While I did run other D&D characters, none of them saw as much play as did Lord Jon Korbok, who saw action off and on for at least two decades. He went in search of the unknown. He fought slavers, giants, and drows. He explored hidden shrines, lost caverns, horrific tombs, and ancient spaceships.
He participated in the abduction of the Duke and Duchess of Urnst. He carved out a freehold in the eastern reaches of the Yeomanry near the border of the Hold of the Sea Princes. For a while, he was afflicted with lycanthropy of the wererat variety. For a while, he was a psionic shapeshifter. He once threw a vorpal sword overboard while sailing to the Amedio Jungle because the weapon made combat too easy. On that same voyage, he dove into the sea and fought a shark while unarmored, driving the animal off with a dagger. He used a wish to gain the ability to speak with wolves. While questing for a chalice artifact, he “emptied” a ring of wishes to change the course of a river and move oases, completely altering the economics of the desert region.
As I’ve mentioned in an earlier post, Korbok started as a 0E dwarf fighter. He morphed into a fighter/thief for 1E and 2E, and he saw retirement when I started playing 3E a year or so after moving back to Houston after getting out the U. S. Army. I thought about restarting Korbok as a 3E dwarf fighter/rogue, but it somehow seemed wrong.
Korbok was a World of Greyhawk PC. He was from Ironspyre, a city I invented and located in the Yatil Mountains. As a youth, he was captured by hobgoblins in a raid and taken as a slave. He earned his freedom by defending his master’s wife and children when the hobgoblin camp was attacked by orcs of the Vile Rune clan. Korbok came to view the Vile Rune clan as his archnemesis. He actively sought to destroy the entire clan. His lust for orc blood earned him the soubriquet “Orc-Slayer”. Korbok was violent, deceptive, and capricious, but he developed a strange sense of honor. He’d steal from party members one minute, and then hurl himself into the path of serious danger in order to defend those party members. If Korbok said he was going to do something, he’d do it or die trying.
He was mainly known as a thief, but his skills as a fighter couldn’t be underestimated. If the party already had a thief, Korbok would sometimes don his magical plate mail and take up his rod of lordly might, forgoing his thief skills in favor of being a front-line fighter.
My friend Fred ran an elf magic-user/thief named Blake Aldread. Blake and Korbok were fast friends, and their adventures became the stuff of folktales. This became even more true after Blake died and was reincarnated as a troll. Several years ago, when I wrote the Tamerland section of Dawnforge, Korbok and Blake (as well as nods to three characters being played in then-current 3.5 campaign) became official parts of a published setting (albeit Korbok did so under the name “Korbok Flinteye”). I tried to work Korbok’s tavern, the Greasy Rat, into Dawnforge, but the editors changed the tavern’s name to the Dire Vulture.
Nota Bene: The illustration above was done by Fred’s father, Fred Senior. Fred Junior gave it to me as a present several years after his father died in a automobile accident and several years before Fred himself would die of an aneurysm.