Friday, November 30, 2018

Greyhawk: Let's Fight Trithereon

Greetings again fans of Greyhawk. Today I'm revisiting a fun feature on Greyhawkery: Let's Fight...(insert deity name). If you haven't seen my previous installments involving Istus, the Lady of Fate and Ulaa the Stonewife, then click the links and catch up. This time we will be facing off against a "lesser" deity named Trithereon the Summoner, god of individuality, liberty, self-protection and retribution.

The premise is like this, back in the days of AD&D, it was entirely possible for PCs to take on gods. The 1E Deities & Demigods is loaded with stats and rules on the powers of these beings. This template carried over to the early Greyhawk products and articles thus giving the DM an option if divine wrath ever needed to be carried out. These gods were damn tough but not impossible to kill. Hit points capped out at 400, AC never went higher than -10 (AC 30 by today's rules) and most had very high magic resistances. Now let's examine how foolish it is to attack the god who can summon aid!

Trithereon is a chaotic good champion of the oppressed who seeks to end those who deny life or freedom. So by now, your characters should be apologizing to him if he ever appears, because he is the one usually doing the hunting. Despite popular lore, Trithereon like many deities and demigods does tread upon Oerth (Guide to the World of Greyhawk). He appears as a young man with red-gold hair wearing violet garb and golden chainmail (AC -4). Yes, it's hard to mistake Trithereon.

Should you manage to get the jump on Trithereon (Dex 20) he has two epic magic weapons and an artifact-level baton:

1. His spear is called the Harbinger of Doom. It is a +7 spear. Plus. Seven. This weapon is from an edition where +5 weapons were the pinnacle. What's more, Trithereon can throw this spear and it returns to him in the same round

2. His broadsword is called Freedom's Tongue. This weapon is +6. That's right, Trithereon has two epic, artifact level weapons that can probably break your favorite +5 vorpal sword in half. What's worse, Freedom's Tongue causes fear in a 30-foot radius to all his opponents. That means you.

Now if your PCs haven't ran by now at the appearance of a man in golden armor shouting the name of two lethal weapons, then they might still have a chance. Trithereon isn't the most robust of avatars with only 162 hit points, but he is only harmed by +3 magic weapons and has an 80% magic resistance. He also only fights as an 11th level fighter with 2 attacks. So yes, he can be brought down, but you have to get through his protection first. Trithereon is never alone...

3. Most fearsomely, he carries the Baton of Retribution which among other powers like planar travel and imprisonment, can summon planar creatures to fight on his side. Usually these magical animals have already been called to aid in his hunt for criminals. They are:

Nemoud the Hound, an iron jawed dog that hunts as a 20th level ranger and can never be surprised. You can't hide and you can't ambush them.

Harrus the Falcon, a huge bird with the sharpest vision ever. Distance is no factor to this group.

Ca'rolk the Sea Lizard, a 40-foot long crocodilian monster whose main skill is capsizing vessels. Yes, water is no escape from Trithereon.

If any of these companion animals are slain they return to their home plane and reform to fight another day. You are still not daunted by mere animals? Well the Baton can also create a gate once a day which summons one of each kind of Devas. In 1st edition there is three kinds of devas (D&D angels):

Astral Deva, genius intelligence, swinging +3 maces and armed with an array of magic abilities like invisibility, dispel magic and curing wounds. They are able to travel the astral and lower planes with ease.

Monadic Deva, slightly less genius, similar powers, carrying +2 metal rods and able to move through ethereal and elemental planes like it's no big deal.

Movanic Deva, still very smart, also with magic powers and use +1 flaming swords. This guy is most commonly found among mortals.

So there you have it, a melee unlike any your players have ever seen. A deity armed to the teeth, three animal companions and three very smart angels versus a party of out-matched, out-maneuvered mortals. Best idea is to lay down your arms and face Trithereon's judgement.

Bonus comic on Trithereon:

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thankful For Greyhawk

Greetings fellow Greyhawkers! In the United States we celebrate Thanksgiving by saying what we are grateful to have. When it comes to the World of Greyhawk community we should all be thankful for the growth of our fandom. Indeed, the Greyhawk Channel's own DM Shane is among those leading the resurgence:

"My dear new friends...

Crazy to say that, but it’s the truth. Most of our community is made up of new friends - new to me and new to one another. But reality is that just one year ago, we’d only aired one show. And only a few of you were there to watch it live. There was no Greyhawk Channel - just a small group of friends taking the risk to share their regular Sunday night game.

One year later… we’ve had more than 100 people play on the channel, nearly 20 different DMs, and have streamed more than 700 hours in the process. And @everyone thats super cool.

But waaaaay more cool is that there’s now a community of people who hang out together - supporting each other, foodporning together, sharing snacks and alcohol and crude humor together. Its a big group of good friends. And this is something none of us had a year ago. Its something we all built together.

I’m a blessed man. But this year one of my greatest blessings is something I didn’t expect, didn’t plan, didn’t see coming. Its you. All of you. This year, I’m thankful as hell for every one of you who help me look forward to every morning. You have made The Greyhawk Channel home. A home I deeply love.

This was year one. I promise you all another year of adventure, laughter, and friendship. Who’s with me?"

Who is with him? The Greyhawk community is still active and alive and can be found all over the map. In addition to the many fine DMs and players at the Greyhawk Channel I'm thankful to have:

Anna Meyer for the unparalleled Atlas of the Flanaess.

Dave Guerreri and staff running 5E Greyhawk Reborn.

Joseph Bloch for his foresight and the long-running Greyhawk Grognard.

Scott Casper for co-producing the Castle Greyhawk Comic with me as artist.

The Greyhawk faithful on the forums for Canonfire, Dragonsfoot and the Piazza.

Denis Tetreault for maps, lore and hosting my old comics at Melkot.

My friends Carlos Lising and Allan Grohe for running and producing wonderful professionally made Greyhawk games at conventions like Garycon.

Of course, my game own group for the Gamerstable podcast and putting up with my Greyhawk obsession.

The amazing Facebook groups, Sages of Greyhawk, Flanaess Geographical Society and also Canonfire a Greyhawk Resource for re-releasing my old comics to a new audience.

Lord Gosumba for keeping the old school alive on new media.

Return to the Bandit Kingdoms for being there with the streaming Greyhawk fandom.

Bards of Greyhawk for doing what no one else is doing in D&D fandom. Original music.

And to so many other creators of Greyhawk content and online entertainment that I can't recall you all, Happy Thanksgiving all and let's have a great CY 2019.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

New 5E Module: Lost Laboratory of Kwalish

Greeting Greyhawkers! Before this week's live Legends & Lore show featuring Anna Meyer and guest Joseph Bloch, I'd like to inform you all about a new 5E adventure available on DMsGuild called the Lost Laboratory of Kwalish. This adventure is by WotC is for ExtraLife charity. Check out the blurb:

"Lost Laboratory of Kwalish explores an alternate expedition into the Barrier Peaks. The legendary inventor disappeared in the peaks eons ago… as it turns out, finding a crashed planar ship and studying its technology to fuel his own experiments—only now, Kwalish’s lost research is desperately needed!
For characters 5th-10th level.
This adventure explores two locations within the Barrier Peaks, and includes new monsters, magic items, and spells, plus sci-fi trinkets, random encounters, and even rumors of the area submitted by the player community! Further featuring new art, maps (from Claudio Pozas), and even a cartoon (from Jason Thompson)—as well as the famed suit of powered armor, as edited by Jeremy Crawford on the Dragon+ livestream!
Best of all, all monies that Wizards of the Coast receives from sales of this PDF are donated to Extra Life. Your purchase of this adventure goes to a truly great cause!

In addition, we were honored to include some content designed with Laurence Withey in this adventure. We hope the material presented brings his character – the wizard Galder – to D&D tables around the world. For more on Galder, please visit the article on"

Fans of Greyhawk and the classic Expedition to the Barrier Peaks may be quite interested in this new module. It is very light on Greyhawk lore, namedropping stuff like Barrier Peaks, White Plume Mountain and the crashed "planar" ship, but given its adaptability to any campaign this is not surprising or unwarranted. What is nice about it beyond the two very unique adventure locations is the extras like the maps, art, trinket charts, new magic, NPCs and particularly the d100 chart for random Barrier Peak rumors generated by fan response on the D&D website (mine didn't get picked, boo). Also, the new development and revelations of who Kwalish (of apparatus fame) is and what he has done is quite satisfying top me.

Buy this adventure, it's a welcome addition to Greyhawk collectors and its for a good cause!

Monday, November 12, 2018

RIP Stan Lee and Carl Sargent

Sad news today Greyhawkers. First and foremost is the passing of the man, Stan Lee at age 95. No link is needed here, his death was immediately felt around the world. As a fan of all things Marvel, especially the Mighty Thor, I am saddened. I will miss his charming voice and his funny cameos in movies. It gives me a warm feeling to know all the characters he created or co-created are now house-hold names anywhere on the planet. That is a man whose legacy is secure. RIP Stan, Excelsior!

In lesser news, but by no means less unimportant to me or the Greyhawk community is the passing of Carl Sargent. For those who don't know who he is, let's just say he developed the World of Greyhawk during 2nd edition in ways no one else could. As fast as Carl appeared on the D&D scene and ushered Greyhawk through devastating wars and its aftermath, he was GONE. Carl left the RPG industry and as far as I know, never returned or felt he needed to during the RPG resurgence started by Wizards of the Coast.

Now not everyone likes "Sargent-hawk" but it is in my opinion second only to Gygax in importance. Sargent merely took the frame work of wars that Gygax had already assembled and pursued them to their most logical conclusion. What Carl brought extra was this "grimdark" tone to Greyhawk that was surely an import from his days working on Warhammer. Another thing, it's a travesty that to this day there is no official print version of Ivid the Undying, a masterpiece of world-building, involving the Great Kingdom. People who struggled to differentiate between Greyhawk and Forgotten Realms or Dragonlance fantasy need only read Ivid or any other book with Carl Sargent's name on it. Thank you Carl, for your prolific work!

Monday, November 5, 2018

Greyhawk: Rhennee Population

Greeting Greyhawk fanatics. Today I'm going to take a wild stab at an esoteric topic I bet no one except perhaps Gary Gygax, Anne Brown and Lance Hawvermale have ever pondered: how many Rhennee are there in the Flanaess? Before I get into my boring research, a few caveats, one, I'm no expert on demographics. There is many D&D fans who have done way more in this department than me. Two, I'm only going to count the barge-folk Rhennee, not their land-born cousins, the ill-named Attloi. Lastly, I'm pulling together sources from a few disparate editions here, to arrive at an interesting conclusion. None of this fantastical population crunching should diminish your love of the Rhennee, instead I hope it enhances by making DMs and players take notice of this human ethnicity and give them a try in the future. Enjoy!

According to Gygax, in the Glossography, the Rhennee resemble Oeridians except they have darker, curlier hair and are shorter on average. They are wiry and strong and claim to have come to the Flanaess accidentally from a legendary homeland called Rhop. While their ancestors rode horses and lived in wagons, modern Rhennee culturally took to living in barges on the waters of the Nyr Dyv and its surrounding rivers by necessity of being immigrants in a hostile world.

Each Rhennee barge is home to a family averaging 33 people. The break down in the Glossography is as such: 1 chief, 2-4 guard, 13-24 "folk", 1-2 "advisors", 7-12 children and 1 "wise woman" (called Veth in 3rd Edition). Accordingly a barge inhabited by a Rhennee noble has a maximum compliment on his home barge, or 45 people.

In the Living Greyhawk Journal #2 article, The Way of the Lake by Lance Hawvermale, (buy it on DMsGuild) he writes that there are about 100 Rhennee nobles and roughly 5000 Rhennee total population. I postulate that this amount is low given what information is available from prior sources. 100 Nobles consisting of a family of 45 would already arrive our number of Rhenn-folk at 4500. Since there are clearly "common" Rhennee people who rally around these nobles in groups of 12-16 barges, the number must be higher!

Again taking averages, each Rhennee lord has about 13 common barges in his fleet. If each has an average family size of 33 as per Gygax's lists, then one noble family totals 574 Rhennee. And if we max out the over-all nobility of Rhennee at 100, then that easily gives us 57,400 Rhennee on the waters, or eleven times Hawvermale's initial estimate. Even with just 50 Rhennee nobles, the totals are impressive enough at 28,700. Take your pick of how many nobles there may be in the Flanaess.

Now of course, things happen on the Lake of Unknown Depths. Life is harsh in the World of Greyhawk. Perhaps the Rhennee have catastrophic deaths per year? Fine, but Gygax accounted for this, and later sources on the Rhennee omit this quite unfortunate fact: 

"When needed, Rhennee steal young children to fill their ranks. Stolen children are raised as and become "natural" Rhennee. Similarly, outsiders who do some great service for the Rhennee are taken into the folk and sometimes accorded great status."

So yes, Rhennee are a culture, not a human bloodline necessarily. Players looking for an exotic background for their characters could theoretically make a Rhennee raised or adopted from virtually any playable race from tieflings to halflings.

According to Anne Brown in the Players Guide to Greyhawk (2E) the legendary Rhopans came in wagons to the Adri Forest and migrated west in CY 150. So, if we use the base timeline of Living Greyhawk CY 591, the Rhennee have been on Oerth for only about 440 years. That means depending on your source, 5000 to 57,000+ Rhennee exist after four and a half centuries of roaming the Flanaess (not counting Attloi). Now I'm no expert on Middle Ages style demographics, but either a small band of Rhennee accidentally rode into this world and prospered, or much like the Suel fleeing the Rain of Colorless Fire, they came en masse possibly through a magic gate or across a Fading Land as they are often found in this setting. 

Despite my argument for more Rhennee, the inclination that there are 5000 or fewer is a good one. After all, why would 57,000 Rhennee need to stick to the waters, when they could just overwhelm and settle a place like the City of Greyhawk (that does have a Rhennee population) with nearly the same population. They could just as easily take over a lesser coastal town in the Bandit Kingdoms or anywhere with that kind of numbers. So, either the Rhennee don't have the numbers to establish their own domain, or their nobles choose to stay on the waters and hide their numbers to seem neither too weak nor too powerful. Well DMs, the decision is yours, I've made the case for both population levels. In summary, use Rhennee! They make helpful guides, traders, bards, fortune-tellers, villains and even heroes.