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The Rift Canyon

 
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xo42
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2015 5:43 pm    Post subject: The Rift Canyon Reply with quote

My interest in the Rift Canyon has been peaked lately after going through the Age of Worms adventure path. I think it's a great area to explore and it could offer numerous adventures for almost any mid to high level party. Other than AoW, what other resources are out there that detail the area. I know Iuz the Evil deals with the area somewhat, but anything else?
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rasgon
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 13, 2015 6:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

White Plume Mountain and its sequel, Return to White Plume Mountain, take place nearby.

Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss mentions that the Plains of Pesh were in the shadow of White Plume Mountain, which implies the final battle between the Wind Dukes of Aaqa and the armies of the Queen of Chaos created the rift.

Then there's this thread: http://canonfire.com/cf/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=6066
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rasgon
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 14, 2015 1:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A more complete bibliography:

Baur, Wolfgang. "A Gathering of Winds." Dungeon #129. Bellevue, WA: Paizo Publishing, 2005.
Cordell, Bruce R. Dragotha's Lair. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 1999 and 2001. Available online: http://wizards.com/dnd/files/Dragothas_Lair.pdf
Gygax, Gary. The World of Greyhawk. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1980.
-----. World of Greyhawk Fantasy Game Setting. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1983.
Holian, Gary. "Places of Mystery: Spinecastle and Veralos." Dragon #293. Bellevue, WA: Paizo Publishing, 2002.
Holian, Gary, Erik Mona, Sean K. Reynolds, and Frederick Weining. Living Greyhawk Gazetteer. Renton, WA. Wizards of the Coast, 2000.
Mona, Erik. "The Whispering Cairn." Dungeon #124. Bellevue, WA: Paizo Publishing, 2005.
Sargent, Carl. From the Ashes. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1992.
Sargent, Carl. Iuz the Evil. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1993.
Simpson, Bill. "Lords & Legends: Dragotha." Dragon #134. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1988.
Vaughan, Greg A. "Kings of the Rift." Dungeon #133. Bellevue, WA: Paizo Publishing, 2006.
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LeahcimTheLearned
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 16, 2015 9:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I planning on using the giant cliff city as the basis for a hidden city of some sort, sorta like Valeros only an actual city. One of the Lost Cities of Etrazan. (homebrewed)
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xo42
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 18, 2015 6:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Rasgon!
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aurdraco
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 15, 2015 8:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We did a ton of stuff with the Rift Canyon during Living Greyhawk. From meta-orgs to Morginstaler (badass red dragon detailed in a OJ issue several years ago by me), to new locations, etc.
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Mystic-Scholar
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 15, 2015 8:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Rift Canyon is definitely the place to go for leveling your characters. Slug-fest all the way through. Laughing

I think it makes for an excellent location from which to access the Plane of Shadow as well, making Shadow Dragons and other denizens of that plane ready antagonist for your PCs.
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xo42
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2015 7:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mystic-Scholar wrote:
The Rift Canyon is definitely the place to go for leveling your characters. Slug-fest all the way through. Laughing

I think it makes for an excellent location from which to access the Plane of Shadow as well, making Shadow Dragons and other denizens of that plane ready antagonist for your PCs.



I was thinking the same thing about the Rift Canyon, Mystic-Scholar. I've been intrigued about it since I first read about it years ago, but my interest has really been heightened since Age of Worms. I haven't ever dealt directly with the Plane of Shadow, but I have fought a Shadow Dragon as a PC, and DMd PCs against once as well and it's always a great fight. I think the Rift has so many possibilities, I just wish there was more written material on it.
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2015 9:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tome of Magic will supply you with some excellent NPC material for the Plane of Shadow.
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xo42
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2015 9:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mystic-Scholar wrote:
Tome of Magic will supply you with some excellent NPC material for the Plane of Shadow.


Thanks Mystic-Scholar!
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2015 9:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Aw, shucks! T'wernt nothin'! Cool
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ragnar
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2018 7:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey guys, just thought I'd revive this thread, since I'm about to use the Riftcanyon in my current campaign. I have always been fascinated by it, but never have my games gone there. The closest was a character back in about '89 who gained a fortress from a Deck of Many Things (throne card?). I placed the fortress on the edge of the Riftcanyon. I think he retired shortly thereafter, and we never really went there.

Anyway, I have some questions.

First, how and when was it created? I find two versions.

Version 1) The Riftcanyon was formed by the magical energies unleashed during the battle between the Houses of Pursuit and the fleeing Suel in -442CY. I am pretty sure this comes from the old timeline which is enshrined in history as the very first Oerth Journal article. Being based on Lakofka's recollections from the original campaign; he played Leomund, so I would have to put a lot of stock in his comments. In any event, I have used this as my Oerth history for years, so this is pretty much what I am going with.

Version 2) The Riftcanyon was a result of the Battle of Pesh which supposedly happened there. I don't exactly know where this comes from, and I assume post-2nd ed material which I admittedly have not really followed. The RoSP module from 2nd ed mentioned the Battle of Pesh as happening "eons ago" which is far back in prehistory. I always thought it was to have occured in the Sheldomar Valley, but I don't really have anything to back that up. Anyway, I've recently read stuff online that seems to imply this happened by White Plume Mountain and caused the creation of the Rift.

So, what is the canon answer? :)
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ragnar
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2018 7:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My second question I will put forward in another post here. I actually had this all typed out and then accidentally closed the window before posting. I hate when that happens!

Anyway, question 2: What is the nature of the Riftcanyon's interior? Again, there seem to be two different versions.

Version 1) This comes directly from the original GH Folio/Boxed Set. "Much of its length has been cleared of monsters, although they still issue forth from the tunnels, it is said." That seems pretty clear! I always assumed that the people actually lived inside the Rift itself.

Version 2) In Iuz the Evil it says the original inhabitants numbered only 2000. For the square miles of the Riftcanyon (about 6,600 based on my CC2 map) that is a paltry number. It would make the place about as uninhabited as the Namibian desert or Mongolia! Further, in Age of Worms stuff, which I've been reading lately to "catch up" the place seems more unsettled than in the past. It says the nearby folk "have not fully explored the canyon" and it is "infested with strange monsters."

So, again, which is it? Was the Riftcanyon cleared or not? Maybe both, at different times? I guess a DM can do what he will, which I most definitely will do. I just wondered if I'm missing something here. Any advice or sources that I am unaware of would be helpful. Anybody ever find a map of the canyon? I can't believe that has not been done!
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Torque-Nomar
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2018 10:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm late to the conversation, so maybe I'm not fully up to speed. However, it seems that the answer to your question about whether the rift is clear or not lies in the fact that the original Greyhawk setting was set in 579 (or thereabouts), whereas by the time Iuz the Evil was published the timeframe was advanced to 586, after the Greyhawk wars. That would explain the discrepancy: in 579 it wasn't cleared, but 586 it was. (I would have to check my notes to confirm the dates.)

As a DM, I freely use or ignore the events of the Greyhawk wars as it suits me. My current campaign is in 581, so the war hasn't happened yet (and may not, if the party continues along it's current course).

My solution is to decide which parts of which time setting I prefer, and go with that.

As for the discrepancy about where the rift came from, people have all sorts of myths and legends, so it might be interesting for the party to hear both stories and not know which to believe. If it's important to the campaign, figuring it out could be part of their quest.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2018 2:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

More recent canon usually trumps old canon and I agree with Sargent, Paizo, and Living Greyhawk that the Rift should be relatively unexplored and crawling with monsters. It's geography is unique to Oerth, it's the result of a magical cataclysm, it contains links to the Underdark, it covers hundreds of square miles of impassible and deadly terrain in the midst of an evil, chaotic, and politically divided land, and it's designed for use with Dungeons & Dragons...

Conclusion: no one is ever going to clear it of monsters. Cool

The occasional Bandit King might make some localized progress, stand before his troops, and declare "Mission Accomplished!", but it's only PR.

As aurdraco mentioned, the LG Bandit Kingdoms scenarios contain good material if you can find them. If you can't, at least pick up Casey's recent generic conversion of Blue Scales, Red Secrets: LG BK Classics #1 in pdf (rpgnow) or print (amazon). It's the only commercially released scenario to ever feature adventuring in "the Scar" (read: Rift Canyon) and it's a good one at that.

Dinosaurs!
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 4:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Conan: what is best in life?"

"To map the Rift canyon, kill everything in it, and hear the lamentations of the vimens!"

I don't think even Conan could do it. Happy

The Rift Canyon is a somewhat inhospitable place by the very nature of it being a monstrous big hole in the ground without the convenience of elevators or stairs to traverse its depths, and...things...live down in there and/or have ready access to the area via subterranean routes. And so I would say, no, the 6,600 or so square miles of the Rift Canyon have not been mapped down to every last nook and cranny, and, no, they have not been cleared of all dangers (such that adventurers can "fast travel" to its location Razz).

The Rift Canyon is an adventure locale, which means it is a place where only people not fully in their right minds (i.e. adventurers!) would go looking for trouble. "Fully mapped" and "cleared" are simply not terms that should ever apply to any such place.

As to the population of 2,000 people, they likely comprise scattered cliff-dwelling communities, and perhaps a few crazier ones who live at the very bottom of the Rift. That small number seems fairly reasonable, considering the difficulties involved in conducting the business of every day life living in such a place. Taking into account the level of isolation such a place offers, there are no doubt criminal hideouts in there too. And dragon lairs (see Paizo's "Age of Worms" adventure path, among other sources, which features the Rift Canyon/Wyrmcrawl Fissure).
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ragnar
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 6:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm kind of thinking that it ought to be more like Valles marineris on Mars. There's some excellent pictures of that now, taken from our Mars Orbiter. I was I thinking that that's much better way to Envision what their riftcanyon looks like then my previous idea which was a super Grand Canyon. And when you look at it that way oh, it's very easy to see how this place is even more inhospitable or inaccessible previously thought.

When I was first looking at this, I was using the Grand Canyon as my example of how to do it. The problem was the way the Grand Canyon was made over millions of years through basically water erosion. While the canyon on Mars may also have been formed by water, is so much bigger and seem so fundamentally different that I think it ends up looking more like what we expect.


https://goo.gl/images/nzpCZm

That image shows the canyon as being this gigantic hole with Shear walls on each side dropping to basically a big flat for. Obviously you don't get excellent resolution and details from super high, but it definitely gives it a different look than an earth based Canyon like the Grand Canyon. Further there's an image that I found that somebody drew of what it may look like, and I think that also gives a good indication of what it may look like.

https://goo.gl/images/Kkir51

So as I look at it this way, the inaccessibility is far far greater than I had been thinking. It also can make it much more inhospitable in terms of water. If it's not full of water, you're not going to have much in there except for those things that are really hearty and maybe also based in caves on the side. Anyway, these are just some initial thoughts. I'm still looking into the when it formed and how it Formed arguments. Thanks for your comments so far.
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rasgon
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2018 2:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ragnar wrote:
First, how and when was it created? I find two versions.


There's a third version that appears in Iuz the Evil.

Carl Sargent wrote:
Legend tells that the Rift was created in a battle between greater Powers. Which ones varies from version to version of the tale, but it is said that a great axe or hammer smote the ground and sundered it.


It seems reasonable to blame a battle between, say, Moradin and Gruumsh, or Ulaa and Gruumsh, or perhaps Pelor and Tharizdun. I think in a myth I wrote back in the mid-1990s, I blamed Ulaa and Moradin getting a divorce.

ragnar wrote:
The RoSP module from 2nd ed mentioned the Battle of Pesh as happening "eons ago" which is far back in prehistory. I always thought it was to have occured in the Sheldomar Valley, but I don't really have anything to back that up. Anyway, I've recently read stuff online that seems to imply this happened by White Plume Mountain and caused the creation of the Rift.


You probably got the idea that it happened in the Sheldomar Valley from the Oerth Journal #1 timeline, which conflated the Battle of Pesh with the final battle that led to the descent of the drow. In other sources, including the 2nd edition Rod of Seven Parts boxed set, the elves had nothing to do with the battle.

From the Ashes included a phenomenon called the Eternal Storm of the Wind Dukes in the Abbor-Alz mountains.

As I said above, the idea that the Battle of Pesh happened near White Plume Mountain is from 3rd edition's Fiendish Codes I: Hordes of the Abyss, page 106.

Erik Mona, James Jacobs, Ed Stark wrote:
Eons of conflict finally shuddered to a stalemate on the Material Plane world of Oerth, a place rich in magic and untapped possibilities. There, on the Field of Pesh in the shadow of a great volcano called White Plume Mountain, Miska the Wolf-Spider fell in battle to the Wind Dukes of Aaqa, lawful creatures of elemental air.


I think that's as explicit that it gets. This firmly places Pesh in the same area as Rift Canyon, but it doesn't explicitly state the battle created Rift Canyon, so you could accept that the Battle of Pesh took place there and still give Rift Canyon a different origin.

2nd edition's Book of Artifacts states that when the cosmic Law infused within the Rod were combined with the essence of Chaos in the blood of Miska the Wolf-Spider, the result was an explosion that created a "planar rip," and perhaps that could be the origin of the Rift Canyon.

ragnar wrote:
Being based on Lakofka's recollections from the original campaign; he played Leomund, so I would have to put a lot of stock in his comments. In any event, I have used this as my Oerth history for years, so this is pretty much what I am going with.


That timeline has a seminal place in the history of Greyhawk fandom. When it was published there had been no new official Greyhawk content in years, and the history of the World of Greyhawk was relatively thin and scattered, and a lot of Greyhawk fan projects online immediately adopted it wholesale. Even the canon The Scarlet Brotherhood accessory references parts of it, mentioning the last prince of the Suel, Zellif (called Zellifar in Oerth Journal #1), going north toward the Griffs for obscure reasons, as well as the story from the OJ #1 of the emperor dispatching the Schnai, Cruskii, and Fruztii to pursue him. I still use a lot of it.

I doubt any of it is based on Lakofka's recollections of the original campaign, though that doesn't matter to me. The original campaign was a very different thing than published Greyhawk—Gygax deliberately changed aspects of the setting to prevent the published version from "spoiling" his home game for his players, though his players ended up insisting he change his home game to match published Greyhawk anyway. The shape of the continent and the names of its nations were different in the Greyhawk campaign's original form. I'm pretty sure the Suel didn't exist in his original campaign, at least not by that name. The Folio version of the setting didn't name any ethnic groups, and groups like the Suel first appeared in print in Lakofka's article "Leomund's Tiny Hut: Adding Depth to the Flanaess" in Dragon Magazine #52 (1981). The Suel and their pantheon were developed first for Lakofka's own Lendore Island campaign, which was grafted to the Greyhawk setting after the fact in the same way as Dave Arneson's Blackmoor, Robert Kuntz's El Raja Key, Frank Mentzer's Aquaria, and the lands of François Marcela-Froideval's Black Moon Chronicles were slowly appended on to the core setting. The earliest form of Greyhawk we have preserved in Andre Norton's Quag Keep features the Sea of Dust, but the ancient civilization that once lived there doesn't yet have a name, and the concept of the Rain of Colorless Fire doesn't yet exist—the Sea of Dust seems to have always been that way, and the ancient civilization traveled the dust in ships that sailed in dust as mundane ships do on water.

Please understand that's not a criticism or meant to delegitimize Lakofka's work in any way. I'm saying the Suel were Lakofka's creation and he has more moral right than anyone to develop them as he sees fit.

That said, there are elements of the Oerth Journal #1 timeline that fit poorly with other canon. For example, the Glossography in the 1983 World of Greyhawk boxed set has Slerotin leading the tribes through his Lost Passage from the Sea of Dust to the Flanaess after the Rain of Colorless Fire. But the Oerth Journal #1 timeline has Slerotin leaving the lands of the Suel with Zellifar 25 years earlier. Other sources (rightfully, in my mind) have Slerotin's migration a separate thing from Zellifar's migration, which makes the idea of a battle between Slerotin and the Houses of Pursuit seem like a non-starter.

Another weird, random feature of Rift Canyon is found in From the Ashes: Atlas of the Flanaess, page 79: "A strange borealis has been seen over the Rift Canyon: sheets of brilliant blue, red, and violet light. No one knows whether this phenomenon is natural or magical. It is said to have changed the color and form of rocks and plants where it has drifted."
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xo42
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2018 4:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ragnar wrote:
Hey guys, just thought I'd revive this thread, since I'm about to use the Riftcanyon in my current campaign. I have always been fascinated by it, but never have my games gone there.



I haven't signed in for several weeks and I was surprised and happy to see this thread revived. I'm glad I'm not the only one to be intrigued by Rift Canyon.

Ragnar, I look forward to hearing more about your adventures there in the near future.
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ragnar
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

rasgon wrote:

There's a third version that appears in Iuz the Evil.

Carl Sargent wrote:
Legend tells that the Rift was created in a battle between greater Powers. Which ones varies from version to version of the tale, but it is said that a great axe or hammer smote the ground and sundered it.


It seems reasonable to blame a battle between, say, Moradin and Gruumsh, or Ulaa and Gruumsh, or perhaps Pelor and Tharizdun. I think in a myth I wrote back in the mid-1990s, I blamed Ulaa and Moradin getting a divorce.


That's interesting. I just reread ItE, and I missed that. I like the divorce part. Created my own Riftcanyon myself once...long ago!

rasgon wrote:

You probably got the idea that it happened in the Sheldomar Valley from the Oerth Journal #1 timeline, which conflated the Battle of Pesh with the final battle that led to the descent of the drow. In other sources, including the 2nd edition Rod of Seven Parts boxed set, the elves had nothing to do with the battle.

From the Ashes included a phenomenon called the Eternal Storm of the Wind Dukes in the Abbor-Alz mountains.

As I said above, the idea that the Battle of Pesh happened near White Plume Mountain is from 3rd edition's Fiendish Codes I: Hordes of the Abyss, page 106.

Erik Mona, James Jacobs, Ed Stark wrote:
Eons of conflict finally shuddered to a stalemate on the Material Plane world of Oerth, a place rich in magic and untapped possibilities. There, on the Field of Pesh in the shadow of a great volcano called White Plume Mountain, Miska the Wolf-Spider fell in battle to the Wind Dukes of Aaqa, lawful creatures of elemental air.


I think that's as explicit that it gets. This firmly places Pesh in the same area as Rift Canyon, but it doesn't explicitly state the battle created Rift Canyon, so you could accept that the Battle of Pesh took place there and still give Rift Canyon a different origin.

2nd edition's Book of Artifacts states that when the cosmic Law infused within the Rod were combined with the essence of Chaos in the blood of Miska the Wolf-Spider, the result was an explosion that created a "planar rip," and perhaps that could be the origin of the Rift Canyon.


That's very good information. I think I was conflating two separate things there as well as assuming the RoSP/BoA explosion caused the Rift, though it doesn't say that at all.

Good info on the nature of the early play and how that fits with the Timeline. I have largely used it since I first saw it, fitting my old Classics Campaign stuff from the talklist (man that is going back some!) into it as well. I think over the last 20 years or so I just let that gain a life of its own. Being a historian, I know better than to make that mistake!

rasgon wrote:

That said, there are elements of the Oerth Journal #1 timeline that fit poorly with other canon. For example, the Glossography in the 1983 World of Greyhawk boxed set has Slerotin leading the tribes through his Lost Passage from the Sea of Dust to the Flanaess after the Rain of Colorless Fire. But the Oerth Journal #1 timeline has Slerotin leaving the lands of the Suel with Zellifar 25 years earlier. Other sources (rightfully, in my mind) have Slerotin's migration a separate thing from Zellifar's migration, which makes the idea of a battle between Slerotin and the Houses of Pursuit seem like a non-starter.


Another good point. I have read the timeline so many times, that I have this general feel for it. I don't really use it specifically, so the need to keep dates and such straight isn't really ever that big a deal. I just use bits and pieces here and there, when I reckon a player may learn something. For the most part, people are largely unaware of the greater past, and I kinda leave it up to players to read stuff on their own and learn more. Well, unless I decide to beat them over the head with something!

rasgon wrote:

Another weird, random feature of Rift Canyon is found in From the Ashes: Atlas of the Flanaess, page 79: "A strange borealis has been seen over the Rift Canyon: sheets of brilliant blue, red, and violet light. No one knows whether this phenomenon is natural or magical. It is said to have changed the color and form of rocks and plants where it has drifted."


Nice. I had totally forgotten that one. I will definitely have to use that in my coming campaign.

Rasgon, thank you so much for that response. It is everything I was looking for and more. I am putting the finishing touches on the beginning of my campaign, and I will most assuredly post more as it begins. Again everyone, thanks for the input. I

xo42, I too am looking forward to this. It is a place that just screams adventure, and I can't believe that in 40 years of playing in Greyhawk, I've never used it. Well, time to fix that!
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