One of the founders of our hobby and one of the most unsung contributors to Dungeons & Dragons, Len Lakofka has passed away at the age of 76.
Along with the many adventures, classes, spells, and rules he created, Len was also father of the Suel in Greyhawk, designer of their gods, and namesake of the Lendore Isles.
The value of his work goes without saying, but his presence will be sorely missed. The adventures of Leomund go on.
My characters are playing in 596CY, and they recently ventured in the Lost Caverns of you-know-who. The Caverns were already cleared by the previous party, but being an extradimensional space where multiple realities meet (see original tournament module), some of the rooms contained the same monsters the previous party met. Some of the rooms even showed ghostly images of other parties venturing there at the same time in a different dimension! Before going there, the party had a long conversation with the elf and dwarf of the party which originally ventured in the Caverns. In my campaign however, the Mordenkainen-sponsored party never recovered the Lanthorn.
The party cleared both dungeon levels and found the inner sanctum where Drelzna used to sleep and found heavy signs of combat from 20 years earlier, the golden armor scattered on the concave floor, etc. They found a secret passage to the levels below (see 3.5 Tsojcanth expanded) and found a spirit-like Drelzna, and in some way also the incredibly ancient Flan demilich Tsojcanth which is now in the service of Drelzna that uses a skeleton-warrior circlet for control, given to her by the party... The story is a little bit more intricate, but just to give you some background. In short, in change for the magic circlet, Drelzna gave the Party her mother's Lanthorn.
Tsojcanth has the power to resurrect Drelzna so she is going to be a new player in the power struggle against his brother.
Now the characters are headed east to Flameflower to meet lord Kashafen (rough equivalent to Elrond) to seek answers. I am now planning the trip from Iggwilv's horn to Flameflower, but since the players are worn out of continuous combat, I'd like to have them meet some different challenges this time.
Besides a few non-combat oriented encounters which I am asking you suggestions for (:)), I would like to explore the Lanthorn more in detail, and show the players that to possess and artifact is a dangerous thing. Now what are your thoughts about the Lanthorn and how would you explore this item? Why would a deity of compassion and clarity create an item that generates random magical effects? How could I challenge them on the trip to Flameflower? How long would be the trip and what kind of encounters could be done there?
I introduced the lantern as a way to explore different worlds and times... when the light from the lantern meets a specific surface, visions of past and future and other dimensions appear. A bit like Galadriel's mirror. I also thought of the lantern as a mean to view the past events happened in a room, for example, when the hood is taken out old happenings appear as ghost-like figures etc.
One possible side effect is having the wearer of the lanthorn suffer from information overload. Daoud might have been a supra-genius, but the current holder is not able to deal with so much infomrtation... I am talking in a stream of consciousness now, forgive me eheh!
I think Daoud made the Lanthorn long before he quit his job as philosopher-king of Tusmit and became an itinerant beggar devoted to Istus. As such, the gem-studded artifact represents the false world of pleasure and wealth he left behind, antithetical to his current teaching. A true follower of Daoud should avoid it.
You mentioned compassion in connection to Daoud. I've never thought of Daoud as compassionate with his portfolio being humility, clarity and immediacy. Indicated as true neutral, I always thought part of his clarity portfolio would be stripping away falsehoods, especially about circumstances being better than they appear. In many ways he could be the "buzz-kill" deity. His own personal downfall showing how one should not be looking at the world through rose-colored lenses.
The Lanthorn might reflect Daoud's dogma in that while it has its powers in the form of lights that can help one see, upon a closer and more honest examination its possessive effects render those who dependent upon it into covetous creatures who cannot be without the Lanthorn. Daoud's dogma includes some anti-materialism, and might consider that those who become dependent on only one source of illumination to be arrogant and certain to miss important details about reality and life. Essentially, the lesson of the Lanthorn might be that looking at life through one lens or device (or making your way through life dependent on one powerful item) does not provide the necessary clarity to endure the fate that awaits in a humble and pious manner.
In game play terms, those who use the Lanthorn more and more, might start to only use the Lanthorn and neglect other actions. They end up blinded to other options. Other options are hidden in the shadows cast by the harsh light of the Lanthorn. I have been toying with a table like those of the confusion spell, to indicate when the wielder, no matter what might work better or cheaper, decides to use the Lanthorn's power.
After his fall from being the philosopher-Pasha of Tusmit, perhaps Daoud understood that by looking at reality only through the belief system of the Four Feet of the Dragon, and by not looking through other viewpoints, he had brought about his own failure. The Lanthorn then becomes a lesson he sends out to world.
OR, as rasgon has indicated it might have been in existence before Daoud's fall, and Daoud might have fallen because he kept relying upon the Lanthorn again, and again, and failed to seek other options.
Either way, the symbolism of light, darkness, viewpoints, lenses and illumination, and sight are all over the Lanthorn and can be woven as you see fit.
Well perhaps they are not aware what they are seeing is ghost like. Let them play out scenarios thinking they are true combat or real life interactions. So the players will fill in the role for some of the past figures. Like the dwarf character in the party thinking he sees Mordenkanien and a younger him but life-like. This can easily delay their trip to Flameflower or make them travel off course with out knowing it.
Mehmet (1) was a Paynim who worked his way up to the status of general in the army of Zeif. After Zeif crushed a Tusmitite rebellion against their authority by the mamluk slave-warrior caste, Mehmet took control and the sultan of Zeif appointed him pasha of Tusmit in 150 CY. Mehmet strengthened the nation's armies and made it a de facto independent state, extending his control over neighboring Ket.
Mehmet died of old age, surviving his five sons. His grandson Sulymon, a paladin who had gained fame as a slayer of giants in the Yatil Mountains, took power in 200 CY.
Sulymon (2) had four sons. The youngest, Daoud (3), did not expect to inherit the throne, and instead spent his time learning philosophy and science. Daoud studied with the most eminent men of learning of his age, from Pharol Al-Sammal, a mage-priest of Boccob who was said to be 300 years old, to Alhazred of Ull (4), who is said to have been adopted into a ghoul pack and learned secret knowledge of the elder gods. His greatest tutor, however, was Surrvaris, an ancient binder of spirits who knew secrets of binding that were many thousands of years old. Daoud is said to have learned from genies in the City of Brass, the Citadel of Ten Thousand Pearls, the Sevenfold Mazework, and the Court of Ice and Steel, and gone to the malakim (5) of the Twin Paradises to learn the working of metals and gems. Great magical wonders were attributed to Daoud, including the fabled Wondrous Lanthorn. Daoud returned to the Material Plane after a short civil war in which his three elder brothers killed each other, and he claimed the throne of Tusmit in 240 CY.
Surrvaris (6), Tuerny's old master, was the greatest of the Baklunish binders of creatures from other planes, supposedly the creator of the iron flask that Tuerny based his own Flask on. Surrvaris was a high-ranking magus from the Zashassar of Ekbir. He lived hundreds of years, serving as a vizier to the court of Daoud, when Daoud's increased attention to his spidery web of blackmail forced his hand. He used Daoud's own Lanthorn to curse the pasha with a spell of unrecognizability and replaced him with a genie double who ruled for over a decade before being unmasked. When Daoud rediscovered his fabled Seal ring in the belly of a fish, he had already reached his epiphany and sworn off worldly things. Daoud threw the ring back into the sea, but not before breaking the spell and revealing the fraud for what it was. Surrvaris moved to the Nine Hells where he used his control over the devil lord Jaqon (7) to create an even greater web of blackmail and influence over the rulers of the baatezu themselves. Surrvaris's alliance with the infernal duke ultimately doomed them both; Jaqon was exiled to Avernus, the new name "Dagon" branded on his soul, and Surrvaris was slain. Currently his spirit is bound to the Skull Orb of the Tyrant King (8), and the lich spirit that was formerly bound to the artifact inhabits Surrvaris's former body, currently dwelling in Dagon's hide-out in Avernus.
With Daoud now living as a wandering mendicant and Surrvaris exiled to the Nine Hells, the throne of Tusmit passed to Daoud's son Ibrahim. Unfortunately for Ibrahim, almost immediately after (circa 290 CY) the fabled Vault of Daoud in Lopolla was plundered by the witch Hura, who would later be known as Iggwilv. The greatest artifact created by Daoud before his exile, the Wondrous Lanthorn, was stolen. The legendary Pharol Al-Sammal personally battled Hura (9), but succeeded only in driving her to the south. The Lanthorn hasn't been seen since.
Circa 315 CY was the invasion of the Brazen Horde. With the aid of Ekbir, Ibrahim managed to hold on to Tusmit itself, but the land of Ket was conquered and lost from Tusmit's control.
1. Inspired by the life of Pasha Muhammad Ali of Egypt.
2. Inspired loosely by King David of Israel.
3. Based here mostly on King Solomon of Israel. Daoud is kind of a combination of King Solomon (during his reign) and Siddhārtha Gautama Buddha (after his reign).
4. Based on H.P. Lovecraft's Abdul Alhazred, of course.
5. The malakim are a race of celestial genie smiths described in The Avatar's Handbook by Jesse Decker, published by Green Ronin.
6. Surrvaris is mentioned in the article "Tuerny the Merciless" by Rick Miller and Mike Bridges in Oerth Journal #25. Most of the detail here is by me, inspired by the legend of the demon Asmodai and King Solomon.
7. The story of Jaqon/Dagon is from "The Nine Hells Revisited" by Ed Greenwood in Dragon #91.
8. The Skull Orb of the Tyrant King is described in Oerth Journal #25.
9. Pharol Al-Sammal, an ancestor of Rary's, was invented by Gary Holian. The story of him banishing Hura is something he mentioned in chat. The story of Hura absconding with the Lanthorn is from the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer.
That's it! We desperately need one (or more of the) administrator(s) to gather together all of Rasgon's prose here in the forums and present them as a series of articles on esoteric Greyhawk lore. Please!
I try to reference his, and other, fan articles whenever I write something (very nice job with your own referencing, Rasgon ) and it is a real pain to have to try to find some of these short articles in old threads.
To be honest, we have other things that we need to work on, and this is really a job for rasgon anyways(well, maybe not- see below). But, I don't want rasgon to feel like he's being put on the spot, as he probably has other things to do too, such as working on the GHWiki and whatever else he chooses to devote his time and tireless efforts to. So, here we go:
The Search function can narrow a search down by forum, author and posts, which should narrow things greatly(unless your Search keyword is "Greyhawk" of course! ). So, try this out- perform a Search using the "Search the Forums" option, NOT the Search option at the very top right of the site page, and with the following settings:
Search for keywords: Daoud
Search for Author: rasgon
Forum: World of Greyhawk Discussion
Category: Greyhawk- General Forums
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Then hit the "Search" button. At the time of this posting, I get 4 hits chock full of rasgon-isms mentioning Daoud(if only in passing in some cases). There is simply a ton of material in the forums to wade through, so you'll more than likely just have to get on your hip boots and have at it. Trust me when I say that it will be a big help to you if you learn to Search "more smarterer", like me.
Then there is another option- click on rasgon's profile button visible at the bottom of any one of his bazillion posts. Then, on his profile page, click on "Find all posts by rasgon". At the time of this posting, there are a measly 72 pages of posts for rasgon. You can look for something relevant to your search by checking out the Forum Topic for each post shown at the right hand side of each entry. That ought to help you narrow things down by topic at least. _________________ - Moderator/Admin (in some areas)/Member -
Questions arise from the unique use of the Lanthorn by Surrvaris - the curse on Daoud of not being recognized. Are there perhaps other lenses, then those described elsewhere (S4, Book of Artifacts, Arms & Equipment Guide)? Was it a lens - or combination of lenses - known to Daoud, or was such lens/lens-combination discovered by Surrvaris? Did Daoud's seal ring play a role in combination with the Lanthorn?
Looking to the second booklet of S4, there was a list of reputed magical properties of gems (like in the 1st ed. DMG). What sort of lenses would accomplish this? (Perhaps an "anti"-light from jet lenses?)
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