Wednesday, 13 November 2019

History of Oerth, Part 2: Of The Ur-Flan Kingdoms


The Flan
Where did we leave off? The Se-Ul had allied with the Drow against the Grey Elves. The Grey elves had quit the Hellfurnaces after a costly defeat in their war with the Drow and giantkind. The Drow may have been victorious, but their victory over the Grey Elves had all but wiped them out. They retreated into the depths of Oerth to recover, leaving the Crystalmists and Hellfurnaces to giantkind. The Suloise slinked back within their borders, their army all but destroyed.

This is here the Flan join our narrative:

-2269 CY              The Flan originally dwelt where all humankind did in times of yore, in the western shadow of the Southern Crystalmists. They traded with the Suloise and prospered by that trade. But as the Suel grew cruel and powerful, so too did they subjugate the peoples around them, and soon the Flan found themselves in thrall within a vast Suloise Empire. The Secrets of Magic were forbidden to them. Their faith was surpassed, and then banned outright.

The Suloise were the Flan’s first glimpse of power. They chaffed to be free of it. But they learned from it, too. But that’s a tale for another day.

The Years of Conquest and Prosperity begin.

                No major foe opposes the might of the empire of the Suloise, although they do not push Eastward, because of some fear of the elfin hosts. Magic is rigorously pursued. Old grey elven texts are discovered and studied. The might and haughtiness of the Elves is copied in manner in the courts, but their wisdom is not. Slavery becomes common and widespread in the Suloise lands; this continues for many centuries. The Flan in the southeast (just west of the Hellfurnaces), the Oerid to the east, the Kersi to the south (the long distant descendants of those who first sailed from AnaKeri), the Bakluni to the north, and several unnamed small tribes to the west; become the slaves of the Suel. The entire of the western half of Oerik is controlled by the Suel. Drow and darker forces halt the eastern expansion. [OJ11] 3247_SD/-118 FT            

-2266 CY              Living under the yoke of the Suel could not have been easy. Or safe. Suloise mages wielded unspeakable power, and fell Lords vied for control of the Land for centuries in one Regency or Succession war after another, where surfs and thralls made a convenient source of grist for the mill and fodder for the magics that would inevitably be flung into the ranks of those amassed conscripted armies. The Suel found the Flan to be an especially talented light cavalry, and used them as such.

 Horrors rose from the earth as had hitherto never been seen by Elves or Men. The Flan were terrified of their masters. And truly awed by them. They also understood the wisdom of being free of them, if they wished to survive. It took them centuries to work up their courage, but they did. They fled across the Crystalmists and made first contact with the elves in the Sheldomar Valley. This is not to say that the elves and they weren’t already familiar with one another, they were; this is to say that they now met the elves as supplicants. The elves took pity on the refugees and welcomed them. The Flan looked upon the cities of the Elves and were awed. These were not the cities of the Suel; those were pale imitations of what they espied now. There were truly works of wonder, where one could not differentiate the works s of Elves for that of Nature herself.

Prior to humans coming to the eastern part of the continent, great Elven empires had thrived. The City of Summer Stars, The City of Autumn Leaves, The City of Winter Snow, and the City of Spring Waters reigned over the wide expanse of the East. (I invite you to check out Mike Bridges article on the Elven Civilizations in his blog, Greyhawkery.)

The Flannae, under the protection of Beory, Pelor and Rao flee their lands in mass, making a perilous crossing of the Hellfurnaces. They move north into the lands of Eastern Oerik, later called the Flanaess, as the first human inhabitants of the area. Initially, they are well received. [OJ11] 3250 SD/ -114 FT

The Flan looked upon the works of Elves and sought to know the mysteries of the earth itself, with many dedicating their lives to such studies, and erecting crude stone circles where they found the forces of Nature to be the strongest. Their holy sites grew larger and more sophisticated over time, until even the elves marveled over the ingenuity of these Men, the Flan.

Harad, the Holy Man of Haradaragh
-2150 CY              The Flan spread across the Sheldomar Valley, always settling at the foot of Elven settlements for protection. They were still afraid of the coming of the Suel, for they knew that those cruel and greedy people would only sulk in their land west of the Hellfurnaces for only so long. So, when they did finally plant the seed of their civilization, it was high in the Lortmil Mountains, where they could look to the West for the Suel’s coming. They named it Haradaragh, after Harad, the holy man who first climbed into its heights to commune with the skies. Pilgrims came to learn his wisdom, calling him Druid (Father, or, Learned One) and those who he taught were told to go out into the forests and hills and be as one with the all they surveyed, and they too became known as druids. And those who sought to protect and serve them learned their ways and ranged the lands with them.
                The founding of the first Flannae City in the Lortmil mountains in eastern Oerik, this is counted as year [OJ11] 3366 SD/1 FT

The Elves having already taught the Suloise magic, were wary to do so with the Flan. But the Flan were far more kindred to the elves than the Suloise ever were, the Flan lived as one with nature as the elves did. So, in time, they selected those Flan who not only showed great promise in the Art, but those who did not seem to wish to bend Nature to their will. The Elves, in their hubris, mistook desire with reverence, and reverence with ambition. The chose the Ur-Flan to whom they would reveal their secrets.

The Uri-Flan (an ethnic group of the Flan people, more formally known as the Ur-Flannae) learned their lessons well. They proved most adept at the Art of Magic, as adept as their Se-Ul pupils once were.

They proved as ambitious as those Se-Ul mages, too. They remembered the works of the Suloise mages and sought to recreate those wonders, to ensure that they would never fall prey to the Suloise ever again. What they did fall prey to was their own ambition. They sought Dark secrets and their pleas were heard by Dark beings who seduced them with even darker ambition.

The Ur-Flan rose to power and soon the Flan tribes are ruled by them. Exact details of the Ur-Flannae are difficult to determine as they mostly vanished during the Great Migration.  What is known is that they were small in number, evil, and known to be powerful wizards. Feared, or at least respected, by their Flan kin, they were known to follow the teachings of Nerull in many regions (most notably Perrenland). They had a strong association with necromancy magic, many of whom later becoming undead.

Three of the greatest of the Ur-Flannae mystics are said to be buried beneath the Isle of Cursed Souls. The Northern Adepts of Old Blackmoor are believed to have been Ur-Flan wizards, though their magic was primarily protective in nature. Poems of the Northern Adepts have been passed down that contain the secrets to strengthening abjuration spells.

-1990 CY              The Flan wizard, Galap-Dreidel builds Inverness to protect his "Soul Gem." [OJ1] 3526_SD/161 FT

-1750 CY              The Grey Elves grew wary of the Ur-Flan as their settlements spread across the continent. They had seen the corruption of the Se-Ul peoples and they had recognized the Ur-Flan’s fall from grace. But they still had hopes that the Flan would find they way back, for just as the Ur-Flan had sought and found Darkness, so too had the Flan found their way to the blessings of the Old Ways.

               
Galitholian Glitterhelm
So, they kept watch. And they sought to keep the Ur-Flan in check, endeavouring to guide them back into the Light. They demanded hostages for land, and the Ur-Flan, eager to grasp more and more, sent members of the Untouchable Caste to them, “raising them up” and “adopting them,” claiming them to be true scions of Ur-Flan noble families. Decidedly dispensable ones.

The Boy
One such settlement on eastern shore of Nyr Dyv were bid by the Grey Elven King Galitholian Glitterhelm to do the same and send “servants” to his kingdom in the Griff Mountains. A boy was among them.

The boy’s name was Vecna. 3766 SD/402 FT



This seems a good spot to pause to consider those Flan kingdoms that had sprung up across the continent.

Ur-Flannae Kingdoms:

Ahlissa: The ancient Flan kingdom of Ahlissa was founded c. -2100 CY by the legendary Queen Ehlissa the Enchanter. This state lasted some 1700 years (several hundred years watched over by Queen Ehlissa herself), reaching its apex at -1100 CY (probably at the passing of Ehlissa), but was crumbling by the time the Aerdi reached it in approximately -400 CY, 700 years later.

Sulm:    The Bright Desert. The Kingdom of Sulm came to prominence circa -1900 CY after it was bolstered by the necromantic adepts of Caerdiralor, who taught them dark secrets and promised wealth and glory in exchange for the favor of the Sulmi royal house. Throughout its history, the kingdom spent much of its time crushing its neighbors, the rival kingdoms of Durha, Itar, Ronhass, Rhugha, and Truun. Only the Kingdom of Itar was strong enough to stand against Sulm, though it, too, would eventually fall.

After centuries of expansion, Sulm began its slow decline circa -1400 CY, some say due to the influence of Nerull and other dark powers. Kyuss was a powerful priest of Nerull during Sulm's imperial age, shortly before its destruction. He was exiled for his profane experiments on undead in the sacred mortuary city of Unaagh, and traveled with hundreds of followers to the Amedio Jungle.

Circa -700 CY the Kingdom of Sulm fell, destroyed by its last king. The king, Shattados, used the power of a dark artifact known as the Scorpion Crown in an attempt to gain perpetual dominion over his subjects. Instead, the crown turned Shattados into a gigantic scorpion and his people into manscorpions and (possibly) dune stalkers. A few became asheratis instead due to the grace of Geshtai. The land itself was even changed, transformed into a vast wasteland now known as the Bright Desert.

The Isles of Woe:             A now-lost archipelago in the Lake of Unknown Depths, once ruled by wizard-priests. Depending on the tale, the number of islands in this chain varies between three and seven, but is usually said to be three. The capital of this tyrannical domain was known as Heraan.

In a 900-year-old map now in the Great Library of Greyhawk, the islands are shown in the eastern region of the great lake, appearing to be extensions of the Cairn Hills. If this map is accurate, the size of the Nyr Dyv was smaller in those days. The island upon which Admundfort now sits was much larger, and two islands that do not now exist stood southeast of Scragholme Island. However, there are reasons to doubt the authenticity of this document.

Veralos was contemporaneous with ancient Flan nations such as Sulm, Itar, Ahlissa, and Nuria, it seems likely that the Isles of Woe were also populated by the Flan people. Furthermore, the Isles must have sank before the Great Migrations, as Veralos itself lasted until that period.

Itar:        Only the Kingdom of Itar was strong enough to stand against Sulm, though it, too, would eventually fall.

Nuria:   Potentially Nyrond and Almor.

Veralos:               At the Rift Canyon, encompassing Tenh and the Pale. North of the Nyr Dyv and the Isles of Woe, the city of Veralos is said to have encompassed a hundred or so buildings, spaced tightly together and surrounding a wall made from the same stone as the canyon. Much of the citadel is built into the canyon wall itself. Veralos traded magical wonders, including magic tablets, statues, jewelry, and weapons.

Sites of Note:

The Causeway of Fiends
This unnatural geographical feature is shunned by all save the most fearlessly evil. A great pathway of granite slabs, up to 25' wide and 12' high, descends in a perfectly orderly formation down to the sea from a half-mile inland, with the causeway heading to the Isle of Cursed Souls (known to some as the Isle of Lost Souls). Extraordinarily, this causeway is never submerged by the tides, even though sea water might stand 80' or more high either side of it shortly before it rises to the shoreline of the magical Isle. The whole causeway radiates intense evil, and magic, if such is detected for. During the fullness of Celene, fiends of many kinds stalk the causeway. Tanar'ri and baatezu rend at each other, tearing each other apart. They gleefully attack anything foolish enough to approach within a half-mile or so of the causeway. The fiends appear to be bound to that distance, however, and cannot travel farther inland. Usually, but a handful of fiends will appear at full moon. Very rarely—perhaps once every 80 years or so—countless numbers of lemures, manes, dretches, and least fiends of all kinds will appear as great legions driven on by a few greater fiends in an orgy of mindless slaughter and destruction. Stone fragments from the causeway have, rarely, been taken and enchanted by men of great evil to craft dark magical artifacts. This is surpassingly dangerous. One tiny slip in a process which might take dozens of spells and months of time will leave the enchanter helpless in the face of a gate opening and a powerful fiend emerging, enraged, to slay him. Some of the oldest books of Flanaess Oeridian mages give riddles and allusions to the work of Ur-Flannae mystics with this ghastly substrate. But such artifacts are lost to Oerth—perhaps. In more modern times, only Delglath of Rinloru is known to have crafted any items from the stone of this atrocious place. Even masters of the dark arts such as Xaene and Karoolck would hesitate to follow his example. Across the causeway lies the Isle of Cursed Souls, which is avoided by all sea vessels. In a radius of roughly 10 miles, it is said that the very rocks of the sea bed will rise and hole any vessel approaching more closely. Further, any lost at sea will become bound to the isle as ghosts, tormented by unknowable horrors for eternity. Sailors will jump overboard into stormy seas with a prayer to Procan for their souls rather than enter these waters. Intelligent sea dwellers such as sea elves, selkie, or dolphins warn ships away from the area. The isle itself appears only to have the ruins of an ancient monastery or mansion house atop its sheer cliffs, but distant scrying reveals an intensity of evil and magic beneath that site which is powerful enough to threaten insanity to the diviner studying the place. In texts which are now no more than a rumor in the night between old sages, the place is said to be the last resting place of three of the greatest of the Ur-Flannae. If this is true, the perils below it do not bear even thinking about. [Ivid]

The Gull Cliffs
Apart from the small dwarf and gnome settlements here, the Gull Cliffs are riddled with caves and natural passageways. There are certainly several magical locations. The best-known is the Fading Ground of the Blood Obelisk of Aerdy (From The Ashes, Campaign Book) but there are also said to be at least two burial chambers of Ur-Flan mages or necromancers. Many come seeking them, but they have not yet been located even by the most penetrative magical scrying. There are also traveler's tales of an albino clan of gnomes far below the hills, said to be extraordinarily swift of movement and able to meld into stone as a natural ability. One or two claim they are guardians of some site sacred to a gnomish deity, others that they restructure deep passageways to the Underdark to keep intruders and adventurers away from some site of dark magic, possibly a temple of Tharizdun. [Ivid]



And to think that I thought the Flan were boring.


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:
Thungar by Gonzalo Kenny
Little-Gifts by Manuel Castanon
Reflections-before-the-battle by candra
Declan by charlie-bowater


Copyright:
The art is solely owned by the artists.
All source material presented within this blog is owned and copywrited by WotC.
The use of this material is not intended to challenge the rights of WotC.
This document is presented solely for the person use of those individules who game within the Greyhawk setting.

Sources:
1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
1068 Greyhawk Wars Boxed Set, 1991
2011A Dungeon Masters Guide, 1st Ed., 1979
9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
9309 WGA4, Vecna Lives, 1990
11662 Die Vecna Die! 2000
Ivid the Undying, 1998
OJ Oerth Journal, #1, #11
Shadis 50, August 1998
Greychrondex, Wilson, Steven B.
The map of Anna B. Meyer


3 comments:

  1. Awesome work sir! I love that you got all this lined up in an easy to read timeline. I've fiddled with ancient times over the years and this post sums up many handwritten notes that I'll never make sense of, so again, kudos on this research.
    I would love to rework that ancient elven kingdom map (or someone else in the community) because it's a worthy idea to give context to what came before the migrations. Looking forward to the next post!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Mike. I appreciate the praise! That means a lot to me, considering your years of experience blogging. And I'm only too happy to draw other's attention to your blog, in case they weren't already aware of it.

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  2. I've been waiting to have time for a peek at this and am so glad I finally found some. What a great compilation! Looking forward to reading more. If you know of any maps that might accurately accompany your chronicle, a link or two would be appreciated. If I could spare the time, I'd try my hand at some myself. Thank you again!

    ReplyDelete