Greyhawk Gazetteer Addendum: The Sheldomar Valley, Part 3
Date: Tue, January 20, 2004
Topic: Greyhawk Gazetteer
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? My gazetteer-style look at the nations of the Sheldomar Valley, continues with the Duchy of Ulek, Principality of Ulek, and the Sea Princes!"
Greyhawk Gazetteer Addendum: The Sheldomar Valley, Part 3
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.
ULEK, DUCHY OF
The Duchy of Ulek is the next state in the Ulek territory, which also
enjoys the same racial harmony and respect for the land espoused by the
County. Ruled by elves as opposed to humans, the duchy cheerfully
offers sanctuary to all in need, except those it knows as its
foes. Not one to engage in warfare, it supports the Principality
of Ulek as the buffer zone against the Pomarj, as well as any possible
attack from the Horned Empire?
The Wars did not interrupt the Duchy?s commercial prosperity, which is
the envy of the Sheldomar Valley. Known for their honesty and
fairness, the half-elven merchants of the duchy are given trust and
confidence that the shylocks of Dyvers and the rogues of Greyhawk would
Society and Culture: The duchy
is loosely ruled by the Duke, obviously, though the rest of its
political organization is a hodgepodge of baronies, counties and
principalities, extending to some of the gnomish holds in the
Lortmils. Although borders are kept for farming and trading
purposes, most people do not hold the division of territory to be of
great importance, and indeed people can cross over the lines
The Duke has final say in all matters concerning the government, though
in practice he rules with a light hand. The various nobles tend
to do as they please, and are noted for their thoughtfulness and
geniality. A strict policy of share-and-share-alike exists here,
as the wealthy merchants pay for the education and housing of those
less fortunate, though the poor of the duchy are well-off indeed
compared to those of most other cities.
Ostensibly, a feudal chain of command is followed, with the Duke
claiming ultimate authority, his nobles swearing fealty to him, the
merchants swearing to them, and so forth. However, this is rarely
enforced, as even the poorest goatherd can be counted on to have his
voice heard when he has a concern.
Military Structure: If the
people of the duchy have a fault, it is their slowness to react when
faced with a serious threat, against which they may not have been
prepared. Thus, their armies are neither formidable nor
numerous. Their strongest forces are their heavy and medium
cavalry, which consist of humans wielding lance and mace. The
elven light cavalry has good archers and lancers, though the human
billmen and wood elf archers of the south are, as concerns quality, on
par with the irregulars of large kingdoms like Furyondy or
Nyrond. The Knights of Luna have begun training the army, in case
they should be called to arms by the Treaty of Niole Dra.
Ruler: Duke Grenowin has lived
for over seven centuries, growing wiser and more powerful every
year. Surprisingly thick-limbed for an elf, his silver hair and
ancient eyes hearken back to a time when his younger self greeted the
first Suel settlers to his realm. He would have retired long ago,
but for his wastrel daughter Sierra, the rightful heiress to the
realm. She ran off long ago to pursue a path of adventure,
returning only briefly to entrust her son Vellenel to her father?s
care. Grenowin believes that his grandson will be ready to take
over the reins of the duchy when he steps down, though he notes the
activities of Celene and the Knights of Luna with deep worry.
Few things seem to bother Grenowin on the outside, who is a calm, cool
and collected fellow with a merry wit. Six and a half centuries
of rule have bowed his back, however, and he seems truly old and
tired. Tragedies not forgotten and old, hidden wounds are thought
to gnaw at him, especially the horrors of the Hateful Wars. He is
known to pray to Corellon Larethian every day, and yet, his prayers
seem to go unanswered?
Foreign Relations: The people
of the duchy distrust Greyhawk and Dyvers, both as competition for
their trade, and also because of the greedy, two-faced nature of the
residents of both cities. Knights of the Watch are received with
suspicious glares, and do not stay long. Some dwarves of the
Lortmils, the same ones who turned the Hateful Wars to their own
benefits, are distrusted. All others are generally welcomed as
brothers and friends, though the elves are more worried than ever about
the state of affairs in Celene.
ULEK, PRINCIPALITY OF
This nation, the only realm of the dwarfish people above-ground, is the
bulwark and shield of the Ulek states, guarding the people of the
County and Duchy from the evil humanoids of the Pomarj. Ruled and
populated by dwarves, the Principality has a sizable number of humans,
and few of other races.
The Principality was the Ulek state hit the hardest by the Greyhawk
Wars, as both refugees from the Wild Coast and orcs from the Pomarj
attacked head-on, even as Celene closed her borders and sealed herself
off from the rest of the world. The dwarves fought brilliantly
against their hated enemies, though the lack of aid from Celene
infuriated the dwarves, and further justified their well-known dislike
The Principality survived and continues to battle the orcs occupying
his eastern provinces to this day, though the war has been
costly. With only limited aid coming from his kin in the
Lortmils, Prince Olinstaad Corond has opened trade to the Lordship of
the Isles as a new source of revenue, to the shock of many in his
Society and Culture: The
Principality is organized along a rigid social hierarchy, with the
prince at the top, followed by the dwarven nobles, then the human
nobles, then the dwarven people, then the humans, and all others remain
at the bottom. Laws are generally written for the good of all,
though it is clear to everyone who visits the Principality that dwarves
are the dominant race. Except for the city of Gryrax, dwarves and
halflings outnumber humans.
The Principality is a nation of laws-strict laws and codes.
Things that may go unnoticed as trivial in another nation are often
cause to demand restitution among the dwarves of Ulek. Rarely
involving prison sentences, the dwarves prefer to levy heavy fines
against an offender. Putting a dwarf in prison for a decade
matters little, if he lives for 400 years; but causing him to pay five
thousand forges in fines and indemnities will guarantee that the
lawbreaker thinks twice about transgressing again!
Humans, and especially elves, often feel as if they are being
patronized and looked down upon by some dwarves. This is not to say
that such things are written into the law, but that the dwarves cannot
seem to overcome their traditional aversion to elves, save those they
recognize from the Duchy. The dwarves treat poorly with their
kinfolk from those evil dwarf-holds, who betrayed their race in the
Hateful Wars; these outcasts find little welcome anywhere but home.
Despite all this, the dwarves are honest folk, who can form very deep
friendships with other races. Their word is their law; no dwarf
of Ulek will give his word and then break it, on penalty of being
shorn, branded and excommunicated from the dwarven race.
Military Structure: The dwarves
of Ulek are blooded from the fierce fighting against the orcs, but they
are still a formidable military machine. Battleaxe-wielding heavy
dwarf infantry act as their elite forces, and strong forces of dwarves
and gnomes for sapping and engineering. The Principality is also
one of the few Flanaess armies to use slingers, in this form quick and
agile halflings who are master scouts. The cavalry is mostly
medium to light, wielding sword and lance, although they are not in
The royal navy at Gryrax is surprisingly well maintained, though hardly
on par with the Lordship of the Isles or the Sea Barons. This is
where most of the humans of the duchy serve, crewed by human nobles
appointed by the prince himself. While the royal navy is able to
deal with the pirates of the Pomarj and surrounding lands, those who
fear the Lordship of the Isles worry about the fate of the Principality
should the two states have to clash by sea.
Ruler: Prince Olinstaad Corond
is tall and surprisingly thin for a dwarf, as he practices both the art
of fighting and the art of thievery. His once jet-black hair has
faded to pure white, and his beard is thinning out, yet he remains
caustic, jolly, greedy, polite, rude, and businesslike as his needs and
whims dictate. Very fond of strong mead, he has been known to
drink almost half a gallon of the golden liquid when he has his liquid
refreshments. Sometimes, this gets the dwarf into more trouble
than is good for him, as his judgment slips while under the influence.
Prince Olinstaad is a rabid coin collector, having everything ranging
from Great Kingdom Ivids to copper pennies from the old Viceroyalty of
Ferrond. When excited on this subject, he has a tendency to
ramble on about minting, then moving on metalwork, values, trade, and
so forth. He does not like to be interrupted when warming to his
subject, and will likely take great offense at anyone who does
so. When angered, his wrath is terrible-more so if he is in his
cups. While a good person, he can exhibit the same stubbornness
and bad temper of any of his race!
Foreign Relations: Prince
Corond has asked Keoland and Greyhawk for financial aid in the war
effort against the Pomarj, which, by all accounts, is running into
problems. With the limited donations given to him by certain
dwarf kings from the Lortmils, he has had to open trade with the
Lordship of the Isles, raising a hefty tariff to do so. The
Lordship does not seem to mind at all, however, eagerly paying whatever
fees the prince requires of them.
As the Lordship has been infiltrated by the Scarlet Brotherhood, people
fear that they are making contact with the Suel humans of Gryrax,
urging them to rise up against and overthrow the prince, or, perhaps,
to gradually gain control of the realm themselves, to make the
principality into a nation of the Sueloise, rather than a nation of the
dwarves. People debate endlessly about which of the two goals the
Brotherhood pursues, if it does at all.
SEA PRINCES, HOLD OF THE
Bright and prosperous, this beautiful, tropical land was home to a
decadently wealthy nation with seemingly bottomless pockets. The
nation established by the pirates who seized control of the southern
reaches of Keoland during the reign of Tavish III was a place of
wealthy nobles living in large manors and plantations, grown fat and
wealthy from their decadent slave trade.
All that ended with the Scarlet Brotherhood, however. Slaves were
incited to riots, assassins convinced the Suel Sea Princes to join
them, and those who would not go with the established order were
imprisoned in chains. The Scarlet Brotherhood had converted the
Sea Princes into a purely Sueloise realm, extending those who were
enslaved to be all those who were not of the ?proper? race.
Or so it would seem. The Brotherhood made an error in bringing so
many Suel and Olman savages into the realms of the Princes, and of
putting their former owners in chains beside them. The boiling
cauldron of violence exploded in a frenzy of battle that rocked the
western end of the Hold, and was barely contained by the Brotherhood in
the east. Now, bitter fighting reigns across the Hold, with only
Monmurg, Port Toli, and the Islands still under Brotherhood control?
Society and Culture: The old
realm of the Sea Princes was quiet, calm and peaceful, its people
smiling and laughing in the hot sun. Knowing considerable
freedom, they did not grant it to their many slaves, who toiled
endlessly on their rich plantations, yielding tremendous amounts of
food to be consumed at home and traded abroad.
The social structure of the old Sea Princes was relatively loose; the
thirty Sea Prince positions were hereditary, with each noble ruling
over his dominion, the thirty coming together in common cause to
govern, electing a single Prince to act as the general head of
state. Below all this was the common people, who could trade
slaves, conduct piracy, smuggle, or do whatever else they liked, so
long as the Princes got their cut of the money. Unscrupulous
scalawags came from as far away as the Sea Barons and the Wild Coast to
make their fortunes here, with demihumans just as welcome as their
People debate endlessly about whether the Brotherhood really intends to
destroy and enslave the other peoples of the Flanaess, or let them live
so long as they recognize the authority of their ?betters?. To be
certain, many of those who resisted the Brotherhood were assassinated,
though their families were allowed to live as long as they signed over
their possessions to the Scarlet Sign. Those that surrendered,
were they not Suel, were blatantly treated as second-class citizens,
with many of the law?s rights and freedoms (to own land, for instance)
not applying to them. Those Suel who threw their lots in with the
Brotherhood found that little had changed in their lives, except that
they could now command their non-Suel friends as they liked.
One bizarre quirk of the Brotherhood, at least as far as their
conquests in the Lordship of the Isles and the Sea Princes indicate, is
that they do not radically change the socio-political structure of a
conquered realm. Instead, they simply place the Suel at the top
of whatever institutions exist, and render everyone else commoners or
slaves. Thus, the Suel Sea Princes who surrendered were allowed
to maintain their position, with Brotherhood monks taking over the
remaining positions of nobility.
Non-Suel traders and adventurers who came to trade within the conquered
realm could move about as they wished, though they would be singled out
for harassment and possible enslavement, with no protection from the
The Brotherhood maintains its control over the eastern parts of the
Hold, as well as the crucial plantations and sailing ships. The
western and central areas of the realm, however, are currently in civil
chaos. The volatile collection of ethnic groups has stirred up
great enmity between the various peoples, so that the fighting has
become chronic. Some of the Brotherhood Sea Princes are thought
to have been killed by now, and rival governments are already
challenging the Brotherhood?s supremacy, some led by minor nobles of
the old regime.
What caused the fighting is unclear-certainly the various savage races
imported by the Brotherhood hated each other and the Sea Prince
masters, with the norker mercenaries employed by some Princes only
making things worse. What sketchy news comes from adventurers and
spies who have explored the area say that the Olman slaves went berserk
when pillaging a certain Sea Prince manor and the dungeons beneath
it. Many of the savages seemed to be searching for
something. One finally returned, wearing a crown of bone that has
some hypnotic effect on his warriors, turning them into savage, berserk
killing machines. From there, it was as if every creature in the
western Hold gave in to its hate and fury against the other ethnic
groups it despised, causing a horrific cycle of violence that spread
across the entire nation, which the Brotherhood barely managed to keep
from reaching the western cities.
Military Structure: The old Sea
Princes had a small army of average training and morale, which was
rarely called on except to suppress slave revolts. The grand navy
they commanded, however, was the envy of the Sea Barons and Lordship of
the Isles, who both hated and loathed the Princes for their good
fortune. No nation could match the Princes at sailing, piracy, or
war when on the ocean.
Now, the chaotic mass of warriors of all levels of training, equipment,
and morale are the only effective military forces in the Hold.
Their savage frenzy is frightening to behold, as even civilized
Oeridians would be foaming at the mouth with fury, swinging their
swords as if possessed by fiends. At least one member of the
Circle of Eight believes that this is precisely what is going on?
Foreign Relations: The old Sea
Princes conducted trade with Nyrond, Keoland, Greyhawk, Dyvers, the Sea
Barons, the humanoids of Bone March and the Pomarj, any and every Aerdi
lord, certain dwarf kings, Iuz, and the Horned Society. Each was
willing to pay huge sums of coin for the slaves the Sea Princes brought
to their doorsteps.
When King Kimbertos Skotti took the throne, he made trafficking with
the Sea Princes illegal, earning him their enmity, though some of his
nobles continued anyway. Nyrond gradually phased out slavery,
except as concerned Aerdi prisoners of war. The fall of Bone
March and Iuz would have meant the loss of more clients, even as the
Slave Lords of the Pomarj provided unwelcome competition.
None of this matters now, with the chaos and violence in the lands of
the Princes. Greyhawk and Dyvers have gone for better markets
elsewhere, even as most of its former trading partners turned a blind
eye to a realm that would no longer do business with them. King
Kimbertos has declared his intentions to take back the Hold, as it was
once part of Keoland, though he was widely criticized for doing this
after seizing Westkeep in 588 CY. Other than Keoland, no foreign
state has a share of affairs in the Sea Princes, the Scarlet
Brotherhood struggling to keep the warring forces from spilling into
its own areas of control.
(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. )