Sunday, June 28, 2009

My absense, humanoid origins, Vatun, and cow

Priority: normal
Date sent: Mon, 3 Nov 1997 17:40:12 CST
Send reply to: The GREYtalk Discussion List
Organization: Dominican Univ., River Forest, IL
Subject: [GREYTALK] My absense, humanoid origins, Vatun, and cow
Originally to: greytalk@MIT.EDU

Yes! I'm finally back! For those of you who didn't notice, I've been gone for a month. For the first week, I was working on mid-terms. The second week I was catching up with the first week. Since then, something was wrong with my e-mail and I wasn't able to send anything no matter what I did. I owe one or two personal e-mails I intend to get to in the next few days. Of course, there are those among you who, for bizarre reasons, found my guns and plumbing threads boring and probably wished I'd stay silent. Well, to that I say – TOUGH!

Since I've been sitting here quietly for the past month unable to comment, I'm way behind on all the current threads. I intend to throw my opinions once more into the cyber-wind soon enough, but for now I thought I'd just share some musings I've had. These ideas are way out there, and I'm not even sure I'll be using them yet. Still, I wanted to share them and see what people thought.

First off, my idea about humanoid origins was this. What if, way back after the Invoked Devastation, the hordelings didn't leave right away. Recent postings have argued about whether summoning has a time limit. What if the hordelings stayed, molested the Oerdians, and the product of these hordeling-human unions gradually produced the orcs, trolls, and kobolds we all know (and love) today?

Secondly, this occurred to me at about the same time. What if the Vatun disguise of Iuz's was not Iuz's idea? A lot of gods were probably happy with his incarceration under Castle Greyhawk. What if they schemed to check the demi-god again? Zagyg, Cuthbert, and maybe some other lesser gods or quasi-deities kidnapped Iuz, forced amnesia on him, and told him he was the lost god Vatun? They got the Suel gods to go along with this, and that is why divination never revealed the Vatun deception.

There is one other thing I could use comments on. I am still working on my Monster Manual revisions (to the exclusion of far too much), and I just recently got to my Cattle entry. Has anyone given any thought to what breeds of cow may be found in the Flanaess? Can someone from Europe give me some names of European breeds of cow?

So far, I have developed three varieties of cow. There is the common (2 HD) Flannish cow. There is the smaller (1 HD) Kettish (or elven) cow which is considered excellent livestock. Then there is the Ideish cow (3 HD) which is strong enough to pull wagons, plows, and can even be rode like a mount (borrowed from the comicbook BONE). Is “Ideish” the word you would use to describe something from Idee?

Scott “Volstagg” Casper
Have fun in Brazil, Erik! Never mind that you've left me with one less Call of Cthulu player!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

GriffCrier: The Birth of Malaclypse

Date: Wed, 17 Feb 1999 21:41:19 -0500
From: Kenneth Newquist


Here's the latest Blackrazor adventure.

It takes place immediately after the end of the last saga THE DEATH OF MALPHAS. The saga, and its predecessors, is available via our Web site at

GM: Ken Newquist

Malphas, the insane elf responsible for the killing of two pairs of guards in two years, has been executed before an assembly of Greyhawk citizens and guildmembers. 'Nuff said. Read "The Death of Malphas"
In order to save Malphas, the Blackrazors had to let the city kill him. The false evidence against Malphas -- he hadn't killed the second pair of guards -- was overwhelming. Since their magically-determined evidence that he hadn't killed the guards was in admissible in the City of Greyhawk court, they had no way of fighting back.

So they didn't. Instead, after trying to convince certain powerful city officials to intervene, the Blackrazors waited for the inevitable. On the day -- Planting 20, C.Y. 588 -- that Malphas was to be executed, they gathered with the rest of the city in the River District. The guild's highest ranking and most powerful member looked on as the executioner led the elf to the killing stump. And then they watched in horror as the axe fell, and Malphas' head fell onto the floor. They absorbed the cheers of the city around them and then waited for the body to be taken away.

And then they acted.

* * *

The guild's chaotic half was not about to sit back and let Malphas be punished for the one crime he actually hadn't committed in his life. The gnome illustionist-warrior Gnarth Binderstone, the elf ranger Mist Silvershroud, the bard Yogesh, the human thief Gaiseric (aka Scrappy) and the ever vengeful human cleric of Trithereon, Kalib Ironfist ran into the sewers.

A little research earlier in the day had revealed that the city's burial chambers -- and its incinerator -- were located off of the sewers. The Blackrazors, with the magical help of the terramancer Sven Kildare, had molded a piece of the marble they'd recovered from one of the Star Cairns into the shape of Malphas. Sven had then cast stone to flesh, and the Blackrazors had burned parts of the false corpse to reflect Malphas' own burns (which he had sustained during his last brush with an incinerator during the Fall of Obsidian Bay).

They then sliced off the corpse head, dumped it in a sack, and waited for the execution.

When the guards began loading Malphas' remains onto a wagon, they moved. The small band ran to the sewers and again waited. When the guards -- escorted by a priest of Ralishaz -- began moving through the sewers, the Blackrazors fell back and began scouting out possible intersections to pull their switch at.

After 10 minutes of searching, they found one.

The guards numbered eight in all -- two carried the front of the stretcher, two carried the rear, and the rest took up positions in front and in back of them. As they neared the intersection, Gnarth summoned the illusion of a giant rat at the end of the long corridor. The unattached guards immediately reacted by running up to engage the rat.

The stretcher-bearers stayed behind to guard the body, just as the Blackrazors had hoped. As they had entered the sewers, Kalib had cast fly on himself, Mist and Gnarth from his gloves of spell snaring. Now, as the remaining guards watched their companions chasing a non-existent rat, Mist swung in and snared Malphas's bagged body. Kalib followed a moment behind, dropping a second body in its place. And then both he and Gnarth launched a barrage of forget spells that made the guards lose track of the last minute or so of time.

For once, the entire plan went off without a hitch.

* * *

With Malphas' body and head in their possession, the Blackrazors beat a speedy retreat to the temple of Trithereon. Once there, Kalib explained the situation. The priests were outraged by the city's unjust taking of a life, but still hesitated. A resurrection spell was a powerful thing -- a thing that they could only cast from scrolls. And this was Malphas -- his reputation wasn't exactly sterling.

Kalib did his best to allay their fears and they finally agreed -- on the condition that the elf was Kalib's responsibility and that he tithe the cost of the resurrection spell back to the church. They also requested that he turn over a powerful magical item he finds in the next year to Kalib and the church.

They called up the elf's departed spirit via a speak with dead spell, got him to agreed to the terms, and brought him back.

Then, in a dark corner of the temple's basement, they planned their next move. As far as the city -- and the lawful members of the Blackrazors -- were concerned, Malphas was dead. To avoid making more enemies and attracting the attention of current ones, he would have to stay that way.

* * *

Malphas concentrated carefully as he wove himself into a new form. This new body would have to be as perfect -- and as capable -- as his own. As the polymorph self ended, he looked into a mirror that one of the clerics of Trithereon had provided. The face before him belonged to a to a bastard high elf/aquatic elf. He smiled -- and the hybrid soon to be known as Malaclypse smiled back.

The fan-created information featured here is not meant as a challenge or threat to TSR's copyright.

Elected Nobles

Date: Sat, 13 Nov 99 12:37PM PST
From: AOL Ojerasmus Add To Address Book Add To Junk Mail
Subject: [GREYTALK] Elected Nobles

<< Consider the 'Holy Roman Empire', will you?

What about the Holy Roman Empire?

It was basically a 'hereditary' elected monarchy. A varying number of nobles and clergymen were electors who got to chose the next emperor (Between 5 and 8 I believe). Some of those electors were hereditary positions and some were granted by either the emperor or pope. Which of course gave the sitting ruler a huge influence on his successor especially as it was sometimes possible to do the electing while he was still alive (called I believe the King of the Romans and usually a son or cadet member of the ruling house).

While it was nominally an elected position it eventually settled into a defacto hereditary Habsburg monarchy due to the emperors ability to create and fill titles and the dependence of the electors on Imperial military and fiscal aid.

In the early middle ages there would often be outsiders put forward by one power group or other as candidates but over time I believe uncontested elections became common. The threat of putting up a candidate was often enough to win concessions for the electors in the later years of an emperors rule and the election during the lifetime of the previous encumbent meant that promises were usually stuck to.

While we are on the subject all nobles of the empire above Knight rank were known as princes of the empire similar to the Aerdian model used in Ivid. Their feifdom would have a seperate designation (dukedom, county whatever) but all the nobles would also be able to call himself a prince of the empire (which also gained some voting rights on seperate issues but not election).

It probably came from the fact that the Empire was nominally at least a confederation of petty states with the Emperor starting off as a position intended to work for their security against external threats rather than as a day to day ruler. All of the states ruling families felt that they were monarchs within their own states and viewed the Emperor as their elected servant rather than a true feudal overlord. Again as in all such matters there were huge differences between what happened in practice especially when the Habsburgs made the position almost hereditary and what the princes clung to as the traditions and laws of the realm. As the name suggests they considered themselves the succesors to the Romans and classical ideas such the senate or even democracy were highly thought of even if their practice was a far cry from what we consider democracy.

Elected monarchies were actually reasonably common in central Europe, Poland was an elected monarchy for a while and I think Hungary also had periods of elected rule. The Pope was of course elected and was an important secular ruler. With limited centralisation election was often the only way to come to a decision no one person had enough power to dictate, when power became more centralised in the late middle ages/early modern period the elections for royalty and for the day to day running of countries tended to give way.

When a monarch often depended on taxes or armed levies from his nobility they often wanted concessions and some form of vote was a nice way of showing what was what in the confused politics of Germany. Election of some form was also an option in times of a disputed succession but again it was a far cry from democracy.

I agree that modern democracy features too heavily in RPGs and should be eliminated but the idea of all powerful royal houses also features too heavily for my liking. The idea of divine right of kings and of central authority came to the fore nearer the early modern period than the period that Greyhawk seems to evoke. Kings needed the support of their nobilities and a good way of winning it was to let them in on the decison making process either in the form of councils or parliaments or often in continental europe by promising them a say over the succession. It still resulted in the same families ruling countries but they had to pay for votes to ensure it.

As for the Duchy, presumably it kept the name it had under Keoland, going back to the HRE there were plenty of Counties whose rulers felt they were supreme within their own boundaries and felt no need to inflate their titles.

All of the above was from memory, apologies if any errors slipped in.

Owen Erasmus

Re: [GREYTALK] Ogre-mage PCs

Date sent: Mon, 24 Nov 1997 10:28:23 +1300
Send reply to: rodking
From: rodking
Subject: Re: [GREYTALK] Ogre-mage PCs

Multi-What Orcs

Me Ug much keen on big-level orcs and orc friends
Good little orc to big orc train rules in DQ by TSR
DQ much just recently re-published (big word Eh!) by TSR orc clan this year
Also called Dragonquest
What dork orc quest for dragon?
Much dangerous but 'spose some that dumb - good treasure tho.

Me suggest you allow - use DQ rules - Good!
Or use Earthdawn rules - much gooder!
Earthdawn even have class of orc called "Liberator"
Liberator orcs real fun. Each time hur they save up damage.
When damage bank full and orcs seek freedom - watch out!
Special attack by liberator can deal all slavery damage back at you!

Best to use on snotty elfs

Me think that orcs in ADandD should advance (nice pronounce Eh?) at 1.5 cost
of normal fighter.
Me think this 'cause orcs have big groups of friends and novelty/shock of
BIG orcs should surpass player.
OROGS also big orcs - lots of levels.
You maybe use orog rules in Monstrous Compendium

ICE and Runequest also advance ork. Much big Uruk-Hai!
Ork MERP/Rolemaster ork pay some penalty 1.2 times xp.
This makes orcs sad but rule makes sense 'cause orcs much strong than ADD orc
and good sissy spelly things too.

You read/play any above for BIG orc rules - much fun. Just change to Greyhawk (nice birdie - Yum)

BIG orcs make sense but not whole tribes. Suggest 1 in 1,000 big orc - like adventurers.

Ug also like big Hobgoblins - especially ties to stake (Heh!). They logical
to advance too as are any half-breed.
Ug pure breed (much proud).

Hope this help

Ug the Eloquent
Sponsored by the "Ug for Pope" campaign CY 598