Friday, 20 November 2020

Thoughts on A3 Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords

Thoughts on A3 Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords 

“Right now I’m having amnesia and déjà vu at the same time. I think I’ve forgotten this before.”
― Steven Wright 

Into the Drachengrab Mountains! Hot on the trail of the marauding slavers, you and your fellow adventurers plunge deep into hostile Hills. Spurred on by your past success, you now seek the heart of the slaver conspiracy. But hurry! You must move quickly before the slavers recover from your previous forays and attack! [A3] 

What can I say about A3 Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords? I’m not really a fan of the module, not in and of itself, anyway.
As far as classic tournament modules go, I'd have to say that it is a solid example of how tournament modules were written at that time. It's fast-paced, and it can easily fit neatly into a four-hour timeslot.
But I'm really not a fan of tournament modules. They usually have encounters with monsters that have never seen the light of day again, for good reason. Also, there are those unrealistic dungeon layouts. Who would design and excavate such things?
Personally, I think this is the weakest of the A series, mainly because it was always meant to be a stepping stone to the finale. It really serves no other purpose. The characters have to navigate a dungeon to gain entry to the city, which is a city in name only. There are no houses, not residences, and no marketplace to speak of. The businesses are scattered about without rhyme or reason. It was meant to be a series of set encounters that led the characters to, you guessed it, another dungeon. The Slave Lords are left undeveloped, their names and backgrounds pointless if not utilized in the course of the adventure, something unlikely to happen in the time allotted in a four-hour tournament.  I’m not being unkind. Tournaments are tournaments. They’re not supposed to be deep. They're supposed to be fast and furious with lots of combat and traps and PC mortality.
Aside from that, there is much to glean from this module, despite its faults, especially if it is considered Part 1 of the finale, A4 In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords being Part 2.
Taken as such, Allan Hammack did alright, considering the constraints placed upon him. He was hobbled from the get go and had to work within the confines of what was to come. That he was hobbled with writing this module is unfortunate, considering the whole series was based on his original idea of having the PCs awaken in a dungeon, stripped of their equipment and magic, and left with only their imaginative skill and ingenuity to aid them in their escape. That is sheer genius. But how could the DM place the PCs in such a predicament?
But I’m getting ahead of myself…. 

The story so far:
Nerelas in Highport
Slavers have plundered the coasts, carrying off farmers, fisherfolk, and nobility alike. The PCs have put an end, albeit temporarily, to their activity in Nyrond at Darkshelf. Maybe not. You likely set them back a few months until they set up another front in another coastal village and carried on, unabated. Then, some time later, you infiltrated the sacked city of Highport in the Pomarj, where all evidence of the slavers’ activity pointed. You discovered that Highport was only a base from which those slavers sallied forth. The slavers were not only operating by sea, they were raiding from deep within the Drakensgrab Mountains into and across the Lortmils and Ulek. It was there that you confronted Icar and Markessa, coming face to face with depravity and horror as you had never imagined. But Markessa was not the mastermind behind all you had fought thus far. Further evidence pointed to the remote Marche of Suderham.
How were the PCs directed here? They found a map, of course. It’s an old trope. Why should there be a map? The slavers are likely know where their strongholds and outposts are. Have the information buried within reams of paperwork and correspondence. Have the characters chase Markessa there if you wish; after all, the text of A2 suggested that she is likely to escape.
I would suggest that you ensure she does. More on that later.

The module begins with a cavern complex that leads to the “city” of Suderham, its paths riven with mazes and traps and slides and monsters that would have made travel by even the slavers difficult, if not impossible. Let's not get into how absolutely no effort went into making the Cave Map look like anything natural, but let's do discuss how it is even guarded by an illusionist, a supposedly
lackluster one of only eighth level named Wimpell Frump, with the expectation that the Aerie will be assaulted despite its being deep in the Pomarj.
Lamonsten
Eighth level? Lackluster? I think not. I ask you, why would anyone of such skill agree to such a task? It would be a boring vigil, I expect. Aside from that, what need they of a hired illusionist when they have Lamonsten, an illusionist of note sitting on their council?
Dispense with the dungeon. It is unnecessary. Keep the action above ground. I’d also dispense with the idea of Suderham resting on an island. The logistics of sustaining such a place would be daunting, at best.
I would downgrade Suderham to a remote lakefront village at the foot of Drachen Keep, a fortified house of the deposed marquess. (Why a fortified house and not a castle, because it is inland and not on a border; castles and keeps with walls and palisades have always seemed more fitting on borders in my mind; and a fortified house would be cheaper to build and maintain. I like to imagine that the marquess’ ancestor built his retreat after having tamed his lands.) Hedged farmlands stretch out from the river that wends through a valley that’s peppered with bunches of pine and beech.
Draken Keep
The party can then creep up on the village, waylay some slavers’ caravan approaching it, and use their papers to gain entry (as the module suggests). Once within, the characters can learn more about what befell the Marche from those inhabitants that remain, held hostage to the orcs that overran it, and the slavers who took possession. This is all predicated on the assumption that what follows is part of a greater campaign, and not a tournament, if anyone runs such anymore.
As per the module, the town will be infested with slavers, and the townsfolk will be wary of strangers, as all newcomers are there to deal with their new masters.
Skulking in Suderham
The module has the party skulking throughout the city, searching for clues to the entrance to yet another dungeon, the city sewer, whose layout would impede the flow of sewage. That’s two dungeons, thus far. With a barely developed city in between. There’s so much that can and should happen here.
There are allies to be found. Selzen Murtano, for one. You don’t remember him? He's the beggar met at the gate:

As you pass through the main gate and take your first steps into the city, a wizened, limping beggar hobbles UD and asks for alms.
The beggar, upon closing with the party, whispers that he is an agent of those who hired the players. He says, “Seek out the ivory paladin,” and then disappears into the passersby. [A3]

He left clues for the PCs to follow. Whether you choose to use them as written is up to you, but I imagine he bribed the bartender of the inn “The Sign of the White Knight” to pass information to them in the even of his own passing.

In the east side of the dining area is the bar counter, behind which works an overweight, sweating bartender. If the bartender is given 10gp (or more) he will say, “Not all who lie may be resting;” for 50gp (or more) more he will add “learn from the knowledge that never dies.” [A3]

Use Selzen Murtano. He makes further appearances as the campaign progresses.
These are the stats given him in A4:

AC 4 (studded leather), MV 9”, LVL 6 thief, hp 30, #AT 1, D 1-8 from long sword, S 7, I 16, W 6, D 18, C 15, ch 14, AL NG).

Selzen Murtano is a slender man with attractive features and a sly wit. He’s prone to impulsiveness and sometimes acts without thinking. He keeps his black hair short and his face shaved. He wears fine studded leather armor and keeps a longsword in a scabbard hanging from his belt. In addition to weapons and armor, Selzen has a padded wallet containing thieves’ tools. [D215]

Ditch the second dungeon, too. Firstly it's just an excuse to add another maze to the module; and secondly, its a sewer whose design
 would impede the flow of sewage. Why design it as such? And more importantly, why would the Slavers place their throne / conference room in a sewer when they obviously own the city and have nothing to fear from its populace? The idea is preposterous and should be ignored. Develop the marquess’ fortified house instead. Put the slave pens in the basement, and the Slave Lords’ apartments on the second floor. Most encounters ought to be focussed on the fain floor, including the face-off with those Lords present.

Feetla
There’s been much ado about these Slave Lords, thus far. Who are they? What do we know about them? Not much, really. This is what we do know.
Those mentioned are:
Feetla (a buccaneer and the mastermind behind the slavers’ raids to date) is the supposed leader of the group. He's shown to have an eyepatch, but is that really necessary? No; it's just for flavour. I suggest making him Suloise, and a Sea Prince in exile, one with Scarlet Brotherhood connections. What does he need the Brotherhood for? He needs money to hire a fleet with which to take back his lands and estate in the Hold of the Sea Princes. He's a man of the sea and would most certainly prefer to be on the deck of a ship, and not stuck in these mountains. But a man's got to do what a man's got to do.
Nerelas (a silent and cunning assassin) is the spymaster. I've suggested using him before, as early as in A1 to draw the PCs into a much larger narrative, foreshadowing far more sinister foes than those presented. Is he a Suloise Uncle? Why not. His profession fits the bill. The lot of them might be Suloise, if you've a mind to make them so.
Ajakstu
Ajakstu (a magic-user who is otherwise unremarked upon) is our femme fatale. We can have fun here. The module is rather testosterone heavy, so he can be a she, which opens the story up for role play. She can be as evil as you wish. Or not. She could be LN, and dedicated to her people's cause, if not as ruthless in the pursuit of their plat as Feetla is, and Nerelas surely is. Is she offended by slavery? No. It is sanctioned by the law of the Land of Purity, and she has never questioned the right and wrong of it. It just is.
Brother Milerjoy (a high ranking member of the Scarlet Brotherhood) is there to keep an eye on things, and to see that the Brotherhood's interests are met. If the Slavers are Suloise, Milerjoy's presence is far more convincing.
And then we have Modrammo (high priest of the cult of the Earth Dragon, or so he professes to be). Let's make him another Sea Prince in exile, Feetla's elder brother. He is the real mastermind behind this whole enterprise. That will add depth to the backstory. Neither he nor Feetla trust the Brotherhood; they are just a means to an end. In fact, Nerelas and Ajakstu and Milerjoy are expendable, as far as he is concerned.

There are more, supposedly. There must be. There are nine thrones in the chamber of the Slave Lords and only five are present.
Who might they be? They are named in A4: Theg Narlot, Edralve, Lamonsten, and Ketta. That most definitely raised the number to nine. But these villains have not joined our narrative (unless you’ve been following these missives and taken to heart those suggestions I’d mentioned) and will be addressed in another review.
Very little is said about any of the villains in this module, though. I expect it was assumed that they would be elaborated upon in A4. Maybe it was assumed that most would be killed by the PCs. Either way, more is said about Milerjoy and Mordrammo than the others.

Brother Milerjoy
[Brother Milerjoy] and his disciple Brother Kerin mysteriously appeared at the first Council of the Slave Lords. It is an indication of the growing strength of the Scarlet Brotherhood that Brother Milerjoi was immediately accepted into the Council. [A3]

The mere mention of Brother Kerin is a mystery, as he is only mentioned in passing and never makes an appearance in this adventure.

Stalman Kim, I AM Death
Mordrammo is the chief priest of the Temple of the Earth Dragon. He is a strong enemy, but his self-preservation instinct is strong, He realizes that the attacking party could very well get lucky, so he has a protection from good […] before the party enters the room. As soon as he throws his flame strike, Mordrammo will escape using his word of recall. [A3]

About that Earth Dragon…. There is nary a mention of the Cult of the Earth Dragon out of the A series, and its sequel Slavers, so its up to you if you wish to use it here. It is Flan, and if you go with the Suloise theme it is out of place, except as a red herring for any prying eyes. Mordrammo could just as easily be a high priest of the Elemental Eye instead, tying the temple stumbled upon in A0 into the overall story arch.

Mordrammo, Brother Kerin, and the other Slave Lords will reappear near the end of module A4 [In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords). [A3]

One would think so, anyway, as it says so here; but one would be wrong. Kerin does, but not Mordrammo. Or maybe he does. A certain Stalman Klim does. Is Stalman Kim Mordrammo? Of course he is: Their stat blocks are identical. The confusion was cleared up 30 years later in Dungeon #215’s The Last Slave Lord in which it was explained that Stalman Klim was known as Mordrammo to his underlings, a name meaning “I am Death”. [The Last Slave Lord]

Is this such a big deal? No. I blame the editors back in 1980 for not keeping each writer in the know of what was going on with other modules in the series being written concurrently with their own. 

Does this module fail? I think it does, on many levels. Maybe not as a tournament module, but certainly as part of a greater campaign, which the series becomes when strung together. Why does it fail? Because the PCs are supposed to fail. Should they? It’s up to you. The question is, do you want to run A4 In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords? If you do, then the PCs must be defeated.

And that will likely piss them off, especially if it is obvious that they had no chance at all. 

How’s that for verisimilitude? And it doesn’t change the intent of the original storyline.

 

 

The Art:
Cover art, from A3 Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords, by Jeff Dee, 1981
Cave Map, from A3 Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords, 1981
Wimpell Frump, from A3 Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords, by Jeff Dee, 1981
Suderham Gate, from A3 Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords, by Jim Roslof (?), 1981
Arabian-esque scene, A3 Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords, by Bill Willingham, 1981
Sewer Map, from A3 Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords, 1981
Brother Milerjoy detail, A3 Assault on the Aerie of the Slave Lords by Jeff Dee (?), 1981



 
Copyright:
All art is wholly owned by the artists.
All source material presented within this blog piece 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:
9039A A0 Danger at Darkshelf Quarry, 2013
9039 A1 Slave Pits of the Undercity, 1980
9040 A2 Secret of the Slaver’s Stockade, 1981
9041 A3 Aerie of the Slave Lords, 1981
9042 A4 In the Dungeons of the Slave Lords, 1981
11621 Slavers, 2000
The Last Slave Lord, by Robert J. Schwalb, Dungeon magazine #215, 2013

Thursday, 12 November 2020

On Seuvord Redbeard

 On Seuvord Redbeard

“I’ve never known fear; as a youth I fought
In endless battles. I am old, now,
But I will fight again, seek fame still,
If the dragon hiding in his tower dares
To face me”
― Burton Raffel, Beowulf

Seuvord the Red

Few civilized realms give much thought to the vast lands beyond the Phostwood, if they give them any thought at all. It is only a frigid wasteland, its inhabitants barbarians and bandits.
In that regard, Seuvord the Red succeeds in being both. Or is he?
Is he a bandit? He most assuredly raids. He would argue that he must take what he must to survive; because he has no choice. He is surrounded by enemies, and few friends, if any.
Is he a barbarian? He would say not; and he takes issue with the name given him by those craven fools to the south: Sevvord Redbeard. Sevvord? That was a Suel’s name, he would say. Redbeard? He did not choose that name, he would say. He chose Seuvord, because that was the name given him, and he also chose “the Red,” for his hands had been bloodied long before he participated in the Rite.

The grim, bloodthirsty Master of Stonehold is a warlord with almost unparalleled experience. Ruthless and savage, he led troops to conquer, loot and occupy Tenh, though he now fights Iuz’s forces and the Theocracy of the Pale to retain his claimed territory. Stonehold currently suffers from attacks by the Snow, Ice and Frost Barbarians. PGTG – 26 

Vlek Col Vlekzed
Most presume that he sprung from Vlek Col Vlekzed’s line. His mother claimed so; and he claims as much, too. Who can say for certain if that is true or not? Vlek did have 219 wives and 351 male children, after all, so the odds are in his favour. And who would dare refute it?
Regardless who Seuvard’s antecedents might be, he carries Vlek’s sword, as all the Masters of the Hold have, despite Vlek’s command that it be broken and burned along with his remains when he died.

Stonefist Sword of Rage +2: This two-handed sword was enchanted during the reign of Vlek Col Vlekzed. No one is sure if Vlek wielded it himself, though the warriors of the Hold of Stonefist stubbornly (and violently) claim so. No one doubts that the weapon contains the strength and ferocity upon which Vlek built his domain. GA – 87

To understand the man, one must understand the land that weened him. His is a harsh, cruel realm. But there is beauty there, too. The landscape comes alive in spring, the heaths and marshes awash with bloom. Sunrises and sunsets are pure and crystal clear, blinding in the easy, glowing hotly in the west. The night sky is alive, eerily aglow, and mesmerizing.

The climate is subarctic, with brief growing seasons, poor soil and conifer forests. There are reports of curious lights in the sky like colorful ribbons, stripes or flashes. PGTG – 6

Even in winter, the landscape is a sight to behold. It flows. It changes, sculpted by the wind. A cold wind. A frigid wind that will sculpt your very face with frost. And turn your face from it when it blows.

A frigid climate and brutal regime combine to make Stonehold one of the harshest lands in all the Flanaess. Bounded to the west and north by the Icy Sea, Stonehold's southern and eastern borders are formed by the Griffs and Corusks. The majority of Stoneholders live a seminomadic existence, moving to the northern tundra in summer and migrating south in the autumn. The remaining third or so of the population dwell in permanent settlements, mostly west of the Frozen River. Brute strength has long been the main virtue espoused by the people of this land, and treachery the byword of her leaders. All of the bordering nations are Stonehold's enemies. Stonehold has no trade, her only export being war, and in this she excels. LGG – 108, 109

Are these claims true? A great many of the Holders migrate alongside their reindeer, and their mammoths, only camping upon the White Fanged Bay and Icy Seas when the walrus are beached. But are all who border them enemies? The Barbarians are. Surely the Rovers, too.

[The Rovers] practiced their fighting skills against the men of the Hold of Stonefist and the savages and humanoids they met on raids into the Cold Marshes. DRG#56 – 22

Centaur In The Forest
But who would choose to befriend the Rovers, when they lay with their horses and sire centaurs?
Are the Holders the uncivilized lot the southerners claim them to be? Those dour northerners would say otherwise. They do not dine on finery, nor swill acrid wines. They do not pat the corners of their mouths with linen. Or clench their buttholes lest they fart. Such “refinement” would be a waste of strength and effort, what with the north wind sure to blow and the snows to fall sure to fall no sooner than your wind escape yer arse. There is work to be done. Game to harvest, fish to salt, hides to cure.
As to trade, the Hold is rich with the most luxurious furs, ermine and sable and mink, and the most sought-after ivory, from walrus, and the tusks of mammoths and mastodons, no less. The purest silver gleams from its rock face, although who might be mining it none can tell (though many suspect), as most Holders wouldn’t know one end on a pickaxe for the other, unless it were used to crack a skull or two, that is. It trades. With who? None would admit to it; but they do trade with the Stonefist, otherwise how does its silver and fur and ivory make its way to those southern courts that never give it a second thought.
Not civilized? They follow the Old Ways. Old Gods. The gods that birth the sun, and blow the wind, and call them to use their strength to take what is theirs to take. To survive.
So, it is civilized. In its way. And it is also savage. As was its founder, who was a Holder, not a Rover. Banished. Prodigal. Returned.

Stonehold began as the Hold of Stonefist, a bandit chiefdom founded in the territory of the old Coltens Feodality. Vlek Col Vlekzed, called Stonefist, was a ruthless bandit who had been cast out from the Rovers of the Barrens for his vice and cruelty, and left to wander the fringes of his homeland for several years. Over that time, he gathered a large following of evil men, even sacking one of the old Bandit Kingdoms and carrying away most of its population. Vlek moved them beyond White Fanged Bay, where he established the fortified town of Vlekstaad. The Coltens were very uneasy with his presence in their land, but Vlek promised a truce and offered to negotiate with their leaders. As the Coltens traveled to the appointed site, they were ambushed and slaughtered by the followers of Stonefist. The remainder of the Coltens host was routed, and Vlek settled down to rule over the whole territory.
Outcasts from many nations were attracted by Stonefist's infamy, and came to swell the ranks of his followers. Stonefist established the Mastership of the Hold as a semihereditary position, available only to his descendants. They were allowed to compete in the biannual Rite of Battle Fitness, which determined the rank of potential challengers to the Hold's leaders. The overall winner was allowed to challenge the Master of the Hold, while the surviving losers would join the Fists, with those who did best in the battle-rite becoming chieftains and leaders of the war bands. The Coltens folk had no place in this hierarchy, and many fled to the Hraak Forest, or beyond the Big Seal Bay and the northern thrust of the Corusks to dwell in the Taival Tundra, in the land of the Ice Barbarians).
Those who could not flee remained in servitude to Stonefist and his descendants. LGG – 109

The people of Stonefist are a cruel, bloody bunch with little sense of honor or decency. They are arrogant, contemptuous bullies, always seeking new victims to rob, rape and pillage. FTAA – 39

The Fists
To suggest the Holders are without honour is presumptuous. They do indeed have honour; but it is the type expected by a harsh and unforgiving land. The strong rule. But only for so long as they command the respect and fear of those they rule over. Power must be wrested from the strong. And strength must be proven.

[In] a bi-annual "Rite of Battle Fitness." The winner may challenge the Master, one of the Atamen of the three towns, or lead a warband and become a chief. The surviving losers join the standing warbands (the "Fists"), those who did best becoming chieftains, sub-chiefs, and leaders of raiding bands. These savage war and raiding bands commonly raid Fruztii, Tenh, and even the Rovers of the Barrens. About 30% or so of the population of the Hold dwell in permanent settlements, and from these people are drawn the bulk of the footmen. Most of the balance of the population are semi-nomadic, moving into the northern tundra in the summer, and migrating south in the fall. From these people come the horsemen and light infantry of the "Fists." WOGG – 36

No boychild could take Vlek's name, so great was his person; each considered the sole property of his mother by the Stonefist. And thus he set precedent among his Fists. Each scion had to earn his right to a name, indeed, his right to vassalage; and upon surviving the Rites, if he survived, he could then take his father's name, or his own name, if he so chose, and upon that name gained acclamation or infamy, and with it his status among his peers.
Of course, there were those who might try to wrest power by less honourable means.

In 523 one Storrich of the Hold of Stonefist failed in an attempt to advance himself by less than traditional methods. Poisoners are not highly regarded even in that grim country, and so Storrich and his followers were obliged to flee. Since the season was summer and the Ice Barbarians would not be likely to let his ship pass unmolested, Storrich and his pursuers turned westward. Unfortunately for Storrich and his men, the pilot of the ship ran it aground offshore the Wastes, and Storrich’s company was obliged to take to the land, the pursuit still hot on their heels. As a last desperate measure Storrich attempted entry into the Burning Cliffs region, risking a stone path that he and his men found leading into the smolder. Storrich’s pursuers turned back at this point well satisfied, and informed the Master of the Hold that they had driven Storrich to his death, having waited some days for him to attempt a return and having seen nothing. It proved to be untrue. GA - 97

But it has been over a century since the Stonefist held his hold. And half a century since Storrich failed to wrest power from those who followed Vlekzed. What had changed in the Hold? Very little. The strong succeeded the strong. 

Seuvord Redbeard
While the Hold itself was relatively safe from invasion, the Master, Seuvord Redbeard, and his Atamen and chieftains were faced with a dilemma.
The Rovers of the Barrens were undoubtedly gaining in numbers once again, so no easy raiding prospects existed to the west. Likewise, both southern passes to the rich state of Tenh and the lands of the Fruztii were closed to all but a major effort. A major effort was impossible because of the near-revolt of the eastern (mainly Coltens-descendant) bands under Ataman Dyerg Keda […] and supported by over a dozen chieftains and subchiefs. Seuvord Redbeard, being both tough and intelligent, refused to be drawn into a civil war, for then the surrounding enemies of the Hold would surely take the opportunity offered and destroy the remnants of the state. As Seuvord also wished his own line to retain the Mastership of the Hold. as a hereditary right, he called a great council at Purmill, with safe conduct for all who attended.
Many observers were surprised that all of the principal leaders of the Hold took part in the convocation, but those aware of the cleverness of Seuvord knew that he was certainly responsible for the showing. What was put forth at the council by Seuvord Redbeard was that the Hold must adapt to the changes taking place and the new alliances against its people. He asked the assembled leaders to grant him the hereditary title of Rhelt; he asked that Atamen also be made hereditary leaders, and also that the chief men of each area be given the right to elect the warband leaders. The Rite of Battle Fitness was not to be done away with, however. Instead, it would qualify warriors for service in the standing army to be formed immediately, with those of exceptional capabilities to be made leaders, companions of the Rhelt, or even war chiefs whose right it would be to expand the realm through conquest and occupation.
There was considerable dissension, particularly from the direct descendants of Stonefist, but enough of them, as well as of the nomadic chieftains, agreed to Seuvord’s proposal to sway the entire assembly. In CY 578, shortly after Tenh had coronated its new Duke, the Master of the Hold became Rhelt Seuvord I of Stonehold. Several of his cousins took ill from a mysterious flux shortly after the coronation, and about a dozen others were reported fleeing into the Griff Mountains with a small band of loyal followers.
The former Hold of Stonefist is now divided into four Atamanships: Vlekstaad, Purmill, Kelten, and Bastro. Four Great Chieftains were also created: Reindeer, White Bear, Walrus, and Forest (Hraak) People. The word of these Great Chieftains is equal to that of an Ataman. Finally, war chiefs of the west, south, north, and east were appointed to raise bands of fists to keep the land safe until the Rhelt’s own army could be formed. Only about 1,000 personal guards are in this standing force as of 579, but the war chiefs have been relatively successful, especially in the east. There, the frontier of the Stonehold has been pushed past Big Seal Bay [,] 80 or 90 leagues into territory claimed by the Cruski. DRG#57 - 13,14 

The Master [began to make] certain political changes in Stonefist [….] To resolve a long-standing tribal conflict, Sevvord essentially introduced feudalism to the Hold. He had himself decaled Rhelt (“king” in the Cold Tongue), and his own position and those of his Atamen were made hereditary. Thus, the Atamen became nobles and Redbeard’s line became royalty. The chieftains of Stonefist were allowed to elect warband leaders instead of having them chosen by the brutal Rite of Battle Fitness. The Rite itself was modified to become more survivable while remaining physically challenging and dangerous (Some tales sad the Rite was often turned into a massacre to rid Sevvord of potential rivals.) A standing army was established, made up of warriors who survived the Rite. The war chiefs were tasked with expanding the Hold of Stonefist through conquest using their Fists (warbands). […] The Hold of Stonefist was also renamed. Now openly calling itself Stonehold, this quasi-kingdom is composed of four Atamanships: Vlekstaad (west), Pumull (south), Kelten (east), and Bastro (north). Four Great Chieftains were named, each equal to an Ataman (Reindeer, White Bear, Walrus, and Forest [Hraak] People). Stonehold has become a force that is greatly feared by all in this region. TAB – 22,23

582 CY

War had been brewing for a long time. All the nations of the Flanaess knew as much. Most had prepared for its eventuality; indeed, some welcomed it. There were old scores to settle, lands coveted, resources to reap. It had only been by the grace of those who had tirelessly fought against its eventuality had it been staved off for as long as it had. Had they truly had a hand in its forestallment, or was it because Iuz was under lock and key; was it because the Scarlet Brotherhood had yet to act? Such is conjecture, because its time had come; and as the parables warned in the quatrains of Daoud’s Lantern, the realization of their wishes was never as expected.

In 582 CY, a series of conflicts collectively called the Greyhawk Wars began. Iuz had escaped magical imprisonment beneath Greyhawk Castle in 570 CY and returned to his homelands. PGTG – 10 

Did it begin as expected, with Iuz come howling from his Hills? Or with Ivid annexing the (in his delusional mind) recalcitrant state of Nyrond? No. Such momentous events are always conceived in the most unlikely places, in the most unexpected ways:

If a Flanaess sage had been asked in 582 CY where the first strike in a continental war would most likely come from, he would not have replied, "from the Hold of Stonefist," which is exactly where it originated. Founded some 150 years earlier, the Fists were usually considered to be slightly better-organized barbarians than those in the Bandit Kingdoms or in the neighboring lands of the Fruztii, Schnai, and Cruskii tribes.
All the barbarians were inflamed by a rumor that swept their lands: that four of five legendary magical swords, the Swords of Corusk, had been found, and that when the fifth was obtained, a "Great God of the North" would rise and lead them to conquest and greatness. The fifth sword never was found, but one calling himself Vatun and claiming to be the Great God of the North appeared before the barbarians of Fruztii, Schnai, and Cruskii, and they swept west into Stonefist under his leadership. FTAA - 6

Vatun Appears, And Commands Obedience
The first strike was a stroke of unusual cunning and ingenuity. Constructing an elaborate fiction about a "Great God Vatun," Iuz managed to ally the barbarian nations together. Deluded by dreams of greatness, the barbarians subjugated the Hold of Stonefist. WGR5 - 3

By pretending to be their god Vatun, he tricked the northern barbarians of he Thillonrian Peninsula into attacking the Hold of Stonefist. He apparently gained magical control over Sevvord Redbeard, the evil Master of the Hold, and used the Fists (as the Stoneholders are called) to sweep into Tenh in 582 CY.  PGTG – 10

Even as Vatun appeared before his dread-filled followers, the Fists converged upon them to stop the ceremony. In the brief battle that ensued, Vatun easily routed the Fists and thereby won the prostrate praise of the barbarians. However, instead of completely crushing the Fists, Vatun sought them as allies. Over the course of a few weeks, Sevvord Redbeard once noted for his stubborn independence underwent a radical (if not magical) change of heart and joined forces with Vatun and his barbarian hordes. GW: ADV – 7

Iuz cast a powerful enchantment/charm spell on Seword Redbeard and a handful of his shamans and Fist leaders to bring the Fists under his control. The spell was unique, crafted with fiendish help. A simple dispel magic can't counter it. The effect of the spell is to make Seword consider Iuz a useful ally and a geas element in the spell directs Sevvord's attention to acts of war in Iuz's interests. WGR5 – 67

The Stonefist Cometh
The Hold of Stonefist, now ally rather than enemy of the barbarians, massed for an assault to the south. Demonstrating a savagery that surpassed even his reputation, Sevvord Redbeard, Master of the Hold, bloodily crushed all opposition to his rule. He turned the yearly Rite of Battle Fitness into a massacre to prove his ascendancy, then gathered his cowed forces for war talk. He said the time had come for the Fists, robbed of their lands and glory, to bring their southern neighbors to task.

With such demagoguery, the Master of the Hold assembled a huge and loyal barbarian army. The Fists were hungry for war and Sevvord Redbeard planned to let them feast. Under Vatun’s orders, the Master of the Hold led his army through Thunder Pass and swept down on Calbut in the Duchy of Tenh. GW: ADV – 7

Under Vatun's direction, the Fists swept into the Duchy of Tenh in 582 CY and conquered it quickly. FTAA - 6

This invasion, however, did not follow the same course as past attacks. While Tenh’s forces mustered to waylay the Fists, Sevvord Redbeard pushed his troops forward again. In the brief campaign that followed, the Fists marched down a branch of the Zumker River, easily overwhelming the thin ranks of the Tenhas militia in their path. Within five days of the fall of Calbut, Sevvord’s horde laid siege to the walled capital of Tenh, Nevond Nevnend. GW: ADV – 8

The Duke and Duchess fled to the County of Urnst for safety. The Tenhas' former arrogance cost them dear; no help was forthcoming from other nations. Nyrond was nervously watching Aerdy, unable to risk forces far to the north. FTAA - 6

The powerful nations of the Flanaess were astonished. What was at work here? Iuz's cunning plan drew attention away from his lands, far eastward. WGR5 – 3

News of the fall of Tenh spread through the Flanaess like a rolling cloud of doom, triggering reaction on all sides. Sevvord Redbeard’s conquest rung like a death knell across the land. The messengers whispered the news in the ears of kings and emperors, saying “The hammer has fallen. The time has come.” The great war had drawn its first blood. GW: ADV – 8

It is little wonder that Iuz sought to use this machinery of war. Sevvord Redbeard was magically ensnared by Iuz's fiends, but what Iuz whispered to him was very much to his taste, anyway. Redbeard's brutal massacres in Tenh only enhanced his reputation, and his Fists swagger across their own lands, those of Tenh, and part of the old Bandit Kingdoms in the bargain.

Sevvord may be little more than a pawn of Iuz now, but Iuz is careful not to make this obvious to the strong, independent Fists and their chiefs. Iuz does not dispatch fiends, Boneheart leaders, or hobgoblins openly into Stonefist or Tenh. His control is exerted purely through Sevvord, and this suits Iuz, since diluting his own forces by having to assign more of them here would not be wise. If Iuz's magical control could somehow be identified and broken, it is intriguing to think upon the consequences.
The people of Stonefist are a cruel, bloody bunch with little sense of honor or decency. They are arrogant, contemptuous bullies, always seeking new victims to rob, rape and pillage. FTAA - 38,39

When the war came, Iuz did not forget the Rovers' history of opposition to him and the Rovers did not join his fraudulent alliance of the barbarians and Stonefist. He used the men of Stonefist to smash the eastern lands of the Rovers, and during and after the wars, he sent his own troops to maraud further. WGR5 – 61

583 CY

The alliance forged by Vatun soon collapsed. The Great God instructed the barbarians to invade the small state of Ratik, but their chiefs refused; they had long allied with Ratik against the humanoids of the Bone March and indeed against the Great Kingdom itself. They began to doubt Vatun; very wisely, since Vatun was a sham and a lie, a mask worn by Iuz the Old. But now Iuz was ready to strike elsewhere, both south and east. FTAA - 6

And so the deception that triggered the great war met its end, but not before Iuz had firmly allied Stonefist to his cause. Though the alliance farther east collapsed, Iuz had successfully turned the barbarians’ attention away from the west: instead of pouring though the mountain passes, the barbarians launched daring longship raids along the coast of the Great Kingdom. GW: ADV – 9

[The Barbarians] feel the deception of Iuz keenly, and skirmishes against Stonefist across the Griff Mountains are currently planned by King Hundgred. FTAA - 25

[King Ingemar Hartensen of Schnai’s] great hatred for the Stonefisters, and wishes to mount a joint expedition with the other barbarian races through the Griff Mountains to lay waste to Kelten. FTAA - 35

A major raid into Stonehold was mounted […] by a combined force of Schnai and Cruski, though they were ultimately driven back. Since then, the young king of the Frost Barbarians has finally declared his nation's independence from the Schnai, Old King Orvung might have gone to war over such an action, but the current king is more circumspect History, he realizes, often repeats itself. The ambitions of the young king of Fruztii may soon prove too great for his jarls, and Ingemar will be ready to support their disaffection. LGG – 106

Not all raids were by the Barbarians.
Tang the Horrific
[The numbers of the Rovers of the Barrens] increased, and they practiced their fighting skills against the men of the Hold of Stonefist and the savages and humanoids they met on raids into the Cold Marshes.
DRG#56 - 22

A former servant of Iuz and now the demigod's implacable foe, Tang had escaped with a small band of cavalry after a daring raid into the Howling Hills with the Wolf Nomads. Crossing the open plain to the Fellreev, Tang and his mercenary band encountered small groups of Rovers, gathering them at the village of Sable Watch. With their aid, together with Wardogs from the Forlorn Forest and beyond, he successfully attacked Iuzite forces in the Barrens, eventually capturing the fort of Hornduran. Most of the Rovers were still without mounts, so Tang made a fateful decision to raid into Stonehold for horses.
The Rovers Raid
The town of Vlekstaad was chosen as the target of the Rovers' nighttime strike. With most Fists either in Tenh or fighting the Suel in eastern Stonehold, Vlekstaad had almost no able soldiers in residence. Such defenses as they had were quickly penetrated, thanks to the Wardogs' amazing stealth. The stables of Vlekstaad provided a trove of horseflesh, but escaping with them proved more difficult than Tang had anticipated. He and his companions were trapped by a patrol of Fists and forced to battle for their lives. The expedition might have been lost there had not a young Wardog, Nakanwa Daychaser […]), led his own band of warriors on Tang's trail. Trapped between the two forces of Rovers, the Fists were slaughtered, but Tang was mortally wounded. Nakanwa quickly assumed control of the surviving Rovers, ordering them to seize everything of value in the town, including its citizens. The remains of the town were set ablaze, becoming the funeral pyre of Tang the Horrific.
LGG - 95 


584 CY

The War came to an end. Exhasted, the nations of the Flanaess limped to the Free City of Greyhawk to sign the peace, wach in their knowledge that the peace would be anything but.
Most came willingly. Most by necessity. They needed time to lick their wounds, to consilidate their gains, to appease their people, their dukes, their egos.
A few came because they were bid to. Others because they were coerced. It has even been hinted at that some, like the Stonefist, even came under duress.

The Hold of Stonefist signed following the mysterious deaths of several atamans. GW: ADV – 29
So hints the Scarlet Brotherhood. And so they led those in their newly gained grounds to believe. That the Brotherhood could possibly pulled off such a feat is unlikely. The Hold is too far removed from the Brotherhood’s sphere of influence. And, in truth, the Fists are too tightly knit a group, and too paranoid of the intent of others for the Brotherhood to have had any hope in succeeding in such an endeavour, even if they had attempted it.
Seuvord came to the table to boast. To strut. To be seen and feared. “It was I who started this,” his very presence said. “And I can do it again, if I so choose to.”
Seuvord signed where he was bid. And then he returned home to do as he had always done: what he pleased. 

Was peace had? That depends on how one defines peace. Did great armies vie with one another hence forth? No. Did small armies flit back and forth across borders with regularity, striking, and spiriting away before they could be engaged? Yes. Were nations openly hostile to one another? Certainly. When were they not? The Cold war that was, before it had burst into flame, had grown hot again, and would remain broiling for years to come, for decades, in fact.
[The] men of Stonefist often enter the eastern portion of the Forlorn Forest in large hunting bands. Stonefist men wear the skin of a bear or great wolf proudly, but the tattooed skin of a slain Rover makes a very acceptable trophy too. WGR5 – 63

Indeed, even conquered lands were as unsettled as one might expect borders to be. Some “allies” can be as recalcitrant as the partisans those allies were meant to quell, as Iuz soon discovered.
[Control] is harder to keep the farther east one travels, where renegade Bandits, the remains of the Rovers of the Barrens, the exiled remnants of Tenh, and the men of Stonefist strain against the yoke of Iuz. Against bandits and rovers, force will do the job, so Iuz can dispatch fiends and humanoids. In Tenh and Stonefist, though, there is no love of humanoids or Iuz himself, and control can only be exercised by influence and subtle stratagems. WGR5 – 5

The Stonefist nation is young, born in adversity and constant marauding. Constant movement on attack and retreating to defensive fortifications after that attack, not occupying their conquests, is what makes the Stonefist men feel comfortable. WGR5 – 67

Calbut is not only a fine stronghold which the Stonefist men prize, but it is ringed by four platinum mines in the Griffs. The human and hill dwarf miners there are enslaved, but not without cost. Stonefist men know little of mining and dislike confinement in dark areas, so they aren't exactly adept at keeping their slaves subdued. WGR5 – 69

Around 25,000 Tenhas died in the wars, but Stonefist men regard animating dead bodies as a despicable and blasphemous act, so luz's priests have had to be careful in this respect. WGR5 – 68

There is another problem weighing on the minds of the Fists. Since the sham of the "Great God Vatun” was exposed and barbarian shamans and priests have begun to see that Iuz was behind it all, the Fists face more hostility and raids from their traditional foes, the eastern barbarians. No longer are these two uneasy allies. Having occupied Calbut and secured Thunder Pass is useful to the Fists, but keeping men in Tenh when they are needed to defend Stonefist against the barbarians is irksome. Many seek to go home, putting Tenh through one last ordeal of slaughter and pillage before they go. In the interim, many are restless and bored, prone to drunkenness and mindless violence against the Tenhas. WGR5 – 67

588 CY

The Stonefist Gazes Upon His Icy Sea
Long had Seuvord ploughed the land as Iuz bid.
He enslaved the peoples of Tenh.
He hunted the Barrens for Rovers.
He sent his Fists across the Griffs, for all the good that did, what with Ratik standing shoulder to shoulder with Fruztii. And Cruski and Schnai and Zeai landing upon his far shores.
He continued to plough the land as Iuz bid even as the fiends took flight; but once those fiends had fled, the strain upon the Old One waxed, and the hold he held upon his many vassals waned. Until, one by one, those enslaved to his will slipped from that grasp. Distracted, Iuz raged. And his force of will began to break.
In 588 CY, Iuz lost control over Sevvord Redbeard, leader of the Hold of Stonefist; Sevvord largely abandoned his occupation of Tenh and restructured his land (now called Stonehold) to better fight against outside threats. PGTG – 12

Rhelt Sevvord, the ruler of the realm, openly proclaims his independence from and hatred of Iuz even while faction leaders within Stonehold secretly court the demigod in the hopes of winning power for themselves. Murder among the Stonehold leaders is commonplace, and assassination is a recognized method of negotiation. WGG - 18

Seuvord's Rage
Iuz was soon to learn that Seuvord’s rage could match his own.
Enraged by the abuse he suffered, Redbeard vowed revenge. Iuz’s priests, soldiers, and advisors in the area were slaughtered on sight, and Tenh was plunged into bloodshed once again. The Master then ordered the looting of Tenh and a retreat to Nevond Nevnend and Calbut. Stonefist warriors meant to keep this area so as to guard Thunder Pass (called Rockegg Pass by the Tenh), the route through the Griff Mountains back to Stonefist. Reports were already filtering back to the Stonefist troops that a force of Ice and Snow Barbarians was raiding and burning its way across the eastern Hold and wished to go home to do battle. TAB – 22

His army drove the barbarians back from Kelten and secured the pass, while he returned to Vlekstaad with his personal guard. The town was a smoking ruin, its inhabitants dead or fled away. The Suel barbarians he blamed for the attack left no survivors to describe the onslaught. A picked force of warriors pursued their trail into the lower Griffs, where it disappeared. He decided the Suel had obviously escaped through the mountains back to their homelands in Rhizia.
Rhelt Sevvord vows vengeance against the Suel, though his greatest hatred is for his former "ally," Iuz. Vlekstaad is being rebuilt, refortified, and regarissoned. Kelten and Purmill are more important in the affairs of Stonehold, especially in light of the ongoing warfare with the Suel barbarians. The occupation of Tenh is now over, too, except for Calbut and Nevond Nevnend. It may be that the great accomplishments of the first rhelt of Stonehold are finally at an end. LGG – 110

Were Iuz and the Barbarians Seuvord’s only concern. His are a passionate people, a devout people, superstitious people. They have always been beset with madmen and prophets who inevitably suffered their visions when the north wind howled and the snows closed in. Their visions were always those of such things as the true path, the purity and the soul, and the righteous mind; and their path always seemed to lead to insurrection and betrayal. Seuvord was plagued by these madmen, and it was a wonder how many of these madmen lined up to dangle from the gates of Vleksted.
In the course of three bloody days dozens of young men and women were put to the axe within Vlekstaad. Mad mobs of warriors roamed the ruins of the settlement following the direction of snarling priests of Erythnul who claimed that hated Iuz had possessed some of the Stonehold’s youth. The rampagebegan by decree of Gurfaald the Malformed, a twisted prophet of the Lord of Slaughter who wandered down to Vlekstaad from his filthy hovel near Lake Albanfyl. Other priests believed his revelation, and faithful warriors scoured the already decimated settlement looking for the “spawn” of the Old One. These rabble-rousers claimed that the young were more susceptible to Iuz’s magic, but others believe the victims' only crime may have been failing to pay proper tribute to the god of hatred and rage. Relt Sevvord himself finally put down the hysteria, confronting [Gurfaald] and cleaving the prophet’s head with a mighty plow of a waraxe. Many within Stonehold believe that Sevvord ended [Gurfaald’s] crsdade only because he found it personally insulting. LGJ#3 - 30

Let them plot. Let them come.
Another season passes. The wind blows. The snows fall. And enemies plot.
The other joint operation of these states has been against the Hold of Stonefist. Fruztii forces have now secured the pass south of the Hraak forest and control the land for some 20 miles around.
The Ice Barbarians have supported the Fruztii to some extent by making naval raids along the northern coast of Stonefist. The Snow Barbarians have concentrated on attacks on Great Kingdom and Sea Baron shipping, although some of the Schnai have been seen “assisting” the Frost Barbarians in Stonefist. WGS1 – 4

No matter. Let them plot. Let them come. The Fists were ready to receive them.
There have been reverses in the east: a Stonefist force from Kelten inflicted a severe defeat on one group of Frost Barbarians a couple of weeks ago. They then proceeded to destroy the border community of Ranskine. WGS1 – 37

 

Stonefist, Hold of
(Pop 60,000+)
Hold of Stonefist: chaotic evil; [Flan, Suloise, Common, Cold Tongue]. DRG#52 - 20
Capital: Vlekstaad (pop. 2,100)
Population: 60,000 +
Demi-humans: Doubtful
Human 96%, Orc 2%, Dwarf 1%, Other 1%
Humanoids: Some
WOGA  - 36

Human 96%, Orc 2%, Dwarf 1%, Other 1%
WGG – 18

Resources: furs, ivory, silver, gems (I)—
Religions: Erythnul, Syrul, Beltar, Beory, Obad-Hai
Capital: Vlekstaad Major Towns: Bastro (pop. 1,700), Kelten (pop. 2,800), Purmill (pop, 1,900), Vlekstaad (pop. 2,200 before being burned, now 700)
LGG - 108

[…] Strong Flan and minor other elements are present in Stonehold [….] All these people live in relative barbarism, […] attacking overland in wild hordes. Threats to this area are more often internal than external: currently, the Fists struggle to solidify their borders. PGTG - 6

[The] Hold of Stonefist, would produce […] Slavic-type barbarian fighters. These characters would employ broad swords and short bows as additional required initial weapons. Horsemanship would be nominal at best, but running would be normal, and in most cases the skill of making and manning rowed boats would exist. DRG#63 – 11

Horsemanship would be nominal at best, but running would be normal, and in most cases the skill of making and manning rowed boats would exist. DRG#63 - 11

Cavalry is not unknown on the western tundra, but few tundra-dwellers are Ice Barbarians, most having Flan ancestry and being related to the Coltens of Stonehold. They do not serve as warriors for the Cruski, instead paying tribute to their Suel overlords to be left alone. LGG – 54

The Old Faith
The practices of the Old Faith are generally in accord with those of other nature priesthoods. The druids do not engage in the sacrifice of sentient creatures, yet there is a dark legacy within the Old Faith. The druids of antiquity allied themselves with the sorcerous Ur-Flan, who once held whole tribes in bondage to their evil. The unspeakable rituals performed by the Ur-Flan went unchallenged by the druidic hierarchy of that era, so long as the former were not so prevalent in any region as to threaten the balance of nature. Eventually, the Ur-Flan sorcerers waned in power and vanished. Some of their magical secrets are still preserved by the Old Faith. The Old Faith is still widely practiced in the Flanaess, and not only in those regions dominated by descendants of the Flan peoples. The age-old sacred groves and monolithic circles of the Old Faith may include shrines dedicated to any nature deity the resident druids permit, but most often they are unadorned. While Beory the Oerth Mother is the best known deity associated with the Old Faith, any druid of purely neutral alignment may matriculate through the Nine Circles of Initiation, regardless of which nature god that druid venerates. LGG - 161

Hraak Forest: The Hraak is a pine and fir woodland that borders the Corusk Mountains north of Hraak Pass. The pinewood is exploited by the people of Stonehold for fuel, trapping, and hunting. The warlike Forest People (a Cohens tribe now part of Stonehold) live within. Great bears and wolves roam its depths, and a fair number of white dragons unexpectedly lair within. LGG – 141

Hraak Forest: The Hraak is a largish pine and fir woodland within the territory claimed by the descendants of Stonefist. It borders the Corusks north of Hraak Pass. WOGA – 59

Kelten
Kelten houses nearly 1,000 persons, mostly of barbarian ancestry. A few refugees from the Hold of Stonefist have settled here as well. Weapons of all types can be seen in Kelten, mainly designed for northern living-spears, ice picks, ice saws, etc. Dried vegetables and meats are big items here; cold-weather clothes are popular commodities, too. Parkas lined with wolverine fur are the best clothing value to be found in these parts. (Wolverine fur in the lining of the parka hood keeps moisture from building up on its surface.) WGS2 - 16

GRIFF MOUNTAINS As the name implies, the peaks of these mountains are the habitat of many monstrous creatures. The Griff range extends from the western terminus of the Corusks at Hraak Pass, southwest and west for over I 00 leagues. These mountains divide the Hold of Stonefist from the Duchy of Tenh and the Theocracy of the Pale below. Being only a trifle lower than the Corusks. the Griff Mountains are similarly uninviting to human settlement, although there are some sprinkled here and there, for these mountains do contain valuable mineral deposits. There is supposedly a small and beautiful land in the heart of this range. Ruled by a powerful prince, and protected from all invasions by magic and might, this tiny realm is said to have buildings roofed in copper and silver, gold used as lead is elsewhere, and jewels lying about on the ground. WOGA - 52

As the name implies, these mountains are home to griffons and other monsters, particularly giants and ogres. The Griffs nearly wall in the Thillonrian Peninsula from other lands. They are uninviting to civilization, though humans and dwarves are sprinkled here and there, for these mountains contain valuable mineral deposits. Legends tell of a beautiful land in the heart of this range, where buildings are roofed with precious metals and gems lie about on the ground. More reliable are reports that a gigantic city of orcs lies underground here, near Stonehold. LGG – 143

CORUSK MOUNTAINS The Corusks form a bow. the backbone of the Thillonrian Peninsula which runs from the Solnor Ocean in the east, north and west and then southwest where the range terminates (Hraak Pass). While the lower parts of the mountains are inhabited by humans, various bands of evil humanoids and monsters of all sorts dwell in the central fastness. It is thought that this range possesses little in the way of valuable ores or gems. WOGA - 52

Big Seal Bay: This shallow arm of the Icy Sea, lying just east of the Hraak Forest, marks the usual boundary between Stonehold and the Ice Barbarians. Natives encamp in the forest and hunt seal in the summer months. Few humans visit this desolate region, though the chiseled outer doors of an ancient dwarven clanhold are said to be visible high in these isolated peaks. LGG - 147

Icy Sea: These northern waters, likely a part of the circumpolar Dramidj Ocean, remain frozen except in high summer. Whales of all sorts frequent these waters, said to be the domain of a mighty leviathan lord. Ice Barbarians take their ships into these waters to hunt whales and collect walrus ivory and seal furs on the surrounding coasts. They raid Stonehold when the opportunity presents itself. Even in summer, the Icy Sea is dangerous due to thick fogs and floating mountains of ice. LGG – 148,149

The Icy Sea is frozen over in great areas except during high summer, during which time Ice Barbarians sometimes hunt here for walrus ivory, killer whales, and seal furs. Even at such times, the sea is dangerous due to thick fogs and floes of pack ice. White Fanged Bay is aptly named after a ragged coastline that resembles the teeth of a great predator. The seals and walruses here are hunted by the men of Stonefist. FTAA – 49

White Fanged Bay: The ice formations common this body of water resemble the teeth of a predator, and the bay is named for the great ice-coated rocks and bergs that menace vessels attempting to land along its shores. In summer, vast numbers of walruses and seals bask along these rocky coasts, while killer whales hunt in the waters of the bay. Stonehold folk hunt and fish by the shores. LGG – 150

Frozen River: This swift river runs from the Griff Mountains through Stonehold to empty into White Fanged Bay. Its surface often freezes in winter, though the waters beneath still flow. LGG – 152

Frozen River: A swift flow running mainly north from the Griff Mountains through the lands of Stonefist to empty into White Fanged Bay. WOGA – 54

Abanfyl, Lake: Sightings of aquatic monsters on the Abanfyl’s surface are common. The lake is also said to be the home of a family of dragons who lair on a small, haze-shrouded island on the central waters. WGG 3e - 26

Nauskiree
Nauskiree are tall, bizarre monsters thought to have migrated to the northern Flanaess from Telchuria before the twin Cataclysms, figuring into old Flannae tales of that region. Solitary hunters, they act much like trap-door spiders, hiding for long periods of time until prey approaches, then striking out with magic and teeth. Although they hunt alone, they are sometimes enslaved by frost giants and used as guardians.
Nauskiree appear almost bipedal, their torsos being larger than their pelvis. However, their extremely long limbs and greater weight on their forward half make it hard for them to lift both forelimbs for more than a moment, and so the creature gets about on all fours. Its skin is gnarled like bark, and coloured in a random pattern od dark gray and white that resembles snow clinging to the trunk or branches of a tree. Its skull-like head and some of its joints are surrounded by stringy gray hair resembling dead grass or pine needles. LGJ#1 - 22

To come upon one is almost certain doom. A deathly cold cling to them, and those who stray too close are stricken by it, their limbs torpid, their minds clouded with confusion. LGJ#1 - 22



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 Jason Zavoda for his compiled index, “Greyhawkania,” an invaluable research tool.

 

The Art:
Hold of Stonefist Illustration, by Jeff Starlind, from WGS2 Howl From the North, 1991
Hold of Stonefist Heraldry, from World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
Nauskiree, by Sean J Reynolds, Illustration by Sam Wood, from Living Greyhawk Journal #, 2000


Copyright:
The art is the soul property of the artist.
All source material presented within this post 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
2023 Greyhawk Adventures Hardback, 1988
1064 From the Ashes Boxed Set, 1992
9337 WGS2 Howl from the North, 1991
9399 WGR5, Iuz the Evil, 1993
9577 The Adventure Begins, 1998
9578 Player’s Guide to Greyhawk, 1998
11742 Gazetteer, 2000
11743 Living Greyhawk Gazeteer, 2000
Living Greyhawk Journal, #1, #3
Dragon Magazine 56,57,63
Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda
The map of Anna B. Meyer