Monday, June 30, 2008

DMing into the Depths of the Oerth, Part 2

CAUTION: This series of articles contains many spoilers concerning the modules D1-3 and should only be read by DMs and those players who will not be actually playing through the series at any time in the future. Failure to observe this caution will lead to a marked lack of enjoyment in the adventures.

D2: The Shrine of the Kuo-Toa

This is, perhaps, one of the most perplexing and dangerous modules in the Descent series. It's unclear as to just what the PC's are expected to do in this module's main encounter area, both from the perspective of the DM and the PC's themselves. Are the gogglers to be smitten hip and thigh? Negotiated with? Bypassed or slunk past? Much of course depends on the style of play preferred by the gaming group in question, but, like all the modules in this series, an overly-aggressive party will soon find themselves overwhelmed.

The minor encounter areas are both of intense interest, and for completely opposite reasons. The first, with the mad ferryman Thoopship, is a fairly straightforward encounter that could be settled by either parley or violence. The most likely trouble the party will face is their lack of knowledge of the common tongue of the underworld. The module explicitly mentions the possibility of an interpreter, but declines to state where exactly one may be obtained. A charmed drow, perhaps? An ally, either among the drow or the illithids? The possibility is certainly there to make allies in module D1, as discussed in the previous article in this series. Aside from the obvious tactical problem of being swept down the Pitchy Flow towards the Sunless Sea (northwest on the map, incidentally), this encounter is pretty straightforward. While it's best done by simple negotiation (if possible), a combat resolution is certainly not outside the realm of competent play.

The second minor encounter, with the Deep Gnomes, is perhaps the greatest single opportunity the PC's will have in the entire series. They will explicitly agree to accompany the PC's into the Shrine itself, have been scouting it out for at least some weeks, and are familiar with at least the basic layout not only of the shrine, but of the politics of the Depths as well. This is truly a boon, and only a completely incompetent party will manage to not get at least a little information from this encounter.

But it does bring up several questions. The Svirfneblin will agree to accompany the party in exchange for gems. But where, precisely, do they expect to gain those gems? We are told that the Deep Gnomes "hate the Kuo-Toa people as much as they despise the Drow". And there are bowls of gems on the altars of Blibdoolpoolp, the half-crustacean deity of the Kuo-Toa, seemingly there for the taking. Here, I think, lies a trap secreted within a boon. The Deep Gnomes, I believe, would do everything in their power to guide the PC's on a more aggressive path when it comes to the shrine. Trosli Garnetgetter, their leader, must not be a pushover. He, coming as he does "of a very respected family" would certainly not be a milquetoast when it came to questions of strategy. While he might not advocate an all-out assault on the shrine, he would, I believe, most certainly press for a hit-and-run attack on the central ziggurat, with the bowls of gems on the second and third altars. At the very least, were there thieves in the party (and there had better be, if they want to make it in the Depths), he would insist on a mission of stealth to liberate the gemstones from their fishy owners.

Naturally, this is not stated outright, but it is implied by the text. And it turns the Shrine into an encounter that could turn decidedly deadly, where it could have been as simple as walking through and finding the northwest exit. And, as such things go when they are done properly, it would be the PC's conscious choice that turned the place into a deadly encounter rather than merely a tense one. After all, they don't have to follow Trosli's advice...

Once the PC's trigger the gogglers to action (assuming they do), the spectacle of swarms of fish-men billowing forth from every passage should make them quail (motivated DM's may wish to re-read H.P. Lovecraft's "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" prior to running the module, to get some very nice atmospherics). The good news is that, once they escape the shrine, the kuo-toa are too disorganized to mount an effective search throughout the Depths. The bad news is that there are doubtless dozens of them between the PC's and the exit they want...

Saturday, June 28, 2008

DMing into the Depths of the Oerth, Part 1

CAUTION: This series of articles contains many spoilers concerning the modules D1-3 and should only be read by DMs and those players who will not be actually playing through the series at any time in the future. Failure to observe this caution will lead to a marked lack of enjoyment in the adventures.

Published back in what some old-time gamers fondly remember as the heyday of the original Advanced Dungeons and Dragons game, 1978, the series of adventure modules D1-3, collectively known as the “Descent into the Depths of the Earth” series from the title of the first module, are some of the best-known and yet least-understood elements of the Dungeons and Dragons campaign setting known as the World of Greyhawk. They are, in order, “Descent into the Depths of the Earth”, “Shrine of the Kuo-Toa”, and “Vault of the Drow”. All three were used as the official tournament modules at GenCon XI.

When correctly played and DM'ed, the “Descent” modules are actually a model for those who value political intrigue, role-playing, and exploration of what was (at the time) a new environment for play. They are also, naturally, quite deadly, and foolish or unprepared characters will find themselves at -10 HP in short order. Neither hack-and-slash nor stealth-and-stab should prove worthwhile strategies for these modules.

It should be noted that these three modules were later republished as part of the supermodule “Queen of the Spiders”. Except where noted, this article makes reference to the original monochrome-cover modules published in 1978. I deliberately eschew the term “Underdark” for the areas described in D1-3, as that term was originally coined by author Ed Greenwood for his own “Forgotten Realms” campaign, and to apply it to the World of Greyhawk has always struck me as gauche.

D1: Descent into the Depths of the Earth

This module begins at the entrance to the Depths, across the river of lava found at the end of “Hall of the Fire Giant King”. The players have found a partial map of the underground area, and know that the drow are to be found within. Other than that, they are lacking in any sort of background, this being the first encounter with the drow other than their appearance in the “Hall of the Fire Giant King”.

This very lack of information, however, should be seen as an opportunity for the PCs to collect their own intelligence on what is going on under the sunlit mountains of Oerth. And an astute DM can give subtle clues as to some of the rivalries and divisions within the underground communities. The Descent modules, more than most, reward a DM who has thoroughly read through them, picking up not only the locations of monsters and treasure, but also the subtle points regarding the political situation. To this day, many Greyhawk aficionados don’t realize that Eclavdra, the chief villainess in G3, was not a servant of the demonness Lolth, but actually the chief rival of the Lolth-worshippers! It's worth noting that two different factions of drow can be found in Snurre's hall; the DM has an opportunity to lay the groundwork of the “factionalized enemy” theme before the PC's enter the Depths.

Some points worth emphasizing:

If the PCs manage to do damage to the Mind Flayers in the area, and can provide proof to the drow of this, they are 90% likely to be rewarded with a pass that will get them through any drow controlled area without harassment (D1, p. 3). This of course implies that the drow are going to be open to parley when encountered. The DM should not forget this; many if not most of the drow the PCs encounter are not going to be instantly hostile unless they have been alerted to the presence of the hostile PCs. Unless they're on alert, and looking for the PC's, the drow aren't going to “shoot first and ask questions later”! This doesn't mean they'll be fools or pushovers, just that they won't instantly attack.

How can the PCs figure out that the drow and Mind Flayers are at odds with one another? In the second encounter area of the module, in hex M-12, the Mind Flayers are questioning a captive drow merchant. Even if they don’t manage to get him out alive (and it would be exceedingly difficult, in all honesty), the mere fact that the Mind Flayers had captured a drow should get the PC’s minds working. An interesting twist would be if the PCs decided to try to get the Mind Flayers as allies against the drow! There's got to be an illithid city out there.

One of the most interesting things about the “Caverns and Warrens of the Troglodytes” (the main encounter area, at hex Q-19) is that it is entirely possible for the PCs to glide through it with minimal fuss. Those PCs who managed to gain the trust of the drow will simply pass through the cavern, and actually be aided by the garrison in area 6. Those who are not allied with the drow, but who are following the players map and thus looking specifically for a northwesterly exit from the caverns will at most have to deal with the garrison and its 18 soldiers, and at most only those monsters encountered in the western side of the caverns (areas 1-9 on the map). This is definitely an encounter area which does not reward the “wipe out everything” mentality; in a test of endurance such as the Descent series, taking time to spread out bits and pieces of bugbears, troglodytes, and trolls around the floor of the cavern is not worth the relatively minor treasures to be gained thereby. As DM, you should be ruthless in punishing such a lack of focus, and don't be afraid to drain the PC's of their healing magic and other supplies. That is one of the functions of the main encounter area; distraction.

The key to an enjoyable running of the entire series is that the PC's must not thunder their way through the place. The Depths are not a standard dungeon setting; they are a living, breathing wilderness and should be treated as such by the DM. By seeing signs of “normal” habitation; merchant caravans, kuo-toa pilgrims, etc. the PC's should get enough hints to attempt a strategy of bluff, rather than bash, to make their way through.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Land That Lendor Forgot

Going through the encounter tables in the Glossography of the first boxed World of Greyhawk Fantasy Setting is a trove of inspiration and information, and I highly recommend it to any who wish to plumb the depths of E. Gary Gygax's masterpiece.

The legacy within fantasy literature to place cultures which are separated not only by thousands of miles, but also thousands of years, in proximity to one another in a fantasy world is an old one. Few did it as artfully as did Robert E. Howard in his masterful Conan stories, where we see the medieval French empire of Aquilonia not far removed from the Pharonic Egyptian culture of Stygia. There are quite a few instances of such juxtapositioning within the World of Greyhawk Fantasy Setting as well; the Swiss-Confederation-Like Perrenland across a slip of water from what is essentially an Asiatic (or perhaps North American) nomadic nation, to take but one example. But what interests me here specifically is quite another juxtaposition indeed.

I speak specifically of cavemen.

Cavemen in the World of Greyhawk? Surely I'm speaking of something from the excellent module "Isle of the Ape."

Not hardly.

Gambol with me through said encounter tables and you will find the following fascinating tidbits in relation to their prehistoric members. Cavemen may be found in the mountainous portions of the Valley of the Mage, the Barrier Peaks (which surrounds the Valley of the Mage), the Crystalmists, the Jotens, Hellfurnaces, the Clatspurs and Yatils; 2-3% of the total encounters therein, as a matter of fact! And we are told that a full 20% of encounters in the Sulhaut mountains, which divide the Dry Steppes from the Sea of Dust, are to use the Pleistocene encounter tables in the DMG (which, I might add, include cavemen).

What the heck are we to make of that???

We know from history that the lands of the Sea of Dust were formerly the Suel Imperium, one of the most advanced cultures on Oerth more than a thousand years ago during the Baklunish-Suloise Wars. Ditto the Baklunish realms, which stretched at least from the Dry Steppes to Ekbir and Tusmit. I find it no coincidence that the easternmost border of the warring realms is coincident with the stated range of the caveman population of the Flanaess. I see two possibilities:
1. They are an indigenous population that had been squeezed between the Baklunish/Suloise realms in the west and the Flan tribes in the east. The Flan don't seem to have been sufficiently widespread, especially in the Sheldomar Valley, for this to be the case, but it is not improbable.

2. They are survivors of the Invoked Devastation and Rain of Colorless Fire that destroyed both the Suloise Imperium and the Baklunish Empire. Fleeing into the mountain fastnesses for safety, they subsequently descended into prehistoric barbarism over the course of a thousand years, where their kin rose to carve out new kingdoms.
I confess a certain affinity for the second scenario, which appeals to my fondness for the works of R.E. Howard, although the first certainly lends itself to the possibility of weird alien ruins that predate Baklunish, Suel, or Oeridian. Nothing says that the two need be mutally exclusive, either; picture the bedraggled survivors of the Invoked Devastation stumbling into the caves of some primitive proto-human people, without food, shelter, or the means for survival. Such exiles might well be assimilated into such a culture, uplifting it with their stock, while descending to its level technologically, except, perhaps, for a few choice relics brought along for safe-keeping...

Note that the encounter tables do not overlap the cavemen encounters with the Pleistocene encounters. There is no need, since the Pleistocene tables in the DMG have cave men well represented; we are seeing, I think, two different aspects of the same phenomenon.

In the line of peaks defining the eastern edge of the Baklunish-Suloise conflict, we see cavemen, whether the degenerate survivors of that conflict, some innocent race thrust aside by it, or a fusion of the two. In the mountains that formed the border between the two warring races, we not only see cavemen, but a full panoply of prehistoric mammals; cave-bears, spotted lions, and so on.

Given the harsh arid conditions to north and south of that mountain range, surely the Pleistocene conditions don't extend at all beyond the mountains themselves, or even to their edge. Irish deer wouldn't do well in a hot desert wasteland.

Perhaps here we might add yet a third scenario to explain the diffusion of cavemen along this particular line of mountains:
3. There is a caveman homeland in the Sulhauts, replete with a full host of Pleistocene fauna and flora, and they have migrated along the mountains to their present range.
I find this option to be particularly satisfying, personally, and it has the added bonus of being compatible with either of the other two options if desired (although I daresay it renders the first obsolete, being a much better story all around!). It would almost certainly be the case that, if there were such a "lost valley" somewhere in the Sulhauts, the war of annihilation between the Suel and the Baklunish would certainly prompt at least part of the population to flee. And, given their prehistoric nature and cave-dwelling predilections, it makes sense that they would follow the peaks and their attendant caves (it also makes sense that they would have found the Depths of the Oerth that lead to the Vault of the Drow, but that might be best left for another discussion).

So that's where I find the evidence and best storytelling possibilities take me. Somewhere in the Sulhauts is a high glacial valley, inhabited by the cave-folk (themselves perhaps descendants of the ancient Baklunish-Suloise wars) who fell into barbarism almost immediately and migrated along their well-known mountains to their current range of habitation. Over the years they might have been met by, and assimilated, groups of refugees bearing unknown treasures from those ancient empires, now regarded as totems by the cave-folk, their original functions long since forgotten. Plus there is that original valley itself, still waiting to be discovered, explored, and, perhaps, plundered, by intrepid adventurers. Who knows? Some ancient treasure of the Suel, or some relic of the Bakluni, may still reposit there.

Now, if only I could figure out what those cave men were doing in the Cairn Hills, I could sleep at night.

In the tradition of the Wand of Wonder, I present...

... a new magic item. I'm inspired by a documentary on Ovations TV on the finest cartoonist of the 20th century. Be afraid. Be very afraid. I'm not sure I'd ever actually use it... nah... I will. Next Friday, if I can. Although last Friday would have been just too perfect!! ;-)

Yav Xeret's Whistle of Ill Luck

Blowing this normal-seeming whistle causes to come into being an enchanted black feline imbued with the magical ability to send the most improbable and embarrassing/hurtful bad luck possible to the target. Once the spell is activated, the magical black cat will suddenly appear and cross in front of the target creature, and then disappear into the magical dimension whence it came, too fast to catch. The target creature will then suffer a piece of the most inexplicably bad luck imaginable, based on the following table:

01-15 Anvil falls on target's head (3d6 damage)
16-19 Concealed pit trap opens beneath target (10' deep; 1d6 damage)
20-26 Swarm of moths envelops target, consumes all non-magical cloth, and then leaves
27-33 Storm cloud instantly forms above target, lightning strikes for 2d6 electrical damage
34-40 If underground, minor cave-in for 2d6 damage. If above ground, inexplicable pile of rocks falls on target for 1d8 damage
41-53 Storm cloud instantly forms above target, rain douses target for 2 segments, putting out any non-magical fires
54-59 Rake appears in whatever direction target is moving, or will move next. As soon as the target moves, it steps on the rake, causing 1d4 damage
60-68 Flower pot falls on head (1d8 damage)
69-74 Goat appears and devours one item carried or worn on target's body (if target is not carrying anything, re-roll). Goat then disappears.
75-79 Concealed pit trap with spikes opens beneath target (10' deep, 2d6 damage)
80-86 Swarm of termites envelops target, consumes all non-magical wood, and then leaves
87-94 Inverted silver bowl descends on top of target's head, when it disappears (after 1 segment) all target's hair is gone. If target had no hair, bowl leaves blond curly wig behind.
95-99 Cylinder with cone on top end falls behind target, emits loud piercing noise for 1d4 rounds (effect equivalent to a shrieker's sound)
00 Glue covers target, then air fills with feathers, sticking to target. Effects as if target were slowed, for 1d6 rounds.

The Whistle will typically be found with 6-17 (1d12+5) charges. Blowing the Whistle takes 1 segment, and the range is 3". If the target makes a successful saving throw vs. wands/staves/rods, the target will incur two effects rather than just one. A bard blowing the whistle can adjust the rolled result by 10% either way, if desired, with knowledge of what the effect would be. A jester blowing the whistle can adjust the roll by 25%. If the Whistle is used against a Leprechaun, the effect will be turned against the blower of the whistle ("luck of the Irish"). Faerie Dragons and similar lovers of pranks greatly prize these devices.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Minifigs Greyhawk Miniatures

Back around 1980, Minifigs came out with a line of World of Greyhawk miniatures. In Dragon #25 (IIRC) there was a reference to "Armies of Greyhawk" which would be a miniatures game based on the WoG and presumably using the line of miniatures from Minifigs. Thanks to , who posted the following list over at Dragonsfoot, I can make a little progress on my OOB project for the Flanaess, and delve a little deeper into some rather obscure points of Greyhawk lore. Here is the list, with some commentary by yours truly.

WOG01 Amazon Infantry (6) swords, flails – Hardby (Wild Coast)

WOG02 Amazon Infantry (6) axes, spears, bow, polearm - Hardby (Wild Coast)

WOG03 Amazon Cavalry (3) spears, bow - Hardby (Wild Coast)
WOG04 Amazon Cavalry (3) swords, axe - Hardby (Wild Coast)

GG: Hardby, with its female-dominated society, makes sense for it to have "amazons" as its warriors. But one wonders why they were given such a prominent position in the minis line at all. In the original folio and gazetter, Hardby isn't exactly presented as a major power, and yet here it is with 4 blister-packs of its own.

WOG05 Berserker Mercenaries (6) swords, spears, javelins – Wild Coast/Pomarj
WOG06 Hireling Men-at-Arms (6) axes, spears, bows – Wild Coast petty kingdoms
GG: Illustrative, if not particularly startling. Hirelings and mercenaries from the Wild Coast. Berserkers from the Pomarj (so not everything coming out of the Pomarj is a humanoid).

WOG07 Men-at-Arms of the Watch (6) axes, spears, bows - Greyhawk

WOG08 Infantry of the Guilds (6) spears, crossbows - Greyhawk

GG: Now this is interesting! The Watch makes perfect sense, but I wonder what "guilds" have their own soldiery in Greyhawk? It's not a single guild, so I discount the idea that it'd be something like the "mercenaries guild" or somesuch. Would the various trade guilds be required to maintain soldiers for the defense of the Free City as part of their charter to operate? Would they be made up of members of each of the various guilds, or would they be mercenaries?

WOG09 Cavemen (6) spears, clubs – Cairn Hills

GG: Now here I thought I had something neat really figured out. In the Glossography encounter tables, there are all sorts of odd placements of dinosaurs and cavemen. I thought, when I saw this, that there would be a pretty good chance of encountering cave men in the Cairn Hills. But no. They don't appear at all. So this one is quite a puzzler. The Cairn Hills are a pretty civilized place, all things considered, so I'm not sure why there would be a fight-worthy force of cave men there.

WOG10 Valley Elf Infantry (6) axes, swords – Valley of the Mage
(Note: the above picture is a mix of a couple different blister-packs.)
WOG11 Valley Elf Infantry (6) bows, spears – Valley of the Mage

WOG12 Valley Elf King & Guards (6) pole-arms – Valley of the Mage
WOG13 Valley Elf Cavalry (2) lances – Valley of the Mage

WOG14 Valley Elf Cavalry (2) sword, bow – Valley of the Mage

GG: We get details on the Valley Elves in MM2. But there's an interesting little tidbit; they apparently have a king. I would've thought the Mage of the Valley would have fulfilled that role, but apparently not.

WOG15 Mounted Knights (3) lance, sword, axe - Furyondy
WOG16 Knights on Foot (6) swords, axes, pole-arms – Furyondy
WOG17 Freeholder Infantry (6) spears, bows – Furyondy/Veluna
WOG18 The Steadfast Pike (6) pikes - Veluna

GG: That last one is just a terrifically evocative name. It calls to mind a unit with an ancient lineage and a storied history, honored greatly over time by the arch-clerics of Veluna. Is it perhaps an elite unit drawn from the entire nation, which forms the arch-cleric's personal guard, much like the Swiss Guard does with the Pope? That certainly gives a bit of color (literally) to the land.

WOG19 Free City Foot (6) spears, swords, bows - Dyvers
WOG20 Zombie & Skeleton Infantry (6) swords, spears - Iuz
WOG21 Zombie & Skeleton Infantry (6) assorted weapons – Iuz

WOG22 Goblin Infantry (6) swords, axes - Iuz
WOG23 Goblin Infantry (6) bows, crossbows, hand catapults - Iuz

WOG24 Goblin Chieftain & Guards (6) spears, pole-arms - Iuz

GG: Goblins don't figure prominently in the Iuz encounter tables (although the Guide mentions that "Goblins, orcs, and hobgoblins in the thousands are known to be in arms"), so I'm guessing these are just representative figures and other humanoid types would have eventually been included had the line of figures continued. Good to see that Iuz makes liberal use of the lower-level undead in his legions, though. Although look at the weapons for WOG23. Hand catapults. Eat that, drow, with your mere hand crossbows!

WOG25 Human Forest Warriors (6) swords, axes, spear, pole-arm – Celene/Ulek
WOG26 Human Forest Warriors (6) bows, crossbows, slings - Celene/Ulek

WOG27 Mounted Knights (3) lance, axe, sword – Veluna/Verbobonc
WOG28 Heavy Missile Infantry (6) bows, crossbows – Furyondy/Veluna/Shield Lands
WOG29 Light Missile Infantry (6) bows, crossbows, slings – Feryondy[sic]/Veluna/Shield Lands
WOG30 Mounted Knights (3) lance, mace, sword – Shield Lands
WOG31 Knights on Foot (6) swords, axes, pole-arms – Shield Lands
WOG32 Freeholder Infantry (6) spears, bows – Shield Lands

GG: The "freeholder" reference here makes me take a little notice. Apparently there are more folk living in the Shield Lands than just those under the command of the Knights of Holy Shielding. That speaks to a bit more complex socio-political makeup of the place than one might imply from just what we see in the Gazeteer and Guide. Maybe those Freeholders don't share the same sense of divine mission as the Knights do...

WOG33 Esquire (Medium) Horse (3) lance, sword, axe - Furyondy/Veluna/Shield Lands

WOG34 Brethren Foot Guards (4) spears – Scarlet Brotherhood
GG: Awesome love being thrown to the Scarlet Brotherhood. A foreshadowing of their prominent role in the future? EDIT: But man... they don't look like monks at all. More like the Knights Of Nee. Some of those hoods are actually reminiscent of the illustrations from "The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun." Hmmm...

WOG35 Hierarch, Headsman, Amazon Captive on Torture Stake – Horned Society

GG: This is just... random.

WOG36 Ice or Snow Barbarian Foot (6) swords, bows – Lands of Snow & Ice Barbarians
WOG37 Ice or Snow Barbarian Foot (6) axes, spears - Lands of Snow & Ice Barbarians
WOG38 Ice or Snow Barbarian Cavalry (3) spears - Lands of Snow & Ice Barbarians

WOG39 Ice or Snow Barbarian Cavalry (3) spears, scything axe - Lands of Snow & Ice Barbarians
GG: I can only think that the omission of "Frost Barbarians" here is accidental. It doesn't appear as if they would be substantively different from their eastern cousins. Although it could just be that they are puppets of the Snow Barbarians, and thus no distinction need be made. I do wonder just what the heck a "scything axe" is, though!

WOG40 Mounted Knights (3) lance, mace, sword – Bandit Kingdoms
WOG41 Brigand Infantry (6) swords, spears, bows – Bandit Kingdoms
WOG42 Halfling Fighters (6) swords, axes, spear, bow -Celene/Ulek/Cairn Hills

WOG43 Wandering Adventurers, magic user, cleric, bard, halfling thief [no territory given for WOG43-48]
WOG44 Heroic Mercenary Foot (5) axes, spear, bow

WOG45 Heroic Mercenary Foot (5) swords

WOG46 Heroic Mercenary Cavalry (2) swords

WOG47 Heroic Mercenary Cavalry (2) short sword, spear

WOG48 Heroic Mercenary Cavalry (2) morning star, bow

WOG49 Elite Death-Guard Cavalry (2) lances – Horned Society

GG: In the "Gord the Rogue" novels we discover that the Horned Society honors Nerull above all others. Kinda gives the whole "Death-Guard Cavalry" thing a new importance, doesn't it? (Nerull has the byname of "The Reaper".)

WOG50 Overking's Heavy Guard Cavalry (2) lances – Great Kingdom

WOG51 Overking's Heavy Guard Cavalry (2) axe, sword – Great Kingdom

WOG52 Overking's Heavy Guard Foot (6) spears, axe, blow-pipe – Great Kingdom
WOG53 Overking's Heavy Guard Foot (6) pole-arms, swords – Great Kingdom
GG: I am inclined to believe that these are not the "demonic knights of doom" described in Dragon magazine, but rather just a heavy guard unit of mundane sort (although still quite puissant, no doubt!).

WOG54 Wyvern (1) - Celene

GG: Why Celene? The encounter tables don't make any mention of the place as being particularly thick with wyverns. Although I love how stylized the wyvern is; from the curled tail to the tongue jutting out and the rampant pose; it looks like it could've stepped out of a heraldic device from the 15th century.

WOG55 Harginn Elemental Grue - Elemental of Plain of Fire -(conjured by) Iuz
As far as I know, Jack Vance invented the term Grue, and it didn't have any connotations with any of the elements.

WOG56 Iuz Enthroned & Evil Halflings (4) - evil demi-god & minions - Iuz


GG: Ever since I first saw this in a catalog nearly 30 years ago, I thought it was the coolest thing that Iuz had a cadre of evil halflings as his minions. It was just so... wrong. Perfect.

WOG57 Dragonnel & Lancer (1) - Pomarj
WOG58 Dragonnel & Archer (1) - Pomarj

WOG59 Dragonnel & Pole-axeman (1) - Pomarj
WOG60 Magnus Dragonnel (1) - Pomarj
GG: Now what, exactly, is a "Magnus Dragonnel"? Obviously it's a "great" (as in "huge") version of the normal dragonnel, but such a thing goes unmentioned in the Monster Manual II, where the dragonnel finally found its way into print. For that matter, what is this next thing, a small dragon?

WOG61 Dragonnettes (2)

WOG62 Giant Spider, Rat, Beetle
GG: I wish the picture game some sense of the scale of that thing. Because that is one MEAN looking giant rat!

WOG63 Flying Dinosaur, Armored Dinosaur

WOG64 Aquatic Dragonnel (1)
WOG65 Monster Stoppers: Catapult and Dart Thrower
GG: I just love that term. "Monster stoppers." I can see some bunch of yahoos trying to lug a ballista into a dungeon somewhere...

WOG66 Unicorn, Beasts and Hounds

WOG67 Elite Death Guard Cavalry, axe, sword
WOG68 Orcs, sword, pole-arms, bows
WOG69 Gnolls, swords, pole-arms, bows
WOG70 Half-Orcs, various weapons
WOG71 Mounted Men-at-Arms of the Watch
GG: What Watch? Some sort of regular patrol, to be sure. But where? UPDATE: On reflection, could these be related to the Knights of the Watch? They are mentioned in the 1980 Gazetteer, and I think it likely.

WOG72 Rovers of the Barrens

GG: If I can find a place with more pictures of the minis, I'll integrate them into the post. A quick search on Google proved fruitless. If you know of any, please leave a comment!.