Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Greyhawk A-Z: Named Fiends

Welcome again Greyfolk! I got another fun A-Z list coming at you! Some of my previous alphabetical lists of peopleplaces, deities, and most recently magic items, can be found on the Best of Greyhawkery Page. This time around I will try my hand at discussing named fiends (demons or devils) from the many editions of D&D. Fiends of the lower planes have always been an integral part of Greyhawk lore from the very beginning. I am quite sure there will be no ill side effects by listing all these evil beings, I mean it worked for Iggwilv in her Demonomicon right? Enjoy!

Arendagrost: (Dragon #290) Right off the bat I'm throwing out an obscure fiend. Arendagrost, the Maw of the Abyss, is the three headed, draconic offspring of Demogorgon and Malcanthet the Queen of Succubi. Arendagrost's significance is it was summoned as a byproduct of Lord Kargoth's betrayal of the Knight Protectors and the resulting creation of the death knights. While Arendagrost was sent back to the abyss by the forces of good, it waits to cause more carnage in the future.

Baphomet: (MM2) Now this is more like it, the Prince of Beasts. Good ol' Baphomet rules abyssal layer #600, the Endless Maze. Baphomet is one of those demons extracted from real world mythology though in D&D lore he is the patron of minotaurs as you'd expect. As a bonus tidbit, I wrote the Minotaur Mask of the Ulsprues with Baphomet in mind.

(MM2) Another outlier on this list, Charon is obviously the famous skeletal boatman of the Styx from Greek myth. This doesn't change in D&D except he is a unique daemon (I believe yugoloth in 2E parlance) whose duty is to transport beings on the same river Styx that connects all the Lower Planes. What's fun is that Charon has his own look-alike daemon servants called Charonadaemons who also runs skiffs because I suppose the high demand for ferry services in the afterlife?

Dagon: (Dragon #349) You thought I might go Demogorgon here, eh? Too easy. The Prince of the Depths. Dagon is a classic baddy who lurks in layer #89 The Shadowsea. I like Dagon because he is an ancient evil (obyrith) from real world myth and is well-known in other fantasy lit (Cthulhu, Conan).

Ereshkigal: (MM2) Surprisingly not much going on in the E department so I'll punt. This female demon lord somehow has evaded detail in D&D, but Gygax definitely lifted the name from Sumerian myth. Ereshkigal is one of many gods of the underworld, and in these myths, she is married to another "fiend" on this list (see below).

Fraz-Urb'luu: (MM2) Fraz, the Prince of Deception comes from abyss layer #176, Hollow's Heart. He is quite familiar in Greyhawk lore, like Zagig Yragerne once trapped Fraz as a trial run for capturing real gods. One you may not know is Fraz-Urb'luu once had a side gig as drummer on the Graz'zt Show.

(Dragon #91) Nope, not going to do Graz'zt either, too over-exposed in Greyhawk. Let me show you an arch-devil you can use in your campaign! The Lord Who Watches, Gargoth was once only second to Asmodeus in the Nine Hells but now he wanders the Prime Material Plane on his own terms! If you want to read more about what Gargoth is up to and what this devil can do, check out Nine Hells Revisited in Dragon #91 by Ed Greenwood. I also hear a rumor "Gargauth" is dabbling in godhood in the Realms...

Hutijin: (MM2) This Duke of Hell is found in the 8th layer of Hell, Caina serving his master Mephistopheles. He looks like a pit fiend which is by design because he personally leads two companies of pit fiends. Though I couldn't find it in writing, the best I could find online is that there are 333 devils in a company. An army of 666 pit fiends sounds pretty epic!

Ilsidahur: (Dungeon #10) I had to dig deep for this demon. The Howling King is from the adventure "The Shrine of Ilsidahur". From layer #99 The Guttering Grove, he is a giant ape with ram horns who is the patron of bar-lguras. This module might be worth looking into!

Juiblex: (MM1) Yes of course I have to mention the Faceless Lord here. This famous ooze demon lord is from layer #222, Shedakalah which he shares with another featured fiend on this list (see below). Little known fact, Juiblex loves stand-up comedy.

(MM2) I would've gone with Kerzit on this letter, but Kosty will forever be a favorite thanks to the classic cover of Dragon #119 (left). The aptly named Prince of Wrath rules layer #23 The Iron Wastes. According to his background, Baba Yaga had a hand in his ascension to demon lord status which is fitting because both are based on Russian folklore.

Lolth: (D&DG) Everyone and their cousin knows Lolth, Demon Queen of Spiders who runs abyss layer #66 the Demonweb Pits. No demon lord or duke of hell has probably influenced Greyhawk or D&D for that matter, more than Lolth. I mention her nonhuman entry in Deities & Demigods, but I also first saw her evil glory in Fiend Folio.

The Malgoth: (Dungeon #117) You're probably wondering, what, no Mephistopheles? No Malcanthet? Well folks this is a sleeper pick, check out the Dungeon module, Touch of the Abyss by Greg Vaughan. The Malgoth was once an ancient obyrith that was so awful he was destroyed by an alliance of demon princes (sorta like Tharizdun level badness). His evil was so great that his essence continued to linger invisibly over the aeons, until Lolth unsuccessfully tried to take the city of Istivin into the abyss. This brief overlap allowed the Malgoth to enter Oerth, where he can now possess a single creature, becoming his "voice." It's an insidious demon, and one helluva module.

Nergal: (Dragon #75) This "devil" is intriguing. The Bringer of Pestilence and Fever is an exiled Duke of Hell, one of the "Rabble of Devilkin" who roam Avernus looking to regain his status. That's cool and all but I know a more prominent Nergal from the original Deities & Demigods where he is an underworld god of the Babylonian pantheon (and according to myth is married to Ereshkigal). My favorite however is Nergal the pestilent Chaos god from Warhammer fantasy lore. All in all, there is probably a lot of crossover in these Nergals.

(MM1) No brainer on this letter. Orcus, ruler of layer #113 Thanatos, is the classic Prince of the Undead and wielder of the iconic artifact, the Wand of Orcus. Orcus has featured heavily in D&D and Greyhawk lore, though in my opinion he's best known for his efforts to become a true god in the Planescape module Dead Gods

Pazuzu: (MM2) AKA Pazrael from Iuz the Evil, this demon lord is well known in Greyhawk lore. The Prince of the Lower Aerial Kingdoms is unique in that he rules the skies of all, I repeat ALL the skies in the 666 layers of the Abyss. Pazuzu's main enemy is Graz'zt yet he makes deals on Oerth with the Dark Prince's demigod son Iuz. Like any good demon lord, ol Paz' cannot be trusted!

Queen of Chaos: (Rod of Seven Parts) Thank goodness for the Queen on this letter. She is the elder evil ruler of all abyssdom before Demogorgon. She is so old in fact she has no name except "Queen of Chaos." The Queen was the demon lord who was infamously defeated by the lawful Wind Dukes of Aaqa at the Battle of Pesh. The Queen now lurks in defeat on level #14, the Steaming Fens. 

Rhyxali: (Fiendish Codex I) Quick question, would Raxivort count as a fiend since he spent so much time serving Graz'zt before becoming god of xvarts? At any rate speaking of Graz, Rhyxali the Queen of the Shadow Demons is his sister! Allegedly. Rhyx resembles Graz'zt though, six fingers and all that. There isn't much on her, but she rules layer #49 Shaddonon where all shadow demons originate. Cool!

Shami-Amourae: (Dungeon #148) The Lady of Delights. She is a rival of Malcanthet whom was once the consort of Demogorgon. Shami however was imprisoned in abyss layer #73 The Well of Darkness. She appears in the adventure path Savage Tide because she knows intimate information about the Prince of Demons. Oh my!

(MM2) I'm picking Titivilus because the wily ambassador/messenger of arch-devil Dispater looks fun to use in a roleplay sense. This goat-legged devil is wicked because he can spew the most corrupted twisted words and causes fear and confusion like no other. Fiends even hate talking to him!

Ugudenk: (Dragon #333) The Squirming King is an obyrith demon rules that layer #177 the Writhing Realm. He is best known for having his wormy creatures burrow into Fraz-Urb'luu's realm while he was imprisoned by Zagyg. Let's leave it at that. Nasty.

Verin: (MM2) Tricky letter. This demon lord is mentioned in Monster Manual 2 but is not given any detail. Later on, Verin would be made the "Voice of Graz'zt", the demon who filled in for his demon prince while he was imprisoned by Iggwilv. I believe this role is synonymous with the demon Vuron from Gygax's Gord novel series. Either way, Verin is a cool customer.

Wejinhastala: (Dragon #357) Okay this is an obscure reference, but W isn't a popular letter with fiends evidently. Wejin is the Tempest, a demon lord from antiquity that allied with several others to take down the Malgoth (see above) before falling into ruin themselves.

Xaxx'aa: (Rary the Traitor) This is a hidden gem. Xaxx is an Ultroloth (the toughest of daemon-kind) who is in the service of Rary the Traitor. Xaxx is in the Bright Desert voluntarily to aid Rary, overseeing the epic teleportation of Rary's tower from Ket to the desert. He has uncertain motivations, perhaps displacing the mage as ruler? Xaxx'aa is not only highly intelligent, but deadly in combat, carrying a sentient sword +3 called Doomcutter whose special purpose is to slay demons and devils. This guy needs to be used more!

Yeenoghu: (MM1) The Demon Prince of Gnolls is well known from early D&D lore. He lives on layer #422 "Yeenoghu's Realm" a barren plane that once belonged to other demon lords. Yeenoghu has many enemies, including Baphomet (see above) who have been scheming over events in Western Oerik

Zuggtmoy: (TOEE) Let's finish this list properly. Zuggtmoy has been featured in adventures and novels from the very beginning of Greyhawk. The Lady of Fungi is of course most famous for her um, association with Iuz, and her role in the classic adventure Temple of Elemental Evil. When not imprisoned, Zuggy lives on abyssal layer #222 Shedakalah along with her slimy friend Juiblex. Spoiler: this realm is where Zuggtmoy hides Iuz's soul object. This fiendish show of devotion reminds me of an old blog post from 2019. Enjoy and until next time!

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Greyhawk Quiz #5: Five Letter Chain

Welcome again Greyhawk mavens! 

It's been a fun lazy summer and since I have no GenCon 2024 news of any importance, how about a new Greyhawk quiz? If you haven't already, check out my previous four quizzes on Human CulturesCapital CitiesModule Covers and Vecna. Good luck, this next one requires a bit of typing. Enjoy!


Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Greyhawk A-Z: Magic Items 2

Welcome back Greyhawkers! It's time for another fun A-Z list! Some of my previous alphabetical lists of 
peopleplaces, deities and yes magic items can be found on the Best of Greyhawkery Page. This time around I will look at some magical items that are not swords or artifacts. Wish me luck! I hope you'll enjoy!

Apparatus of Kwalish: Debatably this is an artifact, but it's always been listed among wondrous items in DMG's. We all know this most famous of aquatic magic items, but for future readers I want to make clear, Kwalish is human, and he originally worked out of the Baklunish West in Zeif.

Bucknard's Everfull Purse: This is an item I rarely gave out in my old campaigns, though every group had a Bag of Holding or Heward Haversack. The purse just seemed game breaking to me at low level and useless at high level. Why did Bucknard, a former member of the Circle of Eight, need to make this item? I guess he always got stuck paying for drinks at the tavern.

Cloak of the Couatl: Here's a rare one from The Scarlet Brotherhood. This feather cloak is only found in Amedio or Hepmonaland. As you'd expect it allows the wearer to fly. It also lets you turn invisible. Wow, talk about game breaking!

Dream Cap of Veluna: Greyhawk Adventures really is the best source for GH specific items as you'll see throughout this column. The dream cap gives premonitions in your sleep, usually of bad stuff that will happen. Later on, you get a bonus to save when whatever happens. I never used this before, but it sounds like a good roleplay device for DMs!

Ebon Skull: Possibly a relic (since only three were made), but this major magic item is found in Iuz the Evil. The user can do typical necromancer stuff, animate dead, cloud kill, etc. I believe the book lists which NPCs has the three skulls. I can't recall if I ever used these, I think I'd remember if my players acquired one though...

Flaming Mirror of Tenh: Yes, another gem from GHA. The Flaming Mirror is a cool plane-travelling device (elemental plane of fire) that I did use in the past but for the Baklunish West instead. Tenh sounds cool, but I don't see the thematic connection except to give this item a place name. Personally, I'd trade this one with the Whip of Zeif to make the Flaming Mirror of Zeif.

Gargoyle Cloak: From the Temple of Elemental Evil, this garment obviously polymorphs the wearer into a gargoyle! (helpful if one plays the module Gargoyle?) Interestingly if the wearer takes 20 hp damage from edged or fire attacks the cloak is ruined and stops working. The worst drawback is each 10 minutes you remain a gargoyle there is a 10% chance (cumulative) that your mind is changed to a gargoyle permanently. One more note, the module says there is other cloaks that turn wearers into other types of creatures. See below!

Hasty Barge of Nyr Dyv: Another from Greyhawk Adventures, this is a Rhennee barge that has magical movement, and it automatically repels unintelligent sea creatures. This is one of the only items attached to Rhennee culture that I'm aware of, so this makes the hasty barge valuable indeed!

Iron Bands of Bilarro: Well, this item is pretty standard across D&D editions (and we know by now what the anagram name is about), but what I just realized on re-reading it is the bands start off as a "ball" of iron that you throw at an opponent. The bands unwind and wrap around the target to catch it. Holy crap guys, it's a Pokemon ball!

Jug of Geshtai: Throwing you all a curve ball here. This item was created by ME way back in 2005! Check it out over on Canonfire!

Keolish Plate Mail of the Seas: Interestingly demonym spelling from GHA. Keolish? Misprint or intentional? At any rate this item is great because it has historical relevance. The King of Keoland gave it to his admiral for defeating the Sea Princes. That's the Battle of Jetsom Isle folks! Naturally the armor allows the wearer to not sink in water. Makes you wonder if the Sea Mages of Gradsul made more of these?

Leomund's Labile Locker: I'm a sucker for alliteration. From TOEE once again, Leomund sure knows how to make extra-dimensional storage space. This small box does it all, it shrinks, grows and can be used as a Leomund's Secret Chest spell. More of this please!

Mantle of Celestian: A unique magic item from Unearthed Arcana. This black cloak allows the wearer to breathe and act normally in space! It also has numerous extra-dimensional pockets to store things like food & water while you um, float around in space?

Necklace of Missiles: Found in the DMG, this fireball inducing item isn't necessarily uniquely Greyhawk. But I will tell you a story from my campaign when the players got a bunch of missile beads from the module Greyhawk Ruins. No joke (spoiler) there is a room with 13 jars holding 300 beads each. A chart in the module says 94% are missile beads of various strength (the remaining 6% are beads of force, no big deal). That means this dungeon yields 3666 fireball missiles. Needless to say, my players invented carpet bombing in Greyhawk.

Oracles of Greyhawk: Oracles in this case are specialized crystal balls (likely created by Zagig Yragerne). There is seven of them and once per day the oracle will answer a sagely question about a specific area such as Greyhawk City, Horned Society or the Wild Coast. I like these items because it can allow a DM to insert meta-knowledge into a game. The added danger to this orb is that the rulers of these areas may not want an oracle that can reveal their secret troop strengths or hidden resources. I need to use this next time!

Purple Robes of Tharizdun: Hilariously, these robes first seen in Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun, are given magic item status in Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil. It just protects against the magical cold of their temples, pretty basic, like their cultists. There I said it.

Quaal's Feather Tokens: A classic from the DMG. These were always easy to dish out because they are one shot items. I think my players liked the Anchor best because they would use it offensively like a Looney Tunes cartoon. Tell me I'm not the only one.

Rary's Ring of Memories: This plain ring is from Slavers surprisingly (not Rary the Traitor). I thought it would be cooler, but all it actually does is cast Rary's Memory Alteration. I guess that could be evil if played right. *activates ring* "No Tenser, I didn't try to kill you and Otiluke! It wasn't me, I swear."

Shoes of Fharlanghn: Another very cool item from UA and also Land Beyond the Magic Mirror. The wearer never fatigues from walking and if they are neutral the boots give extra movement powers. But wait, that's not all! If the wearer is a Fharlanghn worshipper, they get even MORE powers. I don't think we ever had someone play a Fharlanghnite, so this item never got used in my campaign. A shame.

Tenser's Girdle of Giant Strength: From Return of the Eight. This module has a bunch of Tenser created items mainly for fighter-types to use, but this one is of particular interest because it's for only for wizards. This is significant because the original DMG says strength girdles do not work for magic-users. A custom magic rope belt that gives a mage hill giant strength is definitely on brand for Tenser.

Universal Solvent: A classic magic item but who has ever used this actually? It's funny to have an item whose main purpose is to negate its opposite, Sovereign Glue. That's the Gygax era though!

Vecnan Wafers: Okay this one is from way out there. Found in the 2E module, Die Vecna Die this unholy magical flat bread is consecrated to Vecna. If one who worships Vecna eats the wafers it will give a variety of buffs/heals, whereas non-Vecnans can expect reallllly bad stuff to occur. Fun!

Wand of a Wonder: You've heard of the Wand of Wonder, yes? Well, when that item runs out of charges, try the Wand of A Wonder from the TOEE mega-module. It's similar to the DMG version and has a whole new list of random wild effects. Good times!

Xaren Cloak: This is a nifty cheat for the list. Technically it's a variation of the Gargoyle Cloak above, but in the Encyclopedia Magica Vol 1, the listing for this cloak includes a d20 list of other monster cloaks. Xaren was unexpected, why not Xorn? At any rate, there ya go!

Yagrax's Spellbook: Here's another obscure one for the A-Z list compliments of Encyclopedia Magica. In Dragon #82 there is a tome subtitled Alterations of Tangibles and Intangibles. This has the spells melt, transmute water to dust, item, material, fabricate, and the always classy crystalbrittle.

Zagyg's Flowing Flagon: One more from UA to finish off this column. Zagyg is a whimsical mage who has some eccentric magic item tastes. This one is a vessel that refills itself up to six times with ever more potent alcohol each time. Somehow, I have never used this item but I'm putting this one in my next game you can bet!