Campaign of the Month: January 2014

Greyhawk 937 CY: The Age of Steam

A Letter to Home
Readying 10, 937 CY
Dear Dad,

I’m in Greyhawk City! It’s even bigger than I thought it would be and so much more busy! Not to mention noisy. There are people everywhere and every type you told me about and some I couldn’t even identify. This is so exciting!

I saw some dwarves when I first came into the city. They were so cool and wore really beautiful armor. And I finally got to see a gnome! She didn’t seem to like me much, but that was probably my fault. I must have stared a bit, so she glared at me. When I tried to go over and introduce myself, she practically ran away. I was a bit sad since I really wanted to meet a gnome, but I’ll try not to stare next time.

There were so many places to go, I couldn’t figure out what to do first. So I decided to wander around a bit and get my bearings. This was a bad idea, though, since this place is so huge I got lost almost immediately! I ended up in the part of town they call “Little Ket,” though I didn’t know it then. I met some very nice Baklunish people as a result. They were selling food from a cart, and I stopped to ask if they could tell me where I was. They were so polite and friendly and not scared of me at all! The father offered to give me a map if I bought some food, and the meat smelled so good anyway it seemed like a great idea. But I remembered you telling me I shouldn’t take the first price someone tells me, so I haggled. I was afraid they would think I was really rude after they were so helpful, but the man seemed really happy. I don’t think I’m good at haggling, though, since the daughter had to help me. In the end I got a map of the city and some really tasty meat on a stick for a good price.

Based on the Baklunish father’s suggestion, I went to the city library. It’s huge! There are more books there than I could possibly read in my whole life. The librarian was happy to talk to me and showed me some of their books on engineering. I wanted to see more of the city so I couldn’t stay too long, but she told me I was welcome back any time.

castlegreyhawk.jpgAfter that I decided to pay a visit to the church of Rao. They seemed a bit surprised but were also very friendly. I said some prayers and left a donation. It was much bigger than Uncle Tanmen’s church! There were lots of people there too. Then I headed to the church of Corellon since I thought it would be good to pay my respects to him too. The elves there didn’t seem very pleased to see me though. Everyone just glared. It made me a bit sad since I had never seen any elves but you, and there were all kinds there. I decided I didn’t want to make anyone mad so I left pretty quickly.

On my way to go see Gray College, I must have taken a wrong turn. The alley I ended up in was pretty deserted, but I saw two men leaning against a wall. At first they looked like they were going to come towards me, then changed their minds. I went over and said hello and asked if they knew how to get to the college. Both of them looked nervous — I think they were scared of me. So I smiled big and tried to look friendly. I noticed the taller one had a knife he was hiding behind his back, so I asked if this was a dangerous part of town. They quickly agreed that it was! And then told me very detailed and fast directions of how to get to the college area. I was trying to thank them, but they backed away and said they had to be somewhere. Though it sounded like the one said “anywhere but here.” I must have misheard him.

The college was amazing, though! The buildings were really great. I couldn’t really go in them since I’m not a student, but I had a lot of fun looking around.

It started to get late, though, so I asked one of the students if they could tell me about a good place to stay the night. He mentioned an inn that wasn’t too expensive so I went there — here actually. I got a nice little meal and the rooms are small, but very clean. The sheets are really white and smell like starch. The beds are very comfy too.

I know when the invitation arrived you thought it was a mistake and didn’t want me to go at first. But even if it wasn’t meant for me after all, this trip has been so great already that I think it was worth it. I promise I’ll be careful and will write all the time. I’ll remember all the advice you and Uncle Tanmen gave me, so don’t worry! I think this is going to be the best trip ever.

Love,
Delwin

PS. I enclosed a picture I took of Castle Greyhawk. My new camera is working great after a few more tweaks. Everyone stared at it since they hadn’t seen one before, but I think it’ll catch on soon!

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To The King
Readying 3, 937 CY

Sire,

As you know my family and I are about to embark on a tour of the Flanaess with your royal children. This trip, taken at your behest with my brother and his family serves to educate your heir and his sisters in the wider world. As I was packing for this I received and unexpected communication.

A messenger appeared at my quarters in the Hospitaller wing of the Church Of Pelor. He said a letter had arrived for me at the front door and insisted to be brought to me. The oddness of his sentence resonated with me for a moment before he produced a letter what could indeed… speak for itself.

The letter informed me that it was an invitation to be a guest on the first train ride across the continent to Greyhawk City. I kindly replied that I was already to be on the train as the first stop on our tour of the Flanaess.

This seemed to upset and confuse the letter. It explained in a strained tone that this was different. No matter if I was on the train already, I was invited by the Lord Mayor of Greyhawk City to meet with a handpicked group of individuals who, he said, would have an important part to play in…the “upcoming events”. The last two words were accompanied by a thunderclap and the music of an organ in minor chords…despite the clear day and absence of an organ in my room.

I asked what the upcoming events were, with the expected special effects happening, and was told that would be partially explained on the train.

I told the letter my response would be forthcoming after consulting with my Lord and King as to his expectations of my duties. He grudgingly accepted my answer and became an inert missive.

So my Liege I will, at your convenience visit you tomorrow morning to discuss the invitation from the mad archmage.

Ever Your Servant,
Dame Amelia Sanders Hospitaller of Pelor

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The Invitation
Bannik's Journal: Readying 3, 937 CY

Bannik’s Journal: Readying 3, 937 CY

Many people focus on endings. They look to endings as an answer. They feel as if in a sane universe answers always lie at the end. People, human and demihuman and all sorts in between, feel as if in an ending is an answer. To that end they press relentlessly to the end with an expectation of vindication and discovery. And all too often they create their own answers to placate an internal sense of injustice.

I have found that it is at a beginning where the answer and the correct question lie. It is just that sometimes you need to see things to the near ending to understand what those things are. So at the moment I am faced with a clear indication of a beginning and am at a lost to understand the question and answer that it contains.

To be honest I am afraid. This entails going outside. I don’t do that often. Perhaps it is the fear that drove me to start this journal. I have never had one, yet I am positive I have. I am positive of many things I can never remember doing. And that alone requires an explanation.

Who I am is Bannik. What I am is slightly more complicated. I am a mage. I am a jewelry maker of great skill. I am a toymaker. And perhaps I am a toy. Forty years ago I washed up on the shores of Dawnbay on the Nyr Dyv. I was salvaged by a family of mages named Seafire. They are the closest thing I have to family. Yet I can not say they saved me because I am not a person. What they pulled from the turbulent waters was not human, dwarven, elven, halfling, gnomish or any race or Oerth. It was also not any race in existence across the multiverse. It was a wet and helpless humanoid pile of rags and sacks with a skeleton of wires, bones, metals and other materials that defied description.

I had no memory prior to my removal from the water and no idea of how I knew magic, vast amounts of knowledge on minerals and mining and had the general process of sympathy and empathy. I obviously, according to the head of the family, had a soul. This was a surprise to some present, but accepted without question. I had skills and memories of doing things…some whole, some shattered.

I have the ability to hide my form through a complicated internal device that seemed on Gnomish make. But it is not pleasant for me…emotionally, to do so. For 30 years I lived a relatively peaceful live as a jewelry and toymaker in Greyhawk City. Incidents a decade ago made it prudent for me to venture outside as little as possible. After all, this is a world or men and men like beings; not one made for whatever I am.

For ten years I have ventured out only when necessary. But this morning a message came. One I can not ignore.

The Lord Mayor, one of the three four gods I worship, has invited me to participate in some unknown endeavor that will begin on the ride of a new invention called a train.

If only it was Garl, Murlynd or Boccob…my other gods. In them I could expect some degree of logic; relatively speaking. But Zagyg is unpredictable.

So I venture outside my shop on terms not my own for the first time in a decade. And I am terrified. I know all too well that the races outside are not kind to their toys.

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Mysterious Invitation
Readying 9, 937 CY
Readying 3, 937 CY
6:27 a.m.
Received a suspicious letter this morning. When I requested credentials from the courier, he was able to provide ones that looked legitimate. The envelope contained, what appeared to be, an invitation to the inaugural transcontinental train ride. This makes no sense, but it’s definitely addressed to me personally. I’ll have to investigate.

7:47 a.m.
Passed the invitation off to Vekka. Hopefully she can shed some light on whether this a prank or something.

4:48 p.m.
Vekka declared it was not a forgery nor had it been altered in any way. She also asked if she could keep the stamp, so I let her have it. This still makes no sense. I’ll put in some inquiries to see if anyone knows what’s going on here.

Readying 6, 937 CY
11:15 a.m.
How does no one know anything about this? I’m finding this lack of information highly suspicious. Carmen has told me I shouldn’t be worrying so much. She feels if it’s a mistake, I should take advantage of someone else’s mix up. But I can’t think of any reason I would be sent an invitation to an event that has people all over the Flanaess pulling favors to get an invite to.

Readying 9, 937 CY
10:42 a.m.
I found an approved mission request on my desk this morning. When I asked Commander Chalk about it, he said it was so I could attend the train-ride. Even after listening to my concerns, he felt it was best if I went anyway. I get the impression he’d very much like to have someone keeping an eye on the event from the inside. Officially I’ll be taking time-off. This still feels off to me, but if he thinks it would be useful… Carmen seemed put out, and says I should be getting a vacation, not a mission. Caleb, of course, had to throw in his two coppers — “This place will be more relaxing without you.” Jerk. Looks like I’ll be going no matter how I feel about it. What do you do on a train ride anyway?
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Bahamut's Might To Make Maiden Voyage
Readying 11, 937CY

Greyhawk City Crier

Est 917 CYPrice 1 CP Godsday, Readying 11, 937 CY

Bahamut’s Might To Make Maiden Voyage Tomorrow!
by Octavius Hespertae

Tonight a number of dignitaries will be teleported from the School of Magic in Greyhawk City to the city of Gorna. At that point they will have a luxury meal and a night sleep before boarding a metal giant that uses the new steam power to travel across the continent back to Greyhawk City.

But exactly what is this metal monstrosity that will lurch across our plains and landscape in a few days?

Heavily financed by crown of Geoff and Church of Zilchus at the behest of the Lord Mayor and the Selvestrian trade concern it was designed by some of the greatest minds in the Flanaess.

The main driving force has been the young prodigy Prince Owen Everdawn of Geoff; who worked with the mages guilds of Geoff and Greyhawk to refine his initial concept.

The “train” as they call it is manned by a staff that has trained for two years in order to prepare for any problem that may occur in the transit. The chief engineer is a cleric of Ranet, Meredith Stephans who was kind enough to give this reporter an interview that will be published in tomorrow’s edition.

But all of this does not say exactly what this is and, more importantly, why.

Although the Crier has been critical of the cost of the project, it is obvious that trade and travel will be greatly increased in both volume and speed. It can provide an extreme economic boost for all countries who have the vision to buy into the building of stations and stops along the route.

The obvious benefit stated we still have to question the use of taxpayer funds on this scale for something that has a benefit to so many private concerns. We raised this question to the Lord Mayor upon his recent return and he replied that: “The other you I know is far more polite.”

I choose to not dwell on the disturbing nuances of that answer and will simply comment that time and technology moves on and this reporter will be present on the maiden voyage to make sure that your money is spent in the best possible manner. Much like when you purchase this fine paper.

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Civil Engineering Sighs
Readying 3rd, 937CY
Dear Father,

The work on new water filtration system in Greyhawk City is finally wrapping up. The project should have been done six months ago but the sanitation workers guild didn’t do half of the pipe work the plans said were there. The request for help from Hollowfaust was obviously meant to light a fire under them to get the project finished. They didn’t expect a cleric of Nerull to show up to help, that’s for sure.

Thank you again for sending the two steel-toothed rats. They really sped up the process, both in excavation and in keeping the lazier of the workers busy. The workers thought the rats would eat them! I neglected to tell them that they were constructs and didn’t really eat anything. A little macabre motivation, but it moved the project along quickly, which is what Oligarch Sevestrian wanted. Now Greyhawk City is only a hundred years behind Hollowfaust in sewage management. (Yes, I am sighing deeply at my own joke.)

The rats are very well behaved, enough so that I can let them roam about the apartment when I’m there, but that could be my particular talent with undead more than the natural behavior of the constructs. I will send them home with Journeyman Nightchyld.

Try as I might, I couldn’t get a ticket to the opening of Bahamut’s Might from Gorna to Greyhawk City. The security around it is so tight, no amount of credentials will get me in for a look either. Thankfully, my gift to Hollowfaust doesn’t rest on locomotion. But I finished it! The plans for the quanat water system are done! Using the existing cisterns on the fausts, we’ll be able to have true underground irrigation. The entire project would take a year per faust, but would be well worth it in time and cost management later.

Now that I’m done in Greyhawk City, I’m not sure where to go next. I’m not ready to take the exam but I’m quickly exhausting research opportunities. I’ve spent a lot of time reading books and taking classes offered by Professor Barikka Dawnshroud and I might be able to get myself into a research group going into the Bright Desert. I will ask my Guildmaster for a letter of introduction if it looks like a possibility.

I am almost finished with the blanket I am making for Lucian. No, I haven’t told him yet and I know that putting it off is really bad. I have no courage in this, but I won’t ask you to say something for me.

Love,
Eve
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Ticket to Ride!
Readying 9th, 937CY
Dear Lucian and Father,

I received a ticket to the inaugural run of Bahamut’s Might from The Lord Mayor Zagyg! Do not worry that I am being taken in by a hoax. It was delivered by the fabled lich accountant. He complained rather loudly about being sent around like an errand boy until I opened the door. He visibly perked up when he saw me. It was almost identical to the way Master Wraithson gets a little skip in his step when I’m around.

And he was more than happy to stay and talk. And talk and talk and talk. Long suffering doesn’t even begin to describe the man. He didn’t say what he did to anger the Lord Mayor enough to end up undead. I’ve never seen lich eyes glow with apathetic resignation to their fate before. It was a little disheartening.

I’ll write you both soon!
Love,
Eve
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Family History
Readying 1st, 937CY
Grandpa gave me this lovely journal today. He told me that it was important that I record the days ahead. And when Grandpa tells you to do something, you do it, because the request might not be coming from him. But I’ll get to that later.

So to start, I will describe the family background.

The Sevestrian family has been around for several hundred odd years, coming to Greyhawk City when it was little more than a trading outpost on the Selintan River. We were originally textile people, making cloth in a small factory and selling it as people came up and down the river. When the Great Kingdom of Aerdy took control of the trading post, it flourished and so did we. The family built up the larger textile industry. About the time Zagyg became Lord Mayor (310 CY), we had enough influence to move away from full scale manufacturing to becoming full scale merchants, though we retained the original factories. When Zagyg called for people to work on the building projects that would turn the City into ‘The Gem of the Flanaess,’ Gavin I responded with funds and man power. Gavin I was a rogue among rogues; devious, sly, and utterly dedicated to the City, which he worshiped with a blind passion. If anyone might have known Zagyg was a god at that time, no one would be surprised to think it was him. While this gained us favor with the increasingly erratic Lord Mayor, it also meant the unfavorable notice of the Gasgal family. The Gasgal’s came to Greyhawk City a few decades before Zagyg appeared and bought their way into the oligarchy. When Zagyg disappeared and Paerinn became the Lord Mayor, large portions of our contribution to the City were diminished or credited to others. The family was forced back into textile production and continually harassed so that we would be forced to stay there.

This changed with Gavin IV and the Greyhawk Wars. He and several family members served with distinction during the Wars. Taking his fame and the considerable amount of influence it provided, he moved the family back into the merchant business. And just to let the Gasgal’s know we wouldn’t be ducking out, he waged a full campaign against the Orfanos Family, the crime syndicate that ran the merchant guild, wiping it off the face of the Flanaess. Gavin V and Gavin VI continued in this vein, shoring up power while extending family and City influence. The Gasgal’s made repeated attempts to destroy the family during this time, but were continually thwarted by, well, the City itself. Gavin VI’s journal details several strange occurrences while he controlled the family: City Watchmen would show up at just the right moment; the Al’ Dani family would assassinate the wrong person; the Vayne’s would make a bid for power that was ill-timed for the Gasgals. His journal even records times when walls just suddenly appeared in alleyways or random undead would crawl out of the a crypt entrance at just the right time.

These things continued to happen as our Great Ancestor, Gavin VII, came to power. He was a Hero of the Key, instrumental in saving the god Dalt and killing the Archlich Vecna once and for all. All the Heroes were chosen by a god for the quest and our Great Ancestor was chosen by the Spirit of Greyhawk City. The quest gave Gavin VII the ability to open new trade routes and bring incredible prosperity to the City. This brought the family more wealth than could have possibly been believed at the time. While four million platinum in buying power seems like pocket change for a cleric of Zilchus now, during 606 CY you could ruin entire economies with that kind of money. And Gavin VII used that power to finish what the Spirit of the City started, removing the Gasgal’s from power and making a place for Sevestrians on the Oligarchy.

At the request of Tywysoges Vine IceSpring ap Everdawn, the Sevestrians eradicated the Triads of Geoff in exchange for exclusive trading rights. This moved the family from being a Greyhawk crime family firmly into the international stage. Gavin VII spent his retirement recording everything he had seen in his travels across other planes to prep the family for those technological innovations. This has given us a significant leg up on the competition, always putting us at the forefront of every major advancement. He also wrote several books on business administration, supply chain management, finance, economics, and marketing that are still the back bone of Grey University’s College of Business. When he passed away in 661 CY, only a few days after burying his beloved Anna, he ascended to godhood.

For the last 300 years, we have worked diligently to expand our Great Ancestor’s work, growing our contracts and influence. While the Gasgal’s whine that they were the City, the City itself disagreed. As a family, we take this honor seriously. We are not the City. We are servants of the City. Our crown is our yoke of service.

All Sevestrian children, including all the secondary and tertiary families, are home schooled. While the family has put quite a bit of time and money into building the City’s public school system, home schooling means that we are not led astray from the family mind set and the knowledge of our duty, though when we seek outside education, we go to Grey University. My only tutors who were not directly related to me were my music teachers and they were carefully screened before being brought into the house.

All heads of the family are named Gavin and are the first born son of the preceding Gavin. If the heir should die, the second son assumes the name Gavin and becomes the next head of the family. It’s interesting to note that this has never happened in family history. Knock on wood, it never will. While the head of the family is always named Gavin, it is not a family name. Michael and Camilla are the family names and there are so many of them that you could throw a rock in crowd of Sevestrians and it would hit one. While the Michaels hardly ever get a nickname, all of us Camilla’s are bestowed one to tell us apart. Hence why everyone calls me Marcy with the exception of my father, my brother Gavin, and Andrew.

C.
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Family Nucleus
Readying 2nd, 937CY

My father, Gavin XVII, is the current head of the family. My father was iron-fisted in his youth, which served to keep the crime families of Greyhawk City in their respective places. While he watches the organized crime like the hawks the City is named for, he has been giving my eldest brother, Gavin XVIII, a much larger hand in the running of the family business.

My mother, Maria, is a minor noblewoman of Furyondy from the Barony of Willip. My grandparents on her side of the family were desperate for the match, hoping that the connection to Greyhawk City and the Sevestrian fortune would stave off the inevitable decline of their power. My grandfather, Gavin XVI, agreed to the match in exchange for the heir, my Uncle Edwin, being sent to Greyhawk City with my mother. Rather than just give his future in-laws money, my grandfather was determined that Uncle Edwin would learn how to care for Willip and its people. Uncle Edwin spent five years under Sevestrian tutelage while my father reorganized the Barony’s leadership and finances, making a stable and happy place for his brother-in-law to rule. My mother, for her part, fell in love with Greyhawk City and enjoys finally having the power that her title should have given her. This is not to say she abuses her power, but works diligently to ensure the political superiority of the family in Greyhawk City.

The current nucleus of the family consists of my parents, Gavin XVII and Maria, my two older brothers, Gavin XVIII and Michael, myself, my adopted sister, Victoria Parish, and the twins, Benjamin and Leon. Michael is Gavin’s bodyguard, a traditional role for the second born son. Benjamin and Leon are both engineers and have been building and tinkering with things since they were very little, though Leon is the obvious brains of the operation. Vicky was brought into the main house and shared a room with me after the death of her parents.

I was eight years old when mom told me that Vicky’s parents had died, that she would be living with us from now on, and I would share my room with her. I said okay and spent the next hour cleaning up our room and pushing my bed and desk to one side. Several relatives brought in Vicky’s things from the Parish house and my Uncle Michael helped me get them arranged so everything fit. After we’d finished, dad came in carrying Vicky and set her down on the bed. She was beyond miserable. I sat next to her and brushed the mess out of her hair while she cried. And when it was bed time, I sang her to sleep. Dad was gone for a few days after that and when he reappeared, it was with Ludwig, the mechanical copper dragon that serves as both a recording device and pet in the Parish home. My father had erased everything in Ludwig’s memory with the exception of the conversation Vicky’s parents had just after her birth and what my family refers to as ‘The Chess Lesson.’ Years later, I found out that Ludwig carried a recording of my singing from those first awful months and that knowledge is a better gift than anything anyone could ever give me.

-C.

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Related to a God
Readying 3rd, 937CY

While we are taught as children that our Great Ancestor keeps a watchful eye on us, ‘The Chess Lesson’ was our introduction into what that meant. I was five years old at the time and my great grandfather, Gavin XV had passed away. Sevestrian funerals are big deals and go on for days. Looking to ease the burden of so many young children under foot, Vicky’s mom, Tara, herded everyone under the age of ten into the front parlor to play and promptly used the time to nap, knowing we’d all behave ourselves because Ludwig was on her shoulder and watching us. We couldn’t get away with anything if Ludwig was around. An older member of the family appeared with a chess set and we spent the next three hours learning to play, wanting desperately to make this one person proud of us without really understanding why. Gavin picked it up the fastest and started making moves that impressed our visitor. This led to each of us wanting to show off our particular talents, which was loud enough that my father and Aunt Camilla came in to see what was going on.

And both immediately bowed. The sudden silence woke Vicky’s mom, whose jaw dropped before she quickly stood and bowed. Gavin VII patted each of us on the head before disappearing as suddenly as he had appeared. And that’s why a request from our elders might not actually be their request alone. It’s traditional for the retired members of the family to roost in the front parlor or, when the weather is nice, on the front porch. But those are also the two places we are likely to encounter our Great Ancestor when he chooses to appear.

My mother told me about the day she came to the main house in order to finalize the engagement with dad. She said they were in the front parlor when Grandpa groused about her family’s troubles. She was worried that the engagement would suddenly go up in smoke and she was truly head-over-heals in love with dad. But a Sevestrian sitting in the corner of the room reading the paper told Grandpa that it was a good match and that mattered more than the Barony’s problems, which could be solved with a minor investment of time and expertise. And with the word of a god, mother and father’s engagement was settled.

C.

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