Wolfsbane

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Chapter Four of Under the Goblin Trees

Campaign adaptation by Thomas Kelly

Wolfsbane

The morning light dawned on a scene of horror. Blood splattered the walls and washed the floors of many cottages. The afflicted resumed their human forms with no memory of the terrors of the night. More than a dozen villagers were dead, some slain by the wolves, some slain as wolves. Others came wandering into the town, naked and confused, unable to say why they awoke to find themselves alone and unclothed out in the woods.

Myron is never above sarcasm or gloating, “So what is your diagnosis master priest? What do you think? Is it merely the winter fever?”

I spent most of the day dressing wounds and invoking the gods for healing. Both Bruin and Mercifcul nursed ugly bleeding wounds. Cirilli and I treated their torn flesh. We exchanged knowing glances. At the next full moon, both men might be howling to one another.

Myron scolded Bruin, “Use your head instead of your brawn next time. What are we going to do with a werewolf your size? How are we supposed to deal with you this time?”

Bruin smiled sheepishly and explained, “I didn’t think I would get bitten.”

The afflicted were again restrained before sunset lest the affliction remain upon them under the waning moon. At sunset we burned the dead according to the custom of the villagers, and I entrusted their souls to hands of the gods.

As Luna rose, we stocked the bonfires and prepared to face the beasts again, but all remained quiet in the village. I fell into bed at midnight, utterly exhausted. I slept until late into the following morning, my sleep beset by nightmares the entire time.

The Investigation and the Mission

When I awoke, the others were already up and finished with breakfast. Cirilli sat with the daughter of Micksallicks, speaking to her about herbs and cures and how to dress her wounds. The girl showed absolutely no symptoms. If not for the torn flesh and rope burns on her wrists and ankles, I would not have believed it possible that this fair girl might be the same as that snarling, twisting creature from the previous night.

Myron took me aside, out of the girl’s earshot, and said to me, “Today, priest, we will get to the bottom of this insanity.” He proposed visiting every cottage in the village and taking inventory. I saw sense in this plan and agreed to accompany him. He put on his best face, so to speak, and we made the rounds. At each cottage we asked a series of questions, cross-examining and double-checking as best we could, and we took careful note of the answers. Was anyone here afflicted? Did anyone shift into wolfen shape? When did symptoms first manifest? Was anyone bitten? Does the afflicted possess any memory of the incident? Does the afflicted remember being bitten by a wolf or dog in the past? The investigation put me in remembrance of the diligent work we did in Orlane to solve the riddle of the naga witch’s enchantment.

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Bad Wolf Moon

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Chapter Three of Under the Goblin Trees

Campaign adaptation by Thomas Kelly

Bad Wolf Moon

Ivan the son of Micksalicks and his kinfolk, we were later to discover, made their homes in a village on the edge of the Dim, known by the simple name Roanwood for a certain type of tree that once grew abundantly in the area and which they made their business—the sale of the much-esteemed lumber. This they had done for several generations and, over time, much depleted the number of mighty Roans that once stood sentinel on the edge of the wood. I took these folk for some mixture of the Suelish and Flan bloods, and many of them had red hair such as one rarely sees among the Oeredian but is common enough among the Geoff folk. So it was with this one red-headed leader of their band, Ivan O’Micksalicks by name, and the other men of his band, all redheads and red beards from Roanwood.

The evernight trees (which the elves call fuinoira) surrounded the village in darkness like an encircling wall. That shadowy dim and foreboding night frowned on the village from every direction, yet within the open spaces of the homely lawn shone plenty of sunlight upon their pleasant cottages, each with a stout chimney from which smoke curled. Here were clean streets, swept of snow, lined with a few shops and necessaries, a smithy, and a lumber mill powered by a waterwheel turned by a passing stream. The folk of the place were fair skinned and tall, the men broad shouldered, the women green-eyed and fair, and one could see that in the summer they made pleasant gardens and small fields under the blessing of my Lady.

Hardy they were, both men and women, wielding axes of their trade, and not afraid to fend off any who might threaten them. They thought it no great feat to slay a party of goblin raiders, topple a troublesome ogre, hunt down a pillaging troll, or chop down a menacing giant. They made a fair living from the Roanwood they harvested from the forest, a tree rare enough to make it’s lumber valuable. They took no haste to harvest, but waited until a tree had reached its full girth and height before felling it. Then cutting it into lengths of trunk and branch, they hauled it, pulled by horse-teams, back to their village where sawmen cut it into lumber. In the spring, when the water rose high enough, they floated the planks on a rafts to meet the Realstream all the way to Hochoch.

They did honor to the true gods but also named Pelor, Beory, Obad-Hai and so forth. Most of all they cherished Ehlonna, Lady of the Wood, but called her by her elvish name, Ehlenestra. They had not priests in their midst or clerics who might teach them the service of the gods or how to direct their devotions, but they said a visiting friar of Cuthbert made the rounds among all the villages of the eastern Dim.

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Horse Thieves

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Chapter Two of Under the Goblin Trees

Campaign adaptation by Thomas Kelly

On the Edge of the Wood

“Four or five days to the keep at Forest Watch. We know not precisely how far beyond the Foredge to the baron’s lodge,” Sir Merciful and Sir Belvenore poured over parchment with a few sparse lines that sufficed for a map. Many miles passed before our road entered the wooded lands. Groves and wild woods stood in patches now and again, thicker to the north. We had fair skies for two days, but on the third day from the keep, more snow hampered our progress again. This time we camped and waited out the weather in shelters beneath a stand of white chestnuts. Bruin foraged about in the woods and collected dry timber enough to keep a merry fire blazing, despite the wind and the snow.

The warmth of the fire was not enough to chase the chill from the bones but it melted some of the ice between our party and our chivalrous escort. Considering their coming errantry in Farvale and Orlane, Sir Belvenore and Sir Merciful inquired of us regarding all we could tell them about that place. Their questions gave us the opportunity to recount for them the tale of the naga witch. After hearing our story and asking after the details until they were at last satisfied, they looked on us with newfound respect, and their demeanor improved.

We woke in the morning under skies both clear and cold. Cirilli and I conducted our prayers while the others stoked up the fire, heated the water, and boiled the grits. The Watchers followed their own monastic-styled devotions, reading the psalms of Cuthbert and the odes of Heironeous each morning and conducting themselves according to their fixed routines before strapping on armor. Myron reviewed his spells. Bruin saddled the horses.

Now the trees had begun to grow more closely, and we saw that we drew near to the shadowy world beneath the boughs of the Dim Forest. Nevertheless, we camped that night in good spirits for we knew that Forest Watch remained only a short journey on the morrow. We looked forward to warm beds, cooked food, and strong drinks.

An Interrupted Night

Sir Merciful was at watch when thieves stole into the camp and made off with the horses. How it came to pass that he neither saw nor heard, I received no explanation. None was needed. It was clear enough that he had fallen to sleep. Some hours after his watch had begun, he roused us. A Watcher is a watcher in name only, I suppose. Now in the middle of the night, shivering in the darkness and stiff from the cold, we did not know what to do, nor did we know then the culprit that had stolen our steeds. Bruin wanted to pursue immediately, but what was the point in that pitch darkness? Myron cast a magical light on his quarterstaff, and we searched about the immediate vicinity of the camp. The light proved to be a bad idea as it made him a clear target. The first arrow stuck him and buried its head into his chest. As if a dam broke, they charged from out of the woods.

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Errand in Hookhill

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Chapter One of Under the Goblin Trees

Campaign adaptation by Thomas Kelly and sequel to Against the Cult of the Reptile God.

574 CY

In the year that Prince Thrommel vanished, the news of his disappearance did not reach the court at Hookhill until winter. I know this to be so because, when the news did arrive, I happened to be at the court of His Most Resolute Magnitude Commandant Petros Gwalchen of the Gran March to deliver a report about recent affairs in the neglected Barony of Farvale. Rumors abounded, and, as everyone now knows, the strange circumstances around the kidnapping of the prince have never been satisfactorily resolved. The disappearance of the prince and the handsome reward offered for his return inspired many Knights of the Watch and heroes of Gran March to set their hopes on errantries.  What is more, the arrival of the news was shortly followed with a specific summons recalling heroes loyal to Furyondy, including two of my companions, those respected veterans of the Troll Wars on the borders of the Pale and also Emridy Meadows, the half-elven brothers Llywain and Dorian. Fealty to the fifth of the Seven Families of the house of Furyondy obliged them to depart at once.

Now this turn of events I took sorely because I had hoped that they might accompany me back to Farvale and Orlane, guarding me for safe passage through the hazards of the Dim Forest. They assured me, “You have nothing to fear Father Tabor. You have the mighty sword of Sir Bruin and the competent dweomers of Myron the Glamorer. What is more, we are sure that the commandant will provide you a company of doughty knights back to Orlane.”

In the Court of the Commandant

My appointment with the commandant came on Freeday the last day before the week of Needfest. This unfortunate piece of timing forced me to keep the report and its corollary appeal as brief as possible, for the court was eager to dispense with business as preparations for the festivities were already well underway and the everyone was already swept up with the spirit of the holiday.

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Needfest Greetings

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Happy Needfest,

Maybe you haven’t noticed, but it’s been a pretty meager year for Greyhawkstories content. My real world job shifted and has begun to demand significantly more time than in the past, allowing for less leisure writing and less game time. I have lots of stories waiting to be told but precious little time to devote to them.

Despite all of that, I’m still committed to keeping the Greyhawkstories blog open for business and producing content for the Greyhawk community. I’m going to start trying to post regularly again (no promises). In the coming year, I hope to bring some fiction contributions from Joe Bloch, Anna Meyer, Jared Milne, Mike Bridges, Carlos Lising, David Leonard, and whoever is willing to contribute. There’s also great Greyhawk fiction now appearing regularly in Oerth Journal, so I need to get caught up on that material.

I’m eager to start working on a series of resources about the environs of the Dim Forest. Several years ago, I created a sequel to Against the Reptile God titled Under the Goblin Trees. It’s a Dim Forest adventure with lots of action, and I want to get the notes from that campaign adapted to narrative as the further adventures of Father Tabor. In addition, my games around Geoff keep taking my players into those dismal woods, so it would be good to have some better resources for the Dim Forest. If you have Dim Forest content, send it my way.

Last year, I had the entire Hateful Wars: Saga of Kristryd Olinsdotter project professionally designed and formatted as a print novel. The PDF has been sitting in my hard-drive now for nearly a year. I’m going through it, proofreading and correcting it, in my spare time (which means almost never to not-at-all). The goal is to produce a limited hard-copy press run if I can finish proofing it and figure out how to do that. Maybe a kickstarter campaign is in order? Let me know your thoughts.

As you may have noticed, I also use Greyhawkstories to track the principal campaigns for my D&D groups. Currently I have a group battling the giants of Geoff. We are loosely utilizing the Living Greyhawk materials for that region and the TSR regional sourcebook Against the Giants: The Liberation of Geoff. The posts following their progress started as bare-bones adventure summaries, but more recent posts have received some embellishment. I’m hoping you are enjoying them as much as I enjoy DMing the games and writing up the narratives.

I also use the blog to keep tabs on my Great Northern Crusade campaign, but those poor miserable players have been bogged down in a siege of the gloomy and undead-occupied city Grabford, fighting the vampire Maskeline and his minions, for most of a year. Three of the players in that group had babies in the last year, so we are having an exceptionally hard time scheduling sessions, and when we do play, progress is painfully slow. Plus, I have to say, it’s not the most experienced bunch of players. They can’t seem to figure out the program and have no clue about how to deal with vampires and undead. It’s kind of funny watching them puzzle over the problems.

Like other Greyhawk content creators, I don’t receive much feedback. If you are reading the material and enjoying it, please leave a comment or send a note. You would be surprised how much motivation your words can inspire. I’m also open to submissions and suggestions.

Thanks for reading Greyhawkstories.com. I apologize for the paucity of new material over the last 12 months. Will try to do better this year.  

May your Needfest nights be bright,

Thomas Kelly

Artwork: Mike Bridges How the Gruumsh Stole Needfest

Fonkin, Flerd, Faffle, Frush, Roaky, Gleep, Redmod, Beek, and Cloyer Too

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THE LIBERATION OF GEOFF

The Giant Slayerpart 2: Fonkin, Flerd, Faffle, Frush, Roaky, Gleep, Redmod, Beek, and Cloyer Too
(Thomas Kelly)
A campaign based on Living Greyhawk Geoff and Against the Giants.

“It’s not safe for you here,” Father Trantle cautions the visitors. “Those guards you left slumbering outside will not sleep long, and your presence here cannot be kept hidden. Come with me, and we will speak more in the privacy of my home.” He leads the travelers through the streets of Pregmere to a seemingly abandoned cottage near the edge of town.

Safely inside Flerd’s home and with the door shut and barred behind them, everyone relaxes. Almost everyone. Mayloriel keeps an eye out the cottage window. Ansgar speaks to the priest, “The Lady Sierra Blackblade sent us here to find you, Father Trantle. She says you are a famous giant slayer.”

“She wants you to return with us to Hochoch and help us fight the giants,” Bryn adds.

Father Trantle’s Resistance

Father Trantle does his best to make his guests comfortable in the one-room cottage before replying. “It’s true. I’m one of that band of heroes sent out by the king of Keoland to punish the giants. We passed through Sterich, ascended into the Jottens, and slaughtered the hill giants in their own timbered lodge. We massacred their chief, Nosnra, and all his kin around his feasting table. We soaked the floor of their banqueting hall with their blood. We found our way, past many dangers, into the frigid glacial rift of the Crystalmists where the frost giants dwell in caves of ice. We slew their jarl and looted their frozen caverns. If not for the mercy of the True Light, I would still remain there, frozen in the ice. My companions thought me dead, and they left me in the rift. Without me, they descended into the Hell Furnaces to extinguish the fires of King Snurre Ironbelly. Among all those giants we left carnage, recompensing them a hundred-fold for their trespasses into the lands of men. We thought to teach them a lesson they might never forget. Surely, our bloodlust brought disaster upon these lands. Giants are vengeful and cunning. Our strikes against their chiefs stirred the stirges’ nest. We incited this terrible reprisal. I now atone for my sins by laboring here among the slaves of Rhychdir Rhos in Pregmere.”

“Aren’t you a slave yourself?” Bryn asks.

Continue reading “Fonkin, Flerd, Faffle, Frush, Roaky, Gleep, Redmod, Beek, and Cloyer Too”

Finding Flerd the Giant Slayer

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THE LIBERATION OF GEOFF

The Giant Slayers part 1: Finding Flerd
(Campaign Notes by Thomas Kelly)
A campaign based on Living Greyhawk Geoff and Against the Giants.

“Neumann wants a rebellion,” Bryn insists. “Bad enough that I need writ from the governor what to drink a single cider. Now he says we can no more speak our own tongue?”

“Cause he knows our tongues are making sport of him behind his back,” Ansgar laughs. He quaffs his third cider and pounds the mug on the tabletop to summon the maid for more. “Another round for the heroes!” he motions to his friends.

“You can’t pay for your own cups, cuss, quit saying you’ll pay for us,” chides the gnomish bard. Squint’s fingers find the strings of his shalm. He strikes up a lively reel, but the music stops abruptly when the wooden door of the speakeasy flings open. Ansgar leaps to his feet, nearly tipping the table. Customers freeze in fear; their laughter and conversation falls silent. A man steps through the open doorway. Every patron of the establishment recognizes the stern, scowling face of Cadofyth Parn, a commanding officer of the Army of the Liberation. “Alcohol consumption without a writ! Speaking in the Flannish tongue!” he scolds the crowded room.

“Yes sir,” Ansgar concedes too readily.

The captain fixes his stern gaze upon the young ranger, “Best pour me a cider before I report the lot of you to the constables.” A devious smirk spreads across his face. The patrons cheer and clap the officer on the back. Squint resumes the reel.

Calling all Giant Slayers

Trailing behind the commander, stepping lightly through the door and into the light, comes a grinning elf. “I found this pour lost elf wandering the camp,” the cadofyth announces. “May I present Gundoriel Thingolin, back from fey Dimwood!”

Bryn leaps up and throws her arms around grey elf priest. “I thought we might never see you again,” she gushes in the elvish tongue. He shrugs sheepishly.

“We have had a few adventures without you, elf!” Ansgar says as Parn and Gundoriel join the rangers at their table.  Bryn presses her elvish friend with questions about his months in the fading feylands of Dimwood Forest, but he only shakes his head.

After the barmaid pours up ciders and collects coins, Parn admits, “Not for cider and Flan-speech did I seek you out tonight, friends, but a quick trot back into those occupied lands from which you only just returned. We have a rumor from Darlon Lea, our exiled ranger lord. He claims that Father Trantle survived the invasion and still lives, dwelling among those unfortunate slaves, our kinsmen who labor under the lash of the giants.”

“I don’t know who that is,” Ansgar shrugs, unimpressed by the name of Father Trantle.

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Speculation in Greyhawk City

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Jared Milne

“Zilchus damn their oily hides!” Cariel Mansharn shouted. Standing up from his desk, he threw his chair across the room, where it hit the wall with a resounding crash.

“What be your problem, then?” Stimtrin Cannasay asked as he walked into the room. He was utterly calm and did not react in the least to the seething anger in Cariel’s eyes.

“What do you think, you fool?” Cariel asked. “It’s the same thing it always is!”

“And what’s that?” Stimtrin asked, his expression thoughtful and inquisitive.

“Another gods-damned bubble is about to burst,” Cariel said, pointing to the ledger on his desk. “Just like they always do. Why don’t these speculators ever learn?”

Cariel’s anger turned to dread as he realized the mistake he’d just made.

“I canna say,” Stimtrin said, his brow furrowing as he rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “Perhaps ‘tis the result of speculators thinkin’ that certain prices last indefinitely, or the feelin’ that the speculator is shielded from risk, mayhaps even the ‘greater fool’ theory where assets be continually sold for ‘igher than their value ‘til …”

“Or maybe it’s because so many speculators are glorified paper-pushers who don’t actually create anything of value,” Cariel said, interrupting Stimtrin before the dwarf’s ramblings pushed him past the breaking point. “They just strip the value out of things actual merchants create!”

“Have ye ever supposed it might be yer words be reason are why ye’r none closer to becomin’ Master o’ the Guild?” Stimtrin asked.

Cariel wanted to reply with an angry shout, but the dwarf’s calm and respectful expression showed he meant no insult. Grudgingly—very grudgingly—he nodded. “Perhaps they are the reason,” Cariel said as he retrieved his chair and sat down again. “But that doesn’t make them any less right.”

A Little Bit of Wood

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THE LIBERATION OF GEOFF

A Little Bit of Wood
(Campaign Notes and Adaptation by Thomas Kelly)
Based on Living Greyhawk module GEO1-05 by Wesley Wright.
Beware total spoilers.

Bryn sighs and sweeps her sleeve across her face to wipe the perspiration from her eyes.

Fang lifts and cocks his head quizzically as he trots beside her. “I’m worried about Gundoriel,” she explains to the uncomprehending dog. The mud-packed roads of the encampment have baked dry and solid under the mid-summer sun. This is the camp of the Army of the Liberation outside Hochoch’s walls. Bryn and Ansgar navigate the maze of streets, shacks, and tents to make their way toward the command tent of Cadofyth Parn to which they have been summoned. “It’s been nearly six months and we’ve still seen no sign nor heard word. How could we have left that noble elf to such an evil fate?”

“An evil and miserable fate, indeed! I thank the gods ‘twas not me you abandoned in the arms of that soggy river nymph,” Ansgar agrees too readily.

Bryn rolls her eyes, “You wish!”

“I never!” the young ranger objects, blushing red through his whiskers. “Don’t even like daffodils,” he mutters.

“And what of Boots? Will we ever see our dearest friend again? Have we forever lost them both in fey lands? Fie on the shadows of the Dim Forest! Let the light of Pelor burn it!”

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Blessica of Urnst

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On Those Who Covet Power

Jared Milne

Belissica looked up from the letter she was writing to gaze thoughtfully into the mirror standing on the side table. The exhausted look on the face in the mirror signaled, as her personal cleric Jhennifer insisted, it was time for her to stop for the night. Belissica remembered the argument with Jhennifer on the subject. She was, after all, the Countess of Urnst! But Jhennifer pointed out that she only harmed the County if she did not look after her own health.

And it had been a long, tiring day: reading reports from her spies in the Bandit Kingdoms, writing instructions to the delegation she was sending to the Gamboge Forest, mediating between military leaders who argued for more defense spending and exchequers who insisted that the treasury could not sustain such expenditures over the long term…

The countess conjured invisible servants to take her completed paperwork downstairs where it would collected by her officials tomorrow morning. Belissica rubbed her eyes and muttered to herself. She occasionally wished she had more time to pursue the magical research she so enjoyed, but her conscience would never have allowed the self-indulgence. Her responsibilities weighed too heavily on her.

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