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Is It Just Me, Or Does Keoland Always Lose?
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CruelSummerLord
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PostPosted: Sat May 19, 2018 6:04 pm    Post subject: Is It Just Me, Or Does Keoland Always Lose? Reply with quote

Is it just me, or does Keoland really, really suck at fighting wars?

They've been defeated by most of the other countries of the Sheldomar Valley and beyond:

-Invasion of Geoff: Lost, when Keoland was defeated at the Battle of Gorna. Geoff became confident that it would never again be attacked by Keoland.

-Short War: Lost, when Furyondy and Veluna took Keoland to the woodshed and confiscated Bissel to boot.

-Invasion of Ket: Initially won, but later lost in ensuing decades, to the extent that Ket became a truly independent nation for the first time.

-Ulek Rebellion: Lost, when the Ulekians made themselves independent. What's really pathetic about this one is that Keoland was defeated by the County of Ulek, one of the weakest military powers in the entire Flanaess, and by the Duchy of Ulek, which wasn't that much better.

-Siege of Westkeep: Lost, to the extent that Tavish III is in the running for one of the worst military leaders in the history of the Flanaess. For some bizarre reason, he thought it was a good idea to lead an army of heavily mailed soldiers and a fully equipped wagon train through the Hool Marshes, so that many of his men lost their armor and the wagons were often bogged down. And then, when he finally arrives at Westkeep, Tavish's siege lasts a mere 70 minutes before he gets his fool self killed.

What makes this arguably the nadir of Keoland's defeats is that they lost a siege to pirates, who are far more proficient at fighting on water than on land. The Sea Princes had the best navy in the Flanaess, bar none, but their land forces aren't exactly the Overking's Companion Guard.

Yes, Keoland did confederate the Sheldomar Valley under Tavish I, but we should remember that he did that with the pen, rather than the sword. When Keoland tries to use the sword, it usually tends to stab itself in the foot.

Hence the old saying that going to war without Keoland is like going to war without a pipe organ. They both make a lot of noise and they're both a lot of dead weight, so what's the point in taking them?
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LordGosumba
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PostPosted: Sun May 20, 2018 7:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The answer is Yes lol!!!

In my campaign, going back a long way; Keoland even lost in a land war with the Sea Princes, who were allied with the Giants from the G series. Didn't go well for them for a few years...
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rasgon
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PostPosted: Sun May 20, 2018 4:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you take the long view of history, everyone loses eventually. Keoland went through an imperial phase that ended after the country overextended itself and lost critical allies, but it's currently stronger than it's been in some time, having re-added Westkeep to its territory. The recent liberations of Sterich and Geoff with the assistance of Keoish forces could be considered significant victories.

If you believe Samwise's timeline, the war between Keoland and the Sea Princes was actually a civil war between two branches of the House of Rhola, so both sides were in a sense "Keoland."
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vestcoat
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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2018 5:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I disagree with the OP. Keoland is oldest, most successful empire in the Flanaess. They conquered everything they could without open warfare against the GK, Celene, or the far west. Former vassals are either allies or still loosely controlled. No close neighbors pose a serious threat. Lost territories were probably indefensible in the long term anyway.

The average lifespan of an empire is 250 years. Keoland has lasted over 900. Ulek didn't even join until 292CY; its inclusion is barely a hiccup in Keoland's timeline. They "defeated" Keoland, but it would have been political and strategic suicide to press the matter and slaughter friendly demihumans with a mountain range full of bloodthirsty humanoids behind them (this was shortly before the Hateful Wars).

No one holds Bissel for long. The Hool Marshes are a severe natural barrier for a distant monarch to control the Sea Princes.
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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2018 6:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Enjoyable topic lol.
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CruelSummerLord
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PostPosted: Fri May 25, 2018 10:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

vestcoat wrote:
I disagree with the OP. Keoland is oldest, most successful empire in the Flanaess. They conquered everything they could without open warfare against the GK, Celene, or the far west. Former vassals are either allies or still loosely controlled. No close neighbors pose a serious threat. Lost territories were probably indefensible in the long term anyway.

The average lifespan of an empire is 250 years. Keoland has lasted over 900. Ulek didn't even join until 292CY; its inclusion is barely a hiccup in Keoland's timeline. They "defeated" Keoland, but it would have been political and strategic suicide to press the matter and slaughter friendly demihumans with a mountain range full of bloodthirsty humanoids behind them (this was shortly before the Hateful Wars).

No one holds Bissel for long. The Hool Marshes are a severe natural barrier for a distant monarch to control the Sea Princes.


Not according to the LGG, it's not. It clearly says that Keoland's imperial phase began in 286 CY and ended in 460 CY, or 174 years. If an empire lasts 250 years on average, then Keoland is below average, having lasted only about 70% as long as a typical empire. That's only a little longer than it takes for a hill dwarf to reach middle age.

Saying that Keoland has been an empire for its entire lifespan is like saying real-world England has been an empire for its entire lifespan. Its only "imperial" holdings as of 576 CY are Geoff, Sterich and Gran March. The first two had only loose allegiance to Keoland, more out of tradition than anything else. The third has its politics tangled up with the Knights of the Watch as much as Keoland, and the Knights are not known for their allegiance to the Throne of the Lion.

And again, while Keoland certainly did make an empire out of the Sheldomar Valley under King Tavish I, we should remember that Tavish did it with words rather than weapons. When Keoland did start using weapons rather than words under Tavish II and Tavish III, they proceeded to get their heads handed to them by everyone from Furyondy and Veluna to Ket to the Sea Princes to Geoff to the Uleks, even as they lost their outposts in Celene and the Yeomanry.

Compare this to Aerdy, where the Rax Overkings steadily expanded and maintained their empire for more than 400 years. Even when the Age of Great Sorrow began and the Rax Overkings became incompetent buffoons, it took another four decades before Furyondy seceded, and other large chunks of Aerdy remained loyal for two centuries after that.

Keoland can certainly be credited for maintaining its prosperity for nearly a millennium, but there's no comparing its military and imperial history to Aerdy, especially when it spent nearly 300 years in near complacency.
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PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2018 7:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The motto of the houses of Rhola and Neheli:

"Leave the waging of wars to others! But you, happy Keoland, marry; for the realms which Heironeous awards to others, Mhyriss transfers to you."

Keoland always reminded me of either Hapsburg Spain or Austria, with its nearest fantasy comparison being Gondor. Ancient, powerful, but kind of not up to the old standard. It is however still a force to be reckoned with, and its gets its way without brute force... the Sheldomar is the one region of the Flanaess where the dominant power is on friendly terms with almost all of its neighbors, and there is no counterbalance to it. This is in effect, very effective statecraft.

If ever a state benefited from the Wars, Keoland has. Sterich and Geoff are now protectorates in truth, the Sea Princes are broken, and their realm in chaos, and the Ulek states are focused on external threats which also threaten Keoland. After all, victory in war is not the same as grand strategic victory, and Keoland is still enjoying a continuance of favorable circumstances.
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PostPosted: Wed May 30, 2018 3:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CruelSummerLord,

Good points and I concede you're right. Keoland has never enjoyed any long-term expansion. Maybe their history of defeats shows that the Suel STILL aren't as martially competent as the warlike Oeridians. Even the SB has trouble keeping its conquests.

I guess I was rankled seeing the oldest nation in the Flanaess measured by its failures. For an empire that stretched from Gorna to Blue to Lopolla to Hokar, the Keoish lost a lot. I'll still argue that the glass is half full, however, because this is an interesting topic. Two-dozen major provinces have persisted in unity for a millennia. Sterich, Westkeep, and the Gran March pay various degrees of fealty to the crown.

Nothing can compare to the GK, the Flanaess' only true empire in modern history, but I'm inclined to still apply the "empire" label loosely to Keoland because: 1) it's the oldest nation in the Flanaess, 2) it has the largest population in the western map (after Zeif), 3) it still controls some other territories, and 4) the Flanaess doesn't have much for empires. Only Ahlissa, Iuz, and the Bright Lands claim the title and none have spanned more than a few years. It seems GH authors are quick to slap the empire tag on big bad guys to make them more imposing while peaceful realms are called kingdoms.

Getting to your question of why, I see two factors that have limited Keoland from ever throwing its weight around and being a dynamic force in the setting. One is fictional, the other stems from the real-world IP holders.

Fictionally, Keoland was given a small role in the GH narrative from the start: it was cast as the ancient, good, peaceful Kingdom without a hostile border. It was the bland straight man, the Zeppo Marx. If a DM needed a safe haven with humanoids on the fringes, Keoland was the place. Early authors were inspired by the Rushmoors, the Cystalmists, the Barrier Peaks, and the Sea Princes while developing the western map, not big, boring, Keoland.

Its development was also hampered in the real world. First, it wasn't central to the C&C Society's Great Kingdom campaign that evolved into Greyhawk and Blackmoor. Neither was it related to the original Castle Greyhawk, ToEE, or Kalibruhn campaigns. When Gygax and Kuntz did begin detailing Flanaess' events and strife in Dragon Magazine, the column was abandoned before they got to Keoland. All of this left the region infertile for future products. Fate of Istus and Greyhawk Adventures barely touched anywhere close, geographically. Grubb and Cook focused on the big bad guys for the Wars! box. They wanted to rebrand GH as an apocalyptic setting and it was important that the safe and powerful Keoish army not rescue any of its neighbors. Finally, the '98 revival focused on returning to the status quo and winning back grognards, so again, there was no room for Keoland to grow, fictionally or geographically. It's a shame.

I don't know what LG and GH Reborn have done with the area, but the time for Keoland to win some victories and become a mover and shaker is long overdue.
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CruelSummerLord
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2018 7:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

vestcoat wrote:
CruelSummerLord,

Good points and I concede you're right. Keoland has never enjoyed any long-term expansion. Maybe their history of defeats shows that the Suel STILL aren't as martially competent as the warlike Oeridians. Even the SB has trouble keeping its conquests.

I guess I was rankled seeing the oldest nation in the Flanaess measured by its failures. For an empire that stretched from Gorna to Blue to Lopolla to Hokar, the Keoish lost a lot. I'll still argue that the glass is half full, however, because this is an interesting topic. Two-dozen major provinces have persisted in unity for a millennia. Sterich, Westkeep, and the Gran March pay various degrees of fealty to the crown.

Nothing can compare to the GK, the Flanaess' only true empire in modern history, but I'm inclined to still apply the "empire" label loosely to Keoland because: 1) it's the oldest nation in the Flanaess, 2) it has the largest population in the western map (after Zeif), 3) it still controls some other territories, and 4) the Flanaess doesn't have much for empires. Only Ahlissa, Iuz, and the Bright Lands claim the title and none have spanned more than a few years. It seems GH authors are quick to slap the empire tag on big bad guys to make them more imposing while peaceful realms are called kingdoms.

Getting to your question of why, I see two factors that have limited Keoland from ever throwing its weight around and being a dynamic force in the setting. One is fictional, the other stems from the real-world IP holders.

...

I don't know what LG and GH Reborn have done with the area, but the time for Keoland to win some victories and become a mover and shaker is long overdue.


Thanks for the thoughtful reply, vestcoat-and I would say that, as you pointed out, the retaking of Geoff and Sterich does in fact mark a victory for Keoish arms. I also wouldn't mind seeing them help the Principality of Ulek fight against the Pomarj...and what better way to get Ulek back into Keoland's sphere of influence at Celene's expense?

Your comparison of the Suel and Oeridians is an insightful one, and it may tie into why Keoland's endured while Aerdy eventually fractured. If the Aerdi used weapons to expand their empire, the more Suel Keoish used words...and while there was upheaval and rebellion in Keoland during its imperial phase, the strife that resulted pales in comparison to the destruction that resulted from Aerdy's long, slow decline. Most of Keoland's former holdings remain on decent terms with it, while the Great Kingdom was widely despised by all its neighbors, and its successor states aren't trusted much more.

In that respect, Suel brains may not achieve as much as Oeridian brawn over the short term, but over the longer term they don't lose nearly as much either. That's probably the reason why the Scarlet Brotherhood's gone back to using subtlety and trickery to achieve its goals rather than public shows of brute force-it too achieved its greatest success with words rather than weapons!
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2018 5:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

tarelton wrote:
Keoland always reminded me of either Hapsburg Spain or Austria . . .


Keoland has always put me in mind of the Holy Roman Empire and I've heard PSMedger say the same.

I chalk up their "failures" to the fact that they are -- more, or less -- a loose confederation of "Lords," owning a limited allegiance to an Overlord, though not always answering his call. The various "Lords" tend to go their own way.

rasgon wrote:
. . . Keoland and the Sea Princes was actually a civil war between two branches of the House of Rhola . . .


Which makes the point: They are as much divided as they are united; warring against one another as much as they war against others.

If any ruler could truly bring them together, as a united fighting force, then they would probably be something with which to reckon.
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heychadwick
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2018 5:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

vestcoat wrote:

... the Flanaess doesn't have much for empires. Only Ahlissa, Iuz, and the Bright Lands claim the title and none have spanned more than a few years. It seems GH authors are quick to slap the empire tag on big bad guys to make them more imposing while peaceful realms are called kingdoms.


I tend to see Empires ruled by strong Emperors. That's more of a despot's role. Strong leaders are required to keep the empire stable. That's not always (or usually) guaranteed. Kingdoms (even very large ones) tend to have more of an institutional longevity to them than empires.
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2018 7:33 pm    Post subject: Imperial Keoland Reply with quote

Bah! Long live Imperial Keoland! Obviously the OP has been subscribing to some sort of propaganda.

My post-GH Wars campaigns focuses on a movement afoot to restore the Imperial Keoland expansionist glory. Based on some folk in Keoland chafing at the reversals from the GH Wars and a desire to address past grievences. It ended up with a Keoish conquest of the Sea Princes from the SB, creating a new Keoish province, as well as a strengthening of bonds with its former territories.

I see Keoland as sort of a mirror image of the SB. Much more efficient at the diplomacy and soft power aspects of statecraft. My series of Keoish intelligence reports are kind of made to show Keoland as a good aligned SB, with agents everywhere working to impose Keoish power sub rosa. This seems to be a very Suelish trait.

O-D
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2018 7:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Keoland seems to want to work cooperatively with its neighbors more often that it wants to overpower them with force. With the Suel rulers and nobility predominant, those in charge have always just assumed a noblesse oblige over those they rule. If the rulers consider themselves superior, and the citizens do as well, what need is there for military force and might of arms to force people to follow, when it happens naturally. In LG, while I was Keoland Triad in the latter years, that was the thoughts I had regarding it.
Geoff was married to Keoland when Owen wed Calisse. Sterich's ruling family also has ties to Suel houses I believe. The Ulek states have been close allies for centuries, as has Gran March. It seems to have worked well for 10 centuries or so, and has generally brought peace and prosperity to the entire Sheldomar Valley. Why change now?
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rasgon
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2018 8:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

One thing about Tavish I, I think it's a bit facile to say he confederated the Sheldomar Valley purely "with the pen, not the sword." The Living Greyhawk Gazetteer tells us he "raised armies in great numbers" and "accelerated castle-building across the frontiers of the nation." That's the context you have to keep in mind when we're told he "negotiated a treaty" with the Ulek states. He didn't conquer them with fire and steel because he didn't need to; he made it clear that he had the ability to take them by force if it came to that. He may have signed the treaties with a pen, but there would likely not have been any treaties if not for the many swords he had at the ready.

Besides the skirmish with Ket, I don't think his armies were doing nothing during this period either. They were proving their effectiveness in battles with monsters, bandits, warlocks, insurrectionists, and anyone who could be reasonably labeled one of those things, and I think the Ulek states were made to be very clear about what exactly his armies could do. I don't think "Keoland didn't need to fight because it was obvious who would win" is the same thing as "Keoland always loses." As Sun Tzu said, "For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill."

Besides that, here's a short list of Keoish military victories:

- Suel houses battled the local Flan and abundant nonhumans for control of the land.
- Suel and Oeridian Sheldomar states became one nation after struggle with the Flan.
- Tavish I's military buildup, skirmish with Ket.
- Tavish II conquers Veluna, Ket, and the Pomarj.
- 463 CY: The Battle of Jetsom Island. Keoish forces sink the Sea Prince, prompting the Hold to turn from piracy to legitimate pursuits.
- 585-588 CY: Keoish forces reconquer Sterich.
- 590 CY: Kimbertos Skotti conquers Westkeep.
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CruelSummerLord
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2018 1:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rasgon wrote:
One thing about Tavish I, I think it's a bit facile to say he confederated the Sheldomar Valley purely "with the pen, not the sword." The Living Greyhawk Gazetteer tells us he "raised armies in great numbers" and "accelerated castle-building across the frontiers of the nation." That's the context you have to keep in mind when we're told he "negotiated a treaty" with the Ulek states. He didn't conquer them with fire and steel because he didn't need to; he made it clear that he had the ability to take them by force if it came to that. He may have signed the treaties with a pen, but there would likely not have been any treaties if not for the many swords he had at the ready.

Besides the skirmish with Ket, I don't think his armies were doing nothing during this period either. They were proving their effectiveness in battles with monsters, bandits, warlocks, insurrectionists, and anyone who could be reasonably labeled one of those things, and I think the Ulek states were made to be very clear about what exactly his armies could do. I don't think "Keoland didn't need to fight because it was obvious who would win" is the same thing as "Keoland always loses." As Sun Tzu said, "For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill."

Besides that, here's a short list of Keoish military victories:

- Suel houses battled the local Flan and abundant nonhumans for control of the land.
- Suel and Oeridian Sheldomar states became one nation after struggle with the Flan.
- Tavish I's military buildup, skirmish with Ket.
- Tavish II conquers Veluna, Ket, and the Pomarj.
- 463 CY: The Battle of Jetsom Island. Keoish forces sink the Sea Prince, prompting the Hold to turn from piracy to legitimate pursuits.
- 585-588 CY: Keoish forces reconquer Sterich.
- 590 CY: Kimbertos Skotti conquers Westkeep.


We're also told by the LGG that Tavish I brought a "youthful dynamism" and great energy to "sleepy" Niole Dra. Tavish negotiated a treaty with the Uleks, but it's just as likely that they too were caught up in the enthusiasm that Tavish generated throughout the Sheldomar. And the thing is, when the Uleks did decide to fight, they managed to win despite the Keoish already being entrenched in their lands-and what indication is there that the Keoish forces had weakened in power since that time? The LGG's entry on the Duchy of Ulek points out that the Uleks cooperated, and Keoland was distracted elsewhere.

As Sun Tzu also pointed out, "the opportunity to secure ourselves against defeat lies in our own hands, but the opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself."
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CruelSummerLord
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2018 1:24 pm    Post subject: Re: Imperial Keoland Reply with quote

Osmund-Davizid wrote:
Bah! Long live Imperial Keoland! Obviously the OP has been subscribing to some sort of propaganda.

My post-GH Wars campaigns focuses on a movement afoot to restore the Imperial Keoland expansionist glory. Based on some folk in Keoland chafing at the reversals from the GH Wars and a desire to address past grievences. It ended up with a Keoish conquest of the Sea Princes from the SB, creating a new Keoish province, as well as a strengthening of bonds with its former territories.

I see Keoland as sort of a mirror image of the SB. Much more efficient at the diplomacy and soft power aspects of statecraft. My series of Keoish intelligence reports are kind of made to show Keoland as a good aligned SB, with agents everywhere working to impose Keoish power sub rosa. This seems to be a very Suelish trait.

O-D


The idea of Keoland's "noblesse obilge" does come up a lot, doesn't it? I had the same idea in my own LGG Addendum writings many moons ago. I also notice the theme throughout this thread of Keoland growing in power after the Greyhawk Wars.

I suspect my different take on it comes from my being m interested in is actually trying to rank the military prowess of different Flanaess states, and while I saw plenty of evidence for the skills of Aerdy, Furyondy or Nyrond, as well as many lesser states, I didn't see nearly as much for Keoland. I concluded that it hadn't fought a serious war in decades, and described its prowess accordingly.

Even someone like Weimar Glendowyr, for all that he's a Keoish patriot, is still blunt about his frustrations with the problems of the Royal Keoish Army, problems he's learned through bitter experience.
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vestcoat
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2018 3:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Speaking of comparing armies, someone on Lord of the Green Dragons did an "armies of Oerth" series in 2010. Don't think they got to Keoland, but it's interesting.

http://lordofthegreendragons.blogspot.com/search?q=armies+of+oerth
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rasgon
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2018 5:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CruelSummerLord wrote:
We're also told by the LGG that Tavish I brought a "youthful dynamism" and great energy to "sleepy" Niole Dra. Tavish negotiated a treaty with the Uleks, but it's just as likely that they too were caught up in the enthusiasm that Tavish generated throughout the Sheldomar.


You're suggesting it was his "youthful dynamism" that inspired them to surrender their sovereignty, and not the massive armies and castles? It easily could be both, but I think it's unlikely that it was solely the former.

Quote:
what indication is there that the Keoish forces had weakened in power since that time?


The loss of the Yeomanry's support and "distractions caused by other rebellions in the region." Tavish I still had the Yeomanry and wasn't busy fighting a battle of attrition in Ket when he was intimidating the Ulek states with his youthful dynamism. Keoland's imperial decline is a parable about the overreach of two kings rather than a sign that Keoland was consistently bad at warcraft throughout its history.
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2018 7:58 pm    Post subject: Keoland in the Greyhawk Wars part 1 Reply with quote

I feel obliged to defend Keoland's martial honor:

I think largely history is written by the "winners" and if we view the canonical lore from the Greyhawk supplements as general collections of histories from sages, they may be subject to unreliable narrators or just plain errors.

The case in point I have here is the Greyhawk Wars. Keoland does not get the credit it deserves as a fighting force in this war. Its reputation was that it played politics and delayed in sending forces north to aid Furyondy. When it finally took the field, the southern lands were left open and were hit from all sides by the Pomarj, giant invasion, and the SB.

Using the Greyhawk Wars Adventurer's Book as a source (a great piece of lore that makes the board game worth while just to have it) I think we can see some evidence that, far from being a second rate military force, Keoland just may have saved civilization!

continued in next post...
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2018 8:33 pm    Post subject: Keoland in the Greyhawk Wars part 2 Reply with quote

Keoland in the Greyhawk Wars

Sources and citations are from The Greyhawk Wars Adventurer's Book

Starting in CY 583, the Empire of Iuz began its campaign against its southern neighbors - the Shield Lands and Furyondy. The former fell to a great feint and end around attack, and the latter had its northern territory invaded and its capital besieged. King Belvor sent ambassadors to request aid from the nations to the south - the "most important of all" Keoland (pg 10). In fact, the Gran March would only act in concert with Keoland (pg 11).

At this juncture, the war still looked like some localized trouble and the attitude of all the southern nations was what little aid could they get away with and for how long could they delay (pg 10). That characterization my be a little unfair, as these southern nations, while in times of relative peace, still faced hostile tribes of humanoids in the mountains and wild places that justified keeping large standing armies close to home. With such a long march to the north to assist, a more generous interpretation of the delay could very well be that the intel at the time pointed to something stirring among the evil forces in the wilderness.

In early CY 584, however, the diplomatic efforts of Furyondy bore fruit. The Treaty of Niole Dra was signed first by the "largest and most important nation" Keoland. Along with Gran March, Yeomanry, Duchy and County of Ulek, and a token Celene effort, this treaty authorized massive assistance to the north. (pg 15) By spring, Keoland's main force moved through the passes of the Lortmils (pg 15).

By the wording of that last sentence, it implies that there were multiple Keoish forces moving to aid Furyondy against Iuz. Also, it was the largest force that moved in accordance with the Treaty of Niole Dra. So what Keoland provided was significant in size at the very least. Later, it is written that indeed, Keoland had taken some of its ablest men and generals in this force, as they were described as absent when Turrosh Mak made his move (pg 15).

From what we can take from these passages, it is clear that Keoland commanded at the very least the political respect of its neighbors at the time. When the highly armed Gran March won't make a move without your permission, that says a lot for the authority Keoland held. As I said earlier, at the very least, Keoland had the greatest sized force to give, and indeed it provided those desperately needed numbers.

continued in next post....
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Osmund-Davizid
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2018 9:29 pm    Post subject: Keoland in the Greyhawk Wars part 3 Reply with quote

Continuing on with my analysis of Keoland's war record in the greatest of Greyhawk's wars...

The Pomarj thrust into the civilized lands was stopped by the Principality of Ulek's forces. The Prince did not send forces as part of the Treaty of Niole Dra and they were able to hold the Pomarji forces. After the Battle of Celene Pass, the Pomarj made their further advance and were content to go no further. (pg 18) The remaining reserve Keoish forces mobilized to go east to shore up the Ulek states in the face of such a massive invasion attempt. (pg 20)

The coalition of good aligned armies moving now against Iuz was described as powerful enough to ensure his doom (pgs 19-20). Therefore the Treaty of Niole Dra secured an obviously powerful and significant amount of military forces with Keoland being the foremost among them.

It is at this time that the giants begin their attack on the Yeomanry, Sterich and Geoff. In reading the list of nations that specifically signed the Treaty of Niole Dra, (pg 15), Sterich and Geoff were not named. Obviously, they knew of the presence of such evil forces on their borders and could not spare any troops to go north. The fact that their entire national armies could not hold back the giants and their allies shows what an awesome array was sent against them. Even in the face of all that, King Skotti still tried to scrape together a force to oppose those giants (implying that even with the cream of their army away, there were enough soldiers to make a credible force to oppose a giant invasion). It is officially stated that petty negotiations led to crucial delays in fielding this force, ultimately leading to the loss of Sterich. (pg 20)

The theme of petty politicking recurs over and over again with the employment of Keoish troops. There may be some truth to that. There may also be an explanation that agents of the Scarlet Brotherhood may have had a hand in this. Now I do not subscribe to the notion that the SB was manipulating everything in the GH Wars, but in this case, that is quite plausible. A minor agent, posing as a bureaucrat, could do just enough small things, like delaying key negotiations with low level legal and diplomatic sabotage, as to cause a far reaching effect. Anyway, the loss of Geoff and Sterich may very well happened regardless of Keoish involvement, but it is certain that it was more for the lack of Keoish forces, not poor performance, that led to the losses.

Once news of the Pomarj invasion reached the northern armies, the Ulek forces divided themselves to go south back to enforce their homelands (pg 20). The forces of Ket started their invasion of Bissel, cutting off the southern armies form returning as well as pulling the Velunese back to repel them. with all this going on, the text does not relate what the Keoish forces were doing.

Now, what did happen in the north? Belvor counterattacked through the Vesve Forest, Velunish forces checked the Kettish advance on Mitrik, Chendl's siege was broken. No details were given on these events, but I think that the forces of Keoland had to have been involved in each of them. In reading the sourcebook The Marklands, it is clear that some provincial rulers in Furyondy still do not take the threat of Iuz seriously, implying that they did not furnish their own troops. I think for propaganda purposes, the king of Furyondy would highlight his own nation's armies and downplay what the Niole Dra coalition accomplished. This we get the belief that the Keoish forces were no good.

continued in next post....
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 09, 2018 9:48 pm    Post subject: Keoland in the Greyhawk Wars part 4 Reply with quote

In the final analysis of the Greyhawk Wars, it is not clear how much combat Keoland actually saw. One of the big mysteries is what did the massive force mobilized by the Treaty of Niole Dra do while in the lands of Furyondy. It is recorded that some of the Ulek forces peeled off and returned to their homelands when the Pomarj invaded, but other details of the northern war are missing (that may make a wonderful article here on CF).

I put forth that the advances that Belvor accomplished were done with the tremendous assistance of the Niole Dra coalition. Once the Treaty of Greyhawk was signed, one of the major points would have been to make the Niole Dra forces return to their homelands (Iuz would have insisted on that). In reading about the size of the forces in the post-GH Wars era, the forces of Iuz greatly outnumber the Furyondy troops, making it logical to assume that during the war, the Niole Dra coalition made up the difference.

Keoland faced hostile forces from all directions (pg 24), provided a large and powerful force to fight far beyond its borders, reinforced its neighbors, and still had to fight off land and sea blockades from the SB. Far from being a pipe organ on the battlefield, Keoland can rightfully say to have been a major leader in making sure that the losses suffered by the forces of good were minimized in the face of overwhelming numbers.

Traditionally, Keoland is well known for its light cavalry armed with javelins, crossbows and lances. But the bulk of its forces were footmen with polearms and long spears. (World of Greyhawk boxed set) This mix of troops may be better suited for certain terrain and styles of warfare that may limit effectiveness in certain situations.

But on the whole, Keoland may be more the victim of incomplete history than military incompetence. The Greyhawk Wars was a world altering event, and Keoland's military participation was key in several theaters.

That is the mark of a powerful military. For the Lion Throne!
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2018 12:32 pm    Post subject: Re: Is It Just Me, Or Does Keoland Always Lose? Reply with quote

CruelSummerLord wrote:
Is it just me, or does Keoland really, really suck at fighting wars? They've been defeated by most of the other countries of the Sheldomar Valley and beyond...

...Hence the old saying that going to war without Keoland is like going to war without a pipe organ. They both make a lot of noise and they're both a lot of dead weight, so what's the point in taking them?


Osmund-Davizid wrote:
...Keoland does not get the credit it deserves as a fighting force in this war. Its reputation was that it played politics and delayed in sending forces north to aid Furyondy. When it finally took the field, the southern lands were left open and were hit from all sides by the Pomarj, giant invasion, and the SB.

Using the Greyhawk Wars Adventurer's Book as a source (a great piece of lore that makes the board game worth while just to have it) I think we can see some evidence that, far from being a second rate military force, Keoland just may have saved civilization!...


-I managed to lose the country cards from my Greyhawk Wars set, but IIRC, Keoland's military forces rival Aerdy's and Nyrond's, with a much smaller population. This would imply a high level of competence for their military forces on a man-for-man basis. So, if Keoland has a problem militarily, its not the fault of their fighting forces. The place to look would be their generals, diplomats and politicians. Wink
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2018 6:31 pm    Post subject: Re: Keoland in the Greyhawk Wars part 1 Reply with quote

Osmund-Davizid wrote:
I feel obliged to defend Keoland's martial honor:

I think largely history is written by the "winners" and if we view the canonical lore from the Greyhawk supplements as general collections of histories from sages, they may be subject to unreliable narrators or just plain errors.

...

But on the whole, Keoland may be more the victim of incomplete history than military incompetence. The Greyhawk Wars was a world altering event, and Keoland's military participation was key in several theaters.



I've noticed that the examples of Keoland's martial prowess people in this thread are giving tend to come from the modern era, around the Greyhawk Wars. Maybe one of King Kimbertos's major accomplishments has been to get the Keoish Army's act together and introduce fresh thinking and talent, given that he's not from either of Keoland's old noble houses.

But otherwise, when Keoland wasn't winning more victories with words than weapons, it was withdrawn from the world, with at least two major "quiet" periods in its history. Keoland obviously wasn't getting its **** kicked during those times, but it wasn't expanding, either. When it was, it tended to lose more often than not.

I originally accounted for Keoland's "winning" the land from the Flan due to base betrayals and broken treaties as much as actual martial skill. The Flan here were weakened due to Vecna's machinations, so they weren't in any position to contest the early Suel settlers when the latter treacherously betrayed them.

If we're going to be cherry-picking from canon and dismissing some parts as wrong (and I have no problem with this, considering how often I do it) then the Adventurer's Book you cite is fair game as well. And if it isn't, given how recent it is, then The Adventure Begins' remarks about King Kimbertos "blundering badly" and the LGG's description of him as "befuddled" in signing the Treaty of Niole Dra would stand too, wouldn't they?

In my own version of things, the Against The Giants saga took place in 581 CY, not 576, and the success of the heroes who fought in that saga deprived the giants of their leadership right before the Greyhawk Wars. The giants were still eager for blood and treasure and attacked the human lands, but with their leadership decapitated the giants were a bunch of disorganized mobs who fought each other as much as the forces of good. Geoff and Sterich thus never fell to the giants, but the Gran March, the Knights of the Watch and the Yeomanry turned out to be far more helpful than Keoland.

Keoland, under Lashton's influence, tried to draw greater fealty from the western nations in exchange for aid. Predictably, the Geoffites and Sterish were furious at their sovereign's court playing politics while they were fighting for their lives. When King Kimbertos forced the issue and finally sent aid, it turned out to be belated and not nearly as helpful as the westerners hope. The Royal Keoish Army turned out to have built up quite a bit of rust from sitting idle for so long. Even so, the giants were decisively defeated, and as Geoff and Sterich struggled to rebuild many of their people grumbled about how they would almost have been better off without Keoland's aid. There were even whispers of formal secession from the Throne of the Lion altogether.

Needless to say, this infuriated much of the Keoish aristocracy, including the court wizard Lashton. The common people of Keoland are rather divided-some of them consider their western neighbors ungrateful swine, while others sympathize with them. King Kimbertos himself sympathizes with the western nations, but he can't openly oppose Lashton yet, not when so many of the country's nobles have soured on him due to his social reforms and a king openly fighting with his court wizard is seen as very bad form. Adding to his unpopularity among the nobles is his growing unpopularity among those common Keoish folk who also criticize the westerners. Kimbertos is widely popular among his elven and halfling subjects, and many commoners appreciate his efforts to expand their rights, but his support among those commoners is steadily diminishing.

Kimbertos might not have the Horned Empire as a neighbor like Belvor IV, or have the northern half of his country occupied by the Pale the way Lynwerd does, but his own situation is just as thorny.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 15, 2018 11:26 am    Post subject: Re: Keoland in the Greyhawk Wars part 1 Reply with quote

CruelSummerLord wrote:
...I've noticed that the examples of Keoland's martial prowess people in this thread are giving tend to come from the modern era, around the Greyhawk Wars. Maybe one of King Kimbertos's major accomplishments has been to get the Keoish Army's act together and introduce fresh thinking and talent, given that he's not from either of Keoland's old noble houses....


-Well, at least in my case, it's the only example for which we have hard, objective data.

CruelSummerLord wrote:
...I originally accounted for Keoland's "winning" the land from the Flan due to base betrayals and broken treaties as much as actual martial skill...


-What treacherous betrayals? There's a hint of that in Uhas' Chronicle, but that's an in game work. I think it's an odd claim that the Houses of Rhola and Neheli (adherents of the benevolent Jascar and Lydia respectively) would have been good during the Suel Imperium (quite a challenge), suddenly become bad guys as soon as the malign Imperium ended, then revert to benevolence a few decades later.

Perhaps someone can make sense of that?

CruelSummerLord wrote:
...The Flan here were weakened due to Vecna's machinations, so they weren't in any position to contest the early Suel settlers when the latter treacherously betrayed them..


-A lot of the Flan were apparently willing adherents of the Ur Flan or the said Vecna. It strikes me that the Rhola and the Neheli had more to fear from the Flan than vice versa... Laughing
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