Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Will the Real Robilar Please Stand Up...

Robilar in reality as my PC, then as a fictional icon in many supplemental, published works, has had quite a history indeed. Over time I had tried to reconcile his changed history, a point somewhat reached, in part, through the publication of WotC's Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk, that Erik Mona had a skillful hand in reconstructing. Therein we find that there was "another" Robilar, which indeed nicely accounts for the Rary the Traitor revision of his history. No doubt this was inspired by the exchange that Jason Verbitsky and I had on the Greytalk-L in 1997, which I append hereafter. And where is Jason these days? I'd like to invite him to contribute more decisive and enlightening commentaries on the state of our industry, and of Greyhawk, past and present.

Subject: Re: [GREYTALK] Robilar's return
Date: Wed, 20 Aug 1997 01:03:24 -0700
From: Jason Verbitsky

rjkuntz wrote:
> I have begun taking notes and making sketches for a reworked version of Robilar's castle in the the Gnarley Forest; though with my deadlines for Troll [Magazine] and a novel synopsis forthcoming I have had little time to push this one forward beyond 2 pages of opening text by Robilar's wizard, Otto, who is the narrator for this. I see it as an adventure/narrative with Otto dipping in and out as I paste together Robilar's singular adventures--much like a stream of short stories, but as AD&D formats--and Otto commenting on where R. proceeds to after each (ie., adventure --> narrative --> adventure --> narrative, etc.) This would culminate in his return (possibly with a novel I have in mind) and a minimodule (possibly through DUNGEON) and/or a full module detailing his castle and territories near the Wild Coast.
> The adventure could be run solo or with these addiional NPCs:
> --Quij the orc hero companion
> --Djinn (yep, someone would have to play Robilar's djnn!)
> --and possibly Otto (in parts only)
> The main part would delineate Robilar's whereabouts after his castle was abandonned and sacked (I headed him east towards (what would be France) a temple to Zuggtmoy, ostensibly overseas, now west! perhaps DA#1 map or Oreik's Empire of Lynn). He was carrying an artifact of evil, an orb (cf, Eldritch Wizardry artifacts, and later 1st ed. DMG), which was affecting his mind and obsessing him with uncovering the other parts. Also, I have good premises for explaining away the Rary stuff (since Robilar had access to many clone spells (i.e., the first clone spell, as devised by Dave Arneson, was located and found by Mordenkainen and Robilar in their adventure to the City of the Gods)), and this could easily be done with this outline:
> 1) Robilar's castle is sacked
> 2) Rary turns up there and roots through the remains
> 3) Clone spells are found
> 4) Robilar skin samples are found
> 5) Rary devises a plan to defeat the Circle with C-Robilar, who is
> their trusted friend. That is why the C-Robilar (perhaps) was able to
> get so close to and destroy the clones of the Tenser, etc.
> 6) They depart for the desert to hide (near Maure Castle maybe?)
> 7) The real Robilar is now insane, wandering but still driven by the
> artifact and his need for revenge (and possibly a little rest).
> 8) Otto affects temporary cures as Robilar is assylumed in Lynn and
> finally locates the hiding place of Rary.
> 9) Robilar starts his long return as described through
> narrative/adventure again. This culminates in several things...
> A) Robilar changing alignment back to true Neutral (tis where he
> started before the artifacts came into the picture)
> B) The rebuilding/repopulating of his stronghold
> C) Reganing of his Green Dragon Inn in Greyhawk City
> D) The destruction of his enemies
> E) The ressurection of a TSR legend?
> Can I get some input here? Would this be something, anything, of interest to you folk to see published? If so, I will write a synopsis based upon this and submit it to Harrold Johnson for his consideration. I had already informed him that I had some Robilar deas, that's it. But this could solidify an approach. Let me know gentlefolk!
> Rob

Some input? Sure. Here's a little feedback (for whatever it's worth):

Rob, I think that as Robilar is your character you should have had a say in anything that was done with him. Before TSR published the whole Rary-Robilar caper (Greyhawk Wars & Rary the Traitor) they should have first asked you about Robilar's actions and offered to let you (and/or whoever ran Rary) to write a sourcebook about the characters. If they did offer you this chance and you passed it up, then anything that you publish on Robilar in the future should incorporate those events in _Rary the Traitor_. Wether or not this was the case, you have generously offer to reconcile the FtA Robilar with the real Robliar -- your own.

I think your clone idea for Robilar is an excellent one because: 1) it lets you, the creator of the character, determine Robilar's true actions. 2) yet it incorporates the FtA version of 'Robilar' at the same time. Which bridges the gap between original and FtA campaigns nicely. This is just the thing that needs to be done in any new Greyhawk attempt.

Here's what I'd personally like to see about Robliar from you based on what you've said:

1) A full character sheet and biography detailing everything that Robilar did. Your narrative approach should do this nicely -- be it by Otto as you suggest or by Robilar himself as I would have expected from the _Rogues Gallery_ entry, but it's your call.

Pray tell us all tales of his many adventures that he remembers so well, for now is the later time for you to tell "those who might wish to know his odd facts" (RG 46). This would make an excellent article or series of articles in DRAGON magazine for instance -- I'd re-subscribe to DRAGON if I knew this would happen...

BTW, how does Iggwilv (cf. AoE 330) fit into the story of the freeing of Zuggumoy? Is it a seperate version of the freeing of the demon princess? Or was she there with Robilar and just telling the tale her way to Iuz?

2) The mini-module that you mentioned as you suggest through DUNGEON is likewise an excellent idea which would cause me to resubscribe to that magazine as well. Part of what I liked about _Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure_ was that the pre-generated characters weren't 'no-names'. I think it would be a blast to run Robilar, Quij, and Djinn in an ,adventure!

Also by using 'name-brand' pregenerated characters you can easily add a one page summary of what would have happened if the module wasn't run in the campaign. Wouldn't that have been a nice touch in the GDQ or T modules? Gives a better base timeline to work from. If the players use their own characters then changing what happened comes naturally.

3) (An) article(s) or a full sourcebook detailing Robilar's castle and territory in the Gnarley Forest. Both versions would be nice: before it is sacked, and after it is rebuilt (and possibly even a intermediate ruins version as well). This would also allow for Both original and FtA campaigners to make use of the material.

4) You mention Robilar 'regaining' the Green Dragon Inn. Like Robilar's Castle this would make a good article (or series of articles) or a sourcebook. Again it could work in different periods if it dealt with all incarnations of the Green Dragon Inn: before Robilar gained it, how he gained it, while it was his, how he lost it, while it was someone elses, how he regained it, and how it is then.

5) Possibly a sourcebook with all of the above material and more in it; One that ties together everything to do with Robilar. This would allow us all to see the work piecemeal as you create it in the periodicals (and creating sales for TSR via subscriptions, and back issue sales) so we don't have to wait for it to be done. And so there is still room for revisions and expansion to be done once and for all in a sourcebook. Or you could jump right to the sourcebook. A lot of work, but a lot of great material able to be used by all Greyhawkers of whatever ('official') time-period or version of history.

Basically, I'd first like to see you detail everything about the old original Robliar, reconcile this Robiliar with the FtA Robilar, and then afterwards go on developing him as an important personage in the World of Greyhawk's future as you see fit (while reconciling it with FtA). That way the material that you write will be useful to the most Greyhawkers (IMO).

As for the discussions about creating a future Greyhawk that is all well and fine; but the future is build upon the past and the more strongly that the original (i.e. Pre-Wars) campaign is detailed (preferably by those involved in it) the more solid any future history of Greyhawk will likely be. Please, Rob, tell us all about Robilar and make solid that historical foundation so that Greyhawk can thrive in the future.

Well, those are some of my thoughts on the matter of Robilar since you asked. I don't know if feedback of this sort is what you were looking for, but there they are for whatever they're worth to you...

Best of Luck with Robilar whatever you end up doing with him. I look forward to seeing what you are going to do with him.


* * * * * * * * * * * * *
His Dread and Awful Presence, the Hierarch
Jason Verbitsky
* * * * * * * * * * * * *

P.S. This is my first 'real' message to the list since my all too lengthy
absence, and the last where I'll use the 'Hierarch sig' as I have
realized that it can clutter up searches of the list archives. However,
I still, naturally, maintain my interests in the Horned Society.

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