Monday, August 5, 2019

Blood & Treachery - The Hidden Connections in Judge's Guild's City State of the Invincible Overlord 1977 & Gary Gygax's Greyhawk

"A legend in gaming history, the revised booklet covers the many various shops, taverns, inns, temples, and barracks of the classic city state. Long a favorite of Judges all over the world, and our best selling item since it was printed in 1977, it includes maps for boths players and judges of the areas and five levels of dungeon under the City State to explore. Also shown in all it's Dwarven glory is Thunderhold, one of the northern allies of the Overlord. Incredibly detailed right down to the statistics and character of each barmaid and the latest rumor she has heard, this product forms the basis of the Judges Campaign and provides a base of operations for shorter player adventures. Indeed, the City State itself is an adventure, and the City State of the Invincible Overlord is the centerpiece of the Wilderlands."

I've owned 
City State of the Invincible Overlord for forty plus years & have nothing to do what so ever with the BS business of the kickstarter that seems to have stuck in many folks craw since 2015. I what I do have to do with is the fact that I'm starting to look into the classic city for myself. A bit of history from the Wiki entry; "City State of the Invincible Overlord is a fantasy role-playing game supplement first published by Judges Guild in 1976. It was the first published fantasy role-playing game city setting, designed for use with Dungeons & Dragons (D&D), and officially approved for use with D&D from 1976 through 1983. It was later republished under license by Necromancer Games."

One of the little tidbits about the City State was something I ran across on 1d4 chan about the City State of the Invincible Overlord; "
The centerpoint of the entire setting - be it geographically, politically, historically, or spiritually - the titular City State of the Invincible Overlord was built by dwarves on top of an ancient ruined city... which itself was on top of another, even older ruin. Nowadays it is mostly ruled by humans, with the humble Invincible Overlord himself in charge of everything, but the dwarves of the northern Thunderstone are still some of its most important allies. A bit further north there is the coastal city of Warwik, founded a long time ago by some nobility that had the bright idea to try and usurp the City State rule, and who were subsequently banished and are still plotting revenge.

Modron is another iconic city found here, on the shores of Roglaroon River and worshipping the river goddess of the same name. To the east there is the tiny village of Tegel, entirely of no consequences if it weren't for the setting of one of the most well-loved Judges Guild adventures, Tegel Manor. And in the southeastern corner you've got Ossary, a fine example of what happens when you give a bunch of chaotic murderous vikings their own city: its ruling chiefs are basically in the state of total war, fighting in the streets.
Witches' Court Marshes is exactly what it says on the tin. Once every year, some four thousand witches gather here to summon demons and plot wicked things."

What really caught my attention was the Witches Court Marshes & this sabbath of four thousand witches?!  I remember this adventure & one of my PC's being killed & sacrificed on Halloween!
"Danger awaits on All Hallow's Eve. Witches of the world are gathering en masse. The peasants of the area are going to leave, unless you can stop the wicked black mass."

"Twenty-six pages of maps detail the area around the Witches Court Marshes and the village of Grita Heath. Complete description of the witch character class. Many witch NPC's are detailed. Three level lair of Mordridda dungeon under the marshes contains fabulous wealth and dangerous adventure."
This was one of the adventures where I got introduced to my uncle's version of one of the Le Fey witch queens & the inner circle of the hags that actually control the entire family.  The Le Feys had deep ties to the royals in the City State of the Invincible Overlord. 
William Henry Margetson's illustration for The Legends of King Arthur and His Knights(1908) 
"She was known to have studied magic while she was being brought up in the nunnery."

All of this relates down to the cults of Hags that are scattered throughout Greyhawk & the Blackmoor setting. These hags go all of the way back to their first appearance in the original Blackmoor supplement for original Dungeons & Dragons. This is born out on the wiki entry for the hags; "The hag made its first appearance with a one line mention of the sea hag in the 1975 Blackmoor supplement for original Dungeons & Dragons (OD&D).[3]
The sea hag appeared again, along with the night hag, in the 1977 Monster Manual for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition.[4]The book goes into detail about their appearance and motivations, and even cites items and creatures related to the hags.
The Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set included its own version of the hag. The sea hag and the black hag appeared in the 1985 Dungeons & Dragons Master Rules,[5] and the Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia (1991).[6]
The annis, a type of hag, first appeared in the module The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun (1982). The annis appeared in the Monster Manual II (1983) along with the green hag,[7]which was detailed in Dragon #125 (September 1987), in "The Ecology of the Greenhag."[8] The fresh water sea hag appears in Dragon #68 (December 1982)"

This all goes back to my idea about the Wilderlands of High Fantasy being the back door world setting for Greyhawk. Could there be lots of movement, secret communication, alliances, & worse among the City State & the royals of Greyhawk? I think so.

Many of the adventures of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons suggest that the ancient past of oreath was filled to the brim with warfare & dangers of the most extreme examples.
saga. The implication here is that Gord can go anywhere & seemingly blend in on whist this scandal is waiting to happen. The implications of this style of campaign are that the intimidation factor alone. Gary Gygax's GordThe Rogue books have such a style that Gord The Rogue belongs among the underworld of The City State of the Invincible Overlord.

This is all subjective & seemingly from my own personal experiences with both Judge's Guild's material & Gary Gygax's Greyhawk along with a healthy fan smattering of Gord The Rogue paperbacks seen through the lens of an Advanced Dungeons & Dragons lens. Its all relevant in the hands of a dungeon master. 

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