Compiled by The Savant Iquander, Erik Mona (Iquander@aol.com)
PREMISE: The novel operates on the premise that Earth and Oerth exist simultaneously. That the World of Greyhawk is, in fact, real and, though Gygax "invented" it, he in fact unknowingly tapped into "dream knowledge" of the actual place. While it is not made clear if the real-world characters invented their game-characters, it can be seen as the "spirits" of the seven gamers listed below were transferred to the already existing "imaginary" characteres of Milo Jagon, Naile Fangtooth, etc. This transfer, the diabolical plan of some malign individual bent on weakening both worlds is the focus of Quag Keep.
While at first this seems a bit silly, there is little reason to see it as running antithetical to Gygax's original plans for the World of Greyhawk. Indeed, the short story "An Occurance at Odd Alley," from Night Arrant, seems to suggest just such an arrangement of worlds, meeting in a nexus at Weird Way in the Free City. The story also seems to suggest many other wolrds, such as Aarth, Oerth and, unless I'm mistaken, Earth.
While different from a lot of recent TSR material, such a supposition does not violate established continuity and hence, much of the information contained herein can be easily adapted to fit the history of a current Greyhawk campaign. I say history, as the exact date of the events depicted in Quag Keep are left ambiguous, and many place and individual names are unfamiliar. For that reason, I have chosen to date this novel early in the existence of the City of Greyhawk. Players unwilling to make such a leap of faith may still enjoy the novel and information provided below as a sort of variant history of one of the worlds convening at Gygax's nexus. The choice is left to the individual referee.
It would seem that, because Greyhawk was "Free and Independent" and Urnst was a single entity, the novel occurred in CY 498.
TIMELINE: The seven meet, fall under the geas of Hystaspes and buy horses for the first day. They travel south for a day, past the tower of an evil wizard, until camping at the river Vold. One day of the ambush and poisoning, then an additional day of riding after which they reached the second tributary (border of County and Principality of Ulek?). By the next evening, they had reached the third tributary, and could see an outline of mountains (the Hellfurnaces) in the western distance. Then another day until they found rest in the Old Place of the mountains. One more day contacting the eagle Reek and hiding out in a mountain cave. This makes it one week.
One day to the lair of Lichis. One day to the Sea of Dust. Another day making sandshoes. One day to the "Liche Ship." One day to Rockna and the dust storm, then to Quag Keep on the next day.
Eckstern: The referee of some kind of character driven wargame, Eckstern opens the novel by presenting his players with a two-inch tall miniature of a swordsman. The swordsman had been elaborately designed, a recent aquisition from a company called Q K Productions.
Martin Jefferson: One of the players in Eckstern's campaign.
Harry Conden: Another of Eckstern's players, Conden habitually spoke in a hesitated pattern of speech.
Nelson Langley: Called "Nels" by his friends, Langley was a player in Eckstern's campaign.
Milo Jagon: A swordsman of some experience, now unemployed, the body of Milo Jagon played host to Martin's mind. He wore magical thumbrings he could not remove, as well as a mystic bracelet inset with several strangely shaped dice that seemed to spin whenever Milo found himself in danger or at the crossroads of a difficult decision. Deav Dyne found great interest in the rings, eamining each closely in an attempt to appraise their value, magical or otherwise. The right tumbring, an oblong green stone set in a gold band, was actually a very small map of a strange land. The other, a cloudy white oval set in a similar gold ring detected and dispelled illusions. The cleric declared that the rings were of this space, but an earlier time, implying that they might be tied somehow to the Great Kingdom. He suggested that, in the past, Milo Jagon had been sucessful in adventuring in the Great Kingdom, as the rings seemed to be remnants of the ancient civilization that had founded the Great Kingdom.
Milo had once adventured with the Adepts of Nem, a group of wizards who advocated that pain could be put aside if one concentrated on other things. He also journeyed with the priests of Om, who "advanced the belief that all action in the world, no matter how small or insignificant, had its part in the making of a pattern determined upon by the Powers men could not even begin to fathom with their earthly senses."
Naile Fangtooth: A berserker and wereboar, Fangtooth too found himself under the power of a mysterious dice bracelet. He wore a suit of mail and a large helmet depicting the head of a boar. Naile also enjoyed the company of Afreeta, a playful pseudodragon. As a were, Naile, like elves, could communicate with animals at will. Under bushy eyebrows, his eyes held a red glint. Fangtooth was apropriately named, for two tusk like teeth emerged from either side of his lower jaw. He was distrusting of magic.
Naile had much experience in combat, as he was with the Brethren when they took the Mirror of Loice and the Standard of King Everon. Three years ago at that battle, his shield brother, Engul Wildehand, was cut down by the snake-skins. In fact, he had rescued Afreeta from a cage at that battle, a mighty encounter against orcs, and the Spectre of Loice herself!
Naile, when not in boar form, preferred to wield a large axe in combat. Naile openly distrusted the scale-skinned Gulth, most probably because of the death of Engul Wildehand in the Trolian Swamps (Troll Fens). He also shared a past with Carlvols, as upon meeting him, he mentioned previous knowledge of the fallen druid. He had met the druid, in fact, during his service with the mage Wogan. During that service, they stormed the Pinnacle of the Toad and destroyed what lay within, leaving evil with one less stronghold.
When in boar form, Naile was a strong member of his race, standing nearly as tall as a horse. His adventuring career brought him to far lands of the Flanaess, such as the hold of the Snow Barbarians, where he learned of snowshoes, and Oerth's many oceans with the Freeships of Parth.
Ingrge: An elven ranger also under the command of the mysterious bracelets, Ingrge had the ability to speak with animals.
Yevelve: A battlemaid who wore full mail, Yevelve was of Flannae racial stock and had red-brown hair. She appeared young, and wore the magic bracelet. Inside her dwelt the presence of Susan Spencer, but she tried desperately to repress this manifestation. She had abnormally long fingers.
She told the story of the Rieving of Keo the Less, a years past tale of treachery and shame. She claimed to be one of the Northern Bands (Rovers of the Barrens?). Those who ride under the Unicorn (Ehlonna?), she said, have a choice after their thirtieth year--they may then wish a union, to become a mother, if the High Horned Lady favors an enlargement of her followers. Then the child, being always a girl, is trained from birth in the ways of the One Clan of her heritage.
Her mother, having put aside the Unicorn and follwed her will of union, became swordmistriss and teacher. But then her clan fell on hard times, and there were three harvests that did not provide enough food. Therefore, all but the old and the very young took council together.
Her mother and twenty five women who swore fealty to her, traveled to Greyhawk to sell their skills in combat in order that the clan at home might live. The asked always to be paid in advance, sending the money to their clan. Then, under her mother's command, they took service under Regor of Var.
Those who were lucky died. Yevelve's mother was not lucky. At the beginning of the novel, Yevelve had settled two debts for that and still had more before she felt she could return to her clan. She had given two offerings to the Horned Lady of the Sword and Shield. Two more still remained.
It's very possible that Yevelve was a paladin, as she cast hold person on their persuers. As a follower of the Horned Lady, she had a certain amount of what Milo called feminine "Moon Magic." Yevelve had a crescent moon pendant that could detect magic.
Deav Dyne: Wearing gray robes faced with white, Deav Dyne was a follower of Landron of the Inner Light (3rd level). He too wore a magic bracelet. He was hairless, as befitted worshippers of his god. He had access to healing spells. He wore a belt knife. Swore by the High Altar of Astraha. Landron was called "Him who orders the winds and the seasons."
Wymarc: Red-headed and covering himself with a sly look of indifference, Wymarc too wore a magic bracelet and met the others in the tower of Hystaspes. On his back he wore a skald's field harp.
Gulth: Fully as tall as Naile, the lizard-man Gulth weilded a cruel bone sword, double edged with sharp teeth. Gulth too wore one of the bracelets, rounding out the seven involved in the thrust of the outsider's plot to weaken two worlds. In addition to the sword, Gulth carried a bone dagger, nearly as long as his forearm
Karl: Pale faced, betraying him as one who remained indoors by necessity, the albino summoned Naile and Milo to the tower of the wizard Hystaspes. Save for his red eyes, his skin and robes had no color, excepting an intricate cloth badge sewn into the shoulder of his cloak that appeared to be a number of entwined wizardly runes.
Hystaspes: Lived in a short tower at the end of a walled alley. The three level tower had been constructed from lumpy, irregular green-hued stones veined with lines of yellow. Hystaspes himself was a bald, paunchy individual in gray robes who had discovered the plans of the outsider. He bragged that he had knowledge of the Lesser and Larger Spells of Ulik and Dom. Judging by his disposition regarding Deav Dyne, the Master Wizard distrusted the workings of the gods, instead, as was so fashionable at the time, turning to more metaphysical concepts such as Law, Chaos and Chance.
After summoning the seven to his tower, Hystaspes suggested that they might be able to slightly influence the movement of the dice inset in their bracelets, if they concentrated hard enough. Fearful of the Chaos that might ensue from a conjunction of the two worlds, the wizard cast a geas, forcing the seven to his will and setting them off to stop the alien power at the source.
Hystaspes claimed to serve Law, but let slip in conversation that he regularily geas-bound level IV demons. He explained then that he had managed to detect the presence of the alien by utilizing scrolls of Han-gra-dan, a thousand year dead mage of great power (further lines seem to suggest, as the scrolls came from a cache of the northern adepts, that Han-gra-dan was one of the great Baklunish wizards, probably predating the Invoked Devestation). He then suggested that they find aid in Lichis, the Golden Dragon.
Lichis, the Golden Dragon: An eons old dragon subscribing to the forces of Law, Lichis was supposed by many to control a vast amount of memories regarding that which would have otherwise faded into obscurity. The problem was finding him. The Great Lord of Oerthbound dragons, Lichis had long ago turned from the realm of man to take care of more important, and interesting matters.
One of mankind's bardsongs, "The Harrowing of Ironnose," told of a group of evil adepts from Blackmoor (a possible home of Han-gra-dan) who had summoned a Greater Demon with the intent of sundering the world. This malign individual, known as Ironnose, definately not his real name, ravaged Oerth from Blackmoor to the Wild Coast, cutting a swath of destruction in his wake. Lichis had destroyed the demon in combat over the Nyr Dyv and, though wounded, he flew to Blackmoor, which he destroyed to the rock. Of their great adepts, all were defeated leaving only a sense of malign evil that had kept even the most hardy of adventurers at bay to this day. After the battle, Lichis disappeared for a long period of time, nurturing his wounds. He never looked upon mankind in the same way again.
Helagret, the Beast Trader: Wearing a supple leather suit of black armor covered by a black cape, Helagret approached Milo, Naile and Ingrge in the marketplace of Greyhawk with the intent of purchasing Afreeta. Though the uniform was dark, he wore a bright orange-red fur lined vest. There was an odd cast to his features, something that hinted of mixed blood, perhaps of the elven kind. Yet his eyes were not green, but dark. Milo knew, somehow, that this man did not share elven blood, however.
At his belt, Helagret carried a dirk, throwing-axe and a long-lashed whip. He claimed to represent the interests of Lord Fon-Du-Ling of Faraaz, an animal collector who, a year prior to the outset of the novel had discovered the location of the hidden Temple of Tung and had been selling of the spoils to finance a great menagerie. When Naile refused to sell his pseudodragon, Helagret attempted to hire the three on as caravan guards for his return to Faraaz. When this failed, and the party refused to follow him to Faraaz, Helagret suggested that they might be due for some bad luck. Naile recognized his liniage at that point, and referred to the beast-trader as "man from Hither Hill." Ingrge seemed to understand this, saying that the half-blood "keeps company," and that he could be used to channel spells.
The companions met Helagret once again, as he turned out to be one of their mysterious persuers as they traveled southwest from Greyhawk. Upon being questioned after capture by Yevelve, Helagret claimed that he had been pressed into service by Carlvols as he knew the area well. Geased, in fact. The beastmaster was later subdued by Milo in the magical quag of the Sea of Dust.
Carlvols: Riding a gaunt horse with burning yellow eyes, Carvols, the tainted druid, led those that followed the seven. He wore a rusty brown robe, frayed to thread fringes at the hem. Like all druids, he seemed lost in years, flesh hanging in thin wattles about his neck, his eyes shrunken beneath tangled brows that were twice as visible on his otherwise hairless skin. His nose was oddly flattened, with wide-spaced nostrils spreading above a small mouth. He had yellow brown skin (Flannae?). Carlvols and Naile seemed to share a past, as the wereboar mentioned something of their last meeting. Carlvols apparently once had a lair, a "harpies' den," as Naile called it, that he had been quite proud of. The two had once been companions, under the adept Wogan when they marched against the Pinnacle of the Toad (Wastri?). Carlvols had reason to fear the Felloship of the Toad, as he had poached on their territory and hence pledged his service to Wogan in order that he might gain protection. The wizards men would not be fooled, knowing that one so lowly as Carlvols would attempt to steal some of the forbidden secrets of the Toad Kind, and they turned him from their camp. This occured to the north.
Now, however, he had followed the companions for some fell purpose, attempting to unleash the urghaunt upon them. Subdued by Deav Dyne in the battle at the quag of the Sea of Dust.
Knyshaw: A sulker companion of Carlvols and Helagret. Yevelve mentioned that she thought he might belong to the thieves' guild of Greyhawk. It is likely that Knyshaw was actually an assassin, as he employed poisoned finger blades. Killed by Naile in the Sea of Dust.
Orc: Also employed by the alien evil, killed by Naile in the quag.
Ewine: A Flannae woman illusionist also employed by the alien evil, Ewine was subdued by Yevelve in the magical quag.
Rockna: A brass dragon and one of the younger brothers (of Lichis?) who lived in the Sea of Dust. Killed in battle by the party.
Sea of Dust: Once played home to a strange race that built flat bottomed boats to travel upon its ashen surface.
Liche Ship: In this vessel's hold, the party discovered the fabled Wine of Pardos, delight of the emperors of Kalastro in the day, before the Southern Mountains breather forth the plague of fire.
The City of Greyhawk: The Sign of Harvel's Axe, a dubious tavern on the edge of the Thieve's Quarter, was lit by cages of fire wasps. The great market bordered the Thieves' Quarter and the section of the city that housed foreigners. At this point, it was not uncommon to see an orc in the great market of Greyhawk. There were guards in the marketplace, but most quarrels were settled steel to steel, the watch merely stepping in to a conflict when it threatened to become a riot. There was an inn known as the Two Harpies that was noted for its strong wine.
Strange Oerth Notes: Walking from the Thieves Quarter to the tower of the wizard Hystaspes, the companions passed buildings emblazoned with the shields of Blackmer, Urnst (which suggests this occurs some time before the Duchy/County distinction, and the Holy Lords of Faraaz.
At one point in his narrative, Hystaspes refers to the masterly and evil "Nine and Ninety Sins of Salzak, the Spirit Murderer.
This section comes verbatim from a scene in which Hystaspes shows the seven a map of the area surrounding Greyhawk: "To the north lay the Grand Duchy of Urnst, for Greyhawk was clearly marked nearly at the edge of the sheet to his right. Beyond that swelled the Great Kingdom of Blackmoor. To the left, or west, were mountains scattered in broken chains, dividing smaller kingdoms one from the other. This cluster of nations ended in such unknown territories as the Dry Steppes, which only the Nomad Raiders of Lar dared venture out upon (the few watering places therein being hereditary posessions of those clans). Farther south was that awesome Sea of Dust from which it is said no expidition, no matter how well equipped, had ever returned, though there were ledgends concerning its lost and buried ships and the treasures that might still exist in their petrified holds."
He then points to a country known as the Grand Duchy of Geofp, a place the pudent avoided since civil warfare between two rivals for the rule had been going on now for more than a year, and both sides were said to have firmly aligned themselves to the cause of Chaos.
Later in the novel, Milo summons a bag of coins which contained five gold pieces from the Great Kingdom (dating this some time after CY 1), bearing the high-nosed, haughty faces of two recent kings; some cross-shaped tokens from the Land of the Holy Lords (Faraaz) and two mother-of-pearl disks incised with the fierce head of a sea serpent which came from the island Duchy of Maritz.
There was a man, ostensibly a bandit, named Forstyn of Narm who raided the border villages of Geofp. The Nomads (of Lar) "gave lip service" Thera, the Maned Lady. At any rate, the Nomads were blood feuding at the time of the novel, and the trader of horseflesh in the Greyhawk market (from whom the above information was gleaned) suggested the party avoid the Steppes. Milo suggested that the Nomads, from whom the horses he had been interested in had been taken, might hunt down the new riders to meet "Thera's Maidens."
According to Helagret, Faraaz lay to the west (ostensibly between the Pomarj and the Principality of Ulek). Also, it is firmly alluded that the land to the west of Greyhawk belonged to Keoland. Due south of the city of Greyhawk stood the dark tower of the wizard Kyark, a place all men with wits about them knew to avoid.
In their mission to discover the lair of Lichis, Yevelve mentioned that whomever was magically protecting them would help in they could continue until the party reached the tributary of the river Vold. She also told the story of the Rieving of Keo the Less, which happened years ago a day or more south of Greyhawk.
In attemppting to discover the origin of Milo's thumbrings, Deav Dyne inquired as to wheter his compaions knew anything of those who founded the Five Cities of the Great Kingdom, or who worshipped once in the Fane of Wings.
After discussing the problem of water for Gulth, the companions decided to travel upstream (though referred to as the Vold, this has to be the Selintan) to the next tributary. This would bring them to Yerocunby and Faraaz (which would then be positioned in the Cairn Hills or the Wild Coast). (On the other hand, though, they could be travelling west, in which case, the "three rivers" so constantly referred to would be the Jewel and the two rivers of Keoland (Sheldomar, Hool). This would make a whole lot more sense, so at the end of the first day, the companions would be at the Jewel River near the western portion of the Welkwood. Because of Gulth then, and also to avoid the Kron Hills, they would travel south on the Jewel. That would place Faraaz and Yerocunby somewhere in the Principality of Ulek and the Pomarj. This would really make a lot more sense.)
Lizardmen lived in the Seven Swamps (though I suspect this is not a place, rather a saying such as the Seven Seas).
The elves maintained areas known as Old Places, into which none might enter save for those invited by an elf.
Orith: These mightily winged creatures were good mounts, though hard to handle. Their main riders had been elves, for for a man to ride one was folly. Becuase of this aversion to humans, it is reasonable to assume that the employment of Oriths as mounts was an unsucessful venture, but that the race had been hunted to extinction due to the taste of their meat, the fasion of their feathers, etc.
Urghaunt: Not a demonic creature, the urghaunt was nonetheless a fearsome opponent. It had a slender body, a long neck and a head no larger--almost the likeness of a snake which was more mammalian than reptile. Gaping jaws held rows of needlelike teeth. Naile's familiarity with the creature might suggest that urghaunts were employed by the Spectre of Loice in the Trolian Swamp. Urghaunts stood on four legs, the hind of which were stumpy. Nearly eight feet long. These things were tough, able to survive blows that would fell most ordinary creatures. Thier bite also contained a weak poison.
Gar-Eagle: The greatest winged creatures of Oerth (save dragons), gar-eagles had a wingspan of over thirty feet.
New Magic Items:
Hollow Carvings: Used by fallen druids, among others, a foul creature could be bound into a hollow black carving. Though not powerful enought to hold demons, these carvings were formidable holding cells for various malign creatures. Given a phrase or word from the owners, the captured creature could be released.
Otherwise Unexplainable Continuity Errors: Norton seems to imply that Greyhawk bordered Keoland, and that that country had three tributaries that became a great river to the north. Most of these problems, of course, stem from the fact that, at the time Quag Keep was written, the main Greyhawk maps did not exist. Also, the river that could only be the Selintan is referred to as the River Vold. In all cases, I have assumed this to in fact be the Selintan.