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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Runaway

THE LIBERATION OF GEOFF

RUNAWAY (Campaign Notes-SPOILERS)

Based on Living Greyhawk module GEO1-01, by Geoff Christy

Three young Gyruff Rangers, all three of them refugee children of the giant invasion, dream of crossing the Javan into Oytwood and joining the elves in their ongoing campaign of guerrilla warfare against the giants in occupied Geoff. They go by the names Ansgar, Brin, and Boots. Ansgar and Brin have some type of romantic relationship (it’s not clear), and Boots is sort of their third-wheel sidekick. The three of them grew up together over the last eight years among the Geoffite refugees. They are new initiates to a band of Gyruff Rangers charged with patrolling the protected zone around Hochoch. The young rangers are eager to leave the zone and take revenge against the giants. They especially resent the impositions of Gran March over Hochoch and over the refugee population. They consider themselves Patriots, and they talk of joining the Gyruff Liberation Army—if only they had a recommendation or some notoriety which might give them a position and make them eligible for something more than patrolling the protected zone. The Gyruff Army, which seeks to operate independently of Gran March, does not have resources to sustain the number of refugees who would volunteer for the promise of food and shelter, and for now, only select heroes and proven men of arms are accepted into the ranks.

Back from a long patrol, the three young rangers are taking a meal at the Two Tents, a camp tavern in the refugee camp outside Hochoch, when they hear a rumor of a goblin incursion. A certain guardsman called Lucian tips them off, telling them that a band of Oytwood Elves pursued and slew the goblins, but several of the rascals escaped. If they Patriots hurry, they might track down the escapees before the Knights of Gran March arrive and steal the glory. This Lucian fellow is actually an agent of the Soon to be declared Army of the Liberation, and he is keen to test the mettle of the three young rangers. He has asked his friend, Gundoriel, and elf of Oytwood, to go with the rangers and keep an eye on them.

The goblin situation came about like this. A goblin named Fenik, belonging to the orc and goblin garrison occupying Preston, became disillusioned with his future prospects and decided to defect. He stole a book of strategic information about the disposition of the garrison, presumably to use to bargain for his life should he be captured by the enemy. Without telling them he intended to defect, he deceived a small company of goblins under the command of his brothers to accompany him on an alleged “secret mission.” Fenik hoped to cross the Javan and escape to the safety of the Dim Forest. A troop of Oytwood elf resistance fighters observed the goblins leave Preston. The elves followed the band all the way into the protected zone around Hochoch before ambushing them and slaying all but seven. At the same time, the capatain of the garrison at Preston dispatched a small troop of orc hunters and trackers to chase the goblins down and retrieve the stolen book.

None of this is known to our heroes as the three young rangers agree to the adventure. A fourth character, an Oytwood elf named Gundoriel who speaks not a single word of common, joins the rangers, offering his services as a priest. Brin speaks elvish and serves as translator.

The four adventurers travel through the night. By first light, they come upon the battlefield. Several wild dogs savage the remains of goblins strewn across a field. Gundoriel recognizes the arms and gear, and he tells the rangers that he believes the goblins are from the host stationed at Preston. The largest of the wild dogs wears a spiked collar from which hangs a type of medallion. Ansgar nocks an arrow to take a shot at the large dog, but his companions stay his hand. Gundoriel uses his elvish persuasion to calm the large dog and he approaches it with caution. The rangers examine the medallion, which identifies the dog’s name as “Fang,” and they recognize the symbol of the Gyruff Rangers. They take the dog with them on their quest, but the dog is unruly, and it does as it pleases.

The rangers pick up the trail of the goblin survivors of the battle and pursue them back toward Hochoch. They have not gone far at all when they are beset upon by a small band of orc hunters from Preston who also were in pursuit of the same goblins. A fight ensues, and the orcs are slain. The rangers resume tracking the escaped goblins. They follow the tracks to a nearby farm. At the edge of a half-harvested field, they discover a recently abandoned campsite where some six or seven goblins bedded down for the night. Following the trail further they find evidence of a skirmish. Farm tools lie abandoned on the ground. A blood trail and marks of a body being dragged away lead them to a nearby farmyard. Inside the barn, they discover the corpse of a teenage farmer’s son.

The rangers approach the farmhouse, but the farmer comes out and attempts to send them away, assuring them that all is well. The rangers make as if to leave, but they rush the house by stealth from different sides, entering through windows and forcing entrance through the front door. Several goblins are discovered inside, filling sacks with provisions and eating the farmer’s chickens. The farmer, his wife, and a young son are also present. The farmer attempts to block the rangers, urging them not to fight since his daughter is held hostage in the loft above. Nevertheless, a battle ensues.

Assisted by the vicious goblin-hunting dog Fang, the rangers make short work of the goblins, but three remain in the loft above holding the farmer’s young daughter hostage. The goblins in the loft attempt to escape by breaking out through the thatched roof. Gundoriel, Brin, and Boots engage the first escaping goblin outside the house. Blows are exchanged, a goblin slain, and Boots is wounded. Upstairs in the loft, a goblin called Fenik holds a knife to the girl’s throat and asks for safe passage in exchange for the girl’s release. He speaks common tongue, the other goblin does not. He identifies himself as a deserter, and he offers Ansgar a certain book, stolen from the orc captain at Preston (Grugh-nal Firespear), as a surety that he will release the girl once he is clear of the house. But, he tells them, they must first slay Harl, the other goblin with him. Harl does not realize that Fenik has led their band in a desertion, and he will not cooperate with releasing the hostage. A short fight ensues. Harl runs a pick through Ansgar, but Brin slays the goblin. Ansgar nearly perishes. The healing prayer of the elven priest saves him from the Nerul’s scythe.

The rangers agree to Fenik’s terms. Along with the rest of the members of the family, they withdraw to the barn while Fenik drags the girl away toward the woods. Fearing treachery, Ansgar sets off in pursuit, but Fenik has kept his word. He releases the girl. The girl runs to her parents. The goblin disappears into the woods, moving too quickly to pursue.

Cavalrymen from the Gyruff Liberation Army arrive and take statements. They instruct the heroes to turn over the book they obtained to Captain Parn. The book turns out to be a spellbook in secondary use. It contains several spells, but it also contains, written in an orcish hand, troop numbers and strategic information on the garrison at Preston. Captain Parn says, “This is of great importance to us. It will help us greatly. Please leave me now so I may speak to my superiors about this. It would please me if you would leave your names with my aide.” He then leaves the tent in the direction of the of the other officers’ tents.

Back at the Two Tents, the heroes are toasted by other Patriots and given a round of drinks.

Continue reading “Runaway”

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”