Adventure in the world of Greyhawk!
Powerful forces are set in motion as your party searches for the legendary Blades of Corusk. Take them on the perilous journey from Rookroost to the Lair of the Shadow Dragon in the frozen northlands. Will they survive the ramifications of events that they have initiated? Those who hold the magical blades will not easily give them up. Plucking them from the grasp of a jealous dragon or stealing them from the center of the subterranean City of the Orc Horde wills train your adventurers to their limits!
Designed to be played alone or with the adventure WGS2, a Howl from the North, Five Shall Be One is suitable for four to eight players who are 7th to 10th level.
WGS1: "Five Shall Be One" (1991), by Carl Sargent, is the first World of Greyhawk Swords adventure. It was published in February 1991.
About the Cover. "Five Shall Be One" makes another small change to Greyhawk's ever-evolving trade dress of the AD&D 2e era (1989-2000). This time around, its adds a curly border.
About the Title. The somewhat metaphorical name "Five Shall Be One" refers to the five Blades of Corusk, which together can unite the barbarian lands of Greyhawk as one.
About the Module Code. Because of the focus on the Blades of Corusk (three of which appear in "Five Shall Be One") the "WGS" module code is usually assumed to mean "World of Greyhawk Swords", though "World of Greyhawk Sargent" has been offered as an alternative. "World of Greyhawk Saga" is another option, which could also explain the module codes for the "DLS" (1991) and "SJS" series (1991), which both appeared the same year.
Origins: Rebooting the WG. TSR impressively published a dozen World of Greyhawk supplements during the first two years of AD&D 2e (1989+). The classic "WG" series (1989-1990) gave way to the "WGA" series (1990-1991), while Castle Greyhawk itself was instead published as WGR1: Greyhawk Ruins (1990).
"WGS" represnts yet another series of Greyhawk adventures, but also something more. The "WGA" Falcon adventures told the first real Greyhawk story, but the "WGS" Swords adventures took things to the next level, presenting not just a story, but a story that could shake the foundations of the world. It would lead directly to Greyhawk Wars (1992) and the From the Ashes (1992-1993) era, led by Sargent himself.
Throughout "Five Shall Be One", the adventure is referred to as the first of a trilogy, but that would turn out to be not the case (exactly).
Metaplotting Along. By 1991, TSR was embracing metaplot. The Avatar (1989) and Empire (1990) events for the Forgotten Realms were the most obvious examples, but metaplot would soon settle on many other worlds. "Five Shall Be One" is where metaplot truly came to the World of Greyhawk.
At first it doesn't seem like much: the adventure is a loot-and-destroy mission, where the PCs kill opponents to take their treasures. However, it's set in a larger context. The swords the PCs are looting are part of a prophecy. The PCs will soon learn that the ultimately goal is the awakening of the Great God of the barbarian people. It's a classic metaplot story, where small events lead to large results.
Adventure Tropes. Obviously, "Five Shall Be One" is a big MacGuffin quest, as players sequentially hunt down three different swords of power. They're powerful and named weapons, a very classic fantasy trope reminiscent of everything from Elric's Stormbringer, which debuted in "The Dreaming City" (1961), to the swords of Fred Saberhagen's Swords Trilogy (1983-1984) — and of course, S2: "White Plume Mountain" (1979) as well!
This MacGuffin hunt occurs through what "Five Shall Be One" itself calls a "defined linear storyline", and indeed most of the adventure focuses on episodic encounters. However, there's also plenty of wilderness journeys, which can be spiced up with encounters if the GMs desires. There's also a cavern crawl and plenty of opportunity for roleplaying. Finally, the adventure ends with the infiltration of an enemy city — an infrequent but popular trope in D&D adventures of the era.
Though "Five Shall Be One" might technically be a railroad, there's enough variety and tactical choice to keep things interesting, and this has resulted in it being quite well received.
Exploring Greyhawk. One of the interesting aspects of the Greyhawk setting is its inclusion of barbarian lands to the north, offering a notable variation from the more typical medieval cultures. Rose Estes wrote about the wolf nomads in a series of Greyhawk novels: Master Wolf (1987), The Price of Power (1987), The Demon Hand (1988), and The Name of the Game (1988). "Five Shall Be One" focuses on the other barbarians: the pure Suloise ice, frost, and snow barbarians of northeastern Oerik. In particular, "Five Shall Be One" focuses on the areas around White Fanged Bay, including The Forlorn Forest and the Griff Mountains. The story ends in Garek Enkdal, a massive orc city in the Griff Mountains.
Surprisingly, "Five Shall Be One" also contains some adventuring in the Bandit Kingdoms, starting in the city of Rookroost and moving into the Bluff Hills. However, the background found here is more superficial than the in-depth focus found in the barbarian chapters.
This is all set in 582 CY, six years after the setting of the World of Greyhawk Fantasy Setting (1983) and on the verge of what comes next …
Monsters of Note. There are orcs a'plenty, but one other monster gets a starring role: a shadow dragon. At the time, the shadow dragon was a rarely used monster. It premiered in Monster Manual II (1983) and despite a Krynnish appearance in DL3: "Dragons of Hope" (1984), it had been co-opted for Oerth in MC5: "Monstrous Compendium Greyhawk Appendix" (1990). The categorization wouldn't stick; though they're not one of D&D's traditional ten dragons, shadow dragons have been popular, regularly appearing in both Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms books.
About the Creators. British author Carl Sargent appeared with a slew of Basic D&D books in 1989, but also contributed to City of Greyhawk (1989). He'd become even more important to Greyhawk in the next year, when he became the central architect of the From the Ashes era (1992-1993) of publication.
About the Product Historian
The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to email@example.com.