Wednesday, May 22, 2019

What Ever Happened To Warduke - Fan Speculation From AC1 The Shady Dragon Inn By Carl Smith

So last night I met with a friend & we were discussing the "The Shady Dragon Inn " adventure accessory. Warduke came up & we discussed how we'd bring him into our campaigns. The following is the fruit of that discussion after looking through several incarnations of the character. The following is beyond mere cartoon fan speculation & just a quick thumbnail campaign sketch. 

There was a time when Saturday mornings back in the halcyon days of the D&D cartoon were looked forward too by many kids across the world. Warduke was a personal favorite of many kids & possibly one of the most bad ass characters to appear in the action figure line. He appeared in the episode 'The Search for The Dungeon Master' which aired in October of '83. The Shady Dragon Inn adventure accessory came out that same year;
"The Shady Dragon Inn is an accessory designed for the Basic Set or Expert Set of the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game. It was published by TSR, Inc. in 1983. Written by Carl SmithThe Shady Dragon Inn is a supplement used to help dungeon masters introduce fully designed characters into any scenario."  
The Shady Dragon Inn details Warduke & many of the D&D cartoon characters & figures including their stats. 

One of the distinguishing differences between the accessories line of products & the cartoon is that the 
The Shady Dragon Inn takes place on Mystara not within the Realms of the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon.  Its location is still up for debate according to the Drivethrurpg write up;  ""The Shady Dragon Inn" in The Polyhedron #16 (1983) includes a bit more info on the inn, including stats for its proprietors.
The iconic heroes of "The Shady Dragon Inn" would also make a few later appearances, though D&D games were inconsistent about where their home was.
  • XL1: "Quest for the Hearstone" (1984) features the Heartstone quest that is described in some of the character descriptions here. That adventures places the heroes (and presumably the Inn) in the Kingdom of Ghyr — an otherwise unknown land.
  • X10: "Red Arrow, Black Shield" (1985) instead depicts some of these icons as rulers of the Kingdom of Ierendi, though later sources suggested it was 200 years in the future.
  • Finally, Capcom's Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom (1993), a side-scrolling video game for the CPSII (and later the Sega Saturn) places the inn (and presumably the iconics) in the town of Darokin.
Meanwhile, this wouldn't be the last "AC" product to focus on tactical play. A few later "AC" supplements beginning with AC3: "3-D Dragon Tiles Featuring The Kidnapping of Princess Arelina" (1983) would feature "3-D Dragon Tiles", which took the innovative battle map of this adventure to the next level."
Does this mean that the Realms on occasion merged with Mystara?! I think so not only that but Warduke's origin is closely tied to Mystara & Greyhawk's history.

According to his own bio from the 3.0 Tales From Mystara websiteWarduke wears a suit of half-chain and a black, winged helmet. His shield bears the sign of a demon’s head. He was an old friend of Strongheart’s (good paladin), but now the two are enemies. Both were exposed to the Heartstone, and Warduke’s cruel nature was brought out while Strongheart’s just nature became stronger….
[He] especially hates Strongheart, who he feels wastes his time protecting the weak and helpless. “A true fighter,” Warduke feels, “makes himself rich and powerful by the strength of his sword arm. He takes what he can—if you would keep your possessions, kill those who seek to take them.” He calls his sword “Nightwind.”
The Unnameable Hierarch managed to rebuild his organization so quickly in large part due to the influence of a ruthless fighter named Warduke, a mysterious and relentless killer who emerged from nowhere after the Greyhawk Wars to spread terror and uncertainty among mercenaries, soldiers, and fighting societies from the Barrier Peaks to the Solnor Ocean."
But is Warduke still around?! Yes without a doubt & that goes back to his old unicorn obsessed friend 
Kelek or Kelek The Cruel to his enemies & friends ;"Kelek the Cruel was an evil wizard who ruled over a domain in the South Marches during the Age of Silence. Kelek was known for his attempt to achieve immortality by hunting Unicorns for their horns.
Kelek was also known for his use of a Dire Wolf as a mount and a pack of Wolven to assist in his hunting of the Unicorns - completely removing them from the Rose Wood
When Kelek was ultimately defeated, the three Alicorn which he had been able to acquire were stolen from him and hidden. The fortress he once held between the Rose Wood and the Bronzewood Forest was originally known as Direfang Keepand located at the western edge of the Stagwood." He eventually escaped Venger's prison at the end of Valley of The Unicorns 
Kelek was obsessed with his quest for immortality & was well on his way to transforming into a lich. But he was able to talk Warduke into being a subject for his 'treatments' in preparation for the creation of a phylactery for lichdom.  Warduke's soul  becomes sealed within his dark prison of a  helm. It went  on to be a living black sorcery  relic of the mad mercenary warlord. 
This might help explain his appearance across eons & world settings. The changing bodies, tactics, & perhaps even his varying magical weapons. The helm sits in one of Warduke's many former bases after the body lives out its allotted life span. A dungeon is set up & salted for the coming ritual. Warduke has over the centuries surrounded himself with any number of secret societies of mercenary warriors. He's surrounded himself with fighters,wizards, & thieves from Greyhawk to Mystara who share his quest for power & profit. In fact these societies are how he's been building up his mercenary armies. 

The evil secret society of warriors that surrounds Warduke begins to spread rumors of the founding of a dungeon, monsters are released into it, 'treasure' is spread, & the dungeon is ready. A suitable candidate/host  is found & hired. The party ventures into the dungeon & is killed off one by one. Our candidate reaches the alter niche where the 'Warduke' along with his weapons, signature armor, & accountants have been lovingly kept. The poor fool is caught by the gaze attack of the helm & then its save or die as the helm attacks its victim.  The victim is caught within the continuing madness of destruction & evil as 'Warduke' lives again!  
This is mere fan speculation on my part & that the character has gotten over the years any number of upgrades from the explanation of his armor found here from Wizards of the Coast. There's a complete &  a full 3.0 write up over here.  that could be used with Dungeon Crawl Classics. The real question is what happened to 
Kelek or Kelek The Cruel ?

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