Friday, December 28, 2012

Stan Lee Birthday: The Comic Genius Turns 90

Check the full article here

Posted:   |  Updated: 12/28/2012 12:39 pm EST
Today is the birthday of comic genius and wily television personality, Stanley Lieber, better known as Stan Lee. The Marvel writer and editor behind works such as "The Amazing Spiderman" and "The Incredible Hulk" is turning 90 years old this Friday, December 28.
stan lee birthday
A young Stanley Lieber began his comic career at Timely Comics in 1939 in New York. His initial duties included proofreading, erasing pencil marks and filling inkwells, but two years after this drudgery he enjoyed his first text-filler job in a 1941 issue of "Captain American Comics," writing under the pseudonym Stan Lee.
His first real career break arrived at 19 years old, when Timely editor Joe Simon and his creative partner Jack Kirby left the company. Lee was subsequently given the post of interim editor, but it was his talent for writing and imagining epic heroes that earned him the permanent position of editor-in-chief, a seat he would occupy until 1972 when he was made publisher of Timely's later evolution, Marvel Comics.
Lee's truly creative era began in the late 1950s, however, when DC Comics spurred a trend in superhero stories, courtesy of characters like the Flash and the Justice League of America. Lee was given the task of creating a team of heroes similar to JLA for Marvel, the result of which was the Fantastic Four. Working mostly with Kirby as well as with Bill Everett and Steve Ditko, Lee went on to devise personalities like the Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, the X-Men, Daredevil, Doctor Strange and, of course, the Amazing Spider-Man.
stan lee

In his later career, Lee dabbled in work for DC Comics, refashioning heroes like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and Flash for a series called, "Just Imagine..." His most recent endeavor is a new YouTube channel, aptly named "Stan Lee's World of Heroes."
I'd like to wish Mr. Lee a very happy 90th birthday.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Star Trek Infographic

Now I know this is supposed to be mostly AD&D but I just couldn't help but share this since I am a Star Trek fan and I just love the visual way this is conveyed.

Brush up on a whole slew of facts and figures about Star Trek: The Original Series, which you didn't actually need to know.

The full size original is here:

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Inn generator

While I have given up on WoTC for a couple of years now, surprisingly enough, their new online Inn Generator  works for any edition your playing.

Here is The Shifty Greaves Tavern generated from there. The only thing you have to watch out for is some of the 4ed races don't jibe with 1ed.

Rooms Available (9/10)
7 servers and 2 bouncers

Zoa Tethenbri (F, Halfling, 45)

Class (Fine)
Room: 2gp/day, Noble's Quarters: 10gp/day

NPCs Present (210)
10 Bards, 55 Merchants, 13 Military Elite, 88 Nobles, 20 NPC Adventurers, 10 Priests, 5 Shady Characters, 9 Other

Today's Special
Locale (Truly Nasties)
Baked pheasant with leeks, Silvermoon mead
Atmosphere (Sad)
The passing of a local priest hit the community hard, and today is the anniversary of her death.
Topics of Conversation (4)
• A server chuckles as a customer whispers into her ear—something about a "moonlight stroll."
• Parents speak of their ire at their childrens’ dreams of someday becoming adventurers.
• A customer laments his upcoming chores. He despairs of a full two weeks of hard work attending to his master’s errands.
• Two patrons quietly negotiate a small business deal involving the sale of various local commodities.
Random Events (1)
• Outside, a man appears to be waiting for someone to leave (or enter) the inn. He seems nervous.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

7 RPGs

Over at Google+ #7RPGs  there is new meme making the rounds and Gnome Stew has picked up.
The idea is to post your 7 RPGs you have most played or GMed.

So here goes -
In order:
  1. Advanced D&D 1ed.
  2. D&D Basic/Expert
  3. Rolemaster 
  4. Runequest
  5. DragonQuest
  6. Traveller
  7. Call of Cthulhu
This list covers both played and GMed categories. In the beginning I only played and now it seems I only GM.

I just noticed the picture is in chronological order, while the list is in order of most played. I'm assuming this won't mess folks up.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Gary's 74th Birthday

On the 74th anniversary of Gary Gygax' birthday I thought it fitting to post something about this. Wouldn't you know this was already done (probably better) over at Tomas Rawlings looks at the legacy left by the designer of Dungeons and Dragons. Below is the article.

"So how do I become a games designer?" is a question I often get asked as I engage with students and gamers in my work. The reply I often give is simple, "Shutdown your PC, switch off your tablet, turn your phone to silent then get hold of a copy of Dungeons & Dragons". Of course I don't mean the various video game versions (great as many of them are) and I don't mean the recent Facebook game (which is also fun). I mean the original rule book plus some pens, paper and loads of dice (don't forget those d20s!). Then, Level 1 Magic User, you will be ready to begin your journey...
Playing Dungeons & Dragons is one of the best ways to learn the foundations of game design. It is how I (and lots of others in the industry) learned about making games. By running Dungeons & Dragons games we had to master a number of key skills including narrative, drama, gameplay balancing and crucially, the all important stats systems. These diverse areas make Dungeons & Dragons a bit of a paradox; at once a geeky stats-fest and yet also the ultimate social game that only works with a group of friends. What makes it a great way to learn about game design also points to why all games developers owe its co-creator and gaming legend, Gary Gygax, a full horn of ale and a lot of thanks.
"I often feel that all we are doing with digital technology is trying to emulate the purity of gameplay that D&D achieved"
Sadly Gary is not with us today. He died back in 2008, aged 69. Gary was a gaming legend. As well as creating Dungeons & Dragons (along with Dave Arneson) then developing the concept into Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, he also founded the company TSR (now owned by Wizard of the Coast) and the Gen Con gaming convention as well as creating/assisting in a number of other game systems such as Chainmail (the forerunner of Dungeons & Dragons) and Lejendary Adventure.
But for me, his most important legacy is Dungeons & Dragons (aka D&D). If you've not played it, its a Role Playing Game (RPG), played by a bunch of friends sat around a table. One person runs the game (the Dungeon Master or DM for short) while the rest take the role of players within the DM's world. The game is moderated by the DM to a framework set by the D&D rule books and rendered in the player's imaginations. D&D is pure social gaming - it is all about the people playing. And D&D is pure multiplayer gaming - it is all about the player's joint interactions. I often feel that all we are doing with digital technology is trying to emulate the purity of gameplay that D&D achieved.
It is also the great-grandfather of much of video gaming. Why? D&D, the product of Gary's rich imagination was based on a key insight to merge character, narrative and stats into a 'game engine'. D&D envisioned a fictional world simulator designed to be played within (and with). This core idea is still the basic framework for so much of today's video games industry. For example D&D has Hit Points and Damage Modifiers, Hit Rolls and Armour Classes - how many other video games, even non-RPGs, have borrowed this combat framework? D&D has progression with character levels, equipment, skills, spells and more. How many games use the various incarnations of levelling up to keep players interested? Tens of thousands. D&D gave roles to the participants via character classes such as Fighter, Magic User, Cleric, Thief and more. How many games use this approach of allowing the player to map their identity into the game? The answer is legion.
When I first learned to code about aged 12 (BASIC on the BBC), the first program I wrote was a character generator for D&D that rolled up the basic stats for a new character; the two were a natural fit. The first collaborative game I worked on (aged around 13) was an attempt at a D&D type RPG with a fellow pupil who could code much better than me. D&D worked as a video game like dwarves work with beards and gold.
AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide, revised edition, 1979.

D&D was also the seed for much more. The basic world-building structure of D&D was a rich source of inspiration for other games and many other games followed from Gary's template; RuneQuest, Boot Hill, Stormbringer and Call of Cthulhu to name a few. They were always defined in relation to D&D; Call of Cthulhu was like D&D but with less emphasis on the combat and no levelling up. RuneQuest was like it but had a more expansive combat system, and so on.
I have a fairly sizeable collection of RPG games (I know, I know, it's a wonder that I'm not single, much less married. The secret is a Level 3 Charm Spell.) At home, on my book shelf with pride of place is the TSR 2nd edition of Dungeons & Dragons. For all the reasons I've outlined and the hundreds of hours I spent playing the game, I'd like to raise a mug of mead to Gary Gygax; innovator, game designer, geek, star of Futurama and somebody who brought gaming to the millions. Short of eradicating malaria or something like that, it is hard to imagine a better legacy to leave to the world; that being the bringer of such a volume of fun.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

City of Greyhawk Map - Undercity

While the current Greyhawk campaign is on hiatus I still am working on certain aspects of that campaign. Since I have always loved maps of all sorts and in all forms I have been continuing my City of Greyhawk maps. While there are still many improvements to be made here is a work in progress on my current undercity map of Greyhawk.

City of Greyhawk - undercity
The above ground City of Greyhawk article  that I posted previously.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

July 4th

Some inspiring words to remember on this day.

Declaration of the thirteen United States of America 

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security...

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

1st Edition AD&D Reprints to be available outside North America

Good news for those outside North America who were hoping to get their hands on one of the upcoming 1st Edition AD&D deluxe reprints.

The product description on WotC's site has been changed - it no longer says North American hobby retail channels only.

In addition, the books have popped up on both

You can read about the reprints here, and see the new book covers here. Some of the profit from these books goes to the Gygax Memorial Fund.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

WotC play April Fools

Wizards April Fool's article for Dungeon magazine. I really didn't find much of it funny.

Greyhawk 2023 Mini-Campaign
By John Rossomangno
Imagine the world of Greyhawk in the distant future, where the clones of Bigby, Melf, and other legendary heroes wage war against tyrannical dragon-cyborgs, Far Realm invaders, and other threats. This mini-campaign gives you everything you need to get your new campaign started!

Mordenkainen’s Futuristic Adventure
By Bruce R. Cordell
The city of Greyhawk is a smoldering crater, but all is not lost! In the dungeons below the ruins of Castle Greyhawk, Mordenkainen’s clone has discovered a portal to a “lost level” and clues to a time-travel machine built by the archmage Zagyg. A D&D adventure for characters of levels 10–14.

Module V1
By Tracy Hickman
A year ago, a small group of Wizards employees visited the old TSR warehouse in Lake Geneva. Amid the boxes of old files and contracts, they found an unpublished adventure manuscript by Tracy Hickman combining the tropes of Vikings and Norse mythology with old-school tomb exploration. An AD&D 2nd Edition adventure for characters of levels 8–10.

Last Voyage of the Princess Ark
By Robert J. Schwalb
The Princess Ark, a legendary flying ship, has crashed! Explore the wreckage to find out what happened, and loot the bodies of the dead. A D&D adventure set in the world of Mystara for characters of levels 1–3.

Unearthed Arcana: The Truth Is Out There
By Randall Walker
Aliens abducted your star-pact warlock, which explains the alien probe he wields as a rod. You thought the Far Realm was scary before? Here’s a version inspired by The X-Files.

The Ecology of the Vegepygmy
By Téos Abadia
What’s short, mean, and tastes like the lettuce-wrapped meat at P.F. Chang’s?

D&D Alumni: Owlbears are Dumb, Or Are They?
By Chris Youngs & Bart Carroll
Chris Youngs explains why owlbears are dumb and why they shouldn’t be allowed in the next iteration of the D&D game. Bart tells Chris he’s a boob. Decide the owlbear’s ultimate fate in a special D&D poll.

 Maybe I'm just taking it the wrong way, but if they're trying to win any points with the old schoolers this ain't it. Its seems to be trying to be self deprecating but it just comes across as mocking TSR and earlier versions of D&D, in my opinion.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

What Kind of D&D Character Would You Be?

While not strictly AD&D 1ed this test (while long) came up with rather amusing  results. I must admit I usually do play Fighters or Magic Users but tend to stray more towards the choatic end of the spectrum in game, mostly because of the group dynamic and the way we interact during game play. While I tried not to fudge on my answers, it's much easier to give the "right" answer on a quiz than during real life interactions. So, as with anything on the net "take with a grain of salt."

-------------------------verbatim results-----------------------------
(Take the quiz here.)

This is what it came up with for me:

I Am A: Lawful Good Human Paladin/Sorcerer (4th/3rd Level)
Ability Scores:

Lawful Good A lawful good character acts as a good person is expected or required to act. He combines a commitment to oppose evil with the discipline to fight relentlessly. He tells the truth, keeps his word, helps those in need, and speaks out against injustice. A lawful good character hates to see the guilty go unpunished. Lawful good is the best alignment you can be because it combines honor and compassion. However, lawful good can be a dangerous alignment when it restricts freedom and criminalizes self-interest.

Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Primary Class:
Paladins take their adventures seriously, and even a mundane mission is, in the heart of the paladin, a personal test an opportunity to demonstrate bravery, to learn tactics, and to find ways to do good. Divine power protects these warriors of virtue, warding off harm, protecting from disease, healing, and guarding against fear. The paladin can also direct this power to help others, healing wounds or curing diseases, and also use it to destroy evil. Experienced paladins can smite evil foes and turn away undead. A paladin's Wisdom score should be high, as this determines the maximum spell level that they can cast. Many of the paladin's special abilities also benefit from a high Charisma score.

Secondary Class:
Sorcerers are arcane spellcasters who manipulate magic energy with imagination and talent rather than studious discipline. They have no books, no mentors, no theories just raw power that they direct at will. Sorcerers know fewer spells than wizards do and acquire them more slowly, but they can cast individual spells more often and have no need to prepare their incantations ahead of time. Also unlike wizards, sorcerers cannot specialize in a school of magic. Since sorcerers gain their powers without undergoing the years of rigorous study that wizards go through, they have more time to learn fighting skills and are proficient with simple weapons. Charisma is very important for sorcerers; the higher their value in this ability, the higher the spell level they can cast.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Friday, March 16, 2012

M.A.R. Barker 1929-2012 (RIP)

M.A.R. Barker, author of the the Empire of the Petal Throne novels and games set in Tekumel passed away this morning in his home.

Minneapolis, Minnesota, March 16, 2012: Professor Muhammad Abd-al-Rahman (MAR) Barker, known to his friends as “Phil,” died peacefully in home hospice on March 16, 2012 with his wife Ambereen Barker at his side.

A Fulbright Scholar (1951) of vast accomplishment, Professor Barker is probably best known for his creation of the world of Tékumel which he developed for over 70 years and which has been compared to Tolkein’s ‘Middle Earth’ in its scope, sophistication, and complexity. Barker was a Professor of Urdu and South Asian Studies at the University of Minnesota during the period when Dave Arneson and Gary Gygax were developing Tactical Studies Rules’ (TSR) first role-playing games in the Twin Cities and Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. In 1975 Barker’s game “Empire of the Petal Throne” was the first role playing game published by TSR, Inc following the release of “Dungeons and Dragons.”

Role playing games set in Tékumel, have been published every decade since the 1970’s, including the 1983 ‘Swords and Glory,’ 1994’s ‘Gardásiyal,’ and 2005’s ‘Tékumel: Empire of the Petal Throne.’ Beginning with “Man of Gold” in 1985 Barker published five novels, several game supplements, and a number of short stories set in Tékumel. In 2008 Barker established the Tékumel Foundation as his literary executor to protect and promote his intellectual property.

Born in 1929, Barker graduated Magna cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Washington with a BA in Linguistics in 1951. He traveled on Fulbright Scholarship to India where he studied the Koraku, Korwa, Uraon and Jaunsauri languages of rural India and the Himalayas, and while on this trip converted to Islam. Upon his return to the United States, Barker was elected to the California chapter of the Sigma Xi Society for the promotion of research in science.

In 1959 he completed his Ph.D. by publishing the grammar and dictionary of the Klamath Indians of southwestern Oregon, which was used as reference material for Native American languages by the producers of the ‘Northern Exposure’ TV series during the 1990’s.

He traveled again to Pakistan in 1959 on a Ford Foundation grant where he studied the Urdu, Punjabi, Pashto, Baluchi, and Brahui languages. In 1961 he published an anthology of Urdu poetry. From 1961 until 1969 Professor Barker taught Arabic, Urdu-Hindi and linguistics at McGill University in Canada, and in 1970 spent a year sabbatical in Lucknow and Hyderabad where he worked on an advanced reader of classical Urdu poetry.

In 1972 the Barkers moved to Minneapolis, where Professor Barker chaired the Department of South and Southeast Asian Studies. He continued to teach at the University of Minnesota until his retirement in 1992.

In addition to Tékumel, Professor Barker was an avid student of Meso-American cultures including the Inca, Maya, and Aztec peoples. His creation of Tékumel includes elements of Central American and southeast Asian cultures, including religious pantheons, ornate pyramidal temples, and elaborate costuming.

Professor Barker is survived by his wife of 53 years, Ambereen. Details on memorial services will follow. In lieu of flowers, memorials to the Tékumel Foundation are preferred, visit

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Greyhawk City 3D

I ran across these over on cghub. They were having a design contest, and I just felt I had to share these images by AaronRogers



Sunday, March 11, 2012

Prominent Geographical Features of Greyhawk - Rivers

Artonsamay River: This is one of the longest rivers on the continent. It is navigable from Redspan Town in Tenh all the way to Nyr Dyv.

Att River: A tributary of the Velverdyva, which is navigable to small craft well beyond Littleberg.

Blackwater: A tributary of the Dulsi.

Blashikmund River: A tributary of the Tuflik, which forms the current border between Ekbir and Tusmit.

Cold Run: A tributary of the Artonsamay, which flows south to join that river west of the town of Rookroost.

Crystal River: A tributary of the Veng.

Davish River: A very cold and rapidly running tributary of the Javan.

Deepstil River: A tributary of the Dulsi, which flows eastward through the Vesve Forest.

Dulsi River: A broad and deep inlet of Whyestil Lake, navigable to the fork of the Blackwater.

Duntide: A river rising in the Flinty Hills, which flows southward into the Gnatmarsh where it joins the Nesser.

Ery River: A tributary of the Selintan, which flows south of Greyhawk City.

Fals River: A tributary of the Velverdyva, which marks the northern boundary of Veluna.

Flanmi River: The greatest water in eastern Flanaess, its basin drains nearly all of the Great Kingdom, and most of the river and its tributaries are navigable by ship all the way to Rauxes, and by barge beyond.

Fler River: The principal inlet to Lake Quag, flowing from the Burneal Forest and the Land of Black Ice beyond. It is supposed that much of this river is passable to large craft.

Franz River: A tributary of the Nesser, which is navigable to Trigol. It forms the boundary between Nyrond and the County of Urnst.

Frozen River: A swift flow running mainly north from the Griff Mountains through the lands of Stonefist to empty into White Fanged Bay.

Grayflood: A tributary of the Thelly, which now marks the extent of land, claimed by the Iron League (Sunndi).

Harp River: One of the longest rivers of the continent, the Harp’s headwaters are in the Rakers, and its mouth is near Chathold in Almor where it empties into Relmor hay. It is navigable for about half its length.

Hool River: A tributary of the Javan, broad and with swampy banks.

Imeda River: A tributary of the Flanmi, which joins the latter at Rauxes.

Javan River: This river is the longest on the continent, beginning high in the Barriers and coursing southward for hundreds of miles before turning east and emptying into the Azure Sea above Monmurg in the Hold of the Sea Princes. It is usable by large vessels only to the town of Cryllor in the Good Hills of Keoland.

Jewel River: A river which rises just south of the Kron Hills and flows south through the Gnarley Forest, Welkwood, and Suss Forest to empty into the Azure Sea. It divides the Principality of Ulek from the Pomarj. About 150 miles of the waterway are navigable by large craft.

Kewl River: A tributary of the Sheldomar, which divides the Duchy from the County of Ulek.

Lort River: A tributary of the Sheldomar, which divides Gran March from Ulek Duchy.

Mikar River: A tributary of the Flanmi, which rises in the Lone Heath and flows through Grandwood Forest.

Nesser River: A long and exceptionally broad and deep artery, which drains Nyr Dyv. Despite many islands and numerous channels, the Nesser is so wide (over three miles on the average) that seagoing vessels can sail up or down its entire length if properly piloted. It forms the boundary between Nyrond and the Duchy of Urnst.

Neen River: A tributary of the Selintan River, which is broad but shallow.

Old River: A tributary of the Sheldomar, which bounds County Ulek from the Principality.

Opicm River:
The eastern inlet of Whyestil Lake, which also rises in the Cold Marshes. It forms the boundary of the lands of Iuz.

Realstream River: A tributary of the Javan, which flows through the Dim Forest to join the latter waterway just below the town of Hochoch.

Ritensa River: A tributary of the Veng, which divides the Shield Lands and the Bandit Kingdoms from the territory of the Horned Society.

Selintan River: A relatively broad and deep channeled outlet of the western Nyr Dyv, it flows past Free City of Greyhawk into Woolly Bay, and is plied by considerable traffic.

Sheldomar River:
A river, which divides Keoland from the Ulek States and is navigable from its mouth to the city of Niole Dra.

Teesar Torrent: An exceedingly swift river which rises in the North Province of the Great Kingdom and feeds the Harp below the Blemu Hills.

Thelly River: A tributary of the Flanmi navigable to the town of Nulbish.

Trask River: The Trask flows eastward through the North Province of the Great Kingdom to empty into the Solnor Ocean. The Town of Atirr at its mouth is a busy seaport.

Tuflik River: This is a long, westward-flowing river which has its headwaters in the northern end of the Barrier Peaks and divides Ket and Tusmit from the Plains of the Paynims. It is also the boundary between Ekbir and Zeif. The Tuflik empties into the Dramidj Ocean.

Velverdyva River: This river might be the second longest on the continent. There is debate whether the lower Fler should be called the Velverdyva. The river is the boundary between Veluna and Furyondy. It is open to large vessels to a point north of the Veluna City area, while barges can travel all the waters Thornward in Bissel (Fals River) or to Lake Quag (with some difficulty).

Veng River: This waterway is the outlet of Whyestil Lake and an inlet of Nyr Dyv. It is navigable along its entire length, being both deep and broad. The river forms the boundary between the Horned Society and the lands of Furyondy and is strongly patrolled by river craft, cavalry, and infantry.

Yol River:
The Yol is a tributary of the Artonsamay, which rises in the Troll Fens and divides the Phostwood from the Nutherwood, forming the border between Tenh and the Pale. It is plied by barges from Wintershiven and those journeying to that city.

Zumker River:
The Zumker is a tributary of the Artonsamay whose headwaters are reputed to be a large mountain lake in the Griffs. It forms a border between Tenh and the lands of the Bandit Kingdoms.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Prominent Geographical Features of Greyhawk - Mountain Ranges



The Corusks form a bow, the backbone of the Thillonrian Peninsula, which runs from the Solnor Ocean in the east, north and west and then southwest where the range terminates (Hraak Pass). While the lower parts of the mountains are inhabited by humans, various bands of evil humanoids and monsters of all sorts dwell in the central fastness. It is thought that this range possesses little in the way of valuable ores or gems.



The Crystalmist range is the highest on the Flanaess. It begins where the Ulsprue and the Barrier Peaks join and runs southeast to the Hellfurnaces. Beyond these mountains to the west is the Dry Steppes area, while several small states nestle against its eastern slopes where arms are thrust northward and eastward. Amidst the high peaks and weird valleys of the Crystalmists dwell many and varied monsters, tribes of humanoids, and many giants, ogres, and the like. Despite this fact, men often enter the range in search of precious metals and gems, for exceptionally bold and sturdy mountain dwarves also reside amidst these mountains. A great glacier in the middle of the range gives rise to the Davish River (which flows through Stench to join the Javan).



As the name implies, the peaks of these mountains are the habitat of many monstrous creatures. The Griff range extends from the western terminus of the Corusks at Hraak Pass, southwest and west for over 100 leagues. These mountains divide the Hold of Stonefist from the Duchy of Tenh and the Theocracy of the Pale below. Being only a trifle lower than the Corusks, the Griff Mountains are similarly uninviting to human settlement, although there are some sprinkled here and there, for these mountains do contain valuable mineral deposits. There is supposedly a small and beautiful land in the heart of this range. Ruled by a powerful prince, and protected from all invasions by magic and might, this tiny realm is said to have buildings roofed in copper and silver, gold used as lead is elsewhere, and jewels lying about on the ground.



The Hellfurnaces range is part of the Crystalmist Mountain range, but it is active volcanically in many places, and thus its different name. As with the northern part of the chain, the Hellfurnaces are a hive of evil, being populated with all sorts of monsters, particularly those, which enjoy warmer temperatures, such as Fire Giants. There are reported to be whole labyrinths of passages under this range of mountains, these underworld highways actually going for scores, possibly hundreds, of miles in all directions.



These mountains are clustered thickly for many leagues west and south of Lake Quag. They, along with the Barrier Peaks, divide the Baklunish portion of the continent from the rest – save in the north where western nomads have pushed across the top and beyond. These mountains form the boundaries of Ekbir, Tusmit, and Ket to the west. In and along their eastern slopes are found the Concatenated Cantons of Perrenland and the territory of the Olvenfolk (Highfolk). There are numerous humanoids and monsters dwelling within this range of mountains, but there also are some hardy demi-humans and mountaineers. The Yatils are quite rich in ore deposits and gems, although it is difficult to locate and mine such deposits.



Barrier Peaks: This range stretches from the southwestern edge of Bramblewood Forest to the Crystal-mists. Its terminus of northern hills is so rugged and steep as to be regarded as basically part of the mountain chain. The Valley of the Mage is hidden within the central Barriers, and their southwestern end forms the western boundary of the Grand Duchy of Geoff. These mountains are infamous for their strange inhabitants. Of course, there are some dwarves dwelling in hidden places within the Barrier range, for they have many precious minerals and gems.

Clatspur Range: This small group of mountains below the Sepia Highlands borders the Vesve Forest on the west and funnels the southern portion of Lake Quag. These peaks have some valuable minerals, and Perrenlanders dwell in small villages in the lower ranges and valleys. There are few demi-humans found in the Clatspurs proper.

Drachensgrab (Mountains): The small Drachensgrab mounts are highlighted by several towering peaks, which thrust up from their center. The whole area is known to be filled with prized metals and fine quality gemstones, but many strange creatures of hostile nature live amidst the hills and mountains of the Drachensgrab. Additionally, it is speculated that some terrible curse is upon the area, and legends relate that some powerful being or beings will arise in anger if their resting-place is ever disturbed. The mountains are now the major stronghold of humanoid invaders holding the whole Pomarj area. These include ores, hobgoblins, bugbears, and numbers of ogres and ogre magi.
Glorioles: This is another lesser mountain range, which is found at the northwestern end of the Hestmark Highlands. The Rieuwood lies to the west of the Glorioles, and the Grayflood and Thelly Rivers above. The peaks and valleys of this range are the homeland of perhaps 10,000 or more mountain dwarves. These dwarves, despite an antipathy for elvenkind, have of late aided in the warfare being conducted by the Iron League against the invading forces of the Great Kingdom.

Jotens: The largest arm, or spur, of the Crystalmists is known as the Jotens, both because these mountains are very high and imposing, and also because they are the dwelling place of numerous hill giants and not a few stone and cloud giants as well. In all other respects this range is similar to the Crystalmists (q.v.).

Lortmil Mountains: This low chain of mountains, often fading into hills with age, contains several very imposing mounts nonetheless. It is the homeland of many sorts of demi-humans – dwarves, gnomes, mountain dwarves, and a few venturesome halflings, as well as scattered aarokocra tribes. These folk have acted in concert in the past to expel most of the humanoids and many of the vicious monsters from the Lortmils, and they are subjects of the small states, which have formed in the shelter of the range such as the Ulek realms and Celene (qq.v.). The Lortmil Mountain range contains some of the richest gem and precious metal deposits known, and the dwarves, gnomes, and halflings living in the region are reputedly as wealthy as princes.

Rakers, the: A southern arm of the Griff Mountains which runs downward into the central part of eastern Flanaess is known as the Rakers, as the tall, sharp peaks seemingly rake the skies. Their terminus, the Flinty Hills, is discussed elsewhere (see Hills and Highlands). Although infested with humanoids and fearsome creatures, these mountains also provide a home for a number of groups of dwarves and mountain dwarves. It is not known how much valuable ore is contained within these peaks.

Sulhaut Mountains: This range runs westward the place where the Crystalmists and Hellfurnaces meet. It separates the Dry Steppes from the ghastly Sea of Dust (q.v.). It can only be supposed what can be found in these mountains, for no certain information is available to us. Reports of Drow are not uncommon. A tortuous pass supposedly exists, enabling passage from the Dry Steppes into the Sea of Dust or eastward into the kindlier lands of the Flanaess.
Ulsprue: The lesser peaks of the Crystalmists, thrust northwest and north into the Plains of the Paynims, are known to the Baklunish as the Ulsprue, possibly for the people who dwell in the cup which these mountains and the Barrier Peaks form on the plains. No certain information regarding other aspects of this range is available.

Prominent Geographical Features of Greyhawk - Marshes and Swamps



The vast stretches of fens and bogs north of the Howling Hills separate Blackmoor from the lands of the Wolf Nomads and the Rovers of the Barrens. Here rise the Dulsi and Opicm Rivers, both of which feed the great Whyestil Lake. There are said to be riches in the highlands to the south of the marsh, but only the very brave or extremely foolish venture near the place, for the Cold Marshes are most renowned for the vile creatures which inhabit their mires.



The vee of land, which narrows to, but 30 leagues in breadth above the neck of the Tilvanot Peninsula is sunken in the center and cliffed along both coasts. This cupping causes water to form into standing pools and sluggish streams and flowages. The resulting morass of water and vegetation is known as the Vast Swamp. The upper swamps begin below the middle of the Hollow and Hestmark Highlands, which flank it to west and east. The swamp runs southward for well in excess of 200 miles, being over 150 miles across at the top and funneling down to only 30 miles breadth at the base where Spine Ridge rises. The movement of water in the Vast Swamp indicates that it gradually drains southward, hut there is no known river rising from the end, so it is thought that there are underground channels through which the waters run.
Certain desperate outlaws dwell within the Vast Swamp, and there are also native humans and humanoid tribes, bullywugs in particular, found within its bounds. Ferocious predators and loathsome monsters likewise consider this their domain. The men of Sunndi, and the folk dwelling in the hills to either hand, keep constant watch to assure that these denizens of the Vast Swamp do not roam beyond its edges. There are many tales and legends concerning this area, but the most likely is that of the lost burial place of the demi-lich, Acererak, who once ruled the morass and beyond into the cockscomb of Tilvanot.



Gnatmarsh: This comprises an extensive area of very treacherous wetlands which stretch along the east hank of the Nesser River from the Celadon Forest to below the joining of the Duntide. These bogs are home to many ghastly creatures and spawn myriad millions of biting insects during the summer months.

Hool Marshes: After the initial rush of the Hool River from the high lake and freshets in the Hellfurnaces, it begins to meander across the plains, and most of its length is surrounded by quaking mires and bottomless pools. This forms a natural boundary between the lands of the Yeomanry and the holdings of the Sea Princes to the south. These marshes are also home to renegade humans, humanoids, and many types of monsters.

Lone Heath: This great marsh gives rise to Mikar River east of the mighty Grandwood Forest. The area provides sanctuary to outlaw humans and demi-humans fighting the evil and oppression of the Over-king and his minions. Unlike most areas of this sort, evil things fear to enter the trackless Lone Heath.
Pelisso Swamps: These unhealthy stretches along the north coast of Hepmonaland are unexplored and who or what dwells there is unknown.
Rushmoor (Marshes): A long stretch of land east of the mid-Javan to the headwaters of the Sheldomar is known as the Rushmoors. This area forms part of the northern boundary of Keoland and is a part of the unclaimed region consisting of the central Dim Forest, eastern Oytwood, and the Rushmoors. Many dangerous creatures inhabit the marshes, and there are reports of humanoid bands there as well.

Troll Fens: The chill mists of the Troll Fens, located against the shoulders of the Griff Mountains and the Rakers at the head of the Yol River, cloak a place of unnameable horrors. The Pale carefully hedges the place with watchtowers and keeps, and strong patrols constantly ride the verges of the southern end of the Troll Fens to watch for unwelcome visits from the monsters and humanoid bands dwelling within. As its name implies, the fens are infested with particularly huge and vicious trolls in numbers.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Combat as Sport vs. Combat as War

A very thought provoking article over on EN World by Daztur. It explained in greater detail some of the philosophical difference in playing styles of the older editions more explicitly than I might have. The following text is lifted straight from that article.

[begin article]
[Very Long] Combat as Sport vs. Combat as War: a Key Difference in D&D Play Styles...

…and how to reconcile them in 5ed.

On another forum I’ve been running in circles with fans of other editions about different D&D play styles and how different editions support them, but I think I’ve finally nailed a key difference that sheds an enormous amount of light about so many disagreements about 5ed development.

Without quite realizing it, people are having the exact same debate that constantly flares up on MMORPG blogs about PvP: should combat resemble sport (as in World of Tanks PvP or arena combat in any game) or should it resemble war (as in Eve PvP or open world combat in any game).

People who want Combat as Sport want fun fights between two (at least roughly) evenly matched sides. They hate “ganking” in which one side has such an enormous advantage (because of superior numbers, levels, strategic surprise, etc.) that the fight itself is a fait accompli. They value combat tactics that could be used to overcome the enemy and fair rules adhered to by both sides rather than looking for loopholes in the rules. Terrain and the specific situation should provide spice to the combat but never turn it into a turkey shoot. They tend to prefer arena combat in which there would be a pre-set fight with (roughly) equal sides and in which no greater strategic issues impinge on the fight or unbalance it.

The other side of the debate is the Combat as War side. They like Eve-style combat in which in a lot of fights, you know who was going to win before the fight even starts and a lot of the fun comes in from using strategy and logistics to ensure that the playing field is heavily unbalanced in your favor. The greatest coup for these players isn’t to win a fair fight but to make sure that the fight never happens (the classic example would be inserting a spy or turning a traitor within the enemy’s administration and crippling their infrastructure so they can’t field a fleet) or is a complete turkey shoot. The Combat as Sport side hates this sort of thing with a passion since the actual fights are often one-sided massacres or stand-offs that take hours.

I think that these same differences hold true in D&D, let me give you an example of a specific situation to illustrate the differences: the PCs want to kill some giant bees and take their honey because magic bee honey is worth a lot of money. Different groups approach the problem in different ways.

Combat as Sport: the PCs approach the bees and engage them in combat using the terrain to their advantage, using their abilities intelligently and having good teamwork. The fighter chooses the right position to be able to cleave into the bees while staying outside the radius of the wizard’s area effect spell, the cleric keeps the wizard from going down to bee venom and the rogue sneaks up and kills the bee queen. These good tactics lead to the PCs prevailing against the bees and getting the honey. The DM congratulates them on a well-fought fight.

Combat as War: the PCs approach the bees but there’s BEES EVERYWHERE! GIANT BEES! With nasty poison saves! The PCs run for their lives since they don’t stand a chance against the bees in a fair fight. But the bees are too fast! So the party Wizard uses magic to set part of the forest on fire in order to provide enough smoke (bees hate smoke, right?) to cover their escape. Then the PCs regroup and swear bloody vengeance against the damn bees. They think about just burning everything as usual, but decide that that might destroy the value of the honey. So they make a plan: the bulk of the party will hide out in trees at the edge of the bee’s territory and set up piles of oil soaked brush to light if the bees some after them and some buckets of mud. Meanwhile, the party monk will put on a couple layers of clothing, go to the owl bear den and throw rocks at it until it chases him. He’ll then run, owl bear chasing him, back to where the party is waiting where they’ll dump fresh mud on him (thick mud on thick clothes keeps bees off, right?) and the cleric will cast an anti-poison spell on him. As soon as the owl bear engages the bees (bears love honey right?) the monk will run like hell out of the area. Hopefully the owl bear and the bees will kill each other or the owl bear will flee and lead the bees away from their nest, leaving the PCs able to easily mop up any remaining bees, take the honey and get the hell out of there. They declare that nothing could possibly go wrong as the DM grins ghoulishly.

Does that sound familiar to anyone?

Some D&D players love the tactical elements of the game and well-fought evenly matched combat within it while other players prefer the logistical and strategic elements and if only end up in evenly matched fights if something has gone horribly wrong. These two kinds of play styles also emulate different kinds of fantasy literature with Combat as Sport hewing to heroic fantasy tropes while the Combat as War side prefer D&D to feel like a chapter of The Black Company. This was really driven home by one comment from a Combat as Sport partisan talking about how ridiculous and comedic it would be PCs to smuggle in all kinds of stuff in a bag of holding so they could use cheap tactics like “Sneak attack with a ballista!” However, sneak attacking with a ballista is exactly what happens in Chapter Forty-Eight of Shadows Linger (the second Black Company book) and the Combat as War side think that’s exactly the sort of thing that D&D should be all about.

While either form of D&D can be played with any edition, it works better with some editions than others. A lot of people have played TSR editions from more of a Combat as Sport Mindset and a lot of later TSR products seem to consist of trying to frog march poor Croaker into heroic fantasy, but TSR-D&D mostly sucks at Combat as Sport. It’s not easy to gauge what would be a good fair fun fight for a given party and the same fight could end up as a cakewalk or a
TPK, melee combat is repetitive, there’s one-hit kills etc. Also a lot of elements of TSR-D&D design that drive Combat as Sport people crazy, really tie into the Combat as War mindset. Things like tracking rations, torch usage, rolling for wandering monsters, etc. are important for this kind of gameplay since they make time a scarce resource, which is vital for strategic and logistical gameplay since if the players have all the time in the world so many strategic and logistical constraints get removed and without those constraints you get all kinds of problems cropping up (most notably the 15 minute adventuring day). As Gygax says, in all caps no less “YOU CAN NOT HAVE A MEANINGFUL CAMPAIGN IF STRICT TIME RECORDS ARE NOT KEPT” (DMG page 37), which sounds like crazy moon logic for people who like Combat as Sport gameplay but is a central factor in making Combat as War gameplay work.

With 3ed the game shifted a bit towards Combat as Sport and then shifted a good bit more with 4ed (although you can still certainly run 4ed as a Combat as War game with heavy use of things like rituals, but the main thrust of the game is towards Combat as Sport). In 4ed it’s easy to tell what’s a good fair fight for a given party and combat rarely goes in a direction that the DM completely didn’t expect and there’s tons of fun combat variety. However, the 4ed focus on balancing combat at the encounter level rather than the adventure level (or just not balancing it at all and running a sandbox) runs directly counter to Combat as War gameplay. In order for a combat encounter to be well-balanced nothing that happens outside of that encounter can matter too much. This means that in order to get proper encounter balance, the impact of strategic and logistical gameplay must be muted as if having stuff that happens outside of the combat make a huge difference in the difficulty of the encounter, then there’s no way to guarantee fun balanced fights. Hence Encounter Powers, hence Healing Surges (sure starting combat with half of your healing surges sucks but not as much as starting it with half of you hit points), hence not having any classes that are designed to be below par at tactical combat, hence a lack of abilities that are useless in some fights but “I win” buttons in other fights, hence a lot of Sports and War dislike for the few bits of 4ed design that don’t fit well with balancing combat at the encounter level (notably Daily Powers). Of course 4ed is not doesn’t do this 100%, but it comes a lot closer than any other edition. However, the whole line of thinking runs counter to Combat as War thinking, the whole POINT of Combat as War gameplay is to make the playing field as unbalanced as possible in the favor of the party, so mechanics that are built around balancing combat at the encounter level just get in the way. In addition, 4ed removes a lot of items from the Combat as War gamer’s bag of tricks and it’s much harder to rat
**** the opposition with 4ed powers than 1ed spells, since they’re specifically written to be resistant to be used for ratf**king and the lack of specific information about specifically how 4ed powers work in real-world terms make it hard for Combat as War players to use them to screw over the opposition instead of beating them in a fair sportsmanlike match since it’s hard to figure out exactly how to use 4ed powers for off-label purposes.

But probably most importantly, 4ed combat just takes too damn long for Combat as War players. If you’re going to spend your time doing sneaky rat bastard Black Company stuff before combat starts, then having combat take a long time is just taking time away from the fun bits of play. Also if combat takes a long time you just can’t have the sort of attrition-based gameplay since there just isn’t time to have 5 combats in five hours with plenty of time for other stuff aside from combat and a break for pizza as well. 4ed thrives on big flashy set piece battles and that doesn’t work well with Combat as War gameplay since the best kind of combat for those players is having the enemy die like a chump in the first round (with a good admixture of the PCs running and screaming in terror in the first round).

OK, now how can we reconcile these two different play styles in 5ed. Having the tactical rules be an add-on module for the Combat as Sport people is an important first step, this lets the people who like that have fun with it while the Combat as War people can use the simpler combat rules to get combat over quickly. But I think that the Combat as War people could use a DM-side add-on module as well with ideas to emphasize strategic and logistical thinking (the “Fantasy 
F**king Vietnam” Module basically). How monsters are written up also matters a lot. In the getting the honey from the bees adventure, specifics of monster ecology and biology don’t matter that much for the Combat as Sport side, but just look at how much they matter in the Combat as War side (does smoke keep giant bees away? how much territory will one hive of giant bees patrol? what time of day is the owl bear at home in its cave? do owl bears love honey? will thick clothes and mud help against the bees? will the owl bear fight the bees or run away? how far will the bees chase the bear if it runs). Of course the DM will have to answer a lot of these questions, but monster write-ups can help a lot. Finally, the spells that appeal to each side are different with the Combat as Sport side’s favorite spells being boring to the Combat as War side and the Combat as War side’s favorite spells being far too quirky, situational and unbalancing for the Combat as Sport side. Hopefully some ways will be found to reconcile the two sides.

Combat as Sport: valuing the separate roles of the quarterback, linebacker and wide receiver and what plays you can use to win a competitive game.

Combat as War: being too busy laying your end zone with caltrops, dousing the midfield with lamp oil, blackmailing the ref, spiking the other team’s water and bribing key members of the other team to throw the game to worry about all of those damn squiggles on the blackboard.


Combat as Sport:

Combat as War:

[end article]

Personally I think both have a place at the gaming table depending on the mood of the game, players and DM as well as how best it would suit the storyline. In all fairness I do tend to lean towards the Combat as War moreso than Combat as Sport, but there is room for both at the gaming table. The real trick is knowing where and when to use them in any given encounter.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Greyhawk in Dragon Magazine in 2012

This from Chris Perkins editorial blurb at Wizards;

"This year in the magazines, we’re taking a break from the Nentir Vale “points of light” setting to shine a light on the Forgotten Realms as well as some of our other popular worlds, past and present. You’ll see more Eberron articles, more Dark Sun articles, and even some content for Ravenloft, Planescape, and the World of Greyhawk. But the Realms, in particular, will receive a lot of love."

Now while I do have a lot of Forgotten Realms material my first love will always be Greyhawk. This dates back to the release of the Greyhawk Folio back in 1980. Greyhawk was the first published world I traveled into and explored with my friends. My longest campaign to date (8 years) has been set in Greyhawk. Lately I have been re-visiting the 'Gygaxian' Greyhawk where possible. By that I mean I have forgone the use of 2ed material in favor of customized "City of Greyhawk" maps. I'm not dumping all of the later material, but in my version of Greyhawk "The Greyhawk Wars" never happened. I'm currently gaming with a group and the campaign start date was 575 CY. We'll see where the campaign leads to from there. We've already made it to 576 while exploring the Temple of Elemental Evil.

But getting back to the Dragon articles, I'll be waiting to see what if any new material they will be putting out, or are they just going to update the old material they already have like they did with the 4ed Hommlet release.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

20 Quick Questions: Rules

Brenden from the Untimately blog posted a list of 20 questions / rules clarifications a DM should decide and inform the group of fairly early before play.
I'm sure most of these answers won't come as a surprise to 1ed players, but everyone does have their own flavor and preferences. Here are mine.
  1. Ability scores generation method? Roll 4d6 6 times drop the lowest die, re-roll 1's the first time they come up only. Rolls arranged in order, you may swap one set of stats. 
  2. How are death and dying handled? 0 HP unconscious and dying, lose 1 HP per round until stabilized/treated. Dead below -10 HP. If healed above 0 HP useless for the day (at least depending on severity of wound). Lose all spells, can't fight, and move at 1/2 speed at most .
  3. What about raising the dead? Yes, but the cost will usually be a quest not gold.
  4. How are replacement PCs handled? You come back at -1 level of lowest level member in the party.
  5. Initiative: individual, group, or something else? Typically group initiative.
  6. Are there critical hits and fumbles? How do they work? Yes 20 is a crit and 1 a fumble. Roll on custom table to determine the severity of the blow or the degree your clumsiness hindered you or a team mate.
  7. Do I get any benefits for wearing a helmet? Prevents being knocked unconscious in certain situations.
  8. Can I hurt my friends if I fire into melee or do something similarly silly? Of course you can, we're playing 1ed.
  9. Will we need to run from some encounters, or will we be able to kill everything? Yes, of course you can kill everything, including yourselves.
  10. Level-draining monsters: yes or no? Yes, although I do ease back to some extent. You only lose the equivalent XP not the actual level. You do die if reduced to 0 level.
  11. Are there going to be cases where a failed save results in PC death? You know it.
  12. How strictly are encumbrance & resources tracked? Needs to be maintained fairly accurately on the character sheet. Left to the honor system, but DM will check randomly.
  13. What's required when my PC gains a level? Training? Do I get new spells automatically? Can it happen in the middle of an adventure, or do I have to wait for down time? Yes, you will need to train to increase in level, it doesn't happen auto-magically in the middle of a dungeon. Fighters will have to go get a tutor and practice with that new weapon they acquired and want to wield. MU will have to find/borrow/buy the spells they want to cast upon gaining a level.
  14. What do I get experience for? Treasure, combat, and magic items as well as smart game play.
  15. How are traps located? Description, dice rolling, or some combination? Either way a player wants to approach it. Low level thieves would do well if they didn't rely on their actual stats but instead used smart game play. Unfortunately not to many players catch on to this. To many years of playing relying on stats I guess.
  16. Are retainers encouraged and how does morale work? Varies, but yes. BtB rules for morale
  17. How do I identify magic items? Spells, sages, mages, bards, and just plain old fiddling around with it might work. As with everything there are consequences to every action.
  18. Can I buy magic items? Oh, come on: how about just potions? Yes, to a certain degree, but only in large cities or huge metropolis's. Don't expect a village blacksmith to stock that Holy Avenger you want. Same goes for potions.
  19. Can I create magic items? When and how? Yes, at high level with some very expensive components and rare ingredients.
  20. What about splitting the party? Leave it up to the group. Although "Never split the party" is my motto when actually playing and not DMing.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Prominent Geographical Features of Greyhawk - Hills and Highlands



The rocky hills, which run east and west between the Nesser River and Woolly Bay, are known as the Abbor-Alz. The northern verges of the hills are relatively safe, and these are claimed by the Duchy of Urnst, as are those softer highlands which are covered by the Celadon Forest. The central and southern portions are very arid, however, and wild tribesmen dwelling within these hills turn back all intruders – if they manage to return at all. These hills are so rough and precipitous as to preclude mounted movement or even thc passage of organized bodies of soldiers, so no aggression has proven successful in clearing these tall heights. Occasional adventurers will return with tales of having prospected within these hills, stories of encounters with the natives, monsters, and the like, but most can not be believed. There certainly are riches within the Abbor-Alz, however, for Urnst has productive mines in that part which is held by the Duchy.
How far the hills continue into the Bright Desert is unknown. The peoples dwelling in and beyond the Abbor-Alz are as unfriendly as the highland tribesmen.



The northward- thrusting arm of the Abbor-Alz (q.v.) is known as the Cairn Hills. These hills surround Midbay on Nyr Dyv and form the borderland between territory claimed by Greyhawk City and that of the Duchy of Urnst. Several thousand gnomes dwell in the central portion of the Cairn Hills, halflings enjoy its lower Northern slopes, while many dwarvenfolk live in the area where it meets the Abbor-Alz and the hills become young mountains. In the hinterland below Nyr Dyv’s Midbay, where the hills are very rugged, there have been strange burial sites discovered from time to time. These rich finds are of a people unknown even to the demi-humans, evidently predating them! Discoverers returned with harrowing tales of horrid guardians, death, and worse; but carried back ingots of precious metal, gems, and other treasures as well. The discovery of these burial sites gave the hills their name, and also makes them a target for many foolhardy adventurers.
There are no settlements east of the marshes around the Upper and Lower Neen Rivers until the eastern edges of the hills are reached.




The Hestmark Highlands run northward up the coastline of South Province from the town of Dullstrand to the mouth of the Flanmi, branching northwestward into the Glorioles. These hills have always been a rallying point for disaffected humans, as their remote location and rugged character have enabled their demi-human inhabitants to remain free of the rule of the Overking or his minions. Many gnomes and dwarves live in the Hestmarks, and free-spirited men have their villages amidst the shelter of these hills as well. The area is well known for its precious metals and gems, and for this reason it is often raided by forces of the Overking who badly need the wealth thus obtained. Medegians, troops from the Herzog of South Province, and imperial soldiery alike probe these hills all too often. Its inhabitants, doughty in the beginning, have become battle-hardened veterans because of these continual skirmishes and raids, and with the men and elves of Sunndi are beginning to conduct their own forays into the lowlands beyond the Hestmarks in reprisal. The independent town of Dullstrand (pop. 5,5OO) and its environs proclaims neutrality in these matters, but it is probable that secret aid is given to the insurgents in the hills. Free-booters certainly find safe haven in the town, and its forges make weapons and armor which are not seen by the Overking or his men-at-arms.



It is estimated that nearly 20,000 gnomes live within the region of the Kron Hills. These heights spring eastward from the Lortmils and reach almost to Nyr Dyv. Their verge forms the southern boundary of Veluna, then stretches beside the Velverdyva for a time before peaking in the heart of the Gnarley Forest, where many Sylvan Elves happily roam over their crests. Their southern slopes demark the end of the Wild Coast region and are a part of the northern region of Celene. Some dwarven enclaves exist in the Kron Hills where they butt against the Lortmils, although the number of such demi-humans is not known. The gnomes of the region were instrumental in the organization of the army, which drove the humanoid hordes from the Lortmils (and the Kron Hills). They likewise served with honor in the host, which defeated the Horde of Elemental Evil in the battle above Verbobonc.
The Kron Hills are mined for metals, precious metals, and gems. The upper slopes are quite fertile and grow many crops in sheltered valley and glen. Quite a number of scattered enclaves of humans live in peace with the gnomes and other demi-humans of the area, save in the Gnarley Forest, where the Olvenfolk are isolationist.



Blemu Hills: This chain of hills runs from a point about level with Belport southward to the town of Knurl, the Teesar Torrent cutting their eastern verge. These hills form the southeastern boundary of the Bone March. At one time they were home to certain demi-human folk, but tribes of Celbit, Jebli, and Euroz now infest the place.
Bluff Hills: The western terminus of the Griff Mountains slowly decreases into a series of rugged ridges and steep hills. This range separates the states of the Bandit Kingdoms from the lands of the Rovers of the Barrens. The former now occupy and claim the Bluff Hills as their territory, as they do the whole of the Fellreev Forest. The nomads to the north are too weakened to effectively dispute this move. The Bluff Hills are said to contain small deposits of copper and gold. Numerous monsters roam the area, and many ogre hands make it their home.
Drachensgrab Hills: The low mountains of the same name found in the Pomarj are surrounded by these hills. Rich in valuable minerals and gems, these hills have always been the home of many terrible beasts and monsters, which had to be contended with by the humans dwelling along the lowland coasts. Now that the area is in the hands of humanoid hordes, many of the monsters there will undoubtedly be enlisted into their ranks. Legends say that these hills hide the resting-place of one or more powerful creatures who may someday return to life.

Flinty Hills: This broad and deep hand of hills marks the southern end of the Rakers. The eastern shoulder, and an arm, which projects southward for many leagues, define the lower boundary of Bone March and the easternmost territory of Nyrond and Almor. The portion covered by the Adri Forest (west of the Harp River) is Almorish. The area is well endowed with minerals. Numerous halflings inhabit its southern portion, while many gnomes dwell to the north. The far western span of the Flinty Hills is within the Gamboge Forest (q.v.).
Good Hills: This is a range of rolling highlands in Keoland east of Stench and running all the way to the middle of the border with the Yeomanry, with the Javan River marking its western edge. These lands are home to many halflings and gnomes. They are also the source of considerable mineral wealth.
Gull Cliffs: The headlands which rise steeply along the coast west of the isles of the Sea Barons are known as the Gull Cliffs (or Gullcliffs) because so many sea birds nest among these hills and sea cliffs. The town of Roland nestles amongst the hills, a major port for commerce to and from Rauxes and the sea.
Headlands: The heights of the central portion of the Onnwal Peninsula are known as the Headlands. This spine runs from the city of Irongate along about half of the peninsula, forming cliffs on the Azure Sea coast. They are home to many dwarves and some gnomish groups as well.
Hollow Highlands: The north-south hill chain which divides the fiefs of Idee from Sunndi is called the Hollow Highlands due to the mining and burrowing which has taken place there for so long. Dwarves, gnomes, and halflings dwell amidst these hills. Although they are not particularly rich in minerals or gems any longer, their beauty and fertility keep this demi-human population high. The minions of the Overking do not venture into the Hollow Hills without strong forces.

Howling Hills: These hills are just below the southern edge of the Cold Marshes, a portion being divided from the main body by the Dulsi River valley. The eastern hills are now part of Iuz and undoubtedly home to all manner of hideous creatures and savage humanoid tribes who exploit their metals. The western portion is sacred to the Wolf Nomads as a burial place, and they have stoutly defended this area from any incursion of men or humanoids from Iuz. Several large battles have reportedly taken place in and around the wedge of hills between the Blackwater and Dulsi for this very reason, and Iuz likes not such thwarting.

Iron Hills: The series of highlands reaching eastward from the city of Irongate and demarking the fiefs of Ahlissa and Idee in the west are known as the Iron Hills. Most of these hills are in the hands of the Iron League. Very high-grade ore is taken from the mines there, as are several sorts of precious metals. Dwarves and gnomes do much of this mining.
Little Hills: The Jotens turn to very high hills as they come to the Javan River valley, and these hills turn southward as if following the river course. These looming hills can be called little only in comparison to the Jotens and Crystalmists beyond, and this is evidently what was done by the yeomen who named them. Considerable numbers of demi-humans dwell in the Little Hills, along with communities of men. The town of Longspear, in the foothills of the Littles, is an active trade center. The soldiers from this area are renowned for their ferocity in battle, human and demi-human alike.
Lorridges: These sharp ridges and hills are found at the northern end of the Lortmil Mountains. Some dwarves and gnomes have their dwellings and mines therein. These hills are about evenly divided between Gran March, Bissel, and Veluna. The pass between these hills and the foothills of the southern horn of the Yatil Mountains is the major entry point to eastern Flanaess. The Yatil foothills are known as the Northern Lorridges, but they belong to the Highfolk (q.v.), and their gnomish inhabitants serve the Olvenfolk.
Sepia Uplands: Perrenland now claims most of the block of highlands, which are the lesser heights of the Clatspur Mountain range. The Wolf Nomads hunt in the northern portion of the range, and the hills within the Vesve forest are unclaimed by any humans. Some mineral deposits are suspected to be within these hills.

Spine Ridge: The unwholesome Vast Swamp is butted on the south by a chain of rising hills which terminate on a great plateau in the center of the Tilvanot Peninsula. These hills, the Spine Ridge, are supposedly rich in precious metals and gems, but they are too dangerous for normal exploitation, being home to numerous humanoids and monsters.
Stark Mounds: The many-spurred Crystalmist Range thrusts some low mounts and high hills eastward toward the Javan River below the joining of the Real-stream. These mounts and hills divide Geoff from Stench. The Stark Mounds are probably old and weathered mountains. They end at the east bank of the Javan and are claimed mainly by Geoff. While some dwarves inhabit the steeper portion of the Stark Mounds, they are home to gnomes in the main.
Tors: The mesa-like hills, which mark the terminus of the last spur of the Crystalmists, are called the Tors. Bordering on the Hool Marshes, they mark the southern edge of the Yeomanry. These wild hills are a source of continual troubles for the yeomen, as they are home to many sorts of monsters and humanoid tribes.

Tusman Hills: The border between Ket and Tusmit is formed by the Tusman Hills, a series of highlands which eventually rise into the Yatils. The hillmen of the Tusman Hills are renowned fighters, thus maintaining semi-independent status, and gladly serving as mercenaries for both Tusmit and Ket.
Yecha Hills: These Yatil foothills are quite rich in mineral deposits, and the Tiger Nomads have actually begun to exploit these mines. They have a permanent settlement, their capital city of Yecha, within these highlands, and numbers of their herdsmen graze flocks of sheep and goats there.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

AD&D 1ed Combat Computer

The Dragon Magazine (issue #74) contained a Combat Computer which was an essential tool when playing AD&D 1ed by the book. Now I realize everyone doesn't play with things like weapon vs AC tables, weapon speeds, segments and all that stuff. But unlike some old schoolers the group I play with does use some of this which makes this little combat wheel invaluable during play. Besides, its not like we looked these up during every combat. Every character has their "to hit" charts filled out on their character sheet beforehand, so all you need to do is look up the roll needed. As a DM this wheel makes looking up monsters "to hit" rolls much more convenient.
Taking a page out of Maldin's playbook I modified the combat wheel to include some of the more commonly needed charts on the back of the wheel. This saves on flipping through books during play.

Anyway without further ado the (slightly modified) AD&D 1ed Combat Computer;

Print it out on the best cardstock your printer can handle, or do as I did and glue the two printed sheets to some decently stiff cardboard.  Cut out the two discs.  The outer ring of large numbers on the lower disc should all be visible once the two discs are connected, while the inner ring of large numbers should only show in the "Target AC" window.  Cut out the four windows in the middle of the upper disc too (Xacto knife or razor knife - use caution). As has been commented below, it might be a good idea to laminate the discs before assembling them. Connect the two discs with whatever method you can find that works and allows the two discs to turn on the same axis.
    If you really need instructions for how to use it you obviously haven't played enough 1st Edition and you shouldn't be messing about with such complex tools as this - you might hurt yourself.  To use it, turn the two discs until the AC of the target shows in the window and lines up with the arrow.  Find the curved, colored band on the upper disc that corresponds to the class of the attacker.  Find the column section on the band that includes the attackers level (or hit dice for monsters).  Follow that column out to the outermost edge and read the number required to hit in the same column off of the lower disc.  Note, that common sense must be used here - when you try to read results where the adjustment windows are black you're "off the chart". Weapon-vs-AC adjustments will ONLY be accurate when turning the discs to select an AC between 10 and 2, because obviously you're actually selecting the corresponding armor TYPE at that point, not actual armor CLASS.

Let's try an example here. A 6th level MU attacks a unarmored foe with a dagger. You would line up the inner wheel with the target AC 10, look at the "to hit" needed for a 6th level MU and see that it was a 9 and then subtract the armor modifier for the dagger (+3) to arrive at the final score of 6 needed to hit. 

Easy-peasy right? That is why all the players are requested to calculate their "to hit" charts ahead of time, because it can be time consuming to do in combat situations. As with most things the explanation can be much more complex than the actual process.

Edit 11/1/13 - Corrected the tables on the back. The Cleric turning table was slightly modified from the BTB 1ed. version. That has been updated since this seems to be getting some traffic. If anyone sees any other irregularities or typos let me know.