The Gonfalon of Geoff

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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”