Discover more from Extra Fine Writing
The Grifos Ancient Bog Oak fountain pen offers +5 defense against kobolds at an attainable price
We’ve all had it happen.
You’re in the middle of a long writing session, ideas moving fluidly from mind to hand to page in a state of blissful flow, when everything is brought to a crashing halt.
And not by a new idea, a fiddly nib, or running out of ink—each of which is troublesome, certainly, but can be easily dealt with without losing your flow.
By a kobold attack.
You have to put down your fountain pen, pick up an enchanted ward or melee weapon, and waste a few minutes dealing with the kobold for what is, at best, a piddling 5 XP and the weird garbage they like to carry on them—as if you needed yet another dirty rag or piece of moldy bread. You barely have enough room in your knapsack for the six pens and ten inks you absolutely need to carry; you definitely don’t have room to schlep a bunch of kobold detritus back to Kalonica’s Landing to get four measly copper pieces from Joron the Trader.
And while a kobold attack only costs you a minute or two in real time, it can take up to an hour to calm your brain down and get back into a state of flow. You’ll try your best to recapture it, but you know your writing is probably done for the day.
It’s just the worst.
You simply have to ask: why can’t someone make a fountain pen that can keep the kobolds away?
Well GOOD NEWS, because the Italian tendency to make fountain pens out of the most bonkers materials possible is working in your favor through the Grifos Ancient Bog Oak Fountain Pen.
This pen is made in Italy, which you can tell because they sell them on Etsy under the handle PensItaly. I got mine at a pen show about four years ago.
The cap and grip of this pen are both sterling silver guilloche, a word I am confidently using as if I were a fancy fellow who had heard of it before reading the marketing materials for this pen.1 I believe it is French for “ooh la la so many tiny squares” but I did not get very far in Duolingo so I’m not sure. At any rate it feels nice and looks cool.
The silver is hallmarked and black, but not oxidized; I’m not totally clear from the description and hallmarks what exactly they put on it to get this effect (ruthenium? 18k black gold? ziggy stardust?) but after several years of ownership it still looks good.
The cap does not post.
The nib was originally the same blackish color as the pen, but then one day when I was cleaning it the plating just wiped off with a paper towel and tap water. Whoops.
But whatever: the nib writes like a beast. It lays down a nice fine line, and if you write upside down it lays down a terrific ultra-extra fine. The way the pen is weighted lets you actually write upside down comfortably, too. It’s probably the best reversible nib in my collection.
I’m burying the lede, though. Because the best part of all is how the pen offers reliable protection against kobolds, giving you a +5 defense buff when you are writing in forests and dungeons.
Well, the barrel is made of “ancient bog oak,” a material that possesses natural kobold-repellent properties.
If you have not heard of “ancient bog oak” before, no worries: it’s simply a trade name for wood sourced from ethically-harvested ent corpses. It’s like Makrolon if Makrolon was made of magic trees.
That is, Grifos is a responsible manufacturer—and here, their commitment to sustainability means they only use wood sourced from giant tree monsters who have died of natural causes. No ents are killed for their magical kobold-repelling properties to craft the Ancient Bog Oak; instead, Grifos works with local gremlins who harvest the ent’s bark when they naturally die of old age or eating chocolate or whatever.2 The “ancient bog oak” trade name was adopted to help consumers easily distinguish ethically-sourced ent wood from that which had a less savory origin, and each pen comes with a certificate of authenticity to give you comfort that you got a good one.3
The ancient bog oak is very lightweight and has a really nice matte black look that is also surprisingly hard to photograph I tried my best shut up. I’ve had this for a couple years and mine had been looking a little dried out, but I put a tiny bit of olive oil on it (thanks to extrapolating from Ryan Krusac’s care instructions for his own pens) and it came back to life nicely.
Most importantly: I can confirm that since carrying this pen I have personally encountered zero kobolds, so I feel fairly confident in recommending it for its kobold-defense use case.
In conclusion, I really like this pen; it’s solidly front-weighted and comfortable to use, its nib can do double duty as both a fine and ultra-extra-fine, and it’s a true workhorse that offers protection against kobolds without having to waste precious bag of holding space on another item.
i had not
i might be thinking of dogs here, it’s been a minute since i was in a MUD
i mean, probably—mine did when I got it. i think mine just said how the wood was a jillion years old and fossilized but i think the whole "ent corpse” thing was implied