Friday, April 30, 2010

Comic Book Q&A - pt. 1

[These are notes for the Comic Book Q&A I'll be giving at my library on Free Comic Book Day tomorrow.]
Q: How long have comic books been around?
A: The idea of a comic strip, or a series of drawings that follow each other sequentially to tell a story, has been around for centuries. The idea of taking the conventions of the comic strip and converting them into book form – and filling a whole book with nothing but these modified, longer comic strips – did not come about until 1897. The idea of making a comic book series and publishing it once a month did not come around until 1922 and that was the first comic book published in the form we recognize it today – before that, comic books were always hard-covered books. The idea of publishing all-new material in a comic book and not just reprinting modified material from the newspaper comic strips – the real birth of the comic book you might say – was not until 1933.

Q: What was the first character published in a comic book?
A: The Yellow Kid, Polly and Her Pals, or Detective Dan, depending on which you consider to be the earliest comic book. If those don’t sound familiar, it’s because none of them have been published in many, many years.

Q: Why is Superman such a boy scout?
A: You could say success ruined Superman. In 1938, when Superman first appeared in comics, he was a tough-talking, head-bashing vigilante who didn’t care if bad guys died and had a socially progressive agenda he was actively working towards. And, almost immediately, Superman became very popular. Now, the people who wrote comic books in the late ‘30s could get away with an awful lot – the Arrow was a good guy who shot bad guys with arrows and killed them – because not that many people were reading it. But when Superman started selling a million-plus copies a month, suddenly it became very important what Superman was doing, as there were a lot of kids and a lot of kids’ concerned parents now paying attention. So Superman began to act in a more conservative, law-abiding fashion.

You could also say World War II ruined Superman. As the U.S. began to embrace the idea of going to war, the worldview of its people changed. To rationalize war, people see it in black and white terms of good vs. evil. To fit into this worldview, Superman had to become all-good. So a lot of elements that could be seen as objectionable to some people were dropped. Not that Superman had much to do with the war effort – in the comic books he was barely involved – but by modifying the character to fit the worldview of the times, the publishers ensured the character would remain popular – and publishers have been using this technique ever since, reinventing old characters every time they seem to feel outdated.

Q: Who would win if they fought, Superman or Batman?
A: This has actually been fought out many times over the last 20-odd years, but what makes the answer so contentious is that Batman usually wins. Now, that should seem to anyone to be impossible. Superman is at least a thousand – if not a million times stronger and faster, depending on your interpretation of Superman and how powerful he is in that interpretation. There was even a time when Superman was acknowledged as being smarter than Batman too, so there doesn’t seem to be any way in which Batman could have an advantage over Superman. And that, basically, is why Superman always loses. If he wins, then he looks like a bully picking on Batman. If Batman wins, he gets to look cool -- he’s not a bully because he was the underdog to start with.

Usually, Batman has kryptonite with him to even the odds against Superman, but he has been shown using Judo to hold his own against Superman on at least two occasions – the animated Batman/Superman movie and the New Frontier comic book miniseries.

Q: What was the first team-up of superheroes?
A: Until late 1940, the superheroes that were appearing on the scene never interacted with each other – maybe sometimes on the covers of their comic books, but never in the stories themselves. That changed with the debut of the Justice Society of America in All-Star Comics #3. Though Batman and Superman were, theoretically, reserve members (who almost never appeared in the series), the main purpose of the Justice Society was to push eight of DC Comics’ second-tier heroes until they were popular enough to have their own series. It wouldn’t be until 1964 when Batman and Superman – always DC Comics’ most popular stars -- started regularly appearing in the Justice League of America.

Q: Why didn’t superheroes ever win wars?
A: Actually, there were quite a few stories around 1940 and 1941 when superheroes beat up or stopped Hitler or Hitler-like characters. Even a 4-page story in Look magazine by Superman’s creators back in 1940 showing how Superman would end the war by capturing Hitler and Stalin and turning them both over to the League of Nations to stand trial. You could only do that so many times, though, before it looked ridiculous since the real war just kept going on and on. Although there were many patriotic-themed comic books that came out during WWII, the publishers decided that, for the most part, comic books should remain escapist fantasy and not get too involved in real world events. War comics is itself a genre of comic books different from the superhero genre. The war comics character, Sgt. Rock, fought WWII over 30 years of comic books, so the ability of comic book characters to keep fighting and fighting the war and not make a difference on it, historically, was well-established.

The first comic book series to question this assumption was All-Star Squadron, a comic book from the 1980’s that documented untold tales from the 1940s. Here for the first time, an explanation was given as to why the superheroes never won WWII – Germany and Japan were protected by magic artifacts from direct superhuman intervention.

As for wars after WWII, comic book companies have generally been afraid to get their superheroes involved in wars because public opinion on whether the American people should be involved in those wars has been so divided. Comic books have been made about the Korean War and the Vietnam War, but never with the popularity that WWII comics had. After 9/11, some comic books had a “War on Terror” slant to them, but that was abandoned after being unpopular too.

New art - Hawkman

[Megan and I were particularly fond of this one too, possibly my first time ever drawing Hawkman and based loosely on a Mike Parobeck drawing of him.]

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

New art - Captain Marvel

[In preparation for this Saturday's Free Comic Book Day draw-off at the library, this is one of the practice drawings I did. It's based off the cover of Shazam Archives vol. 2 and Megan liked it so much she painted it for me.]

Monday, April 26, 2010

Garham to Greyhawk Campaign: Session Two (pt. 2)

While most of the friends were busy with these errands, Kevlamin went to the two richest men in town – the mine owners Baladeva Smets and Kellert Tilki – and tried to warn them about the threat to their mines. Baladeva's guards did not like Kevlamin's attitude and threatened to kill him if he did not leave. Kellert's doorkeeper let him into to meet Kellert. The old man offered to pay Kevlamin 10 gp if this information turned out to be true and said he would double his guards on his mines, but refused to spare any guards to help Kevlamin and accused him of being a spy for Smets when Kevlamin pressed him on it.

Finally with a full company of 21, the friends sent word via Dilber to Zimik that they were ready to raid the caves that very night. Kevlamin was intent on luring the goblins out and ambushing them in the ravine. Ruben went along with his plan and volunteered to go into the caves and get the goblins to chase him out, though Manga and Seth wound up going along as well. They made it as far as the first cave, but after finding netting concealed in the mud on the cave floor, they were fearful of a trap and ran back out. When no one followed, the entire company (minus Archippos and Nodwick) went into the cave and started illuminating it with lanterns and candles. While Kevlamin and Seth searched the side walls, Manga went over a short wall of wooden stakes at the rear of the cave with a borrowed candle and found a low tunnel exiting deeper into the complex. Instead of telling everyone, Manga went to explore it alone.

When everyone else found the concealed tunnel, they followed Manga to where the tunnel split off into two directions. Fortunately, they were able to spot Manga's muddy tracks and followed him to the left. They caught up to him at a four-way intersection of tunnels up ahead, where Manga had paused before entering a cave off to the right. That cave turned out to be a mostly empty storeroom for barrels. Down the opposite tunnel was a now-empty animal pen, but down the tunnel exiting the opposite end of that cave was a cave with five goblins in it. The goblins were wrestling and play-fighting with their weapons on the floor. The friends, at the fore of the company, charged in and engaged the goblins in melee. Four of the give goblins went down in about 20 seconds of fighting, while the fifth escaped past the front ranks of the company only to be overwhelmed by the halflings at the rear. The goblin offered them its measly treasure – 5 sp and 4 pieces of copper junk jewelry -- to let it live. After interrogating the goblin and learning Kraglut's lair was on the opposite end of the cave complex, Kevlamin killed their prisoner.

Heading south from there down another tunnel, the heroes came to a guard room with wooden planks crossing a moat to a short, crude wall. Over the top of the wall could be seen the heads of four bugbears. The halflings came from the rear up to the moat and launched their sling bullets, but the bugbears were quick to respond with thrown rocks and spears. After three volleys apiece, four halflings were dead and one of the bugbears was down, with the other three injured. Then the friends decided to brave charging across the moat. They rushed through an opening in the wall and were met with spears. Seth was impaled on a spear and killed. The others fought on... ((Which is where we had to stop for the day!))
Kevlamin – 577 xp
Ruben – 307 xp
Manga – 649 xp
Clair – 467 xp
Daphne – 471 xp
Seth's player will get to start over with a new character next time with 153 xp

Garham to Greyhawk Campaign: Session Two (pt. 1)

Garham to Greyhawk Campaign
Session Two – April 24, 2010 (Planting 13, 610)
Kevlamin Serpenthelm human (Suloise) shield-bearer (1st level fighter)(Kevin)
Clair, halfling shield-bearer (1st level fighter)(Megan)
Daphne, half-elf acolyte of Ehlonna (1st-level cleric)(Joyce)
Ruben Soot, human (mixed race) shield-bearer (1st level fighter)(Ruben)
Manga, human (mixed race) medium (1st-level magic-user)(Pablo)
Seth, human medium (1st-level magic-user)(Tyler)

What had gone before: the five friends made a pact to, within two months' time, experience an adventure so great as to win them sponsorship into the Adventurers Guild of Greyhawk. To do so, they set out into the Greenridge, west of the Town of Garham, looking for goblin or orc raiders. With them came a large company consisting of 13 Hobbits, a cleric named Thelonius, a guide named Archippos, a hireling named Nodwick, and two fighters named Garnet and Tirzah – some fighting for equal shares of any treasure and some working for a small percentage of it. To the force of Hobbits was named a larger prize – the raiders' lair, should they clear it. After much scouting through the wooded hills of the Greenridge and hunting and killing a bear and some wolves, they found a ravine and some caves at the north end of the Greenridge

That was all before. A week has passed since. Smaller scouting parties kept a watch on the caves in the ravine and parties of goblins were observed coming and going into the two caves on the west side of the ravine at dusk three times, always numbering between eight and ten.

Other things have been learned. One of them is how hard it is to feed a company of 23. With the bear meat sold to the local woodsmen, the company had to continually hunt. At least 7 of their 23 were always busy hunting just to feed the rest.

Another thing they learned was that Daphne was right to be suspicious of the woodsmen and how much they paid for the bear meat. After camping every night between their cabins for safety and talking to them in the day, they learned the woodsmen were also poachers. Hunting in the Long Forest that runs across the Greenridge was illegal without paying a hunting tax, which meant the company were also poachers for killing the bear.

They also learned more about their new companions. The leader of the Hobbits was named Fredegar. He seemed to be a good and honorable leader, but interested in little beyond the welfare of the company of Hobbits under him. Archippos revealed that he was not just a hunter and guide, but a ranger – wandering fighters knowledgeable in the ways of druids. Thelonius, who had impressed them with his blood-thirstiness in the fight with the bear, also revealed that he was an acolyte of Hextor and Daphne finally remembered what she had once learned of Hextor – that he is the evil god of war. Despite that, Thelonius seemed to be an able warrior and loyal to the company. If only that could be said of Garnet and Tirzah. The pair of them had, just this evening, revealed they were secretly thieves. As everyone was eating an early dinner of rabbit stew, the pair of them made off with the armor of both Thelonius and Daphne, the only two suits of chainmail armor in the company, no doubt intending to sell them back in town.

While the rest of the company waited back on the Greenridge, the five friends and Thelonius pursued Garnet and Tirzah back into Garham to the very doors of the Feral Dog Alehouse. Inside, they had to deal with Miles the Kennel Keeper, who claimed the armor had already been sold to the alehouse. After Kevlamin warned he would summon the authorities, Miles suggested a wager – a fight to the death in the dogpit for the armor. Kevlamin and Claire accepted and were lowered down into the pit with Garmet and Tirzah. Kevlamin took a serious stab wound almost right away (his 3rd so far of the campaign), but still helped Claire kill Tirzah. Miles decided to up the entertainment factor for the alehouse patrons betting on the fight and had a dog released into the pit with them. Luckily, the dog chose Garnet to attack and mauled him to death. Daphne through a knife into the pit at the dog.

Meanwhile, Seth had been wandering around the marketplace, bored with his life, when had spotted some of his old friends go in. Following them, he saw them lowered into the pit and fighting for their life. Seth jumped into the pit and started stabbing the dog with his dagger. The dog mauled Seth until he was unconscious, but with his last act of consciousness, Seth killed the dog. Manga won 3 sp on the fight. A brawl broke out in the alehouse over whether the fight was fair, but the friends avoided it, taking their armor and their fallen friend and leaving.

Returning to Fester's Hostel just after midnight and coaxing Fester into letting them in that late, the friends rested well into the next day while Daphne and Thelonius performed their long healing rituals. After healing Kevlamin and Seth, and accepting Seth as one of their own, they skipped dinner and headed out of town back to the Greenridge. They gathered half the halfling slingers and went to spy on the ravine, arriving right around midnight. While planning an ambush, they heard goblins approaching from outside the ravine. It was a force of 11 goblins, but the twin sleep spells of Manga and Seth took down all 11 of them. They killed the sleeping goblins and took their weapons and armor for treasure.

On the morning of the 15th, they talked to Robertson, leader of the woodsmen-poachers, and learned that they had a visitor. In the cabin of a woodsman named Dilber, they met Zimik, shaman of the Roaring Wolf Tribe of goblins. Zimik told them how his tribe had fled from the Lorridges years ago, chased out by the elves, and was content to hide out here in the Greenridge with just occasional raids on the neighboring humans. But now a gang of bugbears led by a bugbear named Kraglut had taken over the tribe and was preparing them for more daring raids on the mines worked by the people of Garham. Zimik was willing to sacrifice some of his own people to be rid of Kraglut, so he came to find the people who had killed his scouts last night and offered to help by arranging for the goblins loyal to him to be out of the caves on a night the company chose to attack. He would loan no goblins to help fight, for he said when goblins fought goblins, they would not be able to stop until they were all dead. Nor would he share his caves with the halflings, except for one lone cave on the opposite side of the ravine. And he asked that the company take no treasure except the magic ring Kraglut wore, that allowed Kraglut to walk on water.

The friends recognized at once that this arrangement with Zimik was not going to sit well with the halflings and talked to Fredegar. Fredegar was incensed that his company of slingers would lose the goblin lair which had been integral to their bargain. The friends waffled for some time over whether or not they should bribe the halflings by offering them Kraglut's magic ring, but decided instead that they would sell the ring to a wizard in Yggsburgh when they had it. At last the friends convinced Fredegar to accept payment of 80 gp to stay on without getting the goblin lair. The friends returned to Garham to sell the armor and weapons, netting 22 gp from the weaponsmithy in town and trading the armor for a writ for 77 gp from the town militia (the sergeant was quite impressed with their tale of killing 11 goblins). Tidwoad the Gnome Jeweler traded their writ for gold after taking only 10%, which left them with more than enough gold to pay off the halflings to stay.

Garham to Greyhawk Campaign Primer

[Required reading for every new Garham to Greyhawk Campaign player.]

The planet you are on is called Oerth (like our Earth in some ways). The continent you are on is called Oerik. You are in the eastern portion of Oerik, known as the Flanaess (like Europe in some ways). The year is 610 CY (the rough equivalent to the beginning of our 16th century).

This is the central Flanaess. To the north is a great lake known as the Nyr Dyv, or Lake of Unknown Depths. Between you and the Nyr Dyv is a range of hills known as the Menhir Hills or, more commonly, the Cairn Hills. They are called the Cairn Hills because they are famous for the cairns, or burial tombs, of an ancient people scattered through the hills.

Thirty-one miles to the northwest as the crow flies is the City of Greyhawk. It is famous for being the most powerful free city-state in the Flanaess. You have never been there. The route there is a two-day journey on foot and fairly dangerous, winding south around the Grey Pools Mire and the infamous Castle Greyhawk, renowned for its endlessly deep dungeons – a magnet for both adventurers and monsters alike, even though rumor has it that the dungeons were emptied years ago. No, if there is anything you have needed from a larger city, the trip downriver to Yggsburgh is just six hours along the Ellery River and usually much safer.

What you call home is the Town of Garham, home to 1,273 people on the west bank of Diamond Fish Lake. Once, Garham was a wild and corrupt mining town called simply Diamond Lake. Fifteen years ago, Diamond Lake was caught up in a plot by cultists operating out of the Cairn Hills to raise an undead army and attack the City of Greyhawk. Five years ago, one of the adventurers who had stopped the cult returned home to Diamond Lake a local hero and helped clean up the corruption in the town. His name was Tolliver Garham and he became so popular with the people that they offered him the job of governor. When he refused and insisted on the lesser job of garrison commander, the town was renamed after him for both his exploits and his selflessness.

Some mining of iron and silver still goes on in Garham, though not as much as it once did. Many miners have left. There was a time when Diamond Fish Lake was so polluted that it was unfishable, but druids came and spent eight years praying over the lake until it was purified. Those druids have not been seen in eight years, but fishermen have been drawn to the area ever since, so much so that the principle occupation in Garham today is now fishing instead of mining. The still-active mines are in the rocky crags north of the town.

The end of the 6th century on the Common Year calendar is widely regarded as having been an Age of Heroes. Adventurers seemed to spring up from every community to go on quests and route out monsters from lairs and dungeons far afield, only to return home with treasures of magic and riches enough to build castles and hold the lands around them. Garham seemed to be the last of his generation, for Diamond Lake – or Garham, has not produced an adventurer in the last four years. Until now.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Garham Town Encounter Area Key

[This is an earlier draft that doesn't quite match up with the map I made for the players. All these encounter areas are still there, but not all of them are still "common knowledge". Material is combined from Erik Mona's Diamond Lake and Gary Gygax's Yggsburgh.]
Garham Encounter Area Key
Garham has the following public buildings:
1. The Emporium
This 2-story entertainment hall used to have a bad reputation, but the current owner, Chevonne, has cleaned the place up a bit. You can still come here for beer, having your fortune read, and gambling.
2. The Feral Dog Alehouse
Rastus, locally known as a dangerous swordsman, took over this alehouse five years ago from the half-orc who used to run it. It’s a run-down dive where you can go to bet on dogfights or participate in dagger-throwing contests.
3. Garham Chapel
This chapel contains four shrines dedicated to Cuthbert (god of wisdom), Heironeous (god of chivalry), Blerred (god of mining), and Obad-Hai (god of wilderness). Heironeous has the largest following in Garham, though that has only started in the last 18 years.
4. Tidwoad’s Jewelry
A gnome runs this 2-story shop. It’s said that gnomes passing through the area can board on the upper level for the night. It’s also said that his shop has the tightest security of any place in town.
5. Taffy’s Lanterns
This shop sells everything from candles to bulls-eye lanterns. Taffy has business contacts in Yggsburgh where he can have specialty lanterns made.
6. The Hungry Gar Tavern
“Gulb” the Chef is the best fish cook in town.
7. Isumbras’ Flophouse
Over two dozen out-of-work miners remain here, hoping that a new lode will be discovered someday and business will pick up again. Isumbras is a hobbit.
8. Garrison Keep
This small, hilltop castle hosts the local militia who enforce the governor’s laws. Tolliver Garham himself still mans the keep, and even his two lieutenants are said to be beyond reproach.
9. Lakeside Stables
The largest public stable in Garham is owned by Lance, a man known for his bad temper. You can buy donkeys, riding horses, and even occasionally a warhorse here as well.
11. The Spinning Giant Tavern
This two-story, blue-roofed eatery is frequented mainly by the off-duty militia.
12. The Captain’s Blade Weaponsmithy
This weaponsmithy used to be owned by Tyron Eberhardt until the man got in a fight with a wizard over a magic wand Tyron was trying to sell him. The new weaponsmith, Barry, is said to still have some of Tyrol’s old stock of unusual items.
13. Goose’s Fletcher & Bowyer Shop
This husband-and-wife team (Alfred “Goose” & Venelle Gandy) makes the best bows and arrows in these parts. You can occasionally also buy armor, other weapons, or maybe even magic arrows from them.
14. Lakehouse
Located on the piers, the lakehouse is little more than a shelter for fishermen to gather in bad weather. It is easy to find a fisherman willing to ferry people across Diamondfish Lake or (less often) to Mound Isle. The fishing fleet on the piers numbers over 50 boats.
15. Whip’s Carts and Wagons
Ivarr “Whip” Ironskin is a dwarf who not only fixes carts but offers wagon rides, for a price, as far southwest as Yggsburgh or as far northwest as Greyhawk.
16. The Rusty Bucket Tavern
You can get some decent fish stew at cheap prices here.
17. O’Seighin’s Smithy
O’Seighin makes tools, but it’s said he can make studded leather armor too, if the leather is brought to him.
18. Diamond Lake Cemetery
The cemetery is so old the name was never updated. After trouble with necromancers in the cemetery 10 years ago, most people go for funeral pyres these days. The graveyard is patrolled, but no one knows who the patrols answer to.
19. Stronghammer’s Smithy
Klaufi Stronghammer is a dwarf who makes the best tools in town and a few types of weapons.
20. The Jolly Fisherman Alehouse
In the autumn, Grady “Jolly” Hunter’s alehouse is best known for its spiced cider. At that time of year, in the evening, this is the busiest place in Garham. The ale is just ordinary.
21. Community Smokehouse
For a small rental fee, you can smoke your meat and store it in a room here.
22. Shaver’s Cobbler Shop
The best place in town to buy shoes and boots.
23. Fuller’s Tailor Shop
Will Fuller is trying out that new fashion – coats with buttons and buttonholes. We’ll see if this catches on anywhere.
24. Hook’s Bait & Tackle Shop
Some of the catfish now get so big in the lake that Will “Hook” Grey has started stocking harpoons.
25. Carpentry Shop
Tyrone makes furniture and re-plasters houses.
26. Bigfish Trading Store
Ed Twing tends to only have containers, cooking ware, meal, vegetables, and other ordinary items for trade, but he occasionally has special items, like pearls traded to him by divers in Diamondfish Lake.
27. Clinker’s Boatwright Shop
Bruce “Clinker” Keeler once made and a 30’, 2-masted fishing boat and sold it for a fortune. The boat was either wrecked in a storm or sunk by a giant catfish in the lake known as Old Whiskers (depending on who tells the story) and Keeler is said to have lost that fortune gambling at the Emporium.
28. Big Will’s Mill
“Big Will” Hunter owns both this mill, for making meal, and a sawmill a few miles south on the Ellery River.
29. Ropemaker’s Shop
30. Netmaker’s Shop
31. Furrier’s Shop
32. Governor’s Office
Governor Robert Ketchum, or “Skipper” as he still prefers to be called, found the governor’s manor to be too pretentious and had a smaller office built for him instead. He aims to be a popular leader (perhaps more than an effective one), even though his office is delegated by the Directors of Greyhawk City, not by popular vote.

Garham has the following private, but significant buildings:
33. Lazare’s Gaming Parlor (closed)
34. Sheriff’s Office (closed)
The old sheriff’s duties have been absorbed by the militia and garrison commander.
35. Smets Manor
Home of the richest mine owner in town, Baladeva Smets.
36. Deepspike Mine Entrance (closed)
Garham’s oldest and longest-abandoned mine. The site is walled off behind a palisade now.
37. Tilki Manor
The nicest mansion in town, owned by the second richest mine owner, Gellert Tilki.
38. Greysmere Trading Company
Owned and operated by dwarves, the company is only interested in acquiring local iron ore and will do no business with anyone but the mine owners.
39. Smelting Factory
Surrounded by a high stone wall, this yard includes the finery forge where both iron and silver are brought from the mines to be processed. The factory grounds are guarded and non-workers are not allowed entrance.
40. Observatory
This building had been bricked up since a necromancer set up shop in it five years ago.
41. Dourstone Keep
This stone castle-like building is situated half underground. It is the home of the third remaining mine owner in town, a dwarf named Ragnvaldr Dourstone.

Other prominent areas:
42. Menhir Ring
These standing stones remain from old druid worship in the area from over a hundred years ago. You have heard the ring referred to as “The Bronzewood Lodge”, even though it isn’t made of bronzewood.

Map of Garham

[Based on the Darlene map from the Yggsburgh Campaign Setting, this is a blow-up of the area about the Town of Garham - known as Diamond Lake in other Greyhawk sources.]

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Garham to Greyhawk Campaign: Session One (pt. 2)

Hamid recommended Nogah, Exorcist of Obad-Hai, or a newcomer named Thelonius. They chose to talk to Thelonius who was eager, but had some ambitious plans for employing six hirelings at the party's expense. Daphne would have none of that (as the party was now practically living off her money), but compromised at hiring one young lackey named Nodwick. While Garnet, Tirzah, and Thelonius would fight for equal shares, Nodwick would earn only 3 cp per day.

In conversation with Thelonius, it came up that Kevlamin did not know where his unusual last name of Serpenthelm came from, as he did not remember his parents.

Next, everyone agreed they would need a guide. Thelonius recommended trying to bribe a scout with the militia to leave his duties and work for them. Daphne found a seedier scout willing to at the Spinning Giant Tavern, but not for less than 5% of the treasure and 2 gp up front. Daphne turned him away and instead suggested they find Archippos at the Menhirs. Sure enough, Archippos was willing to guide them through the Greenridge for only 1% of any treasure – and he even claimed to know the general whereabouts of the goblins and orcs, at the north end of the Greenridge. The three friends dined that night on partridges – a rare, expensive (1 sp each) treat for them, at the Hungry Gar Tavern. Everyone had become sick of dining cheaply on fish head stew.

On the morning of the 6th*, the friends were reunited with Rubin and Manga and, now with a group of 10, set out on the Meadow Patch Road that led out of town towards the Greenridge. After two miles of walking through farmland, they reached the earthen mound that marked the edge of civilization. Crossing over it, they spotted a small camp with ponies, but no sign of anyone else inside. They marched through the tall grass towards the camp. Archippos warned them of the ambush just as a dozen halflings with slings sprung up around them. Kevlamin and Claire parlayed with the halflings and learned that they were on their way to Garham looking for work. The halflings also warned them of a bear that had chased them in the forest. The friends hired the halflings (a force of 13, total) to come with and help against the goblins and orcs, but a) the halflings would get 5% of any treasure to split between them, b) the friends would kill the bear and give it to the halflings, and c) the halflings would get to keep any lair that they cleared out.

Now leading an enormous company of almost two dozen, the friends followed Archippos as he tracked the bear. The bear turned out to be a hostile black bear*. The company turned out to be less useful than they should have been. Garnet and Tirzah offered to watch the rear for any goblin or orc ambushes and did not help. The halflings complained that the trees here gave the bear too much cover. Only Thelonius eagerly helped in the fight. Thelonius turned out to be an acolyte of Hextor who relished in the bloodshed of the battle. The bloodshed all seemed to be on the bear's side, as Kevlamin, Thelonius, and even Manga with his dagger struck good blows, though Kevlamin wound up in a bear hug that almost crushed the life from him.

A half-mile away, Archippos found them a cluster of woodsmen's cabins. The woodsmen pooled their money and bought the bear meat and skin for 20 gp – which went to the halflings, as per their agreement. Kevlamin stayed with the woodsmen to rest, with Rubin staying to guard him and Thelonius praying for healing, while everyone else went in search of the goblin/orc lair. Five miles to the north, they found a ravine with some caves in the side of it – and the ravine had five wolves laying idle in it. Here the halfling slingers proved their worth, as after two volleys of sling bullets, all but one of the wolves was dead. This seemed a likely place to find the goblins and/or orcs, but first they had to go back and retrieve Rubin, Kevlamin, and Thelonius.

End of session
Rubin earned 132 xp
Kevlamin earned 342 xp
Claire earned 269 xp
Daphne earned 210 xp
Manga earned 112 xp

*[DM's errata: The party actually had set out for the Greenridge on the afternoon of the 5th, but upon reflection, I realize the recruitment drive should have taken longer. I called the bear a brown bear at the time, though the stats I used were for a black bear.]

Garham to Greyhawk Campaign: Session One (pt. 1)

Session One – April 10, 2010 (Planting 3, 610)
Kevlamin Serpenthelm human (Suloise) shield-bearer (1st level fighter)(Kevin)
Clair, halfling shield-bearer (1st level fighter)(Megan)
Daphne, half-elf acolyte of Ehlonna (1st-level cleric)(Joyce)
Ruben Soot, human (mixed race) shield-bearer (1st level fighter)(Ruben)
Manga, human (mixed race) medium (1st-level magic-user)(Pablo)

Ruben was at the standing stones on the outskirts of town, having heard rumors of a Bronzewood Lodge, but finding nothing like one at the old menhirs. Kevlamin was at the nearby cemetery, having heard mysterious chanting there before. Manga was at the old observatory, wishing he had the money to buy the old, deserted place – even though it might be haunted. Daphne was outside the boarded-up Deepspike Mine, having heard a rumor that the owner was hiding treasure in the old mine.

While everyone else was just thinking about things to do, Clair was at the smelting factory asking for guard work. The captain of the factory's private guard company, Torquil, subdued Clair in about 30 seconds with the flat of his blade and sent her on her way.

It was then that the knight descended out of the sky, riding a Pegasus, and landed in Castle Garham. Everyone rushed to the castle, wishing to see the Pegasus up close. Ruben, Kevlamin, and Clair were all ex-members of the town militia, but were no longer allowed in the castle. Furious at being rebuffed, Kevlamin and Clair tried to fight their way in through the gatehouse while Ruben dodged around the distracted guards and made it into courtyard. Manga fled, found Daphne, and convinced her to come help.

In the courtyard, Ruben encountered Garrison Commander Tolliver Garham and the mysterious stranger. The stranger, who revealed herself to be Lilyana Ortiz, Paladin of the Adventurers Guild of Greyhawk, was impressed that Ruben and his friends had an “adventurous spirit” that she accused Tolliver of having lost. Kevlamin and Clair were being led inside, clapped in irons and being led to the stockade. Lilyana asked Tolliver to place them in Ruben's supervision and then gave them all an unexpected offer – if they would undertake an adventure to impress her with when she returned in two months, she would sponsor them for membership in the Adventurers Guild.

The five friends had several leads for adventure. Daphne favored breaking into the Deepspike Mine. Kevlamin favored confronting the mysterious chanters in the cemetery. When Manga went to the governor's office to buy the old observatory, he found it would cost him 400 gp – but he also found there was a 50 gp bounty on “Old Whiskers”.

Daphne and Ruben went to Isumbras' Flophouse to question some out-of-work miners about the Deepspike Mine. For 4 sp, they learned from a miner named Gomer that all other entrances to the mine would have been collapsed when it was closed – but that a secret entrance probably still existed under the manor of the owner, Baladeva Smets.

Kevlamin and Manga went to the Diamond Lake Boneyard to investigate the chanting. They found two men and two women in the cemetery tending to gravestones and chanting. The men realized they were being observed and drew daggers. Kevlamin was stabbed and seriously injured, but when he drew his hand-and-a-half sword, the men ended their hostility and explained about the Cult of the Green Lady to which they all belonged. Kevlamin in particular was impressed with them and their mission and apologized for having started the altercation.

Claire went alone to the “Lakehouse”, the Fishmongers' Guildhall. There she learned that “Old Whiskers” was a giant catfish, possibly up to 12' long (until then everyone had assumed Old Whiskers was a person), and that it had grown so malicious that it had killed four fishermen already this year. Erico, of the Fishmongers' Council, sent her to Hook's Tackle & Bait Shop for supplies. There, Claire spent 15 sp on fishing supplies without specifying what she was fishing for. The shopkeeper, Will “Hook” Grey, sent her back to the Piers to look for a boat to rent. There, she was laughed at for going after Old Whiskers with less than a harpoon. Grey happened to sell harpoons, but asked an exorbitant amount for them Claire could not afford on her own.

The friends reunited again, they agreed to rent a room to share (tightly-packed, though for 9 cp a night; Daphne paid 5 sp up front) at Fester's Hostel. Though Daphne could not cast clerical spells quickly [as per OD&D clerics], she could perform a lengthy, 17-hour ceremony to cast Cure Light Wounds [house rule]. Claire went to the Feral Dog Alehouse to pick up cheap food for the others while Daphne prayed and Kevlamin rested.

On the 4th, Daphne magically restored Kevlamin to full health. Both of them came with Claire this time to Hook's to haggle for the harpoons, but when they mentioned, this time, that they were after Old Whiskers, Grey suggested they use catnip as bait and told them they could find catnip growing wild at the Menhirs. Everyone knew this sounded nutty, but Grey sounded so sincere that Clair and Daphne went.

At the Menhirs, they met Archippos, a hunter who found them the catnip, but he said it would not work. Instead, he suggested finding where the giant catfish slept and hunt it there. Kevlamin liked this idea when he heard it. He had been at the Piers, asking a fisherman about renting a boat. He also asked about Mound Island, out in Diamond Fish Lake, out of curiosity and heard it was haunted. When Claire and Daphne joined him, the fisherman referred them to Sammy, a young pearl diver, at the Lakehouse, who had seen Old Whiskers underwater and lived. Sammy told them of a cave in Mound Island, 15' underwater, that he had seen Old Whiskers go into last summer. Daphne doubted this was where Old Whiskers slept, since Sammy had observed this in the morning, but the others were more confident that Mound Island was where they would find adventure.

On the morning of the 5th, Kevlamin, Claire, and Daphne met Durward the Mariner and learned he would take them all to Mound Island in his dinghy, the Autumn Runner, for 16 cp each. He did not believe the island was haunted, but he knew some suspicious people took their boat back and forth to the island every week on their sailboat, the Harkness. The sky was clouding over and, even though Durward assured them that it would not storm, Daphne became certain that it would. Out of nowhere, Kevlamin decided to ask around town about something entirely different – whether or not there was any chance of adventure in the nearby Greenridge.

Kevlamin found an ex-woodsmen at lunch from the Long Forest that ran across the Greenridge and he complained that goblins and orcs used to raid the homes of woodsmen every so often. Everyone immediately liked the idea of hunting goblins and orcs much better. Concerned about the small size of their party (as Rubin and Manga were temporarily unavailable until their players came back), they spent the afternoon about town recruiting. Almost right away, they found a fighter named Garnet who offered to bring his equally-skilled girlfriend Tirzah along. Kevlamin went to the Garham Chapel and talked to Hamid of Cuthbert about recruiting another cleric.