Well met Greyhawk adventurers! The year is nearly over and this will be my 96th post of 2020. That is significant because it's my most blog activity since 2014! I thank you all for reading and participating in the Greyhawk community. Today I am revisiting one of my favorite columns, creating adventure hooks based on the "Mysterious Places" articles of Living Greyhawk. Go back and check out some of my previous attempts from 2014 again 2014, 2018 and 2019. As in my other installments, I have not playtested, researched or stolen any of these adventure locations. I am literally going to write these off the top of my head after I finish writing this introduction. Let's go...The Terror of Udgru: Over the centuries, the dense Udgru Forest has gone largely unexplored by the Baklunish who have only ever exploited its edges. Those who seek to evade the law of Ekbir, or the hunt of the Tiger Nomads often venture for the deeper woodlands out of desperation. Most of the time they find plentiful game and sometimes monstrous denizens, but the unluckiest of those who would try to explore the forest might encounter the Terror of Udgru. Tales abound of a great stone obelisk that is the size of a tower and marked with weathered runes. The immediate area around the obelisk is perpetually shrouded in gloom and choked with overgrowth that conceals the bones (and treasure) of countless creatures. None have stayed at the Terror for longer than an hour before running away in fear. Survivors describe hearing gradually increasing sounds; shuffling noises, bestial growls and shrill howling winds. Those who remain behind never live to tell their tale. To date, no ranger or druid has been able to track the Terror's exact location, leading some to believe the cursed obelisk is a randomly occurring Fading Land.
Tuesday, December 29, 2020
Saturday, December 26, 2020
Acererak's Blackstone: (Wiz 9) Robert S. Mullin is a true hero of 2E era Greyhawk publication, creating many named spells and spellbooks with extensive Greyhawk lore. This spell by the infamous mage of the Tomb of Horrors is found in Dragon #225, Three Greyhawk Grimoires. It costs a dizzying 5000 gp and an Ioun stone to cast, but the Blackstone can absorb any magic cast at it or active effects that the stone encounters. It makes a good defense as well as a trap since it will explode if too much magic is drained. Good stuff!
Bigby's Silencing Hand: (Wiz 2) Bigby is a household name in D&D. His hand spells are superfluous in PHBs through the editions. However, for the true Bigby enthusiast, there is a TON of his spells (and all the Circle of Eight) in the sourcebook Greyhawk Adventures. They are in AD&D rules, but if you want 5E converted versions, go to Greyhawk Grognard and download his Wizards of the Flanaess. Silencing Hand is one of his lowest level spells that claps a magic hand over a foe's mouth. In a wizard battle this can be a game-changer!
Chain Madness: (Cl 6) I used chain madness once before in my 2E Iuz war campaigns. Very nasty spell. Starts with one target then exponentially spreads like a contagious disease to others. This spell is compliments of Iuz the Evil.
Drawmij's Light Step: (Wiz 1) For a 1st level spell this is genius. It's a limited levitate that allows a user to not leave tracks, walk on still water and even avoid traps that require pressure. Amazingly smart! Another Co8 spell from Greyhawk Adventures. See above for more info.
Evard's Black Tentacles: (Wiz 4) We all have heard of this spell. We all know how annoyingly effective it is. What I didn't know is Gygax debuted it in Dragon #67.
Fingerblade: (Wiz 2) This spell might not bear Mordenkainen's stamp, but in Dragon #242 he shared it in the article Jest the Wizards Three by Ed Greenwood. Mordy offered that this is a spell he used in his "younger days". This precursor to Mordy's Sword I bet, creates a force blade around the casters index finger. With it your wizard can literally sword fight with his finger. It can even break a non-magic blade by ending the spell. A quirky, fun spell for wizards who want to toy with low-level fighters.
Glassteel: (Wiz 8) Hey, D&D 3E through 5E, What ever happened to Glassteel? That's the entire entry.
Hextor's Fiery Eyes: (Cl 5) This is an improved version of the command spell. Rejoice DMs! Your evil clerics can now command a creature once a round, the effects last longer and it doesn't use a standard action. Shew! Find this spell in Dragon #356, Core Beliefs: Hextor by Sean K. Reynolds.
Iggwilv's Timeless Sleep: (Wiz 9) Another masterpiece of magic from Dragon #225. Our favorite Witch Queen wrote more than Demonomicon stuff. This high level spell from Iggwilv's Nethertome is an improved Temporal Stasis that can be programmed to end when the wizard's chosen conditions are met. Just what an evil archmage needs to keep some boss creatures on ice for emergency!
Jaran's Prismatic Blade: (Wiz 9) Robert S. Mullin is back this time with a rare spell from the Black One of the Vale. Imagine a force weapon combined with all the powers of a prismatic wall! Yes it is as deadly as it sounds. Check this spell out in Dragon #241, Greyhawk Grimoires II.
Kieran's Curse Ward: (Wiz 6) Want more from Mr. Mullin? Okay, here is an original spell from Kieran Jalucian, head of the Guild of Wizardry in Greyhawk City. The Curse Ward as its name implies prevents curses from affecting the caster, it removes existing ones, but it stops short of curses from artifacts or lycanthropy. Not bad! Locate more of Kieran's work in Greyhawk Grimoires. Dragon #268.
Leomund's Secret Chest: (Wiz 5) Len Lakofka's mage has many spells named for him, most using his extra-dimensional theme. Secret Chest has always been in the PHB and I like it because magically hiding treasure is a very D&D thing to do.
Meersalm Skin: (Cl 6) This little known spell from Dragon #354, Heironeous by Sean K. Reynolds, allows your caster to temporarily feel like the Archpaladin! It's basically an improved stoneskin spell that damages any weapon which strikes the protected creature. Love it!
Nystul's Blacklight Burst: (Wiz 4) Nystul is one of those Co8 mages I still know very little about. But sometimes you can learn more about a wizard through his spell selection. Blacklight Burst sounds, uh, dubious. Actually its a nasty negative energy spell that damages and slows targets. Locate this one in Greyhawk Adventures.
Otiluke's Siege Sphere: (Wiz 7) Another underrated spell from Greyhawk Adventures. Otiluke has alot of spells in this book, really any of them could work here, but I chose his highest level one because it gives me an idea what Otiluke is all about and that's evocation spells. He never struck me as a battle mage, but check out Siege Sphere. This boulder of force magic can take three forms, an exploding ball of liquid fire, an exploding ball of crystal shrapnel or an adamantine wrecking ball. No wonder Rary took him and Tenser out in Greyhawk Wars, Otiluke is geared for war!
Persuasive Oration: (Cl 1) A low level spell that is essentially just charm person for clerics. It is however perfect for clerics of Cuthbert. Find this useful spell in Dragon #358, Saint Cuthbert by Sean K. Reynolds.
Quicksand: (Cl 3) This spell is for clerics of Obad-hai. It's pretty self explanatory, you conjure a pool of quicksand in an area. You can find this spell and many more like it in the article The Power of Faith in Dragon #342 by John Ling, Jr. It's an interesting 3E era article I overlooked that requires you to take an "Initiate feat" to a particular god and it adds a few spells to your cleric/priest's lists.
Rary's Telepathic Bond: (Wiz 5) Of all the spells in GHA, this is one me and my players perhaps used the most. What isn't to like about a communication spell between a mage and two or more friends anywhere on the same plane? The upshot of this spell is that Wish can make the bond between any two creatures permanent. If a PC can achieve this life-long effect, then I hope their BFF must be quite high level as well!
Slerotin's Fortitude: (Wiz 9) Another top notch spell from Dragon #241. Who wouldn't want a spell created by the greatest Suel mage of all-time? This spell makes non-magical materials like a wall impervious to damage from physical and magical attacks. Yes, even disintegrate. Perfect for a Mage of Power who wants their tower to withstand a Rain of Colorless Fire perhaps?
Tharizdun's Maddening Scream: (Cl 8/Sor-Wiz 8) Yes this spell is as cringe-worthy as it sounds. It's similar to Tasha's Hideous Laughter, but much worse since there is no saving throw. My favorite part, the victim can only make reflex saves on a natural 20! I like to imagine Tharizdun cultists enjoy having this cast on them as a reward. You can find this nasty gem and others in Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil.
Vecna's Conflagration: (Wiz 5) One more from Mullin. Vecna's artifacts are quite renowned, but how well do you know his personal spell repertoire? Conflagration is like setting off a fireball centered on yourself, but the caster is unharmed and all your foes are knocked back. Sounds like a spell Vecna would employ all the time. Again, look for this in the pages of Dragon #225, Three Greyhawk Grimoires.
Wrath of Hextor: (Cl 4) This is another spell from The Power of Faith in Dragon #342. Your cleric of Hextor flips out against good enemies and deals an extra 2d4 damage with a flail. Just flails though. Could you imagine this spell used by six-armed Hextor himself? That's potentially 3-6 flails!
Xvarts must have spells right? Pass.
You know if anyone can find a good named-wizard or Greyhawk themed spell with Y in it, let me know in the comments. I'm wearing out here!
Zagig's Canned Laughter: (Wiz 1) Spell-master, Robert Mullin finishes off this A-Z with a humorous one from Dragon #270. Only first level, Zagig must've made this spell for his own amusement because all it does is creature disembodied laughter any time the caster says something funny. This spell would make for a crazy game night if combined with Tasha's Hideous Laughter and 5E's Vicious Mockery.
Tuesday, December 22, 2020
1. Zihindia is ancient! 576 CY is 9023 Z.C. That makes this area a few thousand years older than their former neighbors the Suloise Empire.
2. Before the cataclysms, the Suel also migrated here and quickly slipped into Zihindian society. I can only wonder what the Scarlet Brotherhood would think of this place!
4. The cities are large. Going along with the impressive armies, Zihindia has some big urban areas. Every capital clocks in at 38-44k population which is comparable to the Flanaess' best. For further comparison Greyhawk (boxed set) is 58,000 and Rel Astra is 63,900. What is Zihindia's largest city though? Pashod, the capital of Uttarayana Raj has 135,000 people. Now THAT is a medieval metropolis I'd like to see mapped out.
Stay tuned to Greyhawk Grognard because there is definitely more in store according to this issue: "Coming soon: our explorations of the mystical lands of Zihindia continue with new monsters found in those lands, new classes, spells, and magic items, complete details of the Zihindian pantheon, and more!"
Saturday, December 19, 2020
Thursday, December 10, 2020
Rob: I’d go with the Domain of Greyhawk and neighboring areas—Dyvers, Verbobonc, the Wild Coast, etc. There always seems to be a lot going on there, and plenty of riches to be unearthed in the published material. A little over half of my campaigns have either started in the City of Greyhawk or ended up there.
I completely agree Rob! It's not called the "World of Greyhawk" for nothing. The Greyhawk Domain is the home base from which Gygax's original campaign spread out and took on a life of its own in D&D (for better or worse). Even if you remove the namesake Castle Greyhawk, the area Rob describes from Dyvers to the Cairn Hills is so rich with adventures and lore that you literally don't need any more than that if you run a new campaign. Good start, keep it going...
Q2. If you could actually be one Greyhawk deity which one would it be?
Rob: Olidammara, naturally. No one has more fun that the god of wine, women, and song.
I probably could have guessed this! If anyone is an avatar of Olidammara it's Rob. Interestingly, he didn't mention god of rogues though. Keep your hands on your belt pouches, tavern folk!
Q3. You have one wish. Which Greyhawk module or accessory would you do over or fix?
Rob: The easy answer would be something like Child’s Play, Puppets, Gargoyle, or Castle Greyhawk, but reviled as they are, those modules have had little impact on the setting, mostly because the vast majority of fans ignore them. Not to mention the fact they were pretty much disavowed in The Adventure Begins. No, I think I’d pick something more impactful so I could resolve issues that have echoed down through later products.
Though not Greyhawk-specific, I think I’d choose the Spelljammer boxed set, and make Greyspace heliocentric, like Gygax obviously intended (see Saga of Old City). If I have to choose a Greyhawk-specific product, then maybe The Temple of Elemental Evil, where I could deal with the conundrum of how an imprisoned Iuz was able to conspire with Zuggtmoy, and remove/clarify the part about the “sharp check dealt to Lolth,” enabling folks to run T1-4, A1-4, and then GDQ1-7 without running afoul of the canonical timeline. Or possibly I’d just go back to World of Greyhawk folio/boxed set and remake the entire setting in my image.
Dang! I told you this guy is a rat bastard. Actually though, this might be the most sane answer I've seen yet. The stuff we hate about Greyhawk has little impact. So true! I would've never seen Greyspace as a problem though, but sure, easy fix. However, just when I was ready to contemplate the issues of canon timelines, Rob, like the god of rogues and wine that he is, got drunk with power and ultimately decided to remake the entire setting. Well played, Mr. Vest. Upward and onward!
Q4: You're putting together an all-star Greyhawk NPC group. Who is your number one pick?
Rob: Though you certainly couldn’t trust him in the long run, I’d probably pick Vecna. Sure, he’s a god now, but he started off as a mere mortal. In 576 CY, he was regarded as a mere arch-lich (though he did have a cult at least as early as the Expulsion of Evil in 209 CY). By 581, he’s a bonafide demigod. Within a decade, he levels up to lesser god. Though his plans are often foiled by meddling adventurers, he nearly always seems to come out ahead.
Shew! Vecna?! He is not wrong though. I can't say much, as my team is led by Iggwilv for the same reasons. I think I see his true interest in Vecna actually. Big V is the god of secrets and Rob is certainly a scholarly fellow. If he wants to remake the World of Greyhawk in his image (and the wikis associated with it) who's better to help out with the lore than Vecna? (everyone besides Tharizdun actually, but let's just skip to Q5)
Q5. If you could possess one artifact or relic from Greyhawk lore, which would it be?
Rob: The problem with a lot of Greyhawk artifacts is they seem to come with bad side effects, especially if you use the 1E versions. If I’m gonna be Olidammara though, I might as well pick the Kanteel of the Oldest.
Rob is careful with his decision like a few before him. Olid's epic Kanteel is an excellent idea! It's an item that isn't often brought up in Greyhawk discussions so, kudos for making such an entertaining choice. Idea, Vecna only has one hand so he has no use for a kanteel. That means as the god of wine and music, Rob can just perform while Vecna does most of hard work re-creating all Greyhawk lore. What could go wrong? Party on!
Well that was certainly an enjoyable entry in the Ring. Thanks again to Rob Vest for dropping these answers off. They are just what I needed! More next time!