My home World of Greyhawk campaign has resumed for the new year of 2018. I’ve run campaigns in the World of Greyhawk for twenty years or so, and this current one has been going for about six months. When I last wrote about the heroes of the tale, they’d recovered the sword of Prince Thrommel, presented it to the new King of Furyondy, and, as a result, he’d declared war on Iuz and sent the adventurers into the Land of Iuz to scout.
Iuz is a demon-born godling who rules a land of horrors. In recent times, the neighbouring lands had been attacked again and again by his forces. It was little wonder that King Tobias of Furyondy wanted to return the favour. It was something that worried the adventurers, however. No sword, even one as important as Fragarach, was going to overthrow the Old One. They reluctantly went on a couple of missions into Iuz, barely escaping with their lives, and finally decided that enough was enough. Elspeth confronted the King’s chancellor and explained that due to the will of St Cuthbert, they were summoned to Mitrik and they must leave immediately. St Cuthbert is an important god in my version of Greyhawk, one revered by the folk of Furyondy for his fighting spirit and as the archenemy of Iuz, and so the chancellor paid attention. (The natural 20 Greg rolled helped as well!)
So, the adventurers were loaded up with presents and thanks – many gems and some magic items – and then were escorted to Mitrik by a patrol of knights. As the chancellor explained, he didn’t want anything happening to them. The morale hit to Furyondy’s nobles would be significant. The adventurers were dubious that the escort would help – wouldn’t they be better not paying attention – but accepted it.
It certainly helped keep away riff-raff and bandits. However, it couldn’t help them when an assassin slipped into Iyolas’s room and attempted to slay the sleeping wizard. He came very close; Iyolas only just survived the first blow. Sacre and Zhu were still awake, and upon hearing the disturbance in the next room ran to investigate, calling for help as they did so. The assassin turned his attention to the pair, and the battle was on! It was a dangerous affair, as the poison the assassin used was most potent, and two more of the adventurers were rendered unconscious before it was over. Sacre revived Iyolas with a potion of healing, but then poor Garazhan was caught in a lightning bolt that Iyolas called against the assassin! The assassin, of course, evaded the bolt and took no damage!
Investigating the assassin’s body afterwards, they discovered nothing of note, not even a purse. (The clues were well hidden, and the players rolled horribly on their Intelligence (Investigation) checks). So, after cremating the body, the adventurers resumed their journey to Mitrik.
A few weeks later, they arrived. There, Nil, Paladin of St Cuthbert, introduced himself to Archdeacon Appius, who was in charge of the daily business of the Cathedral of St Cuthbert. After the introductions, he explained that the church had recently seen a splinter group of heretics steal some relics and escape. Nil and his friends were asked to aid in their recovery. No mercy was to be shown to the heretics!
The group proceeded to a small, abandoned fort, built when the borders of Veluna were smaller than they were today. There, Elspeth effected their entry into the fort with superior use of Thieves’ Tools. (One of the peculiarities of this group is that most of the characters have proficiency with Thieves’ Tools!) There, they discovered a group of half-orc warriors training, who they slew before they could alert the rest of the fort. Proceeding to the centre, they faced the main force of the heretics, along with an underpriest, their battle commander, and finally a war priest! The battle was hard. The underpriest used spirit guardians on the group whilst protected by the heretics, and did much damage thereby, although of the necrotic sort with demonic spirits appearing to deal the damage. Heretics of St Cuthbert? It seemed they’d fallen a long way! Finally, a good magic missile spell from Iyolas slew him and allowed the others to defeat the lesser warriors.
The war priest banished Zhu, Nil fought and defeated the battle commander, and finally, they were able to disrupt the war priest’s concentration and retrieve Zhu. The warpriest cast spiritual weapon and flame strike on the party’s magic-users but eventually fell to yet another lightning bolt.
That was likely the end of the heretics, but what secrets did the fort contain? That would be the next session!
This session was, once again, mostly improvised. I wasn’t sure going into it whether the characters would stay in Furyondy or not (if they had, a strange, outer-planar assassin would have stalked them, and mysterious murders would have occurred). But they chose to go to Mitrik, so that story was abandoned and a new one began. The idea of heretics was cribbed from the very first adventure I played in the World of Greyhawk, where my magic-user was hired to recover a relic from heretics. In Mitrik. (It was an adaptation of one of the B-series of adventure modules).
Readers versed in Greyhawk lore may be surprised by my use of St Cuthbert as the chief god of Veluna. I can only say that I was very surprised to finally learn (in 2000) that it was meant to be Rao! I tend to collapse down the Greyhawk gods until only a few important ones remain. It’s nice having 100 or more gods, but if you want the players to care about the gods, keep only a few at the forefront of the campaign and weave plots concerning them into the game. The conflict between St Cuthbert and Iuz is front and centre of this game, but some other gods chosen as patrons by the characters, such as Boccob and Xan Yae, may become important before the campaign is over.
For those interested in the characters, they are as follows:
- Elspeth (Greg), Human Sorcerer 6
- Nil (Adam), Half-elf Paladin 6 of St Cuthbert
- Zhu (Glen), Wood Elf Monk 6
- Iyolas (Rich), High Elf Wizard 6
- Sacre Blu (Paul), High Elf Rogue 6
- Garazahan (Martin), Human Cleric 5/Fighter 1 of Boccob