Showing posts with label greyhawk. Show all posts
Showing posts with label greyhawk. Show all posts

Thursday, November 12, 2020

This Old Dragon Retrospective: The Gods and Goddess of the Suel

World of Greyhawk books
Something a little different today.  I had always wanted to combine two of my regular features, "This Old Dragon" and "One Man's God" into a series of the gods and goddesses presented in the pages of Dragon Magazine.  I can think of a few examples off the top of my head without cracking the musty pages.  I had always wanted to start with the Suel Pantheon, but I wanted to wait till I was done with the Deities & Demigods.  

Well, last month we all learned about the death of Len Lakofka and I wanted to mark it in some way.  I thought maybe this would be a good way of doing that.

Introduction

A little bit of background here on This Old Dragon. I had purchased a couple of large gaming collections over the last few years. My brother also gave me a box of Dragons in really bad shape. After combining, keeping some, selling off others, and tossing (yeah, had too) ones that were in terrible shape I was left with about 100 or so Dragons that were in pretty bad shape. Most were missing covers, many are missing pages and maybe one or two are fully intact. In This Old Dragon, I am grabbing an issue out at random and reviewing them. I can only review what I have, so if it is missing I won't talk about it. The only exception I make is the covers. If I feel too much is missing or something important is missing I'll check my Dragon-Magazine CD-ROM. 

One Man's God is my feature on the various mythos, gods, and goddesses as presented in the AD&D 1st Edition Deities & Demigods.  Here I look through the various gods and monsters and see which ones would be better classified as AD&D 1st Ed Demons as defined by the Monster Manual.  When there is nothing I look to the original myths to see what we can find.

Today I am going to do both features for the Suel Pantheon.

This Old Dragon: The Suel and their Gods

This feature began in Dragon Magazine #86 from June 1984 to #92 in December 1984. Or in my prime AD&D time.  The feature was authored by Len Lakofka and had Gary Gygax's official stamp of approval on them.  Len had also created the L Series of modules and the Lendore Isles.  So in my mind, that meant there was still active Suel worship in the Isles and that the wizard on the cover of L1 The Secret of Bone Hill was a worshiper of Wee Jas.  But I am getting ahead of myself. 

The Suel made their very first appearance in the pages of the first The World of Greyhawk folio as an ancient empire whose language was still used. The Gods would get names, but not information blocks in the boxed set World of Greyhawk Fantasy Game Setting.  Soon after we began to get the gods in Dragon.

Before I get into the Gods proper, there are a few other issues we should cover.

Dragon Issue #52

This issue gives us a very new looking Leomund's Tiny Hut from  Len Lakofka. This is so new in fact that I think this might be the first-ever Tiny Hut article.  There is an introduction by Gary himself.  This installment covers giving more depth to the humans and languages of the Flanaess.  Cool article and one that every Greyhawk DM should have handy.  Actually, it is good for most DMs. The article is pretty long, longer than most Tiny Hut articles in my memory.  

This is the article that lets us know that Suel are very near albino looking save with shades of violet for eyes.  Given that these were the forerunners of the Lawful Evil Scarlet Brotherhood then it was kind of obvious that the Empire was some kind of a cross between the Melnibonéans and the Nazis.

Dragon Issue #55

In his From the Sorcerer's Scroll Gary gives us some more details on the Suel and how they moved across the continent to the Snow, Frost, and Ice Barbarian lands and how these peoples are the purest strains of the Suel bloodline. If the picture being painted is these are not particularly nice people then consider the painting done.  Still, there are some interesting tidbits and it made me want to find out more and it made me want to find an offshoot of the Suel that weren't such xenophobic dicks.

I think Len made a lot of that possible in his series.

Dragon Issue #86

Dragon #86 was one of those issues that punched way above its weight class. I mean there was just so much in this that one would be excused if Len's article, Presenting the Suel Pantheon, was ignored.  Here we are introduced to Lendor (the chief god) and Norebo (the god of thieves).  The gods are presented in the same format as the D&DG gods; which sadly in the early 80s meant these were creatures that could be fought and could be killed.  But I want to ignore that for bit and instead focus on what is really one of these first full (A)D&D pantheons.  In the 3e era some of these gods would be folded back into the "Greyhawk" pantheon, but here they are on their own with their fellow Suel.  

Lendor has a solid Odin feel to him and Norebo (maybe one of the most popular gods during my AD&D years) is like a slightly less evil Loki.  This trend is going to continue.

A box of old Dragon magazines

Dragon Issue #87

This issue covers the gods Kord and Phaulkon.   Kord is the son of the lesser gods Phaulkon and Syrul, though he himself is a greater god.  He is also one of the most popular and worshiped Suel god.  He is the god of battle, swordsmanship, and berserk rage. He has thousands of semi-mortal/semi-divine children, any of which who meet his challenges can claim demi-god status.  If you are thinking Thor with a sword mixed with Conan then you are not too far off.  Since this issue also featured the Ecology of the Dryad, I figured that Kord had a particular affection for them.  In fact I am going to say that the Korreds, who would later appear in the Monster Manual II, began as the offspring of Kord and the multitude of dryads he..uh.seduced. Sure let's go with that word. 

Phaulkon is the winged god of air, flying and archers. If Kord is the superior melee combatant, then Phaulkon is the superior missile combatant. He can speak with any bird or any creature that uses wings to fly, including demons and devils.  He is Chaotic Good so I always felt there would a natural rivalry between Phaulkon and Pazuzu, both striving for control over the air and air creatures. 

Wee Jas by Jeff Butler
Dragon Issue #88

Here we get Syrul, Fortubo, and Wee Jas the unrequited love of my life (circa age 14).  Wee Jas, of course, grabbed my attention like nothing else in this issue. She was a gorgeous goddess of magic known as the Witch Queen?  How in the hell was I supposed to ignore that?  For years I thought this art was a Larry Elmore piece, but it is actually Jeff Butler.  I think the wide eyes are what really sets this piece off. Bella Donna indeed.

Of all the Suel gods it is Wee Jas that has had her best life in the years following this publication. What do we learn about her?  Well at this point she is still a greater goddess of magic and death.  She knows every magic-user spell and all other spells to 5th level (why only 5th??).  She can cast up to 9 spell levels worth of spells each round; so 1 9th level spell or 9 1st level or any combination.  She has 90% magic resistance and a globe of invulnerability that floats around her. She is attractive (Charisma 20) and always appears so.

If she is anything she is very lawful.  To the point where good and evil are mostly meaningless to her just as long as you are not chaotic.  In fact, she pretty much hates anything chaotic except for the chaotic neutral god Norebo; who is her brother (or half-brother) and occasional lover.  Gods. Go figure.

In the letters section in a couple Dragons later it is mentioned that Norebo's entry mentions Wee Jas, but Wee Jas' doesn't.  The editors reply that it is because Wee Jas is loathed to admit it and Norebo could also be bragging.

Also, have a look at her name "Wee Jas" or "Wee" and "Ja" or "Oui Ja".  She is the goddess of the Ouija board as well. Magic. Death and Spirits. Clever Gary.

Syrul is the evil goddess of lies and false promises.  Fortubo is the dwarf-like god of mountains, stone, and metals. Neither are half as interesting as Wee Jas.  Well, Fortubo was interesting on his own, but not compared to my 1984 girlfriend here. 

To stretch out Norse analogies a bit Wee Jass is a bit of Hel and Freyja combined. But there is also a good amount of Hecate in her.

Since Len also created the Death Master NPC class I figured at least a few Death Masters were aligned with Wee Jas instead of Orcus.  This was part of their strong rivalry for the dead. 

Dragon Issue #89

This issue continues those wonderful Denis Beauvais "Chess" covers.  So therefore the Suel Empire invented chess on Oerth.  

In this issue, Len features Pyremius, Beltar, and Llerg.  It is interesting to see which of these gods survived to today. These gods made it to the 3.x Living Greyhawk Gaz and Complete Divine. Pyremius is the God of Fire, Poison, and Murder. He looks like a conehead to be honest.  The next goddess, Beltar, just has a Conehead sounding name.  She is the Goddess of Deep Caves, Pits, and Malice.  She appears as an old crone, a beholder or as a Type V, or Marilith, demon.  I would say she has a few of both types of creatures under her command.  Llerg is the God of Beasts and Strength and appears a bear-like man. He seems like a decent enough god. He prefers to live on his own in the woods and deals more with animals and other beasts. I was half-tempted back in the day to also make him the God of Bears, in the sub-culture sense. Now I am fully tempted. 

This issue also gave us the first Creature Catalog from Dragon. Here are a number of creatures that could easily be re-classified as demons; at least in the OMG sense. These include the Fachan, the Ghuuna (already has a demonic origin), and the Utukku.  Beltar in particular would have Utukku under her control. I went back to the original myths and did my own Utukku and Umu demons for Ghosts of Albion and a completely different version was created for Pathfinder.

pages from the Creature Catalog

Dragon Issue #90

Before we get to the Suel article proper, Out on a Limb covers the seemingly impossible relationship between chaotic to the core Norebo and hard-line lawful Wee Jas.  Kim Mohan makes two suggestions. First, opposites attract and Norebo has a big mouth.  Second, they goofed.   I like the idea of them being together, to be honest.  Gods need to be complicated.  Though given that Norebo and Wee Jas are also half-siblings, I guess really complicated. Well, no one bats an eye when it happens in Egyptian and Greek pantheons. 

You can also go with Mike's take on it over at Greyhawkery.

On to the article proper we have a collection of sea gods. Phyton, Xerbo, and Osprem.    Phyton is the God of Beuty and Nature, he is our ersatz Baldur.  Xerbo is our God of the Sea, Money, and Business, so a cross between Nord and Poseidon/Neptune.  Osprem is the Goddess of Sea Voyages. Our two sea gods Xerbo and Osprem both have tridents.  I guess there is a rule that sea gods must have one. They only have cool relations with each other.  They try not to fight each other and when a threat challenges the seas they are allied. But otherwise, they do not get along.  Osprem is in particular worship in and around the Lendore Isles.

This issue also featured the Incantatrix. Under normal situations, I would figure out a way to bring her into the fold with the Suel gods, but the write-up is not only so Realms specific, the Incantatrix has a history in the Realms.  So she stays where she is. 

Dragon Issue #92

Here again, we come to the end. Not just of 1984, but of this series. 

This issue also covers some new rules and ideas for clerics. Since I played a lot of clerics back then I rather enjoyed this issue.  Gary offers up some advice ("Clerics Play by Different Rules")  and a few others. This issue also gave us installment III of Pages from the Mages, but that was covered in a previous retrospective

Out Suel gods are Lydia, Bralm, and Jascar.  Lydia is the goddess of light and song. Bralm the Goddess of Insects and Industriousness, and Jascar the God of Hills and Mountains. No mention of his relationship to the other mountain god, Fortubo.  These gods and their write-ups were a nice working model of what Gygax was saying above about how clerics need to be different.

That is all the Suel gods from the World of Greyhawk.  These gods all survived to the 3rd Edition Living Greyhawk Gazetteer with some edits.  I guess the Suel Empire is not so forgotten after all!

One Man's God: The Demons

The nature of these articles did not include demons or even demonic creatures. They were very focused on the Gods themselves.  For demons that fit into this pantheon, I would suggest we go back to the source, the Monster Manual.  Here are the demons of this pantheon.  

Of the ones mentioned above, I think Orcus, Pazuzu, and Yeenoughu are the obvious choices.  

The Demihuman Mythos from the D&DG is another good source.  The Oerth gods though do have their own "devil" in the form of Tharizdûn.  He is a god, or was, or still is, but a fallen one. 

The Suel were a people of such xenophobia that any non-lawful god, godling, or monster would have been considered a demon. The Suel in fact would have more in common with devils and the 4e lost empire of Bael Turath.  In fact there could even be a link between Bael Turath and the Suel Empire.

In my own games, the Suel Empire were still the xenophobic dicks they always are, but they also had a special hatred for demons. The great artifact sword "Demonbane" was of Suel manufacture.

There is always more to hear about the World of Greyhawk and the Suel. Sadly one of the voices is now no more.   Gonna miss you Len!

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

One Man's God: Finish Mythos

Suomi Neito the Maiden of Finland
"Suomi Neito" the Maiden of Finland.
She is in the shape of Finland.

Seems like a good day to talk about fallen gods and demons.  We are also getting into mythos I know less and less about. So let's begin our tour in a country I have always liked, Finland.

I don't think it is too much to say that the myths and characters presented in the Deities & Demigods for Finland are largely, if not exclusively taken from the Finish national epic, The Kalevala.  I have a copy of the audio-book I had been meaning to listen to before this, but since I no longer drive to work it has been taking a bit longer to get through my backlist.   I have had some exposure to the myths in comparative mythology books and of course, every D&D gamers knows that Gary Gygax was also a big fan of these stories.

The Mythos of the Finish people are maybe some of the most relatable to long time D&D players since so much of them have been adopted into D&D proper.  Goddess Loviatar and Mielikki have been adopted wholesale into the Forgotten Realms campaign and remained unchanged from the D&DG counterparts. Mordenkainen sounds like he could have been a traveling companion to Vainamoinen and Lemminkainen.  Let's also not forget the Louhi, the Witch Queen of Pohjola is also an alternate name/guise for Tasha/Iggwilv.  

It is hard to say if the Finish Mythos have a more D&D feel to them because of how they are presented in the D&DG OR is because so much of D&D has strands of Finish/Kalevala DNA in it.  Those ties only got deeper as the development of D&D from the early 70s to the 80s went on.  So it would then reason that any Finish "demons" would convert over to AD&D demons fairly well.  

Except there is one little problem.

There are no monsters listed in the D&DG Finish mythos that could even be considered demonic, with maybe one exception.  The mythos are filled with Gods, but they are more background to the stories of the heroes.  The Kalevala is a Heroic epic.  So it has more akin with the stories of Gilgamesh and Heracles than it does with say the neighboring Norse myths which tend to be more about the exploits of the Gods.

So let's look at what we have and expand it out.

Page from the D&DG featuring Louhi, Loviatar and Mielikki
Louhi, Loviatar and Mielikki
Loviatar/Louhi
There is not a single male D&D player aged 40 and up that doesn't know Loviatar from the D&DG. Expand that outward and there isn't a single Forgotten Realms player of any age that doesn't know Loviatar.  She is the beautiful, cold, and strikingly topless, Goddess of Pain.  She is the intersection of D&D Dungeon Masters and S&M Dungeon Masters. she has been sexed up and everyone knows her.

Or do they?

In the Kalevala Loviatar is the blind daughter of Tuoni/Tuonetar.  The part about the cold wind blowing is spot on, but she is also the mother of the Nine Diseases.  Back in my AD&D witch playtests (late 80s) I had a witch of Loviatar who specialized in disease spells. So I do recall reading that much then in this comparative mythology book. 

There is also some conjecture that in the earliest tales Loviatar and Louhi were the same characters. Called Louhi in some areas and Loviatar in others. Though I think you would have trouble telling a Forgotten Realms fan that their Maiden of Pain is an ancient wrinkled crone. 

At one point I wanted to stat out the nine sons (or in my mind, eight sons and one daughter) of Loviatar as demon-like monsters.  But I never got it to come together in a way I liked.  I may try again after reading the Kalevala. 

If Loviatar went in one direction, Louhi went in the opposite.   Loviatar might be more popular with the D&D crowd, but it is Louhi who is more well known.  A lot can be said about Louhi and maybe one day I'll devote some more time to her. We do know that she was the model/alternate name for Tasha/Iggwilv. Which brings up an interesting idea. We know she has a son and she is the main antagonist of the Kalevala, though she also sometimes helps the heroes.  

Side note: I am sorry, the whole time writing this I keep hearing "Bring me the Sampo!" from the 1959 movie "The Sampo" or better known here in the US and to MST3k fans as "The Day the Earth Froze."  It has been my tradition to watch an MST3k movie while decorating for Christmas ever since I first saw this one. 

I do find one thing about the whole Louhi/Iggwilv connection interesting.  You have a Finish girl (Louhi) essentially kidnapped and raised by a Russian witch, Baba Yaga.  Allegorical of the Russian occupation of Finland from 1809 to 1917? Maybe.  OH! here is an idea.  The PCs need something from Iggwilv's past BUT her past is in Russia and Finland during the Victorian era.  Would give me a chance to play some Ghosts of Albion.  It would work well since the "Suomi Neito" or the Maiden of Finland is a concept similar to "Britannia" or "Éire / Ériu" and what the Protectors are. 

In the D&DG Louhi has 45 total levels of spell casting, she is certainly a very powerful character. She stole the sun and the moon for example. 

Edvard Isto The Attack
Edvard Isto "The Attack" 
The eagle of Russia attacks the Maiden of Finland.
Again her shape is the shape of the country.

Hiisi and Lempo
The closest thing we have to a demon is Hiisi the God of Evil.  I say closest, but the entry in the D&DG does not lend itself to being a demon.  Sure he is Chaotic Evil, but he seems to be more human or at least a giant. 

When doing my research I found that much like "The Devil" and "devils" Hiisi is both the name of a god of evil, evil beings in general and the place name where these beings are found.

We know from the D&DG that no evil creature can cause Hiisi damage.  Could it be that these evil creatures are his?   The plural of hiisi is hiidet. It usually translates to "malicious creature " or even demon.

Hiidet
FREQUENCY:  Very Rare
NO.  APPEARING:  1 (1-3)
ARMOR CLASS: 5
MOVE:  12"/24"
HIT DICE:  10+30 (60 hp)
%  IN  LAIR:  95%
TREASURE  TYPE:  Nil, Special
NO.  OF  ATTACKS:  2 fists or 1 weapon
DAMAGE/ATTACK:  2d6 x2 or 2d8
SPECIAL  ATTACKS:  None
SPECIAL  DEFENSES:  +1 or better weapon to hit, hide 90%, Immune to cold and fire
MAGIC  RESISTANCE:  10%
INTELLIGENCE:  Animal (savage)
ALIGNMENT:  Chaotic  Evil
SIZE:  L  (12' to 18' tall)
PSIONIC ABILITY:  Nil

Hiidet are often confused with hill giants, ogres, and trolls.  Each one is unique in that it takes on the coloration and form best suited to its chosen lair.  A Hiidet of the stoney mountains will appear to made of stone with moss-like hair.  One living in the forests will have brownish or greenish skin and leaf-like hair.  This camouflage is part of their demonic heritage and is set once they find a lair to settle in.  It does not change though as they move around.  It does confer a 90% chance that they will remain unseen in their lairs. 

Hiidet attack with their fists or a weapon. They are immune to the environmental effects of cold and are immune to both fire and cold effects including magic and dragon breath.

Hiidet are something of a cross-species between elementals, giants, and demons.  They are quick to anger and will lash out at anyone invading their lands, but they are also cowards who will avoid attacking large parties.  Their lairs are natural areas such as caves, or holes in the ground that would fit them.  They keep nothing of value, preferring to eat their victim whole.  Every so often though a rare magical item will be found in their lairs (10%). 

Lempo is a similar case.  There was a god (sometimes goddess), Lempo, of love, but of the irrationality of love that causes people to make bad decisions.  Lempo seems similar to the god Pan in many respects including his "demonization" by Christians.  Another character, Paha, is also mentioned. 

Lempo
FREQUENCY:  Very Rare
NO.  APPEARING:  1
ARMOR CLASS: -1 or 9
MOVE:  24"/48"
HIT DICE:  6+6 (42 hp)
%  IN  LAIR:  0%
TREASURE  TYPE:  Nil
NO.  OF  ATTACKS:  NA
DAMAGE/ATTACK:  NA
SPECIAL  ATTACKS:  Cause chaos
SPECIAL  DEFENSES:  +1 or better weapon to hit, invisible
MAGIC  RESISTANCE:  25%
INTELLIGENCE:  Average
ALIGNMENT:  Chaotic  Evil (Chaotic Neutral)
SIZE:  L  (12' to 18' tall)
PSIONIC ABILITY:  Nil

Lempo are nature and fertility spirits that have been corrupted by evil.  Their former function was to ensure fertility and crop growth, they became corrupted and now sow lasciviousness and chaotic behavior.  They cause faithful couples to stray and young people to behave in an erratic manner.

As spirits, they have no physical presence in the world. Though any weapon that can target ethereal creatures can strike them (AC -1).  Likewise they have no physical attacks save their corrupting influence.  The tactic of a lempo is to rest on the roof of a home to cause all inside to come under it's influence. Characters and creatures under 4 HD have no save and act in a chaotic manner.  Creatures 4hd and above are allowed a save vs. spells.

A priest of 4th level and higher can see the lempo, it appears as a humanoid shape (male or female) with a crow's head, feet, and wings.  The priest can "turn" this creature as if it were a wriath.  A result of T means the lempo has fled but is not destroyed.  A result of "D" means the lempo has been forced out of the spirit realm into the physical.  Here it may be attacked with magic weapons (AC 9), but it has no attacks to counter. 

If the lempo has fled or has caused enough damage in one village it will move on to the next one.

Lempo–Hiisi is also a trans-Neptunian trinary object along with Paha. Like many of these planetoids, they are named for creatures and characters from the underground, afterlife, and chthonic gods/creatures. 

Depending on your read, Hiisi, Lempo, and Paha could be three unique characters or one with two lesser cohorts, or the name of all such creatures.  

Finish Maiden
I have mentioned her a few times above, but the personification of Finland is the Finish Maiden.  I am not sure if there is any relation between them and Ukko's Air Maidens from the D&DG, but it does seem like there could be a thread connecting them.

"Suomi Neito" the Maiden of Finland with map of Finland
Finland and her maiden

She joins the others from nearby lands, Lady of the Mountains (Iceland). Ola Nordmann (Norway), Holger the Dane (Denmark), and Mother Svea (Sweden).

My feeling is there is a lot more to these myths and stories and like always the D&DG is just scratching the surface.  Again, this is not a bad thing.  The D&DG is not a textbook on mythology. 

ETA: I am also submitting this as part of November's RPG Blog Carnival.




Thursday, January 30, 2020

Greyhawk and D&D 5

The next D&D 5 book, Wildemount, is already breaking sales records for D&D and is well on it's way to being one of the most successful D&D books ever outside of a core rule book.

Yet some people are still not happy.

In fact, what they want is Greyhawk.


I get it. I do. There are some things I would love to see too. I love Greyhawk, it was my world for my high school days...back in the 80's.

There are petitions out now and some have been out for a while.  And let's be brutally honest here, petitions like this never work. Combined they are still just over 1,170. In other words nowhere near the 773,000 subscribers to the Critical Role YouTube channel.

I see postings of people complaining about the lack of Greyhawk, Planescape, Spelljammer, and others.  I have to be honest here, they are often from people that I also see claiming they don't play 5e.   Even if they do, they a tiny, tiny sliver of the potential buyers.


Sorry. But there are just not enough of us to make it financially viable.

There is an option for people that want Greyhawk in 5e.  Just get the Greyhawk boxed set from DriveThruRPG.

The World of Greyhawk Fantasy Game Setting for 1st Ed is still all you need to play.
It is just under $10 too.  I grabbed my boxed set and in 130 total pages, I found four (that's 4) that would need conversion.  You won't even need to convert these if you never use the Quasi-Deities.   I never have in 40 years.

The gods are all in 1st ed stats, but gods should not have stats in the first place.

Really. I have everything I need for a Greyhawk 5e game.  Would I like a Greyhawk 5e book? Yeah! I would love one really.  I am very much in that slim crossover on the Venn Diagram of "Just These Guys".  I am These Guys.

Maybe WotC will come out with it someday.  But in the meantime, I am doing ok and I suspect many of you really are as well.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

This Old Dragon: Issue #167

Moving ahead to one of the "newer" issues in my collection.  This comes to us from the distant past of March 1991.  I was a senior in college, but would take another year to finish up my honors courses, my minor and to take a few grad school classes before getting into grad school.  I was not really playing much at this point, but still buying and reading a bunch of Ravenloft games and books.
I believe by this time I had printed out the first solid draft of my witch class for 2nd Ed and was revising it more.  So without further ado here is March 1991 and this is issue #167 of This Old Dragon.

To the cover.  Ok. Have I ever mentioned how much I hate faces on inanimate objects? Cars, trains, especially airplanes. But more than anything TREES!  I think it some deep-seated childhood trauma related to both "Wizard of Oz" and "From Hell it Came".   My family will taunt me with it by giving trees with faces on them for Halloween.  Anyway.  The girl on here looks she wandered off from a Clyde Caldwell cover and is slumming here.  The artist is Fred Fields.

You can tell this is the 90s Dragon because of all the ads.  Mind you I am not complaining; I like the ads.  But there are more. More pages in general too.

Given this is the era near 2nd Edition the Dragons all have themes.  This one is the Wilderness.  I liked the themed issues, gave me something to look forward too.

The Editorial is an interesting one with addresses for you to send something to anyone serving in the US or British military.  I guess this is the time of Operation Desert Storm.

Up first is ...holy shit! it's the OSR's very own +Joseph Bloch! (hmm auto-tagging is not working on this). He is up with an article right in his wheel-house, See the Pomarj - and Die!  The three page article (four with cover image) is a bit of history on the Pomarj. It even has some details about the Slave Lords and plenty of old-school tables.   This is some good stuff that I wish I had known about when running the A-series recently. Ah well.

David Howery is next with Back to the Age of Mammals, taking us back to when the dinosaurs did their disappearing act and the mammals took over. There are a ton of great, untapped and underused creatures.  One of my favorites is even here, the Amphicyon.  I used my own version for a primitive were-wolf/were-bear hybrid back when I ran Palace of the Silver Princess.  This really makes this issue a stand out in my mind.

The Ecology of the Su-Monster would have been something I would have eaten up back in the day. Matthew Schutt gives us an updated version of these monsters and they work.  I always liked these little monsters. I ran an adventure where the locals worshiped as a god.

Gregg Chamberlain is next with the Dragon's Bestiary with various plant-based monsters.

Curses are Divine* But their effects on your fantasy hero are horrible! by Mark Keavney which details major and minor divine curses.  This is not the curses of the 3rd level spell, these are special and really powerful.  Also detailed are the situation where someone can find themselves so cursed.

TSR Previews tells us what is hot for March 1991 and beyond. On the list is RA2 Ravenloft Ship of Horror, a favorite of mine. Though I would always call it "Ship of Fools" after the Robert Plant song.

Arcane Lore by Jeffrey Pettengill has some expansions to the 2nd Ed Necromancer specialty wizard and necromancy spells.

Bruce Heard is back with more Princess Ark.  I am planning on collecting these and using some of it for my BECMI Magic School game.

Role of Computers covers the best of 1990.  Again, it's hard to review a review of the "State of the Art" of 27 years ago.

Sage Advice covers some Monstrous Compendium Vol II questions and the perennial question of how do I find a gaming group.

Peter Trueman as what he calls "a more realistic approach to fantasy" in Just Give me Money!  It's a long article that details maybe than you would want to know about coins.  Or maybe it is sort of the detail you like.  For me, it is more log-work than I like in my games.  Once I ate this stuff up.

Marvel-Phile deals with some of Spider-man's foes from across the pond in England in The Lads from Liverpool.  Spiders and Beatles. cute.

Nice big and water-damaged ad for Chill (2nd Edition).

(gotta be honest here. This issue is testing the mettle of my allergy drugs!)

Thomas Kane gives us some NPCs from historical references for an Oriental Adventures game in Lords of the Warring States. We are still in that odd overlap time of 1st and 2nd Editions.

Con Calendar is huge this month.

Ed is back. Am I at a point yet where I can say "Ed" and you all know I mean Ed Greenwood?  Instead of his normal conversation with Elminster, he ends up talking to Laeral of Waterdeep.  I do not begrudge Ed this, it is always entertaining and even when I didn't like the Realms I liked these articles.  This time he is covering the Undermoutain - the King of All Dungeons.  Ok. So. It's an ad for the new Undermountain boxed set.  Yeah, I can't even be irritated by that.

Role of Books from John C. Bunnell has the best of late winter/early spring 1991 including one that is STILL on my TBR pile, Deryni Magic by Katherine Kurtz.  Yeah, Grad School was not conducive to pleasure reading.

And just like that, we are at Dragonmirth.   The big feature is The Twilight Realm, which is on part 11.  I really know nothing about that strip, I should look into it more.

Ah, here are the small ads and classifieds.

Ok. Not a packed issue, but a lot of great bright spots like Joe's and Bruce's contributions.
I wonder what else I have from this time? Will be fun to see!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

This Old Dragon: Issue #55

Let's go WAY back today to issue that is falling apart as I read it.  Hall and Oates have the number 1 spot on the radio. Time Bandits, the first of the great "Trilogy of Imagination" from former Python Terry Gilliam.  Tell me you didn't try to use those "time holes" at least once in your games. It's November 1981. I am in 8th grade and playing Basic/Expert D&D all the time with bits of AD&D. This is issue #55 of This Old Dragon!

Oh my, but is this an issue of treasures!  Let's start with the cover.  Erol Otus in his weird best.  Looks like the same cave system our intrepid adventures are battling a dragon in on the cover the Basic Set.
Otus is one of those artist people either love or hate. I always loved his style and subjects, but sometimes it was like viewing D&D while on mushrooms.   I mean seriously, what the hell is that thing? Why does it have such perfect teeth? Who is that little gnome dude and what the hell is his staff for?  I have no answers but I think D&D is better off in general because of EO.  I am not sure what that thing is but as DM I'd love to stick him into a dungeon.  As someone that appreciates art though I don't want to define it. Stay weird giant toothy slug monster. Stay weird.

The next page is one of the true odd and rare finds in the D&D merchandising landscape.  The official Dungeons & Dragons portfolios.  I had one of these way back when, but it got destroyed. Now they go for outrageous sums on eBay.  I used to keep characters in it and I had it till about the late 80s.


A feature missing from newer incarnations of Dragon is here; Cover to Cover. Which...hmm...covers what is going on in this issue.  No need to detail it here since that is what I am doing anyway.

The Letters section cover various topics from previous issues including some discussion on the Monk class.   I never fely that *D&D got a good grip on the what the monk was supposed to be in D&D until about 3rd Edition.

Up next is the first big controversy in AD&D that I can remember.  The Fiend Folio and whether or not it is any good.
Up first is Ed Greenwood with Flat Taste Didn't Go Away.  Ouch. That is a bit harsh Ed and the article doesn't get much lighter. I am sure there were plenty of old-school AD&D fans who were at the time saying "Who the hell is this Ed Greenwood guy and why do I care about his opinion?"  Sy though, Ed is no fan of this book and calls many of the monsters incomplete, inadequate and many are redundant.  AND to be 100% fair he is making some very good points here. The editing is all over the place, many of the monsters are useless or way overpowered in some respects.
Alan Zumwalt follows this with Observations of a Semi-Satisfied Customer.  An endorsement, but not the ringing endorsement one might want.
Not to be forgotten Don Turnbull,  Managing Director of TSR UK, Ltd. and Editor of the FIEND FOLIO Tome ends with his Apologies - and Arguments; his defense of the Fiend Folio.
All three articles make good points and overreach in others. In the end, I still love the Fiend Folio, not despite its weirdness, but because of it.  I have decided though that when I run a pure Forgotten Realms game that I will not include any of the monsters that Ed found objectionable.  I was going to say not include any from this book, but that includes Drow and we know that isn't going to happen!

What were your thoughts on the Fiend Folio?

We follow this with a big ad for White Dwarf. You know those guys that gave us the Fiend Folio in the first place? (more or less).

Ah. Now here is something fun.
Lawrence Schick has a nice big article on Dinosaurs, New Theories for Old Monsters.  Plenty of stats of various prehistoric beasts are given. I am not sure if these would later appear in the Monser Manual II or not but they feel familiar.

The man himself is back with a new From the Sorcerer's Scroll. Gary lets us know he is still working on the Temple of Elemental Evil (it doesn't quite come out the way he wants) and more on Greyhawk.  A lot of this in one form or another would later reappear in the Greyhawk Boxed set.

Ever want to include Robin Hood and his merry men in your game?


Well thanks to Katharine Kerr you can! Robin, Wil Scarlet, Little John, Friar Tuck and of course the Sheriff of Nottingham himself (looking exactly like Roger Delgado as The Master from Doctor Who).


The fiction section is next and holy shit! It's Gardner Fox! Fox might not be the biggest name in D&D but in comics? I put him in the pantheon of the Great Old Gods like Kirby and Lee.   I have not read The Coming of the Sword, but I think I should.  It is an installment in the saga of Niall the Far-Traveler.  This is exactly the sort of thing I love finding in these old dragons. Gardner Fox..."slumming" at Dragon! The story looks cool and it's actually pretty long.

Our centerpiece is another rarity.  A D&D Basic-Set adventure.  Seriously. Is this like the most 1981 issue ever?? The Creature of Rhyl by Kevin Knuth is a Basic D&D adventure for 2 to 12(!) characters under 3rd level. It is a nice combination of exploration, plot-driven mystery,  and dungeon crawl with a freaking dragon at the end! It makes for a great introduction adventure really and one that can be easily adapted to any version of the game.

The Electric Eye has answers to last month's computer terminology quiz.  At this point in time, I am learning to program in BASIC on the very high tech TRS-80 Model III in my school.

The many ways of getting away: Methods and magic to keep your character out of the crypt by Pat Reinken covers the many ways your character can avoid death.  Or as I like to call it, Advanced Running Away.

Jon Mattson is next with some Traveller advice on skills in Filling in Skills, Experience, service-switching make TRAVELLER more ability-oriented.  I have mentioned in my reveiws of White Dwarf I was already taking a pass on Traveler at this point.  I was gravitating more towards Chill and other horror games and I could not find anyone to play Traveller with.

The Monuments of Minaria is the next installment of the Minarian Legends series for the Divine Right game.  Though I get the feeling that one is not only expected to convert to other games (coughD&Dcough) but encouraged too.

Dragon's Bestiary is next. What a nightmarish mix! The Devil Spider, with text and art by Erol Otus.  The Surchur by Jeff Brandt and the Dyll by Ed Greenwood.  We also get a new, non-evil but very chaotic, version of the Poltergeist by Craig Stenseth.

Practicing Game Design IV: State of the Art is the fourth of a five-part miniseries
in Jack Parados' Simulation Corner that gives a detailed but non-technical answer to the question of how to make a game.  This month covers the experiences the author has had with successful game designers.

Jeff Swycaffer reviews the Universe RPG in Universe is an Artistic Triumph. I have always been curious about this game.  He deems it superior to Traveller in almost every respect.

Kim Mohan reviews some gaming accessories.
Various minis, back when they were still made of lead.

Next, we have a real oddity.  A Larry Elmore penned and drawn comic "Da Letter" that can only be described as Proto-Snarf.  I am a bit surprised this never comes up in discussions of Snarf Quest.




Phil and Dixie are still in Black & White at this point.
Wormy is in color.

So. Wow.  What an issue.  Not just for crazy nostalgia fun, but for being so packed full of great stuff.  AND stuff I can still use today really.  The Basic set adventure, Robin Hood, all sorts of great stuff here.  I am glad I took extra time on this one (I started reading it two weeks ago!)

Now compare this issue to what was happing in White Dwarf #27 from the same time in my White Dwarf Wednesday #27.  Similar themes but White Dwarf was moving more towards Traveller at this point.  Mimics the gaming scene I was in during the last days of 1981.  I was digging D&D Basic but a good sized chunk was headed to Traveller.

What are your memories of this time?

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Temples of Elemental Evil in the Multiverse

I have been thinking a lot about my interconnected D&D 5 campaigns.
  • There is the Mystara/Oerth combination on my wold of Mystoerth I have been running for The Order of the Platinum Dragon. Which cover all the classic "Greyhawk" modules.  Big bad is Lolth.
  • There is the one I have been calling The Second Campaign which I have started in the Forgotten Realms (2017 is my year to be introduced to the Realms).  I am running other classic 1st modules here too.  Big Bad here is Asmodeus.  I am including some elements of Dark Sun here too. 
  • There is a third campaign I have not started completely just yet. It is a resurrection of my old 4e game and deals with the rise of Orcus.  Originally I wanted this one to be the Realms but I am likely to set it in the Nentir Vale.  Have not decided yet. If I do then I need a better home for the Second Campaign.  I'd love to play a little with Krynn, to be honest. 
I still have some details to work out. But all of these fall under the larger umbrella of Come Endless Darkness. Tharizdûn is returning to the multiverse and the PCs of the three campaigns need to stop him.

But I need to know my end game. I know all three are coming together at the very end.  In the "main" Order of the Platinum Dragon game, the PCs have already been to Hommlett. They know about the Temple of Elemental Evil, so they have a pretty good idea that they are headed back there.

I know that I am planning that have the big bads, or at least their proxies, in the final battle too. But how do I get the characters of three universes together?

Then it dawned on me. There is a Temple of Elemental Evil in every game world.


Let's look at it from this point of view.  Nearly every game world (notable exception Mystara) got its genesis from First Edition AD&D.  The first level First Edition adventure was T1 The Village of Hommlett.   So if you played regularly in any game world there is a good chance that that world had a Hommlett and accordingly a Temple of Elemental Evil.

I thought at first I wanted a Tanelorn-style temple that flitted from world to world.  But that is unsatisfactory to me and I already had something like that in Halfway. I thought about having it as a place that exists on all worlds at the same time,  but I also have that in West Haven.
So instead I am thinking of something more along the lines of the Altgeld Castles here in Illinois.

On five different campuses here in Illinois there are five gothic-style castles all (except one) called Altgeld Hall. Named after Gov. Altgeld.   The rumor was that all these buildings can be combined, Voltron-style, to make one complete castle.  There is no facts to back this up, but it is much more fun than the rumors that usually surround campuses in Illinois.

So I propose the following:

Every game world has a Temple of Elemental Evil.  Some are decrepit and decayed, others are active and strong, and others still are only just starting.  The main feature of these is that all are connected.  They can be combined together across time and space to form a giant Temple and Cathedral of Elemental Evil.

For locations, I went to the experts online.
They have given me some good ideas. I didn't go to Eberron or Dark Sun since I know very little about either world other than the most basic basics.  I figure they have them as well.

For maps, it will be easy.  I can grab one from the T1-4 Supermodule for each world. I can also grab an absolute ton of material from the Princes of the Apocalypse.  Appendix C of PotA gives me plenty of ideas of different loacations and backgrounds for the Temple in various game worlds too.



Heroes of the Three Worlds will have to come together to defeat evil and face the ultimate evil in Tharizdûn.

It's gonna be epic!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Back From Vacation

Last week I took the week off.  We were supposed to travel but a variety of circumstances killed that idea, chief among them we thought one of our bunnies, Amy, was pregnant.
Instead, we did a bunch of mini-vacations mostly up to Wisconsin.

I hit up Noble Knight Games and FINALLY re-bought a World of Greyhawk Boxed set.  I now have completely restored my original collection of *D&D books.   



I also picked up that cool looking "The Witchcraft Reader".  Full of classic tales of witches and witchcraft. Yes, that is a naked witch riding a giant bat monster and holding a snake.


We played a lot of Blue Rose and Blue Rose/DragonAge.  It is becoming my oldest son's favorite game and he has even run a few more sessions.

We went to The House on the Rock and Steampunk Invasion at the Bristol Renaissance Faire.

The biggest thing we did though was...Nothing. That's right I took a complete mental vacation. No reading. No writing. Just enjoyed not doing anything for the first time in a very, very long time.

Though my wife and I gave Game of Throne another chance and we binged all 6 and half seasons.
As of this morning, I am all caught up with the rest of you!  I don't think I'll add much to my games because of this, some things are just best to enjoy as-is rather than what they can offer me elsewhere.  Though I would not count out a possible Basic Witch write up for Melisandre.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

This Old Dragon: Issue #56

WHAAAT?  A This Old Dragon on a Tuesday? What sort of shenanigans are these? It's true, it's Tuesday and this is Dragon #56 from December 1981!  According to my notes, I have two copies of this one.  Well, I only found one and it is missing the cover and the next pages. Also, there are lot "holes" in the magazine, things cut out for nefarious purposes (I assume), so I am hoping that my other copy is in better shape (but I doubt it).  I popped in the Dragon CD-ROM to see what I was missing.  First thing I notice is this great Phil & Dixie cover. Damn. That would have been cool to have really.   Well lets get  into what I DO have (remember what the rules are, if it is not in the magazine I have, I don't talk about it).  It's December 1981, I am in Jr. High and this is This Old Dragon!

First glance, this is a different feeling magazine than what I would later get used too.  Last week I talked about issue 84 as sort of the Dargon I was most used to.  This one is similar, but there are differences too.  Granted there is 2 years worth of development between these, but some of it might just be MY perceptions.   I didn't own this Dragon back in 1981 and that was before I started buying them. They say the past is a foreign country and this is foreign land indeed.

Out on a Limb confirms we are in a foreign land. One letter wants TWO magazines at only $1.50 each, or if TSR must be greedy, then $2.00 for one of them.  Quick peek at the CD-ROM tells me this magazine costs $3.00 back then.  We never knew how good we had it.

Ok, now the meat of this issue.  Singing a New Tune is all about a new Bard class.  Jeff Goelz gives us a new, single classed bard based on the Welsh bard.  There are a lot of good reasons to do this and this class looks good.  The level progression feels like a mix of fighter and wizard. The bard gets Druid and Illusionist spells (not Magic User) though some spells are off the lists.  I sorta remember this one but I know I never played it. I really want to now. Bards are fun.

Sage Advice follows with some advice on the PHB Bard.  The interesting point for me here is that all these issues brought up are solved by the previous article. Granted the readers submitting these questions don't/didn't have this article.

Bill Howell is way ahead of the curve here with Songs instead of Spells for the bard. This article also works out well with the first one.  Now the bard is much more of a performance caster than what the PHB bard is or even the Goelz bard is.  This presages the bards of 2nd edition and beyond.  Frankly, I want to use all three to play a 1st Ed Bard again just to see how well this works.  I know there are other versions out there. Maybe I'll run into them.

William Hamblin is next with Map Hazard, not Haphazard. This long article (6 pages) is all about creating fantasy maps. It's cool and all, but I am not looking for that level of detail in my games most times.

One of the ads has something cut out of it that mars the next article.


A quick look through the CD-ROM and it looks like all the pictures of skulls were cut out of this issue.  Over protective parent? Or did someone need to decorate their Trapper Keeper?  I say it's 50/50.

The next article over is Gary's From the Sorcerer's Scroll.  The hole goes through some of the magic circles (which will be reprinted in module S4) and the introduction to the North Central Flanaess.  Also a longer article and certainly interesting enough to Greyhawk historians.   I am sure that all of these have been collected online somewhere.

There is the 5th annual AD&D Tournament Invitationaltional entry form.  You can enter for Best Original Monster, Best Original Spell, Best Original Treasure or Magic Item and Best Original Trick or Trap.
Any idea of what entry won or who won them?

BTW, the pages of this magazine seem a lot thicker than later magazines.  No surprise really, but I did notice it.

Mad Merc by Merle M. Rasmussen and James Thompson is the centerfold adventure. This time for Top Secret. It's a big adventure really. 20 pages. I am little surprised it is intact here.

Figuratively Speaking has a nice article on metal miniatures. Or I assume. The pictures were all cut out!

Ah. Here is something fun.  Some new monsters. I love new monsters.  We have the Shroom from Lew Pulsipher which I think was in White Dwarf too. (quick check, nope it did not). None of these jump out at me, but maybe I'll use them some day.

Off the Shelf features a sci-fi novel about the rise of Donald Trump.


Finally Wormy and What's New? are in full color!
I think Wormy had always been in color, but this is new for What's New.

Nice little trip to a foreign land. I am going to have to visit more often.

Want to see what I what I Was saying about White Dwarf from the same month? Check out White Dwarf Wednesday for issue #24.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Thingizzard, the Witch of the Fens

I have been wanting to stat up some of the classic witches of the D&D game and one of the ones I had forgotten about was Thingizzard, the Witch of the Fens, from Return to White Plume Mountain for 2nd ed and Outside the Moutain for 3rd ed.

For 2nd ed she is depicted as a 12 HD hag.  For 3rd Ed she is a CR 12 green hag wizard.

But we all know what class she should be.

I want to try out her out using my Basic Witch class, but I also think I really need to also stat her out as one of +Jonathan Becker 's The Complete B/X Adventurer Witches (his blog IS B/X Blackrazor afterall) and Sage of Greyhawk, +Joseph Bloch's Adventures Dark & Deep Darker Paths Witch class.

All will do a good job in representing this sort of witch.

According to the 2nd Edition "Return to White Plume Mountain" she is:

Thingizzard
AC -2 (natural hide and Dex bonus); Mv 12, swim 12; HD 12; hp 80; THACO 9 (3 with Wave and Str bonus); #AT 3/2 (Wave); Dmg ld10+9; MR 25%; SZ M (5’ tall); ML fanatic (17); Str 18/00, Dex 17, Con 19, Int 14, Wis 15, Cha 12; AL NE; XP 7,000.

Special Abilities: full movement rate through quicksand and swamp; brew any potion.
Spell-like Abilities (at 12th level): l/day-animate dead, call lightning, control weather, curse, dream, forcecage, mind blank, polymorph other, polymorph self, veil, vision.
Special Equipment: five potions of extra-healing, potion of gaseous form, potion of super-heroism.

These stats also assume she has Wave.

I think for the sake of building and good comparison, I am going to make her a 13th level witch in all cases.  Also in each case I am going to swap what her highest ability should be. So for my witch it will be Charisma.  Wisdom for the Darker Paths Witch. Intelligence and Wisdom are the primes for the Complete B/X Adventurer Witch, but I think I'll give her the higher Intelligence here to balance it out.

Of course in the original, she is a hag.  So in these versions I will keep that by keeping her really high physical stats.

Thingizzard, the Witch of the Fens

Basic Era Witch
13th Level Hag (Faerie) Tradition

Strength 18
Dexterity 17
Constitution 19
Intelligence 14
Wisdom 12
Charisma 15

hp: 63
THAC0: 16

Death Ray: 9
Magic Wands: 10
Paralysis, Turn to Stone: 9
Dragon Breath: 12
Rods, Staffs, Spells: 11

Occult Powers
Familiar: Toad
Brew Potions
Lesser: Speak with Animals/Plants
Minor: Fey Shape

Spells
Cantrips: (4) Alarm Ward, False Glamour, Mote of Light, Object Reading
First: (4+2) Blight Growth, Burning Hands, Detect Invisible, Endure Elements, Hold Winds, Sour Stomach
Second: (4+1) Discord, Evil Eye, Fever, Nausea, Scare
Third: (3) Bestow Curse, Dispel Magic, Toad Mind
Forth: (3) Confusion, Polymorph, Vomit
Fifth: (2) Animate Dead, Dream
Sixth: (2) Control Weather, True Seeing
Seventh: (1) Greater Arcane Eye

Darker Paths 2: The Witch by +Joseph Bloch
13th Level Witch

Strength 18
Dexterity 17
Constitution 19
Intelligence 14
Wisdom 15
Charisma 12

hp: 72
THAC0: 12

Paralysis, Poison, Death: 5
Petrification, Polymorph: 8
Rod, Staff, Wand: 9
Breath Weapon: 11
Spell: 10

Powers
Familiar: Toad
Brew Poisons
Bell, Book and Candle
Create Magic Items

Spells
First: (5) Charm Person, Predict Weather, Taunt, Witch Shot, Wither
Second: (5) Blight Field, Change Self, Charm Monster, Misfortune, Precipitation
Third: (4) Bestow Curse, Control Winds, Fear, Insect Swarm
Forth: (4) Jealousy, Polymorph Self, Prophecy, Sleep
Fifth: (4) Breath Poison, Control Weather, Polymorph Other, Season of the Witch
Sixth: (3) Blink, Cackle, Magic Cauldron
Seventh*: (3) Call Lightning, Death Curse, Great Rite

*Ok, she should not get seventh level spells due to her wisdom, but hey, my character.

The Complete B/X Adventurer by +Jonathan Becker
13th Level Witch

Strength 18
Dexterity 17
Constitution 19
Intelligence 15
Wisdom 14
Charisma 12

hp: 65
THAC0:

Paralysis, Poison, Death: 5
Petrification, Polymorph: 8
Rod, Staff, Wand: 9
Breath Weapon: 11
Spell: 10

Powers
Familiar: Toad
Brew Poisons and magical Potions
Bind Wounds
Book of Shadows

Spells
First: Hex, Light, Resist Elements, Speak with Animals
Second: Dreams, Fog, Locate Object
Third: Call Animals, Hoodoo, Object Reading, Quagmire
Forth: Mind Jab, Polymorph Others, Polymorph Self, Tarantella
Fifth: Control Weather, Greater Hoodoo, Insect Plague, Visions

I am hard pressed to say which witch I like better for her.  All three have something essentially "Thingizzard" about her.  Each witch has some spells that are particularly nice for her.

I will have to come back to this and see about doing 5e version once Tales from the Yawning Portal is released next month.

Bonus Question: How do you pronounce her name? I am partial to "Thing-iz-zard" myself, but "Thin Gizzard" also has a nice swampy feel to it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A to Z of Adventure! W is for World of Greyhawk

W is for World of Greyhawk.

The WG or World of Greyhawk adventures take place, naturally, in the World of Greyhawk.  This was the default setting of most of the 1st Edition AD&D adventures, and explicitly so for T, A, G, D and Q.
The first named adventure was WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun, which I covered briefly on "S" day.  But wait, if it is the first why is it numbered "WG4"?    Well according to the ole' Wikipedia "WG1 was earmarked for The Village of Hommlet (T1), and WG2 was earmarked for The Temple of Elemental Evil (T1-4). WG3 was to be Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth (S4), a loosely tied prequel to WG4."  So they do make a series of sorts.

WG5 Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure is an interesting one and might just be one of the last adventures Gary wrote for AD&D1 and TSR.  It is a high-level dungeon crawl featuring a unique demon and lots and lots of hack n' slash action.  It does feel like one of the older modules (though it was out in 1984 so it is "old" as well).   I could fit in with the TAGDQ series somewhere I am sure.  It could even be another one of the alternate worlds in Q1.

I don't know much about WG6 Isle of the Ape, save that is was one of the first adventures for characters above 18th level.

I do know about WG7 Castle Greyhawk.  WG7 was supposed to be another Gygax penned adventure, but it didn't happen like that.  Instead, we got a "joke" module.  The idea was sound, the levels get harder and harder with all sorts of strange monsters.  But is was played a huge joke.  At the time (when I was 15) I thought it was funny, but even running it I knew it was bad.  In the history of D&D Castle Greyhawk was a significant part of Gary's original game. For years we were teased with Castle Greyhawk but never got one. Even today we don't have the real thing.  This makes WG7 all that much worse really.  It's too bad really. The authors of WG7 do read like a who's-who of mid 80s game designers.

Of the others, only WG12 Vale of the Mage interests me these days.  I think it is because I was looking for more information of Greyhawk and the Vale of the Mage (home of the Valley Elves. No, I am serious) was one of those places I wanted more detail on.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Blackmoor and Greyhawk

Today's new releases take us back to the worlds that were the cradle of D&D.

Dave Arneson's supplement to Original D&D is now out (again). Blackmoor gave us the first ready to run adventure published by TSR, Temple of the Frog, the Monk and Assassin classes and the often forgotten D&D to hit location system.



In later editions of the game Blackmoor would appear in both the World of Greyhawk and the Known World of Mystara.

The D&D Gazetteer for 3e came out as soon as 3e did and established that Greyhawk as the default world for D&D 3.   It was quickly eclipsed by the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, but both had really nice poster sized maps.



Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Back to Greyhawk!

I was pouring over my World of Greyhawk boxed set over the weekend and my D&D 3.0 Greyhawk Gazetteer and now look at what Wizards has released for us.

OD&D Supplement I: Greyhawk (0e)



Living Greyhawk Gazetteer (3.0)



While Greyhawk is not the default setting of D&D 5, it does get a lot of nice shout out in the rules.
Plus the Living Greyhawk Gaz is 90% setting material, so it can be used in any version of the game really.

This is great for me because as soon as the kids are done with the A series they are headed to the Free City of Greyhawk.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Well...so much for that idea.

Not everything will work.  Not everything will work well.
Sometimes though things do work, and do work well, but not in the way you thought they might.

Today's example was the giant post I had started and wanted to wrap up in the next day or so.
I was calling it "In Search Of...Castle Greyhawk".  A play on the old In Search Of TV show and by desire to uncover mysteries from my gaming past.



Sidebar: I found a bunch of stuff I had written decades ago on some old floppies.  There were a lot of treasures there but also a lot a things I was researching.  Back then I didn't have the resources I do now so research was a longer, more difficult process.

Back to In Search Of...

SO I wanted to post a lot on the historical Castle Greyhawk. What was it and how could I play it today.

Turns out all that work was done years ago.
I knew that +Joseph Bloch was the go to guy for this kind of information.  His blog Greyhawk Grognard is full of these sorts of tidbits and his game Adventures Dark and Deep is a love letter to the Gygaxian games that never were.
He has already done all the heavy lifting on this topic, in part of his working on Castle of the Mad Archmage.   In fact part of my own research was to look into how he wrote CotMA.

But he posted most of his own findings years ago.
http://greyhawkgrognard.blogspot.com/search/label/Castle%20Greyhawk
In particular this post is the most useful, http://greyhawkgrognard.blogspot.com/2008/12/getting-off-pot.html


Now I am a bigger fan of "Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk" than Joseph is. But I have the benefit of something he did not have back then; his completed Castle of the Mad Archmage.

So now my research is done. Admittedly by someone else.  I just need to see if I want to run a Castle Greyhawk adventure at all.

I'll start working on my next "In Search Of..." post.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Map of the Flanaess

There are a lot of really, really great products and people up for ENnie awards this year.  But I want to draw one to your attention in particular. 

Anna Meyer is the founder of the Flanaess Geographical Society on Facebook.  She is also up for the Best Cartography for her Map of the Flanaess. A project she spent a considerable time on.

So if you can, please consider voting for.
"Map of the Flanaess - Anna B Meyer Fantasy Maps"

These maps are beautiful and frankly I want a large print to put in my game room.  
If you are an old-school Greyhawk fan like me then this should be a no-brainer vote.

I could spend hours going over these and never get bored. But I love maps.


--
Like what I do here?
Let me know by voting for me for "Best Blog" in the 2014 ENnies.
Go to Best Blog and put a "1" next to "The Other Side". Thanks so much!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Original D&D Premium Edition

Well it was going to happen sooner or later, but Wizards of the Coast will be releasing a Premium Edition of the Original D&D.  But it's not just a reprint.  


http://www.wizards.com/DnD/Product.aspx?x=dnd/products/dndacc/45390000


Volume 1: Men & Magic
Volume 2: Monsters & Treasure
Volume 3: Underworld & Wilderness Adventures
Supplement I: Greyhawk
Supplement II: Blackmoor
Supplement III: Eldritch Wizardry
Supplement IV: Gods, Demi-Gods & Heroes

Comes in a wood-grain or faux-wood-grain box with dice.
New cover art, but all the original art inside.

Price?  $150.00.  Honestly, that is not a bad deal.  This is a collector's piece and I am sure some will balk at that price I think it sounds about right to be honest.
I have been wanting to play some Original D&D again.  Haven't since 1987 so this might be my excuse.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...