Saturday, 27 June 2020

Timeline of the James Bay Frontier


“This land may be profitable to those that will adventure it.”
-- Henry Hudson

The Road to Ratik
Ratik is a relative newcomer in the history of Greyhawk and the Flannaess. There were elves there, surely, and dwarves, and gnomes too, but their arrivals are not set in the annals of the canonical text of Greyhawk; but the World of Greyhawk setting was always a human-centric setting, wasn’t it, and although those races would most certainly have influenced and guided those human nations that came after them, very little has been said about how. There are exceptions, none set in the nation of Ratik, or the Thillonrian peninsula.
What we do know is that the Grey elves had cities in the Griffs, that Vecna fought the Grey and High elves, and that Vecna destroyed the City of Summer Stars. If only Gary Gygax had penned more about those bygone elven civilizations, we’d have had a far richer setting. Sadly, he wrote even less on the dwarves and gnomes, even less still of the halflings. It’s a blank slate. Largely.
Much is the same with Human history. Each nation was given a paragraph or two, enough to spur the imagination, no more. Those missives have been expounded upon since, though.
So what id canon in regards to Ratik?
I present a list of dates noted in Steve Wilson’s Greychrondex_42 to illuminate what is considered canon in the world of Greyhawk concerning Ratik and its environs, most notably those dates regarding the Barbarians, Stonefist, the Bone March, and the North Province as they concern Ratik.
These are mere bullet points. Some reach far back in the annals of time, but you can’t have the present without the past, can you?
If you would like to learn more, there is a wealth of source material out there. I’ve detailed these events in this blog, much as others have before me. Those Histories are my interpretation. There are others. Many others.
I encourage you to peruse: Canonfire!, Greyhawk Online, Jason Zavoda’s Hall of the Mountain King, Joe Bloch’s Greyhawk Grognard, Mike Bridges’ Greyhawkery, and Maldin’s Greyhawk. There are a whole host of others, including the fiction of Mystic Scholar and Greyhawk Stories. Be sure to download Anna B. Meyer's map while you are at it.
I’m sure you will find something to your taste.

That said, let’s get started, shall we?

The Griff Mountains
The Timeline of the James Bay Frontier
Pre-devastation
-2150 CY     The founding of Haradaragh. First year of Flannae Tracking system (1 FT). [PGTG - 14]

Vecna’s Reign [WGA4, Vecna Lives - 6] (rumored to be ruled from the Isles of Woe) [Slavers - 16]

Battle between Elves and Ur-Flannae. [Ivid - 74]

Building of Tostenhca [GA - 99]

c.-1500 CY     Keraptis establishes himself as protector of Tostenhca [S2 White Plume Mountain - 3]

c.-1100 CY     Keraptis driven out of Tostenhca. [S2 - 3]

c.-800 CY     Keraptis battles and defeats Aegwareth, Elder Druid, for control of White Plume Mountain. [S2 - 3]

-458 CY    Oerid migrations east at peak point (187 OR) [Folio - 5, WGA - 9]

-447 CY     Suloise Migration begins (5069 SD) [Folio - 5, WGA - 9]

-422 CY    Invoked Devastation and Rain of Colorless Fire [Folio - 5, WGA - 9, PGTG - 14, WGG3e - 3]

The Arrival of the Suel
Port-Devastation
-216 CY    Founding of Aerdy (428 OR) [LGG - 93]

-171 CY    Battle between Aerdians and Flannae tribe at Chokestone. (474 OR/1980 FT) [Ivid - 53]

-142 CY    Eastfair founded as capital of North Province. (503 OR) [LGG - 73]

c.-110 CY    Around this time, Vatun was imprisoned by clerics of Telchur. [LGG - 185]

-108 CY    In the spring, Aerdian forces mass in Knurl and drive back Fruztii. The Aerdi free Johnsport from Fruztii hands. [LGG- 36]

11 CY     Battle between Aerdians and Flan at site of present day Arrowstrand. (2161 FT) [Ivid - 50]

c.90s CY    Keraptis leaves White Plume Mountain to further his research and never returns. [S2 - 4]

c.100 CY    Battle of Spinecastle (Aerdians vs. Fruztii). [FtAA - 24]

109 CY    The barbarians counterattack the construction site of Spinecastle in the winter but are defeated by the forces of Knight Protector Caldni Vir in the Battle of Shamblefield.  Overking Manshen names Vir the first marquis of the Bone March. [LGG - 36, 89]

The Timberway Forest
Ratik Founded
122 CY    General Sir Pelgrave Ratik of Winetha leads an expeditionary force to push the Aerdy frontier to the foothills of the Griff Mountains. He defeats the Frutzii and drives them into the northern fastness of Timberway.  He establishes a fort overlooking Grendep Bay at Onsager Point that he names Marner. [LGG - 90]

128 CY  The Frutzii and Schnai launch a concentrated naval attack on Marner.  This force is defeated by General Sir Pelgrave Ratik of Winetha. [LGG - 90]

130 CY    The Overking of the Aerdian Empire elevates Pelgrave to Baron, and gifts him Timberway as a personal fief.  The walled town of Bresht is renamed Ratikhill. [LGG - 90]

316 CY  The Scarlet Brotherhood establishes relations with the Suel Barbarian lands of the north. (SD 5831) [SB - 4]
(It is probably shortly after this time that the Brotherhood agents poison King Cralstag of the Cruski, and are, in turn, slain by Cralstag’s heir, Lolgoff) [LGG - 55]

356 CY  Barbarians from the North invade the Aerdy’s North Province, forcing the Overking to divert troops from the western front thus insuring Nyrond’s survival. [WGG3e - 3]
(Allied host of Frutzii and Schnai threaten to overwhelm Bone March and Ratik and sweep into the North Province.  The Rax Overking Portillan diverts a force headed to contest Nyrond to counter the barbarian invasion.  This is successful, but at a great cost.) [LGG - 90]

c.430 CY    Vlek Col Vlekzed founds chiefdom of Hold of Stonefist. [Folio - 26,WGA - 36, FtAA - 38]
(Rise of an Outlaw Rover called Stonefist who murders the leaders of the Coltens and breaks from Tenh.) [LGG - 113]
Note: This second “origination” of Stonefist is not supported outside of LGG.  This date for the rise of “Stonefist” is not supported in the text, but no date is given.  The better case is that Vlek Col Vlekzed is a Colten Ataman who pulls the Colten Feodality under his central rule.       

c.440s-460s CY    Alain II of Ratik declares his fief an archbarony, and rules semi-independently (as does the ruler of Bone March). [LGG - 90]
Note:  This occurs shortly after the Turmoil Between Crowns but that could be anywhere after the 9 year period between 437 CY and 446 CY, and is impossible to fix.

520 CY  Beginning of Hradji Beartooth’s ill-fated journey to find Skrallingshold (Tostenhca) [GA - 83]

558 CY  Scarlet Brotherhood agents encourage humanoids to raid the Bone March. (6074 SD) [SB - 5]

c.550s    Schnai subjugate Fruztii [FtAA - 25]

560 CY  Humanoids (Euroz, Kell, Eiger and others) began forays into Bone March. [Folio - 9, FtAA - 24, PGTG - 10, TAB - 19]

In Ratik's Defense
561 CY    Full scale invasion of humanoids into Bone March begins.
9025 pg. 9, WGA - 20, LGG - 36

563 CY    Bone March falls to humanoids  9025 PG 5, WGA - 9,20, Ivid -19, LGG - 35, 91]
(All humans in that area were enslaved or killed [6078 SD]) [SB - 5]
(Spinecastle falls by surprise) [LGG - 31]
(Knight Protectors living in the Bone March flee to Ratik) [LGG - 158]

565 CY    Korund of Ratik sails to Fireland [TAB -11]

575 CY    Ratik-Fruzii (?) alliance defeats humanoids at Blufang-Kelten Pass (probably Ogres and gnolls of Teesar Torrent) [Dragon #57 - 15]

576 CY
576-582 CY         Ratik and Frost Barbarians make gains against Bone March.
[WGS1 The Five Shall be One - 4, WGS2 Howl from the North - 6]
Snow, Ice, and Frost Barbarians ally against Hold of Stonefist. [WGS1 - 4, WGS2 - 6]
Snow Barbarians increase raids on Great Kingdom. [WGS1 pg. 4, WGS2 - 6]

577 CY  Cruski and Schnai treaty. Schnai give up the lands south of Glot along the east coast to Cruskii
[Dragon #57 - 14]
Battle of Loftwood--combined Ratik/Frutzii force destroy humanoid forces under the Vile Rune orcs of the Bone March. [Dragon #57 - 15

578 CY  Seuvord, Master of the Hold, becomes Rhelt Seuvord I of the Hold. [Dragon #57 - 14]
King Ralff II of the Frutzii organizes new army. [Dragon #57 - 14]
Ships and men, under Lord Captain Aldusc from Sea Barons, sent to bolster North Province against Barbarians. [Dragon #63 - 15]
Force from Ratik wins great victory over the Bone March orcs in Loftwood (Battle of Loftwood?) [LGG - 141]

579 CY  Baron Lexnol’s heir, Alain IV, marries Lady Evaleigh, the daughter of the count of Knurl.
[LGG - 91]

582 CY  The events of the module WGS1, The Five Shall Be One, including the rise of the Cult of Vatun. [WGS1 - 3, WGG3e - 4, LGG - 15]
(Iuz triggers Greyhawk Wars by stirring unrest among Barbarians of  the Thillonrian Peninsula) [LGG - 62]
By this time, the Cruski had regained Utsula from the Schnai, to whom they had lost it several decades before. [LGG - 106]
The events of the module WGS2, Howl From the North, including the arrival of "Vatun" and the gathering of the Barbarians for war.
[WGS2 - 5, 1068 pg. 6. LGG - 15]

Greyhawk Wars
583 CY  Iuz’s deception of Barbarians revealed, Iuz returns home. [Wars: ADV - 8]
               
584-585 CY    Part of the Loftwood despoiled as humanoids set fires. [LGG - 141]

585 CY  Ratik starts ambitious castle building program. [FtAA - 73]

586 CY     Alain IV, Archbaron Lexnol’ son, launches a raid to repatriate Bone March.  It fails utterly. [LGG - 37]
(Alain is killed. Baron Lexnol collapses from the news and is rendered unfit to rule.  Lady Evaleigh, Alain’s wife, begins ruling Ratik.) [LGG - 91]

588 CY    Iuz loses control of Sevvord Redbeard of Hold of Stonefist, Hold of Stonefist renamed Stonehold. [PGTG - 12, TAB - 22-23, LGG - 16]
(Sevvord gathers Fists from across Tenh, kills all clerics of Iuz within reach, leaves rearguard to occupy Calbut and returns to Stonehold, driving barbarians back from Kelten and securing the pass, and the returns to Vlekstaad) [LGG - 109,113]

590 CY     Longship from Fireland sails into the port at Marner in Ratik. [TAB - 38]
Full scale assaults by the Bone March over the Blemu Hills into Knurl is attempted, but Ratik holds. [LGG - 37]


Therein lies canon. It's pretty thin. Plenty of breathing room, I'd say.
The Domain of the Green God
So, what do I plan to do with that breathing room? Flesh it out, of course. I hope to set down a history that reflects my northern soul, one replete with the Green God and stone circles laid down by the Fey, with a reclusive Sylvan culture, a very Celtic Flan, a lingering tyranny of Keraptis and his minions, the coming of the Suel, and ultimately the Oeridians.
I'd like to create an epic adventure path set there, where the long dormant Elder Eye sleeps.
It seems alot right now, maybe too much, but each journey begins with a single step. Those Histories I've been gathering are that first step. It's been a big one. I expect the next to be as large.





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.
Primary sources for this history were the DMG 1e, Ivid the Undying, WGR5 Iuz the Evil, WG8 The Fate of Istus, the Greyhawk Adventures hardcover, The World of Greyhawk Folio, and The World of Greyhawk Gold Box, Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, The Living Greyhawk Journals, Dragon Magazine.

The Art:
All art is wholly owned by the artists.
WGS1 Five Shall Be One cover, by Jeff Starlind, 1991
WGS2 Howl From the North cover, by Jeff Starlind, 1991

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
2023 Greyhawk Adventures Hardback, 1988
9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
9253 WG8, Fate of Istus, 1989
9317 WGS1, The Five Shall be One, 1991
9337 WGS2, Howl from the North, 1991
9399 WGR 5, Iuz the Evil, 1993
9577 The Adventure Begins, 1998
9578 Player’s Guide to Greyhawk, 1998
11742 Gazetteer, 2000
11743 Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000
Ivid the Undying, 1998
Dragon Magazine
OJ Oerth Journal, appearing on Greyhawk Online
LGJ et. al.
Greychrondex, Wilson, Steven B.
Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda
The Greyhawk Map, Anna B. Meyer

Friday, 19 June 2020

History of the South-East, Part 7: The Turmoil between Crowns


“By hook or by crook this peril too shall be something that we remember.”
Homer, The Odyssey

The Turmoil Between Crowns


What can be said of the Celestial Houses of Aerdy? History says that they were great and good, and that their benevolence had brought peace and prosperity to all the lands of the Flanaess. Were that so, then why did Furyondy secede? Why did Nyrond and Tenh? And were they so, why was there such turmoil between crowns?





437 CY  The Kingdom of Aerdy and the Great Kingdom were great as all empires are, through force of will. It had artifacts and artifice at its disposal, and the weight of arms, against which few nations, if any, could stand against. But it had grown myopic, sure in its omnipotence, and its longevity. Had not the Suel Imperium lasted centuries? But the Suel emperors had been vigilant, and watchful. And the Suel Imperium had not been cleaved from within. The Great Kingdom was. And as its great houses turned upon one another, those nations that until recently basked under its supposed radiant sun could only look on in horror as its sun set and it chose its new path to paradise through Hell.
For three centuries the Aerdy held a vast empire which fluctuated in extent but little, until after the third Celestial House (dynasty) when the borders began to close in upon the original territory of the Aerdi. [Folio - 5]

[The Turmoil Between Crowns:] This name is given both to the decade of internal schisms under the rule of the last Rax overking, Nalif, and to the civil war which followed Ivid's ascension. [Ivid - 4]

Faith understands that to truly affect change, it must have the support of the crown, the aristocracy, and if necessary, the people. All sects are as motivated in such regard. All sects courted those houses that could presumably sway others, and the plebeians if it should come to that, to see the true path. Hextor's Faith was no different. But not all of the Celestial Houses looked upon their vision with the same enlightened eyes as others; some did; some more than others; and thus when most turned their blind eyes from the true path, the Hextorians turned to the one that understood the only true path as one of strength: House Naelax.
Alone among the Oeridian faiths, the church of the Champion of Evil has grown in power as the Great Kingdom has declined. This rise was due in part to the departure of most of the church armies of rival faiths. Hextor’s faithful strongly backed the House of Naelax during the Turmoil Between Crowns that began in 437 CY. [Bastion of Faith]

Ivid I, House Naelax
War is wasteful. And its outcome is never certain. Great houses may band together against a common foe, only to betray one another at the most unexpected moment. Ivid I, House of Naelax, understood that. He also understood that whomever ascended the throne might only hold it for a short time if his house was exhausted in attaining it. The best course of action then, in his opinion, was to bypass all the uncertainty, and take a more certain, and decisive thrust. The other houses might not like it, they might even call foul, secretly wishing that they had landed that blow themselves. No matter. He had allies. And mercenaries. And the money to keep them.
Overking Nalif was the last of the Rax line descended directly from the overkings. A flock of misbegotten cousins, exiles and ne'er do wells of Rax could lay some claim to the title of overking when Ivid had Nalif assassinated, but after a century of hopelessly ineffectual Rax rule all of the royal houses agreed that another Rax overking was simply unacceptable.
 Ivid proclaimed himself overking immediately and plunged the Great Kingdom into civil war. [Ivid - 4]

The Assassination of Nalif
After the withdrawal of Nyrond from the Great Kingdom, the slide became precipitous. Buffoons and incompetents sat upon the Malachite Throne, and their mismanagement split apart the Celestial Houses. This period of degeneration culminated in the Turmoil Between Crowns, when the last Rax heir, Nalif, died in 437 CY at the hands of assassins from House Naelax. The herzog (great prince) of North Province, Ivid I, then laid claim to the throne. The herzog of South Province, Galssonan of House Cranden, broke with Rauxes and joined a widespread rebellion in the south. Years of civil war ensued, and only the intercession of dispassionate houses such as Garasteth and Darmen brought about the final compromise.
The tyrannical Ivid I assumed the Malachite Throne at the price of granting greater autonomy to the provinces, notably Medegia, Rel Astra, and Almor. The recalcitrant herzog of South Province was quickly deposed and replaced by a prince from House Naelax, who sought immediately to bring the southern insurgents back into line. [LGG - 24]

The darkest chapter in the history of Aerdy began in 437 CY. In this year, the upstart House Naelax murdered the Rax overking, inaugurating a series of gruesome civil wars called the Turmoil Between Crowns. Within a decade, Ivid I of Naelax was recognized as the undisputed overking of all Aerdy. As Ivid was rumored to be in league with powerful evil Outsiders, the Malachite Throne of the Great Kingdom became known as the Fiend-Seeing Throne, and the once mighty and upright empire became a bastion of evil and cruelty. [LGG - 14]

The new "Grand Empire of Nyrond" watched, bemusedly at first, as Aerdy's House Rax degenerated. The failure to crush separatist movements in Ferrond and Nyrond had castrated the Rax overkings, who now seemed to exist only to appease the increasingly independent palatine states of Medegia, North Province, Bone March, and Ahlissa. The Turmoil Between Crowns, initiated in 437 with the assassination of Overking Nalif, changed bemusement to horror. Within nine years, the Malachite Throne had fallen to the debased House Naelax. With chaos and madness ruling from Rauxes, Nyrond's King Dunstan I knew that no enemy of Aerdy would ever be safe again. Nyrond, he noted, needed allies, and it needed them quickly.
Though he could not pledge public support due to the threat of retaliatory strikes from Ivid I's Northern Army, amassed near Innspa, Dunstan I attended the conference in Chathold that resulted in the formation of the Iron League. There, he privately assured the new partners that any enemy of the League was also an enemy of Nyrond. Dunstan made good on that pledge, sending weapons and warships (though no troops) to aid besieged Irongate at the Battle of a Thousand Banners, the following year. [LGG - 77]

By 437 CY, tensions within the Great Kingdom threatened to tear it apart. House Naelax delivered the sundering blow by assassinating all rivals in House Rax, after which nearly a decade of civil war ensued. Ivid I finally secured the Malachite Throne after Prince Malchim III of House Garasteth, lord mayor of Rel Astra, sided with House Naelax and negotiated palatinate status for the major provinces of the Great Kingdom, including his own. Thereafter, Rel Astra guided its own course. Rel Astra became the primary destination for those who fell out of favor in the former Great Kingdom, a trend that continues as political refugees arrive from Ahlissa, the Sea Barons, and even North Kingdom. [LGG - 93]

c. 440s-460s CY Torn by turmoil, the Great Kingdom began to break apart. At first the Throne took no action. But as the tapestry of state continued unravelling, it had little choice but to rise from its stupor and take action, lest it lose the entirety of its lands. But try as it might, it could not stem the tide. The Iron League formed. 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.

443-446 CY         Much like all rulers, Ivid I wished to commemorate his reign. He commissioned a throne as none had ever seen before, crafted from a single, unblemished block of malachite. Over the next three years, a coven of mage-artificers and priests of Hextor worked on the block, shaping it into a mighty throne and drawing upon the malign eldritch energies of the Cauldron to imbue it with its terrible powers.
There is ample reason the malachite throne is known as the "Fiend-seeing Throne." The throne which the Naelax overkings have ascended was crafted between 443 and 446 CY from a great crystal chunk found in the Cauldron of Night. The throne itself, fashioned by mages and priests, has magical properties (see the chapter on Rauxes). Its abilities include providing a gate to the Nine Hells. [Ivid - 22]

The Fiend-seeing Throne

Payment Due
443 CY  Debts must be paid, and the Hextorians would have what was due them. They demanded that the Heironians be expunged from Ivid’s domain, the Knights Protector with them. What of those knights devoted to Hextor? It was but a simple thing for them to forsake their vows for the greater good of having rid the Kingdom of weakness. Wasn’t it that weakness which shackled their attempts to rid the land of the Death Knights? Hextor surely favoured those very same Death Knights. The Hextorians turned on their brethren with Ivid’s approval.
 In 443 CY, Ivid I set about hunting down and destroying the remaining Knight Protectors, for they opposed his ascension to the throne after he assassinated the last Rax overking. He did not succeed in destroying them, but they were widely dispersed, and some disappeared from the courts of the provinces to go into hiding. [LGG - 158]

446-447 CY         Wars are expensive endeavours. So too interests due. Ivid I raised the stipend expected of those he protected, even if that protection had never been needed.
The third recent split in the Great Kingdom came in the south, in 446-447 CY. Extreme repression and taxation of the population led to a general rebellion among commoners and nobles alike. [TAB - 18]

446 CY  The tyrannical Ivid I assumed the Malachite Throne at the price of granting greater autonomy to the provinces, notably Medegia, Rel Astra, and Almor. The recalcitrant herzog of South Province was quickly deposed and replaced by a prince from House Naelax, who sought immediately to bring the southern insurgents back into line. In 446 CY, the herzog granted an audience to representatives of Irongate, who went to Zelradton to air their grievances. The offer turned out to be a ruse, and the ambassadors were imprisoned, tortured, and executed for Overking Ivid's enjoyment. The whole of the south arose again in violent rebellion, and one year later formed the Iron League and allied with Nyrond. [LGG - 24]

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.
A Dark Pact
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]

[The alliance between the Hextorians and the House of Naelax] led to the faith’s ascendancy over all other faiths in the Great Kingdom as of the coronation of Ivid I in 446 CY, but also resulted in the church of Hextor falling under the thumb of successive overkings. [Bastion of Faith - 90]

The Displeasure of Ivid
It came to pass that the rumblings of the frontiers reached the ears of the Overking. Ivid I understood that such rumbling had led to the formation of Furyondy and Veluna, of Nyrond and Tenh. Ivid I also understood that if those rumblings had been silenced early on, those nations would still be apart of the greatest kingdom to have ever graced the Oerth. Examples must be made, lest the south follow the way of the west.
As the rule of the Overking grew more despotic, the people of the city began to murrnur, and the Lord Mayor headed a deputation bearing grievances to the Herzog. These emissaries were thrown into prison, given a mock trial, and executed by ritual torture for the Overking' s entertainment (446 CY). [Folio - 11]

Onnwal was shocked. Onnwal was incensed. Onnwal declares itself a Free State.
Onnwal was originally a lesser fief of the Herzog of South Province, to be granted as he saw fit to his faithful followers. The oppressive rule of the Great Kingdom brought great discontent and instigated open rebellion, the whole of the South Province being in arms. All of the lower portion was lost to the empire when the Iron League was founded. [Folio - 13]

Long-standing pressures upon South Province to bring the southern fiefs into line drove Damalinor of Naelax, the new herzog appointed by Ivid, to attempt to break the rebellion with an infamous act of villainy. In 446 CY, the lord mayor of Irongate petitioned to have his grievances heard in Zelradton and accepted an invitation to attend the herzog at his palace. When he and his party arrived, they were imprisoned and tortured to death for the overking's entertainment. Their remains were on display for weeks in the Traitor's Garden in Rauxes. So horrified were the people of Irongate by the account of the mayor's demise that the city revolted against the herzog and the overking. South Province was plunged into civil war and chaos. [LGG - 57]

Ivid must be mad, some said. Ivid must be deposed others said. And thus civil war broke out within the Great Kingdom. I suppose some few must believe that was how the war began, but in truth, the war had been brewing for some time, steeped in a cauldron of ambition, avarice, and hate.
Among the competing houses, the House of Cranden opposed Naelax, as did many elements of the House of Garasteth and the remnants of Rax. But in all houses’ princes were busy using the civil war as a cover for settling old scores and attacking their inhouse rivals. Ivid certainly had some such princes assassinated; the blame would be laid upon their own blood for this, increasing within-house divisions and making opposition to him less organized. [Ivid - 4]

447 CY  Ivid’s treatment of the envoys shocked the entirety of the Great Kingdom. How dare Ivid! Onnwall screamed. So too the other southern provinces. The entirety of the southern Great Kingdom rebelled, with only the core of the South Province, Ahlissa, remaining loyal to Rauxes.
The oppressive rule of the Great Kingdom brought great discontent and instigated open rebellion, the whole of the South Province being in arms. All of the lower portion was lost to the empire when the Iron League was founded in 447 CY. This alliance joined Onnwal with the Free City of Irongate (which barred the Onnwal peninsula), Idee, Sunndi, and the demi-humans of the Glorioles and the Hestmark Highlands in economic and military alliance. Onnwal and Irongate supplied the sea power, while the other members furnished troops for land actions -- although strong contingents from both of the former places were also sent into battle. [Folio - 13]

Onnwal and Irongate provided the primary naval support for the Iron League, with the Szek responsible for shuttling league business between the Azure Sea and their allies in Nyrond and the north. [LGG - 80]

[The] whole of the south was in arms against the realm, and after a brief struggle the Iron League was founded, an alliance of mutual support which aided the rebellious states to throw off the yoke of the Aerdi tyrants. [Folio - 11]

When the Turmoil of Between the Crowns sowed rebellion and caused widespread division in the Great Kingdom, Onnwal joined the other southern states who broke from the Malachite Throne. The herzog of South Province failed to force them back into line, and Szek Parmus Destron became an independent lord in the aftermath. [LGG - 80]

Onnwal had to pay. Ivid and the South Province believed that if Onnwal’s sedition was put to task, the city and its allies would fall and come to heel. Forces were gathered. Ships put to sea. Never before had such an armada been raised by the Great Kingdom against one of its own.
The Battle of a Thousand Banners
In response, Herzog Damalinor declared open season on the rebellious states. He targeted Irongate in particular as the keystone of the rebellion. He called up a force composed of hundreds of his vassals and kin (most of whom were landless, errant princes) and as bounty, he offered them a piece of the conquered states as spoils. So numerous were the so-called "privateers" and their men-at-arms that the ensuing siege of Irongate would be called the Battle of a Thousand Banners. However, the force was stymied by the success of the kingdom's own design of the fortress-city. Irongate was impregnable, designed to withstand siege and repel invaders like no other city. The herzog's commanders failed to quickly penetrate the city, and the Provincial Expeditionary Force was slaughtered by a combined host of men, elves, and dwarves; the surviving invaders were hunted down in the hills and slain over the next few weeks. [LGG - 57]

lrongate was besieged by Aerdian forces for several months, but in the Battle of a Thousand Banners the siege was lifted when a ruse panicked the northerners, and great numbers of them were subsequently slain by a combined host of men and gray elves of the League. While never invaded, Onnwal is subject to periodic sea raids from the Herzog's squadrons. [Folio - 13]

Word of the success of Irongate's defense quickly spread, and a great conference was called in the city, including representatives of other various rebellious states once a part of or governed by the vast South Province. Irongate, Onnwal, Idee, Sunndi, and the Lordship of the Isles declared independence from the Great Kingdom, witnessed by ambassadors from Nyrond and dwarf nobles from the Glorioles, Hestmark Highlands, and Iron Hills. This was followed by the formation of the Iron League by Irongate, Onnwal, and Idee in late 447 CY.
Irongate became the headquarters of the alliance, accepting ambassadors from the other states. [LGG - 57,58]


448 CY  Lordship of the Isles declares independence from the Great Kingdom Lordship of the Isles.
The Iron League was quickly joined by the Lordship of the Isles in 448, and eventually the county of Sunndi in 455.
The Iron League became very successful at keeping its enemies in the Great Kingdom at bay, using spies and subterfuge to resist the efforts of all herzogs to reclaim it [.] [LGG - 58]

Ivid I of House Naelax brought pressure on the southern princes to fall into line, but the outrages committed by the new herzog of South Province, which included seizing Lordship vessels anchored in Prymp Town, drove the lords of the isles to declare independence along with the other states. The prince of the Isles joined the Iron League in 448 CY, providing naval support and conveyance for traffic between Irongate, Onnwal, and their allies in Nyrond. In so doing, the lord of Diren was forced to deal more plainly with his fellow lords on the other islands, sharing additional power and ceding more local autonomy to them over the ensuing years. [LGG - 71]




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.

Primary sources for this history were the DMG 1e, The World of Greyhawk Folio, and The World of Greyhawk Gold Box, Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, Ivid the Undying, The Living Greyhawk Journals, Dragon Magazine.

The Art:
All art is wholly owned by the artists.


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
2023 Greyhawk Adventures Hardback, 1988
9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
9399 WGR 5, Iuz the Evil, 1993
9577 The Adventure Begins, 1998
9578 Player’s Guide to Greyhawk, 1998
11374 The Scarlet Brotherhood, 1999
11621 Slavers. 2000
11742 Gazetteer, 2000
11743 Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000
Ivid the Undying, 1998
Dragon Magazine
OJ Oerth Journal, appearing on Greyhawk Online
LGJ et. al.
Greychrondex, Wilson, Steven B.
Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda
The Map of Anna B. Meyer

Saturday, 13 June 2020

Retconning Ratik


“Presume not that I am the thing I was.”
William Shakespeare  'Henry IV, Part 2' (1597) act 5, sc. 5, l. [61]

Northern Ratik
Time for a little retroactive continuity. I’m sure many others have set their campaign in Ratik, but I doubt many have done much in my little corner of the world, the area nestled between northern Ratik and western Fruztii. It’s a blank space on the map, as far as I can see. A blank slate, as it were. Time to fill it.

But what to do? Begin with a map? I have one: Darlene’s map, and Anna B. Meyer’s map. I’ve doodled others, sad recreations of what once were, those maps I purged with a great deal of my old notes when I cleaned out my shelves of what I presumed I would never use or need again. I’ll sketch them out again, hopefully more legibly, and maybe again as I learn a CC3+. Now I need add some low-level adventures, just to get started. But what adventures? Most published adventures are in the Sheldomar Valley. That doesn’t mean you can’t steal a few here and there.

In the beginning, modules were not set in any particular place. A few had, such as the original monochromatic B1 In Search of the Unknown, suggesting that The Theocracy of the Pale, or Tenh, or Ratik were good places to set the adventure—an odd statement, considering the World of Greyhawk Folio had yet to be published, so who could know where such places were? There were only vague references to Greyhawk as yet, artifacts, regions, and personages in the 1e DMG, but the adventuring world was very much a do-it-yourself, homebrew affair in those early days.
S1 Tomb of Horrors was set in the Vast Swamp. That’s pretty specific now; not then. G1-3 (the monochromatic and the later compendium) were clearly set in mountainous terrain. But which mountains? Mountains abound in Greyhawk.
It wasn’t until S2 White Plume Mountain, that modules began to be set in place, its place easily discovered in the Folio. S2 specifically stated that “White Plume Mountain is located in the northeastern part of the Shield Lands, near the Bandit Kingdoms and the Great Rift.” Granted, it also stated that you could place it anywhere you like within your own campaign, as most people would not have a copy of the World of Greyhawk and its maps for another year. Best not to alienate your customers.
That said, everyone knows where Hommlet is. Now. That may not be true of the Slavers’ series, or Lendore Isles, or Orlane, or a host of other villages of countries—but Hommlet and the Temple of Element al Evil, you bet your ass they know where that is, even if they don’t really know where Verbonbonc is.
2nd Edition want as far as to place those modules that had yet to find a home. I reference Return to the Keep on the Borderands and the Liberation of Geoff, in case you’re wondering what I’m alluding to. That said, the official setting of 2nd Edition was the Forgotten Realms. And Ravenloft. And Dark Sun. And Spacejammers. And Planescape. And Greyhawk, I suppose.
3rd Edition took a different path. Most of its adventures were set in a “generic” setting, even if the “official” setting of 3rd Edition was Greyhawk. Best not to alienate your customers. A few modules had minor references to Greyhawk, setting the adventure path there, but not specifically. Paizo’s Adventure Paths were clearly set in Greyhawk. As was Living Greyhawk. But not the WotC modules. That annoyed me at first. No more. Personally, I prefer that now. Place them where you wish.
But I digress.

So, let’s recreate a campaign from memory, shall we? Or let’s set down what I can remember of the James Bay Frontier campaign, anyways, reimagining what I remember. Let’s also adapt what published materials I used to inspire said campaign.
Remember my northern Ratik map? Let’s work with that, shall we?

Let’s place B2 The Keep on the Borderlands where Riverport is. Do not feel constrained by the map of the keep, or the surrounding region. I will not be. It’s my campaign and want to be inspired by these works, not actually run them as written. So, let’s redo them. I would hazard a guess that the keep is too large, way too large. It’s on the northern edge of what was once the Aerdy empire, after all, the frontier, out of sight, out of mind, an afterthought if not pressed upon be the barbarian hordes. It would not be showered with funds. Aside from that, it’s lonely upon its hill. So, redraw it. Make it smaller, more “rural,” as it were, befitting a keep on the borderlands. I placed it on the Porcupine River. That’s a defensible position. Also, no keep stands alone, so wrap a town around it. It requires acres of farmland to support it, and tradesmen, and those tradesmen require infrastructure. Ratik and the Great Kingdom were largely human, so most people there are human. But where there are humans there are halflings. They are an entrepreneurial sort. There would be gnomes as well. There were gnomes in Ratik prior, so they would have moved north with Ratik’s forces when they pressed north.
Place Hommlet at its base. Or something quite similar. Gary Gygax created a masterpiece when he wrote T1 The Village of Hommlet. We might as well learn from it.

Those two modules ought to seed your imagination. They did mine.
Keep the caves to the north, their existence a mystery to the people of Riverport and environs, their humanoid inhabitants a growing concern to the farms and the small mining communities to the north, in this case, Potts, Porcupine, and Tymons. There are dwurfolk in them that hills, and mountains, too, by the way. Higher up in the Rakers are the northern mountain clans, the clanholds of Ukauric and Ukargic, and lower down at their base, the hill clans, the Ukacuprum and Ukashal. There would be far more hill dwarves in Potts, Porcupine, and Tymon than their mountain kin. The clan names given them are in keeping with the clan names to the south, the Ukaloa, Ukamanini, and Ukafane, by the way.
The humanoids are being gathered in the caves by an evil presence that has recently come down from the mountains to seed its mayhem and discontent upon the sparsely populated James Bay Frontier, that little addition north of North Bay. How long has that presence been there? Longer than we imagine; indeed, it has been there since Keraptis considered these lands his.
The temple there has been reoccupied recently by devotees to that great evil from a bygone age, the Elder Elemental God. Keraptis was lured there because of it, and he had grown even more powerful because of it. So had Rogahn and Zelligar, for that matter, before they disappeared into the north country to deal with the barbarian menace, never to return. Did those two malevolent personages build Quasqueton? I think not. They may have expanded it, but they came upon that fell place, centuries after Keraptis had hollowed out its corridors. Should I use the venerable maps of B1 In Search of the Unknown? Absolutely not. They’re ridiculous, and lack verisimilitude. Redesign it. Take the temple out of B2 and put it in Quasqueton. Alter the description of it to match the unused temple in G1 The Steading of the Hill Giant. This temple is older and far more dormant than G1’s, which still exudes a palpable aura of Evil. This one will be foreshadowing of what is to come.
We have an ancient temple that has called evil down from the mountains. Evil acolytes are gathering a humanoid horde, infesting the hills, attacking supply caravans, disrupting trade. They have even infiltrated the keep, as noted in B2. They have infiltrated the town too, much as they had in T1.
They have begun to spread their influence to the coast. Enter N1 Against the Cult of the Reptile God. See New Port? That’s Orlane … and Saltmarsh. Both, in fact. Slip N1 and U1-3 into the campaign. By then the PCs have gained a couple levels and Expictica Defilus will not be beyond the party’s ability to handle without help as she is in a N1.

Duchess and Candella
Enter B3. And Duchess and Candella. My favourite NPCs, if you recall.
Allies, love-interests, foils to the PCs’ greed. What to do about what remains of B3? Ship B3 down the coast to Ulthek. We need not go as far south as Marner. Ulthek will do just fine, and it keep the campaign in the north. Ulthek sounds Viking, doesn’t it? Let’s make it a Suel marquis, still ruled by the family that has since the Houses of Pursuit settled here. They bent the knee when the Aerdi pressed north expanding their empire as far north as the Porcupine River (unnamed then). Keep Arik, make him another Ur-Flan, Keraptis’ vizier. Ditch the Protectors. Redesign the dungeon that lies below Ulthek.

That’s a start. I’ve kept it low level, as I’m just beginning to reimagine Ratik and its untapped potential.
Can you see where this is going? Something akin to ToEE, surely, with G1-3 added for flavour.
But that’s for another day. There’s a lot of mid-level to consider.

So, what about the history leading up to this suggested start of a campaign? There’s little written about the region north of the Timberway. It’s almost like nothing ever happened north of it. Even the Fruztzii’s history is south of the Timberway, for the most part.


What do we know about Ratik? Quite a bit, actually. But not enough. I’ll embellish on what was. Take it as you will.
Note: Italicised text from the Living Greyhawk Gazatteer, by Gary Holian, Erik Mona, Sean K Reynolds, Frederick Weining.

Ratik
Proper Name:    Archbarony of Ratik
Ruler:                    Her Valorous Prominence, Evaleigh, the Lady Baroness (also Archbaroness) of Ratik (CG female human Rog9/Wiz3)
Government:     Independent feudal monarchy having severed all fealty and ties to the former Great Kingdom, its successor states, and noble houses; member of the Northern Alliance
Capital:                 Marner
Major Towns:    Marner (pop. 6,600), Ratikhill (pop, 5,500}
Provinces:           Fourteen freeholds ruled by human and dwarven great lords
Resources:          Shipbuilding supplies, furs, gold, gems (IV), timber
Coinage:               [Modified Aerdy] orb (pp), crown (gp), scepter (ep), penny (sp), common (cp)
Population:         138,500—Human 79% (Sof), Dwarf 8% mountain 80%, hill 20%), Halfling 6%, Elf 3%, Gnome 2%, Half-elf 1%, Half-orc 1%
Languages:          Common, Old Oeridian, Dwarven, Cold Tongue
Alignments:        N, NG, CN, CG
Religions:             Procan, Xerbo, Kord, Norebo, Trithereon, Phyton, Oeridian agricultural gods
Allies:                    Frost Barbarians, dwarves and gnomes of the Flinty Hills and Rakers, Nyrond, Knurl (see Bone March)
Enemies:             Bone March, North Kingdom, nonhumans in Rakers, the Pale (minor), Snow Barbarians (sometimes), Ice Barbarians

Overview:
Ratik is a small but prosperous nation located in the northeastern corner of the Flanaess. It is seated in a cultural crossroads between the otherwise civilized south of the former Aerdi Great Kingdom and the barbaric north of the Suel on the Thillonrian Peninsula. Ratik stretches between the Rakers and the Solnor Coast, where the modest city of Marner, the capital, is its only major port. Its southern border is marked by the fortified hills separating Ratik from Bone March. These extend east all the way out to the Loftwood, where the hearty woodsmen are allied with the archbarony. Ratik's northern border divides the Timberway between itself and the Frost Barbarians, a long-standing informal boundary that has been respected by both sides for centuries and only recently was acknowledged by formal treaty. While these barriers have profoundly isolated Ratik from the rest of the Flanaess, they also have served to protect it from invaders for centuries.
The climate of Ratik is wintry much of the year, with heavy snows swollen with moisture from the Solnor falling steadily during the height of Telchur's sway. The windswept Timberway remains the greatest focus of the realm. It is a hunting ground that produces the pelts and furs used widely in the dress of the nation. It also provides Ratik with its greatest bounty, the timber and shipbuilding supplies that drive much of the economic activity of the archbarony. The western border of Ratik is an endless range of foothills, inhabited by dwarves for millennia. These mountains are dotted with mines of gold and precious gems situated between citadels of stone that protect the ways from the denizens of the deep mountains. Some farming is conducted during the short growing season in the open lands between Marner and Ratikhill.
Ratik is populated chiefly by folk of Aerdi descent, with an Oeridian-Suel mix being common. Few Flan are here, though many Fruztii and some Schnai are present, expatriate farmers from their homelands. Dwarves and gnomes are numerous in rougher lands. Only humans prefer the coasts, where their fishing villages are located. Ratik is well settled despite being located so far north of the population centers of the former Great Kingdom, partly because so many refugees fled here from Bone March.
 While the rulership of the realm rests completely with the hands of the baron or baroness, its lord takes counsel with numerous constituencies, including the Council of Great Lords (fourteen human and dwarven peers), as well as the burghers of the small cities and towns. The current baroness, Lady Evaleigh, is the widowed stepdaughter of old Baron Lexnol, who yet lives but has been incapacitated for several years. Baroness Evaleigh is mistrusted by many in the kingdom, for she was not born in Ratik and does not always seem to understand its precarious position. It was the old baron who won the trust of the Fruztii and negotiated a treaty with their king. The dwarf and gnome lords respect decisiveness, and Evaleigh has shown little during her short tenure. While the military is loyal to the crown, many grumble that the count of Knurl, Evaleigh's father, has grown far too influential in the affairs of Marner. Lexnol had been working on a treaty with the Schnai to shore up his position against Bone March and its allies in North Kingdom, but these efforts are currently in shambles. Few things would please North Kingdom's "Overking" Grenell more than to see this realm succumb to chaos. [LGG - 89]

History:

In the beginning there were the elves. Only the hearty Sylvain elves ventured this far east and north, the Grey and High elves remaining south where the fields were green and the sun warm. The Wood elves set few roots, migrating with the elk and moose, tilling the soil only insofar as to sustain their numbers. They did raise two cities, Ostaear to the north amid the tall trees, and Carasaear to the south where the lands were flat and as yet fallow.

Then the Flan migrated north, some fleeing the devastation wrought by Vecna and those Ur-Flan who shared his vision, others searching for the fabled realm of the Green God. They came upon the Sylvan elves, and together they hunted and fished, while others remained upon the Flats where the soil was rich and the winds were gentle.
Some ventured into the Rakers, and into the Griffs, and found well-sheltered valleys there. It was in one of those that they discovered a valley blessed by Beory and Pelor, where summer never set. They raised a great temple to Pelor at its center and named their city Tostenhca. Great magics were worked there, its field were plentiful, and it prospered. Trade was plentiful, too, for the Dwur were pleased with their neighbours.
Until Keraptis came and set all manner of monsters and demons upon them. He then revealed himself to that terrified city as its saviour, ridding it of ever greater peril, at ever greater cost until he was receiving its children as payment. The Dwur retreated from Tostenhca, until Gethrun Shoiraine begged them to aid him and his rangers in ridding his city of the evil wizard. Keraptis fled their collected might and Tostenhca returned to its past prosperity. Until Keraptis laid waste to the city.
The people of Tostenhca fled into the valleys, and down into the lowlands. Those that remained slipped into barbarism.

So it remained until the Suel arrived in pursuit of the Suel emperor’s sun Zellifar. Enfeebled by the power of Slerotin, the Houses of Pursuit had wandered east, without purpose or direction until they circumnavigated the Nyr Dyv and gazed upon those plains that had nurtured the Flan, and the elves before them, and saw a rich land, a peaceful land; and they decided to make it theirs. They made war upon the Flan, and having conquered them, ruled over the Bone March, the Loft Hills, the Flats, and the Timberway. But they had roamed far, and were still not content. They took to the coast, and then to the sea, settling what lands they saw until sighting the Tilvenot to the south and the Thillonrian Peninsula to the north.

Then came the Aerdi, and they too meant to make those rich lands theirs. The Suel were no match for their fierceness, or the artifacts they wielded. They fought, and were defeated, and before long, those who did not pledge fealty to those they once ruled, were confined to those lands the Aerdi wished no claim to.
They Houses of Pursuit had forgotten their past, and in time named their clans Rhizians. But they did not forget their destiny. They raided and probed those lands that were once theirs, and the Kingdom of Aerdy, not yet unified, could only chase those Barbarians that, season by season, beset their shores; and so it remained until Manshen bound the Celestial Houses of Aerdi to his will, declaring his Great Kingdom.

After the Defeat of the Suel Barbarians
After the defeat of the Suel barbarians who invaded the northern Aerdy hinterlands from the kingdom of the Fruztii in 109 CY, Bone March was established by Overking Manshen as a fief to reward his victorious commanders. However, it soon became clear to the leaders of the Aerdi military that a further buffer was required if these new lands were to be protected from additional incursions from the north. General Sir Pelgrave Ratik of Winetha, a wily veteran of the barbarian campaigns, appointed in 122 CY to oversee an expedition that would attempt to drive the Aerdi frontier all the way 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.
Over the ensuing months, General Ratik established a military fort overlooking Grendep Bay at Onsager Point. He called the place Marner, and used the newly founded town as a base of operations from which to secure the whole territory. Ratik soon began exploiting the shipbuilding opportunities afforded by the tall pines of the Timberway, and Marner grew from a sizable stronghold to a small port city. Ratik sent glowing reports to his superiors in the south and was shrewd enough to back them up with a steady stream of riches, including highly prized furs and precious gems acquired in trade from the dwur.
In 128 CY, the Fruztii and Schnai allied to create an invasion flotilla. They launched a concerted attack on Marner during the spring that almost caught the Aerdi by surprise. In defense, General Ratik set the major approaches to the port ablaze, forcing the armada through a narrow approach where it was cut to pieces by the siege engines of the fort and a squadron of the imperial navy. The overking was sufficiently impressed with the victory that in 130 CY he elevated Pelgrave Ratik to the aristocracy, granting him the title of baron and the new lands as a personal fief. The family of Ratik gained the status of a minor noble house within the Great Kingdom, The walled town of Bresht was renamed Ratikhill in honor of the new baron, and it quickly prospered from trade with Spinecastle passing through Kalmar Pass. [LGG - 90]

Manshen commanded Ratik to pacify the north. Scouts were sent north to discover what lay there. Ratik pressed north, and Suel House of the Timberway fell one after another: Abonhoth, Keth, and Ulthek. Each in turn pledged their fealty to the Overking, and each in turn wed their scions to those Aerdi houses that had campaigned north with Ratik.
Ratik had paused where the Timberway thinned. Until gold and silver was panned in the River delta north of the Timberway. Prospectors surged north, then into the foothills. A port town, Riverport, sprang up at the extend of what came to be known as the Porcupine River, to supply them, and New Port, where the river discharged into the Bay named after the general who led Ratik’s forces to the river’s edge, Sir James Hoodsen. The north was soon called the James Bay Frontier, and the mining camps north of Riverport The Porcupine.

Where the south has always been an archbarony of first Aerdy and then the Great Kingdom, the north was never culturally Aedri. It was Suloise, and Flan. These peoples were tied to their land and traditions, harvesting what was necessary, leaving all else for future need. They farmed, they fished, they felled those trees needed for ship and shelter. Most communities were small, clanholds, if not family.
The Gold Rush
That changed when gold was found. The Aerdi rushed north, panning the beds and streams ever north until veins were spied in the foothills. The rush was on. Mining camps broke ground, then rock. Adits and shafts plunged into the hitherto solid rockfaces. There grew the need to supply them. Ports sprung along the river, trees felled, soil tilled. Drovers and carts cut furrows into the oerth. Palisades rose to protect them, and the Kingdom’s claim to what until then was considered a wasteland.
The Fists took note. Here were riches to be had, far from the established Holds to the south, far from their protection, too. And with them, the hordes of orcs and gnolls and ogres, who were far from pleased by the influx of so many humans.

The baron and the marquis of Bone March became fast allies, and their descendants enjoyed a great deal of peace and success over the next two centuries, needing only to fend off infrequent raids from [north of] the Timberway and the Rakers until the middle of the fourth century CY. However, a massive invasion by a unified host of Fruztii and Schnai threatened to overwhelm the nations and sweep into North Province in 356 CY. The Rax Overking Portillan was concurrently embroiled in a struggle over the secession of Nyrond and had assembled an invasion force to head west, which he was forced to divert north to counter the new threat. The attack was soon turned back, though at great cost. So fierce was the defense of the men and dwarves of Ratik that even the Fruztii were impressed.
The barony and the Great Kingdom averted disaster, but at the price of losing all of the province of Nyrond. Ratik and Bone March gained semipalatinate status following the Turmoil Between Crowns, which saw a shift of power from the Malachite Throne to the provinces. Few of Ratik's riches headed south in tribute, and Alain II of Ratik took to calling himself archbaron henceforth.

Those little towns of New Port and Riverport flourished. Garrisons swelled. Piers bristled along the banks.
Foreign interest took note. The Schnai. The Kingdom. The Sea Barons. The Lordship of the Isles. And the North Province. Marner took note and kept watch, strengthening the garrisons.
The pious took note, as well. Avarice and greed were the only religion in the Frontier, and thus, souls must be saved. Clerics arrived to do just that, from Marner, from Rel Astra, from Rel Mord and Wintershiven.
The Northerners were none too pleased by all the attention given them. Were it not for the gold and the silver, the south would never have given them a second thought. Were it not for the orcs and the gnolls and the Fists, the northerners might have wondered what need they of Marner’s oversight? They wondered anyways.

Tales of Giants Upon High Cliffs
Danger lurked everywhere. Prospectors began telling tales of giants upon high cliffs and shadowy figures amid the pines. And to sea, fisherfolk told tales of sinister shapes on the horizon and fins in their wake, of great dark shaped that swelled the waters beneath their keels.
The Rhizians did not speak of such, not within hearing of the Ratikaans, anyway, but they began sending ships far asea in search of the presumed lost tribes of Vatun, and emissaries to Marner to consult the tomes of the college there, and expeditions into the Corusks and Griffs is search of lost cities and the mysteries they might contain. Hradji Beartooth led one such ill-fated expedition on 520 CY, but kept what secrets he had learned when he returned, never to reveal exactly what he found. He died within the year, before he could return to claim what he might have discovered. As did the rest of his party.

The two states prospered greatly under the increased freedom, forming an alliance that allowed them to keep both North Province and the Suel barbarians at bay. House Naelax of Eastfair desired these rich provinces, but it was unable to successfully act against them until tragedy struck. In 560, nonhuman tribes from the Rakers and Blemu Hills struck into Bone March, subjugating the land in 563 and slaying its leaders. Herzog Grenell of North Province reached out to these usurpers, seeing an opportunity. Ratik and its baron, Lexnol III, had been forewarned and deflected most of the invaders, but could not prevent the disaster that befell the march. Lexnol, a skilled leader and tactician, realized that he was now isolated and no succor would be forthcoming from the south or the court of Overking Ivid V. He approached the lords of Djekul, who had grown less wary of the proud Aerdi in the intervening years and were even grudgingly respectful. With the Fruztii, Lexnol forged an affiliation called the Northern Alliance. Ratik subsequently became fully independent of the Great Kingdom and had the might to both hammer the orcs and gnolls of Bone March and dissuade an invasion from North Province.
Lady Evaleigh
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. The following year, the Seal of Marner was stolen by agents of Bone March, an effort by the nonhumans to quash the alliance between Ratik and the Frost Barbarians. The document was recovered before it was secreted to Spinecastle, but not before news of the theft drove a small wedge between the Fruztii and Ratikans.
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. In 586 CY, Alain led a force of men and dwarves into Bone March in an attempt to retake Spinecastle with the baron's grudging support. The attack failed, and Alain's surviving lieutenants watched as the young lord was dragged from his horse by gnolls and slain. Nearly three hundred Ratikans were left for dead during the hasty retreat.
Upon hearing of his son's demise, old Baron Lexnol collapsed. He awakened the next morning with a shock of white hair and a palsy that confined him to bed. Lady Evaleigh, now widowed, assumed the throne and has guided Ratik through the trouble that has befallen it. Raids from Bone March have become progressively stronger and more organized the last few years. Her father's realm, the county of Knurl, was attacked a few months ago and was only saved by the snows of winter. [LGG - 91]


Conflicts and Intrigues:
Ambassadors from the Scarlet Brotherhood were spied in Djekul. Ratik wants to expand the alliance against Bone March and North Kingdom to include the Snow Barbarians, but the Schnai will negotiate only with Lexnol. Agents of the Sea Barons have approached Evaleigh to gain access to Marner. A half-orc spy working for North Kingdom was discovered in Ratikhill but escaped. [LGG - 91]

There’s gold in them thar hills. Where there is gold, there is high-grading, and crime, and intrigue. The James Bay Frontier was always a freewheeling district, remote, resentful of the Great Kingdoms’ oversight. Then Marner’s. But there have been orcs and gnolls and ogres of late. And the Fists.
And pirates plying the seas, eager to plunder what bullion and ingots they may.

The Fruztii have never been pleased with the Ratikaans settling this far north, in lands the had always claimed as theirs. But recent treaties had held their hand. Also, Ratik had helped Fruztii hold the Bluefang-Kelten Pass. And their fishing fleets have never prospered so much as when New Port and Riverport sprang to life.
The Schnai have been less pleased. The Crustii, indifferent.

But there have been words of discontent of late since more and more ships from the south seas have come to port, some from as far south as the Tilvenot Strait.

The Seeds of Discontent





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.
Primary sources for this history were the DMG 1e,  The World of Greyhawk Folio, and The World of Greyhawk Gold Box, Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, Dragon Magazine.

The Art:
All art is wholly owned by the artists.
B2 Keep on the Borderlands cover, by Jim Roslof, 1980
T1 Village of Hommlet cover, by Jeff Dee, 1980
B1 In Search of the Unknown cover, by David A. Trampier, 1979
N1 Against the Cult of the Reptile God cover, by Tim Truman, 1980
U1 Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh cover, by Dave De Leuw, 1980
B3 Palace of the Silver Princess cover, by Erol Otus, 1981
Ratik Coat of Arms, realized in World of Greyhawk Folio, 1979
The Death of Prince Alain IV, by Joel Biske, Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000

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
2023 Greyhawk Adventures Hardback, 1988
9022 S1, Tomb of Horrors, 1978
9023 B1, In Search of the Unknown, 1979
9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
9026 The Village of Hommlet, 1979
9027 S2, White Plume Mountain, 1979
9034 B2, The Keep on the Borderlands, 1980
9044 B3, The Palace of the Silver Princess, 1981
9058 G1-3, Against the Giants, 1979, 1981
9062 U1, The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh, 1982
9063 N1, Against the Cult of the Reptile God, 1982
9064 U2, Danger at Dunwater, 1982
9076 U3, The Final Enemy, 1983
9147 T1-4, The Temple of Elemental Evil, 1985
9317 WGS1, The Five Shall be One, 1991
9337 WGS2, Howl from the North, 1991
9399 WGR 5, Iuz the Evil, 1993
9577 The Adventure Begins, 1998
9578 Player’s Guide to Greyhawk, 1998
11327 Return to the Keep on the Borderlands, 1999
11413 Against the Giants, The Liberation of Geoff, 1999
11742 Gazetteer, 2000
11743 Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000
Ivid the Undying, 1998
Dragon Magazine
OJ Oerth Journal, appearing on Greyhawk Online
LGJ et. al.
Greychrondex, Wilson, Steven B.
Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda
The Map of Greyhawk, from Anna B. Meyer, free for download on her website