Saturday, December 3, 2016

State of Greyhawkery 2017

Hello Greyhawk loyalists!

It's been an extremely slow Fall for Greyhawkery. I am writing this post to address my thoughts on the future of Greyhawk community projects going into 2017. This isn't an early new years resolution thing either, this is a state of the blog brainstorm for any who would like to chime in. Here we go...

Greyhawkery as a blog has been a lot of fun for the last 6.5 years, but I'm not sure I have enough good content to keep up even my regular two post a week schedule. I've tailed off to once a week and many times those posts are just promoting the Castle Greyhawk webcomic blog. I'm not entirely sure how much traffic I send to Scott's comic blog for the comic in this fashion.The comic is drawn by me so it does count as content for my own site I guess, but in terms of my blog stats those posts flag way behind on pageviews from my random articles on various topics or new items.

That said, I recently stopped doing game recaps of my Sea Princes campaign as well due to the same lack in viewership. Having the content is good for the site yes, but many times I felt this was all I had to offer. I still have put out my art and conversions to 5E as I feel these have more use to other people who might frequent my blog. I'm curious if there's a huge demand for 5E Greyhawk conversion? Thats one avenue I've flirted with here, but not wholly embraced.

Back to random articles and news, I time to time hit on a great idea to write about from a chat discussion or game night and I love composing those things - if I ever have the time. Stuff like 5 Reasons to Visit Nyrond and The Pentad are great educational exercises and add to the setting overall. I'd love to do more like that which leads to my next thought.

The Greyhawk community is dormant. A lack of contemporary Wizards involvement in 5E has forced many gamers to move on to other settings or RPGs entirely. My stalwart home Canonfire still chugs along after all these years as the unofficial #1 fansite, but new fanon content is all but dried up and the website itself is sorely out of date. The forums still have life and that's good but hardly the preferred means of social media anymore (and IRC chat is dying out too). Add to this, the lack of backing for a continued Oerth Journal ezine. The old publication was a blast back in the 3E era when the setting and community was vibrant with freelance creators and a call for conversions. This excitement hasn't translated to 4E or 5E D&D for that matter. So between these three creative outlets I have chosen to utilize my own blog first, then anything else second. Outside my blog and a couple others, there isn't anyone carrying this torch besides Greyhawk Reborn perhaps.

The dearth of newsworthy items has also hampered my ability to blog effectively. At one time I could always count on an eDungeon adventure by Chris Perkins or scour the internet for map projects and the like, but these opportunities are too dried up. Even my GenCon efforts to generate Greyhawk buzz have waned (Anna Meyer's map notwithstanding) to the point I'm thinking of skipping 2017 and going to Garycon instead.

What's all this mean? I guess I'm searching for a mission or some validation to keep it going in 2017. I'm sure I can hold out one more year and see. However, it'll take a BIG Greyhawk storyline from Wizards in the next couple cycles to keep my interest from finally fading altogether.



Saturday, November 26, 2016

Next 5E Storyline Speculation

Welcome again Greyhawk fans and 5E gamers. I'm currently playing Storm King's Thunder and I own Curse of Strahd. Both are solid stories so far. But surely the next big book event is already in the works. Rumors have been hush and it's a slow week, so it seems this is a good time to revisit my own oddsmaking on D&D's next 5E storyline. There's no sense in rehashing the same blurbs though so I'll just shoot for a single prediction:

S3: Expedition to the Barrier Peaks
A downed spaceship scenario isn't out of the realm of possibility. Remember, it wasn't that long ago head story honcho Chris Perkins tweeted a teaser picture of a Froghemoth and other aberrant monsters. Now, those most likely were teasers for the recently released Volo's Guide to Monsters, but, there's a new niche in RPGs that D&D should try to exploit, weird fantasy. 

Games like The Strange and Numenara have been all the rage in recent years. An adventure in the vein of Barrier Peaks thrust upon a traditional world like Faerun or Oerth could unleash enough odd monsters, magic and mayhem to set itself apart from their previous iconic threats; Dragons, Elementals, Giants, Vampires.
In addition to the classic froghemoth, Volo's Guide also includes quite rare choices such as vegepygmies and the trapper, all three introduced in S3. Pair that coincidence with a host of new playable monster races in Volo's and you have fuel for a weird-fantasy storyline that can take its inspiration from Expedition.

And don't forget the robots and rayguns. Greyhawk, Mystara and yes even Golarion have all went the crashed space-ship route before. Who is to say Volo hasn't stumbled upon something in the Anauroch? We shall see... 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Old D&D Back in Print

Hey folks, just chiming in real quick about this news on DM's Guild/DriveThruRPG doing print on demand for old out of print D&D products. So far the selection is small, a couple Greyhawk titles, but will likely grow as the service progresses. What I am most hoping is, could this be a chance to have an ACTUAL print version of Ivid the Undying? Is that even in the parameters of those sites since it was never published before? Come on Wizards help a gamer out!

Friday, November 11, 2016

Xvarts in Volos Guide

If you haven't seen the new 5E Volo's Guide to Monsters then you should check it out. The first half of the manual is full of fluff and RPG notes on common monster races both NPC and playable as PCs. The second half converts some classic D&D monsters to 5E and adds many variants as well. Though this book is written from the perspective of the Forgotten Realms, astute Greyhawk fans will spot many creatures who find their origins in our gameworld. One such monster is the xvart.

The actual stats on xvarts don't concern me, what is amazingly cool is the new fluff on their deity, one of my favorites, Raxivort. I don't know how much of this backstory is new or collected from old sources, but it all works and I'm delighted. I'm just gonna show it all to you here cause it's quite good stuff. Enjoy:

Raxivort's Betrayal. 
All xvarts are degenerate offspring of an entity named Raxivort, who once served Graz'zt the Dark Prince as treasurer. Raxivort spent long centuries watching over the treasury, and in time he grew to lust after his master's riches. In one bold move, he plundered a treasure vault and fled to the Material Plane. One of the treasures he stole was the Infinity Spindle, a crystalline shard from the early days of the multiverse that could transform even a creature as low as Raxivort into a demigod.

After he ascended to godhood, Raxivort forged a realm called the Black Sewers, within Pandesmos, the topmost layer of Pandemonium. He enjoyed his divine ascension only briefly, though, before Graz'zt unleashed his vengeance. The demon prince had no need to regain the Infinity Spindle, since he already possessed power greater than what it could grant. Instead, he dispatched agents far and wide to spread news of what the Spindle could do and the puny, pathetic creature that claimed its ownership. Soon enough, Raxivort was pursued by a variety of enemies, all eager to claim the Spindle as their own.

In the face of his imminent destruction, Raxivort hatched a plan. Fleeing to the Material Plane, he wandered across a variety of worlds and spawned creatures that were his exact duplicate. These are the xvarts, creatures that not only look identical to Raxivort in appearance but also foil any magic used to track him down. Spells, rituals, and other effects that could reveal Raxivort's location instead point to the nearest xvart. Although the initial rush of enemies against him has subsided, Raxivort knows that the planar powers are patient. He remains hiding, a wretch of a demigod who does little more than wander the planes, spawning ever more xvarts to ensure his continued safety.

To me that is a brilliant if not hilarious story for a lesser deity and an obvious opening to create an epic quest to find an object of great power sought by many powerful evil factions. What more does this book have in store? I'll let you know!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Five Shall Be One: The Edge 5E

Howdy Greyhawk fans! While I'm finished doing 5E write-ups of the Five Shall Be One/Howl From the North conversion to Greyhawk's south seas, I did promise to keep releasing converted material from my home game. Today I unveil the fifth and final of the five Blades of Corusk, called the Edge. And no I'm not talking about the guitarist U2. Blame Carl Sargent.

The original Edge sword design was for a bastard sword, which is a weapon type not in official 5e D&D rules (yet) so I decided to go a new route and make this weapon viable in the hands of many classes by allowing it to change from dagger to short sword or to longsword. For you old 80's-philes like myself, I imagine the effect as the Sword of Omens from Thundercats. The Edge in Howl From the North was powerful and I think I retained much of that in my 5E conversion. One minor alteration I made was because I couldn't justify the visual look of "three" dagger jutting from the sword since I was making accompanying art for the write-up. Again, for 80's reference I went to Kurgan from Highlander to give the Edge a pair of tines that snap out at 45 degree angles at will. Two flying blades seemed like enough anyway, since by the time the heroes have all 5 weapons, a ranged poison attack is likely to be their least frightening ability.

I hope you enjoy this conversion. Comments are appreciated. Enjoy!

THE EDGE
Weapon (variable), legendary (requires attunement)

For hundreds of years, sages have argued whether the Edge is a short sword, a long sword or merely a parrying dagger, but the strange truth is they are all right. The Edge is made of gray steel, yet it never gets dull or marred. Despite attempts, the blade cannot be further honed, for it is already so sharp it can split hairs at the slightest touch. In contrast, the Edge’s hilt is wrapped in comfortably soft suede leather. The stark design of this unusual blade is offset by a pair of blackened dagger-like tines jutting at angles from the pommel. The Edge was once wielded by many leaders and kings, among them the Cruskii folk-hero Vorlag K├Ânig.
   You gain a +3 bonus to attack and damage rolls made with this magic weapon. The blade also ignores resistance and immunity to slashing damage. It has the following additional properties.
Unique Design. The Edge is a brutal looking weapon that on command magically expands, or contracts from dagger length to short sword, or at full extension a longsword. While in each of these of forms they have the normal attributes of a weapon of that type.
Flying Daggers. You can use an action to command one or both of these daggers to fly from the pommel at a single target within 60-feet. When you make the ranged attack, you do so with an attack bonus of +5. A creature hit by a dagger takes 1d4 damage and must succeed on a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or take 2d10 poison damage, and become poisoned for 1 minute.  After being fired, a dagger crumbles into dust. This property can’t be used this way again until the next dawn when the lost blades reappear.
Sunder. While the weapon is attuned to any class proficient in short or long swords, you gain the ability to sunder weapons or armor. When you attack a creature and roll a 20 or greater on the attack roll, that target takes an extra 7 slashing damage. In addition, if the target is using a shield or weapon in combat, one nonmagical item in hand is randomly destroyed. If no item is in hand, a target’s worn armor is destroyed instead and no longer provides an Armor Class bonus if nonmagical.
If an item sundered is magical, it can only be used at disadvantage until repaired. Likewise, armor loses its magical bonus until repaired. Further sundering attacks on an item have no further effect. The blade cannot sunder artifacts or legendary items.



Saturday, November 5, 2016

Sea Princes Campaign: NPC Portraits

Well met, friends of Greyhawk. I've been struggling to come up with good posts lately then realized I have a wealth of art to show off from my current Five Shall Be One/Howl From the South campaign. While I don't serialize my game nights anymore, I do have some wonderful art to go along with it such as my player character portraits from last time. Today you'll get to see some pivotal NPCs from my game. Some are canon, others developed purely out of game play. Enjoy!

Mallon the half-elf mage is a character from the original Five Shall Be One module by Carl Sargent. He kind of gets things rolling in the quest for the five swords. In the original he is the apprentice of Karasten Meldraith an old wizard who lives on the coast of White Fanged Bay. In my Sea Princes remake, Mallon serves the deep-sea archmage Drawmij. Either way, he is quiet, nerdy and generally useless to the predominantly sailor crew unless something needs to be detected or identified. The pirate characters tolerate him because he too is marked by the "black spot", a curse that forces them to find the Blades of Corusk.



Ogie the Ogre was a surprise addition to the adventuring crew. This ogre was supposed to be a disposable brute serving a hag in the Amedio Jungle in the earliest parts of my FSBO. If it hadn't been for a clever use of a charm spell by the bard Ogie would be deceased like his cousins. Instead, the PCs took me by surprise and actually befriended the big lug, using him on their ship as manual labor and intimidation; paying him in copious amounts of food and shiny trinkets. Never has an ogre been treated better in a D&D campaign. Ogie slowly has evolved from a jungle monster to a credible citizen of the Sea Princes. I cannot wait to see what direction he takes after the quest.


Archmage Drawmij is of course the well-known member of the Circle of Eight. His role in my remake is a replacement for Karasten, namely the wise sage who informs and directs the PCs on their quest for the five swords. Drawmij and his undersea lair also was a serendipitous choice for I replaced the orc mountain city of Garel Enkdal with a deep sea trench city of sahuagin. Using nautical and undersea elements in this campaign has been a blast and Drawmij is an NPC that I've always admired but could never capitalize on properly until now.




Captain Kendrick of Blue is one of those random NPCs that somehow hits it off with players (in more ways than one) and thus becomes a recurring ally in their ongoing quest. Kendrick is a pirate lord who technically works under the vile Slave Lords of the Pomarj, but he is too honorable for slaving, instead choosing to prey on Aerdian vessels. His charismatic characterization has given him greater influence in my story as it's unfolded. Kendrick has gone from a encounter to pirate fleet captain in mere game months.




Admiral Arn Scornblade is main antagonist of the over-arcing plot of my campaign though the PCs have never met him (besides Sabriel in a dream). Most of the villains of this series have been dispatched easily from a Shadow Dragon to Sahuagin Princes to opposing pirate captains. Admiral Scornblade is like the Emperor in Star Wars, he is the ominous BBEG at the end of a quest. He controls the Aerdian armada that is creating a war on the Azure Sea. This backdrop of war has been hinted at and only recently felt by the players who have been too busy collecting swords. The ultimate goal however, is uniting the pirate factions into their own armada to help the Iron League take down Scornblade and his invincible metal plated "Ship of Battle" the Tyrannic.
Not only does Arn have a navy, he is also a High Priest of Hextor which makes him doubly dangerous. His visions and divine guidance may make the climax of this two-part campaign more than the PCs can handle even with five artifact swords!

More next time!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Castle Greyhawk: Wizardly Negotiations

Welcome again Greyhawk readers! I'm slacking as usual in promoting the latest work on chapter four in our ongoing Castle Greyhawk graphic novel. Check out page-fifteen to see some intelligent inking by author Scott Casper. On our site you can also check the archives and follow the entire Castle Greyhawk story from the very beginning.


Artist's Commentary: This page was challenging from a composition standpoint. What's essentially just a back and forth between Rary and Ehlissa turned into an exercise in world balloon placement. Rary is a bit wordy let's just say! The other fun design component I did was the open frame column down the middle. I love leaving empty space with the margins and the frames with some added figure overlap from one box to the next using Ehlissa's arms. 

It's not something I intentionally plan on mind you. I start drawing from Scott's script and then see how things develop. Often it's a matter of me running out of room so I let everything meld together and divide it after the fact. Sound like gibberish? Probably is, but if you've tried to piece together a comic page before you'll appreciate what went into this work. :)

That's all for now. Looks like poor Ehlissa isn't getting her way. Rary isn't archmage level yet so he is still wary of people like Erac's Cousin. Who is he anyhow?