“This thing of darkness I
― The Tempest
― The Tempest
Long before the coming of the Aerdi, the Ur-Flan held dominion over all they could see, having wrested it from the elves, and scattering them to the far corners.
Those tales are harrowing, not for the feint of heart. Indeed, they are the stuff of unsettled sleep, if not nightmares. Their names resonate, even today, though those who whisper them know little of their exploits, only those terrors rumoured to have befallen any who might have stood against them.
The Aerdi were lucky to have come to the Flanaess after those notable few had grown bored and left this plane, in search of the power and immortality they had always sought, or the history we know might have been quite different. Might? Surely would have, for the Ur-Flan were the very equal of those wizard-priests of the Suel and the Bakluni who had laid waste to their vast empires.
Many famous villains can also trace their origins back to GREYHAWK: Vecna, Kas, Keraptis, Acererak, and Azalin to name a few! [Onnwal Gazetteer]
Vecna is as well known as Zygyg, but his dreaded name is not spoken aloud for fear of arousing him. Once the most powerful undead wizard of any known world, Vecna was destroyed at the height of his power by his treacherous lieutenant Kas. Only Vecna's withered Hand and jeweled Eye survived, possessing frightening powers that can corrupt even the purest soul. Vecna attempted to return and conquer Oerth only a few years before the Greyhawk Wars and he nearly succeeded. Before his defeat, a servant of his was briefly able to slay the entire Circle of Eight. A Vecna cult survives, attempting to bring him back. Other notorious personalities include Iggwilv, the necromancer-witch who gave birth to Iuz: Zuggtmoy, a female archfiend known as the "Queen of Fungi," who has tried to subvert and conquer the Flanaess; Tharizdun, a "dead god whose revival, some say, would mean the destruction of the world; Acererak, the demilich whose "Tomb of Horrors" has destroyed hundreds of adventurers; Keraptis, an evil wizard whose volcanic home in White Plume Mountain houses powerful artifacts - and the world's largest crab; the Falcon, a serpentine monster who tried to take over the City of Greyhawk from below but is believed slain; and the Slave Lords, the organized crime masters who once dominated the Pomarj and Wild Coast, and may rise again. [PGtG - 26,27]
The name Vecna inspires the most fear of those mentioned, but only because it was his Occluded Empire that sundered that of the elves, and for the horrors committed in his name. And it was Vecna who forged the sword that took the spirit of the Grey Elven king Galitholian Glitterhelm. And it was Vecna who had met his supposed end by that very sword, betrayed by his most ruthless and faithful servant.
Those others, Acererak and Keraptis, were as wicked. As withering. As vindictive. Had they been brought down to as spectacular an end, maybe their names would have resonated through the ages as Vecna’s had; maybe if their had left witnesses to the wrath. But alas, they did not; and woe to those who should come upon them, for one cannot prepare for what comes if there is no warning.
The History of The Pyronomicon
Keraptis was an inquisitive sort. He must have been. And ambitious. Were he not, he would never have risen to the heights he had. But was he truly a Fire Elementalist? Maybe. I believe he was so much more, much like Leonardo DaVinci was more than an artist, in so far as he was a devotee to anatomy, natural history, science, and engineering. Truly, the Ur-Flannae were more than just magi, much as those early Suel and Babluni magi were wizard-priests, artificers and soothsayers. That said, I suspect he liked to play with fire, in more ways than one.
|The City of Brass|
Many scholars believe Keraptis was (or is, assuming the reports about his return are true) a Fire Elementalist, for the contents of the book are devoted exclusively to the study of elemental fire. In fact, half of the tome deals with the nature of the elemental plane of Fire and its denizens. Several additional chapters provide a thorough examination of the City of Brass (including a fairly accurate map of the city; [*]) and its inhabitants. The remaining pages detail an extensive selection of fire-based spells. Add to that the books appearance and Keraptis’ choice of residence, and the assumption that he was a Fire Elementalist seems to ring true. [Dragon # 241 - 79]
[*see Al-Qadim, ALQ4 Secrets of the Lamp, by Wolfgang Baum, 1993]
|Comes the Prophet|
But where did he come from? Fleet? Haradaragh? Who can say? His origins are lost to time. What can be said is that he rose to great power, travelled the planes, and delved into fell knowledge. And he learned much in those travels. But he needed a place in which to apply that knowledge, to unravel those mysteries he had gleaned. And those to administer to his needs while he did. He came upon gnomes he seduced with promises, and warped with malicious intent, and with them, he found the shining city of splendor, fabled Tostenhca, where summer never set.
Would that they had never laid eyes on him, for he laid that fabled city low. He beset upon it monsters and misery, devils, demons and all manner of calamity, and then revealed himself, promising to free them of the parils that until then had been unseen and unheard of. They were grateful, for a time.
The History of Tostencha
-2024 CY Some two thousand years ago, the wizard Keraptis established himself as "protector" of Tostenhca—a grand mountainside city of wide streets and towering ziggurats. But the wizard, who had extended his lifespan far beyond that of most mortals in his search for immortality, became more and more corrupt with increasing age. Over four centuries, the cost of his protection grew ever more burdensome, until eventually Keraptis was taking a piece of everything that the people of Tostenhca grew, made, or sold. With the announcement of yet another levy—one-third of all newborn children—the people rose as one, ousting Keraptis and his personal bodyguard of deranged gnomes. [Return to White Plume Mountain - 3]
Historical Development of Keraptis: Erik Mona, Lisa Stevens, Steve Wilson
The History of The Pyronomicon
|The Archwizard Keraptis|
[In] a time when the Flan tribes still dominated eastern Oerik, the archwizard Keraptis rose to power in the lands abutting the southern Rakers, and while most historians agree that the mage’s kingdom encompassed what is now known as the Bone March, a few scholars believe the territories that later became Ratik and the Pale were part of this empire as well.
Yet, as is well documented in the little known Legend of Keraptis, the archwizard was a cruel man, so brutal in fact that, near the end of his reign, he demanded his tormented subjects turn over to him one-third of their newborn children as part of their taxes. The peasants did not take this atrocity lightly, and under the leadership of the high priest Gethrun Shoiraine and his ranger followers, the kingdom of the tyrant mage was sundered. [Dragon #241 - 77]
I can only surmise that Keraptis required those children for his experiments. Or maybe he sacrificed them to Nerull and Incabulos, inhaling their life essences to prolong his life as he searched for the key to true immortality? Maybe, like Vecna, and maybe all the Ur-Flannae, Keraptis had a pact with the Serpent Mok'slyk, and needed the souls of the innocent to unlock those arcane mysteries that evaded him? In any event, those children were never seen again.
During the resulting chaos, Keraptis and his gnome bodyguards escaped to the south, but in his haste to evade capture, Keraptis was forced to leave behind several objects of particular value. Among them was The Pyronomicon, a huge tome devoted to the lore of Elemental Fire, which Gethrun claimed as his share of the spoils.
Despite his inability to use the spells it contained, Gethrun retained the book some 50 odd years before turning it over to the elves of the Gamboge Forest. The elves, in turn, held the tome for more than 500 years, until the coming of the Oeridians. [Dragon #241 - 77,78]
Tostenhca was free of Keraptis, but they had lost the favour of Palor. Their endless summer set, and the snows descended upon them, and life became a struggle, forevermore.
The History of Keraptis
Homeless, the wizard and his followers fled to the cities of the south and west. But wherever Keraptis went, his reputation preceded him, and he found no other settlements willing to accept his "protection." [RtWPM - 3]
During these travels, which lasted most of three centuries, the wizard acquired several implements of surpassing power. The secret gnomish conclave from which he drew his bodyguard gave him the hammer called Whelm. In return for aid that would enable them to crack their divinely ordained prison, the mythical Cyclopes presented Keraptis with the trident named Wave. While future-communing with the last living entities of a dying multiverse, he received the sword called Blackrazor. But true immortality still eluded his grasp. [RtWPM - 3]
The History of White Plume Mountain
White Plume Mountain (82): The ancient volcano fortified by Keraptis is near the Riftcanyon, in hex T3-70. [WGG1e - 30]
|White Plume Mountain|
c.-800 CY There were those who arrived without fanfare. Thingizzard, Witch of the Fens, was one such; she was already dwelling in The Great Swamp, north of White Plume Mountain, when the Elder Druid arrived, so who can say from whence she came. She certainly did not.
Thingizzard was already living in the Great Swamp when Keraptis descended on White Plume Mountain some thirteen hundred years ago. Though the wizard thought nothing of attacking the volcano’s Elder druid guardian, he chose not to trifle with the Witch of the Fens. It may well be that Keraptis thought her insignificant, but it is more likely that he left her alone because of his phobia concerning undead. Though she is not human, Thingizzard appears as an old woman with pure white hair. She doesn’t know her own origins and doesn’t care to learn them; her only interest is maintaining the peculiar” ecology” of the Great Swamp. In fact, regular infusions of Thingizzard’s necromantic potions have made this place what it is. The witch pours these concoctions into the water regularly to nurture her “children” — the bog mummies. She can call these creatures to her defense at any time [….] Not only is the Witch of the Fens very strong […]), she [can] also […]: animate dead, […] control weather, curse, dream, [and affect the minds of any within her sight.] In addition, her knowledge of herbalism and potion brewing rivals that of the most respected mages in the land. [RtWPM - 15]
-724 CY Thirteen hundred years ago, the wizard Keraptis was searching for a suitable haven here he could indulge his eccentricities without fear of interference. He visited White Plume Mountain, going closer than most dared to, and discovered the system of old lava-tubes that riddle the cone and the underlying strata. With a little alteration, he thought, these would be perfect for his purposes. The already had a bad reputation, and he could think of a few ways to make it work. So, taking with him his fanatically loyal company of renegade gnomes, he disappeared below White Plume Mountain and vanished from the world of men. [S2 White Plume Mountain - 2]
Three hundred years after leaving Tostenhca, Keraptis learned of a great volcano called White Plume Mountain, in which still-living druids of the Elder Age guarded the secrets of immortality. Within the volcano, the wizard found a tangled maze of lava tunnels and an ancient druid serving as the sole protector of Elder secrets. The two fought a titanic battle for ownership of White Plume Mountain and its ancient mysteries, but in the end the wizard prevailed. After casting the druid's remains into a sea of magma, the triumphant Keraptis penetrated to the Druid's Fane, a secret chamber protected by molten rock.
|Laid Waste to Distant Tostenhca|
There, among other treasures of ancient sorcery, he found the archetypal iceblade Frostrazor and an enigmatic statuette. Keraptis used the figurine’s power to pronounce a heinous curse that laid waste to distant Tostenhca, thus exacting his revenge at last. Thereafter, Keraptis focused all of his vast faculties on the problem of death. He embarked on a dozen separate research efforts, all aimed at achieving eternal life without the need for constant magical maintenance and healing. It was one such project, empowered by the four enchanted implements he had obtained, that eventually allowed Keraptis to step forth from the Prime Material Plane into a distant shadowy realm where, he hoped, he would leave behind the constraints of mortality forever. Keraptis quit the volcano some five hundred years past. No one knows whether he achieved his ultimate goal or still pursues it in some far, dim dimension. Whatever his fate, Keraptis never came to White Plume Mountain again. [RtWPM - 3]
Masterless, the company of gnomes loyal to Keraptis continued to abide within the active volcano, living off the gargantuan fungal gardens that the wizard had magically grown inside the caverns. Generations were born, only to live out stale, sunless lives and finally die within the mount a in. [RTWPM]
Death need not be the end. Those of power know that. So too those of great faith.
Aegwareth, Shade of Vengeance
Keraptis slew the enigmatic Elder druid Aegwareth, who had protected the Fane for decades, and threw his remains into the surrounding sea of magma. Unbeknownst to Keraptis, however, the druid's spirit lingered within the magma pool, growing ever stronger with the passage of years. Now he openly seeks vengeance for his wrongful murder. The shade appears as a ghostly human, though his eyes, hair, limbs, and garments blaze with ethereal flame. In his normal, semisolid form, he can physically attack his foes, [burning them with his touch, and potentially aging them decades] on the spot. Only silver [or magical] weapons [can fully harm] Aegwareth in this form. The shade of vengeance is immune to sleep, charm, hold, cold, poison, mind-affecting spells, and death magic. In addition, he can fade into obscurity at will, becoming almost completely transparent. In this form, he is invulnerable to attacks and damage of any type, but cannot affect the physical world himself. (This obscurity power does not involve a retreat to the Border Ethereal, however, as that dimension is inaccessible from the Fane.) While obscure, the shade [can regenerate harm done to it.] Aegwareth has utilized the centuries since his death to strengthen his ties with an elemental entity of surpassing power called the Leviathan, which lives within the magma pool. Should he be unable to slay the original Keraptis upon his return, Aegwareth will call the Leviathan to complete the task, even though he knows that such a call will end his own existence. [RtWPM - 56]
The History of The Pyronomicon
The Oeridians, in their efforts to subdue all who would stand against them, roused the ire of a great red wyrm that had been lairing near the border where the Rakers, the Gamboge, and the Flinty Hills meet. It seems that a large Oeridian force lured the dragon out and away from its abode while a much smaller unit emptied out the place. In its rage, Harak col Hakul Deshaun as the Oeridians later named the dragon, which loosely translates to “he who comes with fire and fury [,]” rampaged across the countryside, destroying anyone it found. Eventually, its wrath fell upon the elves of the Gamboge, and when all was done, Harak col Hakul Deshaun was the new owner of The Pyronomicon. For generations thereafter, the land within 50 miles of Harak’s lair was carefully avoided by humans and demihumans alike, and in time, the legacy of Harak col Hakul Deshaun became little more than myth. This situation could not last forever, of course, and soon enough, the abandoned lands were reclaimed and settled anew. [Dragon #241 - 58]
|Into the Rakers|
189 CY In CY 189; a large and powerful band of adventurers from the Great Kingdom, having learned of the legend, pushed all the way to the great wyrm’s lair intent on dispatching the dragon once and for all, but when they entered the place, it was completely empty. Apparently, Harak col Hakul Deshaun, crafty even by dragon standards, had already relocated to parts unknown; an assumption based on the fact that, without a corpse or sign of struggle to say otherwise, the dragon could not be presumed dead. And with the disappearance of the dragon, so too did The Pyronomicon vanish from the chronicles of men. [Dragon #241 - 58]
The History of White Plume Mountain
|White Plume Mountain Map|
Centuries under the shadow of such great evil can taint a land. Indeed, it can poison it. The greater the shadow, the longer, and deeper the taint, and Keraptis cast a very long shadow.
The Yellowflow River originates in the heated geysers and burbling hot springs of White Plume Mountain. While most of the volcano’s sulfurous water flows into the Great Swamp to the northwest, a portion of it forms a river running south. Because of the water’s high sulfur content, river life is sparse. With proper distillation, however, water from the river is drinkable. [RtWPM - 11]
White Plume Mountain’s mineral-rich effluvia have nurtured this abnormal outgrowth of thorny plumeberry bushes for years, giving the leaves an unhealthy pallor. No creature larger than a halfling can penetrate the Twisted Thickets without a machete or other cutting implement. [RtWPM - 11]
The swampland northwest of White Plume Mountain is, in essence, a large expanse similar to Twisted Thickets, half-drowned in the sulfurous water that pours continually from White Plume Mountain. Thus, travelers here face the same harsh conditions as they would in the Twisted Thickets, plus they must contend with the additional annoyance of knee-deep water. [RtWPM - 13]
Just to the southeast of White Plume Mountain lies a series of buttes, [the Dead. Gnoll’s Eye Socket,] bare except for a pale green covering of grassy vegetation. These outcroppings vaguely resemble the head and shoulders of a supine hyena. This unique formation, in conjunction with a large cave in the southeastern section, gives the area its unique name. [RtWPM - 11]
According to local legend, a dracolich named Dragotha makes its lair just west of White Plume Mountain. Tales of adventurers who have left to seek the beast and never returned are common in nearby communities, and several copies exist of a map purporting to lead to the lair. No such creature has stirred in recent memory, however, and the claims of its presence remain unsubstantiated. [RtWPM - 15]
One would think that few would come near such a place, let alone live there, but there will always be a few souls, whether brave or foolhardy, who will settle where others will not.
Mukos was a baronet from Greyhawk City who built a castle near White Plume Mountain some two hundred years ago. Unfortunately, he chose a poor location for his new home—right above an extended meenlock warren. These evil creatures took offense when the baronet’s stonemasons paved over the opening to their tunnel system. In the months thereafter, the castle’s inhabitants began to disappear, one by one. Those who remained complained of gradually intensifying nightmares, pursuit by unknown stalkers, and feelings of dread thick enough to choke on. When Mukos himself turned up missing one morning, the rest of the inhabitants fled, never to return. [RtWPM - 12]
The History of The Pyronomicon
390 CY The Pyronomicon’s absence from recorded history lasted roughly 200 years before turning up again circa CY 390. This time, the owner was Foltyn, a capable Water Elementalist residing on a small island along the east coast of the Nyr Dyv. Though brilliant within his specialty, Foltyn was not known for his common sense, and he foolishly announced to the world his intention to destroy The Pyronomicon before the Joint Courts of Urnst during Richfest, when both Luna and Celene were full. Needless to say, it seemed like every powerful Fire Elementalist in the Flanaess descended upon Foltyn’s island abode exactly one week before the Midsummer festival, and in a spectacuJar, fiery display that lit up the night sky over an area some 100 miles in diameter, Foltyn and his island were wiped clean from the face of Oerth. [Dragon #241 - 78]
The History of White Plume Mountain
At last, some one hundred years ago, an invasion fractured the placid flow of days beneath White Plume. Lured by tales of treasure, several powerful heroes calling themselves the Brotherhood of the Tome burrowed into the sealed-off chambers of the volcano and stole the wizard’s four implements of power: Wave, Blackrazor, Whelm, and Frostrazor. The theft of these weapons trapped Keraptis in his shadowy realm, preventing his return to the Prime Material Plane.
The residents of White Plume realized that more attacks might follow now that outsiders knew about the complex inside the mountain. Seeking protection, the gnomes opened the sealed caverns wherein Keraptis had conducted his research. Though they uncovered many wonders, it was the discovery of Keraptis-imprints that changed life under White Plume Mountain forever. As part of his research into immortality, Keraptis had tried for some time to embody himself as a being of pure thought in the matrix of a certain kind of spell. In that way, he reasoned, he could live forever in the minds of others. Though he ultimately abandoned this idea, the fruit of his research—several variant copies of the spell on scrolls — still remained. Each of these dweomers (called Keraptis-imprints or K-imprints) incorporated a full or partial copy of the wizard’s persona and knowledge, though all were in some way damaged or incomplete.
Upon finding these scrolls in an opened chamber, an over-eager gnome immediately memorized one of them, thereby installing a copy of the absent wizard‘s consciousness in his own mind. Believing himself to be Keraptis, he rose up and began to gather back the stolen weapons of power that the ancient wizard had owned. [RtWPM - 4]
His name was Nightfear. Or should I say that was the name he went by. He had long ago forgotten his name.
Nightfear was once the gnome wizard Parfithal, a descendant of a gnome who followed the original Keraptis into White Plume Mountain countless generations ago. A sallow, average-looking gnome, he has a twisted smile and a demented gleam in his eyes.
Following the precedent established by other pretenders, Nightfear managed to locate and claim one of ”his” original implements of power—namely Wave. Unfortunately, the Resistance recently stole the trident from him, then lost it to Thingizzard. In his grief and rage over losing the weapon, Nightfear sent out all his husks to search the mountain, hoping to catch a glimpse of Wave through their eyes. But in such small groups, they proved easy targets for the troops of the other pretenders. Thirty of his thirty-one husks died, [Nightfear’s powers were shattered.]. His last husk is currently in the hands of Killjoy […], but he is developing a new crop from underlings who have recently memorized partial K-imprints. At present, all of Nightfear’s other projects have come to a standstill while he schemes to retrieve his weapon. [RtWPM - 16]
Keraptis had not left his lair undefended. Besides Nightfear, there were others lured, cajoled, and coerced into doing just that. Seduced by the K-prints, and in some cases, emptied by the power of Keraptis’ intellect and evil.
Qesnef: a huge ogre Mage who lost a bet with Keraptis and must guard his treasure for 1001 years.
The False Keraptis known as Spatterdock was once an ogre mage called Quesnef who served both the original Keraptis and the first False Keraptis. But his days of serving others ended when he managed to acquire a K: complete imprint. Following the precedent established by other pretenders, Spatterdock managed to locate and claim one of the original implements of power: Whelm. Instead of wielding it himself, however, the False Keraptis allows his favorite servant, the vampire Ctenmiir, to carry and use the enchanted hammer in his name. because of the thirty-four subsumed minds currently under his control. His real form is that of a huge ogre mage, but he typically uses his polymorph self ability to affect the appearance of a doughty halfling. [RtWPM - 27]
The two efreet called Nix and Nox once served the original Keraptis here under White Plume Mountain. Later, Nox became a servant of the first False Keraptis, but Nix was not so foolish. After the death of the first pretender, Nox himself became a False Keraptis-the one now known as Killjoy-and the two friends parted ways forever. Determined to stop the False Kerapti and restore his true master to power, Nix formed the Resistance, a ragtag group of assorted beings who strike at all the False Kerapti from hiding. Nix can acquaint visitors with the entire situation under White Plume Mountain, including the identities and nature of all the False Kerapti, their holdings, and their movements, plus the precise fate that awaits hosts of active K-imprints. He also knows how to bring back the original Keraptis (though he expects his master to return as a functional adult), and he is always on the lookout for allies who can help in that endeavor. As an efreeti, Nix looks quite terrifying. To avoid frightening his forces, he routinely uses his innate polymorph self ability to appear as a large man with [reddish-gold] skin and tiny nubs on his forehead where his horns should be. [RtWPM - 24]
Ctenmiir: vampire compelled by a curse to remain here in a trance except when defending the treasure secreted in his coffin.
The False Keraptis known as Mossmutter began life as a mold wyrm. Already a product of leakage from the Basin of Boundless Life (see area 63), the creature accidentally fell into the pool of pure life-principle while fleeing from hungry fungus hulks. Of course, the eventual explosion blew the creature into tiny pieces, but some of its spores survived that process. They germinated, grew into a colony, and eventually became a new mold wyrm-one with rudimentary sentience. As chance would have it, this evolved mold wyrm swallowed a gnome who had just become a False Keraptis. This new pretender had just used his entire working complement of spell-like abilities in a battle with several fungus hulks. (This certainly amounted to overkill, but ths gnome was not known for wisdom.) As the gnome lay dying inside the mold wyrm, his mind took the only other action it could and ejected the K: complete imprint as an attack against the mold wyrm, thus creating the first fungus-based False Keraptis. Unlike the other False Kerapti, Mossmutter prefers to accumulate subsumed minds through direct fungal infection. Instead of passing out K-imprint scrolls, he transmits imprints through his infected spores. Because of this, victims of his spore cough become vegetative skin puppets in his service rather than young mold wyrms. At present, he functions as a 17th-level wizard because of the fifty-one skin puppets in his hierarchy. Mossmutter envisions an underworld realm controlled by one dominant, contiguous bed of fungal consciousness: him! The mold wyrm’s “memories” of being Keraptis are even more hazy and damaged than those of the other False Kerapti. He ”remembers” being human once, but rationalizes his current fungal incarnation as a magical experiment that, though he’s forgotten its particulars, was obviously a success. Despite his imperfect memory, however, the mold wyrm did manage to locate and claim one of the original implements of power: Frostrazor. Unable to use it personallv, he allows his trusted follower Sapraphis to wield the weapon for him. [RtWPM - 45]
The History of The Pyronomicon
403 CY Although there is no record indicating which Fire Elementalist made off with the tome, it eventually found its way to the city of Greyhawk in CY 403, and into the possession of the sage Warfel II, the head of a generations-old family of scholars. When Warfel II died some years later, The Pyronomicon was passed on to his eldest child, Warfel III, who passed it down to his eldest child who, in turn, passed it on to the next generation, thus thus quieting the tome’s storied existence. [Dragon #241 - 78]
576 CY So it was until CY 576, when a new wrinkle appeared in the tapestry that is The Pyronomicon’s history. Warfel VI reported that, while poring over an old adventure journal, the very shadows within his study began to coalesce and solidify at a frightening pace, eventually leaping off the walls as twisted and deformed gnomes. With no reason to expect an attack in his very home, Warfel was quickly overwhelmed by the diminutive invaders and rendered unconscious. Upon waking, he found that his entire abode had been ransacked, but upon further inspection, nothing had been taken, save for The Pyronomicon.
This strange twist of fate did not end there. Elsewhere in the city, and at roughly the same time Warfel’s home was assaulted, Not surprisingly, Warfel assumed the ta trio of powerful magical items (a sword, a hammer, and a trident, respectively) mysteriously vanished from the magically-protected vaults of their owners. In place of each weapon was a taunting riddle daring the owners to retrieve the items from a hidden location beneath haunted White Plume Mountain. Even more shocking than the weapons’ theft was the individual claiming responsibility. The archwizard Keraptis, thought to have died more than a millennium before, had apparently returned, for the riddles bore his personal symbol.
heft of The Pyronomicon was linked to the theft of the weapons, so when adventurers were recruited in order to recover the weapons, the sage made sure that they kept an eye out for The Pyronomicon as well. But of those few intrepid adventurers who escaped White Plume Mountain with their lives, none indicated that The Pyronomicon was there, or even Keraptis for that matter. [Dragon #241 - 78,79]
The History of White Plume Mountain
561 CY You’d think people would learn. This is a fell land, inhospitable at best, toxic at worst, maybe evil to its root and beyond, after so many centuries of what flowed from the lair of one such as Keraptis.
Plague Fields was the closest human community to White Plume Mountain. But years of toxic seepage from the nearby Yellowflow River poisoned the groundwater, slowly killing off the livestock and crops. Gradually, the people moved elsewhere, and the town has now lain abandoned for fifteen years. [RtWPM - 11]
After two centuries of weathering, one tower still remains intact, but the rest of the castle is little more than rubble. A determined search through the ruins reveals that almost nothing of value remains—looters have obviously visited here many times before. [RtWPM - 12]
576 CY [Several] weeks ago, […] three highly-valued magical weapons with the cryptic names of Wave, Whelm, and Blackrazer disappeared from the vaults of their owners in the midst of the city of Greyhawk. Rewards were posted, servants hanged, even the sanctuary of the Thieves’ Guild were violated in the frantic search for the priceless arms, but not even a single clue was turned up until the weapons’ former owners […] each received a copy of the following note:
Search ye far or search ye near
You’ll find no trace of the three
Unless you follow instructions clear
For the weapons abide with me.
North past forest, farm and furrow
You must go to the feathered mound
Then down away from the sun you’ll burrow
Forget life, forget light, forget sound
To rescue Wave, you must do battle
With the Beast in the boiling Bubble
Crost cavern vast, where chain-links rattle
Lies Whelm, past water-spouts double.
Blackrazer yet remains to be won
Underneath inverted ziggurat.
That garnered, think not that you’re done
For now you’ll find you are caught.
I care not, former owners brave
What heroes you seek to hire.
Though mighty, I’ll make each my slave
Or send him to the fire.
It was signed with the symbol of Keraptis. [S2 -2]
Many have ventured within. Many have perished.
Some have called it a fun house, what with the myriad obstacles within. Others have called it a trap, those who survived, that is. Some have even called it a mouse trap. A funny thing about a mouse trap is that it’s less a trap than a test. One might wonder, what might this particular mouse trap be testing for? Fortitude? Persistence? Intelligence? You would thank that might warn the wary off. Yet still they come. And die.
Then we came. But we were better prepared than most. We came with a plan. It worked well, all resistance falling before us.
We cleared the way, dealt with the K-imprints, their minions, their husks, and gathered the weapons. We took to wandering, what if we kept them? They were truly powerful artifacts. We would put them to better use than to display them under glass, under lock and key, mere curiosities. We were within sight of the exit when a wall of force appeared. Not much of an obstacle, after all we’d been through. I made to dispel it when we heard:
|Not Thinking of Leaving, Are You?|
“Not thinking of leaving, are you? I couldn’t think of letting you go, especially with those little collector’s items of mine. And since you’ve eliminated all of their guardians, why, you’ll simply have to stay…to take their places. I’ll have to ask you to leave all of your ridiculous weapons behind and let [Box and Cox] escort you to to the indoctrination center. I’ll be most disappointed if you cause me any trouble and [Box and Cox] have to eliminate you.
“Don’t worry—you’ll like it here.” [S2 - 14]
|Box and Cox|
A portal appeared, revealing a red sky replete with clouds that flowed like oil in water. Turrets. Minarets. Shining domes of brass. And withering heat as from a blast furnace. Two efreet stepped out from the shimmering heat. Then salamanders, slaadi, and legions of gensai. Giants.
585 CY Consequently, as of CY 585, the location of The Pyronomicon remains a mystery. [Dragon #241 - 79]
As it should. Few would understand what lay hidden within, what secrets were hidden betwixt the obvious, the spells, the ruminations of the city of brass and its maps. Fewer still would have the intelligence or the wherewithal to suss them out, even if they had the inclination to look.
No matter; they never will. None have since they were penned.
And what right have they to those mysteries, those secrets?
They have as much right to it as they do to these trinket, Whelm, Wave, Frostburn and Blackrazer.
They and it are mine.
And I would have my book back.
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.
Thanks to Eric Mona, Lisa Stevens, and Steve Wilson for their “Historical Development of Keraptis,” to be found in Return to White Plume Mountain. Of course, this piece would not be possible if not for the writings of Lawrence Schick.
Primary sources for this history were the DMG 1e, The World of Greyhawk Folio, and The World of Greyhawk Gold Box, Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, S2 White Plume Mountain, Return to White Plume Mountain, Dragon Magazine.
All art is wholly owned by the artists.
White Plume Mountain Map, by Todd Gamble, Return to White Plume Mountain, 1999
The Pyronomicon, by Michael L. Scott, Dragon 241, Nov. 1997
Quesnef, by Bill Willingham, S2 White Plume Mountain, 1979
Efreeti, by Erol Otus, S2 White Plume Mountain, 1979
Keraptis Upon His Throne, by Wayne Reynalds, Return to White Plume Mountain, 1999
1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
1068 Greyhawk Wars Boxed Set, 1991
2011A Dungeon Masters Guide, 1st Ed., 1979
9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
9027 S2 White Plume Mountain, 1979
9577 The Adventure Begins, 1998
9578 Player’s Guide to Greyhawk, 1998
11434 Return to White Plume Mountain, 1999
11743 Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000
Dragon Magazine 241
OJ Oerth Journal, appearing on Greyhawk Online
LGJ et. al.
Greychrondex, Wilson, Steven B.
Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda