Friday, July 29, 2016

Greyhawk: Conclave of Ull

It is said in more civilized corners of the Flanaess, that the remote frontier land of Ull is a godless wasteland; home to only nomadic horselords, hill ogres, cruel slavers and debauched gladiatorial fights. No mention is ever given to the denizens of Ull having a tradition for the arcane arts. This is for good reason because its most powerful mages are foreigners who like to stay out of sight and out of reach of their contemporaries. In such a small realm however, these rare practitioners of magic cannot exist peacefully without some contact and certain unwritten rules.

The Conclave is a very loose association of mages dwelling primarily in the towns and villages of Ull or among the encircling highlands. Their meetings and communications are few and far between but at times, external threats such as rumors of a new Brazen Horde or more often pesky treasure-seeking adventurers have resulted in a couple of these mages cooperating for a common purpose. The local ruling khanates know little of the mages, except through reputation, though individuals have on occasion served as consultants to various warlords or sheiks at their own peril. The unwritten rule of the Conclave is to stay out of each other's business lest they invoke the ire of the others or worse, bring down the wrath of Ull's mundane populace. These boundaries are pushed at times when interests overlap, but so far each mage's privacy has been respected.

Abi-Dalzim (W18, NE): The notorious "Father of Droughts" has haunted the foothills of the Ulsprues near Kester for half a century, but only recently has been active since escaping from incarceration by the dao in the Great Dismal Delve. Abi-Dalzim is an earth elementalist infamous for the creation of the spell Horrid Wilting, and is likewise an adherent of Incabulos (god of disasters and famine), thus combining the worst aspects of transmutation and necromancy.

Dalzim works through agents, rarely leaving his tower, leading many to believe he is an impostor, however the Conclave knows better. Among his personal schemes, Dalzim has a long vendetta against the wizard Alhamazad of the Circle of Eight. Dalzim is also actively interested in defeating the dervishes of the Dry Steppes and preventing the ascendancy of their prophetic Mahdi.

Hornung (W16, CN): Originally hailing from another prime material plane close to Oerth, Hornung is known to mages in Eastern Oerik as the "Wild Archmage". Hornung is the foremost practitioner of a disputed and dangerous school of arcane study called wild magic. Hornung's reckless reputation and generally chaotic demeanor has led to his aggressive banishment from many cities in the Flanaess, including the Free City of Greyhawk whose former mayor Zagig Yragerne is said to be a pioneer of the magical theory.

Hornung might be a sociopath, but he is certainly not a fool. The Wild Archmage has been meticulously searching the continent for areas of wild magic around known Fading Lands and planar gates, plus other untapped sources of arcane power such as dweorstones and oerthblood. Hornung retreats back to Ull where he has been observed practicing his wild spells unrestrained, but this is also where he must rest and review his research. The location of his personal sanctum has yet to be discovered by any of his Conclave peers, save his protégé Nahal, though given his nature it may randomly change.

Lorloveim (W24, N): The "Mistress of Shadows" is said to be an ancient sorceress from a realm long lost in Oerik's past. and is perhaps one of the first to be called quasi-deity. The penultimate master of shadow magic, Lorloveim hides in the open among the small villages of southern Ull, blending in flawlessly as a free-willed Baklunish woman when she wants to be seen at all. Lorloveim seems content to be left alone, choosing Ull for its remote location and dearth of magical entities. Only the Conclave has recently drawn her into the open; indeed few others in the world even know she still exists. This fact has been kept discreet by the Conclave, especially Abi-Dalzim who fears the powerful sorceress most.

The shadow mistress is stern, quiet and seems to have no personal goals though deep down she has a heroic bent. Lorloveim spends her time with art, literature and preparing magical components using her obsidian mortar and pestle. Lorloveim might walk among Uli by day, but somewhere in the shadows she has concealed a gate to a private demiplane where so far only the Baklunish alchemist Alamir has been invited. Alamir never speaks of Lorloveim's home save for the mistress' preoccupation with images of a certain obscure Flan hero-deity.

Khazid (W11, CG): The young Bakluni summoner known as Khazid is originally from the bustling city of Zeif. Khazid was a child prodigy who grew up on the streets of the capital, this life instilled in him a mischievous personality that soon got him on the wrong side of the sultan's court. Khazid's greatest achievement, his Procurement spell, was also his downfall.  Khazid learned how to create micro-gates to anywhere in the city through a silver mirror in order to obtain material components with ease. The roguish side in Khazid soon got the best of him as his superiors accused him of thievery; a sentence that would've cost him a hand.

Panicked and with nowhere else to go, Khazid fled the city, hiding along with a caravan heading south. He knew the jealous, pampered wizards of Zeif wouldn't follow him into the wilderness. Before Khazid knew he was stranded in the remote capital of Ulakand, fortunately his streetwise nature allowed him to swiftly find employment as a sage and adviser to the many uneducated khans and warlords of Ull. Khazid became part of the Conclave through dealings with its founder Alamir and elementalist Maximilian. Khazid is still a wanted man, but this time for his Procurement spell which he refuses to teach anyone including the Conclave. Meanwhile back in Zeif, rare gems and magical substances keep randomly disappearing from the palace yet servants report seeing a hand swiping things out of thin air.

Alamir (W14, LN): The alchemist Alamir was once a student in the famous Zashassar school of Ekbir. Alamir's obsessive curiosity to know how all magic items are crafted led to the development of the spell Fundamental Breakdown. However, Alamir's efforts often resulted in the destruction of what ever item was studied. This fact and Alamir's failed cover ups were soon discovered by the Zashassari elite who promptly banished him from working in the Caliphate. Alamir went to Tusmit next, then Zeif, but found he had been blacklisted due to his reputation.

By the fate of Istus, Alamir fell in with the wanted mage Khazid and the pair went to Ull where the two work closely together from Ulakand to Kester as advisers and craftsmen for those who can afford their services. The Conclave itself was devised by Alamir when he started to encounter other mages in his travels throughout Ull and desired to bring them together. Though the Conclave is hardly a coherent group like the Zashassar, Alamir is still regarded as the most trustworthy mage in the region, a fitting legacy for an alchemist thrown out of so-called civilized society.

Nahal (W11, CE): Nahal is an arcane phenom who was discovered by Hornung manipulating wild magic in the city of Lopolla. Nahal was trained to be a common hedge mage, but his propensity to drink and the acquisition of a wand of wonder changed his life forever. By the time Hornung met Nahal, he had already lost his wife, his job and was wanted by the beygraf for several counts of malicious injury and vandalism. The unhinged Nahal was taken under Hornung's wing in an attempt to save his life if not hone his talent in wild magic.

Nahal so far has proven to be a disaster in the making. Hornung has been lacking as a teacher with his chaotic travels, leaving Nahal alone to create questionable spells like Reckless Dweomer and Nonsensical Nullifier. Only the wide-open prairies of Ull and the careful watch of the Conclave seem to contain his manic use of wild magic. To that end, the wild mage has been slowly growing in power, lending his magic to various warbands. Nahal harbors many grudges in Ull and back home for which he vows to someday repay. Hornung though affable, is wise to be wary of Nahal.

Maximilian (W14, LE): This grim-faced, stocky earth elementalist hails from the highlands of Geoff. Already a capable mage as a young adult, Maximilian was displaced by the Giant Troubles a decade ago and ended up with no family or money at a refugee camp in Bissel. A visiting mage from Ekbir took pity on the angry, vengeful mage and personally sponsored him to join the Zashassar school in Ekbir. Not surprisingly, Max was treated harshly as a foreigner at the Bakluni institute, a hardship that forced him into many fights and put many people in the infirmary with the use of his Stony and Earthen Grasp spells. Eventually Maximilian quit the Zashassar altogether to seek his own way and possibly find a tutor more his temperament.

Max turned to the lawless frontier of Ull to seek service with the ill-famed elementalist Abi-Dalzim, yet much to his chagrin the Father of Droughts rejected his advances. Fueled by this setback Maximilian found work for the pit masters of Kester and joined slaver bands in the Yorod Hills before magically building his own tower where he has crafted unique wonders such as clay golem-armor and also bred horrors like the Stone Ettin. Through the Conclave, Max has found common ground to work with the likes of Khazid and Nahal, and if he can be believed, even Abi-Dalzim is regretting his decision to rebuff the formidable earth-mage.

All these wizards come from named spells in the highly underrated 2E accessory, Tome of Magic. This book was designed by David Cook, the late Nigel Findley, Chris Kubasik, Greyhawk's own Carl Sargent and Rick Swan. This book has always been a little treasure trove of conversion ideas for me as I never see anyone else in the D&D community using these spells, items or proper names. Long ago I co-opted Abi-Dalzim as a villain for Ull to much acclaim. By sticking several more characters from the Tome of Magic into my own "living" Ull campaign I hope to develop and use them more in future writings.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Castle Greyhawk: Questions and Concerns

Welcome again Greyhawk readers to the continuation of chapter four in our ongoing Castle Greyhawk graphic novel. Check out page-nine to see some sharp sentences 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 was a whimsically fun page to draw. Ehlissa is snappy and expressive while Erac's Cousin is pleasantly dodgy. And then there is the dog. I threw the mutt in last page as a way to fill empty space, but evidently he is part of the plot after all. Serendipity! The mutt is gonna be fun to draw here on I have a feeling.

I'm also really digging the dagger/knife collection that EC has. I've drawn alot of characters by now but none have bristled with blades like this guy. Is he evil? Neutral? Good? Search me! Tune in next page...

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Howl From the South: Tension at Sea

Welcome back Greyhawk mavens, today is the fifteenth installment of my ongoing 5E Hold of Sea Princes reboot of the 2E modules Five Shall Be One and Howl From the North, set in the south seas. What sort of high adventure will the crew of the Envy get into this week? Note, don't worry about spoilers, we've gone so far off script from the original adventure that any resemblance to the module HFtN is fleeting.

Dramatis personae:

Cullen (concerned captain, human rogue)
Sabriel Loreweaver (fearsome first mate, human bard)
Tyrrus Bandale (buccaneer bosun, human fighter)
Kuma Sand (seaworthy surgeon, human druid)
Ostyn (diplomatic deckhand, human fighter)

and Lash Driftwood (questionable quartermaster, sea elf ranger)

When last we saw the crew the Fivefold Council had sent them an overt message to leave Port Toli at once and search for the fourth Blade of Corusk. Getting their affairs in order, namely checking out of the sword school and collecting weekly ruby mine and crab fishing profits, the Envy deployed its silk sails and left the bustling city. Their plotted course was southeast toward the cape of the Amedio and then east across the southern trade lines to Shar. The group had their new passenger, the mutineer One-eyed Jack Price tied to a mast as they set out. After interrogations with the wily pirate it was learned he stole a ship from an abusive slave-owning captain named Adderly and sold the vessel to the notorious Crimson Fleet. Jack promised the crew of the Envy that his mutiny was justified and that the leader of the Crimson pirates, Commodore Wyther would pay a decent ransom for his release if they would only take him to Scuttlecove. Unfortunately the pirate haven was slightly out of their way, so Jack had to fast talk to make himself sound useful to Cullen, Sabriel and the others who were quite ready to make him walk the plank rather than slow down their quest. Good thing for Jack, he had been to the land of Shar before. Or so he abruptly claimed.

The first day was hot and unpleasant. Cullen untied Jack and threatened him directly should he try anything mutinous. Jack agreed and went hard to work, even outdoing Ogie the ogre. Lash cooked that night, and kept a wary eye on their ransom-guest from the crows nest. By the next day they had reached the jungle outpost, Fort Blackwell. Stopping off shore they resupplied one more time before what would be a long haul toward the Densac Gulf. News abounded at the fort about the South Provincial Armada in the east and their allies from the Sea Barons penetrating into the western Azure waters. In reaction the princes of the Hold and indeed also the Crimson Fleet were keen to pay privateers for capturing these offending nations' vessels. Setting out along the Amedio coastline, the crew kept busy and knew their next port of call would be the far-flung island harbor of Narisban. One-eyed Jack started to loosen up and tried to make friends, at one point talking to the eagle-eyed sea elf Lash about the obvious three cannons aboard their deck. No ship of this size, he had ever seen, was so armed to the teeth. His curiosity was met by a stern stare.

The fourth day out of Port Toli, a crimson sash-wearing pirate corpse was found floating in the water. The man had drowned according to Kuma and he possessed only a single gem which Sabriel found then discreetly tried to hide in her cleavage, but it fell from her shirt to clatter on the deck in front of all. As the bloated body was consigned back to the sea gods by Kuma, Jack took the break to casually talk to the mage Mallon about blackpowder weapons and how they worked. Sabriel overheard this suspicious conversation and angrily punched out the thin half-elf for being naïve, while Cullen and Tyrrus tied the mutineer back to the mast again. The next day it rained and Jack was soaked. One-eye tried to talk to anyone who passed by him even Ogie, but they were ignoring him. Even Lash up above in the rigging did his best to tune out the pirate. Ostyn and Tyrrus luckily got a break from mouthy Jack when they had to go repair a leak that sprung in the hold. Eventually, Mallon came to feed Jack. Sabriel, still fuming, was ready to gut the wizard then and there but Cullen cooled her ire.

Six days out and the Amedio coast was out of sight when Lash finally snapped from One-eyed Jack's constant running mouth. He slid down the mast and got an empty barrel and sealed him in it much to the other's surprise. No one stopped the ranger, but Ostyn particularly seemed concerned. Jack moped in the barrel until the seventh day when Sabriel decided the stressed crew needed to unwind, so she brought up the rum and Kuma lit the pipe. During their celebrations, Cullen even fed some drinks to poor Jack through the barrel's hole and talked over his interest in their cannons. Jack admitted that the weapons would fetch a fortune to the Crimson Fleet's commanders and perhaps they should deal with them in addition to his ransom. Cullen assured him they were not for sale. Sabriel by then was roaring drunk and began to squabble with Tyrrus over the direction of the quest and what to do with Jack. Blades came out and clattered a bit until Ostyn yelled out. He could not take any more, Jack lamented the same barrel punishment was used on the last ship which drove him to mutiny, so conscientious Ostyn freed the pirate, and against the protests of his comrades (especially Sabriel who wanted to kill him several ways), personally vouched for Jack's conduct from there on.

A couple days later and with Ostyn overseeing, Jack was back to work and besides a subtle hit on the hungover bard, kept his mouth shut after the last intimidation by the crew. That day Lash was busy maintaining his bow and it was Kuma at the forefront who spotted a sail going in the opposite direction. Alerted, the keen eyes of Lash saw it was another pinnace, the Fortunehunter, its home flag a fish on a blue field. Few had seen this flag before but it was worked out it was from the Sea Barons. A Provincial armada ally. Signals were traded and the ships agreed to anchor and share news from rowboats. Secretly however, the crew knew this ship was potentially an enemy and there was an outstanding bounty for their ship so all three cannons were position on the rail facing with Tyrrus and Lash ready just in case. Ostyn gave Jack a minor weapon and told him to be ready for a signal, the pirate knew his place yet slyly mentioned that Ostyn would make a good captain. With Ogie rowing them, Cullen and Sabriel went between vessels to parley; met by one Lt. Karson a genial and sincere man from Oaken Isle. Offers were made by the foreigner to trade goods, information or charts. They were simply exploring for resources to trade back east they claimed. To the Envy's crew, they were just spies. 

Cullen had raised a hand about to give the order to attack when he made a change at the last minute. Lash however was always eager to action and lit the first cannon, it's rumbling roar fired a ball of metal overhead missing by a mile. With the warning shot fired, the Fortunehunter sprang to the defense and both rowboats made to rush back to their respective vessels. Tyrrus looked at the sea elf in disbelief and before he could shout to stop, Lash had hurriedly lit the second. This time the booming cannon hit its mark, tearing a gaping hole in the Sea Barons ship. Ballista and crossbow fire began to rain back, so Sabriel unleashed a wave of sound to cover their retreat, the magic shredded the Sea Baons dingy leaving Karson and his men stranded. Tyrrus lit the last gun now having no choice but the Fortunehunter had already moved enough for his shot to splash harmlessly short. Lash took out his long bow then and at a distance, marked the Sea Barons captain as he tried to pilot his ship. Letting loose two arrows, they flew unerringly and dropped the captain sending their ship off its tack. Sabriel and Cullen quickly climbed back on the Envy, Ogie securing the rowboat, while Ostyn steered the pinnace closer to their prize. Wily Jack knew what was at stake and found a grapple line to get ready.

Sabriel's song of battle inspired the crew. Bolts flew back and forth and the Sea Barons were soon using flaming ballista. While most harmlessly dinged the hull, one large flaming bolt tore through the Envy's silk sails and burned a huge hole. Proud of his ship, Ostyn was enraged by this and was first across to the Fortunehunter, his dwarven hammer struck the deck causing a thunderous wave to knock several men overboard and unconscious. Battle starved Tyrrus was right behind his ally and soon his great sword swung in cleaving arcs disbanding the ballista crews. Lash fired an arrow taking down the captain as he rose one last time and his cabin boy. No one remained standing. The ship was taken. One-eyed Jack Price looked to cut-throat Cullen who had barely touched a weapon, and complimented them on their prowess, suggesting they should join the Crimson Fleet! Ignoring this Cullen and the others took their time searching the Fortunehunter. The Sea Barons had little of worth in the holds besides spices, tropical foods and a couple Olman slaves. Lash brought out a locked chest from the captain's cabin. With Jack watching on with a wide grin, Cullen and the crew now had to decide what to do with a captured ship, surviving Sea Barons crewmen and whether or not to stay on their intended course or divert to Scuttlecove to deal with the Crimson Fleet.

to be continued...

Campaign notes: This started out a surly session with many hiccups but once Jack started talking to the PCs and manipulating things with sly words, there was so much paranoia and arguing in character that it was fun to watch the players role play most of the night. We pretty much used my random charts for weather, encounters and such with nightly onboard events arising each day. The battle was planned yet it almost was resolved by RP as well if not for Lash's player's restlessness. Next time, there will be more exotic ports and if Jack keeps his tongue, more intrigue.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Systems Used For Greyhawk

So I fiddled around and put up a poll a month ago asking readers of Greyhawkery what game systems they used in their own Greyhawk campaigns. The results were let's say predictable...

  3 (3%)
  23 (29%)
  23 (29%)
  0 (0%)
  24 (31%)
  4 (5%)

A good deal of people in the online Greyhawk community obviously got their start or continue to play older editions of AD&D or 3.5E. This is perfectly understandable given Greyhawk's continuous publication run through that era of the 80's and 2000's. Most of the classic mods we all grew up playing that are being adapted and even expanded upon today, came out in the 80's. 3.5E on the other hand benefited from the ease of the d20 system, Living Greyhawk's convention model and the rise of Paizo publishing's Dragon/Dungeon run of Adventure Paths. Thanks to the OGL, Paizo's success was so good they drew off a huge swathe of Greyhawk's fanbase to join their new Pathfinder system and setting

4E was a definite stumbling block and it's now regarded in hindsight as a terrible edition. I mean look at the 0% polling. Even OD&D garnered 3% and it came out before the internet! Mind you I really, REALLY tried to promote Greyhawk adventures written the 4E format when they came out for eDungeon or eDragon, but general distaste for the rules and WotC's online subscription model was a huge barrier. This was also despite the popularity of Chris Perkins doing most of these mods, it's amazing 4E Greyhawk fell on deaf ears.

In reaction to the failure of 4E, 5E paid service to the disaffected loyal D&D fans and has been catering to the nostalgic crowd ever since, and to popular acclaim (Forgotten Realms be damned). Interestingly 5E still utilizes elements of 4E that were reviled. It's really more a stealth 4.5E than modern AD&D. Regardless, 1/3 of Greyhawk fans seem to love the current system and all the while without any sort of setting support!

Lastly, 5% of the readers chose other which is great as well. Greyhawk is an easy medieval fantasy world that has always been easy to adapt to any game system you prefer be it Castles & Crusades, Savage Worlds or Dungeon World. Alot of published Greyhawk sorucebooks like the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer or Iuz the Evil are essentially editionless material. Outside of fansites like Canonfire or Dragonsfoot that sort of book is never going to happen again folks, 

And what system do I run my Greyhawk campaigns in? Sure I used to use the old OD&D and 1e/2e systems for a long while, but now they are only used for reference. Of course I then ran 3.5E to death. The Epic expansion nearly broke my spirit, but I still loved the ease of adapting stats to 3.5E and later Pathfinder plus I didn't have to teach rules to my players so we got down to the story faster. My Sea Princes campaigns still sometimes use Pathfinder/3.5 hybrid rules. I skipped 4E right out cause yes, I didn't feel like learning a new system. It was fun as a skirmish game and that's it. 5E on the other hand, I jumped right in after having fun playtersting it at GenCon and after my friend successfully ran the Tyranny of Dragons adventure. So far the simplicity of the current system and the lack of splatbooks to burden us down has been nice. Let's hope 6E doesn't come before 5E Greyhawk.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Castle Greyhawk: Mistaken Identity 2

Welcome home Greyhawkers to the continuation of chapter four in our ongoing Castle Greyhawk graphic novel. Check out page-eight to see some wistful wording 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: Oh that poor Ehlissa. This page was interesting in that crowded scenes of people can be handled a couple ways. One is extreme detail, then you got a Where's Waldo type scene, or one where the background is muted in detail and focused on foreground. I tried to do a little of both. Hope it worked.

Erac's Cousin is going to be fun I have a feeling. Astute readers will already notice his tabard is arranged opposite Erac's and he has a pointy beard, among other pointy differences. I can't wait to see where this goes...

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Howl From the South: Banquets and Bandits

Welcome home fans of Greyhawk, today is the fourteenth installment of my ongoing 5E Hold of Sea Princes reboot of the 2E modules Five Shall Be One and Howl From the North, set in the south seas. What sort of high adventure will the crew of the Envy get into this week? Note, don't worry about spoilers, we've gone so far off script from the original adventure that any resemblance to the module HFtN is fleeting.

Dramatis personae:

Cullen (carousing captain, human rogue)
Tyrrus Bandale (booty bosun, human fighter)
Kuma Sand (serving surgeon, human druid)
Ostyn (drunk deckhand, human fighter)

and Lash Driftwood (quotable quartermaster, sea elf ranger)

When last we saw the crew they were presently ready to go to Prince Varek IV's birthday banquet at his palatial home in Port Toli. Cullen wanted to impress upon the self-appointed nobility of the city so he made a run of the town's finest clothing imports and bath houses. Though pricey the killer-captain looked like a completely different man afterward. Most of the rest had decided to come as they were such as Tyrrus and Lash. Ostyn and Kuma felt uneasy about attending a high society function so they decided to drive the others in a carriage (borrowed from the sanctuary) to see the palace at least. Sabriel on the other hand was not going to go without looking good, but money was tight since the mine venture, so she enlisted helpful Kuma in getting her cleaned, dressed and hair done. In the end she looked just as haughty as any of Toli's finest ladies yet she also bore a magical rapier and Kuma's scimitar both for safe keeping. She easily talked Ostyn into being her bodyguard rather than stay outside.

The Princes palace was the most ostentatious place in the city, a small keep built on the cliffside facing Toli bay. Nobles and captains from all the allied ports and islands were arriving on time and as each entered with fanfare, a chamberlain would call out their names and over the top titles to the crowd assembling over drinks. Notably there was the Baron Harriven of Hokar, a man who would need to be dealt with over their new ruby mine, Lady Penelope, the sickeningly voluptuous dame of Poniard, Captain Jarrad of the Trident, whose ship they bested at the Prince's regatta in Monmurg, the prince's advisors Brother Vesh of Xerbo a scraggly dressed cleric and Lord Harlun the Cruel. Of course the aged Prince Varek IV was swarmed by admirers as he stood with his princess consort, the regally quiet Madelyne of Sulward. 

Kuma wasn't sedentary he slipped around to the servants entrance looking unassuming enough to get thrust into the serving staff. Soon he was carrying a tray and passing out drinks to his own comrades! the announcer called for the throng of guests and the prince to convene on the Verdant Terrace, a lawn outside of the great hall. Here they sat in chairs and were served biscuits while a marionette show was played for their decadent enjoyment; a gory tale of a barber and baker who kill customers to make pies. Sabriel wanted to get near Madelyne with intent to pose some blackmail question about a letter she recently acquired from the ransomers, but she was too far away during the show. While puppets, Sabriel a bard and Ostyn nearby seemed uneasy about the quite real blood being shed by the wooden actors. The Prince was called out on the performance afterwards by Captain Cullen much to the quieted shock of the guests. The prince in a calm demeanor deflected any concern and assured his esteemed guest the bards putting on the play were just resourceful artistes. 

The crowd wad then ushered to the Forlorn Balcony where Kuma and others waited to pass out samples of glazed birds. On tables here overlooking the rocky bay, sat many repeating crossbows, a rare enough sight as blackpowder guns; these were next to cages filled with expensive tropical birds. The prince challenged any who cared to a competition, ten shots, the most birds felled wins. Kuma the druid served during the ghastly game and felt ethically queasy and Sabriel too felt a tinge of unease at the display, yet his friends Lash the sharpshooter, Cullen and Tyrrus were all eager to test the exotic weapons. Bolts rang out in all directions and when all the clips and cages were empty Cullen had won the game by a single shot. For his effort the prince handed the famous sailor a repeating crossbow to keep. During the game Sabriel was headed off from seeing the princess again by another guest they had overlooked, Thelenkar the Grey, court wizard of Monmurg. The wizened mage had many agents in the Hold and with Ostyn watching him carefully he conferred with the lovely bard about being wary of dealing with his rival, Drawmij of the Circle of Eight. Whatever business they had would surely be turned to the archmage's favor somehow. In lieu of Drawmij's council Thelenkar gave Sabriel a token of his own should she ever come to the capital for his advice.

The throng had moved on since then and the sea elf "Lord Driftwood" was challenged by the prince to a bloodsport of an unusual sort: cockatrices controlled by magic rings. As a ranger, Lash had no love for these monsters and he was sure he could control them easier. The two creatures battled through a dozen cats in a pit and once all the felines were petrified the two cockatrice battled for a tie-breaker. Lash narrowly won, defeating the amused prince, who gave him a cockatrice feather as a keepsake. As this went on Cullen was approached by salty Brother Vesh who gave him a dire warning about seeking answers in the lost Kingdom of Shar. How had he known they planned to go there? The assembled crowd moved on for the last pre-dinner event, Bowling for Jack. a notorious mutineer, One-eyed Jack Price was trussed up on a lawn painted with a target. Several marked and skulls and a guillotine sat here. Each guest who had the dark humor to try could bowl their skull toward the pirate, the closest would have the honor of pulling the rope to sever his head! Sabriel cared not to try this so she had Ostyn go for her and after many messy, bumbling bowls, the dutiful deckhand got closest to the man. It was known amongst the Envy crew that Jack was a traitor to the rival pirate organization the Crimson Fleet and that his ransom could be lucrative. Sabriel and Cullen thus negotiated with Prince Varek to instead take him as a slave instead of beheading him. The crowd seemed disappointed but Varek was honorable and respectfully turned him over. 

From here the party moved inside where there was drink, dance and braggery. Kuma made sure to overload an "ogre sack" with rich foods to take back to Ogie on their ship. Ostyn got cooped up into a drinking competition with guards and was drunk out of his mind, while Sabriel again distracted from Madeylne couldn't resist the chance to sing for the nobles and earned a good ovation, including more than a few invites to after parties especially one from Lord Harlun the Cruel. Tyrrus left the feast with grotesquely big Lady Penelope to tour the palace. That tale is not told here. Lash told tales of he and his crew's adventures to the Sahuagin city and how he recovered a fabulous magic sword. This quite real boast caught a lot of attention as well given Port Toli's sword culture. 

Perhaps too much attention for when the crew left the palace finally, it was split in two different groups Sabriel (who never got to see the consort) wearily got a ride back to the ship rather than an after-party while the inebriated Ostyn tried to drive two stubborn horses (with Jack tied up in back) and Kuma rode in back with an armload of goodies for Ogie. Meanwhile, an exhausted Cullen walked back to the school with Lash and Tyrrus (who had missed much of the feast). Both trios were then set upon by bludgeon-wielding thugs on the late-night streets of Toli. Though hundreds of yards apart, both sets of bandits threatened them to give their "swords" or their lives. They were referring to the Blades of Corusk of course. This arrangement ended badly for the bandits as waves of thunder and stabs from Sabriel were matched by murderously accurate slices from the guys on foot. One bandit managed to strip Greenswathe and tried to make off with it, but was cut down by the charging windmill of Ostyn's hammer and mace. The bloody encounter was quickly over and both teams searched the assailants to find little but pocket change and trinkets of a mostly lesser magical nature. Too tired and drunk to care and unaware their allies were similarly accosted, they continued on to sleep off the long night of debauchery and blood.

Rest didn't come for long however, as the windows of their rooms at the sanctuary or the port hole of their bunk on the pinnace was busted in by a shower of stones with notes tied to them. when the startling attack was over everything was silent. Lash would dash to his window and even with dark sight, he saw no source of the vandalism. Each would eventually look and see the notes all had the same message to them (in mirrored script no less):

Ahoy scallywags!
You earned yer respite mateys, but now it be time to give it the heave ho again lest ye be known as landlubbers forevermore. Secure thy booty and set sail at once for the last two swords. Neglect our decree and ye will be feeding the crabs.

Yours nautically,

The Fivefold Council, the enigmatic group that set them on the quest for the swords with an accursed black spot was now pushing them to leave their mines and mingling and leave at once for Shar and the fourth Blade of Corusk.

to be continued...

Game notes: The itinerary of the Princes' party is adapted directly from the Age of Worms adventure Prince of Redhand. There was some mechanical benefits to dressing up for the party in advantage rolls for any skill in the next 48 hours. I had to go online for some rules on repeating crossbows in 5E, can't recall where I got them now but I imposed disadvantage even on the archer for it being an exotic weapon. Lastly, the mirrored notes from the FFC was real and I tied to a rock to throw at Tyrrus' player. All in all a fun night. Next time, onward to the seas again!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

More New Figurines of Wondrous Power

Welcome back Greyhawk fans, it's time to promote and give kudos to my friends at Canonfire who have put together another good Postfest with the topic: Figurines of Wondrous Power! What is a postfest you ask? Well it's when the community, from long time contributors to new members, write articles on an assigned topic. Their works are then posted on the front page over the course of the next week or two for all to peruse for their leisure or perhaps game use. Let's look at our lineup of authors this week (see here for the first few authors work):

First up is one by Canonfire's own DarkLordGalen titled Tragedy and the Grey Friar...Revisited. This is a postfest appropriate follow up on an article he did back in 2012. In this work he expands upon the tale, and introduces the set of three Wondrous Bobbies (terriers). This is a charming trio of magic items well worth adding to your figurine collection!

Next up is a couple entries by some newcomers, friends of Dark Lord Galen in fact. The Amethyst Songbird is by Tony M. aka Krug Krugsheir. This article is an amazing combination of a lesser and greater figurine in the tradition of Queen Ehlissa's Nightingale. Tony takes a step further with some wondrous historical background, magic item creation notes and pictures, plus ecological information on the Wyndchymer songbird. Well done sir!

A companion piece to Galen's crew is the Sunstone Bull by Tyler B. aka Redtail. The charming golden bull is a nifty figurine dedicated to the order of Pelor the sun god. The Bull has a nice set of powers including a direction sense ability when summoned. Tony gives the Sunstone Bull creation notes and a well researched background in the setting. Kudos, Redtail!

Finally we have a postfest article by good friend, Icarus titled Waterous Wonders of the Rhennee. Icarus continues in his love of things Rhenfolk with a pair of figurines named Gendalo the playful river dolphin and Tamao the guardian turtle. Icarus' article is a nice mix of cultural background and figurine legend with a dose of Rhennee linguistics. All in all a strong entry in the postfest. I hope to see more of Icarus' work on Canonfire in the future.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Some New Figurines of Wondrous Power

Hello Greyhawkery readers, it's a good day to throw out kudos to my colleagues at Canonfire who have put together at long last an amazingly good Postfest with a topic that I regret not getting in on: Figurines of Wondrous Power! What is a postfest you ask? Well it's when the community, from long time contributors to new members, write articles on an assigned topic. Their works are then posted on the front page over the course of the next week or two for all to peruse for their leisure or perhaps game use. Let's look at our lineup of authors so far (more are on the way so check again daily):

Good friend and tireless writer, Carlos a.s. Lising has an amazing three-part series titled Companions of the Truest Sort. In the first two parts he introduces in narration the history of several notable new figurines unique to the World of Greyhawk. Check out Part 1 and Part 2.
In Part 3 our author then surveys an abundance of figurines (both canon and unique) in their respective sets (greater, lesser, least) and gives a brief background on each regarding their history with the innovators of the figurines, Queen Ehlissa. You have got to check this one out especially. My favorites are the Alabaster Griffon, Emerald Hummingbird (which evidently is a real species), Hematite Raccoon, Limestone Donkey, Tin Squirrel and Tourmaline Turtle. Good stuff!

Next up is the prolific Canonfire author Allan Grohe whose entry is his first in a long time. Allan's article, Figurines of Wondrous Transport details three new dazzling varieties introduced by the infamous Fiend-Sage of Rel Astra.

- Amber Terror Bird
- Aquarmarine Narwhale
- Topaz Void Shark

Mr. Grohe's work is solidly written and thoroughly old school. Be sure to also read the closing notes as well for links to his sources and past articles that he has built onto over the years. Increidble!

Lastly is an article by first-time Canonfire author Syzygyst titled Talako Mambenorn - Of the Figurines of Wondrous Power. This treatise is introduced as a letter written from an obscure mage (Talako) to the notable Rary the Traitor. In it he details two new figurines created by another mage, the Sardonyx Pseudodragon and the clever Lodestone Sloth. These items are created by a third item, the quite ancient and powerful Stylus of Faunal Figurines, Be sure to read through this well written story and no spoilers but the ending is a delight!

That's all for now. Stay tuned for Figurines from the Canonfire crew!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Castle Greyhawk: Troubled Thoughts

Welcome Greyhawk readers to the continuation of chapter four in our ongoing Castle Greyhawk graphic novel. Check out page-seven to see some melancholic meanderings 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 fun to do. Scott rarely does thought balloons, but when he does it's usually an important reason. Here, Ehlissa is lost in thought about Erac regarding her decision and what might have come to him. We've all been there I'm sure. 
The first panel is the Green Dragon Inn as depicted on the City of Greyhawk boxed set poster map. It's next to a city wall and close to the Cargo Gate we saw in the previous page. This page had some good challenges. The thought balloons are a task for me since I rarely do them. A rainy scene was another fun one to take on. Then the rest are just every day scenes of her working, but if you'll notice there is subtle daily changes to her outfit.
What craziness will follow this page? We shall see!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Greyhawk Related Stuff

Good Freeday to all! Here is some Greyhawk tidbits from the ether. Enjoy!

First, Michael "Zudrak" Gross has started an old school blog called A G.R.O.S.S. Blog, where he tells his background in gaming, especially the World of Greyhawk, and his liking for puns and the comic Groo the Wanderer. He's my doppelganger! I will be looking forward to reading Mr. Gross' thoughts on old school gaming. Check it out!

Excellent blogger and witch enthusiast, Tim Brannan of the Other Side recently posted an amazing article on one of my favorite villains, Iggwilv! I must say, the old witch queen has never looked better. Don't believe, me just have a look!

In conjunction with Mr. Brannan's Iggwilv post is this insanely detailed article by Sean McG from Power Score who detailed EVERY bit of published Iggwilv related lore. He even linked to a couple of my Iggwilv articles! Simply amazing. If you want a ride through 30 or more years of D&D history check out his blog now.

That's all for now. Next time, a Castle Greyhawk comic and an update on my Sea Princes campaign. With maps!