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    History of the South-East, Part 7: The Turmoil between Crowns

    “By hook or by crook this peril too shall be something that we remember.”
    ― Homer, The Odyssey


    The Turmoil Between Crowns


    What can be said of the Celestial Houses of Aerdy? History says that they were great and good, and that their benevolence had brought peace and prosperity to all the lands of the Flanaess. Were that so, then why did Furyondy secede? Why did Nyrond and Tenh? And were they so, why was there such turmoil between crowns?






    437 CY  The Kingdom of Aerdy and the Great Kingdom were great as all empires are, through force of will. It had artifacts and artifice at its disposal, and the weight of arms, against which few nations, if any, could stand against. But it had grown myopic, sure in its omnipotence, and its longevity. Had not the Suel Imperium lasted centuries? But the Suel emperors had been vigilant, and watchful. And the Suel Imperium had not been cleaved from within. The Great Kingdom was. And as its great houses turned upon one another, those nations that until recently basked under its supposed radiant sun could only look on in horror as its sun set and it chose its new path to paradise through Hell.

    For three centuries the Aerdy held a vast empire which fluctuated in extent but little, until after the third Celestial House (dynasty) when the borders began to close in upon the original territory of the Aerdi. [Folio - 5]


    [The Turmoil Between Crowns:] This name is given both to the decade of internal schisms under the rule of the last Rax overking, Nalif, and to the civil war which followed Ivid's ascension. [Ivid - 4]


    Faith understands that to truly affect change, it must have the support of the crown, the aristocracy, and if necessary, the people. All sects are as motivated in such regard. All sects courted those houses that could presumably sway others, and the plebeians if it should come to that, to see the true path. Hextor's Faith was no different. But not all of the Celestial Houses looked upon their vision with the same enlightened eyes as others; some did; some more than others; and thus when most turned their blind eyes from the true path, the Hextorians turned to the one that understood the only true path as one of strength: House Naelax.

    Alone among the Oeridian faiths, the church of the Champion of Evil has grown in power as the Great Kingdom has declined. This rise was due in part to the departure of most of the church armies of rival faiths. Hextor’s faithful strongly backed the House of Naelax during the Turmoil Between Crowns that began in 437 CY. [Bastion of Faith]


    Ivid I, House Naelax
    War is wasteful. And its outcome is never certain. Great houses may band together against a common foe, only to betray one another at the most unexpected moment. Ivid I, House of Naelax, understood that. He also understood that whomever ascended the throne might only hold it for a short time if his house was exhausted in attaining it. The best course of action then, in his opinion, was to bypass all the uncertainty, and take a more certain, and decisive thrust. The other houses might not like it, they might even call foul, secretly wishing that they had landed that blow themselves. No matter. He had allies. And mercenaries. And the money to keep them.
    Overking Nalif was the last of the Rax line descended directly from the overkings. A flock of misbegotten cousins, exiles and ne'er do wells of Rax could lay some claim to the title of overking when Ivid had Nalif assassinated, but after a century of hopelessly ineffectual Rax rule all of the royal houses agreed that another Rax overking was simply unacceptable.
     Ivid proclaimed himself overking immediately and plunged the Great Kingdom into civil war. [Ivid - 4]

    The Assassination of Nalif
    After the withdrawal of Nyrond from the Great Kingdom, the slide became precipitous. Buffoons and incompetents sat upon the Malachite Throne, and their mismanagement split apart the Celestial Houses. This period of degeneration culminated in the Turmoil Between Crowns, when the last Rax heir, Nalif, died in 437 CY at the hands of assassins from House Naelax. The herzog (great prince) of North Province, Ivid I, then laid claim to the throne. The herzog of South Province, Galssonan of House Cranden, broke with Rauxes and joined a widespread rebellion in the south. Years of civil war ensued, and only the intercession of dispassionate houses such as Garasteth and Darmen brought about the final compromise.
    The tyrannical Ivid I assumed the Malachite Throne at the price of granting greater autonomy to the provinces, notably Medegia, Rel Astra, and Almor. The recalcitrant herzog of South Province was quickly deposed and replaced by a prince from House Naelax, who sought immediately to bring the southern insurgents back into line. [LGG - 24]

    The darkest chapter in the history of Aerdy began in 437 CY. In this year, the upstart House Naelax murdered the Rax overking, inaugurating a series of gruesome civil wars called the Turmoil Between Crowns. Within a decade, Ivid I of Naelax was recognized as the undisputed overking of all Aerdy. As Ivid was rumored to be in league with powerful evil Outsiders, the Malachite Throne of the Great Kingdom became known as the Fiend-Seeing Throne, and the once mighty and upright empire became a bastion of evil and cruelty. [LGG - 14]

    The new "Grand Empire of Nyrond" watched, bemusedly at first, as Aerdy's House Rax degenerated. The failure to crush separatist movements in Ferrond and Nyrond had castrated the Rax overkings, who now seemed to exist only to appease the increasingly independent palatine states of Medegia, North Province, Bone March, and Ahlissa. The Turmoil Between Crowns, initiated in 437 with the assassination of Overking Nalif, changed bemusement to horror. Within nine years, the Malachite Throne had fallen to the debased House Naelax. With chaos and madness ruling from Rauxes, Nyrond's King Dunstan I knew that no enemy of Aerdy would ever be safe again. Nyrond, he noted, needed allies, and it needed them quickly.
    Though he could not pledge public support due to the threat of retaliatory strikes from Ivid I's Northern Army, amassed near Innspa, Dunstan I attended the conference in Chathold that resulted in the formation of the Iron League. There, he privately assured the new partners that any enemy of the League was also an enemy of Nyrond. Dunstan made good on that pledge, sending weapons and warships (though no troops) to aid besieged Irongate at the Battle of a Thousand Banners, the following year. [LGG - 77]

    By 437 CY, tensions within the Great Kingdom threatened to tear it apart. House Naelax delivered the sundering blow by assassinating all rivals in House Rax, after which nearly a decade of civil war ensued. Ivid I finally secured the Malachite Throne after Prince Malchim III of House Garasteth, lord mayor of Rel Astra, sided with House Naelax and negotiated palatinate status for the major provinces of the Great Kingdom, including his own. Thereafter, Rel Astra guided its own course. Rel Astra became the primary destination for those who fell out of favor in the former Great Kingdom, a trend that continues as political refugees arrive from Ahlissa, the Sea Barons, and even North Kingdom. [LGG - 93]

    c. 440s-460s CY Torn by turmoil, the Great Kingdom began to break apart. At first the Throne took no action. But as the tapestry of state continued unravelling, it had little choice but to rise from its stupor and take action, lest it lose the entirety of its lands. But try as it might, it could not stem the tide. The Iron League formed. Alain II of Ratik declared his fief an arch-barony, not entirely willing to completely sever ties with the mother country, as yet. But in truth, he ruled Ratik as though it was indeed independent, as did the Marquis of Bone March. What choice did they have? The Crown was embroiled in what came to be known as the Turmoil Between Crowns, and it took no interest in the administration of its provinces.

    443-446 CY         Much like all rulers, Ivid I wished to commemorate his reign. He commissioned a throne as none had ever seen before, crafted from a single, unblemished block of malachite. Over the next three years, a coven of mage-artificers and priests of Hextor worked on the block, shaping it into a mighty throne and drawing upon the malign eldritch energies of the Cauldron to imbue it with its terrible powers.
    There is ample reason the malachite throne is known as the "Fiend-seeing Throne." The throne which the Naelax overkings have ascended was crafted between 443 and 446 CY from a great crystal chunk found in the Cauldron of Night. The throne itself, fashioned by mages and priests, has magical properties (see the chapter on Rauxes). Its abilities include providing a gate to the Nine Hells. [Ivid - 22]

    The Fiend-seeing Throne

    Payment Due
    443 CY  Debts must be paid, and the Hextorians would have what was due them. They demanded that the Heironians be expunged from Ivid’s domain, the Knights Protector with them. What of those knights devoted to Hextor? It was but a simple thing for them to forsake their vows for the greater good of having rid the Kingdom of weakness. Wasn’t it that weakness which shackled their attempts to rid the land of the Death Knights? Hextor surely favoured those very same Death Knights. The Hextorians turned on their brethren with Ivid’s approval.
     In 443 CY, Ivid I set about hunting down and destroying the remaining Knight Protectors, for they opposed his ascension to the throne after he assassinated the last Rax overking. He did not succeed in destroying them, but they were widely dispersed, and some disappeared from the courts of the provinces to go into hiding. [LGG - 158]

    446-447 CY         Wars are expensive endeavours. So too interests due. Ivid I raised the stipend expected of those he protected, even if that protection had never been needed.
    The third recent split in the Great Kingdom came in the south, in 446-447 CY. Extreme repression and taxation of the population led to a general rebellion among commoners and nobles alike. [TAB - 18]

    446 CY  The tyrannical Ivid I assumed the Malachite Throne at the price of granting greater autonomy to the provinces, notably Medegia, Rel Astra, and Almor. The recalcitrant herzog of South Province was quickly deposed and replaced by a prince from House Naelax, who sought immediately to bring the southern insurgents back into line. In 446 CY, the herzog granted an audience to representatives of Irongate, who went to Zelradton to air their grievances. The offer turned out to be a ruse, and the ambassadors were imprisoned, tortured, and executed for Overking Ivid's enjoyment. The whole of the south arose again in violent rebellion, and one year later formed the Iron League and allied with Nyrond. [LGG - 24]

    Paradoxically, the disintegration of the Great Kingdom paused a while, despite a wretched change at its very crown. The House of Rax became decadent, self-absorbed, weak, and ineffectual. Petty nobles began to scheme, to openly flout the Overking's edicts, and to enact their own laws and pursue their own mean-minded grudges. It was only a matter of time before Rax was overthrown and a new tyrant installed as Overking and, in truth, many petty nobles were glad when it happened. After decades of pointless strife, it was almost a relief to have central power and authority again. However, few of them would have chosen Ivid I as their new master.
    No direct evidence links Ivid, ruler of the North Province at the time, with the assassination of the entire House of Rax in 446 CY. But Ivid ensured his ascension by the simple expedient of killing every other minor princeling who made a claim on the throne, and plenty more besides. Madness had gripped the Malachite Throne when Ivid I, scion of the House of Naelax, was proclaimed His Celestial Transcendency, Overking of Aerdy, and many knew it.
    A Dark Pact
    The Malachite Throne became known as the "Fiend-seeing Throne." It was whispered that the House of Naelax had willingly entered into a pact with fiends—lords of the infernal tanar'ri—a pact that would endure down all the generations of their descendants. A time of terror had begun. Blood would wash the feet and hands of the madman enthroned in Rauxes. Little wonder that further secessions beset his lands.
    Civil war erupted in the Great Kingdom. The North Province, now ruled by Ivid's nephew, soon established independence, as did the wily Herzog of Ahlissa in the the South Province. He allied himself with the seceding Iron League: the lands of Onnwal, Idee, Sunndi, and the Free City of Ironwall.
    The Holy Censor, High Priest to the Overking, sought freedom for the See of Medegia. Almor grew in strength and freedom, supported by Nyrond as a buffer state between itself and the declining power of Rauxes, although Ivid managed to drag it back under his influence in later years. Momentous change beset the Great Kingdom. Not until Ivid V ascended the Fiend-seeing Throne would the Great Kingdom appear to increase in might again. This would take a century to happen and also be ultimately a temporary hiccup in the terminal decline of Aerdy. If all eyes were on the Great Kingdom for decades after Ivid's rise, it would help explain why they missed seeing the rise of a new power far to the west and north. [FtAA - 4,5]

    [The alliance between the Hextorians and the House of Naelax] led to the faith’s ascendancy over all other faiths in the Great Kingdom as of the coronation of Ivid I in 446 CY, but also resulted in the church of Hextor falling under the thumb of successive overkings. [Bastion of Faith - 90]

    The Displeasure of Ivid
    It came to pass that the rumblings of the frontiers reached the ears of the Overking. Ivid I understood that such rumbling had led to the formation of Furyondy and Veluna, of Nyrond and Tenh. Ivid I also understood that if those rumblings had been silenced early on, those nations would still be apart of the greatest kingdom to have ever graced the Oerth. Examples must be made, lest the south follow the way of the west.
    As the rule of the Overking grew more despotic, the people of the city began to murrnur, and the Lord Mayor headed a deputation bearing grievances to the Herzog. These emissaries were thrown into prison, given a mock trial, and executed by ritual torture for the Overking' s entertainment (446 CY). [Folio - 11]

    Onnwal was shocked. Onnwal was incensed. Onnwal declares itself a Free State.
    Onnwal was originally a lesser fief of the Herzog of South Province, to be granted as he saw fit to his faithful followers. The oppressive rule of the Great Kingdom brought great discontent and instigated open rebellion, the whole of the South Province being in arms. All of the lower portion was lost to the empire when the Iron League was founded. [Folio - 13]

    Long-standing pressures upon South Province to bring the southern fiefs into line drove Damalinor of Naelax, the new herzog appointed by Ivid, to attempt to break the rebellion with an infamous act of villainy. In 446 CY, the lord mayor of Irongate petitioned to have his grievances heard in Zelradton and accepted an invitation to attend the herzog at his palace. When he and his party arrived, they were imprisoned and tortured to death for the overking's entertainment. Their remains were on display for weeks in the Traitor's Garden in Rauxes. So horrified were the people of Irongate by the account of the mayor's demise that the city revolted against the herzog and the overking. South Province was plunged into civil war and chaos. [LGG - 57]

    Ivid must be mad, some said. Ivid must be deposed others said. And thus civil war broke out within the Great Kingdom. I suppose some few must believe that was how the war began, but in truth, the war had been brewing for some time, steeped in a cauldron of ambition, avarice, and hate.
    Among the competing houses, the House of Cranden opposed Naelax, as did many elements of the House of Garasteth and the remnants of Rax. But in all houses’ princes were busy using the civil war as a cover for settling old scores and attacking their inhouse rivals. Ivid certainly had some such princes assassinated; the blame would be laid upon their own blood for this, increasing within-house divisions and making opposition to him less organized. [Ivid - 4]

    447 CY  Ivid’s treatment of the envoys shocked the entirety of the Great Kingdom. How dare Ivid! Onnwall screamed. So too the other southern provinces. The entirety of the southern Great Kingdom rebelled, with only the core of the South Province, Ahlissa, remaining loyal to Rauxes.
    The oppressive rule of the Great Kingdom brought great discontent and instigated open rebellion, the whole of the South Province being in arms. All of the lower portion was lost to the empire when the Iron League was founded in 447 CY. This alliance joined Onnwal with the Free City of Irongate (which barred the Onnwal peninsula), Idee, Sunndi, and the demi-humans of the Glorioles and the Hestmark Highlands in economic and military alliance. Onnwal and Irongate supplied the sea power, while the other members furnished troops for land actions -- although strong contingents from both of the former places were also sent into battle. [Folio - 13]

    Onnwal and Irongate provided the primary naval support for the Iron League, with the Szek responsible for shuttling league business between the Azure Sea and their allies in Nyrond and the north. [LGG - 80]

    [The] whole of the south was in arms against the realm, and after a brief struggle the Iron League was founded, an alliance of mutual support which aided the rebellious states to throw off the yoke of the Aerdi tyrants. [Folio - 11]

    When the Turmoil of Between the Crowns sowed rebellion and caused widespread division in the Great Kingdom, Onnwal joined the other southern states who broke from the Malachite Throne. The herzog of South Province failed to force them back into line, and Szek Parmus Destron became an independent lord in the aftermath. [LGG - 80]

    Onnwal had to pay. Ivid and the South Province believed that if Onnwal’s sedition was put to task, the city and its allies would fall and come to heel. Forces were gathered. Ships put to sea. Never before had such an armada been raised by the Great Kingdom against one of its own.
    The Battle of a Thousand Banners
    In response, Herzog Damalinor declared open season on the rebellious states. He targeted Irongate in particular as the keystone of the rebellion. He called up a force composed of hundreds of his vassals and kin (most of whom were landless, errant princes) and as bounty, he offered them a piece of the conquered states as spoils. So numerous were the so-called "privateers" and their men-at-arms that the ensuing siege of Irongate would be called the Battle of a Thousand Banners. However, the force was stymied by the success of the kingdom's own design of the fortress-city. Irongate was impregnable, designed to withstand siege and repel invaders like no other city. The herzog's commanders failed to quickly penetrate the city, and the Provincial Expeditionary Force was slaughtered by a combined host of men, elves, and dwarves; the surviving invaders were hunted down in the hills and slain over the next few weeks. [LGG - 57]

    lrongate was besieged by Aerdian forces for several months, but in the Battle of a Thousand Banners the siege was lifted when a ruse panicked the northerners, and great numbers of them were subsequently slain by a combined host of men and gray elves of the League. While never invaded, Onnwal is subject to periodic sea raids from the Herzog's squadrons. [Folio - 13]

    Word of the success of Irongate's defense quickly spread, and a great conference was called in the city, including representatives of other various rebellious states once a part of or governed by the vast South Province. Irongate, Onnwal, Idee, Sunndi, and the Lordship of the Isles declared independence from the Great Kingdom, witnessed by ambassadors from Nyrond and dwarf nobles from the Glorioles, Hestmark Highlands, and Iron Hills. This was followed by the formation of the Iron League by Irongate, Onnwal, and Idee in late 447 CY.
    Irongate became the headquarters of the alliance, accepting ambassadors from the other states. [LGG - 57,58]


    448 CY  Lordship of the Isles declares independence from the Great Kingdom Lordship of the Isles.
    The Iron League was quickly joined by the Lordship of the Isles in 448, and eventually the county of Sunndi in 455.
    The Iron League became very successful at keeping its enemies in the Great Kingdom at bay, using spies and subterfuge to resist the efforts of all herzogs to reclaim it [.] [LGG - 58]

    Ivid I of House Naelax brought pressure on the southern princes to fall into line, but the outrages committed by the new herzog of South Province, which included seizing Lordship vessels anchored in Prymp Town, drove the lords of the isles to declare independence along with the other states. The prince of the Isles joined the Iron League in 448 CY, providing naval support and conveyance for traffic between Irongate, Onnwal, and their allies in Nyrond. In so doing, the lord of Diren was forced to deal more plainly with his fellow lords on the other islands, sharing additional power and ceding more local autonomy to them over the ensuing years. [LGG - 71]




    One must always give credit where credit is due. This History is made possible primarily by the Imaginings of Gary Gygax and his Old Guard, Lenard Lakofka among them, and the new old guards, Carl Sargant, James Ward, Roger E. Moore. And Erik Mona, Gary Holian, Sean Reynolds, Frederick Weining. The list is interminable. Thanks to Steven Wilson for his GREYCHRONDEX and to Keith Horsfield for his “Chronological History of Eastern Oerik.”
    Special thanks to Jason Zavoda for his compiled index, “Greyhawkania,” an invaluable research tool.

    Primary sources for this history were the DMG 1e, The World of Greyhawk Folio, and The World of Greyhawk Gold Box, Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, Ivid the Undying, The Living Greyhawk Journals, Dragon Magazine.

    The Art:
    All art is wholly owned by the artists.


    Sources:
    1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
    1064 From the Ashes Boxed Set, 1992
    1068 Greyhawk Wars Boxed Set, 1991
    2011A Dungeon Masters Guide, 1st Ed., 1979
    2023 Greyhawk Adventures Hardback, 1988
    9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
    9399 WGR 5, Iuz the Evil, 1993
    9577 The Adventure Begins, 1998
    9578 Player’s Guide to Greyhawk, 1998
    11374 The Scarlet Brotherhood, 1999
    11621 Slavers. 2000
    11742 Gazetteer, 2000
    11743 Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000
    Ivid the Undying, 1998
    Dragon Magazine
    OJ Oerth Journal, appearing on Greyhawk Online
    LGJ et. al.
    Greychrondex, Wilson, Steven B.
    Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda
    The Map of Anna B. Meyer


    Posted: 01-01-2022 12:54 pm
    Retconning Ratik

    “Presume not that I am the thing I was.”

    William Shakespeare  'Henry IV, Part 2' (1597) act 5, sc. 5, l. [61]


    Northern Ratik
    Time for a little retroactive continuity. I’m sure many others have set their campaign in Ratik, but I doubt many have done much in my little corner of the world, the area nestled between northern Ratik and western Fruztii. It’s a blank space on the map, as far as I can see. A blank slate, as it were. Time to fill it.


    But what to do? Begin with a map? I have one: Darlene’s map, and Anna B. Meyer’s map. I’ve doodled others, sad recreations of what once were, those maps I purged with a great deal of my old notes when I cleaned out my shelves of what I presumed I would never use or need again. I’ll sketch them out again, hopefully more legibly, and maybe again as I learn a CC3+. Now I need add some low-level adventures, just to get started. But what adventures? Most published adventures are in the Sheldomar Valley. That doesn’t mean you can’t steal a few here and there.


    In the beginning, modules were not set in any particular place. A few had, such as the original monochromatic B1 In Search of the Unknown, suggesting that The Theocracy of the Pale, or Tenh, or Ratik were good places to set the adventure—an odd statement, considering the World of Greyhawk Folio had yet to be published, so who could know where such places were? There were only vague references to Greyhawk as yet, artifacts, regions, and personages in the 1e DMG, but the adventuring world was very much a do-it-yourself, homebrew affair in those early days.

    S1 Tomb of Horrors was set in the Vast Swamp. That’s pretty specific now; not then. G1-3 (the monochromatic and the later compendium) were clearly set in mountainous terrain. But which mountains? Mountains abound in Greyhawk.

    It wasn’t until S2 White Plume Mountain, that modules began to be set in place, its place easily discovered in the Folio. S2 specifically stated that “White Plume Mountain is located in the northeastern part of the Shield Lands, near the Bandit Kingdoms and the Great Rift.” Granted, it also stated that you could place it anywhere you like within your own campaign, as most people would not have a copy of the World of Greyhawk and its maps for another year. Best not to alienate your customers.

    That said, everyone knows where Hommlet is. Now. That may not be true of the Slavers’ series, or Lendore Isles, or Orlane, or a host of other villages of countries—but Hommlet and the Temple of Element al Evil, you bet your ass they know where that is, even if they don’t really know where Verbonbonc is.

    2nd Edition want as far as to place those modules that had yet to find a home. I reference Return to the Keep on the Borderands and the Liberation of Geoff, in case you’re wondering what I’m alluding to. That said, the official setting of 2nd Edition was the Forgotten Realms. And Ravenloft. And Dark Sun. And Spacejammers. And Planescape. And Greyhawk, I suppose.

    3rd Edition took a different path. Most of its adventures were set in a “generic” setting, even if the “official” setting of 3rd Edition was Greyhawk. Best not to alienate your customers. A few modules had minor references to Greyhawk, setting the adventure path there, but not specifically. Paizo’s Adventure Paths were clearly set in Greyhawk. As was Living Greyhawk. But not the WotC modules. That annoyed me at first. No more. Personally, I prefer that now. Place them where you wish.

    But I digress.


    So, let’s recreate a campaign from memory, shall we? Or let’s set down what I can remember of the James Bay Frontier campaign, anyways, reimagining what I remember. Let’s also adapt what published materials I used to inspire said campaign.

    Remember my northern Ratik map? Let’s work with that, shall we?


    Let’s place B2 The Keep on the Borderlands where Riverport is. Do not feel constrained by the map of the keep, or the surrounding region. I will not be. It’s my campaign and want to be inspired by these works, not actually run them as written. So, let’s redo them. I would hazard a guess that the keep is too large, way too large. It’s on the northern edge of what was once the Aerdy empire, after all, the frontier, out of sight, out of mind, an afterthought if not pressed upon be the barbarian hordes. It would not be showered with funds. Aside from that, it’s lonely upon its hill. So, redraw it. Make it smaller, more “rural,” as it were, befitting a keep on the borderlands. I placed it on the Porcupine River. That’s a defensible position. Also, no keep stands alone, so wrap a town around it. It requires acres of farmland to support it, and tradesmen, and those tradesmen require infrastructure. Ratik and the Great Kingdom were largely human, so most people there are human. But where there are humans there are halflings. They are an entrepreneurial sort. There would be gnomes as well. There were gnomes in Ratik prior, so they would have moved north with Ratik’s forces when they pressed north.

    Place Hommlet at its base. Or something quite similar. Gary Gygax created a masterpiece when he wrote T1 The Village of Hommlet. We might as well learn from it.


    Those two modules ought to seed your imagination. They did mine.

    Keep the caves to the north, their existence a mystery to the people of Riverport and environs, their humanoid inhabitants a growing concern to the farms and the small mining communities to the north, in this case, Potts, Porcupine, and Tymons. There are dwurfolk in them that hills, and mountains, too, by the way. Higher up in the Rakers are the northern mountain clans, the clanholds of Ukauric and Ukargic, and lower down at their base, the hill clans, the Ukacuprum and Ukashal. There would be far more hill dwarves in Potts, Porcupine, and Tymon than their mountain kin. The clan names given them are in keeping with the clan names to the south, the Ukaloa, Ukamanini, and Ukafane, by the way.

    The humanoids are being gathered in the caves by an evil presence that has recently come down from the mountains to seed its mayhem and discontent upon the sparsely populated James Bay Frontier, that little addition north of North Bay. How long has that presence been there? Longer than we imagine; indeed, it has been there since Keraptis considered these lands his.

    The temple there has been reoccupied recently by devotees to that great evil from a bygone age, the Elder Elemental God. Keraptis was lured there because of it, and he had grown even more powerful because of it. So had Rogahn and Zelligar, for that matter, before they disappeared into the north country to deal with the barbarian menace, never to return. Did those two malevolent personages build Quasqueton? I think not. They may have expanded it, but they came upon that fell place, centuries after Keraptis had hollowed out its corridors. Should I use the venerable maps of B1 In Search of the Unknown? Absolutely not. They’re ridiculous, and lack verisimilitude. Redesign it. Take the temple out of B2 and put it in Quasqueton. Alter the description of it to match the unused temple in G1 The Steading of the Hill Giant. This temple is older and far more dormant than G1’s, which still exudes a palpable aura of Evil. This one will be foreshadowing of what is to come.

    We have an ancient temple that has called evil down from the mountains. Evil acolytes are gathering a humanoid horde, infesting the hills, attacking supply caravans, disrupting trade. They have even infiltrated the keep, as noted in B2. They have infiltrated the town too, much as they had in T1.

    They have begun to spread their influence to the coast. Enter N1 Against the Cult of the Reptile God. See New Port? That’s Orlane … and Saltmarsh. Both, in fact. Slip N1 and U1-3 into the campaign. By then the PCs have gained a couple levels and Expictica Defilus will not be beyond the party’s ability to handle without help as she is in a N1.


    Duchess and Candella
    Enter B3. And Duchess and Candella. My favourite NPCs, if you recall.
    Allies, love-interests, foils to the PCs’ greed. What to do about what remains of B3? Ship B3 down the coast to Ulthek. We need not go as far south as Marner. Ulthek will do just fine, and it keep the campaign in the north. Ulthek sounds Viking, doesn’t it? Let’s make it a Suel marquis, still ruled by the family that has since the Houses of Pursuit settled here. They bent the knee when the Aerdi pressed north expanding their empire as far north as the Porcupine River (unnamed then). Keep Arik, make him another Ur-Flan, Keraptis’ vizier. Ditch the Protectors. Redesign the dungeon that lies below Ulthek.


    That’s a start. I’ve kept it low level, as I’m just beginning to reimagine Ratik and its untapped potential.

    Can you see where this is going? Something akin to ToEE, surely, with G1-3 added for flavour.

    But that’s for another day. There’s a lot of mid-level to consider.


    So, what about the history leading up to this suggested start of a campaign? There’s little written about the region north of the Timberway. It’s almost like nothing ever happened north of it. Even the Fruztzii’s history is south of the Timberway, for the most part.



    What do we know about Ratik? Quite a bit, actually. But not enough. I’ll embellish on what was. Take it as you will.

    Note: Italicised text from the Living Greyhawk Gazatteer, by Gary Holian, Erik Mona, Sean K Reynolds, Frederick Weining.


    Ratik

    Proper Name:    Archbarony of Ratik

    Ruler:                    Her Valorous Prominence, Evaleigh, the Lady Baroness (also Archbaroness) of Ratik (CG female human Rog9/Wiz3)

    Government:     Independent feudal monarchy having severed all fealty and ties to the former Great Kingdom, its successor states, and noble houses; member of the Northern Alliance

    Capital:                 Marner

    Major Towns:    Marner (pop. 6,600), Ratikhill (pop, 5,500}

    Provinces:           Fourteen freeholds ruled by human and dwarven great lords

    Resources:          Shipbuilding supplies, furs, gold, gems (IV), timber

    Coinage:               [Modified Aerdy] orb (pp), crown (gp), scepter (ep), penny (sp), common (cp)

    Population:         138,500—Human 79% (Sof), Dwarf 8% mountain 80%, hill 20%), Halfling 6%, Elf 3%, Gnome 2%, Half-elf 1%, Half-orc 1%

    Languages:          Common, Old Oeridian, Dwarven, Cold Tongue

    Alignments:        N, NG, CN, CG

    Religions:             Procan, Xerbo, Kord, Norebo, Trithereon, Phyton, Oeridian agricultural gods

    Allies:                    Frost Barbarians, dwarves and gnomes of the Flinty Hills and Rakers, Nyrond, Knurl (see Bone March)

    Enemies:             Bone March, North Kingdom, nonhumans in Rakers, the Pale (minor), Snow Barbarians (sometimes), Ice Barbarians


    Overview:

    Ratik is a small but prosperous nation located in the northeastern corner of the Flanaess. It is seated in a cultural crossroads between the otherwise civilized south of the former Aerdi Great Kingdom and the barbaric north of the Suel on the Thillonrian Peninsula. Ratik stretches between the Rakers and the Solnor Coast, where the modest city of Marner, the capital, is its only major port. Its southern border is marked by the fortified hills separating Ratik from Bone March. These extend east all the way out to the Loftwood, where the hearty woodsmen are allied with the archbarony. Ratik's northern border divides the Timberway between itself and the Frost Barbarians, a long-standing informal boundary that has been respected by both sides for centuries and only recently was acknowledged by formal treaty. While these barriers have profoundly isolated Ratik from the rest of the Flanaess, they also have served to protect it from invaders for centuries.

    The climate of Ratik is wintry much of the year, with heavy snows swollen with moisture from the Solnor falling steadily during the height of Telchur's sway. The windswept Timberway remains the greatest focus of the realm. It is a hunting ground that produces the pelts and furs used widely in the dress of the nation. It also provides Ratik with its greatest bounty, the timber and shipbuilding supplies that drive much of the economic activity of the archbarony. The western border of Ratik is an endless range of foothills, inhabited by dwarves for millennia. These mountains are dotted with mines of gold and precious gems situated between citadels of stone that protect the ways from the denizens of the deep mountains. Some farming is conducted during the short growing season in the open lands between Marner and Ratikhill.

    Ratik is populated chiefly by folk of Aerdi descent, with an Oeridian-Suel mix being common. Few Flan are here, though many Fruztii and some Schnai are present, expatriate farmers from their homelands. Dwarves and gnomes are numerous in rougher lands. Only humans prefer the coasts, where their fishing villages are located. Ratik is well settled despite being located so far north of the population centers of the former Great Kingdom, partly because so many refugees fled here from Bone March.

     While the rulership of the realm rests completely with the hands of the baron or baroness, its lord takes counsel with numerous constituencies, including the Council of Great Lords (fourteen human and dwarven peers), as well as the burghers of the small cities and towns. The current baroness, Lady Evaleigh, is the widowed stepdaughter of old Baron Lexnol, who yet lives but has been incapacitated for several years. Baroness Evaleigh is mistrusted by many in the kingdom, for she was not born in Ratik and does not always seem to understand its precarious position. It was the old baron who won the trust of the Fruztii and negotiated a treaty with their king. The dwarf and gnome lords respect decisiveness, and Evaleigh has shown little during her short tenure. While the military is loyal to the crown, many grumble that the count of Knurl, Evaleigh's father, has grown far too influential in the affairs of Marner. Lexnol had been working on a treaty with the Schnai to shore up his position against Bone March and its allies in North Kingdom, but these efforts are currently in shambles. Few things would please North Kingdom's "Overking" Grenell more than to see this realm succumb to chaos. [LGG - 89]


    History:


    In the beginning there were the elves. Only the hearty Sylvain elves ventured this far east and north, the Grey and High elves remaining south where the fields were green and the sun warm. The Wood elves set few roots, migrating with the elk and moose, tilling the soil only insofar as to sustain their numbers. They did raise two cities, Ostaear to the north amid the tall trees, and Carasaear to the south where the lands were flat and as yet fallow.


    Then the Flan migrated north, some fleeing the devastation wrought by Vecna and those Ur-Flan who shared his vision, others searching for the fabled realm of the Green God. They came upon the Sylvan elves, and together they hunted and fished, while others remained upon the Flats where the soil was rich and the winds were gentle.

    Some ventured into the Rakers, and into the Griffs, and found well-sheltered valleys there. It was in one of those that they discovered a valley blessed by Beory and Pelor, where summer never set. They raised a great temple to Pelor at its center and named their city Tostenhca. Great magics were worked there, its field were plentiful, and it prospered. Trade was plentiful, too, for the Dwur were pleased with their neighbours.

    Until Keraptis came and set all manner of monsters and demons upon them. He then revealed himself to that terrified city as its saviour, ridding it of ever greater peril, at ever greater cost until he was receiving its children as payment. The Dwur retreated from Tostenhca, until Gethrun Shoiraine begged them to aid him and his rangers in ridding his city of the evil wizard. Keraptis fled their collected might and Tostenhca returned to its past prosperity. Until Keraptis laid waste to the city.

    The people of Tostenhca fled into the valleys, and down into the lowlands. Those that remained slipped into barbarism.


    So it remained until the Suel arrived in pursuit of the Suel emperor’s sun Zellifar. Enfeebled by the power of Slerotin, the Houses of Pursuit had wandered east, without purpose or direction until they circumnavigated the Nyr Dyv and gazed upon those plains that had nurtured the Flan, and the elves before them, and saw a rich land, a peaceful land; and they decided to make it theirs. They made war upon the Flan, and having conquered them, ruled over the Bone March, the Loft Hills, the Flats, and the Timberway. But they had roamed far, and were still not content. They took to the coast, and then to the sea, settling what lands they saw until sighting the Tilvenot to the south and the Thillonrian Peninsula to the north.


    Then came the Aerdi, and they too meant to make those rich lands theirs. The Suel were no match for their fierceness, or the artifacts they wielded. They fought, and were defeated, and before long, those who did not pledge fealty to those they once ruled, were confined to those lands the Aerdi wished no claim to.

    They Houses of Pursuit had forgotten their past, and in time named their clans Rhizians. But they did not forget their destiny. They raided and probed those lands that were once theirs, and the Kingdom of Aerdy, not yet unified, could only chase those Barbarians that, season by season, beset their shores; and so it remained until Manshen bound the Celestial Houses of Aerdi to his will, declaring his Great Kingdom.


    After the Defeat of the Suel Barbarians
    After the defeat of the Suel barbarians who invaded the northern Aerdy hinterlands from the kingdom of the Fruztii in 109 CY, Bone March was established by Overking Manshen as a fief to reward his victorious commanders. However, it soon became clear to the leaders of the Aerdi military that a further buffer was required if these new lands were to be protected from additional incursions from the north. General Sir Pelgrave Ratik of Winetha, a wily veteran of the barbarian campaigns, appointed in 122 CY to oversee an expedition that would attempt to drive the Aerdi frontier all the way to the foothills of the Griff Mountains. Ratik and his forces inaugurated their expedition by crossing Kalmar Pass, taking the town of Bresht in a blustery winter campaign that cost the Fruztii dearly. After brokering an alliance with the dwarven lords of the eastern Rakers, Ratik proceeded to force a retreat of the Fruztii up the narrow coast and into the northern fastness of the Timberway. He wisely refused to follow them into an obvious trap and instead broke off the pursuit and fortified his gains. He was immediately hailed a hero in the south and his legend grew quickly.

    Over the ensuing months, General Ratik established a military fort overlooking Grendep Bay at Onsager Point. He called the place Marner, and used the newly founded town as a base of operations from which to secure the whole territory. Ratik soon began exploiting the shipbuilding opportunities afforded by the tall pines of the Timberway, and Marner grew from a sizable stronghold to a small port city. Ratik sent glowing reports to his superiors in the south and was shrewd enough to back them up with a steady stream of riches, including highly prized furs and precious gems acquired in trade from the dwur.

    In 128 CY, the Fruztii and Schnai allied to create an invasion flotilla. They launched a concerted attack on Marner during the spring that almost caught the Aerdi by surprise. In defense, General Ratik set the major approaches to the port ablaze, forcing the armada through a narrow approach where it was cut to pieces by the siege engines of the fort and a squadron of the imperial navy. The overking was sufficiently impressed with the victory that in 130 CY he elevated Pelgrave Ratik to the aristocracy, granting him the title of baron and the new lands as a personal fief. The family of Ratik gained the status of a minor noble house within the Great Kingdom, The walled town of Bresht was renamed Ratikhill in honor of the new baron, and it quickly prospered from trade with Spinecastle passing through Kalmar Pass. [LGG - 90]


    Manshen commanded Ratik to pacify the north. Scouts were sent north to discover what lay there. Ratik pressed north, and Suel House of the Timberway fell one after another: Abonhoth, Keth, and Ulthek. Each in turn pledged their fealty to the Overking, and each in turn wed their scions to those Aerdi houses that had campaigned north with Ratik.

    Ratik had paused where the Timberway thinned. Until gold and silver was panned in the River delta north of the Timberway. Prospectors surged north, then into the foothills. A port town, Riverport, sprang up at the extend of what came to be known as the Porcupine River, to supply them, and New Port, where the river discharged into the Bay named after the general who led Ratik’s forces to the river’s edge, Sir James Hoodsen. The north was soon called the James Bay Frontier, and the mining camps north of Riverport The Porcupine.


    Where the south has always been an archbarony of first Aerdy and then the Great Kingdom, the north was never culturally Aedri. It was Suloise, and Flan. These peoples were tied to their land and traditions, harvesting what was necessary, leaving all else for future need. They farmed, they fished, they felled those trees needed for ship and shelter. Most communities were small, clanholds, if not family.

    The Gold Rush
    That changed when gold was found. The Aerdi rushed north, panning the beds and streams ever north until veins were spied in the foothills. The rush was on. Mining camps broke ground, then rock. Adits and shafts plunged into the hitherto solid rockfaces. There grew the need to supply them. Ports sprung along the river, trees felled, soil tilled. Drovers and carts cut furrows into the oerth. Palisades rose to protect them, and the Kingdom’s claim to what until then was considered a wasteland.

    The Fists took note. Here were riches to be had, far from the established Holds to the south, far from their protection, too. And with them, the hordes of orcs and gnolls and ogres, who were far from pleased by the influx of so many humans.


    The baron and the marquis of Bone March became fast allies, and their descendants enjoyed a great deal of peace and success over the next two centuries, needing only to fend off infrequent raids from [north of] the Timberway and the Rakers until the middle of the fourth century CY. However, a massive invasion by a unified host of Fruztii and Schnai threatened to overwhelm the nations and sweep into North Province in 356 CY. The Rax Overking Portillan was concurrently embroiled in a struggle over the secession of Nyrond and had assembled an invasion force to head west, which he was forced to divert north to counter the new threat. The attack was soon turned back, though at great cost. So fierce was the defense of the men and dwarves of Ratik that even the Fruztii were impressed.

    The barony and the Great Kingdom averted disaster, but at the price of losing all of the province of Nyrond. Ratik and Bone March gained semipalatinate status following the Turmoil Between Crowns, which saw a shift of power from the Malachite Throne to the provinces. Few of Ratik's riches headed south in tribute, and Alain II of Ratik took to calling himself archbaron henceforth.


    Those little towns of New Port and Riverport flourished. Garrisons swelled. Piers bristled along the banks.

    Foreign interest took note. The Schnai. The Kingdom. The Sea Barons. The Lordship of the Isles. And the North Province. Marner took note and kept watch, strengthening the garrisons.

    The pious took note, as well. Avarice and greed were the only religion in the Frontier, and thus, souls must be saved. Clerics arrived to do just that, from Marner, from Rel Astra, from Rel Mord and Wintershiven.

    The Northerners were none too pleased by all the attention given them. Were it not for the gold and the silver, the south would never have given them a second thought. Were it not for the orcs and the gnolls and the Fists, the northerners might have wondered what need they of Marner’s oversight? They wondered anyways.


    Tales of Giants Upon High Cliffs
    Danger lurked everywhere. Prospectors began telling tales of giants upon high cliffs and shadowy figures amid the pines. And to sea, fisherfolk told tales of sinister shapes on the horizon and fins in their wake, of great dark shaped that swelled the waters beneath their keels.

    The Rhizians did not speak of such, not within hearing of the Ratikaans, anyway, but they began sending ships far asea in search of the presumed lost tribes of Vatun, and emissaries to Marner to consult the tomes of the college there, and expeditions into the Corusks and Griffs is search of lost cities and the mysteries they might contain. Hradji Beartooth led one such ill-fated expedition on 520 CY, but kept what secrets he had learned when he returned, never to reveal exactly what he found. He died within the year, before he could return to claim what he might have discovered. As did the rest of his party.


    The two states prospered greatly under the increased freedom, forming an alliance that allowed them to keep both North Province and the Suel barbarians at bay. House Naelax of Eastfair desired these rich provinces, but it was unable to successfully act against them until tragedy struck. In 560, nonhuman tribes from the Rakers and Blemu Hills struck into Bone March, subjugating the land in 563 and slaying its leaders. Herzog Grenell of North Province reached out to these usurpers, seeing an opportunity. Ratik and its baron, Lexnol III, had been forewarned and deflected most of the invaders, but could not prevent the disaster that befell the march. Lexnol, a skilled leader and tactician, realized that he was now isolated and no succor would be forthcoming from the south or the court of Overking Ivid V. He approached the lords of Djekul, who had grown less wary of the proud Aerdi in the intervening years and were even grudgingly respectful. With the Fruztii, Lexnol forged an affiliation called the Northern Alliance. Ratik subsequently became fully independent of the Great Kingdom and had the might to both hammer the orcs and gnolls of Bone March and dissuade an invasion from North Province.

    Lady Evaleigh
    In 579 CY, Lexnol's only son, Alain IV, the heir to the throne of the archbarony, married Lady Evaleigh, the daughter of the count of Knurl. The county was the only surviving province of Bone March, and the union was arranged to improve the lot of both realms. The following year, the Seal of Marner was stolen by agents of Bone March, an effort by the nonhumans to quash the alliance between Ratik and the Frost Barbarians. The document was recovered before it was secreted to Spinecastle, but not before news of the theft drove a small wedge between the Fruztii and Ratikans.

    Alain acquired the dream of uniting Ratik and Bone March, but failed to convince the king of the Frost Barbarians of his plan to drive out the nonhuman tribes. Many whispered that Alain was encouraged in these ambitions by his step-family, particularly the count of Knurl, whose position between Bone March, North Province, and Nyrond was grossly precarious. In certain agreement were the immigrants from Bone March, who were driven from their lands by the invaders. In 586 CY, Alain led a force of men and dwarves into Bone March in an attempt to retake Spinecastle with the baron's grudging support. The attack failed, and Alain's surviving lieutenants watched as the young lord was dragged from his horse by gnolls and slain. Nearly three hundred Ratikans were left for dead during the hasty retreat.

    Upon hearing of his son's demise, old Baron Lexnol collapsed. He awakened the next morning with a shock of white hair and a palsy that confined him to bed. Lady Evaleigh, now widowed, assumed the throne and has guided Ratik through the trouble that has befallen it. Raids from Bone March have become progressively stronger and more organized the last few years. Her father's realm, the county of Knurl, was attacked a few months ago and was only saved by the snows of winter. [LGG - 91]



    Conflicts and Intrigues:

    Ambassadors from the Scarlet Brotherhood were spied in Djekul. Ratik wants to expand the alliance against Bone March and North Kingdom to include the Snow Barbarians, but the Schnai will negotiate only with Lexnol. Agents of the Sea Barons have approached Evaleigh to gain access to Marner. A half-orc spy working for North Kingdom was discovered in Ratikhill but escaped. [LGG - 91]


    There’s gold in them thar hills. Where there is gold, there is high-grading, and crime, and intrigue. The James Bay Frontier was always a freewheeling district, remote, resentful of the Great Kingdoms’ oversight. Then Marner’s. But there have been orcs and gnolls and ogres of late. And the Fists.

    And pirates plying the seas, eager to plunder what bullion and ingots they may.


    The Fruztii have never been pleased with the Ratikaans settling this far north, in lands the had always claimed as theirs. But recent treaties had held their hand. Also, Ratik had helped Fruztii hold the Bluefang-Kelten Pass. And their fishing fleets have never prospered so much as when New Port and Riverport sprang to life.

    The Schnai have been less pleased. The Crustii, indifferent.

    But there have been words of discontent of late since more and more ships from the south seas have come to port, some from as far south as the Tilvenot Strait.

    The Seeds of Discontent





    One must always give credit where credit is due. This History is made possible primarily by the Imaginings of Gary Gygax and his Old Guard, Lenard Lakofka among them, and the new old guards, Carl Sargant, James Ward, Roger E. Moore. And Erik Mona, Gary Holian, Sean Reynolds, Frederick Weining. The list is interminable. Thanks to Steven Wilson for his GREYCHRONDEX and to Keith Horsfield for his “Chronological History of Eastern Oerik.”
    Special thanks to Jason Zavoda for his compiled index, “Greyhawkania,” an invaluable research tool.
    Primary sources for this history were the DMG 1e,  The World of Greyhawk Folio, and The World of Greyhawk Gold Box, Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, Dragon Magazine.

    The Art:
    All art is wholly owned by the artists.
    B2 Keep on the Borderlands cover, by Jim Roslof, 1980
    T1 Village of Hommlet cover, by Jeff Dee, 1980
    B1 In Search of the Unknown cover, by David A. Trampier, 1979
    N1 Against the Cult of the Reptile God cover, by Tim Truman, 1980
    U1 Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh cover, by Dave De Leuw, 1980
    B3 Palace of the Silver Princess cover, by Erol Otus, 1981
    Ratik Coat of Arms, realized in World of Greyhawk Folio, 1979
    The Death of Prince Alain IV, by Joel Biske, Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000

    Sources:
    1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
    1064 From the Ashes Boxed Set, 1992
    1068 Greyhawk Wars Boxed Set, 1991
    2011A Dungeon Masters Guide, 1st Ed., 1979
    2023 Greyhawk Adventures Hardback, 1988
    9022 S1, Tomb of Horrors, 1978
    9023 B1, In Search of the Unknown, 1979
    9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
    9026 The Village of Hommlet, 1979
    9027 S2, White Plume Mountain, 1979
    9034 B2, The Keep on the Borderlands, 1980
    9044 B3, The Palace of the Silver Princess, 1981
    9058 G1-3, Against the Giants, 1979, 1981
    9062 U1, The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh, 1982
    9063 N1, Against the Cult of the Reptile God, 1982
    9064 U2, Danger at Dunwater, 1982
    9076 U3, The Final Enemy, 1983
    9147 T1-4, The Temple of Elemental Evil, 1985
    9317 WGS1, The Five Shall be One, 1991
    9337 WGS2, Howl from the North, 1991
    9399 WGR 5, Iuz the Evil, 1993
    9577 The Adventure Begins, 1998
    9578 Player’s Guide to Greyhawk, 1998
    11327 Return to the Keep on the Borderlands, 1999
    11413 Against the Giants, The Liberation of Geoff, 1999
    11742 Gazetteer, 2000
    11743 Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000
    Ivid the Undying, 1998
    Dragon Magazine
    OJ Oerth Journal, appearing on Greyhawk Online
    LGJ et. al.
    Greychrondex, Wilson, Steven B.
    Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda

    The Map of Greyhawk, from Anna B. Meyer, free for download on her website

    Posted: 12-30-2021 11:00 am
    On Keraptis

    “This thing of darkness I
    Acknowledge mine.”

    ― William Shakespeare, The Tempest


    Keraptis

    Long before the coming of the Aerdi, the Ur-Flan held dominion over all they could see, having wrested it from the elves, and scattering them to the far corners.

    Those tales are harrowing, not for the feint of heart. Indeed, they are the stuff of unsettled sleep, if not nightmares. Their names resonate, even today, though those who whisper them know little of their exploits, only those terrors rumoured to have befallen any who might have stood against them.

    The Aerdi were lucky to have come to the Flanaess after those notable few had grown bored and left this plane, in search of the power and immortality they had always sought, or the history we know might have been quite different. Might? Surely would have, for the Ur-Flan were the very equal of those wizard-priests of the Suel and the Bakluni who had laid waste to their vast empires.

    Many famous villains can also trace their origins back to GREYHAWK: Vecna, Kas, Keraptis, Acererak, and Azalin to name a few! [Onnwal Gazetteer]


    Vecna is as well known as Zygyg, but his dreaded name is not spoken aloud for fear of arousing him. Once the most powerful undead wizard of any known world, Vecna was destroyed at the height of his power by his treacherous lieutenant Kas. Only Vecna's withered Hand and jeweled Eye survived, possessing frightening powers that can corrupt even the purest soul. Vecna attempted to return and conquer Oerth only a few years before the Greyhawk Wars and he nearly succeeded. Before his defeat, a servant of his was briefly able to slay the entire Circle of Eight. A Vecna cult survives, attempting to bring him back. Other notorious personalities include Iggwilv, the necromancer-witch who gave birth to Iuz: Zuggtmoy, a female archfiend known as the "Queen of Fungi," who has tried to subvert and conquer the Flanaess; Tharizdun, a "dead god whose revival, some say, would mean the destruction of the world; Acererak, the demilich whose "Tomb of Horrors" has destroyed hundreds of adventurers; Keraptis, an evil wizard whose volcanic home in White Plume Mountain houses powerful artifacts - and the world's largest crab; the Falcon, a serpentine monster who tried to take over the City of Greyhawk from below but is believed slain; and the Slave Lords, the organized crime masters who once dominated the Pomarj and Wild Coast, and may rise again. [PGtG - 26,27]


    The name Vecna inspires the most fear of those mentioned, but only because it was his Occluded Empire that sundered that of the elves, and for the horrors committed in his name. And it was Vecna who forged the sword that took the spirit of the Grey Elven king Galitholian Glitterhelm. And it was Vecna who had met his supposed end by that very sword, betrayed by his most ruthless and faithful servant.

    Those others, Acererak and Keraptis, were as wicked. As withering. As vindictive. Had they been brought down to as spectacular an end, maybe their names would have resonated through the ages as Vecna’s had; maybe if their had left witnesses to the wrath. But alas, they did not; and woe to those who should come upon them, for one cannot prepare for what comes if there is no warning.


    The History of The Pyronomicon

    Keraptis was an inquisitive sort. He must have been. And ambitious. Were he not, he would never have risen to the heights he had. But was he truly a Fire Elementalist? Maybe. I believe he was so much more, much like Leonardo DaVinci was more than an artist, in so far as he was a devotee to anatomy, natural history, science, and engineering. Truly, the Ur-Flannae were more than just magi, much as those early Suel and Babluni magi were wizard-priests, artificers and soothsayers. That said, I suspect he liked to play with fire, in more ways than one.

    The City of Brass

    Many scholars believe Keraptis was (or is, assuming the reports about his return are true) a Fire Elementalist, for the contents of the book are devoted exclusively to the study of elemental fire. In fact, half of the tome deals with the nature of the elemental plane of Fire and its denizens. Several additional chapters provide a thorough examination of the City of Brass (including a fairly accurate map of the city; [*]) and its inhabitants. The remaining pages detail an extensive selection of fire-based spells. Add to that the books appearance and Keraptis’ choice of residence, and the assumption that he was a Fire Elementalist seems to ring true. [Dragon # 241 - 79]

    [*see Al-Qadim, ALQ4 Secrets of the Lamp, by Wolfgang Baum, 1993]


    Comes the Prophet

    But where did he come from? Fleet? Haradaragh? Who can say? His origins are lost to time. What can be said is that he rose to great power, travelled the planes, and delved into fell knowledge.  And he learned much in those travels. But he needed a place in which to apply that knowledge, to unravel those mysteries he had gleaned. And those to administer to his needs while he did. He came upon gnomes he seduced with promises, and warped with malicious intent, and with them, he found the shining city of splendor, fabled Tostenhca, where summer never set.

    Would that they had never laid eyes on him, for he laid that fabled city low. He beset upon it monsters and misery, devils, demons and all manner of calamity, and then revealed himself, promising to free them of the parils that until then had been unseen and unheard of. They were grateful, for a time.


    The History of Tostencha

    -2024 CY              Some two thousand years ago, the wizard Keraptis established himself as "protector" of Tostenhca—a grand mountainside city of wide streets and towering ziggurats. But the wizard, who had extended his lifespan far beyond that of most mortals in his search for immortality, became more and more corrupt with increasing age. Over four centuries, the cost of his protection grew ever more burdensome, until eventually Keraptis was taking a piece of everything that the people of Tostenhca grew, made, or sold. With the announcement of yet another levy—one-third of all newborn children—the people rose as one, ousting Keraptis and his personal bodyguard of deranged gnomes. [Return to White Plume Mountain - 3]

    Historical Development of Keraptis: Erik Mona, Lisa Stevens, Steve Wilson


    The History of The Pyronomicon

    The Archwizard Keraptis

    [In] a time when the Flan tribes still dominated eastern Oerik, the archwizard Keraptis rose to power in the lands abutting the southern Rakers, and while most historians agree that the mage’s kingdom encompassed what is now known as the Bone March, a few scholars believe the territories that later became Ratik and the Pale were part of this empire as well.

    Yet, as is well documented in the little known Legend of Keraptis, the archwizard was a cruel man, so brutal in fact that, near the end of his reign, he demanded his tormented subjects turn over to him one-third of their newborn children as part of their taxes. The peasants did not take this atrocity lightly, and under the leadership of the high priest Gethrun Shoiraine and his ranger followers, the kingdom of the tyrant mage was sundered. [Dragon #241 - 77]


    I can only surmise that Keraptis required those children for his experiments. Or maybe he sacrificed them to Nerull and Incabulos, inhaling their life essences to prolong his life as he searched for the key to true immortality? Maybe, like Vecna, and maybe all the Ur-Flannae, Keraptis had a pact with the Serpent Mok'slyk, and needed the souls of the innocent to unlock those arcane mysteries that evaded him?  In any event, those children were never seen again.


    During the resulting chaos, Keraptis and his gnome bodyguards escaped to the south, but in his haste to evade capture, Keraptis was forced to leave behind several objects of particular value. Among them was The Pyronomicon, a huge tome devoted to the lore of Elemental Fire, which Gethrun claimed as his share of the spoils.

    Despite his inability to use the spells it contained, Gethrun retained the book some 50 odd years before turning it over to the elves of the Gamboge Forest. The elves, in turn, held the tome for more than 500 years, until the coming of the Oeridians. [Dragon #241  - 77,78]


    Tostenhca was free of Keraptis, but they had lost the favour of Palor. Their endless summer set, and the snows descended upon them, and life became a struggle, forevermore.


    The History of Keraptis

    Homeless, the wizard and his followers fled to the cities of the south and west. But wherever Keraptis went, his reputation preceded him, and he found no other settlements willing to accept his "protection." [RtWPM - 3]


    During these travels, which lasted most of three centuries, the wizard acquired several implements of surpassing power. The secret gnomish conclave from which he drew his bodyguard gave him the hammer called Whelm. In return for aid that would enable them to crack their divinely ordained prison, the mythical Cyclopes presented Keraptis with the trident named Wave. While future-communing with the last living entities of a dying multiverse, he received the sword called Blackrazor. But true immortality still eluded his grasp. [RtWPM - 3]


    The History of White Plume Mountain

    White Plume Mountain (82): The ancient volcano fortified by Keraptis is near the Riftcanyon, in hex T3-70. [WGG1e - 30]

    White Plume Mountain


    c.-800 CY              There were those who arrived without fanfare. Thingizzard, Witch of the Fens, was one such; she was already dwelling in The Great Swamp, north of White Plume Mountain, when the Elder Druid arrived, so who can say from whence she came. She certainly did not.

    Thingizzard

    Thingizzard was already living in the Great Swamp when Keraptis descended on White Plume Mountain some thirteen hundred years ago. Though the wizard thought nothing of attacking the volcano’s Elder druid guardian, he chose not to trifle with the Witch of the Fens. It may well be that Keraptis thought her insignificant, but it is more likely that he left her alone because of his phobia concerning undead. Though she is not human, Thingizzard appears as an old woman with pure white hair. She doesn’t know her own origins and doesn’t care to learn them; her only interest is maintaining the peculiar” ecology” of the Great Swamp. In fact, regular infusions of Thingizzard’s necromantic potions have made this place what it is. The witch pours these concoctions into the water regularly to nurture her “children” — the bog mummies. She can call these creatures to her defense at any time [….] Not only is the Witch of the Fens very strong […]), she [can] also […]: animate dead, […] control weather, curse, dream, [and affect the minds of any within her sight.] In addition, her knowledge of herbalism and potion brewing rivals that of the most respected mages in the land. [RtWPM - 15]


    -724 CY Thirteen hundred years ago, the wizard Keraptis was searching for a suitable haven here he could indulge his eccentricities without fear of interference. He visited White Plume Mountain, going closer than most dared to, and discovered the system of old lava-tubes that riddle the cone and the underlying strata. With a little alteration, he thought, these would be perfect for his purposes. The already had a bad reputation, and he could think of a few ways to make it work. So, taking with him his fanatically loyal company of renegade gnomes, he disappeared below White Plume Mountain and vanished from the world of men. [S2 White Plume Mountain - 2]


    Three hundred years after leaving Tostenhca, Keraptis learned of a great volcano called White Plume Mountain, in which still-living druids of the Elder Age guarded the secrets of immortality. Within the volcano, the wizard found a tangled maze of lava tunnels and an ancient druid serving as the sole protector of Elder secrets. The two fought a titanic battle for ownership of White Plume Mountain and its ancient mysteries, but in the end the wizard prevailed. After casting the druid's remains into a sea of magma, the triumphant Keraptis penetrated to the Druid's Fane, a secret chamber protected by molten rock.

    Laid Waste to Distant Tostenhca

    There, among other treasures of ancient sorcery, he found the archetypal iceblade Frostrazor and an enigmatic statuette. Keraptis used the figurine’s power to pronounce a heinous curse that laid waste to distant Tostenhca, thus exacting his revenge at last. Thereafter, Keraptis focused all of his vast faculties on the problem of death. He embarked on a dozen separate research efforts, all aimed at achieving eternal life without the need for constant magical maintenance and healing. It was one such project, empowered by the four enchanted implements he had obtained, that eventually allowed Keraptis to step forth from the Prime Material Plane into a distant shadowy realm where, he hoped, he would leave behind the constraints of mortality forever. Keraptis quit the volcano some five hundred years past. No one knows whether he achieved his ultimate goal or still pursues it in some far, dim dimension. Whatever his fate, Keraptis never came to White Plume Mountain again. [RtWPM - 3]


    Masterless, the company of gnomes loyal to Keraptis continued to abide within the active volcano, living off the gargantuan fungal gardens that the wizard had magically grown inside the caverns. Generations were born, only to live out stale, sunless lives and finally die within the mount a in. [RTWPM]


    Death need not be the end. Those of power know that. So too those of great faith.

    Aegwareth, Shade of Vengeance

    Keraptis slew the enigmatic Elder druid Aegwareth, who had protected the Fane for decades, and threw his remains into the surrounding sea of magma. Unbeknownst to Keraptis, however, the druid's spirit lingered within the magma pool, growing ever stronger with the passage of years. Now he openly seeks vengeance for his wrongful murder. The shade appears as a ghostly human, though his eyes, hair, limbs, and garments blaze with ethereal flame. In his normal, semisolid form, he can physically attack his foes, [burning them with his touch, and potentially aging them decades] on the spot. Only silver [or magical] weapons [can fully harm] Aegwareth in this form. The shade of vengeance is immune to sleep, charm, hold, cold, poison, mind-affecting spells, and death magic. In addition, he can fade into obscurity at will, becoming almost completely transparent. In this form, he is invulnerable to attacks and damage of any type, but cannot affect the physical world himself. (This obscurity power does not involve a retreat to the Border Ethereal, however, as that dimension is inaccessible from the Fane.) While obscure, the shade [can regenerate harm done to it.] Aegwareth has utilized the centuries since his death to strengthen his ties with an elemental entity of surpassing power called the Leviathan, which lives within the magma pool. Should he be unable to slay the original Keraptis upon his return, Aegwareth will call the Leviathan to complete the task, even though he knows that such a call will end his own existence. [RtWPM - 56]


    The History of The Pyronomicon

    The Oeridians, in their efforts to subdue all who would stand against them, roused the ire of a great red wyrm that had been lairing near the border where the Rakers, the Gamboge, and the Flinty Hills meet. It seems that a large Oeridian force lured the dragon out and away from its abode while a much smaller unit emptied out the place. In its rage, Harak col Hakul Deshaun as the Oeridians later named the dragon, which loosely translates to “he who comes with fire and fury [,]” rampaged across the countryside, destroying anyone it found. Eventually, its wrath fell upon the elves of the Gamboge, and when all was done, Harak col Hakul Deshaun was the new owner of The Pyronomicon. For generations thereafter, the land within 50 miles of Harak’s lair was carefully avoided by humans and demihumans alike, and in time, the legacy of Harak col Hakul Deshaun became little more than myth. This situation could not last forever, of course, and soon enough, the abandoned lands were reclaimed and settled anew. [Dragon #241 - 58]


    Into the Rakers

    189 CY  In CY 189; a large and powerful band of adventurers from the Great Kingdom, having learned of the legend, pushed all the way to the great wyrm’s lair intent on dispatching the dragon once and for all, but when they entered the place, it was completely empty. Apparently, Harak col Hakul Deshaun, crafty even by dragon standards, had already relocated to parts unknown; an assumption based on the fact that, without a corpse or sign of struggle to say otherwise, the dragon could not be presumed dead. And with the disappearance of the dragon, so too did The Pyronomicon vanish from the chronicles of men. [Dragon #241 - 58]


    The History of White Plume Mountain

    White Plume Mountain Map

    Centuries under the shadow of such great evil can taint a land. Indeed, it can poison it. The greater the shadow, the longer, and deeper the taint, and Keraptis cast a very long shadow.


    The Yellowflow River originates in the heated geysers and burbling hot springs of White Plume Mountain. While most of the volcano’s sulfurous water flows into the Great Swamp to the northwest, a portion of it forms a river running south. Because of the water’s high sulfur content, river life is sparse. With proper distillation, however, water from the river is drinkable. [RtWPM - 11]


    White Plume Mountain’s mineral-rich effluvia have nurtured this abnormal outgrowth of thorny plumeberry bushes for years, giving the leaves an unhealthy pallor. No creature larger than a halfling can penetrate the Twisted Thickets without a machete or other cutting implement. [RtWPM - 11]


    The swampland northwest of White Plume Mountain is, in essence, a large expanse similar to Twisted Thickets, half-drowned in the sulfurous water that pours continually from White Plume Mountain. Thus, travelers here face the same harsh conditions as they would in the Twisted Thickets, plus they must contend with the additional annoyance of knee-deep water. [RtWPM - 13]


    Just to the southeast of White Plume Mountain lies a series of buttes, [the Dead. Gnoll’s Eye Socket,] bare except for a pale green covering of grassy vegetation. These outcroppings vaguely resemble the head and shoulders of a supine hyena. This unique formation, in conjunction with a large cave in the southeastern section, gives the area its unique name. [RtWPM - 11]


    According to local legend, a dracolich named Dragotha makes its lair just west of White Plume Mountain. Tales of adventurers who have left to seek the beast and never returned are common in nearby communities, and several copies exist of a map purporting to lead to the lair. No such creature has stirred in recent memory, however, and the claims of its presence remain unsubstantiated. [RtWPM - 15]


    One would think that few would come near such a place, let alone live there, but there will always be a few souls, whether brave or foolhardy, who will settle where others will not.


    Mukos was a baronet from Greyhawk City who built a castle near White Plume Mountain some two hundred years ago. Unfortunately, he chose a poor location for his new home—right above an extended meenlock warren. These evil creatures took offense when the baronet’s stonemasons paved over the opening to their tunnel system. In the months thereafter, the castle’s inhabitants began to disappear, one by one. Those who remained complained of gradually intensifying nightmares, pursuit by unknown stalkers, and feelings of dread thick enough to choke on. When Mukos himself turned up missing one morning, the rest of the inhabitants fled, never to return. [RtWPM - 12]


    The Pyronomicon

    The History of The Pyronomicon

    390 CY  The Pyronomicon’s absence from recorded history lasted roughly 200 years before turning up again circa CY 390. This time, the owner was Foltyn, a capable Water Elementalist residing on a small island along the east coast of the Nyr Dyv. Though brilliant within his specialty, Foltyn was not known for his common sense, and he foolishly announced to the world his intention to destroy The Pyronomicon before the Joint Courts of Urnst during Richfest, when both Luna and Celene were full. Needless to say, it seemed like every powerful Fire Elementalist in the Flanaess descended upon Foltyn’s island abode exactly one week before the Midsummer festival, and in a spectacuJar, fiery display that lit up the night sky over an area some 100 miles in diameter, Foltyn and his island were wiped clean from the face of Oerth. [Dragon #241 - 78]


    The History of White Plume Mountain

    At last, some one hundred years ago, an invasion fractured the placid flow of days beneath White Plume. Lured by tales of treasure, several powerful heroes calling themselves the Brotherhood of the Tome burrowed into the sealed-off chambers of the volcano and stole the wizard’s four implements of power: Wave, Blackrazor, Whelm, and Frostrazor. The theft of these weapons trapped Keraptis in his shadowy realm, preventing his return to the Prime Material Plane.

    The residents of White Plume realized that more attacks might follow now that outsiders knew about the complex inside the mountain. Seeking protection, the gnomes opened the sealed caverns wherein Keraptis had conducted his research. Though they uncovered many wonders, it was the discovery of Keraptis-imprints that changed life under White Plume Mountain forever. As part of his research into immortality, Keraptis had tried for some time to embody himself as a being of pure thought in the matrix of a certain kind of spell. In that way, he reasoned, he could live forever in the minds of others. Though he ultimately abandoned this idea, the fruit of his research—several variant copies of the spell on scrolls — still remained. Each of these dweomers (called Keraptis-imprints or K-imprints) incorporated a full or partial copy of the wizard’s persona and knowledge, though all were in some way damaged or incomplete.

    Upon finding these scrolls in an opened chamber, an over-eager gnome immediately memorized one of them, thereby installing a copy of the absent wizard‘s consciousness in his own mind. Believing himself to be Keraptis, he rose up and began to gather back the stolen weapons of power that the ancient wizard had owned. [RtWPM - 4]


    His name was Nightfear. Or should I say that was the name he went by. He had long ago forgotten his name.

    Nightfear was once the gnome wizard Parfithal, a descendant of a gnome who followed the original Keraptis into White Plume Mountain countless generations ago. A sallow, average-looking gnome, he has a twisted smile and a demented gleam in his eyes.

    Following the precedent established by other pretenders, Nightfear managed to locate and claim one of ”his” original implements of power—namely Wave. Unfortunately, the Resistance recently stole the trident from him, then lost it to Thingizzard. In his grief and rage over losing the weapon, Nightfear sent out all his husks to search the mountain, hoping to catch a glimpse of Wave through their eyes. But in such small groups, they proved easy targets for the troops of the other pretenders. Thirty of his thirty-one husks died, [Nightfear’s powers were shattered.]. His last husk is currently in the hands of Killjoy […], but he is developing a new crop from underlings who have recently memorized partial K-imprints. At present, all of Nightfear’s other projects have come to a standstill while he schemes to retrieve his weapon. [RtWPM - 16]


    Keraptis had not left his lair undefended. Besides Nightfear, there were others lured, cajoled, and coerced into doing just that. Seduced by the K-prints, and in some cases, emptied by the power of Keraptis’ intellect and evil.


    Quesnef

    Qesnef: a huge ogre Mage who lost a bet with Keraptis and must guard his treasure for 1001 years.

    Spatterdock:

    The False Keraptis known as Spatterdock was once an ogre mage called Quesnef who served both the original Keraptis and the first False Keraptis. But his days of serving others ended when he managed to acquire a K: complete imprint. Following the precedent established by other pretenders, Spatterdock managed to locate and claim one of the original implements of power: Whelm. Instead of wielding it himself, however, the False Keraptis allows his favorite servant, the vampire Ctenmiir, to carry and use the enchanted hammer in his name. because of the thirty-four subsumed minds currently under his control. His real form is that of a huge ogre mage, but he typically uses his polymorph self ability to affect the appearance of a doughty halfling. [RtWPM - 27]

                   

    Killjoy:

    Killjoy

    The two efreet called Nix and Nox once served the original Keraptis here under White Plume Mountain. Later, Nox became a servant of the first False Keraptis, but Nix was not so foolish. After the death of the first pretender, Nox himself became a False Keraptis-the one now known as Killjoy-and the two friends parted ways forever. Determined to stop the False Kerapti and restore his true master to power, Nix formed the Resistance, a ragtag group of assorted beings who strike at all the False Kerapti from hiding. Nix can acquaint visitors with the entire situation under White Plume Mountain, including the identities and nature of all the False Kerapti, their holdings, and their movements, plus the precise fate that awaits hosts of active K-imprints. He also knows how to bring back the original Keraptis (though he expects his master to return as a functional adult), and he is always on the lookout for allies who can help in that endeavor. As an efreeti, Nix looks quite terrifying. To avoid frightening his forces, he routinely uses his innate polymorph self ability to appear as a large man with [reddish-gold] skin and tiny nubs on his forehead where his horns should be. [RtWPM - 24]


    Ctenmiir: vampire compelled by a curse to remain here in a trance except when defending the treasure secreted in his coffin.


    Mossmutter

    The False Keraptis known as Mossmutter began life as a mold wyrm. Already a product of leakage from the Basin of Boundless Life (see area 63), the creature accidentally fell into the pool of pure life-principle while fleeing from hungry fungus hulks. Of course, the eventual explosion blew the creature into tiny pieces, but some of its spores survived that process. They germinated, grew into a colony, and eventually became a new mold wyrm-one with rudimentary sentience. As chance would have it, this evolved mold wyrm swallowed a gnome who had just become a False Keraptis. This new pretender had just used his entire working complement of spell-like abilities in a battle with several fungus hulks. (This certainly amounted to overkill, but ths gnome was not known for wisdom.) As the gnome lay dying inside the mold wyrm, his mind took the only other action it could and ejected the K: complete imprint as an attack against the mold wyrm, thus creating the first fungus-based False Keraptis. Unlike the other False Kerapti, Mossmutter prefers to accumulate subsumed minds through direct fungal infection. Instead of passing out K-imprint scrolls, he transmits imprints through his infected spores. Because of this, victims of his spore cough become vegetative skin puppets in his service rather than young mold wyrms. At present, he functions as a 17th-level wizard because of the fifty-one skin puppets in his hierarchy. Mossmutter envisions an underworld realm controlled by one dominant, contiguous bed of fungal consciousness: him! The mold wyrm’s “memories” of being Keraptis are even more hazy and damaged than those of the other False Kerapti. He ”remembers” being human once, but rationalizes his current fungal incarnation as a magical experiment that, though he’s forgotten its particulars, was obviously a success. Despite his imperfect memory, however, the mold wyrm did manage to locate and claim one of the original implements of power: Frostrazor. Unable to use it personallv, he allows his trusted follower Sapraphis to wield the weapon for him. [RtWPM - 45]



    The History of The Pyronomicon

    403 CY  Although there is no record indicating which Fire Elementalist made off with the tome, it eventually found its way to the city of Greyhawk in CY 403, and into the possession of the sage Warfel II, the head of a generations-old family of scholars. When Warfel II died some years later, The Pyronomicon was passed on to his eldest child, Warfel III, who passed it down to his eldest child who, in turn, passed it on to the next generation, thus thus quieting the tome’s storied existence. [Dragon #241 - 78]


    576 CY  So it was until CY 576, when a new wrinkle appeared in the tapestry that is The Pyronomicon’s history. Warfel VI reported that, while poring over an old adventure journal, the very shadows within his study began to coalesce and solidify at a frightening pace, eventually leaping off the walls as twisted and deformed gnomes. With no reason to expect an attack in his very home, Warfel was quickly overwhelmed by the diminutive invaders and rendered unconscious. Upon waking, he found that his entire abode had been ransacked, but upon further inspection, nothing had been taken, save for The Pyronomicon.

    This strange twist of fate did not end there. Elsewhere in the city, and at roughly the same time Warfel’s home was assaulted, Not surprisingly, Warfel assumed the ta trio of powerful magical items (a sword, a hammer, and a trident, respectively) mysteriously vanished from the magically-protected vaults of their owners. In place of each weapon was a taunting riddle daring the owners to retrieve the items from a hidden location beneath haunted White Plume Mountain. Even more shocking than the weapons’ theft was the individual claiming responsibility. The archwizard Keraptis, thought to have died more than a millennium before, had apparently returned, for the riddles bore his personal symbol.

    heft of The Pyronomicon was linked to the theft of the weapons, so when adventurers were recruited in order to recover the weapons, the sage made sure that they kept an eye out for The Pyronomicon as well. But of those few intrepid adventurers who escaped White Plume Mountain with their lives, none indicated that The Pyronomicon was there, or even Keraptis for that matter. [Dragon #241 - 78,79]


    The History of White Plume Mountain

    561 CY  You’d think people would learn. This is a fell land, inhospitable at best, toxic at worst, maybe evil to its root and beyond, after so many centuries of what flowed from the lair of one such as Keraptis.

    Plague Fields was the closest human community to White Plume Mountain. But years of toxic seepage from the nearby Yellowflow River poisoned the groundwater, slowly killing off the livestock and crops. Gradually, the people moved elsewhere, and the town has now lain abandoned for fifteen years. [RtWPM - 11]


    After two centuries of weathering, one tower still remains intact, but the rest of the castle is little more than rubble. A determined search through the ruins reveals that almost nothing of value remains—looters have obviously visited here many times before. [RtWPM - 12]


    576 CY  [Several] weeks ago, […] three highly-valued magical weapons with the cryptic names of Wave, Whelm, and Blackrazer disappeared from the vaults of their owners in the midst of the city of Greyhawk. Rewards were posted, servants hanged, even the sanctuary of the Thieves’ Guild were violated in the frantic search for the priceless arms, but not even a single clue was turned up until the weapons’ former owners […] each received a copy of the following note:


    Search ye far or search ye near

    You’ll find no trace of the three

    Unless you follow instructions clear

    For the weapons abide with me.


    North past forest, farm and furrow

    You must go to the feathered mound

    Then down away from the sun you’ll burrow

    Forget life, forget light, forget sound


    To rescue Wave, you must do battle

    With the Beast in the boiling Bubble

    Crost cavern vast, where chain-links rattle

    Lies Whelm, past water-spouts double.


    Blackrazer yet remains to be won

    Underneath inverted ziggurat.

    That garnered, think not that you’re done

    For now you’ll find you are caught.


    I care not, former owners brave

    What heroes you seek to hire.

    Though mighty, I’ll make each my slave

    Or send him to the fire.


    It was signed with the symbol of Keraptis. [S2 -2]


    Many have ventured within. Many have perished.

    Some have called it a fun house, what with the myriad obstacles within. Others have called it a trap, those who survived, that is. Some have even called it a mouse trap. A funny thing about a mouse trap is that it’s less a trap than a test. One might wonder, what might this particular mouse trap be testing for? Fortitude? Persistence? Intelligence? You would thank that might warn the wary off. Yet still they come. And die.

    Then we came. But we were better prepared than most. We came with a plan. It worked well, all resistance falling before us.

    We cleared the way, dealt with the K-imprints, their minions, their husks, and gathered the weapons. We took to wandering, what if we kept them? They were truly powerful artifacts. We would put them to better use than to display them under glass, under lock and key, mere curiosities. We were within sight of the exit when a wall of force appeared. Not much of an obstacle, after all we’d been through. I made to dispel it when we heard:

    Not Thinking of Leaving, Are You?

    “Not thinking of leaving, are you? I couldn’t think of letting you go, especially with those little collector’s items of mine. And since you’ve eliminated all of their guardians, why, you’ll simply have to stay…to take their places. I’ll have to ask you to leave all of your ridiculous weapons behind and let [Box and Cox] escort you to to the indoctrination center. I’ll be most disappointed if you cause me any trouble and [Box and Cox] have to eliminate you.

    “Don’t worry—you’ll like it here.” [S2 - 14]



    Box and Cox

    A portal appeared, revealing a red sky replete with clouds that flowed like oil in water. Turrets. Minarets. Shining domes of brass. And withering heat as from a blast furnace. Two efreet stepped out from the shimmering heat. Then salamanders, slaadi, and legions of gensai. Giants.



    585 CY  Consequently, as of CY 585, the location of The Pyronomicon remains a mystery. [Dragon #241 - 79]


    As it should. Few would understand what lay hidden within, what secrets were hidden betwixt the obvious, the spells, the ruminations of the city of brass and its maps. Fewer still would have the intelligence or the wherewithal to suss them out, even if they had the inclination to look.

    No matter; they never will. None have since they were penned.

    And what right have they to those mysteries, those secrets?

    They have as much right to it as they do to these trinket, Whelm, Wave, Frostburn and Blackrazer.

    They and it are mine.

    And I would have my book back.

     
    Keraptis Upon His Throne



    One must always give credit where credit is due. This History is made possible primarily by the Imaginings of Gary Gygax and his Old Guard, Lenard Lakofka among them, and the new old guards, Carl Sargant, James Ward, Roger E. Moore. And Erik Mona, Gary Holian, Sean Reynolds, Frederick Weining. The list is interminable. Thanks to Steven Wilson for his GREYCHRONDEX and to Keith Horsfield for his “Chronological History of Eastern Oerik.”

    Special thanks to Jason Zavoda for his compiled index, “Greyhawkania,” an invaluable research tool.

    Thanks to Eric Mona, Lisa Stevens, and Steve Wilson for their “Historical Development of Keraptis,” to be found in Return to White Plume Mountain. Of course, this piece would not be possible if not for the writings of Lawrence Schick.


    Primary sources for this history were the DMG 1e, The World of Greyhawk Folio, and The World of Greyhawk Gold Box, Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, S2 White Plume Mountain, Return to White Plume Mountain, Dragon Magazine.


    The Art:

    All art is wholly owned by the artists.

    Wizard-s-Lamentations by rhineville

    Cloud-City-of-Brass by simonpape

    Prophet by nexumorphic

    Red-Wizard by nathanrosario

    Passive-Aggressive-II by dynax700si

    Hag by jay-emery

    Disease-Is-Born by damie-m

    White Plume Mountain Map, by Todd Gamble, Return to White Plume Mountain, 1999

    The Pyronomicon, by Michael L. Scott, Dragon 241, Nov. 1997

    Quesnef, by Bill Willingham, S2 White Plume Mountain, 1979

    Efreet-Warlord by jasonengle

    Wizard-s-Lamentations by rhineville

    Efreeti, by Erol Otus, S2 White Plume Mountain, 1979

    Keraptis Upon His Throne, by Wayne Reynalds, Return to White Plume Mountain, 1999



    Sources:

    1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983

    1068 Greyhawk Wars Boxed Set, 1991

    2011A Dungeon Masters Guide, 1st Ed., 1979

    9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980

    9027 S2 White Plume Mountain, 1979

    9577 The Adventure Begins, 1998

    9578 Player’s Guide to Greyhawk, 1998

    11434 Return to White Plume Mountain, 1999

    11743 Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000

    Dragon Magazine 241

    OJ Oerth Journal, appearing on Greyhawk Online

    LGJ et. al.

    Greychrondex, Wilson, Steven B.

    Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda


    Posted: 12-22-2021 07:34 am
    History of the South-East, Part 6: A Continuance of Sorrow

    “Hateful to me as the gates of Hades is that man who hides one thing in his heart and speaks another.”
    ― Homer, The Iliad


    Wicked Is As Wicked Does

    Wicked is as wicked does.

    The Great Kingdom was but a pale reflection of what it had been. The far-flung protectorates were falling from the fold. Were that its only concern. The Knights Protector had failed to safeguard the land they were sworn to defend. Evil had risen from within their very ranks, and threatened to overwhelm them. Hextor had risen in the east, and Heironeous had all but fled the land of the rising sun, preferring the west, where virtue still reigned.



    300-350 CY         As anarchy crept into the Great Kingdom, more and more of its northern provinces became increasingly independent. And in some case lawless. Petty fiefs sprang up, their rulers declaring themselves kings and barons and dukes and such. And where ruffians seized power, banditry prevailed. Those that banded together overwhelmed those that did not and became known collectively as the Bandit Kingdoms, a loose confederacy of tyrants that preyed upon one another and clung together to ward against those who’d wish to annex them. They saw themselves differently. They saw themselves as Free Lords.

    The Bandit Kingdoms are a collection of petty holdings. Each little kingdom is ruled by a robber chieftain claiming a title such as Baron, Boss, Plar, General, Tyrant, Prince, Despot and even King. In all there are 17 states within the confines of the area, ruled by 4 to 6 powerful lords, and the rest attempting either to become leading rulers or simply to survive. [Folio - 8]


    The Death Knights had become so powerful in the Great Kingdom that they began to hunt down the Knights Protector. Few came to the Knights’ aid. [Dragon #290 - 100 to 104]


    311 CY  History of the Orbs of Dragonkind

    Another [Orb of Dragonkind], a larger one, was discovered and lost in 311 CY by explorers in the Hellfurnaces, though this report is confusing in details. [Dragon #230 - 12]


    c. 320 CY              Following the lead of the Viceroyalty of Ferrond, the outer dependencies of Aerdy too began to claim sovereignty. The Great Kingdom, ever riven by inner turmoil and its increasing decadency, was shrinking. And in its lessened state, it could do nothing to stem the tide.

    Perranders, Velunians, Furyondians and Tenhas achieve success, establishing independent status one after the other in a series of minor but bloody wars. [Folio - 6]


    Zagig had grown rich, and powerful. He decided he needed a place that befit his rank, where he could do what he will, away from these eyes who might disapprove. So, he set about doing just that, and laid the foundations to Castle Greyhawk.

    Centuries past, when Greyhawk city was still a burgeoning riverbank trading post, Zagig was already a powerful magician. His adventurous exploits had taken him the length and breadth of Oerth and beyond—his command of magic had grown to heroic proportions. Zagig built for himself an enormous castle complex north of young Greyhawk. He used it to conduct his experiments, to build his personal guard of soldiers, and to store the treasures of his career. [WGR1 - 2]


    The Baths at Innspa

    322 CY  Never say that the Aerdi were ever uncivilized. Hygiene and social grace were, and still are, very important to them. Vast public baths were built in Innspa. This is not to say that they are not above enslaving an elemental or two to ensure their comfort.

    They were built in cy 322 by an eccentric wizard obsessed with personal hygiene, and the fire elemental he bound to heat the waters is still at work here. [Ivid - 77]


    356 CY  The founding of Nyrond marked the beginning of the Great Kingdom’s decline. One might think that the founding of Furyondy marked such, but in truth, though it did mark the beginning of its dissolution, the Great Kingdom had not looked to their Western Provinces for decades, and those provinces had not sought their aid or council for as long, so when the Viceroyalty of Ferrond declared its sovereignty, the Great Kingdom hardly took note. Its attention was firmly focused on the East; so, when its Eastern protectorates began to secede, the Kingdom chose to take note, and to act.

    The House of Rax, ruling Aerdi dynasty, was at the time sundered by an internal feud, and the junior branch, then known as Nyrond, declared its lands free of the rule of the reigning Overking [Portillan] and sovereign. [Folio - 6]

                   

    [T]he ruling dynasty of Aerdy, the Celestial House of Rax, had grown especially decadent. In response, the western province of Nyrond declared itself free of the Great Kingdom and elected one of its nobles as king of an independent domain. Armies gathered from all loyal provinces of Aerdy to suppress this brazen act. [LGG - 14]


    The subsequent inexorable decline of the Great Kingdom can be seen in two stages. The first is the beginning of the many secessions from the Overkingdom, with Furyondy the first to establish independence in CY 254 and Veluna and Tenh following soon after with Perrenland re-asserting its independence. The decisive blow was the division of this royal house in CY 356 when the Nyrond branch rebelled.

    The attempts of the then-overking, Portillan, to reconquer Nyrond were stymied by an assault on the North Province of Aerdy from Flan barbarians which forced Portillan to defend his own lands rather than reconquer Nyrond. With the Urnst states and the Theocracy of the Pale swiftly following Nyrond's path, Aerdy's dominance was broken. [Ivid - 3]


    Fate Takes a Hand

    Sometimes Fate takes a hand. Nyrond should have fallen. But just as the Aerdi dynasty was marching troops north to deal with Nyrond’s illegal declaration of independence, an allied host of Fruztii and Schnai invaded, threatening to overwhelm the Bone March and Ratik and sweep into the North Province. The Rax Overking Portillan had no choice but to divert his forces headed to contest Nyrond to counter the barbarian invasion. They were successful, but at a great cost. So many perished at in the kingdom’s defence that it had to accept Nyrond’s independence.

    A coalition of Fruzt, Schna and mercenary barbarians mounted a major foray into the Aerdian North Province. The Overking's army, raised to invade Nyrond, swung northeast and soon the invaders were crushed. The end of the campaigning season arrived before any action could be taken against Nyrond. [Folio - 6]


    Of course, Fate may not have had a hand in it, at all. Nyrond surely knew that the Kingdom would not take their declaration of independence lightly; surely, they knew that the Kingdom would retaliate. So, it isn’t out of the realm of possibilities that Nyrond may have sent emissaries to the Thillonrian Peninsula, informing the Barbarian tribes that the North Province might soon be vulnerable. And the Northern tribes just may have listened. Stanger things have happened. Of course, no one can say for certain if this really happened. But the timing is suspicious. Then again, sometimes Fate takes a hand, doesn’t it?


    The Battle of Redspan

    Nyrond’s secession was just the beginning. They pressed Tenh to join them in revolt, convincing them that this was the time to rise, that true freedom could be theirs. Tenh did not need much convincing. Tenh had always believed that they were independent of the Great Kingdom, had always believed that they were self-determining, but until then, they had never brazenly declared themselves so, fearing retribution, for the Great Kingdom was vast and strong, and they were small. They saw that now was the time to do so. The Aerdi were hard pressed, the Aerdi were weakened, so if not then, when? They rose up with Nyrond, and the Tenha cavalry routed the Aerdian forces at Redspan. And when that was done, the Duke of Tenh ended his fealty to Aerdian Crown.

    Eventually, the Great Kingdom showed signs of decay. When the Nyrondal princes declared the end of their allegiance to the overking, the duke was persuaded to follow suit. The Battle of Redspan signaled the end of the duke's fealty to the overking of Aerdy. The Aerdy force was routed by the Tenha cavalry and pushed down the "Red Road to Rift Canyon" in an action made famous in the ballad of the same name. The army of the Great Kingdom was not actually swept into the Rift Canyon, as the ballad proclaims, but they were so thoroughly defeated that many of the Aerdi officers and soldiers chose exile in the Bandit Kingdoms over the punishments awaiting them at home. [LGG - 113]


    361 CY  History of the Orbs of Dragonkind

    Everyone in the Flanaess must know the tale of the mad Zagig Yragerne, who is said to have taken a large white crystal ball [an Orb of Dragonkind] with him when he left this city one spring day in 361 CY and returned the following week with a hoard of treasure such as only a succession of kings would know, using some of these riches of course to build Castle Greyhawk. He returned here without the white ball, however, and never spoke of it nor even acknowledged its existence before or afterward.

    I have counted about two dozen other confirmed or probable appearances of the orbs between the fall of the Suloise Empire and the present day. The location of only one orb is known for certain to our cozy group of the Eight: The Orb of the Hatchling is unquestionably held in Rauxes, as Mordenkainen himself was able to demonstrate to our satisfaction last year. It is almost certainly the same orb held by Aerdy’s early overkings, but we do not know yet where the orb was found, how it was recovered, the uses to which it is being put, or the identity of its true owner or master.

    Unlike the sections of the fabled Rod of Seven Parts, the various Orbs of Dragonkind have never been reported to indicate the presence of any of their fellow orbs, for which I am sure we can all be thankful. No spell, not even a Wish, and some say not even a god, will reveal the location of an orb; you simply have to be lucky enough to find one and know it for what it is. They seem to function independently of one another, though tales circulate that unexpected abilities become manifest when two orbs are brought into proximity of one another. I believe most of these stories are exaggerations and falsehoods, but I cannot discount the possibility. Time, perhaps, will tell. [Dragon #230 - 13]


    c. 357 CY              Evil and decadence corrupted the Great Kingdom. All knew it. They cavorted with nether worlds and were thoroughly seduced by their promises.

    It was at this time that the evil began to grow within the rulers of the Great Kingdom. The House of Rax became decadent, its policies ineffectual and aimed at appeasement. The powerful noble houses took this as their cue to set up palatinate-like states, and rule their fiefs as if they were independent kingdoms. [Folio - 6]


    c 375-399             The Long slow fall.

    The Long Slow Fall

    Local rulers who were members of other royal houses began to use their titles of prince rather more aggressively. They began to enact more laws of their own, to administer local taxes increasingly independently of the overking, to build fortifications not only for themselves but for their own liegemen who came less and less to answer to the overking and more and more to obey only their own local lords.

    Mercenary armies became more common, and some princes conquered slices of other princes' lands. The drunken, enfeebled, or effete overkings allowed this to happen.

    The House of Naelax was the first to use humanoid mercenary troops around the Adri Forest for provisioning raids late in the fourth century. And it was this royal house which came increasingly to the fore.

    At this time, the Great Kingdom still had a relative freedom and equality of many priesthoods, although those of Lawful alignments were dominant. In Rauxes itself, the priesthood of Pholtus still played a commanding role as advisers, judges, and mediators. However, Naelax aligned itself firmly with the burgeoning priesthood of Hextor. In a land with increasing strife and struggle, this aggressive evil priesthood became more influential as the decades passed. [Ivid - 3]


    c. 376 CY              All great cities have a beginning. Sometimes that founding is unassuming, a crossroads, a need of portage, the discovery of riches nearby. Sometimes, it rises from necessity; Rel Mord began as such.

    Despite its location deep within Nyrond, Rel Mord is heavily defended and maintains the appearance of a huge fortress. Originally armored to protect itself against Nyrond's conquered states (the County of Urnst and the Theocracy of the Pale), the city watch now keeps its eyes toward the evil nations of the east. [WG8 - 14]


    c.430’s CY            House Naelex reached its zenith with the ascension of Herzog Ivid I in the North.

    House Naelax reached its nadir in North Province with the rise of Herzog Ivid I of the North in the 430s CY. Over the intervening two centuries, the Naelax had grown to be the strongest individual house in the kingdom, and by this time an undeclared war was raging between Rax and Naelax. Unusual for Aerdi up until that time, the Naelax employed orc and goblin mercenaries to augment their forces. [LGG - 74]


    Truth, Trust, and Transparency

    435 CY  Were the great Houses of Aerdy beloved? Were they ever? The Histories would say so, but they were written by those very same Houses. They would raise noble ideas of Golden Ages, and and the benevolence of the Celestial Houses, as though they were ordained and set upon the oerth to make it a brighter place. If that were true, then how did they fall so? Point in case, why was the House of Garasteth ousted from Roland, the Bay of Gates. And were those who displaced them any better?

    A despotic Garasteth ruler was overthrown in a military coup, and the leaders of that coup instituted their own despotism instead. To avoid assassination attempts, they kept their identities secret, meeting at irregular intervals in the windowless marbled keep known simply as Fortress. While The Five know who each other are, they meet masked and disguised in Fortress. [Ivid - 99]


    The Turmoil Between Crowns

    437 CY  The Great Kingdom continued to tear itself to pieces during the Turmoil between Crowns. The great Houses were always very much at odds with one another, always watchful, ever vigilant, and perpetually paranoid, because they have need to be.

    This name is given both to the decade of internal schisms under the rule of the last Rax overking, Nalif, and to the civil war which followed Ivid's ascension. [Ivid - 4]


    What can be said of those houses? Who were they?

    Naelax: Ruling Royal House, major landholders, noted for their penchant for building large-scale, formidable castles and fortifications—and for their vanity.

    Rax-Nyrond: The Rax line is officially extinct, but there are some illegitimate descendants of Nasri who claim a line to the malachite throne, and historically the house is of major importance because of its junior branch and the foundation of Nyrond.

    Torquann: An Oeridian-Flan-Suel mix, this house has dominated commerce and trade along the eastern coastal provinces. Traditionally aloof in politics, this house has a long, long history of dour, hard, depressive rulers whose lands suffer heavy taxation and repressive laws.

    Garasteth: The House of Garasteth is feared for its mages and sages, and for its inscrutability and arcane knowledge. The house is not much given to temporal power, but sees itself as a guardian of true Oeridian culture and wisdom. The house is increasingly influential among local rulers given the threat of the Suloise Scarlet Brotherhood to the south (and in the Lordship of the Isles). Garasteth rulers are hard, cold, cruel individuals, but they are to be feared on account of their devotion to learning and their formidable intellects.

    Cranden: Once the royal house, the Crandens have dominated Almor and Ahlissa for centuries. A worldly, urbane aristocracy, their prestige plummeted with the secession of Almor and the abortive attempt to ally South Province with the Iron League. The House of Naelax moved swiftly to remove control of these provinces from Cranden, but the other houses were not prepared to see Cranden wholly destroyed and exerted pressure which even the overkings could not wholly resist. The House of Cranden is important because it resists the more insane evils of the overking, and the old affinity with the Iron League is not completely lost. Irongate and Sunndi have friends they trust among the lesser princes of this house.

    Darmen: Often thought flighty and trivial by the more powerful political houses, the House of Darmen has devoted itself to trade and commerce and found its niche there. Easily the richest house, Darmen has massive landholdings from eastern Ahlissa through the central provinces with their rich and fertile plains, even as far as North Province. The House of Darmen believes itself fated to be the next Ruling Royal House, with its ambitious young Prince Xavener employing a sensible long-term strategy. Xavener has no intention of wasting his armies assaulting Rauxes. Instead, he bankrolls mercenaries for competing houses elsewhere. Often, he bankrolls both sides. That way, he is certain to back the winner—who will owe him a very large favor. When the time comes, with everyone else's armies decimated, Xavener will call in those favors and march on Rauxes. Such is his plan, at any rate. However, not all in the House of Darmen support him. [Ivid - 10, 11]




    One must always give credit where credit is due. This History is made possible primarily by the Imaginings of Gary Gygax and his Old Guard, Lenard Lakofka among them, and the new old guards, Carl Sargant, James Ward, Roger E. Moore. And Erik Mona, Gary Holian, Sean Reynolds, Frederick Weining. The list is interminable. Thanks to Steven Wilson for his GREYCHRONDEX and to Keith Horsfield for his “Chronological History of Eastern Oerik.”

    Special thanks to Jason Zavoda for his compiled index, “Greyhawkania,” an invaluable research tool.

    Primary sources for this history were the DMG 1e, The World of Greyhawk Folio, and The World of Greyhawk Gold Box, Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, Ivid the Undying, the Greyhawk Adventures hardcover, The Living Greyhawk Journals, Dragon Magazine.


    The Art:

    All art is wholly owned by the artists.

    evil-Knight by tottor

    Bath by armsav

    Raids by samuelebandiniart

    Zagig Tragerne, by Franz Vohwinkel (?), Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk, 2007

    The-Roman by alicechan

    venetian-mask by mittelfranke

    Roman-Skull by brianbrianski



    Sources:

    1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983

    1064 From the Ashes Boxed Set, 1992

    2011A Dungeon Masters Guide, 1st Ed., 1979

    2023 Greyhawk Adventures Hardback, 1988

    9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980

    9253 WG8, Fate of Istus, 1989

    9292 WGR1 Greyhawk Ruins, 1990

    9399 WGR 5, Iuz the Evil, 1993

    9577 The Adventure Begins, 1998

    9578 Player’s Guide to Greyhawk, 1998

    11374 The Scarlet Brotherhood, 1999

    11621 Slavers. 2000

    11742 Gazetteer, 2000

    11743 Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000

    Ivid the Undying, 1998

    Dragon Magazine

    OJ Oerth Journal, appearing on Greyhawk Online

    LGJ et. al.

    Greychrondex, Wilson, Steven B.

    Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda
    The map of Anna B. Meyer


    Posted: 11-28-2021 10:59 am
    On the Ratik That Was, Wasn’t, Then Was Again

    "Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can find his way by moonlight,

    and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world."
    ― Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist


    A rumination on Ratik:

    Ratik

    Ratik is a small but prosperous nation located in the northeastern corner of the Flanaess. It is seated in a cultural crossroads between the otherwise civilized south of the former Aerdi Great Kingdom and the barbaric north of the Suel on the Thillonrian Peninsula. Ratik stretches between the Rakers and the Solnor Coast, where the modest city of Marner, the capital, is its only major port. Its southern border is marked by the fortified hills separating Ratik from Bone March. These extend east all the way out to the Loftwood, where the hearty woodsmen are allied with the archbarony. Ratik's northern border divides the Timberway between itself and the Frost Barbarians, a long-standing informal boundary that has been respected by both sides for centuries and only recently was acknowledged by formal treaty. While these barriers have profoundly isolated Ratik from the rest of the Flanaess, they also have served to protect it from invaders for centuries. [LGG - 89]


    The last “civilized” land, clinging to a narrow patch of land between towering mountains and an “endless,” mysterious, deep blue sea? Barbarians to the north, hordes of orcs and gnolls to the south? What’s not to like?

    As to the Timberway being split between the Fruztii and Ratik, I pushed the border north, to the widest river in the region, the likely most defensible border. Canon? No, but the border seemed far more natural there, and it fit in with what I had planned in my campaign.


    The Keep on the Borderlands

    I’m getting ahead of myself. I do that. To begin, then. What was my introduction to Ratik? Not with the Folio. The World of Greyhawk boxed set. ’82? Thereabouts. That’s not right, either. My introduction was with B1, B2, and B3. B2, Keep on the Borderlands, specifically. Not Greyhawk, you say? Not Ratik? I beg to differ. There was a time that modules were not tailored to specific sites. They were meant to be slipped into your own campaign, as you saw fit. And as to whether B1 and 2 were ever meant to be placed in Ratik, I give you exhibit B1, from B1:






    Anyway, those were the modules we began with, and B1 suggested that Ratik was one of the places it could be set. My DM had mentioned as much, and added a town to the keep, and a campaign began.

    Then, after a time, and a few modules, he and we parted ways. Henri wanted to run modules. We wanted more narrative. I became the DM.

    It was only after we had parted ways that I discovered how difficult DM’ing could be. Henri did a great job, in my opinion. The time spent in his game was fun, thrilling, magical. We were also winging it. We began playing with an incomplete set, with the Players handbook, the original Red Box, and B2. Henri made up a lot of rules on the fly, and we were none the wiser, seeing that none of us had any books at the time. We were all learning. And forgiving, then, too, at the beginning. Less so when we parted company.

    Our town had not been named. So, I named it: Riverport. I nicknamed it Malice, after a song by the Jam (not terribly imaginative, but the name set the tone for the campaign to come). I look back now and have to laugh at how naively it began. What to name things? I stole from everywhere: books, songs, movies, myth, wherever. I had no maps, no source material at the start, so I concocted a greater empire, and named it Pengarde, an obvious rip-off of Arthur’s surname.

    Needless to say, it was messy. These days we refer to Greyhawk as a messy setting; but Greyhawk was a streamlined wonder compared to Pengarde. A word to the wise. Do not, and I mean never, use fantasy fiction as an inspiration for world creation. I most certainly did in those early years. The maps within those tomes are ridiculous for the most part, so too the names given to forests and rivers and deserts. I blame Tolkien and his Mount Doom for kicking off the trend. I was inspired by such earnest and evocative names, and seeded them throughout, only realizing afterward that no forest would ever be named Limitations, and by then I was stuck with them.

    But I also see a level of sophistication developing. It was built upon, layer by layer, likely how most campaigns begin, if one is not playing modules. Modules were expensive, and we did not have a game store yet that sold such things at the time. And when we did, there were LPs to buy. And novels. Etc. And I only made $3.30/hour at the time. So many priorities.
    Someone finally did open up a comic/gaming shop. I picked up the Gold Box, and read what there was to be had about Greyhawk. It was then that I came upon Ratik for the first time in print:

    The North Coast
    When the Bone March was created by the Overking, a further outpost was desired and the Aerdi banners pushed northward as far as the Timberway. A military commander was appointed to see to the establishment of a secure territory and lumbering was gotten underway, as the great pines of the area were highly desirable in shipbuilding. The active commander soon sent such a stream of riches southward (he was a just man, friendly with the Dwerfolk, and an able tactician, too) - accompanying them with detailed reports of successful actions against the last of the Frost Barbarians in the area - that the Overking took notice. After a raiding fleet was roundly beaten, the Overking elevated this general to the nobility, creating him Baron Ratik. Thereafter a succession of his descendants have ruled the fief, bravely combatting raiders so as to gain their respect and even friendship from some, while humans and demihumans alike prospered. 'When the hordes of humanoids began attacking, Ratik had ample warning from the dwarves dwelling in the mountains. Companies of men and gnomes hurried west to aid their countrymen against the invaders, while couriers were sent south (and north) to alert the people there. Resistance was so fierce that the area was bypassed, and· the attackers fell instead upon the Bone March. The isolated barony has since been ruled as a fief palatine. [WoGA - 32]
    That’s not much to go on, but it was enough to spark the imagination. I stole from that boxed set. Suloise, Oeridians, Flan. Cultural affectations. Gary’s encounter charts. This and that. The names within were far better than the Forest of Limitations, that’s for certain. Would that I had picked up the “Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire,” and Herodotus, and Roman, Celtic myth. Beowulf, Gilgamesh. Cuchulainn. No matter, I picked up that boxed set and fell in love with that map.
    I was buying modules then. Those I could get my hands on, anyway. Those that were not too expensive, that is. G1-3, D1-3, S1-4, N1, I1,6-8, A1-4. Enough to stoke the imagination, though not as many as I wished to and wanted. LPs, novels, cinema tickets, the arcade, pop and chips. You remember.
    In time, we left for school (as did I), and then to begin lives and careers elsewhere. These things happen.
    I found myself without a group for a time. What to do to fill the void? I took the time to adapt my campaign to Ratik, which was obviously the inspiration for the original.
    B3 Duchess and Candella
    I wanted the newly adapted campaign to have a frontier feel. Easier to handle, I believed. Towns were scaled down. What used to be concentrated in Riverport was spread about, giving the characters the need to travel. And ultimately renamed The James Bay Frontier (the bit above the North Bay), to differentiate it from the more settled, and presumably stable south (full disclosure, I live in the James Bay Frontier; maybe doing so was less than imaginative, but I thought the moniker was pretty cool, and it was far better than the Forest of Limitations). There was wildcat mining in the north. Stone circles and ‘henges. A felled Flan civilization underfoot. Bandits. The mystery of Rogahn and Zelligar. And eldritch horrors of eons past. And giants in them thar hills.
    Duchess and Candella
    Candella and Duchess homage
    I found those old modules invaluable, especially B1-3, N1, G1-3. Duchess and Candella became staples in it. Allies. Love interests. Foils. And remained so even unto G1-3.
    G3 Duchess


    A new campaign arose from the ashes of the old, with some old players, with some new.
    And in time, that too faded away as the lives of players overwhelmed them and they moved away.
    Enter 25 year hiatus. Did I buy more RPG material? You bet I did. Did I read much of it? No. I leafed through some, not all, and rarely completely.
    Sadly, I purged a lot of that original material, years later. That means dumpster. Not my D&D stuff. I was never going to dumpster that. As to the rest, much of it was never used: Boxed sets for Star Trek RPG, Doctor Who, Traveller 2300, Space 1889, I cannot remember what else. And reams of my old campaign notes. I regret that. But it was just unused paper in my mind at the time of the purge, the flotsam of childhood become jetsam; but I felt the wrench of small death as I chucked it, watching a precious portion of my youth discarded with it.

    Time passed, the aforementioned 25 years before I was approached, lured back into nostalgia. I pulled out my old books even as I was buying the 5e stuff, and was thrilled to discover my old notes, originals as it were. Two thoughts collided as I leafed through the sacred pages, their naiveté, and my spark of imagination.
    Do I remember that old material that was purged? Not all. But I remember enough. Not a lot of the town names. Those are lost to time.
    So, here is a recreation, updated as it is upon referring to Anna Meyer’s map of the region. I even added Len Lakofka’s Layakeel to it.

    Are they to scale? No. Not really.
    Are they rough? Yes. Decidedly. Considerably. Consider them a scratchy pad rumination.
    Has my penmanship improved? Not a bit. If anything, it has failed in pace with my eyesight.
    I bid you be kind as I rewind.
    My players loved my campaign. To this day, those I still know say that mine was the best they’d ever played in. And in the end, isn’t whether your players enjoyed your campaign all that matters?




    One must always give credit where credit is due. This History is made possible primarily by the Imaginings of Gary Gygax and his Old Guard, Lenard Lakofka among them, and the new old guards, Carl Sargant, James Ward, Roger E. Moore. And Erik Mona, Gary Holian, Sean Reynolds, Frederick Weining. The list is interminable. Thanks to Steven Wilson for his GREYCHRONDEX and to Keith Horsfield for his “Chronological History of Eastern Oerik.”
    Special thanks to Jason Zavoda for his compiled index, “Greyhawkania,” an invaluable research tool.


    The Art:
    All art is wholly owned by the artists.
    B2 The Keep on the Borderlands, Cover, by Jim Roslof, 1980
    B3 Palace of the Silver Princess, Duchess and Candella, by Jim Roslof, 1981
    G3 Hall of the Fire Giant King, Female Thief, by David A Trampier, 1978


    Sources:
    1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
    1068 Greyhawk Wars Boxed Set, 1991
    2011A Dungeon Masters Guide, 1st Ed., 1979
    9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
    9023 B1 In Search of the Unknown, 1979
    9034 B2 Keep on the Borderlands, 1980
    9044 B3 Palace of the Silver Princess, 1981
    9058 G1-3 Against the Giants, 1981

    Dragon Magazine

    Posted: 11-24-2021 06:37 am
    History of the South-East, Part 5: A Descent Into Sorrow

    “His descent was like nightfall.”
    ― Homer, The Iliad


    A Kingdom Grown Fat on Indulgence

    The Great Kingdom had reached its apex; and with it, decadence. Its aristocracy had grown fat on indulgence; its throne even more so. An omen of the coming days had streaked across the sky, predicting its decline; of course, none had taken heed. Theirs was the time of unparalleled wealth, and unparalleled power. Had they looked to the past for guidance… For the Suel Imperium might have taught them the price of pride, hubris, and cruelty.


    c. 200 CY              The Viceroyalty of Ferrond looked to the east, and so apathy. And a rising incomitance. The Kingdom had left them; that much was sure. But the Kingdom still demanded its tithe, for the Kingdom believed that was its due. The Viceroyalty was not as convinced of that venerable seat of power’s claim. For, did not Dyvers determine their course, did not Dyvers see to their affairs. What need did they have of the Malachite Throne then?

    For three centuries the Aerdy held a vast empire which fluctuated in extent but little, until after the third Celestial House (dynasty) when the borders began to close in upon the original territory of the Aerdi. [Folio - 5]

    As the power of the Malachite Throne in Rauxes waned, the Viceroys of Ferrond ruled more by their own writ and less by the leave of the Aerdi overlords. [Folio - 10]


    The Kingdom, in its hubris, did not heed the stirrings of independence to the west. Trade flowed. Riches continued to arrive. But too slowly for its liking. So, Leukish was constructed to facilitate the flow.

    By 200, Aerdy coin had seen to the construction of Leukish, at that time the richest and most splendid port on all the Nyr Dyv. Thirty-seven years later, the duke moved the capital to the new city, leaving Seltaren to degenerate into a swarm of old politics and run-down buildings. The duke's family established Shorewatch, a beautiful castle in the village of Nesserhead, just east of Leukish. [LGG - 125]


    202 CY                "And it started like a guilty thing; Upon a fearful summons." [Hamlet]
    During the reign of Overking Jiranen, Lord Kargoth was reputedly the greatest knight of the day. So, when the standard bearer of the Knights Protector passed into legend, Lord Kargoth fully expected to be named his successor, a fitting tribute to his long and illustrious career. When a much younger Sir Benedor was proclaimed successor, the realm gasped in disbelief, despite it being rumoured that the youth had been touched by the spirit of Johydee. Kargoth’s pride was much wounded. The Banner should have been his, he seethed!  He challenged the young knight in the Court of Essences to a contest of arms, and although fearful, the young knight accepted the challenge. The clearly weaker young knight parried Kargoth’s attacks, never giving up the floor, and held his own until sunset, upon which the challenge was called. Stalemate! According to custom, Kargoth had lost. He refused the young knight’s hand of truce and stormed from court and the sneers of his peers. He vowed revenge.


    He Came Upon a Ruin
    Kargoth took refuge from the deluge that accompanied his flight. He came upon a ruin, and a stair down into the dry darkness beneath it. An ancient shrine greeted his torch upon reaching its base, that and the whispered words of the demon Ahmon-Ibor, the Sibilant Beast. Kargoth knew this beast, Demogorgon, to be a fell fiend worshipped by the decadent Flan until they were pacified by the Aerdy. The whispers promised a plan of revenge and Kargoth was seduced by those whispers, and he swore a blood pact to seal his deal. Tentacles sprung out of the darkness and tore out his eyes, and Kargoth became the first Death Knight. He emerged to discover the Knights Protector riven by the slight given him. And he was pleased.
    Monduiz Dephaar returned to the Great Kingdom upon hearing of his mentor’s supposed disgrace, seeking to join Kargoth in his revenge. Others joined him.
    Dephaar did not see Kargoth’s disfigurement. Kargoth kept it hidden at all times. He kept his distance; he held his meetings in darkened rooms, his incensed ravings woven with belching clouds of acrid incense.
    Saint Kargoth
    The whispers instructed him on when it was time to act upon his vengeance. When it was time, he gathered those who sided with him, and raided the Temple of Lothan, and taking its holy artifact, the Orb of Sol, in hand, he bent the Orb’s power to his will. He raised it high, and speaking words of power, summoned the draconic tentacle demon beast Arendagrost, as he was bid. And set it free upon the world. Arendagrost began to cut a swath of destruction from Rel Deven to Rauxes.
    Sir Benedor rode hard to Rel Deven upon hearing the news. He arrived in time to witness those thirteen knights who’d accompanied Kargoth rise from their death sprawls, their clothing scotched, their flesh burned, their eyes aglow with malevolence. He summoned all of his courage and closed with Kargoth. He attacked with abandon, sure in the knowledge that if he did not, he was lost. Near his end, he managed to wrest the Orb from Kargoth, and instructed by it, he too spoke words of power and he scattered those deathly knights that he once called peers, and began his relentless quest to destroy them.
    His victory came too late for the royal family, though. They had fallen victim to the rampaging fiend. Indeed, one had fallen and was raised by Kargoth in his own image to mock their feeble power, and set him too upon the world.
    Was Benedor successful? No. The Death Knights were swift, and they laid a trail of undead in their wake to slow him. [Adapted from Dragon #290 - 100 to 104]

    203 CY  The Order of the Knights Protector hunted the Death Knights, their desire to eradicate them. They were blight upon the kingdom they had sworn to protect; and truth be told, they could not abide the thought that those who had fallen to that dark path had been so easily lured from it. The Knights Protector failed. To their own detriment.
    Few events shook the order as greatly as the betrayal of the paladin Sir Kargoth, who made a pact with the forces of evil and unleashed a demonic terror upon the Great Kingdom in 203 GY. The abomination was destroyed at great cost, but the fallen knight seduced no fewer than thirteen members of the order to his dark banner. Kargoth's treachery cursed everything he touched, and sunlight turned all fourteen traitors into the first and most powerful of the so called death knights.
    The order went into slow decline after this upheaval, as many loyal knights spent much time hunting down the renegades. [LGG - 158]

    The Death Knights:
    St. Kargoth the Betrayer, Lord Monduiz Dephaar, Lady Lorana Kath of Naelax, Prince Myrhal of Rax, Sir Maeril of Naelax, Sir Farian of Lirthan [destroyed by Benedor], Lord Andromansis of Garasteth, Sir Oslan Knarren, Sir Rezinar of Haxx, Lord Thyrian of Naelax, Sir Minar Syrric of Darmen, Duke Urkar Grasz of Torquann, Sir Luren the Boar of Torquann, and Lord Khayven of Rax.
    [Dragon #290]

    213 CY  How complacent was Rauxes? How depraved? How self-serving?
    Upon the death of Overking Jiranen, his son Malev auctioned off the throne to the highest bidder. For how much? A princely sum, I would imagine, for few could meet the price Malev would accept. His cousin Zelcor could, and did.
    [With] the death in the spring of 213 CY of the Overking Jiranen, a sovereign who had reigned many years, succession became a matter of intrigue. His fatuous son Malev was uninterested in the office and proceeded to secretly auction it off to the highest bidder among his relatives. Malev did not care who took the throne, and it came as some surprise when his cousin Zelcor reportedly met his price. [LGG - 23]

    Royal Astrologers at Rel Astra proclaimed the coming of the Age of Sorrow, vindicating the disgraced Sage Selvor the Younger.
    Selvor the Younger, an Aerdi astronomer, extrapolated its path [of the comet that passed overhead in 198 CY] back to its celestial origin and declared the fireball to be an omen of “wealth, strife, and a living death.” This pronouncement caused panic in Rauxes and throughout the Great Kingdom, where it was interpreted to mean the end of the world. The subsequent incidents and unrest foreshadowed the Age of Great Sorrow to come, in 213 CY [LT1 The Star Cairns - 2]
    The Royal Astrologers proclaimed it as a great portent, confirming the sign of a coming Age of Great Sorrow prophesied by Selvor the Younger fifteen years earlier. Overking Zelcor promptly abolished the astrologers' order for trying to recreate earlier hysteria and banished the members to Rel Astra. So proceeded an inexorable decline that began as the rulers of House Rax became progressively neglectful, decadent, or dimwitted. [LGG - 23]

    From 213 CY on, the Aerdi overkings grew lax, caring more for local prestige and wealth than for the affairs of their vassals in distant lands. This period was called the Age of Great Sorrow. As each sovereign passed, he was replaced with a more dimwitted and less competent successor, until the outer dependencies of Aerdy declared their independence. [LGG - 14]

    The new Overking Zelcor began to distance himself from the Knights Protector, for public opinion had swayed against them and their favour. Lord Kargoth had fallen, and had seduced thirteen of their number to join him on his evil path, and the people had suffered for it. What had the Knights Protector done to stop their fallen, they asked? Nothing. Or so it seemed. The had chased that evil number hither and yon, and yet the Death Knights continued to wreak havoc. What then, were they good for, they asked? So too did Zelcor. [Dragon #290]

    Wastri
    215 CY  Who was Wastri, the Hopping Prophet? The Malachite Throne had no idea. Neither did the Scarlet Brotherhood. Some few in the Brotherhood assumed him to be one of the original followers of Kevelli, but they had no proof of such a claim. He was powerful, to be sure; a god some thought; most believed him a heretic.
    The first appearance of the frog-like demigod Wastri in 5730 SD was met with surprise, confusion and disgust. “Wastri” had been the name of one of Kevelli’s students lost in the swamp so many years before; and the demigod’s humanocentrism, and his belief that humanoids existed to seve humans, paralleled their own philosophy. Regardless of his origins, the Hopping Prophet was obviously tainted. The Brotherhood declared him an impure creature (although this was done privately so as not to offend the demigod), which kept them from working closely with him. Wastri seemed content to remain in his swamp, initiating occasional raids into the forests and hills nearby in search of demihumans to impale. [SB]
    It is he who preaches the ultimate superiority of humankind. While humanoids can serve, demi-humans are fit only to be slain — especially dwarves, gnomes, and halflings. These, with the aid of his gray-clad “Servants,” he hunts with his toad packs and exterminates whenever possible. [Dragon #71 - 56]
    Orcs, goblins, bullywugs, and such are sufficient to serve humans [….] Those who disagree […] are wrong and must be convinced of their error, with a weapon if need be. [LGG - 187]

    Was Wastri Iuz? Is that possible? Might that master of mayhem and deceit begun to weave his web that far south of his domain?
    When Tarkhan [of the Wolf Nomads] arrived to raise the siege [of Eru-Tovar], Lord Choldraf was forced to screen the withdrawal of the luzites, since the humanoids under the wizard Mellard-Plict were too undisciplined and unreliable to handle the assignment. In fact, most of the wizard’s troops had deserted, or merely decided to wander off on a raid of their own, by the time the Battle of Black Water Bend was fought. The high priest is in disgrace now, but it is likely that Choldraf will find some way to redeem himself with luz. It is reported that the wizard fled immediately upon the loss of the battle, going far south and now raising companies of bullywugs in the Vast Swamp, supposedly at the behest of Wastri, the Hopping Prophet. [Dragon #56 - 19]
    This beg the question to be asked: Why did Choldraf flee to the Vast Swamp of all places? To redeem himself there? Why there, unless that was where Iuz was to be found.

    There are those who say that Wastri was a but a man, a zealot dent on finding the path of spiritual perfection through isolation, privation, and meditation. In this he was encouraged by all who met him, for he was unpleasant and out of place in any normal society. It was as much ostracizing as choice that sent the zealous seeker forth to find the path to his “enlightenment.” The religious hermit found what he was seeking in the vast wilderness of mires and marsh. The experience was not what he expected. Wastri found he disliked being alone, so he made friends with the denizens of the swamp and sought converts—simply because he wanted the company of servants. Instead of contemplating the mysteries and seeking the greater truth, the fellow grew bored, since all he discovered within himself was shallowness.
    Rthe community of his followers grew, and as things developed, Wastri’s main interest centered on the first friends he’s made in the bogs, the giant toads. Over the course of decades, the Hopping Profit grew more powerful, even as he and his faithful following assimilated certain characteristics of a strange sort as a result of their mingling.
    To this day, Wastri has continued to evolve to a point where he is no longer human. [Dragon #300 - 16]

    230 CY  Zelcor looked ever inward, slowly withdrawing those imperial troops that had stood steadfast upon the Kingdom’s borders. Did he believe his borders secure? I doubt he gave them much thought, what with his having ignored the prophesy of doom that preceded his “ascending” to the throne—ascending?—suppressing said prophesy might be a better description. I would make the brazen assumption that he recalled his forces in hopes of protecting Rauxes, any himself, from the Death Knights that had plagued his kingdom for decades.
    This period was […] marked by a noticeable decline in the quality of Aerdy rulership from Rauxes. This time, called the Age of Great Sorrow, led to an important change in 230 CY, when Aerdy soldiers were withdrawn from Greyhawk [City] and the landgraf was charged with defending the Selintan region using local militia. [TAB - 58]

    233 CY  Was Zelcor a good and just king? Was he competent? Was he corrupt? As to the fist two questions, who can say; he had sat upon the Malachite Throne for decades, so he was certainly proficient at keeping that seat. As to the third? Most certainly. And that would certainly call into question the veracity of the first two.
    House Naelax finally regained the throne of North Province in 223 CY, after the untimely death of Herzog Atirr Movanich. Some say this was accomplished by paying off the heavily indebted Overking Zelcor I, who had no aversion to procuring his own berth over a decade earlier. [LGG - 74]
                   
    237 CY  One might think that Seltaren was well situated upon the Plains of Palentine, central to all it oversaw. A bastion of Suloise culture. And so it was, and had been for centuries. [Gifted] with a moderate climate, the farms of [the Dutchy of] Urnst produce crops in all but the deepest winter Summer rains commonly flood the banks of the Nesser well south of the capital; wise farmers construct low stone walls around their fields, building outbuildings on short stilts. The famous rolling foothills of the north prevent serious flooding there, and make for breathtaking landscapes remembered in travelogues read across the Flanaess. [LGG]
    Despite all that, the cool breezes flowing off the Nyr Dyv called to the Duke of Urnst. He moved his capitol from Seltaren to Leukish and established the castle of Shorewatch, in Nesserhead just east of Leukish.
    Thirty-seven years [after the the construction of the port of Leukish], the duke moved the capital to the new city, leaving Seltaren to degenerate into a swarm of old politics and run-down buildings. The duke's family established Shorewatch, a beautiful castle in the village of Nesserhead, just east of Leukish. [LGG - 124]

    247 CY  The Knights Protector persevered, despite their having failed to destroy Kargoth and his chosen few. Lord Kargoth’s castle walls were pulled down by the Knights Protector, in a desperate bid to deny Kargoth any haven, any succor within the kingdom. Were that true; they razed it to erase the his memory from those who dwelt under its shadow. Were that possible. What secrets it may have held have remained buried ever since.
    Rumours persist that he settled on the Isle of Cursed Souls, but if truth be told, Kargoth had only been seen once upon that northern coast, and that during the Flan Festival of the Bloody Moon. [Dragon #290]

    252 CY  Some seed take decades to germinate: the Theocracy of the Pale, for instance. Who would have thought that its first seed was planted a century prior to its Emancipation? But it was. And it was first seed was sown by Overking Toran II, a paranoid, suspicious soul, if there ever was one. He saw enemies everywhere, he heard whispers in the far corners of his court. And knew that he had tenuous hold on the length and breadth of his Great Kingdom. None should rule but him. And to that end, those with any influence need be uprooted. Replaced. With those more loyal.
    Centuries before the founding of the Pale, when the Great Kingdom spanned nearly the length and breadth of the Flanaess, the church of Pholtus had the appointed task of administering the courts for the realm on behalf of the overking and the Celestial Houses. Its highest ranking member was given the title of Holy Censor and granted a fief to administer from the old city of Mentrey in Medegia, where judges of the law from all faiths were trained and appointed. When the order of Pholtus fell out of favor with the overkings of House Rax in the mid-third century CY, it was largely due to the perception that its leaders were attempting to impose their doctrine on the kingdom and create a theocracy through their control of the courts. While this may have been true of some its more outspoken leaders, the accusation undoubtedly owed more to the apathy of the Pholtans to the evolving politics at court. So it was with the near concurrence of all other sects, that its highest ranking cleric was removed from the Holy Censoriate by Overking Toran II in 252 CY and replaced with the priesthood of Zilchus, which was then closely allied with the Houses of Rax and Darmen. This was considered a reasonable compromise, as no consensus could ever be achieved between the faiths of Heironeous and Hextor, the most individually powerful sects of the Great Kingdom at the time. [LGG - 81]

    254 CY  Thrommel I was crowned in the city of Dyvers.
    The Crowning of Thrommel I
    And thus it began. Far from the influence of the Malachite Throne, the Viceroyalty of Ferrond declared independence from the Great Kingdom, and was thereafter called Furyondy. This marks the beginning of the dissolution of the Great Kingdom. Never again would their influence reach as far. In truth, its influence had not swayed Ferrond for some time.
    The viceroyalty of Ferrond [was the first of the Great Kingdom’s outlying protectorates to break from the fold], becoming the kingdom of Furyondy. Other regions also broke away from the ineffectual government of the overking over time, creating their own governments after achieving success in their wars of rebellion. [LGG - 14]

    The heir to Viceroy Stinvri (the Viceroyalty had become hereditary some years previously) was crowned in Dyvers as Thrommel I, King of Furyondy, Prince of Veluna, Provost of the Northern Reaches, Warden General of the Vesve Forest, Marshall of the Shield Lands, Lord of Dyvers, etc. [Folio - 10]

                [The withdrawal of Aerdy troops from Greyhawk] was briefly rescinded in 254 CY when Furyondy declared itself independent of the Great Kingdom, putting Greyhawk right on the Great Kingdom’s border with the Former viceroyalty. A large imperial force was stationed at Greyhawk, with a smaller force camped outside Hardby, but their skirmishes with the Furyondian army came to nothing. [TAB - 58]
                     
                The Pholtans had been betrayed. They felt supressed, banished to the fringe of the society they had guided and nurtured. And lost under the weight of the depravity that hung over the land like a shroud. The dreamed of a new land, a pure land, one free of persecution.
    In the aftermath of this episode, many of the most zealous members of the faith of Pholtus began abandoning the heartlands of Aerdy, citing religious persecution and rising decadence in the empire, accelerated by the withdrawal of Ferrond in 254 CY. While there was some truth to their claims, these were largely exaggerations and considered by most the protestations of a group suffering waning power and influence.
    Most of these religious emigrants traveled through provincial Nyrond, eventually settling in the western valleys of the Rakers in the Flan hinterlands. These lands were desired by few, being at the very frontiers of the Great Kingdom and located in the severe climes of the north. Here these Aerdi clerics and devout followers made a home for themselves among the native Flan, who held an old semi-independent realm to the northwest in a place called Tenh. These early pioneers struggled greatly against the depredations of a harsh land and its denizens to carve out a nation for themselves, calling it the Pale and dedicating it to their god. [LGG - 81,82]

    Court Intrigue
    mid-250’s            As the Houses Rax and Darmen waned, House Naelax grew more powerful with the aid of their close connection to the worship of Hextor. The Pholtans and Heironeans had proven themselves too weak to defeat the Death Knights. The court knew as much. It was time for those with true strength to steer their course.
                    The Naelax grew powerful after the mid-250s CY, when their primary rival, the Heironean church, achieved independence in far-flung provinces such as Ferrond and the Shield Lands. Many of them withdrew from the increasingly decadent Great Kingdom, and no longer would these two rival orders contend equally for the attention of the Malachite Throne. [LGG - 74]

    The rise of the Hextorians made the satellite states wary. So too the persecution of those deemed too powerful, too independent, in the eyes of the Malachite Throne. So too the Death Knights. They began to retreat from the core, and sometimes that meant past persecutors might become present protectors.
    A half-century after the Great Council of Rel Mord, the County of Urnst became a palatine state under the protection of the richer and more powerful Duchy of Urnst, a political situation that continues to this day. [LGG - 123]

    The War That Never Was
    261 CY  The expected war with Furyondy never happened. There were skirmishes. There was much shield rattling. But before long, the would-be combatants settled into a wary stalemate. And even that eased. Furyondy needed their forces for what Keoland might desire. And Rauxes needed theirs for what enemies might arise within.
    The Overking withdrew most of the [imperial forces from Greyhawk] in 261 CY, leaving a small garrison at Hardby until 277 CY.
    As the Aerdy army left, the Landgraf of Selintan was ordered to bring his militia up to imperial standards and defend the Great Kingdom’s border with the Kingdom of Furyondy. However, the landgraf […] had been holding secret talks with […] Dyvers [and he] knew Grehawk was in no danger from the new kingdom, which believed that the seizure if Greyhawk would provoke a swift counterattack from Rauxes [….] [TAB - 58]




    One must always give credit where credit is due. This History is made possible primarily by the Imaginings of Gary Gygax and his Old Guard, Lenard Lakofka among them, and the new old guards, Carl Sargant, James Ward, Roger E. Moore. And Erik Mona, Gary Holian, Sean Reynolds, Frederick Weining. The list is interminable. Thanks to Steven Wilson for his GREYCHRONDEX and to Keith Horsfield for his “Chronological History of Eastern Oerik.”
    Special thanks to Jason Zavoda for his compiled index, “Greyhawkania,” an invaluable research tool.
    Primary sources for this history were the DMG 1e, The World of Greyhawk Folio, and The World of Greyhawk Gold Box, Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, Ivid the Undying, the Greyhawk Adventures hardcover, The Living Greyhawk Journals, Dragon Magazine.

    The Art:
    All art is wholly owned by the artists.
    Saint Kargoth, by Greg Staples (?), Dragon Magazine 290, 2001
    Wastri, by Jeff Easley, Dragon Magazine 71, 1983
    King-of-the-Britons by thedurrrrian
    Court-Intrigue by petite-licorne
    Lay-down-your-weapons by quintuscassius


    Sources:
    1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
    1064 From the Ashes Boxed Set, 1992
    1068 Greyhawk Wars Boxed Set, 1991
    2011A Dungeon Masters Guide, 1st Ed., 1979
    2023 Greyhawk Adventures Hardback, 1988
    9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
    9253 WG8, Fate of Istus, 1989
    9399 WGR 5, Iuz the Evil, 1993
    9577 The Adventure Begins, 1998
    9578 Player’s Guide to Greyhawk, 1998
    11374 The Scarlet Brotherhood, 1999
    11621 Slavers. 2000
    11742 Gazetteer, 2000
    11743 Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000
    Ivid the Undying, 1998
    Dragon Magazine
    OJ Oerth Journal, appearing on Greyhawk Online
    LGJ et. al.
    Greychrondex, Wilson, Steven B.
    Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda
    The map of Anna B. Meyer


    Posted: 11-19-2021 04:20 pm
    On Leomund

    “I long to hear the story of your life, which must captivate the ear strangely.”

    ― William Shakespeare, The Tempest


    Leomund


     A sleeping town under a cover of new-fallen snow. The silver glow of the moon casts a dim light down upon the darkness, but does nothing to disturb the silence. On the lattices of a frost-coated window, a bright island of golden light dances, shimmering and flickering as the candle flame inside the room is tossed about by the wind that forces its way through the cracks around the window. In the flickering light, an old man traces his finger across the archaic writing of a tattered grimoire, pausing every few moments to gaze out the window and lose himself in dreams of forgotten lore . . . knowledge . . . and power. [Dragon #82 - 55]



     Who was Leomund? The easiest way to answer this would be to put the question to Len Lakofka, himself, since the old sage was his character, and let him tell the tale in his own words. And he did just that in the Oerth Journal #10.

    Much has been written about Leomund over the years, not all of it by Len, so there might be some confusion as to who he was and what he did, and whether or not he was a member of this group or that. Such is the way of things. Others take the reins, they extrapolate, they interpolate, they expound, and the character becomes something else, a work of fiction that is not what was.

     His was a humble beginning.I was born on Fireseek the 3rd 479 CY (5994 S.D. – for those of you who are civilized) “…. in a forest somewhere”, or so my mother told me. She was not very clear on exactly where and I never did press the issue. My guess is the Celadon Forest since she once said that she lived in Beetu in the Kingdom of Nyrond for a dozen or more years. When I visited Beetu I found it populated by a number of full-blooded elves as well as a number of people who are a mixture to human and elf. [OJ10]


     We know more about his mother than we do his father.

    In the Beginning...

    I never met my father but as the years passed I discovered that he was part elf, likely a quarter elf as best as I can determine. His heritage manifested itself as a very slight resistance to [sleep] and [charm] but more importantly by giving me a limited form of [infravision]. Being able to see a source of heat in complete darkness, when that source is about ten feet away, has saved my sorry rear end on more than one occasion! A least I did not get pointed ears out of the deal. Thanks dad. His heritage has also helped when it comes to my life span. I’m 111 now and I only feel like I’m 50 or so, not too bad for an old duffer like me. [OJ10]

    Was his father an adventuresome sort? Maybe. Most likely. His mother most certainly was. Mother was a thief, I mean rogue, just in case you were unclear. [OJ10]

    Final Kiss

    That may be why she was attracted to him. She and he were very likely first thrown together for just that reason. I would suggest she enjoyed a fast life, one fraught with risk. Why? Mother was a devout worshipper of Norebo [….] [OJ10]

    What happened to him? Leomund does not say. And neither did his mother. Maybe he died. Maybe he didn’t; maybe she absconded with the party’s loot.

     That’s speculation. We must keep with what Leomund said, in regards to her.

    My mother, Elsieadar, was a pure blooded Suel. She was born in the Duchy of Urnst but found that her profession “…. was not always welcomed with open arms”, and, therefore, she decided to move to a more receptive locale. She had a typical Suel pale complexion, purple eyes and light curly red hair. She usually dressed in clothing that was bright red and orange splashed with yellow. My earliest memories of my mother were that she seemed to be aflame when she often wore her bright red town cloak. The cloak was red at the hem and gradually changed into reddish orange, orange and became yellow by the time it got to the neck and shoulders. The garment, at a distance, made the wearer look as though they were bathed in fire. I liked the look a great deal and copied it later in my career when I dabbled with “pyrology” and founded the Red Star League. [OJ10] 


    Mother travelled, with him in tow. That much is obvious, regardless why she left the Celedon Forest. First to Irongate, shortly after his birth, then on to the Spindrift Islands in 482 CY, where they lived for a time in Kroton, then on a small farm on the outskirts of Lo Reltarma.

    Why did she travel so much? Maybe by necessity.

    Elsieadar in Irongate

    I remember nothing of the city and she told me very little. The exception was a sign of one of the thief’s guilds that existed in the Iron League. These rogues were of a lawful nature and politically inclined as well. Years later I came to know a number of them personally and they helped me with the organization of my own ‘guild’. [OJ10]


    I think it obvious that she was a member of the guild. How else would a boy of such tender years learn such a thing? 

    That said, I mentioned earlier that she was a devout woman, even if her devotions were self-serving. A risktaker, she naturally wished to stack the deck, so to speak; who better then to worship than the god of luck? Such devotion rubbed off on Leomund; if not her path.

    Mother was a devout worshipper of Norebo and because of her I took up the profession of cleric at the age of ten. […] However, I did not become a cleric of Norebo. When I attended a Church of the Big Gamble I was torn between laughter and protecting my purse. Even at ten years of age I discovered Norebo’s house of worship to be a ludicrous place. Instead I found that Lendore was a bit more to my liking. His temples were clean and orderly and somehow that produced a feeling of tranquility that I found refreshing. [OJ10]


    Young Leomund

    Even so, his future path was all too clear, even if he did not pursue it then. The clerics taught him to read, and he was soon reading everything he could get his hands on, even if that meant neglecting his devotions. His mentor, Rallyman, was both frustrated and pleased with his student. He might have censured the boy, but instead of getting angry, he encouraged him, and soon, Leomund was elevated to librarian.

    Then, just after his 16th birthday, Rallyman sent him upon a task. Go collect a tome, he said, to which Leomund set upon the road to Kroton to retrieve a book from Elesar ‘a Bendar, a sage of some repute. He took along a couple of the sons of Rallyman’s old adventuring party, a fighter named Sormat and a roguish fellow named Tegger, for the road can be a dangerous place.

    We got the book all right and were on the way back when the little band of thieves hit us. Tegger was surprised by the first volley, surprised to see three arrows protruding out of his belly. Sormat and I were lucky to be missed by arrows as we watched Tegger go down to his knees and then kiss the ground. I pulled out my trusty hammer and dropped it. Sigh. I guess I should not tell every agonizing blow in this melee but when it was done there were five dead thieves (including Tegger) and Sormat was cut up badly enough to be unconscious. I was fortunate that the thieves took Sormat as the threat and not me. Thank you Lendor. I did have a cure and after some work I got him bandaged enough to get back on the trail.

    I did learn my first lesson in being a scavenger from this melee. I got a reasonably good fitting set of leather armor out of the deal and a few coins as well. More importantly I found the scrap of parchment with the map to the place where the thieves were to drop the book off. Sorehead, I mean Sormat, wanted to avenge poor Tegger and since I absolutely needed a guard I had little choice. It also taught me not to tell everything that I discovered to a fighter in the party while we were still on the adventure. “What an idiot!” I thought to myself – I called him an idiot actually but then he punched me in the nose and this reinforced the lesson of not speaking to fighters. [OJ10]


    I would be remiss if I did not describe Leomund, at this point.

    I had the look of a Suel male. I was thin and pale with dark blue eyes and reddish blond hair, which, alas, began to fall out when I was the tender age of 29. I topped out at 5’11 and have stayed below 150 pounds my entire life. I, like my mother, like to dress in red and orange but while adventuring I learned that a dark green or dark gray cloak is far more practical. [OJ10]

    So, Leomund was Suel. Yes and no. He most certainly was, but more. We would call him a Variant human, now. He would refer to himself as Quarf (¾ human, ¼ elf), his father Hulf (Human-elf).


    Further adventures followed, but Leomund found that his interest in the arcane drew him from his devotions, and he began to wonder if a life in the service of Lendor was indeed his calling. He had an active and inquisitive mind, and a cloistered life did not lend itself to study and research, in much the same way as his life in the library had.

    In Tutelage to Elesar 'a Bendar

    He decided to leave the monestary and apprentice himself to the Sage Elesar ‘a Bendar, who had subsequently moved to Loreltarma, where Leomund spent the next four years studying and copying text from one tome to another. And for the next thirty years, Bendar sent him on missions to the Spindrifts, Medegia, the Lordship of the Isles, and as far away as the Iron League nations, and beyond. 

    A notable adventure when I was 37 years old and [by then, of considerable talent,] occurred in the Hold of the Sea Princes. As you know the Sea Princes had mostly ‘retired’ by this year (516CY). A few, who did not live along the coast, had taken to keeping and selling slaves. It is a popular misconception that all the ‘princes’ held slaves. That is not the case. Many of the coastal nobles abhorred slavery but they were not powerful enough in the central plain and western mountain valleys to stop the practice. Also the Island Fleet Commodores still favored slavery as well.

    Elesar sent the three of us to meet with Prince Jeon (the 1st). He was to direct us to the probable location of a book of great potency that was carried from the Suel Empire and had somehow made its way into the possession of the Plar of Hool. The Plar, then Yestiman ‘ad Grep, was a fat, totally detestable fellow with blotchy skin who constantly scratched at himself in many uncomely ways. Yestiman was in Monmurg at the time for an annual festival celebrating the Hold’s former seafaring prowess. We tried to negotiate with Yestiman and offered the splendid diamond our master had given us (fully worth 20,000GP) to buy the book. He was intractable. He did, however, send an assassin to kill us in our sleep at the palace of the Prince. The assassin was truly amazed that a little halfling coming up behind him could do that much damage but his amazement was short lived. He died in the next few minutes. The Plar had already left for Hool. A place I did not want to visit! Accompanied by a few select mercenaries provided for us by Jeon we took off after the Plar. Poor Yestiman was last seen floating in his beloved Hool Marsh and we did get the book Elesar sent us for. [OJ10]


    He gained a Cloak of Displacement from the corpulent Yestiman, and used it in conjunction with a Cloak of Blending, the results of which both surprised him, and opened his eyes to ethereal states of being, the research into which unlocked many mysteries and led to his developing his Tiny Hut, the spell that holds his name to this day. Then his Secret Chest. Then others. Leomund discovered that he had a flare for creating spells, most of which were dedicated to the preservation of his person, survival being the most important and fundamental goal of adventuring, in his experience. Mine too, come to think on it. Leomund was a pretty wise and cagey cat, in that regard.


    Point in case:

    Leomund’s Lamentable Belabourment                   (Enchantment/Evocation)

    Level: 5                                                                                 Components: V Range: 1”

    Casting Time: 5 segments                                             Duration: Special

    Saving Throw: Special                                                     Area of Effect: 1 or more creatures in a 1” radius


    Explanation/Description:

    By means of this spell, the magic-user causes a combination of fascination, confusion, and rage upon 1 or more creatures able to understand the language in which the spell caster speaks. Upon casting the spell, the magic-user begins discussion of some topic germane to the creature or creatures to be affected. Those not saving versus magic will immediately begin to converse with the spell caster, agreeing or disagreeing, all most politely. As long as the spell caster chooses, he or she can maintain the spell by conversing with the subject(s). As long as there is no attack made upon them, they will ignore all else going on around them, instead “choosing” to spend their time exclusively talking and arguing.


    If the spell is maintained for more than 3 rounds, each subject creature must attempt another save versus spell. Those failing to save this time will wander off in confusion for 3-12 rounds, avoiding proximity of the spell caster in any event. Those who make the confusion save are still kept in fascination and must also save in the 4th, 5th, and 6th rounds (or for as long as the caster continues the dweomer) to avoid the confusion effect. If the spell is maintained for more than 6 rounds, each subject must save versus spell to avoid going into a rage — either at oneself, if one is the sole object of the spell, or at all other subjects of the spell — and attack suicidally (regular “to hit” probability) against one’s own person, or fall upon the nearest other subject of the dweomer with intent to kill. This rage will last for 2-5 rounds. Those subjects who save versus spell on the rage check will realize that they have fallen prey to the Belabourment, and will collapse onto the ground, lamenting their foolishness, for 1-4 rounds unless attacked or otherwise disturbed.

    If during the course of the maintenance of the spell the caster is attacked and/or otherwise distracted, he or she is still protected, for the subject or subjects will not notice. The magic-user can leave at any time after the casting and the subject(s) will continue on for 1 full round as if he or she were still there to converse with. In these cases, however, saving throws versus spell for continuance of the spell are not applicable, even if, for instance, the subject(s) would otherwise have had to save to avoid confusion or rage. Note that the spell is entirely verbal.

    [Dragon #68 - 25]


    He wrote many spells, and most of them can be found in the books he wrote. More than a few others must have shared my opinion, because his spells with copied into many arcane tomes, too many to mention, actually, which might explain Leomund’s widespread fame. Here is a list of the most famous, the tomes you would be most likely to find in libraries that exhibit an interest in the arcane:


    Architecture By Leomund & Mordenkainen

    (Leomunds Secure Shelter, Leomunds Tiny Hut, Forcecage, Mordenkainens Magnificent Mansion)


    Forgotten Arts of Oratory Magnetism By Leomund

     (Fascinate, Taunt, Irritation, Truename, Leomund Lamentable Belabourment)


    Thesis on the Planes of Anti-Matter By Leomund

    Leomund's Secret Chest

    (Rope Trick, Distance Distortion, Astral Spell, Disintegrate, Leomunds Secret Chest, Duo-dimension, Deep Pockets)


    Transcendental Impenetrabilities By Leomund

    (Leomunds Tiny Hut, Minor Globe of Invulnerability, Globe of Invulnerability, Prismatic Sphere)


    Libram of the Great Paravisual Emanations by Nystul

    (Nystuls Magic Aura, Shadow Magic, Demi-shadow Magic, shades, Leomunds Trap)


    [Dragon #82 (56,57,58), by Bruce Heard]



    Leomund/Guy Gas

    Leomund could not have done this all on his own. He took an apprentice in the year 539 CY. I had turned 60 but looked 39, or so my more polite friends told me. An earnest young mage named Guy Gas came to me for what turned out to be two years of additional training. As coincidence would have it, if you believe in coincidence, Guy Gas looked very much like me at the time. Not identical by any stretch, he was a little taller and heavier and his hair was a brighter shade of red than mine. However, people not knowing both of us, often thought he was I and would call him Leomund. I had somewhat of a reputation at that time (no, not that reputation – the good one), and Guy Gas seemed to like the recognition. [OJ10]

    Guy Gas […] traveled to Greyhawk where he set up shop and began to mingle with fellow mages there. That would have been fine but he took on my persona and identity! The faux Leomund even went so far as to join the Circle of Eight! He retired there, as me, in the year 576 CY! [OJ10]


    Rumour has it that Leomund was one of the Circle of Eight. He refutes that, explaining that is was Guy Gas, and not him, and that his once apprentice had even cloned himself, and that each of those believed themselves to be their eponymous self. It does make for complexing what is truly his doings and what is theirs.

    Point in case:

    In the mid-500s, a Wild Coast wizard named Mordenkainen quietly began to confer with several sorcerers in the Greyhawk area about the possibility of forming a group dedicated to the preservation of the Flanaess from external threats. This group became known as the Circle of Eight, an outgrowth of an earlier group of eight powerful individuals formed by Mordenkainen known as the Citadel of Eight, said to be headquartered in the Yatil Mountains at Mordenkainen’s retreat. A few of the members of the Circle of Eight have been publicly named, such as Bigby and Tenser. The latter was already a semiresident of the Domain of Greyhawk, as he had taken control of an ancient castle on the southern shore of the Nyr Dyv near the city. Two other mages known to have joined the Circle were Bucknard (who vanished in 579 CY and was later replaced by Jallan) and the ancient mage Leomund, an immigrant from the east who retired from the Circle in 576 CY and has been little seen since. [TAB - 60]

    And:

    It has been said that Zagig, The Black One of the Vale of the Mage, Leomund, Melf, and Serten, all powerful archmages and rivals to the circle of eight, watch the comings and goings of the Power Tower. They call themselves the “Ring of Five”. [WGR1 Greyhawk Ruins - 3]

    And:

    Leomund was a clever and practical individual who invented numerous spells of containment used by adventurers the Flanaess over, He kept his whereabouts a secret, though he is generally thought to have once lived in Medegia. He has not been heard from in some years. [PGtG - 23]


    Leomund was busy during this period, too busy in fact to have been involved in much of the shenanigans ascribed to him, if any. He was researching new spells, and that led to maybe the most epic adventure of his life:

    I started work on a special hourglass that I had thought about creating for a few years. My studies were going well and I was about to cast enchant an item on the hourglass when I got a visitor. She was a female elf mage named Delorn, as she introduced herself. She said she had “heard of my research” and that she was here to help and warn me. Well, I have always been an idiot when someone praises me and I did not realize that I had not talked of my research on the hourglass to anyone. We worked together for six months. Her knowledge of temporal mechanics, as she called them, was breathtaking! On the 1st day of Brewfest 580 (6095 SD) I turned the hourglass, which I had named Lendor’s Matrix, over for the first time. [OJ10]

    Delorn transformed into an aged, yet spritely gentleman: Lendor. “You will be just in time to save some of my people [,” he said, before fading from sight.] “Fare well!”

    Lendore found himself atop a palatial tower, surrounded by an array of windows that looked upon the most fantastical sight.

    I paused to look out of the windows. The city that I as in was huge and stretched as far as I could see in every direction. Many of the multi-colored stone buildings had four or more stories. There were a number of temples to the gods of the Suel. Lendor’s temple, about 250 feet away from me, could not be mistaken. The city had the ancient Suel Empire look about it. “Good grief! I realized that I was in one of those ancient cities, probably the capital. I went to the one chair in the room and sat down. Before me was a large book with a silver and red cover. Written upon it an ancient Suloise was the title Tome of the Scarlet Sign[OJ10]

    The Matrix had accompanied him. Or had it? Was this some other, created by another mage of that bygone age?

    The trap door opened and an amazed man paused on the ladder he was climbing and stared at me.

    “Who are you? What are you doing here?” he said in Suloise. The pronunciation was not quite what I expected but I understood him.

    “I am here because of Lendor’s labor. That is the item that brought me here.” I pointed at the hourglass. “It is called Lendor’s Matrix. It teleported me and took me out of my time.” [OJ10]


    Leomund said that just then the last grain of sand ran out.

    Did it? Is he being coy? Did he spend far more time there than a few seconds? If he had, why did Lendor bother sending him there in the first place and not to his final destination.

    And who might that bygone mage have been? Who else might Lendor have aided in creating such a device as Leomund’s Matrix? Slerotin?

    Was Leomund Slerotin? That’s wild speculation; but wouldn’t that be a wonder, and it would tie in with Leomund’s comment that Lendor said, “You will be just in time to save some of my people [….]”

    Who Will Stop the Rain?

    I imagine Leomund desperately trying to divert the Suel from their course, the weight of time and destiny thrawting him at every turn until the end; then his deperate bid to save those same people who might have heeded him, but didn't.

    Either way, that is idle musing on my part. An epic twist, in fact, even if the thought might be inspired by Raistlin and Fistandantolus.

    I'm sure Len would not approve, though.


    In any event, Leomund said that he was transported from that bygone Suloise city. Did he expect to return to his study? He does not say, but he was transported again, this time to the deck of a ship, a black bank of fog rolling across the water towards it.

    “What is that fog,” he asked, only to discover that not only did they not understand him, they advanced on him with the likely intent of putting an end to him. It was then that Leomund realized that he he was woefully unprepared for whatever task Lendor had in mind for him. He did not have his books, his staff, or any of his adventuring gear upon him. He was in his study, after all, not prepping for adventure!

    He tried elvish, and one stepped forward. He was indeed an elf, but of no type Leomund had ever encountered.

    “Do you know what that black fog is?” he said in elfish.

    “Well no”, I didn’t. “Where on Oerth are we?”

    “Oerth? What is Oerth? This world is, as all know, Dyrth”. Oh boy, I was on another world. Charming. All of this wonder was put on hold as the black fog boiled and flashed up closer and closer and began to overtake the ship farthest from us. In another two or three minutes it would be upon our ship.

    “Have you tried to dispel it?”

    “Yes we have, to no avail.” I stepped down from the bow and moved to the stern. No one hindered me. I conjured a dispel magic just before the fog caught us. To my great joy the fog that was about to overtake us evaporated into a white mist. The black fog, as it turned out, just a wall of fog and it was only a few dozen feet thick. We were on the other side of the wall of darkness and it was rolling away at the same speed. The hole I had created in the Fog was ‘healing’ itself as the wall moved on and in another minute the gap was gone. I had ‘saved’ our ship from the consequences of the fog and my popularity suddenly changed. I was hoisted aloft and, thank Lendor, NOT cast into the ocean. [OJ10]

    He had saved the ship, but not those less hearty upon the ships that accompanied them. But for what?

    They made landfall upon an unknown land. The surveyed the land around them, and set about building shelter for the coming months as they attempted to repair their ships and sails. The task proved daunting. And lengthy. Leomund spent the next nine years living with, teaching them, protecting them, until Lendor appeared, a wizened, crippled old man.

    Lendor confided that [he had taken me] away from Oerth because otherwise I would surely have died in the Greyhawk Wars. My own Red Star League was compromised on many levels by the Scarlet Brotherhood and I would have had great difficulty sorting out who was true friend and who was a spy. But my Master was good to me and gave me a Red Eye Cusp that I now wear in my left eye. It allows me full infravision out to 90 feet, how nice, no more of this having to get within ten feet. More importantly it allows me to see an aura of yellow around Lawful Mages who are NOT part of the Scarlet Brotherhood. [OJ10]


    Where am I now? Well, in the Spindrifts, of course. I am a friend to the High Elves and Lendor put in a word with Corellon that gets me into most places where the High Elves still exist. I did rescue my library without losing a book and I’ve been known to do a good Sage job from time to time. I’ll be more visible in the next few years if the damn assassins from the Scarlet Brotherhood don’t catch up with me. The last time I saw the Master of Obedience we agreed not to agree. I am a Suel but I’m not a Suel who believes in any supreme race, thank you. [OJ10]

     
    Leomund's Library


    Take this work as you will. Most of the content is from the Oerth Journal #10, written by Lenard Lakofka, himself. I have just woven in what other sources available to me to add to the text, and to include “all” (unlikely) the canon material available.

    It's art heavy. The reason? Because as I began to look into his history, I discovered that I love Leomund. He is that tenacious soul who rose from meagre beginnings to unostentatious heights. He is humble. Yet truly powerful.




    One must always give credit where credit is due. This History is made possible primarily by the Imaginings of Gary Gygax and his Old Guard, especially Lenard Lakofka, without whom we would not have Leomund at all.

    The primary source for this piece was Greyhawk Online's Oerth Journal #10, Leomund's Life, by Lenard Lakofka.

    Special thanks to Jason Zavoda for his compiled index, “Greyhawkania,” an invaluable research tool.


    The Art:

    Wizard-in-the-woods by mattforsyth

    Ar-lath-ma-Lovers by vogelfreyh

    Welcome-Light by saimain

    Enhanced-Surveillance-Magic-the-Gathering by 88grzes

    Cali-Study by leodemoura

    Wizard by thegryph

    Leomund's Secret Chest, by D.C. Sutherland III (?), Players Handbook, 1978

    Unearthed Arcana Cover, by Jeff Easley, 1985

    The Rain of Colorless Fire, by Vince Locke, 2000

    Magic-room by ddal84



    Copyright:
    The art is solely owned by the artists.

    All source material presented within this blog is owned and copyrighted by WotC.

    The use of this material is not intended to challenge the rights of WotC.

    This document is fan content and presented solely for the personal use of those individuals who game within the Greyhawk Setting.


    Sources:

    9577 The Adventure Begins, 1998 

    9578 Player’s Guide to Greyhawk, 1998

    Dragon Magazine 68, 82

    OJ Oerth Journal #10, appearing on Greyhawk Online

    Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda
    The map of Anna B. Meyer



    Posted: 11-17-2021 03:32 pm
    History of the South-East, Part 4: From Sea to Sea to Sea

    “Men are so quick to blame the gods: they say
    that we devise their misery. But they
    themselves- in their depravity- design
    grief greater than the griefs that fate assigns.”

    ― Homer, The Odyssey


    A Rejection of Benevolence
    The Great Kingdom had swelled, spanning from sea to sea to sea. It declared peace and prosperity for all, and believed all nations were blessed that were protected by its benevolence. In truth, it only desired peace in the interest of its personal prosperity, and for its own pleasure. Not all nations wished their wealth to enrich the capital. Not all nations wished to be blessed by it, and cracks were forming, in the west, where it had begun, and in the north, where it was never welcome. Even within, where its corpulence and rot were only just then beginning to boil and fester.


    c. 100 CY              The Great Kingdom had reached its greatest height, its widest expanse. It spanned from sea to sea to sea. And had grown to vast to be administered as one. It needed parceling, partitioning, governance from regional capitals. Thus, was “Dyvar” raised from town to port, its intent to oversee the Viceroyalty of Ferrond, itself founded from the amalgamation of Feryon, Voll, the Highfolk, the Quaglands, and the Shield Lands and the Northern Reaches. And then, the Great Kingdom, pleased with itself, turned away from their responsibilities there, and set the course for its eventual independence, for the Kingdom never again gave its west another thought, until it was to late to do so. In truth, the Kingdom had more pressing matters to deal with, closer to home, for Nyrond had always chafed against the benevolence if its rule.

    The realm began nearly five hundred years ago as the Viceroyalty of Ferrond, the proudest jewel in the crown of Aerdy. In those distant days, Ferrond consisted of modern-day Furyondy (Furyon) and Veluna (Voll), Highfolk, the Shield Lands, the Quaglands (Perrenland), and the hilly regions northeast of the massive Vesve Forest, then known as part of the Northern Reaches. The viceroy ruled fairly from Dyvers, where he was attended by scores of noble families culled from the Great Kingdom, as well as ennobled Flan who served Aerdy. [LGG - 46]


    Dyvers
    A viceroy in Dyvers administered the Viceroyalty of Ferrond, including its Northern Reaches (now Perrenland and lands north and northeast of the Vesve Forest). 
    [LGG - 23]


    Dyvers: Long a trade port, Dyvers was also the capital of Aerdy's Viceroyalty of Ferrond. In that role, it served as a welcome port to goods and travelers who braved the unexplored shores of the Nyr Dyv. The palace of the viceroy rivaled that of his colleagues in the west, and its domed central structure and austere stone towers have long been cited in travelogues as among the finest examples of Oeridian architecture. [LGG - 41]


    Veluna: [When] the first Aerdi soldiers surged westward in a great drive to spread the empire, they came upon the people of Veluna, already a burgeoning culture. The High Canon of Rao met with representatives of the Great Kingdom, and explained to them the goals of his peaceful land. Mindful of the vast Aerdi host looming on his borders, the canon wisely agreed to support the Great Kingdom, seeing in the easterlings a passion for progress and innovation that could be tempered by conversion to the holy tenets of Rao. So it was that the Archclericy of Voll entered vassalage to the Viceroyalty of Ferrond under a banner of peace and great religious expectations. (If the Velunese did not care to emphasize their Oeridian heritage, the overking was only too eager to do it for them.) In the years following the establishment of the Viceroyalty, Veluna acted as a sort of moral compass for Ferrond as a whole. Key adherents of Rao gained major positions in the court of the viceroy. Given the warlike Oeridian temper and the years of arrogance established in the west, the Velunese advisers had much work to do. [LGG - 129]


    Highfolk: The Fairdells and the Vesve Forest were home to high elves for untold centuries. When humans first arrived, as emissaries from the Viceroyalty of Ferrond, the two races developed a kinship that exists to this day. [LGG - 53]


    Perrenland: During the Migrations, the warlike Flan tribes of the Yatil Mountains absorbed most of the Oeridian, Suloise, and Baklunish invaders flooding the great Yatils pass called the Wyrm's Tail, though several Flan tribes were driven from the lowlands by Oeridians who established freeholds for their own clans. The disunity of these small clans was taken advantage of by advancing Aerdi forces, c. 97-100 CY. The Viceroyalty of Ferrond quickly gained full control of the eastern and southeastern sides of what is now Perrenland, making it a part of Ferrond's Quaglands. The fishing towns of Traft and Schwartzenbruin were forced to accept the authority of stern Aerdi bailiffs. [LGG - 85]


    Shield Lands: As the migratory Oeridians ranged eastward in their search for a land that would support them, they passed through many regions of inhospitable climate, infertile land, and unfriendly local populations. Chief among these lands were the rugged plains north of the Nyr Dyv, which resisted meaningful human settlement for centuries, even as a strong Aerdi empire created the Viceroyalty of Ferrond to the west. [LGG - 31]


    So passes the west from this narrative.


    The Viceroyalty of Nyrond, which eventually included Urnst, was ruled from Rel Mord by a junior branch of House Rax. [LGG - 23]


    102 CY  The great houses were laying claim to lands throughout the realm. House Garasteth was no different, laying claim to the isles now known as the Sea Barons. So had House Atirr. War broke out between them, and Overking Manshen was forced to intervene, for so long as those fouses fought, his coast was open to raiding from the Barbarians to the north. He declared that a naval competition would settle the dispute; upon its completion, House Atirr was declared the winner and given dominion of what was to be christened the Sea Barons.

    [Early] in the first century of the Great Kingdom, Overking Manshen decided to create baronies from the fertile isles; Oeridian colonists soon settled them while the court in Rauxes struggled with their administration. In 102 CY, House Garasteth laid claim to the isles, and open conflict threatened to break out between House Garasteth and House Atirr, from North Province. Overking Manshen's wisdom was in full display when his solution to the problem was to conduct an open competition to settle the matter. He appointed four peers from the rival noble houses to the baronies of the four islands and instructed them to build fleets. The baron who was most successful at the naval exercises that ensued would be chosen to represent the entire realm as the lord high admiral of theGreat Kingdom. Baron Asperdi of Atirr won the post handily, and the largest island was named for him and his descendants. The headquarters of the Aerdi Admiralty was thereafter moved to Asperdi Isle, and the islands came to be known as the Dominion of the Sea Barons. [LGG - 99]


    108 CY  Overking Manshen desired to secure his northern border. The Fruztii Barbarians were a constant threat, and he meant to pacify the North once and for all.


    Securing the Northern Border
    In the spring of 108 CY, Aerdi forces massed in the frontier town of Knurl. With Knight Protectors of the Great Kingdom in the vanguard, the force swept northeast, between the Rakers and the Blemu Hills, in a march to the sea. By autumn, after having been met with relatively light resistance, the Aerdi succeeded in uprooting most Fruztii encampments, and the foundations of a great stronghold were laid at Spinecastle. The Aerdi freed Johnsport in a pitched battle with the barbarians before the onset of winter. Sensing that this would be only the first phase of a long struggle, Aerdi commanders summoned thousands of contingents from North Province over the objections of the herzog, a Hextorian who had wanted to lead the forces into battle himself.

    With the defeat of the Fruztii at Johnsport, the call went out that winter, and thousands of their kinsmen poured south along the Timberway the next year. Marching through passes in the Rakers, they assembled and attacked the works underway at Spinecastle, focusing their assault on the heart of the Aerdi fortifications. The defenders, including the bulk of the elite Aerdi infantry, were quickly outflanked and surrounded. A young Knight Protector of the Great Kingdom, Caldni Vir, a Heironean cavalier from Edgefield, commanded a large cavalry force patrolling the hills when the barbarian force struck. As part of the contingent led by the herzog into the north, he pivoted and headed back to Spinecastle while anticipating orders from his liege to counterattack. When the courier of the herzog delivered orders for Vir to pull back to the south in retreat, he spat in disgust and ordered the standard of the Naelax prince to be trampled in the mud. He then raised the standard of the Imperial Orb and charged.

    Approaching the site of the battle from the north, he descended upon the barbarians from higher ground, and they were unprepared for the hundreds of heavy horse and lance that bore down on them in the next hour. Their lines were quickly broken, and the Imperial Army was rescued to eventually take the day in what would be called the Battle of the Shamblefield. The Aerdi drove the surviving barbarians out of the hills, controlling the land all the way to the Loftwood by the following spring. Overking Manshen recognized the courage of the young knight Vir, and raised him as the first marquis of Bone March. The land was so named for the high price paid for its taking, as the fallen imperial regulars numbered into the thousands. [LGG - 36]

    Thus the Overking named Vir the first Marquis of the Bone March. And thus were the Fruztii broken.

    It is said that the blood of those thousands of unsanctified and unburied Barbarian and Imperial corpses was pressed into the mortar of Spinecastle. It is also said that the Fruztii laid a curse on its unfinished walls.


    124 CY  Irongate was tens of decades in the making. But its walls were raised high upon its cliffs, thick and sturdy, impossible to scale or breach, a fortified Aerdian presence on the Azure Sea.

    The city known today as Irongate was completed in 124 CY by imperial architects charged to give the Aerdi a fortified presence on the Azure Sea. [LGG - 56]

    The potential of the outpost and surrounding terrain was recognized early on by the imperial architects sent to fortify the harbor on behalf of the Malachite Throne. This was done in coordination with imperial miners and engineers, who organized the excavation effort with the dwarves. These master builders set about the task of erecting a city equal to the Great Kingdom's ambitions for the region, a plan that would take decades to complete. Not only did the Aerdi want a base of operations from which to exploit the resources of the peninsula, but they earnestly wanted a fortified port from which to maintain a naval force on the Azure Sea the year round. [LGG - 56]


    The northern states had always been fiercely independent, and they baulked at the prospect of Aerdian rule. But the Malachite throne was persistent. They would lay claim to those lands, for had they not already as they had migrated east? Had they not pacified those lands, allowing those lesser houses that remained to settle there and live in peace? So, now that all the lands east of the Nyr Dyv were under their dominion, it was time for those nations to bend the knee to those who had made them possible in the first place. But they were Oeridian, scions of Johydee as the Aerdi were, and the Aerdi were loathe to put them to the sword. And thus the Great Kingdom sent its delegates to the Urnst offering to annex Urnst as a palatinate state rather than invading it.  Urnst declined.

    By 124 CY, the Great Kingdom sought additional trade routes to the highly successful Viceroyalty of Ferrond. In that year, delegates sent by the Malachite Throne presented a bold plan to Urnst's senators. In effect, they proposed to annex Urnst into the Great Kingdom at. a palatine state, sparing the burgeoning empire the trouble of an all-out invasion. Though a detailed analysis revealed that the offer was indeed far more beneficial to the local lords than to Rauxes, the haughty nobility of Urnst shouted it down without debate, much to the chagrin of the northwest lords on the Franz River, who had long coveted a closer relationship with Aerdy. [LGG - 125]


    134 CY  Fortune had favoured House Attir. It had gained the island chain now know as the Sea Barons, and was soon to be handed the North Province, as well.

    In 134 CY, the early Rax overkings inaugurated a series of actions that would ultimately lead to the downfall of their house some three centuries later. In that year, the ill-tempered Overking Toran I deposed the scion of Naelax from rulership of North Province, appointing in his place the leader of the smaller but rapidly rising House Atirr. Citing the failures of the Naelax in supporting the heroic efforts of the Aerdy military in Bone March and Ratik, Toran reduced the house to a secondary role in the province. House Atirr ruled the province from its capital on the coast, eschewing Eastfair. The land experienced a brief renaissance under this enlightened leadership. However, this demotion was a slight that the Naelax would never forget. [LGG - 73,74]


    141 CY  Kargoth of Mansbridge was born a feisty lad, noted for his bravery and ambition from an early age. He was destined for greatness, most said. They said as much again when he was elevated to the ranks of the Knights Protector.

     

    150 CY  There was a time that the Rhennee had not navigated the shores of the Nyr Dyv, nor the rivers and tributaries that wound their way across the Flanaess. Where did they come from? Few know. The Rhennee are not telling, either, for the Rhennee are a secretive folk, as distrustful of those who are not their kin as those who are not are of them. All that is known for sure is that they were first seen within the Adri Forest.

                
    The Rhennee Cometh
    A minor human race called the Rhennee is found in the central Flanaess. These wayfaring people travel on river barges and are very clannish. Rhennee claim to have come to the Flannaess from another world and they do not trust outsiders. They have a bad reputation as thieves, but most are not truly evil. [TAB - 14]

                   

    They are thought to have first appeared in the Flanaess in the area around the Adri Forest circa 150 CY, moving west to avoid harassment by Aerdy soldiers and citizens. The Rhennee increasingly left the land to become migrants on the central rivers, until very few land-dwelling Rhennee now exist. [TAB - 58]

                   

    The Rhennee are truly the enigma among the races of Greyhawk. While the other foul races can trace their histories to elsewhere on the continent, the Rhennee have separate origins. They are thought to have first appeared in the Flanaess in the area around the Adri Forest around 150 CY, moving west to avoid harassment by Aerdy soldiers and citizens. The Rhennee increasingly left the land to become migrants on the central rivers, until comparatively few land-dwelling Rhennee now exist. Though they rarely speak of this to outsiders, their legends claim that the race came to Oerth accidentally from their home world of Rhop. Although the Rhenn-folk have only a few ideas of what their home plane was like or how they got here, they know that it was quite different from the Flanaess. [PGtG - 35]

    The Rhennee live exclusively on the waterways. making their homes on large barges that average about 60 feet long and 15 feet wide. These sturdy barges are similar in style to a junk; they are capable of navigating the Nyx Dyv’s often choppy waters and treacherous storms, as well as riverways. These ships may have one or two masts. [PGtG - 35]

    Rhennee are fairly common on the waterways of the central Flanaess and near inland shores and banks. A few secret, inland encampments are said to exist, and here may also be encountered their rare, land-dwelling cousins, whom they derogacively refer to as the Attloi. The mutual distrust and antagonism between the Rhenn-folk and other peoples of the Flanaess have kept the Rhennee relatively unmixed with other races, though the Rhennee do bring children of other human races into their families. [LGG - 7]


    155 CY There are mysteries aplenty upon the Oerth. Some are old, truly old, and were old even when the elves were young. Most are best avoided. But what can one do if one rises unexpectedly from below keel, and is stranded upon it?

    The Sinking Isle
    In the past one notable man was far less circumspect than modern adventurers: Atirr Aedorich, a hero of the Great Kingdom in the days of its youth. In 155, as a young man, he was sent southward by his father to the university at Rel Astra, then a great center of learning in the magical arts. The Sinking Isle was less active in those days but as the fates would have it Atirr’s ship was caught in a sudden squall, and driven onto the hidden claws of the Isle itself. Atirr was fascinated rather than terrified (such were the Great Kingdom’s nobles in those days). For a full hour, while the crew sweated at the pumps and strained to place a patch over the hull’s single rent, the young man gazed at the strange phosphorescent landscape, and prepared several sketches, until one of the Solnor’s strange and unpredictable great came questing the strait and lifted the wounded vessel clear. Atirr vowed to return and discover the island’s secrets.

    Atirr did return northward some years later, but as Herzog of North Province. Not until his middle years did he have the leisure to the examination of certain ancient Suel tomes, and the exercise of the arts he learned at Astra, he devised a way to either predict or command the vagaries of the Sinking Isle. This knowledge, like much else, was lost in the Turmoil Between the Crowns, but several different descriptions survive of what he found when he drew alongside the risen city.

    Sahuagin
    In the short time before the sank Once again beneath the waves, Atirr and his to followers were able to recover and record information about a great many artifacts from among the spiky and highly decorated ruins. Among these were many panes of fine stained glass, some still intact, and some in tints never yet achieved by modern artists. Besides these were a number of twisted ornaments Of gold and lead, later discovered to be of sahuagin manufacture. Attir also discovered a book sealed against the water in a lead casket. All of these were returned to the court at Rauxes in honor of the Overking. The patient Atirr hoped to study them further in his retirement. He declared the book in particular to be most interesting, being among other things a recording in a lost language of “an ancient history together with magical secrets.”

    Chill and Forbidding
    Tragically, Atirr was never to attain his goal. Two years after his discoveries he and all hands went down in a storm off the coast of North Province in a storm which apparently even the Herzog’s powers could not quell. The book has since disappeared, though it may yet be found somewhere in the catacombs at Rauxes; it is difficult to be sure, as 90 little word now reaches the outside world of the doings at that court. It is known that Atirr was convinced from a preliminary study that the city itself was not primarily of sahuagin construction but must have been built by a terrestrial race, though sahuagin-like creatures and other sea life are depicted frequently in the architecture.

    Later observers have examined the coastlands and sea near the site of the Sinking Isle, and have on a dark evening seen what may have been its upper towers. The region is chill and forbidding for such a southern latitude. Fishermen say that the catch in those parts is extraordinarily good, but that nets are often fouled. Those attempting the water, find it dark and chill. Most are content to leave the Sinking Isle to the sahuagin, or whatever race of the deeps now holds it. [GA - 93,95]


    166 CY  The east coast of the Great Kingdom had never truly been pacified. Barbarians raided the North Coast unmolested, and piracy was ever a problem on the South Seas. The Overking was losing patience, and he committed forces to deal with it, once and for all time. He set his sights upon putting the Duxchaners to task for their misdeeds.
                Following a particularly terrible attack on Pontylver, during which the shipyards were set         ablaze, Overking Erhart II was determined to put an end to the marauding. In 166 CY, he committed the combined navies of the Great Kingdom to breaking the power of the Duxchaners. Old Baron Asperdi's young but powerful naval force from the Sea Barons was brought to bear on them, led by Lord Admiral Aeodorich of House Atirr, then accorded the finest naval captain of the time. The town of Dullstrand was specifically founded to act as a base of operations for the invasion of these southern islands by the Aerdi fleet. [LGG - 71]

    167 CY Monduiz Dephaar was born in Bellport to noble lineage. He was elevated at a young age to its Barony when his family fell to Fruztii raids along the Solnor Coast.

    History of the Star Cairns
    The Suel had travelled long and far since the Twin Cataclysms, and in the intervening years they had found many lands that pleased them as had their homeland. But they never forgot the Motherland, or the fate it had fallen to, or at whose hands.
    In 167 CY, a copy of the Tome of the Scarlet Sign was delivered to Murtaree, court wizard to the Malachite Throne of the Great Kingdom. The tome was a treasure of the fallen Suloise Empire, and the wonders of that lost realm struck a chord within the dark heart of the Suel-born wizard The man was fascinated by the tales and information about his ancestors, and was especially intrigued by the depth of the hatred his people felt for their enemies, the Bakluni. The tales of ancient and terrible feuds kindled in him the fires of hatred, and he resolved to bring back to life the ancient war and destroy the Baklunish people. Consulting his peers – other wizards of Suel heritage, working as advisors to various members of the AerdI court – he found that there were others who felt similarly, and he easily talked them into joining his personal crusade. [LT1 The Star Cairns - 2]

    168 CY  The naval forces of the Great Kingdom defeated the Duxchan forces in the Battle of Ganode Bay with the naval power of the Sea Barons at the fore. Thus the Duxchan Isles became The Lordship of the Isles.
    Within two years of hotly fought battles in the Aerdi Sea, Atirr and his armada, which was outfitted with mages and powerful clerics of Procan, finally defeated the Duxchaners and their allies at the Battle of Ganode Bay. This won greater fame and praise for the Aerdi admiral, who eventually rose to the throne of North Province some years later. The most militant of the surviving Suel buccaneers retreated to the port of Ekul, on the Spine Ridge of the Tilvanot Plateau, but were no longer a significant factor. The Aerdi settled these islands in large numbers, founding Sulward as the capital, though the population remained largely Suel, particularly on Ansabo and Ganode, where local Suel lords were absorbed into the government of the realm. An Aerdi lord was appointed prince of the new realm and he was made responsible to the herzog of South Province, but given the right to carve up the islands into provinces as he saw fit and award them to his kin. [LGG - 71]

    169 CY History of the Star Cairns
                    Seeking a quiet place to study, [Muratree] and his cohorts could study and grow strong enough [to bring back to life the ancient war and destroy the Baklunish people], he was lucky enough to find two great veins of magic rock in the western arm of the Abbor-Alz. These veins enhanced different sorts of magic in ways that suited his purposes, and so the wizard hired dwarves and men to dig out lairs in these places, first breaking ground in 169 CY. When the hidden tunnels were completed, Murtaree cast a great forget spell on the workers to preserve the secret of their location. There were five locations in all – arranged on the crossing ley-lines like an enormous victory-rune (its apex in the lower Abbor-Alz and its nadir in the Bright Desert), which the mage thought was most appropriate. The ambitious magic-users got to work creating items and spells of great power to use against their racial enemy. [LT1 - 2]

    170 CY  What of the southern continent? Did they prosper? Did they wither under the gaze of the fell serpent Meyanok? Yes. The Olman wared amongst themselves. The Touv continued on much as they always had. But both suffered the yuan-ti. And both were beset with the machinations of the cult of the serpent. (1577 TC)
    The Yuan-ti
    Tolanok was once an Olman city in the highlands of Hepmonoland. Abandoned during the Olman exodus, the Touv moved warriors into the city to hold the front line and to initiate attacks against the yuan-ti of Xapatlapo. After several years when the Olman did not return and the Xapatlapoans closed their borders, the Touv capital allowed civilians to settle the city. The hillside mines were reopened, and precious metals and gems flowed back to the capital; Tolanok became a very wealthy state, although the mediocre soil of the region kept it from growing too large. It was its financial prosperity and status as the smallest of the Touv city-states that eventually attracted the attention of the priests of Meyanok.
    Over the years the priests slowly replaced key individuals in the temples and the city government. In 170CY, the high priests of Meyanok called down the power of their god and withered all vegetation within five miles of the city wall. The city’s stores of grain were lost, and the people were best by famine. Many fled, but most could not; those that died of starvation rose as the ravenous, a new form of undead. [SB - 54]
    It is no wonder that the Olman and the Touv floundered, just as the Great Kingdom flourished.

    174 CY History of the Star Cairns
    Muratree never lived to see his grand scheme of destruction carried out. Not from lack of trying.
    Although Murtaree died in 174 CY when his transformation into a lich failed, his first students continued to work teaching their ideals to new students. Great works were made in these dungeons. More importantly, a pow& destructive artifact of unknown origin was kept here for safekeeping, divided into three pieces, each stored in a different cairn for greater security. [LT1 - 2]

    c. 187 CY              As a member of the Knights Protector, Monduiz Dephaar distinguished himself defending against the seasonal Barbarian raids, fighting alongside such heroes as Lord Kargoth. He fought with a fierceness that was frightening to behold, and in time, as his reputation spread up and down the coast, his name came to be known and then feared by the Barbarians. His atrocities were initially overlooked; but eventually they could not be ignored. He was censured by the Knights, but he carried on unabated, then shunned; and in his fury, he left, and settled for a while among the Schnai, where his sword was welcomed, and where he could continue to raid and vent his rage upon the Fruztii.

    189 CY  Patience and persistence served the Great Kingdom well. So too the divisive nature of Urnst, Oeridian to the north, Suloise to the south. The north had no wish to be ruled by the Suloise lords to the south, and those same Suloise lords preferred riches over the strife that had risen with repeated crop failures. Yes, patience and persistence had served the Great Kingdom well, that and a little magic and greed.
    Originally part of the much-larger seminal Urnst nation, the County of Urnst was established as a distinct protectorate nation by Overking Jirenen of Aerdy in 189 CY. Owning by far the most fertile land of any nation bordering the Nyr Dyv, Urnst stood as the breadbasket of the region for many years, supplying wheat as far afield as Calbut, in the duchy of Tenh. [LGG - 123]

    [The] Senate had grown effete and corrupt. Crop blights (some say the result of druids bribed by Aerdy) and bread riots forced the leaders of Urnst to take action. In 189 CY, the Senate effectively sold to the Great Kingdom all of the land between the Franz and Artonsamay Rivers for an entire caravan of treasure and magical artifice. The lords of the north, long abused by the Suloise senate, rejoiced at the new arrangement. The Urnst nation was divided into a county, to the north, and a duchy, to the south. [LGG - 125]

    193 CY  The rejoicing was short lived.
    When Nyrond broke from the Great Kingdom, it entered a period of expansionism, swiftly capturing the County of Urnst in a brief and surprising series of charges toward the capital. Most Urnstmen bitterly resented the occupation years, during which their own aristocracy (largely Suel, with strong ties to that of the duchy) was integrated with arrogant nobility from Nyrond. This resentment rarely erupted into physical conflict, however; the people of Urnst enjoyed a much better fate than the Pale under similar circumstances. [LGG - 123]
    Though the folk of the County of Urnst welcomed the Aerdy with open arms, the newly palatine government of the south was far less trusting, fearing that the influx of Oeridian advisers and regulars might degrade the "pure" Suloise culture. Much to everyone's surprise, the overking took a hands-off policy to the heartlands after disbanding the Senate and placing ultimate authority in the hands of the duke of Urnst, selected by the Suloise nobles in 193 CY. [LGG - 125]

    198 CY  All eyes looked to the heavens as a comet appeared over the Flanaess. What did it mean, the people asked? All manner of omens were declared, most great boons, like the declaration of a thousand years of peace and prosperity, the Pax Aerdia. But not all predicted the great age to come; the sage Selvor the Younger proclaimed a coming time of strife and living death for the Great Kingdom. Those in power had no ears for such words in their time of unprecedented contentment.
                The History of the Star Cairns
    An Omen of Wealth, Strife, and Living Death
    A great ball of fire appeared over the Oljatt Sea in 198 CY, passed over the southern Great Kingdom, and vanished beyond the Sea of Geamat. […]  Selvor the Younger, an Aerdi astronomer, extrapolated its path back to its celestial origin and declared the fireball to be an omen of “wealth, strife, and a living death.” This pronouncement caused panic in Rauxes and throughout the Great Kingdom, where it was interpreted to mean the end of the world The subsequent incidents and unrest foreshadowed the Age of Great Sorrow to come, in 213 CY. Unknown to the people of the Great Kingdom, the shooting star struck ground in the eastern Abbor-Alz.
    The impact was felt several hundred miles away in Murtaree’s southernmost site, momentarily distracting the attention of the mages working there. Mysteriously, the site vanished a few seconds later - with it, three well-known wizards of the Great Kingdom. Even worse, one of the pieces of the ancient weapon had been stored in the lost site. The remaining wizards abandoned for a time their plans of Bakluni destruction to deal with the troubles in the east, and fled the laboratories, some caking the time to activate magical and mundane defenses to protect their research.
    Eventually, the wizards who knew the true purpose of the dungeons were scattered to the winds or dead; the items found inside sparked their own legends, leading people to believe that the ruins were merely burial sites for great mages. They came to be called the Star Cairns, after the star-shaped entrances, and the belief that they were mausoleums. Monsters and other undesirables began using the cairns as lain, the great plans of the Suel wizard forgotten. [LT1 - 2] 



    One must always give credit where credit is due. This History is made possible primarily by the Imaginings of Gary Gygax and his Old Guard, Lenard Lakofka among them, and the new old guards, Carl Sargant, James Ward, Roger E. Moore. And Erik Mona, Gary Holian, Sean Reynolds, Frederick Weining. The list is interminable. Thanks to Steven Wilson for his GREYCHRONDEX and to Keith Horsfield for his “Chronological History of Eastern Oerik.”
    Special thanks to Jason Zavoda for his compiled index, “Greyhawkania,” an invaluable research tool.
    Primary sources for this history were the DMG 1e, The World of Greyhawk Folio, and The World of Greyhawk Gold Box, Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, The Scarlet Brotherhood, The Star Cains, Ivid the Undying, the Greyhawk Adventures hardcover, The Living Greyhawk Journals, Dragon Magazine.

    The Art:
    All art is wholly owned by the artists.
    Blood-and-Steel by annakayart
    Dyvers, by David Roach & Sam Wood, from Slavers, 2000
    Rome-versus-barbarian by odinrules
    Gypsy-Woman-Painting by noramohammed
    The Sinking Isle, by Jeff Easly (?), Greyhawk Adventures, 1988
    Away-from-the-Light by waterbear
    R'lyeh by pmoodie
    Dagon by bazibalba

    Sources:
    1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
    1064 From the Ashes Boxed Set, 1992
    1068 Greyhawk Wars Boxed Set, 1991
    2011A Dungeon Masters Guide, 1st Ed., 1979
    2023 Greyhawk Adventures Hardback, 1988
    9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
    9253 WG8, Fate of Istus, 1989
    9399 WGR 5, Iuz the Evil, 1993
    9577 The Adventure Begins, 1998
    9578 Player’s Guide to Greyhawk, 1998
    11374 The Scarlet Brotherhood, 1999
    11621 Slavers. 2000
    11742 Gazetteer, 2000
    11743 Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000
    Ivid the Undying, 1998
    Dragon Magazine
    OJ Oerth Journal, appearing on Greyhawk Online
    LGJ et. al.
    Greychrondex, Wilson, Steven B.
    Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda
    Tha map of Anna. B Meyer


    Posted: 11-13-2021 07:01 pm
    History of the South-East, Part 3: A Consolidation of Power


    “Achilles glared at him and answered, "Fool, prate not to me about covenants. There can be no covenants between men and lions, wolves and lambs can never be of one mind, but hate each other out and out and through. Therefore there can be no understanding between you and me, nor may there be any covenants between us, till one or other shall fall.”
    ― Homer, The Iliad


    A Beacon of All That is Good and Just

    The Flanaess had passed into the hands of the Oeridians, or should I say the Aerdi, for it was they who conquered the land, they who ruled it. And it would be their triumphs and tragedies that would set the stage for what would come. It is said that theirs' was a Good and Just empire, a shining beacon of what may be, but that history was written by the Aerdi; for in truth, empires are built upon the backs of the conquered, and that cruelty and suppression are their bricks and mortar. Building an empire is hard; retaining one is harder still. Luckily for the Aerdi, they had tools at their disposal.



    1 CY       With his Declaration of Universal Peace, the first Overking was crowned in Rauxes.

    The Aerdy calendar dates from the crowning of the first overking, Nasran of the House of Cranden, in Rauxes in CY 1. Proclaiming universal peace, Nasran saw defeated Suloise and Flan—rebellious humanoid rabbles of no consequence and no threat to the vast might of Aerdy. [Ivid - 3]


    But for all his well-meaning words, all power was to be his, and all Houses were to bend the knee to his magnificence.

    However, it quickly became clear to all the noble houses of the Aerdi that power in the Great Kingdom was being centralized in the hands of the rulers of Rauxes, and that the fortunes of the Great Kingdom would now rest with them. The needs and intrigues of the Celestial Houses would soon become subordinate to the politics of the Malachite Throne. [LGG - 23]


    Frontiers of Great Kingdom reach Greyhawk City. The writ of the Overking of Imperial Aerdi extended to Furyon and Voll (now Veluna), across the northern prairies as far as Perrenland. For three centuries the Aerdy held a vast empire which fluctuated in extent but little, until after the third Celestial House (dynasty) when the borders began to close in upon the original territory of the Aerdi. [Folio - 5]


    11 CY     The Flan continued to be pacified. Theirs was a futile struggle, as the lands of their dominion shrank and shrank, they retreated into high valleys and the northern barrens. But still they fought where such resistance could be gathered. Until they threw all their remaining might into one last stand at Arrowstrand against the ever waxing Aerdian Kingdom. They were brave. They were valiant. But fate was against them that day, and they fell. But their fall was glorious. [Ivid]


    12 CY     Onnwal under heel, the Kingdom needed a port from which it could secure the Gearnat Strait, Relmor Bay to the east, and the Sea of Gearnat and Woolly Bay to the west, and thus lend safety and security to all who might sail with so it set about constructing Scant.

    The peninsula was awarded as a fief to the herzog of South Province, who constructed the port of Scant in 12 CY to facilitate its colonization by the Aerdi. The port also served as a means by which to share Onnwal's resources, particularly the silver and platinum being drawn out the hills, with the markets of Prymp and Chathold. The szeks of Onnwal who administered the land were originally appointed by the herzog in Zelradton and were usually favored members of his court. [LGG - 80]


    75 CY     Great Houses wax and wane. Sometimes they even cease to exist, as is the case if there is no heir left to carry on its name. House Crandon suffered such a fate.

    Formidable Beauty

    The ruling house of Aerdy became the Rax-Nyrond House after the death of Nasran's grandson, Tenmeris, in CY 75. Tenmeris's Queen, Yalranda, was a formidable diplomat and mediator who had done much to support her husband and was the true power behind the throne. Tenmeris, it was said, had a brain as small as his flatulent belly was vast.

    Yalranda was accepted as the only overqueen in Aerdy history because of her prowess in establishing dynastic marriages between the royal houses of Aerdy and her uncanny gift for forging alliances (and because of her strange, magical allure and ability to calm angry or confused nobles). That she died young, at age 40, is one of Aerdy's great tragedies. [Ivid - 3]

    Her eldest son, Manshen, broke with tradition and took the name of the [Rax-Nyrond] Royal House. This house was to rule for nearly 400 years. [Ivid - 3]

    Historians consider that the relative peace which existed between Aerdi royal houses for centuries is largely due to his wisdom building upon the informal understandings developed by Yalranda. [Ivid - 7]


    Why would they think so? One would imagine the credit for the centuries of peace that followed should have been laid at the feet of Manshen; but Manshen, for all his diplomatic skill, and marshal success, was not one of Johydee’s Children.

    In the history of Aerdy, a handful of these gifted and strange people have played crucial roles. Queen Yalranda is said to have possessed precognitive powers which marked her as one of the Children. [Ivid - 7]


    Johydee's Children is the name bestowed upon very, very rare Aerdi individuals of exceptional magical gifts. The name is given for two reasons, not because the individuals concerned are literally descended from Johydee. First, Queen Johydee of pre-Devastation history was a priestess of great magical prowess, favored by the gods themselves. Second, Johydee is known for her famed artifact, the mask, which allowed her to resist many forms of magic and to take on the appearance of anyone she chose.

    […]

    Johydee's Children are strange, otherworldly people. Either they are wholly aloof, without any apparent emotion, or else they seem to live in a spiritual world which raises them far above the cares and feelings of ordinary folk. Either way, those who know them come to think of them as masked, inscrutable, impossible to "read." The Children are loners, never understood by others. [Ivid - 7]


    The Great Hall of The Great Kingdom

    98 CY     The Great Kingdom was vast and powerful. As powerful as the Suel Imperium? Not likely. As vast? That is debateable. It was certainly not as long lived. But it did conquer and consolidate the lands east of the Nyr Dyv, and at its height it stretched from the Solnor to the Yatels, from the Barrens to the Azure. Neither the Flan nor the Suel could stand against its expansion, for it had artifacts of power at its disposal: Lum the Mad’s Machine, Leuk-O’s Mighty Servant, and the Crown, the Orb and the Scepter of Might. It wielded the Iron Flask of Tuerny the Merciless. But did the Aerdi create these artifacts? No. Surely not. The Suel did. And if the Suel did not, the Oeridians surely took with them the means of their creation with them when they took flight. For the Suel had centuries to delve the mysteries of power and the art of artifice, and the Aerdi had but centuries since their flight from bondage.

                What else did the Aerdi wield? Dragons. Against which the nomadic and agrarian Flan, and the unestablished refugees of the Suel, had little hope of defending against.

                How do I know this? Because they are known to have at least one of the Orbs of Dragonkind. It was the least of them, for sure, and there is no record of their having another in their possession, but is was far more than either the Flan or the Suel had in theirs.      


    The Orbs of Dragonkind

    Excerpts from a letter from Otto to Johanna:

    Otto

    Oerth, it is well known, has its own Orbs of Dragonkind, but their oral and written history is poorly known even to the learned. Sages have long suspected a connection between these orbs and the long-lost Suel Imperium […]), dead just over ten centuries. [Dragon #230 - 9]


    In the ancient days of the maturing Suloise Empire, starting about -2400 CY, a great series of wars was fought between the emperor’s forces and the various monsters that populated the southern Crystalmist Mountains, what we now call the Hellfurnaces. The emperor, Inzhilem II of the House of Neheli-Arztin, […] the fifth such among the Suloise to be known as a Mage of Power […], wished to establish mines deep within the Crystalmists to harvest rare minerals and crystals for his personal research, though he also [wished to throw] back some of the humanoid and draconic monsters that periodically raided the eastern provinces of his empire and reduced their taxable resources.

    Imperial armies, even supported by military wizardry, found themselves hard pressed by their opposition. The great families of red dragons throughout the southern Crystalmists had enslaved Iimitless numbers of brutish humanoids for use as sword-fodder, originally to attack one another’s territories or bring in additional treasures. These armies of orcs and goblinkind were now turned upon the empire’s soldiers, hurling themselves into battle with great ferocity and in numbers that well made up for their lack of skill or foresight.

    In addition, these dragons were exceedingly skilled at magic; baneful extraplanar powers supplied them with secret knowledge of spellcasting in return for great sacrifices of wealth. Worse yet, certain of those red dragons had undergone sorcerous rituals that infused their living bodies with shadowstuff from the Demiplane of Shadow, granting them new and devastating powers. These were the first of the accursed shadow dragons, and they and their servants built a vast network of caverns, halls, and tunnels beneath the Crystalmists that exists even to this day. Even the great Vault of the Drow is said by some sources once to have been the cavern-hall of an elder shadow dragon of this bygone age, some treasures of which may still lie hidden thereabouts. (The gods grant us that these treasures yet remain undiscovered by the drow! [)]

    Facing such evil strength, the army commanders sent word to lnzhilem that the issue was in doubt, and they asked for his personal intervention. Angered at first that his armies could do no more than hold their own against mere dragons and orcs, lnzhilem quickly became intrigued by the difficult problem posed by the Fiery Kings, as the troublesome dragons were known in the eastern lands. He returned to the capital to remedy the situation.

    […] Inzhilem called upon and gained the direct assistance of the Suel deity Wee Jas herself, [and] lnzhilem gained sufficient knowledge to produce a solution.

    The emperor elected to construct a limited number of identical artifacts that would give his forces the ability to confront and destroy the Fiery Kings. Knowing the great importance that dragons attach to direct eye contact, which among the most paranoid and wicked of them is regarded as a challenge resulting in an immediate fight to the death, lnzhilem set upon the orb as the ideal form for these surpassing devices. Each orb would be carried into battle by a war-trained wizard and used to subdue, assault, or defend against all dragons present, while a group of elite soldiers and battle-priests who accompanied the wizard would move swiftly to finish off the draconic foes; this group would accompany a regular army, which would carry the battle to the dragon’s humanoid supporters. […]

    Furthermore, lnzhilem planned that each orb would be useful against every sort of evil dragon known, not merely against the red and shadow varieties. To accomplish this, lnzhilem was forced to have his entire collection of caged and charmed dragons in the capital gardens slain by sorcerous means. A portion of the blood, bone, brain, and spirit of each dragon was captured and imprisoned in each orb, though the orbs themselves were not meant to contain true intelligence as such. So strong were the enchantments with which lnzhilem hoped to fill the orbs that rumors flew that every cruel dragon on Oerth would fall prey to them, and the evil races of dragonkind would be wholly exterminated and cast into myth.

    It was calculated that eight orbs would be enough to deal with matters in the east. […] lnzhilem secretly directed the Imperial Congress about the year -2360 CY to produce such wizards as would be necessary to assist him in the mighty enchantments that would have to be cast. [History] fails to reveal all that followed, but one major event in the following years has survived for the telling. A smoldering feud within the House of Neheli-Arztin flared into violence in -2354 CY, and lnzhilem II was slain and destroyed beyond recovery before the struggle had ended. The partial house of Arztin ceased to exist as a result of retaliation, and the victorious partial house of Neheli kept the throne. Ubrond Thrideen (“Third-Eye”) became emperor.

    A devoted but unremarkable ruler, Ubrond apparently continued the project to produce the orbs and saw it through to its finish, but considerable interference took place and the original plan for the project went inexplicably awry. Eight orbs were still made (the date of their completion has been lost, but it was after -2350 CY), but the orbs were now of differing sizes and powers, each oriented toward the control of dragons of differing ages. The reason for this alteration has never been made clear, as it certainly reduced the effectiveness of these orbs when used in battle against dragons of ages older than allowed for by any one orb.

    This alteration was not the only one made, and certainly some of these alterations were performed without the knowledge or approval of the emperor or his staff. [The] Fiery Kings were able to insinuate agents among the wizards involved in the project, and without Inzhilem’s ability to grasp the full scope of the work and oversee the critical details, errors and even curses were worked into many of the final products. It is clearly known, for instance, that each Orb of Dragonkind possesses a malign, innate intelligence that attempts to overwhelm and destroy any user. Furthermore, each orb was given the power to affect good and neutral dragons as well as evil ones — an obvious addition by the fiery kings.

    Once finished, the eight orbs were given names corresponding to the age level of the dragons they were meant to fight. In order from the smallest orb up, they were the Orb of the Hatchling, the Orb of the Wyrmkin, the Orb of the Dragonette, the Orb of the Dragon, the Orb of the Great Serpent, the Orb of the Firedrake, the Orb of the Elder Wyrm, and the Orb of the Eternal Grand Dragon. When not activated, each orb was a light, solid sphere of purest white jade, completely and elaborately carved with the entwined figures of dragons in battle with one another. None of these orbs could be damaged in the least by mundane forces, nor could any beast or animated construct bring them harm. If there were any means developed for their destruction, they have long been lost.

    [These] orbs were delivered to the Suloise armies and brought into combat with the Fiery Kings, but there is a break in the historical record here. A curious fragment exists that appears to be a message from a provincial lord to the emperor — whose name is not given — asking for the latter’s intervention to “deliver us from those who hold the stolen Globe.” Considerable strife between army commanders is also noted in some dispatches from the eastern provinces, with several references to a renegade officer, apparently mad, who called himself the King of the Fire Kings. It is apparent that one or more of the orbs either fell into enemy hands, was seized as part of a coup, or possessed a power or curse that led its user into insanity or rebellion.

    [Only] five of the orbs remained in the hands of the Suel until the time just before the Rain of Colorless Fire [:] the Orb of the Hatchling, the Orb of the Dragonette, the Orb of the Dragon, the Great Firedrake’s Orb, and the Orb of the Elder Worm. [Three] had been lost or fallen into the hands of the enemies of the Suel in the empire’s last days. [...] Despite the slight renaming of some of the orbs in late-empire records, […] the missing original orbs [were] the Orb of the Wyrmkin, the Orb of the Great Serpent, and the most powerful of them all, the Orb of the Eternal Grand Dragon.

    After the Rain of Colorless Fire, the historical record is dotted with appearances of these orbs, but very rarely is the exact identity of each orb known for certain. Obviously, most or all of the orbs were transported out of the empire before it was burnt into ashes. One orb, a small one said to be the size of a man’s fist, was held in Rauxes by the Overkings in the youthful days of Aerdy, until it was stolen after two centuries by unknown thieves.


    Orb of the Hatchling

    This, the least of the eight orbs, is three inches across and easily fits into a pouch or pocket. As this orb was used in public by the early Aerdy Overkings upon small captive dragons, its powers are clearly established for anyone who researches the matter.

    This orb, like ail of its kind, confers upon the one who holds it the ability to converse openly with any dragons within hearing, both understanding the dragons and being understood by them. Further, the orb upon command casts a charm that affects a single young dragon aged five years or less, of any type or scale color, the spell being so potent that the beast finds it difficult, if not impossible, to resist. Thus the dragon may be led into captivity or slain from surprise, if action is swift.

    This orb has a mind of its own whose thoughts are devoted to wickedness and revenge. This is the weakest of all the orbs, and its mind is weak as well. Still, the user must have above-average intelligence and insight to maintain control over the globe, or else disaster results. This was sufficiently and tragically proven when Overking Erhart I allowed his eldest son to handle the Orb of the Hatchling in 98 CY; the orb proved too much for the youth, who evaded his father and threw himself over a parapet, dying of his injuries that evening. The orb was recovered in an undamaged state, of course, though it had fallen eighty feet to a stone-paved courtyard. After this, the orb was locked away beneath the castle until its theft only fifteen years later.

    Beyond its ability to charm young dragons, this orb appears to confer a low degree of magical protection on the one using it. It also grants the user the ability to see heat sources in darkness out to forty yards, and it bestows the spell clairvoyance at least six times a day, at the user’s will. It is thus useful, but hardly a grand artifact.


    Orb of the Wyrmkin
    This remains one of the least known of the eight artifacts of its family. It likely confers the same communication powers of the next smaller orb but can charm dragons of slightly older ages. I would guess that it is four inches across. One of my sources refers to this orb as cursed but does not say in what way; the Suel hated to give away any secrets that an enemy might use against them, and they hated to admit to failure. We must pass this one by for now and move on.



    Orb of the Dragonette
    Interestingly, this orb is unmistakably mentioned several times in ancient Suloise literature. One wizard was said to have used the orb to fly over the countryside and scout for monsters and other enemies of the Suel Imperium, which the orb was capable of stunning. This five-inch orb vanished after the Rain of Colorless Fire and may still lie beneath the ash of the Sea of Dust.




    Orb of the Dragon
    This, like the previous orb, vanished without a trace after the fall of the Suel Imperium and probably still lies buried there. I discovered little about It, except that it was rarely used thanks to a flaw in its construction that killed one commander who used it. It is six inches in diameter.






    Orb of the Great Serpent
    Ah! This might have been the orb that Zagig himself used in that great battle in which he won his own dragon’s hoard. Several legends and tales about the Orbs of Dragonkind refer to one the size of a man’s head (this one would be seven inches, so its about right) that could blast enemies with waves of cold and ice, or turn aside the largest red dragon’s breath. A useful item to the Suloise long ago, no doubt! This orb is probably still at large somewhere in the Flanaess, but where, I cannot say.



    Orb of the Firedrake
    All the comments I made about the previous orb apply to this one, too. This one would be eight inches across, but I have found no records to distinguish it from the other. I assume from the title that it is effective against red dragons, but who can say?






    Orb of the Elder Wyrm
    Nine inches across, this orb was the largest one in the Suel Imperium at the time of its fall, and it had a black reputation. Though it had great powers by all accounts, and could kill any beast with but a word from the user, tales have filtered down that the orb was alive in some way and demanded blood for its favors. This is very possible, as I have seen notes that convicted criminals were attached to the army unit to which this orb was assigned, but no provisions were sent along for the prisoners beyond food for a few days. Were they executed by the orb or its user? It is possible. Even the commanders were loathe to use this device in the face of attacks by dragons, so its evil nature must have been great.

    Orb of the Eternal Grand Dragon
    I would love to say that I know something about this orb, but oddly even the Suloise records are sparse about it, and the Suloise loved to brag when they had something worth bragging about. There is a note or two to the effect that this largest of all orbs, ten inches across, was kept securely locked away most of the time, but this is understandable if it was terribly powerful. It is curious, however, that there is no mention of its use during any battle.

    [From “The Orbs of Dragonkind," by Roger E. Moore. Dragon #230 8-16]


    Explain to me again how the Great Kingdom was a beacon of all that was and is Good and Just.

    A Beacon of All That is Good and Just






    One must always give credit where credit is due. This History is made possible primarily by the Imaginings of Gary Gygax and his Old Guard, Lenard Lakofka among them, and the new old guards, Carl Sargant, James Ward, Roger E. Moore. And Erik Mona, Gary Holian, Sean Reynolds, Frederick Weining. The list is interminable. Thanks to Steven Wilson for his GREYCHRONDEX and to Keith Horsfield for his “Chronological History of Eastern Oerik.”
    Special thanks to Jason Zavoda for his compiled index, “Greyhawkania,” an invaluable research tool.
    Primary sources for this history were the DMG 1e, The World of Greyhawk Folio, and The World of Greyhawk Gold Box, Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, Ivid the Undying, the Greyhawk Adventures hardcover, The Living Greyhawk Journals, Dragon Magazine.



    The Art:
    All art is wholly owned by the artists.
    Otto, by Sam Wood, Living Greyhawk Journal #0, 2001
    The Orbs of Dragonkind, by Larry Smith, Dragon Magazine #230, 1996


    Sources:
    1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
    1064 From the Ashes Boxed Set, 1992
    1068 Greyhawk Wars Boxed Set, 1991
    2011A Dungeon Masters Guide, 1st Ed., 1979
    2023 Greyhawk Adventures Hardback, 1988
    9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
    9253 WG8, Fate of Istus, 1989
    9399 WGR 5, Iuz the Evil, 1993
    9577 The Adventure Begins, 1998
    9578 Player’s Guide to Greyhawk, 1998
    11374 The Scarlet Brotherhood, 1999
    11621 Slavers. 2000
    11742 Gazetteer, 2000
    11743 Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000
    Ivid the Undying, 1998
    Dragon Magazine
    OJ Oerth Journal, appearing on Greyhawk Online
    LGJ et. al.
    Greychrondex, Wilson, Steven B.
    Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda
    The map of Anna B. Meyer


    Posted: 11-08-2021 01:38 pm
    History of the South-East, Part 2: In the Shadow of Aerdy

    “Without a sign, his sword the brave man draws, and asks no omen, but his country's cause.”

    Homer, The Iliad


    A New Land

    It is uncertain what those first Suel expected when they crossed the Tilva Strait, landing on the shores of the land that would later bear the name of the scion of Schnai, Eri-hep-Mona, who led them there. Hepmonaland was densely jungled. Riches, likely. Room to breathe, surely. Did they expect that other civilizations thrived there? Not likely.
    They found the Olman, who they took to be southern Flan, dark of skin and straight of hair; then the Touv, darker still, almost ebony, yet blue of eye. Those peoples could not have been more different. Where the Olman fought among themselves, raiding and slaving and fighting among themselves, the Touv were organized and learned; and where the Suel found great temples to serpent gods amid abandoned Olman cities, they found the Touv joined in a great nation, The Kingdom of Kunda.
    Unsure of either, the Suel kept largely to themselves. Mostly. A few mixed with the Olman and Touv; had they not, those fair-skinned newcomers would not have survived this land of jungle and disease. They built their cities along the coast, then inland, and ever so slowly, they adapted to their new land and lost touch with their original culture and history.
    This not to say that they lived in peace.


    -252 CY The Touv had never been at peace with the Olman. The found the Olman worship of serpent gods repulsive, and their sacrificing humans to those gods repellant. For good reason, for they too had a serpent god, an evil god by the name of Meyanok; and the worship they witnessed held up a mirror to their own darkest ways.
    In -252 CY, a disguised priest of Meyanok worked his way into the inner circle of advisors to the [Kundali] Jolani prince and began to poison his mind and body. [SB - 50]


    The Cult of the Serpent
    Why? Because it is Meyanok’s way.
    Meyanok, born of darkness and pain, is the progenitor of all other evil gods of the Touv pantheon. [SB - 40]
    Priest and shamans of the serpent god are reclusive and don’t often deal with strangers, at least not openly. They work through agents, many of whom are charmed, to disrupt civilization and harm the worshipers of other gods, and have been known to make human sacrifices. [SB - 41]


    -250 CY It was the beginning of the end of 1200 years of the Kingdom of Kundali.
    [The Jolani] prince was so deluded that he believed that his other advisors and the king were plotting against him, so he declared his city-state independent of the Kunda Kingdom in -250 CY. Appeals and diplomatic measures from the capital were turned aside or twisted by the snake-priest, and the secession precipitated similar acts from Ichamamna and Byanbo. [SB - 50]


    Barely checked resentment burst forth in two other Kunda city-states, and they also seceded.
    Trouble within the capital prevented the king from acting, and his successor was unable to reunite the states. [SB - 37]


    The snake priests also destroyed one of the northern cities by a magical famine; even now, the land is cursed and few willingly travel near it. The famine provided a distraction for the city-state of Ichamamna, which had long sought to take over the once Olman yuan’ti city of Xapatlapo. [An] army of Touv warriers stormed the Xapatlapo, but fell to traps and poison, while yuan-ti turned their friends and family into snake-men, as well. [SB - 37]



    -246 CY Back on the Tilvenot Peninsula, the Scarlet Brotherhood was patient. And persistent. Within two hundred years of their having found purchase there, their careful whispers and guidance found a foothold, and then a home, and before long the directives of the Scarlet Brotherhood had almost completely subsumed the goals of the Suloise Council of Noble Houses.
    By 5270 SD the council’s goals were almost entirely subsumed by Brotherhood directives, with most council representatives chosen by indoctrinated families. [SB - 4] (5270 SD)


     -245 CY A few of the Suloise Noble Houses fought to regain control of their lands and destiny, culminating in the Tilvanot Civil War. The three remaining independent Suel Houses attempted to overthrow the Scarlet Brotherhood, but they were doomed from the start. They had hoped to rally the other Houses, that those other Houses would see the truth that lay beneath the silky promises of the Brotherhood and join them in their bid for freedom of choice, but to no avail; the other Houses had been thoroughly seduced by the promises of manifest destiny and their innate supremacy.

    Civil War
    The last three Houses clutching at an independent identity attempted a coup in 5271 SD. The Tilvanot erupted in a brief civil war, which ended with a series of assassinations and two public demonstrations of the monks’ dreaded “quivering palm” ability, performed on the rebellion’s generals before their assembled troops. The surviving nobles of the three Houses were captured, tortured and executed as examples. [SB - 4] (5271 SD)

    -243 CY The three remaining independent Suloise Noble Houses had fought a valiant, but ultimately doomed rebellion against the insidiousness of the Scarlet Brotherhood’s control. The other Houses should have joined them. Had they, the Suloise people might have followed a different path, a kinder, gentler path. But that is unlikely. They were always a cruel and haughty people, and the ideals of the Scarlet Brotherhood had long been theirs, as well. In any event, they did not. And the independent Houses fell. And then, so too did the rest.  And the Scarlet Brotherhood assumed formal control of Tilvanot government, calling the peninsula "The Kingdom of Shar." 
    In 5273 SD the council was dissolved and the hierarchy of monks, assassins and thieves controlled the government as well as in deed. [SB - 4]


    [The] Suel race continued to practice the evil deeds of their forbears. Enslavement of other races was an everyday practice. Holidays and celebrations were marked with ritualized torture. Dark sorceries were embraced to advance the cause. Such actions were performed in the most secret parts of the hidden city; the rare visitors from the outside world saw only a stern nation whose citizenry suffered from no more than patriotic extremism. Any visitor discovering too much disappeared, “volunteered for torture or to serve in the breeding programs for inferiors. [SB - 4] (5273 SD)


    -240 CY The Harvest King, ruler of Kunda strained to hold his kingdom together. He tried diplomacy, but to decadence and snake worship had begun to infect his cities. He had no choice but to resort to force, for the evils of the serpent could not be tolerated. He raised his armies, and marched against the centres of the snake, where the Yuan-ti and the sauhagin walked without fear. Ichamamna fell to his wrath, but not Byanbo and Johan.
    There were those states that remained loyal to the capital of Kundanol, even as their confederacy began to unravel.  (1169 TC)
    Transmutation
    The fragmentation of the [Kunda] Kingdom […] came as a disappointment to the Anatali, but they have maintained friendly relations with Kundanol and are cordial with the other city-states. They have increased their patrols near Alocotla, hearing reports that the snake-men are taking people for some dark ritual. [SB - 47,48]


    -217 CY What of the Oeridians? More specifically, what of the Aerdi, the fiercest of those mighty peoples? It came to pass that the people of Aerdi had reached the end of the world and looked upon the sea that birthed the sun.
    The strongest tribe of the Oeridians, the Aerdi, settled the rich fields east of the Nyr Dyv and there founded the Kingdom of Aerdy, eventually to be renamed the Great Kingdom. [Folio - 5]


    In time, the Aerdi arrived at the shores of the great eastern waters, their long journey at an end. They named that vast ocean the Solnor (literally, "the birthplace of the sun"), and along its shores they founded a series of small states. These were largely tracts settled by individual noble houses of the Aerdi, such as the mystic Garasteth, the noble Cranden, the mercantile Darmen, the calculating Rax, and the militaristic Naelax. These small principalities accomplished little under their loose confederation, as they were individually unable to take on the Ur-Flan and Suel, so they quickly gathered under a single banner. [LGG - 23]


    When the Aerdi completed their drive to the eastern coast of the Flanaess nearly a millennium ago, it became clear to most of them that their journey had finally come to an end at the shore of the Solnor. Their first permanent settlements were soon founded along the coast of the Aerdi Sea, between Pontylver at the mouth of the Flanmi and the Gull Cliffs in the north. After decades of battle with the native Flan and treacherous Suel, the Aerdi noble houses sought a place to call their own, and these places included settlements at Roland, Ountsy, and the largest of all at Rel Astra, the site of a small abandoned Suel settlement. [LGG - 93]                


    -216 CY With most of the known world conquered, the greatest of the tribes of Oerid drew the others into its fold, becoming one nation.  In truth, they already were, and had been as they swept across the Flanaess. One House had risen to the fore, claiming lineage to Johydee. Whether that was true or not was debatable, but who could say? It might have. Indeed, most houses claimed Johydee as their mother. No matter. House Garasoth has risen to the fore, and to the throne; and those houses that might have contested the claim had long since bent the knee. And thus, Lord Mikar, scion of House Garasoth, became the first grand prince of Aerdy. (428 OR) 
    In 428 OR (-216 CY), the scion of House Garasteth, Lord Mikar, became the first grand prince (equal to a king). He ruled a land now called the kingdom of Aerdy ("aer" meaning "sky" in Old Oeridian). [LGG - 23]


    Empires need a capital from which to rule. But where? One might think the centre of their lands would serve best. But the Aerdy had gazed upon the sea that birthed Sol, and found the lands there to be temperate and beautiful. (428 OR)
    In 428 OR (-216 CY), these small states finally united under a single banner, and the kingdom of Aerdy was born. Rel Astra was chosen as its capital. The scion of Garasteth was the grand prince of the Aerdi at the time, and he set about building an impressive seat of government. A grand palace was constructed in the heart of the city and heavy walls were erected to enclose what is known today as the Old City. A large keep adjacent to the shore housed the admiralty of the kingdom, though the interest of the Aerdy turned decidedly west over the next few centuries. [LGG - 93]

    Did the Aerdi command all the Flanaess? No. Would they? No. Some lands were as fierce as they. Some harsh. Some lands were far removed and inaccessible. Or altogether unknown to the Aerdi. The truth is, some lands only added people to the fold, and little else, and were thus spared the benevolence of Aerdian rule.
    The founding of the Kingdom of Aerdi in 5299 SD changed little in the Kingdom of Shar. A civilized neighbor to the north allowed the Brotherhood to trade for food and other resources, and offered them a foothold in the Flanaess where they could learn about the other forming nations. Over time, spies planted in the Aerdi kingdom moved to other lands, strengthening the Brotherhood’s information network. [SB - 4]


    -194CY  Having reached the sea that gave birth to Sol, the host of humanity wondered, what lies there? Exploration of the Solnor Ocean beckoned. But such an endeavour was not for the feint of heart. It was vast. It seemed endless. And it was riff with dangers.
    In eastern Oerik, some small but farsighted groups living near the Gull Cliffs of the coast developed some skill at maritime travel. The travelers were of mixed stock, Oerid and Flannae, and part of the newly formed kingdom of Aerdy. The persistent Aqua-erdians generated two major seafaring explorations, both of which successfully returned with news of land far eastward. [Aqua]


    -171 CY The Flannae could only watch as the Aerdi flooded into the east, a relentless tide that had no ebb. They sought to parley with these newcomers, for there was an abundance of uncultivated land and room for all. But, the Aerdians saw the fertile lands of the Flannae and meant to take them for their own. The Flan sought to defend them, but their cause was hopeless compared with the fierceness and resolve of the Oeridians.
    They clashed at Chokestone, and the Flan fell. (473 OR/ 5345 SD/ 1980 FT)


    The Aerdi Cometh
    The Battle of Chokestone
    This place, and the lands around it, are deserted, not farmed by anyone. The site is that of a great battle between Aerdi men and a small Flan tribe in -171 CY. The Oeridians were easily triumphant, and an excessively brutal general ordered the torture and sacrifice of all surrendering Flan folk in thanks to Erythnul. The following day, the Aerdi army woke from its camp to find that the land for several square miles around had been stripped of vegetation. Only slate-like stone remained. As they trod upon the stone, it cracked as if it were brittle paper, releasing clouds of oily, choking smoke. Less than a third of the army managed to march away from the accursed area, and those who survived suffered lung infections and disease which brought their lives to very premature ends. From time to time since this slaughter, a huge black smoky serpentine shape has been spotted prowling the lands around Chokestone, slaying any who dare approach the land where the Flan were slaughtered. Astrologer-sages can predict this wandering; it occurs around once every 17 years, with the "snake" manifesting for […] days. At other times, mages will sometimes try to obtain some of the stone for use in making dust of sneezing and choking, but they invariably send servants to obtain it rather than risking entry themselves. [Ivid - 53]


    -122 CY The Aqua-erdians struck out east across the Solonor Ocean.
    Disenchanted by a warlike turn of events in their homeland, most of the remaining Aqua-erdians left Aerdy by sea, migrating eastward across the Solnor Ocean. Those who remained became the ancestors of the Sea Barons, now virtually independent, but swearing fealty to the Overking at Rauxes. [Aqua]


    -110 CY The Battle of a Fortnight’s Length
    The Aerdi struck north, for the land there was rich, the soil black, the woods tall. It mattered not a whit that the tribes of Nyrond had no wish to enjoy the wealth and security of Aerdy.
    [The] Nyrondese cavalry was defeated by Aerdy forces commanded by nobles of House Rax, during the Battle of a Fortnight’s Length. Shortly, all the lands from the Harp River west to the Nyr Dyv swarmed with Aerdi famers, hunters, fishers, merchants, bandits, and soldiers. This conquest changed the character of the Kingdom of Aerdy, which saw its destiny as the rulership of all the Flanaess. [TAB - 57]


    After the Battle of a Fortnight’s Length, the Duke of Tenh pledged fealty to the King of Aerdy, giving the Aerdian monarch authority over the duke and his personal holdings in Tenh and the Coltens, thus ending Flan dominion over the Flanaess.
    Not all nobles and officials of Tenh bent the knee to the King of Aerdy, maintaining Tenh’s independence, but without support and armies to field, their declaration was tantamount to posturing. They were living in the Great Kingdom now, regardless their delusions of the supposed continuance of a bygone age.
    After several decades of increasing growth, power, and prestige, Aerdy embarked upon a series of conquests, the greatest of which was the defeat of the Nyrondal cavalry squadrons at the Battle of a Fortnight's Length. Thereafter, Aerdy was known as the Great Kingdom, whose monarch held sway from the Sundi swamplands in the south, westwards along the shores of the Telfic Gulf and the Sea of Yar, to the Nyr Dyv and from thence northwards through the Shield Lands and beyond the Tenh. [Folio - 5] (534 OR/ 5406 SD/ 2041 FT)


    -107 CY The Ur-Flan remembered the days of Vecna and Keraptis, and how the world quaked at the mere mention of their name. They chafed under the benevelance of those “good” and “righteous” people, the Aerdi. Who were the Aerdi, after all, but scavengers picking at the carcass of their once great nation? A menagerie of ill-equipped, and ill-prepared Ur-Flan insurgents attempted to assassinate the King of Aerdy by summoning a "winged horror."
    It was their last fruitless gasp at freedom.
    Ambush
    It occurred in the year 537 OR (-107 CY), when an attack upon the traveling train of the king of Aerdy was foiled by a group of young men, primarily woodsmen and farmers from a nearby village. Ur-Flan insurgents released a winged horror upon the royal tent city in an effort to assassinate the leader of their conquerors. The young men of the village thwarted the attack, at the cost of most of their lives. The king was so impressed with the courage of the survivors that he raised them up as his "Knight Protectors." [LGG - 157] (537 OR/ 5409 SD/ 2044 FT)


    1st Century BCY

    What remained of the Flan nations fell one by one. A few took up arms against the Aerdi, but for the most part, the Flan bowed to the inevitability of their fate. The Flan Kingdom of Ahlissa was one of the last to fall, and their lands conquered were later form nucleus of the South Province.
    After the Aerdi first conquered the lands surrounding the lower Flanmi and founded the kernel of their empire along the Solnor Coast, their ambitions soon turned to the southwest, where great riches awaited. The Flan kingdom of Ahlissa was conquered in the [fifth century OR] and eventually became the core of mighty South Province. The lands farther south were controlled by the Suel, but a series a brutal wars brought regions such as Idee and Sunndi into the burgeoning Aerdi kingdom (as part of South Province) over the next century. [LGG - 80]


    -46 CY   The Aerdi continued to march beyond Ahlissa, unto the Suel land of Onnwal. The blue waters of the Azure Sea beckoned them, and they, thike the Suel before them, understood manifest destiny. But Onnwal was not to be bowed easily. Their lands were as rough and rocky as they themselves, their command of the seas uncontested until then, but they were few against the tide of Aerdy, and after long and bloody conflict, their shores surcame to their inevitable fate.
    In 598 OR (-46 CY), Onnwal was taken after a long and bloody conflict that ended with the establishment of Irongate and final control of the Headlands for the Aerdi. [LGG - 80]


    c –9 CY  Could the conquest of Nyrond and Ahlissa and Onnwal have occurred without Leuk-O, or Lum the Mad, and their Mighty Servant and Machine? Or without the Orbs of Power they wielded? Whom can say? All one can say is that those two had taken a hand and the world had fallen to their power. Then they faded away. But not before leaving wonders and terrors in their wake, for all great powers leave such in their passing.
    It was around this time that the last contact between the inhabitants of the Belching Vortex of Leuk-O and the hill folk of what are now called the Hestmark Highlands occurred. 
    The folk of the Hestland Highlands hold many secrets, but perhaps none so enigmatic as the great portal known colloquially as the Belching Vortex of Leuk-O. Named for an ancient Oeridian general who is said to have entered the place and emerged with unheard of treasure. The Vortex appears as an undulating black, leprous membrane set against a sheer cliff face on the mountain known as Vashal-Tul in the language of the dwarves who once made their homes in the craggy hillsides nearby. In the days before the Kingdom of Aerdy, a small band of hill folk established a small colony at the foot of the membrane, which ancient texts refer to as a smooth opalescent barrier, soft to the touch but impenetrable even by magic. At some point, however, the gateway degraded, as did the village. Now, little more than eroded foundations can be found at the site, along with the time-buried remains of a people set upon by a terrible wasting disease. Leuk-O is said to have fallen victim to this illness, which caused his skin to turn sallow and his hair to fall from its roots.  Those who have visited the Vortex […] report a wasteland bereft of animal of plant life. Occasionally, it is said, the black membrane opens suddenly, expelling an invisible gas that can strip flesh from a man’s bones. [LGJ#1 - 6]


    -1 CY      What of Shar, you ask? Shar remained a mystery. Because they wished to remain such. But they were aware of the Great Kingdom and its conquests.
    Sent Forth in the Cause of Freedom
    Even when the Great Kingdom swelled to its greatest size in 5516 SD under Overking Nasran, Shar was protected from land assaults by the Vast Swamp, and from naval attacks by the Brotherhood’s ships and powerful magic. [SB - 4]
    They remained free. They sent out many of their most able to ensure they remained so.












    One must always give credit where credit is due. This History is made possible primarily by the Imaginings of Gary Gygax and his Old Guard, Lenard Lakofka among them, and the new old guards, Carl Sargant, James Ward, Roger E. Moore. And Erik Mona, Gary Holian, Sean Reynolds, Frederick Weining. The list is interminable. Thanks to Steven Wilson for his GREYCHRONDEX and to Keith Horsfield for his “Chronological History of Eastern Oerik.”
    Special thanks to Jason Zavoda for his compiled index, “Greyhawkania,” an invaluable research tool.
    Primary sources for this history were the DMG 1e, The World of Greyhawk Folio, and The World of Greyhawk Gold Box, The Scarlet Brotherhood, Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, Ivid the Undying, the Greyhawk Adventures hardcover, The Living Greyhawk Journals, Dragon Magazine.


    The Art:
    All art is wholly owned by the artists.
    Light-Patrol by wacalac
    Serpent-Cult by northernhermit
    Red-Army by femire
    Yuan-ti by draggyness
    Legio-X-Equestris by quintuscassius
    Ambush by icerider098
    Red-Hood by benedickbana


    Sources:
    1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
    1064 From the Ashes Boxed Set, 1992
    1068 Greyhawk Wars Boxed Set, 1991
    2011A Dungeon Masters Guide, 1st Ed., 1979
    2023 Greyhawk Adventures Hardback, 1988
    9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
    9253 WG8, Fate of Istus, 1989
    9399 WGR 5, Iuz the Evil, 1993
    9577 The Adventure Begins, 1998
    9578 Player’s Guide to Greyhawk, 1998
    11374 The Scarlet Brotherhood, 1999
    11621 Slavers. 2000
    11742 Gazetteer, 2000
    11743 Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000
    Ivid the Undying, 1998
    Dragon Magazine
    OJ Oerth Journal, appearing on Greyhawk Online
    LGJ et. al.
    Greychrondex, Wilson, Steven B.
    Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda

    The map of Anna B. Meyer

    Posted: 11-06-2021 02:39 pm
    History of the South-East, Part 1: A New Home

    “A man who has been through bitter experiences

     and travelled far enjoys even his sufferings after a time.”

    Homer, The Odyssey


    The Blossoming of the Scarlet

    What can one say of the Suel? They were clever. They were ambitious. They desired to rise to heights and power hitherto only known to the Grey Elves. And they did, even as the elves tried to limit what power might be known to them. Why, the Suel had asked? Had they not shown aptitude for architecture, for theatre and music and art, and magic? They implored the Grey Elves to reconsider. In response, the Grey Elves removed themselves from the lands of the Suel. And the Suel grew angry. The Suel found new allies, dark cousins of those once friendly Greys. And when those dark allies betrayed them, they sought power over those lesser peoples that dwelt around them. Then then over those further still, until they had mastery over all they surveyed west of the Crystalmists, the Hellfurnaces, the Barrier Peaks, and the Yatils. Those lesser peoples, the Bakluni, the Oeridians, they rebelled. Then came the War that would undo all of their great works. Or would it?

    “The start of the Great War surprised no one. For longer than a year, raiders from both nations stormed across the Haut Range, pillaging and burning homes and farms on either side of the great mountains. In the spring of 5031 SD Emperor Ad-Zol sent nine thousand troops across the mountains to punish the black-haired northerners. They were met on the fields of Padyr by a comparable force sent by the Bakluni Padishah Ramif; after a pitched battle that lasted almost three days, the armies had annihilated one another. The handful of surviving warriors from the Emperor’s army retreated to their homeland and reported imminent invasion by the foul Bakluni, and the very air that my people breathed became charged with the fervor of war.”

    —from the Journal of Kavelli Mauk [SB - 2]


    -448 CY    
    The Year of Prophets
    The Year of the Prophets. They read doom in the cards, the bones, and the tea leaves. Within the span of a generation the empire would fall, they predicted. Repent, they cried. Turn from your wicked ways, they plead, warning against worship of the Chained God, and warding against something they named Shothragot. To no avail. The masses laughed and turned their backs on the doomsayers. But it was plain in their eyes that their laughter was false. They turned their backs on their prophets because they knew their emperor was displeased, and they feared their emperor’s wrath more than their prophets’ doom.
    Seven different prophets foretell of the destruction of the Suel Empire within 30 years. The Emperor, Yellax-ad-Zol has all seven drawn and quartered, even though one of the prophets is a High Priest of Beltar. [OJ11] (196 OR/ 5068 SD/1703 FT)



    -447 CY    Not all were deaf to the prophets’ warnings. The Emperor’s son took heed, for, if seven prophets should face certain death to warn of impending disaster, who was he dispute them. He knew more than most, and heeded their warnings because he’d read the Lament for Lost Tharizdun, that foul scripture penned by that mad priest Wongas, who’d mysteriously vanished into the East a century earlier, and he’d seen with his own eyes what that dark lord demanded at his worship when it had been fashionable to be seen to attend such things, and knew what that Chained God desired even if those other revellers did not.
    Fleeing the Kingdom
    Zellifar-ad-Zol, son of the Emperor, mage/high priest of Beltar, breaks with his father and takes over 8,000 Suloise loyal to himself, and flees the kingdom, eastward. The ferocity and magical might of the movement scatters the Oerdians in its path, causing the remainder of the Oerdian to migrate. Slerotin, called “the Last High Mage” causes a huge tunnel to be bored into the Crystalmists, through which the Zolite Suel flee. He then seals the tunnel closed at both ends, trapping one lesser branch of the family, the Lerara, inside. The Zolites continue eastward heading toward the southeast as well as to Hepmonoland.
     [OJ11] (197 OR/ 5069 SD/1704 FT)


    “Most remarkably, the emperor’s son had fled the year before this, accompanied by thousands of citizens loyal to him. The emperor sent the houses Schnai, Cruskii and Fruztti to bring back his son to face justice. The houses vanished, lost—no one knew why—to the lands to the east.”
    —from the Journal of Kavelli Mauk [SB - 2]


    -446 CY The Emperor was not pleased! Traitor, he screamed, when he heard of his son’s betrayal. His advisors and courtiers bowed and slunk away from their emperor’s wrath, for they knew it all too well, and feared their being heir to it in his son’s absence.
     The emperor commands that the Houses Schnai, Cruskii and Fruztii move [and] bring his son, and the "Unloyal" back to face justice. [OJ1] (198 OR/ 5070 SD/1705 FT)


    “By 5070 DD, the population of our cities were falling, far beyond the attrition to be expected from the war with the northerners. Many commoners and even a few minor noble houses escaped the conflict and moved east, across the Harsh Pass and into the lands beyond. The nobles would have liked their contemporaries to believe the move was influenced by tales of the fertile lands and great wealth beyond the Crystalmists, but the truth is that they feared powerful rival houses, who might take advantage of the extingencies of the war with the dark-eyed northerners to eliminate them.”
    —from the Journal of Kavelli Mauk [SB - 2]


    -445 to -423 CY  The Zolites scatter the Flannae before them, and move south to the Tilvanot Peninsula. Zellifar carries with him two of the lesser Binders and the Chief Binder. The three pursuing houses, unable to find the magical tunnel, turned north, where they are met by regrouped Oerdians and fearful Flannae who harry and drive these Suel Houses south. Many are lost and remained in the Amedio Jungle. They eventually [turn] back east and march toward what is now the Rift Canyon. [OJ11] (199-221 OR/ 5071 – 5093 SD/1706-1728 FT)



    A Vision of Purity
    -425 CY    Kevalli Mauk had a vision of purity. Had the Suel remained pure, the Suel would have remained strong. Had the Suel remained pure, they would have held dominion over all of the world. The long-passed emperor Zeeckar had understood that when he had looked upon his empire and saw that the blood of the Suel had become tainted, and knew that such taint had been why the Suloise Empire had been much diminished. He had declared his “War of Purity.” He had set aside those most pure, their aim to return their people to their rightful place, his Scarlet Brotherhood. They had failed. But they had endured. Kevelli would see to it that Zeeckar’s prophetic vision should come to pass.
    “It was on the first day of they year 5091 SD that I presented my vision to the council of nobles. The Brotherhood of the Scarlet Sign, my vision revealed would be an organization whose sole intent was to prevent dilution of the virtues of our people. The war with the Bakluni did not prevent contact with their nefarious race, and the excursions from the rebellious Roka, Chebi and Hochebi, and visitors from the west and south, polluted our people with their flesh and their cultures. The Brotherhood would swear to uphold the ideals of the Suel culture, forswearing physical and mental corruption. Their purity would be the purity of the flame, tempting the pure, searing the unworthy and branding the inferior. Despite resistance from certain obviously tainted houses, the council and the king approved my plan and presented me with a mansion and funds for the use in creating this order.”
    —from the Journal of Kavelli Mauk [SB - 2] (5091 SD)


    -423 CY    Zellifar was not the saviour his followers had imagined; indeed, his reading the Lament for Lost Tharizdun had twisted him and he proved as much a tyrant as his father, so, soon after taking flight, there were those among them who saw that they had traded one cruel emperor for another, and they began to steal away in the chaos he fostered as they were driven further east.
    One of Zellifar’s minions, the High Priest Pellipardus, slips away from the Zolites and takes his family. Zellifar does not pursue, fearing that this will take his attention away from the Three Houses of Pursuit: the Schnai, the Fruztii, and the Cruski. [OJ11] (223 OR/ 5093 SD/1728 FT)


    -422 CY    Zellifar parleys with the Houses of Pursuit. His Archmage, Slerotin, unleashes a mass enfeeblement on the mages of the three Houses, and a mass suggestion upon the other members of the Houses. Slerotin is blasted by magical energies upon the casting of these mighty spells, leaving the Rift Canyon as the only physical remains of this energy. The remnants of the Three Pursuing Houses flee northeastward.
    The Houses of Pursuit have been mind-swept. They have no purpose and no direction and no mages whatsoever after they are hit by these spells. They do not know why they are searching or what they are searching for. They have two binders but do not realize it! As they move aimlessly, they begin to seek a homeland. They do not remember where they came from. The memories of their gods are virtually blotted out.
    The three houses that eventually settle in the Barbarian States lose almost all contact with the more ‘civilized’ and good gods of their people. As they begin to multiply and prosper Kord and Llerg become major gods to them but Fortubo, Lendor, Lydia and Jascar are forgotten.
    Farther south in Ratik a slightly different mix of peoples assembles. Gods like Phaulkon, Norebo and Phyton are still remembered. [OJ11] (224 OR/ 5094 SD/ 1729 FT)


    Lendore comes to the Spindrift Islands.
    This group of islands has housed from time immemorial the strongholds of high-elven wizards and lords. They had little contact with humans until the arrival of the legendary Archmage, Lendore, who brought his fellowship out from the lands of the Suel Imperium in anticipation of the Invoked Devastation. Fleeing the impending disaster, the wizard and his band journeyed to the easternmost shores of Oerik, then further still, until they came at last to the Spindrift Isles. The Invoked Devastation occurred, as Lendore knew it must, but it was followed by a catastrophe he had not foreseen: the Rain of Colorless Fire and the destruction of the empire. [LGG - 68]


    Kevelli Mauk, leader of the Scarlet Brotherhood, also heeded the warnings of the seven prophets. He gathered his servants and his ten most ardent students, and managed to escape to the Flanaess just before disaster hit. They crossed the Hellfurnaces and found those Suel who’d first fled to the Sheldomar Valley as the Great War began and had already begun to settle there. But those Suel had not held true to the Path of Purity, having already consorted with the lesser Oeridians. They were not entirely without use, Mauk found, for they had news of Zellifar-ad-Zol and those thousands who had followed him into the east. (222 OR/ 5092 SD/ 1727 FT)
    The hour before the Rain began, Kevelli was overwhelmed by a premonition of doom; this supernatural warning gave him time to activate a now-lost artifact known as Lendor’s Matrix, an hourglass-shaped device that could temporarily suspend time and transport matter across great distances. He gathered his ten most ardent students their slaves and the Tome of the Scarlet Sign—the manifesto of the Scarlet Brotherhood—and used the Matrix to teleport to the western side of the Hellfurnaces, moments before the cataclysm eradicated the Suel capital and surrounding lands. [SB - 3]


    Invoked Devastation and Rain of Colourless Fire Strike

    The Rain of Colourless Fire
    The Great War had reached its height. Thousands had perished, and thousands would perish still. Each revelled in their atrocities, citing moral and racial superiority, eager to cleanse the land of the filth that tainted it.
    In the Suel Empire proper, the Suel mages gather their magical energies and cast the Invoked Devastation. No Bakluni cities survive this blast of magical energy. But Bakluni mages gather at Tovag Baragu, using the arcane powers of the Binders, and drawing upon the energies of their holiest site, withstand these energies and counterstrike with the Rain of Colorless Fire. The remains of this expenditure of energy are now called the Dry Steppes, and the Sea of Dust. The holders of all Four Binders are utterly destroyed but the binders themselves are not. [OJ11] (224 OR/ 5094 SD/1729 FT)

    When the Invoked Devastation came upon the Baklunish, their own magi brought down the Rain of Colorless Fire in a last terrible curse, and this so affected the Suloise Empire as to cause it to become the Sea of Dust. [Folio - 5]
    The Suloise lands were inundated by a nearly invisible fiery rain which killed all creatures it struck, burned all living things, ignited the landscape with colorless flame, and burned the very hills into ash. [Folio - 26] 224_OR/ 5094 SD/1729 FT

    Thus ended the Age of Glory, the west sundered and burned, its glory under a blanket of ash.
    When the Rain of Colorless Fire ended the Age of Glory and brought down the Empire, the tribes [of the Suloise] decided to seek their fate to the east, in the lands of the Flan. [WoGG - 27]


    “The Bakluni wizards have wrought terrible fate on my homeland. Lights without color fell from the sky and burned everything to ash—people, homes, even the soil and the rock beneath. At last I understand the foreboding that consumed me this past hour and drove me to flee with a handful of students and slaves—it was a premonition of the death of my city and my people. Saved by Lendor’s Matrix, we now stand at the entrance to the Harsh Pass, watching the destruction of millions of men and women, the greatest empire of humankind, and five thousand years of history.
    “I swear such a thing will never happen again. Never will my people be stained and damaged by the actions of an inferior race. We will travel east and find the scattered survivors of our great empire. My Scarlet Brotherhood will build the Suel empire anew. All who do not kneel to us will be crushed. We must move with haste, for the fires of my nation’s death-pyre move this way.”
    —from the Journal of Kavelli Mauk [SB - 2,3]


    -419 CY    Long did Kevelli Mauk wander, harried by the migration of the Aerdy nation. Kevelli was not alone. He collected those Suel he found who shared his mind, those who understood the greatness of their people, and those disaffected by the Aerdy. He was herded ever east because whenever the Aerdy came upon he and his followers they recognized their former masters, and remembered their lot under the mastery of those cruel overlords, and drove him from those lands.
    The Exodus
    Four times [Kevelli and his followers] stopped, hoping to settle, but each time migrating Oeridians arrived and claimed [their] chosen territory. The Suel band was forced to flee, their numbers too small to fend off attacks, despite the skills of their guards and warriors.
    The refugees struck south across a great swamp […].
    Eventually the travelers emerged from the swamp, at the narrowest part of the Tilvanot (“south-hill”) peninsula. Liking the cool breezes and misty skies of the place, they continued south and came at last to the great mesa, where they found a colony of several thousand followers of the Suel Emperor’s sun Zellif, who had been living there since 2071 SD. Zellif’s people had claimed the peninsula as their own, driving away, beginning with, or enslaving the humanoid and Flan tribes there. [SB - 3]


    Hesuel Ilshar

    The colony built an amazing city [Hesuel Ilshar] on the plateau, imitating the architectural styles of their lost homeland. The 
    Tome of the Scarlet Sign was copied a dozen times; the manuscripts were passed to each Brotherhood recruit in turn for memorization. 
    [SB - 3]


    While aloof and sometimes cruel, the new Suel nation—now known by the unassuming name Shar, meaning “purity”—was careful not to reveal its true intentions.
    Suel from across the Flanaess continued to migrate into the Brotherhood lands; those that agreed with the Brotherhood philosophy stayed; others crossed the shark-infested waters of the Tilva (“southern”) Strait to the jungles of the continent to the south. [SB - 3]


    -413 CY    The Suel had spread out. Few migrated north. They were a southern people, accustomed to gentle climes and fertile fields. Those who had migrated before the Rain fell, found other gentle climes and other fertile fields, some even going so far as to venture across the waters, settling in the jungles to the south. But they were Suel, despite their having fled the plagues and the wars of the west. They had displaced the Flan, just as the Aerdy were displacing them after the Rains. And they had displaced the peoples of the Amedeo and Hepmonaland. (5103 SD)
    Zar was the first region of Hepmonaland to be settled by the refugees of the Suel Kingdom. Those who stayed here were the most stubborn and intractable of the lot; the more adventurous moved on, as did those seeking greater security from the people of the Falnaess. The city of Zar was founded in 5103 SD, little more than a cluster of rounded stone and wood buildings in a cleared space in the jungle. It grew as Suel refugees arrived and occasionally shrank as strange jungle diseases or infestations took their toll. [SB - 55]


    c.  –412 CY          Those Suel who could not flee died as the Rains fell. But not all.
    The Suloise [tribes] who entered the Flanaess after the Ruin of Colorless Fire were actually a number of once-prosperous noble families and their retainers. Being on holiday, they escaped the burning of Zinbyle, the ruined city in the Sea of Dust recently found by explorers from the Yeomanry. After the Rain died away, the survivors lived in barbarism, scavenging for food and stealing from the frocks of goat-herders in the foothills of the bordering Crystalmists. It was in such a condition a decade after the disaster that the great wizard Slerotin found them, mistaking them at first for actual savages.
    Slerotin
    Slerotin heard the entreaties of the Suloise survivors, who could offer him nothing but gratitude in return for helping them cross the Crystalmists to the rich lands of the Flannae and demihumans. I believe he gave them his aid purely to sate his own ego, for he was never known for his charity before, but perhaps I wrong him. in any event, Slerotin summoned his power and opened a great tunnel directly through over 70 leagues of solid rock. in this way did the Suloise enter the FIanaess with Slerotin, meeting some of their own kind who had earlier crossed the Kendeen Pass (later destroyed by a volcano) and settled along the Javan River. The “tribes” in time became organized clans and noble Houses. They grew in strength, preyed upon Flan and olve and dwur alike, and ran afoul of the Oeridian hordes. You know what followed then.
    Seventeen Suloise “tribes," including the local goat-herders, braved the Passage of Slerotin to reach what is now the Yeomanry. An 18th group the Lerara, entered late. Further delayed by a fight between several nobles, the Lerara were trapped within the Passage when it was sealed. This little group of only 100-120 adults, with children and animals in tow, was forced to adapt to this dark land, thinking they were abandoned by the gods and cursed.
    Excerpt from a letter penned by Elayne Mystica, of the Free City of Iron Gate (inscribed 585 CY) [Dragon #241 - 43,44]


    -411 CY Kevelli Mak did not live long after leading his followers to the Tilvanot. He lived long enough, though, to have left his mark, for he and his followers seduced the hearts and minds of those who had settled there, and in time rose to their rightful place, guides to the Way of Purity, and in that role, they steered the course of those people for all time. (5105 SD)
    Although Kevelli died in 5105 SD, his vision lived on. He was succeeded by his most talented student, Reshek Nes. Reshek followed her mentor’s lead and created a strict monk-like regime for the most talented students, building strength and focus through discipline and denial. [SB - 4]


    -402 CY The Suel found Hepmonaland to their liking. The land was rich, and blessed with ample sustenance and resources. They were not alone; indeed, they found others, the Olman and their like, but these peoples there were primitive and though they might have once been great, they were no more. Thy were savages, unfit scions to their ancestors’ good fortune. The Suel soon spread out, taking what they would. (5114 SD)
    Lerga was settled in 5114 SD by a group of Suel nobles led by Duke Medajar, a noble priest of Llerg. According to legend, the priest had a dream vision of a great stone bear, and his group of refugees spotted a great bearlike formation of rock on a hillside, Megajar declared a halt and proclaimed the spot sacred to the God of Force. Using stone plundered from abandoned Olman ruins, Medagar’s people built shelters for themselves sand established the city of Lerga. [SB - 52]


    c.-400 CY              The Flan Ahlissan Kingdom was in full “decline” by this time. In the wake of the Ur-Flan and the devastating war with the elves, they had become a peaceful folk, having reverted to a tribal existence, content to tend their flocks and fields. They were no match for the coming Suel or Oeridians ... militarily. That is not to say that they were a helpless people, either. (244 OR/ 5116 SD/ 1751 FT)


    -400 CY Those Suel who had remained in the Flanaess found themselves pitted against the Oeridians. They stood their ground, and they fought, much as the Flan had, and still did, but neither the Suel nor the Flan had hope of defeating the Oeridians. The Oeridians were fierce. The Oeridians were relentless. And in the end, the Oeridians were victorious. Those who pledged fealty were spared; those who did not, were not.
    Standing Ground
    The fierce Oeridian tribes hardly had matters all their own way. For two centuries, they fought the Suel and the fragmented humanoids for possession of the central lands of the Flanaess. The Oeridians incurred the enmity of the Flannae and demihumans of the lands as well. The arrogant Oeridians might have been overcome by this mix of forces, but for one thing: the Suel were far more unpleasant than the Oeridians were aggressive. The Suel invaders lied, cheated, stole, enslaved, pillaged, and killed out of hand. Over time, the Flannae and demihumans allied with the Oeridians to drive the Suel to ever more distant fringes of the Flanaess: into the northeastern Barbarian lands and into the southern jungles of Amedio and Hepmonaland. [FtAA - 3]


    The success of the Oeridian domination of so much of the Flanaess was in part due to their friendliness towards the original demi-human peoples of the area—dwur, noniz, hobniz, olve—and their co-operation greatly strengthened the Oeridians. The willingness of the Flanae to join forces with the Oeridian armies also proved to be a considerable factor. Perhaps the biggest asset the Oeridians had, however, was the vileness of the Suloise - for the majority lied, stole, slew, and enslaved whenever they had inclination and opportunity. There were exceptions, of course, such as the Houses of Rhola and Neheli - late migrants who settled and held the Sheldomar as already mentioned. [Folio - 5]                


    To the far north, four of the strongest and fiercest Suel clans managed to retain large stretches of ground as Suloise. The majority of the Suelites were pushed to the extreme south, into the Amedio Jungle, the Tilvanot Peninsula, the Duxchan Islands, and even as far as across the narrow Tilva Straight into Hepmonaland. [Folio - 5]




    One must always give credit where credit is due. This History is made possible primarily by the Imaginings of Gary Gygax and his Old Guard, Lenard Lakofka among them, and the new old guards, Carl Sargant, James Ward, Roger E. Moore. And Erik Mona, Gary Holian, Sean Reynolds, Frederick Weining. The list is interminable. Thanks to Steven Wilson for his GREYCHRONDEX and to Keith Horsfield for his “Chronological History of Eastern Oerik.”
    Special thanks to Jason Zavoda for his compiled index, “Greyhawkania,” an invaluable research tool.

    Primary sources for this history were the DMG 1e, The World of Greyhawk Folio, and The World of Greyhawk Gold Box, Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, The Scarlet Brotherhood, Ivid the Undying, the Greyhawk Adventures hardcover, The Living Greyhawk Journals, Dragon Magazine.

    The Art:

    All art is wholly owned by the artists.
    whispered-words-in-cherry-red by maegondo
    GuildWars-2-Refugees by artbytheo
    I-was-born-for-this by immp
    The Rain of Colourless Fire, by Erol Otus, Folio, 1980
    Seventh Plague of Egypt, by John Martin, 1823
    Clearwine-RuneQuest by ranarh
    Raistlin-portrait-2 by belegilgalad
    Heroes-of-Bronze-Platea-479-BC by martinklekner


    Sources:
    1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
    1064 From the Ashes Boxed Set, 1992
    1068 Greyhawk Wars Boxed Set, 1991
    2011A Dungeon Masters Guide, 1st Ed., 1979
    9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
    9577 The Adventure Begins, 1998
    9578 Player’s Guide to Greyhawk, 1998
    11374 The Scarlet Brotherhood, 1999
    11742 Gazetteer, 2000
    11743 Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000
    Ivid the Undying, 1998
    Dragon Magazine
    OJ Oerth Journal, appearing on Greyhawk Online
    LGJ et. al.
    Greychrondex, Wilson, Steven B.
    Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda

    The map of Anna B. Meyer

    Posted: 11-04-2021 04:03 pm
    The Infinite Oerths Journal 32
    Oerth Journal 32

    Wonders never cease.
    I'm published again. Needless to say I'm thrilled.

    This issue has a theme, and that theme was Infinite Oerths. That may sound odd to those already familiar with the intent of Gary Gygax's setting. Gary set the stage all those years ago, and then set it free. Make it yours he said. And we did. Each created a Greyhawk of his own, and each Greyhawk was unique. That was its charm. Greyhawk, by its very nature is a study of infinite possibilities.

    But despite Gary's best intentions, canon slipped in through the cracks. He himself began adding to the setting's timeline in the pages of the Dragon magazine. Then others followed, and before long, these dispatches were becoming canon.
    And before too long, there were further sourcebooks by Sargant, Moore, Mona, and Holian. And yet more Dragon articles. We were knee deep in accepted canon. Of course, no one had to use it. Gary's invitation was still there, It will always be there.
    Thus was the invitation of the Oerth Journal for its 32nd issue: Infinite Oerths. What if the accepted history of Greyhawk was a little different? What if the Invoked Devistations had never happened? What if Mordenkainen had hair? He did once, after all. He looked a lot like E. Gary Gygax, if you recall. In any event, we were asked to peek behind the curtain of what might have been, or what your personal Greyhawk had evolved into over the years. Because some Greyhawks have been evolving for so very long time, as has Lord Gosumba's Greyhawk.

    I was perplexed. I was crestfallen. I'd already begun a story that would likely not fit in such a theme. But Jay Scott, the infamous Lord Gosumba of the Free City of Altimira, pressed a promise from a few of we of the online Greyhawk community to submit to the magazine. I said I'd think on it. And I did. But what? An idea sprang to mind.
    That idea can be found within these pages. I hope you enjoy it.
    I won't say what it's about. That would be telling. That would spoil the story., and maybe the twist and surprise at the end.
    But I will mention that it's an exploration of a classic 1st edition module, loved and hated and venerated by many. It was written by Mr. Gygax, of course, as so many of those classic modules were; and were he still around to read it, I should hope that he would love it. He loved a twist, from what I've heard.




    But don't just read my humble submission to the issue's pages. There are many worthy articles. There's advice from newcomer Amy Crittenden on "How to Make Greyhawk Your Own," and exploration of Gord the Rogue by Carl Scrivener. Joseph Bloch, the Greyhawk Grognard visits the "Many Castles of Greyhawk." It wouldn't be the Oerth Journal without a submission from Jason Zavoda and Will Dvorak, and neither failed to appear. Or Jay Scott, for that matter.
    All submissions are worthy of praise, but there are two of note: the first is the return of Gary Holian, writer of the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer and a number of exceptional entries in the Dragon, with an article about Death Knights in Greyhawk; and the other is by Mike Bridges about the Sea Princes and the fleets that sail Oerth's oceans.
    I'm in worthy company.

    Download a free copy and enjoy. You can find a link here.
    Another thing to note is that those supporting the Oerth Journal through donation will receive a print copy of the OJ. Not this one, sadly, the deadline for receiving this particular journal has passed. But so long as you keep your support current, you'll receive a physical copy by mail. Here's a link to the Patronage page.



    Posted: 11-04-2021 04:02 pm
    History of the North, Part 11: The Never-ending Storm

    “When wasteful war shall statues overturn

    And broils root out the work of masonry,

    Nor Mars his sword, nor war’s quick fire, shall burn

    The living record of your memory:

    ’Gainst death, and all oblivious enmity,

    Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room

    Even in the eyes of all posterity

    That wear this world out to the ending doom.”

    Shakespeare, Sonnet 55 (1609), Q 2&3


    An End To War

    War is wasteful. It brings strife, pestilence and death. And it brings uncertainty in its aftermath. And sometimes, it is difficult to know if it is over. Because there may be an end to A war, but never to War.

    587 CY
    All wars must end. Treaty Negotiations between Ket and Veluna, Gran March, and Bissel began, resulting in the Thornward Division. There was peace in the Bramblewood Gap, if one can call it that; in truth, tension rose, each side watchful, and a new type of war began, a Cold War.

                Beygraf Zoltan's assassination in 587 CY and the resulting change in Ket's government led to a new policy regarding Bissel. Nadaid, Zoltan's state favored replacement, withdrew most of his troops from Bissel to deal with chaos in Lopolla, then began peace negotiations with the west, much to the frustration of battle-hungry Gran March war bands gathered at Bissel's southern border.

    Negotiations lasted from 587-589 CY, resulting in the controversial Thornward Division, by which Bissel's capital was lost and made a neutral city held and governed in common by Ket, Veluna, Gran March, and Bissel. Ket completely withdrew its armies, taking control of all Bisselite forts, towns, and lands north of the Bramblewood Gap. [LGG - 33]


    Beygraf Zoltan was assassinated within four years of the first occupation of Bissel; significantly, the judgment of the mullahs was to not attempt his revivification. The political aftermath in Lopolla was considerable. As the struggle for power unfolded, army forces were withdrawn from Bissel, and civil war threatened Ket. A new beygraf took power by forming a coalition between many military leaders and a significant minority of the clergy. With the financial support of the Mouqollad, the coalition has stabilized Ket's government and borders. Beygraf Nadaid's policies are those of a moderate, so he has little respect among the clergy. The mullahs have demanded the right to scrutinize his government, to assure that it remains in the faith. Nadaid has little choice but to allow this; the outcome is in doubt. [LGG - 68]


    Thornward is a sprawling, heavily fortified city with a population of about six thousand, surrounded by numerous army camps (limited in size by treaty), further boosting its total population to about eleven thousand. The caravan and river traffic through Thornward is of staggering size; items are often available here that are found only in much larger cities. The atmosphere in the city is tense and political intrigue is thick, but mercantile activity is nonstop; the city is brightly lit all hours of the night to keep trade moving. [LGG - 32]


    Tang the Horrific

    Tang the Horrific came to the Wegwiur after escaping Iuz’s forces chasing him to the icy sea. The Wolves were wary at first. Who was this wild man from the Paynims, they asked?  The one who will lead you to victory, he answered.

    The Wolf Nomads were reportedly astonished at the audacity, courage, and natural charisma of this fellow nomad. The council and the tarkhan himself agreed to the attack immediately, perhaps sensing the importance of this moment in history. In the late spring of 587 CY, the Wegwiur's Relentless Horde rode from Eru-Tova and attacked the unsuspecting orcs of the Howling Hills, driving than back in chaos from the Wegwiur Thralls caverns and surrounding area. Shamans carefully removed the bodies of their forefathers and packed the caves' many may treasures, while Tang and Tarkhan Bargru hounded the humanoids of this miserable land. Two days later, a retreat was called and the cavalry force returned home in triumph. By chance, this attack came just before the Shield Lands assault began to the south, and Iuz's attention was thus diverted from the important action at Critwall. Iuz lost no land in the fighting, but his orcs suffered many casualties and a stupendous loss of face in the eyes of Iuz and the Wegwiur, who thereafter raided the hordes more frequently. Tang and a small force of cavalry were last seen riding into the Lands of Iuz, leading an advancing orc army away from the retreating Wegwiur. [TAB - 22]


    Tang continued to harry Iuz. He and the Wolves darted in and out of the Howling Hills and the Fellreev, leading those disorganized bands there on a merry chase.

    A former servant of Iuz and now the demigod's implacable foe, Tang had escaped with a small band of cavalry after a daring raid into the Howling Hills with the Wolf Nomads. Crossing the open plain to the Fellreev, Tang and his mercenary band encountered small groups of Rovers, gathering them at the village of Sable Watch. With their aid, together with Wardogs from the Forlorn Forest and beyond, he successfully attacked Iuzite forces in the Barrens, eventually capturing the fort of Hornduran. Most of the Rovers were still without mounts, so Tang made a fateful decision to raid into Stonehold for horses.

    Tang's Raid
    The town of Vlekstaad was chosen as the target of the Rovers' nighttime strike. With most Fists either in Tenh or fighting the Suel in eastern Stonehold, Vlekstaad had almost no able soldiers in residence. Such defenses as they had were quickly penetrated, thanks to the Wardogs' amazing stealth. The stables of Vlekstaad provided a trove of horseflesh, but escaping with them proved more difficult than Tang had anticipated. He and his companions were trapped by a patrol of Fists and forced to battle for their lives. The expedition might have been lost there had not a young Wardog, Nakanwa Daychaser […]), led his own band of warriors on Tang's trail. Trapped between the two forces of Rovers, the Fists were slaughtered, but Tang was mortally wounded. Nakanwa quickly assumed control of the surviving Rovers, ordering them to seize everything of value in the town, including its citizens. The remains of the town were set ablaze, becoming the funeral pyre of Tang the Horrific.

    With the return of Nakanwa and the wealth of Vlekstaad to the Barrens, new hope rose among the Rovers. Their warriors now had mounts and the people had meat. Perhaps as importantly, the tribes had new members, for the captive children were quickly adopted and the captive women quickly wed. Only time will tell if the razing of Vlekstaad will result in the rebirth of the Rovers of the Barrens. They still remain an elusive people, not revealing their new strength, for they are wary of the vengeance of the Fists. Yet, for the first time since Iuz brought evil into their land, they have real hope. [LGG - 95]


    Lady Katarina and the Great Northern Crusade made great gains against Iuz, who had spent much of his strength in his earlier lightning strikes and headlong plunge into his enemy’s lands. However, Iuz was spent, at the limit of his reach, and with each day, the Crusade pushed and pushed, and Iuz retreated and fell back.

    In 587 CY, under the leadership of the newly installed Knight Commander Lady Katarina of Waiworth, the expatriate Knights of Holy Shielding returned to their homeland in force. [LGG - 159]


    Iuz was bent on retaining the Shield Lands. Indeed, he expected to possess it for quite some time to come. Forever, in fact. Thus, he named Adumdfort the regional capital of the Shield Lands, even though it is cut off from the rest of the Empire by naval blockade.

    In the Bandit Kingdoms, the towns of Hallorn, Riftcrag, Rookroost, and Stoink are regional capitals. Hallorn rules the western Bandit Kingdoms, Riftcrag the Rift and Rift Barrens, Rookroost the region between the Rift and the Bluff Hills, and Stoink the southeastern Bandit Kingdoms. Admundfort was designated the regional capital of the Shield Lands in 587, but the island is almost completely cut off from the empire by a naval blockade. [LGG - 61]


    (Formerly) twenty-three petty noble domains on the mainland, ruled from Admundfort (the island was its own separate domain); (now) two free domains (mainland area controlled from Critwall, and Scragholme Island), with the remainder of the land overrun but badly controlled by Iuz's forces. [LGG - 102]


    The Story of Rueven the Rhennee
    To the Sorcerers Nexus of Rel Astra he traded his immortal soul for the ability to channel magic at will. [RPGA Fright at Tristor - 3]


    588 CY
    King Belvor sought vengeance. Iuz had raped his land and Iuz must be made to pay for that. Belvor struck with such rage as few knew him capable of, and his expeditionary force acquitted itself well in recapturing Grabford. But Belvor was not satisfied.

    By 588 CY, with Critwall cleared of enemy forces, the government of the Shield Lands was reestablished, albeit over a very small area. Katarina was named Knight Commander of the region. Lady Katarina and her knights now look east, planning surgical strikes against the enemy, confident that they will reclaim their lost land. ("Perhaps not this year or the next," they say.) Heironeous has shown them the path of righteousness, and it is long and lined with great sacrifice and furious battle. Those shackled by the Lord of Pain will be released, they cry. Those who fear the break of dawn will be taught the art of war and the strength of courage. The lost lands will be reclaimed, they promise. The Shield will rise again! [LGG - 105]


    Furyondy's armies smashed northward in early Planting, bulwarked by the Knights of the Hart and the archmage Bigby. Fighting continued for more than a year, with few meaningful victories for either side. Finally, in 588 CY, the Battle of Grabford provided Furyondy with a crucial victory that allowed it to encircle Crockport, the base of Iuz's operations in the occupied lands. When the city finally fell to the forces of weal, it was the site of uncontrolled chaos and slaughter of the occupying forces. Crockport had been the goal of the great Northern Crusade. Many fell victim to emotion in its recapture, and few good men remember the event with any degree of pride.

    If Crockport had been the initial goal of the Crusade, however, general revenge, and the ultimate destruction of Iuz the Evil soon took its place. Recaptured lands revealed the horrible truth of the occupation—entire villages had been reanimated; Iuz's agents knew no pity, and reveled in destruction and butchery. Exactly three years to the day of calling the original Crusade, Belvor appeared in public in Chendl, proclaiming a "permanent and unalterable state of war" between Furyondy and the Empire of Iuz. [LGG - 47]


    Hope can be a rallying point. The liberation of even the least salient of a once conquered land can be the greatest victory in the eyes of the vanquished. Thus, Lady Katarina declared the New Shield Lands in defiance of Iuz’s vassal state.

    No Quarter Asked or Given
    Brutal fighting, with no quarter asked or given, raged for a year before what was left of Critwall was regained. The government of the Shield Lands was proclaimed to have returned home in 588 CY, though by the end of 590 CY only a fraction of the western Shield Lands had been retaken, that being Scragholme Isle and the area within 20-30 miles of Critwall. 
    [TAB - 21]


    The current nation, often referred to as the "New Shield Lands," encompasses only the 20-30 miles surrounding the city of Critwall and Scragholme Island, at the mouth of the Veng-Ritensa River. A keep on Scragholme Isle, Bright Sentry, guards a small bur growing port that bears the same name and serves as the island domain's local capital. The current government proclaims that the recapture of all lost lands is its primary goal, though fighting has ground to a virtual standstill within the last year. [LGG - 103]


    Of Vecna and Iuz:

    The Flight of Fiends

    What became of Vecna and Iuz? Who can say? But where Vecna could not be scryed, Iuz somehow remained upon Oerth. Iuz’s empire remained intact. And his tyranny marched on, unabated.
    But, all good things must come to an end. The fiends had fled and Iuz was stretched thin, tasked not only with administering his newly acquired empire, but beset with rebels and banditry and the persistent attacks of those who didn’t appreciate his desire to remake the whole of Flanaess in his own image.

    The use of the Crook of Rao by Canon Hazen of Veluna, in 586 CY, had dire repercussions for Iuz's armies. Bereft of their powerful masters, many lesser nonhumans and ambitious human generals attempted to stage coups throughout the occupied lands, even as rebel bandits and indigenous populations took advantage of the Flight of Fiends to strike back at their oppressors. [LGG - 62]


    It was inevitable that Iuz would lose control of Sevvord Redbeard of Hold of Stonefist. He cared not for that cold and distant land. It had little of value, except grist for the mill. And he knew that it would continue to slip into the state of chaos it has always courted. So, he turned his back on the Stonehold, so as to focus on the conflict that really mattered, Furyondy.
    Sevvord flew into a rage when he awoke and realised that he’d been played a puppet to another’s schemes. He fumed! He raged! And all those within his gaze cowered from his anger. He gathered Fists from across Tenh, and killed every cleric of Iuz he could find, impaling them on posts and leaving them to rot in the wind. He and his slaughtered hundreds, if not thousands, of Tenha slaves when he could not find enough Iuzian clerics to sate his need. He wished to kill more, to line every road with the spiked corpses of an entire nation as a warning to any who might ever try to subjugate him again. However, he had not the time. He need return home. When he ran out of slaves, he left a rearguard to occupy Calbut and marched to drive the hated barbarians from his homeland. He would paint the Kelten Pass with their blood, he promised, and its flowing would thaw the Frozen River for all time.


    The Massacre in Tenh

    For six years after the invasion, the Stoneholders held the Tenha enslaved. The evil of Iuz was present throughout the land as well, though never in plain sight. Perhaps this state of affairs would have persisted indefinitely had not an unnatural rage come upon the rhelt of Stonehold, during a meeting in the ruins of the duke's palace at Nevond Nevnend. [LGG - 113,114]

    By means not yet known, Iuz's charm-like control of Sevvord Redbeard was broken in mid-588 CY. Enraged at the abuse he suffered, Redbeard vowed revenge. [TAB - 22]

    In an astonishing turn of loyalty, he gave the command to put the clerics and agents of Iuz to the sword, also letting his warriors murder Tenha slaves out of hand. [LGG - 114]

    Iuz priests, soldiers, and advisors in the area were slaughtered on sight, and Tenh was plunged into bloodshed once again. The Master then ordered a looting of Tenh and a retreat to Nevond Nevnend and Calbut. Stonefist warriors meant to keep this area so as to guard Thunder Pass (called Rockegg Pass by the Tenha), the route through the Griff Mountains back to Stonefist. Reports were already filtering back to the Stonefist troops that a force of Ice and Snow Barbarians was raiding and burning its way across the Hold, and all wished to go home and do battle. [TAB - 22]
    The Fists then withdrew from all but the northernmost part of Tenh, which they still hold. Armies from the Pale and forces loyal to the exiled duke quickly crossed the borders, battling each other for possession of the southern and eastern regions of the duchy, including the Phostwood. [LGG - 114]
    There are 20,000 Stonefist men in Tenh, with conflicting desires. On the one hand, rulership of this fertile land is good, but on the other, their instincts are to pillage, maraud, decimate, and then go home with all the loot they can carry. Instead, they stay here as slave drivers. Spending days overseeing slave farmers is not exactly what Fist men find exciting. The Stonefist nation is young, born in adversity and constant marauding. Constant movement on attack and retreating to defensive fortifications after that attack, not occupying their conquests, is what makes the Stonefist men feel comfortable. There is another problem weighing on the minds of the Fists. Since the sham of the "Great God Vatun” was exposed and barbarian shamans and priests have begun to see that Iuz was behind it all, the Fists face more hostility and raids from their traditional foes, the eastern barbarians. No longer are these two uneasy allies. Having occupied Calbut and secured Thunder Pass is useful to the Fists, but keeping men in Tenh when they are needed to defend Stonefist against the barbarians is irksome. Many seek to go home, putting Tenh through one last ordeal of slaughter and pillage before they go. In the interim, many are restless and bored, prone to drunkenness and mindless violence against the Tenhas. [ WGR5 Iuz the Evil - 67]
    [A] many-sided war began in Tenh, involving the mutually hostile forces of Iuz, Stonehold, the Pale, and Tenha expatriates. The war goes on today. [LGG - 16]

    589 CY    
    Reynard
    Was Reynard, a bandit chief of the Tangles, an outlaw or a freedom fighter? Was he fighting for his “nation,” or was he just on the lam and fighting for his life? Whatever the reason, he was much sought after by the Iuzite Boneheart. And when one is much sought after, it’s only a matter of time before one is found. Reynard was found. He was captured and slain and desecrated.
    The wildly insane Earl Aundurach, a new addition to the Lesser Boneheart, commands the surviving Tangles folk harshly and ineffectively. He prominently displays a magical scepter crafted from the bones of Reynard, the land's rebellious bandit chief, captured and slain in 589 CY. The earl is supposed to control all activities in the Bandit Lands to the north and west, but it is very doubtful that he does. [LGG - 30]

    Belvor’s crusade was successful. He and his armies succeeded in reconquering lost territory from Iuz. But as one might expect, his lords and his people began to lose their fervor and commitment to his cause the closer his armies came to Furyondy’s northern border. It is one thing to spend the lifeblood of Furyondy; it is quite another to spill Furyondian blood on Shield Land soil.
    By the end of 588 CY, the armies of Furyondy had restored the nation, as well as Critwall and Scragholme Isle in the old Shield Lands. The destruction and debauchery revealed as Iuz's agents fled sickened the crusaders, King Belvor declared eternal war upon the Old One, pledging to settle for nothing short of the complete destruction of Iuz himself. Raids against Iuz from Furyondy and the Shield Lands continue to the present. [LGG - 16]

    By the end of 588 CY, [Belvor] had succeeded [in reclaiming much of the Furyondian lands conquered by Iuz], but the king nevertheless declared permanent and unalterable war against Iuz. As part of the crusade, a small potion of the Shield Lands had been reclaimed. [PGtG - 12]

    Belvor’s armies may not have faltered, but the nations commitment certainly did. There was much posturing. Iuz must pay, was declared hotly. But who exactly would make him pay? The nation’s coffers were spent, the army weakened by such prolonged conflict, the prospect of defeating Iuz uncertain, at best. The borders were fortified, new castles built. A line had been drawn.
    Finally, in 588 CY, the Battle of Grabford provided Furyondy with a crucial victory that allowed it to encircle Crockport, the base of Iuz's operations in the occupied lands. When the city finally fell to the forces of weal, it was the site of uncontrolled chaos and slaughter of the occupying forces. Crockport had been the goal of the great Northern Crusade. Many fell victim to emotion in its recapture, and few good men remember the event with any degree of pride.
    If Crockport had been the initial goal of the Crusade, however, general revenge, and the ultimate destruction of Iuz the Evil soon took its place. Recaptured lands revealed the horrible truth of the occupation—entire villages had been reanimated; Iuz's agents knew no pity, and reveled in destruction and butchery. [LGG - 47]

    Despite the angry pronouncement, however, many army units were disbanded in the spring of 589 CY, with only those units on border patrols and involved in castle-building along the frontier being maintained at full readiness. A full recovery from the war would take years. A few northern lords have called King Belvor a coward for refusing to strike further into the the Empire of Iuz, but the king has never had such plans; he wished only to recover lands lost to his state, knowing that he would have little ability to hold any territory gained in Iuz’s forsaken realm. [TAB]

    The old guard had indeed grown old. They were tired. The War had cost them much. Thay had asked much from their people. And they continued to ask for much. But the young did not hear those venerable voices. They looked to those who had distinguished themselves in the field. These were the ones who saved us, those youth said.
    The mayor of Highfolk, twenty-eight-year-old Tavin Ersteader, was of low birth, coming from one of the region's northern villages. Ersteader distinguished himself as a young man, exploring several mysterious sites within the Yatils and Clatspurs and fighting against the forces of Iuz in the Vesve. Said to be a one-time apprentice to Melf Brightflame, Ersteader enjoys a warm relationship with the local elves, and is a good friend of Loftin Graystand, the former mayor, who retired in 589 CY. Ersteader is a sworn enemy to Iuz, and sponsors far more reconnaissance and attack missions against the Old One than did his predecessor.  [LGG - 53]

    Was Iuz defeated? Certainly not. Was Iuz brought to the brink of defeat? Only a fool would think so. Could Iuz still strike fear into the hearts and minds of those who had opposed him? Most certainly.
    Lady Xenia Sallavarian
    A terrible tragedy struck Lynwerd and his kingdom in 589 CY. A long-planned marriage between King Lynwerd and Lady Xenia Sallavarian, a distant cousin of Circle of Eight member Jallarzi and Duke Karll of Urnst, was scheduled to take place during Richfest of that year. In Wealsun, Lady Xenia was touring Rel Mord on foot when she collapsed of heatstroke. [LGG - 78]
    She could not be revived by her attending priest, and it was learned later that her body was devoid of her intellect and spirit, though she still breathed. Her body was taken back to Nellix, where it is tended by her family. Divinations and questioning of those present when the lady collapsed strongly hint that she was attacked by magical means, but little more was learned. [TAB - 31]
    She has not been seen since, and many suspect the worst, detecting sorrow and a grim hardness in their king. [LGG - 78,79]


    590 CY
    Ratik:     Alain was not the only one to desire the freedom of the Bone March. Lady Evaleigh wishes the same, for her father’s city of Knurl is hard pressed and in need of succour. And in truth, war will continue between the Bone March and Ratik, as it must, for each cannot rest while the other exists. The Bone March shall never forgive Ratik or the Frost Barbarians for their incursions into its territory.
    In 590 CY, a full-scale assault over the Blemu Hills into Knurl was also attempted, but failed. Thus far, the defenses of the count have held firm, but he expects another wave of attacks this year. [LGG - 37]

    Humanoid tribes and bandit gangs appear to be cooperating of late. Masked advisors were seen by spies in the councils of the orcs and gnolls at Spinecastle. Treasure seekers have entered the abandoned keep at Spinecastle, but few have returned alive. Without aid from Ratik, Count Dunstan of Knurl might ally with Ahlissa or North Kingdom to save his realm. [LGG - 37]

    Ambassadors from the Scarlet Brotherhood were spied in Djekul. Ratik wants to expand the alliance against Bone March and North Kingdom to include the Snow Barbarians, but the Schnai will negotiate only with Lexnol. Agents of the Sea Barons have approached Evaleigh to gain access to Marner. A half-orc spy working for North Kingdom was discovered in Ratikhill but escaped. [LGG - 91]

    Fireland:              The fleet from the Sea Barons had set sail three long years earlier and had not yet returned. Had they found Fireland? If they had, that is a tale for another day. But in truth, whether they had found Fireland or not, Fireland found Ratik. One day, much to Marner’s surprise, a longship from Fireland sailed into its port, its flanks scorched, its sails torn and tattered.
    In Marner, capital of Ratik, a lone long ship sailed into port in late 590 CY. The pale barbarians aboard the ship spoke a dialect of the Cold Tongue and claimed to be from a distant northeastern island called Fireland. They came with four other ships in search of help for an undisclosed problem facing their people; their other long ships were sunk by sea monsters or Ice Barbarian raiders. The aged explorer Korund of Ratik can supply maps and some information to anyone wishing to return to Fireland with these barbarians, but he is too infirm to travel and is growing senile as well. Frost Barbarians believe “Firelanders” are descended from sailers from the Thillonrian Peninsula who settled there centuries ago; the barbarians wish to establish contact with them. The glaciated land is called Fireland for its volcanoes, visible for many miles at night as red fountains in the sea. [TAB - 38]

    Frost Barbarians:              Nobles from Ratik have great influence at court but are not always trusted. Scarlet Brotherhood agents are well received but bring strange news and promises. Merchants from the Lordship of the Isles have a growing presence, offering unusually generous trade deals that make some jarls suspicious. Hundgred's court is growing isolated from other northern barbarian nations. [LGG - 45]

    Snow Barbarians:             An intermittent war smolders with Stonehold. King Ingemar generously feasts and rewards his chaotic jarls to insure their loyalty. Frost Barbarian jarls also being feted to gain their friendship and influence; this is viewed as blatant bribery, but it works. The king receives Scarlet Brotherhood agents at court, but privately says he does not trust them. [LGG]

    Ice Barbarians: 

    Royal hatred of the Scarlet Brotherhood grows, as does distrust of the Frost Barbarians. Stonehold accuses the Ice Barbarians of attacking Vlekstaad. There are secret parlays between the Snow and Ice Barbarians for raids against the Sea Barons and possibly the Lordship of the Isles. [LGG - 55]

    Stonefist:            Rhelt Sevvord is the absolute master of these people, and his troops are expected to obey him without question. The punishment for disobedience is slow death, though the rhelt always rewards his loyal troops with plunder and captives. So far, Reword Redbeard has maintained his personal authority and become the most important figure in his nation's history since Stonefist himself. Still, many feel that his time has passed, and wait for a leader who will be strong enough to challenge him. [LGG - 109]
    Revenge is widely sought against the northern barbarians for the burning of Vlekstaad, but Iuz's forces are hated even more. Conspiracies are suspected between Iuz and several war band leaders to gain control of Stonehold. Murders of war band leaders (by their fellows) are on the rise. [LGG - 110]

    Returned From Afar
    The Sea Baron Fleet returned from expedition across the Solnor.
    Ships from resource-hungry lands of the eastern Flanaess are striking out in search of trading partners, hoping to rebuild from the wars. The Sea Barons and the east coast city-states of Rel Astra, Ountsy, and Roland are now exploring the mini-continent of Hepmonaland, returning with fantastic tales and riches. (Many fall prey to disease, pirates, monsters, and privateers from the Scarlet Brotherhood and Lordship of the Isles, however.) Several major kingdoms full of new peoples are said to lie in this tropical land, some rumored to be at war with the slave-taking Brotherhood. [TAB - 38]

    The Sea Barons do not desire a permanent alliance with the Cities of the Solnor Compact, distrusting Drax's motives, but they feign friendship. The Sea Barons fear assassination or worse by the Scarlet Brotherhood, and treat with strangers in their lands harshly. Expeditions launched to the mysterious south in the last few years have returned with tales of fantastic wonders and riches. [LGG - 100]


    Rovers of the Barrens:   The Rovers are a feeble folk now, but they still mount small raids into neighbouring lands. They spend most of their time hunting bear, wolf and northern deer. They fish the Icy Sea. They harvest pine and fur from the Forlorn Forest. They hunt deer and bison. They lay low. As they must. For they must rebuild their strength, as they did after the Battle of Opicm River.
    A secret alliance with the Wolf Nomads is being negotiated. Scouts are searching for survivors from the scattered war bands, including allied centaurs and elves. Horses are supplied to tribes loyal to new war sachem, Nakanwa. All forces of Iuz that hunt Rovers (including Grossfort) are closely watched, to be either avoided or destroyed. [LGG - 95]

    The Pale:             Theocrat Ogon Tillit leads Palish forces (with Tenha converts) and recaptures eastern Tenh from Iuzian forces.
    [With] an army at full strength and an additional force including thousands of refugee converts from the Tenh at the fore, Theocrat Ogon Tillit sponsored an invasion of the ruined duchy, to both gain territory and throw back Iuz's forces, clearly perceived as the number-one threat to the Pale's future existence. Eastern Tenh was taken back, and both banks of the Yol are now under Palish control. [LGG - 82]

    Unbeknownst to the populace, Tillit was injured in 588 CY, when he personally led one of the early battles in the Tenh. While he survived the attack, his wounds have not healed; in fact, they have worsened during the last two years, and his attendants think he might not survive till Puchfest. The Council of the Nine is aware of his condition, and the clandestine politicking to replace Tillit on the Throne of the Sun has already begun. [LGG - 82]

    Nyrond:               Lynwerd found his nation in disarray following the war. His roads had been marched to mash, his strongholds broken and razed, the walls riven. His people were in similar state.
    [King Lynwerd] spent 590 overseeing the repair and strengthening of his kingdom’s roads, armies, cities, and trade links. He finally managed to have weapons, clothing, food. and other assistance sent to the gnome clans of the Flinty Hills, winning their approval despite their grumbles over the tardiness of the aid. He approved trade with the Lordship of the Isles and the United Kingdom of Ahlissa (the latter to the shock and outrage of many in his court). [TAB - 31]

    Nyrond lost nearly seventy thousand soldiers in the Greyhawk Wars. Though her armies held off Aerdy's siege, they did so at terrible cost. Archbold had expended the nation's entire treasury, and had depleted much of his family's wealth. Hideously in debt to the Urnst States, the king faced a future of mined fields and horrible food shortages. Nearly half of his holdings were in tax rebellions. Many of the nation's best mages, craftsmen, and nobles fled Nyrond for easier lives to the west. Whether Nyrond would fall was never an issue. The question was simply that of timing. [LGG - 78]

    Bissel:   With Thornwood declared a neutral city, Pellak was chosen as the new capital for Bissel.
    Bissel’s new capital was chosen in 590 CY to be Pellak, a trade and farming town at the country's center. Bissel's own Knights of the Watch held a huge citadel called Oversight near this town; the fortress never fell to the Kettites despite being besieged for several years. [TAB - 36]
    Bissel's four famed mercenary Border Companies are being reorganized and retrained after their defeat and disbanding during the Ketite occupation; they are not yet at their former strength. Many scouts and rangers are being sought for active duty in the north and west. A large castle-building project is underway along the southern banks of the Fals (Bissel's new northern border) and along the neutral zone around Thornward. Ket destroyed many forts, minor castles, barracks, signal towers, and army bases when it invaded Bissel and later when it withdrew. These are being rebuilt, but work is very slow due to lack of funds. The massive Castle Oversight, at Pellak, has become the headquarters for Bissel's branch of the Knights of the Watch. The influence of Gran March and the Watch is everywhere, particularly in the new margrave's court. The eventual recovery of Thornward is a core goal of the government. [LGG - 32]

    Iuz:         Iuz retains a precarious hold on the East. The Bandit Kingdoms chaff under his rule. The remains of the Rovers of the Barrens and the remnents of Tenh strain against his rule. Stonehold has no love for Iuz, and he must resort to influence and stratagems to retain control when that does not appeal to his paranoid and visious self, who’d rather rule by bane magics and brute force.
    Though some remain, the loss of the bulk of Iuz's fiends has resulted in low morale, revolts, and disorganization within an already chaotic regime. [LGG - 63]

    Now embroiled in what Furyondy has termed a "permanent and unalterable state of. war," Iuz's attention has been drawn to his southwestern border, perhaps at the expense of holding in Tenh, the Barrens, and the old Bandit Kingdoms. Though bereft of the bulk of his demonic aid, Iuz's armies are far more numerous than those of his enemies. They not only follow the Old One, but worship him, believing that to fail their infernal master is not only to fail their liege, but their god, as well. [LGG - 62,63]

    Did I not mention Vecna? How thoughtless of me. Last we saw of him, he was imprisoned in the Shadowfell after an epic battle with Iuz back in 581 CY. But, ever the paranoid soul, Vecna would never have lived as long as he had were he not a cagy one. He knew that one day he might be defeated. He knew that one day he might need a means of return. And he prepared for such a day. And that day had come.
    He had been plotting. He had been scheming.
    And he wanted revenge. Against Iuz.
    Vecna
    No matter how powerful a being is, there exists a secret that can destroy him. In every heart is a seed of darkness hidden from all others; find that evil seed, and your enemies are undone. Strength and power come if you know and control what others dare not show. Never reveal all that you know, or your enemies will lake your seed, too.” [LGG - 186]

    Despite Vecna’s entrapment in the Demiplane of Dread, long-laid plans have come to fruition. In Vecna’s quest to achieve full and permanent godhood, he instigated several alternative strategies in the millennia of his existence. Many of these designs have played out with little to recommend them, but elements of more sinister schemes continue to move unnoticed.
    One such plan has promise at this point. Sometime during the span of years before his imprisonment, Vecna went to a lot of trouble secretly fabricating two tablets inscribed with a true dweomer in the Language Primeval. Then he buried them in a plausible archeological site. […]
    Though any of a handful of demipowers would have served Vecna’s purpose, the corpse king Iuz took the bait. Having stolen the tablets from their original discoverers several years ago, Iuz has slowly brought his considerable resources to bear on the tablets. The more Iuz learned, the more the ancient formula seemed, to him and all his divinatory means, an ancient dweomer of stupendous strength, whereby a demipower might bootstrap itself to full ascension! […]
    The tablets lie. [Die Vecna Die! - 2,3]                

    Iuz enacted the formula, and the formula drew the power from him, a conduit to Vecna, who then had the means to break free from the Shadowfell and emerge with the power of a greater god. Vecna then entered the city of Sigil, where he came perilously close to rearranging all existence to his whims. When Vecna was ejected from Sigil by a party of adventurers, Iuz was freed and Vecna returned to Oerth greatly reduced in power, though still a lesser god.



    Going forward:
    Mysteries abound. They always have, they always will. They are sometimes wondrous; sometimes chilling. They are almost always inexplicable. And despite the stranglehold Iuz has on his conquered lands, there are secrets which even he is unaware, patches where even he has no sway.  Lake Aqal, for instance.
    This very deep, island-filled lake, the source of the Artonsamay River, is an enchanting place of otherworldly beauty and calm. Situated in the northwest arm of the Fellreev Forest, this strange area is, however, given a wide berth by woodland folk. Many creatures found here are 150% their normal size and correspondingly more dangerous. Water nagas, strange dragons, and greenhags are reportedly abundant in the unnaturally warm waters. The mutations in animal life, extremely lush vegetation, and the lake water's warmth are thought to result from a magical source that has nearly made this a tropical swamp. In 590 CY, a child of a Reyhu bandit reemerged from the region after being lost for two months, and given up for dead. The girl's tale of benign, long-featured men who walked on air engendered much derision among the bandits, though two parties entered the lake region within the week, seeking out new allies. None returned. [LGG - 147]


    The Story Reuven of the Rhennee
    Fright at Tristor
    Finally, in the bandit town of Stoink, Reuven spent his savings on a trained circus bear, Tasptaddle, with which he planned to exact his revenge against the cruel people of Tristor. He has been instructing the bear to kill wildlife and farm animals to frighten the Tristor residents, a prelude to a final act of villainy that will make his revenge complete. [Fright at Tristor - 3]

    Tristor also faces turmoil of a more personal nature over the course of the last month, the surrounding area has been plagued by the gruesome mutilations of wildlife and livestock. Local investigators, too frightened to range far from the hamlet for fear of an orcish attack, have failed to turn up meaningful leads. The town’s constable has made it known that the person or persons responsible for finding the mutilator will be richly rewarded. The village has become a haven for disreputable bounty hunters and vigilantes, all hoping to solve the mystery. To date, nothing has come of their efforts, and the townsfolk are agitated over the slaughter of their animals, afraid that people will soon be victims themselves. [Fright at Tristor - 2]

    “Their throats were cut, their innards opened to the world and spread all about them. Our agent in the region cannot guess at the hands behind these fiendish attacks, though he confirms that all live in fear that this demonic villain will soon tire of play with animals, and will start in upon the humble folk of Tristor.”—Portion of a letter from Field Agent Marim of the Blinding Path to His Worshipful Mercy, Theocrat Ogon Tillit, Supreme Prelate of the Theocracy of the Pale, Coldeven, 591 CY. [Fright at Tristor - 2]



    One must always give credit where credit is due. This History is made possible primarily by the Imaginings of Gary Gygax and his Old Guard, Lenard Lakofka among them, and the new old guards, Carl Sargant, James Ward, Roger E. Moore. And Erik Mona, Gary Holian, Sean Reynolds, Frederick Weining. The list is interminable. Thanks to Steven Wilson for his GREYCHRONDEX and to Keith Horsfield for his “Chronological History of Eastern Oerik.”
    Special thanks to Jason Zavoda for his compiled index, “Greyhawkania,” an invaluable research tool.
    Primary sources for this history were the DMG 1e, Ivid the Undying, WGR5 Iuz the Evil, WG8 The Fate of Istus, the Greyhawk Adventures hardcover, The World of Greyhawk Folio, and The World of Greyhawk Gold Box, Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, The Living Greyhawk Journals, Dragon Magazine, Fright at Tristor.

    The Art:
    All art is wholly owned by the artists.
    Grim-Reaper by moni158
    Mongol by weerwulf
    Though-My-Sails-Are-Tattered-My-Anchor-Still-Holds byvodoofantasy
    Vecna by myles1972
    Outsider by lostknightkg


    Sources:
    1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
    1064 From the Ashes Boxed Set, 1992
    1068 Greyhawk Wars Boxed Set, 1991
    2011A Dungeon Masters Guide, 1st Ed., 1979
    9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
    9253 WG8, Fate of Istus, 1989
    9399 WGR 5, Iuz the Evil, 1993
    9577 The Adventure Begins, 1998
    9578 Player’s Guide to Greyhawk, 1998
    11742 Gazetteer, 2000
    11743 Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000
    Fright at Tristor, 2001
    Ivid the Undying, 1998
    Dragon Magazine
    OJ Oerth Journal, appearing on Greyhawk Online
    LGJ et. al.
    Greychrondex, Wilson, Steven B.
    Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda

    The map of Anna B. Meyer

    Posted: 10-31-2021 02:14 pm
    History of the North, Part 10: The Diminishing Storm

    When the hurly-burly's done,
    When the battle's lost and won.

    Shakespeare, MacBeth (1605), Act I, sc.1, l.3.


    Stalemate

    The nations have spilled their lifeblood into the soil and soul of the Flanaess. Exhausted, they entrench and catch breath. They watch. And wait.
    Iuz controls the North. But his lands are poor and produce little. He gathers his strength. He watches. And waits.
    The Scarlet Brotherhood, their gambit played and played out, have a stranglehold on the south. They issue forth yet more spies. They whisper. They watch. And wait.

    585 CY 

    ..along its southern margins...

    Ratik understood its peril, and it began an ambitious project, one that taxed its resources, but was deemed essential by Luxnol. What good would minding the nations finances do were they slaughtered by the orcs and gnolls to the south, and the Fists to the north. Castles and fortresses and redoubts sprang up along the Kelmar Pass and the Flinty Hills, and in the northern Timberway. More rose up within the Kelten Pass, for surely the Fists would come again.

    Ratik is developing an ambitious castle building program, constructing strong keeps along its southern margins not far from the foothills of the eastern spur of the Rakers. They are digging in for a long struggle against the humanoids of the Bone March. Ratik is seeking mercenaries to defend the builders during the coming spring and summer. [FtAA - 73]


    The last we saw Lord Holmer, of the Shield Lands, he was hauled away in chains for a prolonged residency in Dorakka, A favoured guest of the Old One, himself. Most thought him dead. But there were rumours otherwise.

    A daring group of Furyondian heroes rescued him in 585 CY, but he was a broken shell of a man by then and died, insane, late that year. [LGG - 14]

    Holmer is clearly and permanently a broken man. His mind is shattered, and he is nearly 65 years of age. Years of malnutrition, torture, and torment have ruined his body and his mind beyond recovery. The best healers and the most powerful magic can not heal him. The awful truth is that Iuz had virtually finished with Holmer anyway. Holmer is an empty man, and at the feast he will say but a few words, very carefully cued and amplified by Belvor with a triumphal flare. [WGR6 City of Skulls - 62]


    Politics prevailed. Belvor had no love for Holmer. He thought him arrogant and brash. And it truth, Holmer was but a pawn in Belvor’s need to further his ends, to raise moral and his own stature in the eyes of Furyondiands and the Shield Landers in exile. Lady Katarina had no wish for his return to the Seat of the Shield Lands, either.

    Holmer is in no shape to be a ruler-in- exile. He will remain in Chendl, in Belvor’s palace, for “security reasons” after he has been exhibited to the people of the border lands. After a few months, an edict signed in Holmer’s hand will announce that he has renounced leadership of the Shield Lands to Countess Katarina. His edict will state that it is time for a younger warrior to stand in his stead and provide the great leadership his people need as they plan the recovery of their homelands. [WGR6 - 62]


    Lake Quag ran with blood

    Rumours flourished. As one might expect in these times of war. Demons walked the land, after all; they dined on women and children, they drank the blood of the vanquished. Therefore, it came as no surprise when Lake Quag ran with "blood." The gods are punishing us, the populace whispered and cried, sure that the divine and malevolent were exacting the price for their having treated with foul Iuz.

                Lake Quag has been running with blood! Just north of the Mounds of Dawn, the waters of the lake run dark with blood; fish avoid the waters, superstitious nomads will not hunt or fish in the area, and old tales of an evil curse in the hills are being recounted by the Perrenland folk. [FtAA - 74]


    The North had not known such conflict since Vecna had vied with Glitterhelm. None remained to tend fields. Those who did fled the fields and cowered in their cellars at the first sight of a stranger, the crops left untended and trampled underfoot. Roads clotted with jackboots and hobnails. Trade, and travel not martial, quickly ground to a halt.  Want, hunger, and pestilence were soon to follow. Northern Nyrond lay under a blanket of what became the "Winter of Hunger."

                The folk of Gamboge Forest play a vital role in supplying the towns and villages of northern Nyrond with tubers, nuts, winter berries, and other food with which the Nyrondese can stretch their meager grain reserves. This supply of forage products is declining; Gambogers say they have been ambushed by forces of the Theocracy of the Pale who have stolen their goods, slain some of the woodsmen, and abducted others. The forest folk are reluctant to travel now, and a Nyrondese trading group that went to the forest has not returned. Starvation threatens many villages and people. [FtAA - 76]


    The military always becomes more powerful in times of war. They need; they demand; they take. An army marches on its stomach, they say. We need metal for swords, wood for pole arms, horses for cavalry and cartage. And the government bows to them in their time of need, because they must, so they say. We must support or troops, they say. Because they must. But the free cities balked. We have tens of thousands to feed, they said. The Furyondian Knights of the Hart were displeased. Had they not saved the free cities from Iuz? The rulers of those cities were not fit for office, they decided; and they called for the annexation of Verbebonc and Dyvers, returning them to the fold of Furyondy. Not all agreed.

                Verbobonc was thrown into tumoil in 585 cy when the Furyondian Knights of the Hart called for the annexation of the viscounty and Dyvers as well. Though the people were calmed by a representative from Veluna, great tension remained in the land, and it increased dramatically when the Great Northern Crusade began in 586 CY. [TAB - 36]                


                In 585 CY, the Furyondian Knights of the Hart called for the annexation of Verbobonc. Though representatives from Veluna sniffed at such talk, the emergence of the Great Northern Crusade, in which Veluna and Furyondy acted as a single political unit, frightened many in the town who had long preferred the reason (and liberal tax laws) of Mitrik to the zeal (and active monitoring of the finances of the aristocracy) of Chendl. [LGG - 132]


    Politicians beware, for the people will be heard, and appeased. The people being those with a stake in what was to come: the lords, the landholders, the trading houses and the captains of industry. Magister Margus, Lord of Dyvers, did not pay heed to their call to be heard. And he paid the price for such miscalculation.

                
    Larissa Hunter
    Magister Margus, the Lord Mayor of Dyvers dismissed the possibility of annexation and failed to address the concerns of his constituents. He was recalled from office later that year. [Slavers - 6] 

    Larissa Hunter was appointed to the seat of Dyvers in his place.

    Larissa Hunter, First Captain of the Dyvers Free Army, was an aggressive patriot. Her enthusiasm and popularity forced King Belvor to send a representative to Dyvers in order to assure the city that it had nothing to fear from the kingdom or the Knights of the Hart, whom Belvor privately told to shut up. [Slavers - 6]                 


    Belvor was busy. Not only did he have to fight Iuz, a daunting task in itself, he had to play politics and suppress the squabbling of his liege lords. He had to placate the leaders of the faiths, too. More importantly, he had to send what support he could to what resistance still existed in those fell lands; for as long as they were a thorn in Iuz’s side, Iuz was not free to send the whole of his legions against his all to tenuous front.

                A few hundred men and half-elves have withdrawn entirely into the small woods, and from 585 CY on have gained assistance from clerics of a Trithereon sect in Furyondy, with access to considerable magic. Attempts to destroy the Tangles from Hallorn and Riftcrag have always failed, as the forest seems to regrow damage very swiftly. [LGG - 30]  


    King Archbold III had saved Nyrond. He had rallied the populace and led them to what some might call victory and others might call stalemate. In either case, Nyrond was most certainly spared the long night the Shield Lands and the Bandit Kingdoms were to endure. He deserved recognition. He deserved praise. He deserved rest. He would receive none of those. Archbold writhed and waned, poisoned by his youngest son, Prince Sewarndt, when the whelp tried to seize the throne.

    In the fall of 585 CY, King Archbold III appeared to suffer a stroke, but his disability was revealed by a priest to be the result of poisoning. Prince Sewarndt, Archbold‘s corrupt youngest son, attempted to seize the throne at that time with a group of junior military officers, but his plans went array when the whole clergy of Heironeous in Rel Mord took up arms and attacked Sewarndt’s small force at the palace, rescuing the king. [TAB - 30]


    Only the intervention of the capital's entire Heironean clergy saved the crown and the king. By the time Archbold's older son, Crown Prince Lynwerd, could lead an army to his father's side, Sewarndt and a handful of his cohorts had vanished into the Nyrondal countryside.

    Sewarndt's treachery shattered whatever resolve Archbold had clung to during the difficult war years. A wholly broken man, he abdicated in favor of Crown Prince Lynwerd in Fireseek, 586 CY. [LGG - 78]


    586 CY

    Demons and devils walked the oerth. They brought mayhem and terror with them, misery and death. And where they took to the field, those nations of the world fell, riven and torn. The champions of weal searched for an end to their terror, and found it in Veluna.

    The Flight of Fiends

    In Coldeven 586, Canon Hazen of Veluna employed the Crook of Rao, a powerful artifact, in a special ceremony that purged the Flanaess of nearly all fiends inhabiting it. Outsiders summoned by Iuz, Ivid, or independent evils fell victim to this magical assault, which became known as the Flight of Fiends. [LGG - 16]


    No one knows how many demons survived the Flight of Fiends in 586 CY; few have surfaced. [LGG - 61]


    Crook of Rao
    In Coldeven of 586 CY, word spread through Furyondy of and extraordinary event. The great fiends that had patrolled and ravaged the many lands seized by Iuz were no longer in sight. Their disappearance initially caused panic among the troops on the front lines, who feared the monsters had crossed deep into Furyondy as a prelude to a renewed invasion by Iuz's forces. However, word was soon received from the priests of Rao, contacted by their superiors in Mitrik, that the artifact known as the Crook of Rao had been recovered, and it had been used by His Venerable Reverence, Canon Hazen, aided by many lesser priests and the archmage Bigby, to rid the Flanaess of the fiends’ presence. Reports confirming the absence of these monstrosities conflicted with later news that a few fiends in scattered locations had withstood the Crook’s effect and remained at large. Still, the majority of these demons had been cast from Oerth, back to their home planes.

    The consequences of this event were twofold. First, chaos spread through many humanoid armies of Iuz, who recognized the loss of their masters; disorder even erupted among the mortal leaders of these forces, Iuz’s priests and Boneheart spellcasters, who had no idea where the fiends had gone. Second, and more importantly, the armies of Furyondy that were arrayed against Iuz took heart. Northern lords, commanders, knights, soldiers, and commoners who dreamed of bitter revenge against Iuz now saw it within their grasp. King Belvor knew there was no chance to hold an offensive back without risking his throne in the process. He thus sent out word to his nobles that a counteroffensive against Iuz would begin on his command. He managed to suppress the usual squabbling between the lords of Furyondy and direct their attention to calling up levies, armed troops, requisitioning supplies, and laying hasty plans for attack. [TAB - 19]


    Archbold could rule no more. The poison that coursed through his body had left him weak and sickly, old and bent as never before. Lynwerd assumed the regency, and then the throne as his now wizened father abdicated.

    King Archbold recovered from the assassination attempt, but he never recovered from the knowledge that one of his sons had tried to kill him. He became deeply depressed and ceased speaking with anyone, even his own family. During Fireseek 586 CY, the king abdicated the throne and went into retreat at his estate outside the capital. [TAB - 30] 

    Sewarndt's treachery shattered whatever resolve Archbold had clung to during the difficult war years. A wholly broken man, he abdicated in favor of Crown Prince Lynwerd in Fireseek, 586 CY. [LGG  - 78]


    After his father Archbold III's abdication, Lynwerd assumed throne of Nyrond in 586 CY. He strengthened his country by restructuring the military, by encouraging births among his people and by resisting a demand by representatives of the Theocracy of the Pale to give up the North Lands of Nyrond. Despite financial reverses and personal tragedy, he has been able to expand and stabilize Nyrond's eastern borders, and to repair and strengthen his kingdom's roads, armies, cities and trade links. [PGtG - 25]


    The Pact of Greyhawk was but a piece of paper to King Belvor IV. His nation had been the vanguard to the world. He knew it was only a matter of time before Iuz attacked again. He knew Iuz aimed to lay waste to Furyondy once he rebuilt his hordes, no matter what those fools to the south thought.

    The paladin King of Furyondy saw his nation lose land but survive against the armies of Iuz during the Greyhawk Wars. In 586 CY, he disregarded the Pact of Greyhawk to drive back Iuz's forces and reclaim the lost territory. He used much of his family's wealth to finance this war, and even now struggles to recover financially. [PGtG - 24]


    Belvor would not wait for Iuz. He would bring the war to the Old One. He declared his Great Northern Crusade to do just that. He had only to wait for those of like mind to rally to his banner. They did, as he knew they would.

                In the face of Iuz’s obvious threat and the northern nobles’ determination to strike, King Belvor IV saw no need to adhere to the Pact of Greyhawk, especially when the demigod’s empire was suddenly weakened by the loss of the fiends. The king also received many reports that Iuz’s forces were preparing an unpleasant surprise for his armies in the conquered lands, specifically the raising of an undead army from the remains of the thousands of humans slain during the war. Such an act was odious in the extreme to Furyondian morality. Religious and sedar support for a new offensive was nearly universal once news of the banishment of the fiends was heard. [TAB - 20]                


                In Planting of 586 CY, Furyondy discovered evidence that Iuz was preparing to raise an undead army against it. Disregarding the Pact of Greyhawk. King Belvor and his nobles began a crusade to reclaim Furyondian lands that Iuz had conquored. [PGtG - 12]


    The Knights of Shielding living in Greyhawk joined crusade. Every last one of them. Of course, they did; they wanted their homeland back.

                When King Belvor IV called the Great Northern Crusade in Planting 586, the ranks of Furyondy swelled with Shield Lands exiles. [LGG - 105]


    The Shield Landers needed a leader were they to join the crusade (Belvor would have said a figurehead, but what’s in a name?). Holmer was no longer fit to lead them—Iuz had seen to that. In truth, Lady Katarina, cousin of Holmer, had been leading them since his abduction. Belvor approved. She was young, popular, brave; more importantly, she was under his roof, his guidance, and his authority.

    Belvor appointed Lady Katarina, Earl Holmer's young cousin, as Lady Marshall of an entire army of Shield Landers, Knights of Holy Shielding, Furyondians, and foreign mercenaries. This force distinguished itself in early victories and was instrumental in the recapture of Grabford. Thereafter, Lady Katarina turned her attentions to her homeland, smashing into Critwall with zealous military precision. [LGG - 105]


    Alain IV, Archbaron Lexnol’s son, was never a patient man. He had a vision the Bone March and Ratik as one, just as his father and the Marquis Clement had intended, and had discussed. He vowed to make it so. And thus, he launched a raid to repatriate Bone March.

    It failed.

    Disastrously.

    Bone March is now steeped in discord, ruled by a coalition of invading nonhuman tribes, particularly orcs, gnolls, and ogres. Humanity, which once thrived here, is generally enslaved and subject to the capricious whims of petty bandit chiefs and nonhuman warlords who raid Ratik and even North Kingdom at will, going as far as Nyrond and the Flinty Hills to pillage. Nomadic bandit gangs, survivors and descendants of the once proud human culture, prey on one and all. Only the small, autonomous county of Knurl is secure at present, aside from a handful of nearly forgotten gnome strongholds in the Blemu Hills. [LGG - 35]


    Infighting soon broke out between several of the nonhuman tribes, and the sides remained stalemated until 586 CY, when Alain IV, Archbaron Lexnol's son and heir, launched a raid into the fallen realm that was composed in large part of expatriates of the march, it was a doomed mission. The unusually organized nonhumans laid a trap for the force in the hills north of Spinecastle. Horrified survivors who escaped back to Ratikhill reported that the trapped raiders were dragged from their horses, torn apart, and eaten alive before their eyes. Raids into the archbarony from Bone March have resumed. [LGG - 37]


    Baron Lexnol collapsed from the news and was rendered unfit to rule. Lady Evaleigh, Alain’s wife, understood that were he to fail, Ratik would be lost, so she hid his infirmity at first, ruling in his proxy. But the state of his health could not be hidden forever. And soon, she dropped the pretence of her speaking on his behest and became Her Valorous Prominence, Evaleigh, the Lady Baroness of Ratik. Not all were pleased. The Fruztii had loved the old Baron, and the Schnai were less inclined to treat with a woman, especially one as young as she.

    Upon hearing of his son's demise, old Baron Lexnol collapsed. He awakened the next morning with a shock of white hair and a palsy that confined him to bed. Lady Evaleigh, now widowed, assumed the throne and has guided Ratik through the trouble that has befallen it. Raids from Bone March have become progressively stronger and more organized the last few years. Her father's realm, the county of Knurl, was attacked a few months ago and was only saved by the snows of winter. [LGG - 91]


    Across the Solnor Ocean

    Trade need be found if the markets to the west were closed to the East. Maybe there were markets to the east? There was the rumoured Fireland. And there had to be other lands east of there. There was only one way to find out. Small Fleet from Asperdi (Sea Barons) sets sail across the Solnor Ocean.

    Ships from resource-hungry lands of the eastern Flanaess are striking out in search of trading partners, hoping to rebuild from the wars. The Sea Barons and the east coast city-states of Rel Astra, Ountsy, and Roland are now exploring the mini-continent of Hepmonaland, returning with fantastic tales and riches. (Many fall prey to disease, pirates, monsters, and privateers from the Scarlet Brotherhood and Lordship of the Isles, however.) Several major kingdoms full of new peoples are said to lie in this tropical land, some rumored to be at war with the slave-taking Brotherhood. [TAB - 38]


    Several ships captained by half-elven smugglers joined a flotilla of the Sea Barons in their journey over the Solnor. They had an ulterior motive. The half-elves were reportedly searching for the last members of the dispossessed Council of Five of Lendore.

    In the years since the Greyhawk Wars, some of the surviving exiles have joined together with half-elven captains on the Medegian coast. It is an open secret that they are smugglers, willing to transport any cargo for a price. Several of these ships secretly accompanied the flotilla of the Sea Barons in their voyage over the Solnor in 586-589 CY. The Spindrift exiles were thought to be searching for the last members of the Council of Five, who had fled across the waves when the clerics of Sehanine usurped their authority. It is not clear what benefit they seek by contacting their deposed leaders, but the half-elves clearly wish to return to their birthplace and free it of the magical affliction of Sehanine. [LGG 69,70]


    586-590 CY         Adumdfort was especially targeted for raids by Lady Katarina since Iuz declared it the seat of governance in the Shield Lands. Sacking one of his “capitals” would raise moral, proving to even the most sceptical that the Old One’s martial power was not what it was.

    Admundfort Island has been the target of over a dozen raids by different military, mercenary, and adventuring groups around the Nyr Dyv between 586 and 590 CY. The orcs of Admundfort have held out quite well, however, though they are largely cut off from their allies on shore by a Furyondian naval blockade. The city there is in ruins […]. [TAB - 21]


    c.586-591 CY      Grennell wondered about the tactics of the orcs, for in truth, they had developed a cunning and patience hitherto unknown to those savage tribes, and strategies he had not taught them. Rumours abounded that the hierarchs of the Horned Society were not dead after all, that a few, if not all, had escaped Iuz’s wrath, and were now headquartered along the coast of the Pomarj, or even in the Bright Desert or Rift Canyon. Rumours persisted that they had found their way into the Bone March.

    The Hierarchs and the rest of the leadership of the Horned Society were presumed destroyed in Coldeven 583 CY, during the night of the Blood-Moon Festival. Demonic forces sent by Iuz slew the Hierarchs there and allowed Iuz to quietly take command of their nation. It is possible that one or more Hierarchs survived the incident and is attempting to rebuild the organization, but most assume that the group is no longer a threat. 

    Still, Arkalan Sammal, the renowned sage of Greyhawk, made an interesting appraisal based on reports gathered by the old sage in recent years. The society, he claims, survives in the present day and has metamorphosed from a group centralized within a single nation to one with its secret tendrils buried across the Flanaess. "The Horned Society must surely have known that the return of Iuz would spell its ultimate downfall," he reasons. "It would have planned for this eventuality, most likely by moving its operations out of Molag before the Old One's axe fell."

    Rumors during the last five years have placed the group's headquarters along the coast of the Pomarj, in Bone March, or even in the Bright Desert or Rift Canyon. Most people no longer care, for Iuz is now perceived as the true threat. However, suggests Arkalan, the Horned Society has become even more dangerous since its dispersal. As the Archmage Mordenkainen was heard to comment last year during a conclave in Greyhawk, "Are their members now dozens, hundreds, thousands? Where are they headquartered? What do they plot? Can we rest assured of the death of the Unnamable Hierarch? To the one who could answer these questions would go the thanks of a free people." [LGG - 156,157]


    Skannar Hendricks
    Fellreev Forest:
     This entire expanse of birch and scrub oak is claimed by Iuz, though the Old One enjoys little power here. Most of the forest is ruled by clans of sylvan elves allied with Reyhu refugees since the Greyhawk Wars. A significant force of undead is also here, rumored to be led by an escaped Horned Society Hierarch. Iuz gains little by sending traditional soldiers here, so he uses the Fellreev as a hunting ground for trained monsters.

    The Fellreev Forest has increasingly become a center of anti-Iuz resistance. However, the factions here are mutually hostile and do not cooperate. Human, nonhuman, and undead forces of the old Nerull-worshiping Horned Society are gathered under Hierarch Nezmajen (NE male human Clr15 of Nerull) in the north-central Fellreev and across the southwestern spur, particularly around Ixworth and Kindell. A powerful alliance of Reyhu bandits and sylvan elves rules the south-central Fellreev under a Reyhu lord, Skannar Hendricks (CN male human Ftr15). [LGG  - 61]


    Tang the Horrific

    Some might call Tang the Horrific a mercenary. Tang would have called himself an opportunist. He believed the strong had a right to rule. And he believed that the strong could take what they wished. That was their right. Such was the way of the Paynims. Tang rode where he wished. Tang fought where he wished. If others paid him to do that, all the better. He even worked for Iuz for a time. Until Iuz ordered him to slaughter Rovers. He refused, because the Rovers were just like him, and he did not wish to kill those people who wished to live as he did.

                One of the most peculiar counteroffensives apparently began in the Shield Lands when a unit of light cavalry mercenaries employed by a Shield Lands’ lord managed to escape the armies of Iuz. This cavalry was led by a Tang the Horrific, who was probably the finest mercenary in the area at the time.

                According to unreliable folktales about him, Tang led a fighting retreat to the Icy Sea, then crossed west to the lands of the Wolf Barbarians. There, in the winter of 586-587 CY, Tang summoned a war council and told the tribal khans that the time was at hand to deal Iuz a telling blow. Upon learning that the ancient burial caves of the Wolf Nomads (Wegwiur) lay within Iuz's main homeland, Tang proposed that an army be raised to go to these caves and recover the ancient bodies and relics for reburial in safer regions. [TAB - 21,22]


    The Theocracy of the Pale had weathered the war well. It were largely unbloodied. It was strong. But it was abut the Rakers, and the Rakers have always been home to a whole host of evil things. The Pale knew as much. Monsters had always descended from their heights. But not as they had begun to. What was stirring them? What was driving them out of the Rakers?

    The Pale is ruled by a clerical hierarchy in the name of the god, Pholtus. The Pale has been living under an inquisition for more than two centuries. Evil priesthoods and hostile cults are actively routed and destroyed, while other faiths are suppressed. Arcane magicians and other so-called “consorts of demons” are also closely watched.

    Despite these unpleasant aspects, Pale has much to recommend it. Monasteries house some of the Flanaess’ most impressive libraries and respected philosophers. Their soldiers are among the best trained and most disciplined in the Flanaess. Unfortunately, troll invasions from the troll Fens have tripled in size the last two seasons, and reports of a new “Troll King” are disquieting. [WoGG 3e - 13]


    Nyrond had been far less fortunate than the Pale had been. The Stonehold, Iuz, and Ivid had set upon it on all sides, and though it had prevailed, it had done so at a cost. It had lost many in those battles. Indeed, its citizens had fled the onslaught. Its soldiers had fallen. Lynwerd needed to replenish his peoples. He encouraged his people’s return, enacted a “baby bonus” for fertile families, and he appealed to refugees and the nervous citizens of the County of Urnst to move to Nyrond to aid in its rebuilding.

                King Lynwerd I seized the moment and made every effort to revive his declining realm. In his first year on the throne, he restructured Nyrond’s military command and cut back the size of his armies, freeing many troops to go home and farm their lands again. He reduced taxes almost to prewar levels, and he even authorized a bonus of 1 gp from his personal treasury to each Nyrondese family that celebrated a birth in 586 or 587 CY. (This latter project, though dogged by fraud, had the desired effect of boosting the postwar baby boom to record levels.) [TAB - 30]


                When in 586 CY war flared again between Furyondy and Iuz, Lynwerd appealed to nervous citizens in the County of Urnst to move farther from Iuz’s empire and settle instead in Nyrond’s western lands. More importantly. King Lynwerd stood up to representatives from the church of Pholtus and the Theocracy of the Pale, resisting calls to allow the North Lands of Nyrond to be given up to the Pale. This policy produced bad feelings in the Pale for the young king, but the Theocracy is now preoccupied with the war in Tenh and does little but sow dissension among Nyrondese peasants through temples and clergy of Pholtus. [TAB - 30]

    Ket was pleased with the gains it had made. But Ket was wise in that it knew that Veluna and Furyondy and the Gran March would see to it that it would not hold it for long. So Ket made peace with those august powers, retreating from Bissel, keeping what it knew it could hold.

    Beygraf Zoltan was assassinated within four years of the first occupation of Bissel; significantly, the judgment of the mullahs was to not attempt his revivification. The political aftermath in Lopolla was considerable. As the struggle for power unfolded, army forces were withdrawn from Bissel, and civil war threatened Ket. A new beygraf took power by forming a coalition between many military leaders and a significant minority of the clergy. [LGG - 68]


    What of Vecna? Last we saw of him, he and Iuz had spun into the Shadowfell, clawing at each other’s throats.  But Iuz had returned to walk the Oerth. So, I ask again: What of Vecna?


    Vecna
    An entity known only as the Serpent speaks directly to Vecna. Others—daring to call themselves wizards, magicians, and sorcerers—manipulate the tiniest aspects of the Serpent and call it magic. But Vecna speaks to the Serpent, and the Serpent speaks back. It whispers to him tales of his ancestors, known only as the Ancient Brethren, and of how they discovered the Serpent so unimaginably long ago, when all worlds were young or even unborn.
    The Serpent tells Vecna that nothing lies beyond his grasp. Vecna knows he is destined to be master of everything. Death had not stopped him; betrayal at the hands of his lieutenant had not stopped him; even confrontations with other gods had not stopped him.
    Thus, when the forces of Ravenloft brought Vecna to the Demiplane of Dread, imprisoning him there, he simply laughed. Oh, he pretended to rage. He shook his chains and rattled his cage and cried out to be set free, but deep down he knew that this would not stop him. He knew that he and the Serpent would overcome this obstacle-perhaps even use it to his advantage and conquer this interesting little demiplane. The other domain lords trapped alongside him raged similarly in their own pitiful domains, yet the Whispered One learned quickly that they did not know what power held them prisoner. They did not see the strings behind the puppets. He was the newest among them, yet he was already their master. His knowledge had already made him greater, for the Serpent had told him the secrets of Ravenloft. [Vecna Reborn - 4]





    One must always give credit where credit is due. This History is made possible primarily by the Imaginings of Gary Gygax and his Old Guard, Lenard Lakofka among them, and the new old guards, Carl Sargant, James Ward, Roger E. Moore. And Erik Mona, Gary Holian, Sean Reynolds, Frederick Weining. The list is interminable. Thanks to Steven Wilson for his GREYCHRONDEX and to Keith Horsfield for his “Chronological History of Eastern Oerik.”
    Special thanks to Jason Zavoda for his compiled index, “Greyhawkania,” an invaluable research tool.
    Primary sources for this history were the DMG 1e, Ivid the Undying, WGA4 Vecna Lives, WGR5 Iuz the Evil, WG8 The Fate of Istus, the Greyhawk Adventures hardcover, The World of Greyhawk Folio, and The World of Greyhawk Gold Box, Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, The Living Greyhawk Journals, Dragon Magazine.

    The Art:
    All art is wholly owned by the artists.
    Pat by nidraj-rion
    Daybreak by forty-fathoms
    "King Lynwerd of Nyrond and his father, Archbold," by Joel Birke, Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000
    Crook of Rao, by Richard Pace, from Dragon #294, 2002
    "The Death of Prince Alain IV, " by Joel Birke, Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000
    Ocean-Wind by nele-diel
    Lupus-Dei by bobgreyvenstein
    Mongol-poster-study by funky-fubuki
    Vecna by maradraws


    Sources:
    1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
    1064 From the Ashes Boxed Set, 1992
    1068 Greyhawk Wars Boxed Set, 1991
    2011A Dungeon Masters Guide, 1st Ed., 1979
    2023 Greyhawk Adventures Hardback, 1988
    9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
    9253 WG8, Fate of Istus, 1989
    9399 WGR 5, Iuz the Evil, 1993
    9577 The Adventure Begins, 1998
    9578 Player’s Guide to Greyhawk, 1998
    11621 Slavers, 2000
    11742 Gazetteer, 2000
    11743 Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000
    Ivid the Undying, 1998
    Dragon Magazine
    OJ Oerth Journal, appearing on Greyhawk Online
    LGJ et. al.
    Greychrondex, Wilson, Steven B.
    Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda

    The map of Anna B. Meyer

    Posted: 10-29-2021 07:47 am
    History of the North, Part 9: The Raging Storm


    "Our battle is more full of names than yours,

    Our men more perfect in the use of arms,

    Our armour as strong, our cause the best;

    Then reason will our hearts should be as good."

    Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part II (1597-99), Act IV, sc.1, l.154.


    The Raging Storm

    Iuz had rolled across the Far North. Tenh had fallen. Then the Horned Society fell. The Bandit Kingdoms fell or capitulated. The Shield Lands and Furyondy stood against the storm in the west. But not as one. And Nyrond stood vanguard against its raging in the east, enemies to the fore and aft. They gripped their swords and spears, and raised their shields against the coming evil. They did not have to wait for long.
    Furyondy looked to the north and saw doom as it never had. Fear prevailed among the populace, and faith in the Knights of the Hart, as well. However, faith can only gird the shield. Belvor needed nor than just fear and faith; he needed information, not rumours and hersay , if he were to defend against Iuz and his hordes; so he sent spies into Iuz’s empire.

                Iuz’s assumption of power and armament for war did not pass unnoticed. Furyondy’s spies headed back to King Belvor IV with word of the swelling humanoid armies. The news could well have been written in the spies’ blood, though, for most of the human agents were discovered and slain, virtually closing King Belvor’s eyes and ears. When the few spies did reach him, though, the Furyondy king heeded the fate of Tenh and immediately set to building his defense. The citadels along the Veng River were stocked and garrisoned in expectation of immediate attack. Belvor’s vassals raised militia and shifted troops to the Veng border. Emissaries rode to the Shield Lands and Veluna to brace them for war. Belvor was determined that Furyondy would not fall. [Wars - 9]                


                Though ill-prepared, Furyondy was not complacent. King Belvor IV, while raising troops at home, dispatched his most silver-tongued advisors to the southern courts. Ambassadors bore the alarming news to Celene, Bissel, Veluna, the Uleks, and—most important of all—Keoland. With impassioned eloquence, the emissaries warned of dire consequences should the northern kingdoms fall. They urged the nations to ally and thus check the tide of evil, finally and forever. Nor were their words in vain: most of the leaders heeded the call, but wondered how little aid they could provide and how long they could delay before sending it. [Wars - 10]


    The Shield Lands and Furyondy, both, prepared for what must surely come. They ought to have prepared as one, but suspicion will always supplant common sense. Such was the pride of Lord Holmer of the Shield Lands. He was suspicious of Belvor. He thought Belvor intended to annex his little state, the first step to that end sending aid against a threat that had never been much of one in the past. The rabble of the Bandits and the lesser forces of Iuz had never posted a true threat in the past, so why would his Knights of the Shielding need those of the Hart? He would regret his miscalculation.

    Furyondy, which had great experience dealing with Iuz and his armies, dispatched emissaries to Admundfort, offering military and financial support for the grand invasion that surely was to come. [LGG - 14]


    King Belor’s emissaries to the Shield Lands met with an icy reception from Lord Holmer, Earl of Walworth and Commander of the Knights of the Holy Shielding. Relations between the two rulers had always been prickly. Though ostensibly allied with Furyondy, the earl long suspected that Belvor intended to annex the Shield Lands. Thus the messenger’s news of the mustering of Molag struck Lord Holmer as suspicious: he did not entirely dismiss the warning, but suspected King Belvor of overstating the danger. Holmer felt it more perilous to admit powerful knights of Furyondy into his lands to aid in its defense than to face the rabble of the Horned Society with his own knights. 


    Fearing annexation so soon after reclaiming his damaged homelands, Holmer curtly refused these offers and expelled Belvor's agents from his realm. Within months, Iuz's armies, which had savaged the western Bandit Kingdoms, stood on his eastern border. [LGG - 104]


    In the coming of Flocktime, Iuz struck. In the dead of night along the banks of the Veng and Ritensa, the humanoids of the Horned Society launched probing attacks. None made more than small headway against the knights of the Hart and Shielding, but the attacks still achieved their aim. While King Belvor and Lord Holmer peered myopically at their river frontiers, Iuz’s true legions marched east, fording the Ritensa north of the Shield Lands and striking into the Bandit Kingdoms. The petty warlords were easily cowed by Iuz’s might and, given the number of spies recently executed, the evil lord was confident that Belvor and Holmer were blind to his maneuvers. [Wars - 9]


    Outflanked and unable to support resistance on two fronts, the Shield Lands crumpled swiftly. Over 11,000 Shield Landers fell in the invasion, with as many dying in the subsequent occupation. While life under the bandits and Hierarchs had been difficult, at least the rulers had been (in most cases) human. Now, under Iuz, farmers were forced to work for orcs, necromancers, and demons. These creatures knew nothing of mercy, and life in the Shield Lands became that of fearful persistence, of not knowing if the next day would bring death or disfigurement, knowing that it would not bring hope.
    Earl Holmer Falls
    Except for lone fortified keeps and minor pockets of rural resistance, the whole of the Shield Lands fell to Iuz. A daring defense of Admundfort allowed much of the capital's population to flee via ship to Willip, but the evacuation was not completed. Earl Holmer, ever the noble knight, remained with his homeland, only to be carried off to the dungeons of Dorakaa. [LGG - 104]


    Occupied Admundfort was taken by Iuz as the new regional capital, to be administered by a Lesser Boneheart mage, Vayne, and assorted demons. The rest of the country fell to lesser leaders, including several fiends. The fertile lands of the Shield Lands became the breadbasket for Iuz's entire army, much of the physical labor carried out by zombies or humans under the constant threat of murder and subsequent revivification. [LGG - 104,105]


                [Furyondy] sought alliance with the Shield Lands to secure itself against the Old One, but stupidly, the pettyminded rulers of the Shield Lands refused, believing this to be a step in a planned annexation by Furyondy. They paid dear for their foolishness. Iuz feinted an attack westward. Meanwhile, his main body of troops struck far to the east and southeast, into both the Bandit Kingdoms and into the Shield Lands, which they flanked to the east from bases in the old lands of the Horned Society. Admundfort and Critwall fell swiftly. Lord Holmer, who had refused a pact with Furyondy, was taken to meet his fate in the dungeons below Dorakaa. [FtAA - 6]                


                Shield Lands fell swiftly to Iuz as he swept from the west during the Greyhawk Wars. The well-maintained primary roads of the Shield Lands made this conquest easier for the Demipower, if anything. [WGR5 Iuz the Evil - 42]                


                Lord Holmer learned of Iuz’s flanking march only after the humanoid hordes had breached the eastern border. Raging like a grass fire across the open fields of the Shield Lands, they drove on Critwall. When this dark report reached Lord Holmer, he pulled all but a screen of knights from the King Belvor’s emissaries to the Shield Lands river frontiers and personally fought his way back toward the undefended capital, Admund-fort. More than half of the knights fell in the drive toward the island, but those who reached the Nyr Dyv set fire to as many vessels as they could, then sailed across the channel to the capital. Ragged and weary, the remaining knights could not hold the capital before the onslaught of humanoids, though they came across in dories and trawlers. Admundfort and Critwall fell, and so too did Lord Holmer, borne away in clawed hands to the dungeons beneath Dorakaa. [Wars - 9,10]


    Furyondy prevailed where the Shield Landers failed. As Holmer’s forces reeled under the onslaught, Belvor ordered his armies forward into the Shield Lands, where they met stiff resistance. Had he not drawn forces from the Vesve, and had the retreating Shield Landers not joined him, he may not have carried the day.

                The fall of the Shield Lands left Furyondy’s eastern flank exposed, a threat King Belvor moved quickly to block. Lords scoured the countryside, raising vast militias to complement the thin ranks of the Order of the Hart and troops were hurriedly transferred from the Vesve Forest frontier. The newly raised troops and reinforcements confronted the advancing humanoids at the Battle of Critwall Bridge, dealing Iuz’s forces a severe blow. The armies of Furyondy repelled the humanoids and held the Veng River line against further advance. [Wars - 10]


    Iuz Sets His Sights

    Iuz was not finished, though. The conquest of the Horned Society and the Bandit Kingdoms was not enough. Neither was the sacking of the Shield Lands. Iuz had his sights set on the greener pastures of Furyondy. Iuz had his sights set on the whole of the south. He pressed on and lay siege to Chendl.

    Iuz had no intention of letting his string of victories end, however. Using loot captured in the Shield Lands, Iuz hired humanoid mercenaries in the Vesve Forest. The mercenary army descended from the Vesve, overrunning the frontier guard of Furyondy and capturing Crockport. Furyondy’s capital, Chendl, lay open and unguarded across the belly of the land. But for a hasty confederation of Highfolk and knights, Chendl would have fallen by the next dusk. The ragged force of Highfolk and knights refused to grant the orcs an open fight, harrying them instead. Though the orcs’ advance continued, it slowed sufficiently for the defenders of Chendl to prepare. By the month of Reaping, however, Chendl lay surrounded. [Wars - 10]


    Furyondian forces fell back to the capital, surrounding it, stopping the Orcish advance into Fairwain Province.

                The knights had managed to stop the orcish advance into Fainvain and the humanoids could do little more than surround Chendl. The Horned Society’s incursions across the Veng occurred less often and grew less concerted. Best of all, the Canon of Veluna sent word that his forces were hurrying to Furyondy’s side. The news from Nyrond, too-though not the best-at least indicated that the Fists were contained. After considering these encouraging matters, King Belvor rallied his spirit and returned to the fight. [Wars - 11]


    Belvor would not see his capital razed to the ground. Neither would he allow those brave souls defending it sell their souls for naught. He attacked, breaking the orcish ranks, ending the Siege of Chendl.

                Furyondy ’s first task—more political than strategic—was to sunder the siege of Chendl. Gambling on the chaotic nature of the tribes surrounding the city,” Belvor left most of his strength on the Veng border and personally led a picked command of elite units against the siege force. Belvor’s knights were severely outnumbered, but by strategic cunning and sorcerers’ aid, they gained the upper hand. The knights sliced through the humanoid lines and pinned the besiegers to the city walls. In short time, the fields around Chendl became a smoldering graveyard of goblinkind and the way to Chendl was open once more.
    By this time both Iuz and Furyondy were stretched to their limits. The furious pace of the war had exhausted their reserves of trained manpower and supplies. Through the months of Patchwall, Ready’reat, and Sun-sebb, both nations scrambled to reprovision their forces. [Wars - 11]


    Archbold of Nyrond

    Archbold of Nyrond was as hard pressed in the east. The Fists had sundered Tenh, and were raiding Nyrond with impunity. He raised what forces he had at his disposal, mindful of what would happen were he to leave his border with the Great Kingdom undefended, and marched against the Fists occupying the Nutherwood and Phostwood.

    Meanwhile in the east, Archbold III of Nyrond finally rallied himself from the shock of tenth’s defeat. Smarting from accusations that he had allowed the troublesome dukedom to collapse, King Archbold decided to undeniably prove his support for his former colonies. Armed with reports that the Fists were mercilessly pillaging the fallen duchy, Archbold marched north into the Nutherwood. Elven contingents in his army allowed him to easily infiltrate the Phostwood and overwhelm the few Fists posted there. Without further warning, the Nyrondese burst from the forest.
    Unlike the Tenhas though, the Fists did not simply crumble: Archbold found himself facing a determined foe. Angered at the surprise attack, Sevvord executed a few lackluster commanders as examples to the others, then sacrificed Fists to delay the advance as he mustered his forces outside the village of Ternsmay. Though outnumbered, Sevvord held the advantageous ground. In the ensuing battle, neither side could gain the upper hand. After fighting well into the night, the Fists withdrew farther and fortified their position. Though Archbold had emerged victorious, the victory was bitter, for he could risk no further advance into Tenh. He had, however, forced Redbeard into a defensive stance as well. The battle ended in stalemate and the armies spent the next tedious weeks watching their enemies across a mile-wide no man’s land. [Wars - 10]


    By 583, however, war would return to haunt Nyrond. Confident that a personal victory over untrained barbarians would do much to bolster his flagging popularity in Nyrond's northern regions, Archbold led a huge army through the Nutherwood, hoping to strike a telling blow against the 'Fists inhabiting Tenh. Fighting lasted for an entire day. The barbarians fell back to more heavily fortified lands, but the cost to Nyrond was great. More than three thousand soldiers fell before nightfall, and Archbold himself suffered grievous wounds, not least of which to his pride. He had gambled Nyrondal cavalry against the hordes of Sevvord Redbeard and won, but it did not seem like a victory. [LGG - 78]


    The Story Reuven of the Rhennee

    Reuven learned the ways of the forest in the distant Adri, saw combat in Nyrond during the Creyhawk Wars, and picked up a host of thiefly skills in the decrepit city of Seltaren, in the Duchy of Urnst. [RPGA Fright at Tristor - 3]


    584-585 CY

    The orcs of the Bone March sought to crush Ratik, but the defenses of the Kalmar Pass and the walls of Ratikhill had defeated them time and again. So to the Dwarves of the Rakers, and the Gnomes of the Loft Hills. As had the Loftwoods. They could not raze the mountains or the hills, but trees could burn.

                The site of a great Ratikkan victory over Bone March orcs (578 CY), the wood was partly despoiled by nonhumans setting fires (584—585 CY). It is once again a battleground between Ratik in the north and orcs and gnolls in the south. [LGG - 141]


    Dangerous times make for strange bedfellows. The enemy of my enemy, and all that. Thus, the Bandit chieftan, Hendrick, did what he never would have done in times of “peace.” He allied with the wood elves near Fleischriver to battle forces of Iuz. One could not be free of such evil if one were dead, he reasoned.           

    Skannar Hendricks
    Skannar Hendricks, a powerful chieftain of the Reyhu group of bandits, is a lot smarter than most. Fleeing from Iuz, attacked by a band of 200 Dazark encountered on the first day in the forest, his men then took something of a drubbing from the eastern wood elves, though they managed to slay a powerful fighter/mage. He decided that he really needed some allies. The wood elves didn't seem to want to simply murder the bandits wholesale, so Hendricks talked peace with them.