Thursday 26 December 2019

History of Oerth, Part 10: The Fog of War (574 to 580 CY)



Fruztii Barbarian
Iuz was loose upon the land. But he was not alone. The Horned Society had risen in his absence. Banditry had sprung up as prolific as spring flowers across the breadth of the north. The sun that had once shone across the Great Kingdom had set, and in its twilight, that once celestial nation lay in disarray, riven by schemes and betrayal. Orcs had sundered the Bone March. The high seas of the Solnor Coast were beset with conflict and piracy.
And those east of the Rakers found themselves ever more isolated.

574 CY
The Fruztii consulted with Ratik concerning what wonders may be hidden within their mountains, eager to see whether the lore of their skalds was to be found in the dusty tomes the southerners worshiped so. So, Ratik consulted the Library in Marner, and those sages and wizards employed there, and within those dusty tomes they exhumed references to lost cities of the Flan, to ancient relics of the dwerfolk, and to sunken cities of the Solnor Sea. And of course, they dug up references to dragons and the hordes they amassed. All these they brought to the attention of the Fruztii, and the Fruztii listened with great interest. And armed with this knowledge, the Fruztii and those of Ratik brave enough to accompany them, they climbed into the Griffs and the Corusks in search of such things.

The History of The Ice-Shard Tome
While searching for the lair of a white dragon, the barbarians chanced upon an illusion-cloaked dungeon entrance and ventured inside. There they fought evil, cold-dwelling creatures and passed through strange areas of chilling, life-sapping vapor. Finally, they reached a great ice-encrusted chamber. While the intruders were busy digging out a chest from the ice, their activity awakened the dungeon’s most dangerous guardian: a massive automaton fashioned—so swear the barbarians—of steel-hard ice.
Although the golem slew two of their number, the barbarians were ultimately triumphant and claimed the icy dungeon’s treasures as their own. Among the hoard was the book that was to become known as the Ice-Shard Tome. Of the book’s owner there was no sign. [Dragon #243 - 89, by Anthony Nixon and David Head.]
The Frost Barbarians were distrustful of wizardly magic and eager to sell what came to be known as the “Ice-Shard Tome” upon returning from their expedition into the Corusk Mountains to Crylandren, a wizard of Marner.
He copied what he wished from the book before selling it, and over the next few years, the Ice-Shard Tome was sighted variously in Rel Astra, Rauxes, and Rel Mord, moving ever deeper into central Flanaess. On its journey the tome acquired both its popular title and a sinister reputation.

575 CY
The Kelten Pass
Where the Schnai sent promises and warriors to support the Fruztii front lines as a rear guard within the Bluefang-Kelton Pass, Ratik did one better. Although already hard pressed in the south with the orcs and gnolls, they understood that they must also secure their north, so, they sent battle hardened troops to stand shoulder to shoulder with their northern kin. The Fists came, as they knew they must, and they came with ogres and orcs and gnolls, and the alliance held the pass against them. But holding the pass was not enough. Securing it was essential, as was securing the lands north of it.
The Battle of Kelten Pass, as the Fist called it, only severed to divide the Atamans of Stonefist. Were it not for Vlek’s iron rule, the Hold might have fallen into strife.
The Coltens, despite generations of servitude to the invaders, have slowly emerged as a competing form of leadership, offering their method of election of the most popular warrior as an alternative to the Rite of Battle Fitness. So many aspiring leaders were slain in the often useless raids of the latter method that its proponents have grown scarce. When Ratik and the Fruztii made peace, the subsequent battles for the Kelten Pass brought several telling defeats to “fists” led by the descendant warband leaders. The Hold was then divided between those who followed the laws laid down by Vlek Col Vlekzed, and those who claimed that Stonefist’s methods are no longer appropriate and the Coltens Feodality should be restored. The nomads and settlers west and around the Frozen River championed the ways of Stonefist. The population around Kelten and the Hraak Forest wished to establish new forms of leadership. [Dragon #57 - 13]
The successful alliance of the Barony of Ratik and the Frost Barbarians has caused much consternation in Bone March. A joint Ratik-Fruztii army wreaked havoc within the March after the signing. Leaders of the humanoids have determined that the northern alliance must be dissolved. [WoGG - 29]

576-582 CY
Knight of Ratik
The alliance between Ratik and the Frost Barbarians was mutually beneficial. Not only had they begun to secure the Fruztii’s northern pass, they had begun to make gains against the Bone March to the south, too. But at a cost. They were small nations, their resources were limited, and were the orcs not soundly defeated, and soon, they knew all might be lost.
The humanoids so soundly defeated in the campaign of 575 were again raiding over the border, and the gnomes of the Lofthills (west of Loftwood) were being continually besieged. Losses from the campaigns in Bone March and with the Frost Barbarians could be replaced by mercenaries and volunteers from foreign lands only. [Dragon #57 - 14]

Zeai upon the Icy Sea
The Frost Barbarians had not turned their backs on their cousins, the Schnai and Cruski, for they had common cause. They each hated the Hold of Stonefist, as did their distant cousins, the Zeai, the whaling Sea Barbarians who dwelt upon the far Brink Isles and Tusking Strand, east of the Black Ice. And the Snow and Ice Barbarians shared common cause against the North Province and Sea Barons, for life was harsh upon the Thillonrian Peninsula, and thought their seas were plentiful, their slim growing season could not support them.
The Schnai noticed their Fruztii cousin’s absence from the seas. And they saw their cousin’s increased reliance upon Luxnor of Ratik. But they were not worried. Let them break themselves upon the Fists and the Bone March, the Schnai said. They will weaken beyond recovery, and will be forever under our suzerainty when Ratik finally fell, for fall it must, in the end. 
And in the Fruztii’s absence, the Schnai increased their raids on the Great Kingdom, knowing that they needn’t share the spoils with them.
The Schnai weren’t the only ones to note the Fruztii’s increased presence in the northeastern theatre. Tenh had heard of the Frost Barbarian’s alliance with Ratik, and they’d heard of their joint strike into the Bluefang-Kelten Pass, and they sent emissaries to treat with them, for, as they explained to them, we have common cause against the Fists of Stonehold, and the Fruztii listened.

576 CY
Bonded by blood, and having shed blood to protect one another, the Fruztii and Ratik ratified their bond in the eyes of both their gods, for they knew that their only hope of their standing against their enemies, they would need to stand as one.
This symbolic parchment was endorsed and blessed by the gods of both Ratik and Fruztii, and the superstitious Frost Barbarians place great store in its safety. [WoGG - 29]

577 CY
Bellport grew tired of the repeated raids by the Schnai, and demanded the protection due them as a city of the North Province and the Great Kingdom. Lord Captain Aldusc was dispatched from Asperdi of the Sea Barons with a squadron of warships and troops to do just that.
The warships are now reported to be operating along the coast. Included are no fewer than six large galleys and perhaps a score of other war ships. The troops were divided after landing into main [joining Herzog Grenell] and reserve [defending Bellport's landward approaches] groups. [Dragon #63 - 15]

Although the Schnai had not raided as far and as often as the Fruztii had in their days of glory, they were no strangers to such things; indeed, they were the most accomplished of seafarers, and they were truly as fierce as their cousins, as were the Cruski. They increased their raids, and their longships swept down the coast, striking the North Province and the Baronial Isles both, luring those who chased them or sought to stop them far out to sea where they could lose them with ease.
But not all were so lucky.
Some raiders were met and actions were fought; some slipped through, some turned elsewhere. Reportedly a squadron of seven Schnai longships were set upon whilst sinking the hulks of two provincial merchants, the vessels Marntig and Solos. Guided by the smoke and flames, a flotilla of Baronial warships surprised the barbarians. Three of the Schnai were rammed and sunk. In hand-to-hand action, the flagship of the barbarians’ fleet was captured, but the three remaining longships escaped after jettisoning all of their captured cargo.
In hand-to-hand action, the flagship of the barbarians' fleet was captured. Jarl Froztilth, leader of the Schnai, many of his men, and the captured ship were all taken to Asperdi. News of this success was said to have greatly heartened the Herzog. [Dragon #63 - 16]

The Schnai recalled how once they and the Fruztii were the terror of the seas, and they wished the southerners to fear them so again. So, the Schnai treated with their cousins, the Cruski. And the Cruski were glad to treat with them, for the Schnai held what was theirs. The Schnai gave up the lands south of Glot along the east coast [and] the Cruski regained their southern harbors. This made the raids into North Province and the Isles of the Sea Barons all the easier next year, and most of the able-bodied men were away on those journeys when the warbands of Stonefist (now Stonehold) rode into the tundra which the King of Cruski claimed. The few wandering tribes of Coltens there welcomed the invaders, while surviving Cruskii headed east as quickly as possible. The returning warriors were enraged at the boldness of the invasion. [Dragon #57 - 14]

The History of the Ice-Shard Tome
Crylandren’s corpse was found shortly after selling the Ice-Shard Tome, his corpse frozen, his veins reputedly filled with ice. The windows to his study were thrown open, despite that winter being the bitterest in living memory. Rumors persist that the tome is under some kind of curse, that a powerful, extraplanar mage has been tracking the book, slaying those who have handled it, but always failing to possess it himself. A list of similar deaths follow in its wake, always grisly, if never substantiated. [Dragon #243 - 89]

578 CY
Despite his youth, King Ralff II of the Fruztii understood subjugation. His people had turned to their cousins to the east in their hour of need and found the duplicitous hand of the perfidious Schnai. The Schnai had lent their support. Yes, they had. But that help came at a cost: suzerainty. The Fruztii had lost their governance. Indeed, they’d lost their pride. Once, they were the terror of the Solnor Sea. Now, they were a subjugated people. The Shnai commanded them, calling their commands guidance. They had learned their lessons well from the diplomats of Shar, long ago.
No more, he thought. He extended his hand to Ratik and they’d taken it, and they’d been true to their words. They’d stood side by side with his people when the tribes of Schnai had not. And so, he turned to Ratik again: Train my people, he said, and when he sent the pride of their youth to Marner, the Archbaron not only trained them in the modern art of War, he equipped them for such. And so, when Ralff looked again to the East, he understood that he had kin there, he had obligations there, but he also understood that he had no friend there.
The Fruztii sent raiding bands to sea with the Schnai, but due to careful urgings, numbers of mercenary troops also moved southward into Ratik and joined the Baron’s troops there. These Fruztii returned with knowledge of organized warfare and good-quality arms and armor and formed the core of a new standing army organized by King Ralff II in 578. The four companies of foot and one troop of horse actively patrolled and brought most of the realm under order. Chief men and nobles not raiding were prevailed upon to contribute men to patrol their own territories, so that by the end of the year, the frequency of banditry and humanoid raiding bands had been reduced to an all-time low. Even the high country around the head of the Jenelrad River was peaceful, and its Jarl swore an oath of fealty to Ralff. Without actually declaring independence from Schnai overlordship, the King of Fruzti showed that he was again capable of fielding an army capable of either defending his territory or taking another’s. The Schnai conveniently ignored the resurgence, probably hoping that the involvement in Ratik would again reduce the Frost Barbarians to vassal status. [Dragon #57 - 14]

Battle of the Loftwood
Battle of the Loftwood
Their expedition into Bluefang-Kelten Pass thus far successful, the Ratik-Frutzii alliance turned their attention south, their aim to destroy the humanoid forces under the Vile Rune orcs of the Bone March.
The manpower pool of the Archbarony was totally dry in 577. Because of the relatively good relations between the Fruztii and Ratik, the woodsmen and elven warders of the Timberway were moved south to the Loftwood, and new recruits were formed into units of light troops called the Volunteer Borderers. [...]
The usefulness of the new Volunteer Borderers was proved in the summer of 578 when one of this formation’s patrols discovered that the orc tribe of the Vile Rune was indeed moving northward. In addition to 5,000 tribe members, the force had 2,000 goblins, 1,000 norkers and xvarts, and 1,000 hobgoblins, orgrilIons, gnolls, and ogres. With this detestable agglomeration were nearly 2,000 bandits and brigands serving as mercenaries. Its forerunners were worgmounted goblins, a handful of whom were slain to obtain the intelligence.
Thus alerted, the Marshal of the Archbarony laid a trap which the unsuspecting invaders blundered into. The humanoid horde moved north along the fringe of the Loftwood where it butts against the hills. At the northern terminus of the trees there awaited the full army of Ratik, its numbers made to appear three times greater by magical means. The gnomes held the western (hillside) flank, while the light forester troops and elves formed the other arm of the “U,” well concealed in the dense timber.
The Battle of the Loftwood saw considerable magical competitions in addition to the standard hand-to-hand combat between the strongest fighters on the opposing forces. The real fighting was between the masses of troops, however, and this was fierce in the extreme. At one point, a score of foreign volunteers saved the day because their leader, Queg, a Fruztii, had prepared an extensive ambush with rocks, tree trunks, pits, and trees to set fire to. This action turned back 250 or more hobgoblins, killing or wounding half of them, so that the flank of the Archbaron’s army couldn’t be turned. Simultaneously, the gnomes on the left flank were nearly broken by a rush of gnolls, bandits, and goblins, and were saved only by the superb slinging of a flanking group of the Hillrunners and the innate tenacity of the gnomes themselves.
Finally, the scale was tipped by an attack on the right (of the orc horde) by the elves and foresters. The humanoid invading force broke and fled, and in the rout there was a great slaughter. [Dragon #57 - 14,15]

Seuvord Redbeard saw dissention among his Atamans, and knew he had to suppress it. He knew that he could not afford to be embroiled in a civil war. His “nation” was surrounded by enemies: The Rovers were once again increasing in strength to the west, and raids into those Barrens were far more perilous than they had been short years before. And except by all but the strongest of efforts, the passes to Tenh and Fruztii were closed to him. Were civil war to divide his lands, those enemies were sure to fall upon them and destroy them. He needed to unite his people. He also wished his own line to retain the Mastership of the Hold as a hereditary right, so he called a great council at Purmill, with promise safe conduct for all who attended. The Atamans were dubious. And they had right to be. Vlek had promised the very same, and look what happened to the Coltens? They came, but they came with a show of strength. With spears extended, and hands upon the pommels of their swords.
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. [Dragon #57 - 14]

Magic is not the only force that can wreak havoc. Those of the Old Faith can tell you that those who dismiss the forces the natural world do so at their peril. Nature can and will do more damage than mere wizards, indeed, most wizards, arcane or divine. Those who live in the shadow of smoking volcanoes can attest to such, as can those who live on the banks of rivers, and the sea…. Hurricane "Ivid" is one such reminder. It ravaged the Solnor Coast, crippling the Sea Barons’ majesty over the sea lanes of the north. Trade ground to a halt. So did piracy, for that matter. But that was the least of the coastal settlement’s concerns, as they fled before “Ivid’s” landing.
[Most] people [of the Sea Barons] recall this three-day storm, which some laughingly called "Hurricane Ivid." [Ivid - 90]

579 CY
Baron Lexnol’s heir, Alain IV, marries Lady Evaleigh, the daughter of the count of Knurl.
In 579 CY, Lexnol's only son, Alain IV, the heir to the throne of the archbarony, married Lady Evaleigh, the daughter of the count of Knurl. The county was the only surviving province of Bone March, and the union was arranged to improve the lot of both realms. [LGG - 91]
Alain acquired the dream of uniting Ratik and Bone March, but failed to convince the king of the Frost Barbarians of his plan to drive out the nonhuman tribes. Many whispered that Alain was encouraged in these ambitions by his step-family, particularly the count of Knurl, whose position between Bone March, North Province, and Nyrond was grossly precarious. In certain agreement were the immigrants from Bone March, who were driven from their lands by the invaders. [LGG - 91]
The Ratik-Fraztii alliance cleared the Kelten Pass to the Hold of Stonefist, pressing the Fists back, but not taking the town of Kelten. Rhelt Seuvord rallied his forces, pushing the Fruztii back into the Griff Mountains.

580 CY
The Bone March was displeased. Had the Fruztii not allied with Ratik, they’d have surely overwhelmed the little nation. Ratik could only fortify and man so many passes and still secure the wide expanse of the Loftwoods. If only the pact could be broken.  To break the alliance between Ratik and the Fruztii, the Bone March conspired with the North Province, for they could not enter Marner undetected. Thus, the Seal of Alliance stolen from Ratik's Baronial Vault.
In 580 CY, intruders from Bone March attempted an audacious act of treachery by stealing the Seal of Marner, an object blessed by the gods of the Suel barbarians that was the symbol of the new Northern Alliance. The plot was foiled when the raiding party was captured in Kalmar Pass before making it back to Spinecastle with their prize. [LGG  - 36,37]
[But] not before news of the theft drove a small wedge between the Fruztii and Ratikans. [LGG - 91]





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, and the new old guards, Carl Sargant, James Ward, Roger E. Moore. And Erik Mona, Gary Holian, Sean Reynolds, Frederick Weining. The list is interminable. 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.


The Art:
Viking Repose by sebmckinnon
Snow by all-my-life-i-dream
Medieval-Knight by lijinbo78
Vikings by kristmiha
North-war by castaguer93


Sources:
1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
1064 From the Ashes Boxed Set, 1992
1068 Greyhawk Wars Boxed Set, 1991
2011A Dungeon Masters Guide, 1st Ed., 1979
9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
11743 Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000
Dragon 57, 63, 243
LGJ et. al.
Greychrondex, Wilson, Steven B.
Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda
The map of Anna B. Meyer

Friday 20 December 2019

History of Oerth, Part 9: A Rumour of War (505 to 570 CY)



Chaos Has Risen
The Great Kingdom has all but collapsed under the weight of its own wickedness. New powers have taken to the field in the wake of its collapse, each eager to snap up what is unclaimed. But in the absence of law and order, chaos has risen. Evil is sweeping the land.
Two names will enter the fray: Iuz and Ivid, and the Flanaess will fall into such tyanny as it had not known since the name Vecna was whispered by those under the weal of his Occluded Empire.

505 CY
King Avras of Furyondy took note of the doings of Iuz, for what king wouldn’t be concerned about the rise of Evil on his border. The Vesve was already hard pressed by this Iuz, as orcs and hobgoblins bearing Iuz’s mark had penetrated their canopy and were laying waste to all they encountered. Avras mustered his troops and sent them north. But even as they engaged his vile forces, the armies of Iuz had already begun to break apart. For Iuz was not to be found. And it was his tyranny that had held them together.
But neither Furyondy nor Vesve was directly involved in the banishment of Iuz, generally dated to 505 CY. [WGR5 Iuz the Evil - 3]

St. Cuthbert of the Cudgel has been allowed to strike against Iuz, when his avatar assisted those imprisoning Iuz in 505 CY. That St. Cuthbert would wish to fight Iuz is not unexpected. Of the "martial" [...] Powers, Heironeous has his great struggle with his hated brother Hextor [....] But St. Cuthbert is a doughty, tough fighter, and he hates Iuz's [...] nature. That he was allowed to strike against the Old One is surprising. He could only have done so if [the other] Powers agreed to this, for all Powers must agree to such an action. Istus could tell us that Incabulus cared not, but Nerull's croaking voice was decisive in giving permission. [WGR5 - 6] 

Other blows beset [Iuz]. His mother offended Graz'zt, who drew her to the Abyss and imprisoned her there; Iuz's growing alliance with Zuggtmoy, tanar'ri Lady of Fungi, never had the chance to grow to fruition. Within Iuz's own lands, many factions struggled for power when their master left. Tanar'ri and gehreleth came to odds with each other and decided to leave the barren lands to their own fate. Orcs and evil humans began to squabble and fight. Chaos reigned, and the good folk of Furyondy and the Vesve breathed a sigh of relief. [WGR5 - 3]

511 CY
Evil was on the rise across the lands. It rose from the marshes and fens just as it had flowed out of the mountains, unexpected, and en masse. What stirred the trolls so, none can say, though the name Iuz was whispered more than once. It’s the Old One, they said, nodding knowingly. But Iuz was imprisoned, as those privy to such information knew, so it couldn’t have been him. Other names were whispered alongside his: Keraptis, for one, for all the Tenha know it, and all expect him to return.

Battle of Dour Prentess
Dour Pentress was so named because of a spectacular siege-battle there in 511 CY when over two thousand trolls surrounded the castle, cutting it off from supplies in a Troll Winter, for a period of over three months before it was relieved. [WGR5 - 70]

513 CY
Despite Iuz’s absence, Evil flourished everywhere in the North. A new force rose up and took the name of The Horned Society, a foul haven of deviltry. And like Iuz before them, they had designs on the North. But first, they must gather their forces were there plans to come to fruition.
Deprived of their lord [Iuz], the euroz and jebli armies massing on Furyondy's borders rapidly dissolved. The barbarous creatures fought the regents of Iuz and won for themselves the east and west shores of Whyestil Lake. East of the lake, savage chieftains and unscrupulous humans founded the Horned Society. [Chronological History of Eastern Oerik, by Keith Horsfield]

515 CY
The Horned Society
The Horned Society sought to make great gains in Iuz’s absence, and indeed, so did the petty despotic fiefs that were once under Iuz’s heel. They each and all sought to expand south, for that was where the riches lay, and that was where the yet untapped sources of slaves lay. But they could not march south, not whilst the Nomads and the Rovers were ever a nuisance to them, raiding across the Cold Marches and Howling Hills. So, they put aside their differences and gathered as one and marched north to put an end to that nuisance, once and for all.
The Nomads and Rovers darted in and out of their armies’ reach, and revelled in their early successes, but as those armies marched ever north and as the Barrens open to their maneuvers were ever squeezed smaller, they had no choice but to turn and fight. The inevitable battle did not go well for the Rovers. They were all but massacred at the Battle of Opicm River.
The Nomads were more fortunate. They did not have the Icy Sea and the Corusks blocking their flight. They did not have the Fists of the Stonehold at their back, either. They broke into smaller bands and slipped away into the vast expanse of the northern plains and the tangles of the Boreal Forests and vanished as though they were one with the wind and trees.
At the great battle of Opicm River, the might or the Rovers of the Barrens gathered to war upon a combined host from the land of luz and the newly formed Homed Society. The wardog soldiers and light cavalry of the Rovers were decimated and scattered, and many of their chieftains were slain. Perhaps three or four clans of but a few tribes each are all that now remain of the force which once sent the tumans of the Wolf Nomads flying back across the Dulsi without their gray-tailed banners. [WoGA - 33]
There were those who remained loyal to Iuz, though, for they knew the Old One could return, would return. They knew they must survive were they to be of use to their absent master when he did, so, they feigned allegiance, and added their strength to that gathering, their aim to placate those who would otherwise take His lands, and as they seemed lend aide, they held back, all the while watching their foes weaken their selves. They bided their time, and waited.

520 CY
To the east, those upon the Thillonian Peninsula had little concern for the doings of those across the Griff Mountains, excepting those few Fists who managed to cross those imposing peaks. Their relative security aside, they understood that one day those Evils to the West might come; so, they searched for what uncharted passes might be hidden from them. And they searched for fabled Skrellingshald, for the elder wives wove tales of the wonders that one might find there. But where was it? None could say, but the fancy tales told of a becalmed climate and rich soils and steeply walled, easily defended, paths to it. That in itself made it worth seeking out. But did it ever actually exist? Or was it just the grist of fancy tales?
Most scoffed. It was just the stuff of fancy, they said. But there were those who thought differently. There’s a kernel of truth in even the wildest of fables, they believed, and so, they shouldered packs and girded themselves for the great dangers that lurked within those peaks. And of those who did, few returned.
Skrellingshald
Hradji Beartooth was one who had. He returned with wonders and curiosities and what they hoped was a tale to tell. They expected him to gather the clan around the hearth and regale them with the tale of his exploits and heroism. But he didn’t speak on it. Not to a single soul. And neither did those who’d staggered out of those lofty mountains with him.
What, you’ve never heard of Skrellingshald? Maybe you have, for Skellingshald is what the northern barbarians called that long forgotten city of Tostenhca.
Hradji returned later that year with a diminished following and with a greatly increased wealth which consisted largely of […] golden spheres. He quite naturally refused to disclose the location of the mountain, as he planned to gather a stronger force for the next season and return with still greater booty. Unfortunately, Hradji and the majority of his men died within the year, some of them as soon as they arrived home. What is more, all those who had any prolonged contact with the gold similarly sickened and died. Hradji’s heir disposed of the hoard by trading it to merchant interests in the Great Kingdom, and reputedly the curse still circulates as the coin of that land, although this last may be a tale fabricated to weaken the Emperor’s currency. [GA - 93]

c. 550 CY
In truth, Hradji Beartooth, although as ever distrustful of magic as all Fruztii, had braved the dangers of the Griff Mountains because he knew his people might need a haven, and that they sorely needed what wonders Skrellingshald might have wielded to keep them safe those eons past, for the Fruztii had been greatly weakened by the Battle of Shamblefield, and were a shadow of their former selves.
Not so the Schnai. They had not spent themselves against the shields of the south. They had taken to the seas instead. And so, when the Fists of the Stonehold had swept out from the Griff Mountains, the Frutzii had little choice but to treat with their cousins to the East. Help us fortify the passes, they pled. And the Schnai were only too willing to help. They sent warriors to strengthen the Bluefang-Kelten Pass. But not so many as did the Fruztii, for they sent longships to Krakenheim to protect their poor cousins from what retaliation might come from the Great Kingdom’s North Province and the fleets of the Sea Barons. And the Fruztii found themselves under the suzerainty of the Schnai. Their king was but a puppet. And they chaffed under their cousin’s rule.
While the Fruztii were historically the most persistent in their raids upon the Aerdy, the Schnai explored the seas and the northern isles. Their discovery of Fireland during the early years of Fruztii raids southward was a great distraction. Rather than seek conquest in the Flanaess, they chose to explore the Lesser and Greater Isles of Fire, while they built settlements on the more habitable islands of Sfirta and Berhodt. They would inevitably return home with tales of monsters and giants, and of treasures almost obtained. [LGG - 16]

555 CY
The turmoil in the Great Kingdom settled once Ivid V was crowned Overking. But much to the displeasure of the Scarlet Brotherhood, the new Overking banished all foreign advisors from the courts of his nation. The Brotherhood had lost its foothold in Suundi, so they took measures that they hoped would distract the Overking. Indeed, they hoped for far more than that. (6071 SD)

558 CY
The Scarlet Brotherhood set out to stir up trouble for the Great Kingdom. They sent agents into the Rakers and whispered into the ears of the Euroz, the Kell, the Eiger, and others, to encourage the orcs and the gnolls there to raid the Bone March, for if Ivid’s attention was in the north, they might once again gain influence in the south. (6074 SD)

559 CY
Humanoids began raids into Bone March. These were limited in scope at first, for the orcs and gnolls did not fully trust the red-robed agents that whispered in their ears. They are not prepared, the whispers said. They look to the barbarians to the north and have not guarded against you, they said. But the orcs were cautious. For they knew not what these red-robed whisperers hoped to gain. And because they had heard the whispers of Men before, and knew that Men had always used their people to blunt the swords of their enemies with orcish blood. The gnolls were less cautious, for the whispers promised them blood, and they do so love the smell of it.

560 CY
Finding resistance limited, the orcs and gnolls made more forays into Bone March, striking widely so as to keep the Marquis’ forces rushing to and froe across the breadth of his lands to defend against them, never once conceiving that the orcs were acting far more strategic than they ever had before. They were a savage species, after all.

561 CY
The forces of Marquis Clement tired. And still the orcs came. And when the orcs found no resistance, the whisperers said, “The time is ripe. He has not the strength to defeat you!” The orcs still did not trust the whisperers from Shar, but they saw the truth in their words. And so the tribes flowed from their mountains into the Bone March and laid waste to all that stood against them.
They flowed out into the Theocracy of the Pale, and into neighbouring Nyrond. They flowed out into Ratik. Because that was what the agents of Shar instructed them to do. But the greatest of their hosts spilled out onto the Bone March, for the agents of the Brotherhood knew that turmoil within the Great Kingdom was so great that it could not muster effective opposition. And because they had parleyed with Herzog Grace Grennell of The North Province, and he had promised to delay his defense. But also because they’d parlayed with others, far darker in purpose than Grennell.
Thus, the orcs and the gnolls made great gains into the March in so little time. But not so in the Theocracy of the Pale, Nyrond, or Ratik, for there resistance was stiff, swift and sure.

563 CY
Spinecastle
The Bone March fell to the humanoids and all humans in that area were either enslaved or killed, Lord Clement among them, as he was held up within the walls of Spinecastle, waiting for succor from Ratik and the North Province, when it fell after a prolonged siege, virtually overnight. Survivors say that the orcs and gnolls had nothing to do with its fall, that it fell from within, that dark forces rose up from its very foundations, causing those within to throw open the gates in their haste to flee, and only then did the humanoids gain entry. It was the castles’ curse, they said, making some gesture they thought would ward off the Evil they said they saw that day.
The hordes did not hold the castle for long; for they too were struck by such horrors that drove them from its halls. While within, they were driven mad; and those that survived said that blood flowed from its walls, that rooms rippled and disappeared, and that they were induced to strike one another down. Retreating from Spinecastle’s horrors, they never again entered it.
The Knight Protectors of the Bone March were overwhelmed by the hordes, and those who could fled to Ratik, bolstering the defenses of Ratikhill.
This land fell to the horde of invaders [Euroz, Kell, Eiger and others], its lord slain, and its army slain or enslaved. Humans in the area were likewise enslaved or killed, and the whole territory is now ruled by one or more of the humanoid chiefs. [Chronological History of Eastern Oerik]
The Euroz orcs and the gnolls continued to flow out of the Rakers, betraying and attacking the North Province in their blood frenzy, even as Spinecastle held out against them.
Grennell expected as much and was prepared. He met them within the March, and drawing them into defensive redoubts, he slowed their advance, and then halted it altogether; and having done so, he parleyed with them and allied with them against Nyrond and Almor, for he believed that such a force could not be defeated until it had blunted itself against hard resolve, and he much rather it do so against that of other lands and not his. Then he would turn on the humanoids, and take their spoils as his own.

What did the Scarlet Brotherhood think about their success? They were elated. They were infuriated. The orcs slaughtered their agents along with all the other humans, for the orcs understood that those red-robed whisperers were not their friends. They understood that they were pawns in a greater game that was not their own. And they recognized the scent of slavery when they smelled it.

The Death Knight Lord Monduiz Dephaar made good use of the chaos that ensued, craving a kingdom for himself out of the lands surrounding his stronghold somewhere in the Blemu Hills in the wake of the collapse of the Bone March, and even now commands legions of humanoids and bandits, who call him Dreadlord of the Hills.
Both Prince Grenell of the North Kingdom and the humanoids of Spinecastle gave the Dreadlord wide berth.

565 CY
Ratik was in need of allies. Their most stalwart ally, Marquis Clement of the Bone March had fallen and his lands were in the thrall of orcs and ogres and Death Knights. Tenh was beset by Stonefist and the Theocracy of the Pale, and indeed, the Fists had raided Ratik’s very north. Their only “ally” was the Theocracy of the Pale, if having a common enemy could necessitate their being allies, for the Theocracy was, if anything, hostile to all who weren’t blind adherents to the Faith of their Blinding Light, and the people of Ratik were not.
But they were not entirely without hope. They had kin. Of a sort. The Fruztii had passed them by in their raiding. Why? They’d been enemies once, after all. Because the Fruztii had kin within their domain, and their kin had become a people of Ratik.
Marner gathered those elders of Fruztii descent and asked them, “Will your brothers to the north treat with us?” After much talk and deliberation, the elders agreed that the Frutzii would. The Fruztii wished to be free of the Schnai. They were beset upon by the Fists. And their strength had been broken upon the shield of the Great Kingdom.

Korund of Ratik
But who? They chose Korund of Ulthek, for his mother was of Fruztii decent and his father was the Ward of the North. And Korund sailed north to visit his kin north of the Timberway. And with their aid, he secured a meeting in Djekul. And then in Krakenheim, where His Most Warlike Majesty, King Ralff listened carefully and was intrigued.
Soon, Marner came to Krakenheim, and Krakenheim came to Marner.
“Where else might we find allies,” His Valorous Prominence, Lexnol, the Lord Baron of Ratik asked.
The Fruztii pondered this question. Fireland, they said.
Fireland
In 565 CY, the explorer Korund of Ratik sailed with a number of barbarian friends to Fire-land, returning with a crude map made with respectable instruments and a bit of magic. From this, the Savant-Sage and I have concluded that Fire-land is a collection of islands. No single island is great enough to be a continent, though the largest might be the largest island on Oerth. The whole surface area of Fire-land would likely cover less than one million square miles. We would so like to have a more accurate and recent assessment! 
[TAB - 11]

566 CY 
The Rovers may have been defeated by the Horned Society at the Battle of Opicm River, but they could still be a thorn in its side. Pride dictated that they spit in the face of defeat. Pride dictated that they regain their lost lands. They allied with the Weigweir and together, they began raiding northeastern edge of Fellreev. 
The young tribesmen who matured into warriors during the last two generations avoided their old battling and hunting grounds along the Fellreev Forest and the plains of the Dulsi, for they feared the might of luz’s hordes. Instead, these nomads and woodland hunters withdrew to the steppes and other sites to the north and east. Their numbers 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. Despite the difficulties of communication, the western tribes of the Rovers of the Barrens actually made alliances with the Wegwiur.
In 566 CY there were a few light raids into the northeastern edge of the Fellreev. In a few years, wardog parties were reported in the forest west of Cold Run. [Dragon # 56 - 28]

570 CY
Though few knew of it, Iuz had been freed from his imprisonment beneath Castle Greyhawk.
Whether this was by error or perhaps design on the part of Robilar, who secretly carried a pair of highly unusual dispelling magics about himself on that fateful day, sages cannot say. What is known is that at the moment of Iuz's being freed, Archmage Tenser arrived on the scene together with Bigby the mage and a powerful fighter going by the unlikely name of Neb Retnar. Tenser had learned of Robilar's plan, feared that Riggby was being duped, and came post haste to prevent their action. Tenser and his cohort began battling the freed, enraged demigod. Riggby at once aided the assault. Robilar and Quij considered flight and felt their chances would be best if they made odds of four against one into six against one. Iuz was very nearly destroyed in that conflict, escaping to the Abyss just before Bigby would have destroyed him with his infamous crushing hand spell. He left behind him a backwash of chaotic evil magic which altered the alignment of Retnar, left Riggby catatonic for days, and caved in a large part of Castle Greyhawk's deepest dungeon complexes. Since that time, Iuz has always protected himself with a carefully secreted soul gem hidden on an unknown, unbelievably well-guarded Abyssal plane. [WGR5 - 5]

Iuz
He seethed. He raged. He could think of nothing but revenge. Against those who’d imprisoned him, against that overblown pup Robilar who’d tried to kill him, against Bigby who almost had. Indeed, against all of the Flanaess. And he was far more powerful than when Cuthbert had locked him away.
He returned to Dorakaa, and finding his fiefs disloyal, he exterminated most of the “independent” lords of the lands he still claimed as his own.  Their bones, along with those other “unfaithful” he murdered, lengthened his Road of Skulls.
After his release, Iuz was filled with a desire for vengeance and conquest. Sixty-five years of banishment had concentrated his mind wonderfully. With a savagery and cruelty allied to plans formed over many long years of thought, Iuz acted to gather together the warring bandits and humanoids of his land with an iron grip. He drew together his Boneheart, a Greater and Lesser circle of spellcasters, six in each echelon. His agents began to scour the Flanaess, seeking arcane evils and relics. Iuz readied his forces for a great war. [WGR5 - 3]



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, and the new old guards, Carl Sargant, James Ward, Roger E. Moore. And Erik Mona, Gary Holian, Sean Reynolds, Frederick Weining. The list is interminable. 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.


The Art:
It's Medieval Time by kozivara
knight-full-plate-armor Wallpaper
Elsest Fortress by aikurisu
Spinecastle, by Kalman Andrasofszky, Dragon 293
Viking by matejko77
Viking Metropolis by ourlak
Iuz, Age of Conan


Sources:
1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
1043 The City of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1989
1064 From the Ashes Boxed Set, 1992
1068 Greyhawk Wars Boxed Set, 1991
2011A Dungeon Masters Guide, 1st Ed., 1979
2023 Greyhawk Adventures Hardback, 1988
9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
9386 WGR3, Rary the Traitor, 1992
9398 WGR4, The Marklands, 1993
9399 WGR 5, Iuz the Evil, 1993
11374 The Scarlet Brotherhood, 1999
11742 Gazetteer, 2000
11743 Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000
WGR Ivid the Undying, 1998
Dragon 56, 293
OJ Oerth Journal, produced by the Council of Greyhawk, and appearing on their website
LGJ et. al.
Greychrondex, Wilson, Steven B.
Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda
The map of Anna B. Meyer

Thursday 12 December 2019

History of Oerth, Part 8: The Dissolution of the Great Kingdom (-300 to 500 CY)



Court of Deception
The Great Kingdom had waxed and waned, and it its waning, the western principalities declared their sovereignty, for in truth, they were already self-determining and self-governing. Others closer to its heart were soon to follow, for in its Turmoil Between Crowns the Great Kingdom’s reach was surely foreshortened. And the Houses of the Celestial Circle, knowing this to be true, were plotting and maneuvering, but then again, when were they not?
Why had the Great Kingdom fallen so? Had depravity outweighed morality? Had personal gain outstripped duty? Had Evil bettered Good? Its Houses schemed against one another, dread Death Knights had risen, and with them, the much-celebrated Knights Protector had fallen. Raids and piracy plagued her seas. And lesser races, when not actually serving the Malachite Throne, were snapping at the hand that had once kept them at bay, for they could smell its death on the wind.
To make matters worse, a madman was set to soon sit upon the Malachite Throne.

The Houses used what tools were available to them in their intrigue. Rumours. Misdirection. Subterfuge. But there were other, more direct, means at their disposal, and they were not above or loathe to use them: the dirk and a dram of poison. Such crass deeds would always be hired out, of course. And only if they couldn’t be traced back to them.

c. 300 CY
The History of the Book of Darazell
This spellbook has a dark and evil history—a legacy that mirrors the land from where it came, the blighted Kingdom of Aerdy. Its spells were first put to paper sometime in the 4th Century by the assassin-wizard Darazell. Little is known of the history of this evil mage save the infamous and rare spells he perfected, especially his trademark Darazell’s noose. Darazell met an ironic fate when he himself was assassinated by unknown hands, his body found slumped over his beloved spellbook. It is a puzzle to those who know his tale that such an efficient killer was taken unawares and murdered. It is sometimes said that Darazell knew rare rituals and had made a pact with a dark power, one that would allow him to rise in eternal undeath. Indeed, it is said that Darazell ordered his own assassination as the final stage of the ritual.  [Dragon #243 - 92, by Anthony Nixon and David Head]

Such deeds were not just the purview of the luminary Celestial Houses. They were used far and wide, albeit with less flair and plum, by those the luminaries deemed unsophisticated and savage. Although, those “savages” were usually more direct in their application. After all, once all their enemies were dead, what did they have to fear?

430 CY
Some say that Vlek Col Vlekzed was a Rover, who after years of plundering the lands around his, had fled his lands for the northern peninsula, and with those Rovers and bandits who followed him, took the lands of the Colten Feodality for his own, having lured them to their deaths on the pretense that they were to treat and come to an accord of peace. Others contend that he, himself, was one of the Colten Atamans, and that he seized control of all their lands when he betrayed his peers, slaughtering them while they revelled in his Hold, besotted on his wine. Still others contend that he was from Tenh. Wherever he came from, and however he came to control the Atamans, he drew them into his fold, and collectively, they came to be known as the Hold of Stonefist.
The inhabitants of the area, the Coltens Feodality, were tricked into negotiation with Vlek. These negotiators and their escorting force were slaughtered, the remainder of the Coltens host routed by surprise and ferocity, and Vlek settled down to rule over the whole territory. [Folio - 16]
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). [LGG - 109]

c. 440s-460s
Torn by its turmoil, the Great Kingdom began to break apart. Beginning with the Viceroyalty of Ferrond, Veluna soon followed suit, Furyondy being less devout than she wished. Then Perranland. The Malachite Throne took no action against them, could up as it was in its own tribulations. But as the tapestry of state continued unravelling, it had little choice but to rise from its stupor, lest it lose the entirety of its lands. But try as it might, it could not stem the tide. The Iron League formed. Nyrond seceded. Alain II of Ratik declared his fief an arch-barony, not entirely willing to completely sever ties with the mother country, as yet. But in truth, he ruled Ratik as though it was indeed independent, as did the Marquis of Bone March. What choice did they have? The Crown was embroiled in what came to be known as the Turmoil Between Crowns, and it took no interest in the administration of its provinces.

446 CY
Paradoxically, the disintegration of the Great Kingdom paused a while, despite a wretched change at its very crown. The House of Rax became decadent, self-absorbed, weak, and ineffectual. Petty nobles began to scheme, to openly flout the Overking's edicts, and to enact their own laws and pursue their own mean-minded grudges. It was only a matter of time before Rax was overthrown and a new tyrant installed as Overking and, in truth, many petty nobles were glad when it happened. After decades of pointless strife, it was almost a relief to have central power and authority again. However, few of them would have chosen Ivid I as their new master.
No direct evidence links Ivid, ruler of the North Province at the time, with the assassination of the entire House of Rax in 446 CY. But Ivid ensured his ascension by the simple expedient of killing every other minor princeling who made a claim on the throne, and plenty more besides. Madness had gripped the Malachite Throne when Ivid I, scion of the House of Naelax, was proclaimed His Celestial Transcendency, Overking of Aerdy, and many knew it.
The Malachite Throne became known as the "Fiend-seeing Throne." It was whispered that the House of Naelax had willingly entered into a pact with fiends—lords of the infernal tanar'ri—a pact that would endure down all the generations of their descendants. A time of terror had begun. Blood would wash the feet and hands of the madman enthroned in Rauxes. Little wonder that further secessions beset his lands.
Civil war erupted in the Great Kingdom. The North Province, now ruled by Ivid's nephew, soon established independence, as did the wily Herzog of Ahlissa in the the South Province. He allied himself with the seceding Iron League: the lands of Onnwal, Idee, Sunndi, and the Free City of Ironwall.
The Holy Censor, High Priest to the Overking, sought freedom for the See of Medegia. Almor grew in strength and freedom, supported by Nyrond as a buffer state between itself and the declining power of Rauxes, although Ivid managed to drag it back under his influence in later years. 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. [FtAA - 4,5]

448 CY
The isles of the Sea Barons had always been given a degree of autonomy not enjoyed by the Baronies of the mainland. They’d 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 they could be at sea for months at a time. Rauxes reluctantly agreed to their terms. But the crown made it abundantly clear that the Barony’s autonomy in these matters was contingent on results. The Sea Barons agreed to the Throne’s terms.
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 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 - 100]

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 - 77,78]

From its “Emancipation,” The Theocracy of the Pale was not a tolerant land; indeed, it never had been. It chaffed under the lack of self-determination and freedom they themselves denied any who didn’t proscribe to their narrow view: that was only one god, Pholtus, henceforth known as The Blinding Light, and that there was only one Truth and that was His. Nyrond saw otherwise, and had seen fit to exert their authority to that effect. The Theocracy determined that no other authority would supress their Truth again. They were the Chosen of The Blinding Light, selected by the god Himself, and governed by His priests. His Word was Law, and woe to those who deviated from His path. The Theocrat demanded that an “Inquisition” be enacted, heretics were rooted out, imprisoned and even slain. Those not of the faith were discouraged from entering their domain, lest they spread their false gods among the faithful. Judgement was always swift when “under the Question,” for the defendant was always considered Sinful until proven Innocent.
Not all were pleased with the Council of Nine and its inquisition. A splinter group rebelled against Wintershiven, claiming that faith was a personal path, not to be interfered with by the State and the Council. The Council saw the matter differently. They swiftly put down the heretical clerics with a division of the army personally led by three members of the council. And thus the Church Militant was born, the paramilitary body of warrior priests responsible for ensuring the purity of doctrine and safeguarding church properties, especially the Basilica of the Blinding Light.
They and the Council did not always see eye to eye.

467-469 CY
Plague swept the lands, beginning in Rookroost and fanning out faster than a man could run. It arrived as all plague does, suddenly: one week they were disease free, or as free from such as any populace ever is, and then scores were afflicted the next. The afflicted complained of lassitude, joint pain, and headache; soon, red boils appeared and the headache grew crippling. Hours later copper coins rested atop eyelids. Poultices, infusions, leeching were ineffective; indeed, even magics and the ministrations of the clergy proved useless. Thousands died; and just as swiftly as it began, it disappeared having burned itself out. Rookroost was ever vigilant of The Red Death’s return. But as in all of these cases, vigilance lasts only as long as a generation before it becomes the grist of old-wives tales and fairy fancies.
Old records describe a plague that decimated the Bandit Kingdom's population as it swept across the Flanaess some four score years ago. [WG8 - 6]
[A] bardic song talks of a 'wasting disease' that swept Oerik nearly a century ago[....] [WG8 - 40]


476 CY
The Hold of Stonefist is an unforgiving land. It was born of deceit and violence. It has poor soil, a growing season shorter than any save Blackmoor. Only the Coltens have ever shown any inclination to till the land, to fur, and to fish. The rest proved as cruel and restless as their master. They wished to roam and raid widely, for to do otherwise invited subjection. Vlek Stonefist knew this, for he believed the same. Thus, he set about occupying his people in the manner to which they were accustomed: raiding. The Rovers were poor, and they moved about too much to be easy prey, so he set his people upon the Tenh. When they mobilized against his “Fists,” he sent them over the mountains to raze the Fruztii and Ratik. He sent raiding parties north against the Cruski. Resistance was everywhere, but the Fruztii, gravely weakened by having repeatedly thrown their might against the shield of the south were ill-prepared for attacks from the north. The Fists grew ever bolder, so the Fruztii began to raise palisades against them, but they no longer had the strength to man the breadth of the Fists’ onslaught. The Frost Barbarians parlayed with their cousins, and together, they came to an accord, they must ally against the Hold of Stonefist.

479 CY
Iuz
When was Iuz born? Where did he come from? None know. It is believed that he was the son of a forgotten despot of a petty fief. It truth, only the wide ruled there in that rock, heathered marsh. It was a petty land, ruled by a petty man, who when he died in 479 CY, few if any mourned him. His dismal patch of marsh fell to his son, a boy who was named Iuz. Was he the despot’s son? Few deny the claim. None believe it.
Iuz was born of a human mother, the necromancer Iggwilv, and a great tanar'ri lord, Graz'zt, ruler of several Abyssal planes. The young cambion tanar'ri soon used his powers to great effect. Realizing that his warriors could not hope to triumph by simple force, Iuz began to ally his men with other minor clan leaders to beat off stronger enemies. Of course, those allies always ended up suffering most of the casualties and their leaders died in battle with astonishing predictability. Slowly, the size of Iuz's warband increased. Celbit and Jebli ores of the Vesve margins began to join. The human scum serving Iuz didn't like the ores overmuch, but they soon saw how their enemies liked them even less. And of course, there was Iuz's magic. Many cambions wield magic, but that of Iuz, aided by his mother, was far more powerful than anything the competing hordes could muster. Iuz had control of the entire Land of Iuz in little over a decade.
Iuz
[WGR5 Iuz the Evil - 3]
Few took note of this new presence in that secluded northern waste, despite the tales of refugees that fled south of slavery and ghastly abominations, the risen dead, and the road of skulls that stretched from Dorakaa to the Howling Hills. The fiefs always fought one another. Petty lords rose, and fell with regularity. This Iuz would do just the same, they imagined. He had risen. He would fall in due course. And if he didn’t, his was a secluded land of no consequence. What harm could he do?

c. 500 CY
The History of the Book of Darazell
So, the book was sold, bartered, stolen, lost and found from the See of Medegia to North Province and back over the next 200 or so years, falling into the hands of various lesser mages. The common thread that bound these mages together was that none kept the book for any length of time, and many reported strange phenomena surrounding the book. A rumor persists that Darazell, cheated by the dark power, lives on within the book as a rare form of undead, a “tome-haunt.” Supposedly, he searches for a particular type of owner to possess in order to finish some unknown goal. It has been said that there are a couple of secret pages within the book that give clues to what this is, but no one has been able to record what they hide. The spellbook is compact and bound in bleached, patchy, green leather. It has silver corner caps and an ornate silver dagger device, blade pointing downward, painted on the front.
[In addition to a list of hitherto unrelated necrotic spells, [t]here are also descriptions of methods of assassination, and writings on efficient and subtle ways to commit murder. Oddly, there are 10 blank pages at the end of the book— pages that defy any attempt to write on them. [Dragon #243 - 92]



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, and the new old guards, Carl Sargant, James Ward, Roger E. Moore. And Erik Mona, Gary Holian, Sean Reynolds, Frederick Weining. The list is interminable. 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.

The Art:
Cleopsis-Eater-of-the-Dead by steveargyle
Plague, by Karl Waller, WG8 Fate of Istus, 1989
Stonehold, by Ken Frank, from WGS2 Five Shall Be One, 1992
Iuz, by Eric Hotz, WGR5 Iuz the Evil, 1993
Iuz, Age of Conan

Sources:
1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
1064 From the Ashes Boxed Set, 1992
1068 Greyhawk Wars Boxed Set, 1991
2011A Dungeon Masters Guide, 1st Ed., 1979
2138 Book of Artifacts, 1993
9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
9253 WG8, Fate of Istus, 1989
11743 Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000
Ivid the Undying, 1998
Dragon magazine
OJ Oerth Journal, #1, #11
LGJ et. al.
Greychrondex, Wilson, Steven B.
Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda
The map of Anna B. Meyer

Friday 6 December 2019

History of Oerth, Part 7: The Rise and Fall of The Great Kingdom (1 to 403 CY)



Orb of Power
The Aerdy have migrated across the Flanaess and have gazed upon the Solnor Sea, scattering those Flan and Suel who would not submit to their dominion to the far reaches of the land. The Ur-Flan resisted the Oeridian tide, but they too fell, no match for the Aerdian ferocity. Their settlements grew with their waxing, and upon those foundations, their great cities rose: Rauxes, Rel Astra, Rel Deven, Rel Mord. Thus began the Pax Millennius, the peace that would last a thousand years. And thus began the Great Kingdom, for that is what they eventually named that vast land of theirs that stretched from the Solnor Sea in the east to the Yatels and Crystalmists in the west, and from the Barrens to the north and the Azure Sea to the south. From the heavens to sea to sea, as they said. I leave it to you to decide if it was truly great or not, for sometimes the best of intentions can be led astray, and the Great Kingdom was eventually led very far astray, indeed.

1 CY
With his Declaration of Universal Peace, the first Overking was crowned in Rauxes.
The Aerdy calendar dates from the crowning of the first overking, Nasran of the House of Cranden, in Rauxes in CY 1. Proclaiming universal peace, Nasran saw defeated Suloise, Flan and rebellious humanoid rabbles of no consequence and no threat to the vast might of Aerdy. [Ivid - 3]
But for all his well-meaning words, all power was to be his, and all Houses were to bend the knee to his magnificence.
However, it quickly became clear to all the noble houses of the Aerdi that power in the Great Kingdom was being centralized in the hands of the rulers of Rauxes, and that the fortunes of the Great Kingdom would now rest with them. The needs and intrigues of the Celestial Houses would soon become subordinate to the politics of the Malachite Throne. [LGG - 23]

The Oeridians were all but invincible, it seemed, to those who stood before them, but they had artifacts of old, some taken by the fabled Johydee from the Suel. They used them well, and were served by them well, but such things should be handled with care, for they care not who wields them.

Crown, Orb, and Sceptre of Might:
According to tradition, great items of regalia were constructed for special servants of the deities […] when the gods were contending amongst themselves. Who amongst them first conceived the idea is unknown. The champion of each [ethos] - Evil, Good, Neutrality - was given a crown, an orb, and a sceptre. These items have been scattered and last over the centuries of struggle since they first appeared. [DMG 1e - 157]
And woe to he who should touch them who is not of its ethos.

Iron Flask of Tuerny the Merciless:
This artifact is reported to be a small and heavy urn, easily carried in o pack or by hand despite its weight. The Flask is stoppered with a turnip-shaped plug, engraved and embossed with sigils, glyphs, and runes of power so as to contain the spirit therein. The possessor need but know 3 words to have the Flask function properly, i.e. the word of OPENING, the word of COMMAND, the word of CLOSING AND SEALING. Tuerny's Flosk is rumored to imprison one of the following: a greater devil, a groaning spirit, a major demon, a night hag, or a nycadaemon. [No one can say which, for it is said that these are WORDS for each.]
It is generally conceded that the Servant of the Flask can be loosed only to perform evil deeds, and it must always kill before it can be commanded to return to its prison. [DMG 1e - 158]

11 CY
The Flan continued to be pacified. Theirs was a futile struggle, as the lands of their dominion shrank and shrank, they retreated into high valleys and the northern barrens. But still they fought where such resistance could be gathered. Until they threw all their remaining might into one last stand at Arrowstrand against the ever waxing Aerdian Kingdom. They were brave. They were valiant. But fate was against them that day, and they fell. But their fall was glorious.

c. 100 CY
The fell sword Druniazth, servant of Tharizdun, had passed from hand to hand in its quest to release its master. Those who wielded it were themselves wielded, used and discarded as each in turn were found wanting, until, centuries after being lost by Baron Lum the Mad at the Battle of the Bonewood, it came to one who would not be so used, and it was cast into the Rift Canyon as she sought to rid herself of its influence.

108 CY 
Overking Manshen desired to secure his northern border. The Fruztii Barbarians were a constant threat, and he meant to pacify the North once and for all.
In the spring of 108 CY, Aerdi forces massed in the frontier town of Knurl. With Knight Protectors of the Great Kingdom in the vanguard, the force swept northeast, between the Rakers and the Blemu Hills, in a march to the sea. By autumn, after having been met with relatively light resistance, the Aerdi succeeded in uprooting most Fruztii encampments, and the foundations of a great stronghold were laid at Spinecastle. The Aerdi freed Johnsport in a pitched battle with the barbarians before the onset of winter. Sensing that this would be only the first phase of a long struggle, Aerdi commanders summoned thousands of contingents from North Province over the objections of the herzog, a Hextorian who had wanted to lead the forces into battle himself.
With the defeat of the Fruztii at Johnsport, the call went out that winter, and thousands of their kinsmen poured south along the Timberway the next year. Marching through passes in the Rakers, they assembled and attacked the works underway at Spinecastle, focusing their assault on the heart of the Aerdi fortifications. The defenders, including the bulk of the elite Aerdi infantry, were quickly outflanked and surrounded. A young Knight Protector of the Great Kingdom, Caldni Vir, a Heironean cavalier from Edgefield, commanded a large cavalry force patrolling the hills when the barbarian force struck. As part of the contingent led by the herzog into the north, he pivoted and headed back to Spinecastle while anticipating orders from his liege to counterattack. When the courier of the herzog delivered orders for Vir to pull back to the south in retreat, he spat in disgust and ordered the standard of the Naelax prince to be trampled in the mud. He then raised the standard of the Imperial Orb and charged.
Approaching the site of the battle from the north, he descended upon the barbarians from higher ground, and they were unprepared for the hundreds of heavy horse and lance that bore down on them in the next hour. Their lines were quickly broken, and the Imperial Army was rescued to eventually take the day in what would be called the Battle of the Shamblefield. The Aerdi drove the surviving barbarians out of the hills, controlling the land all the way to the Loftwood by the following spring. Overking Manshen recognized the courage of the young knight Vir, and raised him as the first marquis of Bone March. The land was so named for the high price paid for its taking, as the fallen imperial regulars numbered into the thousands. [LGG - 36]
Thus the Overking named Vir the first Marquis of the Bone March. And thus were the Fruztii broken.
It is said that the blood of those thousands of unsanctified and unburied Barbarian and Imperial corpses was pressed into the mortar of Spinecastle. It is also said that the Fruztii laid a curse on its unfinished walls.

122 CY
Further buffer was required if the new lands were to be protected from further incursions by the Barbarians. The Fruztii were broken, and the Overking wished to capitalize on their weakness. General Sir Pelgrave Ratik of Winetha was commanded to lead an expeditionary force to push the Aerdian frontier back to the foothills of the Griff Mountains. 
Ratik and his forces inaugurated their expedition by crossing Kalmar Pass, taking the town of Bresht in a blustery winter campaign that cost the Fruztii dearly. After brokering an alliance with the dwarven lords of the eastern Rakers, Ratik proceeded to force a retreat of the Fruztii up the narrow coast and into the northern fastness of the Timberway. He wisely refused to follow them into an obvious trap and instead broke off the pursuit and fortified his gains. He was immediately hailed a hero in the south and his legend grew quickly. [LGG - 89, 90]
He established a fort overlooking Grendep Bay at Onsager Point that he named Marner, and used it as a base to solidify his gains. He fostered an alliance with the dwerfolk, with the gnomes. And he was also fair with those Fruztii who remained on their freeholds, so long as they declared fealty to the Overking.

128 CY
The Fruztii and Schnai pooled their strength to launch a concentrated naval attack on Marner. And almost defeated Ratik and his forces for theirs were far greater in number than his, but Sir Percival Ratik knew that he could never defeat fuch a force in the field, so he set the approaches to Marner aflame, forcing the Barbarians into a narrow salient where they were cut to pieces by the siege engines of his fort and a squadron of the Imperial Navy. Bruised, the Barbarians retreat, only to find their longships ablaze.

130 CY 
The Overking was pleased and elevated Pelgrave to Baron, and gifted him the Timberway as his personal fief. His doing so was a small thing, it cost him nothing. And the Timberway was hardly secure and he and Sir Percival knew it; but Percival was pleased, too, nonetheless, and he campaigned hard to defeat what resistance remained there. And so, again, the Overking was pleased. The walled town of Bresht was renamed Ratikhill in honour of Sir Percival’s victory. That too was another small thing that cost the Overking nothing.

141 CY
Kargoth of Mansbridge was born, a fiesty lad, noted for his bravery and ambition from an early age. He was destined for greatness, most said. They said as much again when he was elevated to the ranks of the Knights Protector.

166 CY
The east coast of the Great Kingdom had never truly been pacified. Barbarians raided the North Coast unmolested, and piracy was ever a problem on the South Seas. The Overking was losing patience, and he committed forces to deal with it, once and for all time. He set his sights upon putting the Duxchaners to task for their misdeeds.
Following a particularly terrible attack on Pontylver, during which the shipyards were set ablaze,Overking Erhart II was determined to put an end to the marauding. In 166 CY, he committed the combined navies of the Great Kingdom to breaking the power of the Duxchaners. Old Baron Asperdi's young but powerful naval force from the Sea Barons was brought to bear on them, led by Lord Admiral Aeodorich of House Atirr, then accorded the finest naval captain of the time. The town of Dullstrand was specifically founded to act as a base of operations for the invasion of these southern islands by the Aerdi fleet. [LGG - 71]

167 CY
Monduiz Dephaar was born in Bellport to noble lineage. He was elevated at a young age to its Barony when his family fell to Fruztii raids along the Solnor Coast.

168 CY
The naval forces of the Great Kingdom defeated the Duxchan forces in the Battle of Ganode Bay with the naval power of the Sea Barons at the fore. Thus the Duxchan Isles became The Lordship of the Isles.
Within two years of hotly fought battles in the Aerdi Sea, Atirr and his armada, which was outfitted with mages and powerful clerics of Procan, finally defeated the Duxchaners and their allies at the Battle of Ganode Bay. This won greater fame and praise for the Aerdi admiral, who eventually rose to the throne of North Province some years later. The most militant of the surviving Suel buccaneers retreated to the port of Ekul, on the Spine Ridge of the Tilvanot Plateau, but were no longer a significant factor. The Aerdi settled these islands in large numbers, founding Sulward as the capital, though the population remained largely Suel, particularly on Ansabo and Ganode, where local Suel lords were absorbed into the government of the realm. An Aerdi lord was appointed prince of the new realm and he was made responsible to the herzog of South Province, but given the right to carve up the islands into provinces as he saw fit and award them to his kin. [LGG - 71]

189 CY
History of the Pyronomicon
A large and powerful band of adventurers from the Great Kingdom, having learned of the Legend of Harak col Hakul Deshaun and the Pyronomicon, pushed all the way to the great wyrm’s lair intent on dispatching the dragon once and for all, but when they entered the place, it was completely empty. Apparently, Harak col Hakul Deshaun, crafty even by dragon standards, had already relocated to parts unknown; an assumption based on the fact that, without a corpse or sign of struggle to say otherwise, the dragon could not be presumed dead. And with the disappearance of the dragon, so too did The Pyronomicon vanish from the chronicles of men. [Dragon #241 - 78]

c. 187 CY
As a member of the Knights Protector, Monduiz Dephaar distinguished himself defending against the seasonal Barbarian raids, fighting alongside such heroes as Lord Kargoth. He fought with a fierceness that was frightening to behold, and in time, as his reputation spread up and down the coast, his name came to be known and then feared by the Barbarians. His atrocities were initially overlooked; but eventually they could not be ignored. He was censured by the Knights, but he carried on unabated, then shunned; and in his fury, he left, and settled for a while among the Schnai, where his sword was welcomed, and where he could continue to raid and vent his rage upon the Fruztii.

198 CY
The Sage Selvor the Younger proclaimed a coming time of strife and living death for the Great Kingdom. Those in power had no ears for such words in their time of unprecedented contentment.

202 CY
During the reign of Overking Jiranen, Lord Kargoth was reputedly the greatest knight of the day. So, when the standard bearer of the Knights Protector passed into legend, Lord Kargoth fully expected to be named his successor, a fitting tribute to his long and illustrious career. When a much younger Sir Benedor was proclaimed successor, the realm gasped in disbelief, despite it being rumoured that the youth had been touched by the spirit of Johydee. Kargoth’s pride was much wounded. The Banner should have been his, he seethed!  He challenged the young knight in the Court of Essences to a contest of arms, and although fearful, the young knight accepted the challenge. The clearly weaker young knight parried Kargoth’s attacks, never giving up the floor, and held his own until sunset, upon which the challenge was called. Stalemate! According to custom, Kargoth had lost. He refused the young knight’s hand of truce and stormed from court and the sneers of his peers. He vowed revenge.
            
Kargoth Takes Refuge
Kargoth took refuge from the deluge that accompanied his flight. He came upon a ruin, and a stair down into the dry darkness beneath it. An ancient shrine greeted his torch upon reaching its base, that and the whispered words of the demon Ahmon-Ibor, the Sibilant Beast. Kargoth knew this beast, Demogorgon, to be a fell fiend worshipped by the decadent Flan until they were pacified by the Aerdy.
Lord Kargoth
The whispers promised a plan of revenge and Kargoth was seduced by those whispers, and he swore a blood pact to seal his deal. Tentacles sprung out of the darkness and tore out his eyes, and Kargoth became the first Death Knight. He emerged to discover the Knights Protector riven by the slight given him. And he was pleased.

Monduiz Dephaar returned to the Great Kingdom upon hearing of his mentor’s supposed disgrace, seeking to join Kargoth in his revenge. Others joined him.
Dephaar did not see Kargoth’s disfigurement. Kargoth kept it hidden at all times. He kept his distance; he held his meetings in darkened rooms, his incensed ravings woven with belching clouds of acrid incense.
The whispers instructed him on when it was time to act upon his vengeance. When it was time, he gathered those who sided with him, and raided the Temple of Lothan, and taking its holy artifact, the Orb of Sol, in hand, he bent the Orb’s power to his will. He raised it high, and speaking words of power, summoned the draconic tentacle demon beast Arendagrost, as he was bid. And set it free upon the world. Arendagrost began to cut a swath of destruction from Rel Deven to Rauxes.
Temple of Lothan

Sir Benedor rode hard to Rel Deven upon hearing the news. He arrived in time to witness those thirteen knights who’d accompanied Kargoth rise from their death sprawls, their clothing scotched, their flesh burned, their eyes aglow with malevolence. He summoned all of his courage and closed with Kargoth. He attacked with abandon, sure in the knowledge that if he did not, he was lost. Near his end, he managed to wrest the Orb from Kargoth, and instructed by it, he too spoke words of power and he scattered those deathly knights that he once called peers, and began his relentless quest to destroy them.
His victory came too late for the royal family, though. They had fallen victim to the rampaging fiend. Indeed, one had fallen and was raised by Kargoth in his own image to mock their feeble power, and set him too upon the world.
Was Benedor successful? No. The Death Knights were swift, and they laid a trail of undead in their wake to slow him.
The Death Knights:
Monduiz Dephaar
St. Kargoth the Betrayer, Lord Monduiz Dephaar, Lady Lorana Kath of Naelax, Prince Myrhal of Rax, Sir Maeril of Naelax, Sir Farian of Lirthan [destroyed by Benedor], Lord Andromansis of Garasteth, Sir Oslan Knarren, Sir Rezinar of Haxx, Lord Thyrian of Naelax, Sir Minar Syrric of Darmen, Duke Urkar Grasz of Torquann, Sir Luren the Boar of Torquann, and Lord Khayven of Rax.
[History by Gary Holian, Dragon  #290, 291]

213 CY
Royal Astrologers at Rel Astra proclaimed the coming of the Age of Sorrow, vindicating the discraced Sage Selvor the Younger.
The new Overking Zelcor began to distance himself from the Knights Protector, for public opinion had swayed against them and their favour.

233 CY
The fell sword Druniazth, servant of Tharizdun, was discovered in the Rift Canyon “by a group of illithids, who traded it to drow merchants in 233 CY. Their caravan, however, was attacked and destroyed somewhere in the Underdark between the Rift Canyon and the Crystalmists and the blade passed out of living memory.” [Dragon #294 - 92]

247 CY
Lord Kargoth’s castle walls were pulled down by the Knights Protector, and its secrets have remained buried ever since. Rumours persist that he settled on the Isle of Cursed Souls, but if truth be told, Kargoth had only been seen once upon that northern coast, and that during the Flan Festival of the Bloody Moon.

254 CY
Far from the influence of the Malachite Throne, the Viceroyalty of Ferrond declared independence from the Great Kingdom, and was thereafter called Furyondy. This marks the beginning of the dissolution of the Great Kingdom. Never again would their influence reach as far. But in truth, its influence had not swayed Ferrond for some time.

The migration of Pholtusians from the Great Kingdom increased with the independence of Furyondy, citing religious persecution. The people there had turned away from the Flan gods, remembering the time of the Ur-Flan and Occluded Empire, and having embraced the gods of Oerid, they no longer wished to be reminded of those times and of Pholtus’ failure. Most travel through Nyrond and settle in the western valleys of the Rakers among the Flan in a semi-independent Flannae state.

Tenh, still independent of mind, wished a return to their own dominion. They had heard of the Great Kingdom’s fall into depravity and despotism, and encouraged by the its attention being drawn increasingly inward as the Death Knights ran amok and its provinces gradually sought their own council, they declared independence. They prepared for what response might come. And waited.

300-350 CY
As anarchy crept into the Great Kingdom, more and more of its northern provinces became increasingly independent. And in some cases lawless. Petty fiefs sprang up, their rulers declaring themselves kings and barons and dukes and such. And where ruffians seized power, banditry prevailed. Some banded together and became known as the Bandit Kingdoms, a loose confederacy of tyrants that preyed upon one another and clung together to ward against those who’d wish to annex them.
The Bandit Kingdoms are a collection of petty holdings. Each little kingdom is ruled by a robber chieftain claiming a title such as Baron, Boss, Plar, General, Tyrant, Prince, Despot and even King. In all there are 17 states within the confines of the area, ruled by 4 to 6 powerful lords, and the rest attempting either to become leading rulers or simply to survive. [Folio - 8]

The Death Knights had become so powerful in the Great Kingdom that they began to hunt down the Knights Protector. Few came to the Knights’ aid.

Veralos
318 CY
Zagig Yragerne sought to find the fabled city of Veralos, for he believed that a culture that could produce Vecna and sunder the Elven Empire must have produced something worth seeking in their time. He and his Company of Seven, a young Murlynd and Keoghtom among them, left to much fanfare, and returning a year later, they claimed to have found and plundered the city, producing a wagon laden with treasures to prove their claim. Their expedition revived the legend of the lost citadel, and indeed, that of the Ur-Flan and their civilization, which had all but been forgotten since their Aerdy conquerors pulled down their ancient settlements and built their new ones on top of them, laying waste to Flan magic, art, and writings.

320 CY
Nomads began to appear in the North, coming into conflict with the Rovers of the Barrens, but indeed, the northern steppes were so vast, the Rovers remained unaware until what came to be known as the Relentless Horde had already gained a foothold. And, by then, it was already too late to stop them.
Mixed Oerid-Baklunish nomad bands had gradually moved into and laid claim to the steppe lands beyond the Yatil range, pushing eastwards as far as the Griff Mountains. Border skirmishing with the southern nations went on as these wild horsemen pushed into the Flanaess. Perhaps the civilized states could have stopped their eastward progress had they not been busy fighting with the Aerdi for their independence. [Folio - 6]
 Forced east by the Brazen Horde, the Baklunish Relentless Horde entered the Flanaess, sweeping across the Northlands. They pressed the Rovers of the Barrens east. Victorious, Ilkhan of Tiger Nomads ruled the western steppes under Kha- Khan Ogobanuk, ruler of the Restless Horde. The Wolf Nomads pressed on but could advance no further than the Cold Marshes and the Howling Hills. Their horses could not race across the former, and they met with the Rover’s resolve in the valleys of the latter.
Following the lead of the Viceroyalty of Ferrond, the outer dependencies of Aerdy too began to claim sovereignty. The Great Kingdom, ever riven by inner turmoil, and its increasing decadency, was shrinking. And in its lessened state, it could do nothing to stem the tide.
Perranders, Velunians, Furyondians and Tenhas achieve success, establishing independent status one after the other in a series of minor but bloody wars. [Folio - 6]

342 CY
The Council of Nine selected its first Theocrat to rule as a semi-independent leader of the Pale.

356 CY
The founding of Nyrond marked be beginning of the Great Kingdom’s decline. One might think that the founding of Furyondy marked such, but in truth, though it did mark the beginning of its dissolution, the Great Kingdom had not looked to their Western Provinces for decades, and those provinces had not sought their aid or council for decades, so when the Viceroyalty of Ferrond declared its sovereignty, the Great Kingdom hardly took note. Its attention was firmly focused on the East; so, when its Eastern protectorates began to secede, the Kingdom chose to take note, and to act.
The House of Rax, ruling Aerdi dynasty, was at the time sundered by an internal feud, and the junior branch, then known as Nyrond, declared it lands free of the rule of the reigning Overking [Portillan] and sovereign. [Folio - 6]
[T]he ruling dynasty of Aerdy, the Celestial House of Rax, had grown especially decadent. In response, the western province of Nyrond declared itself free of the Great Kingdom and elected one of its nobles as king of an independent domain. Armies gathered from all loyal provinces of Aerdy to suppress this brazen act. [LGG - 14]

Just as the Aerdi dynasty was marching troops north to deal with Nyrond’s illegal declaration of independence, an allied host of Fruztii and Schnai invaded, threatening to overwhelm the Bone March and Ratik and sweep into the North Province. The Rax Overking Portillan had no choice but to divert his forces headed to contest Nyrond to counter the barbarian invasion. They were successful, but at a great cost. So many perished at in the kingdom’s defence that it had to accept Nyrond’s independence.
A coalition of Fruzt, Schna and mercenary barbarians mounted a major foray into the Aerdian North Province. The Overking's army, raised to invade Nyrond, swung northeast and soon the invaders were crushed. The end of the campaigning season arrived before any action could be taken against Nyrond. [Folio - 6]

The Battle of Redspan. Tenha cavalry route Aerdian forces, Tenh duke ends fealty to Aerdian Crown.
Eventually, the Great Kingdom showed signs of decay. When the Nyrondal princes declared the end of their allegiance to the overking, the duke was persuaded to follow suit.The Battle of Redspan signaled the end of the duke's fealty to the overking of Aerdy. The Aerdy force was routed by the Tenha cavalry and pushed down the "Red Road to Rift Canyon" in an action made famous in the ballad of the same name. The army of the Great Kingdom was not actually swept into the Rift Canyon, as the ballad proclaims, but they were so thoroughly defeated that many of the Aerdi officers and soldiers chose exile in the Bandit Kingdoms over the punishments awaiting them at home. [LGG - 113]

Theocracy of the Pale, already self-determining, proclaimed its autonomy.
As the rot of cultural and social decay started to penetrate the Great Kingdom, many of the more devout and outspoken followers of the god Pholtus withdrew from the increasingly corrupt core of the land. Some of these settled between the Rakers mountain range and the Yol River. When Nyrond declared its independence from the Great Kingdom, so did these religious refugees. Thus was the Theocracy of the Pale formed. [WG8 - 47]

359 CY
Nyrond, unfortunately for the Theocracy of the Pale, did not recognize the Pale’s right to independence. Nyrondal forces marched into Wintershiven, and annexed the newly formed Theocracy of the Pale, and, later, the County of Urnst. While occupied, Wintershiven was burned to the ground, and ultimately abandoned. And so it came to pass that New Wintershiven was founded twenty miles north of the old.
Some still claim that the invaders razed the city to the ground. Calmer heads disagree, citing nothing more than carelessness: apparently some drunken Nyrondese soldiers set fire to a barn, and the fire spread to destroy the city. [WG8 - 47]
The occupation was short. Nyrond chose to accept Theocracy and Urnst independence after the treaty of Rel Mord, in return for pledges of mutual protection. The Pale celebrates this day as the Emancipation.

c. 390 CY
History of the Pyronomicon
The Pyronomicon’s absence from recorded history lasted roughly 200 years before turning up again circa CY 390. This time, the owner was Foltyn, a capable Water Elementalist residing on a small island along the east coast of the Nyr Dyv. Though brilliant within his specialty, Foltyn was not known for his common sense, and he foolishly announced to the world his intention to destroy The Pyronomicon before the Joint Courts of Urnst during Richfest, when both Luna and Celene were full. Needless to say, it seemed like every powerful Fire Elementalist in the Flanaess descended upon Foltyn’s island abode exactly one week before the Midsummer festival, and in a spectacular, fiery display that lit up the night sky over an area some 100 miles in diameter, Foltyn and his island were wiped clean from the face of Oerth. [Dragon #241 - 78]

403 CY
History of the Pyronomicon
Although there is no record indicating which Fire Elementalist made off with the tome, it eventually found its way to the city of Greyhawk in CY 403, and into the possession of the sage Warfel II, the head of a generations-old family of scholars. When Warfel II died some years later, The Pyronomicon was passed on to his eldest child, Warfel III, who passed it down to his eldest child who, in turn, passed it on to the next generation, thus quieting the tome’s storied existence. [Dragon #241 - 78]

Skipping ahead …
576 CY
History of the Pyronomicon
So it was until CY 576, when a new wrinkle appeared in the tapestry that is The Pyronomicon’s history. Warfel VI reported that, while poring over an old adventure journal, the very shadows within his study began to coalesce and solidify at a frightening pace, eventually leaping off the walls as twisted and deformed gnomes. With no reason to expect an attack in his very home, Warfel was quickly overwhelmed by the diminutive invaders and rendered unconscious. Upon waking, he found that his entire abode had been ransacked, but upon further inspection, nothing had been taken, save for The Pyronomicon.
This strange twist of fate did not end there. Elsewhere in the city, and at roughly the same time Warfel’s home was assaulted, a trio of powerful magical items (a sword, a hammer, and a trident, respectively) mysteriously vanished from the magically-protected vaults of their owners. In place of each weapon was a taunting riddle daring the owners to retrieve the items from a hidden location beneath haunted White Plume Mountain. Even more shocking than the weapons’ theft was the individual claiming responsibility. The archwizard Keraptis, thought to have died more than a millennium before, had apparently returned, for the riddles bore his personal symbol. Not surprisingly, Warfel assumed the theft of The Pyronomicon was linked to the theft of the weapons, so when adventurers were recruited in order to recover the weapons, the sage made sure that they kept an eye out for The Pyronomicon as well. But of those few intrepid adventurers who escaped White Plume Mountain with their lives, none indicated that The Pyronomicon was there, or even Keraptis for that matter.
Consequently, as of CY 585, the location of The Pyronomicon remains a mystery. [Dragon #241 - 78, 79]






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, and the new old guards, Carl Sargant, James Ward, Roger E. Moore. And Erik Mona, Gary Holian, Sean Reynolds, Frederick Weining. The list is interminable. 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.

Art:
Wizard by andrebdois
The-Secret-Place by freelex30
No-rolling-back-Dark-souls by anatofinnstark
Lord Kargoth, by Greg Staples, Dragon 290
Monduiz Dephaar, by Adam Rex, Dragon 291
Veralos, by Kelman Andrasofszky, Dragon 293


Sources:
1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
1043 The City of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1989
1064 From the Ashes Boxed Set, 1992
1068 Greyhawk Wars Boxed Set, 1991
2011A Dungeon Masters Guide, 1st Ed., 1979
2023 Greyhawk Adventures Hardback, 1988
2138 Book of Artifacts, 1993
9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
9253 WG8, Fate of Istus, 1989
11743 Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000
Ivid the Undying, 1998
Dragon Magazine
OJ Oerth Journal, #1, #11
LGJ et al.
Greychrondex, Wilson, Steven B.
Greyhawkania, byt Jason Zavoda
The map of Anna B. Meyer