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One of the founders of our hobby and one of the most unsung contributors to Dungeons & Dragons, Len Lakofka has passed away at the age of 76.
Along with the many adventures, classes, spells, and rules he created,
Len was also father of the Suel in Greyhawk, designer of their gods, and namesake of the Lendore Isles.
The value of his work goes without saying, but his presence will be sorely missed. The adventures of Leomund go on.
Len Lakofka 1944-2020
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    Canonfire :: View topic - Winter's Tales
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    Winter's Tales
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    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Fri Oct 09, 2020 10:55 am  
    Winter's Tales

    Remember that scene in Game of Thrones where Old Nan tells Bran spooky and unsettling stories of the world beyond Winterfell?

    I want to do a flashback scene for an elven character where as a child she hears stories of danger and mystery and terror (& maybe injustice) from the lands beyond the borders of Celene. (Basically the kind of story that makes you feel really grateful for living where you do.)

    This scene will be taking place in CY 466, pre-Hateful Wars. The storyteller would've traveled beyond the borders of Celene and seen the world, in the way of young elves, so they might be things she's actually seen, but she also could be relating ancestral stories passed down to her as a child.

    What scary stories of the Flanaess should she tell?

    I like keeping the drow a big secret or taboo to speak of, even among elves, so I don't want to mention them.

    The Lortmils are filled with humanoids at this point, but I'm not sure if elves find them terrifying so much as annoying.

    I'm also not sure if the tales should feature true monsters (famous or obscure) or if the elven scary stories would mainly feature the most terrifying monster of all, humans.

    What do you guys think?
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    Fri Oct 09, 2020 11:45 am  

    Vecna occluded empire once held sway in that region so you can use it for foreshadowing in case you ever want them to explore ancient Flan mysteries.

    You can describe the fall of Haradaragh in the Lortmils.

    You can make a big deal about how the Sussurus can to be and why they live in the southern Suss forest.

    The Temple of Elemental Evil can be expanded in folklore into a scary tale of evil gods and demons that the humans unleash.
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    Richard Di Ioia (aka Longetalos)
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    Fri Oct 09, 2020 2:13 pm  
    Re: Winter's Tales

    edmundscott wrote:
    Remember that scene in Game of Thrones where Old Nan tells Bran spooky and unsettling stories of the world beyond Winterfell?

    I want to do a flashback scene for an elven character where as a child she hears stories of danger and mystery and terror (& maybe injustice) from the lands beyond the borders of Celene. (Basically the kind of story that makes you feel really grateful for living where you do.)

    This scene will be taking place in CY 466, pre-Hateful Wars. The storyteller would've traveled beyond the borders of Celene and seen the world, in the way of young elves, so they might be things she's actually seen, but she also could be relating ancestral stories passed down to her as a child.

    What scary stories of the Flanaess should she tell?

    I like keeping the drow a big secret or taboo to speak of, even among elves, so I don't want to mention them.

    The Lortmils are filled with humanoids at this point, but I'm not sure if elves find them terrifying so much as annoying.

    I'm also not sure if the tales should feature true monsters (famous or obscure) or if the elven scary stories would mainly feature the most terrifying monster of all, humans.

    What do you guys think?


    I recommend a book of classic fairy stories but from Eastern Europe or Russia to give them an exotic feel. Change them to fit Greyhawk, but they are a wonderful source of inspiration
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Fri Oct 09, 2020 4:28 pm  

    I can't use the Temple of Elemental Evil because it hasn't been built yet.

    I'm curious as to what the backstory of the sussurus is. I remember them from the old White Dwarf adventure & the fiend folio but that's it.

    What's the best source for the Haradaragh stuff?
    Adept Greytalker

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    Sat Oct 10, 2020 8:34 pm  

    Aside from the obvious suggestion of Vecna, the destruction of House Malhel could be equally disturbing. Depending on how old the elf storyteller is, she might actually have lived through those events!

    The story of the Earth Dragon in the Pomarj might be spooky, as could be the story of the valley elves. The mysterious land of Blackmoor could be good for a few scary stories too.

    If you really want to freak elf children out about humans, tell them the story of the Turmoil Between Crowns. In 466 CY, Ivid I will have been on the throne for about 20 years, and he'll have probably instituted the same kind of brutal purges and oppressions that real-life dictators have used to consolidate their power.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Sun Oct 11, 2020 10:55 pm  

    First, I image elves being more conscious of the ages of Oerth than other races and the commencement of the "Age of Great Sorrow" would still be a recent event and heavy concern for them.

    The humanoid realms of Bonemarch, Pomarj, Geoff, and Egg of Coot have not yet arisen, but the elves might be aware of swelling humanoid populations and see the writing on the wall. They also might portend the coming demonic attention of Grattz, Zuggtmoy, Lolth, Tuerny, etc.

    Celene is probably emerging from isolation. They resisted the human migrations, than humanity's wars and budding empires. Now that the empires are starting to splinter, the elves are taking stock and seeing what their options are. They're cut off from the other demihumans in Ulek and bordered by the opportunists of the Wild Coast and Greyhawk to the east. They're probably forming friendships with the gnomes of the Kron Assembly and starting the alliances that lead to victories in the Hateful Wars and ToEE.

    Neogi, Alhoon, and spelljammer threats could be current events.

    IMC, kobolds exterminated the gnomes of the Corusks around this time. The Bandit Kings are in their prime, raiding every nation bordering the Nyr Dyv annually. Magic is very tightly regulated in Urnst and Keoland.
    Wolfgang Baur's Tharizdun-worshipping Yak-men in the Yatils (Dr#241) are an awesome Greyhawk menace no one has developed.
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    Mon Oct 12, 2020 6:16 pm  

    Vestcoat, I agree that Celene is emerging from isolation. Here's the Celene chronology I'm using for my campaign (sources in parantheses). I'm calling this era of Celenian history The Revelation of Celene, as it's a period of increasing engagement with the outside world. (Since there's conflicting dates for when Yolande became Queen I decided the earlier one (361) is when she begins to act as leader, retaining the title Princess for the time.)

    • OC 4900/CY 438 (OJ16 Duchy of Ulek): Keoland defeated in the Small War and forced southward.
    • (LGG): Other perils soon threaten the elven kingdom. The orcs of the Lortmils, no longer restrained by Keoish patrols, attack their lowland neighbors with increasing ferocity. These invasions are always turned back, but at great cost, and there seems no end to the hordes that spew from the mountains each spring.
    —(LGG): Celene joins in a defensive alliance with the Ulek States and the Kron Hills gnomes, seeking to contain the nonhuman menace by coordinating the efforts of each nation's military. They achieve limited success, but continue to incur losses . . .
    —(Hateful Wars) Yolande reaches out to Ulek provinces and forms a coalition to stand against Keoish aggression and tyranny.
    • OC 4923/CY461 (Guide 9/OJ16 Duchy of Ulek) The Ulek Rebellion. Ulek and Celene sever formal ties with Keoland and, over the next few years, the Ulek states gain full autonomy. Realms of Ulek effected. Celene denies further tribute to the Throne of the Lion.
    —(Hateful Wars) Princess Yolande prepares the coalition for a reprisal and bitter war with Keoland, but the reprisal never comes. Instead, over the next several years, Keoland withdraws its claims and acknowledges the sovereignty of Celene and the Ulek states.
    —(Hateful Wars) In celebration of her sweeping victory, the Grand Court elevates the princess to the title of Queen over the realm making her simultaneously the first Queen of the newly independent nation of Celene and the sixteenth Queen in the hereditary line of that dynasty of the Faeries.
    • OC 4924/CY 462 (Bill’s World of Greyhawk): Celene reveals itself, opening its borders to the rest of the world; this proves prosperous for both Celene and the countries with which she trades. Celene's beautiful silver products, fine cloth and clothing, and distinctive and flavorful emerald green wine flow across the Flanaess. . . . But the tradition of seclusion is still strong, and the older Celenese are still wary of "outsiders." Many of the elves of the realm indeed feel that treating with humans is no better than dealing with orcs. And many hearken back to the ancient days when dwarves and elves warred.
    • OC 4925/CY 463 (OJ16 Duchy of Ulek): After lengthy negotiations, the Duchy of Ulek granted full autonomy.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Mon Oct 12, 2020 6:31 pm  

    Rereading my chronology, it does seem to make sense that relationships (and anxieties) with humans would be on faerie minds.

    Right now, I'm leaning toward a story about Occluded Empire of Vecna, and maybe a second story about the Suloise city in the Suss Forest, going with some of the Living Greyhawk stuff about a Suel house who momentarily threatened the surrounding area before being spectacularly destroyed in -334 CY.

    I googled the hell out of it but couldn't find anything about the origin of the susserus except the speculation it might actually be a construct . . . It might be an interesting horror to tie into the Lost City story.

    The Haradaragh story is interesting. I read the Rasgon post on it, and the hypothetical connections to Vecna are tempting. I'm pretty vague on when it would have fallen and how much exactly the faeries of Celene would have cared, even with the involvement of the winged folk.

    (I probably won't use the Yak-men for this, but totally agree that somebody needs to develop them as a new Flanaess threat. Maybe I'll suggest this to Carlos . . . )
    GreySage

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    Tue Oct 13, 2020 7:17 pm  

    The Stranded Traveler

    The Western Road between Greyhawk and Dyvers hugs the northern fringe of the Gnarley Forest. Centuries ago it was even wilder than today, and merchants traveled in large, armed groups, ever wary of bandits and fell beasts. Yet one young merchant, his wagon heavily laden with goods bound for Dyvers' markets, traveled alone, for it was Coldeven 11 and no one else would accompany him on that most ill-omened of nights. The merchant hoped bandits felt the same, but kept his armaments close and spurred his horse to hasten through the hills and streams along the route.

    Midway through his journey, though, he bid his horse slow down, for a pale, ragged woman stood in the road, beseeching him to stop. The merchant knew every moment he tarried left him vulnerable, but she was looked so thin, so exhausted, that his heart bled for her.

    "Good woman," called the merchant. "Why are you alone, on the night of the Blood Moon? Pray, get in my wagon. Quickly, because I must be on my way."

    "Thank you, stranger," whispered the woman. "I was traveling to my family's home, in Dyvers, when my horse ran off and left me stranded."

    The rest of the trip was uneventful, and the merchant and his guest made it to Dyvers, where the woman pointed out a dilapidated building outside of town as her family's home. The merchant was disturbed, as the building looked like it had been abandoned decades ago, but he was eager to reach the safety of the city walls, and left her there without arguing.

    The following morning, as he left his lodging for the city's markets, the merchant asked the innkeeper about the dilapidated house outside of town.

    "House? You don't mean the old temple?"

    "Temple?"

    "Two decades ago, that was a temple to Incabulos. Folk left offerings there to ward off disease, but the priestess turned dark and brought down a plague. She was burned at the stake and the temple was blessed by priests of Pelor to ward off her spirit's return."

    "But... the woman I met... she told me it was her house..."

    "Who did you bring to our city?" exclaimed the innkeeper, as the merchant began coughing up blood.
    GreySage

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    Tue Oct 13, 2020 8:39 pm  

    The Old Ogre's Daughter

    Zog the Old was the most terrible ogre in the Lortmils, feared among ogre clans for his great strength and rage. Some said he had spawned directly from the blood of Erythnul, or that he was a half-divine by-blow of Vaprak, for he lingered long after most ogres would have died, lasting centuries in his rocky lair, only growing harder and stronger, though his vision dimmed as cataracts formed in his red eyes.

    Zog had one pleasure in his long life, and that was his daughters. It was his tradition to make his daughters his wives, until their own daughters came of age, then marry those daughters and kill and devour their mothers. He continued to do this over the centuries, and with so much inbreeding his daughters grew strange and monstrous, sprouting horns and extra eyes and limbs and heads over the generations, which only made Zog love them more. Zog guarded his daughters jealously, treasuring them for their exotic forms and the purity of their divine blood.

    Ettar the Bold was the fiercest chief the orcs of the Lortmils had produced in generations. He united the Bone-Axes of Cragmore and the Blood-Takers of Gilmorack and the Pierced-Ones of Treunsgian and more, forging an army that let him plunder the Ulek states and threaten Celene itself. Yet Ettar knew his empire was destined to be short-lived, for all of his wives died in childbirth, all of his children stillborn. Ettar consulted an oracle, a witch-priestess of Luthic, who inhaled the sacred fumes that rose from the deep cracks of the Oerth and told him that only the strongest of women could gestate his seed. And the strongest of women was Zogga, the youngest daughter of Zog, who had just come of age this month, and was soon to be her father's bride.

    Zog was too strong for even Ettar to defeat in straight combat, but Ettar was clever. He surveiled the cave of Zog from afar and learned the schedules of its inhabitants. Zogga, it seemed, came out every night to bathe for one hour before her father came to fetch her. So it was then that Ettar crept to the stream where Zogga bathed. From the shadows, he called out to her. "Fair maiden," he called. "I see you in the moonlight, Luna's rays shining in your many eyes and mouths and tongues and horns, Celene's rays shining in your hair. Won't you run away with me, rather than becoming one of your father's many brides, prey to his murderous tradition?"

    Zogga didn't need to consider this. "I'd love nothing better than to flee my father," she confessed, "but he waits for me even now, and he is stronger than the mountains, and there is nowhere I can run. His eyes may have dimmed, but his nose will always track me. You should flee now, before he catches your scent."

    "He won't smell me if your scent masks my own," said Ettar. "Hide me in your gown and take me to Zog's lair. When Zog is asleep, my knife will pierce even his tough old sinews."

    Zogga looked dubious, but she did as Ettar suggested. When Zog came to fetch his daughter, he groped at her faces, as he always did, using his fingers to apprehend her strange beauty. Yet this time he paused, as his probing fingers found Ettar's face.

    "Daughter," rumbled Zog. "You feel unfamiliar. You have six faces, but here is a seventh."

    "You're mistaken, father," said Zogga. "It was my late mother, may her meat rest easily in our guts, who had six faces. I've always had seven."

    "Maybe so," said Zog. "I've had so many daughters, and it seems each has more faces than the last. Yet as I probe your seventh face, I feel only one row of teeth."

    "Alas," said Zogga. "My mother's ribcage was poorly cooked, and I cracked some teeth on it."

    "Ah, that is my fault," said Zog. "I forget my precious daughters are not as old and solid as I, and I may have been so eager to taste my old wife that I brought her from the stew pot too early. Yet as I prod your seventh face, I can't help but notice your snout feels less than ladylike."

    "I have a cold, father. It's nothing serious, but one of my noses has gotten a bit swollen."

    "Ah, that must be it," said Zog. "Well, it's time to come inside now."

    Zogga and her secret passenger followed Zog back to his lair, and when Zog drifted off to sleep, Ettar pulled out his knife, which as it happened was a knife of ogre slaying +3, and made short work of the seemingly immortal old ogre. Zogga and Ettar ran off into the night, and eloped in the subterranean temple where the witch-priestess of Luthic sniffed her subterranean fumes.

    As the witch had foretold, Zogga was the strongest of women, and she bore Ettar many healthy sons and daughters without dying. Yet their children were so disturbing, so un-orcish to behold with their many heads, that the orcs of the Bone-Axes and Blood-Takers and Pierced-Ones would not bow to them, but drove them into the high mountains. The empire of Ettar the Bold was short-lived after all, but his children were strong, and they live among the caves and caverns of the hills and mountains to this day. They are known as ettins, after their orcish ancestor, and although they may not have as many faces as their ogrish mother they still have rather more than either orcs or elves consider strictly necessary. And they will use their extra mouths to EAT YOU UP!
    GreySage

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    Tue Oct 13, 2020 8:51 pm  

    A History of the Penanggalans

    The penanggalan curse was brought to the Flanaess in 294 CY by the Rhennee to Marion Arkenwold, the Lady of Dimhaven in Bissel, through her nurse, a Rhennee witch. She reigned over her isolated community, concealing her true nature from her subjects for ten years before her crimes were revealed by the elven ranger Sorvon Woodshadow, the founder of the Company of the Brightpath. Sorvon destroyed Marion, but Marion's twelve ladies in waiting, whom she had transformed into penanggalans as well, all managed to escape and spread their curse to others. The surviving members of the Arkenwold family, no longer welcome in Dimhaven, moved to Thornward. There, the sharp thorns of the yarpick trees common in the Bramblewood Forest are believed to snag the vulnerable organs of a penanggalan, preventing them from following the Arkenwolds and haunting them further.

    The penanggalan originated far from the Flanaess. Bopha Amrita was the daughter of Ayjavaman IV, founder of the ancient kingdom of Angmor far to the south. Ayjavaman IV expanded his ancestral holdings to conquer the neighboring land of Turavati, which was ruled by devil-worshiping nagas. His daughter, Bopha Amrita, was plain and considered difficult to marry off, and unrest fomented in the kingdom for the lack of a male heir. Finally, the princess delved into forbidden texts confiscated from the subject Turavati and summoned a devil, who offered her eternal youth and beauty in exchange for her soul.

    The devil's boon was more than it appeared, however. Such was Bopha Amrita's beauty that the neighboring kingdoms made bloody war to win her hand. Bopha Amrita regretted her bargain and prayed to the threefold goddess Shekinester for salvation. Before she could do appropriate penance, however, the Brahmins of the land learned of her sins and beheaded her as a devil worshiper. Yet, because of her pact, she could not die, and her head and guts transformed into the first penanggalan. Legend has it that after slaughtering the priests, she was able to make it back to her original body, and she reigned as queen of Angmor for centuries. Penanggalans remain the most common sort of vampire in the southlands, though how one infected the Rhennee clan that brought the curse to Bissel is a mystery.

    Before Bopha, perhaps they were the entourage of a ha-naga in Turavati.

    The legend doesn't mention which archdevil Bopha's benefactor worked for, but given the buzzing of flies that heralded the creature, it was almost certainly Baalzebul.
    GreySage

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    Wed Oct 14, 2020 10:25 am  

    Ettins, huh? I was expecting the children of Ettar and Zogga to be the first formorian giants. :)

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    Wed Oct 14, 2020 6:23 pm  

    Wow, Rasgon, those are amazing, and I'm going to use all of these, some now, some later. I particularly love the origin of ettins one (why didn't I see that coming?)

    Did you invent Angmor & Turavati, or are they derived from an obscure but Rasgon-recollected source?
    GreySage

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    Wed Oct 14, 2020 7:40 pm  

    edmundscott wrote:
    Did you invent Angmor & Turavati, or are they derived from an obscure but Rasgon-recollected source?


    I think Angmor was supposed to evoke Angkor Wat in Cambodia. I was going for Southeast Asian-sounding names.
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