Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Dragon #2 part 1

With The Dragon #1 completed, I move straight into issue #2. These are the glory days, when D&D supplements weren't being catapulted out of TSR every day of the week. I will savour it while I can.

As usual, I'll quickly run through the articles that are of no relevance to my campaign. Dragon Rumbles has editor Tim Kask talking about the rising popularity of fantasy. We get part 2 of Search for the Forbidden Chamber, a short story I dismissed last time for being too satiric. Mapping the Dungeons has the obligatory names and addresses of DMs. Shadow of a Demon is fiction from Gardner Fox in the vein of Robert E. Howard. It actually rather good for a Conan knock-off, but it's not related to D&D in any way. Lastly, the games Venerable Destruction and Star Command get reviewed.

Oh, and I should note that this will be a fairly short entry. I have new Wheel of Time to read.

MONKISH COMBAT IN THE ARENA OF PROMOTION: This is a new combat system designed for when monks fight each other for level advancement. Remember that there are a limited number of high-level monks in the world, and a character has to defeat the one directly above him to advance.

The basics are simple. Damage Points Taken (the equivalent of hit points) are calculated by multiplying Strength by Constitution and adding your level x 10. Damage Points Given shows how much damage a character inflicts with a normal blow, and is calculated by adding Strength, Dexterity and half Intelligence.

Combat here does not involve dice rolls, but instead selecting from a number of moves: blocks, kicks, punches, etc. In each round of combat, both fighters select six moves in secret. Then the two are compared to see how many blows have been struck. You can change your move with a successful percentile roll under your Dexterity, and I honestly can't see why you wouldn't try this every round when you are hit. Although there are a lot of arcane rules about how many of each strike or block you can use in a round, so that could mitigate overuse of that rule.

The fluff aspect of the duels is described in a very rudimentary fashion. They all take place in a ceremonial arena, overseen by the next highest monk. The fighters approach from opposite sides of the arena, bow once to their past masters, once to their sensei, and once to their opponents. Then, they fight. I like the simplicity, it works for a bunch of hardcore ascetic badasses.

So yeah, I'll bring this in if any Monk PC gets to the stage of having to make advancement challenges. If any smartass asks why he can't use this system all the time, I'll explain it as a special form of ritual combat only used in these duels. It don't work unless your opponent is using it as well.

GENCON UPDATE: This is all pretty standard con stuff for Gencon IX, with a description of the rules for the D&D tournament. I'd normally ignore it, but down near the bottom we get a description of the scenario being used.

“ . . . The group of adventurers in question has offended the resident Wizard of
the town in which they reside, having referred to him as a ‘shriveled old nit.’ He is about to end their miserable existences with a well-placed fireball, but stops short of uttering the final words of the incantation. Eyeing them speculatively, he offers them a chance to redeem themselves. He tells them a tale of a highly magical staff that once belonged to him, but was stolen a few ages ago. He now believes it is in the dungeons of a nearby ruin, and says that if they find it and bring it back to him he may just see them in a different light, so to speak. The party is ecstatic, relatively, at the opportunity to save their skins, and readily agree to the adventure, thinking that they will be able to line their own pockets as well as retrieve the old fool’s bit of magic kindling. As they neglect to ask him why he doesn’t go with them, or why he hasn’t recovered this bit of magic aforenow, he does not volunteer the information. Before sending them off, he takes the Mage aside and tells him they should begin their search off the Sixth Stairway, at the same time convertly slipping a curiously carved piece of amber into the Mage’s hand. . .”
I'm not sure if this ever made it into any released module. If not, I will incorporate it after a fashion. I will place a particularly obnoxious wizard in the City of Greyhawk, and if the PCs piss him off they will get into the scenario detailed above. The staff will of course be in Castle Greyhawk.

CREATURE FEATURES – THE REMORHAZ: Is that Erol Otus I spy? Why, indeed it is, and I believe his first work for TSR. And very nice work it is, with the worm-like Remorhaz facing down some doomed bastard with a pole arm.

The Remorhaz is a long worm with many legs, a blue underbelly, small wings near its head, and a back covered in reddish protrusions. They live in cold mountains and frozen wastes. They come in three sizes, each with a different number of hit dice (6, 10 or 14).

It's not stated in the description, but the Remorhaz has a fiery breath weapon whose damage is dependent on the size of the creature. It also has 75% magic resistance, not to be sneezed at. The protrusions on its back get really hot, and will melt any non-magical weapon that strikes them. They have a good Armor Class, but their underbelly and head are more vulnerable.

That's that, except to note the trivia that they flap their tiny wings when near prey. Not sure what that will accomplish in my game, but I'm going to make them do it anyway.

Next: Part 2!

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Dragon #1 part 2

And now, The Dragon #1, part the second.

CREATURE FEATURE – THE BULETTE: This monster is also known as the Landshark, which the internet assures me is a reference to some obscure comedy show that we didn't get in Australia. Can't have been very good if we didn't get it. But anyway, the Bulette was cross-bred from the armadillo and the snapping turtle, taking the most vicious aspects of each. They're also a whole lot bigger than either. They were thought to be extinct until recently, which makes me think that they probably were, until some bright spark wizard figured out how to crossbreed them again.

Bulettes will eat pretty much anything, but are especially fond of horses. It's a D&D thing. You'll find a lot of monsters that like to eat people (i.e. the PCs) and a lot that like to eat horses (i.e. what the PCs are riding). You don't get so many that are fond of cows or dogs or something, because generally they're not of much use to the players. Funny that. Even better, though, is that Bulettes also like to eat Hobbits, and have been known to dig them right out of their burrows. Gary's Hobbit-bias strikes again!

They can jump, move silently, and are almost impossible to surprise. In combat they fight with teeth and claws, and their bite is a nasty thing to behold – 4d12 damage! In OD&D that's genuinely nasty. They are also hard to hit, but their eyeholes are vulnerable, as is a certain hinged part of their armour. I'm still yet to see rules on how to adjudicate monsters with different AC for different body parts. I still think I'll just go with whatever the players say they're attacking. If someone figures out to go for the eyes, they'll get the better chance to hit.

They're never found underground, and are very rare (a byproduct of being recently recreated, I guess). In the grand D&D tradition, you can make shields out of their scales, and sell their teeth for big bucks. Only mated pairs share the same area, and their young have never been seen – another byproduct of their recent recreation.

Bulette are cool, that's for certain. That bit about the Hobbits gets me every time. Since I am placing their magical recreation as a recent event, I might as well turn it into an adventure hook. The wizard making them will be doing so near a Hobbit settlement, and the poor little buggers will be getting eaten right out of their living rooms. Cue the PCs, should they desire to get involved.

HINT FOR D&D JUDGES PART 2 – WILDERNESS: This article provides some good and practical advice for designing the wilderness portion of the campaign. Like part 1 of this series it's fairly rudimentary stuff, and it is likely that any experienced DM will have seen it all before. But this was the first time this kind of thing was done, so it gets props for that.

MIGHTY MAGIC MISCELLANY – ILLUSIONIST ADDITIONS: The Illusionist class, previously introduced in The Strategic Review, gets some minor expansion here in the form of some higher levels and more spells. Surprisingly, there are a whole load of classic D&D spells introduced here for the first time. I'll try to quickly run through the new stuff by level.

1st Level: Ventriloquism and Mirror Image are the same as the Magic-User spells that already exist. Detect Illusion is a new spell that does exactly what it says. Color Spray is staple of the game that shoots multi-coloured lights that can knock enemies unconscious.

2nd Level: Magic Mouth and Rope Trick already exist. Dispell Illusion will automatically destroy any illusion that wasn't cast by an Illusionist (with a smaller chance of wrecking those cast by an illusionist). Blur makes the caster blurry and harder to hit.

3rd Level: Suggestion is the same as the Magic-User spell. Phantasmal Killer, aside from having a rad name, summons an illusionary beast from the target's subconscious fears. If the target believes the beast is real it will kill him with a single hit. Anyone wearing a Helm of Telepathy has a chance to turn the Killer back on its caster. Illusionary Script creates writing that can only be read by those specified by the caster. Anyone else who tries will be confused (like the spell effect). Dispel Exhaustion provides the illusion of being rested. This allows the target to keep going, but he'll have to rest even more once it is done.

6th Level: Conjure Animals is the same as the Cleric spell. Mass Suggestion is like the Suggestion spell, but can be used on multiple targets. Permanent Illusion works like Spectral Forces, but lasts until dispelled. Shadow Monsters III is a stronger version of Demi-Shadow Monsters. Programmed Illusion is like Spectral Forces, but it can be set to follow instructions without concentration required from the caster. True Sight lets the caster see the true form of someone who has been polymorphed. It also allows him to tell the alignment, class, level and intentions of any person (yikes! I sense a game-breaker). It can also spot invisible, displaced, and astral objects.

7th Level: Astral Spell, Prismatic Wall, and Maze are just like the Magic-User spells. Vision is for when Illusionists seek answers from a higher power. This power is more benevolent that that contacted by Magic-Users, as the worst that can happen is the caster will be sent on a quest. Figuring out who these powers are will take some extra thinking about the nature of Illusionists and their goals, so I'll come back to it at a later date. Alter Reality is like the Limited Wish spell, only used in concert with an illusion. The caster creates the illusion of what he desires, then it is made real. Prismatic Spray is like a weaponised version of the Prismatic Wall. That is a very nasty thing.

Illusionists also now get the ability to make magic items for themselves at 10th level. At 9th level they can make minor items like puppets that talk and toys and other stuff that I could see PCs trying to sell for a mint. Finally, they now also get a bonus to saving throws against illusions and other light-based attacks.

I'll throw all of this knowledge into the Greyhawk Dungeons in the form of a spellbook or a lost grimoire. If the PCs find and share it, the new spells and abilities will become available and they'll be handsomely rewarded. If not, some NPCs will eventually get it and claim the reward themselves.

THE GNOME CACHE: I feel the need to quote the beginning of this serialised novel in full:

"In the infinity of cosmic probabilities there stretches an endless succession of earths, this one being but one of the possible realities. Those in close proximity to our world are but little different from it, but countless alternatives to history exist, and as these co-worlds become more removed from this plane of reality so their resemblance becomes removed. There are, then, worlds which are gloriously superior to ours, some which are horribly worse, but most are merely different in some way. Far from our probability line is a world called by its inhabitants Oerth. It is very similar to this earth in many ways, but it is also quite different...

"If the learned men of Oerth were able to tell you its geography they would say that in relation to our planet they are quite alike. Asia is a trifle smaller, Europe and North America a trifle larger – but the scientists (or rather philosophers) of Oerth are not able to explain this for two reasons: They neither know of the alternate earths in Oerth's probability line nor do they have any sure knowledge of Oerth's geography outside their immediate areas. Likewise, Oerth has races similar in many respects to ours, and their migrations and distribution somewhat resemble those of our world, but their histories differ sharply from ours departing from our probability line some 2,500 years ago. Then the changes were but small, but over the intervening centuries the difference has grown so that there is now no resemblance between Oerth and Earth when the contemporary models are compared.

"Oerth is backward in terms of our planet. It is a dreaming world. Socially, culturally, technologically it is behind us. When the probability line split there were other changes than those of an historical nature, and scientific laws differ also. What is fact on Earth may be fancy on Oerth and vice versa. So a strange blend of Medieval cultures exist in the known lands of Oerth, and what lies in the terra incognita of Africa or across the Western Ocean is the subject of much myth and supposition only. Ships which ply the waters venture not into such areas, and few are the souls hardy enough to dare expeditions east or south, for things as they are seem quite satisfactory as centuries of tradition prove."

There we have it, right from the pen of a certain Garrison Ernst, aka Gary Gygax – the first in-depth description of the World of Greyhawk and its cosmology. This ties together a lot of things from earlier material, particularly the notion of parallel worlds that has already been put forth. References to Earth locales in the monster description? Oerth is a parallel Earth, so the monsters can come from the Oerth region that is a counterpart to the Earth region named. Frequent use of genuine Earth deities? Again, I can assume that these gods and pantheons were worshipped before the timelines for Oerth and Earth split. It's neat how everything is meshing so far, at least at this stage when Gary is controlling it all.

Anyway, on to the story itself. It starts simply enough, with a youth named Dunstan unhappy with his lot as a merchant's son in the small town of Endstad. He gets his father Rodigast drunk, steals some of his money, and rides out to seek adventure.

I'm not certain if anything in this story can be squared away with the World of Greyhawk is it is later published, but I'll try to do so anyway. We have the town of Endstad, and the Nallid River which loops west and north around it. Dunstan rides from the village towards Rauxes, city of the Overking of Thalland. The details are scant for the moment, but I know they get more specific later on. Alas, because the vague stuff is easier to reconcile.

THREE KINDREDS OF THE ELDAR: This is an article that tries to mesh the elves of Tolkien with those of D&D. Wood Elves are said to be the same as Silvan Elves, Grey Elves are the Sindar, and the greatest of the Elves are known as the Noldor. Any elf character must roll on a chart to see which of the Kindred they are.

Being Tolkien elves, they all have varying chances that they will be drawn across the sea to the lands of the Valar (i.e. right out of the campaign). This chance is rolled once per game year, and is surprisingly high – 10% for Silvan Elves and 25% for Sindar. The Noldor are supposedly exiles, and can only go to the Valar after performing a special deed as determined by the DM.

There are some mechanical changes to Elves here. Silvan Elves have no level limit as Fighters, but are greatly limited as Magic-Users. The Sindar are presented as regular D&D elves. The Noldor are extra-powerful, having no level limits, 1.5 times the normal range on all spells, and 1.5 times the normal effects for all spells. In addition, all Elves are immune to disease and sickness.

Now there are some pretty hefty bonuses available here, but that chance of being drawn across the ocean is a mighty big penalty to have hanging over a PC's head. So these rules will be voluntary. I'm thinking that the Elves have discovered a ritual of some kind that allows them to get in touch with the power of their ancestors. Any Elf PC can opt to take the ritual if he wishes, and will then get to roll on the chart and maybe get awesome powers. The risk of going across the sea will be stated up front, so that any player knows exactly what he is in for.

Now this article brings up some other implications though, especially in combination with what we just learned in The Gnome Cache. So, Oerth is a parallel Earth, right? Now anyone who has read Lord of the Rings will know that it is set in Earth's distant past. Ergo, somewhere in the past of Oerth is Middle-Earth. Or Middle-Oerth, if you prefer.

Yes, I'm going with that as part of my campaign. All the events of Tolkien's novels will have occured in the past, albeit in the European sector of Oerth. The World of Greyhawk is mostly set in the area of North America, so this may never come into play. But hell, I like it!

ROYAL ARMIES OF THE HYBORIAN AGE ADDITIONS: Given that I'm already incorporating the works of Tolkien, I might as well go for Howard as well – especially as there are some Conan modules for official AD&D. If Middle-Earth is set in the distant past of Oerth's Europe, then Hyboria will be set in the recent past of that area.

This article gives details on the military forces of some peripheral nations of the Hyborian Age – the Kushites, Juma's region in Kush, and Khitai. I'll try to remember this article when I'm sketching out details for the area.

NEXT: The Dragon #2, featuring a load o' fiction, monkish duels, dungeon-building advice, Quetzalcouatl, another classic monster, Alchemists, weapon mastery, and much much more!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Dragon #1 part 1

Today I move on from Supplement III, and tackle the premiere issue of The Dragon. Formerly known as The Strategic Review, this magazine is now twice as big and a whole lot more fancy. The content isn't particularly different at this stage, but there's an air of professionalism about the thing that wasn't their in the previous incarnation. TSR is moving up in the world!

First up, the articles that have no bearing on my D&D campaign. Fafhrd and the Mouser Say Their Say has Fritz Leiber talking about a lot of Nehwon material, with some amusing repartee from both characters thrown in. Though I doubt I'll need it, I should still make a note to check back on this article for info once the Lankhmar supplements are released for D&D. Dragon Rumbles and In the Cauldron are the standard 'welcome to the magazine, this is what we're doing' material. The Battle of Five Armies in Miniature show how to convert the game based on that battle into a Chainmail scenario. Wargaming World and GenCon Update are the usual con-related stuff. The Search for the Forbidden Chamber is a short story that is undeniably D&D but also far too satirical and rooted in 1970s culture for me to even consider it. Len Lakofka's Miniature Rules are exactly that, an alternative system to Chainmail for resolving large-scale fantasy battles. As I have Chainmail, this isn't necessary for me. Hobbits and Thieves in Dungeon provides two new characters for that particular boardgame. Royal Armies of the Hyborian Age gives the stats for a number of minor nations that didn't make it into that game. There are also reviews for a number of games, such as Classic Warfare, Citadel, and White Bear and Red Moon.

One thing you might have noticed above is that I'm excluding a number of things that could plausibly be integrated into a D&D campaign. That's because the material in The Dragon feels much more optional than that in The Strategic Review. A good deal of the former seems to be coming from freelancers, while the latter was almost exclusively Gary and his pals. And now, to the D&D!

HOW TO USE NON-PRIME-REQUISITE CHARACTER ATTRIBUTES: This article provides a system for mechanical resolution for stuff that isn't in the rules. So if your Fighter wants to move a boulder or jump over a pit or something, these rules come into play. It's a pretty simple system, but it has perhaps too many steps to flow well at the table.

Basically, you roll percentile dice and add the relevant ability score as well as your level. Looking on the chart shows you what die to roll next, with a higher result getting you a bigger die. Then you roll the die type shown on the chart, multiply the result by the same ability score, and you have a percentage chance for success. It works in an inconsistent sort of way, but three rolls to resolve one action is a little much. I'll be using this system until something better comes along, and the good old catch-all explanation of guild training will cover its introduction.

Further into the article we get some examples of what exactly these rolls can be used for. One such use is to discover the proper method of operating all mechanical and magical devices. Does this include magical items? I am thinking that it should, given that the game has few other methods of identifying them at the moment besides trial and error.

Another example given is for duplicating Thief skills such as Pick Locks. This one also seems fair enough, and is restricted to a straight percentile roll against the character's ability score. Sure, it makes the Thief a little less special, but it also ensures he won't be overshadowed in his own arena. (Although there is the potential for a low-level character with high Dexterity to perform better than the Thief.)

This system also gives PCs a chance to use magical items not normally permitted to their class. In this case the percentile roll required is the relevant ability score divided by 4. I like the way that this rule expands character options while making the chances of success small enough that it won't be abused.

One other tidbit from the article that I'll be using is the sample PC, Grod. Grod is a 4th level Fighting-Man with the following ability scores: Str 17, Int 9, Wis 5, Con 14, Dex 14, and Cha 12. I will have him as a member of the guild, and a frequent adventurer in Castle Greyhawk.

MAGIC AND SCIENCE: ARE THEY COMPATIBLE IN D&D? In this article, Jim Ward puts forth the notion that magic and science are not mutally exclusive in D&D. I've been opposed to this viewpoint in the past, but the more I delve into the old-school material the more I appreciate mixing sci-fi and fantasy. The majority of the article goes on to present a race of technologically advanced beings, and I'm definitely going to hide these guys away in the World of Greyhawk somewhere.

The first thing to note is that they live on the island of Atlantis. Atlantis has been mentioned previously as an underwater city full of fabulous treasure, and there's no reason I can't incorporate the two. The beings are known as the Artificers, and they have a whole lot of technology specifically designed to counter magic. The first of these is a pistol that fires various coloured pellets, each with a specific effect. These range from disintegration, to draining magical items, to the equivalent of the maze spell. They also possess Blue Spheres, which are round flying robots that float near their masters and fire rays to help them. Some rays harm the enemy, while others are beneficial to the Artificer, such as the healing ray.

The Artificers also have a 'mighty offensive and defensive analogic computer'. It's able to analyze and counteract any spell, and it can also scan PCs to determine exactly how many hit points they have. This is pretty nasty stuff, as the computer can then generate a beam that deals exactly twice as much damage as the target has hit points. But like all good fictional computers, you can defeat this thing with logic, Captain Kirk style.

So yeah, I'll have the Artificers living underwater in Atlantis, once an island and now a sunken city. There will be plenty of treasure there, but the Artificers will be tough nuts to crack should the PCs go there.

LANGUAGES, or Could You Repeat That in Auld Wormish? This is an article about languages, quite obviously. It begins by recapping what the rules say about languages, and so far as I can tell it gets things right. Then it goes off to explore various aspects and possibilities of the rules as written.

The first is alignment languages. The writer brings up the notion that characters can learn and speak opposing alignment languages, albeit with difficulty. I had previously posited that these languages were passed down by the Gods, and impossible to comprehend by those of opposite ideals and mindsets. I suppose with the recent alignment splintering caused by the addition of the Good-Evil axis we can suppose that this rule is now being bent. From this point forward anyone can learn any alignment language, but they will have less chance of understanding theose of opposing alignments.

The question is raised of what beings exactly have languages of their own. Animals and plants are said to, probably because there are spells that allow communication with them. Inanimate objects are ruled out, which suits me very well. Even the possibility of talking to bacteria is raised, but I will rule this out as well on the grounds that mindless things cannot be conversed with. The rule of thumb here is that if an item or spell allows you to talk with something, then it has its own languages. As far as plants go I will allow characters to take plant languages. Plants will have a low level of sentience that is gradually fading, and will shortly be gone altogether.

While each species will have its own languages, there are also group languages that certain types of animals all speak. Equine is one example, understood by all horse-like beings, and Canine is the same for dogs. Cavemen speak Cavish. There is also Auld Wormish, the language of ancient dragons. The Great Tongue is the group language spoken by all giants. Lycanthropes are given a greater chance to understand Common than before, which makes sense given that they mostly come from human stock.

The writer then talks about a rule which would allow characters to forget one language and acquire a new one upon gaining a level. I'm not too fond of this, but I may allow it as a magical process the character can undertake if he so wishes. For pay, of course...

Finally the article discusses the possibility that humans will speak more than Common, that each nationality will have its own language. I'm certainly open to this, but I'm going to leave it open for the moment. Further reading about the World of Greyhawk should answer this in time.

Next: The Bulette! The Wilderness! Illusionist Additions! The Gnome Cache! And... Eldar?!?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Post-Eldritch Wizardry Campaign Round-Up

The following shows what the campaign will look like once everything up to and including Supplement III: Eldritch Wizardry has been included. It should also be noted that the last time I did this was just before I tackled Supplement II, so the new inclusions here also include material from that product. As usual, any new additions are highlighted in red.


The rules used at the beginning of the campaign will be from Dungeons & Dragons, the original three-booklet set from 1974. There are several things that are open to interpretation in these rules, and my interpretations are listed below:

  • Player characters re-roll their hit points at the beginning of every game session; on some adventures they feel great, and on others they feel awful. These hit points will not be rolled until the first time the PC takes damage.
  • Elves must pick what class they will play as at the start of every session, and abide by all the rules pertaining to that class. The only exception is that they can wear magic armor and still function as Magic-Users.
  • The 'system shock' roll applies not only to the usual things such as resurrection and polymorph, but also to being paralyzed; there's a chance that such a trauma might stop the heart of weaker characters.

In addition, the following rules will be imported from CHAINMAIL:

  • Turn Sequence
  • Movement Rules
  • Terrain Effects
  • Fatigue (but only for the first session in the campaign, until the characters become used to adventuring)
  • Specific Missile Fire rules
  • Morale
  • Catapults and cannons
  • Random Weather
  • First Strike rules for melee
  • Parrying
  • Mounted Combat
  • Jousting
  • Racial abilities for Elves, Dwarves and Hobbits and other monsters
  • Class Abilities for Heroes, Superheroes and Wizards, mostly covering their effect on enemy morale
  • Special abilities for various monsters

I will also be using the grappling rules from an early issue of the Strategic Review.

After a bit of tinkering and experimentation, I have decided that I won’t be attempting to use the CHAINMAIL combat system at all. It is far too much effort to hammer it into something that works for D&D.


I will start to introduce new rules once the campaign has had a decent amount of time as straight OD&D. This is the general order (a rough guide) in which new rules and additions will be implemented. Some of these changes will be made without the players knowing, and others will be explained to them through NPCs in the Guild.

The Strategic Review #1:

  • Session 1: Mind Flayers start to appear in the dungeons.
  • Session 2: The key that allows players to access The Pit of Ultimate Chaos will be hidden in the dungeons below Castle Greyhawk. See below for more on this dungeon.

Supplement I: Greyhawk:

  • Session 3: NPC hirelings will now gain a half-share of XP, as they are learning better how to profit from adventures under the leadership of a PC. NPC hirelings are also starting to become subconsciously aware of when their employer is Chaotic, and their Loyalty to these characters thus becomes lessened.
  • Session 4: The gods will decree that there is now a limit to the number of times a mortal may be raised from the dead.
  • Session 5: Monsters and PCs will develop techniques and resistances that make the Charm Person spell (and its offshoots) less effective.
  • Session 6: Experience points gained from defeating monsters will be greatly lessened. The earliest adventurers of the current era were truly exploring the unknown, and so gained more experience from killing monsters. Newer adventurers are operating with knowledge gleaned from their predecessors.
  • Session 7: The new monsters from Supplement I: Greyhawk will start appearing in the dungeons and wilderness, as will the new magic items. (In other words, I will be replacing the relevant random tables from OD&D with those from Supplement I.) The secret of using the Stone of Controlling Earth Elementals and the Broom of Flying will be discovered to be easily usable by any class. Elementals will find that they are attuning themselves more to the magic of Earth, and now more powerful magic weapons are required to harm them. The Druids, having heard about the recent forays into the Castle Greyhawk dungeons, will begin investigating to make sure that it will not upset the balance of nature. A book or scroll will be placed into Castle Greyhawk that details how to use magic armour and shields in unison. Either the PCs will find it, or eventually an NPC will do so.
  • Session 8: The Thieves' Guild, having taken note of the amount of treasure coming out of the dungeons, will start to take an interest in the dungeons around the City of Greyhawk. They will petition to join the Adventurer's Guild, but the "Guild of Clerics" will object, and will only relent if someone from the Thieves' Guild retrieves the Cleric's Orb, Crown or Sceptre from the Greyhawk Castle dungeons. The Guildmaster of Thieves will set this as a quest which the PCs may undertake, and if they do so successfully the Thief class will become a playable option. Otherwise, an NPC will complete this quest after a while, and the Thief class will likewise be available. The Guild of Thieves will impose no level limits on demi-humans, and this will prompt the heads of the Adventurer's Guild to "discover" that Elves, Dwarves and Hobbits with exceptional scores in their prime requisites are able to progress beyond their old level limits.
  • Session 9: From this point on, when a Lawful Fighter with sufficient Charisma is created, the gods will appear to him and offer to make him a Paladin of Law. If no player meets these requirements and accepts the offer, an NPC will eventually do so, becoming the first Paladin in Greyhawk's recent history. Also note that this class is not restricted to humans; Elves, Dwarves and Hobbits may also become paladins.
  • Session 10: Human-Elf half-breeds will start becoming more common, enough so that some are starting to become adventurers.
  • Session 11: A slew of new spells will be introduced to the Adventurer's Guild, probably via a cache of Zagyg's spell books hidden in Castle Greyhawk. These are the new spells introduced in Supplement I: Greyhawk. With a wider range of spells now available, Magic-Users will no longer have the capability to learn every single spell in the game. Higher spell levels (7th to 9th) will be introduced that require the caster to have high intelligence to learn. With more things to teach, the guild trainers will no longer have time to teach 6th level spells to those students with lower intelligence.
  • Session 12: In reaction to the increased power of the Guild of Magic-Users, the heads of the "Guild of Clerics" will release the knowledge of prayers previously restricted to their inner circle. (In other words, I will be introducing the new Cleric spells from Supplement I.)
  • Session 13: As training becomes more reliable, Fighters become harder to kill, and so do Clerics to a lesser extent. Magic-Users, with increasing arcane demands, become less hardy. (In game terms, this means that the new hit dice method is introduced.) Also from this point on, the hit point totals of Player Characters will be fixed, rather than re-rolled at the start of each game session. Constitution bonuses for hit points will also be increased at this point.
  • Session 14: Monsters will become hardier as they grow more used to raids from adventurers, resulting in their hit dice changing from d6 to d8.
  • Session 15: Monsters and PCs will learn how to minimise damage from such weapons as daggers, meaning that damage from these weapons will drop from d6 to d4.
  • Session 16: Monsters and PCs will also learn how to make other weapons do more damage. A trade off for these techniques, however, will be that many larger weapons will require more space to wield.
  • Session 17: Monsters will learn how to use some of their natural attacks more effectively, while PCs will learn how to minimise the others. In game terms, this means I’m introducing the new damage ranges.
  • Session 18: Fighters will now be able to train to make better use of their Strength, and to attain Strength levels that were heretofore impossible. At the same time, the training of Fighters and other classes has become more specialised and intensified, and weaker characters no longer receive the training that minimised their lack of Strength. (In game terms, Fighters will now get Exceptional Strength, as well as greater bonuses to attack and damage from high Strength. All characters with low Strength will now suffer greater penalties in combat as well.)
  • Session 19: Fighters will now be able to train to use their Dexterity to dodge and parry more effectively in combat, making their defenses much better. (In game terms, the Fighter will now get AC benefits from Dexterity.)
  • Session 20: The Adventurer's Guild trainers have worked out how to apply techniques that make certain weapons more effective against certain armour types. At the same time, monsters and players alike have worked out how to use armour more effectively against certain weapons. (In game terms, I will introduce the Weapon vs. AC tables.)
  • Session 21: More effective techniques will be developed for attacking humanoid enemies who have fallen prone.

The Strategic Review #2 (all introduced in session 22):

  • Ropers will begin to appear in the dungeons near Greyhawk.
  • Rangers will hear about the dangers being posed by the newly reawakened dungeons, and some of their number will join the Adventurer's Guild through the Guild of Fighting-Men. They will become available as a PC class at this point.
  • New types of pole arms will start to appear on the battlefield.

The Strategic Review #3 (all introduced in session 23):

  • The following monsters will start to appear in the dungeons and wilderness: Yetis, Shambling Mounds, Leprechauns, Shriekers, Ghosts, Nagas, Wind Walkers, Piercers, and Lurkers Above.

The Strategic Review #4 (all introduced in session 24):

  • Even more types of pole arms will start to appear on the battlefield, most of them redundant.
  • An order of monks will start making its presence felt on the battlefield, introducing the jo stick, the bo stick and the quarterstaff.
  • The secretive Guild of Illusionists, previously believed by most to exist only in rumour, will be approached to join the Adventurers’ Guild. They will join for their own reasons, but will refuse to share their magic with regular Magic-Users. At this point they will become available as a PC class.
  • A Manual of Golems with the means for creating a Clay Golem will be hidden somewhere in the Greyhawk dungeons.
  • IOUN stones will begin to appear.

Supplement II: Blackmoor:

  • Session 25: The new monsters from Supplement II will be introduced. By this time the elite mermen will have been mostly wiped out, leaving only their weaker brethren. Giant Leeches will also see their blood drain ability become deadlier. I will also introduce the new random encounter charts for Sailing and Underwater.
  • Session 26: I will place a number of the new magic items from Supplement II in the dungeons.
  • Session 27: Lycanthropy will become harder to cure if it is contracted under the full moon during spring. At the same time, the curse of lycanthropy will be slightly easier to resist, not just being an automatic ticket to NPC-hood.
  • Session 28: Chaotic Clerics will now be able to cause minor diseases with a reversed Cure Light Wounds spell.
  • Session 29: Chaotic monks will start appearing in the dungeons, looking for ways to increase their power.
  • Session 30: The Order of Monastic Martial Arts will petition for membership in the Adventurers' Guild, and from this point on the Monk will be available as a PC class.
  • Session 31: Some Assassins who are also members of the Guild of Thieves will start making forays into the dungeons. Any PC who opts to be a Thief and meets the requirements to become an Assassin will be given the option to do so. He will not be required to divulge his status as an Assassin to the other players if he does not wish to.
  • Session 32: The Adventurers Guild will begin teaching PCs a reckless combat style that allows for critical hits on specific body parts. If they PCs employ this style, the monsters will be able to exploit it in turn. Otherwise, it will not enter into the game.
  • Session 33: At this point I will start seeding rumours regarding the Temple of the Frog adventure. If the PCs don't bite, someone will eventually try to hire them to investigate.
  • Session 34: At this point I will start seeding rumours about the fantastic treasures to be found in the sunken cities of Atlantis, Mu and Lemuria.
  • Session 35: An evil organisation will begin machinations to spread disease across the world. This will introduce the many ailments featured in Supplement II, as well as having the side-effect of making the rotting touch of Mummies much more deadly. I will certainly be making provisions for the PCs to investigate and halt this agenda.

The Strategic Review #5:

  • Session 36: I will place a Robe of Scintillating Colours and a number of Prayer Beads in the dungeons around Greyhawk. I will also introduce Rakshasas, Slithering Trackers, and Trappers into some set encounters around the place.

The Strategic Review #6:

  • Session 37: The worship of individual gods will start becoming more important, splitting the Churches of Law and Chaos into many factions. This results in a new alignment system with an axis for Law/Chaos and one for Good/Evil. As a result, fallen Paladins will now be able to redeem their powers with a divine quest or intervention.
  • Session 38: I will start seeding rumours about the Vermillion Volume, and will possibly have the Witch-Queen Evvolon (or maybe Dunn-Red the Enemy) try to hire the PCs to retrieve it.
  • Session 39: The Druids start assigning Bards to accompany various heroes into the dungeons to chronicles their exploits. After several sessions of this, the class will become available to PCs. I will also introduce the various magical intruments from this issue into the game. In rare cases they may be found in a treasure hoard, but they are usually gifted only to those Bards who do a great service for their people.
  • Session 40: An NPC wizard in the Greyhawk dungeons will create his own homunculus. The PCs may be able to find his notes and replicate the process.

The Strategic Review #7 (all introduced in session 41):

  • I will introduce the Cup and Talisman of Akbar (as well as its Arabic owner detailed below) into a dungeon near the City of Greyhawk. I will also place the Staff of the Priest-Kings and a number of Brazen Bottles.
  • I will create a number of set encounters featuring the Denebian Slime Devil and the Catoblepas.
  • The Adventurers' Guild will start training Thieves to make better use of their Dexterity. Thieves will now get a bonus to their skills for high Dexterity, and those with the highest score will gain Exceptional Dexterity in a similar vein to the way Strength works for Fighters.

Supplement III: Eldritch Wizardry:

  • Session 42: I will introduce the new Wandering Monster charts, which also brings the new monsters into play. I will also place a grimoire in the dungeons that contains a collection of knowledge about the various artifacts. This will be a whole host of plot hooks and potential adventures.
  • Session 43: The mind flayers will complete the giant brain that serves to augment their psionic power. As a result, the emanations from the brain will also awaken psionic potential in humans and some monsters such as Tritons, and Liches, as well as various rodents. At the same time, Dwarves, Elves and Hobbits all gain a measure of resistance to psychic blasts. Also at this time, the Titans will regain the favour of their patron god, and thus gain high magic resistance and psionic power.
  • Session 44: The Adventurers’ Guild, having seen how the Druids are making forays into the dungeons, will approach the Druids and ask them to join. It’s probable that this is a quest that the PCs will be sent on. At the same time, something in the dungeons will affect the Druids, changing the magic that they have access to.
  • Session 45: A new and improved way of thinking about tactical movement and combat sweeps through the Adventurers’ Guild, and will be taught to the PCs. In game terms, this translates as the replacement of the initiative system from Chainmail with the more complex one from this supplement.


The World of Greyhawk is currently at a level of society and technology equivalent to the Middle Ages of Earth. Although technology is at a late medieval era, scientific theory is centuries ahead of that due to magical research. The world also has seasons that are similar to our own. It consists mainly of the Great Kingdom. In a bog nearby is the weird enclave of Blackmoor, lying between the Great Kingdom and the fearsome Egg of Coot. The City of Blackmoor is a small village, a one-horse town. The City of Greyhawk is much larger, and detailed further below.

The world is flat, and ships can sail off the edge. The wilderness is generally an unexplored land dotted with cities and castles. These castles may be inhabited by any number of creatures fell or fair, but are most always ruled by some powerful character. Somewhere in the world there is a primordial swamp filled with dinosaurs. Elsewhere there is a mountain range that is home to a number of prehistoric mammals. There is also at least one forest which is home to many magical creatures such as centaurs and unicorns.

There is a common language that is known and spoken by most humans throughout the continent. Every other race that can speak also has its own language, and 20% of them can also speak the common tongue. In addition to this there are alignment tongues, special languages that were passed down to mortals by the primal forces of the universe. A creature aligned with Law that is able to speak will possess inherent knowledge of this language, and the same is true for each of the other alignments. The alignment tongues are now mostly reserved for ritual and prayer, but they are also frequently used by secret cabals and sects, and religious extremists who would never sully their tongues with less divine speech.

An ancient civilization once spanned the continent. They are known to have embalmed their dead, and that is why mummies are so prevalent in dungeons everywhere. Their language was once used to categorize monsters in a semi-scientific manner. That language survives in the name of the Red Dragon: Draco Conflagratio, or Draco Horribilis. It may also be the same language that gave us the name Chimera as a category of monster.

There is a group known as the Rangers, descended from an ancient line of kings, who patrol the borders of civilization and protect it from evil monsters.

There are also Witches in the world. If a male character is captured by one, he will either be turned into a pig or kept as her lover, depending upon his Charisma. Some Witches are old hags, and others are beautiful.

There is a civilisation of Amazons, whose traditional dress consists of little more than boots, belt, and a loincloth of some kind.

The Druids live in the wilderness, presiding over their barbaric followers and harnessing the power of nature for their own ends. There are only ever four Druids of 10th level in the world, two 11th-level Arch-Druids and one 12th-level Great Druid. The only way for a Druid to advance to these levels is to defeat one of them in a spell duel. Bards are closely connected to the Druids. Though Druids and their people are human, they are hugely respectful of the various demi-human races, and will allow them to study the Bardic arts.

There is a thriving slave trade, fuelled by Bandits, Pirates, and others of their ilk.

Electrum is a valuable metal, but its exact value depends upon who you are dealing with. Most value it at half the price of gold, but there are others who believe it is sacred, and give the metal double gold's value.

The rare silvery metal known as mithral is mined by the Dwarves.

The strange alloy known as Adamantite was once used to make powerful magical armour, but the secret of its making has now been lost.

Dwarves and Elves each have their own homelands. Among humans they are referred to as "Dwarf-land" and "Elf-land". It is possible that "Elf-land" is otherwise known as the Greenwood, and ruled over by the Witch-Queen Evvolon. Nearby is the land of Stra-Tac, ruled over by Dunn-Red the Enemy, who is at war with the Elves. He is known to employ human spies, as well as armies of Orcs. In the recent past, he stole a powerful tome called the Vermillion Volume from the elves, only to have it stolen in turn. Both he and the elves continue to search for it.

Dread Blackmoor Castle is a dungeon not far from Blackmoor city. Also in this region is Lake Gloomey, and the surrounding Swamp of Mil. In the swamp lies the Temple of the Frog, a secret place that is home to the Brothers of the Swamp, a sect that believes Man an abomination, and animals more fit to rule the world.

The Order of Monastic Martial Arts is an organisation of monks, divinely powered ascetic martial artists. Most are Lawful, but a rebellious few favour Chaos. They are forbidden from drinking magical potions, as it would defile the sanctity of their perfectly honed bodies. The Order has ten members who are greater than Grand Master. In order of rank and power, their titles are: Grand Master of Dragons, Grand Master of the North Wind, Grand Master of the West Wind, Grand Master of the South Wind, Grand Master of the East Wind, Grand Master of Winter, Grand Master of Autumn, Grand Master of Summer, Grand Master of Spring, and the Grand Master of Flowers. Progression through these ranks is determined by duels, but there can only be one Monk of each rank at any time.

Most of the large cities in the World of Greyhawk are home to an Assassins Guild, though never more than one in each locale. Each guild is run by a Guildmaster, a position that other high-ranking assassins can gain by challenging him to a duel to the death. The training of Assassins makes them extremely flexible in their mindsets and personal tenets, and as such they are able to speak in alignment languages different from their own.

In eons past there was a great flood, which may or may not have happened twice, when the ice caps melted during a war between the gods for control of the planet. Some of the gods grabbed up their subjects to save them from the flood, while others transformed their subjects to adapt to the water. Sea elves and mermen were created by the gods of Law and Neutrality, while those of Chaos made the Sahuagin, who are said to be the most evil of the evil.

The cities of Mu, Atlantis and Lemuria lie beneath the sea. Each of them is said to contain fabulous treasures.

Silver pieces are sometimes referred to as Silver Nobles.

Somewhere in the world there were once Priest-Kings.

The Isles of Woe upon the Lake of Unknown Depths were once ruled by a wizard-cleric who owned the Codex of the Infinite Planes. Knowledge from the Codex caused his downfall, and his domain was flooded by the waters of the lake.

At some point in the future, the event known as “The Coming of the City of the Gods” will occur.


The City of Greyhawk is large, with bazaars, inns, taverns, shops, temples, and a risky Thieves Quarter.

There is an Adventurers' Guild in the city, and this is the only place where the PCs may receive training. There are three sub-guilds that unite to form this organization: the Guild of Fighting-Men, the Guild of Magic-Users, and the Guild of Clerics. The Guild Elders claim that they are incapable of training demi-humans to the same level as humans, but there is a widespread belief that this is just a case of prejudice. One of the Guild's trainers is the Thaumaturgist Grimm.

The Guild bestows specific titles to those that progress through their class. For example, Fighting-Men begin as Veterans, and when they progress to the next rank they become Swordsmen. Each of the classes has a unique progression of titles.

Beneath the Guild is a strange circular portal, surrounded by hundreds of empty slots. There is a key for each slot, and when each is activated the portal has a different destination. Some of these destinations include Mars and Blackmoor.

The guild also runs a service whereby adventurers can name a beneficiary of their wealth and items, often a relative. The guild charges a fee of 10% of the goods transferred.

The following Guilds and occupations also operate in the city: Alchemists, Blacksmiths (including Armorers), Assassins, Animal Trainers, Engineers, Sages, Seamen (including Ship Captains), Spies and Men-at-Arms.

There is a lot of untamed wilderness near the city, and a large portion of it resembles the board from Outdoor Survival. This wilderness is ripe for conquest by the PCs, who may use it to build their own castles, but many areas have already been claimed by NPCs with castles of their own.

The lands around are lawless, and so the various humanoid types, especially Orcs, Ogres and Giants, are especially effective when they launch raids, possessing great hoards of treasure.

Somewhere in or around the City of Greyhawk there is a cult that sacrifices naked women to giant snakes. They look like the hooded cultist from Supplement III: Eldritch Wizardry.

The Guild of Sages is highly protective of the niche occupied by its members, and it resents that Clerics and Magic-Users often encroach on that territory. As such its members do not hire out to these classes. Lower-level Sages have a very general knowledge base, while those of higher level will usually have areas that they specialise in. Sages are favoured by the Gods of Law, and so killing one renders the slayer instantly Chaotic. They also have the power to bestow powerful curses if brought close to death by violence.

Somewhere near the City of Greyhawk is a castle that is home to the Gatherer, an Evil High Priest, and his servants. These servants include undead, orcs, ogres, trolls, as well as a number of even stronger forces. The Gatherer was at one point insulted by Lord Robilar and confronted him with his strongest troops. During this attack the Gatherer's castle was assaulted by forces from Nazi Germany, brought there by a strange fog. There is a map of the area surrounding this castle in The Strategic Review #5.


Castle Greyhawk is a huge ruined pile, a vast castle built by a mad wizard who is also an insane genius.

The dungeon beneath has over a dozen levels in succession downwards, with more than that branching off at various points. At least two levels are under construction at any time. Included within the dungeons are a museum from another age, an underground lake, a series of caverns filled with giant fungi, a bowling alley for 20' tall giants, an arena of evil and some crypts. In addition the tunnels often change their configuration from one visit to the next, and there are various teleporters and strange corridors that make mapping the place very difficult.

The castle and dungeon itself seems to hinder the PCs; monsters inside can always see in the dark, but the PCs and their allies cannot. In addition, doors that are always stuck for PCs, and always swing closed on them, open easily for monsters.

Somewhere in the depths of Castle Greyhawk is an object decorated with a bearded demonic face (this is pure conjecture on my part, based on the illustration in OD&D).

The tricks and traps mentioned in Supplement I: Greyhawk are all a part of Castle Greyhawk.

One room in Castle Greyhawk is called "The Living Room." It is full of animated furniture that will trip, confine, and smother the PCs.

On level 2 of Greyhawk Castle there is a fountain that issues a continuous stream of snakes.

Somewhere in the Greyhawk dungeon is a Great Stone Face with two archways nearby. This face is also known as the Enigma of Greyhawk.

A demi-plane accessible in the dungeons will be ridiculously deadly and over-powered, in the manner of the D&D games played at CalTech. The sign pointing to the access point will have a 'Dungeons & Beavers' inspired pun.


Somewhere in a dungeon near Greyhawk there is a special iron golem that can only be killed by the very weapons that it guards. It has a fiery breath, a poison sword, and a whip of cockatrice feathers that can turn its victims to stone. Though many tales about it have been told, its location is unknown to most.

There is another dungeon near the City of Greyhawk. It has ten levels, and is six levels deep (as can be seen in the cross-section in D&D Vol. 3). The bottom level is dominated by a huge cavern. One of the deeper levels (5a or 5b) will include the sample dungeon level from D&D Vol. 3. Level 1 will feature details from the sample of play in Vol. 3, notably a room with six gnolls guarding thousands of coins and a pair of Elven Boots.

Another dungeon can be accessed only through the portal below the Adventurers' Guild: The Pit of Ultimate Chaos. Though certain locations in the dungeon are always present, the layout is never the same from one visit to the next. I will be using the random dungeon generation charts from The Strategic Review #1 to create this dungeon on the fly.

In a dungeon or lair somewhere near Greyhawk there is a dragon who has captured a Bard, and refuses to let the Bard stop playing his restful melodies.

Castle Blackstar is a dungeon, the first level of which consists of shops and inns, as well as the home of a high-level wizard with a balrog butler.

In one of the dungeons will reside an Arabic sorcerer in the vein of Abdul Alhazred, who has crossed over from Earth to the World of Greyhawk. He will have in his possession the Cup and Talisman of Akbar.


The most common civilised races are Men, Elves, Dwarves and Hobbits.

There are three types of Dwarves: Hill Dwarves, Mountain Dwarves, and Burrowers (otherwise called Gnomes).

Dwarves and Gnomes share a great affinity, and may be different strains of the same species. Dwarves have a history of constant war with Goblins, and the same applies between Gnomes and Kobolds.

Dwarven clerics exist, but they do not venture forth and become adventurers. Their clerics are all accomplished fighters.

There are three general types of Elves that live in the world: wood elves, high elves and meadow elves. Though most Elves live on the same plane as the other races, many have retreated from the world to live in the Faerie Realm, and are known as Fairies. Elves share many of the same habitats as Orcs, Hobgoblins and Gnolls, and battle frequently with all of them. Elven warriors that remain in their homelands are all outfitted with Elven Cloaks and Boots. Those who leave to pursue a life of adventure are not openly shunned, but these traditional garments are denied them. Some elves with human ancestry are starting to appear, several of whom have even been seen sporting beards. There are also Elven clerics that do not become adventurers and rarely leave the Elven homelands.

Wood Elves (and possibly the other sorts) are short and wear pointy shoes. They once held greater powers, but are now a race that has dwindled greatly in power.


Common Dungeon Monsters: As shown in the Monster Level Tables in D&D Vol. 3.

Other Dungeon Monsters: These monsters are occasionally encountered in dungeons, though not very often. They are: Titans, Cyclopses, Juggernauts, Living Statues, Salamanders, Gelatinous Cubes, Golems, Giant Crabs, Giant Leeches, Giant Octopi, Crocodiles, Giant Squids, Pterodactyls, Cyborgs, Robots, Androids, Shadows and Dopplegangers. It is not known from where the Cyborgs, Robots and Androids come from.

Common Underwater Monsters: Mermen, Nixies, Dragon Turtles, Giant Leeches, Crocodiles, Giant Crocodiles, Giant Snakes, Giant Octopi, Giant Squids, Giant Crabs, Giant Fish

The following notes show how some monsters differ to what is in the rules:

Wraiths grow weaker when they venture forth from the dark demesnes; their level draining touch is reduced to that of paralysis, and this is how they act when fought in mass combat. Wights react in a similar fashion.

Zombies, regardless of whether they are encountered on the battlefield or in a dungeon, are immune to missile fire and can paralyze their opponents with a touch as cold as the grave.

The ghouls in dungeons occur naturally, though sages are as yet unsure how. Those found on the battlefield are created and strengthened with dark magic, and are immune to missile fire.

Spectres are also occasionally referred to as 'Nazgul', though the origin of this term is shrouded in mystery.

Trolls and Ogres are believed by sages to be a related species, though there is little evidence to support this supposition.

The dragons that venture forth to fight in mass combat are generally more vital than their dungeon dwelling brethren, who spend most of their days sleeping on piles of treasure. As such, they have no limit upon the number of times they can use their breath weapon. The current wave of dragons being encountered are the youngest generations, which age more quickly than did their ancestors, and are much less potent. Rumours persist that the ancient dragons yet live, slumbering in the bowels of the earth, and that they will yet awaken.

The Purple Worm is often called the Purple or Mottled Dragon. It is believed to be the result of a dragon that has no treasure hoard to sleep upon. They lurk everywhere, just below the surface of the earth.

Each type of Elemental can only be summoned once per day. This is a magical precaution against incursions from the elemental planes; the elemental summoning spell seals the plane behind the summoned elemental, and such is the strength of that seal that it cannot be opened again until the next day. Magic-Users are trying to research a way around this, but with little success so far.
The word Chimera was once used as a group name for strange monsters made up from parts of others: Manticores, Wyverns, etc. Eventually the creatures were given individual names, but the name Chimera stuck with the creature of the same name from D&D Vol. 2.

Every Goblin tribe has a King, who claims to be the one true king of the goblin race.

As strange as it may seem, the sorcerous interbreeding of Gnomes and Trolls resulted in the hyena-headed race known as Gnolls. Sages are still baffled.

Though Lycanthropy is a curse that can be passed to many humanoids, the various types of were-creatures are each a race unto themselves. How they feel about their cursed brethren is as yet undetermined.

Efreet reside in the fabled City of Brass.

Orcs are so common that they are freely available to hire as foot soldiers in large numbers.

Different kinds of Men can be found in any habitat. The same goes for all of the evil humanoids, including Trolls and Giants, as well as Demi-Humans and Ents.

Most cities in Greyhawk are built on the foundations of ancient ruins and graveyards, and as such encounters with undead may happen in certain city areas.

The presence of Cavemen suggests that the Men of Greyhawk evolved along similar lines to those of Earth.

The Dragon King, also known as the Platinum Dragon, lives in a palace behind the east wind. He is the king of all Lawful dragons. His main goal is to oppose the Dragon Queen and her host. The Dragon Queen, also known as the Chromatic Dragon, is the Queen of all Chaotic dragons. She lives in a huge cavern beneath the earth, and her main aim is to spread evil. These two beings are said to be unique, but every world has its own versions of them.

Displacer Beasts and Blink Dogs have a mutual hatred, though the reason for this is lost in antiquity. The cause may be as prosaic as the rare bark that they both relish. This bark can also provide a cure for malaria.

The dungeons are now home to a type of lice that becomes a burrowing killer if disturbed.

The Ogre Magi hail from the area of the World of Greyhawk that corresponds to Japan.

Bugbears, a hybrid of Giant and Goblin, often wear ceremonial battle masks carved out of pumpkins.

Shriekers, a type of large mushroom, are a prized food of Purple Worms and Shambling Mounds.

Ghosts are not true undead; their spirits never passed into the realm of the dead before returning.

There are vampires that hail from Greyhawk's equivalent of Asia, and they have different abilities to the regular variety.

Giant Rats are thought to originally hail from the part of the World of Greyhawk that corresponds with Sumatra.

Among the Mermen is an elite warrior class that is hardier, and able to breathe out of water.

Fire Lizards are believed to have been the ancestors of present-day dragons. It's unknown if this is true, but dragons generally avoid fighting them.

The Man-of-War, a type of Jellyfish, originates from the area of the World of Greyhawk that corresponds to Portugal.

Sahuagin never stop growing. Somewhere in the deepest oceans there is a Sahuagin behemoth that has prolonged his life with Potions of Longevity.

The disease spread by Giant Ticks has been identified as Spotted Fever.

Rakshasas hail from the area of the World of Greyhawk that corresponds to India.

The Denebian Slime Devil is a creature that originates from another planet.

Gray Oozes have a dim intelligence and latent psionic potential, and will lash out with a psychic crush if psionics are used near them.

A large colony of Yellow Mold can form a collective intelligence. Such a colony can release spores deliberately, and lash out with Id Insinuation if psionic powers are used near it.

Demons live in Hell, with a hierarchy of the strong ruling over the weak. They are ruled over by the Demon Princes, two of which are Orcus and Demogorgon. If any person speaks the name of a powerful demon, there is a chance he will hear and turn his attentions upon this person. Orcus is the Demon Prince of the Undead. Demogorgon is rumoured to be supreme among demons. Powerful demons contain their souls in special amulets that can be used to control them. Another of the Demon Princes is named Nql.

Shedu and Lammasu are cousins.


The Adventurers' Guild supplies all of its spell-casting students with spellbooks. They receive one book per spell level, and each book contains all of the spells commonly in use. Magic-Users receive books full of magic spells, and Clerics receive Prayer Books with the sacred forms and rituals required to contact the forces of Law and Chaos. The only spells commonly available are those listed in Vol. 1 of the D&D boxed set.

The only Magic Items that have so far been regularly discovered are those listed in Vol. 2 of the D&D boxed set.

All Magic Swords possess some form of intelligence. In ancient times they were bound with the spirits of the living, and to this day they all retain some sort of sentience. Some of these swords have minds that are slowly dying, while others are as vital as ever.

The following Artifacts are known to be somewhere in the vicinity of the City of Greyhawk: a Teleportation Machine (the portal beneath the Adventurers Guild); a Crown, Orb and Sceptre for each of the three classes (Fighting-Man, Magic-User and Cleric); and the Stone Crystalization Projector. The Crowns, Orbs and Sceptres were once held by the most powerful guild members of each class, but the Guild has dwindled of late, and these items were stolen by a thief and lost within the depths of Castle Greyhawk. Before that they were known as the Crowns, Orbs, and Sceptres of Law, Neutrality and Chaos, one set for each alignment. Those of Law were owned by the Guild of Clerics, those of Neutrality by the Guild of Fighters, and those of Chaos by the Guild of Magic-Users. The Stone Crystalization Projector fires a ray that will turn anyone it hits to stone (with no saving throw), but its whereabouts are unknown.

Magic books require a specific size, shape and configuration. If they deviate from this design in any way, they will not hold the magic. (This applies only to magic items, not spell books). This explains why all of the magical books look identical.

The casting of spells requires four components: verbal (the words of the spell); somatic (the magical gestures); mnemonic (spell memorisation); and material (the objects used to power the spell).

Other artifacts that exist: The Invulnerable Coat of Arn, The Mace of Cuthbert, The Sword of Kas, The Wand of Orcus, The Rod of Seven Parts, The Hand and Eye of Vecna, Baba Yaga’s Hut, Iron Flask of Tuerny the Merciless, Queen Ehlissa’s Marvelous Nightingale, The Machine of Lum the Mad, the Jacinth of Inestimable Beauty, the Crystal of the Ebon Flame, Heward’s Mystical Organ, Horn of Change, Ring of Gax

The Eye of Vecna is spoken of only in hushed whispers, and speaking of it openly can lead to trouble. It looks like a cat’s eye, and so may not have been Vecna’s true eye.

The Axe of the Dwarvish Lords was forged in a volcano by a long-forgotten dwarven king, and passed down until it was lost about 1,000 years ago. Given that its powers require human sacrifice, it was probably forged during a particularly bloody Dwarf-Human war.

The Codex of the Infinite Planes was once owned by a wizard on the Isles of Woe. This wizard took it into the Abyss to confront the Demon Prince Nql, and was killed. It is olikely that the Codex resides there still.

The Mighty Servant of Leuk-O: This machine was left on Oerth by a race of space travelers, possibly from the same race as those found in the Temple of the Frog.

The Throne of the Gods: This throne was carved by an ancient race into the heart of a mountain. This race was probably the Dwarves, but nothing is certain as yet.

The Orbs of Dragonkind: There are five of these, each housing the soul of an evil dragon and running the age gamut from hatchling to great wyrm.


Xylarthen: Xylarthen would have been better suited as a Cleric, but became a Magic-User instead. His statistics are: Strength 6, Intelligence 11, Wisdom 13, Constitution 12, Dexterity 9, and Charisma 8. He has 70 gold pieces and 0 experience points. Xylarthen will be available for hire by the PCs early in the campaign.

The following adventurers have operated in and around the city of Blackmoor: The Great Svenny, Marty the Elf and Richard the Hairy. Marty the Elf was killed by Nazis on a foray into 20th century Germany.

Drystaff the Necromancer: Drystaff is a stereotypical magic-user with his beard and staff and pointy hat. He is 10th level. He has in his employ a number of men-at-arms. Drystaff makes a number of anachronistic references to Earth culture, as he has scried other planes using his crystal sphere. He has a cheating wife, and was trained in magic by the great Thaumaturgist Grimm. He rides a mule named Grumbold. He has also met a barbarian named "The Hog" in the north-eastern marches, perhaps the Ice or Frost Barbarians in the far north-eastern regions of Greyhawk. His elven scouts are led by Highton, who was chosen by the Witch-Queen Evvolon for the particular mission. Drystaff has a henchman, a Fighting-Man named Lamhand who is a simple-minded oaf. Drystaff and his men remain active in the area of Greenwood.

Highton: An elf who is leader of the scouts of Witch-Queen Evvolon. He has allied with Drystaff in the past, when both of them quested for the Vermillion Volume.

RST: A mysterious rotund thief who has made off with the Vermillion Volume.

The Hog: A powerful chieftain who resides in the far north-eastern regions of the World of Greyhawk.

Arn: Someone who created or once possessed the Invulnerable Coat of Arn.

St. Cuthbert: A holy man who lived some time ago. The Mace of Cuthbert is one of his holy relics.
Kas: One-time bodyguard to the lich Vecna, who was the mightiest swordsman of his age, and possessor of the Sword of Kas.

Vecna: An ancient lich who imbued his hand with power that lasted long after his destruction. He also had a powerful eye that is rumoured to exist, but it is unknown if it was his own or not.

Baba Yaga: Said to have been the greatest Wizardress of all time.

Tuerny the Merciless: Former owner of the Iron Flask of Tuerny the Merciless, in which was imprisoned the Groaning Spirit.

Queen Ehlissa: Reigned for several centuries. She was the possessor of Queen Ehlissa’s Marvelous Nightingale, and bent it to her will.

Lum the Mad: The inventor, or former possessor, of the Machine of Lum the Mad.

Leuk-O: The former owner of the Mighty Servant of Leuk-O.

Shah Cham’Ponee: The fabled former owner of the Jacinth of Inestimable Beauty.

Heward: The creator or former owner of Heward’s Mystical Organ.

Gax: The creator or former owner of the Ring of Gax.


Law and Chaos are the fundamental forces of reality, and most creatures are aligned with one or the other. Some are neutral, not caring which side wins the cosmic struggle. Eventually Good and Evil will become important aspects of religion, but while these two qualities are subjective, Law and Chaos are not. In general, Good and Evil will oppose each other, but if an apocalyptic Final Battle ever took place the divisions would be along the lines of Law and Chaos.

Clerics do not serve specific deities, but devote themselves to either Law or Chaos. The cross is a potent symbol of Law used by its devotees. Cleric spells are divinely given. Later in the campaign the worship of specific deities will become more prominent. When this happens, Clerics must maintain their Good or Evil alignment or lose their powers. They may change between Law and Chaos, with divine retribution determined by the attitude of their specific deity.

Many Magic-Users believe that there are no great forces of Law or Chaos, and that Clerics have merely found some other method of tapping into the same arcane energies that they use. Clerics grow heated at this suggestion, and as such there is a great rivalry between the Clerics' Guild and the Magic-Users' Guild, to the point where someone of one class will not be permitted to switch to the other.

These are some of the beings that are powerful deities or representatives of Law and Chaos: Odin, Crom, Set, Cthulhu and the Shining One. Mars is also present, and often rides around on the shoulders of Talos, a giant man of bronze.


There is a spell that Magic-Users can cast to obtain knowledge from beings on "higher planes". There are 8 planes so far accessible through this spell, numbered 3 to 10 (the first plane being the material, and the second the Astral). These planes are levels of Hell, and it is demons who answer the questions; the higher the plane contacted the more likely the answer will be correct, but the higher the chance that the caster will be driven insane by contact with things man was never meant to know.

Clerics can similarly contact "powers above" for answers; these are the Gods, Demi-gods, Demons and Devils, powerful forces of Law and Chaos.

There are realms of the dead, but very few have been delved with magic; only those of Men, Dwarves and Elves are so accessible, and thus only these races can be brought back via the Raise Dead spell. The Hobbit realm of the dead is as yet undiscovered.

There is an extraplanar "non-dimension" which is where Invisible Stalkers are summoned from. These dimensions are later discovered to be the Astral and Ethereal Planes. Aerial Servants also come from this same dimension.

Travel to Mars has been documented, although the means to do so is as yet unknown. It is believed that the portal beneath the Adventurers' Guild in Greyhawk may provide such a journey if the correct key is found. The following monsters are said to reside there: Apts, Banths, Thoats, Red Martians, Tharks, Black Martians, Yellow Martians, White Martians, Calots, White Apes, Orluks, Sith, and Darseen. Martian architecture will be generated using the article in The Strategic Review #2.

The spell Rope Trick grants access to an extra-planar pocket dimension, but where exactly this is remains a mystery.

The Astral Plane has been discovered and named; Magic-Users now have a spell to enter it, and those beings in the Astral Plane can see into the primary plane, but are invisible to non-Astral beings. Anyone whose spirit is separated from their material body is sent to gibber and shriek on the floor of the lowest hell. Astral forms are connected to their material form by a silvery cord, and if this cord is broken both mind and body perish. The Astral Plane is frequently beset by psychic winds which can sever the cord. The Astral Plane extends into outer space, where the psychic winds are more frequent.

There is also an Ethereal Plane, which certain magics allow access to.

There is a plane known as Valhalla from which the spirits of powerful berserker warriors can be summoned.

Travel to the American "Old West" is possible via the portal under the Adventurer's Guild. One person that the PCs might encounter is Doc Holliday (see The Strategic Review #??). Another possible NPC is Ben Thompson (see TSR #5). Others (from TSR #7) are The Lone Ranger, Tonto, The Rifleman, Clint Eastwood, Yancy Derringer, Pahoo, Johnny Yuma, Matt Dillon, John Wayne, Paladin, Josh Randall, Yul Brynner, and Hopalong Cassidy.

Near the city of Blackmoor there is a teleporter that leads to Nazi Germany. Adventurers from Blackmoor have in the past made forays through this portal, and some from Greyhawk have made similar journeys.

Another destination possible via the Adventurer's Guild portal is the world of Tekumel. Names for Tekumel characters will be generated using the article in The Strategic Review #4. There are a bunch of plot hooks that I will be using in The Strategic Review #7.

Men from another world have made forays into the lands of Blackmoor. They are highly advanced technologically, with hovering satellite stations, power armour, and other gadgets. These Men are part of a seemingly benevolent organization interested in policing dimensional nexus points.

There are various other planes that match with the alignments. Heaven is the plane of Lawful/Good, Paradise is Good, Elysium is Chaotic/Good, Limbo is Chaotic, The Abyss is Chaotic/Evil, Hades is Evil, Hell is Lawful/Evil, and Nirvana is Lawful. Although magic-users and sages have done extensive investigations of the planes, their knowledge is sketchy and may yet prove unreliable. Saints are the epitome of Lawful/Good, and dwell in Heaven. Godlings are the epitome of Chaotic/Good, and dwell in Elysium. Devils are the epitome of Lawful/Evil and dwell in Hell. Demons are the epitome of Chaotic/Evil and dwell in the Abyss. It is possible for any powerful character who continually follows an alignment to the absolute letter to permanently move from the regular world and onto the plane that his alignment represents.

Alternate worlds exist, where specific actions and choices were made differently.


Once the player characters reach 4th level they will start to get offers to hire themselves out as mercenaries. If they accept such an offer, the game session for that night will be a CHAINMAIL scenario using their own characters as special troops.

Common Battlefield Monsters: Sprites and Pixies, Dwarves and Gnomes, Goblins and Kobolds, Hobgoblins, Elves (also include Fairies), Orcs, Heroes, Anti-Heroes, Rangers, Super-Heroes, Wizards, Wraiths, Werebears, Werewolves, Trolls, Ogres, Giants (probably Hill Giants), Ents, Red Dragons, Rocs, Wyverns, Griffons, Elementals (Water, Air, Earth and Fire), Djinn, Efreets, Basilisks, Cockatrices, Chimerae, Giant Insects, Giant Spiders, Giant Wolves, Dire Wolves, Wights and Ghouls, Zombies, Balrogs

The following monsters are found on battlefields, but only very occasionally: Blue Dragons, White Dragons, Green Dragons, Black Dragons, Purple Worms, Hobbits

The Wizards found on battlefields are usually specialised Battle Mages. They can wield swords, and their magic is often more potent, though it takes longer to cast and cannot be used in regular adventuring situations. They are also able to attempt magic more powerful than their level would allow, though at some risk.

The following battlefield spells are available at the beginning of the campaign: Phantasmal Forces, Darkness, Wizard Light, Detection, Concealment, and Conjuration of an Elemental. The second time the PCs get involved in mass combat, Moving Terrain and Protection from Evil will become available. The third time they become involved, the following spells will be there: Levitate, Slowness, Haste, Polymorph, Confusion, Hallucinatory Terrain, Cloudkill, and Anti-Magic Shell.

The armies of Law are often armed with Magic Swords crafted by the Elves. The armies of Chaos have no such means to produce these weapons on a large scale.

The Arquebus and the Horsebow are weapons that are generally only available in armies and mass combat situations. The scarcity of gunpowder guarantees that Arquebus's are difficult to obtain, and Horsebows are mostly used by Horse Nomads and so aren't in circulation in the City of Greyhawk and the surrounding lands.

Pole arms begin to be differentiated in order to increase effectiveness in different situations.

The standard symbols used on military maps are shown in The Strategic Review #7.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Supplement III: Eldritch Wizardry part 17

Today: the final installment of Supplement III! Commence fanfare!

MIGHTY SERVANT OF LEUK-O: The first thing to note here is that this item is a relic of a race of space travelers. This ties in very well with the space-faring people that appear in the Temple of the Frog module, and is further proof that the World of Greyhawk exists in a galaxy with some highly developed planets.

The Mighty Servant itself is a huge automaton (9 feet tall and 6 wide), that can be used as a fighting machine, mode of transportation, or magical attack device. Such is its size that it causes intelligent creatures to save vs. fear. This is inconsistent with a lot of D&D monsters that are much larger and require no save, but I can chalk this up to the alien construction of the thing making it scary to look at. Anyway, the Mighty Servant is very hard to hit, completely immune to magic and has a whole bunch of other resistances. It's slow to move and attack, and it has a very small chance to hit, but if it does it deals 10-100 damage. Like Baba Yaga's Hut from the last post, this artifact is given a flat % chance to hit rather than using the standard method. I suppose it's fair enough that such a powerful machine would ignore armor, and it does take Dexterity into account, so everything works. But when people praise the unified mechanic of 3e for streamlining the game, this is the kind of thing they're thinking of.

Suggested powers: levitation, light, sleep, user becomes permanently chaotic, and the user is compelled to undertake a holy quest.

This last bit makes me think that the aforementioned star-faring race must have been a bunch of religious zealots.

Oh, and as usual with these artifacts we have the requisite NPC: Leuk-O. There's no indication here of who he is or what he's done.

THE JACINTH OF INESTIMABLE BEAUTY: This is a big glowing gem that charms anyone who looks at it. It is rumoured to have once been the property of 'the fabled Shah Cham'Ponee', but as usual we learn nothing else about him. The gem has some other suggested powers as well: acts as +1 armor, detects traps and secret doors, 20-die lightning bolt, death spell, paralization, wielder has a 25% chance to permanently lose a hit point whenever the gem is used, the gem causes extreme greed in any viewer and may cause him to try to kill the wielder, and the user becomes permanently Lawful.

THE CRYSTAL OF THE EBON FLAME: This is a crystal, smaller than a human skull, that constantly emits rays that induce fear in any viewer. Inside the crystal is a darting flame, and if it is focused on the other powers of the crystal may be used.

Suggested powers: Detect invisible, acts as +1 armor, 10-die cold ray, wielder has a 25% chance to permanently lose 1 point from an ability score every time the item is used, user cannot touch or be touched by metal, time stop.

Despite the evocative and cool name, this artifact is disappointingly devoid of any background info.

HEWARD'S MYSTICAL ORGAN: This is an enormous pipe organ, that is purported to have an air elemental trapped in the bellows to power the thing. The organ can create any number of magical effects, but if it is incorrectly played it will be detrimental to the user. There are no specific powers listed, so this one is really up to the DM.

(And, in my PDF this item is listed as "Reward's Mystical Organ". I've listed it as Heward, as it is in later versions, but I'm not sure if this is an OCR error or if it is in the actual text. Plus, new NPC - Heward. He is still a mystery.)

HORN OF CHANGE: Heh heh heh. When this horn is blown three times, it produces a random effect from the artifact tables. Man, I love randomised items like this one.

THE RING OF GAX: This platinum ring has an eight-sided gem on it, each facet of which contains a specific power. The gem can be twisted to use each facet, but it has a habit of turning at random by itself, so the PCs won't know which facet is which until they use a bit of trial and error. It's impossible to mark the ring, so they'll be going through this process every time they want to use it. Again, it's another semi-randomised item, to my joy.

Suggested powers: Fly, wizard eye, detect traps and secret doors, conjure elemental/djinn/efreet/invisible stalker, power word stun, user attacks anyone within 20 feet, item consumes 50-100% of the user's treasure, user cannot touch or be touched by metal, finger of death

And, Gax! Another as yet undeveloped NPC to add to the ranks.

THE CROWNS, ORBS AND SCEPTRES: There are several sets of these, one for each alignment. This raises a question right away - are we talking about the original three-alignment system, or the expanded system that includes Good and Evil? In the interests of keeping things simple, I will probably go with the original system of Law, Neutrality and Chaos.

There's another thing to think of as well - what of the Crown/Orb/Sceptre sets of the Fighter, Cleric and Magic-User that were posited in the OD&D boxed set? Are they connected, or a separate thing altogether? Again, to keep things simple, I will go with the former. The Crown, Orb and Sceptre of Law will be the same one said to be for Clerics, the set for Neutrality will be said to belong to Fighters, and the Chaotic set to Magic-Users. I've theorised before that they were once owned by the respective guilds of each class, but it's obvious from this that they will predate the guilds by a long way, and will have purposes of their own separate from the guilds as well.

Anyway, these items are scattered around and lost, and can only be used by someone who shares their alignment (as usual, punishment is visited upon anyone else who picks one up, and there's no use of detect good/evil to get out of it). Each item has a number of powers, and more powers become available if you complete the set.

Suggested Power for the Orbs: Light, fly, double-strength slow spell

Suggested Power for the Sceptres: Acts as +1 armor, telekinesis, conjure elemental/djinn/efreet/invisible stalker

Suggested Power for the Crowns: ESP, detect magic, shape change

Extra powers if two items owned: user immune to magic but cannot use magic himself, Legend Lore, Commune

Extra powers if three items owned: items cause extreme greed in all viewers, summon a demon once a day

THRONE OF THE GODS: A massive gold-inlayed throne crafted by an ancient race in honour of their gods (oh so lovely and vague, I can cram that in anywhere!). It's carved right into the heart of a mountain, and so it can't be moved. That makes me think Dwarves at the moment, but I suspect I might be swayed towards one of the Underdark races if I'm feeling nasty. Anyone who sits on the throne gets a random magic item, but can only do so once. Also, he can use any of the throne's powers, but is subject to the drawbacks as well.

Suggested powers: Clairvoyance, telekinesis, speak with dead, teleport, charm monster, death spell, locate treasure, gem of seeing, raise dead fully, throne releases gas which puts all nearby to sleep

Woah. If the suggested powers are anything to go by, there aren't a lot of drawbacks to using this thing. Luckily it can't be moved. Given the general benevolence of the thing, I'm likely to stick with ancient Dwarves as the builders.

THE ORBS OF DRAGONKIND: Hey, shades of Dragonlance! These five orbs are about as big as a human head, and each contains the imprisoned essence of a dragon.
The Orb of the Hatchling: The user of this orb has the suggested power of ESP, and does not need to eat or drink. This orb is pretty weak, and will obey any person who can speak the language of dragons.
The Orb of the Dragonette: This is like the one above, but with different powers: detect evil, wizard eye, 10-die cold ray, user becomes fantastically strong but really clumsy.
The Orb of the Dragon: Again as above, but with different powers: Telekinesis, death spell, locate treasure. The drawback? The user is instantly killed. Hey, hope your buddies enjoy that treasure you just located!
The Great Firedrake's Orb: This orb is much more wilfull than the previous three, and can try to possess the user like a magic sword. It's extremely evil, so if the user is possessed he'll try to control or destroy those nearby. The orb's powers are: move at double speed, fire resistance, dispel magic, user loses 1 hit point permanently with each use, disintegrate
The Orb of the Eldest Worm: This one can possess you like the previous, but it's even more likely to succeed. It's powers are: speak with dead, adds`1-3 to an ability score, charm monster, finger of death, user has a chance a body part will rot and fall off, power word kill

That's it for artifacts, and for the rest of the book effectively, as the remainder is a revision to the Wilderness Wandering Monster tables. I'll be quietly incorporating that at the same time as the rest of this book. Since that wraps up Supplement III, my next post will be a round-up of the various elements that have been incorporated into the campaign so far. That might take me a while, so my usual Friday update may not appear.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Supplement III: Eldritch Wizardry part 16

In this installment: VECNA!

THE HAND OF VECNA: Here it is, probably the most iconic D&D artifact ever. For the probable few of you who don't already know, this artifact is a shriveled and blackened hand that is the sole remnant of an ancient lich who imbued it with power that has lasted long after his destruction. In order for the hand to be used, it must be attached to the stump of an arm, which has resulted in all sort of hilarity perpetrated on PCs over the years. The owner becomes undetectably evil, but can remove the hand at any point up until he uses one of its primary powers. After that, each use of a power drops the chance to remove it by 10%, until after ten uses it can never be removed. Not only that, but every use of a primary power subjects you to a negative effect from the artifact tables, so this is a very nasty thing to have. Even worse, none of these ill effects can be altered in any way, even by acts of the gods. This is said in ALL CAPS, so it is extra-true.

The hand has secondary powers that can be used without ill effect. They are: the user has an ever-increasing chance to automatically become ethereal when under stress, levitation, infravision, fly and detect traps and secret doors.

The hand's primary powers are the ones that come with ill effects. They are performed by making finger gestures, and can only be discovered by trial and error. Something tells me my players will go for the Ronnie James Dio horns first thing. The primary powers are: Sleep, double-strength slow spell, finger of death, regenerate half of all hit points lost in combat, teleport, monster summoning, x-ray vision, 10d6 cold ray, death spell, locate treasure, and your touch turns your opponent's bones to jelly. Oh, and you always get a premonition of danger just before it happens. Okay, yeah. I can see the upside to this thing.

THE EYE OF VECNA: I've always thought the eye a little creepier than the hand, so far as Vecna is concerned. Its existence is rumoured, and has yet to be confirmed, but is only talked about in hushed whispers, and never to strangers. I'll have to remember this if my PCs ever decide to hunt this thing down. Asking around for the Eye of Vecna could lead to trouble for them. It's also of interest that the eye glitters in the maner of a feline, and so may not have actually belonged to Vecna.

Much like the hand, the eye must be pressed into an empty eye-socket. Once it's in there, it can't be removed, and it turns the wearer Chaotic.

Secondary powers (no ill effects): immune to disease, clairaudience, water breathing, paralization.

Primary power: The wearer is granted one wish per week. Every time the wish is used, there's a cumulative chance that the power of the eye will break free, destroy the wearer's soul, and use his body to kill all of his hirelings and associates. Good times.

BABA YAGA'S HUT: This hut belonged to Baba Yaga, who is said here to have been the greatest Wizardress of all time. It's a hut that's bigger inside than outside, and it walks around on giant chicken legs that it can also use to clobber enemies. It's interesting to note that they are said to have a 30% hit probability. So this means that they completely bypass the Armor Class system? It can also cast a Finger of Death once a day, and the image of the hut pointing with a chicken leg to cast it already has me in hysterics.

IRON FLASK OF TUERNY THE MERCILESS: This is a heavy metal urn closed with a turnip-shaped stopper covered with mighty runes. Inside the urn is 'the Groaning Spirit', a devil or demon which can be loosed to perform evil deeds. The wielder needs to know a special word to open the stopper, the special spell which commands the Groaning Spirit, and the word of closure to seal it up again. Otherwise, shenanigans. It's got a few other powers as well: teleport, stone to flesh, the user receives a premonition of danger just before it happens. The urn will consume half-to-all of the user's treasure to sustain its power.

The question remains, though, who was Tuerny? A cursory bit of research reveals him as a wizard of Greyhawk, a former king, and a bad dude. I'll have to do some more poking around when I get into my post-OD&D research phase.

QUEEN EHLISSA'S MARVELOUS NIGHTINGALE: This is a bejewelled mechanical songbird held in a mesh of golden wires that springs to life when activated. Its song causes wondrous effects, as do the scintillating lights from its eyes, and the two in combination are said to be able to produce many powerful spells. It also has an aura that protects all nearby from detection spells, as well as hunger and thirst.

Suggested powers: detect evil, speak with animals, double-strength slow spell, restore one lost level per week. It's suggested that maybe the restored level can be taken from another nearby PC, but I don't think that's really appropriate for this item. It also has a cumulative chance that the power of the bird will break free, destroy the wearer's soul, and use his body to kill all of his hirelings and associates. This is harder to reconcile with a seemingly benevolent item, but I guess appearances can be deceiving.

Queen Ehlissa herself is said here to have reigned for several centuries, bending the nightingale to her will and never allowing it to escape.

THE MACHINE OF LUM THE MAD: This is a gigantic machine covered in levers and dials, with a large booth for people to stand in. Twenty of the levers and dials are unusable due to age, and the thing is too large and delicate to be transported with teleport magic. Anything in the booth will be affected when the levers and dials are operated. The thing has 80 powers, which is just about everything in the book, and the DM is also encouraged to come up with some things himself.

Who is Lum the Mad? Another quick check on the internet reveals him to have been a Baron and warlord who got betrayed and hurled through a dimensional rift into limbo. Again, more on this later I guess.

Next: More artifacts, more artifacts, more artifacts. I have a child, and so henceforth will refrain from promising to finish up with this next time.