Signup
Welcome to... Canonfire! World of GreyhawK
Features
Touring the Flanaess
Adventures
in Greyhawk
Cities of
Oerth
Deadly Denizens
Greyhawk Wiki
#greytalk
JOIN THE CHAT
ON DISCORD
    Canonfire :: View topic - The Plots of Tenser
    Canonfire Forum Index -> World of Greyhawk Discussion
    The Plots of Tenser
    Author Message
    Journeyman Greytalker

    Joined: Sep 20, 2001
    Posts: 222


    Send private message
    Wed May 18, 2016 3:12 pm  
    The Plots of Tenser

    The characters in my many years long Greyhawk campaign reached 18th level last session. Given the scarcity of characters in the Flanaess of their level, the various power groups of Oerth would consider them almost impossible to ignore--either specific allies or potential threats.

    The campaign is set in CY 595 and is intended to be a prequel of sorts to my next, which will be Age of Worms, so this party has been "happening" to come across many of the artifacts mentioned by Tenser/Manzocorian in The Spire of Long Shadows adventure. Before the campaign wraps up, I'm still intending for this group to adventure in

    Root of Evil
    The Harrowing (beefed up for 19th-20th lvl characters)
    Quicksilver Hourglass (leveled down for 21st lvl characters)

    The final adventure of the campaign will be Verbane's attempt to seize control of Sterich as a private domain.

    The party archmage, Zebean (a LG follower of Pelor, with some sacrifices to both Delleb & Pholtus), has been wooed by agents of both the Circle of Eight (who wish to temper her extremity and so have offered her an apprentice-type position, as Jallarzi once occupied) and Tenser (who has offered her a position more like a junior colleague). She has also been wooed by the Seekers (in the person of Lashton of Grayhill), and advised to remain utterly neutral (Verbane of Sterich).

    So last game, after months of hemming and hawing, Zebean explicitly accepted a sort of junior partnership with Tenser (with whom there has also been an ambiguous sort of sexual chemistry).

    Since it's been really unclear for a long time what she was going to do, I haven't made any explicit plans for what allying with Tenser actually means. I'd love some suggestions or brainstorming from all of you grey-sages.

    Or, put another way, what the heck is Tenser actually up to in CY595? What is he doing? What are his plots?
    Journeyman Greytalker

    Joined: Jan 11, 2009
    Posts: 227
    From: Montgomery, Alabama

    Send private message
    Wed May 18, 2016 7:02 pm  

    Well if your PCs played (or at least you accept) the timeline and info found in the adventure Return of the Eight, Tenser was revived in 585 so he's had ten years to rebuild his network of allies and spies, and to replace his magical and monetary losses caused by his demise at the hands of Rary. According to Return of the Eight, he would be able to replace his loses in about two years, so by 595 I'd say he has expanded his connections and power base to levels far beyond where he was before and I think he'd have picked up at least another level or two in power as well.

    I think the first thing Tenser would have done (besides recover his loses) would be to assist in the Great Northern Crusade against Iuz in 586, although to my knowledge there is nothing in canon to support this. After helping with the crusade, I think Tenser's number one goal would be gathering information on Rary and Robilar's new kingdom in the Bright Desert and working to eventually destroy them. Definitely a tall task considering the distance between the Bright Desert and Tenser's territory and of course the power and influence of Rary and Robilar's empire. I think Tenser would use PCs to gather Intel and to conduct raids/other missions of importance within the Bright Desert. If you haven't already used it, take a look at the module, Rary the Traitor for information and plot devices along these lines.

    Using his resources to continue the fight against Iuz would be Tenser's second objective in my opinion. Iuz was weakened by the loss of his demon support due to the Crook of Rao's use, but he is still powerful and dangerous. Again I think Tenser would enlist PCs in missions against Iuz.

    Third, I think Tenser would try to create a group of powerful Lawful Good adventurers in order to fight against the various evil threats across the land. You already mentioned your PCs involvement in this and it could lead to many adventures on Oerth and across the planes if you wanted to branch out that far. I think your idea to connect this to the Age of Worms path is great and it will open up even more options.
    Journeyman Greytalker

    Joined: Sep 20, 2001
    Posts: 222


    Send private message
    Thu May 19, 2016 4:49 am  

    Thanks for the ideas! I hadn't considered using Zebean as an agent against Rary, but that's interesting. This same wizard has had dealings with Messalina of Hardby, unaware of her Rary affiliation.

    Is there any other canon or quasi-canon regarding Rary, after Rary the Traitor (which, as I recall, was set in CY585)? In other words, after Rary takes over the Bright Desert, what does he do for the next ten years?

    I sort of recall a Living Greyhawk series aimed against Rary, but what was going on during it?

    I also wonder if there are any situations in which Tenser might be covertly opposing the Circle of Eight (or vice versa), as I like how complicated that makes the political situation.
    Journeyman Greytalker

    Joined: Jan 11, 2009
    Posts: 227
    From: Montgomery, Alabama

    Send private message
    Fri May 20, 2016 9:23 am  

    I don't think there's much info out there on Rary's empire after Rary the Traitor except a few mentions in later works like, The Adventure Begins and a few others. I heard there was some info within the Living Greyhawk stuff titled Blight on Bright Sands, but unfortunately I haven't been able to read it. I also only play 1st/2nd edition so I admit my knowledge of events related to Rary in later editions is limited. However, I do know there's a lot of info on the Bright Desert and Rary in Dungeon magazine #98 if you can get a copy of that.

    I don't know of any situations with Tenser coming into conflict with the Circle of Eight, but that seems very plausible considering him leaving the group and working towards more LG ends as opposed to the Circle's current direction. I don't think they'd come into open conflict, but I can see Tenser and his agents vying for power and influence with the agents of the Circle. Definitely lots of plot hooks and adventures that you could mine from that scenario.
    Journeyman Greytalker

    Joined: Sep 20, 2001
    Posts: 222


    Send private message
    Fri May 20, 2016 10:39 am  

    I agree I don't think they should come into open conflict, but a Tenser vs. Circle of Eight (with poor Jallarzi probably stuck in the middle) plot thread feels very "Grey" to me, what I truly enjoy about this setting.

    It feels like some conflict like this is really needed, because I agree with everything posted above concerning what Tenser's up to (plots against Iuz, Rary, etc.). The problem is that it just feels too close to what the Co8 is also up to, and it's much more interesting if Tenser's break with the Circle was something more than I-want-to-tackle-the-exact-same-problems-with-different-tactics.

    It just feels like a dominant N organization and a LG powerhouse should be at cross-purposes as often as they're allies.
    GreySage

    Joined: Jul 26, 2010
    Posts: 2559
    From: LG Dyvers

    Send private message
    Fri May 20, 2016 12:44 pm  

    In my campaign, Mordenkainen, being True Neutral, is generally considered an ally for low-level, good-aligned PCs. But, as they become more powerful themselves and foil the plots of more powerful bad guys, they slowly discover that Mordenkainen isn't always on their side. In fact, at high level, they discovered that Mordenkainen was behind one of the BBEGs that they finally defeated - one that had plagued them since early in their careers!

    If you come up with an end-goal for some of your bad guys and a primary purpose for your good guys (Tenser), then you can more easily decide how they would go about pursuing those goals. Using Mordenkainen in my example above, ostensibly, he wants to 'preserve the balance'. Most people hear that and think, that's what druids do and they're good guys, right? So, True Neutral must be basically Neutral Good. Wrong. Why is Mordenkainen True Neutral. Did he start that way, or turn to it over time? My theory is that he is in search of ultimate power. He is wise enough to reject lichdom, or any other undead status because he knows that would be un-fun and, more practically, it would severely limit his ability to expand his powers. To that end, he desperately wants that title that the Mage of the Vale also covets (something about the Magic King of Oerth...idk). It would greatly increase his power. He wants to be immortal, but isn't willing to risk death, or undeath, by attempting some insane test on some dangerous plane or other. His plans are to slowly amass so much power that he can empower his own apotheosis.

    Part of the reason that he maintains the 'preserve the balance' pretense is so that he can keep his potential enemies (good and bad) at each other's throats so that they don't realize what he's doing, or are too busy/distracted to deal with it. I don't know if Mordenkainen was the initiator of the Ring of Five (from Greyhawk Ruins) or not, but in my campaign, he is. He began the Circle of Eight, but realized that, though it was supposed to be 'preserving the balance' it was tilted strongly toward good. Thus, he secretly initiated the Ring of Five with more evilly-aligned wizards of power to balance out the goodness of the Circle.

    Tenser's suspicions in the manner are what eventually led him to resign from the Circle of Eight. He still likes and respects his previous colleagues, but he doesn't trust the leadership of Mordenkainen. So, I believe that Tenser's primary focus lays in discovering all that Mordenkainen is up to and thwarting any of his evil plans. He isn't certain of Mordenkainen's end goal, but knows he's involved in many very shady operations. He still fights against other evil, such as Iuz and Rary, publicly, but behind the scenes, he's putting much of his effort into discovering if Mordenkainen is truly as dangerous as he suspects he is.

    Of course, you could also say that Tenser is aware that prophecy dooms the Oerth to being the center of the Blood War in the near future and all the mortal concerns of good and evil are petty in comparison. Tenser couldn't convince the rest of the Circle to focus on preventing the Oerth's future involvement in the Blood War, so he quit to focus all his energy on doing so himself. Smile

    SirXaris
    _________________
    SirXaris' Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SirXaris?ref=hl
    GreySage

    Joined: Aug 03, 2001
    Posts: 3137
    From: Michigan

    Send private message
    Fri May 20, 2016 2:55 pm  

    edmundscott wrote:
    Is there any other canon or quasi-canon regarding Rary, after Rary the Traitor (which, as I recall, was set in CY585)? In other words, after Rary takes over the Bright Desert, what does he do for the next ten years?


    According to "Denizens of the Bright Desert" in Dungeon #103, Rary's plan looks like this:

    1. Figure out how to safely destroy the Scorpion Crown artifact that transformed the Bright Lands into a desert.
    2. Safely destroy the Scorpion Crown.
    3. Wait until the desert blooms again, increase its population and military resources.
    4. Use these resources to conquer a large portion of the Flanaess and impose his vision of what's right upon the people.

    He's also doing diplomatic things in Onnwal and the areas around the Abbor-Alz (Hardby?). Supposedly he has some influence over Onnwal's young szek.
    Journeyman Greytalker

    Joined: Jan 11, 2009
    Posts: 227
    From: Montgomery, Alabama

    Send private message
    Sat May 21, 2016 8:24 am  

    Great comments SirXaris. I have thought about Mordenkainen's actions and goals for a long time (as I'm sure many have) and to me things just don't add up. Neutrality is a complex path to follow, but is he truly neutral or do his actions lean more to evil at times? To me the answer is both. I would be very interested to hear from someone on what Gary Gygax said about Mordenkainen's goals and his outlook on the world. I get the part of neutrality that says I don't care about your cause (good or evil) because what I really care about is myself. On the other hand I have a hard time with Mordenkainen being True Neutral because I don't think he wants to keep the balance just for balance's sake. To me his "balance " is really just to serve his own ends. I think Mordenkainen is more of a "mercenary" type who is most concerned about himself. That's why he supports good at times and at others his actions are leaning towards evil. I think part of the reason we've seen Mordenkainen's actions and goals change over time is because numerous writers have included him in their works. Another reason I'd love to hear what Gygax said about him as his original creator. Going back to Tenser, all this again leads to the friction between the two and why ultimately Tenser broke with the circle.


    And please elaborate on the prophecy that dooms the Oerth to being the center of the Blood War. I did not know about that. I assume it's from 3rd edition or later, which I don't play.
    GreySage

    Joined: Aug 03, 2001
    Posts: 3137
    From: Michigan

    Send private message
    Sat May 21, 2016 8:59 am  

    xo42 wrote:
    And please elaborate on the prophecy that dooms the Oerth to being the center of the Blood War. I did not know about that. I assume it's from 3rd edition or later, which I don't play.


    It's from the Monstrous Compendium Outer Planes Appendix for 2nd edition AD&D.
    Journeyman Greytalker

    Joined: Jan 11, 2009
    Posts: 227
    From: Montgomery, Alabama

    Send private message
    Sat May 21, 2016 9:23 am  

    I missed that part in the Outer Planes Appendix. Thanks Rasgon!
    GreySage

    Joined: Jul 26, 2010
    Posts: 2559
    From: LG Dyvers

    Send private message
    Sat May 21, 2016 12:06 pm  

    One more thing - don't forget Tenser's ambiguous connection to Philidor, the Blue. He may be Tenser in desguise, or not. Wink

    SirXaris
    _________________
    SirXaris' Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SirXaris?ref=hl


    Last edited by SirXaris on Sat May 21, 2016 5:54 pm; edited 1 time in total
    GreySage

    Joined: Aug 03, 2001
    Posts: 3137
    From: Michigan

    Send private message
    Sat May 21, 2016 2:53 pm  

    The Religion of Tenser thread might also be a helpful reference.
    Journeyman Greytalker

    Joined: Jan 11, 2009
    Posts: 227
    From: Montgomery, Alabama

    Send private message
    Sat May 21, 2016 6:23 pm  

    Now I think we need a separate thread for the plots of Mordenkainen.

    SirXaris, maybe you should start the new thread and add all the points you listed earlier in this thread.
    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Aug 17, 2002
    Posts: 20


    Send private message
    Sun May 22, 2016 1:23 pm  

    A thread for Mordenkainen's plots? It'll either be an encyclopedia in itself or else "Oops, I'm too clever for my own good and now I need to avoid the dozen or so apocalypses I've inadvertantly helped lay the groundwork for".

    We haven't forgotten Castle Greyhawk, the Godtrap, and Robilar, Mordie! Wink
    CF Admin

    Joined: Jun 29, 2001
    Posts: 1404
    From: Wichita, KS, USA

    Send private message
    Wed May 25, 2016 8:00 pm  

    edmundscott wrote:
    Since it's been really unclear for a long time what she was going to do, I haven't made any explicit plans for what allying with Tenser actually means. I'd love some suggestions or brainstorming from all of you grey-sages.

    Or, put another way, what the heck is Tenser actually up to in CY595? What is he doing? What are his plots?


    I love the suggestions to embroil Tenser against Iuz and Rary/Robilar, as well as to act as a counter to the Circle of Eight.

    WRT Robilar, if Tenser was to come into some knowledge that Robilar was in fact transformed/cloned/whatever (per Rob Kuntz's renditions of the PC, and a part of the background in Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk), perhaps the PCs could be sent on a snatch-and-grab rescue mission to recover Robilar from Rary. This would simultaneously weaken Rary and strengthen Tenser (who would have his old friend in his debt....).

    If Robilar was in fact cloned (as opposed to being geased or simply in league with Rary in general as written by TSR, etc.), then that could open up some options with Rary being perhaps connected to Xaene (who has a cloning operation underway in the Great Kingdom per RJK's Maze of Zayene series of modules, in particular MoZ4 Eight Kings).

    Anyway, just some further food for thought....
    _________________
    Allan Grohe (grodog@gmail.com)
    http://www.greyhawkonline.com/grodog/greyhawk.html
    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Apr 28, 2003
    Posts: 76


    Send private message
    Thu May 26, 2016 7:20 am  

    I've never liked the "Robilar was cloned" theory. I know Rob is not a fan of the direction that TSR took Robilar, but I thought the fact that Robilar betrayed the Circle of Eight and his "adopted father" Mordenkainen, on his own volition, was absolutely brilliant.

    We can only surmise why Robilar would have turned on his closest associates, but the list of possible motives adds a very three-dimensional aspect to Greyhawk's major NPCs (and RPG NPCs are famously two-dimensional). Was it resentment against Mordenkainen, jealousy, or simply ennui that turned Robilar? Did Robilar come to believe that Mordenkainen had used him as a tool for decades? That Mordenkainen was the biggest threat to the Flanaess, even more so than Iuz?

    Simply making Robilar geased or cloned reduces Robilar (and by extension, Mordenainen) back to a two-dimensional status.
    CF Admin

    Joined: Jun 29, 2001
    Posts: 1404
    From: Wichita, KS, USA

    Send private message
    Thu May 26, 2016 8:02 pm  

    Raphael wrote:
    Simply making Robilar geased or cloned reduces Robilar (and by extension, Mordenainen) back to a two-dimensional status.


    Good point, Raphael. It does make their relationship more realistically human. If Tenser had heard that Robilar was cloned/whatever, but if Robilar wasn't really, that would further complicate a snatch-and-grab operation ;)
    _________________
    Allan Grohe (grodog@gmail.com)
    http://www.greyhawkonline.com/grodog/greyhawk.html
    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Apr 18, 2005
    Posts: 80
    From: Adelaide, South Australia

    Send private message
    Fri Jun 03, 2016 2:59 pm  

    I've enjoyed this thread. I have been developing a campaign in Greyhawk cy600 and Tenser is an important background figure. The campaign is based around Irongate, so there isn't a lot of interest for Tenser. But IMC he has been busy forming a wide network of allies across the Flanaess - not just mages - but powerful LG allies. The network controlled by Tenser works in the background, much like the Circle of Eight, to manipulates things toward a LG cause (mainly combating the threats of Iuz, Rary and the Scarlet Brotherhood, but also any other course that reduces the influence of evil). This "Alliance" is a little militant, and their motto might be described as 'all the is required for evil to prosper is for good people to do nothing" - basically guilting people into action. Their is a fairly noticeable dwarven faction included.
    Display posts from previous:   
       Canonfire Forum Index -> World of Greyhawk Discussion All times are GMT - 8 Hours
    Page 1 of 1

    Jump to:  

    You cannot post new topics in this forum
    You cannot reply to topics in this forum
    You cannot edit your posts in this forum
    You cannot delete your posts in this forum
    You cannot vote in polls in this forum


    Forums ©


    Canonfire! is a production of the Thursday Group in assocation with GREYtalk and Canonfire! Enterprises

    Contact the Webmaster.  Long Live Spidasa!


    Greyhawk Gothic Font by Darlene Pekul is used under the Creative Commons License.

    PHP-Nuke Copyright © 2005 by Francisco Burzi. This is free software, and you may redistribute it under the GPL. PHP-Nuke comes with absolutely no warranty, for details, see the license.
    Page Generation: 0.31 Seconds