Saturday, November 28, 2015

5 Reasons to Visit the Bandit Kingdoms

Welcome aficionados of the World of Greyhawk to a new regular segment I'm entitling "5 Reasons to Visit...". Most people who have played D&D for a long time will at least be probably familiar with the classic adventure locales of the game and some even the minutiae of Greyhawk's timelines and geopolitical history. With 5 Reasons I only seek to put a spotlight on five of hopefully many good plots and places in each of the nations of the Flanaess. Perhaps a new DM will be intrigued by these locations or an experienced one will be reminded or inspired to revisit these areas. As always I'm open to comments, suggestions and additions. Enjoy!

1. White Plume Mountain: Let's start with the 500 pound gorilla in the room. The classic module, S2 White Plume Mountain is among the best known adventure locales on Oerth. The magic weapons Wave, Whelm and Blackrazor are stolen and hid here by the mysterious Keraptis who then taunts heroes into trying to obtain them from his dungeons. What more set-up do you need for a dungeon crawl? White Plume was so successful it also garnered a return sequel which expanded upon the mountain's backstory. One more thing, a single mountain out in the middle of the lawless Bandit Kingdoms can also evoke the dangerous air of The Hobbit and the Lonely Mountain.

2. Rookroost: The large hill top city of Rookroost is the epitome of the Bandit Kingdoms. There is a good map and write-up on the city in the module Fate of Istus and further information is found in Iuz the Evil. The rogue city's concentric walls conjures images of a dark and gritty Minas Tirith. Indeed the remote city's boast that it has never been conquered lends to this comparison. Rookroost makes a good home base for adventurers striking out into the frontier and even the setting for an urban intrigue campaign. There's a lot going on here and yet the city is still raw enough for good DMs to create their own material.

3. Stoink: Speaking of roguish urban adventure. Stoink is another perfect bandit town to visit. Nestled on the Artonsamay River, Stoink is a boisterous, drinking, brawling, thieving town and is notable for being featured in Gygax's "Gord" novels. Stoink is ruled by a ostentatious character named Boss Renfus the Mottled, a loud, overweight bandit who I can only imagine is Greyhawk's answer to Jabba the Hutt. Stoink's position on the map makes it a great hotspot for adventures in or around major lands like Nyrond, Urnst and the Theocracy of the Pale.

4. Riftcanyon: What trip to the Bandit Lands is complete without mentioning the big rift in the middle of the landscape? Rumors say it was magically created and many awful monsters lurk on its fringes and within its depths. The rift at times has been ruled by bandit lords, agents of Iuz the Old (Cranzer the wizard) and in times past even giants (Kings of the Rift from the Age of Worms Adventure Path) or ancient Flannae civilizations (namely the cliff city of Veralos). The most dangerous place in all the Riftcanyon however, is the aptly named Wormcrawl Fissure. Mentioned in the sourcebook Iuz the Evil, and featured in the Age of Worms module Into the Wormcrawl Fissure, this is the reputed home of the infamous demigod Kyuss and his undead sons. Only the foolish tread this dark path.

5. Fleichshriver: You'll see it on some maps of the Flanaess, but word of Fleichshriver is only found in the sourcebook Iuz the Evil. This fiend-crafted citadel devoted to Iuz is quite possibly the most dangerous place in all the bandit territory, including Riftcanyon. The place is home to Iuz's upper echelon of henchmen, the Boneheart to do their experiments on new magic and monsters. To borrow yet another Tolkienism, imagine Minas Morgul (home of the Nazgul) when venturing here. Besides the usual dark sorcery and abundant humanoid guards, Fleichshriver also has a gate to the Abyss and is impenetrable to scrying. Yup, this is one of those places heroes go to and never come back. If your players think they've seen everything Greyhawk has to offer I'm willing to bet they haven't tried to clear a high-level threat like Fleichshriver.


Mystic Scholar said...

A great start and a good way for "new" folks to learn where some things come from. When I first started playing Baldur's Gate on my computer, I was shock to see Wave and Balckrazor as weapons that could be acquired. So much has been pirated from Greyhawk.

Stoink was always a favorite locale of mine. so much good information to be gleaned from Gary's "Saga of Old City" on this location; locales, various foods and dishes, the works.

I like it, Mort!

grodog said...

Indeed, Gary's chapters in Stoink are among my favorites in the Gord stories =)

I'll have to post the Stoink map, thanks for the reminder Mike!


SirXaris said...

This is a great idea for future articles, Mort! And, I love that you began with the Bandit Kingdoms.

I hope you don't mind me mentioning a great resource for all things Bandit Kingdom related during the time of Living Greyhawk: BDKR1 The Unofficial Living Greyhawk Bandit Kingdom Summary, by Casey Brown.


DaveGuerrieri said...

Awesome article, Mort. I learned some new things! Looking forward to the next one in the series!


evildm said...

First and favorite campaign world! makes me want to run a group of "Not so good guys" on a little bandit kingdom campaign.

Kevin Smith said...

This type of stuff is a great intro for those of us less familiar with Greyhawk! Thanks man.

Mike Bridges said...

Allan: I've never used Stoink in my own games. Seems improbable to me now.

Xaris: Thanks for mentioning Casey's book, I almost forgot! It's hard to reference LG campaign stuff obviously since I don't have it handy nor can I tell people to look it up. I wish there was a wiki devoted to LG adventure plots.

Dave: Thank you! I do take requests. ;)

Jeff M: That's actually the best way to play the BK in my opinion. It's a place PCs can run around and be lawless for a change of pace.

Kevin: Thanks buddy! I strive to be informative as well as entertaining.

Mike Bridges said...

Mystic: Yeah the cannibalization of Greyhawk is one of the reasons I've tried to keep the hawk-embers fanned all these years. The longer it goes unpublished the sooner newer gamers might not know what's what anymore!