Friday, 28 May 2021

Thoughts on C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness

 

“This used to be a funhouse but now it's full of evil clowns.”
― P!nk

A shadow from the past, the Ghost Tower of Inverness has loomed ever larger in the mind of the great Seer of Urnst. Now he has convinced the Duke that an expedition should be organized to go to the ancient keep and recover its greatest treasure - the fabled Soul Gem. [C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness - 1]

Most adventures begin long before the PCs get involved. They powerful wheel and deal, plot and plan; and it is only when they see a clear and present danger to their own wellbeing do they involve others.
For many years legends of the Soul Gem persisted. And so it happened that one day, not long ago, while researching in some ancient tomes, the great Seer of Urnst discovered the strange account of the Soul Gem and the legend of its master. He recognized the power of the stone and through further research unlocked the secret of its control. Armed with this knowledge he took it upon himself to recover the gem and went so far as to investigate the ruins of the keep. But even with all his power he was turned back from his quest by several unfortunate encounters in the upper ruins.
The Great Seer of Urnst
Turning to Justinian Lorinar, Duke of Urnst for aid, the Seer recounted to him the story of the Soul Gem and of the magician's own unsuccessful attempt to recover it. He convinced the Duke that the gem could be both a very powerful protection from one's enemies and a great tool with which to battle the forces of evil. He confided that he, the Seer, knew how to use the gem's power and could teach Duke Lorinar this knowledge, if he could but obtain the jewel.
The Seer advised Lord Justinian that a small band of powerful and experienced adventurers might succeed where he alone had failed. He assured the Duke that with the power of a geas, or means of more subtle persuasion, he could insure that the quest would be properly carried out. [C2 - 2] 

It is only then that they gather the bold and foolhardy to do what need be done, be it foil the foe, save the damsel, or retrieve the McGuffin; after all, no one truly knows what powerful adventurers might do. They may abscond with the prize, if unchecked, unless presented with an obvious reason not to.
You don't know what time it was when you were awakened, for the room stayed in had no windows. All you know is that you have been roughly d ragged from your cot by the palace guard, and that you now find yourself walking down a long, dimly-lit corridor. With you are four people whom you have never met before, each escorted by several heavily-armed guards similar to the ones who walk by your side. You wonder what the others could have done to deserve so dubious an honor.
In front of you a great iron door swings open, filling the corridor with an almost blinding light. Before you stretches a huge room ornately decorated with elaborate columns and finely detailed wall hangings. One of your group, a simply clad woman steps out onto the finely polished floor before you and into the throneroom ahead of her guards. The rest of you follow behind her, urged forward by the spears which the guards impatiently press into your backs. Across the chamber sits Duke Justinian Lorinar of Urnst. To his right, partially shrouded in shadow stands his advisor, the mysterious magician known only as the Seer. At a motion from the Duke your party is urged forward to stand before the ducal throne.
A smile creeps across the Duke's face as he speaks to your small band. He seems strangely pleased with the turn of events. "I imagine you are wondering why you have been brought to appear before me today." His eyes sweep approvingly over the five figures in your group; none of you betray any apprehension about what is to come. "Most of you," he continues, "have been convicted of crimes for which you should spend the greater part of your lives in my dungeons." [C2 - 4]

The miscreants?
Hodar, a mage who dared dabble in forbidden sorceries.
Lembu, a warrior of high skill, and high temper, who killed a captain of the guard while deep in his cups, then 11 others, resisting arrest.
Zinethar, the religious leader of a Temple Coalition revolt.
Discinque, a skilled cat burglar, if an unlucky one, caught absconding with the Crown Jewels.
The only innocent is Li Hon, a monk of a monastery, there to settle a debt.
Their task? Brave the ruined tower of Inverness, and collect the Soul Gem the Seer could not.
But they were “assured that your former stations shall be awaiting you if you return without the gem." [C2 - 5] 

So begins C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness. It’s a classic adventure. Truly thousands have braved it. I imagine quite a few have not survived the experience. But such is the way of tournament modules. They were meant to challenge the very best players. And they were meant to be lethal.

The Ghost Tower of Inverness
High on a hilltop above the trees and mists that surround Woolly Bay, there stands the ruined Keep Inverness. The Keep's four towers pierce the dark clouds above, its massive walls anchored deep in the living rock upon which they rest. It must have been potent forces, indeed, that brought his once-proud Keep to destruction.
The walls of the Keep are 50' tall and 8' thick, with numerous large crumbling holes piercing them at various places. The four towers are each 150' tall. A large, rusty portcullis blocks the 15' wide tunnel-like entrance. [C2 - 6] 

The remains of the tower walls are in bad shape. They are centuries old, after all. So too the tower. It has long since collapsed, and is a no more than a pile of rubble. It’s a wonder that the walls have not, or the towers, for that matter. One would think that narrow spans, anchored by tall, spindly towers would have been the first to succumb to the ravages of time, but such was not the case.
An enormous pile of rubble, 20' tall, lies in the center of the courtyard. It consists of old but worked stones which range in size from pebbles to 6' boulders. Ancient carvings are visible on some stones. They are now worn but clearly show traces of ancient magic. [C2 - 6]

Did it come under attack? Was it deliberately pulled down?
If this does not inform the PCs of the need for caution, one wonders what will. 

Shall I detail what follows? Could my doing so reveal the plot? The riddle? The key to success? Could I? It’s an old module, after all, written and initially played and published in 1979. I’m sure Allan Hammack wouldn’t mind, sure that everyone of a certain age is familiar with its contents.
But I shall not. Why spoil the surprise for those who have not braved its wonders and horrors.

What I will say is that this is a classic funhouse dungeon. It’s not for the sort of PCs who enjoy breaking down doors and sending evil monsters to their just rewards.

As my party was when we played it. Three letters. T. P. And K. We rushed in, and tried to muscle our way through it. We failed. But we were young, and we lived by the sword. And died by it. We learned the limitations of living by the sword, and the folly of brazen sorties, cutting our teeth on modules like The Ghost Tower of Inverness. 

***

Okay, I lied.

Be aware that there will be spoilers. Then again, this is a 40-year-old adventure, and unless you’ve been out of the game for decades, never ran or played this, lived under a rock, or are new to the hobby and only invested in 5e, I cannot imagine how I can spoil anything.
But you never know, do you?
Forging ahead, I have to say something, or all these module “reviews” will amount to a few introductory passages, an invitation to buy it, read it, and come to your own conclusion as to whether they have withstood the test of time.
Does The Ghost Tower of Inverness?
That depends.
That sounds like a copout, but bear with me.
Consider the design. The Tower is a failure in its context as a seat of power. Granted, the Upper Ruins are vast, and could presumably have once housed far more than just the Tower. But there’s no mention of what might have been within the confines of the walls. Therefore, we must assume that Galap-Dreidel suffered no other presence there. The introduction goes so far as to assume that Inverness was his very home and seat of power.
The walls of this castle were said to be proof against enemies and all things magical or natural. Know you also that here was said to dwell the great wizard Galap-Dreidel at the height of his power and glory, and that he did lift the Castle Inverness from the very foundation of rock upon which it rested. [C2 - 2]

Inverness is not even a castle. Indeed, its design is not fit for habitation, as shown. There are no living quarters, no kitchens, no hall, no stores, no privies. Fail!
Inverness is “little more” than a dungeon. And a death trap. A place to stow a prized possession.
Does it withstand the test of time as an adventure? Maybe not. It has no plot beyond its initial set-up. It is an elaborate riddle and trap, whose only purpose is to secure a McGuffin. Does the McGuffin deserve such a secure vault? Probably not. It’s not an artifact; but it does other things that an evil sorcerer might value.
Does it succeed as a riddle and trap? Sure; so long as you enjoy classic funhouse modules. Do you? Or are you the sort that loves long, epic, adventure paths. If you prefer those, then you may not appreciate a funhouse. 

What is funhouse dungeon, you ask? It’s a wild, crazy, ride; that’s what it is. Think Conan, and swords and sorcery; think of mad, wizened, wizards in crystal towers; and ever more dangerous monsters round every corner. Do they make sense? No. Why should they? They were built by mad wizards of a bygone age, wielding power the likes of which have never been seen since. That is likely to bend one’s perspective a little.
Galap-Dreidel was no different.
Know you that in the elder days before the Invoked Devastation and the Rain of Colorless Fire, when the ancient peaks of the Abbor-Alz still thrust skyward sharp and majestic and the Flan tribesmen were but newcomers to the land, there existed between the Bright Desert and the mouth of the river Selintan a great fortress called Inverness. The walls of this castle were said to be proof against enemies and all things magical or natural. Know you also that here was said to dwell the great wizard Galap-Dreidel at the height of his power and glory, and that he did lift the Castle Inverness from the very foundation of rock upon which it rested.
Most grand and terrible of all Galap-Dreidel's work was the keep's great inner tower; for it was there that the wizard's most prized possession, an eldritch jewel known only as the "Soul-Gem", was said to rest. Legend says that it was like a great white diamond and that it glowed with the brilliance of the sun. In years long past it had fallen from the sky and landed in the foothills of Abbor-Alz where Galap-Dreidel discovered it as it lay in the fires of its glory. Through magicks most arcane and knowledge forbidden to mortal men he d id bend its power and shape the stone to his will. Stories say that the light of the gem dragged the souls of men screaming from their mortal flesh and trapped them within its many facets. Galap-Dreidel, it was said, harnessed this power and used it against those who opposed his will. They also say that he who controlled the gem could call forth the stolen souls of men and make them do his bidding.
For the stone Galap-Dreidel raised up the great central tower and filled his castle with many horrible creatures and deadly traps and, using a great incantation, he did wrest the tower from the very fabric of time and set it apart so that those within would not be affected by the passage of years. Thus it was that his traps never faltered nor did his guardians age or need food. Townsfolk whispered that Galap-Dreidel would, at times, set a prisoner free in the tower merely for the sport of his beasts. Some legends tell that his power was so great that he even taught the gem to protect itself from those who would take it from him.
Guardians
But despite his great power there came a time that Galap-Dreidel did leave on a journey northwest, over the river Selintan, and did not return. At this time there came a great multitude of superstitious peoples from surrounding lands who laid siege to the castle and threw down the great tower. And it came to pass that despite this seeming victory over their feared former master the people did shun the area and it was said that on fog-shrouded nights the great central tower of the Fortress Inverness could still be seen.
[C2 - 2] 
What can we infer from this passage?
Galap-Dreidel is Ur-Flan. He carved his kingdom in the elder days before the Twin Cataclysms, when the Flan tribesmen were but newcomers to the land. He raised his tower, and he did wrest the tower from the very fabric of time. [C2 - 2] Good luck doing that now.
I suppose one might be able to accomplish this with a number of Wish spells, and a few Permanent spells, but I wonder. Only magi as powerful as Vecna, and Keraptis, and Acererak…and Galap-Dreidel have been able to pull off magic this powerful. And those notable few were “contemporaries” of Galap-Dreidel. 

His is a funny name: Galap-Dreidel.
Galap is an American surname, founded in the 1880s, most in or about Texas.
A dreidel is a four-sided spinning top, played with during the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. I might add that Galap-Dreidel’s tower looks a little like a dreidel.
I digress. Other than mention of a game within a game, I find no wisdom from so curious a name.
 
The party arrives. They gain entry.
A Game of Chess
What follows is what one would expect from a tournament module: Tricks, traps, and the odd monster. Not many. Too much combat can bog tournament play down; and this, like all tournament modules, was designed to fit into a neat 4-hour time slot.
What is the goal? Descend into the dungeon proper, find and combine the keys, and advance to the truly dangerous part, the tower, itself. Where the McGuffin awaits.
Simple.
I might add that although Wandering Monsters are not part of tournament play, tables are included for non-tournament play. 

In regards to encounters, one stands out: a human male Illusionist.
(AC 4, Lvl 10, hp 35, Algn LE. S 10, 1 17, W 9, D. 18, C 15, CH 7, cloak of protection +2, dagger + 1).
Spells:
First level: color spray, darkness, detect Invisibility, hypnotism, wall of fog
Second level: blur, hypnotic pattern, improved phantasmal force, Invisibility
Third level: fear, paralyzation, spectral force
Fourth level: improved invisibility, phantasmal killer
Fifth level: shadow magic
[C2 - 5]
Unnamed. Lawful Evil. 7 Charisma. Seems like quite a piece of work.
The question begs asking: Why is he there? Is he a guardian left by Galap-Driedel; or is he too searching for the Soul Gem?
The role of guardian fits: Thus it was that [Galap-Driedel’s] traps never faltered nor did his guardians age or need food. [C2 - 2] It’s a scary thought, to my mind: trapped within a dungeon, doomed to road its passages for millennia, oblivious to the passage of time.
One could have fun with this. A rival? A survivor of another adventuring party a century before. Or one from not so long ago. This will likely end in combat, but he might be an opportunity for exposition, too. And betrayal. 

Moving on, the players find the keys, and apply them to any of the four doors leading to the central room of the dungeon.
When the indentation is filled, a line appears in the center of the blank wall and the door divides into two halves which spring swiftly apart. Beyond the door is a 40' x 40' room with a 10' high ceiling. The walls, floor, and ceiling are all made of the same smooth, blue-gray metal that the KEY and doors are fashioned of. The room is bare except for 8 thickly padded reclining chairs. [C2 - 11]

The doors slam shut behind them, and they feel the room hurled aloft. They are thrown to the floor, if not seated.
Colors swirl before your eyes. Your stomachs churn, and suddenly the pressure stops. You notice that a 5' diameter hole has appeared in the center of the ceiling; it was not there before. [C2 - 11] 

It is here that The Ghost Tower of Inverness becomes the promised surreal ride it was meant to be.
And it is here that to delve to deeply into the PCs fate would be to ruin what is to come.
Although the players don't know it, [the central dungeon room] is a time portal which, due to the arcane magicks which created the tower, transports those within back to the days when the great central tower was still standing. Moving upwards through the Tower, the party will discover 5 levels, one for each of the four elements (Air, Earth, Fire, and Water) and finally the great domed Jewel Room in which the Soul Gem is kept. [C2 - 12]

I’m sure they will figure it out as they rise ever higher into what was a mere 20’ high heap of rubble. 

What awaits them in each elemental layer? That would be telling.
Seriously, this is where you stop reading unless you really want the spoil the surprise.
Skip to the end. 

***

Still with me?

Should the party survive the “elemental” levels, they will come face to face with the Soul Gem in the Jewel Room.
You see a 120' diameter circular chamber with a domed ceiling 50' high at the apex. In the center of the room, about 4' off the floor, floats a multi-faceted, opaque white diamond about the size of a melon - the Soul Gem!! Suddenly part of the room is lit with an intense, dazzling white light. As the spots before your eyes fade (it takes but a moment or two), the room seems exactly the same. The object of your quest is before you!  [C2 - 16] 

The strategy is simple. Beat it with a stick until it breaks.
The Key to Success...
The Gem is surrounded by a 2' diameter invisible force sphere. Although the sphere has only 20 hit points, it can only be hit by hand-held weapons or hand attacks – no spells will have any effect on it. An adjusted roll of 10 or better is necessary for any character to hit the sphere, and up to eight characters can strike at the sphere in any given round (one character in each section of the room). For each point of damage a character Inflicts on the sphere, that character will sustain one point of damage. This is true even if the sphere is "overkilled" in one round (for example. if 25 points are inflicted on the sphere. 25 points must be sustained by those doing the damage). When 20 or more points have been delivered to the sphere, it will become visible, fracture, and fall to the floor in glassy shards.
Once the force sphere is destroyed, the Gem may be seized. After the Gem is grasped by a character, it will not fire any more rays. The Gem can be destroyed by rolling a natural 20 with a magic weapon, but if this is done the Gem will shatter and release the millions of souls trapped inside, who will insanely slay all living creatures in the Tower (unless the Amulet of Recall is used immediately).
If the Amulet of Recall is grasped and activated, the following are instantly teleported back through time and space to the Seer's lab: the character grasping the amulet, all of his or her possessions, and anyone or anything else he or she is touching (including soulless bodies). [C2 - 16]

Honestly, members of the party are going to die should events play out as written:
When the Gem's ray blasts the sector a character is in, any persons within the affected sector must make a saving throw vs Petrification (include only wisdom adjustments). If the saving throw is successful, the character's skin, clothes, possessions, and so forth, are all bleached a ghostly white color, and all magic items (except for the Amulet of Recall) are drained completely of magic. (In non-tournament play, the DM may wish to give magic items a saving throw against being drained.) If a character fails the saving throw vs Petrification, however, the other characters will see the following:
When the white light strikes the victim, he (or she) screams horribly – a long, drawn-out wailing scream. As your vision clears, an image of the character, pale and ghostly, streams out of the body and toward the Soul Gem getting smaller the nearer it gets. As the image shrinks in size, the volume of its screams diminishes. When it reaches the Gem, there is a burst of radiance, and the image is gone. The character's form lies motionless on the floor; the body is dead white, as are all the character's possessions. [C2 - 16]

Which sector lighting up is random. Totally random! Unless you use the tournament sequence: 6, 7, 1, 4, 7, 6, 2, 2, 8, 6, 5, 1, 2, 3, 4, and then random, if more are needed. [C2] And that too is random.
I hate that. The players will too.
Unfair, they will cry.
And they would be right to, in my humble opinion.
Might I suggest an alternative sequence?
Begin with sector 2, and then advance three sectors for each subsequent burst: thus, 2, 5, 8, 3, 6, 1, 4, 7, 2…. A pattern gives the PCs a fighting chance.

It is obvious to me that they knew players would be pissed, so a little deus ex machina is applied at the very end of the module:
If the party successfully teleports back to the Seer, they will be congratulated on their success and then told that (because of his familiarity with the Soul Gem) the Seer can locate the exact facet where the souls of the party members are, and return them to their own bodies (if they were recovered) or, less happily, to other bodies if necessary. [C2 - 16] 


Is this the end? No.
This is a familiar scene. Shackled. Bound. The same faces surround you as the last time you were in this dark, dank cell. Your friends, your party members. You’ve been told that your actions have led to death and destruction near and far, but you were only doing what was demanded of you from those who hold you captive again now. A looming figure goes over your crimes and holds out a glowing gemstone, offering a trade for your lives. “You must undo what you have done and put this back,” he whispers. “You must return to the Ghost Tower.”
DDALCA‐01 Return to The Ghost Tower of Inverness, by Elisa Teague.
(There was another, earlier, sequel of the same name {CORS3-03} written by Creighton Broadhurst and Steve Pearce in 2003, but the one quoted is the Adventure League module for 5e. I don't have a copy of the Living Greyhawk tournament module, so I can't comment on it.)
All but Li Hon return, replaced by a certain bard by the name of Phineas, a braggard and charlatan who claimed that it was he who stole the Soul Gem in the first place.
It seems that the Duke of Urnst found the Soul Gem more trouble than it was worth.
Unbeknownst to our heroes, since completing that task and delivering the Soul Gem to Justinian Lorinar, Duke of Urnst, it has brought death and doom to the entire realm. The governing council, insistent on not taking the blame for the devastation, have turned back to the heroes for help once again. [RttGToI]

***

Do I like this classic module?
I do. But I'm biased. I played it, as noted. It was fun. It was thrilling.
However, it was the first to kill one of my characters. Serves me wright for not being cautious and blundering into the reverse grav area while being pelted by flung boulders. No clue what I'm talking about? Read the module, and you'll understand.


The Adventure League sequel aside, I have to ask: Why does the Duke need the Soul Gem? The Duchy of Urnst is predominately Lawful Good and Neutral Good. What possible good could come from his possessing it?
However, it is not the Duke who covets it, is it? It was the Seer who recognized the power of the stone and through further research unlocked the secret of its control [C2 - 2]; and presumably only brought the Gem’s existence to the Duke’s attention after he had failed to get his hands on it.
He cuts a mysterious visage: Across the chamber sits Duke Justinian Lorinar of Urnst. To his right, partially shrouded in shadow stands his advisor, the mysterious magician known only as the Seer. […] His features are indistinguishable beneath the long robe which hides all but his gnarled hands from view. [C2 - 4] 

I wonder… 

 

You may also wonder, why am I looking at C2 at this time when I’ve been knee deep in the A series and its prequels and sequels? Because it happens to be something of a sequel to the Slavers series.
Not so, you say! Indeed, it is, I counter.
Hodor makes a return within Sean K. Reynolds’ and Chris Pramas’ much celebrated adventure/gazetteer; so, I thought I might slip this in, just to be exhaustive.

 

 

 

 

One must always give credit where credit is due. This post is made possible primarily by the Imaginings of Gary Gygax and his Old Guard, Lenard Lakofka among them, and the new old guards, Carl Sargant, James Ward, Roger E. Moore. And Erik Mona, Gary Holian, Sean Reynolds, Frederick Weining. The list is interminable.
Very special thanks to Allan Hammack, without whose imagination, this adventure, and this review, could not have been possible.

 
 
The Art:
All art is wholly owned by the artists.
Cover Art detail, from C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness, by Jeff Easley, 1980
The Great Seer of Urnst, from C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness, by Jeff Dee, 1980
The Ghost Tower, from C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness, by Erol Otus, 1980
Bugbear, from C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness, by Jim Roslof, 1980
Cartography, from C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness, 1980
Guardians, from C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness, by Jim Roslof, 1980
A Game of Chess, from C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness, by Jeff Dee, 1980
Vusual Aid #3, from C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness, by Jim Roslof, 1980
Back Cover Art detail, from C2 The Ghost Tower of Inverness, by Jeff Dee, 1980



Sources:
1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
9038 The Ghost Tower of Inverness, 1980
11621 Slavers, 2000
DDALCA‐01 Return to The Ghost Tower of Inverness, Adventure League
Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda
The map of Anna B. Meyer

Saturday, 22 May 2021

History of the South-East, Part 15: Picking Up the Pieces


"In the midst of Chaos,
there is also opportunity"
--Sun Tzu, The Art of War


A Semblance of Normality
Borders invariably shift after great wars. Nations pass into history; and new nations rise.
Those new nations need look to their borders, and posture, lest those others find them weak and seek to absorb them.
Invariably, a semblance of normality settles in. Enemies, old and new, take a moment, and take stock, and begin to build again.
Who will prosper, one might wonder? Those who prepare for a resumption? Or those who hammer sword and shield into plowshare? 

590 CY  The Scarlet Brotherhood controlled the sea lanes between the Aerdi Sean and the Densac Gulf, and the Azure Sea.
            The Brotherhood commands the southern seaways, with naval blockades in the shark-infested waters of the Tilva Strait, and in the so-called "Southern Gates" of the Azure Sea, between the Amedio Jungle and the Tilvanot Peninsula neat the Olman Isles. [LGG - 98]

Trade shrank as the Tilva Strait closed, and piracy had plagued the seas north of it ever since, if the reduction of trade could actually be conceived as its cause. The Solnor Coast had always been beleaguered by pirates and privateers.
Spindrift Sound itself is navigable, but shipping is menaced by the Scarlet Brotherhood and the activities of a few pirates based on the eastern Medegian coast. [LGG - 68]
But what could be done about it?

A Return...With Startling Tales
Long years had passed since the Sea Baron Fleet set sail across the Solnor.
Much had changed, even as things remained the same.
The realm of the Sea Barons seems little changed—different faces, same daggers in the backs, as one wag remarked. A small fleet set sail across the Solnor Ocean from Asperdi in 586 CY, returning in 589 CY (missing several ships and many crewmen) with startling tales of the lands beyond the horizon. This has sparked great interest in a return voyage, particularly in Ratik, Rel Astra, and the villages of the northern barbarians, as well as among young sharks of the Sea Barons. [TAB - 29]
What might be there, they wondered? Getting there would be dangerous, surely; but surely there was opportunity there, too. Markets! The lucrative markets to the west were all but closed to the eastern shores. Belligerent states stood between them and the Nyr Dyv and beyond. The Tilva Strait was blockaded. And it had proved a long and dangerous voyage round the horn of Hepmonoland.
Why not venture east then….

Not all states west were belligerent. But they were battered, and impoverished by the war that showed every possibility of flaring up again, much like fire is wont to do when the flames appear spent.
Lynwerd I needed time to repair its Nyrond’s roads, its cities and its trade routes. It needed to strengthen its armies, as well. But all that costed money he did not have, from taxes levied from people who had fallen, and were not replenished.
Nyrond lost nearly seventy thousand soldiers in the Greyhawk Wars. Though her armies held off Aerdy's siege, they did so at terrible cost. Archbold had expended the nation's entire treasury, and had depleted much of his family's wealth. Hideously in debt to the Urnst States, the king faced a future of mined fields and horrible food shortages. Nearly half of his holdings were in tax rebellions. Many of the nation's best mages, craftsmen, and nobles fled Nyrond for easier lives to the west. Whether Nyrond would fall was never an issue. The question was simply that of timing. [LGG - 78] 

Lynwerd was in desperate need of help. And allies.
Urnst would be of no help. Pay us what you owe us, they cried, unsympathetic to Nyrond having borne the brunt of Ivid’s wrath, and Iuz’s, while they had neglected to come to nation’s aid. Not Nyrond’s, not Almor’s. Neither to the Iron League’s. Nor Furyondy’s; or the Shield Lands’, either.

Whose side had Urnst been on, Lynwerd wondered?
Despite Nyrond’s increasingly withering poverty, Lynwerd lent aid where he could.
[King Lynwerd] spent 590 overseeing the repair and strengthening of his kingdom’s roads, armies, cities, and trade links. He finally managed to have weapons, clothing, food, and other assistance sent to the gnome clans of the Flinty Hills, winning their approval despite their grumbles over the tardiness of the aid. He approved trade with the Lordship of the Isles and the United Kingdom of Ahlissa (the latter to the shock and outrage of many in his court). [TAB - 31] 

King Lynward restructured Nyrond’s provinces (and cut government size…including the Royal Talking Bird from the Amedio Jungle).
In 590 CY, with starvation commonplace and sedition the language of the people, Lynwerd initiated a number of radical policy shifts designed to improve the well-being of the country. He first trimmed the size of his court, releasing from service some 397 "functionaries," three standing chamber orchestras, a 30-boy choir, several dozen clerics, eighteen archivists, and a well-known and extremely popular talking bird from the Amedio Jungle. A general restructuring of Nyrond's internal political boundaries followed, and it seems as though the "Reformer King" has only begun to heal his wounded nation. [LGG - 79] 

A Grand Celebration

One wonders why Lynwerd would decree that a Grand Celebration should be held in honor of the fifth year of his reign. In truth, he was not in favour of such a celebration, but his advisors thought it prudent.  Nyrond’s enemies should not see their foe so stricken by poverty, they said. Nyrond must present the very presence of strength and prosperity. Lest they see us as vulnerable, they said.
We are all spent, Lynwerd said. Who might attack us, he asked? Grenell? He was beset with the orcs he had invited into his ranks. The Bone March? It was embroiled in its struggle with Ratik; and wont to squabble amongst itself. The Pale? They would not dare, what with the Bandit Kingdoms infested by Iuz’s hobgoblin hordes. That left Ahlissa, he reasoned, and Xavener’s armies were as tired as his. None would dare attack us, Lynwerd said.
The Old One might, they countered.
The Court of His August Supremacy, Altmeister of All the Aerdi, King Lynwerd I of Nyrond, has announced Grand Celebration of the fifth year of His August Supremacy's coronation. The celebration will be held in the Royal Capital of Rel Mord, during Growfest. Invitations are being prepared and will be sent out by the newly expanded Royal Mail Service. All Nyrondese nobility and that of allied states will be invited to participate in this regal event. [LGJ#0 - 12] 

Overking Xavener was of similar mind. Not insofar as lending aid and charity to those in need. He was of similar mind infofar as he too needed money to rebuild, even if he was nowhere near in such such dire straits as Lynwerd. Trade need flow; and for this reason, he directed that a new path be laid for the Windmarch.
In 590 CY, Overking Xavener directed his kinsmen, assisted by the priesthood of Zilchus, to create a new path for the Windmarch, an ages-old annual trade route that once ran from Chathold downriver to Nulbish and Pontylver, then upriver all the way to Eastfair. The Windmarch survived even during the mad and murderous reign of the Ivids of House Naelax, but with the latter stages of the Greyhawk Wars and the collapse of the Great Kingdom the Windmarch ended, as travel became too unsafe for the merchants involved.
The overking intends for the new "Windmarch of Ahlissa" to strengthen trade within his empire, as well as the infrastructure (roads, bridges, mail routes, river traffic), the tax base, internal political ties, and the Ahlissan army. The army, including units from the principalities, has been directed to secure the new Windmarch route from bandits, renegade orcs and military units, troublesome minor nobles, outside aggression, the Scarlet Brotherhood, etc. The Windmarch is not meant to improve external trade; holding the empire together is a higher priority. [LGG - 25] 

Xavener
Xavener knew that he needed to distance himself from the doings of the Great Kingdom, and the atrocities it had committed in its dying days. Ahlissa needed to present a kinder, gentler, more humane face than Ivid, or even Reydrich for that matter, had been capable of.
The whole of [Alhissa] is now ruled from a newly sired capital, Kalstrand, where Overking Xavener of House Darmen has established his royal court. Use of the term "Malachite Throne," which once described the office of the overking, is now considered vulgar. House Darmen, the priesthood of Zilchus, and the Royal Guild of Merchants constitute the most dominant power block in the kingdom through their control of trade and administration of the cities.
The mandate given to Overking Xavener by these factions is very clear: They want him to reestablish Aerdy as the preeminent economic and political power in the Flanaess, avoiding further warfare at all costs. An enormous black market in medicines, weapons, clothing, livestock, and food threatens the legal economy, and Xavener has acted to tightly draw together the provinces under his banner by restoring the imperial hierarchy. His recent restructuring of the system of nobility, once top-heavy with princes of minor power, has created much ill will between lesser and greater noble houses for control of territory, taxes, and merchant traffic within Ahlissa and with outside states. Most of Ahlissa's lords, however, are loyal to the new order because it has reduced the chaos and restored a sense of purpose to the kingdom. [LGG - 22] 

Allegiances need be strengthened. Marriages need be arranged. What remained of the Celestial Houses of the south need be tied to the throne—not any throne—his throne.
Overking Xavener of Ahlissa has secretly tried to marry the Trine of Ountsy to a Darmen prince. [LGG - 94]
And the practice of fostering the heirs to rival Celestial Houses had to be renewed.
Once that was complete, Xavener could look to reclaiming what remained of those rebellious states of the Iron League.
 
Could he?
The Iron League was not what it was. Idee had been already been reclaimed; but Onnwal had proved a tough for the Scarlet Brotherhood to crack, Sister Kuranyie has discovered. It might prove as difficult for Xavener, too.
The barbaric treatment of the populace [of Onnwal] by the Scarlet Brotherhood whet the cry for revenge, and a general revolt was launched in late 586 CY before the Brotherhood could crack down on the rebels. The countryside became a battleground during a brief, bitter struggle in which the freedom fighters drove the Scarlet Brotherhood back to the city of Scant. These insurgents have nearly convinced Lord Mayor Cobb Darg of Irongate that they can win back the whole land soon.
In late 590 CY, they garnered his official, though measured, support; Irongate now recognizes Destron's government in exile in exchange for the export of desperately needed supplies to the besieged capital of the Iron League. Sister Kuranyie (in hiding to prevent her assassination) has demanded a relief force from Kro Terlep to quash the rebellion. However, troubles for the Scarlet Brotherhood elsewhere have made her situation lose priority in the hierarchy, so long as control of the port of Scant is maintained. [LGG - 80]

Rebellious Onnwal
One wonders what plans the Brotherhood have with Onnwal? It’s strategic position, commanding the Gearnat Strait alone makes it a prize worth keeping; so, why did they not send reinforcements? Were they displeased with Sister Kuranyie? Did they take measures, hitherto unmarked upon?
Onnwallers succeeded in recapturing the manor house of Count Cadwale and found butchered Brotherhood forces inside.
Since 586 CY, rebellious Onnwallers had tried to recapture [Cadwale] manor unsuccessfully, until a storm raging in off the Gearnat veiled their assault. Inside, they discovered a scene of unrivalled butchery amongst the Brotherhood's troops. Several of the Onnwallers remained inside overnight to investigate and were found dead the following morn. Both sides now avoid the area, unsure of what lurks below the house. [LGJ#0 - 12]

More importantly, what plots might the Brotherhood be planning?
And did those plans include a similar fate for Cobb Darg?
Cobb Darg, mayor of Irongate, is a curious one. The Brotherhood had tried to deal with him once before. And failed.
For a man, the Lord Mayor is unusually short […] and stocky, but his wile and wisdom is legendary. […] His wisdom comes from having lived before the Turmoil Between Crowns, secretly working as a member of the Iron League since before its inception—and indeed perhaps its founding. [Dragon #351 - 44]
The reason for his longevity is up for debate, but his wile and wisdom are not. If it were not for Darg, Irongate would most certainly have fallen, as Onnwal had.
Onnwal’s hope of liberation might lie with the cagey Darg.
In 590 CY, Cobb Darg extended his support to the freedom movement in Onnwal, but he is now being pushed to intervene directly to retake Scant. Close relations are maintained with Dwarfking Holgi Hirsute of the Iron Hills, who has no love of Ahlissa, as well as the new elven king of Sunndi, who still pledges his support to Irongate and remains its greatest ally. [LGG - 58] 

Sunndi was in no position to help her former ally. Wastri began stirring again. Assuming he had ever stopped.
Amphibious monsters from the Vast Swamp, aided by clerics of the toad-god Wastri, have raided the realm in increasing numbers since 590 CY. Interrogation of the clerics hinted that Wastri might be preparing for an invasion of southern Sunndi, an event that has occurred every fifteen to twenty years for centuries. Olvenking Hazendel has ordered more castles built on the southeastern frontier, and all existing castles and fortifications there and along the Pawluck River upgraded. [LGG - 111] 

Even as the Scarlet Brotherhood began divesting itself of its most belligerent “colonies,” it continued its campaign to dominate the ports of the southern seas: Dullstrand, the Sea Barons, the Spindrift Isles.
They were less successful in that pursuit where the Spindrifts were concerned. Elven Ships from Lendore began sinking ships from the Lordship of the Isles.
Elf-crewed Lendorian ships have sunk three Lordship vessels in the last six months (a fact not widely publicized); their reasons for attacking are unknown. [LGG - 72]
Next to nothing is known of events in the Spindrift Isles, though elven ships are often seen cruising the Aerdi and Oliatt Seas. The fleet sent forth by the Sea Barons across the Solnor in 586-589 CY believes it saw elven ships on several occasions many hundreds of leagues from the Spindrifts. Were they exploring, or on regular runs to elven colonies elsewhere? An elven ship was seen in the Densac Gulf as well in 589 CY, and many wonder if the elves are allowed to pass through the straits or have managed to sneak through using magic. It is also possible the elves are rounding Hepmonaland as the Rel Astrans claim to have done. Many wonder what the Spindrift Isles have become under elven rule, and contact with the sea elves (as they are sometimes called) is hoped to occur soon. [TAB - 29]

Many wonder what might the See of Medegia had become, as well.
There was little news from the See; none really since Spidesa had disappeared into Ivid’s dungeons, and Ivid’s armies had defeated Osson.
Rumours abound: Medegia was overrun by fiends and undead, it was Hell on Oerth, that only fools ventured there, as none ever returned. All are inaccurate, if not entirely untrue. Rel Astran forces under Lord Drax had ventured there, and lived to tell the tale.
Wait.
Who is Drax?
Lord Drax
Drax is an animus. He was an obvious target for Ivid, given the power and wealth of Rel Astra and Drax's position as scion of a rival royal house. During the wars, Drax sent armies to Rauxes as Ivid asked, but the crucial event was the sack of Medegia and the subsequent attempt to loot Rel Astra itself by troops which had become overfond of slaughter and pillage. Obviously, Drax was furious about this and ordered his own troops in the overking's service to pillage and ruin as many of Ivid's supply lines as possible. Those orders were intercepted, and Drax was magically abducted; for once, there was no advance warning from his fiend-sage.
Ivid released Drax, assuring him that the imperial armies had attempted to loot Rel Astra from a fit of overexuberance and that their commanders had been suitably disposed of. Drax feigned understanding and alliance, but as soon as he returned to his city he began planning to overthrow the overking. He does not have any true natural allies in this. Other princes of his own house, Garasteth, are wary of the old tyrant. No one has ever truly known what Drax really thinks and believes, so no one has ever trusted him much. Drax's tactic, therefore, has been to accumulate as much wealth as possible to buy allies and resources, and to use the power he has to force others to accept him. [Ivid - 96] 

Both Ahlissa and Rel Astra claim the chaotic lands of Medegia. As of 591 CY, forces from Rel Astra have captured nearly a quarter of the old See, and intend to hold it despite the efforts of Prince Gartrel of House Darmen in Pardue. Life in Medegia has been hard going, however, and many dreadful discoveries surface there every month. [LGG - 94]

His Transcendent Imperial Majesty, Xavener I
You would think that Xavener might have objected, far from pleased that another was laying claim to territories within his grasp; but Xavener was silent.
And no wonder:
Drax also lays claim to much of old Medegia, and here his claim is but a formality. These lands are in chaos and ferment, and Drax's claim is only to establish a precedent should some form of peace descend upon them. No one disputes the claim because no one cares. [Ivid - 96]
That said, Drax had become a force to be reckoned with.
Few cared, though.
Many of Drax's old concerns, when he was but the constable mayor of Rel Astra, have evaporated. Once, Drax had to seek alliances with the Sea Barons and Medegia to balance the oppressive forces of the overking in North and South Province. Now, with North Province seceded and mostly concerned with barbarians, humanoids, and Rinloru's madman ruler, that threat is gone. South Province has no interest in this far-away city. The Sea Barons come to him, rather than the other way around. [Ivid - 96]

They ought to care.
Just as Drax has strengthened his rulership to the point of tyranny, he has many fewer external political threats to worry him. [Ivid - 96]
Drax desires to absorb the Sea Barons into the Solnor Compact and create a new coastal Garasteth kingdom, with Rel Astra as its capital. Three agents of the Scarlet Brotherhood were hung from the walls of the old admiralty, following a fire at the docks last year. A mysterious group called the Dweomermasters took over the mages' guild and has made its power felt in Astran society. [LGG - 94] 

 

 

 

One must always give credit where credit is due. This History is made possible primarily by the Imaginings of Gary Gygax and his Old Guard, Lenard Lakofka among them, and the new old guards, Carl Sargant, James Ward, Roger E. Moore. And Erik Mona, Gary Holian, Sean Reynolds, Frederick Weining. The list is interminable.
Thanks to Steven Wilson for his GREYCHRONDEX and to Keith Horsfield for his “Chronological History of Eastern Oerik.” Special thanks to Jason Zavoda for his compiled index, “Greyhawkania,” an invaluable research tool.

 

The Art:
All art is wholly owned by the artists.
Overking Xavener of Ahlissa, by Vince Locke, from Living Greyhawk Gazatteer, 2000
Cobb Darg, by John Gravato, from Dragon Magazine #351, 2007
Wastri, by Jeff Easley, from Dragon #71, 1983



Sources:
1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
1064 From the Ashes Boxed Set, 1992
1068 Greyhawk Wars Boxed Set, 1991
2011A Dungeon Masters Guide, 1st Ed., 1979
9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
9577 The Adventure Begins, 1998
9578 Player’s Guide to Greyhawk, 1998
11374 The Scarlet Brotherhood, 1999
11742 Gazetteer, 2000
11743 Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000
Ivid the Undying, 1998
Dragon Magazine, 351
OJ Oerth Journal, appearing on Greyhawk Online
LGJ et. al.
Greychrondex, Wilson, Steven B.
Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda
The map of Anna B. Meyer

Thursday, 13 May 2021

The Oerth Journal 35

 

Oerth Journal 35
Our long wait has come to an end.
The most recent issue of the Oerth Journal may be a little later than expected, but I’m sure you will find it well worth the wait. It’s chock full of inspiration and goodness.
Shameless plug: The next installment of my story, A Fistful of Baubles, can be found within. I’m sure you’ve been holding your breath since #34 (click to download) was published, wondering what troubles Hradji Beartooth and his companions might have come face to face with in the fabled city of Skrellingshald, since we last visited them.

Kristoph Nolen has surpassed himself with this issue. It’s fabulous. There’s a blend of old voices and new, stories and ecologies and art, more art than ever before, I believe. Remember those heady days of the single digit issues, pages dense with small script, without a single doodle? The content was good. What am I saying? The content was great. Len Lakofka contributed. So too Erik Mona. And Gary Holian. Erik Boyd. Roger E. Moore. Rob Kuntz. The list goes on.

Table of Contents
I’ve very pleased to see submissions by Mike Bridges, Will Dvorak, Richard Di Iola, and relative newcomers Les Reno, and Amy Crittenden (myself included) within. I am even more pleased to see new names added to the roster of authors to have graced these pages. There’s room in that old folio for all visions; and in that regard, I hope to see an ever-growing roll of new voices adding to its lore in future.
It’s with humble satisfaction that we were invited to contribute to the Oerth Journal’s continued publication and then see our names in print. You can feel that satisfaction, too. Write something. Send it in. Do it! You just may surprise yourself, and teach us old dogs new and hitherto unforeseen tricks.
We all owe Krisoph Nolen of Greyhawk Online for his tireless work to produce and publish such wonderful fan content!

All that said, “Where can I get it,” you ask? Here!
Where is it located? On Greyhawk Online! All issues of the Journal can be found here. As always, I invite you to download them all. Each and every one of them is well worth the read.
How much does it cost? Nothing! It’s free. But you can contribute to its publication if you wish.
Please note that those supporting the Oerth Journal patreon will receive a print copy of the OJ. Not this one, sadly, the deadline for receiving this particular journal has passed. But so long as you keep your patreon support current, you'll receive a physical copy by mail. Here's a link to the Patronage page.

What’s in this newest installment?
I’m glad you asked.
(I’ve added webpages and Discord/Twitch nicknames where I know them, to help you identify the guilty. You’re welcome.)

Rodney Hart makes his OJ debut with an exploration of one of those supposedly “boring bits” on the map. Who would expect that there could be such danger in the Royal Duchy of Womtham, of eastern Nyrond? Any DM worth his weight in salt, I should expect. His article is living proof that there are no dull hexes on the map. They are what you make of them.

Mike Greyhawkery Bridges submits two strips of the Cultists of Tharizdun. And “With Boccob’s Blessing: Scholarly Selection of Suel Secrets,” in which he reveals ancient tomes of a bygone age: Okalasna, by Zellif Ad-Zol in 5073 SD (-443 CY); Historia Imperialis, Volume 230: The Fall of House Neheli-Arztin, author unknown (likely a Suel historian during the reign of Inzhilem II) in 3166 SD (-2350 CY); The Journal of Mystical Calamities, by the Archmage Lendore in 5093 SD (-422 CY); and more. These are rare, exceeding valuable tomes, only to be found in their original text in the Seltaren library. I have my doubts as to it being a lending library, and have visions of weighty volumes affixed with chains, and a curator never out of view.

Lo Nakar
There are articles concerning the Sea of Dust and beyond!
Will “Giantstomp” Dvorak, of WickedStudiosLLC, and Greyhawk Companion, makes a welcome return to teach us the most efficient means of transportation while venturing into that deadly desert.
Amy “Theala” Crittenden educates us on what lies beyond the Sea of Dust. Rumour has it that the destruction wrought by the Rain of Colourless Fire might not be as widespread as once thought. Far Lo Nakar survived, and so did the lands west of it. I would imagine that those Suel there use Will Dvorak’s Dust Cutters.

Les “OblivionSeeker” Reno treats us with a little Gnarley Lore, in the person of Wild Ange, a halfling bounty hunter and her constant companion, Dunapple, replete with backstory and context. I’ll let you discover what Dunapple is.
There is another by Nathan Doyle (Attention Deficit & Dragons) that details the Leszy, otherwise known as the Old Man of the Woods, just as gnarley, if not specifically related to that ancient wood.

Paluserus, Nemesis of the Gnatmarsh
Paul “ArtharnTheCleric” Jurdeska presents a detailed exploration of a dragon’s environs, and is as good a template on how to set one up as you are apt to find. In this case, it’s a black named Paluserus, the supposed Nemesis of the Gnatmarsh. That’s a tall order, he being young. Room to grow, so to speak. But he’s brash, ambitious, and avaricious. He’ll earn his title, in time, so long as he’s careful, and bold.

Rich “Longatalos” Di Ioia regales us with a tale in which the well-learned noble and mage, Lord Bresin Mozhen of House Rholgran of Shiboleth, Lord Major of the Virtuous Sword Company of the Gran March and Thaumaturgist of the 3rd Arcane mystery, leafs through the tomes of the library of the Syrloch Academy for what missives might be found about the mysterious and reclusive Kingdom of Shar. He discovers a scroll, referring to The Order of Kel Avone Retna…. Enough said. Rich is a loremaster.

Andy Miller continues his exploration of Oerik’s constellations, his fourth article in that regard. See OJs 22, 30, 31, and this issue (click to download) for the entire series, thus far.

Hrodulf
I’m not the only one submitting lengthy stories, it would seem. Part 1 of Mark “Sollace” Allen’s Never the Heroes, “Clothes Maketh the Man,” can be found here. Shall I divulge what it is about? I think not. It’s fiction, and should be savoured, and not spilled. Suffice it to say that we are introduced to one Hrodulf.

Kristoph “Icarus” Nolen (our publisher) returns with yet more on the Rhennee, breathing life into that elusive folk, their beliefs, their customs. I think they’re his favourite. Don’t you? I love them, too. See my first submission, “The Castle,” from OJ 31 (click to download), where the river folk live large in the dramatis personae.

Phalastar Greycloak, (whomever he may be; I’m sure the Shadow knows what evil lurks within his heart) explores the world of monks in the Flanaess, their origins, their orders, their monasteries, their schools.

My story, the aforementioned 2nd part of “A Fistful of Baubles,” is nestled in there, as well. I do hope you enjoy it.


There you have it, the Oerth Journal 35, in brief.

I’d have posted this review earlier, ideally the day it was released, but I much rather doing so after having actually read it. And pondered it. To risk dating myself, I’ll paraphrase Orson Wells, from a long forgotten commercial of yesteryear: “We shall serve no wine before its time.” So too, critiques.
I wish I could go into greater detail about each article, but where’s the fun in that for you, dear reader? My doing so would only spoil your journey through its pages.

Have I inspired you to pick up a copy? I hope so. More importantly, have I inspired you to try your hand at writing something for an upcoming issue? I do hope I have. And we’d love to hear from you.


All art is from the Oerth Journal 35, and is wholly owned by the artists.


Double, double toil and trouble

 

ACT I
SCENE I. A desert place.
Thunder and lightning. Enter three Witches 

First Witch
When shall we three meet again
In thunder, lightning, or in rain?

Second Witch
When the hurlyburly's done,
When the battle's lost and won.

Third Witch
That will be ere the set of sun.

First Witch
Where the place?

Second Witch
Upon the heath.

Third Witch
There to meet with Macbeth.

First Witch
I come, Graymalkin!

Second Witch
Paddock calls.

Third Witch
Anon.

ALL
Fair is foul, and foul is fair:
Hover through the fog and filthy air.

Exeunt



SCENE III. A heath near Forres.
Thunder. Enter the three Witches

First Witch
Where hast thou been, sister?

Second Witch
Killing swine.

Third Witch
Sister, where thou?

First Witch
A sailor's wife had chestnuts in her lap,
And munch'd, and munch'd, and munch'd:--
'Give me,' quoth I:
'Aroint thee, witch!' the rump-fed ronyon cries.
Her husband's to Aleppo gone, master o' the Tiger:
But in a sieve I'll thither sail,
And, like a rat without a tail,
I'll do, I'll do, and I'll do.

Second Witch
I'll give thee a wind.

First Witch
Thou'rt kind.

Third Witch
And I another.

First Witch
I myself have all the other,
And the very ports they blow,
All the quarters that they know
I' the shipman's card.
I will drain him dry as hay:
Sleep shall neither night nor day
Hang upon his pent-house lid;
He shall live a man forbid:
Weary se'nnights nine times nine
Shall he dwindle, peak and pine:
Though his bark cannot be lost,
Yet it shall be tempest-tost.
Look what I have.

Second Witch
Show me, show me.

First Witch
Here I have a pilot's thumb,
Wreck'd as homeward he did come.
Drum within
Third Witch
A drum, a drum!
Macbeth doth come.
ALL

The weird sisters, hand in hand,
Posters of the sea and land,
Thus do go about, about:
Thrice to thine and thrice to mine
And thrice again, to make up nine.
Peace! the charm's wound up.

Enter MACBETH and BANQUO














SCENE I. A cavern. In the middle, a boiling cauldron.
Thunder. Enter the three Witches

First Witch
Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd.

Second Witch
Thrice and once the hedge-pig whined.

Third Witch
Harpier cries 'Tis time, 'tis time.

First Witch
Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison'd entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights has thirty-one
Swelter'd venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i' the charmed pot.

ALL
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.

Second Witch
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and owlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

ALL
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Third Witch
Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witches' mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravin'd salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digg'd i' the dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew,
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Silver'd in the moon's eclipse,
Nose of Turk and Tartar's lips,
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-deliver'd by a drab,
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger's chaudron,
For the ingredients of our cauldron.

ALL
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

Second Witch
Cool it with a baboon's blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.

Enter HECATE to the other three Witches

HECATE
O well done! I commend your pains;
And every one shall share i' the gains;
And now about the cauldron sing,
Live elves and fairies in a ring,
Enchanting all that you put in.

Music and a song: 'Black spirits,' & c
HECATE retires

Second Witch
By the pricking of my thumbs,
Something wicked this way comes.
Open, locks,
Whoever knocks!
 

Enter MACBETH


'Black spirits' 


Song of the Witches: “Double, double toil and trouble”
By William Shakespeare
(from Macbeth)

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and howlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Cool it with a baboon's blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.

Notes: Macbeth: IV.i 10-19; 35-38
Source: The Random House Book of Poetry for Children (1983)

 

The Art:
All art is wholly owned by the artists.