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    Living Greyhawk & the Codex of the Infinite Planes
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    Novice

    Joined: May 12, 2015
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    Mon May 11, 2015 9:17 pm  
    Living Greyhawk & the Codex of the Infinite Planes

    I have a Living Greyhawk question, and couldn't see any dedicated section of the forums, so I'm posing my question here!

    It is my understanding that the Codex is referenced briefly in the "Ether Threat" series of adventures which featured the Isles of Woe. I also understand that whatever Living Greyhawk adventures followed those centered on Iuz wanting the Codex for something.

    Anyone familiar with the details?

    As I never participated in Living Greyhawk, I've been googling for info on Living Greyhawk or better yet copies of the adventures, but to no avail.

    Btw, the reason I'm asking is that I'm working on an adventure focusing on the Codex. As part of this I've compiled a history of the Codex (the article on the Canonfire wiki was quite helpful). I'm also familiar with Maldin's take on the Codex which I find interesting, though I'm trying to keep my search to sources that are as "official" as it gets. Why? Because I'm writing this adventure with an eye toward publishing. I am not sure how "official" Living Greyhawk adventures are in the D&D universe now, but I figure understanding how the Codex was used there can only help my own adventurer writing. Cheers!
    GreySage

    Joined: Aug 03, 2001
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    Tue May 12, 2015 3:51 pm  

    The Ether Threat series took place in 592 CY.

    CORS-02 Isles of Woe. The Isles of Woe were the center of a vast empire, "in an age unknown to the common man" solely dedicated to funding the magical research of the scholars of the Isles of Woe. A mage-priest called Alcanix summoned the Ethers, which devour all organic matter and leave only rock and dust behind. This plague might have destroyed all life on Oerth, but the other mage-priests made the ultimate sacrifice and banished the Isles through a planar rift into the Ethereal Plane so that the Ethers couldn't infect the rest of the world. The mage-priests wore makeshift wrappings and ceremonial robes. They summoned demons, angels, and elementals. They wrote books in an ancient dialect of Draconic, but had another language that is no longer remembered at all. There are vague references that suggest that in the latter days of the Isles of Woe, Vecna was still a living man. It's revealed that after decades of summoning various ether creatures, Alcanix summoned a red ethergaunt, which he could not control, who unleashed the ether plague upon the world.

    COR2-13 Into the Dying Lands includes an encounter in the Shrine of the Mage-Priests, a cave in the Duchy of Tenh where the etherstone walls are covered with strange, untranslatable writing. A madman named Wartoan "reads" the walls. He actually has no ability to translate the writing, but something—perhaps the Dark One, the "man with no hands" who speaks to him in his dreams—compels him to recite lines that turn out to be the fragmented writings of Tzunk as first revealed in the 1st edition Dungeon Master's Guide, describing Tzunk's assault on the City of Brass. Then he urges the PCs to find the Dark One, Tzunk, and his hands.

    COR3-02 Return to the Isles retconned this (even changing Wartoan's dialogue) so that the Dark One was Yagrax, not Tzunk, and the PCs begin searching for one of the lost Isles of Woe to find a sword that will lead them to Yagrax. Yagrax was a gaunt man with an amulet. There's a carving of Yagrax with the Codex of the Infinite Planes suspended in the air above him as he leads the ritual to banish the Isles of Woe into the Ethereal Plane. Yagrax killed Alcanix as punishment for unleashing the Ether threat. Later, Yagrax went insane and declared himself emperor of the sole remaining isle, and as the mad king of a dying empire he tortured dissenters and casually transformed them into undead horrors. The other mage-priests forged the sword Malthindor, Oblivion's Blade, the one thing that could defeat Yagrax. They used the sword to cut Yagrax into pieces, which they scattered far and wide across the world, but his severed hands remained wreathed in dark energy. Malthindor is intelligent, imbued with the sentience of one of the mage-priests of old. Apparently before the disaster, the Isles of Woe were known as the Eldritch Isles.

    Malthindor leads the PCs to the Tomb of Yagrax's Hands in the Barrens to the north.

    There's a summary of the other adventures in this ENworld thread:

    Quote:
    In Sepulcher of the Wizard King (COR3-10) You went to Yagrax's tomb to recover the lost spirit of Yagrax, who could successfully use the Codex (anyone else would become insane) to banish the ethers. Yagrax's tomb was guarded by metal people who used to live on the isle of woe and now were metal people.

    In Endgame (COR3-12) Yagrax took over an NPC and lead you through different planar realms until you got to a place where you could let Yagrax banish the ethers using the Codex. Then Iuz's forces show up and take the Codex away. (a bit railroady?)


    Quote:
    By the end, it was revealed that Iuz has learned of this threat, and had engineered the return of the Isles of Woe, and weakened the prison. He also suspected that with their return, adventurers would flood that place and inadvertently release the ethers. Iuz also knew that the Codex was the only way to reimprison the ethers. Since the artifact was hidden from his divinations, he knew that someone would find it to reimprison them. It would be much easier to find the Codex once it had already been found. This allowed him to get his hands on the powerful artifact.


    So after the Ether Threat series, the Codex of the Infinite Planes was in the hands of the evil demigod Iuz, and this became important toward the end of the Living Greyhawk Campaign, when Iuz attempted to use it to transcend into lesser deity status (he succeeded).
    Novice

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    Thu May 14, 2015 9:29 am  

    rasgon wrote:
    So after the Ether Threat series, the Codex of the Infinite Planes was in the hands of the evil demigod Iuz, and this became important toward the end of the Living Greyhawk Campaign, when Iuz attempted to use it to transcend into lesser deity status (he succeeded).


    Thanks very much for the summary! Smile

    Three follow up questions...

    First, what happened to the Codex *after* Iuz used it to attain godhood? Did the Living Greyhawk adventures ever say? Also, was this part of the COR series or a different series?

    Second, why did COR 3-02 and COR 3-10 retcon Tzunk out of the picture and replace him with Yagrax? My understanding is that it was canonical that Tzunk was dismembered by the efreet, and that his hands were buried in a tomb in the Barrens of Oerth.

    Third, how canonical are the Living Greyhawk adventures viewed by fans? What about by Wizards of the Coast? Broad hard-to-answer question I know...
    GreySage

    Joined: Aug 03, 2001
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    Thu May 14, 2015 4:30 pm  

    Quickleaf wrote:
    First, what happened to the Codex *after* Iuz used it to attain godhood? Did the Living Greyhawk adventures ever say? Also, was this part of the COR series or a different series?


    Part of a different series, just before the Living Greyhawk campaign ended circa 597 CY. I don't know any details about it, but maybe someone else can help. My recollection is that the results of some of the final modules were never even written down.

    Quote:
    Second, why did COR 3-02 and COR 3-10 retcon Tzunk out of the picture and replace him with Yagrax? My understanding is that it was canonical that Tzunk was dismembered by the efreet, and that his hands were buried in a tomb in the Barrens of Oerth.


    Iuz the Evil describes the Tomb of Tzunk's Hands.

    Quote:
    Tzunk, Wizard-Priest of the quasi-mythical Isles of Woe which sunk below the Nyr Dyv in prehistory, is said to have had his body sundered into a hundred parts to thwart any attempt at resurrection. The portions were scattered to the winds, burned in fire, dissolved in acidic waters, and buried below the earth. Great golems with special powers such as paralysis, petrification, and worse are said to guard a tomb holding his hands here. The approaches to the tomb chamber are riddled with traps, mazes, secret portals and passages, and many magical hazards. If retrieved from their resting place, the hands are said to animate themselves, serving the one who rescued them as divinatory tools, but seeking out the other parts of Tzunk's indestructible, scattered body and slowly beginning to take over the mind of their owner.

    That Tzunk invaded the City of Brass was canon as early as the 1st edition Dungeon Master's Guide, and the aftermath of that invasion is described in more detail in the Secrets of the Lamp boxed set for Al-Qadim.

    Quote:
    Long ago, the Archmage Tzunk stood before the same gates that the PCs now seek to enter. Tzunk sought to conquer the City of Brass by virtue of the huge and powerful artifact known as the Codex of Infinite Planes. As he approached the gates, he rashly swore he would bring the Sultan to his knees and rule the City. Using the Codex, he walked through the Brazen Gates and began clearing a path of destruction toward the Charcoal Palace. He had not counted on the sheer number of the efreet who opposed him. Four million efreet would not be denied, and Tzunk was bested in battle and bound in chains before he made it to the Sultan.

    So it seemed like a fairly coherent story, right? Tzunk was brought before the Sultan and then cut apart, his hands buried in the Barrens.

    The only problem was that the Dungeon Master's Guide implied that Tzunk and the unnamed High Wizard Priest of the Isles of Woe were different people, while Carl Sargent in Iuz the Evil had them as the same guy. That didn't set well with Maldin, who successfully petitioned Erik Mona to canonize that the mage-priest was Yagrax.

    Yagrax was a name that appeared in the 1e DMG, but without context. We know from that source only that Tzunk referred to the Codex of the Infinite Planes as Yagrax's Tome. He could have been the High Wizard Priest, but it's unclear from that source. That the Wizard Priest was Yagrax was canonized first in "Artifacts of Oerth: Instruments of the Gods" in Living Greyhawk Journal #10/Dragon #294.

    The Tomb of Tzunk's Hands was renamed the Tomb of Yagrax's Hands in the Dungeon Magazine map of the Flanaess, which is the part I personally disliked. I'm fine with clarifying that the High Wizard Priest and Tzunk were different people, but I'd rather Tzunk's tomb was kept as Tzunk's and the Wizard Priest given his natural end with the Isles of Woe, especially since there's canonically a portal to the City of Brass in the Barrens (perhaps created by Tzunk?). There's another thread on these boards where Maldin and I argued about that, but it's not really that important. Anna Meyer's map of the Barrens included the Tomb of Tzunk's Hands and the Tomb of Yagrax's Hands as separate places, which seemed a bit redundant to me.

    Anyway, if Tzunk's hands aren't buried in the Barrens, the Sultan of the Efreeti must have done something else to him. The Living Greyhawk "Ether Threat" adventures firmly gave the Tomb to Yagrax, and came up with an explanation of sorts for why Yagrax is there and not wherever the Isles of Woe currently are. I actually like the Ether Threat storyline, though I miss having a clearcut description of what Tzunk's fate was.

    Quote:
    Third, how canonical are the Living Greyhawk adventures viewed by fans? What about by Wizards of the Coast? Broad hard-to-answer question I know...


    It is hard to answer. Basically there were three distinct Greyhawk canons during the 3rd edition era. "Core" Greyhawk was only the core books and the Dungeons & Dragons Gazetteer, which was an abridged version of the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer. Paizo Greyhawk included articles published in Dungeon and Dragon Magazines, everything in the Living Greyhawk Journals, Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk, the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, and most of 1st edition and 2nd edition canon, but tended to ignore some of the non-core Living Greyhawk campaign stuff for the simple reason that a lot of it was owned by its respective authors, not by Wizards of the Coast or Paizo. The Living Greyhawk campaign included most of 1st edition and 2nd edition canon, the Living Greyhawk Gazetter, the Living Greyhawk Journals, and the extensive canon created by the Living Greyhawk triads and the various adventures, but it ignored some of the latter Dungeon and Dragon magazine stuff where it contradicted what they had come up with themselves (for example, the Living Greyhawk Evard was very different from the Paizo Evard, and the Living Greyhawk Bandit Kingdoms region ignored the development that Paizo had done for the Age of Worms adventure path). Red Hand of Doom was adapted to Living Greyhawk, with some modifications, but I'm not sure how "canon" that makes it, or if that word has much meaning in this context.

    My impression is that Living Greyhawk material is a valid form of canon, but only 100% canon for the Living Greyhawk campaign. The Ether Threat arc were "core" modules and thus owned by Wizards of the Coast, I think, so they could be used in future WotC sourcebooks, but I don't know if they will. I treat the Living Greyhawk articles that were hosted on Wizards of the Coasts' website as canon, and the stuff from the Living Greyhawk Journals as canon, but some of the modules are pretty impossible to find and their copyright is controlled by their authors, so they're not useable by WotC even if they wanted (without giving the authors money), so I tend to look upon them as a lesser form of canon. However, I think it's pretty obnoxious when fans try to dictate to other fans what canon is; I have neither the authority nor the inclination to try to force my own impression of what canon is on anyone else. I think the real answer is that currently there isn't any definitive Greyhawk canon, but anything owned by Wizards of the Coast is fair game to use in something published by Wizards of the Coast. If you're looking to be published by another company, probably none of it is fair game to use and you'd be limited to alluding vaguely to it and changing any proper nouns.

    It's notable that Tzunk has appeared in some non-WotC things, albeit with a name change. In the Player's Guide to the Wilderlands he was called Kobruntz and in City of Brass he was renamed Khazzid (but in both cases credited as the author of The Plane of Molten Skies, a direct reference to Tzunk's writings in the DMG).
    Journeyman Greytalker

    Joined: Jun 12, 2003
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    Sat Aug 15, 2015 9:05 am  

    rasgon wrote:
    Part of a different series, just before the Living Greyhawk campaign ended circa 597 CY. I don't know any details about it, but maybe someone else can help. My recollection is that the results of some of the final modules were never even written down.


    This is correct as Britt, my former roommate, refused to come up with a conclusion since he never received enough table tracking results sheets back from judges, etc. I kept pushing him to come up with a final conclusion that he could hand to WotC as canon and he refused to do so. As far as I can recall from talking with him, Iuz rose to Intermediate God status but had to leave Oerth as part of the balance of power demanded by all the gods. You can try asking him via FB or, if ever in Istanbul, try finding him hehe.

    Rasgon does a good job discussing the canon pathways. I for one consider Living Greyhawk to be too obscure to be proper canon despite my involvement with it. However, since I have published a book available to everyone about what occurred in the BK during LG (BDKR1: The Unofficial Living Greyhawk Bandit Kingdoms Summary), I think that makes the BK's events pseudo-canon. Age of Worms is not canon for me, I don't think it fits in at all with Iuz the Evil's developments (after all, where is Iuz?). In the backstory I created for Zeech in BDKR1, I do give a nod to AoW by, iirc, using the same name for Zeech's brother (that was at Britt's insistence). However, the rights issues Rasgon discusses, mod ownership, is a great point. Why would WotC canonize something if later some obscure LG author could come back and sue them? (LG authors were paid in years 1 and 2 but not after that except for Core mods, iirc.)
    GreySage

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    Sat Aug 15, 2015 9:47 am  

    How "canon" the Living Greyhawk material is when view by fans, well, that's going to be up to the individual "fan."

    I view the LG as quasi-canon, but I also view the Oerth Journal that way, given who many of the authors are.

    As for Maldin, he's the Denis Tetreault you see getting "Special Thanks" on page one of the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer. Also, he's the Denis Tetreault who -- along with Erik Mona -- created the City of Greyhawk map that's "canon."

    He's also the creator of the City of Melkot, which appears on the "canon" map of the Flanaess; between the Yeomanry and the Hold of the Sea Princes.

    Incidentally, Denis/Maldin still owns the I.P. rights to Melkot, so Melkot and the Sons of Marchanter are whatever he says they are. WotC simply has the name "Melkot" on their official "canon" map. So for a map of Melkot, or details about it, visit Maldin's website.

    Anyway, I give his thoughts on Greyhawk matters as much weight as I do the Oerth Journal, so . . .

    It depends on the fan in question as to how "canon" certain Living Greyhawk material might be.

    Also -- Rasgon and I have discussed this before -- I view Gary Gygax's Gord novels as "canon," though Wotc doesn't necessarily view them as such.

    So, Quickleaf, expect many varied answers. In the end, you'll have to make your own judgment. Evil Grin
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    Last edited by Mystic-Scholar on Sat Aug 22, 2015 2:16 pm; edited 1 time in total
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Fri Aug 21, 2015 6:28 pm  

    Would you also include Rose Estes' novels as canon?
    Black Hand of Oblivion

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    Sat Aug 22, 2015 12:55 am  

    Who doesn't? Happy
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    GreySage

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    Sat Aug 22, 2015 2:19 pm  

    aurdraco wrote:
    Would you also include Rose Estes' novels as canon?


    I'm up in the air on that one. She was an author of children's books who was asked to write for Greyhawk. Her books -- therefore -- have that "written for children" feel.

    Personally, I don't reference them, but I've haven't ruled them completely out either.
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