Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Greyhawk Grognard: Boccob God of Magic

Welcome back Greyfiends! Today we are saddled with the announcement by Wizards that their next two supported worlds are Eberron and that other one from an obscure card game. Never fear though! Joseph Bloch at Greyhawk Grognard has some 5E deity material to sooth the heartache of being snubbed again. This week he features Boccob the Uncaring, god of magic. Learn some lore, new magic and how to make a cleric of this powerful deity. Oh, and be amused by one of my classic comics. This one seems fitting, considering current game news. Enjoy and thanks Greyhawk Grognard!

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Original Greyhawk Mods

Hail Greyhawkers! Today I'm promoting the work of my good friend and avid Greyhawk writer, Carlos A.S. Lising. Carlos has been busily making old school modules and running them at GaryCon. I had the privilege to play in a few of his games these last couple years, and now they are available at DriveThruRPG. Disclaimer, these modules for obvious reasons are sold as generic fantasy but it doesn't take much Greyhawk knowledge to insert them into your home game.

Here is the blurbs on his modules. Please give Carlos some love and check out the link above.

"A terrible theft has occurred at the famous menagerie in the Free City!  Daring thieves have managed to steal into the zoo of the fantastic and spirit away a pair of prized Rust Monsters.  Their trail has gone cold at the edge of the vast forest to the south of the city, so the distraught nobleman who owns the beasts has been forced to turn to the druid and ranger protectors of the timberland for assistance.  Will your doughty group of nature priests and woodsmen be able to locate and return the valuable monsters to safety?" 

In Gnomine Septem
"The covetous eyes of fifty hungry bandits have fallen upon a humble hillside village at the edge of a daunting mountain range.  Now, only seven fearless worthies -- hailing from a gnomish monastery -- stand between these villains and the innocent folk in their sights.  Will your humble heroes be able to defend these meek farmers from their enemies, or will evil grow still greater in the land in the shadow of the peaks?"

Kill Markessa!
"Of the infamous Flesh Traders, perhaps none was more fearsome than the elven enchantress known simply as The Marquessa. Her unspeakable experimentations that twisted the flesh and bones of the innocent into horrific abominations continue to fill the good folk of the land with dread, even now, fifteen years since the slaver's ring was smashed by a band of legendary heroes and she was forced to flee into the night. At last, however, her whereabouts have been uncovered and a new group of adventurers has been assembled to bring her to justice!"

Die, Markessa, Die!
"A brave fellowship of heroes failed last year to bring the notorious villianess known as The Marquessa to justice -- and as a result, the innocent folk of the land have suffered greatly.  However, the elusive and sinister enchantress has been located once again, giving the forces of weal another opportunity to extinguish the grim sihlouette she casts across the region.  Will your characters be able to succeed where before them legends have failed?"

Update 06/24/2021: You can now also go to Carlos own publishing site, Casl Entertainment. He has a TON of good old school modules now. Please give his stuff a purchase, it's worth it!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Greyhawk Order of Battle Lists

 Hail Greyhawkers. Today I'm perusing old Dragon mags again, this time delving into Dragon #37 an old issue indeed from May 1980. What makes this issue significant is that this is the release year for the World of Greyhawk setting (Folio). Up to and including this point, Gygax and company had worked up the D&D fanbase with news and tidbits about the RPG setting and that month's From the Sorcerer's Scroll column by Gygax summed up the current state of things, having had some false starts along the way.

Among the many projects promised in this article (some finished in future editions, others forgotten entirely) was the idea for a miniature mass combat rule set to go with a line of minis. Now the minis were indeed made, or perhaps the first run of them. Gygax had grand plans for these products to play out the wars of the World of Greyhawk using the specific troop strengths and types outlined in the Folio (and the revised 1983 Guide), in addition to his battle and troop updates found in later Dragon articles featuring new events of the Flanaess. Gygax in Dragon #37:

"Steve Carpenter of Miniature Figurines Ltd. is currently designing a set of miniatures rules for warfare on the World of Greyhawk. These rules will set forth the orders of battle of the states of the Flanaess and add to the information pertaining to the “World.” At the same time, miniature figurines of the various troops are being assembled, so that details of what various units look like will also be known—say the Overking’s Guards or the Knights of the Hart. In addition to having adventures, campaign participants will soon be able to fight major battles which will affect the course of things. The figure line could eventually number in the hundreds of sets, with possibly a thousand different figures. The initial release will be in the 50-set range, according to Steve. Of course, I’ll be contributing to the miniatures rules, and I’m helping to select figure types. The rules and figures will be significant contributions towards developing the “World,” but more is needed."

What came of the rules is beyond the search of this post, though I imagine Battlesystem and Chainmail 2.0 were later attempts to revive this project albeit without using the rich tapestry of Eastern Oerik as their setting of conflict. Only the failed Greyhawk Wars "board game" even tried to capitalize on all the build-up started by Gygax. A shame. What's further interesting about this article is the bonus content by Gygax detailing some notable NPC's armies. So not only was this "Order of Battle" as Gygax called it, to be about nations and knights, but also wizards and warriors:

"Finally, as a bonus for reading through all of this, you will find same Order of Battle information for certain renowned figures in the World of Greyhawk. They will possibly appear in the general army lists, but then again they might not make it. Either way, you will have the information first."

My guess is they would have been included. In fact, the heraldry on the cover of the Greyhawk Folio includes the green dragon standard of Robilar and the scimitar of Tenser for no other reason, but in the context of a war-game that never came out, these shields make more sense. The lists feature the forces of Bigby, Mordenkainen, Robilar, Tenser and enigmatic Unnamed Erac's Cousin. Each of the entries tease some interesting back-stories as well that dubiously bring the canon history of these characters into doubt.

Bigby for instance has a hidden fortress that is presumably between the Shield Lands and the Bandit Kingdoms. His force of 800+ soldiers sometimes includes either  elves or dwarves. Nowhere else in Greyhawk publication does Bigby sport this kind of might. He is either a shy, quiet mage posing as a merchant in the east or is hanging out in the Wild Coast/Greyhawk City as a Circle of Eight wizard.

Also intriguing is Mordenkainen's sizable cavalry force of 4000 riding into the west (to aid an evil associate no less) and not coming back. So where are they? Did they go to the Obsidian Citadel in the Yatils? No further mention is made in Greyhawk publication to him having these troops. Mordy in later Greyhawk books has plenty of allies and guards but no need for ground cavalry.

Worst yet is Robilar, whose forces make him look entirely capable of the treachery he is involved in during From the Ashes and Rary the Traitor. Robilar is well known for having Otto and Quij the orc as henchmen, but here he also has a 600 strong, lawful evil army, half of which are orcs. Robilar's keep west of Greyhawk is sacked for his misdeeds and the army hides out in the Pomarj region. So that means they are either bandits or perhaps allies of Turrosh Mak/Slave Lords?

One other thought about wizard and warrior armies, the AD&D rules conveniently provided that every "name-level" PC gained a stronghold and attracted followers. This class design was surely meant to emulate and perpetuate the war-game facet of Greyhawk. The practice fell off fast in following editions of D&D of course. Okay, I won't even get into the rest of lists, find the issue and check it out. It's quite a good read, and maybe if you do want to do a war-based Greyhawk campaign, these troop lists will provide you with some inspiration for other special NPC units.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Map: West Greyhawk Quarter

Hail Greyhawk fans! Today I bring a strange find from my D&D vault (attic totes). It's a very beat-up, hand drawn map of the City of Greyhawk's new "Traveler's Quarter" from my long running 2nd Edition campaign.

Sure it' crumpled, crude and half colored in, but this was our attempt to expand west-ward based off the City of Greyhawk Boxed Set's poster-map. Sadly I have numerous keyed locations on this map, but can't find which notebook I kept them in. I do know the colored in sections were the personal properties of the player's own characters; Dain Hill and the rise adjacent to the Old City wall especially. Q2 is another I recall because it has a road running through it's middle. That is the Brothers In Arms, the HQ for the PC created Adventurer's Guild. The PCs had a lot of money and power back then, mainly from exploring the Greyhawk Ruins (one of them was even mayor after Nerof Gasgol!) However, they got tired of my drama involving guilds, thieves, taxes and court-rooms so they started their own guild for adventurers like themselves.

Their real estate enterprise attracted more and more outsiders who couldn't find homes inside Greyhawk following the Greyhawk Wars. This western quarter also led to some new gates and roads. To the south is Hero's Gate, the north is Bridge Gate and at the end of centrally located Traveler's Avenue is West Gate. The Travelers Quarter eventually expanded and was made a full part of the city by 623 CY. If I ever find the key for the all the locations I'll share the info. This was a good creative era of our Greyhawk campaign. Building things and making maps of them was always a big part of our down-time activities. I'd love to do stuff like again someday. Perhaps in my Sea Princes campaign. Hm...

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Dragon Magazine #70 Ads

Hail Greyhawkers! It's a lazy day off so I'm gonna have fun. My last post got me thinking more about old Dragon ads and how as a youth I enjoyed looking at those almost as much as the articles or comics. Nowadays gaming ads don't attract me. They're too well made. Boring! Some of these old school ads though were quite humorous in today's light. Okay fellow gamers, let's go back in time and riff through a randomly chosen issue, Dragon Magazine #70 from 1983:

The adventure is indeed mine! This first ad is a full page ad for Basic and ExperD&D (of course TSR will splurge in their own magazine). I love these games, I still own both boxed sets today. What I enjoy is the photo ads of the 80's. So, what they show here is five people (2 girls too, ahead of their time) playing around the tiniest round table ever. This would never fly in today's gamer culture with all our books, dice towers, tablets, cell phones and not to forget, snack and beverages! Also, hey scoot down guys...there's a whole other side of that table you can sit on! ;)

It's a book...

Yeah it sure is, but no thanks. If it's a game, it's one that 11 year-old me could never get into because Basic D&D rules was all the math I could handle. Or maybe I'm just not into sci-fi RPGs. Speaking of which...

1. I'm not a fan of Star Trek as an RPG. (Sorry fans) but hey who wouldn't want to own a starship?
2. The Correspondence Game? Oh man, this is 1983. There is no email, or message boards, or instant messengers. You had to command your space ship through SNAIL MAIL?
Shields up! *licks stamp, seals envelope, walks to mailbox*

 Bahaha, vorpal blade. Snicker-snack. Bandersnatch Leathers. Clever ad. Dice bags have been a hot commodity forever evidently. I also like that they have small and large sizes rated by how many dice they hold. I don't think I've ever seen that as a selling point before. Wait, 4 to 6 weeks for delivery? My dice are gonna be sad until then.

Who am I kidding, I've used zip-lock bags for dice before.
 I know yall have heard of Dragonbone. I never got one of these and I sort of wish I had. For you young bloods, this is the 1983 version of a dice app. I'm sure it works as accurate as a dice app too, which is to say I don't trust them!

At any rate, one year guarantee. Not bad! How many RPG accessories have you ever bought that have a warranty of some sort?

$24.95 ?! In 80's money that is *checks* that is $63.02 ! On second thought, I'm glad I didn't buy Dragonbone.

Oh no SCi-fi RPGs again! Actually, Space Opera ads ran in Dragon as far back as I can remember. Never bought this game, probably never will (though I bet it's more fun than ST or Traveller), but I always admired their sharp black and white ads at the bottom of pages. Very eye catching!
Fantasy Games Unlimited made this game as well as games like Bushido and Villains & Vigilantes.

One thing I have to pause and point out too. Dragon #70 was in the early years of published Greyhawk. 1983 is when the World of Greyhawk boxed set first came out. In the magazine, Gary Gygax and company were doing articles and columns to support the setting such as the Deities & Demigods of the World of Greyhawk. All I wanted to say though is look at that beautiful calligraphy. I can only assume it was done by Darlene herself though I can't find actual credit in the magazine. A shame.

And lastly, there is minis. Dragon Magazine was always stocked full of ads for minis from great companies like Grenadier, Ral Partha, Citadel, etc. I could show you those old models and you'd turn your nose up at their quality compared to today. So instead, I'm showing an ad for a game store called Hobby House that will send you a FREE lead mini for the cost of one catalog which is evidently $1.00 ($2.53 for you millennials)

Lead minis. Ah those were the days before we cared about lead poisoning. We painted our lead minis with lead paint while we drank water from lead lined plumbing. If you are also from this era and still reading my blog, then kudos gamer for surviving long enough to enjoy this retrospective with me!