09 October 2023

virtual Greyhawk Con 4 - grodog's convention report

It has been a quiet summer for From Kuroth's Quill, and with good reason:  for those not already aware, I've been laid off by Amazon Web Services as part of their "return to office" (or RTO) policy, so I've been pretty distracted from Greyhawk and fun in general the past few months.  My last day shifted around a bit, but my time with AWS concluded on Wednesday, 27 September, so I've had a couple of weeks to destress and work some of that angst out of my system.  

And I'm happy to say that virtual Greyhawk Con #4 this past weekend played a good part in that process!

virtual Greyhawk Con logo and dates: 6-8 October 2023
virtual Greyhawk Con logo and dates: 6-8 October 2023

I have not squeezed so much gaming into a three-day weekend since the early days of GaryCon and the North Texas RPG Con!---I played in three games, DM'd three games, and closed out the convention in the "Ask the Experts" roundtable once more, and my brain is very full!:

"My brain is full" image from Gary Larson's _The Far Side_.
Image from Gary Larson's _The Far Side_.

Here's a quick rundown of my events and activities:

Friday - 6 October 2023:  a Great Start

I kicked off the convention DMing my "Halls of the Iron Golems" level from my version of Castle Greyhawk.  Here's the initial draft of the dungeon level map:

"Halls of the Iron Golems" dungeon level by Allan Grohe (grodog)
"Halls of the Iron Golems" dungeon level map,
by Allan Grohe (grodog)

An eight-PCs crew entered the level through the SW corner stairs, where they were soon ambushed by a trio of extortionistic ogre magi, led by a shaman with a giant amphisbaena snake familiar (who said snake charm was never useful, hmmmm?).  They also explored a strange astronomical/astrological chamber filled with many tempting gemstones embedded in the walls (but not so tempting that they got distracted from their mission and began prying them out!).  They also explored several of the adjacent chambers and halls.  Fun was had by all.

In my evening game, I played in Carlos Lising's casl Entertainment adventure, The Amphora Ekphrasis, a sequel to last year's "The 9" (I played a 1/1 female halfling druid/thief named Snow, which was a different PC from my 1st level human cleric last year).  We managed to secure for our down-on-its-luck-sounds-too-good-for-how-down-it-is home base named Bulkwark---a Great Depression-era Keep on the Borderlands.  

We invaded an old ruined site that had been claimed by orcs, seeking a decanter of endless water for our cohorts at Bulwark.  As it turns out, the site (and it's relic decanter) was originally sacred to Lirr, goddess of prose, poetry, literature, and art.  After a few battles and some well-played tactics from the group, we prevailed and accomplished our mission.  The quality and type of liquid produced by the decanter varied by the quality of the prose pages sacrificed by placing them within the decanter; solid workmanlike texts produce clear, clean water, while more esoteric and moving works could produce holy water and potions.  

As always, Carlos ran a great game, and the rest of the players were a joy to play with, as we explored Carlos' post-canon setting Great Kingdom during the early 600s CY.  If you'd like to watch the replay, Carlos has it on Twitch stream at https://www.twitch.tv/videos/1944576093:

Saturday - 7 October 2023:  Long-Haul Fun

I played or ran games from 9am to 11pm on Saturday, with a one-hour break for dinner from 6-7pm.  That's definitely the longest stretch of continuous gaming I've done in quite awhile.  Fortunately my voice didn't give out, and my brain wasn't fried by the time I began DMing in the evening :D

The day kicked off with my 9am to 2pm session DM'd by Mike "Von Molkew" Mossbarger's Mystery in Midmeadow event, during which our high-level party of agents of the Nyrondal King Lynwerd discovered that recent attacked in the area were precipitated by an hitherto-thought-mythical race of evil known as the drow!  Conspiring against the drow were the also unknown rockseer elves, who we were able to secure as allies against the drow.  

Much fun was had by all, and Mike does a great job handling the setting lore (we discovered the underworld source for the Franz River at Crystal Springs, too!), as well as presenting a very engaging game using maps and graphics on Owlbear Rodeo:

Collage of Mystery at Midmeadow maps by Michael Mossbarger
Collage of Mystery at Midmeadow maps,
 by Michael Mossbarger

During my next game, which ran from 2-6pm, Curtis Cable ran "Fell Tidings at Willow Blight Abbey"---a reskinning of the classic module B5 Horror on the Hill by Doug Niles.  We played 4-6th level PCs invading a humanoid-occupied ruined abbey located in the Jotens, to stop the destruction of a holy helm sacred to Heironeous.  

Curtis also ran a fun game steeped in Greyhawk and AD&D lore---the abbey forces were led by a shaman of Maglubiyet, while the site was steeped in the trappings of Incabulos' worship.  

After Curtis' game concluded, I grabbed a quick dinner, and then DM'd my twice-monthly home campaign, where the 4th-5th level PCs are currently engaged in selling some sacred gemstone eyes chiseled out of a hidden temple to Nerull in Castle Greyhawk; they're selling them back to the temple of Nerull in Dyvers, and it seems to be going well so far....

Saturday - 7 October 2023:  Ending on High Notes

Sunday morning I slept in a bit, and jumped back into the saddle at 11am to run my second session of "Halls of the Iron Golems."  This time the PCs started in the lower-right quadrant of the map, and explored north and west and northward to within sight of their goal by the end of the session!  Quick thinking during various encounters (with a glassteel skeleton golem that resonated when struck with melee weapons and thereby damaged its attackers, and a giant slug) and a relentless focus on making progress in the proper direction paid off :D

At the end, the party was foiled by an insidious sliding stair trap which split the party and dumped them into two skeletons-filled chambers:  one submerged in 12 feet of water (alas, three of the four PCs wore magical armor and the one PC who was in normal armor---and therefore sank like a rock---had a ring of swimming! ;) ), while the second was submerged in caustic and poisonous gas!  This particular trap was inspired by Dave S. LaForce's classic DMG illustration:

Skeleton attack! by DSL

The skeletons attempted to hold the PCs in place under the water and within the gas, but were defeated in the end....

The "Ask the Experts" session traditionally concludes the convention, and featured Jay Scott and Anna Meyer as recurring hosts, with Roger Moore joining for the first time this year, and Denis "Maldin" Tetreault, Joe "Greyhawk Grognard" Bloch, and me rounding out the participants.  

Our discussion ranged widely over the course of the 2+ hours, and touched on several interesting topics, including:
  • variant AD&D classes 
  • sites/scenarios that deserve Return To modules
  • modules most-in-need of salvaging
  • Flanaess cities that deserve the boxed set treatment
  • how we can bring more new fans to Greyhawk
  • places/times to consider running a pre-576 CY campaign
  • planar and temporal adventure ideas
  • 50th anniversary D&D ideas and plans
Tune into the discussion to explore these and other topics and ideas!:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTuw04FDdGo

grodog's 2024 Convention Schedule

I'm still currently planning to attend GaryCon XVI (21-24 March), NTX (5-9 June), and vGHC (4-6 October) next year.  

Since I'm currently unfettered by a limited number of vacation days, I may try to extend my GaryCon trip to include the pre-con Founders & Legends events running 16-18 March too, but that's still a long time away from my family, and the additional hotel and meals costs are not trivial, so we'll see....

I am also hoping to align a trip to visit my family in South Jersey with the brand new Philadelphia Area Gaming Expo con, which runs 5-7 January 2024.   

We'll see how all of that works out in practice soon :D 

50th Anniversary of Dungeons & Dragons

As part of the Q&A around D&D's 50th anniversary next year, I am working to complete the publication of one of my Castle Greyhawk levels.  It probably won't be done in time for GaryCon in March but may be ready for North Texas in June. 

I'm also working on a high-level adventure submission for the No Artpunk III adventure design contest, which remains open through the end of November.  

Thanks Yous!

I'd like to thank Jay Scott, Josh Popp, Anna Meyer, and the rest of the virtual Greyhawk Con crew for putting the vGHC convention together---each fall it's a wonderful way to close out my conventions for the year, and it's always a pleasure to meet new fans of the setting and to game together in their versions of Greyhawk.

And a sincere thank you to the players in my regular campaigns, and for those who participate in my events at vGHC and GaryCon and North Texas each year.  The playtesting that we do together makes my DMing better and my events more fun, and that is always appreciated! =)


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