Sunday, December 30, 2018

New Gazetteer at Greyhawk Grognard

Greetings Greyhawk enthusiasts! It's almost the end of another Common Year, and my esteemed colleague, Joe Bloch over at Greyhawk Grognard has come through with his best Baklunish article yet! Lately he has been updating the western Baklunish lands and pantheons in the spirit of Gary Gygax's 80's era Dragon magazine columns. Now the pages of "Dragonne" magazine takes us Beyond the Flanaess to catalogue the lesser known nations of the Baklunish West that until now have only been referenced in brief over the decades.

This article is set in the fashion of the World of Greyhawk Guide, posed as the lost Volume IV (which the boxed set is volume III). This work thus wonderfully encapsulates all the sections and formatting you would expect in this scholarly type of guide. Here, the sage presents the following realms:

Ataphad Islands
Bakhoury Coast
Janasib Islands
Malikate of Komal
Sharifate of Risay
Qayah-Bureis Islands

In addition there is information on geographical areas such as the Gulf of Ghayar: Tyurzi Mountains, Rumikadath River and the Verdured Heights.

Mr. Bloch further enhances this guide by adding random encounter tables for these regions just as they are featured in the original Flanaess Glossography. Also, what good World of Greyhawk guide wouldn't be complete without a Darlene inspired map of this entire Beyond the Flanaess region? Joe had mapped the entire world of Oerth in this style years ago. I imagine he will keep working outward now cataloguing the regions just like in this well-written article.

Download this now. It's a MUST HAVE.

Update 06/24/2021: Had to remove the link to Joe's BTF maps. He doesn't have them hosted for download currently.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Greyhawk Online Returns!

It's a Needfest miracle, Greyhawk fans! Thanks to my friends, particularly W.K. Nolen, the fan hosting site Greyhawk Online has been given a shot of life and a modern front page upgrade. Greyhawk Online was created as a sister site to Canonfire! to host pages for creative Greyhawk fans, such as Grodog's Greyhawk and my own World of Greyhawk comic strip that ran on GHO from 2005 to 2009 until I migrated over to Maldin's Greyhawk until 2011. Speaking of which, coincidentally the full run of 325 Greyhawk comics is now available on Maldin's Greyhawk and will eventually be updated on Greyhawk Online when time permits.

Old fans and new alike can revisit these familiar websites like mine, and perhaps even have their own creative content hosted (join the Greyhawk Wiki) or linked here to share with the rest of the Greyhawk community (see recent additions like the Greyhawk Channel and various blogs). So for Gygax's sake, check out GREYHAWK ONLINE now, you won't be disappointed.

Update 06/24/2021: Greyhawk Online is still going strong. New Oerth Journal issues have been produced and archived Living Greyhawk sites can be perused here. Thank you GHO.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Needfest Thank You Cards

It's almost the end of the year, which means it's time for me to look over my Needfest bounty of Greyhawk gifts and offer some thanks...

First, I am happy to say thank you to my Legends & Lore co-host Anna Meyer for a successful season on the Greyhawk Channel. We really killed it, averaging 20-30 repeat viewers per show. I made some new friends already through this show and even had great guest-hosts like Joe Bloch from Greyhawk Grognard. Wonderful!

Second, I'd like to thank my friend Scott H for giving me a copy of Hawk & Moor (trilogy 1) by Kent David Kelly. I never heard of this series, but its an amazing study into the life and history of Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. Dry biographical reading material for a young audience, but for an old grognard like me, the Greyhawk references and origins are eye-popping. I can't wait to see more.

Third, gotta give a Needfest thank you card to DMShane for producing the Greyhawk Channel. The number of shows he now hosts keeps outpacing my blog, but my appreciation goes well beyond that to the community that's rallied around it I the form of a vibrant Discord group for subscribers (see the bottom of the page in the Twitch link above). He is even taking it to IRL as well, with a planned GenCon 2019 meet-up unlike any before. I wish I knew for certain if I were going.

Gotta give a fourth thank you card to the old-schoolers who are really building the community back up in other media. Bryan Blumklotz is a driving force with the Canonfire! Facebook group and I'm happy to see not only my old comic strip re-released, but also Bryan's heraldry back in the limelight. Then there is Greyhawk Online being resurrected by W.K. Nolen. Keep checking back for updates for Greyhawk content on this website!

A fifth Needfest card goes to Lord Gosumba for bringing his quite ancient 1E/2E Knights of Ulek campaign to the present day on Twitch. I'm sure he will be a big name in the community for years to come.

I'd like to thank Wizards with a sixth Needfest card for putting out Art & Arcana by Michael Witwer, Sam Witwer, Kyle, Newman and Jon Peterson (and Joe Manganiello). I've never been hyped about a coffee table book like this before. It pushes all my nostalgia buttons at the same time. I actually want the deluxe copy, that's how much I like this book. I highly recommend this work of art history.

Finally I'd like to give my last Needfest card to Scott Casper, for the Castle Greyhawk comic. For those who still haven't seen our effort, Scott wrote a fully-realized, well-grounded story set in the early Gygaxian Greyhawk setting. There is nothing else like this in Greyhawk fandom. It was a joy illustrating the adventures of Tenser, Yrag and Robilar. Now coming to an end in 2019, the final chapter will come with some bonus material for our loyal readers.

I hope everyone has a warm and fun Needfest this winter. Hopefully soon I'll be able to show off my holiday themed one-shot for my friends next week....stay tuned ;)

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Cold Things in Greyhawk

Cold Iron Avail You, Greyhawk fans! It's fast approaching that time of year, yes that's right, Needfest. Today I'm going to do an easy, fun post to coincide with my show with Anna Meyer on the Greyhawk Channel, Legends & Lore. If you haven't seen the show, we sit around and riff on all things Greyhawk from maps to modules. Today's theme since it's winter is "cold places" in the Flanaess. You'd be surprised how many there is and these are just the ones I remember off the top of my head. Let's run down the list, enjoy!

Cold Marshes: This vast swamp, even more vast than the one called the Vast Swamp, just happens to be in the cold north, separating the boggy land of Blackmoor from well, everything else. This place is naturally known for the dangerous mists within and if stories are true, lost treasures. What's fun about the Cold Marshes is the denizens here: ice toads, ice trolls, hyena-men, bear-men, and the best, Frost-Men. These humanoids resemble regular humans, except they have icy skin and their left eye shoots a cone of frost. Now that's what I call an icy glare!

Icy Sea: This vast sea to the north of the Flanaess is normally frozen except during the late summer months. It has everything a seafaring barbarian could want; seals eating fish, walruses eating seals, whales eating walruses and a leviathan lord eating the whales! Watch those titanic floating islands of ice, they are hard to spot in the fog. Side thought, does the Land of Black Ice produce black icebergs?

Land of Black Ice: Speaking of which, there is no region more hostile to visit than this place. Okay, maybe the Sea of Dust. Alright, maybe the Sea of Dust and Rift Canyon. Okay alright, Sea of Dust, Rift Canyon or the Vast Swamp. At any rate, the Land of Black Ice is a glacial expanse of unknown origin and explanation. Dangerous arctic monsters lurk here including the ubiquitous blue bugbear. This is a land of natural hazards and also a land of mysteries. There is a warm hidden valley, a City of the Gods and even ancient ice-buried automatons (see Raiders of the Black Ice in Dungeon #115). DMs, there is plenty of room to create stuff here if you can talk your players into braving the black ice.

Cold Run: This chilly tributary is found in the northern Flanaess (of course) starting somewhere south of the Wastes and cutting through the ominous Fellreev forest where it eventually meets up with the much bigger and more traveled Artonsamay River. What is there to say about this waterway? No really, I'm asking, because I've never used the Cold Run in my games. Never mind, found it. According to the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, the Cold Run has eels and pike. I'm willing to bet where dangerous fish are found, there is also giant eels and giant pike. And where there is giant fish I'd wager there is giant fishermen too! That's the best I got.

Wintershiven: The capital of the Theocracy of the Pale. This city of 39,000 isn't particularly a nice place to live. It is said winters in the Pale are harsh and unforgiving like its people. Locals say there is two "seasons" here, the unbearable winter and the barely bearable "summer". Interestingly this city was burnt to the ground once and rebuilt again before the Pale eventually earned independence to be religiously oppressive. What else is there to say about Wintershiven? Well it's run by the bureaucratic church of Pholtus. Because of this, there is really no reason to travel to Wintershiven, unless you are a zealot as well. DMs you will have to crafty to talk heroes into coming here, preferably in the summer.

Coldwood: Not far from Wintershiven to the south, is an area within the Adri Forest called Coldwood. This place used to be the ancient elven City of Summer Stars before its prince, Darnakurian went mad and slaughtered everything with a magic sword called Hunger. Now a cursed chill hangs over the remains of this forest ruin and stoic elven guardians remain in place to prevent anyone from entering or leaving. If that isn't tempting to your players I don't know what is! DMs you can read more about the Coldwood and Hunger in the unpublished Ivid the Undying, free to download on the interwebs. Enjoy!

Hanging Glacier of Alisedran: Probably the strangest of the cold places on the list, the Hanging Glacier can be found in From the Ashes. It tells a tale of an explorer named Alisedran who was deep in barbarian territory for some reason within the Corusk Mountains (ahem, hex J-16 to be exact). What the mad man described was a glacier that drops off a cliff and shatters into a sheet of ice shards, falling down in slow motion like a massive "feather fall" spell was cast on it. The ice shards has many strange properties according to the story, evidently ranging from alchemy to summoning and breathing underwater. Whatever the case, this glacial area is definitely not a smart place for adventurers to locate, unless their goal is fighting ice monsters then it's an XP gold mine.

Snow, Ice, Frost Barbarians: The Thillonrian peninsula is home to three ancient Suel tribes that migrated here a millennia ago. Known in the common tongue as snow, frost and ice, they are respectively called Schnai, Fruzti and Cruski in the barbarian dialect called the Cold Tongue. I won't go into much more detail, they are a viking-esque culture who can be encountered in most of the "cold" locations covered in this post.

Icespire: Here's a creepy cold location that I recently covered. Icespire is in the South Province (Ahlissa) and is one of those places that you think of in movies or cartoons when an icy curse befalls the land. Read it for yourself, but trust me, this isn't the safest place to go on the "cold theme" list, including the Land of Black Ice. Here we go again...

Icehand Plain: Last but not least. First featured in the excellent book, Iuz the Evil, this place is usually just an empty camp off the Road of Skulls 364 days of the year. It's true importance is that on the last day of Sunsebb each year, Iuz holds a massive pep rally for all his chiefs, warlords and high priests. During this rally, Iuz manifests a giant floating hand of black ice that points to each leader as he judges their loyalty. If they displease the Old One, then they are blasted into dust! In my opinion, this is all a ruse to scare his evil henchmen. Maybe one hapless creature gets killed to make an example, but I bet it's all predetermined. He is the god of deceit after all. At any rate, real of not, the Icehand Plain rally is a devilish place to have players stumble upon if the DM wants them to realllllly be intimidated, or if the players want to wipe out the entire core of the Empire of Iuz in one fell swoop. Whichever. Good luck heroes!

Monday, December 3, 2018

Greyhawk Fans! casl Entertainment now on Patreon

Greetings Greyhawkers! Today I'm promoting my friend Carlos' new announcement, casl Entertainment! What is casl Entertainment? Well if you are a true fan of Greyhawk then this is for you. Read about it in his own words:

Be a part of RPG history.
casl Entertainment specialises in creating memorable and unique role-playing game experiences.  Ranging from self-contained adventures and character concepts to customized modules and even entire campaign settings, casl Entertainment provides compelling and engaging game materials for RPG enthusiasts around the world.

casl Entertainment is me: carlos a.s. lising.  What it represents is something for which I've been preparing my entire life.  As a boy of eight years old, I was drawn in by the spell Gary Gygax wove for a generation of dreamers.  In the World of Greyhawk, he painted the skies of my imagination with the vibrant colors of his descriptive text...and in the process, set in motion a revolution of thought within me.  Since that fateful day when I first set eyes upon a twenty-sided die for the first time, role-playing games have consumed me.  In the myriad forms of tabletops and online play, intimate campaigns and convention games, I've immersed myself in the hobby however I've been able.  All that time, it was always my aspiration to – one day, perhaps – follow in the footsteps of the heroes whose names I saw on the spines of the books I so prized.  Kuntz. Mentzer. Ward. Gygax.  I wanted to create pieces, love letters to the game I so adored and the men and women that so inspired me, that would demonstrate the profound impact they had had on my life, and stand the test of time alongside that which they had created.

As you read this, that moment has come.

With your patronage, you can help me achieve that dream.  I can write those majestic stories in which I echo my heroes.  I can help Game Masters and Players weave tales of triumph and torment that will become the stuff of legend, that will live on long after the last light above the gaming table has been dimmed for the night.  And one day, if we're lucky, an 8 year old kid in Chicago might read our work and catch a mote of starlight in their eyes.  The words you help me create will become a brushstroke in the masterpiece mosaic that is their imagination.  In that way, we can become a part of RPG history together.

Let's do this thing.


Not only does Carlos write amazing old school modules set in the World of Greyhawk, he's also a veteran convention DM with an enthusiasm for his original works like no one I've ever seen. Indeed, we've played together more than a few times now at Garycon. Join his Patreon and support a fellow creator and Greyhawk fan. You can also follow Carlos and casl Entertainment on Facebook. Enjoy!