Friday, December 30, 2016

Favorite Greyhawk Megadungeon

Howdy Greyfiends! I occasionally add a poll on the front page for fun and today I've decided to comment on the results of the one on megadungeons. I have to admit first that I could only think of 4 true megadungeons for Greyhawk. If I overlooked a choice tell me, but really isn't 4 more than enough?

Ideally, Castle Greyhawk/Greyhawk Ruins/etc. should be the champ here but it came in last at 12%. In hindsight I wonder if it's because I inadvertently named it Castle Greyhawk and people thought I meant the joke module? No I meant all incarnations as a whole. Oh well, the whole poll is ruined, moving on...

My personal favorite is Maure Castle. Whether its the original Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure or Dungeon Magazine's update and expansions, Robert J. Kuntz's dungeon holds more danger and mystery in my mind than Greyhawk's ruins. Also, Eli Tomorast! However, those polled said it was only second place worthy at 17%!

The Temple of Elemental Evil is first place at 55% and probably deserved so. It's classic Gygax, it has a great back story, location, iconic villains and a sand box feel. I have no problem with people picking this dungeon though if I was more clear about Greyhawk Ruins the poll would be closer.

Lastly, I threw White Plume Mountain in for variety, figuring it was next closest qualifier for a megadungeon and it came in third! I debated with myself that the Tomb of Horrors was a megadungeon and concluded it's too short and was just a series of traps. Now I don't know much about the later additions to ToH or WPM for that matter. Give me your opinion if I'm off base.

Needless to say, aspiring authors, the World of Greyhawk might be overdue for a new megadungeon. Greyhawk Ruins has been done to death, Maure is pretty much tied to RJK stylistically and the others have been revisited as well. If I had to pick a location off the top of my head for the next great megadungeon, I'd place it in the middle of a forest. Perhaps the Fellreev or the Grandwood. Okay now get to work on that!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Two More Greyhawk Factions

Hey Greyhawkers! Today I'm following up on my last report about Flanaess Factions over at the blog neuronphaser. This week there is two new factions to explore for your Greyhawk campaign. The Knight Protectors brings back lore on an old knightly order of the Great Kingdom and also explores the more contemporary knightly orders of the Flanaess, including a nice addition of the Iron League as a usable faction. The Old Faith a well researched article on druidic lore with more nature deities mentioned in one place than you've seen in a long time!

Another good pair from neuronphaser. I'm looking forward to the last two installments.

Update 06/19/2021: Sorry folks, links to Neuronphaser are broke.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

New Factions by Neuronphaser

Hey just when I thought no one was creating Greyhawk content, I discover that the blog neuronphaser has started an article series on Factions of the Flanaess, which is timely since I too recently did such works with the Pentad and the Hexad.

Neuronphaser has two articles so far, check out The Circle a power group made up of NPCs closely associated with Mordenkainen and the Circle of Eight. and then read about The Guild, which is no less than the well-organized thieves guild in the Free City of Greyhawk.

I am looking forward to neuronphaser's next few articles set in Greyhawk. Kudos!

Update 06/19/2021: Sadly, I don't see Neuronphaser online anymore. Links removed.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Take a Greyhawk Survey

Over at Greyhawk Grognard, good friend Joe Bloch has posted a short survey for his own use on where we as Greyhawk fans would like to see the setting progress in the hypothetical future. Why not? Take the survey HERE. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

State of Greyhawkery 2017

Hello Greyhawk loyalists!

It's been an extremely slow Fall for Greyhawkery. I am writing this post to address my thoughts on the future of Greyhawk community projects going into 2017. This isn't an early new years resolution thing either, this is a state of the blog brainstorm for any who would like to chime in. Here we go...

Greyhawkery as a blog has been a lot of fun for the last 6.5 years, but I'm not sure I have enough good content to keep up even my regular two post a week schedule. I've tailed off to once a week and many times those posts are just promoting the Castle Greyhawk webcomic blog. I'm not entirely sure how much traffic I send to Scott's comic blog for the comic in this fashion.The comic is drawn by me so it does count as content for my own site I guess, but in terms of my blog stats those posts flag way behind on pageviews from my random articles on various topics or new items.

That said, I recently stopped doing game recaps of my Sea Princes campaign as well due to the same lack in viewership. Having the content is good for the site yes, but many times I felt this was all I had to offer. I still have put out my art and conversions to 5E as I feel these have more use to other people who might frequent my blog. I'm curious if there's a huge demand for 5E Greyhawk conversion? Thats one avenue I've flirted with here, but not wholly embraced.

Back to random articles and news, I time to time hit on a great idea to write about from a chat discussion or game night and I love composing those things - if I ever have the time. Stuff like 5 Reasons to Visit Nyrond and The Pentad are great educational exercises and add to the setting overall. I'd love to do more like that which leads to my next thought.

The Greyhawk community is dormant. A lack of contemporary Wizards involvement in 5E has forced many gamers to move on to other settings or RPGs entirely. My stalwart home Canonfire still chugs along after all these years as the unofficial #1 fansite, but new fanon content is all but dried up and the website itself is sorely out of date. The forums still have life and that's good but hardly the preferred means of social media anymore (and IRC chat is dying out too). Add to this, the lack of backing for a continued Oerth Journal ezine. The old publication was a blast back in the 3E era when the setting and community was vibrant with freelance creators and a call for conversions. This excitement hasn't translated to 4E or 5E D&D for that matter. So between these three creative outlets I have chosen to utilize my own blog first, then anything else second. Outside my blog and a couple others, there isn't anyone carrying this torch besides Greyhawk Reborn perhaps.

The dearth of newsworthy items has also hampered my ability to blog effectively. At one time I could always count on an eDungeon adventure by Chris Perkins or scour the internet for map projects and the like, but these opportunities are too dried up. Even my GenCon efforts to generate Greyhawk buzz have waned (Anna Meyer's map notwithstanding) to the point I'm thinking of skipping 2017 and going to Garycon instead.

What's all this mean? I guess I'm searching for a mission or some validation to keep it going in 2017. I'm sure I can hold out one more year and see. However, it'll take a BIG Greyhawk storyline from Wizards in the next couple cycles to keep my interest from finally fading altogether.

Update 06/19/2021: WOW! Looks like things turned around the last 4 years. Even though 
I'm on hiatus now, it's for entirely different reasons than in December of 2016. Wizards still isn't fully supporting GH but it has put out plenty of anthologies of old modules. Oerth Journal and Canonfire is resurgent and both have an active Discord channel, that rivals the old outdated IRC chats. Along with that, streaming service Twitch has been the injection of fan involvement I wished for, and then some! 2020 was a rough patch with the pandemic, so alot of these online outlets thrived. Good times!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Next 5E Storyline Speculation

Welcome again Greyhawk fans and 5E gamers. I'm currently playing Storm King's Thunder and I own Curse of Strahd. Both are solid stories so far. But surely the next big book event is already in the works. Rumors have been hush and it's a slow week, so it seems this is a good time to revisit my own oddsmaking on D&D's next 5E storyline. There's no sense in rehashing the same blurbs though so I'll just shoot for a single prediction:

S3: Expedition to the Barrier Peaks
A downed spaceship scenario isn't out of the realm of possibility. Remember, it wasn't that long ago head story honcho Chris Perkins tweeted a teaser picture of a Froghemoth and other aberrant monsters. Now, those most likely were teasers for the recently released Volo's Guide to Monsters, but, there's a new niche in RPGs that D&D should try to exploit, weird fantasy. 

Games like The Strange and Numenara have been all the rage in recent years. An adventure in the vein of Barrier Peaks thrust upon a traditional world like Faerun or Oerth could unleash enough odd monsters, magic and mayhem to set itself apart from their previous iconic threats; Dragons, Elementals, Giants, Vampires.
In addition to the classic froghemoth, Volo's Guide also includes quite rare choices such as vegepygmies and the trapper, all three introduced in S3. Pair that coincidence with a host of new playable monster races in Volo's and you have fuel for a weird-fantasy storyline that can take its inspiration from Expedition.

And don't forget the robots and ray guns. Greyhawk, Mystara and yes even Golarion have all went the crashed space-ship route before. Who is to say Volo hasn't stumbled upon something in the Anauroch? We shall see... 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Old D&D Back in Print

Hey folks, just chiming in real quick about this news on DM's Guild/DriveThruRPG doing print on demand for old out of print D&D products. So far the selection is small, a couple Greyhawk titles, but will likely grow as the service progresses. What I am most hoping is, could this be a chance to have an ACTUAL print version of Ivid the Undying? Is that even in the parameters of those sites since it was never published before? Come on Wizards help a gamer out!

Update 06/19/2021: The selection of Greyhawk books in PDF or POD is amazing now. However, you're on your own for a print version of Ivid. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Xvarts in Volos Guide

If you haven't seen the new 5E Volo's Guide to Monsters then you should check it out. The first half of the manual is full of fluff and RPG notes on common monster races both NPC and playable as PCs. The second half converts some classic D&D monsters to 5E and adds many variants as well. Though this book is written from the perspective of the Forgotten Realms, astute Greyhawk fans will spot many creatures who find their origins in our gameworld. One such monster is the xvart.

The actual stats on xvarts don't concern me, what is amazingly cool is the new fluff on their deity, one of my favorites, Raxivort. I don't know how much of this backstory is new or collected from old sources, but it all works and I'm delighted. I'm just gonna show it all to you here cause it's quite good stuff. Enjoy:

Raxivort's Betrayal. 
All xvarts are degenerate offspring of an entity named Raxivort, who once served Graz'zt the Dark Prince as treasurer. Raxivort spent long centuries watching over the treasury, and in time he grew to lust after his master's riches. In one bold move, he plundered a treasure vault and fled to the Material Plane. One of the treasures he stole was the Infinity Spindle, a crystalline shard from the early days of the multiverse that could transform even a creature as low as Raxivort into a demigod.

After he ascended to godhood, Raxivort forged a realm called the Black Sewers, within Pandesmos, the topmost layer of Pandemonium. He enjoyed his divine ascension only briefly, though, before Graz'zt unleashed his vengeance. The demon prince had no need to regain the Infinity Spindle, since he already possessed power greater than what it could grant. Instead, he dispatched agents far and wide to spread news of what the Spindle could do and the puny, pathetic creature that claimed its ownership. Soon enough, Raxivort was pursued by a variety of enemies, all eager to claim the Spindle as their own.

In the face of his imminent destruction, Raxivort hatched a plan. Fleeing to the Material Plane, he wandered across a variety of worlds and spawned creatures that were his exact duplicate. These are the xvarts, creatures that not only look identical to Raxivort in appearance but also foil any magic used to track him down. Spells, rituals, and other effects that could reveal Raxivort's location instead point to the nearest xvart. Although the initial rush of enemies against him has subsided, Raxivort knows that the planar powers are patient. He remains hiding, a wretch of a demigod who does little more than wander the planes, spawning ever more xvarts to ensure his continued safety.

To me that is a brilliant if not hilarious story for a lesser deity and an obvious opening to create an epic quest to find an object of great power sought by many powerful evil factions. What more does this book have in store? I'll let you know!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Five Shall Be One: The Edge 5E

Howdy Greyhawk fans! While I'm finished doing 5E write-ups of the Five Shall Be One/Howl From the North conversion to Greyhawk's south seas, I did promise to keep releasing converted material from my home game. Today I unveil the fifth and final of the five Blades of Corusk, called the Edge. And no I'm not talking about the guitarist U2. Blame Carl Sargent.

The original Edge sword design was for a bastard sword, which is a weapon type not in official 5e D&D rules (yet) so I decided to go a new route and make this weapon viable in the hands of many classes by allowing it to change from dagger to short sword or to longsword. For you old 80's-philes like myself, I imagine the effect as the Sword of Omens from Thundercats. The Edge in Howl From the North was powerful and I think I retained much of that in my 5E conversion. One minor alteration I made was because I couldn't justify the visual look of "three" dagger jutting from the sword since I was making accompanying art for the write-up. Again, for 80's reference I went to Kurgan from Highlander to give the Edge a pair of tines that snap out at 45 degree angles at will. Two flying blades seemed like enough anyway, since by the time the heroes have all 5 weapons, a ranged poison attack is likely to be their least frightening ability.

I hope you enjoy this conversion. Comments are appreciated. Enjoy!

Weapon (variable), legendary (requires attunement)

For hundreds of years, sages have argued whether the Edge is a short sword, a long sword or merely a parrying dagger, but the strange truth is they are all right. The Edge is made of gray steel, yet it never gets dull or marred. Despite attempts, the blade cannot be further honed, for it is already so sharp it can split hairs at the slightest touch. In contrast, the Edge’s hilt is wrapped in comfortably soft suede leather. The stark design of this unusual blade is offset by a pair of blackened dagger-like tines jutting at angles from the pommel. The Edge was once wielded by many leaders and kings, among them the Cruskii folk-hero Vorlag K├Ânig.
   You gain a +3 bonus to attack and damage rolls made with this magic weapon. The blade also ignores resistance and immunity to slashing damage. It has the following additional properties.
Unique Design. The Edge is a brutal looking weapon that on command magically expands, or contracts from dagger length to short sword, or at full extension a longsword. While in each of these of forms they have the normal attributes of a weapon of that type.
Flying Daggers. You can use an action to command one or both of these daggers to fly from the pommel at a single target within 60-feet. When you make the ranged attack, you do so with an attack bonus of +5. A creature hit by a dagger takes 1d4 damage and must succeed on a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or take 2d10 poison damage, and become poisoned for 1 minute.  After being fired, a dagger crumbles into dust. This property can’t be used this way again until the next dawn when the lost blades reappear.
Sunder. While the weapon is attuned to any class proficient in short or long swords, you gain the ability to sunder weapons or armor. When you attack a creature and roll a 20 or greater on the attack roll, that target takes an extra 7 slashing damage. In addition, if the target is using a shield or weapon in combat, one nonmagical item in hand is randomly destroyed. If no item is in hand, a target’s worn armor is destroyed instead and no longer provides an Armor Class bonus if nonmagical.
If an item sundered is magical, it can only be used at disadvantage until repaired. Likewise, armor loses its magical bonus until repaired. Further sundering attacks on an item have no further effect. The blade cannot sunder artifacts or legendary items.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Sea Princes Campaign: NPC Portraits

Well met, friends of Greyhawk. I've been struggling to come up with good posts lately then realized I have a wealth of art to show off from my current Five Shall Be One/Howl From the South campaign. While I don't serialize my game nights anymore, I do have some wonderful art to go along with it such as my player character portraits from last time. Today you'll get to see some pivotal NPCs from my game. Some are canon, others developed purely out of game play. Enjoy!

Mallon the half-elf mage is a character from the original Five Shall Be One module by Carl Sargent. He kind of gets things rolling in the quest for the five swords. In the original he is the apprentice of Karasten Meldraith an old wizard who lives on the coast of White Fanged Bay. In my Sea Princes remake, Mallon serves the deep-sea archmage Drawmij. Either way, he is quiet, nerdy and generally useless to the predominantly sailor crew unless something needs to be detected or identified. The pirate characters tolerate him because he too is marked by the "black spot", a curse that forces them to find the Blades of Corusk.

Ogie the Ogre was a surprise addition to the adventuring crew. This ogre was supposed to be a disposable brute serving a hag in the Amedio Jungle in the earliest parts of my FSBO. If it hadn't been for a clever use of a charm spell by the bard Ogie would be deceased like his cousins. Instead, the PCs took me by surprise and actually befriended the big lug, using him on their ship as manual labor and intimidation; paying him in copious amounts of food and shiny trinkets. Never has an ogre been treated better in a D&D campaign. Ogie slowly has evolved from a jungle monster to a credible citizen of the Sea Princes. I cannot wait to see what direction he takes after the quest.

Archmage Drawmij is of course the well-known member of the Circle of Eight. His role in my remake is a replacement for Karasten, namely the wise sage who informs and directs the PCs on their quest for the five swords. Drawmij and his undersea lair also was a serendipitous choice for I replaced the orc mountain city of Garel Enkdal with a deep sea trench city of sahuagin. Using nautical and undersea elements in this campaign has been a blast and Drawmij is an NPC that I've always admired but could never capitalize on properly until now.

Captain Kendrick of Blue is one of those random NPCs that somehow hits it off with players (in more ways than one) and thus becomes a recurring ally in their ongoing quest. Kendrick is a pirate lord who technically works under the vile Slave Lords of the Pomarj, but he is too honorable for slaving, instead choosing to prey on Aerdian vessels. His charismatic characterization has given him greater influence in my story as it's unfolded. Kendrick has gone from a encounter to pirate fleet captain in mere game months.

Admiral Arn Scornblade is main antagonist of the over-arcing plot of my campaign though the PCs have never met him (besides Sabriel in a dream). Most of the villains of this series have been dispatched easily from a Shadow Dragon to Sahuagin Princes to opposing pirate captains. Admiral Scornblade is like the Emperor in Star Wars, he is the ominous BBEG at the end of a quest. He controls the Aerdian armada that is creating a war on the Azure Sea. This backdrop of war has been hinted at and only recently felt by the players who have been too busy collecting swords. The ultimate goal however, is uniting the pirate factions into their own armada to help the Iron League take down Scornblade and his invincible metal plated "Ship of Battle" the Tyrannic.
Not only does Arn have a navy, he is also a High Priest of Hextor which makes him doubly dangerous. His visions and divine guidance may make the climax of this two-part campaign more than the PCs can handle even with five artifact swords!

More next time!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Castle Greyhawk: Wizardly Negotiations

Welcome again Greyhawk readers! I'm slacking as usual in promoting the latest work on chapter four in our ongoing Castle Greyhawk graphic novel. Check out page-fifteen to see some intelligent inking by 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: This page was challenging from a composition standpoint. What's essentially just a back and forth between Rary and Ehlissa turned into an exercise in world balloon placement. Rary is a bit wordy let's just say! The other fun design component I did was the open frame column down the middle. I love leaving empty space with the margins and the frames with some added figure overlap from one box to the next using Ehlissa's arms. 

It's not something I intentionally plan on mind you. I start drawing from Scott's script and then see how things develop. Often it's a matter of me running out of room so I let everything meld together and divide it after the fact. Sound like gibberish? Probably is, but if you've tried to piece together a comic page before you'll appreciate what went into this work. :)

That's all for now. Looks like poor Ehlissa isn't getting her way. Rary isn't archmage level yet so he is still wary of people like Erac's Cousin. Who is he anyhow?

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Ready Player One Acererak Art

As I mentioned recently, I'm a bit late to the phenomenal novel Ready Player One. It's a small spoiler, but Greyhawk and the Tomb of Horrors features prominently in the story that is soon to be a movie in the next year I hear. As such, to sate my obsession I found an official site that has been posting photos and fan art. I thought my Greyhawk fans would love to see the old lich Acererak having some fun. Make what you will of the images. If you haven't read the book I highly highly recommend it.
by robotnicc

by jdelgado

by Robots-in-Love

by evanames

by Robots-in-Love
by dead-bl00d

Friday, October 21, 2016


A week or so ago I saw a link to LoreMaps and their wonderful interactive fantasy maps of Faerun and Game of Thrones. This project is a combination of geotags and linked wiki information, but trust me see it for yourself. It's only going to get more advanced as they go along with search functions and more. I for one am also going to contact them and obviously nominate the World of Greyhawk for their next fantasy map, cause why not?

Update 06/19/2021: It seems this site hasn't added any new maps since I last posted on this. Too bad.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Castle Greyhawk:Thaumaturgist

Welcome back Greyhawk readers! It's high time I get off my butt to promote the latest work on chapter four in our ongoing Castle Greyhawk graphic novel. Check out page-fourteen to see some smart screed by 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: And now we have Rary in the picture, or rather a younger version of the Rary we all know. Side thought, I'm not sure what a thaumaturgist is and I've played D&D for decades.

It's very interesting that Rary is a local wizard to this story in Greyhawk City. I don't know his Gygax campaign origins as well as Scott so I'm sure the precedence is there. I've only ever been familiar with the game setting version where he hails from the Baklunish West and somehow ends up in the Circle of Eight. It will be fun to see where Ehlissa's gambit takes her now that she's consulting a higher level mage (Higher than Tenser I assume). Stay tuned.

Monday, October 10, 2016

80's Nostalgia

Let's talk nostalgia. For many of us who enjoy Greyhawk and D&D, we grew up in the 80's. For this reason I can be awfully sentimental when I read or listen to anything relating to that decade. I have a feeling the 80's is hitting a nostalgic high mark currently.

Who hasn't already read a blog post or new article about the popularity of the show Stranger Things? It touched on a lot of people's nostalgic heart strings and has inspired a new generation or two to go back and see what was so great about "back in the day". Building on this most recent development and working backward, we have long been in an 80's renaissance era with movie franchises like G.I. Joe and Transformers, not to mention innumerable cartoon remakes like Voltron. The list goes on and there is no way I can even touch on it all.

Back to gaming, WotC has been enjoying ever increasing popularity with 5E D&D largely, in my opinion, by catering to the nostalgic fun of older editions and material rather than trying to reinvent the wheel. This effort bleeds into the 90's of course since it concerns the Forgotten Realms, but Ed Greenwood's world does have roots farther back as we all know. With adventures based on Castle Ravenloft and notably Tiamat it would not surprise me one bit to see a remake of the 80's D&D Cartoon.

One last thing, for the last ten plus years, I've closely followed the goings on of D&D and Greyhawk. So imagine my surprise that I just now found out about the 2011 novel, Ready Player One because it has a VERY strong 80's nostalgic vibe. Not to give away the plot, but it references AD&D, Gygax, and Dragon Magazine quite liberally. It also specifically mentions and uses Greyhawk material in its plot more times than all of 4th edition! Author Ernest Cline has to be an old Greyhawk fan! As of writing this I haven't finished the book, but I hear Steven Spielberg the director of my favorite 80's movie of all time, Raiders of the Lost Ark, is making the movie version. Seems fitting.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Luke Gygax on Podcast

Hey guys, I would be remiss if I didn't point out my friends over at the new Trench Monkeys RPG Podcast recently interviewed the famous Luke Gygax and talked a bit with him about GaryCon, Greyhawk and old school D&D. You have got to check this out.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Favorite Region of Greyhawk

Here's the results of a poll I conducted on the front page, thanks to everyone who participated. I was curious to see what the reader's consensus was on the most playable areas of the Flanaess and I wasn't too surprised. Let's have a look:

Northwest  (2%) First off it seems not many people are playing in the milieu of Iuz's Empire vs Furyondy and farther afield such as Blackmoor. Though that place's community is a different one altogether! ;)

Southwest  (25%)
Not surprisingly the Sheldomar Valley and Sea Princes region is popular (I myself have worked from here the last several years). This area saw the most development in the early 2000's with Living Greyhawk and is also a favorite setting for it's heir, Greyhawk Reborn.

Northeast (4%) The north all in all is underdeveloped and very wilderness oriented which may lead to why few people make use of the barbarian lands or even places like NyrondTenh and the Pale which only figure in sourcebooks like the Marklands.

Southeast (10%) This area mainly comprised of the Iron League states and the Great Kingdom should be more popular. The fact Ivid the Undying never saw publication is a travesty because the area could've been a whole series of sourcebooks in truth. I still think the popularity of Game of Thrones could bring this region new life if all the damages to the southeast were rolled back to pre-Wars era.

Baklunish West/Beyond (6%) Surprisingly more used than the northern lands, though there is scant publication on these areas. We seem to have some Baklunish land fans out there despite this and I myself of course am the steward of Ull so I always enjoy when other people produce fan work for Beyond the Flanaess be it maps or simple articles. Kudos to you folk!

Central (City of Greyhawk) (51%) Lastly is the obviously most popular region with the most printed information for DMs to use. Greyhawk and surrounding lands enjoy plenty of adventure (Temple of Elemental Evil, Maure Castle, Greyhawk Ruins, etc.) That's the beauty of Gygax's world is that his most exciting region is centrally located so you can spring board from here to all the other mentioned areas.You'd be crazy to not use this area.

That's all for now. Stay tuned for another poll soon.

One last thing, a reminder to check out and join the Patreon page Scott Casper and I have going for the Castle Greyhawk webcomic. It's a humble project we've been doing for a few years and perhaps we can give even more back to the community if you are a fan of ours. Thanks! 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Castle Greyhawk: Pleasure Before Business

Welcome back Greyhawkers! I've been dragging my heels but at last it's time to promote the latest of chapter four in our ongoing Castle Greyhawk graphic novel. Check out page-thirteen to see some clever composition by 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: This page has come rather late and I apologize dear readers. Nothing particularly troubling in the art like last time, just RealLife(tm) making it hard to sit down and work. 

Robilar is one of my faves. We have alot of characters in this story running around in armor or sporting beards and so on, but Robilar has an uncertain charm about him I like. He's definitely more relaxed when not in the dungeon, but not enough to lose armor completely. I also like the Green Dragon working relationship with Ehlissa. It's common for D&D players to want to own/work at a bar during their career and this plays out quite well. It's adventurers hanging out with adventurers. What's not to like?

So yes, loving the witty banter, but it looks like the Erac saga will be getting more interesting as Ehlissa gets involved with this unheralded Striped Mage. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Greyhawk Character Sketches

Welcome back folks. News is few and far between at Greyhawkery it seems. The info on my home Greyhawk campaign has been trickling as well. Well today (in honor of Talk Like a Pirate Day yesterday) I have some character sketches from my ongoing Five Shall Be One/Howl From the South 5E Campaign. Check them out!

Captain Cullen is a pirate rogue and former first mate to crab fisherman Captain Cragg. He took over the old caravel Sea Hag and soon upgraded to a faster vessel, the pinnace Envy after the crew was tasked with a quest to find the five Blades of Corusk. Even though the crew agreed no leader, he is still the one who ultimately calls the shots. Cullen may be a two knife killer with a short fuse, but he does have a good heart. If you can find out where he hid it!

Sabriel Loreweaver is a bard of a less traditional variety. She rarely plays the entertainer, instead as first-mate, she inspires her crew  to sail faster, fight harder and at times give her what she wants. Sabriel has an even shorter fuse than Cullen now that she bears the magic rapier Dreamsinger and her wild side has led to many dalliances during her voyages.
Tyrrus Bandale is a second generation fighter and sailor who has risen above the humble life of a crab-fisherman. Although he isn't the keenest mind on the Envy, his strength (and some say his stamina) is as prodigious as an ogre and his skill with a two-handed sword, namely the famous Blade of Corusk Harmonizer is so-far without equal.

 Lash Driftwood is a sea elf ranger from the deep-cities of the Azure Sea. How he first became entangled with Captain Cragg's crab-ship is unknown, but now he is cursed to seek out the Blades of Corusk like his fellow crew members. Lash's deft eye-hand coordination has made him the perfect look out and archer for the Envy. He also bears the long sword Stalker which has made him even more elusive.
 Kuma Sand is the most laid back druid you'll ever see. A worshiper of the entire pantheon of sea gods, Kuma was content catching crabs and mending wounded sailors. The curse to find the Blades of Corusk has led him astray in life and has gained him the scimitar Greenswathe in the process. Kuma is so unobtrusive that he effortlessly blends into the background and then conveniently steps back in when his comrades need him most.
Ostyn the fighter was once the lowest ranking deckhand on the Sea Hag, until fate brought him into the quest for the five blades and lifted him to a greater role on the Envy. This hammering sailor of Olman descent is also the most capable shipbuilder in the crew. Ostyn is a fiercely loyal compatriot to the end, a fact that Sabriel capitalizes on from time to time.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Five Shall Be One: Harmonizer 5E

Hey folks! Yeah I haven't kept up on my 5E write-ups of the Five Shall Be One/Howl From the North conversion to Greyhawk's south seas, but I do promise to keep showing converted material from my home game. Today I unveil the fourth of the five Blades of Corusk, called Harmonizer.

Harmonizer was a particularly difficult blade to convert. 2E did a lot of things without regard to rules or game balance, so compared to thew previous three swords, Stalker, Dreamsinger and Greenswathe, this one is sorta over powered if not semi-cursed. I have ditched original author Carl Sargent's ability of testing a wielder by creating duplicates and did my best to keep the spirit of the rest of its powers. The one that has given me the most trouble in playtesting is the Code of Conduct of course. At first I had it giving advantage and disadvantage in a lopsided fight, then figured one way or the other was bad enough for the owner. You don't want the PCs throwing this blade out for being too troublesome.

The other balance factor that I couldn't decide on was its "dagger weight" another gross game balance killer, but I went with giving it the Light property yet not the Finesse trait which evidently is a turn off to rogue classes now. If I had gone with both properties I suppose it couldn't make Harmonizer any stronger, I'd be happy to hear some input on this design, Check it out:

Weapon (greatsword), legendary (requires attunement)

This greatsword is a masterful work of art. When light catches Harmonizer’s surface just right, an elaborate etching can be clearly seen depicting a ritual being performed by five figures holding five swords; a swirling mass of wind and earth coils eerily behind them.
   Once wielded by the great Fruztii chieftain Helden Stormfist, Harmonizer looks imposing and heavy, but it inexplicably weighs the same as a common dagger.
   You gain a +3 bonus to attack and damage rolls made with this magic weapon. It has the following additional properties.
   The weapon functions as a defender sword.

Unique Construction. Due to its magically reduced weight, this great weapon replaces its Heavy and Two-Handed properties with Light and Versatile (2d8). However, the blade is still too long and bulky to be considered a Finesse weapon.
 Perfect Balance.  Furthermore, due to the balance of this weapon you gain proficiency in this weapon if you don’t already have it and you gain a +5 on initiative checks.
Enhanced Traits. While attuned to the blade, all six of your ability scores increase by 1, to a maximum of 20.
Code of Conduct. This strange side effect happens when the weapon is wielded in a severely mismatched or outnumbered situation. The magical harmonics of this blade interfere in combat granting the weaker side advantage on attacks or imposing disadvantage on the favored side (DM’s discretion). This enchantment works in a 30-foot sphere from Harmonizer even if it is put aside.
Sentience. Harmonizer is a sentient neutral weapon with an Intelligence of 14, a Wisdom of 10, and a Charisma of 16. It has hearing and darkvision out to a range of 120 feet.
   The weapon communicates by transmitting emotions, sending a tingling sensation through the wielder’s hand when it wants to communicate something it has sensed.

Personality. The sword’s purpose is to enforce a code of honor and balance among the company of the Blades of Corusk. Though the other blades have their own temperaments, the diplomatic Harmonizer manages to keep them all together somehow, but it certainly expects the most of its bearer. Any conflict with Harmonizer can turn ugly with the normally light sword refusing to be lifted or in the worst case, vanishing entirely, thus starting the search all over again.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Castle Greyhawk: Watch Your Back

Welcome back Greyhawk friends! Somehow I've once again managed to miss promoting the latest of chapter four in our ongoing Castle Greyhawk graphic novel. Check out page eleven and page twelve to see some important inscriptions by 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: First off remember to check out our Patreon page. Even for a $1 membership per page you'll get some good Greyhawk access.

Page 11 flew by so well from pen to paper that I perhaps took a mental break and forgot to post about it. There's some great expressions in this one. The little guy sneers and smiles at Ehlissa while she is suitably scared and intrigued by the actions of Erac's Cousin. EC too goes from suave to scolding on a dime. Then there is the mutt who expressively is hating on the blade wielding goon. Good composition. Very happy with that page. Then there was page 12....

Page twelve is a dark moody scene. There is lots of looks and stares and dialogue. But for some reason this one gave me fits. The panel of EC holding his hand out took five tries. FIVE! The one of him standing at the exit of the alley was done separately as well. The first two panels flowed great however. The whole thing ends up being a well-constructed collage of panels. You the reader would not notice this but I happen to do this a lot when certain panels give me trouble. I've had practice though, so no big deal. 

One last detail I loved was the background rowhouses in panel 1. Scott gives me elaborate direction sometimes and I try my best to capture his vision. I hope these medieval buildings fit the bill. To be a comic artist you need to know anatomy AND architecture sometimes. Let's hope page 13 goes smoothly. See you then! 

Friday, September 2, 2016

5 Favorite Greyhawk Resources

It's a slow blog week for me people, so let's talk about the publications that I use the most in my own campaigns. Ideally I'm an all inclusive Greyhawk fan. Every bit of lore is useful to me, or interesting to me, but realistically certain products will just be more important to me in the long run. So here's a quick list and why in no particular order:

1. Iuz the Evil: This is the absolute best source on the lands and evil schemes of the demigod of Pain and Evil. There is more mysterious locations, deadly destinations, powerful villains and background lore than any book you'll find on the north. You don't even need stats for Iuz himself in this book (he is detailed in the boxed set after all) because there is so many layers of baddies to get through in this sourcebook. The information is also edition-less so it's relevant today as it's ever been.

2. The Scarlet Brotherhood: This book while thin in page count, is likewise the ultimate source on the Tilvanot Peninsula, the Amedio Jungle and Hepmonaland all in one place. You might not get much in the way of stat information beyond levels and alignment but if you are wanting to know the history and machinations of the secretive Scarlet Brotherhood monks this is a must have product.

3. The City of Greyhawk boxed set: Based part on Gygax's Gord novels and helped with a good dose of published Greyhawk lore, this boxed set, though weak in some regards will give you countless years of gaming material. The maps of the city and sewers alone are indispensable (though Denis Tetreault at improved on them) and there is scores of NPCs and organizations ready to populate an urban campaign more vibrant than anywhere else in the setting. A lot of the information presented in this boxed set also gets timeline bumped in later products like From the Ashes and Greyhawk: The Adventure Begins. It truly is a living city.

4. World of Greyhawk boxed set: The original red-gold boxed set built upon the earlier Greyhawk Folio and has been the benchmark for RPG worldbuilding ever since. The Living Greyhawk Gazetteer might have more fluff and stats, but it lacks the wonder and curiosity of this two book set. Where else can you go from an entry on unique trees to another on runes and glyphs? The maps of course are iconic as we all know. To this day most of my campaign building is still centered on the hex map format started with this map.

5. Greyhawk Adventures hardcover: It's no accident my top 5 favorite are all from the 1e/2e era. It was a golden age of setting development and TSR was never afraid to put out new sourcebooks in different formats such as this hardcover. It isn't the best product they ever put out, being weak in some areas, but from a DM's standpoint, the canon lore on mysterious places, monsters, NPCs and magic items are a must have for any true Greyhawk campaign. It's the type of book that every time I pick it up I read something new that I hadn't noticed years before.

That's all folks! I could go on to my top 10 and they'd mostly be modules I bet, so let's save that for a separate post someday!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Crashed Space Ships and Tech Gods

Okay I'm bored today so let's bash out a good original post on Technology and Deities in Greyhawk.

Greyhawk is full of contradiction when it comes to the functionality of technology in the setting. For example, black powder isn't supposed to work unless you're a deity like Murlynd, or if you're a paladin of Murlynd then you get an exception too. But in general it's an unwritten rule (for DM's personal preference) that anachronistic technology isn't supposed to work on Oerth. Until it does.

Crashed spaceships in the Barrier Peaks yield ray guns and robots. A City of the Gods and frozen automatons lay at the fringes of the Land of Black Ice. Futuristic sailing ships are caught in a tropical sargasso. Ancient artifact level machines and mechas stay hidden until found by adventurers. Gates to alternate Earths can be found that work both ways. I'm sure if Greyhawk had enjoyed an unbroken line of development from the 80's to present we'd have even more instances by now. The point is a variety of genre-mixing technology is there if a DM knows where to find it or if they want to keep it out of their medieval fantasy then no one is the wiser.

What if we ignore the Epoch of Magic and apply all the above examples as overt changes to the setting? Put another way, what if tech and magic mingled freely in Greyhawk? Perhaps an Epoch of Magi-tech. Well we might end up with a world more like Eberron I'd assume. Automaton/Robot "warforged" would become a viable PC race. Larger magitech monsters and vehicles would become more common blurring the line of science and necromancy. I'm imagining Final Fantasy type flying ships, larger golem-like machines leading sieges. Black powder weapons of course would lead to an explosion of crafting and alchemist class characters. None of these advances precludes magic users either, it only enhances them.

Deities would need a slight make over as well:
Murlynd would be the prototypical hero-god of magitech; the bar by which all adventurers are measured.
Boccob, Delleb and Zagyg certainly jump into the weird magic-tech mashup with even more futuristic arcane objects.
Hextor (and perhaps others like Heironeous) as god of war would lead in cutting edge machines of war both on land and at sea.
Moradin, Fotubo and their like would not be outdone in the crafting department though.
Gods like Xerbo, Zilchus and Bralm would encourage and profit off the tech's spread to common folk.
Stranger deities like Celestian, Tsolorandril and the entire Olman pantheon would also focus eyes to the stars way more than they do currently.
And I don't even want to think about Tharizdun paired with technology!

So yes, magic and tech in Greyhawk can make for an exciting fantasy world. It's all a matter of how far do you take it?

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Monty Haul Greyhawk

Here's a fun topic from my dusty Greyhawk shelf. Old gamers and DMs such as me are most likely familiar with the term "Monty Haul" campaign (where a DM gives out way too much treasure and magic items) or the more modern player term "munchkin" (a player who power games his PCs). Either way when D&D was still new to us and we were young and easily inspired (go watch the recent show Stranger Things), we tended to create the most over-powered, excessively rich, over the top characters, and yeah it made sense back then. For my part, I had a certain munchkin NPC/PC in my first "monty haul" Greyhawk campaign that by all rights shouldn't have been as cool as he thought he was. Let's examine Knight Stalker!

Knight Stalker is from the humble backwater nation of Blackmoor, but you wouldn't realize it from his super-heroic profile. K.S. is a human multi-classed, 36th level fighter/ 5th level thief with the improbable stat line of:

STR 18(100%) 16 without his Gauntlets of Ogre Power
INT 18 cause apparently he got a good education in Dantredun.
WIS 15 dump stat!
DEX 18 heroes gotta be quick on their toes
CON 16 i see some erasure on the sheet which means he was probably resurrected a couple times
CHA 18 who wouldn't want to hang with him?
COMELINESS 16 because not even a missing eye can harm those good looks

K.S. had 263 hit points which I'm not sure is even mathematically possible and I don't have time to fact-check it.
By virtue of his part-time thievery he can do thieving skills but most are useless while he wears Plate +5 and carries a Shield +5 but hey he can still back stab that's what's important.
Stalker was notable for having ran through the adventure The City Beyond the Gate in Dragon Magazine #100 where adventurers go to modern day London to retrieve the Mace of St. Cuthbert. Well instead of bringing a mace back he brought back an arsenal including a .357, and an AK-47 and counter to Greyhawk physics his blackpowder weapons could work much like the hero-deity Murlynd's 6-shooters cause why not?
Boomsticks aside, Knight Stalker at one time possessed Excalibur as well, but lost it, which was fine because his main sword was a Tri-bladed Sword +5 whose blades could be launched at enemies. Sound familiar? Yup, it's from the movie The Sword and the Sorcerer. I'm actually proud of that one.

Knight Stalker at the end of his career was 54, but somehow retained the appearance of a spry 32 year old (thanks potions of longevity!). He got his name because he hates knights, cavaliers and clerics. I will assume he dislikes paladins as well. At the end of his career he only had 2182 g.p. left though, which might make life in his castle in the Adri Forest difficult. And lastly, if you think he will die poor and have his body looted of gear I will point out the Will (yeah 1st edition had Wills, it's a lost art) at the bottom of his AD&D character sheet :

I, K.S. (cause with an 18 INT he was too smart to sign his actual name) do hereby swear to come back from the dead and slay my foe.

Yes folks, that means everyone. But especially people who look like knights. AD&D had fun rules for the era, but our ridiculous monty haul game characters were certainly more memorable.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Castle Greyhawk: Page 10 and Patreon

Welcome again Greyhawk readers to the overdue continuation of chapter four in our ongoing Castle Greyhawk graphic novel. Check out page-ten to see some clever conversations by 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: This page took me longer than normal to get out and no less to promote. I will tell ya that the striped tent is canonical. If you have the city poster map from the boxed set City of Greyhawk then by the Black Gate you'll see this big tent. Who does it belong to? Your guess is as good as mine. 

Erac's Cousin's dog seems to not like poor Ehlissa. She better watch where she treads, oops too late!

On another note, Scott and I have launched a Patreon for the Castle Greyhawk comic. We have about 100 pages to go and any patronage would be worth your while to keep us going. Check it out, see what you think and JOIN! Stay tuned for the next page in a week.

Update 06/14/2021: I don't know what the status is of this Patreon. The comic was concluded in 2019, so I can't imagine Scott Casper is taking new patrons currently unless its to secure a printed hardback copy of the comic. You may have to hit Scott up on Facebook if you're interested in this.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Howl From the South Update

Welcome back Greyhawk fans. This is an unfortunate bad post today folks. My initial drive to adapt and serialize the 2E module Five Shall Be One was a great success. My disdain for the abysmal sequel module, Howl From the North was to be an homage in name only called Howl From the South. Cause like it's set in the Azure Sea and not the barbarian lands. Get it? Well my attempts to rewrite a wonky module have turned into a long, protracted, but still fun campaign with as many ups and downs as the module I tried to best. That said, I cannot serialize these anymore. It's daunting work to write-up game sessions after they are played, sometimes I take good notes, other times not.

Setting aside the serialization posts, I'd rather concentrate on running the game more efficiently (Sabriel Loreweaver is my muse) and sharing the game content with everyone, including 5E conversions of the Blades of Corusk, new Greyhawk development and character sketches. Then who knows, years from now I'll write a cleaned up module series based on this campaign (doubt it). But yeah there ya go, the Sea Princes campaign sails on, but you'll have to get the cliffs notes version or maybe follow us Sunday on Twitter or Periscope for the live experience: @GreyhawkMike @xb0shi3x

Campaign note: The original series started at 7th to 10th level and curiously the start of HFtN has the players at the same level range. We didn't start so high in this adaptation, but for my game I hope my friends still want to play these characters beyond the confines of this "sword quest". I'd like to see how powerful high level 5E characters can be and at least the sword quest provides a great backstory for whatever comes after. Fingers crossed!

Update 06/14/2021: Corrected my Twitter handle. Good to know cause I'm on Twitter more than anything.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Mortellan's 2016 Gen Con Recap

Howdy Greyhawkers, I am still recovering the day after a fun filled and long GenCon 2016 weekend in Indianapolis. As usual this post is intended to report on anything tangentially about Greyhawk which is always like squeezing blood out of a turnip. Let's see what I came up with:

First off, the Greyhawk meet and greet was called off. My bad to anyone who inquired, but attendance is hard to muster sometimes. Next time I'm going to shoot for more informal meet ups around the con. That said I had a good time with the legendary Anna Meyer of Greyhawk Atlas and Kobold Press fame. Anna attended a couple eat-outs with me and the Gamerstable podcast crew and one location was at Champs Restaurant where she had on display a HUGE 9'x9' printing of her entire World of Greyhawk map. I hope plenty of people made the trip to see it like we did. That map deserved to be displayed in the con hall itself, but GenCon must be anti-Greyhawk. Who knows?

If you haven't been following her work, this map is an over 10 year labor of love that has won her wide community acclaim and even freelancing work with Kobold Press for which she was included at the Ennies awards this year in the Best Cartography category for her work on the Southlands Campaign Setting Map. Anna did not win unfortunately, somehow losing out to Shadows of Esteren and Maze of the Blue Medusa. She will be back.

On the topic of the Ennies, my very good friend over at Melvin Smif's Geekery was nominated for back website category and lost to the juggernaut of Gnome Stew. No bad feelings there, being nominated is a reward all its own for a first time entry.

Another Ennie tidbit, Wizards' Curse of Strahd did very well at the awards winning gold for Best Cover and Best Adventure. Not sure who picked up their award since the WotC group supposedly weren't attending. I'd love to hear how that went. At any rate, it's good to see Ravenloft get so much love. It gives me hope that fans want more than just another Forgotten Realms product.

Greyhawk Reborn had another successful run at the 3rd floor hall in the JW Marriott this year. I know all the slots were sold out cause I tried to get into an earlier game. I was too busy for a Sunday game. If anyone took in a GHR game I'd love to hear how it went.

Speaking of Greyhawk convention play, I met and played in a Savage Worlds game ran by Chris Hussey from the show Titansgrave Diggers and more. Chris is a Living Greyhawk player from way back and out of the kindness of his heart he gave me his Shield Lands t-shirt. I am overwhelmed. I love it!!

Lastly, at the Gamerstable Appreciation Dinner we hosted the incredible Monte Cook and the lovely Shanna Germaine from Monte Cook Games. It was a good time and definitely the biggest gaming celebrity I've had the chance to sit down with in my life. Monte even signed my coveted Book of Vile Darkness. It was a great memory for someone who has played 3.5 D&D for so long. Well that's about it for Greyhawk news. Anyone have some things to share? I'd lvoe to hear about it in the comments section!