them enough that I'd have an attachment to the content in these archives. Part of me would like to sift through them for some interesting content to highlight on Greyhawkery but perhaps like Wizards, it's best to let this one go.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Castle Greyhawk: Spell Talk

Welcome back Greyhawk fans! Let's get back to the third chapter of our ongoing Castle Greyhawk graphic novel. Check out page-ten and read some illuminating exposition by staff writer Scott Casper. On our site you can also check the archives and follow the entire Castle Greyhawk story from the very beginning.

Artist's Commentary: The eiger battle comes to a close and now we get a moment of levity as the magic-users critique the main spell of the encounter. Sharing spells is kind of a tradition of D&D as they are hard to come by. It may also be why all these "named" NPC wizards have their own personally created spells. Will we ever get to see any? Only our narrator knows for sure!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Temple of Elemental Evil Boardgame

Over at ENWorld and in my inbox, Wizards of the Coast has announced their product lineup for their upcoming Elemental Evil storyline. Now we've speculated on this before, but now we have concrete news that there is a Temple of Elemental Evil product, but not in the fashion I expected:

"Today, Wizards of the Coast announced the latest Dungeons & Dragons storyline, Elemental Evil, which includes new product offerings for both digital and tabletop RPG players.
The Elemental Evil storyline will begin this March and run through mid-summer allowing players to explore the Forgotten Realms and defeat the secret cults that threaten to wipe out the Sword Coast.
Some of the exciting new product offerings tied to the Elemental Evil story line includes:
·         Neverwinter: Elemental Evil, a new module for the MMORPG
·         Princes of the Apocalypse  tabletop RPG adventure, including new options and spells for players
·         Player content including more new races, plus the content found in Princes of the Apocalypse, available as a free downloadable PDF
·         Elemental Evil-themed Dungeon Master Screen and unpainted resin miniatures from Gale Force Nine
·         Temple of Elemental Evil adventure system board game and pre-painted collectible miniatures that support the Elemental Evil storyline from WizKids Games"

A boardgame featuring the temple sounds intriguing in the very least, although the pessimist Greyhawk fan in me wonders if it'll be the Temple in title only. The trick to this release is the main storyline is nominally set in the Forgotten Realms, (which I have no problem with) so wouldn't it seem confusing to newer players if the elemental-themed boardgame referenced a different setting? Furthermore, a generic Temple of Elemental Evil has already been referenced once in 4th Edition's Conquest of Nerath boardgame. I hope this time it won't be the case. Fingers crossed this spring.

(Update: The link to the TOEE board game's blurb indicates you'll be in dungeons under the Sword Coast. Looks like it's all Faerun this time around.)

Update 06/07/2021: Removed some old links. If this board game is still available on Wizard's site, I'm sure you can find it.

Friday, January 16, 2015

500th Blog Post!

I can never pass up a good milestone, so I thought I'd reflect on all the good times I've had and things I've learned in producing posts for this labor of love called Greyhawkery. Ever since I dove head first into the Greyhawk community ten years ago, I've entertained people with comics about deities and wrote articles on places in Greyhawk where no one else ventured. In hindsight I'm surprised that it was only five years ago that I decided to shift a lot of my energy and content to a blog format. I really wish I had done so sooner. Five hundred posts later Greyhawkery has been well worth the effort and has brought me closer to many other fans in the gaming community that I acknowledge today:

Who could not lead off without their own gaming group? I've been blessed to play Greyhawk and innumerable other games with not just one but often 2-3 entirely different table-top groups. The oldest and best of these groups is comprised of the cast of Gamerstable our very own RPG podcast. If you haven't listened to the show before you should, because Gamerstable really is in a class of its own. All the gaming related things we have done as a group from conventions to actual-play dramas and more are there for your amusement. Though separate, Greyhawkery has been running alongside our game groups and podcast all this time, serving as my outlet for in-game content like the Sea Princes Campaign or the Mines of Hokar.

Of course what first got me into building a reputation in the gaming community was the fansite Canonfire! and freelance author Gary Holian. In those years I've made countless friends in the community through the CF forums or the weekly Greytalk chats and more recently at gatherings during GenCon. Though Canonfire is where I hang my hat, most of the community contacts I've made and maintained through blogging can be found around the net on other fantastic groups and sites like ENWorld, Paizo Publishing, Greyhawk Reborn, Flanaess Cartographic Society, Dragonsfoot, The Piazza and of course Anna Meyer's cartography site. Blogging is an outlet for my creativity, but the social media side keeps evolving from chat rooms and forums to things like G+ and Twitter. (@GreyhawkMike)

The creative projects that I display weekly on Greyhawkery are also thanks to many other fans of Greyhawk who supported and collaborated with me over the years. Foremost is Denis Tetreault and his fan site, Maldin's Greyhawk which has been a champion of my blog and comic work for a long time. There's an impossibly huge list of friends and colleagues who I've worked with on projects like the fanzine Oerth Journal or featured their solo writing and art on Greyhawkery. The Greyhawk community is an inspired bunch that never runs out of ideas.

RPG blogging itself is a community and there is a ton of them to keep track of (luckily good old Charles Akins at Dyvers does the hard work) but the ones that inspired me the most to get into blogging is (for obvious reasons) Joe Bloch's Greyhawk Grognard. Though our theme is much the same our content has always been complimentary rather than competitive. I encourage anyone who has dreamt of blogging about their campaign or favorite setting to follow our example and stick with it. You won't always have new content to upload or a hot topic to discuss, but even a small post (or one referring from another blog) to let people know you're still active goes a long way to holding an audiences' attention.

Speaking of which, ongoing content has always been a main feature of Greyhawkery. My old Greyhawk Comic and home campaign serials were heavily featured in my early years and now the last couple years I have been collaborating on the webcomic Castle Greyhawk with published author Scott Casper. If you ever have a chance to work on a special project or a blog with another person I highly recommend it because sharing the workload can only benefit your blog's longevity.

To close out I'd like to say working on Greyhawkery has given me ample opportunities to meet gaming industry professionals in person at conventions or through interviews done online. My #1 goal for next GenCon is to run into Chris Perkins with Wizards of the Coast. I got some questions for him concerning the future of Greyhawk ;)

More next time!

Update 06/07/2021: Wow, it's fun to see where I was half way to 1000. I had to fix alot of links, people moving URLs and stuff. I also updated my Twitter handle. Lastly, Google+ no longer exists. Ah well.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

5E Greyhawk Sentient Items

Welcome back Greyhawk aficionados. Today I'd like to once again peruse the new edition Dungeon Masters Guide and see what lore of hawk they've latched onto if you haven't already been convinced to buy the book already. Greyhawk is well known for its magic items of course, so it is pleasing as a fan to see the section on sentient items include a trio of weapons straight from the classic module White Plume Mountain:

"Hidden in the dungeon of White Plume Mountain, Blackrazor shines like a piece of night sky filled with stars. Its black scabbard is decorated with pieces of obsidian."

Blackrazor is a "legendary" great sword that can only be attuned to non-lawful creatures. The entry says Blackrazor is bossy and used to getting its way. Plus in a Stormbringer-like dash of flavor it says the sword's purpose is to consume souls. Any souls. Including the wielder's. Blackrazor of course feels a strange connection to the other two items in the set from White Plume Mountain:

Wave is a legendary trident (probably the most legendary I'd say) attuned to worshipers of a sea god, which is a nice touch. Wave likes to convert mortals to worshiping the gods of the sea (including the wielder of course!) The trident has an interesting backstory worth looking into (spoiler ahead):

"The trident has a nostalgic attachment to the place where it was forged, a desolate island called Thunderforge. A sea god imprisoned a family of storm giants there, and the giants forged Wave in an act of devotion to - or rebellion against- that god."

Then of course there is Whelm, the legendary dwarven warhammer whose purpose is to kill goblinoids and giants. It also has a nice bit of lore attached (more spoilers):

"Whelm has ties to the dwarf clan that created it, variously called the Dankil or the Mightyhammer clan. It longs to be returned to that clan...
The hammer also carries a secret shame. Centuries ago, a dwarf named Ctenmiir wielded it valiantly for time. But Ctenmiir was turned into a vampire."

Even though the lore given for these sentient items come from previously published material (Revised White Plume Mountain namely) they seem fresh presented here in a core book for general use. Hopefully these entries will entice some people to try them out in the new rule-set or in the very least try out White Plume Mountain again. More DMG exploration next time.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Castle Greyhawk: Eiger Battle

Welcome back, it's a new year Greyhawk fans! Let's get back to promoting the third chapter of our ongoing Castle Greyhawk graphic novel. Check out page nine and read some literary devices by fantasy elocutionist Scott Casper. On our site you can also check the archives and follow the entire Castle Greyhawk story from the very beginning.

Artist's Commentary: The battle with the eiger clan begins to wind down as the adventurers (I decline to call them heroes as Mordenkainen is as amoral as they come) use a balanced attack of might and magic. The eigers' superior size and strength are no match for a roiling cloud of death combined with sniping arrows. Robilar and Terik of course take some licks in the final rounds of combat. This page was quite fun to draw. The action scenes and the ogres have been a pleasure to render. What is exciting is this is still early on in chapter three! Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

New Map At RPNow

Frequent reader of the blog and avid Greyhawk mapping enthusiast Christopher Letzelter has created a stunningly good poster-sized city map available at RPNow titled Chernel. The map of Chernel is loosely based upon the planned city of Chendl the capital of Furyondy first developed in Fate of Istus and partly ruined in From the Ashes. Chernel goes beyond its source material and is a homebrew work in its own right, a layered PDF map with nearly 400 unique features, though still easily adaptable for any Greyhawk campaign.

If you want a highly detailed map to base an urban campaign around (other than The City of Greyhawk for once) then perhaps Chernel can get you started!

p.s. go back and check out Chris' layered map of the Flanaess over at

Saturday, January 3, 2015

New D&D Story Arc Reactions

Over at ENWorld they are previewing the covers for 2015's next big D&D story arc concerning Elemental Evil. The two products listed are an Adventurer's Handbook and Princes of the Apocalypse. The comments section of this news item yields some interesting reactions; in particular to the story being set in the Forgotten Realms and involving the Elder Elemental Eye (originally of Greyhawk).

"So, it's official now. The Elder Elemental Eye has been somehow released from The World of Greyhawk to unleash havoc in the Realms. No fantasy world was described in more detail than the Forgotten Realms, and they still manage to produce not one, but two storylines in a row with themes and antagonists that have nothing to do with the Realms. Good job, Wizards." -Giltonio_Santos

That certainly sums up my initial thoughts too. It's almost as if those in charge (who are largely fans of Greyhawk) want to do Greyhawk storylines but can't bring themselves to stop making Forgotten Realms because it sells no matter what.

"Yeah, had these not been set in the Realms, they would have been an almost sure-fire sell to me.
In the Realms? No interest.

 For Christ's sake, the Temple of Elemental Evil, the Elder Elemental Eye and the whole elemental evil cult thing are all huge fixtures of Greyhawk. Sigh." -the Jester

In defense of this storyline I don't think the product blurb linked above mentions the Temple of Elemental Evil. Stripping that out of Hawk for Faerun would indeed be Grade A heresy sure, but to say Greyhawk has some sort of claim over elemental bad guys and cults is sketchy at best. Anything elemental related, including the Elder Elemental Eye is multiversal in scale at this point.

"I have to agree with this sentiment.

They've said they'll do other settings IF they have a story, and then they pull stories from other settings to force them into the Realms.

Which also isn't nice on the Realms. It's taking an established setting and forcing a story into that world, changing lore to accommodate the storyline. Like how they had to radically change the motives and plans of the Cult of the Dragon for their first storyline. That's not how you tell a story set in an established world. The story is meant to fit and compliment the world and if a bit of lore doesn't mesh then the story has to change to accommodate the world, not the other way around." -Jester Canuck

Now this point does kind of worry me. If a trend does in fact develop where Greyhawk or any other setting's best material is co-opted to use in the default Realms I would start rail against it too. It's still too early to say. And yes he is right, FR fans should be worried too. I'm not well versed in the setting, but what happened to the Sundering? Is the Realms "fixed"? Are these storylines a sign it is played out?

"I hope it works for Wizards, but I didn't see the appeal with the Dragon Queen stuff, and I'm just not seeing the appeal here either. If I want Realms action, I'm busting out the Zhentarim; Manshoon; Halaster Blackcloak; Karsus and the Netherese Shades; Orcus; Moander or Tyranthraxus. I don't care about Tiamat (belongs to Krynn, really) or Tharizdun (belongs to Oerth in my mind). I kind of share Giltonio_Santos' sentiments in that respect." -Henry

It never occurred to me that Dragonlance may have the strongest claim on Tiamat, but yeah I see his point and about the more Realmsy villains.

"IM ok with it.

Takes the best of Greyhawk, gods and badasses, and puts it in the Realms, which had better locations and flavors." -Astrosicebear

Debatable but it's a nice diplomatic response to the over-reactions. If both settings are lagging from age, perhaps a novel approach could be to be put Greyhawk in production alongside Forgotten Realms so Wizards could GASP do epic cross-over storylines across both worlds. Anything goes and no arguments about which setting owns what.

"Keep in mind the storylines will also tie into the organized play program, affecting the villains and themes of those adventures. So they have to be in the Realms until that establishes themselves or they develop a method of moving between worlds. So the first real non-Realms adventure might be a Planescape/ extraplanar affair to allow PCs (or plots) to easily move between worlds." -Jester Canuck

Yup, that's what Planescape and Spelljammer were made for, let's cross over those worlds like in the old days! Oh well enough of this for now. More next time.

Update 06/07/2021: Broken link removed. This news isn't as controversial in retrospect as I hoped.