Thursday, February 25, 2021

Classic Greyhawk Modules To Do List

Howdy Greyhawkers! Naw, not gonna talk about Wizard's newly announced Ravenloft book, and the two remaining books left to be announced. Been there done that. No, often I stop and post some retrospective on which modules I need to collect or in this case run for my friends (Ghost Tower of Inverness and the Saltmarsh series is my most recent). It's for my own benefit, but also can inspire those in a similar position as me. Most times I prefer writing my own adventures, it is easier to remember the plot when I created it. When I'm lazy though or just want something for my players to grind, modules are always best bet. So yeah, in my roughly 37 years of DMing, here is some classic modules I need to check off my Greyhawk bucket list (caveat, I'm not including Dungeon magazine modules cause I know there's a ton of them I haven't ran):

The Slave Lords series (A0-A4, etc): This one is what led me to post this since we talked about the Slave Lords recently on Legends & Lore stream. Strangely, I collected the original 32-page modules well after I had already ran 2E Slavers into the ground. I feel that going back to the 1E AD&D originals would be more fun.

Against the Giants (G2-G3): I ran parts of G1 the Steading of the Hill Giant Chief as a teen long ago before I knew what I was doing, but I never really got to the high level sections, Hall of the Fire Giant King and Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl. Now would be a great time to bash giants!

Drow series (D1-D3, Q1): Okay for that matter I've never ran Vault of the Drow or rest either. I love reading through them, but I've yet to try and see if my friends want to play an Underdark campaign. Our games tended to revolve around mega-dungeons like Greyhawk Ruins or Maure Castle, and political themes like the Greyhawk Wars. In the very least I'd like to use the Vault given the wealth of lore at my fingertips. 

Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth (S4): This is one dungeon that I know fans like because of the backstory, but I think I tried to run once and gave up because of the mountain exploration. I want to just get to the main parts and run it someday!

Secret of Bone Hill (L1): I have never ran any of Len Lakofka's modules and that's a sad admission given that I met him late in his life and now he is no longer with us. I must run a Lendore Isles module someday! (maybe Assassins Knot as well)

Isle of the Ape (WG6): I'm not sure why, maybe its cause there's a new Kong movie coming out, but how have I never ran this module? Me and my friend Jayson have been monster movie fans since we were old enough to tie our shoelaces. This is on the list.

Falcon's Revenge (WGA1): Okay last one, I threw this out cause I know the Falcon trilogy isn't popular, but I somehow never owned them when they first came out and let me tell you, these are set in Greyhawk City, and I used every bit of City of Greyhawk lore I could get my hands on. So basically I need to run one of these and see if its truly as awful as I've heard (can't be worse than Doomgrinder and I ran that!).

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Let's Fight Raxivort

Welcome Greyhawk adventurers! I haven't done this column in a long time. If you haven't seen my previous "Let's Fight" posts it goes like this; back in the days of AD&D, it was entirely possible, but not advised, for PCs to get into combat with deities. The 1E Deities & Demigods in particular is filled with stats and rules on many pantheons from earth and literature. This template for deity stats carried over to the early World of Greyhawk products and articles thus giving DMs an option to pit their players against the gods themselves if necessary. As expected, they are damn tough but not impossible to kill. Hit points were capped out at 400, AC never went higher than -10 (AC 30 by today's rules) and most had very high magic resistances and other powers not available to characters. 
After sacrificing PCs in combat with greater gods like Istus, Ulaa and Nerull, let's give the players a chance at fighting someone their own, er, size? Let's fight Raxivort, god of xvarts, rats, and bats! 

Raxivort the Lord of Xvartkind was once a mere mortal mortal, but through cunning, ambition, and superior capabilities he received powers from his master, Graz'zt. He then used his powers to steal from the demon prince, lead a rebellion, then run off with his riches to Pandemonium where he evidently ascended to lesser deityhood.

The Horde: Any fight with Raxivort is actually going to begin as a major encounter. The '83 boxed set says he always has companies of xvart fighters to guard him. How many is in a xvart company? I dunno, but their original entry in Fiend Folio has their number of appearing listed at 40-400. So yes, a minimum 40 guards, or an average of 200 xvart warriors. Given its Raxivort though, why not the maximum number? Sure they are only 1-1 HD and do 1d4+1, but that's a mean horde. Likewise at his beck and call, is packs of the largest giant rats (Per Monster Manual, 5-50 in a pack, so I assume a few of those) and scores of mobats. Monster Manual 2 has these mean things at 4-6 HD and a wingspan of 12' scores of them? That's 20-60 roughly if the DM is nice? Between xvarts, bats and rats, that's a lot of ablative hit points! Heroes better have lots of AOE attacks with them, or bring reinforcements! 

Ranged Threats: Meanwhile, Raxivort himself hides in the back of his horde (or among them?) and uses spells and ranged attacks. First off, little ol Raxi has the powers of a standard lesser god (according to the Glossography), so he will have access to heal (2 times), and cure serious wounds in a pinch, but worse, he can cast annoying stuff like improved invisibility (at will), death spell (1 time fortunately), and polymorph others (2 times)

He famously can hurl "any" knife, dagger, short sword, or similar blade with great accuracy and can make them bite as if a +4 weapon! Very deadly, especially when you consider the blue guy is equal to a 10th-level assassin. In AD&D this means if Raxi takes the PCs by surprise (remember the invisibility), then even without poison, there is a chance he can Assassinate a single character. At his level he optimally has a 1% chance to instakill an 18th-level PC. His chances increase from there, a modest 14th-level PC would have a 25% chance of dying for instance. Players best protect their healer!

Oh yes and just for fun Raxivort can shape change into a mobat form (then fly among his scores of mobats) and attack in concert with a 20' radius sonic scream that causes a save vs paralysis from the noise. That radius will be much bigger since there is scores of mobats to deal with! The PCs better wear earplugs! 

Once the henchmen and guards are dealt with, and sly Raxivort is cornered, or heck, even if his horde is entirely bypassed somehow, the Lord of Xvarts can defend himself. Don't let his small size (4' tall) fool you. At AC-1 (blue chainmail) and 246 hit points, this xvart has more durability than bigger, meaner gods such as Trithereon, Iuz, and even Hextor! Raxi is also a 12th-level fighter, with an 18/00 strength, and a dizzying 4 attacks per round using his main weapon, a small yet deadly falchion:

The Azure Razor:
 This is a +5 weapon in Raxi's hands only. Not only does it do  1d6+7 damage per hit, he can command the razor to paralyze one type of creature each day. It is not certain whether targets get a save, just don't get hit is my advice. Make sure your party is diverse! But for those he can't paralyze, he has other tricks up his sleeve, like his left hand...

Blue Flame: Raxivort can also project from his left hand a nasty variation of the burning hand spell (20' long, 20 wide at end). The blue flame is a magical fire/acid spray requiring TWO saves to avoid 5d4 damage. He can hurl this power once every four rounds and six times per day. When Raxi uses the blue flame he can only attack twice with his falchion, so there's that.

Attacking Raxivort with spells can be frustrating for players with his 40% magic resistance and 18 Intelligence and Wisdom. He is also listed as Psionic Ability "VI" which means that while Raxivort does not have psionic powers, he is also immune to them. Leave your psionicists at home for this encounter.

As a solo fight, Raxivort could reasonably be taken down by a large, well-armed, high-level group, but in his own lair among vast hordes of skittering creatures, there is little doubt this fight would end with players running in fear, and then for the rest of their lives wondering if every bat or rat they see might be a vengeful Raxivort in disguise!

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

New Greyhawk Sword: Hawksteel

Well met Greyhawk enthusiasts! I have a treat for you today. This is a custom magic item from my own "silver age" 2E campaign, a sentient sword named Hawksteel. To bring Hawksteel into the present. I've converted it to 5E rules. Those who use other systems will easily be able to port this item over to your game though. Now, as some of you grey beards like myself will gather, this sword is an homage to some of my favorite childhood swords. It's foremost a nod to the Mind-Sword from Hawk the Slayer, as well as a tip of the cap to the Sword of Omens from Thundercats. It's much more however. 

While my friends Jayson and Brian weren't busy conquering the world with their high-level PCs (see my Greyhawk Wars campaign), we had secondary campaigns. Brian who played a wizard much of the time, was usually looking to play a cool fighter with a bad-ass magic sword. I shrewdly granted that wish to his new character Logan Konig a relative of Jayson's PC barbarian dynasty (who claimed all 5 of the Blades of Corusk). Logan finds a sentient sword in the lair of a linnorm somewhere in the Corusk Mountains. What followed was a very short lived storyline that had Logan battling renegade barbarians working for a mysterious foreign warlord who turned out to be Kas the Terrible (think Vlad the Impaler). I had greater plans for Logan and Hawksteel, but never finished the story arc. Fortunately I kept these notes. Perhaps the mysterious Hawksteel will see new life in someone's campaign. There may be more to come as well...

Note: Hawksteel is a very roleplay intensive magic item. For 5E players, I refer you to page 216 of the DMG for rules on running a sentient weapon conflict. However, whichever system you use for sentient weapons, read up on them before adding this sword to your game. Enjoy!
Weapon (longsword) legendary (requires attunement by a creature proficient in longswords)
Also known as Keenblade or Shadowkiller, Hawksteel was created by one of the fabled Mages of Power during the Baklunish-Suloise Wars. Crafted from star-fallen metal obtained from beyond the western seas, it is said the enchanting of this sword was so difficult that several Suel wizards enlisted to aid the Magi died in the process.
The sword was first wielded by the champion and personal bodyguard of the Suloise emperor. During this tumultuous time, Hawksteel foiled several assassinations and likewise dispatched many of the emperor’s worst political threats. Eventually fearing the power of the sword might be used against him, the emperor turned his champion loose on the Baklunish Empire as his new chief assassin.
As fate would have it the bearer of Hawksteel, still on a mission, went missing during the Twin Cataclysms. It is suspected the sword migrated eastward into the Flanaess, passing from one bearer to another until it was lost. Until now.
You gain a +3 bonus to attack and damage rolls made with this weapon. The blade always scores a critical on a roll of 19 or 20. If you score a critical hit with it, the target takes extra 7 damage. It has the following additional properties.

    Light and Dark. You can speak the sword’s command word to cause the blade to shed bright light in a 10-foot radius and dim light for an additional 10-feet, or alternatively darkness in a 15-foot radius. Speaking the command word again or sheathing the sword puts out either effect. It has the following additional properties.

    Mind Over Matter. If you are attuned to this weapon, you can use a bonus action to call the weapon to your free hand if it is within 30 feet.

    Sight Beyond Sight. While you are holding the sword, you can use an action to cast clairvoyance or clairaudience. Once you cast either spell, you can’t cast it from the weapon again until the next dawn.

    Shadow Jump. While you are holding the weapon, you can use a bonus action to teleport up to 60 feet to an unoccupied space you can see. Both the space you teleport from and the space you teleport to must be in dim light or darkness. Once used, this property can’t be used again until the next dawn.

    Sentience. Hawksteel is a sentient chaotic neutral weapon with an Intelligence of 16, and a Wisdom of 14. It has hearing and darkvision out to a range of 120 feet.
The weapon communicates two ways. One is through magical runes that slowly appear on the surface of the blade which anyone can see. These short messages are never longer than 7 words, and are always in a language that the bearer can read. Rune messages fade within a minute of being read. The weapon also communicates with its owner through dreams and visions when it needs to communicate at length. Anytime during a long rest, or when there is a conflict of purpose, the sword can reach out to the bearer. The manifestation of these dreams varies according to the many personalities of the sword.

    Split Personality. Hawksteel has many personalities, each with competing purposes. Each month, a new prime personality directs the weapon (this can be rolled randomly or chosen by the DM). During dream communication, multiple personalities may clash for attention, but only the prime may try to take control of the wielder in a conflict. These are the known personalities of Hawksteel.

    1-2) Seductive Warrior (Charisma 18). Its purpose is to seek adventure and glory. It will not retreat from a fight.
    3) Insulting Shadow-form (Charisma 10). It believes the bearer is a fool. Its purpose is to find a more worthy owner before the sword becomes lost again. It may suppress powers in protest.
    4) Calm Voice in Darkness (Charisma 16). Its purpose is to gain power and influence. To this end it pushes the wielder to attain magic, followers, and property.
    5) Angry Blood-form (Charisma 10). Its purpose is to kill all enemies expediently. It refuses to be used with another weapon or shield.
    6) Articulate Floating Sword (Charisma 16). Its purpose is to protect the sword. It will attempt to take control of the wielder and flee if it feels a battle is too dangerous.
    7) Paranoid Ball of Light (Charisma 14). Its purpose is to keep the bearer alive. To this end, it will give frequent warnings real or imagined.
    8) Echoing Flame-eye (Charisma 14). It has no purpose of its own, believing the wielder’s goals are predestined. Conflict only arises when others try to influence the bearer away from a goal.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Greyhawk Lore: All About the Eye of Vecna

Greetings seekers of Greyhawk secrets! Today I am about to impart some forbidden lore on you. Warning to all, before you read on ***there is spoilers in this post***. Spoilers from multiple editions no less! 
The vile topic of this post is the Eye of Vecna. What got me on this subject is the rumor that the upcoming D&D movie will feature this classic artifact. Over the many editions and authors of D&D, the Eye (and Hand) have seen many changes in powers and even appearance. With that in mind, I am anxious to see what an Eye of Vecna ends up like on the big screen. Fingers crossed. Until then, let's examine the long history of this grisly optical artifact. Final note, this is not an exhaustive list of the Eye's appearances and versions, only Vecna knows the entire truth. Good luck readers!

OD&D: Eldritch Wizardry (1976)

"It is also said, but not in the hearing of strangers, that when the mighty lich, Vecna, finally met his doom, that one of his eyes survived along with his hand. The eye may or may not have originally belonged to Vecna, as it is said to glitter much in the same manner as the eye of a feline. If the eye is pressed in the empty socket of a human’s head, it grafts itself to the head of the user and gives him remarkable powers!" 
"Once placed, the eye cannot be removed, and it turns the user unalterably chaotic...THE EFFECTS OF THE EYE ON THE USER MAY NOT BE ALTERED IN ANY MANNER, EVEN BY WISHES." 

    The mighty lich! He isn't quite arch-lich status in the beginning. Like all artifacts, their powers can be randomized, but the suggested powers of the original Eye are, user immune to disease, clairaudience, water breathing, and paralyzation 3/day. The suggested primary power of the Eye is one Wish per week (hence the disclaimer above). However, using this power causes a nasty side effect:

"There is an increasing chance that the power confined in the object will break free, take over the wielder of the item by destroying this individual’s soul, and then (masquerading as the person) kill all of the hirelings and associates of the person. The chance should range from 1% to 4%, cumulative, per use of the item."

    The side effect is definitely what I expect from a Vecna item. Unless I'm reading EW wrong, the suggested powers are too random for my liking. Why not clairaudience for instance? Water Breathing? Eh, moving on to the next edition, and the book that got me hooked into D&D the most...

1E: Dungeon Masters Guide (1979)

Seldom is the name of Vecna spoken except in hushed voice, and never within hearing of strangers, for legends say that the phantom of this once supreme lich still roams the Material Plane. It is certain that when Vecna finally met his doom, one eye and hand survived. The Eye of Vecna is said to glow in the same manner as that of a feral creature. It appears to be an agate until it is placed in an empty eye socket of a living character. Once pressed in, it instantly and irrevocably grafts itself to the head, and it cannot be removed or harmed without slaying the character. The alignment of the character immediately becomes neutral evil and may never change. The Eye bestows both infravision and ultravision to its host, and gives the following additional powers/effects:

    Vecna is now supreme lich! This one is interesting because the eye could be disguised among a hoard of gems. I can imagine one-eyed adventurers desperately pressing every gem they find to their eye sockets in the off chance they found this item. Also interesting to note the original Eye turns the PC chaotic, this time we have NE. Nasty either way. How about powers?

 2 minor benign powers, 2 major benign powers, 1 prime power and 1 major malevolent effect.

'The minor or major powers may be used without fear of harm, but use of the primary power, causes a malevolent effect upon the host character."

    There is no suggested powers in 1E, but looking at the charts, Wish is still an option but this time 1/day! All the malevolent side effects are nasty. All 34 of them. The Eye of Vecna is still a raw object with scant lore in this era, let's see what is going on in the next edition now.

2E: Vecna Lives! (1990)

    This is the module that finally brings Vecna (arch-lich!) firmly within the World of Greyhawk setting. In it a long deceased villain named Halmadar (who is but a quasi-lich) possesses both the Eye and Hand. The Circle of Eight go digging around and regret it immediately, and thereby change the Flanaess forever. Among the vast lore we learn is that Vecna is a Flannae despot from pre-migrations who destroys the town of Fleeth. We learn of texts with history on Vecna and his items like the Chronicle of Secret Times. The PCs also discover his cult runs around the Greyhawk region and eventually that the avatar of Vecna himself is looking for the items. Trouble abounds in this module, let's look at the Eye specifically:

"The Eye of Vecna appears to be nothing more than a small withered pebble or clot. It radiates a powerful aura of magic, if this is checked for. No indication of the type of magic can be discerned. The Eye is thoroughly and irredeemably evil, but it does not radiate evil.
The Eye of Vecna can be used only after it is set in the empty eye-socket of a humanoid creature. Once this happens, the Eye can be commanded to function. Once placed, the Eye cannot be removed by magical means. The great danger of the Eye is that it will eventually dominate its owner, first forcing its victim to obey the Eye's will and finally convincing the person that he is Vecna."

    Well now the PCs will be sifting through pebbles not just gems! I like that the immediate long term effect is the user comes to believe he is Vecna. This is important in the module. Since this is a full adventure the Eye has defined powers:

"Constant Abilities: True Seeing. Foresight.
Invoked Abilities: Clairvoyance-at will, Eyebite- 3/day, Glassee-3/day, Domination-1/day, Vision-1/week."

    Now this is more like it. The powers are thematic of an evil, magical eye. I notice there is no more Wish spell. That would be adventure breaking. But the given powers available still make a user quite the headache for a DM. How about drawbacks?

"Each time one of the invoked powers of either artifact is used, the character must roll a successful saving throw vs. resist domination. Even elves and half-elves are subject to this attack...If the domination is successful, the artifact assumes control of the player character....The artifacts have the following goals:
Acquire more magical power...magical spells and devices, even if they are useless to the character. 
Acquire temporal power. A dominated character will seek to establish his own empire.
Revenge on Kas...This includes any and all descendants of Kas, and the sword of Kas.
Return of Vecna. The artifacts know Vecna lives and can be returned.
Destruction of Good. If nothing else..."

    The Eye is bad enough, can you imagine one PC with both? Campaign wrecking! I like the revenge on Kas and his descendants. Hm, that's a subplot I never considered before...Things get worse for the user of the Eye.

"Each time domination is broken, Wisdom is decreased by 2 permanently. Once at Wisdom 3, the artifact exerts complete control. No further escape possible. The victims personality and habits becomes like Vecna. "The dominated character engages in intense scholarly research, avoids sunlight, devises and sets in motion the most arcane cruelties in the name of magical science, and actively seeks out and destroys any potential threat or competition to his own power. The character denies he is anyone other than Vecna, although the artifacts continue in their efforts to restore their true master.""

    Brutal. This is One Ring-Tolkien grade artifact evil here. Speaking of which, can the Eye be destroyed? There is a few suggested means of destroying it:

"The Eye can only be destroyed in the heart of the Sea of Dust. where it must be roasted in the scorching flames of the oldest red dragon in all of Oerth. 

Both artifacts can be destroyed if they are shattered on the Golden Forge at the Heart of the Sun. 

The Eye must be encased in volcanic glass from the Hellfurnaces and then shattered against the crystal sphere that en­closes all of Greyhawk space (see the SPELLJAMMER boxed set for details)."

    Those are all epic. The Golden Forge sounds especially hard to reach. One more thing on Vecna Lives! There is a cultist/creature called the "Eye of Vecna" in this! Check out some of my notes on this creature:

Eye of Vecna
A unique creature that only answers to the Heart of Vecna. If it is killed, another can be created. 7' tall, once a human, but transformed. Its head has been replaced by a giant eyeball. Slender. Wears green robes trimmed in red with golden eyes embroidered on the hem. In public it wears gray hooded robes.
Main purpose is information gathering. Normally uses a two-handed sword or two dirks. Cannot be surprised.  Gaze attack. Feeds on souls. Failed save sucks out soul, but not devoured until the body is destroyed. If slain, the souls return to their bodies if preserved. The Eye gains access to all the victims memories.
The Eye is stripped of its humanity. Limited precognitive ability. Finishes sentences of others. Surrounds itself with mirrors and fascinated by reflections. Clairvoyance, Detect magic, Find traps at will. Detects all illusions.
Psychic tracker. Once it has seen a being either in person or through scrying, it can sense its aura over long distances. The more magical the farther away.

    Yes, there is also a "Hand of Vecna" creature. But that's for another day. Moving on...

2E: Book of Artifacts (1993)

"The Eye of Vecna is little more than a shriveled clot or a small pebble, blood red in color. Like the Hand, it must be affixed to the owner's body (in an empty eye socket) before it can be used. Once in place, it changes appearance to that of a golden, slitted eye, much like a cat's."

    What is up with Vecna's eyes? In all three versions so far he has a cat's eye. Is he even human? Let's see what history is presented. The Book of Artifacts, while generic AD&D, is still chock full of lore on the Eye and Hand. For instance...the Eye was instrumental in the extermination of the house of Hyeric, once the ruling dynasty in Nyrond. The book also makes reference to events in VL! and drops important place names like Tovag Baragu and the Dry Steppes. Let's look at powers:

"The Eye and Hand can function separately or together. Both share the same curse, which is intensified if both items are possessed.
The Eye of Vecna
Constant. The user gains the abilities of a true seeing spell.
Invoked. The user can cast eyebite (3/day) and domination (1/day) spells.
Random. 3 from Divination. (for example divination, contact other plane, foresight)
Resonating. When joined...the user gains 6 random abilities (2 Detection, 2 Protections, 2 Abjurations, and 70% Magic Resistance.)"

    The base powers seem to be comparable to those from VL! however BoA goes back to previous editions in using random ability charts for variety. The resonating powers are new to the Eye and it's incentive for a player to get both items. Devious! Of course there is side-effects and ways to destroy the eye in this book:

"Curse. As these were once the living tissue of Vecna. Every use requires a saving throw vs spell to avoid artifact domination. The artifacts' goals is to gain more magical power, establish an empire, destroy the Sword of Kas, and summon Vecna to Oerth."

"Suggested Means of Destruction
Vecna the demigod must be permanently and irrevocably destroyed. 
It must be cast into the heart of Oerth's sun. 
Every shade of Vecna's victims must be sent to a peaceful rest."

    That last one sounds ridiculously harder than killing Vecna or casting the Eye into the sun (Liga in Greyspace lingo). 2E is not done with Vecna and his Eye by a long shot though.

2E: Vecna Reborn (1998)

    This Ravenloft adventure is the sequel to VL! Written by Monte Cook, he punts by referring DMs to other 2E products for details on the Hand and Eye of Vecna. Sneaky!

2E: Die Vecna Die! (2000)

"The Eye of Vecna appears to be a black, uncut gem. It radiates powerful, unidentifiable magic. No indication of what type of magic this is can be discerned by any means. To be used, the Eye must be pushed into the empty eye socket of a humanoid being, living or undead, of any type. It immediately grafts itself in place and starts glowing with a red, sinister light. Once so inserted, the Eye cannot be removed through magical means or by anyone but its user, who must gouge it out with his bare hands. (Alternatively, the power of a god can free the wearer.) As soon as the Eye is placed in the user, it begins to assert its influence, possibly causing the user to believe that he or she is actually Vecna, reborn in living form."

    2nd edition really rode Vecna hard. This time the Eye appears as a black gem, but I like the sinister glow when its used. Quite a change there. In this finale to the Vecna trilogy, the Eye powers don't exactly line up with previous modules or books, but its close...

The Eye possesses several powers. The constant powers reveal themselves when any situation arises in which they would have an effect... 
Constant: true seeing and foresight.
 Invoked Abilities: The following spell-like effects can be cast with but a thought by the wearer of the Eye. No verbal or material components are necessary, only the gaze and the will of the user. Clairvoyance, at will. Eyebite, 3/day. Domination, l/week. Vision, l/week."

    There is also more resonating properties here and elaborate 2E rules on the curse of wearing the Eye and making saving throws until you ultimately believe that you are Vecna and will go as far to kill the actual Vecna because he is an imposter (a perfect set-up for this combat heavy mod). destroying the Eye in this book? It's quite similar to VL! but a new suggestion in DVD! is hilariously specific:

"The Eye and Hand must be willingly accepted and worn by the purest person in the distant land of Blackmoor, in the northern Flanaess of Oerth."

    One extra feature for fun. In the adventure there is a reliquary to the "other eye of Vecna" (the right one evidently). Let's see how the next edition fares...

3.0, 3.5E: Dungeon Masters Guide (2000-2002)

"The arch-lich Vecna may have been the most powerful wizard ever to have lived. He may also have been the most evil. Apparently risen now to deityhood, he left behind relics embodying remnants of his power-the mummified remains of his hand and his eye."

"Powers of the Eye...the bearer of the Eye loses 2 points of Charisma...It grants the host continuous darkvision and true seeing. Three times per day each, the host can use the spells eyebite and domination. Once per day...destruction and unhallow."

"Powers with Both Artifacts...The host gains +2 Strength and +2 to Intelligence, but takes a -2 penalty to Wisdom, upon summon monster IX once per day."

    No real new lore added here. There is some token resonating effects, and in this edition the Eye is more offensive in nature, while still being thematic with vision abilities. Also, there is no divination anymore interestingly. Learning secrets is kind of Vecna's thing. This edition gives no specific places to destroy the Eye in this DMG, though the generic artifact destruction quests include immersion in a Fountain of Light in Heironeous' Hall. Piece of cake right? This edition is a let down after all the 2E material it had to draw on.

3.5E: Libris Mortis (2004)

This undead splat book does not have new info on the Eye itself (as all you need is the DMG), but it does present a new cult faction, the aptly named Eyes of Vecna!

"Though the members of this order claim it was founded by the lich Vecna before his ascension to godhood, this declaration seems apocryphal. Regardless of the truth, members of this order venerate the deity of secrets as their divine patron. Their aim is to keep knowledge out of the hands of those undeserving to have it. At the lowest levels, this takes the form of the theft (or destruction) of books and scrolls from personal libraries, but can include kidnapping and murder if necessary."

"To join the Eyes of Vecna, one must prove one’s worth by stealing or destroying an item of forbidden knowledge (such as a rare tome). Characters of evil alignment are strongly preferred, since the Eyes of Vecna must never place the well being of others before the group’s own nefarious goals." 

I love this group. They are directly competing with other knowledge hoarding factions like the Silent Ones of Keoland and the Seekers of the Arcane (and renegades like Eli Tomorast). One more fun eye related thing from Libris Mortis to perhaps confuse your players:

"Mummified Eye: This hard, round orb fits into a humanoid creature’s empty eye socket and looks much like a normal eye at first glance, but it has a distinctly dry appearance and does not move in the socket. The grafted creature can use the eyebite spell as a 12th-level caster once per day."

Core Beliefs: Vecna, Dragon #348 (2006)

This article was written by Sean K. Reynolds and Samuel Weiss. Admittedly there is no new information on the Eye itself here, but there is a 3.5E update for the "Eye" creature from Vecna Lives! and this issue, owing to its authors, is probably the best single source for Vecna lore, cult secrets and more. Check it out if you haven't already.

The Library of Last Resort, Dungeon #132 (2006)

Going in hand with Core Beliefs, this module was part of the Age of Worms adventure path during 3.5E. The Vecna cult lore in this episode is considerable. Among the convoluted plot of the AP, a high-powered cultist of Vecna seeks the Eye of Vecna. Spoiler, there is no new specific information on the artifact here.  

4E: Dungeon Masters Guide (2008)

"...The Eye is appropriate for paragon-level characters..."

"The Eye of Vecna (Paragon Level)
One of two relics left behind by Vecna before he ascended to god-hood, the Eye of Vecna is a red, embalmed orb that pulses as if alive, but remains icy cold to the touch. It retains a remnant of Vecna’s mortal power—a power with a singular devotion to evil."

    This is a simplified history and description of the Eye, this time red colored. The pulsing, cold is certainly a nice new touch. 4E is not a system I was familiar with, but this DMG goes into extensive detail on the Eye's powers and in game play...

"Body Slot: Head
Property: You gain a +1 item bonus to Arcana, Insight, and Perception checks.
Property: The Eye grants you darkvision.
Property: When using an attack power granted by the Eye, you can use your highest mental ability score (Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma) for the attack, regardless of the normal ability score noted for the power.
Power (At-Will): You can use eyebite (warlock 1).
Power (Encounter): You can use mire the mind (warlock 7).
Power (Daily): You can use eye of the warlock (warlock 16)." 

    Okay then! I'm not sure what mire of the mind and eye of the warlock do, but it sounds perfect for Vecna's artifact. How about some item goals?

"Goals of the Eye of Vecna

Be reunited with the Hand of Vecna.
Spread the worship of Vecna across the world.
Wrest secrets from those who keep them, then use those secrets as weapons of betrayal.
Be installed in a powerful living vessel, preferably a powerful wielder of arcane magic."

    That's pretty standard. Now what's wild is 4E's concordance rules for artifacts. It's a scale that goes up to 20. The more evil deeds a PC does with the Eye the more powers the Eye will provide. If you don't please the Eye the score goes down and bad things happen. If the PC falls to zero points or less, then the item "moves on" and well, it's over. I am digging this system and wish that 5E had adopted it.

5E: Dungeon Masters Guide (2014)

"Seldom is the name of Vecna spoken except in a hushed voice. Vecna was, in his time, one of the mightiest of all wizards. Through dark magic and conquest, he forged a terrible empire. For all his power, Vecna couldn't escape his own mortality...Orcus, the demon prince of undeath, taught Vecna a ritual that would allow him to live on a a lich. Beyond death he became the greatest of all liches...So formidable and hideous was his temper that his subjects feared to speak his name. He was the Whispered One, the Master of the Spider Throne, the Undying King, and the Lord of the Rotted Tower."

    5E provides an excellent backstory, built upon many editions and years of Greyhawk lore. There is more to it, but I'm moving on to the description of the Eye:

"The eye looks like a bloodshot organ torn free from the socket...To attune the eye, you must gouge out your own eye and press the artifact into the empty socket. The eye grafts itself to your head and remains there until you die. Once in place, the eye transforms into a golden eye with a slit for a pupil, much like that of a cat. If the eye is ever removed, you die."

    This version harkens back to earlier ones with the slit-eye. I dig how before its inserted it looks like a regular eye (organ) possibly with veins attached. Now onto the powers...

"Properties of the Eye. Your alignment changes to neutral evil, and you gain the following benefits:

You have truesight.
You can see as if you were wearing a ring of X-ray vision.
The eye has 8 charges...cast one of the following spells from it: of madness...disintegrate...dominate monster...or eyebite."

    X-ray vision is a new one. Disintegrate too, mind you all these powers use multiple charges. There is resonating powers with the Hand in this edition, among them the return of the Wish spell, though only once every 30 days. Any side effects? Oh yes...

"Each time you cast a spell from the eye, there is a 5 percent chance that Vecna tears your soul from your body, devours it, and then takes control of the body like a puppet. If that happens, you become and NPC..."

    Well that's certainly standard for the Eye, though it's pretty underwhelming to make it a 5% crap shoot every time, unlike 4E's roleplay version of descending into Vecna's control. Destruction means? 5E punts on this one in my opinion, by saying both Hand and Eye must be attached and the user slain by the Sword of Kas. Extreme, but in the context of a module like Vecna Lives, too easy! 

    That's all I got! I'd say it's enough too. I hope DMs find some inspiration in this list, or in the least had a good nostalgic ride through the editions. If this article should later vanish mysterious, well, I blame the Eyes of Vecna.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Greyhawk Books: James Ward & Rose Estes

Hail Greyhawkers! I love going back through old Dragon Magazine issues and reading stuff that I may have overlooked back then. I don't know about you, but my Dragon reading was sporadic if not targeted. If it wasn't the Comics section, Forum/Letters, a Greyhawk article like Suel deities by Len Lakofka or some new D&D content like spells by Ed Greenwood, then I was skimming by it. What did I miss in 1988's Dragon #135? Well, with the benefit of 33 years of hindsight I missed some quite interesting stuff. James Ward, Rose Estes, and R.A. Salvatore. Check this out:

The Game Wizards by James Ward

Readers speak out on GREYHAWK® Adventures 

"I asked for feedback in The Game Wizards column in DRAGON® issue #129. So, what happens when 511 letters come to my office, all filled with great and not-so great ideas on what should get into the GREYHAWK® Adventures hardbound book? I read every one of them. Let me tell you, most of the handwritten ones, especially the ones with horrible penmanship, were a real chore, but every one was read and some of them had ideas that are being put into the design of the book. Let me fill you in on the best of these."

Okay, gotta interrupt here. Anna Meyer and Jay Scott had James Ward on stream several months ago and his insights on the creation of Greyhawk Adventures were fun. I don't believe he mentioned Dragon Magazine feedback in the book's creation. 511 letters from fans? I don't think I've ever heard anyone in the community tell me "yeah I wrote a letter to TSR on what should go in GHA and my specific idea got picked!" It sounds like mostly generalizations here, but clearly some people got rewarded for their effort. Back to the article...

"Many people wanted zero-level PCs. Adventurers are not hatched ready to go; they undergo a bit of training in several areas before they find their niches. The rules on this character-creation system will cover experimenting with different classes and even keeping some powers from other classes (at a penalty of losing experience points on adventures).

A good many people wanted to know about some of the more unusual geographic features of the planet Oerth. There is now going to be an entire section in the book on this topic. Oerth has islands that float with the currents of the sea. Each of these places has become the lair of fierce monsters that need the islands traveling ability to enter new feeding grounds during the year. These monsters also have unusually large treasure hoards. Imagine, too, a strange magical pillar that greatly heightens the powers of any magic-user who touches it but the more spellcasters who touch the pillar, the less power the artifact gives to each. Naturally, one person seeks to have all the power; rivals must be eliminated!"

This I can believe. My favorite stuff in that book is the mysterious geographical locations. I'm having a hard time recalling what pillar he is referring to though, anyone else?

"I was very surprised to see that hundreds of you wanted adventures in the book. Several sections will now have adventures patterned after REF3 The Book of Lairs; these adventures range from zero-level, easy-looking things like loading a hay wagon to high-level adventures for only the toughest of heroes. Each one is designed to provide hours of fun for PCs and DMs alike. Some letters confirmed my suspicion that several sections scheduled to be put into the hardbound would indeed be popular. There was a clear majority in favor of putting in new monsters from the WORLD OF GREYHAWK fantasy setting; the same went for characters and spells. I would be in trouble, too, if I didn't put in magic items especially designed for the WORLD OF GREYHAWK setting."

I never owned the Book of Lairs. I'd like to compare this now. Monsters, spells and magic items of course are faves of the book today. James wraps it up...

"I'll close out this section by saying that I appreciated the thought and effort that went into all those letters from you, the readers. My eyes especially appreciated the typed letters that came in. Yes, I will send out free copies of the book to those whose ideas I liked and used. No, I don't need any more ideas on this project, but I will still read your letters not because I can use the ideas, but because I think your effort merits a little work on my part."

James had told us on stream, this book had a VERY fast product time. And there you have it, somewhere out there Greyhawk fans have free copies of GHA. Jealous! Let's move on now to another section of issue #135. This one blew my mind. I almost NEVER read the novel reviews and video game reviews. In this issue we are treated to a head-to-head review of a Greyhawk novel and a relatively new author's humble Forgotten Realms novel.

The Role of Books by John C. Bunnell



"Rose Estes' third GREYHAWK® Adventures novel and R.A. Salvatore's first tale of the FORGOTTEN REALMS setting share more than common ancestry in the worlds of gaming. Both focus on multiple rather than single protagonists, and comparing the two authors' craftsmanship offers practical insight into the process of developing successful characters."

I'm already cringing that they are being compared. No, like most Greyhawk fans, I'm not a fan of Estes' novels. It's scary to think she was on her third book before FR really got going. Back to the review...

"The Demon Hand is the third book in a trilogy about Mika, a Wolf Nomad drawn by accident into an intricate web of demonic intrigue. That's fine except that Mika is out of action for most of the book, caught in a snare he cannot bypass. Estes instead builds the body of her tale around his harpy daughter, Chewppa, and TamSen, the son of TamTur, Mika's wolf companion. (The mind boggles at the genetic possibilities for the next generation.) Unfortunately, none of these would-be heroes will win much sympathy from readers. Mika, as in earlier books, is too much a victim of fate to be heroic. Chewppa suffers from a comparatively small role in the plot and a serious language barrier. And TamSen, who is really the star of this book, must compete for center stage with Mika and Chewppa as well as with his twin sister, TamLis, who abruptly changes roles at the novel's close. Estes has written this tale with a strong narrative presence. Description generally prevails over dialogue, and the texture of the writing is that of a historian, not a poet. The result is a sense of distance between the story and the audience a real problem in the absence of a strong central figure."

Brutal. How about Mr. Salvatore?

"R.A. Salvatore takes a different approach with The Crystal Shard, a novel with an equally generous cast. His narration stays closer to the events it describes, rather than stepping backward to comment on larger contexts. More significantly, Salvatore deals with his characters in twos and threes rather than by themselves, so that dialogue and action, not description, convey the heroes' personalities. Though the barbarian Wulfgar is initially a reluctant captive in the relative civilization of Ten-Towns, hard work and maturation forge him into a warrior strong enough to slay a legendary dragon (in a nicely crafted scenario, at that) and restore his own tribe's honor. Regis the halfling owes more to the AD&D game than to Tolkien, but his slightly unsavory sense of larceny makes his eventual part in saving Ten-Towns all the more entertaining. And Drizzt, the exiled drow, is handled with uncommon finesse and care. (Salvatore may be the first novelist to find a practical use for the traditional AD&D game alignment system.) These are individuals that readers will enjoy meeting and getting to know."

Yup, I definitely want to read Crystal Shard more than Demon Hand now. Note the part about Salvatore being innovative with Drizzt and alignment. Yes indeed, readers will get to know Drizzt. Alot.

"One other comparison is worth making. Both novels rely on demons from the Abyss for much of their villainy, and in this regard, Salvatore's Errtu is a much deadlier adversary. Errtu is diabolical in action as well as origin, where the blustering Maelfesh of The Demon Hand is little more than a major-league killing machine. (It's also unsettling that Maelfesh is supposed to be several times more powerful than the semi-legendary Iuz, whom Estes casually swept aside a couple of books back.)"

GROAN! Why Rose? Why?

"The Crystal Shard occasionally has rough qualities typical of a first novel (which it is), notably where the shard itself is concerned. Salvatore's writing loses confidence as he tries to get inside his villains' minds, but it is more absorbing by far than Estes' latest work. Estes is capable of better writing (see DRAGON® issue #105 concerning her Children of the Dragon); the Mika trilogy suffers more from carelessness than from true lack of skill. As the AD&D game's original homeworld, the world of Greyhawk deserves more consideration."

Well said sir! If only R.A. Salvatore had been moved over to save the Greyhawk novel line. But no, Drizzt took off and 33 years later, he is still writing. I'll leave you all with this ad from the same issue #135 for Rose's next Greyhawk novel The Name of the Game. Cringe. Oh boy, I need to dig this book review up next! Until then, thanks for going down memory lane with me!

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Greyhawk: Rare Lords & Legends

Greetings denizens of Greyhawk! Digging back into the pages of Dragon Magazine in the 80's, you will always find nuggets of Greyhawk lore that have gone on to greater things, or have been lost to time. One such column to go looking at is Lords & Legends. In this column, an open call was made for authors to submit heroic PCs and NPCs, with stats and extensive backgrounds ideally from TSR branded worlds (unlike Giants in the Earth which was about figures from literature). The resulting column was short lived, but yielded some nice surprises, in particular in issue #134 William Simpson gave us our first lore on the draco-lich, Dragotha from White Plume Mountain fame (though I think there would be retcons following). And in issue #139 Neil Brandt gave us Elayne Mystica for the first time. She would continue on in Greyhawk lore as an important NPC wizard. But before either of these titans of the Flanaess, the creative minds behind Lords & Legends gave us the heroes Gnarly Bones and Kordan Badaxe. Who are they??? Good question. I can show you, but it may create more questions than answers. Let's have a look at issue #131:

Kordan Badaxe
, created by Steve Seguin, is a 9th-level mountain dwarf fighter who wields TWO axes of hurling +4. Only 62-years old, Kordan is special among mountain dwarves for having blue eyes.

"Born of common parents, Kordan learned to use his strength and fighting skills to earn a living. He joined a dwarven army but soon grew bored with the endless routine that came with military life. Instead, he longed for excitement and adventure. When guards were being recruited to protect an advance mining settlement, Kordan quickly volunteered. A vein of precious metals had been discovered at the point where the Jotens meet the Little Hills (see the WORLD OF GREYHAWK fantasy setting map, hex H5-159). The small group of miners, along with accompanying guards, were to begin mining and to set up the foundations of a larger operation if the vein proved lucrative. 
A year later, the mine was producing more silver and mithral ore than was originally foreseen. By this time, Kordan had worked himself up the ranks to the position of sergeant of his squad. During a routine patrol, Kordan's squad was attacked by a large group of vicious giant type creatures. The raiders, mostly ogres and ettins led by a dozen hill giants, were lured to the area by the dwarven ore strikes. With their brute strength and large numbers, the giants destroyed the patrol before word could be sent back to the mine. Kordan was hit by a boulder thrown during the fighting and was knocked down the side of a canyon into a swift mountain stream. The attackers then surprised the mine and enslaved the dwarves in order to continue tapping the mountain's wealth. 
Kordan washed up a few miles from Datmil, a small trading town at the foot of the mountains. After he recovered, the dwarf rounded up a group of adventurers to return to the mine and free his people. Kordan and the five adventurers made it to the mine safely and entered undetected through one of the many ventilation shafts. After a few skirmishes, they located the slave pens. Once the dwarves were freed, they armed themselves as best they could. Under Kordan's command, the miners forced the giants to retreat deep into the mine; the miners then destroyed the supports and collapsed the section of the mine in which the giants were trapped. 
It was during this fierce fighting that Kordan earned the nickname Badaxe as he wreaked havoc amongst the enemy. Kordan would hurl one of his axes with deadly accuracy, strike a second opponent with the axe in his hand, then whirl to catch the thrown axe as it returned. He did this with a frightening efficiency that allowed him to kill six of the hill giants and a score of ogres in his first major battle. Additionally, his intense hatred of giant related races now overrides his feelings about humanoid races like orcs and goblins, and he gains a bonus to hit giants in combat (but not against the humanoids). 
Kordan was made a dwarven lord for his heroism. Shortly thereafter, he constructed a great fortified stronghold in the Jotens as a bastion against further attacks by the giants. Kordan may presently be found in this area, where he patrols his holdings. Despite his serious nature, Kordan is good company (in a dwarven sort of way). He warms up quickly to parties containing dwarves or rangers, a class he respects due to his hatred of giants."

This is a tight story, and an amazing backstory for any dwarven hero in any setting. I dare say there is no officially published dwarven NPC with this much backstory. Kordan should be well known in Sheldomar Valley lore. Also, Mr. Seguin stealthily created the town of Datmil! I don't think I see it on Anna Meyer's Flanaess map, but she will be placing this soon! Good stuff. What about Gnarly Bones though...

Gnarly Bones
, created by Christopher Jones, is also a 9th-level mountain dwarf fighter, but he wears plate armor and carries a hand axe +2. Gnarley i distinctive for not having a beard (not by choice).

"Little is known of the early years of Gnarly Bones. His father was a prominent dwarven lord of his clan, and Gnarly was his first-born child. Gnarly stood to inherit his father's position and influence, but for some reason fell into disfavor with his father and left his homeland. Several speculations have been made regarding this event. Some believe Gnarly may have dishonored his father by refusing to join the dwarven army; still others believe Gnarly killed a member of the clan and was banished from dwarven society as fitting punishment. For whatever reason, Gnarly never returned to the kingdom.
Gnarly proceeded to travel throughout Oerth, his primary concern at this time being one of self-indulgence. Gnarly handled his activities with great levity, and became involved in a number of misadventures. Sometime later, he met Sir Sarvairius of Andairfels. Despite their radically different personalities, the two became steadfast friends. 
After adventuring together for a short period of time, Gnarly and Sarvairius joined a group involved in a quest to capture a demon-witch. During this quest, Gnarly was severely wounded by a fire-based trap. He was saved by the group's cleric, but his beard (a dwarfs badge of honor) was completely burned off and could not grow back. During the remainder of the quest, and throughout subsequent adventures, Gnarly proceeded to build a name for himself. Though he did not become as famous as the demon's slayer, the legends of the bare-faced dwarf are told in many cities and towns. Gnarly journeyed with Sarvairius until the latter received his title and barony. At that time, Gnarly settled down in Andair City (Sarvairius's capital). There, he became well-acquainted with local law enforcement officials. Gnarly's quest for pleasure led him into every kind of trouble; only his friendship with Sarvairius kept him from punishment more severe than a few days in jail. 
About this time, Andair City was attacked by sorcery and transferred into an other-dimensional area called the DemonRealm (possibly a part of the Abyss). With the city under constant siege, Gnarly's fighting skills were greatly taxed. Gnarly rose to the occasion by providing untiring assistance during the siege. Because of his unyielding resolve, Gnarly earned the love and respect of the citizens of Andair City. He became a patron hero of that city, his popularity second only to that of Sarvairius.
When the city was later sent to the alternate Prime Material world of Wireld, Gnarly helped Sarvairius carve out the realm of Andairia. Through these trials, Gnarly's personality underwent a change and he matured greatly. He gave up his epicurean pursuits and assumed a number of local responsibilities. In time, Gnarly built a vast mansion under the mountains of north Andairia. In gratitude for the aid he had given Sarvairius and Andairia, Gnarly was given the title of Earl. He was also given dominion over the mountains in which he settled, which Sarvairius later named the Gnarly Peaks
While a vassal of Sarvairius, Gnarly is the Earl of the Gnarly Peaks; he holds dominion over thousands of dwarves who live in those mountains. If encountered, Gnarly does not reveal his true position or skill at arms. Likewise, he provides little assistance to gray elves (unless they are in extreme danger) due to his hatred for that race. If asked for assistance, Gnarly gives aid or advice in areas in which he has knowledge. Gnarly is quick to anger and slow to forgive. At times he reverts to his former, troublesome personality, which can cause problems."

So we don't know what clan or realm Gnarly originally hailed from, or exactly why he was exiled. He wandered Oerth so much that he came upon a knight from a land called Andairia, but we probably haven't heard of this place because it was whisked away to the Abyss (sorry Anna), then returned to a whole different prime plane where Gnarly is now the earl of a mountain range named after him! Fantastic stuff. Take that dad!

I hope you enjoyed these two NPCs, if you want to get the full info, check out Dragon #131. The article stated that only two dwarves were ever submitted to Lords & Legends, and both were from Greyhawk. I find that intriguing since Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance were definitely in play for this series. While I loved Kordan, but was merely amused by Gnarly, that is the joy of fan submissions. Today we have many outlets for submitting our own Greyhawk campaign creations such as Oerth Journal, Canonfire, Dragonsfoot or blogs like mine! If only back then, Dragon Magazine had kept L&L going longer, imagine what characters might have been added to our collective lore today.

Monday, February 1, 2021

5E Greyhawk: Four Magic Keys

Greeting Greyhawkers! I don't know how I got on this subject, but after some ample research I think I succeeded in my goal of converting a classic artifact, the Silver Key of Portals to 5E rules while also expanding on the theme a bit. Your main sources for the Keys is of course Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure/Maure Castle and Return of the Eight. It seems the Silver Key got more powerful from AD&D to 3rd Edition, and the Bronze Key of Portals, seems like a slightly less powerful version, so much so the authors didn't even bother giving the Bronze Key stats. If anyone else has converted keys like this to 5E I'd be keen to see how mine compare. Until then, enjoy Dalt's work!

Wondrous item, artifact (requires attunement)

The Silver Key of Portals was first found in an abandoned chapel during the early adventures of the mage, Mordenkainen. Since this discovery, Mordenkainen learned the Silver Key was created by Dalt, god of portals and locks. He also surmised that Dalt wanted him to find the Silver Key as the god is known to grant boons to those he favors (he has also correctly deduced that Dalt created other keys like this one). The Silver Key is one of Mordenkainen’s most cherished belongings, but following Dalt’s example, he too is known to loan the artifact out to adventurers. If not returned however, there is nowhere in the multiverse to hide from the archmage. 

Random Properties. The Silver Key of Portals has the following random properties.
·        1 minor beneficial property
·        1 minor detrimental property
Properties of the Silver Key. While you hold the Silver Key of Portals, at will, you can use an action to cause the artifact to function like a chime of opening when it is touched to a non-magical object such as a door, lid, lock, or shackles. On each action, one lock, latch or portal will slowly swing open.
Spells. The Silver Key has 7 charges and regains 1d4+3 expended charges daily at dawn. If you control the Key, you can use an action and expend 1 or more charges to cast the following spells from it: passwall (1 charge), etherealness (3 charges), or word of recall (2 charges). You can also automatically dispel any arcane lock by touch (1 charge).
Destroying the Key. The Silver Key is light (1 lb.), but is impervious to most physical damage, including magical spells. A disintegrate spell or a strong blow from a legendary or greater weapon is sufficient to destroy the key however.
Wondrous item, legendary (requires attunement)
Rumor has it the Bronze Key of Portals was created by the archmage Tenser in the style of the more powerful Silver Key of Portals. Others including Mordenkainen believe differently, that this key was actually created by the god Dalt for its own special purpose long before Tenser came to possess the Fortress of Unknown Depths.

The Bronze Key has 10 charges and regains 1d4+3 expended charges daily at dawn. While you hold the Bronze Key of Portals, you can use an action to cause the key to function like a chime of opening when it is touched to an object such as a door, lid, lock, or shackles. For each charge, one lock, latch or portal will slowly swing open. Magical wards like arcane lock are only suppressed for 10 minutes. Additionally, you can use an action to expend 1 of its charges to discover and open one secret door within 30 feet of you.
The Bronze Key of Portals is specially attuned to the Fortress of Unknown Depths. As such, using the powers of the Bronze Key does not expend charges there.
The Suel deity Dalt is barely known in the Flanaess today, but when not pursuing his personal quest to locate and free his imprisoned brother Vatun, the god of portals is methodically spreading awareness of his religion. Dalt is always looking out for strong allies to his cause, even among mortals, and one way he does this is by subtly loaning out his magical keys. Those who have possessed a Key of Dalt never take it for granted because Dalt can take his Key back as easily as he leaves it. No one knows how many keys or variations Dalt has created. Here is two more Keys that have not seen circulation in Flanaess to date.
Wondrous item, legendary (requires attunement)
The Brass Key has 10 charges and regains 1d4+3 expended charges daily at dawn. While you hold the Brass Key of Portals, you can use an action to cause the key to function like a chime of opening when it is touched to an object such as a door, lid, lock, or shackles. For each charge, one lock, latch or portal will slowly swing open. Magical wards like arcane lock are only suppressed for 10 minutes.
Additionally, you can use an action to cast the following spells from it: passwall (2 charges), or dimension door (1 charge).
Wondrous item, legendary (requires attunement)
The Copper Key has 10 charges and regains 1d4+3 expended charges daily at dawn. While you hold the Copper Key of Portals, you can use an action to cause the key to function like a chime of opening when it is touched to an object such as a door, lid, lock, or shackles. For each charge, one lock, latch or portal will slowly swing open. Magical wards like arcane lock are only suppressed for 10 minutes.
Additionally, you can use an action to find and automatically disarm mechanical traps (1 charge), or find and automatically dispel harmful glyphs and runes (2 charges).