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    Canonfire :: View topic - Valley of the Mage
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    Valley of the Mage
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    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Mon Jan 18, 2021 11:09 pm  
    Valley of the Mage

    Many years ago, my character, during the end of the Great War, took over The valley per The tsr version and module. Many years later, and much research, I’ve found, there’s an entirely different spin on the Vale.
    Gary Gygax apparently wrote a series about a thief named Gord and a certain Basilev, who later became a demiurge.
    Based one what I’ve found via published interviews etc, I find two “wrongs” done regarding the Vale.
    First, and this doesn’t mean first chronologically, but rather first as in how I’m listing them, TSR/WotC really did wrong by the creator of the game that continues to create their paychecks. Corporate greed is everywhere.
    Second, the final Gord book, by general consensus, seems to be a finger in the eye from Gary to TSR. It comes off a bit petty and vindictive. A point I am painfully familiar with in life, and I get the why and wherefore.
    Third, stooping to the same childish level, TSR published the module; Vale of the Mage. This was a few years after my character had settled there. This irked me to no end.
    I quit playing actively around 1991.
    It is now 2021. My son, 24 and my daughter, 20, are now getting into it and once again, I’m called back to the realms.
    I’m undertaking the task of rewriting the Valley of the Mage, without the laziness of the “official” module, or the vindictiveness of the book series.
    Things I would like to keep;
    The demiurge. I want to bring this to life.
    Oerthblood, build a connection.
    The importance of the Vale in regards to Oerth and how it protects either the plane, the planet or their protector.
    Feel free to post ideas, but don’t be upset if I don’t use LoL of them.
    I’m aware of Mordenkainens interest, my character finds him to be, at best, a potent annoyance.

    Lastly, let’s keep it fairly simple-ish. For example, I’m not (at this time anyway), concerned about planetary alignment, magic waning, or super detailed cosmicology.


    Spoiler: “The Black One”, is either going to die or become a non-issue, because in my old campaign of over a month of playing, he’s simply gone. I’ve no intention of dealing with this upstart excuse for a spell thrower again.

    Thank you for your time and your feedback.
    GreySage

    Joined: Aug 03, 2001
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    Tue Jan 19, 2021 7:38 am  

    It's worth reading Rick Miller's take on the Vale of the Mage in Oerth Journal #18.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Tue Jan 19, 2021 7:16 pm  

    Wasn't aware of that reply. The GH time line shows elves in the valley 10,000 years prior to the Suel calendar from memory, so they have been there for a LONG time. For a reason. They are clearly outcasts or "strange" to other elves, which is also unusual. the suggestion is because they are loyal to a human mage, but it clearly goes deeper. The Black One in the TSR was clearly a blow in. It wasn't him that was the human, or caused the split. That is the key the the Valley, and the story. What is the millenia long story of the Valley and why are they different. Protecting the planet is a new one, but now I will have to go look for that source. Sounds like a cool one though. Plus now I have to go read OJ 18 ....
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Wed Jan 20, 2021 11:00 pm  

    Thank you for the reference. That’s a lot of information!

    Though it is radically different from how our campaign played out. We left off at the end of the Great War. My Character, Reximus, had just settled with what was left of his army.
    We had met with the Mage and First Protector as well as the Jakar (singular per the module, not a group per the journal), after a Druid duel between Ranxaeroth (my Druid character) and Jakar, they came to an understanding of sorts. Jaran or Jason, would be given land for him and the FP, and would be able to live and research in peace with no distractions. Reximus took command of Valley defenses. The Elves chose a new king. The gnomish clans chose a council of clan leaders, The Crystaline Council as their governing body.
    Reximus used the few remaining Spelljammers to move his home and hoard to the valley. All but emptying his primary coffers, military training camps, a monestery, The Temple of the Night Tiger, and an academy of herbalism and science were begun.
    This is how it closed on our world. This is where the new story will begin.

    If anyone has any stats on Basilev, the demiurge, or Gellor, or the city of Bardillingham, please post them here for reference.
    I’ve most likely read them, but who knows. Hopefully, fresh eyes will reveal fresh answers.

    Thank you for the information thus far. Let’s get this moving.

    Thank you.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Fri Jan 22, 2021 8:07 pm  

    Ranxaeroth wrote:

    If anyone has any stats on Basilev, the demiurge, or Gellor, or the city of Bardillingham, please post them here for reference.


    The 1980 World of Greyhawk folio lists the Mage of the Valley (not yet named Basiliv) as "Magic-user, 18th level".

    However, the Gord books imply a being of far greater power.
    Encyclopedia Greyhawkaniac

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    Fri Jan 22, 2021 8:30 pm  

    WingofCoot wrote:
    Ranxaeroth wrote:

    If anyone has any stats on Basilev, the demiurge, or Gellor, or the city of Bardillingham, please post them here for reference.


    The 1980 World of Greyhawk folio lists the Mage of the Valley (not yet named Basiliv) as "Magic-user, 18th level".

    However, the Gord books imply a being of far greater power.


    In 1980 18th level was pretty freaking powerful. Not sure if Gygax saw it as demiurge powerful but outside of munchkin play that was damn high level for Greyhawk.
    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Jul 29, 2006
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    From: Dantredun, MN

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    Fri Jan 22, 2021 9:45 pm  

    Check out Roger Moore's old "Valley Elves in Greyhawk" here (scroll down). One document is rules, the other background.

    FWIW, the intro to the VotM in Greyhawk Adventures isn't any better than the later module, but it is different, describing a barren, foggy land instead of a tropical valley.
    -
    It's not really accurate to say the 1989 module had anything to do with greed. TSR certainly did some Greyhawk sabotage in '86-87 when they were spooked by Gygax, Mentzer, and Kuntz who retained some rights and were financing their new companies with thinly-veiled Greyhawk products, but that threat soon evaporated or was crushed by TSR's legal team.

    By 1988, James Ward cooled the higherups down and was pushing hard for real Greyhawk products. Some went to good authors, like Sargent, Mobley, and Brown, and some went to mediocre staff writers, like Slade and Rabe.

    I do like Rabe's Lirr-worshiping Tree People. That's a cool idea.
    Encyclopedia Greyhawkaniac

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    Sat Jan 23, 2021 5:19 am  

    vestcoat wrote:
    Check out Roger Moore's old "Valley Elves in Greyhawk" here (scroll down). One document is rules, the other background.

    FWIW, the intro to the VotM in Greyhawk Adventures isn't any better than the later module, but it is different, describing a barren, foggy land instead of a tropical valley.
    -
    It's not really accurate to say the 1989 module had anything to do with greed. TSR certainly did some Greyhawk sabotage in '86-87 when they were spooked by Gygax, Mentzer, and Kuntz who retained some rights and were financing their new companies with thinly-veiled Greyhawk products, but that threat soon evaporated or was crushed by TSR's legal team.

    By 1988, James Ward cooled the higherups down and was pushing hard for real Greyhawk products. Some went to good authors, like Sargent, Mobley, and Brown, and some went to mediocre staff writers, like Slade and Rabe.

    I do like Rabe's Lirr-worshiping Tree People. That's a cool idea.


    I think Smedger's Spinecastle is fantastic, but I can't think of anything else post-Gygax era that is more than mediocre and plenty that is just pure crap. Sargent was an excellent adventure writer for GW but the wrong person for Greyhawk and after digging into Night Below I found it quickly languishes.

    What did Mobley and Brown author?
    Adept Greytalker

    Joined: Jul 29, 2006
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    From: Dantredun, MN

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    Sun Jan 24, 2021 12:26 pm  

    JasonZavoda wrote:
    ...I can't think of anything else post-Gygax era that is more than mediocre and plenty that is just pure crap. Sargent was an excellent adventure writer for GW but the wrong person for Greyhawk and after digging into Night Below I found it quickly languishes.

    What did Mobley and Brown author?

    They did Greyhawk Ruins. TSR's best megadungeon IMO and maybe the best 2e module for any setting. Just needs a few fiends and weird monsters added to the mix, because the authors couldn't reference out-of-print products, TSR's whitewashing was at a high-water mark, and they only had the first few MC appendices to draw on. Joe Bloch posted an old letter he received from the authors that shows they really did their research.

    If you don't like Sargent, I can see how post-Gygax Greyhawk would be a bust. I'd encourage you to give him another shot, though. His modules demand real problem-solving, with a great mix of stealth, role-playing, and brutal combat.

    City of Skulls is the pinnacle of his approach and might be an acquired taste, but Into the Mistmarsh and Five Shall Be One are less idiosyncratic and excellent (just ignore Slade's sequel).

    Night Below requires TLC to keep fresh; similar to the Temple of Elemental Evil.

    As for other 2e authors, WG8 and GA are half good and half bad because they both had big design teams. Shattered Circle, Slavers, Return of the Eight, Vecna Reborn, The Rod of Seven Parts, and the GH mods in latter 2e Dungeon mags are awesome.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Sun Jan 24, 2021 11:56 pm  

    JasonZavoda wrote:
    WingofCoot wrote:
    Ranxaeroth wrote:

    If anyone has any stats on Basilev, the demiurge, or Gellor, or the city of Bardillingham, please post them here for reference.


    The 1980 World of Greyhawk folio lists the Mage of the Valley (not yet named Basiliv) as "Magic-user, 18th level".

    However, the Gord books imply a being of far greater power.


    In 1980 18th level was pretty freaking powerful. Not sure if Gygax saw it as demiurge powerful but outside of munchkin play that was damn high level for Greyhawk.


    True - but in the Gord books Basiliv is impressive even in the company of quasi-deities, demi-gods, etc.; the fact that he's disappeared in Dance of Demons (IIRC) is considered a huge threat by the assembled Lords of Balance.

    He wouldn't necessarily need higher level spellcasting than that, given that 18th level is enough for 9th level spells; but the later version of the Mage of the Valley should have some of the 'other perks' of quasi-deities/demigods.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Mon Feb 15, 2021 12:15 pm  

    vestcoat wrote:
    If you don't like Sargent, I can see how post-Gygax Greyhawk would be a bust. I'd encourage you to give him another shot, though. His modules demand real problem-solving, with a great mix of stealth, role-playing, and brutal combat.


    I am running a group through the Power Behind the Throne (a chapter of the Warhammer series the Enemy Within written by Sargent). I am going to say that he does not seem to have any confidence in using the system he was writing in to do what he wants. He instructs the GM to ignore the system at points. His NPCs are also laughably powerful; it's as if every character was meant to be on the scale of Philidor the Blue. As an example, the court physician has an 8 strength; in Warhammer Fantasy, dragons have a 7 strength.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Wed Feb 17, 2021 9:10 pm  

    LarethTheBeautiful wrote:

    I am running a group through the Power Behind the Throne (a chapter of the Warhammer series the Enemy Within written by Sargent). I am going to say that he does not seem to have any confidence in using the system he was writing in to do what he wants. He instructs the GM to ignore the system at points. His NPCs are also laughably powerful; it's as if every character was meant to be on the scale of Philidor the Blue. As an example, the court physician has an 8 strength; in Warhammer Fantasy, dragons have a 7 strength.

    Good to know and thanks for sharing this! I've never had a chance to chat about his non-D&D products much. I picked up Lichmaster, Empire in Flames, and Power Behind the Throne over the last couple of years, but haven't done more than skim them yet.

    I like Middenheim OK and used chunks of it in my barbarian campaign, but was disappointed to find it was only inspired by Sargent and not written by him.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Thu Feb 25, 2021 3:04 pm  

    vestcoat wrote:
    Good to know and thanks for sharing this! I've never had a chance to chat about his non-D&D products much. I picked up Lichmaster, Empire in Flames, and Power Behind the Throne over the last couple of years, but haven't done more than skim them yet.

    I like Middenheim OK and used chunks of it in my barbarian campaign, but was disappointed to find it was only inspired by Sargent and not written by him.


    At some point, I am planning to do a thread about adapting the Enemy Within to Greyhawk. I have to finish both my series on the consorts of the Nine Hells and playing Power Behind the Throne with my group first. So, hopefully later this year!
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Sat Jun 11, 2022 10:56 pm  

    Salutations. A new year and more traveling. Once again, I’m able to find time to get back into writing and creating.
    Anyone have any new ideas?
    Something that has come to mind; Module: “Expedition to the Barrier Peaks” introduced a type of Technology. Sort of. As my character currently controls the Valley of the Mage, and has sent explorers and now teams of artificers, scientist, mages etc to the site, research is progressing slowly. UNTIL; “Tale of the Comet”. Coincidentally, the two techs are similar. The crash site was near the Vale and due to Spelljammer ships, my crews were first on site. We made allies with the “good guys” and defeated the “bad guys”…..or did we…..? Currently constructing spelljammer base near where the rift occurred in hopes of sending the “good guy” back home eventually.

    Anyone have any other ideas on Basilev? Any other input on the Valley in general? Still looking to flesh this out more.

    Thanks in advance for any input.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Sun Jun 12, 2022 7:16 pm  

    My take on the Vale of the Mage relies heavily on its history in the LGG. The valley had some sort of malign presence, the drow believe the valley elves were made slaves to some sort of lie, and the last king of the valley elves left an oaken chest, some scrolls and his final words to the Duke of Geoff.

    My explanation for all this is that the elven peoples were fractured when Sehanine Moonbow called her people to separate themselves from the other races of Oerth. Many of the elves rejected her, and some left the Flanaess to dedicate themselves to Law. Others moved to what was once known as the Valley of Chaos, a land heavily tinged with chaos that caused malevolent entities of all kinds to appear on Oerth, becoming the valley elves. The drow considered them fools, saying that they and their king pledged themselves to some sort of chaotic entity.

    Some of the valley elves came to agree with the drow, and the valley elf king left with some of his people in search of the One True King, the prophesied beying who will one day reunite the elven peoples and mend the results of Sehanine's foolishness. The oaken chests he left to the Duke of Geoff contained sacred artifacts related to the One True King's return, the scrolls told the tragic story of the elven sundering, and the valley elf king's final words to the Duke were a request to keep those things in trust until the One True King's time came.

    Meanwhile, those elves who remained in the Valley might have perished if not for the arrival of Jaran Kirmeeah, who became ruler of the place and renamed it the Valley of the Mage.

    The prophecy of the One True King arouses great passions and divisions among the elves. The People of the Testing are those elves who agreed with Sehanine's original vision, and want the One True King to reunite the elves and separate them from other races. One of the greatest intrigues in Celene, something that is generally not known even to the kingdom's non-elven citizens, is that Yolande wonders if she may be the One True Queen. The People of the Testing consider this possibility too, which is why they do some of their more morally dubious actions like causing the death of the Prince Consort in the Moonarch. A despairing Yolande would be more pliable and willing to listen to them.

    But would the arrival of the One True King or Queen truly benefit the elves, or would it cause more strife?
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Sun Jun 12, 2022 9:18 pm  

    Interesting information. I was aware of the details of the sundering, as well as the kings departure. Hadn’t gotten that incorporated into my lore version as yet. Wasn’t sure exactly how to flesh that out.

    Thanks for the ideas.
    I find myself scratching my beard regarding the Duke of Geoff as I just cant get to the point an elf would entrust such a huge burden with a human who wont live very long, at least not as long as elves.
    Also, essentially entrusting sacred, presumably irreplaceable, artifacts crucial to an important elven prophecy to any human….. Sorry, it sounds great, but in 2 generations of humans after the current Duke, they would most likely be sold or worse. There remains the fact the King did leave something with the Duke, something important to be sure, but sacred relics…. Hmmmm….

    The Valley Elves were fairly strong on their own, they had leadership and organization. To be sure, more so after “The Dark One” took over, but that was do mostly to his drow lieutenant. He wasn’t really much of a leader, basically wanting a place to be left alone to research shadow magic. As a mage would do. The day to day was handled, primarily, by the drow.

    This is good background though, and will help detail the back story.
    Thank you very much for your input.
    Much appreciated.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Mon Jun 13, 2022 2:04 pm  

    Ranxaeroth wrote:
    Interesting information. I was aware of the details of the sundering, as well as the kings departure. Hadn’t gotten that incorporated into my lore version as yet. Wasn’t sure exactly how to flesh that out.

    Thanks for the ideas.
    I find myself scratching my beard regarding the Duke of Geoff as I just cant get to the point an elf would entrust such a huge burden with a human who wont live very long, at least not as long as elves.
    Also, essentially entrusting sacred, presumably irreplaceable, artifacts crucial to an important elven prophecy to any human….. Sorry, it sounds great, but in 2 generations of humans after the current Duke, they would most likely be sold or worse. There remains the fact the King did leave something with the Duke, something important to be sure, but sacred relics…. Hmmmm….

    The Valley Elves were fairly strong on their own, they had leadership and organization. To be sure, more so after “The Dark One” took over, but that was do mostly to his drow lieutenant. He wasn’t really much of a leader, basically wanting a place to be left alone to research shadow magic. As a mage would do. The day to day was handled, primarily, by the drow.

    This is good background though, and will help detail the back story.
    Thank you very much for your input.
    Much appreciated.


    I'd explain the valley elf king trusting the humans of Geoff over other elves owing to the fact that Geoff is probably one of the most "nature-oriented" societies in the Flanaess, and most in tune with things like the Old Faith and the Old Lore. This applies whether you give Geoff a Welsh flavoring like Living Greyhawk did, or if you do a more First Nations route like I do. They'd probably be a lot less likely to sell it than the rulers of Sterich, Keoland or Gran March. If there was some sort of treaty between the Grand Duke and the valley elves (and treaties in many First Nations cultures are often sacred things as much as legal agreements) the Duke and his line would take those responsibilities very seriously.

    The valley elves probably wouldn't want to trust any sacred relics to other elves owing to the deep divisions and old resentments that still exist between them and other elves, and because they don't want groups like the People of the Testing getting their hands on them.

    As for the Mage, the LGG talks about how the humans were really hard-pressed from the Valley's monsters before the Mage arrived. I have him as an exile from the Great Kingdom who was banished by Ivid IV because House Krimeeah supported House Rax in the Turmoil Between Crowns. The reason Drawmij hates him so much is because he cuckoled Drawmij with the latter's wife. Krimeeah would have won the resulting wizard duel, except that the woman they both loved sacrificed herself to save Drawmij's life. Hence why Drawmij hates him so much.

    In both exile and mourning, Krimeeah's Aerdi aristocratic heritage compelled him to find a place that he could rule before he died in peace. The Valley was the perfect place, and it didn't take long for the locals to accept him as their ruler. He's also very bitter and sarcastic along the lines of Raistlin Majere, although he's wise enough to recognize that his enmity with Drawmij and the death of his mistress were his own fault. He's not averse to the valley elves raiding other lands (as implied by the Monster Manual II), or in pursuing other schemes of their own, but he makes very sure they know he has the final word on everything that happens in the Valley.

    His main goals now are to pursue his magical research and be respected as lord of the Valley, and also determine how he can use the 'Scepter of Shadows', an artifact he recently found, to best advantage in keeping the likes of Rary and Mordenkainen off his back.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Mon Jun 13, 2022 11:51 pm  

    Good knowledge, and thank you. I had read most of what you posted as background for the interloper Jason. Although, the “Scepter of Shadows” is news. I find no DnD references to this, only EverQuest. What source did you find this information regarding his possession of this artifact? I’d really like to look into that further.

    Thank you for the input.
    Adept Greytalker

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    Sun Jul 03, 2022 9:16 pm  

    Ranxaeroth wrote:
    Good knowledge, and thank you. I had read most of what you posted as background for the interloper Jason. Although, the “Scepter of Shadows” is news. I find no DnD references to this, only EverQuest. What source did you find this information regarding his possession of this artifact? I’d really like to look into that further.

    Thank you for the input.


    I realize that I never answered your question about the Scepter of Shadows. I came up with it when I was writing the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer Addendum entry on the Valley, probably to explain what the Mage actually does with his time besides overseeing his extremely isolated realm. The Scepter seemingly allows the user to create warriors and servants made of shadow-stuff to fight for them, but the Mage is rumored to be "plane-hopping" to stay a step ahead of other powerful mages who might like to get ahold of it.
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    Tue Jul 12, 2022 9:41 pm  

    Salutations Summer Lord. Thanks for the response. Is this item listed anywhere for stats or…?

    Sound cool enough.

    Again, thanks for the info.
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