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Greyhawk Gazetteer Addendum: The Sheldomar Valley, Part 4
Posted on Tue, January 27, 2004 by Legate
CruelSummerLord writes "Who among us has not wondered about the lines of government, or the social mores and customs of the various Flanaess states? What of an in-depth analysis of their military? The personalities of the various Flanaess rulers? Their foreign relations? The Sheldomar Valley overview concludes with the Valley of the Mage and the Sea Princes.
UPDATE: More Yeomanry Info and the County of Ulek Added!

Greyhawk Gazetteer Addendum: The Sheldomar Valley, Part 4
By: CruelSummerLord
Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.

Respected Iquander and Respected Sir Pluffet:

I have, in rereading the standard scholarly works by Xagyg, Sargent Silver, and your own esteemed selves, noticed that there has never been much time or place to delve into the minutiae of each nation of the Flanaess. What kind of culture do the various Flanaess states have? How do they treat their citizens, especially those that are not male and human? What are the characteristics of each individual ruler or head of state?

These questions, quite understandably, cannot be answered in works where space is at a premium. Therefore, I shall take it upon myself to identify, as far as I can, characteristics of each Flanaess state, including those that, since the Greyhawk Wars, no longer exist. In cases where fundamental changes occurred after the wars, I shall compare and contrast these changes.

There remains one caveat before I can begin, however. Informed readers will know that my own version of the events of the Flanaess differs sharply from that presented by Sargent Silver. While some of the events presented in this ongoing series are very different than those presented by Master Sargent, I have taken pains to ensure both that the general characteristics of any given state are usable by any Flanaess chronicler, and that enough ?canon? is retained.

I shall not be describing history in any great detail-the established works are quite sufficient for that matter. I believe it is more important to break new ground rather than go over the old yet again.

The general format I shall be using for each nation goes as follows:

Society and Culture: Here I shall identify the basic social structures of the nation, the various attitudes of the people, their treatment of women and demihumans, attitudes towards slavery, and so forth.

Military Structure: One of the major weaknesses of the established Flanaess tomes is that, when examining a given state?s military situation, they cannot go into enough detail on the army?s actual strengths and, more importantly, its weak points.

Ruler: Here I shall discuss the ruler of the nation-his personality, his beliefs, his deity, and so forth. In those cases where changes of rulership have taken place since the Wars, I shall also discuss the previous ruler(s) as needed.

Foreign Relations: The Living Greyhawk Gazetteer gives the general tendencies of the Flanaess states as regards their being allies and enemies, but the relationships are often more subtle than that. Greyhawk and Dyvers, for instance, are technically allies, yet both would love nothing more than to destroy and loot the other. The Horned Empire and Pomarj are supposed to be Greyhawk?s enemies, yet the Gem of the Flanaess would not hesitate at all to recruit them as allies if they could gain a benefit from it.

Demographics, population, history, resources, and so forth have been sufficiently described in the Gazetteer, the essential tool for any Flanaess scholar, and so I shall not waste time on these details.

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THE VALLEY OF THE MAGE


This mysterious realm has too often had only sketchy details given to it, and it has not been until recently that anyone has managed to determine more concrete facts on this, the mysterious vale of the valley elves. The following is the best that I can reveal about the Valley?s history, social structure, and inhabitants, though I admit much of it sounds fanciful, available nowhere else in canon?

?Long ago, the elven peoples had been born from the blood that Corellon Larethian shed for his love, Sehanine Moonbow. This elven moon goddess wanted to take her people to a sanctuary, a land where dreams and visions could and would grant every wish the people could ever want, making it a paradise for the spirits of the elves. Sehanine hated the over-hasty, frenzied rushing of humanity, and its wanton destruction and abuse of the oerth. She wanted to shield her ?children? from their corrupting and evil influences.

Corrupting was what many elves saw her teachings as being, long before any contact with humans. Thus did they spit in Sehanine?s face and turn away from her. Some elves journeyed eastwards over the Solnor, to the mystical continent of Orannia, where they created the elven kingdom of Miranda. Others pledged themselves to the study of Law, traveling west beyond the Twin Empires, to the lands of Kara-Tur.

And one group of elves pledged themselves to Chaos, traveling to the Valley that bore its name-the Valley of Chaos. The awful and foreboding presence here was caused by the negative energy within the valley itself, where gates and portals to other worlds could and did open at random, bringing forth bizarre, horrible creatures.

The elves who came to the Valley of Chaos were reviled by all of their kin, saying that they were bound to serve a master that had no knowledge and sought no end. Even those elves who spurned Sehanine Moonbow?s teachings were deeply offended at the shirking of the basic tenets of elven philosophy, just as they hated those elves who traveled to the far reaches of Kara-Tur.

The king of the valley elves was thus bound to Chaos, or perhaps some manifestation of it, like the slaad lords, for instance. They made friendly contact with gnome traders, the only people who would approach them. Later came wanderers from the Great Migrations who could find no home elsewhere, and were also taken in by the valley elves.

Geoff, Bissel and Ket maintained their contact with the valley elves, though they knew not what kind of society these people possessed. By 500 CY, many of the valley elves came marching into Geoff, having a private audience with the Grand Duke at Gorna. It seems that these elves had rejected their old master, who had made them slaves to a lie.

An oaken chest containing ?certain sacred objects? and a set of scrolls which told the entire story of the sundering of the elven peoples were the elf king?s gifts to the Duke. The words of the valley elf king were to swear the Grand Duke and his line to an oath-one to guard the history and relics of the valley elves until the return of the One True King of the valley elves. Those valley elves that had left the valley were seeking the King, hoping to find him. It was prophesied that the King would bring the valley elves ?home?, though no one yet knows what this means.

Those elves, gnomes and men who remained in the valley were forced to fight the monsters randomly summoned by the Chaos of the valley. Bound to it by blood and oath, they could not leave. It seemed that the valley elves and their neighbors would perish at the hands of these continually appearing monsters, with few mourning their loss.

It was then that Jaran Krimeeah, a wizard from the Great Kingdom, came to the valley seeking a new home, being exiled from his nation for his sorcerous experiments in planar control and summoning. These talents were used by him to restrain the summoned creatures and put them under his control, to protect and defend the valley elves, rather than attack and kill them. For this, Krimeeah declared himself suzerain over the Valley of Chaos, later renamed the Valley of the Mage.

Krimeeah allowed certain visitors to come and go from the valley as they wished, though he never allowed them to stay long. His public announcements were rarely heard In foreign courts, always causing a great stir when news did come, such as the bizarre ebon-skinned elf who was appointed to lead the valley?s military forces, who he called a ?drow?.

Little contact was had with the valley after this time. Valley elves would raid Geoff, Gran March, and the elven communities of the Dim Forest on occasion. Captive valley elves would die a slow, wasting death, so some whisper that the Mage has tied the lives of the valley elves to the very land from which they came.

As the giant mobs ransacked the other western Sheldomar nations, so too did they attack the Valley. A delegation sent from Geoff to ask the Mage for assistance, and given audience with the Black One-or so it seemed. One member of the party recognized the man claiming to be the Mage as an exiled necromancer, one Nyeru of Bissel. The delegates did not tell the ersatz Mage that they knew who he really was, and tried to negotiate with him. Alas, negotiations were fruitless, the ambassadors being forced to flee as the giants attacked the Valley itself.

Since the Greyhawk Wars, it is rumored that both Rary the Traitor and Mordenkainen of the Circle of Eight seek an artifact discovered by the Mage, a magical artifact that could animate the shadows of fighters and monsters, creating things made of shadow-stuff to fight at the command of the artifact wielder. The Scepter of Shadows seems to have been found by the Mage during his explorations of the Demiplane of Shadow, and he is now ?plane-hopping? in order to throw his wizardly foes off his trail, until he can determine how to strike back at them.

Society and Culture: The Mage exercised the power of life and death over his subjects. Staying out of the valley for too long would cause the valley elves to wither and die. Also, Krimeeah could unleash the summoned monsters under his control to slay any who would dare disobey his commands.
It is not known how the old elf-king ruled, but it seems that the humans, gnomes, and elves of the Valley were each kept in their own separate communities, working as a greater community to provide each other with the basic necessities of life. There was little opportunity for leisure or revelry-the people of the Valley worked year-round to feed themselves and pay tribute to Krimeeah.

Theirs was indeed a sad fate, though, strangely enough, they did not seem to mind. The humans would farm and hunt, and the gnomes would work the mines and forge weapons. When the people needed to release their tense emotions, Krimeeah would allow them Earthday and Godsday as time to revel and regain their strength.

The valley elves had much more important business in mind-tracking down their missing kin. In addition to raiding surrounding communities, they also gathered information to try and find the missing elf-king, and discover anything they can about the One True King. Krimeeah fears this prophecy, and yet he wonders whether he can make use of it. Until he finds out, he spent his time plane-traveling and engaging in the usual research and experimentations of his profession.

Military Structure: The valley elves fielded no actual standing army, relying on highly-trained guerilla units of archers, rangers and scouts to slay their enemies by stealth, rather than fight them one-on-one. This tactic had only mixed results against the giants, who ravaged the valley before Krimeeah managed to slay the cloud giant leading them.

The only other times the valley elves have had to battle is when out raiding, or when monsters and adventurers came wandering into the valley. The same tactics would apply whether attacking another or defending their own land, using deadly sorcery as a supplement to their archery. They do not take slaves or gold, taking instead things like grain, oats, farming tools, or any of the other necessities of life one might need.

Ruler: Jaran Krimeeah came from a disgraced lesser House of Aerdy, which had been demoted by Ivid I because it had supported Rax in the Turmoil Between Crowns. The family?s wealth and numbers dwindled steadily over the next century, until at last Krimeeah was the last of his kind. Ivid IV banished him for the crimes of his ancestors, being unable to kill him. Ivid did not dare kill Krimeeah as he wished, due to the latter?s great wizardly powers.

Jaran Krimeeah is a thin wisp of a man. Tall and lean with long blond hair and a matching moustache, his eyes appear haunted by death and misery untold, sometimes glaring with frightful intensity. Dressing in low-key red and white diamond-patterned robes, he walks like a shadow, his feet never seeming to move beneath his flowing robe.

Krimeeah is as cold as the Black Ice, and a calculating adversary. He came to the Valley seeking a place to rule on his own, where he could die in peace. His black mood expresses itself strangely, as he often makes sarcastic comments about the meaning of life, what elementals think when wizards summon them, or some other philosophical topic that creeps into his mind. His strange rants have left those few who have met him wonder if he is insane.

In truth, he is mourning?

On his travels after being banished by Ivid IV, he had stopped in Keoland, the home of the wizard Dramidj. At that time, he was trying to find a place to retire in comfort, and more importantly someone to love. He saw the person he sought in Dramidj?s wife.

Their affair was camouflaged by magic, as Krimeeah would divine when Dramidj was away, then sneak off with his wife via magical means. This affair continued for three years or more-Drawmidj had become so obsessed with his work as a magic-user that he all but neglected his wife.

That did not prevent him from flying into a rage when he found out about being cuckolded by his wife. He attempted to slay Krimeeah in a wizardly duel, which Krimeeah would have won, except that the woman they both loved gave her life for her husband?s, giving the dying Dramidj her life-force. Anguished, Krimeeah immediately fled west, seeking somewhere, anywhere he could live out the rest of his days.

It was thus that he made himself lord and master over the hapless inhabitants of the Valley, as his proud Aerdi heritage would not allow him to commit suicide, and yet compelled him to rule. He turned his interests to researching the outer planes and exploring them for strange and powerful magical items, even as Dramidj joined the Circle of Eight and plotted revenge against his enemy.

Foreign Relations: The Valley of the Mage is feared and distrusted by all outsiders, none of whom know what actually goes on in the valley, or the past of its lord and master. The Grand Duke cared nothing for the valley, and an expedition from Gran March was slain. Those few adventuring bands that attempted to explore the Valley for the great riches it was rumored to contain never returned alive, and no one else, except the merchants who met the valley elves at the entrance to their lands, ever dealt with the cursed valley.

THE YEOMANRY


The Yeomanry is among the very few democratic governments of the Flanaess, as well as being one of the more peaceful nations as well. Blessed with natural barriers all around it to hinder any invader, it was believed that the land was unassailable. Reports of the looming giant attack were taken seriously, however?

The Yeomen were indeed fortunate that the weakest and most poorly-organized giant forces fell upon them, rather than on Geoff or Sterich. While all three of the western Sheldomar nations managed to survive, Geoff and Sterich are both in very bad shape economically, and are weakened militarily. Their anger and demands to Keoland and Niole Dra have tacit support from some Yeomen, though they are careful to maintain a neutral presence officially. The Yeomanry?s new position of strength might offer a great temptation to those who would seek political advantages, but the Yeomen are hardly the type to pillage and profit from the misfortunes of others. They have kindly taken in refugees from their neighbors, who for whatever reason could not return home again. All the while, they remain silent in the disputes between Keoland and her daughter states, preferring to wait and see what will happen.

Society and Culture: The Yeomen are robust, individualistic people, filled with boundless energy and determination. They are ostensibly charitable, friendly, and courteous, if a tad overbearing and candor-filled. A strong political current goes through all of the people herein, as they all participate in the representative democracy of this nation.

Any human, halfling, or dwarven male who has wielded a spear for the nation in the past or present, or is an artisan or craftsman, may vote in the quadrennial elections to elect spokesmen for their communities. These spokesmen then get together to elect representatives from among themselves, until one comes to the hundred-member Council of Common Grosspokesmen. This council meets in the capital of Loftwick four times a year to run the normal legislative affairs of the nation, even as they choose one from among themselves as a Freeholder to wield executive power, command the armies, and conduct diplomacy. Nowhere else in the Flanaess are executive and iegislative power considered separate. Elves and gnomes do not vote in any case.

Only males may serve in the government-neither the government nor the people are sufficiently enlightened to allow women to join. Despite this, some powerful women have made their voices heard by cowing weakling husbands in the government into voting and directing according to their own commands.

With the general attitudes of political flair and strong central beliefs, the Yeomen are an active people, freely debating and arguing on the streets at all hours of the day. The nearness of the surrounding hills, mountains and marshes have left them very wary and alert, always ready to fight and fight hard in defense of their families and homesteads.

Despite the fact that women, elves and gnomes cannot vote in elections, the Yeomanry is not, as a whole, given to discrimination-it is simply thought and accepted that these people have no interest in politics as a whole, preferring to keep to themselves. Those farmers that may end up poorer than their neighbors because of chance or banditry are always cared for by their neighbors, and there are few misers or hoarders of wealth within the realm.

Military Structure: The Yeomanry has been very fortunate in that its military has not suffered in the same way as that of Geoff and Sterich from the giant invasions. All of its soldiers are generally of good training, morale and equipment, consisting mostly of spearmen and crossbow archers. The dwarfish light foot, clad in brigandine and wielding axe and hammer, are the bane of the humanoids of the Jotens. The elven spear and bow units and halfling light infantry are not as impressive, though they are considered to be superior to their equivalents in Geoff or the Ulek states.

Ruler: Crispin Redwell, the Freeholder of the Yeomanry in 576 CY, is known to be a man of strong passions and tempers, quick to anger and quick to forgive, a demeanor more suited to a northern barbarian than the leader of a supposedly enlightened nation. In spite of this, however, he is a good enough leader and honest fellow, able to use his great speaking skills, charisma and loud voice to get his point across when debating at the council halls of Loftwick. He is very popular with the common folk for his all-too-human demeanor and snappy wit, and he milks this for all it is worth.

He is known to be a heavy drinker, becoming crude and arrogant when in his cups, but always retaining the jolly and quick wit that are the sources of his charisma. While he may laugh at bawdy humor more than anyone, he will happily engage in a barroom brawl to protect the honor of an actual woman, and has served as the champion of several worthy ladies on more than one occasion. Although Crispin wields a battleaxe when taking to the field, he is quite happy to duel with a saber or rapier when his honor or that of a woman is challenged.

Marius Lindon, the Freeholder most recently elected in 589 CY, is considerably more demure than his carousing predecessor. While Redwell was known to enjoy more than his share of wine, Lindon is considerably more serious and oerthly than Crispin (who tragically met his end during the Wars underneath a boulder hurled by a stone giant). He is nowhere near as beloved as his predecessors, though he has the respect of the more militiant spokesmen for his attention to detail, strict discipline, and no-nonsense approach to government.

Lindon was elected to the Freeholder?s office not for any great charisma or political skills, but because of his expertise in battling the evil nonhumans that continually assail the realm on all sides. As such, he tends to delegate the everyday business of running the nation to his bureaucracy in Loftwick, who speak for him when debating in council. Lindon rarely stays more than a day or two in Loftwick, usually to be found traveling around his realm inspecting defenses and speaking to citizens on the streets. Although some of the spokesmen question Lindon?s devotion to his diplomatic responsibilities, given that he so rarely attends council meetings, and others dislike him for his prudish sensibilities and abrasive personality, none can deny his effectiveness as a military leader.

Foreign Relations: The Yeomanry is notoriously independent, preferring trading partners to allies. It has alliances with Keoland, Sterich, and some of the demihumans of the surrounding hills and mountains, though close diplomatic relations usually remain a cursory side note to the regular business of trade. Most of its neighbors have little regard for the nation?s democratic leanings, and the yeomen do not mind one bit that foreign visitors, especially the Keoish, rarely stay within their ream very long.

Apart from the hostile nonhumans in all the surrounding hills, mountains and marshes, the Yeomanry has implacably hostile relations with the Hold of the Sea Princes, regardless of whether the Sea Princes or the Scarlet Brotherhood are the ones in charge. Both realms send raiders and bandits to harass the yeomen?s merchant caravans, and the Brotherhood sends even more slaving raids against its northwestern neighbor than the old regime it toppled during the Wars.

ULEK, COUNTY OF


The County of Ulek has long been a nation of peace, friendship and respect for nature. It is steeped in the tradition of the Oerth Mother, where halfling and Flan tribes lived off the land, creating ancient celebrations that persist to this day.

Since the Greyhawk Wars, the nation has kept a low profile, except to encourage coolness of temper and thoughtful diplomacy in the tense, emotional debates going on in Gorna, Istivin and Niole Dra. Other than this, the County is known as a good and peaceful, if sleepy and withdrawn, land.

Society and Culture: The Flan elders of this land have long acted as teachers to the halflings (and the later Oeridian arrivals) in learning to live in harmony with the Oerth Mother, rather than simply taking her bounty without thought and without giving anything in return. The County is known as the place where agricultural techniques practiced through the whole Sheldomar Valley were created.

The natural faiths of Ehlonna, Berei, Obad-Hai and Beory are worshipped here, with the druids of all four faiths working towards a common good for their people and their land, rather than bickering over matters of doctrine and creed. The common people favor Obad-Hai and Ehlonna, though the family of the Count worships Berei. And yet, this matters none to the common people, who give token and tithe to all four deities, just for good measure.

The social hierarchy of the county, if one can call it that, is very horizontal. Though elders and druids are held in high esteem, everyone else benefits from a rough and ready equality, with few thoughts given to social rank or wealth. The count makes all major decisions concerning matters both inside and out of the nation, though he must have popular support to do so. The count must always be a druid, and his family should follow his faith as well.

The people of the County regularly indulge in dances and rituals to thank their gods for the bounty given to them, and visitors from other nations are more than welcome to participate. Many of these rituals have more than a ceremonial role-they determine whether a druid is fit to act as Count. His personal prestige as a ruler is also dependent on his ranking in the Old Faith druidic hierarchy.

The main problem with the County and its people is their lack of attention to matters outside their own safe world. Threats are still quite common in the Lortmils, and the social scars from the Hateful Wars have not yet healed. As such, they tend to be nervous and suspicious of armed strangers, particularly adventurers.

Military Structure: The Ulek states are not known for their military expertise. ?Heavy? foot consists of human billmen, wielding short swords as a backup weapon, while medium and light cavalry ply the lance and saber. Gnomes work as sappers, while halflings operate as scouts. In times of need, the elves of the Silverwood add another element of medium cavalry, wielding longsword and bow. In the east, rangers wield axe, sword and spear.

None of these units, however, present a truly formidable opponent to a well-trained army. A match for the marauding orc or goblin band, most county patrols would fail against a troop of giants or ogres. More than once, the people of the county have had to call upon the aid of the Prince of Ulek, or Queen Yolande of Celene, for assistance in defending themselves. Wisely, Count Lewenn kept his troops out of direct combat, though he continued to feed and supply the front lines without hesitation.

Ruler: Count Lewenn, now in his early sixties, has ruled the county longly and wisely for many years, though he has become more and more withdrawn, in response to the violence and bloodshed around him. He hears of the evil in the north, and the enslavement of the vast fertile fields of the east by the Aerdi, both of which break his heart. Rarely will he speak to adventurers except in matters of life and death, preferring to let his clerks handle much of the mundane business of government.

A short, broad-shouldered man with thinning brown hair and matching eyes, Lewenn has grown used to a life of peace and solitude. The Greyhawk Wars were a great surprise to him, and some say that his recent demotion in the Old Faith druidic hierarchy was due to his growing inattention of matters outside his realm and his decision to simply feed all who come to his doors, not rousing himself for more decisive action.

Foreign Relations: The county retains warm relations with all its neighbors, and trades its excess grain and foodstuffs to any and all who ask. The snooty merchants and sneaky thieves of Greyhawk are carefully watched, though the people will rarely do anything worse than charm these people and send them home if they cause trouble. The gnomes of the county are strongly tied to their kin in the Lortmils, and thus have strained relations with the dwarves of the Principality of Ulek because of scars from the Hateful Wars. The people of the county, however, are most upset with the withdrawal of Celene, and its elves are torn between their loyalties to their homeland and their desire to see what is going on in their ancestral lands.

The only people seriously taken as enemies are (or were, as the case may be) the rowdy thieves and drunks of the Wild Coast, the Horned Empire of the north, the Cell of Iuz in the Suss Forest, and the malign Orcish Empire of the Pomarj. No token or quarter is given to any of these avowed enemies of all the people of the county hold dear.

(N.B. The setting of these articles is identical to that I posted in the article: "An Alternative View of the Greyhawk Wars", but that, except in the cases where it obviously differs, everything should mesh with canon. )"
 
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Re: Greyhawk Gazetteer Addendum: The Sheldomar Valley, Part 4 (Score: 1)
by Osmund-Davizid (davidwsmith3@juno.com) on Wed, February 18, 2004
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On the whole, these were very good articles. I do not 100% agree with all the elements of the articles (I have different ideas regarding the Valley of the Mage, for instance) but more information is always better than none at all.

In particular, I liked the bits that detail the personalities of the rulers of the lands. Much of canon information gives the names, race, class, levels, but precious little regarding the personalities of the leaders. Those were great touches.

O-D



Re: Greyhawk Gazetteer Addendum: The Sheldomar Valley, Part 4 (Score: 1)
by Telas on Thu, April 14, 2005
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Good stuff. I'm running a Yeomanry campaign now, and IMC, the emergence of a democratic republic has not put an end to corruption at all, especially at the local level. In addition, democracy has led to the development of an entire economy based not in money, but in favors and notoriety. While there may not be any monetary robber-barons or misers, there are definitely political bosses.

(Basically, I'm using my personal experiences growing up in small-city Louisiana as a guide to Yeomanry politics.)

Telas




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