01 December 2022

More Greyhawk News to Cheer your Sunsebb!

Darlene's Greyhawk Map with Hex Coordinates 

Zach Henderson's Map

We got discussing module hex coordinates in the Flanaess Geographical Society group on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/ghmaps/posts/5868854479844570/ (building in part on some September discussion at https://www.facebook.com/groups/ghmaps/permalink/5621068317956522/, where I was looking for a map-based mechanism to ID hex locations on Darlene's map), and Zach Henderson created this fabulous map:


Zach Henderson at work on Darlene's map
Zach Henderson at work
on Darlene's map

You can download Zach's full map file freely at https://www.dropbox.com/s/xjogcd7xltwqv4c/WoG_Map_Coordinates_v2.jpg.

Thanks Zach!  

Paul Stormberg's Module Hex Coordinates

During that same discussion about TSR module locations, Paul Stormberg of The Collector's Trove, Legends of Wargaming, and Legends of Roleplaying fame, shared the list of known hex coordinates for classic-era TSR modules set in Greyhawk. Paul's list draws in part on the module locations as defined in the Glassography to the World of Greyhawk booklet (1983 boxed set, page 30), but expands upon it as well:

In any case here is the "official" World of Greyhawk Glossography locales and another set done in Polyhedron 10. Both have some problems with their locations and likely have some "windage" applied to them by fans over the years to mark "better" locations:
  • A1 A4-101 (Poly #10: A4-101)
  • A2 A4-102 (Poly #10: B4-103)
  • A3 A4-104 (Poly #10: Z3-103)
  • A4 A4-104 (Poly #10: Z3-103)
  • C1 A4-137 (Poly #10: Y3-135)
  • C2 A4-92 (Poly #10: Z3-91)
  • D1 M5-138 (Poly #10: M5-141)
  • D2 M5-138 (Poly #10: M5-141)
  • D3 N5-138 (Poly #10: M5-141)
  • Q1 N5-138 (Poly #10: M5-141)
  • EX1 D4-86
  • EX2 D4-86
  • G1 P5-129 (Poly #10: N5-126)
  • G2 S5-134 (Poly #10: V5-128)
  • G3 M5-138 (Poly #10: N5-139)
  • I1 Y-109
  • L1 B-78
  • L2 (Module: "18 miles south[-east]" of B-78
  • L3 (Module: "18 miles south[-east]" of B-78) 
  • N1 K5-113/H5-112
  • S1 K2-97 (Poly #10: L2-100)
  • S2 T3-70 (Poly #10: U3-69)
  • S3 A6-119 (Poly #10: Z5-118)
  • S4 E5-88 (Poly #10: M5-141)
  • T1 O4-98 (Poly #10: N4-95)
  • U1 (Poly #10: U4-123)
  • U2 (Module: V4-124) 
  • U3 (Module: W4-125)
  • UK1 (Poly #10: O4-124)
  • UK2 (Module: E5/137 and F5/138) 
  • UK3 (Module: E5/137 and F5/138) 
  • WG4 F5-88
  • WG5 (Module: X3-86) 
  • WG6 D4-86 (Greyhawk Castle Locale)
Compiled module locations are also shows on the Canonfire! map at http://www.canonfire.com/cf/ghadventures.php (but you don't get hex coordinates with them too).

Lenard Lakofka GenCon "AD&D Open" Tournament Adventures Newly Re-Discovered!

Tentatively identified as rounds 1, 5, and 6 of the 1982 GenCon Open tourney:

Recently sold by Michael Cox of The DragonsTrove:

I'll pull the details from the auctions and add them to my Greyhawk Tourney History page, if applicable (I don't immediately see any Greyhawk content in them, but will dig some more).  I've also been in touch with Matt Shoemaker, who maintains the GenCon Events Database at http://www.best50yearsingaming.com/.

Lenard was a fan of The Companions' hex grid maps, which helped me to ID the last round of the tourney as possibly also created by him. 

I also recently confirmed that Lenard co-wrote  "The Great Deck" (by LL and Wm. John Wheeler), "Cards of Minor Power" (by Wm. John Wheeler, with LL and Peter L. Rice), and Magical Treasures (by Wm. John Wheeler and Peter L. Rice, with LL and others) in The Companions' Treasure Trove I: Cards of Power 1982 generic D&D supplement.  

I'll add these details to my Lenard Lakofka Index over the holidays.

grodog's GaryCon XV Events Submitted and Approved

I also submitted two events to run at GaryCon XV in March 2023.  Both have been approved but not scheduled formally yet, so take the date/times below with a grain of salt for the moment:

  • LEGIO V—Gary Gygax's Castle Greyhawk Level Keyed by grodog     
    • Queued for Scheduling     
    • Thursday at 19:00     
    • 5 hours      
  • LEGIO V—Gary Gygax's Castle Greyhawk Level Keyed by grodog     
    • Queued for Scheduling     
    • Saturday at 19:00     
    • 5 hours

 Here's the event's long description text:

Explore grodog's version of one of Gary Gygax's unpublished Castle Greyhawk dungeon levels. The Chessboard level existed in either the Original or Expanded Castle Greyhawk. grodog has a copy of the original map, but not the original key.  So, you're playing Gary's (slightly modified) map with grodog's key.

Bring your graph paper, dice, and a healthy dose of paranoid courage! 6th-8th level charcaters provided.


The Lake Geneva Legio V began as a handful of gamers who have attended Gary Con since its inception. We have grown over the past few years to include like-minded individuals united by a respect of Gary Gygax and his legacy. We are the dedicated attendees who love Gary Con for the camaraderie it establishes, the Game Masters who run games from across the decades, and the committed gamers who spend these four days in a fervor of dice rolling and old-school good times.

Although events run as LEGIO V Presents will use a variety of rule systems, our focus is on games authored by Gary and his contemporaries as well as those systems whose designers pay homage to these pioneers.


On Friday night, I will also help DM one of the rounds for Paul Stormberg "Legends of Roleplaying" AD&D Open tourney.  That's usually at 6pm. 

grodog Interviewed Twice in One Week!

October was a rare month with two interviews for me:

Shane Plays

Shane Stacks of Shane Plays interviewed me on Sunday afternoon 9 October 2022, and it just went live last night:

OSRIC & The OSR with Allan T. Grohe Jr. - Episode 264- 11/30/2022

RPG developer and publisher Allan T. Grohe Jr. (aka "grodog") joins to talk AD&D retroclone OSRIC, the OSR, Black Blade Publishing, John Eric Holmes, and RPG goodness in general. Allan LOVES him some Greyhawk. The skills he learned tracking down early information on Greyhawk helped lead to his main non-RPG career. How active is the current AD&D 1E and/or OSRIC scene? What is Allan’s definition of OSR, and does he feel it’s important? The legal importance of OSRIC to the OSR community. ‘zines are often lauded, but at one time Dragon magazine was a sort of “D&D website” in its day as well. Watching an RPG project happen behind the scenes. Shane offers a mild defense of rules lawyers. “Vanilla” fantasy is not a derogatory term. Cthulhu and Delta Green. Look, just hit Cthulhu with a boat. Shane has figured out Lovecraft’s indescribable color. Thunderdome match: Strongheart versus Warduke.

You can listen at https://shaneplays.com/osric-osr-rpg-allan-grohe-podcast/ and on YouTube or your podcast platform of choice (see the main link).   


College of Wooster Gaming Research

Within the same week, on Thursday evening, 13 October 2022, Laura Jentes---who is working on a gaming history MA thesis at the College of Wooster (in Ohio)---interviewed me about my experience gaming in the later 1970s through to the present.  

This is part of her research on the oral history of gaming (she also wrote a bio on Gary Gygax as part of a class she took last year).  All of the content and research will be shared later in the spring once her work has concluded, and I'll share the news when it becomes available.

I'm off to Philly to visit my family and friends in South Jersey on Friday, and I may perhaps try to drop in on PAX Unplugged, too.  We'll see how the timing shakes out.

And that's all the news that's fit to print, for the moment, anyway ;)


24 November 2022

The Prophecy of the Six and the Twelve

As retrieved at the behest of the Seventh Order of the Darkly Luminous from its Astral fastness in Zjelwyin Fall, the highest priests and priestesses of Celestian invoke the Mandate of Far Seering, and herald into Oerth and its sister-worlds, on this Godsday, the 11th of Goodmonth, in the 576th year of the reign of Celestial Aerdy, the nineteeth prophecy of the twins:  the Prophecy of the Six and the Twelve.


The Prophecy of the Six and the Twelve

Bleak communions: eldritch gardens, fallen shadows
encircle and conjure, name and bind our chorded woe.
All-Father lost amongst Fimbûl winters’ whispers—
wastelands of wishes, long-sought in mast’ries’ umbrage.
Twin daughters stand—resolute, against opening gates
as the sands’ tides rise in unchronicled secrets

found, lost, found again—the march of moments, secrets
seeking, seeking dusts drift and swallow all shadows.
Vain hope to halt the keying of myriad gates
without the Twins’ sacrosanct blessings—untold woe
will flow, filling seas, valleys, and skies with umbrage—
unbound cacophonies, loves’ unspoken whispers,

bloodlines unborn beyond Time’s unyielding whispers—
forever barred from unlocking tomorrows’ secrets.
The Twins times twice—each brightening in awed umbrage,
adroitly chime, ringed with wisdoms—chase the shadows,
unwind the Strands of Fate to reweave the worlds’ woe—
newly-spun, reborn in storms—scale the final gates.

A web of motes illumines planes, ley lines, and gates,
divines clear roots of quiet through the silences, whispers,
Susurrations, and branching forks—all paths of Woe.
To fight the future—decrypt its resounding secrets,
speak their wisdoms to the chiaroscuro shadows,
unveil the Prince of Raptors, find allies in Umbrage.

Beware!—winterlorn seekers, replete with umbrage,
assay to disjoin the Twins’ names, to fissure the gates,
rechime time, and wreath all worlds in ashen shadows.
Breach their unravelling wiles’ twisting whispers
lest—lured into Eclipse with chromatic secrets—
they unleash once more the long-sought, lost Isles of Woe!

Hearken!—black-iron wyrds weave arcs of worlds against Woe.
The Twins in issue must overcome the Twins’ umbrage—
undisputed their bedimmed, festering secrets
will spill across the spheres’ conjunctions, key the gates,
blind the Father in silence’s sibilant whispers
while the Stern Mother’s wisdoms fall into shadows.

Tides of Woe conjure and bind worlds in shadows.
Resplendent Umbrage sheathes tangs and tongues in whispers.
Gardens of secrets increase beyond the dim gates.


And so it begins.


24 October 2022

October in Greyhawk: Things that Go Bump in the Night

In October, thoughts naturally gravitate toward the undead and other things that go bump in the night, so I've compiled some of my house rules and other variant rules about undead for your Halloween-inspired gaming!


Undead Variants - grodog's Standard House Rules

  1. All undead gain a +3 hp bonus after their HD: i.e., ghouls are 2+3 HD, ghasts are 4+3 HD, groaning spirit is 7+3, etc.

    This is a natural extrapolation from the mid-tier undead like wight, wraith, mummy, specture, and vampire, and it does give them all a bit more staying power (and make them worth a bit more XP!). 
  2. In my campaigns, zombies are now the lowest form of undead at 1+3 HD undead, and skeletons are promoted to the 2+3 HD undead:  i.e., skeletons are tougher, faster (they get +1 on initiative!), and way cooler than zombies---as it should be, in the classic Harryhausen manner:

    Jason and the Argonauts (1963) -
    skeletons by Ray Harryhausen

  3. All undead cause fear upon sight (with a range/radius of 1" per HD of the undead) in any creature with HD equal to or less than the undead's HD:  i.e., zombies (1+3 HD in my games) cause fear in up to 1+3 HD monsters, and 0- and 1st-level PCs and NPCs.

    A save vs. Spells negates the fear, with Wisdom bonuses/penalties applicable.  If the save is failed, duration of the fear is 1 round per HD of the undead minus the PC victim’s level (with a minimum duration of 1 round).

  4. For the past several years, I've used the DMG's Alternate Turning Matrix described in the table notes in the 1e DMG on page 76:

    The progression on the [clerical turning] table is not even. A variable
    increment of 5% appears - 19, 20. It is included to reflect two things.
    First, it appears to allow lower level clerics a chance to turn some of
    the tougher monsters. It disappears (at 4th level) and reappears again
    only when the clerics have reached a high level (8th and up). This
    reflects the relative difficulty of these clerics when faced with turning
    away the worst of evil creatures, but also allows the table to have them
    completely destroy the weaker undead. If for some reason you must
    have an exact progression, follow the columns for levels 1, 2, and 3,
    correcting to the right from there - and thus rather severely penalizing
    the clerics of upper levels, but by no means harming play balance.
    Column 4 will then read, top to bottom: T, 4,7, 10, 13, 16, 19, 20. Do not
    otherwise alter the table as it could prove to be a serious factor in
    balance - weakening or strengthening clerics too greatly.

    I began to adopt this rule after seeing vampires, ghosts, and liches basically made useless as monsters against high-level clerics turning via the standard table. 

    Another rationale for these rules (in my mind anyway!), is to differentiate clerics a bit more.  Perhaps some deities that are particularly dedicated against undead grant their clericis the original turning tables, while most employ turning on the Alternate Matrix

    When implemented, the Alternate Matrix for Clerics Turning Undead, et al, looks like this:

    Thankfully provided in full DMG-compatible layout and font through the kind graces of users Jeff and Joe Mac on the Knights & Knaves Alehouse, and downloadable at https://onedrive.live.com/?authkey=%21AKCnK4DqVZ5ZJcU&cid=BAC8631E5B382A0F&id=BAC8631E5B382A0F%215041&parId=BAC8631E5B382A0F%21144680&o=OneUp.

Other Noteworthy Undead Variants

While many new types of undead monsters are introduced in various TSR adventures as well as in subsequent OSR publications, some interesting variant undead types remain buried in semi-obscurity and deserve a bit more visibility. 

The Dungeon Masters Guide lists NPC vampires in the Monster Level IX and X tables of Appendix C.  The Level IX vampire also has the full powers of a 7th to 10th level cleric (1d6+4), while the Level X vampire is also a 9th to 12th level magic-user (1d4+8). 

Rob Kuntz's uderlings from RJK-2 Tower of Blood (published originally by Pied Piper Publishing and reprinted by Black Blade Publishing in 2014) are a cool undead gnomes that mix plane-of-shadow and vampiric powers: 


RJK-2 Tower of Blood --
back over art by Jim Holloway


Lenard Lakofka introduced several undead variants in his wonderful sandbox adventure L1 The Secret of Bone Hill, including some that were not reprinted in the MM2:

  • Ghoulstirges:  (AC; 7, MV: 3"/8", HD: 1 + 6, #AT: 1, D 1-4 plus paralysis and blood drain). On the first successful hit the ghoulstirge does 1-4 points of damage and paralyzes the victim unless a save vs. Paralyzation is made. Every round thereafter,
    the ghoulstirge does 1-6 points of damage automatically, through blood drain. When the ghoulstirge has drained 12 points, it detaches from the victim and flies away to digest its
    meal. The ghoulstirges are 70% likely to guard a nearby treasure (on the body of a former victim). The treasure will contain 6-60 gp, 8-80 ep, and is 40% likely to also contain either a miscellaneous potion or scroll with 1-4 1st and 2nd level clerical spells.
  • Skelter: (AC: 6, MV 12", HD 2 + 2, hp 16, #AT 1, D 1-10). The skelter, like the zombire, is the animated remains of a once very evil low-level magic-user. It is immune to the same attack forms as listed for the zombire and can cast the following first level spells: shield, sleep. It can be turned as per wights and has 42 gp.
  • Zombire: (AC: 5, MV 12", HD 3 + 3, hp 18, #AT 1, D 2-12). The zombire is not slow like a zombie but might pretend to be so in order to deceive the party while approaching. A zombire is immune to hold, charm, sleep, and cold based spells, in addition to poison. It can be turned as per wraiths. In addition, the zombire, the animated corpse of a low-level magic-user, can cast the following spells:  First level: magic missile, protection from good.

I have naturally flipped the power-level of the skelter relative to the zombire to match my house rules above. 

Undead Variations - Standardized Immunities 

While I've used the above house rules for ages now, other house rules that I've developed have been less-thoroughly playtested.  They seemed like good ideas at the time, but I'm still not sure that they're necessarily worth the effort, overall. 

On example is that all undead benefit from a variety of different levels of immunities, which I codified into letters/types A-E, as written in the inside of my MM cover:

    1. Immune to sleep, charm, hold, energy drain, and generic mind-affecting spells (see Wisdom listing); also gain frost resistance (save at +4, -1/die damage)
    2. Immune to poison, paralyzation, immune to cold-based attacks
    3. Immune to aging, ray of enfeeblement/strength drain, black flame; also gain electricity resistance (save at +4, -1/die damage)
    4. Immune to death magic, exorcism, magic jar/possession, body sympathy; immune to lightning-based attacks
    5. Immune to insanity (including feeblemind, confusion, symbol of insanity), polymorph

    I defined most
    undead immunities for creatures from the MM, FF, and MM2---along with some additions from Dragon Magazine---as follows (shadows and slow shadows don’t appear on the list since they’re not undead IMC):
  • apparition – ?
  • bloody bones (?)  – ?
  • coffer corpse – ?
  • crypt thing (an insane/crazed/devolved lich?) -
  • death knight – E
  • demilich – E+
  • eye of fear and flame – ?
  • ghast – B
  • ghost – C
  • ghoul – A
  • groaning spirit – D
  • haunt – ?
  • huecuva – ?
  • juju zombie – D
  • lich – E
  • monster skeleton - C
  • monster zombie - B
  • mummy – B
  • necrophidius – ?
  • penanggalan – ?
  • revenant – E (C?)
  • sheet ghoul – ?
  • sheet phantom – ? (do these two really even exist in my games??)
  • shoosoova (Dragon #63) – C
  • skeleton – C (B?)
  • skeleton warrior – E
  • son of kyuss – C
  • spectral stalker (my renamed midnight stalker from Grenadier's Monster Manuscript) – ?
  • spectre – D
  • tapper (my renamed rapper from Dragon #58) - C
  • vampire – C
  • wight – B
  • wraith – C
  • zombie – A

Happy Halloween and Samhain!


15 October 2022

grodog's Virtual Greyhawk Con 3 Report!

Hola folks---

As usual, I had a wonderful time at Virtual Greyhawk Con again this year, the convention's third annual installment of Flan-flinging fun!  

I ran three games, played in two, and participated in the closing panel again, which made for a very fun, but also very full weekend (30 Sept to 2 Oct 2022).

Friday Night Only, Alas

I had registered to play in Jay Hafner's 5e version of the Dragon Magazine classic adventure "Citadel by the Sea" (designed by Sid Fisher, from issue #78):


"Citadel by the Sea"---
artwork by Roger Raupp

My thought had been that it would be cool to kick the tires on 5e for the first time in a scenario I knew pretty well, with a DM I kn0w from the days of Greytalk.  Unfortunately work conspired to keep me away from Jay's table on Friday morning, but my empty spot filled up quickly, so he still ran with a full table (which I'm thankful for!).  Perhaps next year, Jay!

Friday night, I DM'd Carlos Lising's adventure, G2 The Witch Queen's Lament, and it was quite fun.  It's always a pleasure to get to play a high-level villain, and Iggwilv is certainly one of my favorites! :D

We ran through Carlos' adventure tourney-style, and while the players were not able to complete the mission, they did plumb the depths of the vile wizard's lair that Iggwilv set them upon:


Your PCs are forcibly recruited by the Witch Queen of Perrenland and geased to perform a mission on her behalf. Will you succeed and find mercy as Iggwilv restores your freedom, or will you fail in your quest and and suffer eternal consequences beyond mere death? Set in the World of Greyhawk and its planes, AD&D 1e/OSRIC pregen PCs of levels 6-9 are provided.


Such is the notoriety of the dread Witch-Queen that mothers speak of her wicked deeds to frighten their unruly children into obedience. These legends are hardly tall tales. Indeed, the Witch-Queen is very real – the staggering bloodshed spilled as she led a demonic army to conquer a mighty nation a testimony to her existence. And yet, for all her power and vile deeds, the Witch-Queen grows pensive in her fell manor in Sarendathos, faced with a mystery whose subject has cut all too close to her dark heart. Can your PCs find a solution to that which vexes her...before the world again trembles beneath her wrath?

Written by Carlos Lising of casl Entertainment, this adventure module was the official tournament adventure for GrogCon 2021, and is written for the OSRIC™ rules (ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS 1st edition compliant).

Bring your graph paper, dice, and a healthy dose of paranoid courage! Game will be hosted in Webex, via Theatre of the Mind.

G2 The Witch Queen's Lament---
cover art by Daniel Govar

I changed-up the introduction and structure of the adventure a bit, but otherwise ran it using Carlos' baseline.  Carlos set the scenario in the tundra badlands north of the Burneal Forest and south of the Land of Black Ice.  Definitely makes we me want to revisit the region in the future, and to explore a bit more with Baba Yaga, Iggwilv, and the rest of the extended family.  Carlos ended up sitting in during session, which was a treat too.  

The players had fun, I had fun, and I bet you would too if you ran it!



On Saturday morning and early afternoon, I played in Michael Mossbarger's "The Brokenstone Alliance" and that evening I DM'd WG5 Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure by Rob Kuntz. 

Michael "The Brokenstone Alliance" had an interesting premise, and was set in Ratik---an area of Greyhawk I've not explored much as a DM or as a player (although we did recently attend a trial there in Bill Silvey's Monday night Greyhawk campaign)---which is what drew me to his adventure:

What do an emissary from an ancient dwarven clan, an earthquake, and a dwarf who died of no apparent wounds have to do with each other? Lots if you’re trying to protect the northern borders of Nyrond. Travel to the Flinty Hills and The Rakers to solve this mystery with characters level 7-9. (Thanks to Wm. H. Dvorak and his Bone March Companion for the ideas that form the basis of this adventure). This will use mostly OSRIC rules with additional homebrew rules and "Lord Gosumba" character classes. Will be using my Discord channel set up / invites will be sent the week before.

I played Abratic Black, a Magic-User 9 with a wand of lightning and wand of illumination, a scroll of 3 spells (friends, haste, dimension door), a potion of water breathing, and a nice assortment of spells.  The PCs were on a mission for King Lyndwerd of Nyrond (and had previously served him in other scenarios) to act as ambassadorial explorers in the Nyrond's name.  

Michael ran his game online using Owlbear.Rodeo, which is not a platform I'd used previously.  It was pretty cool, but, alas, I didn't capture any screenshots from Michael's prepared materials, which were definitely good-looking! 

We were able to complete the mission, although we did run a bit long over time (perhaps 20 minutes or so?). 

WG5 Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure is one of my favorite D&D adventures of all time, and is one of Rob Kuntz's finest designs.


WG5 by Rob Kuntz---
cover art by Jeff Easley


For this adventure, I added two more player characters to the mix of pregens originally published in the module:  Otis (Ranger 9) and Lord Robilar (Fighter 12) joined Mordenkainen (Magic-User 12), Bigby (Magic-User 10), Yrag (Fighter 9), and Riggby (Cleric 9)

The PCs explored the first level of the dungeons (we didn't make it into any of the Maure Castle levels, alas), encountering various and sundry dungeon features and inhabitants throughout.  They did manage to meet and defeat the Terrible Iron Golem through some savvy play (although Bigby was turned to stone!), which is not a feat I've seen replicated most times I've run the adventure. 



In the morning, Josh Popp ran an unpublished adventure designed by Lenard Lakofka---"The Ravages of the Mind":


Lenard Lakofka's final adventure. Journey into Ratik's Timberway to root out a growing malignancy. An AD&D adventure for characters level 3-5, pregens provided. Content Warning: kidnapping.

Lenard Lakofka's unpublished
"Ravages of the Mind"---
non-final cover art by Syedafarrwa (Farva)


I played Oben, a Cleric 5 of Phaulkon, as we explored the remains of a Temple to Llerg still manned by its high priest after it was ransacked by orcs 30 years back.  The high priest had been slowly growing more strange over the years, and kidnapped a local woman and her little girl who looked like his wife and daughter slain when the temple was sacked.  Things went from bad to worse as we explored deeper into the environs and temple!

Josh also DM'd using Owlbear.Rodeo, and I did remember to capture some highlights during the adventure:


Marner region of Ratik--
Cartography by Anna Meyer


Temple of Llerg Wilderness Environs



Temple Compound

We explored about half of the temple compound, slew of bunch of orcs, but were not able to find and rescue the missing townsfolk from Layakeel before the session ended.   We also never discovered the dungeon level, either, but had a great time playing through the adventure!

After Josh's scenario, I had an hour to eat lunch before running Erik Mona's "River of Blood"---one of the earliest Living Greyhawk scenarios published BITD:


The Millstream runs red with the blood of the abducted children of Greyhawk's lower class, triggering memories of a crisis thought averted long ago.

Create your own 1st level AD&D PC to play in this classic Living Greyhawk scenario designed by Erik Mona.


Eric's adventure was in part inspired by the NPC description of Sir Bluto Sans Pite from Lawrence Schick's S2 White Plume Mountain:  

S2 White Plume Mountain---
by Lawrence Schick


The background information is a bit more extensive in the adventure, and paints a chilling picture of the hellish nightmare that the PCs stumble into:


The River of Blood

26 years ago a noble of the city was implicated in a series of crimes so horrendous that news of the foul event spread as far as Ratik*, confirming provincial wisdom that the city of Greyhawk was good for two things alone:  corruption and death.

The scandal began with teh dispppearance of eight children, scions of nobles and wealthy merchants....

The criminal behind the abductions made himself known in a hideously violent act of confession. Merchants travelling east on High Street from the High Market to the Duke's Gate noticed it first.  The waters of the Millstream, the thin creek that runs throughout nearly the entire city, ran red with blood.


(*And there it is again!  Apparently it was a Ratik-themed convention for me!).

"River of Blood" was the first of two Living Greyhawk scenarios that Erik published in his "Absolute Power" series (the second was "As He Lay Dying"), but the rest of the adventures remain locked behind Erik's eyes (for the moment---he did state later that he was itching to DM some Greyhawk again, so if we're lucky perhaps he might consider working on the series some more as part of his new campaign!). 

The six PCs were brand-new first level AD&D characters, with a good mix of martial classes (three human fighters, one dwarf fighter, one human thief, and one human cleric of Heironeous), but not an MU among them!   They were able to rescue the missing child (although they didn't solve the larger mystery of her disappearance and capture) and save the day, which is as good an outcome as any level 1 character could hope for!


The convention concluded with the Greyhawk "Ask the Experts" Panel, hosted by Jay Scott, with Joe Bloch, Eric Boyd, Anna Meyer, Erik "Iquander" Mona, Denis Tetreault, and me as the panel guests: 



The recording is available on YouTube, as are all of the streamed games from the convention:


"A room full of liches, other than Anna"
quipped some wag in the chat ;)

We had a great chat that ranged through a number of fun topics, including:

  • Castle Greyhawk and the City of Greyhawk
  • Stoink
  • Elminster being mentioned in passing in Ivid the Undying
  • L6 and other unpublished Lenard Lakofka materials
  • Favorite non-TSR scenarios to use in Greyhawk
  • How to change-up the Greyhawk Wars
  • Favorite Dragon Magazine ad products
  • and more!

It was a fun discussion, and a great way to round out the convention weekend!


25 September 2022

Astral Adventures in Greyhawk

The players in my Castle Greyhawk campaign have spent most of the past 11 months (since 23 October 2021) romping about in the Astral Plane, and, at long last, they're likely to return home to Oerth soon, I think.  Our next session (last night, on 24 September 2022) will tell!

We have been playing through my (somewhat modified) version of Anthony Huso's excellent scenario, Zjelwyin Fall (also available in PDF if you prefer):


Zjelwyin Fall cover art by Daniele Valeriani
Zjelwyin Fall cover art
by Daniele Valeriani

As part of my work to deploy Anthony's adventure into my Greyhawk campaign, I also used this as an opportunity to define some more of the planar architecture for the setting.  Some of that design work went into adjusting the framework and background for the scenario to suit my current campaign situation, and some of it was general work expanding upon the options for how the Astral Planet works in my games.  

I'll delve into the campaign context after we wrap up the adventure in our next session, so for now, I'll share some of the rules and design work that I used to augment Anthony's scenario. 

The Astral Plane in AD&D

The rules governing astral travel, astral encounters, and astral monsters are (perhaps unsurprisingly) scattered across a variety of sources in 1st edition AD&D.  They appear in chronological order in:

  • Monster Manual (1977) - mostly in passing, not a lot of real planar substance
  • Players Handbook (1978) - Astral Spell, Great Wheel planar appendix, etc.
  • Dungeon Masters Guide (1979) - various notes, Appendix C p. 180 for one page of Astral and Ethereal wandering encounters, which notably include both the Ether Cyclone (ethereal) and the Psychic Wind (astral)
  • Deities & Demigods (1980) - introduced some new monsters and additional rules codifications, but still not a lot of real planar substance in here either (which was a bummer to me in 1980, since this was the first AD&D hardcover I waited for publication with bated breath!)
  • Fiend Folio (1981) - added some new monsters (most notably astral searcher, berbalang, and githyanki), and also updated the DMG's Appendix C's Astral & Ethereal Encounters on page 119
  • Dragon Magazine #67 (November 1982, just a few short months into my first subscription!) - featured both Gygax's first "Deities & Demigods of the World of Greyhawk" article, as well as Roger E. Moore's "The Astral Plane" (with additions from Gary); this is the first real treatment of worth for the Astral Plane, and the issue also included an astral adventure, "Fedifensor" by Allen Rogers
  • Dragon Magazine #71 (March 1983) - included Moore's follow-up Sage-Advice-like piece, "Solid Answers To Astral Questions"
  • Monster Manual II (1983) - added some new monsters, and also compiled the relevant Astral monsters spanning the MM, FF, and MM2 (but not D&DG, alas!) on page 155
  • Manual of the Planes (1987) - codified the Astral rules based on the Dragon #67 article, didn't add much original material save some expansion to random encounter options

To these, I add various sundry house rules and variants from:

  • Dragon Magazine, generally via early articles about the planes (see the bibliography in my first Gates article from Knockspell for more specifics), and the new monsters introduced from the "Creature Features" columns (inaugurated with Gygax's Mind Flayer in Strategic Review #1), published adventures in Dragon, and the "Creature Catalog" inserts, for which installments began to appear with issue #89
  • Spelljammer (1989) - I've been fond of the idea of plane-travelling ships via Roger Dean's artwork for the band Yes (Fragile through Drama, in particular), Michael Moorcock's Ship Which Sails over Land and Sea as well as the more-apt misty-plane-and-time travelling Dark Ship helmed by the blind captain from Sailor on the Seas of Fate; Spelljammer never quite lived up to this potential, but I still use have a soft spot in my heart for it and leverage some of its rules in my planar architecture and mechanics (and the Neogi are reminiscent of Babylon 5's shadows, too, which is not a bad thing....)
  • I was rather more fond of the 3e Manual of the Planes (2001) than the 1e version (although you can't go wrong with Stephen Fabian interior artwork from the 1e book!), and have probably lifted some ideas from there as well
  • Pagan Publishing's astral rules in The Golden Dawn (1996; for use in Call of Cthulhu), for which I was an early playtester
  • Sepulchrave II's "Tales of Wyre" stories from EnWorld (2002-2014; we can still hope for more!):  lots of inspiration here, but moreso for the Plane of Shadow (and the Abyss!) than the Astral
  • While Anthony Huso's Zjelwyin Fall (2019) is grounded in the 1987 Manual of the Planes, Huso departs from MotP in various ways as well 
  • Trent Smith's Heroic Legendarium (May 2021) offers some very cool guidance on leveraging psychopomps guiding dead spirits en route to the Outer Planes, too

The Astral Plane, and AD&D's planar architecture as a whole, is a far-from-codified system, and remains one of the largest gaps to fill for an enterprising Dungeon Master.

Astral Encounters in AD&D

The DMG, D&DG, Dragon #67, MotP, Zjelwyin Fall, and Heroic Legendarium all offer a variety of interesting Astral encounter options, and to some extent I leveraged them all for our Astral sessions, as follows:

Encounter Checks Frequency

I checked for random encounters on two different schedules for the PCs' Astral excursion: 

  1. Three fixed checks, at the adventure start, midpoint, and end @ 1 in 10 chance for an encounter for each check.  If an encounter is indicated, the type of encounter is checked in the Astral Encounter Table 1 (see below), with the following modifiers:

    • Beginning:  standard chances
    • Midpoint:  +05% 
    • End:  +10% 
  2. Three daily checks (every eight hours of Astral travel), with a 2 in 20 chance for an encounter:  a roll of 1 indicates an standard encounter, whereas a roll of 2 indicates an encounter observed in passing (this will not resolve into an actual encounter if the PCs do not interact, and showcases the grandeur and spectacle of the Astral Plane as the metaphysical superhighway of AD&D's multiverse). 

Astral Encounter Table 1

I baselined this table using the Dragon #67 article and MotP, blending the two.  Roll d100, adjusting if necessary (for fixed checks):

  • 01 - 75:  Creature Encounter, roll d100 again below:
    • 01 - 60:  Outer planar creature (see Astral Monsters List)
    • 61 - 75:  Astral native creature (see Astral Monsters List)
    • 76 - 90:  Prime planar creature, roll d100 again below:
      • 01 - 60:  Prime characters
      • 61 - 90:  Prime creature with Astral sensory perception
      • 91 - 99:  Insane/catatonic Prime characters (sensory deprivation to catatonia)
      • 100:  Insane/catatonic Prime creature with Astral sensory perception
        (sensory deprivation to catatonia)
    • 91 - 100:  Deity creature, roll d100 again below:
      • 01 - 60:  Working psychopomp deity on the job with entourage
      • 61 - 75:  Travelling deity with 0-4 servants (roll 1d6-2)
      • 76 - 85:  Meeting between 2-5 divine envoys (roll 1d10:  1-4 = 2, 5-7 = 3, 8-9 = 4, 10 = 5)
      • 86 - 95:  Battle between 2 divine, infernal, etc. forces
      • 96 - 99:  Strangetiude gods (Yog-Sothoth, et al)
      • 100:  Super Special:  Conjunction of the Million Spheres, etc.
  • 76 - 85:  Color Pool
    • I have my own hues associated with the various gates and color pools that access the Outer Planes, but this otherwise functions the same as detailed in your source of choice
  • 86 - 95:  Astral Object, roll d100 again below:
    • 01 - 60:  Conduit/wormhole
    • 61 - 65:  Fixed Portal
    • 66 - 80:  Astral Permanent Planar Feature/Zone
    • 81 - 84:  Flying Missile (on its infinite course, surprises PCs 4 in 6!)
    • 85 - 88:  Elemental Pocket
    • 89 - 92:  Isle of Matter (roll 1d10:  1-4 = Prime Planar, 5-7 = Outer Planar, 8-9 = Alternate Prime, demi-planar, etc., 10 = Ethereal)
    • 93 - 96:  Lair of Astral native creature
    • 97 - 98:  Corpse
    • 99 - 100:  Artifact (some object, not necessarily Baba Yaga's Hut!)
  • 96 - 100:  Psychic Wind


Astral Monsters List

Anthony included a table of 20 wandering Astral encounters in Zjelwyin Fall, but I wanted to build out some tables to be a bit more comprehensive, and to allow for a variety of additional encounter types to make the Astral Plane come alive as the super-highway of AD&D's Great Wheel cosmology.  

To that end, I worked from the MM2 p 155 listing of Astral creatures (which breaks them down by Frequency), then combed various additional sources for monsters to broaden and deepen the list.  For those unfamiliar, AD&D 1e frequencies break down monsters as follows:  Common at 65%, Uncommon at 20%, Rare at 11%, and Very Rare at 4%.  

The frequencies listed below do not necessarily match the standard frequency rating for each creature, since they reflect my sense of how frequently they are encountered in the Astral Plane vs. the Prime.  * indicates that the creature's sensory perception extends into the Astral plane. 

Common Astral Monsters (65%; roll 1d12)

1. Cerebral Parasite
2. Daemon, Minor
3. Demon, Lesser
4. Deva, Astral
5. Devil, Minor
6. Githyanki
7. Human Traveller
8. Invisible Stalker
9. Night Hag
10. Nightmare
11. Slaad: red, blue, or green


Uncommon Astral Monsters (20%; roll 1d24)

1. Aerial Servant
2. Astral Wolf (D&DG, Nehwon Mythos, p. 97)
3. Agathion
4. Baku
5. Basilisk*
6. Cockatrice*
7. Couatl
8. Devourer (D&DG, Nehwon Mythos, p. 98)
9. Diakk

10. Dracolisk*
11. Githyanki (appears in both lists, not an error)
12. Gorgon*
13. Lich
14. Medusa (roll 1d8:  1-5 = AD&D, 6-7 = Greek, 8 = Arimoi)
15. Mi-Go (D&DG, Cthulhu Mythos, p. 46;
Zjelwyin Fall details a variant as well)
16. Pyrolisk*
17. Rakshasa (roll 1d8:  1-5 = MM, 6-7 = Knight, 8 = Noble; see Scott Bennie's article in Dragon #84)
18. Shedu
19. Star Leviathan (see Creature Catalog in Dragon #89)
20. Titan (roll 1d12:  1-5 = Lesser, 6-9 = Major, 10-11 = Elder , 12 = Greek)
21. Void Shark (Monsters of Myth
, Steve Marsh section; also in my Canonfire! Postfest 18 article)


Rare Astral Monsters (11%; roll 1d30)

1. Basilisk, Greater*
2. Berbalang
3. Byakhee (D&DG, Cthulhu Mythos, p. 44)
4. Daemon, Greater

5. Demon, Major
6. Devil, Major
7. Foo Dog
8. Gigante
9. Githzerai (70% hunting githyanki, or 30% in-transit to Limbo)

10. Gorgimera*
11. Great Race of Yith (D&DG, Cthulhu Mythos, p. 45)
12. Ihagnim (see Creature Collection in Dragon #89)
13. Hollyphant
14. Intellect Devourer
15. Ki-rin

16. Lillend (see Creature Catalog II in Dragon #94)
17. Modron, Hierarch
18. Moon Dog
19. Mynakh (Monsters of Myth)
20. Nightgaunt (Call of Cthulhu)
21. Phoenix
22. Planetar
23. Slaad:  grey or death
24. Thelndari (see Creature Catalog III in Dragon #101 and my updates)
25. Wind Steed (see Creature Collection in Dragon #89)


Very Rare Astral Monsters (4%, roll 1d30)

1. Astral Searcher
2. Avari (see Creature Catalog III in Dragon #101)
3. Catlord (or, alternately, other animal masters from Melnibonéan Mythos)

4. Daemon, Master
5. Demon, Prince or Lord
6. Demi-lich*
7. Devil, Duke or Arch-
8. Dragon, Unique:  Tiamat (my version), Bahamut, Sariador, or other
9. Dragonhorse

10. Foo Lion
11. Hound of the Underworld (Monsters of Myth)
12. Kelmain (D&DG, Melnibonéan Mythos, p. 90)
13. Kheph (Monsters of Myth)
14. Magnesium Spirit
15.Night Vapour (Monsters of Myth)
16. Oonai (D&DG, Melnibonéan Mythos, p. 93)
17. Opinicus
18. Primordial One
(D&DG, Cthulhu Mythos, p. 46)
19. Pudding, Alien (Monsters of Myth)
20. Retriever
21. Shedu, Greater
22. Sheelba of the Eyeless Face or Ningauble of the Seven Eyes
(D&DG, Nehwon Mythos, p. 101, 102)
23. Slaad:  Lord
24. Solar
25. Tsung Pathet
(Monsters of Myth, Steve Marsh section)
26. Ulyuleng (Monsters of Myth)
27. Utukku (see Creature Collection in Dragon #89)
28. Vampire

Sample Astral Encounters

While travelling through Astral space, my players' PCs encountered the following:
  • Day 6:  Astral wolves, which the PCs outdistanced (although the wolves trailed them for several days, they eventually sought slower prey)
  • Day 9:  a huge Kelmain host of 6,628 slain warriors en route to Limbo; the PCs watched it pass by for a few hours, and it faded into the distance
  • Day 13:  102 high elven spirits being guided to Valinor by Eärendil, bearing a silmaril upon his brow and sailing the Astral upon The Vingilot; after a very positive reaction roll (it really helps to travel with bards and paladins!), he provided the Blessings of the Valar to the PCs, and also gave them a lift, shortening their journey by 1/3
  • Day 25:  Intelligent, psionic yellow mold (that's no mold, it's an asteroid....), which the PCs battled, but ultimately fled
  • Day 27 had two encounters!; the first could have been avoided, but the PCs engaged with the titan:
    • a major Greek titan en route to Tarterus, whom the PCs also received a friendly reaction roll from due to a potion of growth having been consumed during the mold battle (making their MU 24' tall)
    • an astral deva, who provided the PCs with a potion of extra-healing (3 doses), and warned them of getting involved in the affairs of Shodreth Drachod, calling him "the gringling lich" (which unsettled the PCs mightily!)
  • Day 28:  the PCs saw what seemed to be a raven in passing (but was in fact a shape-changed imp), but they did not engage it
  • Day 32:  their phylacteries brought the PCs to Zjelwyin Fall, and the adventure began in earnest!

House Rulings in the Astral

During the course of play, various rulings were made that addressed gaps in how the Astral Plane works in AD&D:

  • Time does not pass in the Astral, therefore spells with durations and potions are permanent so long as the PCs remain in the Astral Plane
  • Because time does not pass, PCs do not bleed out if brought to 0 or fewer hit points; similarly, they neither enter a coma nor lose memorized spells while below 0 hit points, since no time passes
  • Clerics of Celestian are able to recover spells once per day, as if the PCs were still in Greyhawk, because Celestian's home plane is the Astral
  • Unseen Servant is a bit more versatile than I'd originally thought (and I already think it's the best first level spell in the books):  because Gary states that an unseen servant can "clean and mend" (mending being a pretty complex task), I allowed it to bind the wounds of an unconcious PC

There may be some other that I'm forgetting, but if so I'm sure my players will remind me and I'll update further.

New Magic-User Spell

I created this spell as a help for the PCs and placed it within Zjelwyin Fall, but they didn't find it---c'est la vie!  

Oshon Yanthû's Temporal and Material Encapsulation (Evocation—Conjuration, Alteration)

Level: 3 Magic-User (Savant 2?), (Cleric of Celestian 4)
Range: 0 or touch
Duration: Special
Area of Effect: Up to 1” radius/3 levels of caster OR 1 person + 1 per 4 levels of caster
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 6 Segments Magic-User or Savant, 8 segments Cleric
Save: None

DescriptionOshon Yanthû's Temporal and Material Encapsulation creates a bubble of native space-time normality within the Astral Plane, which allows designated spell casters within the area of effect to reset and regain spells via prayer and/or memorization.  Given that the passage of time is essentially meaningless in Astral space, the duration of the spell completes when all designated casters have completed their memorization activities.  

Oshon Yanthû's Temporal and Material Encapsulation will affect creatures travelling in the Astral Plane via silver cord (c.f., Astral Spell), or creatures travelling with their physical bodies (via gate, psionic Probability Travel, etc.), but not both.  The caster’s own Astral travel method determines which other casters may benefit from the spell.  In neither case does the spell enable contact with or access to deities or their agents, or to other planes otherwise normally inaccessible from the Astral. 


  1. Oshon Yanthû's Temporal and Material Encapsulation carries some risk for all Astral spell casters: 
    • For silver-corded casters, the spell risks snapping their silver cord, calculated at 1% x the highest-level spell memorized (no risk/effect upon any non-spell-casters designated within the area of effect).
    • For physical Astral travelers, the spell subjects them to the passage of time at normal memorization rates (see DMG page 40), including both time for sleep/rest, and prayer/memorization time.  So, they get hungry, tired, etc. as time passes.
  2. If cast while upon the Prime Material Plane instead of the Astral Plane, then Oshon Yanthû's Temporal and Material Encapsulation suppresses the effects of time-related spells and effects within its area of effect, including haste, slow, aging (by spell-casting or ghost touch, etc.), staff of withering, potion of speed, etc.

The material component is a ribbon of the finest, stiffened black silk, inscribed with mercurial or platinum ink; it must be one foot long per level of the caster, at a cost of 50gp per foot.  Twisted into a Möbius strip, it is consumed during the casting.  For clerics of Celestian, their holy symbol (a black circle with seven stars) is also required, but neither the holy symbol nor the ribbon is consumed in the casting.

Modifications to Zjelwyin Fall for grodog's Greyhawk

Here's a distillation of my discussion on Anthony Huso's boards about my Greyhawk modifications to his adventure.

12 September 2021:  My Castle Greyhawk PCs were overdue, in one or two cases, to hit level four, so it's now or never, and I seeded the entry into Zjelwyin Fall in last night's session.  I have to figure out exactly how my background changes require me to rework the module (if at all), since the PCs will be acting as agents of the local clergy of Celestian and not looting the tomb, but instead retrieving an item stored there previously by mutual arrangement.

I haven't decided if they'll be charged to either 

  • snag the item (a scroll or book of prophecy or something related) directly, or 
  • wake the lich to donate two objects to him in order to remove their desired object, or  
  • both (with #1 being the plan, and #2 the backup in case they awaken him or he is already awake)

They may also be protecting a pair of nubile twin acolytes (modelled off of the classic Virgin Records logos at https://rarerecordcollector.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/v-2012-kevin-coyne.png), but I haven't decided if keeping them alive may be too challenging or not....

I think that Shodreth Drachod (I added the "r" to the surname) has this working relationship with Celestian and his clergy, where Celestian helped to fashion and sustain Zjelwyin Fall and in return the lich helps to guard and secure items that he and his clergy wish to remain highly-secure.  

23 October 2021:  I'm doing 3 checks per day (every 8 hours = 3/day vs. every 4 = 6/day), with the total duration of the trip being [(2d20+4)x4 days] / 2 (due to the phylacteries, which they're wearing on their heads like diadem headbands, and which shoot out hot pink/ruby searchlight lasers to track and home in on ZF)

1 September 2022:  I'm thinking that Drachod (I added the extra 'r' in my version of his name) may offer help to the PCs out of desire for self-preservation (aka, the goodness of his heart ;) )---if their reaction rolls are good.  He acts as a custodian for prophetic lore from the clergy of Celestian, and in return Celestian helped to build ZF and still maintains it on Drachod's behalf.  So he has a vested self-interest to ensure that Celestian continues to invest that daily Primal flux into ZF. 

So the PCs will retrieve the prophecy previously-deposited* in ages past.  That they're pulling this particular prophecy (the sestina I emailed you) will pique his concern and curiosity, in particular if he notices one of the PCs carrying the lesser tentacle rod.  (In fact, he'll be far-more concerned about evidence that the drow attempted to infiltrate ZF and will immediately connect them to the prophecy, although he won't share that detail with the PCs, or Celestian).  Hence the help.  If he notices that, he may also geas the PCs to deliver a message to the Master at the NWI (which would be a handy way to introduce that into the game), or perhaps to Tenser, Iggwilv, or someone comparable (I haven't decided yet---he may just keep the info to himself, for the moment, too).  

* The PCs don't know this yet, but they're not just bringing back a scroll with the prophecy on it.  To retrieve the prophecy requires a virgin twin acolyte, and Drachod will kiss her to transfer it (sort of a cross between the Quickening from Highlander and the kiss of the angel Simon from The Prophecy).  Drachod himself is the storage device.  To deposit the prophecy into him (which the PCs are not doing) is a bit more intimate....  The twins are critical to the process:  the prophecy, while it is deposited into one of them, infects both:  so the twin who remains on the Prime also acts as a receiver for the prophecy, and gains access to it at the same time that the other twin in the Astral receives it from Drachod.  This ensures data availability for the priesthood in case the first twin doesn't successfully return home.  (The NPC twins naturally know nothing of this either). 

I also rewrote Drachod's poem at the pull-ring, recast with seven lines, each with one through seven syllables:

No mercy exists
before me
Open this door
to vanish forever
from Shodreth Drachod:  Gringling
am I

I hope that these will prove useful in your games.  Enjoy!