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    Theala_Sildorian
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    PostPosted: Fri Feb 21, 2020 8:29 am    Post subject: Mordenkainen and Rary Reply with quote

    Hi, guys,

    Been awhile since I've posted regularly; mostly been lurking lately.

    I'm running a Greyhawk campaign, and am in the process of running some elements of Rary the Traitor (to my player lurks here as well, don't peek at the answers!) I've always been curious about some things related to the events in this module.

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    One thing I've always been curious about is why why Mordenkainen and the Circle haven't gone after Rary, why they let him essentially re-establish himself in the Bright Desert. Why didn't they go after him once the Circle reformed after the events of the Return of the Eight? What are they waiting for?

    If you consider the Living Greyhawk stuff to be canon (I'm not sure how Canonfire members view that since the modules are not widely available to the general public to purchase and run themselves), Rary spends years looking for the Scorpion Crown.

    Why? Why doesn't Mordenkainen intervene directly? The whole "balance" thing is unsatisfactory as a reason. Working through minions might make more sense, but what I really see is Rary allowed to consolidate his power unimpeded by the Circle at all.

    There's nine of them against one Rary. Pretty uneven odds. So waiting so long seems really risky to me.

    I'm trying to understand what Mordenkainen's motivations might be. Does he fear Rary? Does he fear doing more harm than good even if successful? What would happen if Mordenkainen tried the direct approach, with the Circle backing him up? Is the Circle backing him up? The new members vary in their alignments and motivations.

    Thoughts would be helpful. I need to move forward with the next part of my adventure but deciding what the Circle is up to in the background is fueling hesitation.

    Thanks!
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    SirXaris
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    PostPosted: Fri Feb 21, 2020 10:29 am    Post subject: Re: Mordenkainen and Rary Reply with quote

    Theala_Sildorian wrote:
    Hi, guys


    Welcome back, Theala_Sildorian! Smile

    Quote:
    One thing I've always been curious about is why why Mordenkainen and the Circle haven't gone after Rary, why they let him essentially re-establish himself in the Bright Desert. Why didn't they go after him once the Circle reformed after the events of the Return of the Eight? What are they waiting for?


    This is my take on it in my own Greyhawk campaign. I have put this together from several different sources, which I can't begin to reference here because I simply can't remember. It is a conglomeration of ideas from canon sources and lots of fan material from Canonfire! and elsewhere.

    Mordenkainen is True Neutral. That is, he is NOT a Good Guy. Mordenkainen's passion is his lust for personal power. He initiated the Citadel of Eight in order to protect himself and further his pursuit of power with the help of others who were either like-minded, or who he had convinced that he was a trustworthy ally.

    As many of those original members died or left the group (some because they finally had enough of Mordenkainen's manipulation), Mordy recreated the group as the Circle of Eight and recruited powerful mages across the land. He had come to believe that he needed to be both informed about the goings on in the Flannaess and have protection from those that may try to thwart him. One of his goals is to acquire the power of the Mage of the Vale (which is canonized in that hard-back adventure module). He realized that evil mages wouldn't be as easily motivated to work with him or trustworthy, so, running out of accomplished Neutral mages, he ended up having to add a few of Good alignment to the Circle. Ultimately, this was a failure as these powerful mages came to realize that Mordenkainen had been manipulating them, too. Mordenkainen wasn't interested in promoting weal across the land. He was working to 'keep the balance'. As his Circle worked to thwart Iuz, et. al., Mordenkainen was undermining their efforts when he thought they were gaining the upper hand. He was doing this in many different arenas while publicly assisting them in others where the balance was too powerfully evil. His purpose was to keep other powerful forces of both good and evil distracted so that he could pursue his own quest for power undetected.

    Rary was the first of the Eight to actually catch Mordenkainen in the act. The nature of the incident is unknown, but Rary, being the most powerful of the Eight, had been keeping tabs on Mordenkainen and finally discovered his betrayal. Being Neutral himself, Rary didn't care much about whether Good or Evil had the upper hand, but he was furious at being manipulated by one he thought was his ally. He also realized that it was Mordenkainen's attempt to 'keep the balance' that allowed Iuz to gain the upper hand and begin the Greyhawk Wars. This discovery somewhat unhinged the powerful mage and he hatched an ill-conceived plan.

    Rary understood why Mordenkainen supported the Treaty of Greyhawk, which would call a truce and end the fighting, at least temporarily. He knew that Iuz was seriously weakened by the loss of his fiendish troops and thousands of his mortal troops as well. Therefore, Iuz needed a respite to regain his strength. Time would allow Iuz to recall his fiends and replace his mortal troops at a rate much faster than that of his human and demi-human enemies. This truce was not in the benefit of the lands opposing Iuz! It could not be allowed to happen! Thus, Rary set up an ambush for the delegates. His plan was to blame the assassination on Iuz so that the goodly lands would resume the war until Iuz was destroyed once and for all. Unfortunately, Tenser and Otiluke were the only victims when his ambush was prematurely discovered. Rary tried to hide the truth by sending Robilar (whom he had recruited easily, since Robilar had been one of the original Citadel members to leave because of his distrust of Mordenkainen) to sack Tenser's castle and destroy all his clones, while Rary did the same to Otiluke.

    Having been discovered anyway, Rary and Robilar were forced to flee. Rary's backup plan was put in motion. They fled to the Bright Desert, established a stronghold, and worked to thwart Mordenkainen. Countering Mordenkainen's agenda is now Rary's immediate purpose in life. He seems slightly insane, but he is extremely intelligent and his plans are for the long haul. His pursuit of the Scorpion Crown is part of the plan to overcome Mordenkainen's power.

    Tenser was eventually returned to life and, being a goodly soul, contacted his previous ally to find out why he had acted as he did. Rary explained his side of the story and Tenser was left uncertain. He was already suspicious of much of Mordenkainen's activities, but wasn't certain of his duplicitousness as described by Rary. But, having enough suspicion to lose trust in Mordy, Tenser withdrew from the Circle of Eight.

    In Living Greyhawk, the Wars pick up again in the Great Crusade to destroy Iuz. In my campaign, Rary is one of the forces working behind the scenes to make this happen.

    Mordenkainen is preparing his defenses. He was unwilling to come out openly on the side of Iuz, so he knew that Iuz would eventually fall. Thus, he fears that the forces of Good, led by Rary and maybe even Tenser, Otiluke, and other previous allies, will turn their anger his direction once Iuz is defeated. So, he has been gathering his forces, both mundane and magical, in preparation for that eventuality.

    Most of this is unknown to the population at large. But, adventurers may discover it as they advance in level and experience.

    There is much more to this when it comes to specifics. Though the above comment is long, I assure you it is only a summary. Happy

    Quote:
    If you consider the Living Greyhawk stuff to be canon (I'm not sure how Canonfire members view that since the modules are not widely available to the general public to purchase and run themselves), Rary spends years looking for the Scorpion Crown.

    Why? Why doesn't Mordenkainen intervene directly? The whole "balance" thing is unsatisfactory as a reason. Working through minions might make more sense, but what I really see is Rary allowed to consolidate his power unimpeded by the Circle at all.

    There's nine of them against one Rary. Pretty uneven odds. So waiting so long seems really risky to me.

    I'm trying to understand what Mordenkainen's motivations might be. Does he fear Rary? Does he fear doing more harm than good even if successful? What would happen if Mordenkainen tried the direct approach, with the Circle backing him up? Is the Circle backing him up? The new members vary in their alignments and motivations.


    I hope I answered all these questions above.

    Quote:
    Thanks!


    My pleasure. Wink

    SirXaris
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    Last edited by SirXaris on Fri Feb 21, 2020 10:36 am; edited 1 time in total
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    edmundscott
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    PostPosted: Fri Feb 21, 2020 10:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

    Hey, I'll add a second question which seems even bigger to me:

    Why the hell doesn't Tenser do something? Rary is basically trespassing in his backyard, and, oh, also, Rary murdered him.

    The Circle of Eight might have obscure, long-term wait-and-see protocols, but Tenser and his extremely high-level companions (not to mention any retired good-aligned PCs in the setting) should've set out to take down Rary about a decade ago.
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    Theala_Sildorian
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    PostPosted: Fri Feb 21, 2020 11:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

    Thanks, SirXaris. That's helpful, and its consistent with my own thinking when it comes to Mordenkainen. Some of the 5e stuff coming out has him essentially withdrawn from Oerth to pursue this vision of ultimate balance, the argument for which I've never found convincing. It amounts to stagnation in my view . . . but for Mordenkainen that may actually be the point. Stagnation to preserve his own personal power, and that is not all that far fetched.

    edmundscott wrote:
    Hey, I'll add a second question which seems even bigger to me:

    Why the hell doesn't Tenser do something? Rary is basically trespassing in his backyard, and, oh, also, Rary murdered him.

    The Circle of Eight might have obscure, long-term wait-and-see protocols, but Tenser and his extremely high-level companions (not to mention any retired good-aligned PCs in the setting) should've set out to take down Rary about a decade ago.


    Yes, excellent follow up question. I've wondered the same thing, but my focus was on Mordenkainen since he has much greater access to resources than Tenser does (though that may have changed; our campaign is set in CY 606).


    I coGM our campaign; our other GM and I round robin things but he's our primary GM. He typically runs Jallarzi, though I have been running her lately since I have finally decided to touch on Rary; my Co GM character (who should NOT be reading this, bad Co GM!) is positively disposed towards Rary and so this should make for a good story. It doesn't make sense to me why Jallarzi would remain in the Circle when Tenser has withdrawn from it; she was essentially his protege. That's another issue I think will be resolved at some point in our game.
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    SirXaris
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    PostPosted: Fri Feb 21, 2020 4:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    edmundscott wrote:
    Hey, I'll add a second question which seems even bigger to me:

    Why the hell doesn't Tenser do something? Rary is basically trespassing in his backyard, and, oh, also, Rary murdered him.

    The Circle of Eight might have obscure, long-term wait-and-see protocols, but Tenser and his extremely high-level companions (not to mention any retired good-aligned PCs in the setting) should've set out to take down Rary about a decade ago.


    My take is that Tenser feels like two very good friends have betrayed him. He is shaken at first, then, being the extremely smart and powerful person he is, he begins to research into the matter. As things progress, he realizes that Rary was correct about Mordenkainen. Though he is still very angry at Rary for being so insensitively foolish in his plan to thwart Mordy by assassinating all the delegates to the Treaty signing, he realizes that Rary is now working to help win the war against Iuz, so Tenser stoically supports him in that endeavor. At the same time, he spies out Mordy's operations and attempts to suss out more information to counter Mordy in the eventual confrontation he expects to have with him. That is why Tenser doesn't go all out after Rary.

    Theala_Sildorian wrote:
    It doesn't make sense to me why Jallarzi would remain in the Circle when Tenser has withdrawn from it; she was essentially his protege.


    I came up with a convoluted explanation for that. After all, we are talking about super-geniuses here, so I needed it to be complex. Happy

    Tenser advised Jallarzi to continue to be a part of the Circle of Eight. Mordy is certainly intelligent enough to suspect that she is a double agent, working for Tenser. So, Jallarzi purposely lets Mordenkainen discover information that throws him off of Tenser's true purpose. They want Mordenkainen to think Tenser is depressed and withdrawn, only helping to fight Iuz a little here and there because he feels obligated. Mordy may, or may not, discover more than Tenser and Jallarzi want him to know. Much depends upon the actions of the PCs. Wink

    SirXaris
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    xo42
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    PostPosted: Sat Feb 22, 2020 3:52 pm    Post subject: Re: Mordenkainen and Rary Reply with quote

    SirXaris wrote:


    This is my take on it in my own Greyhawk campaign. I have put this together from several different sources, which I can't begin to reference here because I simply can't remember. It is a conglomeration of ideas from canon sources and lots of fan material from Canonfire! and elsewhere.

    Mordenkainen is True Neutral. That is, he is NOT a Good Guy. Mordenkainen's passion is his lust for personal power. He initiated the Citadel of Eight in order to protect himself and further his pursuit of power with the help of others who were either like-minded, or who he had convinced that he was a trustworthy ally.

    As many of those original members died or left the group (some because they finally had enough of Mordenkainen's manipulation), Mordy recreated the group as the Circle of Eight and recruited powerful mages across the land. He had come to believe that he needed to be both informed about the goings on in the Flannaess and have protection from those that may try to thwart him. One of his goals is to acquire the power of the Mage of the Vale (which is canonized in that hard-back adventure module). He realized that evil mages wouldn't be as easily motivated to work with him or trustworthy, so, running out of accomplished Neutral mages, he ended up having to add a few of Good alignment to the Circle. Ultimately, this was a failure as these powerful mages came to realize that Mordenkainen had been manipulating them, too. Mordenkainen wasn't interested in promoting weal across the land. He was working to 'keep the balance'. As his Circle worked to thwart Iuz, et. al., Mordenkainen was undermining their efforts when he thought they were gaining the upper hand. He was doing this in many different arenas while publicly assisting them in others where the balance was too powerfully evil. His purpose was to keep other powerful forces of both good and evil distracted so that he could pursue his own quest for power undetected.

    Rary was the first of the Eight to actually catch Mordenkainen in the act. The nature of the incident is unknown, but Rary, being the most powerful of the Eight, had been keeping tabs on Mordenkainen and finally discovered his betrayal. Being Neutral himself, Rary didn't care much about whether Good or Evil had the upper hand, but he was furious at being manipulated by one he thought was his ally. He also realized that it was Mordenkainen's attempt to 'keep the balance' that allowed Iuz to gain the upper hand and begin the Greyhawk Wars. This discovery somewhat unhinged the powerful mage and he hatched an ill-conceived plan.

    Rary understood why Mordenkainen supported the Treaty of Greyhawk, which would call a truce and end the fighting, at least temporarily. He knew that Iuz was seriously weakened by the loss of his fiendish troops and thousands of his mortal troops as well. Therefore, Iuz needed a respite to regain his strength. Time would allow Iuz to recall his fiends and replace his mortal troops at a rate much faster than that of his human and demi-human enemies. This truce was not in the benefit of the lands opposing Iuz! It could not be allowed to happen! Thus, Rary set up an ambush for the delegates. His plan was to blame the assassination on Iuz so that the goodly lands would resume the war until Iuz was destroyed once and for all. Unfortunately, Tenser and Otiluke were the only victims when his ambush was prematurely discovered. Rary tried to hide the truth by sending Robilar (whom he had recruited easily, since Robilar had been one of the original Citadel members to leave because of his distrust of Mordenkainen) to sack Tenser's castle and destroy all his clones, while Rary did the same to Otiluke.

    Having been discovered anyway, Rary and Robilar were forced to flee. Rary's backup plan was put in motion. They fled to the Bright Desert, established a stronghold, and worked to thwart Mordenkainen. Countering Mordenkainen's agenda is now Rary's immediate purpose in life. He seems slightly insane, but he is extremely intelligent and his plans are for the long haul. His pursuit of the Scorpion Crown is part of the plan to overcome Mordenkainen's power.

    Tenser was eventually returned to life and, being a goodly soul, contacted his previous ally to find out why he had acted as he did. Rary explained his side of the story and Tenser was left uncertain. He was already suspicious of much of Mordenkainen's activities, but wasn't certain of his duplicitousness as described by Rary. But, having enough suspicion to lose trust in Mordy, Tenser withdrew from the Circle of Eight.

    In Living Greyhawk, the Wars pick up again in the Great Crusade to destroy Iuz. In my campaign, Rary is one of the forces working behind the scenes to make this happen.

    Mordenkainen is preparing his defenses. He was unwilling to come out openly on the side of Iuz, so he knew that Iuz would eventually fall. Thus, he fears that the forces of Good, led by Rary and maybe even Tenser, Otiluke, and other previous allies, will turn their anger his direction once Iuz is defeated. So, he has been gathering his forces, both mundane and magical, in preparation for that eventuality.


    Why? Why doesn't Mordenkainen intervene directly? The whole "balance" thing is unsatisfactory as a reason. Working through minions might make more sense, but what I really see is Rary allowed to consolidate his power unimpeded by the Circle at all.



    So many cool ideas SirXaris. Unfortunately I never got to play or even see any Living Greyhawk stuff, but I am very familiar with Rary the Traitor because it's one of my favorite modules/sourcebooks and I've played it as a player and a DM. Your take on Rary is very interesting and intriguing, but I admit it differs from the module in several ways. The module goes at length to describe how Rary's outlook, ideas, and eventually even his alignment shifted towards evil, which ultimately put him at odds with the Circle and led him to his actions at the Signing and then his activities in the Bright Desert.

    I don't think Rary is or would ally with Iuz, but based on his actions and goals from the module I don't see him supporting the fight against Iuz either. Iuz is a rival because Rary wants more power and influence and ultimately an empire across Oerth with the help of the Scorpion Crown. I think Rary and Robilar are set for world domination and with his powers and definitely with the Scorpion Crown, it's possible he could get it. Of course the Circle and various forces/PCs, etc. will try to stop him, but he is in the hunt.

    I'm intrigued to learn more about your campaign though and how it worked out using your take on Rary!
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    xo42
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    PostPosted: Sat Feb 22, 2020 4:06 pm    Post subject: Re: Mordenkainen and Rary Reply with quote

    Theala_Sildorian wrote:


    One thing I've always been curious about is why why Mordenkainen and the Circle haven't gone after Rary, why they let him essentially re-establish himself in the Bright Desert. Why didn't they go after him once the Circle reformed after the events of the Return of the Eight? What are they waiting for?

    If you consider the Living Greyhawk stuff to be canon (I'm not sure how Canonfire members view that since the modules are not widely available to the general public to purchase and run themselves), Rary spends years looking for the Scorpion Crown.

    Why? Why doesn't Mordenkainen intervene directly? The whole "balance" thing is unsatisfactory as a reason. Working through minions might make more sense, but what I really see is Rary allowed to consolidate his power unimpeded by the Circle at all.


    Great thread and questions. I think Mordenkainen is planning to do something about Rary, but being the meticulous planner and schemer he is, he's moving slowly and methodically. Establishing and growing an empire takes time and Rary needs to find the Scorpion Crown and of course figure out how to use it. The Circle has also been shattered and Mordenkainen needs time to re-build it, plan his next moves, and ultimately move against Rary.

    While he may not be moving actively against Rary, Mordenkainen isn't sitting idle though. He has spies and agents trying to move close to Rary to keep tabs on him, for example, the Ranger (Kendyra of the North) is operating in the Bright Desert working for Mordenkainen. Knowing him, he probably also has numerous PCs working to gather info and even actively working against Rary in the region. I think Rary's plans will need years to come together fully, so Mordenkainen has time to prepare. All of their actions of course are the perfect starting points for numerous adventures and hooks to bring PCs into the mix.
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    rasgon
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    PostPosted: Sat Feb 22, 2020 8:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    There are many different possibilities we could consider.

    Rary is simply better than Mordenkainen

    Not morally speaking, of course, but he's smarter, he's more learned in magic, and he has an army of Paynims, Bright Desert nomads, and yugoloth servants at his beck and call. Mordenkainen has troops too, of course, but he's not equipped to invade the Bright Desert with them. They're trained to defend the Obsidian Citadel, not invade a nation in an inhospitable waste half a continent away, across multiple ranges of mountains. True, Mordenkainen has magic and allies, but Rary is ten steps ahead, with counters to anything Mordenkainen might muster.

    Mordenkainen is cautious

    Maybe Mordenkainen could defeat Rary, if it came to that, but it would be risky, and why risk everything when a party of adventurers might bear the risk instead?

    Mordenkainen and Rary are secretly allies

    Killing Tenser and Otiluke was actually Mordenkainen's idea. Rary agreed to be the scapegoat so that Mordenkainen could continue their work openly.

    Mordenkainen already defeated Rary

    Maybe the wizard battle was secret, and Rary privately conceded defeat, offering unnamed concessions of magic and wealth and knowledge and curtailing his ambitions. Because the terms of his surrender allowed him to keep his lands in the Bright Desert instead of dying, the two thought it best not to advertise the terms to the public at large, or to Tenser and the more militant members of the Circle. It was none of their business, as far as Mordenkainen and Rary were concerned.

    Rary defeated Mordenkainen

    The real Mordenkainen died at the same time as Otiluke and Tenser, replaced by a doppleganger under Rary's control.

    Rary is blackmailing Mordenkainen

    Rary knows a secret that only Mordenkainen, Bigby, Riggby, Neb Retnar, and Robilar knew: that it was Mordenkainen's idea to free Iuz, in the name of balance, gifting Robilar with a sword with a disjunction effect to free the cambion from the Godtrap. If this were to get out, all good-thinking people in the Flanaess would declare Mordenkainen anathema and assault the Obsidian Citadel in vengeance for the evil he had unleashed. As long as Rary holds this over his head, Mordenkainen can do nothing directly, and he even acts to constrain Tenser.

    Rary owns the Circle of Eight

    Mordenkainen's ex-wife sold Rary her shares after their divorce, putting the majority shares in the control of Rary and his brother, who appointed Lorraine Williams to lead the Circle until she sold it to a Wizard of the Coast.
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    SirXaris
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    PostPosted: Sat Feb 22, 2020 9:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    rasgon wrote:

    Rary owns the Circle of Eight

    Mordenkainen's ex-wife sold Rary her shares after their divorce, putting the majority shares in the control of Rary and his brother, who appointed Lorraine Williams to lead the Circle until she sold it to a Wizard of the Coast.


    Right there is the winner! Excellent, Rasgon! Laughing

    Also, I forgot to mention the Circle of Five (from Greyhawk Ruins). That wizardly group is canonized as a second creation of Mordenkainen for the purpose of countering the good-leaning Circle of Eight. I remember now that that is where I initially got the idea that Mordy isn't a Good Guy. He can't fully control the goodly members of the Co8 like he thought he could, so he started a counter Circle to better maintain the balance.

    SirXaris
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    Silvermane
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    PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2020 6:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

    The answer, I guess, lies in motive. Mordenkainen is a powerful archmage but not as powerful as Rary, who has always been described as surpassing Mordenkainen in arcane might. Sure, Mordenkainen can manipulate events and entire adventuring parties to oppose Rary, but for the moment, Rary serves his purposes. In Rary the Traitor, is is stated that the self-styled Emperor of the Bright Lands seeks to find an artifact known as the Scorpion Crown. Later in the Living Greyhawk-campaign, this becomes an entire quest-line. Rary seeks to find the Crown in order to destroy it and return the Bright Desert to a green land. Furthermore, the Crown is a link to the Dark God Tharizdun, who seeks to unravel magic and unmake the multiverse - a goal that Mordenkainen opposes. Finding and destroying the Scorpion Crown weakens Tharizdun's links to Oerth. Therefore, Mordenkainen allows Rary to pursue these ends.

    Tenser, meanwhile, knows that Rary is more powerful and better supported than he is. Rary controls various desert tribes and Paynim nomads. He prefers to work through underlings, like his paladin ally Karistyne. In the adventure arc "Blight on Bright Sands", he does just that - let Karistyne hire adventurers to oppose Rary and destroy the means to unmake the Scorpion Crown.
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    Silvermane
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    PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2020 6:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

    SirXaris wrote:


    Also, I forgot to mention the Circle of Five (from Greyhawk Ruins). That wizardly group is canonized as a second creation of Mordenkainen for the purpose of countering the good-leaning Circle of Eight. I remember now that that is where I initially got the idea that Mordy isn't a Good Guy. He can't fully control the goodly members of the Co8 like he thought he could, so he started a counter Circle to better maintain the balance.

    SirXaris


    Actually, the Circle of Five is composed of the wizards that remained from the Circle of Eight after Rary deserted it and killed Tenser and Otiluke (eight minus three equals five). The Circle was brought up to its full membership in the adventure "Return of the Eight" with the addition of Warnes Starcoat, Theodain Eriason and Alhamazad the Wise.

    The Circle of Eight was created in the 570's after the dissolution of the Citadel of Eight, Mordenkainen's adventuring companions. The Citadel was a group composed of wizards, clerics and fighters and broke up due to philosophical differences, prompting Mordenkainen to create a group of solely wizards that understood the concepts of Balance.
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    rasgon
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    PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2020 6:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

    Silvermane wrote:
    SirXaris wrote:


    Also, I forgot to mention the Circle of Five (from Greyhawk Ruins). That wizardly group is canonized as a second creation of Mordenkainen for the purpose of countering the good-leaning Circle of Eight. I remember now that that is where I initially got the idea that Mordy isn't a Good Guy. He can't fully control the goodly members of the Co8 like he thought he could, so he started a counter Circle to better maintain the balance.

    SirXaris


    Actually, the Circle of Five is composed of the wizards that remained from the Circle of Eight after Rary deserted it and killed Tenser and Otiluke (eight minus three equals five). The Circle was brought up to its full membership in the adventure "Return of the Eight" with the addition of Warnes Starcoat, Theodain Eriason and Alhamazad the Wise.

    The Circle of Eight was created in the 570's after the dissolution of the Citadel of Eight, Mordenkainen's adventuring companions. The Citadel was a group composed of wizards, clerics and fighters and broke up due to philosophical differences, prompting Mordenkainen to create a group of solely wizards that understood the concepts of Balance.


    Greyhawk Ruins introduced the Ring of Five, which was founded by Zagyg, not Mordenkainen.
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    xo42
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    PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2020 8:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

    rasgon wrote:
    Greyhawk Ruins introduced the Ring of Five, which was founded by Zagyg, not Mordenkainen.


    Thanks rasgon, I think there was a lot of confusion going on between the short lived Circle of Five and the Ring of Five from Greyhawk Ruins.

    Speaking of the Ring of Five, are there any other sources that focus on them? I know some of the names have been mentioned before, but I don't think there is a lot of published information about them.
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    vestcoat
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    PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2020 8:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

    rasgon wrote:
    he's smarter, he's more learned in magic, and he has an army of Paynims, Bright Desert nomads, and yugoloth servants

    This is what I've always assumed. Going after Rary is no joke, no matter what the odds. He killed Tenser, Otiluke, and ALMOST got Bigby too, by himself! And killed their clones!

    Yes, the entire Circle could probably take Rary, but on his home turf that's not guaranteed. Half would probably die. Otto and Jalarzi aren't going to sign up for that. Drawmij and Theodain have higher priorities.

    The yugoloth are also a big deal. Other Circle members don't have any goons like that. Rary also has Robilar (or some version of him anyway). Robilar knows Mordenkainen and Tenser well. He knows how they operate; he can anticipate them.
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    rasgon
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    PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2020 9:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

    xo42 wrote:
    Speaking of the Ring of Five, are there any other sources that focus on them? I know some of the names have been mentioned before, but I don't think there is a lot of published information about them.


    Jaran Krimeeah is detailed in Greyhawk Adventures and the Vale of the Mage sourcebook. Melf is detailed in From the Ashes. Zagyg was detailed in Dragon #70, the World of Greyhawk boxed set, etc. Leomund is detailed in Oerth Journal #10. The "Archmage Serten" is somewhat dubious, since Serten was a 10th-level cleric in The Rogues Gallery, but I think there's enough evidence for a separate wizard also called Serten (I call him Serten the Elder). This list is a rumor whose truth is left to the DM to decide, however, and it's generally agreed by the fandom that it's unlikely this particular group of mages ever belonged to the same club. Melf isn't really an archmage, for example, and he's not a rival of the Circle of Eight. Len Lakofka denies Leomund's involvement.

    Gary Holian's article on the Ring of Five is archived here. His own list there is Zagyg, Tuerny, Jaran Krimeeah, Daern, and Keoghtom, though subsequent canon makes this list unlikely as well (particularly Tuerny's appearance as a nalfeshnee in Return of the Eight and Daern as a hero-goddess in the Living Greyhawk Journal #3). Note that his work on the "Ring of Five" eventually evolved into the concept of the Company of Seven.
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    Skech
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    PostPosted: Mon Feb 24, 2020 11:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

    Here's a different take on the events that lead to the death of Otiluke and Tenser...

    Rary was suspicious of Mordenkainen's goals regarding the events surrounding the signing. Rary, Otiluke, and Tenser started to investigate just prior to the signing and Bigby (a friend of Mordy) discovered them. Mordenkainen had asked Bigby to keep an eye on the other members. With no time to report to Mordy, Bigby acted on his own. In one quick stroke, Bigby killed Otiluke and Tenser using one of Rary's own signature spells. Rary was resistant to such a spell but injured nevertheless. With the proof of Mordy's duplicity, Rary escaped. To secure his story, Bigby injured himself with the same spell and fabricated the rest.

    The tale of this betrayal was spun from the only witness present, the wounded Bigby. Mordenkained set out to publically investigate Rary's betrayal. In actuality, Mordy used the time to establish evidence to support Bigby's testimony. That is why he's done nothing so far. Confronting Rary might just unravel his manipulations and lies to the world at large.

    No, Tenser's clone wasn't able to recall the details of those events.

    Thoughts?
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    SirXaris
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    PostPosted: Mon Feb 24, 2020 12:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    Skech wrote:
    Here's a different take on the events that lead to the death of Otiluke and Tenser...

    Rary was suspicious of Mordenkainen's goals regarding the events surrounding the signing. Rary, Otiluke, and Tenser started to investigate just prior to the signing and Bigby (a friend of Mordy) discovered them. Mordenkainen had asked Bigby to keep an eye on the other members. With no time to report to Mordy, Bigby acted on his own. In one quick stroke, Bigby killed Otiluke and Tenser using one of Rary's own signature spells. Rary was resistant to such a spell but injured nevertheless. With the proof of Mordy's duplicity, Rary escaped. To secure his story, Bigby injured himself with the same spell and fabricated the rest.

    The tale of this betrayal was spun from the only witness present, the wounded Bigby. Mordenkained set out to publically investigate Rary's betrayal. In actuality, Mordy used the time to establish evidence to support Bigby's testimony. That is why he's done nothing so far. Confronting Rary might just unravel his manipulations and lies to the world at large.

    No, Tenser's clone wasn't able to recall the details of those events.

    Thoughts?


    I like it, Skech! Smile

    One more explanation demonstrating that Mordenkainen isn't really a trustworthy Good Guy. Your scenario makes Rary out to be an actual Good Guy with Mordy and Bigby as the BBEGs. That is an about face from canon. Happy

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    Theala_Sildorian
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    PostPosted: Mon Feb 24, 2020 6:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    Thanks for all the wonderful insight, guys!

    I have Rary the Traitor and I have all the Bright Lands related LG modules so I have the whole storyline. It's well done, but unsatisfying in many ways, namely that the heroes rather easily are able to find and obtain necessary information and items needed that Rary nor Mordenkainen can seem to obtain.

    Granted, maybe they prefer working through cutouts. But it's not satisfying.

    I'm familiar with Skech's thoughts on Rary, but many of the other ideas are interesting and similar to thoughts of my own. The conversation is helping me gel out what really happened in Greyhawk that day, who did what and why, and what Mordenkainen and Rary's ultimate goals are.

    Hopefully I'll get the next stage off the ground very soon. Some of the comments sparked an idea I hope my player will just love (we'll see!) but I won't be able to fill you in on all the details for a while yet.
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    jamesdglick
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    PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2020 12:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    SirXaris wrote:
    ...Rary understood why Mordenkainen supported the Treaty of Greyhawk, which would call a truce and end the fighting, at least temporarily. He knew that Iuz was seriously weakened by the loss of his fiendish troops and thousands of his mortal troops as well...


    -I think the Flight of the Fiends occurs in 586, after the Treaty of Greyhaw. But the other stuff applies.

    edmundscott wrote:
    Hey, I'll add a second question which seems even bigger to me:

    Why the hell doesn't Tenser do something? Rary is basically trespassing in his backyard, and, oh, also, Rary murdered him...


    -Besides the possibility of Tenser losing a confrontation with rary, how about: The least likely result of Rary putzing around with the Scorpion Crown is that Rary becomes all powerful. More likely, he'll end up destroying it (resulting in the eventual return of the Bright Lands to their previously fertile state), or he screws up and accidentally turns himself into a big, stupid scorpion. Problem solved! Evil Grin
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    ArtharnTheCleric
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    PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2020 6:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    "The "Archmage Serten" is somewhat dubious, since Serten was a 10th-level cleric in The Rogues Gallery, but I think there's enough evidence for a separate wizard also called Serten (I call him Serten the Elder). "

    Didn't Serten die in the Battle of Emridy Meadows in mid 560s when the Temple of Elemental Evil was "destroyed" and Zuggtmoy locked in there? Leading to the breakup of the Citadel of Eight (basically the old adventuring band), and Mordenkainen starting the Circle of Eight (mages only)?

    Or is this a different Serten?
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    rasgon
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    PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2020 7:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    ArtharnTheCleric wrote:
    Didn't Serten die in the Battle of Emridy Meadows in mid 560s when the Temple of Elemental Evil was "destroyed" and Zuggtmoy locked in there? Leading to the breakup of the Citadel of Eight (basically the old adventuring band), and Mordenkainen starting the Circle of Eight (mages only)?

    Or is this a different Serten?


    Yeah, Serten was a 10th level cleric, part of the Citadel of Eight, based on the cleric played by Ernie Gygax. Canon has it he died at Emridy Meadows.

    However, Serten's spell immunity was an 8th level magic-user spell, requiring a 16th-level or higher magic-user to cast it. The actual reason it's called that is that Serten had a low wisdom score and was played as reckless and heedless, so Serten's spell immunity was created to help protect him in battle. It was created for Serten, not by Serten.

    Other designers weren't aware of this, though, which is why there are a few references to an archmage named Serten, the assumed creator of the spell. As I mentioned above, Greyhawk Ruins includes a rumor (it's a rumor only, not confirmed) that one of the five archmages in the Ring of Five is Serten. Ivid the Undying mentions that Prince Lakaster wears Serten's ring, which confers upon him a permanent Serten's spell immunity effect. The text asks, "whether this ring truly belonged to that legendary archmage, who can say?"

    So there's some slight evidence of an archmage named Serten who created the Serten's spell immunity spell, perhaps to help protect his relative, the cleric Serten.

    A simpler explanation is that Serten's spell immunity was created by Tenser or another of the Citadel of Eight.
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    vestcoat
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    PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2020 8:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

    rasgon wrote:
    The actual reason it's called that is that Serten had a low wisdom score and was played as reckless and heedless, so Serten's spell immunity was created to help protect him in battle. It was created for Serten, not by Serten.

    Are you explaining the history of the Lake Geneva character or creating a piece of GH history for the spell?

    In the original campaign, Serten had uncanny luck making his saving throws vs spells, to the point that it became a running joke that he was "immune." Thus, when Gary was creating spells for the PHB, he named one in honor of Serten.

    No one followed Serten around protecting him.

    As for Serten the mage vs Serten the cleric, it's kind of refreshing for two famous, unrelated GH characters to have the same name. It happens all the time IRL, why do we avoid it so hard in fantasy campaigns? It's fun to give an occasional NPC the same name as an old hireling or innkeeper and watching players do a double take.
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    JasonZavoda
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    PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2020 9:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

    rasgon wrote:
    ArtharnTheCleric wrote:
    Didn't Serten die in the Battle of Emridy Meadows in mid 560s when the Temple of Elemental Evil was "destroyed" and Zuggtmoy locked in there? Leading to the breakup of the Citadel of Eight (basically the old adventuring band), and Mordenkainen starting the Circle of Eight (mages only)?

    Or is this a different Serten?


    Yeah, Serten was a 10th level cleric, part of the Citadel of Eight, based on the cleric played by Ernie Gygax. Canon has it he died at Emridy Meadows.

    However, Serten's spell immunity was an 8th level magic-user spell, requiring a 16th-level or higher magic-user to cast it. The actual reason it's called that is that Serten had a low wisdom score and was played as reckless and heedless, so Serten's spell immunity was created to help protect him in battle. It was created for Serten, not by Serten.

    Other designers weren't aware of this, though, which is why there are a few references to an archmage named Serten, the assumed creator of the spell. As I mentioned above, Greyhawk Ruins includes a rumor (it's a rumor only, not confirmed) that one of the five archmages in the Ring of Five is Serten. Ivid the Undying mentions that Prince Lakaster wears Serten's ring, which confers upon him a permanent Serten's spell immunity effect. The text asks, "whether this ring truly belonged to that legendary archmage, who can say?"

    So there's some slight evidence of an archmage named Serten who created the Serten's spell immunity spell, perhaps to help protect his relative, the cleric Serten.

    A simpler explanation is that Serten's spell immunity was created by Tenser or another of the Citadel of Eight.


    Was Serten killed off by Sargent or in Living Greyhawk?
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    Raymond
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    PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2020 10:03 am    Post subject: Yes Reply with quote

    I'm not familiar with these details but such a straight-forward question made me think that maybe the Greyhawk Wiki is working. And it is:

    https://greyhawkonline.com/greyhawkwiki/index.php?title=Serten

    Based on this topic, someone probably wants to update the page to include some more details like why some think he's a magic-user.
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    rasgon
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    PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2020 12:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

    vestcoat wrote:

    In the original campaign, Serten had uncanny luck making his saving throws vs spells, to the point that it became a running joke that he was "immune." Thus, when Gary was creating spells for the PHB, he named one in honor of Serten.

    No one followed Serten around protecting him.


    Ah, that's right.

    JasonZavoda wrote:
    Was Serten killed off by Sargent or in Living Greyhawk?


    I believe Serten's death was first mentioned in "Wheels Within Wheels" by Erik Mona and Gary Holian in Living Greyhawk Journal #0.
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