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The Greyhawk Travel Guide, Part II
Posted on Wed, August 25, 2004 by Farcluun
CruelSummerLord writes "An examination of the daily life of the Flanaess, in all its many forms...

The Greyhawk Travel Guide, Part II
By: CruelSummerLord
Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.

Justice and retribution

Not all justice is administered in courts of law. Duels, beheadings, indentures, and other methods of punishment might exist outside a state’s legal structure. A man might offend a gentlewoman, who will send a champion to avenge her insulted pride. Young bravos and fops who belong to feuding noble families may duel each other in the streets. Thieves may be killed on the spot if they are found cheating or robbing people. Someone who is born a sorcerer, or is discovered to be of the wrong race or religion may be killed without a second thought. People believed possessed may be beaten, to drive their demons out. Adventurers who fail in their missions may be beheaded by their patrons.

While there is usually no formal code of honor in the societies of the Flanaess, people may still take insults and offenses very seriously. As a result, they may take it upon themselves to beat an apology out of the offender, challenge him to a duel, or otherwise take some measure of revenge upon those that anger them. In some societies this is perfectly acceptable, as long as no excessive damage is done and no one else is hurt or involved. Long-running vendettas and feuds that cause excessive property damage and hurt innocent people (if these people are significant, of course) are regarded much more harshly, and in these cases the authorities may act to punish both sides in a feud. Despite this, grudges may be long-lived and remembered, especially if powerful people with short tempers are involved…

Justice delivered on the spot may seem harsh or barbaric to outsiders, but it is usually regarded as normal by the people who do it. People who suffer from insanity or crippling diseases may be slain out of mercy for their condition, as can be sorcerers or those regarded as “cursed”. Anyone caught with poison in an open street, or caught picking pockets in a tavern, may be beaten and stripped of their belongings, before being thrown into the streets. More reactionary or evil areas, or those who tend towards chaos, can be slain in a manner acceptable to the law, as goods such as poison are regarded as dangerous to all. In some circles, those who fail to perform their duties or otherwise displease their patrons may be executed for poor performance or their general behavior. These situations often occur when Aerdi nobles or barbarian lords are displeased with how agents and adventurers they employ have failed in their tasks or have simply caused too much mayhem in their doing the job. Even some of the more good-aligned countries, even the most benevolent ones such as Geoff, may do this despite the general attitudes and beliefs of their people. This was demonstrated during the original raids Against the Giants, when the Geoff nobles sponsoring the various adventuring parties threatened to behead them if they failed. Such is the unexpected behavior of the governments and peoples of the Flanaess states…

The definition of wealth among various societies

Adventurers, wealthy merchants, and national economists measure their wealth based upon the standard of the gold piece. Gold pieces are usually stamped into coins and engraved with the insignia of the nation or city-state, as well as the face of the realm’s ruler. Many other realms also mint copper, silver and electrum coins (which are all usually worth less than the gold piece-for instance, ten silver pieces might be worth one gold piece) and platinum pieces (which are worth more than gold).

Every trade good and service is worth a specific number of gold pieces to these people. The services of a blacksmith or cleric, the value of a ton of spices, of a caravan of slaves, of a jeweled crown, and so forth can all be defined in their worth by assigning a specific numeric value of gold pieces. Equivalent values in copper, silver, and so forth can also be extrapolated based on how much gold an item or service is worth; a ring worth 100 gold pieces might be worth 1,000 silver pieces.

Most people on the poorer rungs of society, such as peasants, farmers, and tavern workers, will never use gold pieces, instead relying on larger amounts of copper and silver to get through the day. One gold piece might be out of the ordinary to them, and thirty or more would be considered a king’s treasure. They will use copper and silver coins, as well as barter and services, to get what they need in daily life. Dwarves and gnomes value mineral wealth highly, and even the poorest among these peoples usually have at least several hundred coppers to their name at any given time. Due to their vast wealth, they rarely use other forms of trade and economy, except when dealing with certain societies that might not have any use for diamonds or gold. In these cases, they may offer their well-made metal weapons and shields, but otherwise often do not deal with them, preferring to trade with civilized humans who will accept their riches and offer them goods in return. The amount of mineral wealth a gnome or dwarf has often determines how much his fellows respect him.

Goblinoids and giants have similar attitudes to gold and jewels as well. The more mineral wealth a warrior has, the greater his prestige and the more his peers fear him. Those who lose their wealth to those stronger than them, these monsters figure, usually did not deserve to have it in the first place. Hunting and battle trophies, and the number of weapons taken from worthy enemies, are other notable sources of self-respect among the evil humanoids.

Wealth is, of course, not limited to metal and stones. The poor, and those who live in rural areas, will barter various things such as wheat, ale, livestock, tools, furs, or even their own services as hired hands in exchange for goods of like value. In these cases, a sense of proportion is necessary-a farmer might sell a bushel of corn in exchange for two dozen chickens, but he would certainly not offer ten head of prized steer. Similarly, only a fool, or someone truly desperate, would sell ten barrels of mead in exchange for three loaves of bread.

Some nations, particularly those wild Flan groups who have never integrated themselves into Oeridian or Sueloise socities, see precious minerals as worthless. Instead, the number of furs, amount of food, skill at bartering, plunder from defeated enemies, or amount of trade goods acquired in dealing with outsiders are considered status symbols. Trophies from the hunt are also indicative of a man’s hunting ability, and thus large animals like deer or moose are valued both for their meat as food, and their antlers as symbols of might. Depending on their alignments and political bends, these Flan groups will either share their food with each other as a collective community, or they may decide that every man must fend for himself, and that only the strongest may survive. The best hunters and warriors generally rise to leadership in these latter groups. Flan-dominated states, such as Tenh and Geoff, also use these means of distinguishing wealth.

Elves and halflings should be mentioned here as well. Elves place little value on money, except as needed to trade with other communities and buy metal weapons which they cannot make themselves. Apart from these elementary concerns, hunting, trade and barter are much more important in their societies. Halflings measure wealth not by how large one’s bank accounts are, but by how many comforts they have been able to acquire with the wealth, whether it be in mineral wealth or trade goods. The halfling with the largest food stores is also well-regarded by his neighbors, though it is considered very poor manners not to share these kinds of blessing with other halfling, or even human, neighbors when the need arises.


The vast majority of peoples both civilized and not, with the above exceptions, use coins of precious metal as a form of money and currency. Each country has its own unique form of coinage, supported by the value of the metal and the credit and economy of the nation’s economy. These are generally stamped on one side with the country’s flag or national standard, and on the other with either the current ruler of the country, or a famous hero from the realm’s history. Generally between four and six centimeters across, fifty to a hundred of each coin, regardless of metal, will normally weight one pound. The general means of transaction is for the purchaser to offer money to the seller in exchange for whatever goods are being offered. The prices can vary from a few copper pieces for a single chicken or loaf of bread to several thousand gold pieces for a diamond-and-gold ring.

What a person can afford, obviously, depends on his income and rank in society. Poor peasants with moderate-sized families can get by on ten or so silver coins a week, although the larger the family the more of its members spend time working in order to pay all the expenses of life. Wealthy lords, merchants, and landowners can buy slaves, furs, jewelry, fine art, and imported wines and foods from far-off lands. The wealthy tend to have much more leisure time than do the poor, who are usually forced to spend every day of the week save Godsday and Freeday working from sunrise to sunset in order to put food on the table.

Haggling, or a form of arguing and negotiating between buyer and seller to negotiate a price acceptable to both, is a skill that all peoples use. Even nomadic Flan exchanging goods with civilized merchants will want to get a fair deal for what they are giving. The wealthy, to show their prestige, may pay overblown prices for common goods, but even they will haggle for the most expensive goods, or at least pay someone to do it for them.

The transport of goods and gold is done either by caravan, where merchants carry their belongings in guarded wagons, traveling from one city to another; or by sea, where sailing ships are used to carry goods to distant markets in port towns in other countries. As a result, port towns often compete with national and regional capitals for the economic wealth of the nation. The merchants of the ports and their in-land rivals often have fierce competition as a result.

Adventurers, bandits and monsters can all have different types of impacts on a national or regional economy. Bandits will plunder wealth from one caravan or one location, and will then spend it in some other place, making one place richer and the other poorer at the same time. Intelligent monsters such as orcs and giants will also take as much wealth as they can carry for plunder. In both cases, the loot serves as a status symbol, but also has practical uses in the wild. The treasure thus obtained can be used to buy goods from shady merchants, which the outlaws and monsters could not venture into a city to obtain. The most unethical merchants will hire bandits and monsters to plunder their rivals’ caravans, giving the brigands a share of the wealth thus obtained, and a discount on goods they themselves sell. In addition to the intelligent monsters described above, unintelligent creatures such as purple worms, rocs, manticores, and giant scorpions may all take human or demihuman prey to eat, leaving their treasure scattered around its lair. When castles, independent cities, dwarf holds, monasteries, or any other such place falls or is abandoned, and becomes a dungeon, it can fill up with wealth that has been taken out of the surrounding economy.

In any case, adventurers are usually the ones to retrieve this booty and take it back to civilization, where they will dispense with it in taxes, spending, the payment of debts, fines, etc. This can cause a dramatic inflation of prices for certain things commonly in demand by adventurers and other wealthy people, such as mercenaries, weapons, armor, oil, etc. If adventurers spend too much on things that the common peasants purchase as well-ale, grain, meat, etc.-the prices of these goods may suddenly rise out of reach for these unfortunates. At that time, churches and philanthropists are usually the ones to use excess funds and charitable donations to obtain for these people the food and clothes they would otherwise lack. However, this aid can, in some cases, simply not be enough.

Of course, inflation is not most strenuous demand on a man’s income. Indeed this next form of revenue collection is the most hated of all by people of every social rank, even the wealthy-taxation. To protect the people of a country from brigands, raiders, invaders and monsters, the ruling authority must have soldiers to protect them. He must also have sufficient funds to allow the functions and services of government, such as they are, to work. And, of course, the luxury that most heads of government live in must also be covered somehow!

Some royal and noble families use their own farming and trading concerns to supplement their lifestyles, and use tax money to simply keep up their country’s infrastructure, bureaucracy, and armies. Others spend this money lavishly to beautify their own palaces and courts in addition to the above costs. These rulers are the ones more inclined to levy heavy taxes. However, only tyrants will bleed their people for all they are worth, as most rulers know that taking too much out of a citizen’s pockets will lead to rebellion and possibly execution.

As a result, there are several common forms of taxation employed by every country, regardless of alignment. Merchants and adventurers who bring in trade goods must often show their goods to duty assessors and customs officials before they are allowed into a city. These officials assess the values of the goods the visitors are bringing, and will levy an appropriate amount of money as a duty before the visitors are allowed into the city. Luxury items, or items which the government wishes to keep favorably protected for its own uses, will usually pay higher duties and tariffs. Entry fees and charges for trading permits must also be paid. Anyone found to be evading these taxes through smuggling will face heavy fines and jail time, even in the most tolerant of nations.

Within the city, sales taxes must often be paid when purchasing goods. Adventurers seeking to sell gems and jewelry they obtain in the course of their career often obtain significantly less than the actual value of the goods, with part of the money going to the jeweler’s profit and the remainder going to the government. These taxes are typically higher for foreign citizens and strangers, and in some cases for demihumans, than they are for regular human residents of the area. Citizens from other parts of a large country will often carry some sort of proof of citizenship when traveling to cities in other parts of their homeland so they will not pay more if the local authorities do not recognize them.

Regular taxes are levied not against wandering adventurers, but permanent residents. These are typically a percentage of the value of all the crops and animals of a farmstead, or the value of a business in urban settings. Tax collectors, usually accompanied by several burly armed guards, are the men who risk their lives in collecting these taxes. It is a risk because some disgruntled citizens can and do attack them if they do not agree with the assessment of their property values! While the peasants hate this time of year, they typically gain some morbid enjoyment from watching the wealthy scramble to hide their most precious goods and artificially lower the value of their estates before the tax collectors arrive. Some peasants often sell out their wealthy neighbors or landlords by giving accurate information to the tax collectors before the gentry can conceal their riches. In return, some tax collectors will give the peasants a kickback in lower assessments of the peasant estates, or even some under-the-table tax revenue. Of course, the wealthy nobles can get even, if they rule city or provincial governments. The central national government will obviously extract the most money in taxes, but individual cities and provinces within the country also collect their share. Peasants who take pleasure in betraying the gentry they live alongside have often found that the nobility gets even by raising the local taxes, which it can control! However, as a general rule, no central government will ever allow a province or municipality to collect more in taxes from a region than it does itself.

Powerful interest groups such as knightly orders, temples, thieves’ guilds, and wizard guilds may all help or hinder in tax collection. Wizards can cast divinations to catch cheats in exchange for tax breaks; thieves can pay a certain amount of their “earnings” in exchange for the restraining of law enforcement; the temples of lawful gods can collect tithes and pay a fair amount of money themselves. Of course, wizards, thieves and certain religious orders can all conceal their own wealth in their own ways, and help others to do so for a fee. Knightly orders that have branches in a given country must usually pay taxes to the government in order to be able to operate in that country; they might, however, attempt to collect their own fees from governments and citizens for their services, such as they may be.

Finally, it must be stressed that each country insists on using its own form of currency, though in wilder areas merchants will typically take money, regardless of whose face or heraldry is on the coin. As a result, very few countries will encourage the circulation of foreign coins in their economies, although exceptions exist, such as between Furyondy and Veluna and the two Unrst states. With this in mind, adventurers and foreigners must often visit a branch office of the country’s money-changing service (always under the control of the government, of course) to exchange their foreign coins in exchange for ones which local merchants and businesses will accept. The moneychangers and governments will profit from this-exchange rates for foreign coins are usually expressed in a percentage; with exchange rates of 90%, foreigners will get 9 gold pieces for every 10 they give to the moneychanger. Different countries have different rates of exchange with each other, depending on the proximity and relations between them. Countries that are close together and/or have good relations and strong economic ties will have exchange rates as high as 95% or 99%, while distant countries, or those with whom the country has unfriendly relations will have lower rates, as bad as 75% or even 65% in some cases.

So much for coins. Of course, transporting massive amounts of precious metal is an open invitation to bandits and thieves, so many merchants will carry letters of credit, or deeds to land, slaves, etc. that they can offer in exchange for whatever it is they are purchasing. These merchants typically work for large banking-houses, merchant guilds, or business syndicates, or are otherwise members or agents of very wealthy and powerful families (such as House Darmen of Ahlissa). These institutions have credit to back up what is written down on their documents-upon accepting them, the bearer knows he can present the letter to any branch of the institution and receive the amount of money or goods he is entitled to by the document.

Since there is often no concrete way to prove that the bearer of a letter of credit is truly who he claims to be, these letters are carefully guarded by their owners. Thieves, forgers and wizards will all use their talents to acquire or create these letters, or even disguise themselves as the rightful owners of the documents they need, to fraudulently acquire the wealth the letter offers. While national governments can and do punish those who commit such identity theft and fraud, the large financial institutions that are defrauded by these means will typically have much graver punishments in mind…

Tavern Life

Taverns…the places where a thousand adventuring bands have been founded, where a million schemes and plots have been concocted, and several million rounds of gambling, brawling and boozing take place all the time! While famous and wealthy adventurers can often meet with heads of state, merchant lords, powerful wizards, and other august persons within their own domains, the common rough-and-tumble adventurer is far more used to the alehouse where he can get semi-edible food, plenty of drink, and possibly a woman to spend the night with, a bed for the night, a dagger in the guts, or all three at once.

Taverns are simply alehouses where people drink and socialize, they do not actually offer beds for the night. If one must sleep for the night, they typically go to an inn. However, everything else that happens in an inn happens just as much in a tavern. Local villages and workers will socialize and relax there after a hard day’s work, and will meet there to resolve disputes and make community decisions.

People also have parties and celebrations here-adventurers can make instant friends by buying a round of drinks for the house. Inns and taverns are also an excellent place to gather information in the form of gossip, legends, stories, rumors, and local news. Adventurers, bards, merchants, circuses and other sorts of travelers are typically the bearers of news to isolated regions, and if they bear important or incredible news, they may find themselves carried off to the tavern so the whole town may hear what they have to say. Indeed, they may be the only forms of information these settled people have.

Adventurers and locals are far from being the only people who stop at an inn or a tavern. Priests and pilgrims, bandits, rich merchants, slumming nobles, spies, and troupes of performers all use the services of these establishments when on the road, for many different reasons. Other local interesting types, particularly town bullies, drunks, or famous thieves, can all be found in taverns.

The actual quality of the food, drink and rooms in inns and taverns varies widely. Some inns offer little more than moldy slop as food, watered, flat beer as drink, or dirty, filthy straw-covered pallets for bed, or even all of the above. The cost of a night’s stay in these places, and for any other related services, is typically only a few copper or silver coins. Customers must often sit in one large communal drinking room, or sleep in a communal dormitory.

More upscale establishments can offer private rooms that one does not have to share, a wide variety of wines, spirits and beer, clean sheets and elegant rooms, and special meals cooked to order. These places are, as one can expect, rather more expensive. However, they can also offer other bonuses such as stables for a caravan’s horses and wagons, the discounted services of blacksmiths and wheelwrights who operate on the premises, and discounts if they become regular customers. Heavily armed and trained bouncers can also reduce the amount of ruckus that occurs in these places.

Tavern entertainment varies widely. In some cases, adventurers can tell tales of their travels and exploits, while older local people will tell stories of legends and old lore that most people no longer remember; these tales can be very informative. Bards, circuses, and other wandering entertainers will provide singing, acting, juggling, sleight-of-hand tricks, and a number of other diversions. These people will perform rather than pay the innkeeper outright, giving him a share of their proceeds when they are done for the night. People can discuss current events, offer gossip, or conduct meetings for their own purposes.

Of course, the seedier side of life gets its due in taverns. Drinking and eating contests are common; harlots and dancers might offer pleasure to customers; people might get involved in or even start fights; and what adventurer has not gambled at least once? Of course, adventurers will need to be wary of people who do such things-harlots might work in tandem with thieves; drunks might attack them for no good reason; and experienced gamblers are always looking for an easy mark to cheat. Of course, danger-seeking heroes travel to taverns for just this sort of thing to begin with.

Naturally, law enforcement is a regular part of tavern life as well. The city watch will often have to break up fights or round up drunks who are causing trouble after they leave the establishment; watchmen are always coming in search of wanted criminals; they may be collecting overdue taxes; or they may simply come to ask the locals for information, which they can often obtain for the price of a free drink or a meal for the informant.

All of the above are accepted and regular parts of tavern life, but one should also remain aware of the strange and illegal things that go on in some inns and taverns. Smuggled contraband, from slaves to trade goods, can be hidden in the wine-cellar. Cultists, criminals and others can use these same cellars as a way to hide themselves or to dig tunnels to other parts of the city. Innkeepers may get their guests drunk and then rob them blind. Street gangs and thugs may carry out raids and harassment for or against a particular tavern or inn. Shelter can be provided for criminals on the run, or they may be safe houses where thieves and assassins can plan their dark deeds in safety. Of course, most inns and taverns are perfectly normal with nothing unusual ever going on.

The place of adventurers in society

The opinions that ‘regular’ citizens have of adventurers vary as widely as adventurers themselves. Some view them as heroes who can be counted on to solve the problems of the common people. Others view them as thugs and troublemakers. Some perceive adventurers as rugged or romantic ideals, the kinds of people that ballads and paeans written for. Others see them as crude, dirty, and vulgar. Indeed, all of these views have valid points. It was adventurers that defeated the giant invasions of the Sheldomar Valley, discovered the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, and defeated the Slave Lords. But adventurers were also responsible for the freeing of Iuz and Frazz’Urbluu, and have acted as spies and pawns for the schemes of such individuals as Mordenkainen and Tenser.

Adventurers come from all walks of life. Poor peasants dream of acquiring fame and wealth, and see adventuring as the way to do so. Those children of wealthy families who will inherit little from their parents’ estates turn to this trade in order to keep themselves in the life they are accustomed. Some want to help people and fight evil, cause mayhem and vent their aggressions, or simply want to travel and always see what is over the next hill. Adventurers that become famous or infamous can be sources of pride or shame for their family.

Most adventuring bands have no great power or fame, and as such constantly travel. These are usually turned to by poorer people who are suffering from some threat that they cannot turn to the authorities for, or by the authorities themselves to take on missions that their own men cannot handle. The adventurers are usually rewarded with all of the treasure they find in the course of their expedition, although in some cases payment can be arranged in lieu of simple treasure-gathering if specific sacred objects need to be retrieved, for instance. The missions they are involved in tend to be “local” ones, that do not have any great impact beyond the village or nation that employs them.

Famous bands can be caught up in plots and schemes that cross borders, and international politics that have far-reaching ramifications. These are the ones that will have audiences with kings and lords, and are trusted with the most delicate missions. With contacts that stretch across the Flanaess, their actions can make a tremendous impact on many different levels. These bands may excavate dungeons like any others, but they are more apt to be involved in situations that only their great talents can take care of.

How adventurers fit into whatever society they pass through depends on a number of different factors, such as their own dispositions, the laws of the realm, and the actions they take while there. Adventurers who conduct themselves according to the laws of the land are generally accorded respect and are treated much like anyone else.

Of course, some adventurers do not believe that a nation’s laws apply to them. They like to think that they can do whatever they want, and do not have to answer to anyone. When governments attempt to tax their wealth, or common people refuse to comply with their demands, they tend to react with violence, and attack anyone who tries to stop them. Needless to say, these rogues are hated by almost everyone they meet in lawful and/or good areas, though they are the ones who thrive in places like Iuz, the Pomarj, and the Bandit Kingdoms.

When these bullies become too daring in their offenses or become a persistent problem, and the local authorities cannot deal with them, the more powerful people who work for a government will usually act to put an end to their marauding, or they will post bounties for the villains, and let other adventurers capture them, dead or alive.

Opposed to those thugs who simply enjoy causing mayhem and bullying those who resist them, some adventurers may try to fight tyrannical governments by slaying the despots, or leading people in revolt against them. These do-gooders are usually dealt with harshly and mercilessly, although they may find help and assistance from others who fight their oppressors. Other times, the peasants will have nothing to do with them, either fearing retribution or being content in their current state.

Those adventurers who work for the interests of a government can be deputized or given grants of land by the sovereign, even acting as his direct agents in some cases. They are generally the ones trusted with the most important missions, or tasks that cannot be mentioned in public or ‘polite’ society.

Of course, the vast treasures adventurers accumulate can also be a way for governments to take an interest in them. Adventurers are considered a valuable source of tax revenue, and are often subject to all the same tariffs, taxes and duties that merchants are. Cash-strapped governments or nobles often levy greater taxes against adventurers than they would against merchants or their own citizens, since the former usually wield less influence and are of less importance in the functioning of their realm than are the settled folk.

Even if they often play less of a role in the day-to-day life of a country or city, adventurers still tend to impact these places in different ways. Innkeepers, armorers and weaponsmiths, and traders who sell magical paraphernalia and dungeoneering equipment all eagerly cater to adventurers, who tend to spend more than do locals or merchants. Merchants will sell their rare and expensive goods to adventurers, or hire them as guards for caravan travel. Citizens of any social class could enlist the aid of adventurers for their own purposes. Sages and scholars will be hired by adventurers to research questions for them. Priests and wizards can sell their services to adventurers, or receive services from these people. Even if they spend but a few weeks in an area, adventurers can affect it in many different ways. If they establish permanent interests, however, these can be much more profound…

Some adventurers may decide, once they acquire enough wealth and prestige, to retire. They may purchase a small house or manor, and spend the rest of their lives like any other citizen, or withdraw into the wilderness and live in seclusion. Many, however, have a greater ambition-to establish a temple to their deity, to acquire a noble title and land, set up a magical school, go into politics, and so forth. They may also become involved in commerce, become teachers, guards to important personages, etc.

Fighters, cavaliers, paladins, blackguards and a few rangers are the ones who are most likely to carve a territory out of bare wilderness and take up a noble title, either on their own or as part of a kingdom. Most kings are quite willing to allow adventurers who can hold a specific territory to join their country’s nobility, with the new noble enforcing laws and collecting taxes like any other aristocrat. When this is done, they will attract farmers, craftsmen, and other people to the areas they are developing, until it develops into a civilized area just like any other part of the country. They may also take positions in any of the many knighthoods of the Flanaess. Barbarians will also do any of these things, although they would join their king’s personal armies rather than any knightly orders. They may also become war-band leaders and continue to find sport with their kinsmen.

Clerics and monks generally tend to establish temples to their deities. In civilized areas, they do not generally rule directly, although they often try to influence politics as their deity dictates. If in the wilderness, their temples, abbeys or monasteries tend to be self-sufficient and autonomous, and they either take care of their own needs or purchase goods and services from outsiders when necessary. Druids tend to withdraw to the wilderness, obviously, and tend to become involved in the lofty affairs of the druidical circles, perhaps aspiring to become a Great or even the Grand Druid.

Thieves, rogues and assassins are generally ill-suited to carving out lands as warriors do. They may join a guild of their professional brethren full-time, and work in that way for the rest of their lives. Those with ambition may found their own guilds, or seize control of ones already in place. In realms that are not governed by aristocrats, nobles or kings, they may also enter directly into politics. Rogues both good and evil can thrive in the governments of realms like Dyvers, Greyhawk, Perrenland, or the Yeomanry, that are governed by elected officials, business interests, or plutocrats.

Magic-users may enter into politics or create their own dominions as do thieves and fighters, but most of them tend to continue researching magic and pushing its boundaries. As such, they may join professional guilds that join for just such a purpose. They may take teaching positions at magical academies or universities, or even found such institutions themselves. Other wizards have found gainful employment as sages, alchemists, or even as the court wizards to barons, dukes and even kings. While political power and nobility are both attempted by wizards, some people distrust their magical abilities, fearing that they have used their powers to attain their position, or gain undue influence.

As for bards and sorcerers, these are rather less common. Bards tend to be wanderers as a rule, although they may create their own domains as fighters do in rare cases. Sorcerers who pass themselves off as wizards may emulate the latter in their career choices, although those sorcerers who have survived long enough to retire are content to live in solitude, finding peace at last.

Of course, the costs of living for adventurers will always remain. As such, some adventurers will begin investing commercially or sell their services to those who need them, or even return to their old profession on a part-time basis!

The intricacies of government, and the blending of good and evil

Some states of the Flanaess are generally benevolent in their intentions and ways of conducting affairs, while others have debased rulers and wicked policies. Of course, when politics, diplomacy and dealings with opposing interests are involved in the running of a state, even the most benevolent ruler may have to make some sacrifices, or not be able to do whatever he likes.

With the exception of states where the ruler wields absolute power, such as in Stonehold or Northern Aerdy, there are always checks on the ruler’s power, in one form or another. Kings and dukes may wield great authority and power, but courtiers, provincial governments, diplomats, religious interests, the wealthy, and the masses all have their own interests, and will always work to promote them. If a king makes a declaration that proves unpopular with the whole of his country’s merchants, causing them to take their business elsewhere, he may be forced to recant his decision lest the economy collapse! Too-heavy taxes will lead commoners to revolt, while religions who offer crucial support to a king, such as the church of Hieroneous in Furyondy, must be satisfied with what the ruler is doing in order for him to have an appearance of power, authority, and the right to govern in the eyes of his subjects.

Powerful individuals, such as court wizards or very charismatic and politically skilled ministers, can promote their own interests in their own interests or what they perceive to be the interests of their country, whether in the halls of a royal court or in relation to other countries. While the king may prefer to silence such individuals, such a move is often unfeasible due to the power and popularity of such officials. A classic example of this is the actions of Lashton, the court wizard of King Kimbertos of Keoland. Even as Kimbertos tries to reconcile and offer aid to Geoff and Sterich, Lashton assails these nations with insults and threats as to what they will suffer if they defy the Throne of the Lion. Kimbertos would like to silence Lashton, but the wizard’s political and magical power and popularity among the nobility prevent this. Also, bickering between a king and his court wizard would be taken as a sign of weakness and incompetence in many circles…

And, of course, the citizens of a goodly country may not be as friendly and benevolent as the majority of their kinsmen. They can often demand or take certain actions that are morally questionable, whether it is for the greater good, or whether they view the tenets of what is “good” as only applying to some people, or simply because of a hatred or rivalry with other nations.

Hence, Urnst merchants might have no scruples about putting Nyrondese citizens out of work by cutting in on Nyrond’s trade or hampering that kingdom’s economic recovery if they can line their pockets. Sunndi generals might decide to raze Ahlissan villages to starve enemy soldiers in any attack they might make. Dwarves will slay humanoid and giant women and children without mercy. Dwarf and gnome merchants might play fairly with each other, but use all sorts of underhanded tactics to ruin human merchants. The Yeomanry’s belief in democracy does not extend to women, elves or halflings, and the civil rights foreigners, especially Keoish, might have in a court of law would be curtailed compared to those a native son would get.

Dealings with “evil” nations may be conducted as necessary. Keoland will trade with Ahlissa, even though most Keoish express disgust at how the nobility of the latter country treat their citizens. Greyhawk could play the empires of Iuz or the Horned Society against Dyvers, or against the Pomarj, if it could score them political points and lead them to outmaneuver their enemies. The nobles of Veluna will act aggressively if they are in a race with other nations to acquire a certain artifact-the expeditions to the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth are a good example.

Of course, all of these statements are broad generalizations-the foreign relations and overall alignment and character of any given country will impact how these things are done. With the exception of those citizens who would have the kingdom become an empire, most Furyonds will do its best to play fair and honest with their neighbors, though they will compete with them in mercantile races and disputes, or attempt to gain control of a magical artifact or wilderness diamond mine in a race with its neighbors, if necessary. While most Sunnd generals in the above example would only raze Ahlissan villages if they saw no other solution to the problem, the Fists of Stonehold would take pleasure in doing such a thing. Elves who are generally honest and friendly with humans might reserve their hardest politicking and argument for each other, as the famous example of the dispute between the elves of the Dim Forest and the Oytwood demonstrates.

Almost all states employ spies, ambassadors and other operatives in foreign countries, even those they are closely allied with. This is done so that governments can gain information on their neighbors, friends and rivals that is not altered in the way that the latter would want it. These agents do not necessarily have any malevolent intentions-they simply collect any kind of news that might be of interest to their employers, and if in the position to do so, will attempt to work for their country’s interest there. The most common of these latter operatives are, of course, diplomats and ambassadors, who mainly represent their country and present its interests to the government. Diplomats and spies might also operate for powerful wizards or foreign groups, such as orders of knighthood, small independent lords, and wizardly groups or churches. In any case, these operatives are not usually involved in any dark conspiracies, unless they belong to an evil organization. Many of them are simply working to further their employer’s interests, and do not have to break the law to do so. They might send reports back about the tariff barriers between their countries, news of a new gold mine or powerful magical artifact that could be claimed by anyone, the market trends in their host country, and so forth.

Unpleasant choices and deals are a part of international diplomacy and attempting to resolve disputes between countries. Some deals and negotiations are conducted openly, others in secret, depending on political needs and what interest groups within the country itself think. Lawful countries would tend to do things more openly, or at least do their secret dealings according to accepted codes and standards; while chaotic nations may do things in a style that suits their current needs. Good countries will aggressively defend their interests, but will be more concerned with the livelihood of foreigners and how their decisions will affect them, and will only resort to drastic measures when necessary. Evil nations, of course, have no such reservations.

The matters of competition and rivalry between nations does not take place in the context of alignment, but in the realities of international politics. In other words, good nations will work against each other, and evil nations compete with evil nations, if they feel it is needed. These rivalries carry on every day in the business of diplomats and politics, especially in these troubled times after the Greyhawk Wars. More than ever, cutthroat politics are the order of the day as many nations try to recover from their losses and ensure their survival, with evil nations just as apt to suffer as goodly ones.

Even the closest allies who are united in a common cause may have their rivalries and problems. Irongate may be angry with Onnwal for not taking a more aggressive stance towards the Lordship of the Isles and the pirates of the Sea Barons, raising trade tariffs or engaging in low-level clashes to enforce its will, although they both remain steadfast allies in the Iron League. The Duchy of Urnst might be continually pushing the County of Urnst to levy trade sanctions against the Shield Lands and Nyrond, urging them to make common cause with the duchy against the encroachment of both its rivals. Should the county refuse, then the duchy may instruct its patrols to be “indisposed” when the County needs assistance, or engage in conflict with the county’s own soldiers.

In the bad old days of the Great Kingdom, the various provinces were always at each others’ throats and always in competition with the central government of the Overking in Rauxes. Furyondy and Veluna might race with each other to take over a newly discovered diamond mine in the hills near their common border, working to gain the support of the local dwarves and gnomes against their rivals. Greyhawk and the Principality of Ulek might end up in a conflict both physical and diplomatic if there is a trade war, or if the Principality is angry at Greyhawk’s lack of support for its war effort against Turrosh Mak. The barbarians of the Thillionrian Peninsula are famous for considering their neighbors to be enemies one day and brothers the next. Onnwal, Idee, and Sunndi might all seek the same magical artifact, and work against each other to get it.

These maneuverings can even cross alignment ‘boundaries’ and result in ostensibly good and evil people working together. Greyhawk might sponsor orcs and goblins to attack Dyvers, or to harass the mining of the Duchy of Urnst in the Cairn Hills. The goodly people of the Grandwood were often allies of the wicked folk of Rel Astra against the corrupt imperial regime in Rauxes in the old Great Kingdom. The Yeomen may chase hill giants who attack them into Sterich or Keoland, allowing the monsters to raid their neighbors while they remain safe.

All of the above should be tempered when thinking of the character and alignments of the participants, as mentioned above. Goodly nations or those with more retiring characters will typically be much less aggressive and more restrained in their maneuverings and have more of a consideration for how their actions will affect their neighbors. Lawful regimes, or countries that have more outgoing people, will be more forthright and tend more often to work things out in complicated agreements, calling off the conflict when they feel it necessary. More chaotic countries think of themselves first when dealing in international politics, and evil peoples will happily do whatever they wish, regardless of how it will make anyone else suffer. In short, the alignments and characters of the people and states involved, when viewed in the context of the current political situation, usually determines how they act.

Corruption, crime, and other underhanded dealings

Regrettably, crime and corruption are a daily part of life in Flanaess. Thieves pick pockets, burglars rob jewelry shops, corrupt officials receive bribes in exchange for favors. Thieves’ guilds operate in almost every large city, possibly even with the tacit approval of the government. Assassins prowl the shadows. Bandits prowl the roads, and pirates roam the seas, making crime an unfortunate fact of life in every city. Crime can be both overt and obvious, with the intention of raiding and plundering, or it can involve secret networks of smuggling, bribery, and illegal dealings. With that in mind, it would perhaps be more conducive to examine the more obvious criminals-namely, those thieves who operate in cities and conduct all sorts of illegal activities.

Most of these are general thugs and rogues from the lower end of the social ladder, aiming to score as much wealth as possible to keep them in debauched comfort for the rest of their lives, while avoiding honest work if at all possible. They tend to be arrogant and cocky, bullying local residents and other street people and causing trouble in taverns to prove their toughness.

Often organized into street gangs, these boors have no real agenda beyond simply surviving off the toil and fear of others, like giant leeches. Other thugs might be high-born noblemen, who enjoy using their status to degrade and humiliate poorer folk, knowing full well that the law will take their side in any civil action their victims might take against them. They may use their wealth and stature to cause trouble for those who offend or resist them.

Professional thieves and rogues are those who take up their trade as a living-robbing homes, picking pockets, robbing people and shops, etc. Individual thieves work in almost every city in the Flanaess, and may either be brash, arrogant and overt, to create a reputation for themselves, or sneaky, subtle and quiet, the better to lift as much wealth as possible while attracting minimal attention.

Due to the threats from governments and lawful or goodly religions, thieves often tend to band in guilds, which are merely organized bands of criminals, united for protection. They may operate like any legitimate guild, with charters, rules, dues, and other such niceties, but the rules of succession are those of the survival of the fittest. Promotion in a guild can be done by the master, in which case lower-ranking thieves will try and curry favor with the master, or simply by killing those who rank higher than you and taking their place. The politics of a thieves’ guild can quite literally be cutthroat…

Thieves’ guilds may carry out the normal functions their individual members do, but they may also diversify and take control of prostitution, drug running, extortion, and all the other criminal activity in a city. They do not like competition in this regard, and will use arson, murder and whatever else is needed to drive off free-lancing thieves and those others who think they can steal a piece of the guild’s action. When two or more guilds operate in a large town, they may divide the city up among themselves, with each guild having control over a certain area of town.

The relationship between a government and its thieves’ guild may be friendly or hostile. If it is “friendly”, then the authorities will take no active steps to crush it, while still prosecuting lawbreakers and letting some go when necessary. In return, the thieves put down any other illegal activity in the city and inform the town fathers of any suspicious or threatening developments they hear about.

If the guild and government are hostile to one another, then things change drastically. City watchmen and criminals may clash openly in the streets, and the thieves may do such audacious things as poisoning and looting the entire mint. Indeed, if a government is corrupt or impotent to stop them, the thieves may force the populace under their thumb, using murder and violence to get what they want and to enforce their dictums. Most criminals, however, are not interested in actual conquest and control of a realm-they are criminals, not warlords. All this is bound by whatever peculiar codes of conduct exist in the country. Of course, this does not apply to wilderness thieves and bandits…

Bandits are sometimes poor peasants who cannot earn a living as farmers or fishermen, and so turn to banditry to support themselves. Most, however, are simply thugs who have no real skills or work ethic, and simply enjoy robbing others of their goods and getting wealthy while avoiding any sort of gainful employment. Some bandits love the roguery and sense of freedom, others are sadistic boors who enjoy taking what they want from others.

Bandits usually operate in the wilderness, robbing parties of travelers or merchant caravans, or raiding isolated settlements and towns. Large enough groups may act almost as humanoid war bands, putting fortified villages under siege or clashing with government patrols! When they rob travelers, they will usually let their prey go once he has turned over all his wealth to them, or simply kill him if they are in the mood for it. When raiding a town, bandits tend to strike quickly, before any patrols come upon them. They will take not only loot, but prisoners they can hold for ransom, impress into servitude, or even sell to slave merchants and brothels. This last disgusting behavior is truly reprehensible, and leads most civilized folk to feel little sympathy for bandits. Some men who would not otherwise do such a thing can and do kill bandits in cold blood, as the outlaws would do the same thing if their positions were reversed.

Waterborne pirates are like bandits, sometimes taking slaves and prisoners in addition to plunder. They are more bold than their land-based counterparts, often striking ports and enemies with frightening speed, and usually showing no mercy. These men dock in port and rest in countries like the Hold of the Sea Princes, the Lordship of the Isles, or the Sea Barons. Some pirates are more “honorable”, if one could call them that, and are issued Letters of Marque by a government to harass its enemies’ shipping, with the pirates being able to keep the plunder. Any of the major water-bound kingdoms, except perhaps Furyondy and the County of Urnst, can be found employing these men, who are called “privateers”. The privateers of goodly or non-evil countries tend to restrict their activities to the shipping of their employer’s enemy nations, although they may still have a free hand in what they do with the crew and passengers-Nyrond or Onnwal, for instance, would not likely care about the deaths of any Ahlissan or Sea Baron innocents should the privateers have to kill them.

All of the above criminals, it should be mentioned, operate more or less openly. Those crooked individuals who work within power or interest groups usually do things much more subtly. Rather than overt robbing and murder, they generally tend to rely on money and manipulation to accomplish their goals.

Corrupt officials are a fact of life no matter where anyone goes in the Flanaess. The vast majority of bureaucrats are honest folk who do their jobs well, whether out of a sense of civic duty or a fear of punishment by their superiors if they cheat; but others will accept bribes from wealthy interest groups to use the powers of their office in a way favorable to the bribers. Bribes can be given to a harbormaster, for instance, for him to allow them to smuggle in their contraband goods. Merchants can bribe officials to use their power to harass their competitors, as Glodreddi Bakkanin of Greyhawk is so famous for doing. Elected governments and royal councilors can also pass legislation that positively affects whoever gives the bribes as well.

The more insidious spies and information brokers can collect the guarded secrets of any country or power group, and then sell them to others for massive sums. Corruption in this case comes from treasonous individuals within a government, who will sell information in their possessions for monetary gain. Anyone caught in the act of treason or sedition is usually put to death immediately-not even the noble and upright knights of the Shield Lands could show mercy to anyone who so blatantly betrayed a person’s trust.
Other forms of political graft and influence exist, usually less insidious. The concept of patronage, for example, is alive and well in the Flanaess. Rulers both hereditary and elected often have the power to appoint people of their choice to positions of power, and often choose nobles, clergy, powerful wizards, or other important figures. This may be repayment for the services that these people have given them in the past, an attempt to curry favor with such powerful personages, or a way to give favors to someone, with the intention that the ruler may call the debt in at a later time. Overking Xavener of Ahlissa is the undisputed master of this latter practice.

In their struggle for power with their nobles or elected opposition, rulers will use patronage to shore up their positions against their opponents. None of this is necessarily done with any sort of evil intent in mind; rather, it is a way to hold on to power and allow the ruler to push through his agenda despite opposition. All this is done, of course, with a mind to the political rules the people have set for themselves. Noble houses and other interest groups will also compete with each other as necessary in these disputes.

Women and the adventuring life

Regrettably, if one happens to be a woman, she will find herself discriminated against in one fashion or another in some countries, as will demihumans (or humans, in certain demihuman realms). Whether not being allowed into certain taverns, receiving unfair treatment in the local laws, being treated unfairly if they speak or act on their own behalf, or berated by chauvinists, women will find these situations to be unfortunately common, although many realms like Geoff, Sunndi, Veluna, the County of Ulek, and others do not do this.

In any case, most of the social restrictions on a woman are ignored if she is an adventurer-men may have negative attitudes about woman adventurers, but they may be less inclined to share these views if the woman carries a large broadsword or can burn them to a crisp with a fireball. If they prove their ability in combat or through brave and heroic deeds, they can ascend to positions of leadership and power just as any man could. Ordinary rules may be waived in some cases-countries that would not permit noblewomen to inherit their deceased husbands’ estates would not object to a woman warrior clearing goblins out of a rich territory and then declaring herself Baroness or Countess in the usual manner. They may be called to serve in the military, whereas in the normal enlistment process only men may join.

Although some warriors’, wizards’, or thieves’ guilds tend to act exclusionist, giving a distinctly cold shoulder to women and those not of their own race, other institutions can accept women just as well. A woman who can best a man at swordplay, an intelligent wizard who has created many powerful items and spells, and thieves who use their charms to their advantage can all find friendship and support among those organizations that do not subscribe to any gender-based nonsense.

Although women can and do take up any and every profession in the adventuring life, some are more socially acceptable for them than others. Groups of barbarians, cavaliers, and some orders of paladins and blackguards tend to look down on their female counterparts. Most other professions, however, are likely to have little resistance from their general male population, as opposed to only certain sectors of it, as described above.

All of the above notwithstanding, women have bested men with everything from their wits to their weapons to their spells on more than one occasion. Women adventurers have proven themselves just as capable, strong and brave as men, and such a situation is unlikely to change.
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Re: The Greyhawk Travel Guide, Part II (Score: 1)
by Coldpenguin625 on Wed, August 25, 2004
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Very interesting series, I'm looking forward to the next installment. How many parts are there to the entire series?

Re: The Greyhawk Travel Guide, Part II (Score: 1)
by botch on Thu, August 26, 2004
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Great again!

One small beef though.... elves cannot make metal weapons themselves?

Re: The Greyhawk Travel Guide, Part II (Score: 1)
by Anced_Math on Fri, September 10, 2004
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Fantastic, I had to print the whole thing and bind it up as a part of my campaign.

Dont worry about the metal working skills of the elves. They won't stop making metal weapons because the travel guide said so. I was in Mexico once, waiting on bus that the guide said stopped at a certain point.

I later found out that bus service had been discontinued for for more than a decade.

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