Sunday, 2 May 2021

A to Z 2021 Retrospective

The A to Z Challenge asked in the past for participants to post a retrospective. In this tradition this post is presented.

For five years starting in 2011, I chronicled my Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay campaigns. I even won some recognition with established creators in Warhammer circles for my annual posts, even sharing one year with Ben Scerri, writer for Cubicle 7's WFRP 4th edition. I entered this challenge eager to participate again and possibly introduce some to the "World of Greyhawk," a campaign world of Gary Gygax's own creation with the introduction of D&D in late 70s and throughout the 80s. I made some mistakes.

The challenge has some well established expectations. April has 30 days, and subtracting Sundays, leaves 26 days. A day for each letter of the English alphabet. I stumbled on this primary expectation, posting initially on two Sundays. My blogging platform, blojsom, allowed me to correct  this misstep "behind the scenes."

The largest misstep was missing the commitment of a post a day. While I "caught up," if you followed the blog, you saw this misstep "real-time." 

Overall, I enjoyed re-entering the challenge and sharing my campaign in the "World of Greyhawk" and the adventures of the Red Company. This campaign is entering its fifth year of play. Leveraging the canon of Greyhawk throughout, the campaign shows how D&D, and role-playing games, can create friction in creativity to produce something unique, never beholden to the source material.

As always, it reawakens my love of blogging and my commitment to Open Source software such as blojsom. I've since committed some updates to the base platform as well to fix "annoyances" that arise with every A to Z. I even have work in flight for an Open Graph plugin and RSS changes that aid in podcasting that are LONG overdue.

I'm hoping this year's challenge can get me back to regularly blogging about gaming and development. It's a promise born every year I participate, and often a broken one; the result of life's constants interruptions and demands of family and career.

But certainly until next year... Keep Creating!

Posted by caffeinated at 2:00 PM in d10

Friday, 30 April 2021

Z is for Zuggtmoy, Demoness Lady of Fungi

Few ascendant demons enjoy worship on Oerth more than Zuggtmoy, "dread and fell ruler of the 222nd level of the Abyss. Zuggtmoy, through a perverse relationship with Iuz, established the Temple of Elemental Evil in 567 CY.

The forces of Good soon defeated her in the campaign that accompanied the Battle of Emridy Meadows in 569 CY. Zuggtmoy was bound deep inside the temple with the aid of Lawful gods of Oerth. Iuz lost track of his "paramour" after her binding, but became aware of her bound existence as he attempted to re-establish the Temple in 579 CY.

Zuggtmoy remains bound in the temple after the Red Company defeated the cults of the Temple working with Iuz toward his purpose. Iuz feigned his interest in the release Zuggtmoy, and while his loss at the Temple was a setback, he considers Zuggtmoy a rival and less a "romantic interest." 

Her binding to Oerth has had dire consequences on the 222nd level of the Abyss. Little is known, but those that study and scry on the machinations of the Abyss report her position as "ruler" is tenuous at best. Her steward is firmly in control of the level and less and less likely to relinquish power with each passing year to his "liege" should she be freed from her prison.

Zuggtmoy is portrayed as a dark beauty by her worshipers. It is said Zuggtmoy's true form is a grotesque toadstool with elephantine legs.

Posted by caffeinated at 1:33 PM in d10

Thursday, 29 April 2021

Y is for Y'dey, Canoness of the Cult of St. Cuthbert

Canoness Y'dey, known to many in Nulb as Mother Screng, ran the aptly named Mother Screng's Herb Shop with her "daughter" Hruda. Both Y'day and Hruda, an elven thief named Murfles, operated in Nulb as agents of Law for Furyondy and Veluna, observing the decidedly evil influences in Nulb and the growing influences of the newly ascendent Temple of Elemental Evil.

Theren and Krieg's first encounters with the Temple left them seeking refuge in Nulb and the assistance of Mother Screng and Hruda came at the right time. The two agents provided shelter and healing, revealing to the heroes their mission.

The two agents could only provide shelter and could not abandon their mission without leaving the herb shop open to looting by itinerant population of river pirates in Nulb or risk discovery by those that lived in Nulb. This was especially true of Hruda that should she be discovered would immediately raise suspicion in the town.

With the Red Company's defeat of the Temple's newest elemental cults, Y'day and Murfles returned to Hommlet, but first burned the herb shop to the ground. Two bodies were discovered in the ashes and most in Nulb believe the "mother and daughter" to be dead. Y'day returned to Hommlet's temple of St. Cuthbert and Hruda to a company of adventurers led by Otis, also an agent and knight of Furyondy and Veluna that still runs a smithy in Nulb.

Posted by caffeinated at 1:00 PM in d10

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

X is for Xakihn, Druid

Xakihn (ZAH-kin) was a druid in service of Iuz on Walworth Isle in the Nyr Dyv.

Druids in the service of Iuz might be best thought of as an "anti-druid." The protection of all things natural might be the furtherest aim of many Iuz's druids. Xakihn had made associations with General Azrené through her sisters operating in the island's main port, Admundfort.

Azrené's sisters had long come to the attention of the Red Company and to a sister, had fallen to their swords and hammers, but not without advancing her goals in each sacrifice; sacrifices that weighed heavily with Iuz's perverse sense of loyalty. Xakihn worked on the island to research glyphs of power associated with a powerful celestial magic. Intended for the observation of the objects in the night sky, these glyphs could easily draw the observed objects too close to Oerth, This unintentional result could easily be perverted to evil purpose if it could be controlled.

Xakihn achieved this perverse goal along side Shindara, Amara's sister. The glyphs, accompanied by an artifact in the form of an armillary sphere pulled a celestial object directly to the island. 

Xakihn and Shindara died on the island after the Red Company arrived on the island at the behest of the Lady Katarina of Critwall. The resulting destruction from the "meteorite" caused earthquakes in Admundfort that has loosened Iuz's hold on the island and forces of Law have relaunched efforts to secure the port and the Nyr Dyv from Iuz's pirates.

Posted by caffeinated at 12:36 PM in d10

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

W is for The Welcome Wench

The Inn of the Welcome Wench is recognized by the stout wooden sign bearing a  buxom, smiling girl holding flagons of beer. Always filled with patrons, the Welcome Wench is a stop for traders and a myriad of other traveller and adventurers in the Village of Hommlet.

The Welcome Wench is run by Ostler, a friendly tavern keep of few words and sergeant of the Hommlet militia, and his family. Ostler can be found on the grounds of the Welcome Wench most hours and most days. He is known to use his position to learn about developments in Oerth and a reliable source of information to agents for the Kingdom of Furyondy.

The Red Company's first days in Hommlet were at the Welcome Wench. They secured work with parties interested in exploring ruins that took them to an abandoned moat house that was once an outpost for forces of the Temple of Elemental Evil.

Today, the Welcome Wench remains busy and understaffed. Between the loss of a stable boy that came into unexpected riches and the demand for staff at Kriegmart, a trading post with locations throughout the realms of Law, Ostler hires from skilled travelers looking cheap or free lodging more often than not of late. Ostler does not lament the success of Kriegmart, but has been known to proudly point to a signed image of Krieg himself, a Knight of the Land of the Kingdom of Furyondy and founder of Kriegmart to any customer coming to or from the trading post. The image was a gift from Hugh, Krieg's well known agent in Oerth.

Posted by caffeinated at 9:38 PM in d10

Monday, 26 April 2021

V is for Vog'dramach, Nalfeshnee

The few fiends left on Oerth soon find themselves in the service of Iuz or his Bonehearts. Vog'dramach, Vog for short, is one such fiend, a Nalfeshnee demon. Nalfeshnee demons are well known for their unmistakable hog-like appearance. Corpulent, foul smelling, and capable of flight (from two impossibly small wings on their back) or teleportation.

Vog is well known to the Red Company. Vog is plays two sides in a dangerous game. Allied with Iuz and something of an enforcer for General Azrené. The Red Company first met Vog in the dark tundra near Dorakaa on the "hunt" for escaped conscripts. Vog lost his "recruits," the same conscripts sought by the Red Company. He was later parlaying with the Red Company for replacements that he soon sent against the Red Company in a pitched battle in the Vesve forest. He lost a second time.

Vog is known to be an enforcer in General Azrené's ground forces. He was recently seen with Azrené's warriors beneath the Rift Canyon. He ordered the warriors to do their "duty" for the General and Iuz then quickly teleported away.

The Red Company has set a personal bounty on Vog. His skill at parlay will surely be tested on the day the Red Company comes to collect.

Posted by caffeinated at 8:47 PM in d10

Saturday, 24 April 2021

U is for Ulaa, Goddess of Gemstones, Mountains, and Hills

Known too many dwarves as The Stonewife, Ulaa's priesthood is a formidable force protecting the mountains from those that would seek to exploit the riches found there: gold and silver veins, caves of gemstones, and more.

Her priests are often recognizable by their gem heavy warhammers. Many dwarf priests and priestess are seen wearing gems in their beards. Krieg, a member of the Red Company, has been whispered as a member of a more marital sect of the priesthood, wearing gems in his beard and wielding the warhammers Rocky Hammer and Whelm. Krieg has been known to offer his "beard gems" in service of Law throughout his campaigning lending some credibility to this rumor. Krieg has never denied this association.

Ulaa is the wife of Bleredd, The Iron Mule, god of Metal, Mines and Smiths. She wields Skull Ringer, a warhammer forged on the same anvil of Fury, the warhammer of Bleredd.

Posted by caffeinated at 1:54 PM in d10

Friday, 23 April 2021

T is for Theren, Master Thief

This is last post of three looking at members of the Red Company, a once upstart and uncommonly allied group of adventurers that have become well-known heroes of Oerth. The Red Company is the party of player characters in this D&D campaign taking place in this version of the World of Greyhawk, the original campaign setting of D&D.

Theren is an elven rogue, Elder of the Land of the Kingdom of Furyondy, and an original member of the Red Company. Theren and Krieg met in a small village and seized an opportunity on a posted job for hire. Their teamwork made them inseparable, if unlikely, companions.

Their adventures soon took them to the Village of Hommlet. It was in Hommlet that Theren honed his craft, but never rested on adapting to the dangers he encountered on campaign. He is a skilled arcanist and deadly in a fight. His elven dexterity is renowned, with blade or bow. Theren never misses an opportunity to aid his companions with a well placed arrow from his magical bow, a knife slipped into an enemy's back, or calling fire from his hands; the latter recounted by Krieg to be the source of fire at the Waterside Tavern in Nulb. He possesses a Ring of Invisibility and is known to use it often in scouting on, spying on, and surprising his foes.

Theren is the current owner of the trident Wave, a legendary weapon thought to be forged by Procan's priests. Theren has been known to place a coin or two in a collection box at a Procan temple, in deference to his hasty, if exaggerated, conversion to the faith when wielding Wave in the White Plume Mountain for the first time. 

His assistance in the rescue of Prince Thrommel in the Temple of Elemental Evil has made Theren a rich "rogue" and landed Elder of the kingdom. This position of wealth has made his deadly martial skills standout and he is sometimes whispered about in the halls of the Assassin's Guild (where his status and renown, if he would join their membership, could be a legitimizing balance for the guild).

Posted by caffeinated at 3:21 PM in d10

Thursday, 22 April 2021

S is for Sariel, Warrior and Banshee

Sariel was a legendary elven warrior and leader of an elite guard that patrolled and secured the elven ley line network throughout the forests.

She had become enthralled, and lover, of Narween the succubus in one of her many forms. Narween soon twisted Sariel's devotion to learn, map, and discover the workings and weakness' of the network, reporting much of what she learned to Iuz's network of spies.

Narween betrayed Sariel in dramatic fashion after learning all she could. In a frenzy of murder, Narween dispatched much of Sariel's force in a bloody fight. Sariel died holding her fabled sword with Narween's claws buried in her ribs, Narween whispering her true intentions in Sariel's ear. Sariel's tortured death transformed her into a banshee.

Narween may have achieved her short term goals, but left the ley-line network broken. Sariel guarded her last post on the network with a burning vengeance, watching forever for Narween to reappear in the portal. The portion of the network was abandoned, Sariel would soon find no one using the portion of the network she guarded. Until Narween had need to abandon the lands of Law.

Narween enlisted the Red Company from her prison in Flameflower to use the ley line network. One stop on the trip was Sariel's eternal post. Narween watched the Red Company fight Sariel and release her from her tortured existence. The Red Company claimed Sariel's sword. 

The actions of the Red Company would open the ley line network again. For Narween it would allow Iuz to leverage the network to move Iuz's forces deep into the lands of Law. For the Red Company, it would be the easiest part of their travels with Narween.

Posted by caffeinated at 3:14 PM in d10

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

R is for Rezca, Staff Head Mistress

Rezca is the head mistress of the Azrené house in Dorakaa. A role made for Rezca, as unforgiving in the house as the city around her as those she serves.

She was first encountered by the Red Company when they arrived in Dorakaa, in secret, but befriended by an enterprising, and part-time rogue, member of the house, Baggi. Needing help in the kitchens, stables, and in the house guard, Rezca reluctantly took the Red Company into the staff.

She came to look askance at the new members of house when Baggi disappeared. Whispers that he crossed his new "friends" where only rumor—a number of those seeding the gossip were tortured and Rezca dismissed the rumor, but did not stop thinking about Baggi's abandonment of the house.

Rezca recognized talent though. Lumox quietly worked his magic in the kitchens, while Theren and Krieg would take on various roles in the guard or as escorts to the lesser nobles of the house. When Rezca became aware that the Red Company's work was becoming recognized by the house, her own ambitions were being threatened. Rezca assigned "Baggi's Friends" to increasingly dangerous tasks. She had them "hand-picked" to join a hunting party. Only the hunting party bosses return. It was a legitimate way to rid the house of these upstarts. The returned and their status was raised again.

She saw another opportunity when the sicon of Azrené hosted his paramour, Saffron, for an intimate, if barbarous, evening. The evening turned deadly when the scion killed a "gift," a high-priced sex thrall, to his love. Rezca assigned the Red Company to the disposal of the body, but they soon found themselves being chased through the streets of Dorakaa by House Azrené's elite guard. The Red Company survived this running fight. Krieg's own fight won the favor of Saffron, who saw that her lover wished her killed as well.

Rezca was finally rid the Red Company when they were seen for what they truly were when General Amara saw through the Red Company's magics that allowed them to live in the house. She was happy to be rid of them, but her favor in the house dropped considerably. Rezca allowed the Red Company to live among the house for weeks. 

Her health is unknown.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:28 PM in d10

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Q is for Quasit

After the Flight of Fiends, few remain on Oerth and in Greyhawk. Of those that do remain, they hide. Through their shapeshifting or finding places well out of sight of Lawfully aligned creatures.

One such Quasit is Kriitch, as he is known to his closest ally Falrinth, a wizard aligned with the Temple of Elemental Evil. Both met their demise in an encounter with the Red Company.

The Red Company encountered Falrinth and Krittch in their private rooms near a secret passage that led to the surface ruins of the Temple itself. The encounter was a pitched one with Kriitch aiding Falrinth in the form of a bloated centipede. The fight ended with both heavily burned from flaming oil spilled from a brazier. 

Kriitch had led Falrinth astray from the true temple following, convincing Falrinth to secure and hide the powerful artifact known as the Orb of Golden Death. Skull shaped more than a perfect orb, the artifact is now in the Red Company's possession. Krieg held the skull for sometime and is aware of the evil nature of the orb. He hides the orb in plan sight: on the back of a high shelf in the first Kriegmart in Hommelt. It is set among some other skulls, including one of a Quasit. It is unknown if this skull is Kriitch's.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:36 PM in d10

Monday, 19 April 2021

P is for Procan, god of Seas, Sea Life, Salt, Sea Weather, and Navigation

Procan is a fickle god enjoying worship from sea-faring people and the occasional inland congregations in his aspect as a god of weather. He currently enjoys the reluctant recognition of Theren, a member of the Red Company, and wielder of Whelm. a legendary, powerful, and intelligent trident. This "worship" by Theren, a high elf Master Thief1 is expedient more than devout.

Like the shifting weather on the open sea so can Procan's mood. The feeling that "if you don't like the weather, wait an hour, it will be different" reflects this aspect of Procan. 

Procan wields a trident known as Undertow and this trident over a cresting wave is his priest's holy symbol. His church has few rituals and many priests enjoy comfortable lives tending to sea-faring traders, and many captains will happily berth a priest of Procan as "good luck" on long voyages.

  1. [1] Theren will be the subject of "T is for Theren"

Posted by caffeinated at 1:29 PM in d10

Saturday, 17 April 2021

O is for Oerth

In the fiction of early D&D and Greyhawk, Oerth is described as such:

The world of Greyhawk encompasses the Flanaess, the easternmost portion of the vast continent of Oerik, on the sphere of Oerth.


Oerth is but one world among many, separated either by the gulfs of space, the invisible ether, or the fragile veils of reality.1
Much of the known world takes place on the vast continent of Oerik. Gods and Devils are real on Oerth and are beings of unfathomable power and visit the mortals, if in disguise or not, through avatars or not, thus making the worship of these beings have real and material consequence.

The divine or arcane magics that are wielded by priests or scholars are often helpful or as deadly as the mortals tools or swords.

Great armies march for Law and Chaos across the land, armored footmen, knights, and mounted calvary. The wars are deadly and bloody. Kings and Queens hold court with Lords, Barons, and Landed Knights, all rule over landless peasants; some benevolently, but a few cruelly. 

Civilization is what is made by the culture of kingdoms and races of men, elves, dwarves, and more; even beasts, devils, demons, and fiends create cruel and twisted mirrors of Law's works.

On this world rise a breed of adventurers that may first seek riches, but through sheer will and often luck, rise to good and are sometimes tempted by evil. The Red Company is one such group of mortal adventurers. Whether knighted, ennobled, or blessed by divinity, each member of the Red Company has achieved more than they possibly could have imagined in the years campaigning together in the beginning.

The stories and legends of Greyhawk and Oerth are forever changed by these heroes.

  1. [1] Living Greyhawk Gazetter, Eric Mona, et al., Wizards of the Coast

Posted by caffeinated at 4:52 PM in d10

Friday, 16 April 2021

N is for Narween, Succubus

Narween was a succubus agent of General Amara Azené operating in Furyondy and the Shield Lands. Narween is one of very few Fiends that survived the Flight of Fiends in 586 CY. Since before the Flight of Fiends, Narween operated throughout Oerth as a spy of the highest caliber. Aided by her shapeshifting ability and her innate skills of seduction, Naween's activities could be too numerous to even fathom.

In recent years Narween began operating within Elven lands and became aware of the open secret of the ley line network. She began feeding this information to contacts within the Empire of Iuz and led them directly to the ruins in the lands of the Horned Society. It is unknown if this is where she became aware of the Red Company—as Narween or in another form—however she was certainly, by this time, aware of General Amara and her "Lawful" origins. It is whispered in some circles that she was the impetus that led Amara to Chaos.

Narween was captured by elven forces and placed in the prison at Flameflower and spied on by Lord of the High Elves of the Vesve, Kashafen Tamarel. It was in this prison that Narween had her first recorded interaction with The Red Company. Narween used The Red Company to get released from the prison, and through a murderous agreement of tit-for-tat, dispatch an elven banshee, of Narween's own "creation," that possessed and guarded a menhir on the ley line network.

The Red Company became further aware of how devious Narween could be just before  before her death. Arriving on the frontier at an almost forgotten and embattled outpost, Narween thanked the Red Company for dispatching the banshee and for preparing the ley lines for use by Iuz's forces of evil as she was cheered by a host of fiends. Narween died, rather unceremoniously, at the end of an elven sword wielded by an anonymous soldier. It is not known if she knew that the Red Company had thwarted her best laid plans and now possessed a cache of information on Amara's personal goals of revenge on the forces of Law on the whole of Oerth, held in the libraries of the outpost's most powerful magic users, of which Amara had once claimed membership.

Posted by caffeinated at 11:05 AM in d10

Thursday, 15 April 2021

M is for General Mya, Elf Commander

General Mya cuts an imposing figure. She exercises both military professionalism and a political acumen between Elven and Human interests on the east and west sides of the Horned Lands, formerly the lands ruled by the Horned Society, now part of the Empire of Iuz.

Her current attentions have been leading an elite force of Elven soldiers deep into southern most regions of Iuz's territory between the Veng and Ritensa rivers across from Barduk in the County of Crystalreach. She has been charged with securing the ruins of an elven city deep in corrupted forests of this region. Her mission is to push Iuz's forces across the Southern Skull Trail while secretly securing the ruins. The ruins  hold secrets of a lost elven celestial tool, known as the Armillary Sphere, that could be easily twisted into a weapon.

With the help of the Red Company, she succeeded in the first mission. Iuz lost territory along the whole of the eastern shore of the Veng River and was pressed east of Skull Trail. This has pushed Iuz's retreating forces into elven forces in the southern most edges of Fellreev, an elven forest bordering the eastern frontiers of the Empire of Iuz.

Mya's secondary mission was less of a success. The, then aspiring, Greater Boneheart General Amara Azrené had agents in Iuz's forest garrisoning the elven ruins. Azrené's forces were supported by an aboleth that aided in securing the information of the Armillary Sphere in the ruins, despite the direct intervention of the Red Company. 

In all, the public success of the fight has given Mya some political breathing room and has allowed her to secure the gains of the fight in the interests of Law and Good, including shutting down a corrupted elven menhir on the ley line network that Iuz was using to move forces deep into the Shield Lands. She aided the Red Company in infiltrating Dorakaa through access to her greatest magic users. Mya has not seen the Red Company since their departure using the corrupted menhir.

Posted by caffeinated at 2:25 PM in d10