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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Sea of Death

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Sea of Death is the story of Gord’s quest across the Sea of Dust. It’s the third novel in the Gord books, but the first in the series to be released after Gary Gygax’s departure from TSR (and the first to actually bear the “Gord the Rogue” banner as a series identifier).

Published by New Infinities in 1987, this novel picks up some months after the previous installment and finds Gord in the Baklunish lands west of the Flanaess. He is on a mission to recover the second part of the three-part artifact known as the Theorpart, which will free the god Tharizdun from his aeons-long sleep and bring about the final victory of Evil over the multiverse. To assist him in this mission, he has been endowed with magical powers by the Demiurge (Basiliv, who in Gygax’s Greyhawk is the Mage of the Valley), and the Cat Lord, who favors the forces of Neutrality.

The second part of the artifact, known as the Second Key, is found in the City Out of Mind in the dangerous Sea of Dust. The map in the beginning of the book confirms that this is the same as the Forgotten City on the original Darlene map of the World of Greyhawk. Continue reading “Sea of Death”

The Fall of Molag

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Gary Gygax

Harmonized with Greyhawk Wars; augmented and edited for Greyhawkstories.

Before the Malevolent Throne

Dorakaa 581 CY

If the stark city of Dorakaa was ugly and wicked, its palace was the nadir of such maleficence, and the reeking throne chamber its very pit. So tortuous its shapes, so horrific its decoration, so disgusting its every aspect, that few humans could remain sane within its confines. Men, and women too, were indeed therein, but of their sanity, who could speak?

The Eldritch Lord of Evil so possessed his servants and their every inclination that they scarce knew the bounds where their own will ended and his began. Twelve of these he counted among his most potent: The Boneheart. These he summoned now to his audience.

“Will you indeed take up to half my kingdom?” he muttered to himself as he waited the arrival of his thralls. Long had his jealous heart meditated on the power of Molag: an obstacle to his plans and an insult to his dignity. The time drew near to avenge himself and take back that which by rights belonged to him. “I will teach those pots of blashy piss the true meaning of hierarchy!” he snarled out loud as the first of his chosen ones began to arrive before him.

His servants sensed their master’s mood at once. Malign hatred hung in the air. It seemed to permeate the great, ghastly hall in layers of palpable evil. The closer one came to the throne of silver-set human bones, the stronger the hatred and attendant fear Continue reading “The Fall of Molag”

Nightwatch

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By Robin Wayne Bailey

Greyhawk Novels

Here’s a pretty obscure bit of Greyhawkiana; the novel Nightwatch by Robin Wayne Bailey. Published in 1990, this was a one-off novel whose author was best known for his contributions to the ever-awesome “Thieves’ World” series (which is a topic for a post unto itself).

The novel focuses on Garrett Starlen, a captain of the Night Watch of the city of Greyhawk, as he tries to unravel the mystery behind why all of the city’s most powerful experts in divination are all killed in the space of a single evening. Soon things start to escalate, with ominous black birds filling the skies and more dead bodies piling up. It’s very much a detective novel, with some nice plot twists, false leads, and the like. Continue reading “Nightwatch”

Artifact of Evil

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Hot on the heels of my review of Gary Gygax‘s first novel, Saga of Old City, we come to the second in the series (and the last published by TSR), Artifact of Evil, published in 1986.

This book has a very different feel than its predecessor, even though the action takes place only a few months after the end of the first. Where Saga of Old City was episodic, with no real plot threading throughout it other than chronicling Gord’s early adventures, Artifact of Evil has a definite plot. The forces of Evil are searching for a powerful artifact that can be used to loose the evil god Tharizdun from his prison, thus bringing doom to the world unless they can be stopped. Continue reading “Artifact of Evil”

Saga of the Old City

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Saga of the Old City: A Novel of Swordplay, Thievery, and Magic

by Gary Gygax

Greyhawk Novels

Saga of Old City is the first in the series of novels and stories written by Gary Gygax, featuring his hero Gord. The book was released in 1985 as part of the last gasp of products written by Gygax right before his ouster from TSR.

Saga of Old City charts the early life of Gord, a beggar, thief, acrobat, and adventurer from the slums of Greyhawk’s Old City (hence the title). Interestingly, though, only the first part of the novel actually takes place in Old City, although there is a satisfying denouement that brings the hero back there.

Rather than presenting a single plot, the book is episodic, broken into several stories with connective tissue bridging them together:

  • Gord as a beggar-thief in Old City
  • Gord among the Rhennee
  • Gord in Stoink
  • Gord in Castle Blemu
  • The Battle of Woodford
  • The recovery of the relic from the dungeon in the Abbor Alz

This episodic nature really gives the book a feel like you’re reading an adventure straight from Gygax’s table. Continue reading “Saga of the Old City”