Comes the Trampling Host

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The Hateful Wars: Chapter Forty-Three

Thomas Kelly

Gilvgola conducted coronation solemnities, sacrificed flocks and herds, and declared a sacred meal. The dwarves swore vows and took oaths to Kristryd in the presence of the Sacred Heart. The feasting went long into the night, and the dwarves lifted many bowls to their queen. Kristryd sat at the head of table with Thane Blackaxe at her right and grey-bearded, sorcerous old Bagbag at her left. Sullen-faced Dame Thresstone glowered dejectedly from her place at the women’s table, two steps lower than the table where Kristryd sat.

Reflections

As the night degenerated into bawdreaming songs of Hanseath and Wenta, Kristryd excused herself to the privacy of her room. She removed her silver-framed mirror from it’s velvet cloth wrap and spoke into her own reflection, “Hedvyg! Hear me!” The old witch’s face failed to materialize in the mirror, but Kristryd continued. “Hedvyg! I live and breathe! Mine is the sacred anvil of your fathers, and mine is the devilshine book. I am made queen of the mountains without your assistance. You have failed. I am prophecy fulfilled. You are nothing.”

The first faint glow of the new day began to brighten the sky. Kristryd found her way through the austere halls of Hoch Dunglorin to the chamber where the high elf Gallowagn stayed. She tapped softly on the door. Despite the hour, she knew the duke would not be sleeping.

“Does the Queen of the Lortmil Mountains request my audience?” Gallowagn asked with surprise as his servant showed her into his chambers. “Should I not rather request audience with her?” He stood to his feet and bent at the waist in a graceful bow.

Continue reading “Comes the Trampling Host”

Hail, Kristryd

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The Hateful Wars: Chapter Forty-Two

Thomas Kelly

“The messenger has returned,” Bamadar announced. He had to shout to make his voice heard above the thrumming of rain on the oiled skin canopy stretched over the pavilion.

“Step in, Bammer, and dry your beard,” the queen summoned. The soggy soldier lifted the heavy fabric of the door flap and stepped into the dimly-lit pavilion. He shook his head and shuddered his shoulders like a dog shakes itself dry. Turning his attention to the thane’s table, he bowed before the queen. Kristryd reclined next to trueheaded old Bagbag. Her son Pegli sat on her other side. No others were present. “Well, you look comfortable and dry!” Bamadar observed.

“Don’t leave the man standing in the rain,” the queen scolded.

Bamadar raised his eyebrows in surprise. “You would have him enter your pavillion?” he asked for clarification.

“Before he melts or floats away,” she insisted.

Bamadar shrugged and stepped back out into the rain. A moment later he returned with the messenger, an equally soggy traveler, shivering with the cold. He stooped to enter through the low-cut canvas door flap. As the traveler stood to his full height, Pegli leaped to his feet in astonished disbelief. “Mother! That’s an orcblood!” he stated the obvious in protest.

“I recognize him,” Bagbag observed with distaste. He narrowed his eyes and sized the man up. “Claimed to be a Duchyman and a vinter.”

 “Billy Locks of Gliddensbar, m’lords and lady,” the orcblood executed a quick bow toward the dwarves reclining at table. Somewhat self-consciously, he edged nearer to the hot coals burning on the open brazier at the center of the room. His pig-like eyes darted from face to face as he warmed himself. The glow of the hot coals burning cast a play of shadows which made his orcish features the more devilish.   

“Mr. Locks has proven himself a servant most reliable,” Kristryd offered in his defense.

“One of your horse-flesh traders?” Bagbag asked with a dismissive snort.

Kristryd ignored him and focused her attention on the half-orc. “Were you able to deliver my invitation?”

 Billy Locks nodded eagerly. “Yes, m’lady. That I did. Ol’ gundygut’s lonely ear went all atwitch with the news. He’ll take yer bait fer sure.”

“What’s this? With what have you baited the trap?” Bagbag asked.

“We are the bait,” the queen explained. She turned back to the half-orc, “How long before Hroth comes?”

“He’s gathered his headmen, and all the tribes too. They’ll be already on the march by now.”

“They won’t march in the rain,” Bagbag asserted.

“Oh, they’ll march in the rain, they will!” Billy Locks contradicted the wise loremaster. “Hroth’s promised plenty o’ spoils, and he tells them they’ll be wintering in Tringlee and Jurnre too.”

“Mother, what have you done?” Pegli asked wide-eyed and wary.

 “How many does Hroth bring to the field?” Kristryd asked the spy.

“All of them!” the half-orc promised.

Continue reading “Hail, Kristryd”

Back from the Dead

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The Hateful Wars: Chapter Forty-One

Thomas Kelly

The Lortmil Queen and her elven travelling companions turned aside from the road to avoid the siege of Hagthar still underway. “I have neither time nor strength of arms for such an entanglement now. Let the men of Veluna hold their own border,” she sighed. The detour took them east to Dorob Kilthduum where dwelt Gilvgola, the Sacred Heart of Berronar. The priestess had only just returned from her summer rounds, arriving back at the dwarven fort she called home on time for the moon of Brewfest. The corpulent priestess welcomed Kristryd as one might welcome a dear departed friend when found alive in a happy dream. The priestess offered up festival sacrifices of thanksgivings in addition to those of the holy day.

At the conclusion of the festivities, Kristryd sought counsel of Gilvgola, “I have taken a foolish oath in the names of Moradin, Berronar, and all the gods of my fathers. I spoke in haste and under sway of passion. I would now renounce my oath and have it annulled.”

The Sacred Heart smiled with pity upon Olinstaad’s daughter but shook her head resolutely. “If I had the power to annul oaths, I would be powerful indeed! You have sworn in the name of our Father and Mother. The matter remains between you and the gods. Who is Gilvgola to absolve you or annul your obligations?”

“By Berronar’s beard!” Kristryd cursed bitterly. “Then I have no recourse but to continue this hateful affair! If you cannot free me from this burden, you must help me carry it. Come with me to Gilmorack, you and all your best warriors too. The tide turned against us at Riechsvale. We must move with alacrity or lose all the stones for which we have labored these many years.”

The Sacred Heart gave thought before replying. “Already the castellan has sent away what axes we can spare. Already our young dwarves have fought for you, and many have fallen on faraway fields. Scarcely enough of us remain here to defend these walls or hold these lands about us. Even now Urgush lays siege to Hagthar, a few days march from here.”

“Yet you will come with me,” Kristryd insisted emphatically. “Ask Berronar, seek an oracle, fast and pray, divine what signs you must, but come with me you will! Mother! I need the gods with me if I am to satisfy the debt, and I need you beside me too.”

The Sacred Heart inquired of Berronar. The auguries were good. At the conclusion of the festival, Kristryd left Dorob Kilthduum with Gilvgola and the remaining warriors of that place, several hundred strong.

Continue reading “Back from the Dead”

Heroes of the Fey Kingdom

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The Hateful Wars: Chapter Forty

Thomas Kelly

The Lortmil Queen carefully folded the garments of Esmerin and packed them away in her sack. She girded herself in her mithril armor and strapped her sword to her side, and pulled a red travelling cloak overtop. Slinging the sack over her shoulder, she set off toward Courwood. Not long had she walked before passing the burnt ruin of Defile’s End. The blackened and broken stones made her shudder. She offered prayers for the fallen.

Edda’s New Riddle

A few miles further brought her to the cairn that sheltered the bones of the Prince Consort’s host. Like a wight clambering out from a tomb, a wild-haired and wild-eyed elfess climbed from behind the stones and leapt up on top of the cairn. She wore only a loose-fitting hair cloak bound at the waist by a thin leather belt. “Hail, Queen of the Lortmil Mountains,” Edda saluted. “What now for Kristryd Olinsdotter?”

“Edda!” Kristryd exclaimed as she recovered from the start. “I am almost glad to see you. Have you more riddles for me?”

“Just this one,” Edda replied. “How did the Red Fang orcs know to waylay the Prince Consort at this place?”

“I imagine they fell upon him as a random act of savage banditry, not unlike a dozen’s dozen that occur in these mountains every year.”

“Perhaps. Perhaps you are right,” Edda feigned a naiveté that belied her words.

“I feel as if we have had this conversation before Edda. If you know something more, you might say so.” Kristryd grew impatient and rested her hand upon the hilt of her sword where it hung at her belt.

The wild elf continued, “The Grand Court whispered about the People of the Testing. Some said that we plotted against the life of the Prince Consort.”

“I don’t understand your pitchkettle riddles Edda.”

“Perhaps you have not heard that the queen’s dandy led a strike deep beneath the mountains. They say that the third time is the magic. This time the fastaal made good on his oaths. None of the Red Fang orcs remain in the bowl, though many begged for their lives.”

“That’s good news to my ears.”

“Is it? The fastaal persuaded the unhappy survivors to spill the true tale of the ambush. They said an old dwurwife hired their tribe for the deed. She paid them in horse’s flesh.”

A stab of fear plunged into Kristryd’s heart.

Continue reading “Heroes of the Fey Kingdom”

Support Oerth Journal

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Thomas Kelly

I’m brewing up some new material for future issues of Oerth Journal, and I’m eager to see the articles in print. Yes, in real print. Like a real magazine. On real paper. With ink. Because that’s how the only periodical dedicated to the World of Greyhawk is now being published.

It’s true that you can still get the PDF versions and all the old issues of Oerth Journal free at Greyhawkonline. But what if the magazine was available in print? It is. The publisher has produced collectable hard-copy versions of the last six issues and intends to continue to do so.

Imagine getting Oerth Journal sent directly to your mailbox. Imagine Saturday morning with a steaming hot cup of coffee in one hand and a fresh OJ in the other!

When I get my physical copy of Oerth Journal, I read the whole thing. I can’t say that of any other magazine in the world. It brings me back to being a kid and getting the new issue of Dragon Magazine.

So how do you get your own copy? You can’t subscribe to Oerth Journal. There are no subscriptions. You just have to become a sustaining supporter of the magazine. At the $4.00 a month tier, you will receive each new issue as a thank you gift.

Click here to Support Oerth Journal

For less than the cost of one of those large Frappuccino drinks from Starbucks, you get the physical copy of Oerth Journal mailed to your home. That works well for me because I drink my coffee black.

Look at it this way. Oerth Journal is the only print publication still dedicated to the World of Greyhawk setting. Supporting the journal makes a statement of allegiance to the original home world of Dungeons & Dragons.

Oerth Journal needs our support to continue publication online and in print. To support Oerth Journal, go to https://jemi.app/greyhawkonline and select one of the “sustaining donations” options.

Become a sustaining member of Oerth Journal here.

You can also request back issues as a thank you gift for making a one time donation: https://jemi.app/greyhawkonline/single-donations

NOTE: If you formerly supported Oerth Journal through the Patreon Page, transfer to Jemi. OJ is no longer using Patreon.

Esmerin

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The Hateful Wars: Chapter Thirty-Nine

Thomas Kelly

A soft mattress in a clean, well-lit place. Sunlight poured in through a round window. Beside the bed stood a small chair and desk. From pegs on the far wall hung a coat of glimmering mithril armor. Next to it, a short sword, still in its scabbard.

Kristryd passed her hands over her body, but she felt no wounds. On the desk beside the bed she found her personal belongings, including her comb and her silver-framed mirror. What was the last thing she remembered? A stab in the back, a blow to the head, a slow tumble into darkness. “How came I to this place?” she asked aloud as she sat up in the bed. “Where is this place?”

“How did you come here?” Alton Chubb Quickbread came through the open doorway into Kristryd’s room. He waved his hands above is head dramatically as he explained, “Your big griff carried you here. Upset all the eagles too. They were screaming at each other, swooping around, but your horse-bird set you down in the town square. They told me, ‘Alton, you will never believe what just happened. A big blonke hippogriff carried the broken body of pretty dwarfess, all dressed in mithril armor, and laid her down right in the center of town.’ I didn’t need to be told twice. I knew it could only be you, my fairhead.”

“You healed my wounds?”

“I also made muffins!” the halfling boasted.

“Is this Prinzfield?” Kristryd asked, swinging her legs out of the bed.

Alton shook his head. “You’re not in Prinzfield, my lady.”

Continue reading “Esmerin”

Siege of Castle Hagthar

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The Hateful Wars: Chapter Thirty-Eight

Thomas Kelly

“Now the rats flee as the ship sinks,” Urgush remarked to himself. Tidings of the battle of Riechsvale had travelled quickly through the mountains. “Gather around me,” the half-blood summoned the leaders of those few clans that yet remained under his sway. He tried to imagine how Hroth might rally their hearts if he were present. He chose his words accordingly. “Hear what I will say. I won’t wait here to be buggered by bearded dwur boys and frolicking olvin ass-lickers.” He lifted his eyes reverently in the direction of the distant Yatils even though they remained far out of sight from where he stood on the high slopes of the northern Lortmils. “Am I not the servant of the great witch? Time to leave these stinking dwur-shit holes and join her fight against those putz-sucking Perrenlanders. Then we will eat and drink without fear, and she will feed us the flesh of men!”

With inspiring words like this, he rallied those tribes and clans that remained yet loyal to him. Urgush gathered up the treasure of gemstones he had stolen from the treasuries of Dengar. He loaded the precious cargo on wagons with many other treasures, indeed, all the treasures of his tribe and those beneath him—a lovedrury to place before the archmagis.

Continue reading “Siege of Castle Hagthar”

Artur the Avenger

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Part Two of The Tale of Artur Jakartai

How Artur became an acolyte but left the cloister before taking his vows and, on finding his family slain by goblins, avenged their blood.

Being good-natured and lowly of spirit, Artur nurtured no bitterness over the trick his father had played him. Instead, he deemed it more than fit for one of his stature, that is, one mixed of blood and born of a concubine. He set to his duties as acolyte with vigor and zeal and unto all the devotions of the Just One.

In preparation for the clerisy, they taught him his letters. He learned to read only through hard effort and many tears until, at length, he could read the scrolls as if noble-born. Thusly educated, he eagerly consumed the holy books, the calends, and the Olven tomes (such as they had in translation). But more, he loved the ancient histories, and he reveled overmuch in the tales of the Old Aerdy, especially the old Oeredian poets who could articulate so well what stirrings his heart felt but his tongue could not spell out. Also found he the tales of more recent times, and he lit upon the story of the war with Halmadar the Cruel. “If I had lived in those days, methinks I would have wielt well the axe!” he told himself. In truth, although he knew not the particulars of the tale, his own great grandfather Tristart the son of Fendart had fought as footman alongside the holy order of the Shielding in that conflict and suffered magical burns that marked him the rest of his life.

After some years had passed, and a time of release came before he should take his vows, he betook himself a journey to find his home and see again his father and his mother and all his brothers and his sisters.

In those days, the power of the Horned Society waxed mightily, and those devil-worshippers ever pressed against the Shield. Within their own lands, they had not crops nor flocks sufficient to feed the growing hordes of hobgoblins. The slovenly gundyguts raided the fertile Shield Lands to feed their hungry bellies.

Continue reading “Artur the Avenger”

The Battle of Riechsvale

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The Hateful Wars: Chapter Thirty-Seven

Thomas Kelly

“This war of yours may profit the dwarves, but my people suffer! Unhappily we joined your alliance. Now our lands have been raped while yours remain whole and untouched.” The Count Palatine spoke from bitterness of heart.

Kristryd replied with sympathy, “Peace to you and upon all that is yours. They caught us unprepared this once, but we will not suffer it to happen again.”

Several months had elapsed since the siege. The queen of Gilmorack and her retinue did not arrive in the County until Ready’reat. By then, Jurnre’s wide streets had been swept clean, the fountains sparkled again, the gardens had been prepared and pruned, and the market squares restored. Yet the dwur queen’s eye had not failed to notice the ravaged lands all about. Her journey took her past burned-out villages, ransacked farmsteads, orchards stripped bare, and vacant-eyed, broken people. What will they eat this winter? Where will they find shelter from the rains? she wondered.

Strategy in Jurnre

Kristryd summoned a council of the alliance in Jurnre and promised assistance to those who had lost homes, farms, and villages during the raids. Her father and her brothers came up from Gyrax. Duke Gallowagn’s daughter Nevallewen arrived from Tringlee, demanding reparations. Nevallewen spoke on her father’s behalf, “You drove them out of the mountains and into our lands. Villages are burnt, granaries looted, vineyards trampled, and people slain. Who will compensate for loss of life and home?”

“We are at war!” Kristryd answered boldly, irritation punctuating her words. As much as she admired the duke, she did not like Nevallewen, and she made no attempt to hide her distaste for the elfess. “We have all suffered. Don’t speak to the dwur about your losses. The blood of our folk stains the stones above and below because, when there is a job to be done, by Moradin’s hammer, we dwarves get it done! All of us have paid a heavy price.”

Continue reading “The Battle of Riechsvale”

The Tale of Artur Jakartai

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Chapter I

First, How Jakart begat a son named Artur and gave him over to the Temple of Heironeous.

555 CY

It befell in the days of Holmer, Earl of Walworth, Knight Commander over all the Shield Land Lords, that there lived a Shieldlander named Jakart the son of Merlart the son of Tristart the son of Fendart, an Oeredian, and a mighty man renowned for valorous deeds in the service of the Shield, though he himself could claim no title as lord nor knight. He made his coin as an adventurer and sellsword until the years weighed too heavily upon him for bravery and foolishness, at which time he used what coin he had saved to purchase a wide and fertile valley for cultivation on the border of the Western Reaches of Warfields, along the banks of the Ritensa. Cold and long were the winters, but the land gave forth an abundance, hastening to bring grain to head for the shortness of the summer months. Every year at harvest, fang-faced goblins and orcs crossed the river to steal away the sheaves from the threshing floors, but Jakart and the servants of his household slew them oft as he found them, pursued them back to the river, and sent them home, most often empty-handed.

Continue reading “The Tale of Artur Jakartai”

Iggwilv Tribute Video

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Greyhawk video!

Here’s my second attempt at a video featuring a montage of Iggwilv-Tasha artwork, both published and fan-generated, set to David Bowie’s “Putting out Fire.” This revision has artwork from the fantastic Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. To learn more about the backstory of Tasha, her mother Baba Yaga, her sister Elena the Fair, and how Tasha became Iggwilv, the mother of Iuz, read the Mother of Witches cycle.


Don’t be a fonkin! Follow Greyhawkstories.com.

The Gonfalon of Geoff

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THE LIBERATION OF GEOFF

The Gonfalon of Gyruff (Campaign Notes-SPOILERS by Thomas Kelly)

Based on Living Greyhawk module GEO1-04, by James Quick

The last five years of life in Hochoch have not been easy for the refugees. It’s been that many years since the Marchers liberated the city. The population has swollen with Gyric refugees returning from the Gran March and Keoland. Among them are adventurers and opportunists aplenty. Gran March controls the town, refusing to cede power back to the Gyric people. Food remains in short supply. The only commodities in abundance among the refugees are fear and distrust. Riots, teetering on the edge of revolt, have become regular occurrences, and some parts of the town have been put to the torch during periods of unrest. To help quell the riotous behavior (and to preserve supplies for the soldiers of the Gran March), the provisional governor, Karl Neumann, has declared a prohibition on the sale of and consumption of alcoholic beverages within the walls unless with a writ from his office. Moreover, the sale of hard liquor is banned within a league of the walls. This night, however, Governor Neumann has issued a writ of authorization to serve alcoholic beverages during a one-night only celebration at the Hochoch amphitheater.  The occasion is a Gyric bonfire celebration for the fifth day of the festival of Richfest, an important holy day on the Gyric calendar. The town watch, supplemented with Gran March soldiers tonight, is on hand to patrol the event and keep the festivities contained.

Continue reading “The Gonfalon of Geoff”

The Siege of Jurnre

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The Hateful Wars: Chapter Thirty-Six

Thomas Kelly

“That witch-loving lickspigot Urgush led us to disaster after disaster, but we are done with him and his drossels!” Hroth paced back and forth, glaring at the fanged faces of the tribal chiefs and shamans gathered about him. They were heads of tribes no-longer loyal to Urgush and what clans remained among the lower Lortmils. Hroth tossed a log onto the bonfire, sending an eruption of bright sparks wheeling up into the nighttime sky. “No more fighting among ourselves. No more orc against goblin and goblin against orc. If you want to feed your bellies and see your young ones live, we need one chief. As I am the only one without his head up his own ass, it can only be me. If anyone says otherwise, say it to my face or crawl back to your shithole and hide.”

The goblins chiefs, orc elders, gnoll pack leaders, and all their shamans jeered at the imaginary dissenters.

“Swear by your gods, by your demons, or by your devils. Makes no difference to me. Just give me your oath!” Hroth shouted. He rubbed at the scarred stump of his left ear to emphasize the point. “You too, you mud-humping sons of Gruumsh!” he gestured toward the sullen orc captains. “Let’s seal it in blood.”

The last suggestion inspired a cacophonous caterwauling of enthusiastic approval. Drums pounded. The shamans dragged victims to the stone. One after another, they took turns, soaking Hroth’s new covenant with the blood of prisoners which, until that moment, the warlord kept caged and bound near at hand. The shamans mixed upon the stone the blood of men and women snatched from villages, dwarves captured in battle, unlucky halflings, unhappy elves, and even gnomes. They smeared it on the faces of the goblin chieftans and the all the orc elders, and the gnolls lapped at it as it pooled around the stone.

Continue reading “The Siege of Jurnre”

Rangers of Geoff

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The downtrodden land of Geoff is my favorite “stomping grounds.” From the time I first started thinking about writing Greyhawk fiction, I wanted to write about the epic events that transpired during the Living Greyhawk liberation of Geoff.

I’m now slowly building a section of the website dedicated to the region. New today on the Liberation of Geoff page, find a document titled “Rangers of Geoff.” It consists of the ranger archetypes created for the Living Greyhawk Geoff regional metagaming materials. It also contains a cool two-page print of ranger hand signals used by those brave resistance fighters campaigning for the Contested Lands.

Additionally, I came upon a document titled “Geoff Slogans” which includes some t-shirt ideas from the beleaguered Geoffites. Here’s a few of my favorites:

“If you run, you’ll just die tired.”

“Don’t tread on me again.”

“Geoffian Longbowmen.  No problem too big.”

“Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask, ‘Where can I hide?'”

“And just how many times has YOUR country been overrun by giants? Then shut up!”

“Not many people have earned the title of Giantslayer. But I bet damn near all of ’em come from Geoff.”

Finally, you can also find my campaign adaptation-summaries of adventures in Geoff using the original Living Greyhawk modules. Distribution of the no-longer available LGG modules is utterly forbaden, but campaign summaries fall under fair use. So far my home group has played through four of the modules, but I’ve only gotten three of them written up. There’s more to come, but here’s the first two. (Beware, total spoilers. That’s sort of the point.)

Runaway

Cat and Mouse

The Gonfalon of Geoff

The Scribbet on the Stone

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The Hateful Wars: Chapter Thirty-Five

Thomas Kelly

Bagbag returned to Bennoth Tine, troubled in spirit. He told Kristryd much of what had transpired in Dengar but not all things. Then he retired to the tower chamber he had designated for himself. Kristryd found him there at work, surrounded by candles, open books, charts and symbols, and all sorts of paraphernalia she shuddered to guess at. The old dwarf knelt on the floor at the center of the room with a scribbet of charcoal, chalking out a summoner’s circle and scribing it with runes, glyphs, and signs which he carefully copied from the brass-bound book.

Bagbag’s Tale

“I wonder how you freed my sons and set them over Dengar,” Kristryd mused as Bagbag scribbled on the floor.

“I made a bargain,” the old wizard said without looking up. His tone became urgent, “Now is the time to take the anvil back to your father’s kingdom. I would hear the Anvil of the Mountains ringing among the bells of Hammer Hill in the Gyrax! I would see it blessed in Havenhill, in the Temple of the Blue Mines!”

“How is it, wise teacher,” Kristryd pried, “That you have orchestrated all these things?”

Bagbag looked up from inside the summoner’s circle. “Have you been spying on me with your silver-framed mirror?” he snirtled, a twinkle in his eye.

“Often have I tried. Well-warded are your secrets.”

“I’m no fonkin!” Bagbag chuckled. “Of a truth! I have only ever served you and your father before you, and the king of Balnorhak before him.”

“Not so,” Kristryd’s tone hardened. “Who did you serve when you plotted the fall of Grot-Ugrat? From where did you obtain that Suel spell? What role did you play in the theft of the anvil from Dengar? If you would have me trust you, O trueheaded Bagbag, tell me your tale.”

Continue reading “The Scribbet on the Stone”

Night Arrant

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Night Arrant might be the least-read and most-entertaining of Gygax’s Gord the Rogue series of Greyhawk novels. It takes place between the events of Saga of Old City and Artifact of Evil. I’m told that the style is comparable to Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and Grey Mouser stories (if not a straight up knock off) with Gord in the role of the Mouser and Chert as Fafhrd. Having never read Leiber’s work, I’ll take your word for it.

As typically happens with the Gord books, the cover art seems to be unrelated to the contents of the book. Oh well. You can’t judge a book by its cover, right?

Night Arrant isn’t a single narrative or one big quest like Artifact of Evil. It’s a series of episodic adventures, thinly connected when at all. The book contains nine fun-to-read, swashbuckling short stories about Gord’s misadventures in and around the City of Greyhawk. It reminds me of the type of D&D games my friends and I ran when we were kids and had time to play almost every day. As Dungeon Master, I’d have to come up with spontaneous adventures on a daily basis—usually off the cuff one-shot episodes scrapping with the locals around town.

Purists seeking the Gygaxian Greyhawk will find a treasure trove of Greyhawk lore in every story. It’s the kind of detail and color that you won’t get in the sourcebooks. Plenty of fuel to inspire your own games and a plenty of pages to enjoy immersed in the world’s greatest RPG realm. Continue reading “Night Arrant”

Dengar’s Treason

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The Hateful Wars: Chapter Thirty-Four

Thomas Kelly

“No more will the blood of dwarves be shed to slake the thirst of a witch!” declared Thane Evrast, the undermountain king of Dengar. He recalled all his soldiers and formally withdrew from the alliance. Kristryd’s sons, Grallsonn, Dwalyn, and Pegli, denounced their grandfather for speaking slander against their mother, but the undermountain king showed a letter sealed with the impress of Dame Thresstone of Gilmorack. The king’s scribe read the letter aloud in their hearing:

Be it known that Urgush, the shaman-king of the Red Medusa orcs, colluded with Kristryd and with the warlock Bagbag to loot the treasuries of Dengar and steal away the Anvil of the Lortmil Mountains.

“Lies and forgeries!” Kristryd’s sons said. “Who is this Dame Thresstone and where is she? Let her come and testify about these matters.”

Thane Evrast clapped his hands. Dame Thresstone stepped into his audience hall, adorned in all the finery and wealth of an undermountain queen. “I will testify before you by Moradin’s beard and by all the gods. Moreover, Kristryd has sent her demons to torment me. She has made my life a terror and a nightmare. Had it not been for the mercy of Hedvyg and the power of her wards and sigils, I should already be pulled alive down into the Abyss!” 

Kristryd’s sons reasoned with all who would hear them, “How is it that our mother is called a witch in league with witches when she leads the fight against the witches? How is it that our mother is a friend of goblins when she leads the fight against the goblins?”

Thane Evrast gave ear to the counsel of Dame Thresstone. Said she, “Why chase the rabbit if the rabbit will come to us.” The undermountain king put his grandsons in chains and imprisoned them in the dungeons beneath Dengar.

Continue reading “Dengar’s Treason”

Quest for the Vault of Daoud

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Mother of Witches: Part Five

Thomas Kelly

“At first glance, it seemed a featureless, endless plain, not that anyone would wish to even glance at it in the first place.” The meaningless color of the sky over the unending and undulating landscape looked like the delusions of a fever-induced dream. The wind gibbered, chittered, screeched, screamed, and wailed. The putrescence of the ever-rotting world of puss and popping tumors assaulted the senses in waves. Her eyes watered; her senses reeled, and she asked herself, “Have I this time gone too far?” How far has she gone? Into the lower realms of the Abyss seeking a merciless fiend, a warrior of the Blood War, a restless unforgiven spirit of Oerth.

Interview with a Hezrou

“Six centuries since I have been named by the likes of flesh and blood,” the belching hezrou reflected as it tore the twitching limbs from the torso of a lesser tanar’ri. It carried out its grizzly task like one accustomed to his handiwork, like the skilled hands of a fisherman cleaning a fish. His victim, an enormous scorpion with the screeching head of a hag, spit and squealed with pain. The hezrou warrior tossed the legless wriggling body aside and turned his full attention to the woman that stood before him. “By which deviltry didst thou findeth me, and what wouldst thou have of me?” the beast spoke an ancient dialect of Old Oeridian. A heavy perspiration of stinking liquid moistened the abomination’s naked skin as if the effort of dismembering his foe had induced a heavy sweat. Nearly a half-ton of leering toad towered over the slight frame of the dark-haired girl. The nightmare beast peeled back its hideous lips to reveal rows of spiked teeth. It might have easily snatched the girl up and swallowed her whole. Or so it seemed.

“Not easily!” Tasha answered the question. She recoiled at the maleficent odor of the sticky goo slicking the creature’s unholy flesh. She forced herself to swallow lest she wretch and lose her bearing in the presence of the fiend. “My quest for Your Ruthlessness began in my own personal tower on the outskirts of Lopolla where I applied myself to learn the lore of that land.”

“Twas named Hlupallu in my day,” the hezrou swatted a vrock from the air, crumpling it against the stones. He crushed the writhing bird beneath his massive toady foot. Giant baby-faced maggots wriggled up from the ground to feast on the ichory flesh.

“Indeed. The same,” Tasha continued undistracted by the gooey carnage at her feet. “In the course of my studies, I came upon mention of a magnificent treasure vault, not-long concealed, containing wondrous magics once collected by the wandering mendicant, Daoud of Tusmit.”

“Never heard of him,” the hezrou feigned disinterest.

“But I have heard much, for much there is to hear! I would, if I may contrive it, pilfer all the baubles that one-time pasha possessed.”

“What’s that to me?” the toad-fiend croaked, but she had now piqued his interest.

Continue reading “Quest for the Vault of Daoud”

The Game of Princes

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Part Four of THE FALL OF GEOFF as told by Rhys of the Ash to Morwenna the Fair
Edited by Thomas Kelly

Some saviors lost their zeal and showed a tyrant’s face beneath a guise of friend – CY 587-588

The rangers of Gyruff and the surviving Longbowmen of Gyruff maintained a fierce border war on the edge of the giant-occupied lands. They made no headway, but their vigilance prevented the giants from raiding deeply into the liberated lands. Little thanks did they receive from the March.

At Richfest, the Marshal of the Gran March forces in Hochoch declared the city and its surrounding lands a “protectorate” until Gyruff could be restored. The declaration changed little in actual governance. March soldiers and the Knights of the Dispatch had governed the town through martial law since the liberation, but the nobles of Gyruff in Hochoch decried this turn of events, as they had no say in the new government. They sent angry letters sent to Withington and the Court of Gyruff in Exile.

In the spring of CY 588, the Marshal of the Gran March ordered the construction of wooden forts along the border of the liberated lands. The Gyri saw it as Gran March entrenching its position rather than working to free Gyruff. The Marshal used soldiers to suppress riots among the residents of Lean-to Town and Hutville outside of Hochoch.

The Marchers managed to upset the elves too when they began logging the Dim Forest and the Oytwood for the construction of their border forts and roads. The grey elves of the Oytwood sent a terse message to the Marshal. They warned the Marshal that they had a long memory. They remembered the Marshal’s ancestors. If the Marshal did not put a stop to the timbering, they would stop it for him. Incensed, the Marshal called their bluff. It was not a bluff at all. The grey elves closed their borders and laid deadly traps for the woodcutters. If the traps did not kill the trespassers, the elves themselves hunted and killed anyone they considered invaders.

Continue reading “The Game of Princes”

Ghosts of Velstar Keep

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The Hateful Wars: Chapter Thirty-Three

Thomas Kelly

The guards posted in the lookout towers atop Mount Abharclamh sighted signal fires. “The hosts muster again!” they told the Undermountain Queen. “Our western watch has lit the signals!”

“What woodness? I must see their movements,” Kristryd insisted. “I would know their numbers and see their disposition.”

“Their wardings blind my spells,” Bagbag protested.

Kristryd and her true-headed friend had only recently returned to Gilmorack to settle affairs, administer matters of the kingdom, and silence the false rumors spread by Kristryd’s adversary. Dame Thresstone’s mysterious disappearance raised questions. Many murmured about Kristryd behind her back and named her a witch. By use of the silver-framed mirror, Kristryd heard what things they spoke of her. Those who murmured against the queen, she removed from position. Some she banished without explanation. So the dwarves of Gilmorack learned to fear and dread her all the more.

Then came this fresh trouble with the host of Urgush, and it puzzled her much. “Does he mean to flee these mountains or merely to raid Gran March?” She rolled out her maps and parchments on the stone tables of the Hall of Scrolls and mused over the possibilities. “Let Yolande hate me as she will,” Kristryd resolved. “I will summon Emolasmairim.” That same day, the queen ascended to the lookout tower atop the slopes of snow-covered Abharclamh. From that great height, her eyes could see Veluna. She fancied she saw even the southernmost peaks of the Yatils. Far to the southwest, smoke yet rose from the signal posts near the Haunt of Haradaragh. She filled her lungs with the cold mountain air, put the horn of Celene to her lips, and sounded a blast. The note rang clear and true and echoed back to her from distant peaks. The effort made her head swim, so thin the air at that height. She sat down by the watchfire and waited. The sun dipped low in the west. Icy mountain winds whipped up the mountain snow. Celene showed not her face that night; Luna offered only a waning sliver of her crescent. The dwarves stationed in the lookout post did their best to make their queen comfortable in their eyrie. They heated water for her and offered her their rations. Darkness fell over Oerth. Kristryd wrapped herself in furs and drew herself closer to the warmth of the fire. As she drifted to sleep, she thought to herself, Perhaps he will not come.

Continue reading “Ghosts of Velstar Keep”

Battle for Hochoch

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Being Part Three of “The Fall of Geoff” as told by Rhys of the Ash to Morwenna the Fair
Edited by Thomas Kelly

The ram’s horns heralded battles anew, and we carved a foothold in our homeland – CY 586

In the spring of CY 586, more freed captives arrived at the new villages in northern Keoland. Thanks to the assistance of several wizards, the rangers had remarkable success in distracting the giants and their allies long enough to liberate captives. So successful were the raids that the giants began putting leg irons on the captives or maiming them so that they could not walk. These measures reduced the number of slaves the rangers could liberate. It’s hard to make an escape when dragging twenty pounds of iron.

Disagreements continued between the grey elves of Oytwood and the wood elves of Dim Forest over where to place their scant forces now that the high king had forsaken them. The grey elves complained that, since the humans assisted in the Dim Forest, the wood elves should succor Oytwood. The wood elves, however, refused to reduce their forces for the sake of sending aid to the Oytwood. Length of years apparently grants the elves no greater wisdom than men, for they quarrel as much as we short-lived humans.

Continue reading “Battle for Hochoch”

Hedvyg’s Reflection

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The Hateful Wars: Chapter Thirty-Two

Thomas Kelly

“Where are your demon lovers now? Where is your Witch Queen?” the yellow-eyed hobgoblin snarled at the half-orc.

“Trust the plan,” Urgush insisted.

Hroth slapped the half-orc a staggering blow across the face as if to waken him from enchantment. Urgush fell backwards, landing hard on his butt. The silver crown fell from his head and rolled along the narrow cliff’s edge. Hroth crushed it under his booted foot. “Time for a new plan half-blood,” he barked.

Urgush pulled himself back up to his feet and thrust a long clawed finger at the menacing hobgoblin, “You’ll pay for that you swollen one-eared sack!” He lifted his shield with the face of the red medusa toward the hulking hobgoblin, intending to petrify him where he stood. The painted serpents on the face of the shield writhed eagerly. Hroth roared, tore the shield free, and tossed it over the side of the cliff. It sailed through the air like a saucer, disappearing into the vale far below. Urgush nearly leapt after it, cursing and spluttering.

“I’m going home,” Hroth announced. He took with him his hobgoblins and a fair number those once loyal to Urgush. Treacherous was the journey. By secret ways and hidden paths, they found their way to their brothers who still made war in the valleys, caverns, tunnels, and hilltops around the forsaken Vale of Grot-Ugrat. Hroth found the goblins there broken and wandering, like kine without herdsmen.

He dispatched ravens to the mountain tribes and clans. He summoned them to hear his words, “Urgush is yesterday’s fart gas! That one led us to the edge of disaster! Hroth is your salvation.”

Continue reading “Hedvyg’s Reflection”

The Devils of Molag

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Thomas Kelly

The Great Northern Crusade is stalled until someone can infiltrate the dread city of Molag, capital of the Horned Lands and bring back the truth about the fate of the Hierarchs! Are you up to the task? The Devils of Molag is the first (and probably only) official Greyhawkstories Adventure by Thomas Kelly. Get your stealth on, because this is an espionage adventure that takes place on border of Furyondy and the Horned Lands during the muster of the Great Northern Crusade, two years after the Pact of Greyhawk. Successful completion of this module will require deception, disguise, cunning, persuasion, and careful role-playing. The PCs must infiltrate the evil city of Molag, one of the most dangerous places in the Flanaess, determine the truth regarding the fate of the Hierarchs, discover the disposition of the demons of Iuz and the devils of the Horned Society, and successfully bring the information back to Greatwall.

The Devils of Molag is intended as a sequel to WGM1 (9406) Border Watch, and it’s set during the From the Ashes and Marklands era. The module is designed for Fifth Edition D&D, characters of levels 4-6, but can be readily adapted to any edition.

Download a free PDF of GRNC 1: The Devils of Molag

Harnekiah

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The Hateful Wars: Chapter Thirty-One

Thomas Kelly

“We’ve cut the gravy too blashy,” Bamadar warned his queen. “We have scarce the strength to hold the roads. Supply lines stretch hundreds of miles, and one host is far separated from another by a fortnight march. How shall we fare if Urgush comes against us now?”

“And I am sick to death of goblin stench,” Kristryd admitted. “But I will hold every inch we have taken. If our lines collapse, there remains no shield between our kingdoms and the goblin host.”

“I called for reinforcements, but they send us lads who have not yet seen their first whiskers,” Bamadar complained. “We run out of dwarves!”

“The price of such a war,” the queen shrugged. “Dwarves do not leave a thing unfinished.”

The Low Stream

By the first of Reaping (503 CY), Kristryd’s dwur controlled the west spur of the Low Road between the Ulek Pass and the Celene Pass. From all those caverns and snaking tunnels, they ousted the nests of goblinkind. Such remarkable advances cost her heavily. In those days, the dwarves called the Low Road “the Low Stream” for the quantity of dwarven blood that streamed through those caverns and ran down those tunnels.

Displaced tribes of kobold, goblin, orc, hobgoblin, gnoll, and ogre tried at times to flee the mountains and seek refuge in the lowlands. The Rangers of Triserron patrolled the Druid’s Defile. Hunting parties from Celene watched the banks of the Handmaiden. If any of the gundyguts ever dared cross the Handmaiden River, the elves of Celene cut them down. If they fled to the south, they met the stout troops of the Principality. If they fled to the west, they faced the ready men, elves, and gnomes the Ulek states.

Continue reading “Harnekiah”

Hammer and the Anvil

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The Hateful Wars: Chapter Thirty

Thomas Kelly

“The vermin move beneath these mountains like rats in a sewer!” Prince Olinstaad Corond complained. He sent teams of workers to close unused tunnels, underground passages, and abandoned mines. Goblin raiders harassed the stoneworkers and the hardhewers as they labored to wall off their roadways, seal their exit holes, and cut off their access to water. The laborers carried a pickaxe in one hand and wore a shield on the other. The work progressed slowly. By Fireseek CY 502, the workmen secured the crumbled halls of ancient Balnorhak, purged forgotten mines, closed off rat holes, and pressed on to the tunnels between the Lortmil Mountains proper.

The Sweeps

The ways into the Lortmil tunnels were less easily sealed, for the Low Road is not a straight narrow path through the mountain’s roots. It makes its way through a maze of passages, now following natural caverns, now cutting through fissures in the rock, now descending by steep steps cut into the granite, now following along underground riverways for winding miles, now exiting by cave mouth and crossing overland, now descending back into the undermountain by hidden door set in the mountain side, now narrowing to tunnel through solid stone for miles … and so it went. In the spring, after winter rains and snowmelt, lower caverns flooded and became passable only by barge and boat. Underground rivers turned to impassable torrents and plunging waterfalls. The battles raged regardless of the season or the dangers. The blood of dwarves and goblins mixed together and pooled in the deep places.

Continue reading “Hammer and the Anvil”

Refugees of Geoff

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Being Part Two of “The Fall of Geoff” as told by Rhys of the Ash to Morwenna the Fair
Edited by Thomas Kelly

Homeless and hopeless, we waited through the Winter of Wanting – CY 584

Never was Needfest more aptly named. The surviving Gyri counted our dead and our wounded. Our nation had become little more than landless vagrants. Some few escaped with their belongings, but most had little more than the clothes on their backs. With Duke Owen grievously injured and the army shattered, our people would have utterly despaired if not for the surviving heroes Gyruff and the handful of lords – Lady Blackblade and Lord Lea among them.

The Gran March allowed us to spend the winter on their western borders. Commandant Magnus Vrianian and many churches brought food and clothing to us, but the Gyri refugees numbered many thousands, and there was never enough food. The nights were long and the cold as the hunger pains were sharp.

With the coming of spring came renewed activity. Duke Owen went into seclusion in Shilobeth in the Gran March. Chancellor Galimar Withington acted as regent in the Court of Gyruff in Exile on behalf of the absent Grand Duke.

A change had befallen Lady Blackblade over the winter. She had been a paladin before the invasion, but now she took a vow of humility and left the warrior path. She refused even to to wear a dagger. She turned her skills to diplomacy and lobbied Keoland and the Gran March for money, troops, and food to help the landless Gyri.

Continue reading “Refugees of Geoff”

Bagbag’s Troubles

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The Hateful Wars: Chapter Twenty-Nine

Thomas Kelly

Oldid Silverbeard, steward of Ironhelm at Eastpass, put on his spectacles to better read the script on the parchment. Curious indeed! An anonymous letter in the old hand of Balnorhak and sealed with the seal of Thane Dorrii. He tilted the wick of the oil lamp for better light and read over the words a third time. It explained the recent treachery of the three sisters, and it provided detailed instructions for finding the lair in which Hedvyg concealed herself. It concluded with a stern warning, “Give no ear to her lies! Silence the old hag; cease her crooked lips from moving.”

Hedvyg Captured

Silverbeard shook his head in disbelief. “Here in the Principality? After all the years? Well, I shall see to it!” The elderly dwur noble assembled a party of worthies to enter the hidden lair and slay the witch. The adventurers found the halls of Hedvyg, but they did not catch her unprepared. Cruel traps she readied for them, and fearsome monsters she had collected to defend her secret holdings. A certain vampiress of Perrenland gave her command over chilling wraiths and foul necromancies. Hedvyg was ready. Those heroes sent by Oldid Silverbeard never returned, and who can say what became of them?

Hedvyg cast the smoke-raising herb onto the scryer’s pot and called out for her sisters, but they did not answer. She called out for the Yatil Queen, but she received no reply. So I am all alone now, she thought to herself. Now it’s my time. She strode into the dusty halls of her father’s gone and vanished kingdom. Dark-helmed dwarven guards flanked her, granting her the appearance of one to be taken seriously and not trifled with. Undead on loan from Drelnza trailed along in her retinue, striking terror. Hedvyg swept into Eastpass, freezing the blood of all who beheld her and curdling the milk of their cows and their goats while it yet remained in the udders. She declared herself the sole remaining heir to the throne of Balnorhak, the last surviving daughter of the undermountain king. She called upon the houses of Balnorhak to rally to her, and she charged them to cast down the upstart Prince Olinstaad Corond.

Continue reading “Bagbag’s Troubles”

THE FALL OF GEOFF

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As told by Rhys of the Ash to Morwenna the Fair
Edited by Thomas Kelly

I won’t begin this tale with “once upon a time” because I know exactly when it starts. At the celebration of Brewfest, two thousand, seven hundred, and thirty-three years after the Stone Pillars were raised (what other people call Flan Tracking)—that is, the Common Year 583. That’s the year the giants came down.

I did not attend the duke’s celebration. I was nowhere near his palace. I was in Preston at the time, but I heard the tale. In the middle of the festivities, the Green Man appeared, proclaimed that a winter would fall over the land for half a score years, then promptly disappeared. For you outlanders, the Green Man is not but the land of Gyruff itself. He shows himself from time to time—so say our legends and myths.

Peace faded with the summer season, and the mountains heavy with inhuman evil – CY 583

Not many days later, word arrived of a large force of giants, ogres, and orcs mustering in the mountains. A group of heroes brought back detailed plans of an impending invasion from giant lands, but who could believe it? We’ve lived with the giants for neighbors many a century–longer than mortals might reckon. Giants raid and pillage. Every few years they wander out of the mountains and sack a village or farm. But they don’t organize, and they certainly don’t form armies. True, we heard the tales about the incident in Sterich, and raids into Keoland too, when the Hill, the Frosts, and the Fire banded together under some dark elf treachery. But those things had transpired more than a decade past in neighboring lands, not in Gyruff. All those responsible had been put to the sword by heroes sent from Keoland. Indeed, the tales say that the heroes pursued the plot to the very depths of Oerth and unto the city of the Drow Elves. We believed that put an end to the matter, and we had little cause for alarm.

Continue reading “THE FALL OF GEOFF”

Durgeddin the Black

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The Hateful Wars: Chapter Twenty-Eight

Thomas Kelly

A blare of trumpeting fanfare called those in attendance to attention. “Durgeddin the Black, Smith of Balnorhak, Lord of Glitterhame and Thane of Khundrakar!” the herald announced. The carved stone doors swung open to reveal an elderly dwarven lord of noble bearing, broad-shouldered and strong of limb. His grey-streaked beard glittered with jewels and gold. Gemstones studded his leather jerkin. Rings glittered on every finger. At his side hung a great craftsman’s hammer.

Everyone in the audience hall stood to their feet, even the undermountain queen. Durgeddin bowed politely, his long beard sweeping the floor. Kristryd returned the bow, as did all those present.

“Your Majesty,” the old dwarf said, “I have come to your summons.”

Kristryd’s eyes narrowed just slightly. Old Bagbag hastened to explain, “Your majesty. I took the liberty.”

Old Friends

Kristryd nodded. “Thane Durgeddin, you are most welcome in these halls. Had I known of your journey, I would have sent an escort to receive you in royal fashion.”

“As soon I received your letter, I marched out with a dozen of my strongest,” the noble dwarf said. “Our journey from has been long indeed, and we have tales to tell of the perils through which we passed. Plenty of orcish blood along the road, but blessed be Moradin and blessed be Berronar, we have arrived.”

Continue reading “Durgeddin the Black”

The Undermountain Queen

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The Hateful Wars: Chapter Twenty-Seven

Thomas Kelly

Siege! The main host of Dengar, more than fifteen hundred axes, marched up through the Low Road, driving the soldiers of Gilmorack back before them. They pitched camps outside the Drake Gate and began to prepare for siege. A second force moved swiftly overland by way of the Great Western Road, crossing Veluna at Asnath and Kempton. Concealing their true motives, they told the Velunese they merely moved troops against the goblins, and they invoked the treaties of the alliance which Kristryd herself had negotiated. In this way, Dengar laid siege to Gilmorack from above and below, cutting off that ancient kingdom from all hope of escape or rescue.

Dengar at the Gates

The newly enthroned Thane Kristryd Olinsdotter made no attempt to break the siege or escape the noose. She only ordered the gates sealed. When the armies of Dengar converged, she sent emissaries out to parley with the undermountain king and to escort him back to the halls of Gilmorack under assurances and pledges.

“My daughter. You have done well. You have united our people,” Thane Evrast declared when Kristryd received him in the vaulted hall. “Not so long ago, you stood before me and Thane Redmod Buddoken in this same chamber, but today, I stand before you.” He bowed before her.

Likewise, Kristryd stood up from the throne and awkwardly bowed before her father-in-law in the manner of the dwurwives. “I have acted according to the will of the gods and done what is best for our people,” she said. “I did not come to Gilmorack seeking any crown except the head of this wicked witch.” Kristryd motioned to the bronze birdcage which hung from a hook set in the wall beside her throne.

“Will you defy your own father? Will you wage war on your own people?”

“Will you wage war on your own daughter? We have no stomach to fight our kinsmen nor to make war upon allies.” Kristryd took a step closer to him, squaring off eye to eye. “Should we be punished for the actions of a miserable witch? The house of Buddoken has suffered sufficiently for their crimes! Every last one of that hoary dynasty now sits in the halls of Dumathoin.”

“Then surrender Gilmorack to me,” Thane Redmod hissed through clenched teeth.

Continue reading “The Undermountain Queen”

Oerth Journal 34 Review

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I’ll just say it right away. This is a fantastic issue of Oerth Journal. Five out of five wizards! More than any other issue of Oerth Journal that I remember reading, this issue has strong narrative content and memorable stories in article after article. No longer just backgrounds for the setting, Oerth Journal is telling the stories of Greyhawk, and that’s what Greyhawkstories.com is all about.

Hot Cover Art

First thing you notice about Oerth Journal 34 is the beautiful cover. It depicts a young Iggwilv, from when she still went by the name Hura, looting the treasure vault of Daoud. This picture is near and dear to me because it’s a commission the talented Greyhawk artist LadyLoth did for Greyhawkstories about a year ago. Her work exceeded my expectations. I’m really pleased to see that the piece made the cover the journal in conjunction with my story about Iggwilv’s quest for the Vault of Daoud. The timing accords well with the recent release of Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, but that was by design.

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The Caging of Gretyll

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The Hateful Wars: Chapter Twenty-Six

Thomas Kelly

In haste Thane Redmod Buddoken led the party of strange guests through the winding halls and broad streets of Gilmorack, a naked broadsword in his hands. No longer did the spell of disguise cloak the elves or the halfling priest; they had no such need, for all who saw the king prostrated themselves before him. Fury burned on his face; his subjects shrank back before his flashing gaze. As sentries, soldiers, and guards saluted their king, he commanded them, “Fall in behind me.”

The Holy Anvil

The undermountain king’s growing procession followed after him into the lower halls. They descended by the great central stairs into the Wide Ways and then to the Armor Smithy where the furnaces burned hot and hammers fell in ceaseless rhythms on a hundred anvils. All the air smelled of coal fires and the acrid taste of molten metals. The king came to a certain furnace that seemed stoked to full heat, the metal door glowing red, but the king laid bare hands on the metal casting, swung open the grated iron door, stepped into the flames and commanded, “Follow me!” Kristryd thought the flames should surely consume him, but he stepped through untouched. Bamadar plunged after the king, calling back to the others over his shoulder, “Not but an eye-biting illusion!”

The rest of the axes and worthy dwarves-at-arms followed after, as did the remainder of Kristryd’s party. They stepped into a Grand Smithy, the king’s own secret chamber, and there before them they beheld two muscled and shirtless dwarven smiths laboring with hammers over a wondrous anvil. All about the room stood precariously placed stacks of arms and armor, piles of spears, axes, swords, hammers, and maces. Here too were cruel jagged scimitars and curving blades such as the orcs preferred and such as the six-armed tenar’ri had been wielding—and no wonder about that, for overseeing all the work stood a towering, glowering beast with the torso of an ape, the legs of a boar, and a fang-laden face. Small feathered wings extended from behind his hunching back, fanning the air.

Continue reading “The Caging of Gretyll”

Witch Queen and Demon Lord

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A Brief History of the Knights of the Hart, Part 3

(CY 460 – 505)
Kirt Wackford

In which is related the rise of Iggwilv, her conquest of Perrenland, and her war against the Knights of the Hart, her fall from power, and the rise of her detestable child, the Demon Lord Iuz.

From whence the Witch Queen Iggwilv came is not known. An erudite sage calling himself the “Eye of Boccob”[1] places her as being of mixed Flan and Baklunish stock and hailing from Ket. Others say that she is an ancient being and hint that she might not be from Oerth at all.[2] All that is known for certain is that she chose to settle in the Yatil mountains between Ket, Perrenland, and Veluna around CY 460.[3] The place suited her purposes well, for it was teeming with humanoids, giants, and monsters. These she bent to her will, establishing a small despotry while conducting magical experiments in the Caverns of Tsojcanth.[4]

War and Seduction

In CY 480 she loosed her army of humanoids on the settled alpine valleys of southern Perrenland. The Perrenders were staunch defenders, but could not resist the combination of humanoid numbers, organization, and fell magics. The mountain holds were quickly overcome, and the forces of Iggwilv pushed out on to the plains. She ultimately conquered most of the southern plains around the Quagflow, the region as a whole being known as the “Marches of Perrenland.”[5] After this, her advance slowed. In the low rolling plains her brutish troops found no caves in which they could hide from the light of Pelor. The mobile cavalry of Perrenland could outmaneuver the humanoids, gathering in massed formations for day attacks, then scattering and riding far away before nightfall. Conquest of the entire land would be difficult. No matter. Iggwilv turned to her dark arts. In innumerable guises she walked among the free hetmen, ensnaring them with her charms. Captivated and captured, they did her will and ordered their people to cease attacks on the lands that the humanoids had taken. The hetmen scarce believed themselves in thrall to the leader of the goblinkind, but they nonetheless told none of the new mistress of their souls. Iggwilv held the southern portion of Perrenland and her troops busily looted it;[6] the rest of the nation tried a few counterattacks before slinking back, utterly cowed by fear of the witch.[7]

The leaders of the Marklands watched these events with growing concern. Their recent rebuff from their own attempted conquest of Perrenland[8] had embittered them against the nation, and they offered no aid to Perrenders in their struggle against the Witch Queen. Once Iggwilv was firmly in control of those lands, the Marklander leaders laid out their plans to contain her. Having a mad archmage so close to the old capital of Dyvers had been bad enough.[9] An archmage dedicated to evil, with a humanoid army and a nation of wild Perrenders in thrall, could well prove much worse. The forces of Iggwilv pointed like a dagger at the heart of the Highfolk and lay uncomfortably close to Mitrik. 

Continue reading “Witch Queen and Demon Lord”

The Making of the Wondrous Lanthorn

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Daoud’s Wondrous Lanthorn: Chapter Nine

The Making of the Wondrous Lanthorn

Heavy laden with the weight of too many centuries and the sorrows of hard labors, the white-bearded dwarf slogged on determinedly toward the distant lights, slowly pushing his way through bramble and branch. With each step, he felt lighter and younger. No longer did his knees pain him; no longer did his shoulders stoop. From on ahead came sound of voices caught up in revelry, drum and flute, laughter and song. The music quickened his pulse and hastened his step. Presently he drew near enough to catch scent of rich spices, sweet perfumes, and delicious food on the fire. The aromas stirred up long-ago memories and recalled happy nights beneath the colored canopies in the presence of the goddess.

In short time, the dwarf emerged into an open glade. Before him stood a magnificent, palatial pavilion, just as he remembered it, illuminated with one-hundred and ten crystal lanterns. Winged devas called malakim sang for the entertainment of the goddess, accompanied by all types of instruments, drums, cymbals, and dance. For a moment, he felt abashed at the spectacle. “What has an old dwarf to do with a place such as this?” he scolded himself. “I should not have come.” He nearly turned back. But then goddess herself, reclining among the cushions of a divan at the center of the pavilion, turned her lovely head to peer over her shoulder. She fixed her coal-black eyes upon the dwarf in a kindly and come-hither manner and beckoned to him, “Blessed be your coming, Master Grimmly, weary traveler! Enter. Recline at my table. Here is water for you to wash your face, hands, and feet. Here is oil to anoint your head and beard. Here is wine to gladden your heart. Some honeycomb and bread, nuts and apples, cuts of roe and hart that sizzle upon the spit. Eat, and rest yourself awhile.”

Grimmly bowed low before Hasnat, so low that his beard swept the ground. “O Gracious Lady of the Cool Breeze,” he stammered, “I am utterly unworthy to avail myself of your hospitality a second time.”

“Nonsense!” Hasnat laughed. “See how your lamps illuminate my pavilion, more splendid in color and magic than the other hundred all together. And well do we remember the delicious tales told by your master, Daoud of Tusmit. Many were the nights he entertained us with stories of his adventures, and yours too Master Grimmly.”

Continue reading “The Making of the Wondrous Lanthorn”

Black Ichor

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The Hateful Wars: Chapter Twenty-Five

Thomas Kelly

Picking herself up from beneath the fallen stone jars, Kristryd unsheathed her dagger and tried to make sense of the sound of commotion around her. “We should have brought a holy knight!” she exclaimed.

“Should have brought an army of holy knights!” Bamadar’s voice agreed from near at hand. A tidal wave of numbing terror washed through the room. Kristryd froze paralyzed numb with fear; her only thought to flee. As suddenly as it had come, the terror lifted, and with it, the darkness. Light returned to the room, revealing a scene of chaos. The six-armed serpent-woman radiated an aura of such revulsion that Kristryd felt her stomach lurch. A retching stench hung in the air and assaulted her nostrils. She tasted excrement on her palate.

A Desperate Fight

Alton the halfling priest stood atop one of the polished stone tables, holding his holy symbol aloft, uttering a prayer of adjuration which seemed to wrack the fiends with pain. Bagbag’s illusions no longer disguised the two elves. Peralay had already unsheathed Gnoll-Cleaver and leapt to the attack between the slashing blows and cutting swings of the librarian’s six-blades. Bagbag raised an unseen magical shield to defend from spells and attacks. Small winged fiends, previously concealed in alcoves above, leaped from the balconies to join the fight. The two unsuspecting guards posted outside the hall rushed in, swords unsheathed in and lances hand, to join the confusion. When they saw the monsters, they shouted bravely and ran forward, striking sturdy blows against ape-like demons. “Only an enchanted edge will bite this one’s flesh!” Bamadar warned over his shoulder as he joined Peralay in the battle with the six-armed fiend.

Continue reading “Black Ichor”

Terror in the Hall of Scrolls

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The Hateful Wars: Chapter Twenty-Four

Thomas Kelly

Fanfare sounded in the high-arched council chamber of dazzling Gilmorack. The monolithic carved stone doors swung wide, opening the way into the audience of the undermountain king, the august Thane Redmod Buddoken. All the court stood to welcome the honored guests, save the undermountain king himself. The herald called out the names of each guest as he or she passed through the doors and under the arch of lances held aloft by the flanking guard: “The Princess Kristryd Olinsdotter of Dengar and Ulek.” Adorned in her mithril-threaded tabard, Kristryd carried herself with all pomp appropriate to her station. She cast a cold eye across the assembled court.

“Bagbag, Loremaster of Balnorhak.” Kristryd’s trueheaded advisor hobbled along at her side, mumbling to himself and nodding to the notables and chieftans in attendance.

“Bamadar Kadarel of Thunderstrike, Infantryman of the Royal Army of Ulek.” The bombastic Bamadar swaggered into the council chamber as if accustomed to such circumstances and as if he held such pomp and ceremony in little esteem.

“Father Alton Chubb Quickbread of Prinzfield, priest of the Sylvan Lady.” The halfling cleric of Ehlonna scuttled into the audience hall dressed in clerical finery that ill-fit his diminutive stature. He bowed and nodded awkwardly with every few steps he took.

“Father Furduch of Tulvar, Kron priest of Ulaa.” The elderly gnome, clad in shimmering armor and with a holy mace at his side, tripped along, bowed low, danced a little jig, and winked at the king flirtatiously. The king scowled at the gnome. Father Furduch likewise returned the scowl, furrowing up his brow so deeply that his eyebrows collided above his nose.

 “Xaxalander Deravnye of Urnst.” A low murmur of disapproval audibly rose from the assembled court as the rogue elf sauntered casually into their midst. The tension inspired by his presence became all the frostier as the herald announced the last name of Kristryd’s party: “Prince Peralay of Celene.” Peralay the hunter passed under the arch of lances gracefully, nobly, but without ostentatiousness. He bowed before the undermountain king and took his place beside Kristryd. All eyes fixed upon the two elves.

“Is this an embassy? Or a party of adventurers?” the undermountain king sneered sarcastically. “I cannot remember the last time one of olvenkind stood beneath our vaulted stone ceilings. Or was it never?”

Continue reading “Terror in the Hall of Scrolls”

Leomund at the Edge of Forever

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A tribute to Lenard Lakofka

By Drew Griffiths

Edited by Thomas Kelly

They all had felt the summons. Whether they wanted to or not, one by one, it compelled them to make their way to that place gods alone could go. They arrived in a colossal room without walls, with views through windows where there were no windows. One among them looked out on a solitary pathway, into a void where no god dared go.

Phaulkon, Master of Birds and Wind Archer looked to red-bearded Kord. He saw his own heartbreak reflected back in Kord’s face. Nearby, one of the gods softly wept, perhaps Lydia, goddess of music and daylight. It took a moment for Phaulkon to notice—Wee Jas, mistress of magic and steward of the dead, had managed to remain absent. A brief moment for hope? But then Lendor appeared before his progeny. “It is time,” the god of time announced.

“No!” a hollow voice echoed back from planes beyond the room but not beyond the enveloping void.

“Wee Jas, it is time” insisted Lendor. He looked to Phaulkon. “Stop helping her.”

Continue reading “Leomund at the Edge of Forever”

The High Forest Branch

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A Brief History of the Knights of the Hart (Part 2)

Kirt Wackford
The High Forest Branch, CY 350 – 460

In which is related the early years of the High Forest Branch, its near dissolution following the invasion of Perrenland, and its recovery under the guidance of Thiladorn Meneldor.

The Early Years (CY 350 – 395)

The King of Furyondy publicly revealed the Order of the Hart in the middle of the fourth century CY. As previously explained, the order existed in secret long before then.[1] It is known that the kings of Furyondy had elvish friends long before the order became public, indeed, as far back as Thrommel I, the first king. It is not known whether or not any elves served as members of the order before it became public. Many suggest two candidates that might well have done so: a certain warrior-thief and a notable bard. Both received the accolade to the order as soon as it became public, and both had traveled extensively in Furyondy and Veluna prior to their adoubement.[2]

When the King of Furyondy officially established the High Forest Branch of the Order, he eventually chose twenty elves of diverse backgrounds, skills, and homelands. Many previously served elven nobility, but most possessed no formal training as knights.[3] The majority hailed from the Vesve itself, but several came from Highfolk City or the Highfolk Vale. One knight hailed from Verbobonc, while one came from that portion of the Gnarley claimed by Furyondy.

What did this collection of the fair folk share in common that they should be selected for the order? All were heroes of renown and, more importantly, all were favorably disposed toward Furyondy. Elven opinion about Furyondy at the time was divided. The elves agreed that King Thrommel and his descendants had been good men, and wise and just rulers. But many elves also believed that humanity was just too dangerous for elves to have extensive contact with. They felt that humans were, by their very nature, selfish, shortsighted, violent, and destructive. They preferred to deal with humanity as little as possible. Other elves were more hopeful about the future of humanity. They had noted how carefully Thrommel I had prepared his subject lands for their independence. They knew that there were many good humans. They believed that a policy of openness and sharing could help humanity mature. The original twenty members of the High Forest Branch were among those of the latter opinion. They accepted Furyondy’s self-appointed role as protector of the Vesve. They supported the efforts of the king to make the Lord Marshall of the Vesve his beholden subject. Less self-absorbed than their typical kin, they saw the need for coordinated action between nations to preserve the freedom and goodness of the Marklands. In particular, they recognized that the continual raids by the nomads, bandits, and humanoids destabilized the human governments and spelled danger for the elves if allowed to succeed. These elven knights agreed to protect the new human nations so that they would have time to mature, advance in wisdom, and thus eventually help to protect the elves.

Continue reading “The High Forest Branch”

Among the Tested

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The Hateful Wars: Chapter Twenty-Three

Thomas Kelly

The leaves turned color—some had fallen—before she returned to fair Celene on embassy for the alliance (Patchwall 500 CY). She waited in the garden of the Grand Court and mingled among other ambassadors: men from Veluna and Verbobonc, from the Duchy and the County, and from the free city of Greyhawk. Stranger still, she waited among faeries of the Seeley Court, gnomes from the Kron Hills, a centaur from Greenway Valley. And for the dwur folk, she thought to herself, Kristryd Olinsdotter. So I am reduced in her Fey Majesty’s esteem to just one of a bevy of whiflings in line for a moment of her attention.   

“Daughter, what transgression have you committed to incur the Queen Yolande’s disfavor?” the wise mage Onselvon interrupted her thoughts. She had not seen the magic user approach. The long-haired elven wizard sat himself down beside her on the garden bench. “She will not hear told any good of you, whether spoken by the princes, by Darrion, Deravnye, the Fastaal, or myself.”

“I have done the queen no wrong,” Kristryd defended herself. “None of which I know. But I am hated nonetheless.”

 “She will not receive your embassy this day,” Onselvon apologized. “But she asks two questions of the dwur, and she sends me to make the akward inquiry.”

Kristryd nodded. She kept a stoic frown. Onselvon continued, “Her majesty inquires of the dwur, ‘Why did you abandon us in our hour of need?’ And she asks, ‘Why did we find your kin leading the horde in the Battle of Ulek Pass?’”

“Bear the queen this message then: I myself commanded the engagements, as you yourself well know and can testify. As for the host of Dengar, we fell back to defend our own halls from the same such an onslaught as you also faced, or so the commanders thought. As for those few dwur found among the horde, call them not dwur folk nor my kin. They are traitors most vile, one of them a foul witch. And say to the queen on my behalf, ‘Forget not that I am your wrath! For your cause have I made this war!’”

“I will bring these replies to the queen,” Onselvon stood and offered a ceremonious bow. “Return to your cosh. If you are needed further, or granted further audience, we will summon you thence.”

Kristryd did not return to her cottage straightway but wandered the royal city aimlessly. Her heart burned too hot with anger at the queen. Her mind boiled with imaginary conversations and sharp exchanges. Neither the colored leaves of Enstad, nor the fragrances of autumn, nor the beauty of the city could in any measure lift a mood so black. She wondered over Yolande’s callous treatment. Each time she rehearsed the matter, her heart grew more bitter. I once called her friend? Why did I ever trust an elf? Damn them all to the nine hells!

Continue reading “Among the Tested”

Knights of the Hart

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A Brief History of the Knights of the Hart (Part 1)

Prologue
Kirt Wackford

Well after the Great Kingdom had reached its maximum extent and begun to wane, Stinvri, the heredity Viceroy of the Ferrond, declared his independence from the Malachite Throne and wrested control of the Marklands from distant Rauxes. In CY 256 he passed control of the region to his son, crowned as King Thrommel I.[1] At the time, the survival of the independent state seemed unlikely.

Removed from the Aerdian Empire by fiat, the local lords vied for power and fought over resources and borders. The Raoin Church and her allied nobles pressed for the independence of the Voll. The easternmost lands (the Lands of the Shield) were largely controlled by the remnants of Aerdian Army Commanders and military veterans who had been granted small fiefs as pensions. Their loyalty to the new state was uncertain, and they could easily have rejoined the Great Kingdom had it suited their shifting interests. More than a century of nomad raids had reduced the northern lands (or Northern Reaches) to a ragtag collection of petty holdings run by warlords. They considered the change in government as merely the replacement of one distant figurehead for another, with little effect on their daily struggle for existence. The Viceroyalty had laid claim to the entire Vesve Forest, but in truth the Aerdi knew mostly its eastern borders and had never mapped its full extent. The Lord of the Elves had acknowledged the suzerainty of the Viceroy, but had paid little tribute.

Continue reading “Knights of the Hart”

The Halfblood Prophecy

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The Hateful Wars: Chapter Twenty-Two

Thomas Kelly

Fury burned in Kristryd’s breast when she saw how her kin had had abandoned the fight at an hour so desperate. The dwarves did not accompany the march of Father Furduch. The hosts of Gilmorack paid no heed to the muster at all. Their undermountain king sent not a single axe to join the fight at Luskan. Nor did Dengar send its iron clad troops to the aid of the elves in the battle for Ulek Pass.

She dispatched a complaint to the undermountain kings from the field of the battle, and she sent an apology to Enstad, written in her own hand. The only warrior of her people to stand alongside Yolande’s people in that desperate hour was the Thunderstrike dwarf Bamadar Kadarel. He had come up from the Principality along with the halfling troop from Prinzfield, and, as such, had the privilege of contributing to the battle of on behalf of the Principality and the dwarven nations. His prowess on the field cast no shame on the reputation of the dwarves. His arms did not tire, and his legs did not falter, but many were the victims that fell beneath his axe.

The Corpse

On the day after the defeat of the horde, Kristryd summoned the winsome young Bamadar to her tent in the green hall and commended him, for he had fought bravely and in a manner worthy of her father’s name and reputation. He tried to flatter her with his attention, “I fought only for the honor of the Noble House of Corond, my lady! For your Grace, and also for his Serene Highness, Lord of the Peaks of Haven.”

“The Noble House thanks you,” Kristryd replied, “But now I must charge you another errand—one you might not find so honorable nor to your liking.”

Bamadar bowed and declared, “If my dishonor be for thy honor, my lady, what more could be to my liking?”

Kristryd ignored the words of ingratiation and continued, “Somewhere on the field of battle, near the encampment of the Red Medusa, find the body of a dwarfess, an old spellcaster, slain through the heart by the blade of Xaxa. Find the corpse and bring it to me, for I must know who she is, from where she came, and with what companions she travelled.”

Continue reading “The Halfblood Prophecy”

The Ignoble Act

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The Hateful Wars: Chapter Twenty-One

Thomas Kelly

The orcs had a hard time ignoring the ripping talons of the hippogriffs and sharp javelins of their riders, but there came too few of those to stop the advance of the host. From horseback, Fastaal Dothmar rallied the elven line, and he led the charge up the shallows of the Handmaiden. The goblinkind of the first ranks beheld that bright prince in resplendent armor and all those warriors following, their steeds kicking up such a spray of water as to obscure their numbers. This was the doing of Onselvon’s illusory arts. Only a paltry sparse number of warriors followed the charge, but under the powerful illusion spell woven by that great mage, it appeared to the goblins that a mighty host leapt forward from the dawn, silhouetted against the early rising sun just above the mountains. Blinking in terror, the front ranks scarcely had time to draw back before they learned to fear the three blades Defender, Concluder, and Gnoll-Cleaver.

Some unseen dweomermaster dispelled the illusion almost as soon as it had been cast, but the front ranks turned their backs too quickly to discern the truth of the small number that pursued them. The retreating goblins collided then with those who still advanced from behind just as the screeching eagle-horses and their deadly riders in the sky descended upon them again. Confusion and sudden bewilderment spread through the host. The advancing ranks tripped over retreating kobolds and goblins and orcs, and they turned their knives against one another. Three blasts on a heavy horn signaled a halt. Urgush had no choice. He ordered the host to dig in for the fight. They drew up ranks, threw up barricades, dug pits, crawled under rocks, and prepared to huddle down for the day.

Continue reading “The Ignoble Act”

Tasha’s Hot Cauldron of Everything!

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Thomas Kelly

Not ashamed to admit I’ve already pre-ordered my copy of Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. How could I not?

Iggwilv, the notorious witch of Greyhawk, was originally a girl by the name of Natasha the Dark, raised alongside her sister Elena the Fair in the dancing hut of Baba Yaga. That little piece of information fueled my imagination and sent me on a mission to create tales from Natasha’s girlhood, providing Greyhawk’s most infamous witch with some backstory. As a fan of Russian folk tales, I cast the Natasha tales in the same style as the source material, mimicking and borrowing heavily from Russian fairy tales about Baba Yaga and her daughters. You can read my small and still-growing collection of Tasha stories here: Iggwilv Mother of Witches

If it’s not clear to you already, “Tasha” is just the diminutive form of the name Natasha. And speaking of nomenclature, it should be obvious to everyone that “Baby Yoda” is really just a clever cipher for the old witch of Russian folklore.

BABy YodA = BABa YagA

Well, maybe not. But it looks suspiciously similar to me.

Continue reading “Tasha’s Hot Cauldron of Everything!”

Border Watch Dispatch from Barduk

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Ready’reat 12, 586

Constant Rildillian of the Shielding, Captain over the King’s Men, Border Post Four, Barduk.

To His Most Fearsome and Resolute Hero of the Shielding and Noble Count of Furyondy, Artur Jakartai, Great Wall Crystalreach.

May my lord hear good tidings this very day and may his eyes see the liberation of our lands. May those who fear the break of dawn be taught the art of war!

Your servant the fool writes to you as the dawn breaks upon our near-disaster this twelfth day of Ready’reat, for this is how things stand at Fort Critwall. I send this dispatch in all haste by swift rider to relate the urgent desperation of your loyal servants who only by the help of the Invincible Heironeous have survived to this hour. The night just past, we suffered assault from the hated euroz of the Old One (I spit upon his name). By the hand of Invincible Heironeous, we drove them back, but not without loss of life, further dwindling what few heroes of the Shield Lands be left among us. Let it be known that, of the sixty-five spears entrusted to me a year past, some two score have fallen and thirteen left for the summons to join the king’s Northern Crusade, may Cuthbert defend them. Only twelve of us remained to hold the post, and three of those fell this night past to Nerull’s scythe as did two stout dwarves of Barduk. Continue reading “Border Watch Dispatch from Barduk”

Spells & Stratagems

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The Hateful Wars: Chapter Twenty

Thomas Kelly

When the snowmelt and winter rains subsided, famished goblinkind came pouring out of their holes, seeking farms to raid and villages to plunder. This time, a surprise met the hungry hordes. The allies occupied every pass in the northern Lortmils, strangling the routes from the Pass of Celene all the way to the Lorridges. Under the earth, Dengar and Gilmorack garrisoned strategic positions on the Low Road, funneling the underground movements of the tribes. Kristryd had arranged it all. In the months prior to the snowmelt, she consulted with the generals and strategic thinkers of the alliance, negotiated troop placements, prepared supply lines, and sketched out contingencies. Once the action began, she played her role as liaison between the forces, moving rapidly back and forth between battlefronts mounted on the back of the great hippogriff Emolasmairim. Elves, dwarves, gnomes, and humans alike watched the sky for the wings of her steed. Field commanders and officers consulted her for information about deployments, supplies, and the movements of the enemy. She found herself providing answers to questions that exceeded the scope of her actual authority, and she did not hesitate to issue commands in the queen’s name when necessary to do so. Why shouldn’t the Queen’s Wrath take charge? Am I not the author of the strategy?

Battle of Luskan Way

The northern squeeze corralled the tribes together into a wide vale between the Celene Pass and the way to the Luskan Mines. There they remained, bottled up, until Father Furduch arrived with a gnome army from the Kron Hills and Verbobonc. Continue reading “Spells & Stratagems”

Under the Moonarch

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The Hateful Wars: Chapter Nineteen

Thomas Kelly

Luna continued her slow journey across the sky. Kristryd shivered in the cold open air of the night and pulled her cloak tighter about her shoulders. And what shall I do if the queen does not come back to me before the moon has set and sun breaks the east? she worried to herself. How shall I tell it in Enstad? With thoughts such as these still astir in her head, she watched the Moonarch fixedly with unblinking eyes, willing the elf queen to appear.

In the last hour before dawn, as Luna began to slip behind the distant line of the Lortmils, Kristryd felt her drowsy head starting to swim. She rested her eyes only for a moment and plummeted quickly into a dream. Cursing herself for weakness, she leapt to her feet. Am I not a dwarf? she asked herself. My people succumb not to sleeping spells! She shook her head to clear the drowsiness, and abruptly her eyes beheld something new. Through the span of the Moonarch she glimpsed a sunlit land of trees and streams and grassy hills. She stepped nearer, only intending to see the vision more clearly. As she did the image drew itself closer to her, more real and substantial. She fancied she could feel the welcome warmth of those sunlit lands. How pleasant it would be to chase the chill from my bones! Vivid colors and deepening hues crystalized before her. The marvelous world beyond the arch looked more real and solid than Oerth. Indeed, by comparison, Oerth around seemed an insubstantial shadow.

Kristryd swooned but caught herself before she stumbled. She grasped the outstretched hand of a tall elf, clothed in green britches, shirt, jerkin, and cap. He drew her beneath the spanning stone. Continue reading “Under the Moonarch”

Siege of the Tower

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Siege of the Tower is an obscure and often-overlooked piece of Greyhawk fiction that deserves a place with other Greyhawk books. Read the review below and an interview with the author Kevin J. Anderson as well.

In 1982, TSR launched a series of books modeled after the popular Choose Your Own Adventure genre. The new series appeared under the title Endless Quest, publishing forty-nine titles before its relaunch in 2018. Most of the titles are generic Dungeons & Dragons fiction, but some were based on other TSR games and related franchises. According to a Wikipedia breakdown of the series, only two of the books are deliberately set in the World of Greyhawk: Siege of the Tower and Bigby’s Curse.

Siege of the Tower takes place during the Greyhawk Wars era, before the fall of Continue reading “Siege of the Tower”

Moonarch of Sehanine

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The Hateful Wars: Chapter Eighteen

Thomas Kelly

An snarl-headed elf woman stepped out from behind a floral-canopied garden walk and hailed Kristryd in the elven tongue, “Behold! Errand-dwur of Yolande, I would a word with thee.” The she-elf looked more like a wild woman of the mountains than noble grey. A course hair-coat she wore tied about her waist with a belt of leather. The feats of her hair paggled loosely, knotted in dreadlocks and tangled with sticks and twigs and leaves.

Kristryd took two startled steps back, sneered her lip and retorted in perfect olven, “I am the Princess Kristryd Olinsdotter of Ulek and Dengar, daughter of the Prince Corond Olinstaad, daughter-in-law of the undermountain king Thane Evrast. I am no errand-dwur! But who are you who dares address the queen’s embassy so disrespectfully?”

“I am Edda the Tested,” the wild elf said with such air of authority that it seemed she expected that the name should convey some significance to Kristryd. It did not. “I have a message for you to bear to the queen.”

“If you have a message to bring, do so. I will not be your messenger,” Kristryd snapped. For emphasis, she pushed the wild elf from her path and continued her way.

Edda recovered herself gracefully, effortlessly scaled up the trunk of a stately ipp, leapt to the limb of a phost, and followed after Kristryd, leaping from limb to limb, tree to tree, like a squirrel. She only left off the pursuit when Kristryd passed into the inner lawns. Even then, Edda called after the dwarf from her perch in a deklo, “Tell her that her lover-boy was betrayed.” Kristryd marched on stoically with her back to the woodness elf, deliberately ignoring her shouts, “Tell her that Edda the Tested gave you the message. You tell her that errand-dwur!” Continue reading “Moonarch of Sehanine”

Oerth Journal 33 Review

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Oerth Journal Issue 33 has hit the press, and the PDF is available for free download, along with all the back issues, at Greyhawkonline.

The new issue has beautiful Greyhawk specific artwork created by LadyLoth. The picture “Nyrondese Soldiers” depicts two soldiers on guard in a camp behind a wooden palisade, as they walk their patrol inside a motte-and-bailey garrison. The contents of the issue go in a variety of directions.

5E Adventure

Notable contributions include a 5E adventure by John O’Neil Roy titled Housecleaning. Without giving away too much, it’s a sequel to his module Unwelcome Guests, and involves exploring a wizard’s tower in eastern Furyundy. Things get a little feywild along the way.  It’s fun to see 5E material for Greyhawk, and it looks great. Continue reading “Oerth Journal 33 Review”

The Stirges’ Nest

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The Hateful Wars: Chapter Seventeen

Thomas Kelly

“From where has this one come to your lands?” Kristryd asked the duke’s daughter. He was certainly no Celine elf nor grey of Silverwood. She saw that clear enough. A long dandyish coat with polished brass buttons hung draped over his slim form. Boots of striding laced up to his knees. Tight-fitting elbow-length silken gloves concealed his hands and forearms. Colorful scarves like the kerchiefs of the Baklunish harem girls purfled his head. Baubled jewelry dangled from his ears. Trinkets, charms, and precious stones hung from a slender-linked silver chain about his neck. Glittering gems set in rings adorned his fingers. Kristryd observed that he conversed easily with the duke and seemed at home among the nobles in the palace yard at Tringlee.

“Deravnye is from Seltaren in Urnst,” Nevallewen replied. “He is a most distinguished elf.”

Overhearing his name, the foppish prickmedainty turned to Kristryd and the duke’s daughter, executed a formal bow, and introduced himself properly, “To my kinfolk I am Deravnye, but I am simply Xaxa among friends.”

“Xaxa? Is that a name?” Kristryd asked. To her, all elves seemed effeminate, but this one more so.

“It’s a diminutive form. Xaxalander in full. And it is a name among the people of Urnst.”

“It must be a difficult burden to bear such an uncouth string of syllables!” the duke’s daughter flirted with feigned distaste.

“My lady knows that I am an uncouth elf. A rogue, expert treasure-hunter, dungeon explorer, magsman, and adventurer,” Xaxa returned the flirtatious jest. Continue reading “The Stirges’ Nest”