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The Dolmen of Artur
Posted on Mon, September 26, 2011 by MysticWhip
smillan_31 writes "1st Edition DMG briefly mentions Artur's Dolmen as a location where artifacts might be destroyed. The location was discussed in a thread on CF. To those who took part, thanks for whatever inspiration you gave me.


     During the Migrations period, a kingdom was founded on the southern shore of Lake Whyestil, in what is now Furyondy. As in the Vale of Luna, to the southwest, the kingdom was based on the peaceful union of a confederation of the indigenous Flannae peoples with a tribe of the Oeridian newcomers, symbolized in the marriage of the son of the leading Oeridian Hetman, with the daughter of the Chief of the most powerful Flan clan. The town that grew up to become the capital of this kingdom became known as Chendl, though this Chendl is not the same city that was built as the capital of Furyondy in the centuries to come. This Chendl was built near what is now the city of Crockport, and now lies beneath the waters of the lake, though that is a tale for another time (1).
     Though the names of his parents are lost to time and memory, the fruit of the aforementioned marriage was a boy known as Artur, who became the second and sorrowfully, last king of his nation. It is said that his Flan mother had blood of the Grey Elven folk of the Lands of the Tree (2) in her veins, and that this blood shone through in her son and he grew to be like a lord of that people; mighty, handsome and wise. In his rule he was brave and virtuous, both in the wars he fought against neighboring tribes and kingdoms and in the deeds he performed. This was not to last however and all his misfortune is said to flow from a wedding gift from the Dwarf clans of the Yatils -- a ring of gold (3), from the horde of the great red dragon, Aurymcustoes (4).
     With his dying breath that vile Wyrm had cursed his treasure, decreeing ruin for all whose hands it came into. Within a year of their marriage, Artur’s wife gave birth to triplets -- three sons -- but she died soon thereafter. Though sorrowful at the death of his queen, Artur was able to take some comfort in his children, but little did he know that his brood was a nest of serpents that would bring ruin to his kingdom. For when the boys came of age they were impatient to rule and with the lands and men given them by their father, they raised rebellion against their sire, convulsing the kingdom in civil war.
     The tales and deeds of that war could fill books, but for our telling, all that is needed to be known is that on the final battlefield, almost under the eaves of Vesve, Artur stood triumphant, although mortally wounded by an envenomed dagger that his youngest and favorite son had thrust into his side, just as Artur slew him. As the king fell, with his most trusted Baron by his side, he left cryptic instructions that his surviving followers were to stand watch over his body on that spot until his “ancestors” came for him. He then fell into a deep slumber that was almost like death.
     On the following night, the pickets of the camp reported a troop of elves approaching. When the procession arrived they made known that they had come for the body of Artur. Their leader was Afylen, the High Priest of Labelas Enoreth (5) from the Vesve and the Great-grandfather of Artur. The elves took his body with them, back into the great wood and Artur passed from the knowledge of men, though, as often happens, rumors of his resting place have passed into the outside world.
     The rumors say that in a secluded vale, in the southeastern part of the Vesve, his Elven kin raised a "dolmen" -- a chambered burial mound -- over his sleeping body (6). This area is -- as of 591 CY -- at the center of the region known as the Defiled Glades (7). As far as the further details given by the rumors, they vary wildly.
     Some say that the Dolmen is the source of the magic which has fueled the hazardous effects that continue to linger there -- effects of the powerful magics used there during the Greyhawk Wars -- and that Artur still waits there, in sleep, until his people need for him to come forth.
     Others say that evil power was already there and is centered on the remains of Artur, who did die and became a powerful undead. He still lies trapped in his grave, by the warding spells of the elves, who knew the great evil that he would become.
     Some say it is simply a grave, well-hidden and now surrounded by the hazards of the Defiled Glades -- but full of rich treasures.
     The truth remains to be brought to light.

End notes:

1) WG8 – Fate of Istus, p. 83: “In days of old there was another city named Chendl nearby (in fact, near where Crockport now stands). But in the year 927 O.R. several decades after Furyondy was formed, the king (then Thrommel III) decided he needed a new capital. Thus, a new Chendl was built . . .”

2) This is a name given in WGR4 -- The Marklands -- for the domain of the Grey Elves who inhabit the Vesve. It is centered on the Timeless Tree, a huge oak with a trunk 55’ in circumference and canopy spanning a 200’ radius. (Personally, I like to think that the Timeless Tree is a seedling from Grandfather Oak, which is located on Arvandor in Arborea – Planescape: Planes of Chaos, p. 18.)

3) Inspired by the magical ring Andvaranaut (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andvarinaut), of Norse legend, which also inspired the story of the Ring of the Nibelungs.

4) A bit of pseudo-Latin from aurum (gold) and custodes (guard).

5) In WGR4 - The Marklands, the Seer of the Grey Elves of the Vesve and High Priestess of Labela Enoreth is Calandryen. She is only 600 years old at the time of Marklands, so I had to make up Afylen Calandryen to be Artur’s aunt, or cousin, or some other relation.

6) A "dolmen" is a single-chambered tomb, usually composed of three -- or more -- large upright stones, supporting a flat capstone. This was usually covered with earth so as to create a barrow mound. So, technically, Artur’s Dolmen should be "Artur’s Barrow," but I must play the hand that Gygax dealt me. This is the brief mention -- in the 1st edition DMG, p. 164 -- which list "crushing" an artifact against Artur’s Dolmen as a suggested way of destroying it.

7) The Defiled Glades are described on p. 51, of WGR4 – The Marklands, as an area of 50 square miles, in the southern Vesve, which is just an all-around bad place to be. It is a place of horrible and malign magics drifting around and the numerous undead haunting it. It’s source is unspecified but it is suggested that the DM could invent some artifact (“It need not be evil itself, just powerful”) that would serve that purpose.

"
 
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Re: The Dolmen of Artur (Score: 1)
by SirXaris on Tue, September 27, 2011
(User Info | Send a Message) http://https://www.facebook.com/SirXaris?ref=hl
Hey, not bad, smillan_31! :)

I'm quite impressed with how extensively you tied in many other Greyhawk references to this short article.

SirXaris



Re: The Dolmen of Artur (Score: 1)
by Argon on Tue, September 27, 2011
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Nice article,

Food for thought as well and different possibilities with the one character. I can see other stories which stem from this.

Later

Argon



Re: The Dolmen of Artur (Score: 1)
by Mystic-Scholar on Tue, September 27, 2011
(User Info | Send a Message) http://mysticscholar.blogspot.com/
And so, we bring the Legend of Arthur to Greyhawk.

Not bad, Smillan. I like it.

But . . . where's the +5 Vorpal Sword?  :D



Re: The Dolmen of Artur (Score: 1)
by Icarus on Wed, September 28, 2011
(User Info | Send a Message | Journal) http://wkristophnolen.daportfolio.com/
Smillian ...   Man, this is really the type of article that I love.  It's so full of a sense of the historic, is ridiculous!  I can't believe how much stuff you got into such a fantastically short article.  Kudos, man ... kudos. 
I would mention that you refer to a "dolmen" and say that it might be more correctly called "Artur's Barrow".  The only proviso that I would put to this is that the two terms have a slightly different connotation.  When it was built, it was very, very likely a barrow.  But, as is the case with many (but not necessarily all) dolmen in the modern era (or the past several hundred years anyway) the soil and earth that were surmounting the barrow may no longer be there, leaving only standing stones.  It may have once been a barrow, but now is technically speaking only the dolmen itself. 
So, the phrasing from Gygax would make a little more sense then ... striking the object against the exposed stones themselves, and not against the earth-covered tomb.

But, little linguistic quibbles don't change how fantastic this article is ... this is the psuedo-historical GH that I fell in love with.  This is GH of older editions in which historical war-gaming had definite influence. 
On a side-note ... does "Arthur" of our legend have anything to do with this NPC?  Or does it just happen to be a similar name?




Re: The Dolmen of Artur (Score: 1)
by smillan_31 on Wed, October 05, 2011
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Thanks, folks! It had been sitting on the hard drive for awhile. Just needed a little polishing.




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