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!