I was just browsing through my copy of Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk when I chanced upon an interesting passage regarding special encounters at the Green Dragon Inn.
A chill breeze teases the taproom asthe inn's double doors swing open to reveal a dashing dark-haired human wizard clad in a fashionable blue coat, dark blue breeches, and a light cerulean scarf.......
After entering, the wizard strides directly up the stairs to the Lord's Table, where he stares at Ricard Damaris for a moment before turning the considerable power of his gaze directly upon Captain Gallancz. After what seems like several minutes of speechless taring, Tenser reaches into his breast pocket to withdraw a small object wrapped in an azure handkerchief. He then unwraps the item... in particular the paladin, a pawn representing a player of major power in the celestial conflict modeled by the dragonchess game.
Tenser carefully places the pawn on the table facing Captain Gallancz before tipping it on its side, indicating its capture by enemy forces. Without a further word, Tenser turns and stalks from the tavern, while Gallancz tucks the piece into his breast pocket.
Great scene! I'm curious as to how you guys interpret exactly what is going on here between Tenser and Robilar/Bilaro. Anyone?
Well, isn't this a nice little surprise?!
Honestly, I have Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk but I had long avoided reading it, thinking that someday I might get to play in it. I have tried to carefully find tidbits in it that are useful for setting and stuff, without revealing the plot to myself. But, I've finally decided to indulge myself!
I was amazed to fine that the Captain Gallancz that you mention in your post is actually Robilar/Bilarro. You didn't include that in the post. I, for one, am glad to see the Robilar-issue being addressed. I really hated the fact that Robilar got treated the way he did as a character, and suddenly changed to being so evil. It's long been said in fan forums that they'd like to see the Good Robilar again. I'd heard the Expedition contained stuff about it, and it certainly does, and gives the players a chance to set things right ... darned Bilarro! (Whom is actually a cool caharacter, in and of himself).
But, Nevertheless, as to the OP, there's obviously some strong foreshadowing going on here, and it's made all the more interesting by the apparent fact that Tenser seems to know precisely who Bilarro really is. It's a point to ponder whether he informing Bilarro what's about to happen (to him), perhaps, or giving him warning. It would depend on whether one believes that Tenser knows Gallancz to be Robilar, or to be Bilarro.
Another curious question - for which I haven't an answer - is why is the piece a Paladin. Neither Robilar nor Bilarro are Paladins, so why is the implication that a Paladin has fallen or been captured or surrendered. In Dragonchess, there are two other pieces - the Warrior and the Hero - that would be more appropriate, were Robilar the inteded subject of the secret message being communicated.
Alright, alright ... I could go on "What-if'ing" like this for hours. I can't wait to see everyone else's input! Maybe, we can bring it up in GreyTalk this Thursday next! it would be a fun topic. But then, you know, it's bound to get off into non-canon "well in *my* campaign" ... which hey, that's fun too, I suppose!
Well personally, and I mean no offense to anyone, particularly not Rob Kuntz, who I could see being justifiably upset over the way his character was treated....but I rather hated the whole "bizzaro" universe from Expedition to the Ruins of Castle Greyhawk...
Personally; the TSR/Wizards/whoever "official" version of Robilar has been listed as being unable to stop his transition to the darker/evil sides of things since at least his entry in the Rogue's Gallery. I thought the whole betrayal/assassination plot at the end of the Greyhawk Wars concept was pretty cool in a "shocking" way.....I could live with the resurrection of Tenser in "Return of the Eight", because I thought it was kind of cool the way they had a very slow, long and elaborate way of explaining it and having Tenser go his own way from the Circle after his 'return'.
I thought the whole "Robliar for the last decade; is really a guy from an alternate-universe" just way too comic-bookish and 'it was all a dream' a la Dallas and Ravenloft 2 for my tastes. I LIKED that Robilar and Rary had slowly and deliberately moved onto a different path and had decided that their old companions had to be taken out to put thier new plans into effect.
To each thier own though!
Sigh, I'm probably the only one who feels the way I do; I usually am with many of my views....for example, I'm one of the very few who LIKED the greyhawk wars story-line....and I'm just about the only one I know who is sick of the follow things;
-Chicks bleaching/lightening thier beautifull dark hair
-Goatees, piercings and tattoes...for god's sake people, it's hardly showing your "originality" if EVERYONE around you is doing it!
-Love-triangles and unrequited love in books/tv shows/movies; you know what would be original...a happy friggin' adult couple who actually DON'T act like dumbass teeangers in high-school!
-All things Celtic in new Fantasy Novels....f I have to read about one more "FAE" in a fantasy novel, I think I'll start the first non-Nazi, non-Fundamentalist religon book-burning movement!
Ahem, my apologies all, I'll go take my meds and hang out under my lonely rock now!
I don't agree with Maxvale on everything, but I'm with him on Robilar (and, to a lesser extent, the Greyhawk Wars, which I think were somewhat flawed but more or less a decent storyline, and From the Ashes more than made up for the flaws). Robilar was already lawful evil in Rogues Gallery and in Rob Kuntz's own write-up of the character, and he had ample motive for besieging Tenser's castle and killing his clones - revenge for Tenser besieging his castle (and driving him and his followers into exile in the Pomarj), as recounted in Dragon #37 and Temple of Elemental Evil. From Robilar's perspective, he was only evening the score. Sure, Tenser didn't manage to kill him, but that doesn't mean, for all Robilar knew, that he wouldn't have, or that some other enemy of Robilar's might try if he continued to be perceived as weak. Anyway, hot-headed Tenser betrayed his comrade Robilar long before Robilar betrayed Tenser.
I don't mind the conceit of mirror universes, but this one was problematic. Uerth was already established by Gygax as a less magical version of Oerth, where "dweomers are weak, chancy things," not a Bizarro Oerth where good is bad - and Robilar was never good, anyway, so Bilarro really ought to have been neutral or good himself, just as Tasha's parallel was good-aligned. Still, a jaunt to a mirror universe could make for a fun adventure, and I'm glad there's a portal to one in Castle Greyhawk; it's just an overly contrived explanation for an event that seems perfectly straightforward.
Erik Mona's own defense was that he cared more about what Rob Kuntz thought than what random fans on the internet thought, which is fair enough. It's Kuntz's PC, so when he says Robilar wouldn't kill Tenser, we have to believe him. I still think it's perfectly plausible that he would have, though.
Rather than the mirror universe explanation or Rob Kuntz's own "rogue clone" explanation, I'd prefer for them to just explain that Robilar knew there was another clone stored away on Luna all along, and was working with Rary just to see what he was up to, perhaps at Mordenkainen's behest. Much less contrived.
That works for me too Rasgon as it makes sense, considering the "TSR/Wizards/etc. 'official' Greyhawk cannon"; and it leads to an issue which has been brought up numermos times on this and many other boards....
Mainly; that many of the Greyhawk luminaries vary GREATLY from thier original forms as PCs rolled up by many of the 'founders' of AD&D and thier published forms. Robilar is just one of many who changes dramatically: Otto, Leomund and many, many more can be cited. While I certainly sympathize with how Rob Kuntz, Len Lakofka and others must feel about the direction thier charcters take in published material; it's fair to say (in my opinion) that these charcters have become different entities all-together. After all; the original Greyhawk campaign had many non-cannon aspects (trips to China, Martians, etc.)
With this in mind; the Robilar we see in published material and the cannon that tells his tales would certainly not seem to have problem coming around to betray and/or seek vengeance on those who were once his allies. Granted, I'm no Greyhawk expert in the same vein as Rasgon, Celebrion, Grodog or others...in particular, I certainly don't have any working knowledge of Dragon Magazine articles....but I know of no 'cannon' material that paints a picture showing Robilar's strong loyalties to his companions...but I very well may be wrong on this.
Again though, to each thier own; and I certainly think Erik Mona is an excellent author and I truly admire his dedication to the creators of old-school AD&D and thier creations....I just don't care much for the 'parallel universe' explanation for Robilar's actions....
Tenser sacking Robilar's castle was something that happened in the original Lake Geneva campaign. Whether it happened in "canon" is more ambiguous, as there've been three different explanations for why Robilar's castle was sacked, and when (for freeing Iuz, for freeing Zuggtmoy, or for killing Tenser). But I suppose I can't cite something that happened in the original campaign and not let the original player have his say about it.
I will have to say, I am likely one of the few other people in the world that are actually fond of the Greyhawk Wars plotline, and all. In fact, I just recently played through a game of it with my roommate.
That being said, I think that maybe a happy middle ground with Robilar has been found. Yes, it's awful that Rob Kuntz doesn't like the way his character went. But, as has been stated, it's a whole new entity now, and not just his. I liked the betrayal of the Circle. It was interesting and had tension.
But, Bilarro isn't exactly new on the scene, here. The "alternate universe" stuff which is being referenced isn't an invention of Erik Mona. If the storyline isn't popular, perhaps it should go much further back than that. I can't say with any authority (because I wasn't there) whether it was Gary or Rob that played Bilarro or came up with him, but I do know this ... Bilarro and his eponymous Iron Bands of Bilarro have been in D&D - and causing mayhem in Greyhawk - as long as I can manage to get my sometimes blurry memory to go back.
Bilarro and his eponymous Iron Bands of Bilarro have been in D&D - and causing mayhem in Greyhawk - as long as I can manage to get my sometimes blurry memory to go back.
And there has been at least one other Bilarro mentioned as a person in the past.
Slavers, p. 92. Highport.
"Lord's Palace. This large building was once the residence of the lord of the city, Prince Kevram Bilarro. (The Bilarro line is an offshoot of Prince Erkin, the human that united the Drachensgrab territories in the middle 5th century CY.) It resisted the attacks of the orcs long after they had taken the rest of the city, since the wizard Bilarro had built his castle with several strange enchantments that allowed it to repel or consume those who would see it fall."
I will have to say, I am likely one of the few other people in the world that are actually fond of the Greyhawk Wars plotline, and all.
I dunno, I think it may be generally well-liked, or at least accepted, in this particular forum. The hardcore grognards have other places to hang out.
I can't say with any authority (because I wasn't there) whether it was Gary or Rob that played Bilarro or came up with him, but I do know this ... Bilarro and his eponymous Iron Bands of Bilarro have been in D&D - and causing mayhem in Greyhawk - as long as I can manage to get my sometimes blurry memory to go back.
Rob Kuntz describes the origin of the iron bands of Bilarro on
Grodog's website. The iron bands of enclosure were a magic item discovered by Mordenkainen while adventuring in The Orc Level, a dungeon created by Kuntz. Gygax included the item in Unearthed Arcana, renaming it the iron bands of Bilarro in honor of its creator. But there was never a character called Bilarro that anyone played.
I prefer the Highport Bilarro that Armitage cites, as the mirror-universe Bilarro is no mage and unlikely to be the creator of a magic item. With our Bilarro requirements satisfied, another Bilarro seems to muddy the waters.
I think the mirror-universe explanation of Robilar's betrayal is more of a bizarre tangent that came out of nowhere than a "happy medium" that reconciled anything. It feels like if two people were arguing about whether John F. Kennedy was assassinated by a lone gunman or a conspiracy, and someone decides it was actually a lone space alien. Somehow that doesn't really feel like a compromise.
Hey guys, cool idscussion. It's not that I'm not interested in the tangent that the Robilar/Bilarro authenticity storyline tangent engenders but I'm actually much more interested in what is going on in that scene. For instance, is Tenser aware that Robilar isn't really Robilar? Is the paladin piece an agent of one of the two men, captured by another or does Tenser know something about Bilarro's near future that he himself does not know?
Thanks, Cebrion. I already noted Oteta's answer. I just think it is one of several plausible answers rather than a definitive one. AFAIK, the person in question is not explicitly either an agent of Tenser nor one that he would necessarily have any connection with. I read this as a major piece of intrigue regarding Tenser's "Alliance of Good" versus Rary's empire.
I suppose Tenser may just be stirring the pot by popping into the Green Dragon to sow confusion and act all mysterious (as wizards have been known to do), but "Captain Gallancz" seemed neither perturbed nor confused by his actions with the dragonchess piece.
It seems to me that the mighty and very, very busy Tenser would have better things to do than make such a gesture unless it served a purpose in a grander scheme. Given their past history, I think he is certainly petty enough to issue a subtle challenge in this fashion- ie. "Watch your back, Robilar, I see you. Your time as a pawn in the scheme's of Rary is coming to an end" or somesuch.
It doesn't fit for me that he would be talking about someone whom Bilarro likely wouldn't know (or care) about.
Tenser is basically saying "You may have one-upped me this time, but I will be looking to return the favor.", or "You mess with my plans and I'll be sure to mess with yours." The whole scene is an implication of future payback. _________________ - Moderator/Admin (in some areas)/Member -
I'm actually much more interested in what is going on in that scene.
Hmm ... okay, so we're essentially coming up with possible plotlines for what Tenser is doing just then.
Well, there is a way that it could be read that Tenser is offering, not a warning to "Captain Gallancz", but rather a key or message, or instruction of some kind. Perhaps after all the stuff that they've been through (Tenser's death and Robilar sacking his estate, and all), maybe Tenser has no trust for him, but he knows that there is something that "Captain Gallancz" has special preparedness for facing.
Essentially, Tenser still hates him (thus all the agnst and moodiness in the scene), but he has to choose between working with him, or letting some other, perhaps greater evil, exist. Tenser wants a particular person or event stopped and is working with him because Tenser isn't prepared or able to deal with the threat for some reason. So, he begrudingly has to go to "Robilar" to deal with it.
The interesting thing, to me, is whether Tenser knows who "Captain Gallancz" is -(unless the adventure mentions something I haven't yet read) he may not yet know of the existence of Bilarro. It's possible he's simply going to see Robilar in his guise of the Captain. He's chosen to deal with Robilar as a last, best resort. To him, it's in the interest of the Good of the World, not knowing that the person to whom he is giving this arranged signal is not Good in any way.
Anywhoozle, just an interesting little alternate PoV on what is going on here. This little scene has got me itching to hear what some of you guys might use this scene to lead to. I.e., describe the plotline that you would use this as a hook for. This could lead to many an offshoot and side trek. What would you use this scene (as written or otherwise) to do in your campaign? Is Robilar gong after Karistyne Does it mean that Prince Thrommel has been alive this whole time, and finally has passed away Could it be that a King is going to be attacked Or is it that Tenser is giving Robilar a formal challenge and is finally going to get even for Robilar's betrayal
Once I realized what you were interested in, I became really eager to see what a few of the guys might come up with . Even just a few throw away one-liners.
Now, we wait with the fishing line out, to see if we catch anything!
Damien, cool idea for discussion; even though that brief scene is Tenser's only appearance in the adventure, and for the most part, doesn't relate to the main plot, at least in terms of how the PCs will interact with it, it was one of my favorites in EttRoG. Dashing Tenser, still obsessed with the color blue and being an almost absurdly in-your-face do-gooder. I adore this little cameo appearance because it just seems like such an utterly perfect snapshot of the character in all his over-the-top glory.
Icarus, awesome thinking with the Karistyne angle! I never played in LG, so I had forgotten that element. Maybe Rary has taken some unsavory action against her, kidnapped or whatnot, for her thwarting of his efforts re: the Scorpion Crown. Tenser had figured out a while ago the true identity of "Captain Gallancz," and now bursts in to demand he return the good lady. (Telepathically, of course; why would a powerful mage sully himself with drab, common spoken language? :P) The "Captain" says he no longer has anything to do with Rary, and Tenser leaves the dragonchess piece as a magical token to contact him if Robilar thinks of anything/decides to cooperate. It's also possible that this exchange was sufficient for Tenser to figure out that the person masquerading as Robilar masquerading as someone else(!) actually isn't, and claims to be leaving the piece for the aforementioned reason, but in actuality is leaving it to more easily scry/otherwise gather intel on this imposter.
Although it kinda seems like Rary has historically not been the kind of guy to take hostages. Perhaps he killed Karistyne and Tenser wants revenge? Maybe he enspelled her and brought her over to his side?OTOH, Tenser has been known to use mind-altering magicks to "persuade" other do-gooders to take up the banner of his cause du jour; perhaps Rary simply broke an enchantment or three Tenser had put upon Karistyne, and she now wants nothing to to with the well-meaning but manipulative dude, which Tenser still counts as "taking" his piece. (And wouldn't it just be so flattering to be thought of as someone else's chess pawn in the first place? :P)
A completely different interpretation (and a somewhat unlikely one, but technically possible) is Tenser showing a willingness to connect with old allies once more, perhaps, as has already been suggested, in the interest of facing a greater threat. Perhaps he is using the paladin to represent himself (after being brought back from the moon, he certainly reinvented himself as a crusader for Justice and Right), and announcing that he will not endeavor so zealously to further the causes of Order and Weal in the future? I'm really not sure what to make of it, but I think he has tried very hard to renounce his former greedy dungeon-crawling wizard stereotype in favor of a noble and dedicated foe of evil, and it does make sense that he would identify with the Paladin piece. Heck, sending out Karistyne in the first place was probably equal parts genuine desire for right to prevail, and vicariously living out the iconic holy warrior's quest. What I am unsure of is what exactly he was trying to declare with his actions. If he was alluding to the fact that he, too, is posessed or not really himself or something, I effing quit. There is only so much comic book BS a person can stand, even a comic book fan.
The one interpretation that doesn't really work for me is the notion of the Paladin representing Robilar himself. I'm not saying he was a horrible guy or anything, but it seems like the old gang of adventurers went dungeon delving for fun, profit, and not much else. Simply not being evil does not a paladin make.
For that matter, adventuring can really change a person; in games I've played in, I've seen drastic changes from the original character concept that just arose organically over time. A man who deals daily in violence and bloodshed requires strong faith or conviction indeed to avoid becoming the sort of monster he battles. I guess I'm saying I personally don't think it's weird that former adventuring companions turned against each other; a team can work like a well-oiled machine on the battlefield, but fall apart into bickering and feuding as soon as combat ends because their ideologies or personalities are so very different. Even if you accept the given explanation of Robilar's actions, however, I still don't feel like Tenser would characterize him as a holy knight figure.
<3 this thread; it lets me take the energy I would put towards Lost theories and put it towards GH theories, which is like geekiness squared. :) Let's keep playing off each other's ideas!
Alright ... a little stream of consciousness writing here. You know the old line: "I was [day]dreaming when I wrote this, so forgive me if it goes astray."
Well, the biggest thing that I would say is that I don't understand why the Paladin piece is used here. Most importantly, in Dragonchess, the Paladin is most decidedly not a "pawn" of any kind. It is arguably at least the 2nd most powerful piece (if not the most) on the board. But I, like Talin, cannot imagine this piece representing the somewhat-less-than-magnanimous personage that is Robilar. Obviously, this again brings up the point of whether or not Tenser even knows that it's not Robilar.
Talin, you know, sometimes ideas just pop up in a frame of reference, and we don't know what made them come to mind. The idea you had about a Telepathic conversation between Tenser and Robilar is simply marvelous. I didn't even think about the fact that with an Archmage, there's much more than meets the eye. A lot could have been said! I really like the Karistyne stuff that you wrote ... it gets me to thinking. A lot. I really wish that there were a forum where GH fans get together on which I could sit down and put together a mod that would include lots of GH material, and theme it around major NPCs like Robilar and Tenser, and throw in a plot against someone like Karist ... um, yeah. NVM.
There's actually another Paladin that comes instantly to mind for me when I am thinking of the City of Greyhawk (as opposed to the Domain, or anything else GH in general) ... and that would be Talasek Thrayden. He's seemingly been around for just about forever, and helping adventurers get into all kind of mischief and troubles all the while. (Not that he ever has anything but the noblest of intentions, mind you.)
As I said in a previous post, the Paladin piece could represent just about anyone, including kings and whatnot, but I tend to think directly of the Paladin class. This symbolic gesture from Tenser could certainly be many things, but there are any number of things that it could be. Maybe, Talasek has gotten himself into trouble finally, after meddling in so many other people's business after all these years. Perhaps, someone has finally figured out who's been sending do-gooder adventurers after them, and they're finally tired of it and have taken direct action against him. Perhaps that is the meaning of Tenser's message to Robilar. maybe he's not allying with him; maybe it's a plea for help. the noble and righteous Paladin, Talasek Thrayden, has fallen into the clutches of evil, and surely he shall perish without rescue. Tenser has agents and whatnot, but there are none that he feels can handle this particular rescue. Perhaps it's an isssue of Tenser not being able to be involved - someone is watching him, and if he tiops his hand, Talasek will die. He needs an outside person (like "Captain Gallancz") to go against these people who've taken the Paladin.
I know this is rather long ... so, I am going to push "pause" for now. I would love to hear from some others with fun ideas of who or what may've done in Talasek Thrayden. Lord knows, I already have ideas in my head about what's happened to him, and who did it. Depending on what else comes up in this thread, I might be persuaded to jot down a note or two.
Oh, and Talin ... great seeing you on the message boards.
Glad to be posting! I miss my Thursday chat buddies. Especially since chat seems to be down...? *hugs all around*
Thanks for the corrections regarding the importance of the Paladin piece in the game of dragonchess; I really had nothing to base my assumptions upon, besides speculating that a paladin would certainly be powerful, but would be in service to other forces, king or god or what have you.
And yeah, the Tenser/Rary/Karistyne stuff really grew on me even as I was typing it. There's definitely a story in there, even if it doesn't directly tie in with the scene we are scrutinizing in particular. Noble Tenser rescues the pure maiden from the wicked Rary...but does she want to be rescued? (bit of an aside) One of the things that I find interesting about Tenser anyway is that he seems to have an above-average number of female allies, between having Cymria as a cohort, Celeste (from the Dungeon APs) as an ally, being a mentor to Jallarzi and a patron to Karistyne. Is he more progressive than other mages? Does he feel like women are stauncher allies of Good? More easily manipulated? Is he secretly this amazing lover beneath his aging mage exterior? So many questions...
Anyway, if the Paladin piece is as powerful as you say it is, it could darn near represent anything. :P Have any generally good-aligned kingdoms fallen in recent GH history? Heck, he could be implying that if Robilar doesn't intervene, Good itself will perish from Oerth. (probably not actually all good everywhere, but Tenser clearly has a flair for the melodramatic) Maybe, as you speculate, Tenser doesn't realize he is dealing with an imposter, and is declaring that it is no longer enough to sit on the sidelines and mind one's own business, or pursue one's own goals in the name of "maintaining the balance." He is declaring that the Balance has shifted, and requires immediate action.
Going back to the telepathic conversation, maybe Tenser originally came to the inn spoiling for a confrontation, but Robilar did one of those, "We could fight now, but if we do, you'll be too late to save him/her/it," causing Tenser to slam down the chess piece, revealing that he knew this was the case the whole time, and storming out to send in the cavalry or whatever.
Hmm...could the piece have some significance between the two adventurers from years before? A conversation they had as they played a particular game of dragonchess one evening? Maybe relinquishing the piece is admitting that he lost a bet the two had made long ago, and Tenser is unhappy that he has compromised his values/not remained vigilant/whatever, hence the storming out. "Whichever of us is the first to..." or, "Okay, you think you're so high and mighty, but I bet that one day you'll (fill in the blank) just like me. You'll see." "Gallancz" of course has no reaction, trying to maintain an impassive face as he wonders, "WTF was that all about?"
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