Tuesday, January 25, 2022

In Memory of Two Greyhawk Sages

Welcome back readers of Greyhawkery. Yes, this is my 1002nd post overall, and my second since going on hiatus last year. If you are new to the blog, well, thank you for joining in. You have a lot to catch up on! If you are reading this as it's posted, thank you for keeping on top of my activity in the Greyhawk community. I haven't gone anywhere, and I appreciate those who encourage me to get back to blogging. 

This post is special however, so no promises. As many in the Greyhawk community know, we lost two friends over December 2021. It took me a while to process the loss, to decide if I wanted to blog about them, or leave it at sharing kind words on Legends & Lore stream. Well folks, I'm finally in the frame of mind to do a post. 

Michael, or Leahcim the Learned, was a kind soul, witty and quick with a bit of Greyhawk lore. Michael was a fixture in the Greyhawk community and on streams. I remember first meeting him through the Greyhawk Channel, as he was quick to educate the new players in Greyhawk lore through the chat window, and later he got involved through Lord Gosumba channel and the community Discords. I was lucky enough to play some Greyhawk with Michael before he died, and I could tell he relished every session playing a Suel wizard. Michael was also a contributor to Canonfire, Oerth Journal, and I'm sure more if only he had more time. I wish I had got to know more about the man behind Leahcim, maybe at a convention, or guesting on a stream. Now he'll just have to remain a legend, along with the pantheon of other learned Greyhawk deities.

Jason Zavoda by contrast, needed no introduction in our community. Or if you didn't know him, one only had to point out his body of Greyhawk work. If I was to sum Jason up in on word I'd say "prolific". He is first and foremost known for his Zavoda Index a tool that has no equal in the D&D community. There is no one writing in fandom who hasn't used his index for reference. If that was all JZ did, he'd still be a legend to me. But no, he also started a blog Hall of the Mountain King which in his words, was inspired by Greyhawkery. That's an honor. Of course, Jason grew tired of Blogger. Yeah it's not the best, I agree. Well, he moved his posts to Canonfire Journal: Hall of the Mountain King where Jason had already been a long-time member of Canonfire. In fact, Jason used to post Greyhawk fiction there such as Nosnra's Saga

Speaking of fiction, I don't know anyone who loved Gary Gygax's Gord novels more than Jason Zavoda. Anytime Jason would guest on Legends & Lore or Gabbin' streams, he was ready to dispense sagely lore about these books. His love of these novels led him to another innovative idea: Jason Zavoda Presents: Reading and Annotating the Gord Novels, with Chris (Cthaeh). Audio readings of Greyhawk novels (or any D&D book for that matter), is an incredible idea, and with annotations makes it even more fun to experience. I hope Chris and someone else can take up where Jason left off and finish this project. And I think that's what drove Jason to be so prolific. We all knew his health wasn't the best (nor was Michael's) and he was posting blogs, reading books, and talking in streams and voice chats daily. He knew his time was limited and was making the most of it. Now, Jason can kick back and have a drink with Gygax, Arneson, and all the other legends of the game.

Let these two guys be your motivation to contribute your fan work with the Greyhawk community (or any D&D community). You may start small, but if you are consistent and your body of work grows, people will be inspired by you in turn, and that's a fitting reward for being a part of this community.  


David Leonard said...

Such loss, and so close together, mere days apart.
I did not know Michael (Leachcim), but I am aware of his vast body of work. I'm sure he will be missed by many long-term Canonfire! readers and contributors.
I did know Jason. He (and you, too, Mike) was one of the first people I connected with when I began blogging. He was invaluable to me. He inspiring me, and guiding me on how to get started, and on how to keep motivated. And yes, his Zavoda Index is literally one of the greatest research tools available to anyone in this community. I doubt I would have begun my blog if it weren't available. In fact, I know I would never have begun had it not been for that titanic effort of his. It makes my work possible.
One thing we can all be thankful of, is that both left a body of work, a legacy, we can admire for years to come.
You too, BTW: few can boast 1000 posts. Most fizzle out long before. You are in great company! An inspiration to us all.

Lord Gosumba said...

Very nice words Mike, thank you for these memories.

grodog said...

Well-said, Mike!

I'm sad to say that I didn't know Michael well, since I'm less actively-engaged with the streaming and Discord zones of Greyhawk fandom. I'll have to look up his works (and if you have any favorites to link, I'd appreciate pointers!).

I've known Jason since the Usenet days, and we attended the same DD& conventions as children (although I didn't meet him until much later). I will miss his many contributions to the community, his fiery spirit, and his love of the game (and setting!). I'm grateful that he managed to pass the torch for his stewardship of the Index, and hope that we can continue to build it out over time as a testament to its origins as well as our collective love of Greyhawk!

We spent some time at the Greyhawk fandom seminar at GaryCon in 2019 discussing how to preserve works from deceased members of the community, and this is a timely, if unfortunate, reminder that we need to give some more thought to that.


Scott said...

You still post when it matters. Well done.

Zudrak (Michael G.) said...

A sad but necessary entry on your blog, for sure, Mike.

I knew of Michael/Leahcim -- and like you, easily figured out what his pseudonym stood for -- from Canonfire and the Oerth Journal. As grodog said above, I will have to look up his works.

Jason was known to me from Canonfire's old site and Dragonsfoot. Jason deserves all the laud and compliments that are sent his way from the GH community. I was glad to interact with him in small ways, leading up to writing him directly in Jay's chat on the LordGosumba stream on Twitch. I enjoyed Jason's talking about the Gord books wherever we interacted. The Zavoda Index is a great legacy to leave us GH fans, yet Jason gave us more. His death left a shadow on my heart.

May Michael and Jason rest in peace. May the GH community honor their memories.

Thanks for taking the time to honor them with a blog post, Mike. As a (failed) blogger myself, I encourage you to keep it going when the spirit is willing. I appreciate your love of Oerth.

Chris (Cthaeh) said...

Mike, thanks for posting this!
As a longtime Greyhawk fan but latecomer to the community, I'm sad to say I did not know Leachcim well. He sounds like a wonderful person and longtime contributor. He will be missed.
I did have the opportunity to get to know Jason well. We spent our time reading the Gord novels from 6-7 everyday from June till December and were able to finish the series up to and including Night Arrant. Jason shared his wealth of information not just regarding Greyhawk but on every subject. It's not the knowledge that I miss most but his laugh. When we discovered an interesting tidbit, he lit up. His happiness was effusive and contagious. That's what I miss most. Not a day goes by without thinking of him. At 5:30, I still feel like I need to get ready for the readings.
I would like to continue the work and finish the readings but I fear to fall short of the high standard he set. I just don't have the depth of knowledge he had but I'll think about it.
Thanks to both Michael and Jason. Until we meet again,