Issak_the_Pale writes "Based upon Montand's Future of Greyhawk, this article describes the gains and losses of the Theocracy of the Pale between CY 590 and 596. Furthering my original article The Palish Path of Pholtus, this piece features the Pale's conquest of Nyrond, Urnst and much of Tenh, and also describes the founding of an Orc-Hobgoblin nation - Sil-Krag - in northern Tenh, as well as the Battle of the Phostwood (where the elves and humaniods became allies).
This alternate future is the basis of my current campaign - The Stroun Campaign - in which the PC's call Stroun their home and attempt to defend it from the advancing military might of Sil-Krag.
The Hegemony Wars:
The Theocracy of the Pale's Story of Expansion
By: Issak the Pale (firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.)
(Based on Montand?s Future of Greyhawk)
* * * * *
In the years following the Greyhawk Wars, the Theocracy of the Pale gained many new converts, with most coming from the former lands of Tenh. With this influx of worshipers - many of them refugees - the power of the Theocracy grew. As the Prelatal Army swelled with new members, the lords of Nyrond now had to respect their once conquered neighbor to the north. With Iuz?s troops no longer a force after the activation of the Crook of Rao, from the external view, the Pale had grown strong and had no threatened borders.
Those within knew differently. Though the Pale gained many immigrants, and many of them worshipped Pholtus, they were not necessarily followers of the Church of the One True Path. Indeed, the power of the Prelates in the Popular Progressive Party was growing. They controlled four of the towns, most notably in Ogburg, ruled by Maximillian Thace - the half-olven. His power and influence had grown with the influx of people such that he alone stood to challenge Theoman Baslett to ascend the Throne of the Sun when Theocrat Ogon Tillit would eventually pass. Theoman Baslett, the ranking member of the Council of Nine, held much power, as evidenced by his single-handed striking down of a Green Dragon. He was also the one to resurrect the Theocrat upon his murder by his former champion during the first War of Tenh. Many believed the throne would be his, including several of the bishops and other ranking members of the Progressive Party.
Prelate Theoman worked hard to secure his future position. He was absolutely loyal the Theocrat and would never personally go against his wishes. His loyalty was shared by most of the populace. Most notable among the loyal was Reifus, Cardinal-Commander of the Church Militant. If there was treachery in the Church, Reifus would have it crushed. If there was heresy upon the lips of the citizens, a visit by the Inquisition was soon coming. Reifus, although pure and loyal to Ogon, knew that the Theocrat's days were numbered. Being against the likes of the "Do-Gooder" Maximillian, Reifus naturally sided with Theoman in his bid for the throne.
* * * * *
In Coldeven 590, the olves of the Fellreev ousted Iuz's hobgoblin forces from the forest. These retreating hobgoblins found themselves face to face with the now frenzied orcs of the Forlorn Forest - driven by their fell leader Onuk-Krag. Being equally strong and recognizing greater strength in alliance, Silrek, the hobgoblin general, and Onuk-Krag merged their tribes. Fighting back the olves of the Fellreev, the combined army captured land to the edge of the Bluff Hills. Seeing greener pastures, the ogre shaman of the hobgoblin tribe, Rulk-lon, convinced both generals to continue the conquest and of new lands to build a nation. The frightening sight of an orc and hobgoblin horde sweeping down from the hills caused many to die where they stood. Those that mustered a defense where quickly swallowed in a sea of man-hating flesh. The region occupied by Iuz's forces put up little defense, most of the army having been recalled to to fight the forces of Furyondy and Veluna. Iuz's token mercenary and humanoid force, tasked with maintaining control and happy to terrorize, quickly realized the need to defect and so joined the ever-growing orc and hobgoblin army. Nevond Nevnend, still held by the Fists of Stonehold, was besieged. Four days into the siege, the Avatar of Vatun appeared to defend his people's captured city. Swelled with pride, anger, and faith, Rulk-lon called upon his unmentionable deity and in one magical burst, caused the city walls to collapse. Blasted stone and mortar fell across the battlefield, killing many on both sides. The Avatar, trapped beneath a fallen column, was helpless. Nevond Nevnend fell on the Sixth day. The Avatar of Vatun was not found.
Savage as they were, Rulk-lon convinced both leaders to concentrate their power and forces on the fallen city. Only too happy to oblige, orcs and hobgoblin raped and pillaged the remaining Tenha citizens. Renamed Sil-Krag, in honor of the generals that brought the city down, it has become a place of savagery and unspeakable acts. Unhappy with just one city, Silrek marshaled his hobgoblin troops and conquered several of the outlying towns and villages. Sil-Krag, now more than just a razed city, expanded its borders as orcs and hobgoblins flocked to the conquering tribes. Goblins, kobolds, and giants joined the fray. They now roam the countryside, pillaging and terrorizing the citizens of the neighboring lands. Orcs from the Griff Mountains have joined the tribes of Sil-Krag, and now outnumber all other races in the region nearly three to one. As always the case with so many orcs, war is inevitable, for as the number of orcs grows the lands of Sil-Krag seem less large. Before the end of Goodmonth 590, the Empire of Sil-Krag was founded.
* * * * *
Ogon Tillit, still Theocrat, yet weakened by age and poisoned by magic, ordered Theoman Baslett to muster the Prelatal Army. Marching from Atherstone, Baslett directed the army to the former city of Stroun. Building a military camp in the former Tenha city, the Prelatal Army was able to halt the advancing Sil-Krag forces. Unofficially and unwittingly, by the end of Goodmonth 590, the Pale had begun an expansionary period.
A year of Palish defense against the orcish empire, strengthed and seasoned the Prelatal Army. Large, well-equipped, highly trained and seasoned, the Palish Forces could look elsewhere. Then, in Reaping 591, Theocrat Ogon Tillit, lying in his bath, was taken to the Blinding Light. Few learned of or the reasons for his death, but some scholars suggested it was the work of evil treachery. Quickly, Theoman called upon Annonsis, the Bishop of Wintershiven, who called the Circle of Nine to council. The meeting was concluded four days later. To the surprise of only a few, Theoman Baslett was declared the Theocrat of the Church of the One True Path and Supreme Prelate of the Pale.
Introspecting upon his own actions and assumption of the Throne of the Sun, Theoman Baslett recalled the decline of the Pale, which ended when he single-handedly killed a Green Dragon. Feeling that he had the duty to show the world the One True Path of Pholtus, Theoman ordered that those not loyal to the faith learn of their mistake. He called upon the Paganhammer, as most called the Cardinal-Commander of the Church Militant, to ferret out those that blasphemed the Church.
When word of the Baklunish Tiger and Wolf Nomad attack on Perrenland reached the ears of the newly appointed Theocrat, he knew that the time to form new alliances and break others, was fast approaching. On the 22nd of Harvester 591, he called upon Grand Templar Ivanic Temzien, the ambassador to Nyrond for many years, to leave his post and place himself at the court of Overking Xavener of Ahlissa. The Grand Templar had been instrumental in bringing the Valorous League of Blindness to the forefront of Nyrondese politics, and with his temper and convincing ways, Baslett knew of no one better to promote his plans with the Overking. With the removal of Temzien, King Lynwerd was not only surprised but also happy, for he had grown up seeing the Grand Templar harangue his father for many years. His departure was a relief.
In Goodmonth 591, Theoman ordered the Prelatal Army out of Atherstone and instead to drive into the Phostwood and take the lands that were rightfully "Pholtus's Staff of the One True Path." "By the Light that Guides, these lands would belong to the Pale," he said during his morale building speech outside Wintershiven's Basilica. The faithful rangers and druids of the Gamboge Forest and Ogburg were called forth to lead the troops. The Pholtan Staff as they called themselves, entered the woods with desire in their heart. Having been unprepared for warfare between themselves and the Palish forces, the olves quickly retreated to their tree-top homes. From their high perches, the olves easily cut down the unprepared Prelatal Army. In response, the druids of the Staff did their duty and used the elven homes against them. The Pholtan Rangers used their skills to deny the elves respite from the war. On the Fourth of Ready?reat the Chieftain of the Phostwood Elves surrendered and was taken to Wintershiven. The battle for the Phostwood continues, as elvish guerillas continue to fight for their homeland.
* * * * *
From the newly built military keep and growing city-military camp of Stroun, General Tobish spread his forces along the border of Sil-Krag with towers and camps. This divided old Tenh into three parts: the northern lands now home to the Empire of Sil-Krag, the sliver held by the Pale, and the two Iuzian-held Tenha cities of Wotton and Redspan. Sweeping southward into the last lands of Tenh, the Prelatal Army attacked. Iuzian troops put up a defense, but they were not reinforced by the demons that had helped take the cities originally. Wotton quickly fell to the Palish Army.
The army freed many Tenha citizens from the horrors they had experienced under the evils of Iuz. Many were just glad to be free from the Old One's clutches, and a promise to fight his mortal armies was enough to convince the conquered peoples. Swelling the ranks of the Prelatal Army with the taking of these final Tenhese cities, the army pressed ever southward. While the Palish offered Redspan the opportunity to surrender before the might of the Path, the Tenha overthrew their oppressors and offered the retaken city to the Prelatal Army. At Redspan, on the 18th of Sunsebb 591 and under the full moon of Luna, the power of Pholtus, the army halted. Allowing for rest, the generals devised the plan to attack the most hated enemy that the Pale has ever known - the Grand Theocracy of Dimre, Baslett's personal irritation.
The wicked and twisted faith in Pholtus was more than he could stand. The Prelatal Army moved into the broken and barren lands of the Bandit Kingdoms. The peasants of the land were no match for the arguably best equipped and trained military in the Flanaess and quickly surrendered. In contrast, Dimre's military and those faithful to the Dark-Light put up a fight. The generals, not expecting such resistance ordered a hasty retreat.
The retreat from Dimre was costly. Over three-fourths of the troops were lost in just under three days. The wise and noble Theoman devised a plan to bring the evildoers of Pholtus to the Blinding Light. Using tactics learned from the olves of the Phostwood, he ordered his generals to withdraw from the battlefield. As the troops withdrew, he ordered many to hold back and to act as guerilla fighters. This much smaller force was what was required to fight the dissidents of Dimre. The Prelatal Army regrouped its forces, occupying Redspan. This gave the generals an easy access to the fresh troops needed in the fight for Dimre.
* * * * *
The loss of manpower in Dimre hit hard. The population of the Pale was ill equipped to handle such a loss, even with the influx of refugees. Many of the most vocal started to revolt and riot within the lands, calling for an end to an unnecessary war. The Paganhammer mustered the forces of the Church Militant and many infiltrated the groups promoting such heresy. He re-instated an oft-ignored law allowing the Legates and Templars more freedom in accusations, raids and lynching. If the Pale was considered oppressive in the past, what Reifus brought forth in the form of the Azure Robed Inquisition had never been seen, even during the Church schism that changed the Pale's worship of Pholtus from the Church of the Blinding Light to that of the One True Path (which happened after the discovery of the Book of Deeds. The toll within the Holy Fatherland was high. Though many suffered, the faithful witnessed the Blinding Light.
* * * * *
Throughout the Second War of Tenh, the War of the Phostwood and the Battle for Dimre, Ivanic had been busy within the courts of Ahlissa. The Overking had already started his quest for the restoration of the Great Kingdom. Ivanic promised more than just his own priestly help in this quest and had a small yet brilliant force from the Valorous League help him stir insurrection in the lands of Xavener's rival. The Valorous League followed the course set in Nyrond, spreading its message throughout the former Great Kingdom and also helping those peasants willing to clearly revere the One True Path. The minor nobles of the so-called Northern Kingdom of Aerdy were unable to curb the spreading belief in Pholtus and the fervent desire to join the quickly growing Theocracy. Many saw this as proof that Pholtus indeed supported their conquest and quickly joined. While the League spread its faith in the Northern Kingdom, Xavener's mighty armies swept into the northern lands of Aerdy.
With the combined might of Ahlissa and the former Northern Kingdom, Overking Xavener brought his forces to the former eastern border of Almor. While King Lynwerd was uneasy about his northern neighbors and the burgeoning armies therein, he had to do something against the even mightier and newly re-formed Kingdom of Aerdy. If his forces were to be divided in protecting his northern lands and his Almorian lands to the east, he would be no match for the Overking. With his forces marshaled against the infringing Aerdy soldiers, and belief that the Pale was not truly interested in the problems of the northern lands, King Lynwerd desperately fought back the military might of Ahlissa. While the Pale had been abdicating for the secession of northern Nyrond for years, now was the time to take action on its previous threats. The Prelatal Army, battle-hardened and rested, moved southward.
* * * * *
Grishken, leader of the Valorous League of Blindness, finally accomplished his goal, and Midmeadow revolted, declaring itself a free theocracy. The Prelatel forces fortified themselves and moved further south. With vengeance in both mind and heart, the dedicated and faithful army of the Pale moved ever southward. With knowledge that the Nyrondese had little in the way of city defenses, with their military in Almor, the Prelatel Army split. A small yet able-bodied force went westward and overcame Starkwall Castle. Following the Stone Road to Castle Pikemaster the army openly attacked the County of Urnst. Forays from Pikemaster lead to the capture of Jedbridge, Dryburgh, Rothberry and Dosselflord. Too late, Urnst's pitiful army marched from Radigast City but was no match for the Shining Light as the Prelatel Army began calling themselves. The larger force left Midmeadow and walked into Borneven, which surrendered before the army, came within fifty miles of the town. General Iloned sent his messengers throughout Nyrond, declaring the lands to be territories of the Pale.
Carindrell, Commander of the Knight Valorous, did not even need to hand the town of Arndulanth over to the Palish forces. He instead led his band of Knights Valorous south to Womtham and they easily defeated the poorly equipped and trained city defenders. The Battle of Mowbrenn took six weeks but in the end the forces that were continually being promised to the besieged, never came and when the gates were opened, the flood of the faithful came forth. With the capture of Mowbrenn the other cities within the North Central Lands of Nyrond laid arms and offered surrender to the invading zealots. With the Pales borders now bulging outward at Womtham and the Duntide River to the east, and Mowbrenn and parts of the Franz River as well as Urnst within it's south and southwestern borders, the Theocrat was pleased with the progress made with the military. The forces within the lands of Tenh were still quite busy fighting the heathens of Dimre, but that was a protracted battle he was willing fight. Stroun was making progress in halting the further advance of the hordes of humanoids. Stemming the tides of monsters from coming into the realm was a war fought for hundreds of years, and one that would continue.
* * * * *
Urnst, it's military weakened and defeated, retreated to Trigol, Brotton and the Charn Castles. Meanwhile, with the loss of the Almorian lands to the east, Nyrond had shrunk and was in the midst of its worst days, on record. The Great Kingdom was on the verge of greatness once again, with the Pale as its ally and neighbor. Urnst and Nyrond, having little in the way of defense or support signed the Treaty of Nuap containing the aggression of both the Pale and Aerdy, and halting their further advance.
After four years of open warfare, the Theocracy of the Pale had tripled in size, conquering the lands that had subjugated it for many years. Its treaty with the United Kingdom of Aerdy has given rise to a new Theocracy of the Pale. It has risen not only to be a force in the north east of the Flanaess, but amongst the world, competing with the re-established Empire of Keoland to the west. The Valorous League has spread its vision and power well into the lands of Aerdy. Some have started spreading its message ? now no longer for the northern lands of Nyrond to secede but for all lands to follow the Church of the One True Path and join the Theocracy through faith ? in Greyhawk City and further westward. The burgeoning congregation and widespread acceptance of the Book of Deeds, is allowing the Church of the One True Path to become the defacto Pholtan church within the Flanaess. Indeed the Pale has followed the Path as provided by Pholtus, and they shall lead the Flanaess into the next century with Blinding Faith in the Light.
* * * * *
The Pale may be a force within the Flanaess, but not all its subjects rejoice within the Light of Pholtus. The Grand Theocracy of Dimre continues to exist. Worse of all is the fact that their clerics are so indoctrinated in the ways of Pholtus that they often infiltrate the Church of the One True Path. The Dark-Lighters of the Church of EbonGleam have successfully infiltrated many fronts since the opening attack. The most deadly was the Loriloard Offensive, in Hendrenn Halgood. Loriloard, a Dark-Lighter, and General in the Prelatel Army, mesmerized the troops and helped the populace stage a devastating revolt. After a six-week protracted battle, the forces of the Pale prevailed. The Cubanate Six, a group of heroes from the Pale discovered Loriloard?s treachery, and with the use of magic were able to dispel his magical suggestion, releasing the city from his grasp. The citizens still dedicated to the Dark-Light of the EbonGleam were soon reeducated in New Dawn camps, and those unwilling to submit to the will of the One True Path were publicly displayed until the stench was overpowering.
Although open warfare between the Pale and Nyrond has ceased, the dissidents of Nyrond have formed an underground resistance force, the Nyrond Liberation Front. As evidenced by the Loriloard Offensive, much of this resistance is the work of the EbonGleam, as they maintain and fund Nyrondese nationalists. Attacks on Temples dedicated to the One True Path are a constant danger. Temples to false gods have been banned, and most have been destroyed, however many still exist ? in homes and businesses dedicated to the worship of their false deities.
Many of Nyrond?s cities may now lie in the hands of the Pale, and some citizens resist (not many openly however), but most have come to prosper under the new and expanded Theocracy. With Nyrond?s coin diminishing in value and the Pale?s Glory dominating the regions trade, the cities under the Church have begun to re-develop. Much of the nation?s crops needed tending and with the open trade between the Pale and Aerdy, as well as the requirements for the Prelatel Army, merchants began to see the wisdom and advantage in cooperating with the occupying force.
* * * * *
The Phostwood Elves managed to continue their fight. Completely surrounded by the Pale, they began to have limited trade opportunities, but sided with their normal enemies in the Orcs and other goblinoids that inhabited both the Nutherwood and Phostwood. Never a large force, and not much more than a typical nuisance to the Pale, the orcs, hobgoblins and other monstrous humanoids formed an uneasy alliance. With Elven magic and the ferocity of the humanoids, a mighty force had developed. Much of their force was divided, and often the orcs started infighting amongst themselves, however, the three offensives they did muster were able to force the Palish troops to retreat. During the second offensive in 595, the force was able to actually surround and siege Hatherleigh. In Planting 596, the orcs, with the help of elven magic had tunneled to Atherstone. With the unexpected force arriving without warning, Atherstone was sacked. The bridge crossing the Yol River to Wintershiven was destroyed and the Prelatel Army billeted in Wintershiven was unable to come to the defense of the bewildered city. Having defeated and sacked the fortress, the elven forces retreated to the safety of their forest homes. Meanwhile, the orcish raiders relished in the destruction ? raping and pillaging the city and its populace. When the Stroun army was able to arrive six days after the attack, little remained of the civilized population. Wintershiven has begun the rebuilding of the bridge, and with Stroun and Redspan?s military presence within, Atherstone is rebuilding.
* * * * *
The former lands of Tenh are still some of the most dangerous within the Flanaess. The open fighting between the forces from Sil-Krag and the Pale continue. With attacks upon the many villages along the Pale-Sil-Krag border constant, times are difficult. Heroes build castles, keeps and towers along the border, protecting villages and defending the Pale in both faith and man-power. The open plains are a constant and bloodied battlefield, but it is the Griff Mountains that pose some of the greatest danger to the Pale. With Sil-Krag having many of its troops coming from the mountains, it is their home and territory. Having difficulty in sending a military force in the hardy terrain, adventurers must do most of the scouting and actual fighting and defense. The humanoid hordes attack the Brilliant Castles nearest the mountains. Originally built to defend the Fatherland against the Trollfens, they now protect and fortify the interior lands. But the Orcish Military knows these mountains and builds forts and keeps on the overlooking crags, looking down upon the Palish forces.
Redspan continues its guerrilla attacks upon the lands of Dimre, while agents from the Dark-Light church continue to infiltrate. Its military force stays strong, having to defend the city and its surrounding environs from the attacking raiders from the Bandit Kingdoms. Backed by elven magic, evil humanoids from the Phostwood venture forth to attack the neighboring lands. Certainly within the lands of the Pale, the Atherstone, Stroun and Redspan regions are some of the most dangerous, with three battlefronts."