28 July 2023

Gary Gygax Bench in Lake Geneva

I’m a bit late in noticing this, but a park bench in Lake Geneva (Wisconsin, not Switzerland) was dedicated to Gary Gygax on Thursday, 27th July (Gygax's birthday). In addition to the bench dedication, there was a proclamation by the mayor announcing “Gary Gygax Day.”

(Of course, as anyone who has read the AD&D Dungeon Master’s Guide can attest, a table perhaps would’ve been more appropriate than a bench [see Appendices]…)

More information at ENworld

16 July 2023

The Tomb of Serten and the Helm of Laga Vulin (Greyhawk campaign)


9.1 Back in Hommlet (Wealsun 21st – 23rd)

Our intrepid adventurers — Erik (the mountain dwarf fighter from the Lortmils), Althaea (the high elf wizard from the city of Tringlee), and the brothers Godric (the human rogue from the Barony of Shiboleth) and Cedric (the human cleric of St. Cuthbert) – have returned to Hommlet after spending several weeks in the gnomish town of Gneissvale. The party is accompanied by the gnome Zeno Zacklington and his assistant Berta. Zeno had acquired the village’s trading post from the party and plans to establish a branch of the great Zacklington trading empire in Hommlet.

While in the village, the party updates the Council on the party’s recent activities, as well as the threats posed by brigands and gnolls to the trade route between Hommlet and Gneissvale. The adventurers explain that the “flaming eye” symbol used by the dark denizens of the Moathouse, including the now deceased Lareth, is one employed by the followers of Iuz. However, Iuz could not have been involved with the original rise of the Temple of Elemental Evil a decade ago, as he was not active on Oerth during that time. Nonetheless, the Iuzians are implicated somehow in the re-emergence of the Temple as a threat to the region. The party also introduces Zeno and Berta to the Council. Godric speaks with Jaroo Ashstaff afterwards; the druid assures Godric that the Wood Elves are likely to remain at their camp for a couple more months. 

While relaxing at the Inn of the Welcome Wench, the party is approached again by Furnok the half-elven “treasure finder.” After chatting a bit, Cedric begins lecturing about St. Cuthbert and presses a pamphlet of Sayings of the Wise Foole into Furnok’s hand. Suddenly the half-elf is overcome with weariness and excuses himself for the evening. Althaea approaches the hulking warrior Kobort and the enigmatic Baklunish wanderer Turuko; she purchases a round of Umberdeep Ale for them all. Erik challenges the brutish human to an arm wrestle and is victorious. Kobort reveals that the two now have a “big job” but stops talking after a pointed glare from Turuko.

Over the next couple of days Erik orders some new shoes from Americ the leather-worker, while Cedric spends time at the Church of St. Cuthbert. Godric flirts with some local wenches and plays cards with Furnok. He notices that the half-elf scoundrel is using marked cards, but still plays three games in order to not let on that he aware of the other’s perfidy. Furnok and Althaea play a game of chess. Althaea loses the game – and a platinum coin that she wagered. Despite his charm and wit, the party declines the half-elf’s renewed offer to accompany them.

9.2. Another ambush north of Hommlet (Wealsun 24th – 25th)

Early on the 24th day of Wealsun the party heads north from Hommlet, seeking the Tomb of Serten, which the mage Burne told them is located at the northern edge of the Kron Hills, adjacent to the Emridy Meadows. After an uneventful day, the party camps for the night. As dawn approaches, and Cedric is on watch, someone appears behind the priest and mutters, “This is for Rannos Davl and Lareth!” A dagger is thrust into stunned cleric! The treacherous merchant and assassin Greemag pops into visibility at the same time, his hand wielding the bloodied weapon. The party is under attack!

The evil gnome who assaulted Erik back at the Moathouse appears, as do Kobort and Turuko. The gnome hurls a sphere of electricity at Cedric, but the orb bounces off his helmet and fizzles out. However, Cedric is knocked out by Koboart. Erik, Godric, and Althaea rouse themselves. Kobort’s head explodes from a blow delivered by Erik’s staff of striking. Godric casts “Sleep” and both the gnome and Turuko fall into a dark slumber – a slumber from which they never awake, thanks to some fast work by the rogue and dwarf. Althaea casts “levitation” on Greemag, which hurls him twenty feet into the air. She then blasts the assassin with some magic missiles. Cursing in rage and agony, Greemag consumes a potion which transforms him into a pseudo-dragon; he then rapidly flies away. The party worries that this will not be their last encounter with the iniquitous servant of Elemental Evil.   

Among the loot found on the dead gnome and two humans, the party finds three pouches of “Dust of Disappearance.” They find one empty pouch and infer that the magical Dust is why they were so easily ambushed by the would-be assassins.   

The party pulls the bodies to the side of the road and decides to return to Hommlet. On their way back, Godric spies a caravan approaching. Wary and weary, the party hides from the peaceful merchants before resuming their journey. As night falls, they arrive back in the village. The adventurers inform Canon Terjon of what happened to them before retiring to the inn for several rounds of Umberdeep Ale.

9.3 The journey to the Tome of Serten (Wealsun 26th – 28th; Richfest 1st – 2nd)

While shaken by their recent experience, the party is determined to travel to the Tomb of Serten in order to recover items usable by allies of St. Cuthbert in their struggle against the forces of Elemental Evil. 

As the party journeys north again, they spot a gryphon flying overhead. Althaea casts Invisibility on Vick the mule. Eventually the gryphon loses interest and flies away. 

Further along in their journey, on the 1st day of Richfest (Midsummer), the party encounters the druid Darr. They learn that Darr is a friend of Jaroo and a follower of Obad-Hai. The friendly druid shares some whisky (“water of life”) with the party, much to the delight of Erik, and warns them that undead sometimes rise from their resting places upon the battlefield of Emridy Meadows. The party shows the symbol of the “burning eye” to Darr, and tell him about their experiences with cultists, bandits, and so forth. Impressed, the druid gives the party a potion of healing before departing and wishing them “Gentle Rains.”

After parting ways with Darr, the party leaves the road and heads northeast towards the Tomb of Serten.

9.4 The Temple of Serten (Richfest 2nd)

By noon of the second day of Richfest the party reaches the location of the tomb. Upon a lonely hill stands a mighty, gnarled oak tree. Beneath the tree’s boughs sits a flat rock, upon which is engraved the symbol of St. Cuthbert. Cedric channels the divine grace of St. Cuthbert onto the symbol – and a huge stone tomb is revealed! It is clear that the creators of the tomb wanted it to be found by followers of the divine saint.

As the party approaches the tomb a booming voice declares: “I’m certain that you know my name, speak the same in order to gain.” Godric says, “the same!” but nothing happens. Amused, Cedric says, “Serten,” and the doors slide open. The party enters. There is an altar at the far end upon which lies a human figure, donned in plate armour, a shield, and wearing a helmet. On either side of the altar stand statues depicting human priests wielding cudgels. As the party approaches, the left statue says in a kind voice, “Powerful magic should not be forgotten in a hidden tomb, when it can be used against the rising tide of evil.” It then smiles and winks at Cedric!

Cedric discerns that the statue to the right of the altar is holding a real cudgel, one that emanates holy energy. He removes it and discovers that it is the “Cudgel of Serten” – a mighty weapon to be wielded by champions of St. Cuthbert. Cedric then turns to the altar, on which lies a young man wearing plate mail decorated with a starburst ray, one of the symbols of St. Cuthbert. The shield also bears this symbol. Cedric touches the man – and his hand passes through the body. It would appear that the young man is only an illusion, which explains why he still looks alive. The armour and shield, though, are quite real and blessed with mild enchantments. Cedric claims them in order to better serve St. Cuthbert. 

The helmet is none other than one of the legendary Helms of Laga Vulin. (Laga Vulin was a famous dwarven smith who created many items of power long ago.) Cedric passes the helm to Erik, as the dwarf has been seeking it ever since he was exiled from his clan in the Lortmil Mountains. According to legend, the helm cures the wearer of any poison, including the effects of alcohol. At last, Erik can drink as much as he would like without ever suffering a hangover the next day! Could his lifelong dream, his greatest desire, finally be realized?

Erik puts the helm on. Suddenly he feels quite … odd. He is overcome with a commitment to Law and Order. The dwarf finds himself disgusted by his past lack of willpower and wild nature. He is struck with a crushing sense of remorse at his wasted life. How could he have been so chaotic, so hedonistic? Erik sees the world through new eyes – decidedly Lawful eyes.

Has Erik gained a legendary helm … or has the helm gained a dwarf servant?

[Other posts about this campaign can be found here.]


The colour map of Hommlet is from here.

The Overland Map is from Goodman Games’ The Temple of Elemental Evil (book 1). Modifications are by me. 
The brown lines indicate roads. The green lines are forest boundaries. Hexes with green dots are forested areas. The light blue symbols are inns.
The dark blue dot is Serten’s Tomb. The dark green circle is the Wood Elf Camp. (Both are labelled.)

The picture of Obad-Hai is from Dragon #69 (1982).

The map of Serten’s Tomb is from Goodman Games’ version of The Temple of Elemental Evil. (I removed the numbers.) 

Once again, my adventure notes were helped greatly by those of one of my players (Mark K).

15 July 2023

The Laundry Files 2nd Edition is coming

It looks like Cubicle 7 is coming out with a second edition of their (now out-of-print) The Laundry Files RPG. (Flashback: here’s my post on the first edition from March 2010, including a brief note about the time I met author Charles Stross.)

Unlike the first edition, the new edition will not use the “d100” Basic Role-playing system (familiar from The Call of Cthulhu RPG). Instead, it will use something called “C7D6” – obviously a “d6” system of some sort. (Cubicle 7’s “clone” system for 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons currently goes by the codename “C7D20.”)

Over the years I’ve read the first six novels of Stross’s “The Laundry Files” series (as well as the stories, “The Concrete Jungle,” “Equoid,” and Overtime”). I last read one about five years ago (The Annihilation Score). Apparently, there are now thirteen novels in the series! Since I enjoyed (to varying degrees) the ones that I’ve read so far, so I hope eventually to read the others. 

The novels’ setting is a good one for a Mythos-themed RPG, I think, as the characters are agents working for the secret British government organization “Q-Division” (“The Laundry”), and hence charged with protecting the UK (and the world) from occult and Mythos threats. However, the novels contain a fair amount of dry humour, which I suspect may be difficult to translate into the game (probably best just to let any humour emerge organically in play).

I ran a fair amount of Call of Cthulhu back during “the teens,” including two short campaigns and a few one-shots (see here and here). My focus and interest have drifted away from Lovecraftian stuff in recent years, but perhaps they’ll drift back again in the future. In any case, I’ll definitely check out the new edition of The Laundry Files once it’s available. 

14 July 2023

The Unmagical Magic of 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons

Time for another “airing of grievances” with respect to 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons!

I previously complained about the way resting and healing work in 5e – as well as noting some options for ‘fixing’ these problems, including options from the 5e Dungeon Master’s Guide and the Into the Unknown 5e variant. (I suspect that 99% of 5e players either ignore or are ignorant of these options in the DMG. But it’s only fair to note that they are indeed there; the designers of 5e were not oblivious to the possibility that some groups might not like the default “cartoon superhero” mode of the 5e rules.)

My other big complaint about 5e D&D concerns the magic system. Magic, and spellcasting in particular, is laughably common and easy. Spellcasters can cast cantrips without end, as well as the “ritual” versions of spells, including ones like “Identify,” “Detect Magic,” and “Alarm.” Moreover, magic-users … er, wizards, recover a number of spells following a short rest (one hour in the standard 5e rules) thanks to their “Arcane Recovery” ability.

The upshot of this is a game in which spells are ridiculously common. In my experience, no magic item goes unidentified for more than a few minutes, characters communicate via magical iPhones (the “Message” cantrip), campsites are surrounded with “Alarm” spells (making it almost impossible for the party to ever be surprised, except for attacks from the air or from below), and so forth. I certainly don’t blame my players for using their characters’ spells in these ways – they’re making intelligent use of the resources available to them! I applaud their excellent playing of the game – it’s the game itself that annoys me.

Hence its spell system is another reason why 5e D&D does not resemble at all “old school” D&D or AD&D, wherein spells were a precious commodity (at least until characters were of very high level) and “short rests” did not exist. 

If I were to “fix” 5e D&D so that it had more of a classic feel, I would: 
  • Either eliminate cantrips altogether or allow them to be cast only a limited number of times per day (perhaps equal to the character’s proficiency bonus).
  • Require that spells with the “ritual tag” be cast as “rituals” (i.e., take 10 minutes to cast) and take up spell “slots” (so no endless casting of Alarm, Identify, etc.). 
I note (yet again) my positive experience with the Adventures in Middle-earth roleplaying game based upon 5e D&D (the second edition of which is called The Lord of the Rings RPG). That experience led me to have a high opinion of the 5e core mechanics. And I do think that the core of 5e can make for an excellent game. But the way in which 5e D&D handles rest, recovery, and spells – all elements entirely reworked by AiME/LotR – has made me conclude that I never want to run 5e D&D RAW again.

[Trampier's classic "Emirikol" picture from the 1e AD&D DMG]

[2023-08-01: Edited to add the reference to wizards’ “Arcane Recovery” ability in the third paragraph.]

06 July 2023

Old School Dungeons and Dragons Action Figures

These beautiful "action figures" recently arrived in my mail: 

I really shouldn't spend money on things like this, as they have no real "game utility" and will just sit on my bookshelf.

But, as the title of the blog indicates, I'm pretty akratic at times.

01 July 2023

To Gneissvale and Back Again (Greyhawk campaign)


8.1 Back in the Inn of the Welcome Wench (Flocktime 13th)


The stalwart adventurers — Erik (the mountain dwarf fighter from the Lortmils), Althaea (the high elf wizard from the city of Tringlee), and the brothers Godric (the human rogue from the Barony of Shiboleth) and Cedric (the human cleric of St. Cuthbert) – have returned to Hommlet after clearing the Moathouse of Lareth (the golden-haired follower of Iuz) and his vile followers. The party is accompanied by Spugnoir, a squeaky dagger-wielding wizard of Suel descent, and Knarf, a gnome of Gneissvale, who had been captured by the Moathouse brigands days ago. After reaching the inn of The Welcome Wench, Knarf is granted a room and collapses into a deep slumber. 


Upon learning of Zert’s treachery, the innkeeper Ostler Gundigoot tells the party that they may take possession of any goods remaining in Zert’s rented room. In addition to some saddle bags and other sundries, the party finds a small chest, which they unlock with Zert’s key. The box clicks open – and out spurts a cloud of vile green mist! Everyone but Cedric flees the room before breathing in any of the dangerous gas. Cedric coughs badly but somehow avoids major harm. Erik then checks out the chest and finds within some platinum and gold pieces, as well as an shiny black pearl. The party moves the chest to their chamber, relocks it, and returns to the inn’s common room for some further drinking.


8.2 The Council of Hommlet rewards the party (Flocktime 14th)


The next day, a village council meeting is held. In attendance are: Jaroo Ashstaff, the Druid of Hommlet’s Old Faith Grove; Canon Terjon, head of Hommlet’s Church of St. Cuthbert; Hroth, Captain of the village militia and father of the now-deceased Elmo; Ostler Gundigoot; Mytch the Miller; Burne the wizard; Rufus the warrior (and leader of “Burne’s Badgers”); and the town elder Kenter Nevets


Cedric recounts the party’s convoluted cleansing of the Moathouse and the subsequent nefarious sneak attack by Ranos Davos and Greemag. Upon learning of the traders’ allegiance to the Lareth and the followers of Iuz, the council grants the party the village trading post and everything within it.


The party also receives the following rewards from the council:

·    Althaea asks to study with Burne to learn a few more spells (including “Suggestion,” “Misty Step,” and “Levitation”). Burne agrees, though she will have to pay for the special inks herself.

·    Erik asks for the location of the Tomb of Serten, as part of his ongoing quest for the Helm of Laga Vulin. Recognizing that the party is furthering the goals of St. Cuthbert – in particular, opposing the followers of Iuz – Burne tells him. The wizard notes that the symbol of St. Cuthbert will be needed to enter the tomb, but this should not be an issue with Cedric in the party.

·    Cedric asks to be permitted to continue to serve St. Cuthbert. (Godric rolls his eyes.) Canon Terjon gives the stoical cleric three potions of healing to help with his efforts.

·    Godric asks for any information pertaining to the manor of the renowned mage Quesse the Quick. Burne has heard legends of her manor in the Gnarley Forest. Jaroo knows of some sylvan elves who range throughout the woods and likely know its location – he tells them where to find the elves and agrees to write a letter of introduction for them.

·    Spugnoir asks if he can apprentice to Burne. Burne agrees, albeit with a manifest lack of enthusiasm. 


8.3 Taking Care of Business in Hommlet (Flocktime 14th – 17th)


After the council meeting the party goes to their new trading post. It looks to have been cleaned out by the malevolent Rannos Davl and Greemag. However, hidden away, the party finds a small black scarab, engraved with the letters “TZGY”. Cedric cannot discern its meaning, but believes that it has something to do with the Temple of Elemental Evil.


Knarf finally awakens from his slumber. He tells the party that his friend in Gneissvale, Zeno Zacklington, might be interested in purchasing the trading establishment from them. (Zeno belongs to the gnomish Zacklington trading house – with which the party previously interacted back in Hookhill, when they were travelling through the Gran March.) Given his tragic experiences, Knarf is keen to return to his family in Gneissvale and offers the party 100 gold pieces to escort him home. 


To the gnome’s frustration, the party insists on spending a few more days in Hommlet in order to take care of the following matters:

·    Erik commissions Smyth the smith to rework the plate armour that they had looted from a dead cultist to dwarf-size. The party pays the smith with Lareth’s magical armour, which none wish to use because of its dark nature and evil symbol. 

·    Althaea copies some spells from Burne. She lets Spugnoir copy “Shield” from her spellbook into his. She also practices her Draconic with Cedric.

·    Cedric spends time at the Church of St. Cuthbert. There he is reminded by Canon Terjon that the body of Serten no longer resides within his original tomb, as it was moved to the City of Greyhawk a few years after the Battle of Emridy Meadows. However, Terjon believes that there are some important items of power left in the tomb to be used by those who follow St. Cuthbert.

·    Godric gambles a bit and gets to know the village better.

·    The party commissions the village tailor to repair the rip in their Cloak of Elvenkind. 

·    When not trying to “help” Smyth work on his plate mail, Erik drinks vast quantities of Umberdeep Ale.

·    The party stocks up on rations and treat Vick the mule to many carrots and apples.


8.4 From Hommlet to Gneissvale (Flocktime 18th – 22nd)


The party follows the caravan road through the Kron Hills to Gneissvale. The journey is seventeen leagues. After a couple of days, the party encounters a caravan travelling to Verbobonc. The adventurers exchange pleasantries with merchants, TobyAlphonse, and Lady Violet


Halfway through their journey (Flocktime 20th) Godric notices a flying creature high above. The party discerns that it is a griffon! Knarf panics over Vick the mule, as griffons are known to snatch beasts of burden away for consumption in their nests. Althaea casts “Invisibility” on Vick and eventually the griffon loses interest in the party and flies away to the north. 


Later that evening Cedric finds a lovely campsite. During the night, though, the party is attacked by a band of scruffy gnolls. After a heated battle, six hyena-headed ne’er-do-wells lie dead. Knarf congratulates the adventurers on dispatching the humanoids with such ease.


During the remainder of their trip the party encounters only some mildly belligerent goats.


8.5 Spending quality time in nice Gneissvale (Flocktime 22nd – Wealsun 16th)


Finally, in the early afternoon of Flocktime 22nd, the party enters the valley of Gneissvale. As they approach the town, the travellers see the following carved upon a stone sign: “Earth & Stone, Man & Gnome, Together Forever!” There are caves up the sides of the valley, while the village lies below. 

Knarf tells the adventurers about the village: it is a mix of peoples, most of whom live in peace; however, there is a split between those who want to join with Verbobonc, while others wish to remain neutral. The town (like many others from the Kron Hills) was allied with the forces that overthrew the Temple of Elemental Evil at the Battle of Emridy Meadows almost a decade ago, at much cost to itself.  Knarf also tells the party about the various pubs in town and recommends the Belching Brownie as a place favoured by adventurers and travellers. 


The band goes with Knarf to meet his wife and wee gnomelings. The grateful gnome merchant rewards the party with ten platinum pieces. He also gives Althaea an enchanted waterskin – it refills with fresh water every morning. Knarf reminds the adventurers to meet with Zeno Zacklington about the trading post in Hommlet. He also tells them that they are welcome in his household anytime.


The party secures lodgings at The Four Winds Inn, and then sets out on a pub crawl. They drink at the Murky Mead Pub(favoured by gnomes), the Green Tea Tree Inn (favoured by elves), the Sleepy Forge (favoured by dwarves), and finally the Belching Brownie (favoured by all people who enjoy high quality alcoholic beverages). The bartenders at the Belching Brownie are all halflings. The party is seated at a table by the window, overlooking the valley. Althaea orders a glass of the inn’s best wine. Erik orders a glass of wine and two pints of ale. Godric orders a Rocky Hills lager. Cedric orders a glass of milk.  


Althaea notices a striking high elf with silver hair sitting with a flamboyantly dressed gnome. She introduces herself and offers to buy them a round. They accept a glass of the finest wine and a mead. The haughty elf tells the waitress to bring a bottle. He then introduces himself as Eleric, of the Faerie Kingdom of Celene; the gnome is Hilfo. Eleric explains that he has come to Gneissvale because Hilfo told him that the Kron Hills is where gryphon eggs are to be found. Eleric seeks to establish a force of gryphon riders in Courwood, but gryphons can only be trained if they are taken straight from hatching. Eleric offers to pay 50 pp per egg. He has a magical “Bag of Incubation” for egg hunters but does not know where the eggs are to be found. Eleric suggests that if the party is willing to help him in his endeavour that they inquire with gnomish scouts in town. 


The next day (23rd Flocktime) the party meets with Knarf and Zeno Zacklington. They ask about Hilfo, Eleric, and the gryphon egg quest. Knarf tells them that Hilfo is a complete fop, though he does wander through faraway lands and claims to be an elf-friend. Gryphons are a problem for the gnomes, and the explanation for any that go missing. 


Zeno is keen to establish an outpost of the Zacklington trading house in Hommlet. After some hard bargaining, the party agrees to sell him their trading post for 290 gold coins plus a potion of healing. Zeno agrees to accompany the party when they return to Hommlet in order to get the shop up and running.  


Althaea decides to create a ring of darkvision for Cedric while in Gneissvale, using the ring possessed by Godric (which the party gained from Yorvick the riddle-master back in Veluna City) to guide her efforts. By creating this item, all of the adventurers will be able to see in the dark (Althaea and Erik because of their innate abilities, Cedric and Godric by means of the rings).


Althaea’s project will take some twenty days. The cost of the materials to create the ring is considerable. In order to gain sufficient funds, the party sells some of the jewellery they have accumulated over their adventures at the Zacklington goods emporium.  Cedric purchases a simple electrum ring to serve as the target for the enchantment.


While Althaea creates the ring in a workshop that she has rented in town, the other adventurers decide to spend the next 20 days pursuing their own interests.

·    Erik carouses his way through the three weeks, mostly at the Sleepy Forge Inn – some nights spent passed out on the floor. During that time, he makes some good drinking buddies and becomes friendly with Ulgor the Gruff, the owner of the establishment.

·    Cedric seizes the opportunity to spread the word of St. Cuthbert, ministering to the town. He is met with nods and faint smiles. He converts no-one but equally alienates no-one – his enthusiasm is widely regarded as charmingly naïve.

·    Godric swans about town, gleaning information and rumours and generally being a social butterfly. He becomes known in Gneissvale as an entertaining and charming fellow.


During the three weeks, the party learns the following tidbits of information:

  • A troupe of halfling actors is staging a play at the formerly abandoned Gneissvale TheatreWilly Smallspear, an ambitious halfling playwright, leads the troupe.
  • Jegg the Cobbler (a lady gnome) is said to have a special supply of magical boots, available only to those she knows well or who do her a favour. Knarf tells the party that she is reclusive but a very good cobbler. 
  • Erik learns that Ulgor serves watered down whisky to non-dwarves.
  • The high council of the Kron Hills is debating whether to form a permanent alliance with Viscount Wilfrick of Verbobonc. Ten years ago, the gnomes had fought side-by-side with Verbobonc at the Battle of Emridy Meadows. Some now want a more formal alliance while others wish to remain aloof.


Finally, on the 16th day of Wealsun. Althaea emerges from her laboratory with an electrum ring emanating eldritch power. She gives it to Cedric. He enters a closet to test the ring – and finds that he now can see in the dark!


8.6 From Gneissvale back to Hommlet (Wealsun 17th – 20th)


Zeno Zacklington, his assistant Berta, and two gnomish guards named Fritho and Frothi, accompany the party as they leave Gneissvale. During the party’s journey back to Hommlet they are waylaid by some bandits. Most of the scoundrels are slain with ease by the party; however, the leader and two others flee into the hills. Aside from this unpleasant incident, the party encounters only a gnomish caravan heading to Gneissvale from Verbobonc.

[The Kron Hills are quite gneiss]

Late in the evening of the 20th day of Wealsun the party returns to the village of Hommlet.

[Links to other instalments in this campaign can be found here.]




This log drew heavily from notes taken during the game by one of the players (Marcus K).


The colour regional map is from the original World of Greyhawk sets (1980 and 1983) by Darlene. The version used here was fixed up for online use by R Conley. I added Hommlet and the road to Verbobonc (using Preview). 


The black and white regional map is from Goodman Games’ revised version of The Temple of Elemental Evil. I added the caravan road to Gneissvale (the thin brown line), and a few other things (the dark green oval is a small forest by Gneissvale; the red hexagon is the sight of the ambush that occurred during the party’s journey from Verbobonc to Hommlet; the blue dot is the Tomb of Serten; the green circle is the wood elf camp; and the purple square is the Moathouse).


The map of Gneissvale is from ICE’s old module, The Cloudlords of Tanara (by Terry Amthor). All the names that have been added to the buildings are my own. I also added the “Emridy Meadows” statue. I created the description of Gneissvale and its inhabitants for my campaign (expanding upon the brief notes in the Goodman Games’ book).


The photo of gneiss rock was taken in Lake Country, British Columbia.



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I'm a Canadian political philosopher who lives primarily in Toronto but teaches in Milwaukee (sometimes in person, sometimes online).