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”

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.

Continue reading “Oerth Journal 34 Review”

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”

Alternate Oerth Journal

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Issue 32 of Oerth Journal, originally slated for print and distribution at the ill-fated GaryCon 2020, is now available for download. The new issue is dedicated to the concept of “alternate Oerths,” an idea which can be summarized as a world of Greyhawk that, at some point in the timeline, deviated significantly from the published canon. Think of it as alternate time streams creating alternate Oerths.

In truth, every Dungeon Master’s version of Greyhawk is an alternate Oerth, but the articles in the new issue of Oerth Journal flesh out some particularly intriguing possibilities and interesting examples. Cal Scrivener makes the point that, Gary Gygax himself, the original creator of the Flanaess, created his own alternate version in the Gord the Rogue novels.

The liberty to create alternate Oerths that deviate from canon should allow Dungeon Masters to let their characters interact more freely with the world. And that’s where good stories can emerge:

Storytelling is more than creating compelling adventures, or fantastic realms. Ultimately, all storytelling is about people: who we are, what we do. Stories about that which motivates us, drives us to the choices we make, and how we deal with the consequences. (Amy G. Crittenden, “Making Greyhawk Your Own,” Oerth Journal 32)

This issue has several worth-the-price-of-admission moments like Joe Bloch’s rundown on various versions of Castle Greyhawk, Gary Holian’s dark vision of the Great Kingdom under a ruthless reign of death knights, Mike Bridges’ useful write-up on the Sea Princes (what if the Scarlet Brotherhood never conquered Sea Princes) and lots more great imaginative stuff which would rewrite reality if it was reality. Several of the articles include alternate timelines and descriptions of world-changing events. Others, like Jason Zavoda’s article, “Going to the Source,” provide suggestions for sources of inspiration to make Greyhawk uniquely your own.

In the category of “Tales from the Green Dragon,” blogger David Leonard takes us on an alternate expedition to the Barrier Peaks for more genre-bending fun with flying saucers that becomes an origin story behind Oerth’s moons Luna and Celene.

I haven’t finished reading the whole issue yet, but with great artwork, a new comic by Mike Bridges, and a full roster of grognard personalities behind the articles, Issue 32 is a home run. Congratulations to Kristoph Nolan and Greyhawk Online for knocking out another great issue. Download Oerth Journal 32 here for free.

You can support Oerth Journal and help it make the transition to print publication through Patreon.

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Greyhawk Stories in Oerth Journal 31

The year 2019, a banner year for the Greyhawk Renaissance, concluded on a high note with the release Oerth Journal 31 and some great new Greyhawk stories.

Spinecastle01The Castle: Deep Within the Terror of Spinecastle

David Leonard of Greyhawk Musings takes us to a critical moment in the history of the infamous Spinecastle of Bone March. Here’s the story of a lone Valiant of the Knight Protectors on the eve of destruction. It’s a well-written and worthy tale of terror and heroism.

Espionage at the Royal Opera House

AestrellaKelli Butler tells the story of Adina, an opera house diva of the Free City who is secretly involved in some backstage cloak-and-dagger espionage to reveal a plot of the Scarlet Brotherhood. Who is behind the mask of the mysterious Aestrella Shanfarel to whom she reports? This short story introduces “the hidden spy network of Aestrella Shanfarel,” a Greyhawk faction headed by a Greyhawk dragon!

Oerth Journal 31

Oerth Journal 31

You can read both stories, and a lot more, by downloading the new free issue of Oerth Journal 31 here. Issue 31 focuses on playing factions in the world of Greyhawk and introduces several new ideas and secret societies. I should especially mention Jason Zavoda’s piece on the “Guild of the Lamplighters” which begins with a brief vignette to introduce the article–another piece of Greyhawk fiction in the pages of Issue 31.

We’re happy to add these latest entries of Greyhawk fiction to our growing collection of material from the pages of Oerth Journal. To peruse the whole collection, check out our Tales from the Green Dragon.

“Cheers!” to Kristoph Nolen for knocking out four issues of Oerth Journal in 2019. Just over a year ago, it was difficult to find the back issues online. Thanks to the revival of Greyhawkonline.com, the whole catalog is available. Here’s to four more in 2020!