Saturday, October 19, 2019

Random Greyhawk Lore

Greetings fans of the World of Greyhawk! One of my favorite exercises on Greyhawkery is to pull random Greyhawk publications off my game shelf, literally flip them open and point out obscure facts and information about the setting that you may or may not know. New here? Check out some of my previous random lore posts. I hope this material I dump on you can in some small way inspire you as a player or DM to explore more of the world and use it for your stories and backgrounds. Here we go, enjoy!

Greyhawk: The Adventure Begins (on the Oerid Record)

Okay, as you may have heard I love the little nomadic land of Ull. But what was Ull before it was Ull? Well it was once inhabited by Oerids whom yes, are responsible for most of the nations of the Flanaess we know presently, because primarily of the Great Kingdom of Aerdy. The Oerids created the C.Y. (Common Year) calendat, but on the setting timeline what is O.R. the Oeridian Record? According to the Adventure Begins:

"For ages, tribes of Oeridian horse barbarians inhabited the steppe and foothills of what is now Ull. Over two centuries before the fall of the Baklunish and Suloise empires, these barbarians united in a single confederation to resist incursions of imperial Baklunish across the Ulsprue Mountains and by nomadic Baklunish to the north. This event marks the start of the Oeridian Record (OR), the calendar used by Oeridians until the Great Kingdom was founded."

Indeed CY replaced OR, but there is still OR times listed for events in the original publications, making me wonder what backwater villages may still use OR and eschew the CY system cause well, who likes the Aerdians? In fact, after the Great Kingdom began to break up, Nyrond and Furyondy continue to use CY and didn't go back to their parent timeline? Hrm!

Living Greyhawk Journal #3 (on Amedian Gutworms)

Hey DMs are you bored of rot grubs? Have you overplayed Kyuss worms? Well then, have you heard of Amedian Gutworms? These nasty parasites as the name suggests were first discovered in the Amedio Jungle, but oh no, thanks to foolish explorers they have been brought back to civilization where instead of swamps they lurk in sewers. The gutworm is as big as a man, it is amphibious, it likes to hide, and if it gets a grapple on you, well, you know...

"An implanted creature has no symptoms for 1-4 weeks. During this time, any magical treatment that removes disease kills the implanted egg. After that incubation period, the gutworm begins to grow dealing 1-2 points of temporary Strength and Constitution damage to its host each day. After 1-2 weeks, the larval gutworm erupts from its host."

This eruption requires a save and can insta-kill a PC (at least in 3.5E). Meanwhile, the larval gutworm which is also dangerous, is halfling sized and grows to full size in a few months if it can find water. Gross.

Okay after that entry, here is a palate cleanser for your eyes. An illustration of cute halflings in combat by Jim Holloway.

Against the Giants: The Liberation of Geoff (on Mogthrasir's Laws)

Liberation of Geoff is a sequel to the original against the giants run, where giants roam down from the mountains and take over many towns and pretty much the entirety of Geoff. The PCs naturally must clear these giants out one town at a time. It's a book that is an excellent sourcebook if nothing else. One such giant occupied settlement is Pest's Crossing, a logging town on the Oyt River ruled strange enough by a fire giant named King Mogthrasir. Interestingly he has a set of laws listed in this section of LoG:
  • All dwarves, elves, and gnomes are to be slain on sight.
  •  Attempting to escape is punishable by hard labor until death.
  •  Striking an ogre, troll, or hound is punishable by hard labor until death.
  •  Striking a fire giant is punishable by execution.
  •  Spellcasting by any human is punishable by execution.
  •  Carrying a weapon other than a work tool is punishable by execution.
Yep, that sounds like what a fire giant would say. Adventurers may as well go in swords blazing here. Also notice halflings are not killed on sight. Maybe they think they are human children? Or maybe they're just lumped in with gnomes. Hard to tell with dumb giants.

Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk (on Apprentice Rings)

This underrated adventure by Mona, Bulmahn and Jacobs is a sequel to Greyhawk Ruins and involves a return to the ruins and dungeon of the famous mad mage Zagig Yragerne. One minor magic item that can be acquired in this adventure is the Apprentice Ring which is a plain tarnished copper band with runes  on the outside. No stats needed to replicate this for your game, or any megadungeon really:

"Zagig made these simple copper rings to offer some small means of protection to his apprentices, who would sometimes fall victim to the traps in the dungeons of Castle Greyhawk."

Basically the ring gives a bonus to saves against traps and a once a day knock spell, but it only works within the confines of this dungeon. Sounds like a good low level item to find on your way into a dungeon like this for the first time!

Greyspace (on Anti-Liga)

I'm going to end on a fun note, by using a Spelljammer product tied to Greyhawk, Greyspace. Not everyone subscribes to Spelljammer as a rules-set or its campaign add-ons for Oerth and beyond, but it does have some amazingly cool mysteries that would make for good prophecy if the DM is into astronomy. And before you cast aside Greyspace know that things like the Flanaess zodiac, Celestian and Oerth's two moons are quite prominent in base campaign sources. Anyhow, it is generally accepted that Oerth, the planet, is the center of the solar system (crystal sphere for you SJ fans). Unlike our world, the sun (Liga) is just another body that revolves around this planet. We all know Oerth has two moons (Celene aka Kule, and Luna aka Raenei), but some sages, like in our world, could argue it once had two suns as well!

Ancient myth from various regions of Oerth tell that, in the depths of pre-history, there were two suns in the sky. These myths, apparently developed independently, contain so much consistent detail that various astrologers and astronomers conclude that there once was another fire body sharing the same orbit as Liga, but separated from it by 180 degrees. They believe this "Anti-Liga" was the same size and color as the sun, and theoretically like it in structure.
At some time, many thousands of years ago, the second sun simply disappeared from the skies...
A wild and totally unsubstantiated theory currently circulating proposes that Anti-Liga drifted from its orbit for some reason, and it struck the planet in the next orbit out from Oerth. This impact extinguished and destroyed the fire body, shattered the planet and created the asteroid field now known as the Grinder."

Crazy eh? Well not when you consider one of the World of Greyhawk's primary uber-evils is the god of darkness Tharizdun. He who wants to annihilate all life on Oerth. What could a god possibly do that is so heinous it could get all good, neutral and evil gods to gang up and have him imprisoned? Anti-Liga is a hell of a theory.


Anonymous said...

I have started to play Greyhawk, probably because I played in the Navy 1978-1981, I remember a couple of the books, I'm playing a gnome wizard, like fighting zombies, plus the giant frogs sound fun. When my character gets better I'll try a dungeon.
Thanks Jasper

David Leonard said...

Greyhawk is a many varied thing. It's got something for everyone. Devastated regions, Evil empires, Good empires gone bad and falling into decline. Tropics, barren northern expanses, and an uncharted and mysterious West, not to mention an enormous uncharted sea to the East. And enemies to all points of the compass! Watching. Plotting. Biding their time. Its theme of Evil rising again and again is far more mature than in most fantasy settings. It lurks in unexpected places, just outside sleepy little towns named Hommlet, Orlane, and Saltmarsh. Who can't love that? Adventure at every turn!

Mike Bridges said...

Jasper: I hope you enjoy Greyhawk even more in the future!

David: Well said! I never run out of things to explore in this setting. And even though there is so much to find already, it's always left to the DM to build upon these plots and elements.