Friday, 22 November 2019

History of Oerth, Part 5: The Peoples of the West

Let’s look way back shall we?

The Suloise were a cruel and haughty people who aspired to the power they saw in the Grey Elves. They coveted that power, but as chance would have it, the Elves saw the wisdom of their having released their Magic into the world as folly, and closed their schools. The Suel were enraged. Their relations with the Elves suffered and in time, when the Grey Elves went to war against their dark brethren, they sided with the Drow and Giantkind against their former tutors. The Drow were victorious, but both they and their allies saw their forces all but wiped out. The Suloise did not venture East after that. The Drow were not as the Grey Elves were, and despite their having fought side by side with the Drow, they knew those dark elves were not their friends. So they looked to the North and West for conquest.

They had learned much while at the knee of the Grey Elves. And they had learned far more since. They sought to know all and sent out missions in all directions to gather up what knowledge they could, some even as far north as the Barrier Peaks to spy upon their past allies, for they knew one must be prepared against the duplicity of the perfidious. They unearthed spells of great power, and they grew adept at artifice. Their foes were no match for them.

Machine of Lum the Mad:
Perhaps this strange device was built by gods long forgotten and survived the eons since their passing, for it is incredibly ancient and of workmanship unlike anything known today. The Machine was used by Baron Lum to build an empire, but what has since become of this ponderous mechanism none can say. Legends report that it has 60 levers, 40 dials, and 20 switches (but only about one-half still function). Singly or in combination, these controls will generate all sorts of powers and effects. [DMG 1e - 159]

Mighty Servant of Leuk-O:
Those who are most knowledgeable regarding ancient artifacts believe that this device is of the same manufacture as the Machine of Lum. The Mighty Servant of the famous General Leuk-O is a towering automaton of crystal, unknown metals, and strange fibrous material. It is over 9' tall, 6’ deep, and some 4' wide. Inside is a compartment suitable for holding 2 man-sized creatures, and there is space for 4-5 others to sit outside. If the possessor knows the proper command phrases, he or she can use the Mighty Servant as a transportation mode, magical attack device, or fighting machine.
 The Mighty Servant regenerates [damage done to it]. [It is reputedly immune to magic.] Acid, cold, fire, heat, vacuum, and water have no effect on the device. [DMG 1e - 159]

-4414 CY              But first, the Suel had to sort out their own House. Only one must rule if they were to stand against their enemies. And they had enemies at all points of the compass. But as some Houses soon discovered, some enemies are closer than one might think. In time, each bowed the knee until there was but one. And so it was that a scion of the House of Rhola was proclaimed the First Emperor of the Suel Empire. Worshippers of Jascar and other Suloise deities of weal, they held their holds with an iron fist. (1102 SD/ -2263 FT/ -1753 BT)

-2660 CY              The Bakluni took note of their neighbours and saw what power would be needed if they were to keep from being fitted for chains, for the reputation of the Suel was well known to them. A Holy Man, El-Baklun-bar-Gash, prayed for guidance and was sent a vision of massive stone blocks set in five concentric circles upon the shores of Lake Udrukankar. He must build this circle of stone, the vision said, and he was to name it Tovrag Baragu, "The Naval of the Earth." He shared his vision upon waking, and his brethren raced off to all corners of the steppes to gather in those holy men known to them. They raised the stones, and understood them to be the window to all existence. The Suloise did not see, for the nomads were sparse and scattered, and they did believe that such savage nomads could raise such a thing. The Bakluni count the completion of this place as the beginning of the Bakluni calendar. (2856 SD/ -509 FT/1_BH)

The Suel had their holy men, too. And they, too, were blessed and given favour. Some were so blessed, in fact, that their very essence was infused with their boon, and persists eons after their demise. But beware, for their boon may be your bane.

The Teeth of Dahlver-Nor:
If any cleric was more powerful than the renowned Dahlver-Nor, histories do not tell us. The gods themselves gave special powers to him, and these have passed on to others by means of the great relics of Dahlver-Nor, his teeth. Each of the Teeth has some power, and if one character manages to gain a full quarter, half, or all of them, other grand benefits accrue. In order to gain the power of one of these teeth, however, the character must place it into his or her mouth, where it will graft itself in the place of a like missing tooth. The teeth can never be removed once so emplaced, short of the demise of the possessor. [DMG 1e - 161]

-2328 CY              The Suel were always a cunning and covetous people. Their Houses were always mindful of their place, and each in their wisdom knew that they were better suited for the throne than they who occupied it. But how to unseat those in their way. They plotted and schemed. They whispered into ears, and watched for weakness. They also knew that those whispers should never reach the ears of any who might expose them. One must keep plans close to their chests. And trust no one. And never, never, act openly, for to do so exposed their family to annihilation. And so, assassination became the vehicle of succession in the Empire. Thus, the throne fell to the House of Zolax, worshippers of Beltar. (3188 SD/ -177 FT/ 333 BT)

-2269 CY              The Years of Conquest and Prosperity
The Flanae in the southeast, already persecuted and pressed upon by the Suel for decades, were the first to fall; then the Kersi, the long distant descendants of those who first sailed from AnaKeri, to the south; then the Oerid to the north and east. Several unnamed small tribes to the west eventually fell to the Suloise as the Suel reached and stretched until they could reach no more. And with them, all the lands of the known world were under their yoke. Beyond lay only great wastes. But no lands east; the Drow and darker forces, and a fear of other elves, halted their eastern expansion.
Convinced of their power and their undeniable destiny of dominion over the lesser peoples around them, the Suel began their "Slavery Raids.” They slipped across the Sulhaut Mountains and captured an entire family of Bakluni and took them back to their lands in chains. Such were those first raids, small, a trifling of what were to come, as though to test the resolve of the nomadic Bakluni to the north. None were noticed at first, for the Bakluni were a people scattered across the wide and windy steppes. (3247 SD/ -118 FT/ 392 BH)

-2266 CY              The Flanae, under the protection of Beory, Pelor and Rao, fled their lands en masse, making a perilous crossing of the Hellfurnaces. They moved north into Eastern Oerik, later called the Flanaess, and were the first humans to inhabitant those lands. Initially, the elves welcomed them. The Dwarves hardly took notice, so fixated were they in their quest for gold and trading bitter blows with the humanoids in the depths of those ancient eroded mountains, the Lortmils. (3250 SD/ -115 FT/ 395 BT)

-2150 CY              The Flan spread across the Sheldomar Valley, always settling at the foot of Elven settlements for protection. They were still convinced of the coming of the Suel, for they knew that those cruel and greedy people would sulk in their land west of the Hellfurnaces for only so long. So, when they did finally plant the seed of their civilization, they did so high in the Lortmils, where they could look to the West for their former master’s coming. They named their city Haradaragh, after Harad, the holy man who first climbed into the Lortmils to commune with the skies. Pilgrims came to learn his wisdom, calling him Druid (Father, or, Learned One), and those he taught were told to go out into the forests and hills and be as one with the all they surveyed, and they too came to be known as druids. And those who sought to protect and serve them learned their ways and ranged the lands with them.
The Dwarves took no action against their raising this city in their mountains, for the Flan had settled in a land less rich than theirs, and more importantly, these newcomers had drawn the hated humanoids away from their unending conflict, at least for a time.
The founding of the first Flannae City in the Lortmil mountains in eastern Oerik, this is counted as year [OJ11] (3366 SD/ 1 FT/ 511 BH)

-2064 CY              The Great Betrayal.
The Bakluni had not yet taken note of the Suel’s slave raids. The Steppes were a hostile place, and on occasion, small groups disappeared; what’s more, family units ranged far and were sometimes only seen at the annual gatherings.
But, after treating with seven nomadic merchant clans at a trade gathering, the Suloise Odiafer attacked the merchants, attempting to take their goods and enslave them. The Bakluni families drew their trains together and fought to the last.
The Bakluni came upon the field of battle in the months that followed, and reading the signs, looked to the south for those responsible. The tribes had finally taken notice of the Suel, and they knew hatred. (3452 SD/ 87 FT/597 BH)

-2055 CY              The Suloise armies marched into the northern plains and finding scant resistance at first, claimed all they could see as their domain. The Suloise built their first palisades to defend their newly acquired territories, and then their first fortresses as they gained ever more ground, tall walls that the nomads could neither breach nor scale. They did so until they stood upon the high cliffs of the Dramidj Sea, and for the next 600 years the Bakluni were subjugated by the Suel. (3461 SD/ 96 FT/ 606 BH)

[-1547 CY             Vecna began his 400 Year War against the Galitholian and the elves.]

-1545 CY              The Bakluni united under one of their wandering chieftains, one Ali-ben-Onar, in an effort to throw off the Suloise yoke. (3971 SD/ 606 FT/ 1116 BH)

-1540 CY              Five years later, they won their "First Victory." During the War of Seven Score Nights, one of the Suloise Binders was captured and the war ceased when the Bakluni threatened to use it. The Bakluni claimed all lands north of the Sulhaut Mountains by treaty with the Seul. The family Amirs and Sultans gathered and elected Ali-ben-Onar, by proclamation, "Caliph of All the Families of the Baklun." (3977 SD/ 611 FT/ 1121 BH)

-1539 CY              The Suel-Bakluni peace was always an uneasy one. The Suel did not suffer defeat easily. They planned to never suffer such again. The House of Zolax began to plot against Bakluni influences and sent out spies into Bakluni lands. They whispered fear into the ears of all those in their fold to ensure that they would never have such dreams as the Bakluni revolt might rouse. (3977 SD/ 612 FT/ 1122 BH)

-1399 CY              The Emperor Zeeckar looked upon his empire and saw that the blood of the Suel had become tainted, and knew that such taint had been why the Suloise Empire had been much diminished. He decided to strengthen his realm, and declared his “War of Purity.” He selected those Houses he deemed loyal and chose those individuals from within them he saw as most pure and gathered them together for his Great Mission, and set his “The Scarlet Brotherhood,” to the task of returning his People to the Grace they once knew. The Brotherhood were instructed to erase the Houses of Ulmar and Opell, for those western Houses had long interbred with the Lesser Peoples to the west. Both Houses fled the Empire, flying west over the Steppes to the Vast Ocean where they passed out of memory. Zeeckar was pleased, and set his own House and those most loyal to him in their place, for he knew that their Purity was not in question. Then he decreed that the Brotherhood sift those other Houses whose skin was less pale, whose eyes were not as violet or clear. And they did. They then turned on those Houses who suggested that the Brotherhood wielded too much power. Why, asked Zeeckar, were they not loyal to his War on Purity, were they not Pure? The Houses, in patriotic fervour, began to select those best suited to breed. And they held their council behind closed doors and thick walls. And thus they were made Loyal and Pure. (4117_SD/ 752 FT/ 1262 BH)

[-1151 CY             Vecna was weakened by the energies he expended during his attack on The City of Summer Stars. At his empire's height, Vecna was betrayed and destroyed by his most trusted lieutenant, a human vampire called Kas the Bloody-Handed, using a magical sword that Vecna himself had crafted for him, now known as the Sword of Kas. (4365 SD/ 1000 FT/ 1510 BH)]

-1079 CY              House Schnai, both fearful of and enraged by centuries of the Brotherhood’s Purity pogroms, conspired with the Schnai and the Cruski, and seized the throne of the Empire after a short struggle, and Ovrung the First began to restore the kingdom to a shadow of its former self. He sought out the Scarlet Brotherhood, set upon cleansing the Empire of them. But the Brotherhood faded into the shadows and bided their time. (4437 SD/ 972 FT/ 1282 BH)

-1028 CY              The Bakluni were watchful. They saw the Suloise embroiled in their internal struggles, and they struck, sending a series of plagues, some magical and some mundane, across the Sulhaut Mountains into the Empire, and its population there collapsed, with not a family left untouched.  Indeed, many towns were completely emptied, and the border defenses were greatly weakened. This was the first of The Plague Years. (4788 SD/ 973 FT/ 1633 BH)

-1027 CY              The Bakluni watched as the Suloise population collapsed from the plagues, and saw their weakness. And they knew the time to strike was ripe. They broke the tenuous peace and began to raid across the Sulhaut Mountains. But not for slaves. For revenge. (4889 SD/ 974 FT/ 1634 BH)

-728 CY Weakened by the Plague Years, the Suel Empire slipped into stagnation, too weak to do more than fend off the ever increasing waves of raids from the Bakluni. The Oeridians saw the Empire’s weakness, and began to dream that they too might someday be free. (4788 SD/ 1423 FT/ 1933 BH)

-645 CY The Oeridian High Priestess Johydee, of the Aerdi House Crandon, dreamed that one day her people would be free. She put the question as to how this might be done to the gods, and they sent her a vision of Guile. Trick your cruel masters, the vision said, and the visage of a mask resolved before her. And in her cunning, she tricked their oppressors into moulding it, infusing the porcelain with her blood. And in their hubris, they created it in her image, for they meant to mock her. She let them laugh. For she had seduced them. And using her cunning further, she called it to her, for it was a part of her, and used the conduits of Phantasm within it to free the Oeridians from their dark overlords.
She ultimately became a queen in her own right, though the location of her realm is lost to time. But not her writings, for there is rumoured to be a copy of Mental Impressions of the Retina within the secret archives of in the Great Library of Greyhawk. (1 OR/ 4871 SD/ 1506 FT/ 2016 BH)

Johydee's Mask: The high priestess Johydee supposedly tricked the powers of evil into making this strange artifact and then wisely used it to overthrow their hold upon her nation. The Mask completely covers the wearer's face and enables him or her to assume the likeness of any human or human-like creature. It also prevents all forms of mind contact, detection or attack. [DMG 1e - 158]

-627 CY The Suel population had truly begun to recover, but peace had become an illusion. Skirmishes with the Bakluni had become common in the passes, with probes into each other’s territories ever more brazen. (4889 SD/ 1424 FT/ 1989 BH)

-604 CY The Suloise noble houses were always maneuvering for power, and woe to those who did not anticipate treachery and assassination at court. The first of The Succession Wars began, and the Schnai were removed from the throne. (4912 SD/ 1547 FT/ 2057 BH)

-563 CY Evil always finds a foothold. Temples devoted to Tharizdun had secretly spread all over the Suel Empire, spilling out over the borders in all directions, their grim devotees eager that their Master’s dark doctrine should find purchase wherever it might be whispered.
A temple to Tharizdun is located near the Realm of the Highfolk, it is cleared, but a mystic force keeps it from being destroyed. [OJ1] (4957 SD/ 1588 FT/ 2098 BH)

-505 CY The last of The Succession Wars swept across the Suloise Empire. After 500 years of the throne falling to nine different Houses, the House Zolax regained control of the Imperium.
Monks from the hidden Temple of Tharizdun in Highfolk returned to the Suloise Empire and began winning converts. (5011 SD/ 1646 FT/ 2156 BH)

-504 CY Zunid-ad-Zol, the Prince of House Zolax was crowned Emperor of the Seul Peoples. The Scarlet Brotherhood whispered in his ears. We are a great people, they said. We must keep out all the lesser peoples, they said. And he agreed. His first act was to command that the mountain passes be strengthened, that their fortifications were to span from peak to peak, and watchtowers were to be raised high.  The Bakluni protested the construction of fortifications upon what the declared to be their lands. The Backluni have been attacking us for centuries, the Brotherhood whispered. Zunid-ad-Zol accused the Backluni of having raided his lands for centuries, accusing them of having attacked his lands with plague. So whispered the Brotherhood. He declared the Bakluni an enemy of the Suloise Empire. Then he too commanded raids to probe the Steppes. The Bakluni withdrew their ambassador from the Seuloise Empire. And they too began to raise their armies. (5012 SD/ 1647 FT/ 2157 BH)

-485 CY The Great War began with lightening swiftness when nine thousand Bakluni were slaughtered in the Salhaut Pass. The Suel thrust out into the Steppes with a vengeance they had not known since first conquering the northern nomads. Zunid was pleased, and promised to destroy the Bakluni entirely, even if the majority of mages of his own House died in the process. (5031 SD/ 1666 FT/ 2176 BH)

-466 CY Both Bakluni and Suloise began to go east into the mountains, recruiting humanoids as mercenaries in their battles for the first time. [OJ11] (5050 SD/ 1685 FT/ 2195 BH)

-458 CY Heeding their prophets, many Oeridians began moving eastward, coming into contact and conflict with the Flannae. (186 OR / 5058 SD/ 1693 FT/ 2203 BH)

But what of the Flan? Did they not mount a defence against the Peoples of the West? Their first city, Haradaragh had been built in preparation for the assault of the Se-Ul People that they knew must someday come. Surely they must have been prepared. They were. They had been. But the Se-Ul did not come. They grew lax. And were not prepared for what did.

The Flan of Haradaragh found that their presence in the Lortmils was left unchallenged by the elves for a simple reason -- the existence of the orcs and goblins of the central peaks. The humans had nearly a century of relative peace in which to build their great capital. During this time, the human miner Bleredd led several explorations of the deep caverns below the mines, and on one such occasion, was ambushed by a goblin scouting party. Separated from his companions, and facing a howling band of goblins, he prepared for his death at their spears. He was amazed to discover that he was no longer fighting alone; a strong faced matron battled at his side with her hammer, slaying the goblins as easily as the most skilled warrior. When the battle was over, Bleredd turned to thank his rescuer and found he was alone again. He there swore an oath that he would find her and repay his debt, unto his dying days if need be. Long and far he traveled, and terrible were the hardships he endured to follow his oath -- all of which have been expounded upon elsewhere.
Although no written descriptions of the city of Haradaragh have survived, there are cryptic fragments of songs still sung among those of Geoff, Sterich and the County of Ulek who count themselves of Flan descent. These tell of the spectacular visions of sunrise in the high plateaus of the mountains, the great wide boulevards and plazas of the city, the many-stepped pyramids devoted to the Sun-God, the agricultural terraces of the slopes, the labyrinthine walls protecting the city, and the tremendous wealth brought from the mines below. The more tragic lyrics sing of the last days of the city, when the mines boiled forth with rampaging humanoids who slaughtered all who would stand against them.
The humanoids had known of the presence of the humans within a few decades of the Flannae arrival, but the goblin shamen urged the tribes to wait until the portents were favorable. The goblins and allied orcs patiently waited for the humans to drive tunnels deeper into caverns that the goblins had already reached via other passages. Present-day goblin shamen recall only small fragments of the victorious battle chant, but it speaks of the spear of Maglubiyet waiting in the darkness for the humans. Whether this was an appearance of the avatar, or an epic exaggeration by the shamen, is unknown.
Although the songs are quite descriptive of the birth and death of the city, they leave out any clear description of its exact location, other than that it must have been among the highest peaks of the range. The mountain dwarves who have roamed the peaks in the centuries since have found no ruins of any such city, and have tunneled for miles without encountering other mining tunnels -- active or abandoned.
With the destruction of their great city, the few survivors fled into the lowlands, and reverted back to a [simpler], nomadic life. The leaders that later emerged among them forswore any return to the cursed mountains, or any attempt to build great cities again, citing the wrath of the gods.
When the waves of Oeridian and Suel refugees arrived in the Sheldomar valley region some 1,500 years later, the descendants of the Lortmil Flannae were completely absent of any signs that they had the skill, knowledge and daring to have built a city on the very peaks of the mountains. [OJ2, by Sobhrach]

-448 CY The Year of the Prophets. Seven different prophets foretell of the destruction of the Suel Empire within 30 years. The emperor has all seven drawn and quartered, even though one of the prophets is a High Priest of Beltar. (196 OR/ 5068 SD/ 1703 FT/ 2213 BH)

-447 CY Zellifar-ad-Zol, son of the emperor, mage/high priest of Beltar, breaks with his father and takes over 8,000 Seuloise loyal to himself, and flees the kingdom, eastward. The ferocity and magical might of the movement scatters the Oeridians in its path, causing the remainder of the Oeridian to migrate, who in turn attack the beleaguered Flanae. The Zolites continue eastward. (197 OR/ 5069_SD/_1704 FT/ 2214 BH)

-446 CY The emperor sends commands that the Houses Schnai, Cruskii and Fruztii move bring his son, and the "Unloyal" back to face justice. [OJ1] (198 OR/ 5070 SD/ 1705 FT/ 2215 BH)

-445 to -423 CY  The Zolite scatter the Flanae before them, and move south to the Tilvanot Peninsula. The three pursuing houses, unable to find the magical tunnel, turn north, where they are met by regrouped Oeridians and fearful Flanae who harry and drive these Suel Houses south. (5071 to 199-221 OR/ 5093 SD/ 1706-1728 FT/ 2216-2238 BH)

The Peoples of the West were on the move. The Great Migration had begun. But what begins as a trickle would eventually become a flood.

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 Weinig. 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.

It should be noted that without Lenard Lakfka there would not be such a detailed account of the Suel Migration, or the Pantheon of Suel Gods, for that matter. I cannot at this time give credit to all those others who’d contributed to it over the years, because I myself am still learning it and who wrote it.

The Art:
All art is wholly owned by the artists.
Automaton-Unearthing, by 000fesbra000
War-Relic, by artursadlos

1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
2011A Dungeon Masters Guide, 1st Ed., 1979
2023 Greyhawk Adventures Hardback, 1988
Book of Artifacts, Dave Cook, 1993
9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
9027 S2, White Plume Mountain, 1979
9309 WGA4, Vecna Lives, 1990
9399 WGR 5, Iuz the Evil, 1993
9577 The Adventure Begins, 1998
9578 Player’s Guide to Greyhawk, 1998
Dragon Magazine, 82
OJ Oerth Journal, #1, #2, #11; produced by the Council of Greyhawk, and appearing on their website
Greychrondex, Wilson, Steven B.
TSR11348 Return to White Plume Mountain, 1999
Book of Artifacts, David Cook, 1993.

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