Friday, 10 July 2020

History of the South East, Part 8: Total War


History of the South East, Part 8: Total War

“…but there they lay, sprawled across the field, craved far more by the vultures than by wives.”
― Homer, The Iliad

...but there they lay
And thus the Great Kingdom fell.

448 CY  Ivid I of House Naelax brought pressure on the southern princes to fall into line, but the outrages committed by the new herzog of South Province, which included seizing Lordship vessels anchored in Prymp Town, drove the lords of the isles to declare independence along with the other states. The prince of the Isles joined the Iron League in 448 CY, providing naval support and conveyance for traffic between Irongate, Onnwal, and their allies in Nyrond. In so doing, the lord of Diren was forced to deal more plainly with his fellow lords on the other islands, sharing additional power and ceding more local autonomy to them over the ensuing years. [LGG]

The isles of the Sea Barons had always been given a degree of autonomy not enjoyed by the Baronies of the mainland. They had been tasked by Overking Manshen in 102 CY to pacify the seas, to contain the Barbarians in the north, and to stamp out piracy in the south. They required freedom to do so, they said. They could not accomplish these tasks were they to account for each and every action, they said, citing the impossibility of their fleets to communicate with their home ports when at sea for months at a time. Rauxes agreed, reluctantly; but the crown made it clear that the Barony’s continued autonomy was contingent on results. To which the Sea Barons agreed.
They never truly succeeded in containing the Barbarians, but in 168 CY, they finally defeated the fleets of Duxchan, all but eliminating piracy in the south. But the Barony and the Overking had grown accustomed to reaping the spoils of captured pirate ships, thus the Crown bestowed writs of privateer to those ships sailing the Azure Sea against those vessels of the Iron League.
The captains of the fleet were accustomed to keeping their own council as to who the foes of the Kingdom were, and long voyages without the oversight of the throne strengthened that sense of independence. Asea, and then in their home ports.
In time, the authority over the seas was divided between the Sea Barons and the Lordships of the Isles. Never friendly, the two provinces became heated rivals, vying for control of trade routes. The Lordship were given the writs of privateer, and preyed upon merchant fleets, while the Sea Barons weathered the far more vicious conflict with the savage Barbarians during the raiding season.
All that changed with the continued dissolution of the Great Kingdom.
In 448 CY, the Sea Barons suddenly gained sole authority over naval pursuits in the eastern Great
Kingdom, following the affiliation of the Lordship of the Isles with the Iron League. Overnight, the prince of Sulward and the baron of Asperdi became nemeses instead of rivals, with the Aerdi Sea as their field of battle. [LGG]

449 CY  Rel Deven suffered greatly during the Turmoil. Rauxes would not, could not, tolerate its influence, however fleeting that its might be by then. Should those Houses that resisted Ivid’s claim to the throne band together, what better place to rally than one of the Cities of Enlightenment? It had happened once already, those disloyal in the north flocking to Rel Mord’s call to arms. Rel Deven could become such a rallying point in the west. House of Darmen put an end to such concerns when it backed House Naelex’s bid for the throne and sacked Rel Deven.
Rel Astra had been dubbed the first of three nearly equidistant "Cities of Enlightenment" founded by the Aerdi to span their empire, eventually including Rel Deven and Rel Mord in the west. Control of the [Rel Astra] remained with House Garasteth, which ruled it as a principality, a fief subject directly to the crown. For centuries it continued to grow, remaining the grandest city in the Great Kingdom, if no longer its most prestigious as the focus of the empire moved west. [LGG]

Alliances shifted during the war, but the decisive event was the decree of the House of Darmen in CY 449 to back Ivid's suit wholeheartedly. This wealthy and pragmatic house believed Ivid was coming out ahead, so the house sprang a surprise with the sack of Rel Deven in Harvester of that year and a series of brilliant lightning strikes aimed at securing provisioning for the coming winter.
Their armies allied with those of Naelax to secure the central lands of the Great Kingdom, and the war was won.  [Ivid]

Erasing History
Territory was not enough. Hearts and minds need be kept in check. And History, too. Ivid sought to control every pen. But even as the University of Rauxes became the pyre upon which free thought burned, even as fields of gallows bore their fragrant fruit of sage and scribe, there were those who could not be tamed.
The sack of the University of Rauxes destroyed all imperial records of the war. Likewise, Duke Astrin's considerable library at Eastfair went out in rucksacks and up in flames during the final imperial campaign. Though some fairly complete histories survived in the monasteries of Medegia, they are heavily tinged with the Holy Censor's degenerate philosophies. Their accuracy is highly questionable, especially concerning their main topic: the battles between Rauxes and Medegia. [Wars]

The Royal Guild has held a monopoly over nearly all trade in the Great Kingdom lands since the Turmoil been Crowns over 150 years ago, when House Darmen cast its lot with House Naelax (Ivid I). House Darmen was then given the authority to license and regulate all trade and crafts guilds in the Great Kingdom, and it formed the Royal Guild to oversee its immense operations. The guild is not evil in the main, and it is heavily backed by license and the Ahhsan priesthood of Zikchus. However, the Royal Guild is wealthy beyond the wildest dreams of the guilds in Greyhawk, and it has huge land holdings in Ahlissa. [TAB]
               
450 CY  Dunstan I of Nyrond realized that once The Great Kingdom stabilized, he would need allies. His borders must be secure. But mostly, he would need others to come to his aid in his time of need, should that time come, and who else would stand by him than those that had also recently seceded for the Malachite Throne’s fierce rule.
He called the Great Council of Rel Mord, and representatives from Almor, the Iron League, the Duchy of Urnst, and Greyhawk arrived to treat with him. There was a cost. He need withdraw Nyrondal troops from the Pale and the County of Urnst, for those who would ally with him would not do so if he too occupied lands not his, for they would not throw off the yoke of one Overking only to treat with another. They came to an accord, and roundly condemned the Great Kingdom.
By 450 CY, Aerdy had survived two distinct civil wars. Ivid and his court had defeated their enemies in the aristocracy, and had entrenched themselves in the empire's political machine. With a stabilized foe, Dunstan realized in his old age that he still needed willing allies, should Aerdy take the offensive. In Harvester, he called the Great Council of Rel Mord. Delegates from every Nyrondal principality and subject state attended, as did representatives from Almor, the Iron League, the Duchy of Urnst, and even Greyhawk. After a month and a half of negotiation, Dunstan the Crafty withdrew Nyrondal troops from the Pale and the County of Urnst, and realigned the internal borders of his subject lands. Furthermore, he publicly threw his considerable support behind the Iron League, and rebuked the Great Kingdom of Aerdy as a "corpulent reanimated corpse, spreading contagion and sorrow to all that it touches."  [LGG]

The war ran its course, it waned, and in time, the bloodletting stopped, for it had little left to spill. House Naelax held the throne, and the Great Kingdom stabilized, somewhat; if what remained could ever again be considered stable. But at such a cost. The Kingdom had split, its power decentralized, its lands riven by fear, suspicion, and deviltry.
All houses agreed to accept Ivid as overking, and their leading princes paid homage along the Great Way in the Parade of Crowns. The House of Naelax was triumphant. Ivid may have won a kingdom, but he paid a high price. The South and North Provinces, and Medegia, became in effect semiautonomous provinces of the Great Kingdom. Consensus of opinion holds that all of the Overkings who have ruled since the House of Naelax ascended to the Malachite throne are insane, demon-ridden or both. [Ivid]
The House of Naelax changed Aerdy forever. The five overkings it produced, and most of its noblemen and women, were dangerously insane and "fiend-seeing." Dangerously insane because the typically paranoid form their madness took did not take any toll of their intellect; they were usually smart, piercingly observant, especially with fiendish aid, and utterly ruthless.
The title "fiend-seeing" ascribed so often to them is, nowadays, not such an unusual aspect of Aerdi. Many rulers traffic with fiends, have fiends in their armies, or are themselves undead. However, at the time, the House of Naelax assumed dominance by being very unusual and pre-eminent in such fell dealings, and it gave them a decisive edge. [Ivid]

Of all the provinces, the See of Medegia became the most independent.
The faith of Hextor became the most prominent in the realm, and it laid claim to the See of Medegia, wresting it from the Zilchans who had held it for nearly two centuries after they had supplanted the Pholtans. [LGG]
This fief of the Great Kingdom became so strong as to be virtually independent when the Malachite Throne went into decline. The Holy Censor still remains one of the chief advisors of the Overking. [Folio]
Ivid had to accept the [autonomy] as part of the bargain for accepting his ascension to the throne. While North Province was ruled by the House of Naelax, Medegia in particular became increasingly independent and often failed to support the more aggressive schemes of later overkings. But the independence of these sub-states could only delay the final fate of the Aerdi. [LGG]

455 CY  County of Sunndi joined the Iron League.
The County was once a fief within a fief, being granted to a loyal peer of the Overking's Herzog of the South Province. After a long period of oppressive taxation, maltreatment by royal troops and those of the Herzog as well, the nobles of human and non-human folk in the area joined the general uprising against Aerdian rule, and became a part of the Iron League. [Folio]

Within a decade of the formation of the Iron League, human, dwarf, elf, and other nobles of the Pawluck Valley, Hestmark Highlands, Rieuwood, and Glorioles Mountains rose up against the occupiers, liberating Sunndi in a short but brutal uprising still remembered with bitterness in Ahlissa. In 455 CY, Sunndi officially joined the Iron League.
With the Aerdy nobility dead, fled, or in revolt against the overking, the people of Sunndi turned to the gray elves of the forests for guidance. Turentel Esparithen, a count under the occupied government and a hero in the fighting against the Aerdi, established a government based upon mutual respect for all peoples. [LGG]

456 CY  Ivid was ever a paranoid despot, but aren’t they all? He distrusted any and all civil servants that were not in his debt or thrall. But how to remove them and not incite the people and provinces to open rebellion?
Under the rule of Naelax, the session judges were subverted to the interests of the overking. The most infamous instance is the slaying of the prime, the "Chief Justice" appointed by the overking. This individual was usually the patriarch of Pholtus in Rauxes, but sometimes the man was a leading patriarch of great wisdom from another city.
Ivid I had Prime Remmanen secretly assassinated and replaced by a doppelganger in his service. When the doppelganger was unmasked, Ivid feigned outrage and immediately replaced the prime by appointing three judges—a patriarch of Pholtus, one of Zilchus, and one of Hextor. [Ivid]

467 CY  The question must be asked: when did Ivid plunge into the depths of insanity?  It is impossible to pinpoint the exact moment, but one must question why he decreed that paupers’ remains become the possession of the crown. We know why, but when did he decide that an army of undead was superior to one of the living? Did he believe it was cheaper to maintain?
By an imperial decree, Ivid I ruled that the bodies of who died within Rauxes became the possession of the crown unless a fee of 100 gp could be paid for the purpose of burial at Oltary Park. This ensured a supply of pauper bodies which could be used for the purposes of animating dead by evil priests. [Ivid]

486 CY  Ivid wished to secure is borders. He had enemies everywhere, after all. But he needed money to do it, so he introduced a tax on Castles and Keeps. Were there enough castles and keeps to raise the funds he required? Maybe, but one can never have enough income, so even more clever taxes were devised. Ivid declared a tax on windows. It was noted that there was a decline in revenue raised by the tax due to windows being blocked up. It was also observed that new houses were being built with fewer windows.
Outside of "strategic" areas bordering on other states, a tax on stone castles and keeps was introduced. The tax was justified as a way of paying for new castles in North Province, where it could be claimed that they were needed to protect the electrum mines of Bellport from humanoid attacks. Of course, such castles were built in lands mostly owned by Naelax nobles. [Ivid]

489 CY  What of the Tilvanot Peninsula? It had been quiet of late. One would be wrong to believe so, for in truth, the Kingdom of Shar was not so quiet as patient, distrustful, and reclusive. Paranoid. Cautious. And scheming. They had fled the Flanaess, but they were not cowering upon their barren and rocky plateau; they were biding their time.
Shar Comes to Call
In 5831 SD [315 CY] relations were established with the Suel tribes of Schnai, Fruztii and Cruskii in the northern Lands. The people of the Thillonrian peninsula had adapted to their original culture for their cold new homes, and the representative of the Kingdom of Shar […] took some getting used to. The southerners’ gifts of exotic woods and fine weapons eventually won over the barbarian kings. Culturally primitive by Brotherhood standards, the northern barbarians were beautiful examples of unpolluted Suel bloodlines, and many specimens were lured to Shar as “emissaries,” with the intent of improving the southern stock. In exchange for siring or bearing children, these barbarians lived luxuriously in the south, learning the original Suel tongue and continuing to train in the arts of war with Brotherhood soldiers. [SD]
 Those arts of war were about to change, and that change would bring about the collapse of the old order. It all began when a portal opened on the Tilvanot Plateau.
The complacency of the Suel society was shaken to its very roots. Suddenly the southern provinces were invaded by strange monsters and by small bands of an entirely alien people who bore a disturbing resemblance to the Bakluni. Only one element of the old order survived the impact, the Scarlet Brotherhood.
Strangers
Slaver forces sent against them were driven back in disarray. Many of the upper classes committed suicide for shame, or failed to respond at all. The slaves on the estates sensed weakness and revolted. The tottering structure erected by the first colonists collapsed.
Olly one element of the old order survived the impact. Irith Van, the head of the Scarlet Brotherhood, sent out scouts to investigate and met secretly with certain elements among the strangers. It developed that these folk had entered the plateau via a magic portal, created by a great mage to allow them to escape enemies yet more powerful than themselves. […] The portal closed behind them, and they had no way to return. Irith Van noted the strange but effective skills of the intruders, whom he called “monks” because of their ascetic doctrines. He proposed an alliance. […]
[The’ Scarlet Brotherhood was hammered into a new form. The alliance with the monks was secret to all but those of the highest circle, [and soon those skills were taught to the newest disciples.] [WG8 The Fate of Istus]
The entire episode of the foreign intrusion has since been expunged from history, and the existence of the descendants of the monks [became] a carefully maintained secret. [WG8]

c 490’s CY            The Suel had always believed in their manifest destiny. They were destined to rise up above all the peoples of the Oerth, and rule as they were intended to. Some believed in that destiny more than others. Some believed that the others needed a little convincing. Huro, of the Scarlet Brotherhood, was one such, and in doing so, he wrote "Millennial Prophecies," the manifesto that he believed would bring about that destiny. Did Huro believe his own prophecy, or was it just propaganda? Either way, Huro wrote that the Brotherhood had been reborn, a sign that it was time for the Suel to rise to their rightful place.
The Millenialists believe in a prophesy by a Brotherhood member maned Hero, who wrote […] that “at the millennium of the Foundation a great miracle will occur, which will be the beginning of a purified and strengthened Scarlet Brotherhood.”
[It was] assumed that the Foundation referred to the inception of the Brotherhood in 5091 SD, and thus the millennium date would be 6091 SD, or 576 CY. [SB]


492 CY  The Brotherhood had been reborn, and Hesuel Ilshar was raised to commemorate its new order.
Hesual Ilshar
In 6006 SD, Irith Van, the head of the Scarlet Brotherhood, ordered the building of a new headquarters and fortress at the site of the [strange monks’] entry into the Flanaess: Hesuel Ilshar, Breedhome of the Suloise. [WG8]
[Its purpose? To] produce a newer and “purer” Suel race, trained in all the deadliest arts, fit to conquer a continent. [WG8]
Hesuel Ilshar is a grim and martial city. While its inhabitants regard it as the epitome of Suel culture, it has been heavily influenced by the monks with whom Irith Van formed his alliance. Ironically, the vigorous and rejuvenated expression of Suel “superiority” is a hybrid. [WG8]

494 CY  Ivid I had set the stage for what was to come. Was he entirely to blame? No. The Great Kingdom had slip into uncertainty long before; indeed, the Great Kingdom had never been the equal to its predecessor, Aerdy. Its only claim was its breadth. But the soul of the Great Kingdom was Aerdy’s: selfish and self-serving ambition.
Ivid ruled for 48 years and, though he never regained control of his lost provinces, he bound the rest of Aerdi to him through fear and debauched reward. His son, Ivid II, survived only three years on the fiend-seeing throne. Unstable before his coronation, Ivid II quickly lapsed into raving dementia upon assuming the full regalia of office. Madness did not bring Ivid II’s fall, however: he was slain by a son who desired the crown. [Wars]

If there was one thing that Ivid II had inherited from his father, it was suspicion and paranoia.
Rifter is a truly imposing structure. It was built by Ivid II at a time when he felt the need for an impregnable "bunker" retreat if he was ever faced with the need to evacuate Rauxes. This was at a time when the overking was especially paranoid, even by Naelax standards. This keep is manned by 200 elite soldiers of Imperial Regulars and a detachment of 20 Companion Guard, with 15 fiendknights protecting the dungeons below the keep should Ivid ever have to retreat there. It is whispered that a sphere of annihilation controllable only by Ivid himself is kept as an ultimate weapon within these dungeons. [Ivid]
Rifter takes its name from its construction within a half-mile of a narrow […] rift in the earth which appears to descend for miles, although it is always smoke-filled and magical scrying does not reveal what lies below. A permanent prismatic sphere has been placed above it to prevent anything emerging. One might wonder why anyone should wish to build a keep so close to such a hazard. The answer is that with hallucinatory terrain to disguise it, and spells such as telekinesis to propel siege engines and people into it should Rifter be besieged, was deemed a very useful feature by the magearchitect who advised Ivid [II] on the best site to construct this place. [Ivid]

497 CY  The apple does not fall far from the tree. Ivid III was his grandfather’s son, as Ivid II could never be.
I
Ivid's Web
vid III immediately followed his grandfather’s example, exterminating his blood kin so none could challenge him for the crown. With the blood of his father still beneath his fingernails, Ivid III imprisoned his children in richly appointed cages. He provided his heirs with tutors and countless lavish debaucheries lest he seem the neglectful father.
[GW]

Ivid III was very much his grandfather’s son. He understood the value of intelligence. And the power of fear.
[The Web:] This simple and unimaginative name is that given by Ivid III to a network of spies, agents, and assassins in his service. [Ivid]

Not all rulers are cut from the same cloth. Those of the Duchy of Urnst were by no means like those of the Great Kingdom. Nor their cousins in the Shar.
The dynasty of House Lorinar began in 497, and has provided Urnst with a number of capable rulers. [LGG]

498 CY  County of Urnst had not been independent for long. It had gained its freedom from Nyrond in 450 CY, only to become Palatinate under Duchy of Urnst a half-century later.
A half-century after the Great Council of Rel Mord, the County of Urnst became a palatine state under the protection of the richer and more powerful Duchy of Urnst, a political situation that continues to this day. [LGG]
The county is allied to and under the protection of the Duchy of Urnst, but its ruler is by no means subservient to the duke (who is seeking to marry his eldest son to the countess and thus permanently unite the lands into one realm). [Folio]
If the County of Urnst is subservient to its southern cousin, it certainly doesn't act like it. The ruling house of Urnst, the Gellors, has long displayed a well-deserved reputation of determined individualism. [LGG]

501 CY  Wastri the Hopping Prophet has always been a bit of a mystery. Was he a madman who disappeared into the Great Swamp and gained godhood to the amphibians and bullywugs there?
Or is he Iuz, sowing chaos and strife in the sweltering swamps of the south, much as he has in the frigid and windswept north? Their methods are similar, their prejudices and hatreds identical, and their disappearances uncannily timely. (SD 6016)  
Granted, Iuz was imprisoned by Zagig in 505 CY, but seeing that Wastri lived in the depths of the Vast Swamp and killed almost all who stumbled upon him, who can say when Wastri truly went missing?
Strengthened by its new ties [with the Suel tribes in the northern lands], the Kingdom of Shar prospered over the [past] two centuries, complacent in its inevitable progression toward domination of the Flanaess. Wastri’s disappearance in 6016 SD was interpreted alternately as a positive sign (the demigod was harassing others elsewhere on Oerth) and a negative one (he was mustering power to attack his southern neighbours). When he did not reappear after a decade, concern declined, and the Brotherhood turned its attention to the political turmoil in the Great Kingdom. [SD]

504 CY  Nyrond has always been a beacon of benevolence within the Great Kingdom, even in its darkest hours. This is not to say that it has not had aspirations. This is not to say that it has not always been a shining light of justice and freedom either; but it had always stood head and shoulders above the darkness that surrounded it. Not all Nyrondese are as high minded, though. The Nyrondese are Aerdi, after all.
Rel Mord's mercenary organization was formed in 1148 OR by a Nyrondese captain who had fought in the expansionist campaigns. The captain called to arms all men who were willing to serve as warriors for pay only, not for reason of ethics or nationalism. Scores of fighters applied for membership, and the Iron Fist Guild was born. [WG8]

508 CY  Fire of Rel Mord.
[Most of a] crowded section of commoners' residences [was destroyed by fire] in 1152 OR. More than 500 persons died in the smoke and flames. After the fire, clean-up crews complained of hauntings and strange occurrences, and the area was abandoned. Since then it has become overgrown with bushes and small trees. Half-burned sections of the buildings still stand, though they are weak and dangerous. [WG8]

515 CY  Founding of the annual Windmarch fair of King’s Justice.
An example of how merchants have played a powerful role in Aerdy's growth is the Windmarch, the great series of trade fairs which travel through Aerdy west to east from Planting right through to Patchwall. The name comes from the old belief that the roads and paths used by anyone traveling from one fair to the next followed the prevailing wind, which usually comes from the west from late spring into late summer.
These fairs stimulate trade and barter and generate income and wealth for many—from tolls on major roads, tavern taxes, hostelry bills, etc.
Merchants also have funded much of the growth of cities, paying for bridges, docks and wharves, and improvements which make trade easier. As a result, merchants who are not princes still hold exalted positions in Aerdy society. For example, wealthy merchants are the only men other than princes allowed to walk the central Great Way in Rauxes. Certain clothes, such as silks and guild regalia, only can be worn by merchants or guildmasters. For anyone else to wear them is a crime which is heavily punished.
However, Aerdy merchants are famously amoral. They have little in the way of principles, and they are perfectly prepared to rob a vendor or customer blind if they think they can get away with it.
This is less true when they deal with people they know. However, merchants gain kudos by fleecing some first time or ignorant buyer of his hard-earned gold, and there is little principle to be found among these folk. Importantly, women play as active a role in trade as men, which is somewhat unusual in Aerdy life.
Lastly, there is a powerful class of "landed merchants." These are men who have bought, or taken a very long lease upon, sizeable landholdings and who in return become almost merchants in the service of their patron prince in exchange for the prince paying for the militia, men-at-arms, and the like who protect the merchant's land holdings.
In all respects, merchants have a social standing which skilled workers and artisans do not have. This is partly historical, because of the role of Zilchus's priesthood in the expansion of Aerdy, and partly a rub-off from royalty, since the House of Darmen has so many merchants among its number. Indeed, in addition to the "landed merchant" one might take note of the "merchant princes" which this house contains within its ranks. [Ivid]

For some 70 years there has been a Windmarch trade fair here during the third week of Harvester, shared with the town of Darnagal. [Ivid]

515 CY  Sinking of Duxchaner ship with a cargo of pearls and ingots worth 40,000gp.
Port Elder [of the Sea Barons] is a free and open port, though anyone with Suel features is carefully watched by the naval militia, known as the Black and Golds on account of their uniforms. The Lordship of the Isles, and its Suel masters of the Scarlet Brotherhood, are too close for comfort here.
Pamdarns Admiral of the Squadrons, Yendrenn Harquil, is a dashing and charismatic figure about town. His galleon, the Seawolf, bears Harquils own symbol (a seawolf, unsurprisingly) on its sails rather than the sea serpent that almost all other Sea Barons vessels display. With his sallow-faced mage Rhennen aboard to give aid with airy water; telekinesis, and other such spells, Harquil specializes in the discovery and looting of sunken wrecks, several of which lie south of Fairisle and on the eastern seaboards of all the islands.
Harquil is always eager to learn of such wrecks, if a diviner, bard, or sage knows of any—and Harquil shares the booty recovered with his source. Though chaotic, he always keeps his word in such dealings, and his recent recovery of nearly 40,000 gp worth of pearls and ingots of precious metal from the hulk of a Duxchan ship sunk in 515 CY has brought him fame. [Dragon 206]

Pirates, barbarians, the Duxchan fleets, and sahuagin are offshore menaces to the Sea Barons. However, other races and creatures lurk in the waters around the coasts. Seawolves have been reported some 50 miles north of Asperd Isle, though they have not yet entered the coastal waters. They seem organized, or familial, since they are always seen in groups of a half-dozen or so. Rumors say they are somehow bound to the site of their sunken ship, said to have been bearing mages seeking seabed sites akin to the Cauldron of Night. No one knows for sure, but several old salts have noted that Harquil has not sought the wreck as he usually would if hearing of such a lost vessel.
The Sea Barons almost never encounter sea elves now. In the past, the adventurous members of sea-elf tribes would sometimes trade and barter with the Barons on a fairly ad hoc basis, but they have not appeared in Asperdi for several years. The elves are said to have retreated to the waters around the transformed Lendore Isles. Lastly, there are persistent tales of an aquatic race of brownie-like creatures or sea sprites, not nixies or their kin, on the eastern shore of Oakenisle. These little folk are extremely elusive, but seem to be spying on the island and sometimes acting as sentinels or guards. What they are watching for, or watching over, is a mystery. [D 206]

523 CY  Grenell (His Radiant Grace), Herzog of the North, is born.
                Grenell has been a survivor all his 62 years. [Ivid]

c.530 CY               Ivid III was of a mind that he would not leave the Kingdom to a weakling, like his grandfather had. Unfortunately for him, Ivid IV was cut from the same cloth as his father, and his great-grandfather ascends to the Malachite throne.
When he reached advanced age, however, Ivid III declared that his surviving child would succeed him. The announcement unleashed a bloodbath of fratricide in his children’s velvet prison. The sole survivor became Ivid IV. [GW]

A Strong Nation
The new ruler of Aerdi emulated his father: those children not slain at birth were imprisoned, and their mothers monstrously tortured for the Overking’s amusement. With their father’s throat out of reach, the children practiced their Naelaxan butcheries on a succession of nursemaids and governesses. Some survivors of the children sadly came to the Overking’s attention and joined his everchanging stable of concubines. After a brief dalliance or pleasing interlude, these women disappeared into the bowels of the torturers’ dungeons: the Overking loved pain more than passion. Otherwise Ivid IV’s reign accomplished little. The Overking excelled in debauchery, not administration. He perennially launched military campaigns to retake Almor and Nyrond and always managed only to shift the borders a few miles in either direction. No matter-the battles provided a summer spectacle to occupy the Overking, who was more interested in fury and thunder than real military gain. [GW]

c. 534 CY              Bigby is born.
Bigby hails from the Great Kingdom, where he was born in the town of Oldridge nearly 58 years ago. His features are Oeridian, with light brown hair and dark brown eyes. His skin is pale, and his exceedingly picky diet has resulted in an almost unhealthy gauntness.
Early in life, Bigby s travels found him in the Wild Coast, where he eventually gained the notice of Mordenkainen. Bigby is known to be a member of Aerdy's House Cranden, and rumors have long placed Mordenkainen as a distant scion of the same bloodline. For that reason, and because of their shared experiences and adventures, Bigby and Mordenkainen share a friendship unique among the members of the Circle. [LGJ #0]

Mid-550’s CY      Far be it from Ivid to not favour family. House Naelax thrived under his rule.
The Iron League became very successful at keeping its enemies in the Great Kingdom at bay, using spies and subterfuge to resist the efforts of all herzogs to reclaim it for more than a century. In the mid-550s, cousins of the overking known as the Chelors were awarded rulership of South Province, and for thirty years they ran an aggressive campaign to win back these rich provinces, but to no avail. [LGG]

555 CY  Midnight Darkness formed.
The organization is generally thought to be in the service of Nerull, the Reaper. Indeed, priests of Nerull are among their number. Since the cult is only believed to have been active for 30 years, and its killings only linked to it for many fewer, no man has been able to collect a great deal of information about it. [Ivid]

556 CY  Succession had become a lethal endeavor in the Great Kingdom.
While Ivid IV dallied, his someday successor, Ivid V, set to work. Second among the Overking’s sons, Ivid V thought to simplify the appointment of an heir by exterminating his siblings. Though Ivid V completed this task with skill and dispatch, his father still refused to yield the throne to him. [Wars]
Ivid IV had been a prolific sire. Before his ascension could be assured, Ivid V had to dispose of 123 brothers and sisters. Though suckling babes proved easy prey, Ivid V's older brother easily matched him. For many years the pair waged a war of assassination and intrigue in their prison palace before Ivid V prevailed. [Wars]

His completion eliminated, Ivid IV took the final step to gain the Malachite Throne.
Ivid V ascended to the Malachite Throne in Rauxes in CY 556 by the traditional manner of murdering his father and others who got in his way. This was accepted practice in many royal houses in Aerdi. The moral degeneracy which the House of Naelax actively encouraged had taken a firm rooting in Aerdi aristocracy. [Ivid]
The heir apparent hired the Overking's latest favorite to pour acid in the emperor's ear.

Ivid V's role in the affair is doubtless: the new ruler boasted of the ruthless deed. Recognizing the danger of keeping a treacherous concubine on hand, however, Ivid V sentenced his accomplice to the Wheel of Pain. [Wars]

Zelizar's House
This house of ill repute has become debauched to an appalling degree. Its most notable resident, a semipermanent guest, is Prince Ishainken of Naelax. A major landholder in the lands north of the Imeda east of Rauxes, Ishainken is important because his lands supply more than over half the food which keeps Rauxes from starvation and utter collapse. Ishainken is a jaded, warped, half-deranged wretch who barely cares whether he lives or dies; he's simply here to see the last act of the tragedy of Naelax played out.
From his point of view, the best way to do this is by indulging himself to the utmost.
Ishainken's money, and that of a handful of degenerate Rauxes merchants with some resources left, keeps Zelizar's establishment going. Somehow, the proprietor manages to stock a good supply of powerful liquor, addictive substances of various kinds, depraved and mostly-diseased doxies, and wretches who fight to the death in the gladiatorial pit in the cellars. From time to time, a polymorphed fiend might enjoy a little voyeurism here, and a priest of Hextor or one of Rauxes's few remaining mages could attend for some particular indulgence.
In addition to the dubious pleasure of meeting such folk, Ishainken is not without interest; he knows some hidden secrets concerning the Naelax bloodline. Specifically, he has carefully concealed at his home castle a text written by Xaene himself. It states that Ivid V was not the biological son of Ivid IV, but rather the son of a union between a tanar'ri and an enchantress. While the claim may be wholly false, the individual who owned the other copy was pursued for years by Ivid's agents and finally slain (Stankaster of Stankaster's Tower; see From The Ashes, Campaign Book). Ivid is unaware that any other copy of this text exists. Ishainken isn't sure what value it may prove to have, but he considers that if and when it is the right time to back a claimant to the throne, this book might prove very useful. [Ivid]

Stankaster Tower
This fire-blasted ruin once stood nearly a hundred and fifty feet high, the marbled home of the Invoker Stankaster. What little reliable eyewitness evidence exists reports that a great magical battle, with fire, acid, meteor storms, and earth elementals, raged here for two days and a night in 581 CY, until the tower was breached. What has become of Stankaster, and who his assailant was, is a mystery.
Two adventuring groups that sought the answer did not return. Stankaster is known to have had two apprentices, a resident alchemist, and a visiting 10th-level Invoker, Karposhnen of Hardby, who was being trained when the attack came. Of all places reputed to hold magical treasures, this may be the best bet. [FtA]

Momentous change beset the Great Kingdom. Not until Ivid V ascended the Fiend-seeing Throne would the Great Kingdom appear to increase in might again. This would take a century to happen and also be ultimately a temporary hiccup in the terminal decline of Aerdy. If all eyes were on the Great Kingdom for decades after Ivid's rise, it would help explain why they missed seeing the rise of a new power far to the west and north. [FtA]

Stirring Trouble
The Kingdom of Shar was of two minds regarding Ivid V’s ascension to the throne. It behooved them to have a stable Kingdom to the north, but they lost their influence in his court.
In the madness and infighting following Ivid I’s death, the Scarlet Sign infiltrated the Aerdi court to keep a close watch on things, but with the crowning of Ivid V in [6072 SD] the Great Kingdom settled for a time. The new Overking banished all foreign advisors from the courts of his nation, and the Brotherhood lost its foothold in Suundi.
In 6074 SD, the Scarlet Brotherhood set out to stir trouble for the Great Kingdom. In the Raker Mountain range, members whispered into the ears of humanoid leaders, encouraging them to raid the Bone March. [SB]



One must always give credit where credit is due. This History is made possible primarily by the Imaginings of Gary Gygax and his Old Guard, Lenard Lakofka among them. Thanks to Steven Wilson for his GREYCHRONDEX and to Keith Horsfield for his “Chronological History of Eastern Oerik.”
Special thanks to Jason Zavoda for his compiled index, “Greyhawkania,” an invaluable research tool.
Primary sources for this history were the DMG 1e, The World of Greyhawk Folio, and The World of Greyhawk Gold Box, Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, Ivid the Undying, the Greyhawk Adventures hardcover, The Living Greyhawk Journals, Dragon Magazine.



Copyright:
All source material presented within this chronology is owned and copyrighted by WotC.
The use of this material is not intended to challenge the rights of WotC.
This document is fan content and presented solely for the personal use of those individuals who game within the Greyhawk Setting.

Sources:
1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
1043 The City of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1989 FFF=Feuds, Folks and Factions
1064 From the Ashes Boxed Set, 1992 Atlas=Atlas Book; CB=Campaign Book
1068 Greyhawk Wars Boxed Set, 1991 AB=Adventure Book
2011A Dungeon Masters Guide, 1st Ed., 1977
2023 Greyhawk Adventures Hardback, 1988
9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1981
9253 WG8, Fate of Istus, 1989
9399 WGR 5, Iuz the Evil, 1993
9577 The Adventure Begins, 1998 AM=Adventure Maps Book
9578 Player’s Guide to Greyhawk, 1998
11374 The Scarlet Brotherhood, 1999
11621 Slavers. 2000
11742 Gazetteer, 2000
11743 Living Greyhawk Gazeteer, 2000
Ivid the Undying, 1998
Dragon Magazine 206
OJ Oerth Journal, appearing on Greyhawk Online
LGJ et. al.
Greychrondex, Wilson, Steven B.
Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda
Anna B. Meyer’s map

Thursday, 2 July 2020

On The Circle of Eight


On The Circle of Eight

“You see, we cannot draw lines and compartments and refuse to budge beyond them. Sometimes you have to use your failures as stepping-stones to success. You have to maintain a fine balance between hope and despair.' He paused, considering what he had just said. 'Yes', he repeated. 'In the end, it's all a question of balance.”
― Rohinton Mistry, A Fine Balance


“To light a candle is to cast a shadow...”
― Ursula K. Le Guin, A Wizard of Earthsea


The Obsidian Citadel
The Circle of Eight is somewhat legendary in the annals of Greyhawk canon. But what is it, actually? Canon says that it’s the vanguard of Balance; but what in god’s green acre does that mean? I’ve no idea, really. It’s not like Iuz or the Scarlet Brotherhood ever petitioned Mordenkainen to intervene on their behalf, citing unfair treatment by fair Veluna or benevolent Nyrond.  Help us! They are keeping us from greatness!
I prefer its initial mandate, when it was a group of adventurers who sallied forth, smiting Evil where it had taken root. So, what changed? And did they ever?
I think not; so, I don’t understand the Champions of Balance moniker. One might say that Balance has always meant the suppression of Evil, which always waxes, while the nations of the world remain blind to it as they bicker amongst themselves in deluded self-interest, oblivious to the true danger luring in the north, or the shadows, or the hearts of men.
No matter, I’ve gathered a fair bit of what was written on the Circle, and I leave it up to you to make up your own mind as to whether they were ever truly the vanguard of the Balance.

A Balance is Struck
The Circle of Eight's reputation spans the breadth of the Flanaess. Its name (if not its exact demeanor) is common currency among noblemen and villagers alike.
Despite this, the Circle's full membership has never been known to those outside the organization.
The group has not always been so reclusive. Its precursor, the Citadel of Eight, was a known opponent of darkness in its many guises. Its members stood, and fell, protecting the balance and defending Oerth from the influence of malign beings and, rarely, benevolent interlopers, as well.
[from Greyhawk’s Circle of Eight, by Eric Mona and Gary Holian, LGJ#0]

The Citadel
Mordenkainen
The series of alliances that would evolve into the Circle of Eight began simply, over a meal of venison and Celenese nectarwine in a posh inn near the shores of the Wild Coast. At that table, nearly thirty years ago, Mordenkainen debated with his young apprentice, Bigby, the merits of taking an active hand in maintaining the celestial balance of power. Thereafter, the two struck upon a plan to gather a group of like-minded individuals that would act to hinder advances by those who would dominate the Flanaess. That their expected exploits would impart upon the mages no small amount of lost magical lore only served to hasten the alliance.
Within months, Mordenkainen had brought the renowned warrior Robilar to his cause, as well as the cleric Riggby, and his zealous assistant, Yrag. From the shores of the Nyr Dyv, Mordenkainen recruited the righteous Tenser, who in turn introduced the dim-witted though well-meaning Serten to the assembly. Finally, the young woodsman, Otis, rounded out the group.
They called themselves the Citadel of Eight, taking the name from Mordenkainen’s renowned Obsidian Citadel, in the Yatil Mountains.
In the years that followed, their adventures focused on Greyhawk and the Selintan valley, and the crags of the Cairn Hills and depths of the Suss Forest were opened to their prying vision.
In the years of their companionship, both Robilar and Yrag were ennobled by Greyhawk, and Riggby was promoted speedily within the church of Boccob in Verbobonc. Tenser, Bigby, and Mordenkainen likewise advanced in their own wizardly ways, gaining arcane knowledge and power.
For a group that so decisively defeated its enemies, there remained several problems. Robilar never quite bought into Mordenkainens philosophy, and he and Tenser often bickered over matters of morality. Serten, though seen as useful, was never truly respected and Otis, tired of underground excursions and forays into urban territories, left the group, decrying his friends as cave-delvers and treasure seekers blind to the real problems of the world.
Over the years, the Citadel played home to such luminaries as Prince Melf Brightflame, of the Olvenfolk, the half-ore Quij, Felnorith, Robilar's brother Terik, and even, at one point, the QuasiDeity Murlynd, in disguise.
Nearly a decade after the Citadel's formation, Otis' critical words took on the air of prophecy. In 569 CY, when the first arrow flew at Emridy Meadows, the Citadel was noticeably absent. Whether investigating magical secrets far to the west or unearthing lost passages in Urnst's Maure Castle, these self-absorbed celebrities were too preoccupied to influence one of the century's most critical battles. All were absent save Serten, who fought valiantly at the side of Prince Thrommel against the hordes of Elemental Evil. When Serten fell, none of his friends stood at his side. Though most attended his ostentatious funeral service in Verbobonc, a crucial rift had been torn in the organization. The Citadel was crumbling.
Tenser blamed Mordenkainen for the death of his friend, and retired inward to his castle. Terik and Yrag vanished, some said to the anonymity of the Bandit Kingdoms. Even the loyal Bigby left the side of his one-time master and returned to Oldridge, where he adventured for a time with a band of boyhood friends. Mordenkainen, the man who had brought the Citadel together, simply shrugged and returned, with cold eyes, to his studies.
[from Greyhawk’s Circle of Eight, by Eric Mona and Gary Holian, LGJ#0]

Formation of the Circle
The chaos surrounding the return to power of the demigod, luz, in CY 570 prompted Mordenkainen to consider a new paradigm. Though the Old One worked to check the growing power of the Horned Society, and kept Furyondy's eyes on its northern borders, Mordenkainen knew well that the situation would not last. The dissolution of the Citadel left Mordenkainen without a tool to shape events as he would and though he hardly admitted it to himself, he longed return to a life of adventure.
The Citadel's primary failure, he surmised, had been its inclusive philosophy. As its founding concept had been arcane, he had been foolish to assume that men like Robilar or Riggby would rally to his cause without subtly working against it for reasons personal, spiritual or political. Men of intellect and sorcerous skill, whose primary interests were more than material, would replace them. Thus was born the Circle of Eight.
Over the next year, Mordenkainen invited some of the most prominent magi in the Flanaess to join him. By the first month of 571 CY, he had gathered eight mages to his cause, among them Bigby, Otto, Rary, Nystul, Drawmij, and the affable Bucknard. The Circle in those early days worked to check the power of influential beings in Eastern Oerik. When they could not directly intervene, they sponsored groups of adventurers, as in the sacking of Iggwilv's former haunt at the Tsojcanth Caverns in the mid-570's. Whether or not those agents always knew who set them upon their quests is a matter of some debate.
Privately, members of the Circle explored fantastic corners of Oerth, including the strange and foreboding City of the Gods, near Blackmoor, further depths of Castle Greyhawk, and even the manifold layers of the infernal Abyss. More importantly, through their own adventurers and the exploits of those related to them, the Circle began to formulate what soon would become one of the most impressive networks of informers and agents the Flanaess has ever known.
[from Greyhawk’s Circle of Eight, by Eric Mona and Gary Holian, LGJ#0]

No living persons are more famous in the Flanaess than Mordenkainen and the Circle of Eight. These nine wizards serve as unofficial “watchdogs” on the continent, monitoring Oerik far trouble. Because most members are neutral in alignment, the group is concerned with maintaining balance in its world and not allowing any faction to become too powerful or overwhelming. In recent years, however, as evil forces have threatened to seize control of the land, the Circle of Eight has worked on the side of good in order to contain these ever-growing evils. [PGTG]

570 CY  The chaos surrounding the return to power of the demigod, luz, in CY 570 prompted Mordenkainen to consider a new paradigm. Though the Old One worked to check the growing power of the Horned Society, and kept Furyondy's eyes on its northern borders, Mordenkainen knew well that the situation would not last. The dissolution of the Citadel left Mordenkainen without a tool to shape events as he would and though he hardly admitted it to himself, he longed return to a life of adventure. The Citadel's primary failure, he surmised, had been its inclusive philosophy. As its founding concept had been arcane, he had been foolish to assume that men like Robilar or Riggby would rally to his cause without subtly working against it for reasons personal, spiritual or political. Men of intellect and sorcerous skill, whose primary interests were more than material, would replace them. Thus was born the Circle of Eight. [LGG]

Bigby
571 CY  Over the next year, Mordenkainen invited some of the most prominent magi in the Flanaess to join him. By the first month of 571 CY, he had gathered eight mages to his cause, among them Bigby, Otto, Rary, Nystul, Drawmij, and the affable Bucknard. The Circle in those early days worked to check the power of influential beings in Eastern Oerik. When they could not directly intervene, they sponsored groups of adventurers, as in the sacking of Iggwilv's former haunt at the Tsojcanth Caverns in the mid-570's. Whether or not those agents always knew who set them upon their quests is a matter of some debate. Privately, members of the Circle explored fantastic corners of Oerth, including the strange and foreboding City of the Gods, near Blackmoor, further depths of Castle Greyhawk, and even the manifold layers of the infernal Abyss. More importantly, through their own adventurers and the exploits of those related to them, the Circle began to formulate what soon would become one of the most impressive networks of informers and agents the Flanaess has ever known. [LGG]

c.570s    [No] contact was had with the [Valley of the Mage] until an exiled Aerdi wizard named Jaran Krimeeah, also called the Black One, learned of its existence and made himself master of the place. Marauding monsters had taken a heavy toll on the human communities, though the remaining gnomes and valley elves had defended themselves. Jaran magically restrained these summoned monsters and was hailed as the Mage of the Valley. He ruled for a number of decades, assuming great power over the vale and its inhabitants. One of his last public acts was to place a rogue drow elfin command of the valley's forces. Access to the valley was soon forbidden to all outsiders. During this time, the Mage acquired the antipathy of the wizard Drawmij, who joined the Circle of Eight and directed certain plots against him. [LGG]

c.580s    In the early 580s, the Circle of Eight included Bigby, Drawmij, Jallavarian, Nystul, Otiluke, Otto, Rary of Ket and the archmage Tenser. [PGTG]

581 CY
The Circle Completed
Jallarzi Sallavarian
The membership of the Circle changed little in the years between its inception and 574 CY, when Tenser, still bitter over the dissolution of the Citadel, sought membership. After one of the founding mages of the group abandoned Oerth to explore other planes of existence, the petition was granted, and Tenser brought his unique, if less-than-subtle, ambition to the ideology of the group.
Two years later, with the addition of the mage Otiluke, the Circle solidified its reputation as a political power in the Central Flanaess. As president of the Society of Magi, Otiluke brought with him a seat on Greyhawk's Directing Oligarchy, and the group initiated its long-anticipated drive to influence the policies of temporal leaders throughout the Marklands. Jallarzi Sallavarian was invited to join in 581 CY, replacing the much esteemed Bucknard, who had mysteriously vanished two years earlier. The final week of her six-month trial membership was to be a baptism by fire.
[from Greyhawk’s Circle of Eight, by Eric Mona and Gary Holian, LGJ#0]

The Return of Vecna
Vecna
Alerted to a rising evil in the Flanaess, the Circle hastily gathered for a nearly unprecedented field operation in 581 CY. A new power sought to join Oerths vast pantheon, and its efforts threatened to corrupt the magical order of the known world.
The Circle traveled to the hills south of Verbobonc, where they investigated the tomb of a long-dead Oeridian tyrant who was thought to have possessed the awesome artifacts known as the Hand and Eye of Vecna. Finding the tyrant alive, after a fashion, and completely controlled by the Whispered One, the ill-prepared Circle of Eight panicked, and was defeated.
Vecna destroyed the entire Circle, save Mordenkainen, who had elected to remain in Greyhawk as a safeguard against just such an occurrence. When news reached the archmage, he mobilized the Circle's allies, and a small cadre of apprentice wizards, former companions, and long-time confidantes embarked on a nearly hopeless bid to thwart Vecna's apotheosis (see TSR9309 "Vecna Lives!").
Somehow (it is whispered that they employed the aid of luz, who stood to lose much under the deification of the Lich Lord), the intrepid adventurers managed to banish the Maimed God at the strange stone circles known as the Tovag Baragu, and Oerth returned to relative normalcy, save for the absence of the Circle of Eight.
[from Greyhawk’s Circle of Eight, by Eric Mona and Gary Holian, LGJ#0]

A Tale of Two Deities
Not all things go as planned. Sometimes, the most unexpected things can happen, things that even the Old One could never have planned for.
Gradually, Vecna’s cult grew and he assumed the powers of a demigod. The process took a long time—gathering his power, responding to his worshipers, and settling himself among the greater powers. Vecna persevered and eventually reached the point where he was accepted as a minor demigod in the legions of evil.
Guaranteed immortality, Vecna was still not satisfied. With his scheming mind, he has devised a plan to ascend to greater godhood and humble his rival deities. With his usual long patience, Vecna has been working on this plan for centuries. Working through his avatar or others, the Whispered One has carefully found seven magical items. Each item has been placed in a secret location, the position strategic to his plans.
These items, when fully powered, will cast a mystical web of energy over all of Oerth, cutting off all other gods from their followers. Already they are creating interference on a local scale. Only Vecna will receive the adulation of his worshipers: the other gods will weaken and leave the path open for Vecna to rise to the fore. Then the Whispered One will open the gates of time and bring forth his faithful followers from the past. Feeding on their devotions, Vecna will become the greatest of gods.
There is only one difficulty that remains for Vecna—finding his Eye and Hand. They are the final keys to fully empower the web, the final keys that open the gate of time. He knows not where these are. In the final confrontation with Kas, when they were sundered from his body, the gods (perhaps foreseeing his powers) hid them from his senses. Vecna cannot detect their energies; he can only find them by seeing their effects on others, much like finding a boat by the wake it creates. Too many times he has come close, only to have them escape his grasp. This time, he is determined not to fail. [WGA4 Vecna Lives!]
The Circle of Eight sensed a great danger, but somehow their divinations were blocked. Mordenkainen sent some of his most trusted mages to investigate. And they died. Every last one of them: Bigby, Drawmij, Jallarzi Sallavarian, Nystul, Otiluke, Otto, Rary, and Tenser. Of course, death was not the end of all of them, but that is another tale. Mordenkainen sent others; their path led ever west and the name Vecna was raised time and again. And Kas. And Iuz.
Their investigations led them to Tovag Baragu, where they came upon an avatar of Vecna, who had opened a portal to Vecna’s past, the ruins of the palace of the Spidered Throne.
Through the gateway can be clearly seen a great mass of people. They are all surging and milling forward, their attention focused on the window as if they can see through into the present. They, too, seem drawn by Turim’s chant. The first are just preparing to step through the opening. [WGA4 Vecna Lives!]
Against such odds, the Circle’s heroes could not hope to win, so they did the unthinkable, they summoned Iuz, for only a demigod could hope to defeat a demigod.

Vecna at Tovag Baragu
Whatever the means, Iuz the Old appears to challenge Vecna. This is a threat the [Vecna’s] avatar cannot ignore. The two confront each other and begin a fierce battle at the center of the Stone Circles. […] The two demigods do not simply cast spells at each other, they blast rays from their hands, whirling disks fly from their fingers, explosions burst among the stones, fiery balls scream through the air. In hand-to-hand struggle, their blows sound like thunder in the sky. The unbreakable stones of Tovag Baragu throw shards from the demigods’ strikes. […]
[Things] seem to go well for Iuz at the beginning of the battle […] the balance of power quickly starts to swing the other way. Vecna is the better strategist and still has the powers of a lich. Worse still, with each blow [Vecna] seems to grow in strength. The gate he has opened to the past is starting to function. Already Vecna’s worshipers are stepping through. Upon entering the present, these men fall to their knees in reverent prayer for their god. […] The worshipers are not lambs. Most are evil fighters whipped into a berserk frenzy. They are not going to be denied. A fierce melee erupts around the gateway. At the start of the battle, 20 warriors have entered the circle. [Every few seconds] five more cross through unless their bridgehead into the future is contained. The warriors fight to the death [and] Vecna seems to have an endless supply of them. [The] only hope is to physically block the gateway or have Iuz try to damage the gate. [Iuz] launches a spell […] at the arch. […] There is a resounding crack, followed by an enraged scream from Vecna. The stone of the gateway splinters and the image in the arch suddenly scrambles […]. Indeed, all the gateways suddenly start to show random scenes, leaping to different planes, times, and places without any control. Tovag Baragu has been permanently damaged. The gateway to Vecna’s time is closed. At the same time, the magical aura shielding Greyhawk starts to weaken. Tovag Baragu was apparently the key power source for the shield. […]
[The] demigods [lock] in hand-to-hand combat [and are] hurled as a pair through the gateway. [The] two plunge into the darkness, howling and tearing at each other. A great gout of flame rushes up and bursts out of the gate, sending a fiery blast 40 feet long and ten feet wide. […] Spouting flame and randomly scanning planes and times is how Tovag Baragu remains from now on. Unnoticed in the fiery burst […] two small objects hurtled through the gate to land in the tall grass some distance away—the Hand and the Eye of Vecna. [WGA4 Vecna Lives!]

The recent deaths of the members of the Circle of Eight was the prelude to an attempt by the evil Vecna to overthrow the entire pantheon of Greyhawk’s deities and install himself as absolute ruler of the gods. Only the bravery and fortitude of a brave handful of adventurers was able to thwart Vecna’s machinations and put an end to his plans. [WGR2 Treasures of Greyhawk]

Iuz came, and Iuz battled Vecna, and very nearly perished. He did not perish, though, but if he had, the world might have been in very dire straights. Had Vecna won, he would have severed Oerth from the celestial and outer planes, and it would certainly have plunged into an age darker than it had ever known, an age from which it would never be freed. But, he did not; and it did not. And so, strangely, to our most beleaguered incredulity, we owe a debt of gratitude to Iuz, for if it were not for him, the universe would have been plunged into darkness. But let’s not get carried away, his confrontation with Vecna gave Iuz ideas. He imagined a world which bowed to him, and him alone.

An important though seldom noticed event took place in 581 CY, when an agent of Vecna, the Whispered One of ancient Flan legend, struck down the entire Circle of Eight […]. The Circle had acted subtly as a balancing agent for years, preventing any one power from dominating too much of the Flanaess. Though the Circle's leader, Mordenkainen, returned his colleagues to life using powerful magic, the group was in disarray when war again erupted in the distant north in 582. [LGG]

Shattered Circle
Mordenkainen
Mordenkainen addressed this absence by recovering what was left of his fallen comrades and cloning them. This endeavor consumed time that otherwise might have seen him addressing the reports of the Circle's allies in the North, who warned of alarming developments in Stonefist and the Barbarian Lands. When those events spiraled into the first conflicts of the Greyhawk Wars, the Circle's clones remained undeveloped and half-aware. By the time the clones reached full maturation, the Circle of Eight had been forced to take a reactive stance to the tumultuous events unfolding before them.
Though the Circle never acted concertedly during the Greyhawk Wars, certain "hotspots" received a good deal of their attention. Mordenkainen Bigby and Otto fought against the Old One's army at the infamous Battle of Critwall Bridge, and Drawmij was instrumental in organizing the flood of refugees from the Lost Lands to fastnesses in the Good Hills. Nystul worked primarily alone in besieged Tenh, while Otto and Bigby left Mordenkainen in the Vesve Forest to do what they could for the Iron League. Citing pressing personal needs, Rary retreated to his tower in Lopolla and refused to come to the aid of his companions.
When the political rumblings that signaled the end to the conflict reached the Free City of Greyhawk, the entire Circle was on hand to ensure a favorable outcome to the peace process. Their network of agents researched the backgrounds of key diplomats and participants in the proceedings, and magical divinations were conducted to unmask any would-be saboteurs. Never did the view of those scrying crystals turn inward, however, toward the plans of the single individual who could do the most harm to the delegates' cause.
[from Greyhawk’s Circle of Eight, by Eric Mona and Gary Holian, LGJ#0]

584 CY
War's End
If Vecna’s return were not enough of a blow to the circle, they were about to be dealt an even greater blow.
For three years, the whole of the Flanaess flew banners of war. Nations fell as new empires were born. Demons and devils from the Outer Planes were summoned en masse by Iuz and Ivid V, and hundreds of thousands of mortals died. Finally, the battle-weary combatants gathered in Greyhawk to declare peace. Harvester 584 CY was to see the signing of the Pact of Greyhawk, fixing borders and mandating an end to hostilities. [LGG]

The final act of the immense drama of war occurred on the Day of the Great Signing. A pact had been resolved and nearly all the nations had agreed to sign it. As this solemn ceremony began, however, a tumultuous event occurred.  [GW]

For almost three long years, as 584 CY drew to a close, the nations of the Flanaess had schemed, murdered, and warred against each other until nearly all sides lay bloody and beaten. Proposals for a great peace treaty gained rapid acceptance in many quarters, aided by the persuasive whisperings of the agents of the Scarlet Brotherhood. In the month of Harvester, 584 CY, in the untouched Free City of Greyhawk, countless ambassadors assembled to inscribe their names on the treaty at the Day of the Great Signing. It very nearly didn't happen.
Magical scrying and the strenuous efforts of sages have not availed to give the full story of what happened that day. All that is known for sure is that, within the Grand Hall where the treaty was to be signed, a fierce magical battle erupted and spread havoc through the Old City. Afterwards, two members of the famed Circle of Eight, the great mages of Greyhawk, lay dead; Otiluke and Tenser were no more. Their magical clones likewise shrivelled and perished, and their own bodies could not be resurrected. It is also known that Rary of Ket, another Circle member, was last seen fleeing with Lord Robilar into the Bright Desert, and that Rary had turned traitor and had slain his old friends. Why this is, is a tale yet in the telling. A sideshow to the main event, to be sure, but one that still shook Oerth.
Despite this, the treaty was signed and the Greyhawk Wars drew to a close. The Pact of Greyhawk ensured peace—of a sort. [FtA]

Even today a haze obscures the details: apparently someone plotted to annihilate the entire diplomatic corps in attendance, but the scheme misfired. A blazing explosion destroyed a good part of the Grand Hall only minutes before the ambassadors assembled for the day. A fierce magical battle immediately ensued, spreading havoc through much of the old city. When the fire and dust cleared, constables discovered smoldering robes belonging to two powerful members of the mysterious Circle of Eight—Otiluke and Tenser. The murderer of these wizards, undeniably a powerful mage, was discovered to be a third member of the Circle of Eight—Rary. Using secrets gained in confidence, Rary not only vaporized his two fellows but also tracked down and destroyed every clone the pair held in preparation.
The motive behind Rary’s treachery remains clouded. According to many who knew him, the wizard probably saw an opportunity to seize power and land in the confusion that would follow the assassinations. Others suggest Rary was a pawn of the Scarlet Brotherhood.
With the plot discovered, though, Rary and his co-conspirator Lord Robilar fled the city. Unable to return to Robilar’s castle, which was immediately seized by the troops of Greyhawk, the pair escaped into the Bright Desert. There they conquered the savages and established a kingdom of their own. Though small and mysterious, this growing state could someday threaten the very borders of Greyhawk. [GWA]

Many suspected that the former Archmage of Ket had hoped to hold the ambassadors hostage, perhaps capturing Greyhawk itself in the process. Instead, he and his cohort, Lord Robilar, went to the Bright Desert to form their own kingdom. Fearing further disruptions, the delegates hurriedly signed the Pact of Greyhawk. Ironically, because of the site of the treaty signing, the great conflicts soon became known as the Greyhawk Wars. [LGG]

Rary's treachery that day killed Tenser and Otiluke, and gained the Archmage of Ket everlasting infamy. Spurned from his family by his brother and banned from Greyhawk itself by Mordenkainen, Rary fled to the Bright Desert, to uncover its secrets and inaugurate an empire. [LGJ#0]

The treachery left the Eight (now Five: Bigby, Drawmij, Jallarzi Sallavarain, Nystul and Otto) reeling. [Rot8]

So what did happen?
Treachery
Rary’s admiration for Iuz and the Brotherhood grew during the war. As other members of the Circle worked frantically behind the scenes to head off the conflict and preserve what civilization remained in Greyhawk, Rary’s mind turned more and more to thoughts of evil. He researched long-forbidden spells, studied the histories of ancient conquerors, and learned more from his Paynim friends as corruption and wickedness slowly crept into his heart.
During a particularly unproductive session of the Circle. Rary quietly withdrew in the face of Otiluke's bluster and returned to his tower in Ket. There, brooding upon his decades of ceaseless toil and frustration and his lack of success in the path of neutrality, Rary finally and irrevocably fell under evil's sway. Returning to Greyhawk, Rary enlisted the aid of Lord Robilar, a powerful if somewhat unstable nobleman with a substantial household guard. and together the two formulated a plan to put themselves into a position of power in the Flanaess.
Diplomats and high officials from all across the continent would soon arrive in Greyhawk for the Great Signing. Using his access to the Great Hall, Rary planned a series of magical traps which would destroy everyone in the building. including diplomats, nobles, the Lord Mayor and his staff, several guildmasters, at least half of the Circle of Eight, and the detested Otiluke. That done, Rary would assume control of the Circle. As an emergency measure, Rary would dispatch agents to those countries whose diplomats had been slain. These diplomats would gain the confidence of kings and chieftains, eventually giving Rary access to and control over numerous nations. The killings themselves would be conveniently blamed on the Scarlet Brotherhood. which had made itself unpopular during the war. [WR3 Rary the Traitor]

Death in the Great Hall
Caught Red-Handed
Unfortunately for Rary and Robilar, as Rary finished setting his magical trap, several members of the Circle entered the hall for a last-minute inspection of the site before the signing. Caught red-handed, Rary first attempted to flee. Forced at last into open conflict, he attacked with a fury born of years of pent-up anger. He set off the still-incomplete magical traps. Tenser fell first, caught by surprise. Otiluke struck back savagely, wounding Rary and forcing him back.
Instead of counter-attacking Otiluke directly. Rary set off several more traps, injuring Bigby, who had just joined the fight. Overcome with concern for his friend, Otiluke's concentration broke, and suddenly Rary's spells had him, rending and burning him at once. Abruptly all the remaining traps went off, plunging the hall into noise, fire, smoke, and the lambent glow of magic. As the smoke cleared, amid the crash of falling masonry and the tinkle of broken glass, Bigby, himself badly wounded, crawled over to see to his friends, only to find both of them slain beyond hope of resurrection, and Rary had vanished without a trace.
In the ensuing confusion and shock, Lord Robilar's own troops struck, destroying every one of the dead wizards' hidden clones, assuring the permanent death of both Tenser and Otiluke. Within hours, Greyhawk warriors had occupied Robilar's citadel and began to search for the pair, but it was too late. Faced with the collapse of their plot. Rary and Robilar fled, along with those troops loyal to them, and no one knew where. [WR3 Rary the Traitor]

A badly wounded third, Bigby of Scant, claimed that their assailant had been their one-time ally, Rary, member of the Circle of Eight. Rary and his co-conspirator, the wily Lord Robilar, were nowhere to be found, and Rary's tower, in Lopolla, also vanished. Months later, the duo and the tower surfaced in the Bright Desert.
Robilar led his fanatically loyal men from desert village to desert village, systematically defeating the local warlords and incorporating their warriors into an ever-growing army. Rary, too, had transported several bands of Paynim horsemen from the west, who promised glorious death in service to the mage they called "The Rider." Early victories against nonhumans and the Tukim, the most powerful human tribe in the desert, bolstered the armies. Few openly defied this powerful force.
Wherever the armies went, so too ventured immoral adventurers in Rary's employ. These humans, mostly sages and enchanters, scoured the desert, paying particular attention to local ancient ruins. Rary seldom left his tower, but all knew that he sought some object rumored to be terrible and powerful.

In the weeks that followed. as Greyhawk slowly recovered from its shock. Rary was condemned from every quarter. Expeditions scoured the vicinity of the city. searching for Rary and his co-conspirator. A diplomatic mission to Ket returned with the astonishing news that not only was Rary missing, but his entire tower, which had so long graced Lopolla's skyline, had abruptly and inexplicably vanished overnight. Rumors began to circulate that Rary had fled the Flanaess and possibly Oerth altogether. [WR3 Rary the Traitor]

Months later, the duo and the tower surfaced in the Bright Desert. [LGG]

585 CY

The Circle Endures
Tenser was returned to life in 585 CY […], but chose not to return to the Circle of Eight. Otiluke is still dead. [PGTG]

In the agonizing aftermath of the Greyhawk wars, when conflict touched virtually every corner of the continent, few gained more infamy than Rary of the Circle of Eight. Once considered a quiet, peaceful man with few ambitions, the great mage instead was corrupted to the ways of evil, and in the process slew two of the wisest and most powerful wizards of the Flanaess. Now, fleeing south with his co-conspirator and their loyal troops, he has carved out an empire in the wilderness, and threatens to inflict more harm and chaos on a world long grown weary of war and strife. [WGR3 Rary the Traitor]


Lord Robilar
Robilar led his fanatically loyal men from desert village to desert village, systematically defeating the local warlords and incorporating their warriors into an ever-growing army. Rary, too, had transported several bands of Paynim horsemen from the west, who promised glorious death in service to the mage they called "The Rider." Early victories against nonhumans and the Tukim, the most powerful human tribe in the desert, bolstered the armies. Few openly defied this powerful force.
Wherever the armies went, so too ventured immoral adventurers in Rary's employ. These humans, mostly sages and enchanters, scoured the desert, paying particular attention to local ancient ruins. Rary seldom left his tower, but all knew that he sought some object rumored to be terrible and powerful. [LGG]
It has been suggested that all is not as it seems here. Rary was renowned for his complex plotting in the Circle of Eight, and some of his former associates refuse to believe that he has turned to evil of his own accord. Still, rumors that the former Archmage of Ket now consorts with fiends have caused most of his family and friends to brand him a traitor forevermore. [LGG]

A New Kingdom
Rary
These rumors did not last long, as search parties heard disquieting reports from the Bright Desert. The Abbor Alz barbarians, who sometimes traded with the desert nomads, reported that a mysterious tower had appeared in the Brass Hills in the heart of the desert, and that the master of this tower had proclaimed himself "Monarch of the Bright Lands." Many nomads, it was reported, had fallen under his sway, and those who had not were swiftly persecuted and pressured to do so. The desert centaurs, previously known only by rumor and second-hand reports, were said to be resisting the new rulers, but their struggle seemed doomed. The new king was said to be a mage of unsurpassed skill, and had a host of strange (some said unearthly) warriors at his command. Clearly, Rary the traitor had at last appeared.
But finding Rary and bringing him to justice were two entirely different matters. Long unexplored and treatred by many with suspicious dread, the Bright Desert, or the “Bright Lands” as Rary now called his new domain, was considered a place of savage tribesmen, harsh conditions, and dangereous creatures. Now it was home to Rary the Traitor, and neither Grehawk nor any surrounding power had the strength or the inclination to venture into the desert and dig him out of his hiding place. Many favoured simply leaving him to rot in self-imposed exile. [WR3 Rary the Traitor]

“The Empire of the Bright Lands” is Rary of Ket’s name for his new-found realm, hidden in the Brass Hills of the Bright Desert. After his betrayal of the Circle of Eight, his castle was magically moved from its location in Ket to its new position here. Now it serves as a local power base for evil. Officials of the City of Greyhawk are concerned that this new “empire” might choose to attack the Domain at some point. [PGTG]

While few overt threats presented themselves in the aftermath of war, the emergence of Rary the Traitor, in the Bright Desert, is a cause of great concern. Warnes Starcoat, Chief Mage to the Joint Courts of Urnst and a member of the Circle of Eight, warns that Rary's diabolical plans could soon lead him to covet the ancient knowledge of House Maure. Lord Robilar once spent his summers in Pontyrel, in Urnst's Maure Lands, and many suspect that it is only a matter of time before his soldiers cross the Knife's Edge Pass, making their way to Maure Castle. In anticipation of this event, the village of Kelefane, near the Knife's Edge, has become a prominent military outpost, and is personally administered by Karll's nephew, Ellis […], a bitter man who looks for enemies at every corner. [LGG]
Rary's forces have grown significantly since 584 CY. More than ninety percent of the desert nomads now swear fealty to the Monarch of the Bright Lands. The native desert centaurs, who remained neutral immediately after Rary's arrival, now bitterly oppose Robilar's armies. [LGG]

The "Year of Peace" (585 CY) saw little of the sort. War raged in the Principality of Ulek against orc invaders from the Pomarj, and efforts to retake Sterich were initiated in the west. The Circle of Eight was brought to full membership once more and began acting against every power its wizards perceived as tyrannical or dangerous to the common welfare. [LGG]

The Return of the Eight
After a successful mission to rescue one of Tenser's clones from the clutches of the infamous necromancer-witch Iggwilv, the Circle added three new members, rounding out the membership. New members include the redoubtable Warnes Starcoat […] of Urnst; Alhamazad the Wise of Zeif […], and the cold, unemotional Theodain Eriason [….] Mordenkainen remains the ninth member, a "shadow leader" dictating his agenda to others and influencing the Flanaess through his powerful network of agents and servitors. [LGG]

In mid-585 CY, the Circle of Eight was brought back to its full numbers. This brought hope to the hearts of many residents of the Flanaess, as did the news that one of the assassinated members of the Eight, Tenser the Archmage, had been brought back to life. However, Tenser left the Eight and now follows his own course in protecting the Flanaess. [PGTG]

The Circle of Eight was brought to full membership once more and began acting against every power its wizards perceived as tyrannical or dangerous to the common welfare. [LGG]

589 CY 
In 589 CY, Chief Strongbow, an influential leader and strong proponent of balancing the nomads against Rary and staying out of the conflict, was found murdered in his quarters. Though there was very little proof, the young bucks among the centaurs called for a guerilla war against the westerners—a plan that has met with some success.
Despite the centaur attacks and certain stubborn native tribes, Rary's searches continue, often with frustrating consequences. [LGG]


A terrible tragedy struck Lynwerd and his kingdom  [Nyrond] in 589 CY. A long-planned marriage between King Lynwerd and Lady Xenia Sallavarian, a distant cousin of Circle of Eight member Jallarzi and Duke Karll of Urnst, was scheduled to take place during Richfest of that year. In Wealsun, Lady Xenia was touring Rel Mord on foot when she collapsed of heatstroke. She has not been seen since, and many suspect the worst, detecting sorrow and a grim hardness in their king. [LGG]
Duke Ehyeh III, scion of an ancient Flan lineage, attempts to reclaim his homeland [Tenh] with meager assistance from the County of Urnst. He has other supporters, of course, including the mage Nystul of the Circle of Eight, but few followers, troops, and resources are available to him. His once-great reputation as a leader was destroyed along with his nation, leaving him little more than a noble title and moderate riches. The duke himself has not set foot on his native soil in nearly a decade, a fact that is reflected in the uncertain morale of his troops in Tenh. [LGG]
Armies from the Pale and forces loyal to the exiled duke quickly crossed the borders, battling each other for possession of the southern and eastern regions of the duchy, including the Phostwood. The duke's forces fought a hard battle against bandits and surviving agents of Iuz in the city of Redspan, gaining the aid of Nystul of the Circle of Eight. They now control all of the old city. Its famous bridge has not yet been rebuilt, but its walls are restored, and it provides a strong base for further action in the duchy. Redspan's weak spot is its often-raided supply line, leading back to the County of Urnst along the east bank of the Artonsamay River. [LGG]

With the fall of their country many Onnwalons attempted to flee to southern Nyrond making the perilous ocean crossing in any craft that they could find. Even Bigby, Archmage and member of the Circle of Eight, was forced to escape his residences in Scant for Veluna. [Living Onnwal Gazetteer]

590 CY 
In late 590, an entire company of Robilar's best Paynim and nomad guards vanished while investigating an abandoned necropolis. Rary's response, ordering Lord Robilar's own personal guard after the lost soldiers, so enraged the warrior that he left his post for a week, not returning until he single-handedly slew an old blue dragon that had been considering an alliance with the archmage. The two have patched up their differences, but tensions between them remain strong.
It has been suggested that all is not as it seems here. Rary was renowned for his complex plotting in the Circle of Eight, and some of his former associates refuse to believe that he has turned to evil of his own accord. Still, rumors that the former Archmage of Ket now consorts with fiends have caused most of his family and friends to brand him a traitor forevermore. [LGG]


Ever Vigilant
Ever Vigilant
The famed Circle of Eight has many roots in the city and the nearby Wild Coast. This exceptionally powerful group is a political body of wizards who work to maintain a balance of power across the whole Flanaess, so that states can formulate heir own policies without interference or Fear of invasion and conquest by outside Forces or empire-building neighbors. Two merit members of that body (Otto and lallarzi Sallavarian) have homes in Greyhawk; all the others (Mordenkainen, Bigby, Drawmij, Alhamazad, Nystul, Warnes Starcoat, and Theodain Eriason) visit on an irregular basis. Tenser, a former member, lives near the city in a fortress on the south shore of the Nyr Dyv. [TAB]

The mysterious assembly of wizards known as the Circle of Eight has long benefited from a past obscured by misinformation and enigma. The group's influence reaches from the Baklunish west to the Solnor Ocean, though its secretive methods ensure that few know the extent of its ministrations. Certain members of the Circle are well known and liked, their talents appreciated throughout the Flanaess. The mages Bigby, Jallarzi, and Otto, for instance, are welcome in courts far from cosmopolitan Greyhawk. Others, such as Drawmij, Nystul, and Theodain, prefer to operate away from the public gaze.
Mordenkainen the archmage […] formed the Circle of Eight as a tool to manipulate political factions of the Flanaess, preserving the delicate balance of power in hopes of maintaining stability and sanity in the region. Mordenkainen's view of "enforced neutrality" is not tit-for-tat equality, but rather a detailed theoretical philosophy derived from decades of arcane research. He has fought ardently for the forces of Good, most recently during the Greyhawk Wars, but just as often has worked on darker plots to achieve his ends. In all things, the Circle of Eight prefers to work behind the scenes, subtly manipulating events to ensure that no one faction gains the upper hand.
In the last two decades, the Circle has seen members come and go, but its dedication to Mordenkainen's goals and methods remains steadfast. Current members include Bigby of Mitrik […], once Mordenkainen's apprentice and now an archmage in his own right; the rotund and jovial Otto […] who favors the kitchen over the laboratory; Jallarzi Sallavarian of Greyhawk […], one of the most dynamic wizards in a city of mages; the reclusive Drawmij […], who oversees Keoland and the south from his undersea lair near Gradsul; and Nystul […], a Tenha expatriate who wishes to expand the Circle, beyond eight if need be, to combat the growing threats presented by Iuz, Turrosh Mak, and the consolidating factions of the former Great Kingdom. [LGG]

All members of the Circle of Eight possess or have access to large numbers of magical items, particularly potions. They might be approached for assistance on a quest, requesting little more than a full report of the journey or an errand in return. Any of the members of the Circle of Eight might be contacted by leaving a message at the Wizards’ Guildhall, Otto’s home in the Garden Quarter or Jallaai Sallavarian’s home in the High Quarter of the City of Greyhawk. The members of the Circle of Eight have fast communication with each other through various magical devices. [PGTG]

Azure Sea: Trading here is age-old, despite local pirates and sea monsters. The Scarlet Brotherhood greatly harmed trade here until last year, but the civil war in the Sea Princes' lands and the Flanaess's recovery from the Greyhawk Wars should allow trade to resurge. Major sponsors of piracy here are the Scarlet Brotherhood (operating from its many ports), Amedio Jungle savages (threatening ships near the Hook Peninsula with weather magic and poisoned arrows), and occasional human- or orc-crewed ships sailing from the Pomarj. The wizard Drawmij, one of the Circle of Eight and long thought to have a stronghold beneath the Azure Sea, is likely working against the Brotherhood and other enemies of the open seas. [LGG]

At the conclusion of the Greyhawk Wars, stories were circulated that the Mage of the Valley had been killed, though there were no actual witnesses to his demise. Those with the most knowledge of the valley's history believe that the Mage will yet return—unless some other being comes to claim that title.
No sightings of the Mage have been reported since the Greyhawk Wars, but the drow seneschal still has authority there. The Mage was known to be interested in exploring the so-called Demiplane of Shadows The last claimed sighting of the archmage Philidor placed him near the entrance to the valley The archmages Rary and Mordenkainen were said to have sponsored rival adventuring parties to the valley—both suffering high casualties. [LGG]

The war-ravaged lands between the Griff Mountains and the Artonsamay River, north of the Yol, hold the remains of the former duchy of Tenh. The Greyhawk Wars that destroyed this country have not yet ended here; Tenh, the first victim of the wars, seems destined to be its last. Duke Ehyeh III, scion of an ancient Flan lineage, attempts to reclaim his homeland with meager assistance from the County of Urnst. He has other supporters, of course, including the mage Nystul of the Circle of Eight, but few followers, troops, and resources are available to him. His once-great reputation as a leader was destroyed along with his nation, leaving him little more than a noble title and moderate riches. The duke himself has not set foot on his native soil in nearly a decade, a fact that is reflected in the uncertain morale of his troops in Tenh. [LGG]
Armies from the Pale and forces loyal to the exiled duke quickly crossed the borders, battling each other for possession of the southern and eastern regions of the duchy, including the Phostwood. The duke's forces fought a hard battle against bandits and surviving agents of Iuz in the city of Redspan, gaining the aid of Nystul of the Circle of Eight. They now control all of the old city. Its famous bridge has not yet been rebuilt, but its walls are restored, and it provides a strong base for further action in the duchy. Redspan's weak spot is its often-raided supply line, leading back to the County of Urnst along the east bank of the Artonsamay River. [LGG]

The most important goal of the Brotherhood in this area is to enter Slerotin’s Tunnel, get to the Sea of Dust and look for old Suel ruins; however, the elf wizard of the Circle of Eight, Theodain Eriason, has worked diligently to make sure that the Brotherhood cannot use the passage. Plotting the destruction of the heretical city of Juernre is a second priority for the area. The Sheldomar Valley is otherwise too distant a target to conquer and hold militarily, and so is watched. [SB]

Jallarzi Sallavarian
Jallarzi Sallavarian of the Circle of Eight has recently discovered omens that predict imminent doom for Greyhawk. Among the more mundane omens are an increase in the number of dem sightings in the Abbor-Alz, and the uppermost sail of the mysterious Doomgrinder approaching the zenith by another degree. Other signs indicate that one of the ancient cairns known as the Star Cairns may be the key to averting the doom The Eight have warned the city about the possible doom (and its possible prevention); they urge adventurous souls to scour the Abbor-Alz for anything that might be the key to saving the city. [LT1 The Star Cairns]






One must always give credit where credit is due. This History is made possible primarily by the Imaginings of Gary Gygax and his Old Guard, Lenard Lakofka among them.
Special thanks to Eric Mona and Gary Holian, for their article "Greyhawk's Circle of Eight" in LGJ#0.
Special thanks to Jason Zavoda for his compiled index, “Greyhawkania,” an invaluable research tool.
Primary sources for this history were the DMG 1e, The World of Greyhawk Folio, and The World of Greyhawk Gold Box, Greyhawk Wars box set, WGA4 Vecna Lives!, WGR3 Rary the Traitor, Players Guide to Greyhawk, Living Greyhawk Journal #0, Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, Dragon Magazine.


The Art:
WG5 Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure cover, by Clyde Caldwell, 1984
Bigby detail, by Jeff Easley, from Mordencainen's Fantastic Adventure, 1984
Mordenkainen detail, from Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk, 2007
WGR3 Rary the Traitor illustration, by Ken Frank, 1992
Lord Robilar detail, from the Epic Level Handbook, 2002
Rary detail, by Andrey Hou, from Dungeon 103, 2003
Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk cover art, by Michael Komarck, 2007
Jallazari Sallavarian detail, by Sam Wood, from Living Greyhawk Journal #0, 2000


Copyright:
All source material presented within this chronology is owned and copyrighted by WotC.
The use of this material is not intended to challenge the rights of WotC.
This document is fan content and presented solely for the personal use of those individuals who game within the Greyhawk Setting.

Sources:
1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
1068 Greyhawk Wars Boxed Set, 1991
2011A Dungeon Masters Guide, 1st Ed., 1977
9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1981
9309 Vecna Lives! 1990
9360 Treasures of Greyhawk, 1992
9386 Rary the Traitor, 1992
9576 Return of the Eight, 1998
9577 The Adventure Begins, 1998
9578 Player’s Guide to Greyhawk, 1998
9579 The Star Cairns, 1998
11374 The Scarlet Brotherhood, 1999
11621 Slavers, 2000
11743 Living Greyhawk Gazeteer, 2000
Living Onnwal Gazetteer
Dragon Magazine 241
OJ Oerth Journal, appearing on Greyhawk Online
LGJ et. al.
Greychrondex, Wilson, Steven B.
Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda