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.

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CAT AND MOUSE

THE LIBERATION OF GEOFF

CAT AND MOUSE (Campaign Notes-SPOILERS)

Based on Living Greyhawk module GEO1-02, by Brian Lamprecht

Young Geoffite rangers in love, Ansgar and Brin, visit Hochoch’s “shambles” to replenish their supplies. A pickpocket brushes up against Brin and makes off through the crowd before she can even put eyes on the rascal. Reaching for her purse, she finds it’s still at her belt, but in her pocket, she discovers a mysterious note that says, “Your assistance is needed most quickly on a matter of the utmost secrecy. Meet tonight. eight bells at the cemetery. To leave town you should be preparing. Ask the groundsman for Claudious Faeronicus. For country’s sake don’t dishonor us.”

The note is signed by “The Cat.”

Puzzled by the message, Ansgar and Brin make their way back to the Two Tents where they find Boots awaiting them with the dog. “Look what I found in my pocket!” the young ranger declares, producing an identical note. Brin seeks some advice from their grey-elf companion Gundoriel. No, he received no note. No, he has never heard of “The Cat.” Yes, he agrees to accompany the rangers to the cemetery.

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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.

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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