CAS

CAS

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Repost - Minstrel Tales, Songs & Poems of the Flanaess - A Prayer to Lolth



Minstrel Tales, Songs & Poems of the Flanaess

In my campaign, Bards, Skalds and Minstrels are fairly widespread across the Flanaess. They are sources for information, but much of what they convey is in the form of stories or song or poetry. I'm no poet, or lyricist so I normally convert Earthly songs and poems for Oerthly use.

A Prayer to Lolth

(The Priestess speaks)

She is Evil and huge and beautiful! She is our mother!

She is lustful and lewd! - Spider Queen; we have none other!

In the day she was hidden from us, but we found her moaning in the
shade.

We shudder and give her our will in the darkness; we are afraid.

(The Drow reply)

She sends us pain,
and we bow before her;

She smiled again
and bade us adore her;

She solaced our woe
and soothed our sighing;

And what shall we do
Without her guidence?

(The Priestess speaks)

She is hungry and eats our children; - how shall we feed her?

She takes our young males and our maidens; - ours to obey her!

We are loathed and feared and reviled of all Elvenkind; that is our pride.

She feeds us, protects us, loves us, and kills us; no longer shall we
hide.

(The Drow reply)

Death is strong;
But Lolth is stronger.

Time rules long;
But She rules longer.

She solaced our woe
and soothed our sighing;

And what shall we do
Without her guidence?

"On the Death of Smet-Smet, the Hippopotamus Goddess" By Rupert Brooke 1908 (with minor alterations for Greyhawk).

Monday, May 23, 2016

Wormy Reference Guide - Dragon #44



Summary:
Jack is bent over trying to scrape around the cave for some more Trolls when he is unexpectedly attacked in the behind by the Ethereal Demon released from the Snookerball by Frank. At the same time Bender has made his way to the top of the rise and is cutting Catfish and Frank free from Floyd's bag. Before the Ogre has time to notice the Demon has flown up and attacked his nose knocking him from the top of the small cliff in a FBDOOM!. The Demon goes after the Trolls and Catfish manages to stab it with the knife dropped by Bender even as he loses an arm to the Demon. It turns back into a dissipating cloud of blue smoke before it hits the ground.

References:

Bender:
The little Sallymander manages to climb the cliff and cut Catfish loose from Floyd's bag.

Catfish:
Rescued by Bender he loses an arm to the Ethereal Demon even as he manages to kill it with the knife dropped by Bender.

Ethereal Demon/ Snookerball Demon:
Unafraid of even giant-sized Ogres it manages to cut up Jack's bottom and Floyd's nose before getting knifed and dispatched by Frank. On their death the return to a cloud of blue smoke and disappear.

Floyd:
The Ethereal Demon attacks his nose and sends him stumbling off the small cliff.

Frank:
Trapped in Floyd's bag with Catfish he is rescued by Bender.

Jack:
With his head in the cave searching for Trolls he doesn't see the Ethereal Demon appear buts feels it when its claws tear into his bottom. He thinks it is Floyd playing tricks on him.

Snookerball:
The cracked Snookerball remains quiet and inanimate even when it is nearly hit by Bender's knife.

White Dwarf #17 Cover Art


Cover Art By Angus McKie

White Dwarf is hitting the Big Time with bit of artwork. I love this artwork and had many of Angus McKie's Sci-Fi illustrations in a number of books from the early 80's. He did work for Heavy Metal magazine and a segment of the movie. He was also a colorist for comics (a waste of the man's talents as he own artwork is fantastic). This is one of my favorite pieces of his artwork.

Repost - City of Greyhawk Southgate - Southgate Bridge (South Bridge)


NOTE: Map from City of Hawks by Gygax


City of Greyhawk Southgate - Southgate Bridge (South Bridge)

City of Greyhawk Southgate - Southgate Bridge (South Bridge)

NOTE: So far I have not found a reference to the name of the river that flows around the east of the city and connects with the Selintan nor a name for the bridge directly south of Southgate. I have used the information in Gygax's Yggsburgh's campaign as an inspiration and guideline for detailing the bridge and its guards.

Southgate is perhaps the busiest of Greyhawk's many gateways. Some may argue for Rivergate with its constant flow of goods into the city from the docks outside the walls, but the road south of the great city matches each cart, pack and wagonload through the Rivergate and surpasses such numbers with travellers on foot, horse, carriage and fantastic beast.

As the traffic flows into the city so do the coins from the tolls of South Bridge and the gates. While South Bridge is not part of the Southgate complex of walls and towers, as the bridge is nearly 250 feet from the city gate and the tollhouse at the south end of the bridge, the small detachment of guards (1 serjeant and 4 troopers as well as 2 recruits during the daywatch) are part of the gatehouse commander's garrison. The toll collector is a minor functionary of the city bureaucracy.

THE BRIDGE

Southgate Bridge or South Bridge as it is now more commonly called is a massively impressive structure. It was constructed at the same time as the gates and outer double-wall which surrounds modern Greyhawk. Cyclopedian blocks of stone were used to form its supporting pillars, (12 sets which span the swift moving Eastbend River as it curves around the city to merge with the Selintan). The surface of the bridge is formed of 8x8 foot stone slabs which can be replaced if broken or worn, but beneath them is a cradle of wooden timbers and a cunningly interlocked stonework that allows the bridge a great deal of flexibility.

The bridge is 80 feet wide and rises in a shallow arc to a high point at its center. It is nearly 250 feet long. At the south end of the bridge are two short pillars. A thick, iron chain is anchored about 3 feet above the ground to the eastern pillar. A groove is cut into the roadway so that when the chain is slack it fits flush with the road causing only a small bump to passing vehicles. The chain runs across the 80 foot width of the bridge and passes through a hole in the western pillar then runs another 10 feet into the east wall of the tollhouse. Inside there is a drum crank which is used to wind in the chain, taking up the slack so that it will run across the southern end of the bridge at a height of 3 feet. There are 3 wooden supports for the chain, used as the legs of a table for the toll collector during the day, that are used to keep the chain from sagging between the pillars. (The top of the table is a simple rectangle of wood kept in the tollhouse at night).

Along the sides of the bridge 15 foot high poles are set at intervals of 30 feet. At the top are open lanterns containing a round stone enchanted to give off continual light. At night the light from these lanterns illuminates the entire bridge except for a band of darkness about twenty feet wide at the center. The stones are a gift from the clerics of Fharlanghn who help to protect the Southgate entrance to the city.

Beneath the paving stones near the northern edge of the bridge is an enchanted brazier. The commander of the Southgate garrison possesses a torch made from crystal; (it hangs on the wall of his meeting chamber in the round Southgate tower). By touching the crystal torch to any source of fire and speaking a command word, (the name of a fire elemental, Xyphnryx) he summons the 16HD elemental to perform a single task. The creature will appear in the enchanted brazier beneath the bridge and consume the center of the wooden beams supporting the roadway. The elemental can burn through enough of the wooden supports to collapse a 1 foot section of bridge surface every 2 combat rounds. It's geas is for it to burn through the entire 250 foot length of the bridge supports. It will continue to do so unless attacked, then attempt to destroy or force its attacker from the bridge. It will then continue to burn through bridge supports unless halted by the crystal torch being plunged into water and the command word Xyrnhpyx pronounced. At that point the elemental will return to the elemental plane of fire and will not return. The crystal torch and brazier must be re-enchanted and another elemental bound to the summoning brazier. Once fired the wooden beams and stone slabs of the bridge surface will fall into the river. The pillars and stone skeleton of the bridge will be unharmed needing only new beams and stone slabs to be completely repaired.

THE TOLLHOUSE

The tollhouse is situated at the south side of the bridge and set 10 feet west of the west stone pillar. The building is 20 feet wide and runs 30 feet south. The walls are foot-thick stone fitted together with the same craft as the bridge and the walls of the city. At the south edge of the east wall there is a stout oaken doorway that can be barred from the inside (the doorway can withstand 150 HP worth of damage before splintering). Piercing weapons cause no-damage unless magic and then only any magical bonus damage, blunt and slashing weapons cause half damage, but chopping weapons cause full. The door requires no to hit roll but if critical hit charts are used a d20 should be rolled, where a 1 is a normal fumble and a 20 double damage.

The walls are pierced with loopholes at a height of 7 feet above the ground. The ceiling is very high, 12 feet above the floor. There are 4 loopholes in the east wall, 6 on the west, 3 on the south and just 2 on the north (a fireplace is built into the center of the north wall and the loopholes are on either side). There are six wooden chests that are used by the guards to stand on to fire their heavy crossbows through the loopholes. Their vision is limited so to hit rolls are made at -3, but they receive almost complete cover inside the tollhouse and their armor class for return missile fire receives a+10 bonus.

The interior of the tollhouse is lit by two lanterns each with a small continual light stone inside and suspended from the roof by a chain which can be raised and lowered, (another gift from the clerics of Fharlanghn). Near the fireplace is a table and five chairs, and a chest containing foodstuffs; iron rations at the bottom (3 day's worth for 7 men) and whatever fresh food the guards bring along when they begin their duty shift. There is a large water barrel (hidden inside is a large skin-sack of ale) and several cups are on the top lid of the barrel in the north-east corner. Above the fireplace there is an old dented shield and across the mantel is a rusted mace. If the mace is struck against the shield it causes a loud gong to sound on an identical shield kept in the main hall of the circular gate tower. This item is used only in the direst emergencies to signal that city. Each use causes the shield to become more frail and dented and the mace to be eaten more deeply by rust. There is a 30% chance that the next use will destroy both shield and mace, though the gong will still sound within the tower hall. Every use will increase this chance of dissolution by a further 5%.

Along the west wall there is a weapon rack that can hold 6 halberds. There is another rack that can hold 8 heavy crossbows, though no more than 5 are usually found among the guards; (they carry both halberds and crossbows with them from the gatehouse and return with them, while the nightwatch does the same). Beneath the rack for the heavy crossbows is a chest containing 10 cases of 20 crossbow bolts. One of the cases of bolts is dyed red (the others are black). Inside the red case are bolts whose ends are covered in pitch and wrapped with waxed paper to be used as a signal to the gatehouse in an emergency. A second chest contains sharpening stones, weapon oil, rags, bowstrings and small tools that can be used to make adjustments to the crossbow and larger tools that can be used on the ballista on the roof.

At the center of the west wall metal rungs are bolted that lead to a trapdoor in the roof. The trapdoor can be bolted from either side but is normally left open for ease of access, air and light during the day. It is normally shut only when it rains. A rain barrel is set near the ladder and is pushed beneath it to catch leaking water when it does rain.

Near the rain barrel there is a small pile of wood for the fire and a chest filed with coal, (for use with the brazier kept in the roof). A coal scoop and a bucket sit on top of the coal chest.

The roof of the tollhouse has a 4 foot high wall around its edges with merlons set with 3 foot gaps. Archers firing from the roof receive 50% cover providing a bonus of +4 to armor class. At the south edge of the roof there is a ballista mounted on a circular platform. Two levers are set into the platform. One can unlock the platform so it can be spun and the ballista turned to face any direction. The second can be used to raise or lower the platform so that it can fire above the merlons or dropped so that the crew can take cover behind them. When the ballista is raised for firing the crew receives no cover and no armor class bonus. There are two large chests near the ballista. Each contains 10 bolts for the siege engine. A much smaller chest is near the center of the east edge. It contains 20 glass bottles filled with lantern oil. They are capped but beneath the cap a rag has been stuffed into the neck of the bottle. It takes 1 combat round to prepare the oil bottle and light the rag if a flame source is available. A small metal brazier with coal is kept smoldering day and night.

Ballista
Requires a crew of 2
Maximum range is 320 feet
Targets within 30 feet are at point blank (+2 to hit, Double Damage)
Short Range = 30 to 90 feet
Medium Range = 90 to 180 feet (-1 to hit)
Long Range = 180 to 329 feet (-3 to hit for 1/2 damage)
Damage size S-M = 2d10 Large = 3d10

Oil Flask
Range
Short = 0-10 feet
Medium = 10-20 feet (-2 to hit)
Long = 20-30 feet (-5 to hit)
A shattered flask of oil will form into a 10 foot diameter pool and splash oil in a 10 foot radius. Anyone in the pool of oil will suffer 2d6 damage on the first combat round (save versus breath weapon for half damage) and 1d6 damage on the 2nd round (or half damage rounded down if the initial save was passed). Anyone between 5 and 10 feet of the initial impact will be splashed with burning oil which will burn for 1-3 segments causing 1 hp of damage per segment, (save versus breath weapon for no damage). Any items caught within the pool of fire must save versus normal fire or be destroyed.

NOTE: A thrown flask of oil must go somewhere even if it misses its target.

THE GARRISON

The small squad of guards at the tollhouse is broken into two duty shifts. A different group is assigned to these shifts every 6 days drawn from the garrison of the gatehouses. This duty is regarded as onerous and tends to make the guards a trifle more surly than their brethren at the gates.

The duties of the daywatch are:
1) Escort the toll collector from Southgate to the bridge.
2) Relieve the nightwatch guards.
3) Place a guard to walk the bridge and make sure the lightstones are not stolen.
4) Guard the toll collector while he performs his duties and more importantly, the money box. A dead toll collector can be replaced, stolen coin cannot.
5) Every 2nd hour escort the toll collector inside the tollhouse where he empties the money from the coinbox into an iron strongbox.
6) Keep order among the line of travellers as they approach the toll collector.
7) Crank the bridge chain into place at dusk and place the wooden supports beneath the links every 20 feet.
8) Send a runner to the fort at midday or at any time something unusual or dangerous occurs.
9) Clean up the tollhouse for the next duty shift.

The daywatch consists of;

1 Serjeant Ftr Lv4 HP24 AC3
Chainmail +1, Helm, Bronze Badge of Fharlaghn ( an enchanted pin in the symbol of Fharlaghn that gives +1 on saving throws and +1 on armor class). He is armed with a longsword +1 to hit. Heavy Crossbow. Dark red tabard with the device of Greyhawk on the front (his bronze pin is on his right shoulder)

4 Guardsmen Ftr Lv1 HP6 AC4
Chainmail, Helm, Copper badge of Fharlaghn +1 bonus to armor class), Halberd or Heavy Crossbow, Longsword. Dark Red Tabard with the device of Greyhawk on the front. Their copper pins are on their left shoulders.

2 Recruits LV0 HP3 AC8
Leather armor, short sword (-4 to hit)

2 of the guardsmen are assigned to stand by the toll collector while the other two man the ballista on the roof. The serjeant acts as their relief so they can take breaks during their duty shift. The 2 recruits patrol the bridge and act as runners to take messages to the gatetower. The recruits also perform all the scut work such as cleaning the tollhouse, emptying the slop bucket. setting the wooden blocks up as the table for the collector, setting them up at dusk under the chain and operating the crank to wind in the chain.

The toll collector is a 2hp AC10 functionary. He has on his person the keys to the iron chest and the coin box, but is not allowed to carry any coins himself (and is searched when he returns to the citadel at dusk.

At dusk a wagon with a serjeant and 4 men-at-arms (FTR LV2 HP12 AC5) Chainmail, Longsword, Light Crossbow, 20 quarrels , comes to collect the coin box and the toll collector and return both to the Citadel. Soon afterwards the squad of nightwatch guards appears.

The nightwatch at the toll house is identical to the daywatch with the following exceptions. There are no recruits and 2 of the guardsmen are either half-elves or dwarves. The 2 possessing infravision are posted to the roof and man the ballista. The other 2 guardsmen guard the chain and keep anyone from crossing the bridge. One of these guardsmen will act as a runner if it is necessary to send a message to the gatetower. If anyone approaches the bridge after dark the guards direct them to the Bastion to the east of the city, or back along the road to one of the several inns or taverns, (the nearest is an inn called 'South-of-the-Bridge' just a half-mile down the road ).

The duties of the nightwatch are:
1) Relieve the daywatch
2) Man the ballista
3) Guard the bridge and make sure no one steals the chain or the lightstones
4) Lower the chain when the daywatch and toll collector arrive in the morning.


THE TOLL

The toll for crossing the bridge is:
1cp per traveller of size S-M.
10cp per mount of normal size or large travellers.
50cp per wheel of a wagon or cart with a small to medium load
1sp for large to giant-sized mounts or giant sized creatures or heavily loaded vehicles
Extremely heavy or large creatures or vehicles require the permission of the city oligarchs in order to make use of the bridge.

NOTE: I have used the bridge toll costs from Gygax's Yggsburgh campaign setting as a basis for the South Bridge toll.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

White Dwarf #16 Molten Magic


These are mainly sci-fi miniatures though there are a few fantasy (I believe the 3 from Archive Miniatures are all fantasy as well as 3 from Asgard and 1 from Citadel). A fairy poor selection but I would have liked to have had the Battlestar Galatica bootlegs from Q.T. Models. That Cylon raider looks to be a pretty good copy.

The Spear That Roars for Blood - Part 8



They made their way through the thick woods and hid at its edge looking out onto the path. The dogmen had run back up the road to the shelter and the bloody scene of the fight, but along the path more were coming, this time with the skraeling at their head, leading them.

As they left the small side path the dogmen spread out across the road and waited in small groups. The skraeling paced back and forth looking first down the path then up the road to where his scouts had gone.

The sound of marching feet and the grumble of voices could be heard. A long file of hobgoblins appeared, two abreast, along the narrow path. They marched out onto the road and spread out till they filled it side to side, then kept moving south and east toward Gorakil and the lowlands beyond.

A large and heavily armored hobgoblin detached itself from the front rank. It shouted an order and the pig-faced monsters began to march twice as fast, almost at a trot, their feet rose and fell as one and the ground shook beneath their heavy tread.

The skraeling looked eye to eye at the hobgoblin chief, its muzzle-like mouth coughed out words the hobgoblin could understand. It pointed to the north and shook its head. The hobgoblin shouted back, but Arawn could understand neither tongue.

"What they say?" Arawn whispered to Sharptooth.

"Dogman chief, it not want to go south," Sharptooth almost laughed, "It want to look for you and me. Ironskin chief, he say, dogman told to scout ahead, big ones be mad."

The skraeling gave a loud barking shout, the dogmen gathered themselves and began to run up the northern way. The skraeling gave one more coughing yell and the hobgoblin shrugged, and shouted at its hairy back.

"What was that?" asked Arawn

"It say, 'your funeral' when the big ones catch up with them." this time Sharptooth did laugh but he hid it in his hand. "What we do now?"

Arawn watched the hobgoblins march by, their numbers were great and growing with every passing moment. They cut the ranger and the hob off from the south and the east like a mobile wall.

"They are coming along the river, and this path keeps us from crossing to the south," Arawn looked around. "We will have to go back north and cut across the road where they cannot see, then head back east and south through the woodland on the roads other side."

"Maybe we go find friend. He know what way best," Sharptooth said with conviction.

"Friend already want us to go south," Arawn replied and eyed the bespelled hob. Was Daghdha's charm wearing thin, he wondered?

***

Arawn and Sharptooth paralleled the road and moved north. The ranger kept them out of sight and far enough inside the wood so that Sharptooth's noisy passage would not call down the attention of the dogmen upon them.

They'd traveled for several minutes before Arawn stopped them and checked the road. "Stay here!" he told Sharptooth. "I'll see if the road is clear."

Sharptooth nodded, but as soon as Arawn had disappeared the hob took off heading north.

***

"Dogmen, curse them," Arawn thought to himself. The skraeling chief and its patrol had met the scouts returning with the wounded dogman that Arawn had left behind. They barked back and forth. What did they say? Arawn wished he'd picked up some words of their uncouth tongue.

The skraeling became enraged. It pushed at the wounded dogman, knocked it from the supporting arms of its fellows and began to kick it unmercifully. There was a growling discontent, the skraeling carried an iron rod and swung it suddenly without warning. It struck down the nearest dogman, brought the tall beast to its knees. The skraeling struck again and again till the dogman's head was a bloody pulp. The other dogmen all backed away, some whined in fear and cringed. With a loud, deep bark the skraeling set them running, back to the south and the hobgoblin troops. But before it disappeared down the road, Arawn saw the skraeling glance back north with a look of fear on its own face, the mirror of the cringing dogmen.

Two bodies lay upon the road. As Arawn watched the one-fanged wounded dogman pulled itself along the ground and off the road. When it reached the woods along the eastern verge, it collapsed and lay still. Arawn knew it couldn't have died, that dogman was born for hanging, since sword and savage beatings could not seem to end its life.

The road was clear at last. Now to collect that dragon–footed clumsy hob from where he'd left him, thought Arawn.

The trail led to a three-boled tree, a hollow center stump whose limbs had grown when the parent trunk had died. He'd left the hob leaning back against it, propped up like some woodland king upon a bark covered throne, but the seat was vacant when he returned.

"Sharptooth," Arawn hissed. He looked around the tree, no hob in sight. "Sharptooth, curse you hob. Sharptooth!" he spoke as loud as he dared. The hob was gone, Arawn circled the tree once more but with a ranger's eye. There! A branch pushed back, broken, the hob moved north. Arawn set off in pursuit.

He had not traveled far when the sound of feet upon the road came through the wood. Had the hobgoblins turned north? Arawn paused. No, the sound came from the north and grew louder with each moment. There were shouts and rough bits of song and many, many voices calling back and forth. The footsteps rang out, a distant drumming sound, but imprecise, a wave of noise, not the ground shaking rhythm of the ordered hobgoblin ranks of the other tribe.

Arawn came to the wood's thin edge and crawled across the underbrush to view what creatures passed along the road.

Hobs, curse them all. These were the rest of Sharptooth's tribe. They bore painted shields carried on their backs and some had colored banners that showed the bitten sword, the symbol of their clan. They packed the road and moved as a great crowd, some ran ahead, then dropped back, others marched arm in arm and drove all from their path, some ran and tried to break the line, some with success forcing the marchers apart, others thrown to the side or on the ground. It was like some festival, a merry drunken crowd that laughed and sang, and had all day to get there and no place they had to be.

***

The trees gave a rustle behind Arawn and to his right. Sharptooth came crashing out, he shouted and called to the approaching band and stopped before them in the center of the road.

"That hob, I'll be his death," Arawn swore. He lay in wait but drew his sword and prepared for one last desperate fight to make them pay as dearly as he could before they took his life.

***

The hobs did not stop but several ran ahead and greeted Sharptooth merrily.

"Chief send you?" A large hob asked.

"You hurt?" another said.

"Look!" one called and pointed to a ragged gory banner, a dogman's hide uncured and still dripping with blood was held aloft upon a spear. "We find in road back there," it said.

"Chief dead, I escape," Sharptooth told them.

"The chief dead!"," What happened!"," Good!" all three said at once.

"Humans, warriors, they come, kill chief, kill many of tribe...." Sharptooth explained.

The roar of the approaching hobs drowned out what else Sharptooth said from Arawn's ears.

The others must be dead Arawn felt it in his heart. They would have found him along the road, or at least made some try at slowing these beasts' advance. Word must make it through to the lowlands. Arawn knew he must live long enough to tell of these monsters. The river was the only way.

Arawn crawled back into the woods. With his last glance at the road he saw Sharptooth surrounded by his clan and a new shout of anger and concern rising above the bouts of song and laughter. Out of sight, he stood and began to run.

The river was not far off, not here along this length of road, but a little further and the path curved and twisted around the sides of hills. The river flowed down an almost straight course till it reached the walls of Gorakil and ran north following a valley basin where the Green Oakwood and the town of Highaelph lay. The water would be the quickest way.

No boats sailed down the Aelphstream from its source, the river was fast and teamed with falls and rapids, but there was no other way. The hobgoblins would be before the walls of Gorakil by dawn if they marched all night. The river would take but half a day if he could survive the passage.

The woods thinned again as he neared the water's edge. They ended in a cliff that stood a good two score of feet above the rushing water. A narrow bank below was lined with marching troops; more hobgoblins, but to the north their rearguard marched along and a troop of formorians followed at a leisurely pace.

"The mountains must be empty. Will this horde of monsters never end," Arawn said to himself. The wooded cliff rose higher further to the north and jutted out closer to the river's edge. Arawn cursed the loss of time and turned his back on Gorakil, heading north. He weaved his way through the trees till he reached the jutting ledge of cliff. He heard the formorians and the steady thrum of the water far below.

Looking down he saw a formorian struggle past the narrow curve of path, though any human, dogman or hob would have had room to do a dance. Arawn dropped his pack and took off his leather vest. The pommel of his sword he tied down and then made his belt into a baldric and pulled it secure over his shoulder. His boots he laced together and held them tight, then with one final glance below, Arawn threw himself from the cliff, out far as he could go, and fell past startled formorians then splashed into the stream.

***

Cold, a sudden shocking breath-stealing cold; This close to the river's source all melting ice and run-off from a mountain lake. Arawn gasped, a stream of bubbles escaped, he sank deep and grazed the very bottom of the stream in his fall.

The current shoved him along as he swam up, his air was gone, his lungs emptied by the crash and the shocking icy water. It was not far to the surface but every moment felt like an eternity.

His head broke free. He coughed, spit water and gasped for air. He gulped it in and sputtered, he drank down a mouthful of both with every breath. The water roared about him and downstream, not far ahead the roaring sound increased.

"The fall!" he shouted to himself, the words were faint above the broken chorus of the stream. Another dive, such as his jump from the cliff, lay straight ahead, but now he would be joined by countless tons of foaming river.

***

A formorian, an average looking brute, heard Arawn's splash. It turned its head to see what made the noise and a spray of water caught it right across its face and chest. The formorian's eyes were blinded for a moment by the unexpected dowsing. It bellowed out a roar of shock and lost its balance on the narrow path. An out-thrusting wall of rock made the river's edge a tight squeeze for his massive kind. Its arms flailed out but its head struck the stone cliff wall, the formorian reeled and with a bloody scalp fell backwards into the river's speeding course.

The freezing water brought the monster round, but its injured head made all the world look hazy and doubled in upon itself. The formorian swam, but the river was not so deep that its feet would not have reached the bed and let it walk if it could manage against the rushing force of the stream. Its stomach heaved like a landsman's might upon the sea, and cold though the water was, a fierce heat beat between its eyes and in its chest.

Great arms rose and fell, the formorian speeded on. The water pulled and pushed it fast down toward the fall close ahead. Some bit of jetsam bobbed in its path, it tried to veer aside but the formorian moved to fast.

***

Arawn shook with cold, his teeth chattered though he held them tightly clenched. He bit into the leather of his boot to keep them still. His body felt mostly numb, his wounded side was a dull ache that ebbed as the water chilled it to a senseless lump of flesh. A small cloudy splash of red hung around him as he was rushed downstream.

***

Two swimmers crashed, one small and riding on the stream, the other of giant size and with massive arms splashing forward at great speed. Arawn did not slow the formorian down one little bit. He was buffeted by the monster's bleeding head and caught against a shoulder the size of some great tree. The ranger reached out and grabbed onto a thick hide vest then pulled himself up by handfuls of the formorian's sodden hair. With a heave Arawn made it to the formorian's back and like a child with arms around its parent's neck, held on for his dear life.

***

The formorian's back was wet and cold and its arms sent up great splashes which rained down upon Arawn as he clung to the monster's neck. Still the day was warm for the time of year and the sun felt good between the chilling drops.

The roar of the fall grew louder and the shouting from the shore was drowned out. A long line of hobgoblins stopped and pointed at Arawn and his unlikely living watercraft, they screamed and roared themselves hoarse but the river's voice was stronger. Some sound of it must have reached the formorian's ears, it shook its head and Arawn flailed about like a small dog on a stranger's trouser leg. The formorian turned itself and fought the current. It swam for the river's edge. The hobgoblins hooted with a glee that the ranger could not hear.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Repost - City of Greyhawk City Gates and the Gods



City of Greyhawk City Gates and the Gods

City of Greyhawk City Gates and the Gods

NOTE: There are no Gygaxian canonical references to the idea of deities linked to the various gates of the city, though the names and locations of these gates and the description of the city walls come from the novel City of Hawks (and Saga of the Old City in regard to the Black Gate/Beggars Gate). What provoked such an idea was the reference to alignment and religion within the city from Gygax's article "Varied Player Character and Non-Player Character Alignment in the Dungeons and Dragons Campaign" (The Dragon #9) and the practicality of having both clerics and magic-users as part of the guard compliment of the city gates. To maintain some sort of balance between clerics of differing faiths and alignments I could imagine only a rotating shift of clerics of varying faiths back and forth between the gates or dedicating a particular gate to a particular deity. I chose the latter as it seemed the most likely.


The City of Greyhawk has sixteen gates. Eleven of these gateways are roadways in and out of the city while four are interior gates leading from the Old City to the New and one connects the Foreign Quarter to the rest of the Old City.

The eleven gates that pierce the exterior wall are broad to accommodate wagon and cavalry traffic both coming and going. The outer wall around the city is actually composed of two walls separated by one hundred feet of open ground and so each road into the city is protected by two gatehouses.

The outer gatehouse is a square 40x40 tower, 40 feet high. The inner gatehouse is a 60 foot diameter tower 60 feet high. Each tower has its compliment of guardsmen. The outer gatehouse is the residence of the deputy-commander of the guard and also spartan quarters for both a pair of mages and a pair of acolytes.

The inner gate tower is the residence of the guard commander, a magic-user and several of his apprentices, and a cleric with a varying number of underlings.

The City of Greyhawk is not a bastion of Good, nor is it a cesspool of Evil, and neither does it strive for neutrality. Instead the city manages an uneasy balance of all three and the myriad shades of differing alignments in between. Temples, churches and shrines abound, each representing most of the known deities and demi-gods of the Flanaess, but no single faith dominates within the city, except perhaps a whimsical and almost filial attachment to Zagyg by the general population. Still, in order to protect the city more than just stone and steel is required. Magic most certainly, and the Wizards' Guild pays a tithe for such protection with a small contingent of mages at each gate, but the assistance of the Gods is required as well.

When the great outer wall was constructed the foundation stones were laid with ceremony and the blessings, sacrifices and offerings to and from many deities. Each of the eleven gateways was dedicated to a different god after much wrangling, bribery and infighting and thereafter the clergy of those deities selected would be responsible for providing a small retinue of priests or clerics to reside at the gateways and offer their services for the protection and benefit of the city. The small portion of the tolls collected and handed over to these clerics was just the City's way of saying thanks and keeping the gods on their side.

Here is a list of each gate and the deity whose priest or cleric resides within.

1) Southgate - Fharlanghn
2) Longgate - Bralm
3) Hillgate - Ulaa
4) Midgate - Hextor
5) Oldgate - Olidammara
6) Lordsgate - Pholtus
7) Fairgate - Beory
8) Highgate - Zilchus
9) Guarding Gate - Heironius
10) Lowgate - Zodal
11) River Gate - Geshtai

Although part of the Old City with much smaller gateways and only a single guardhouse, each possesses a shrine to the following deities though not a cleric assigned to them.

12) Markgate - Ralishaz
13) Waghalter Gate - Kurell
14) Safelock Portal - Rao
15) Craftgate - Bleredd
16) Black Gate (Beggars' Gate) - Istus