Saturday, 22 August 2020

The Ratik Primer

“Men Wanted: For hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.”
― Ernest Shackleton

I was asked to do a half page primer of Ratik for the Canonfire! website, part of a tour of the Greyhawk where DMs new to the setting could get a feel for where they might wish to run a campaign. I accepted.
How hard could that be, I thought. You would think that writing a half page would be a simple affair; there isn't that much written about Ratik. Or so you would think. There's a lot more than you might expect. I began to read and then to write, trying to capture the essence of so small a country on the fringe of the map.
Needless to say, my first attempt would not be constrained to the half page allotted me. So, I was asked to do an edit. The first instruction was to lose the history lesson. Those interested in Ratik would be inspired to go to the source material themselves, I was told. Sure, I said; and I did just that. That edit was what was uploaded to the Canonfire! page. More or less.
I'm loath to throw anything away. I said as much when instructed to pear the original down. Would DMs new the setting have ready access to the source materials, I wondered? I thought not. Those who already had them probably already know a fair bit about the little country on the edge of the map, assuming they have any interest in such distant lands.
So, I knew when I was asked to edit the original that I would keep it to post it here.
Here it is in its original length. More or less.

Land of Ancient Mysteries
Ratik is in one of the oldest and youngest of nations. It is Flan and Suel and Aerdian. Most nations upon the Flanaess are blended as such, but here in the northeast, they are still very distinct. They are very much three nations among one, regardless how much they might have married between them, which is less than in other areas.
The Sylvan elves dwelt here long before the first recorded human histories, when Keraptis and the Ur-Flan held sway, alone at first, then alongside the dwarves, then the gnomes. I would not suggest that they lived in peace, for they were not of a mind or temperament, but they co-existed for millennia before Keraptis conquered the Flan city of Tostencha and sent his lieutenants into the surrounding foothills to build his empire in Vecna’s wake. Ratik was one of his principalities. The Sylvan elves melted into the Timberway at his arrival, the dwarves into their cities, and the gnomes  into the Loft Hills. The Ur-Flan rose and fell, littering the landscape with fell temples and barrows and stone rings.
...all those who stood against them...
The Suel Houses of Pursuit drove aside all those who stood against them, and the Flan found themselves clinging to the high hills and scattered along the coast. Those Fruztii that remained claimed their lots of land even as they flowed north.
Centuries later, the Aerdy arrived to pacify their northern border and possibly the Suel with it. They succeeded in Ratik, if not so on the Thillonrian peninsula. Marner was raised, and defended, and grew rather cosmopolitan for a northern outpost. It's not a huge city, one would not expect it to be, owing to it being perched on a rocky headland battered by a frigid northern sea.
A line was drawn in the north, an earthen wall and ditch that spanned from the mountains to the sea to mark what was theirs. But that was not enough. The Aerdian frontier marched ever north, and tensions rose until Lexnoll II and King Ralff of the Fruztii came to the other’s aid against the marauding bands of the Hold of Stonefist, The Fists.
Ratik is as two sides of a coin: settled and cultured in the south, cultivated and Aerdian. There are Knights Protectors in shining armour aplenty. Lords. Ladies. Pomp and ceremony. Vast feudal farm folds inland. Herds grazing the foothills. But in the north, it is of mixed heritage, the Suel and Oeridians and Flan long interbred. The north is wooded and sparsely populated, the hamlets and villages little more than clanholds upon the sea, and the crossroads of logging camps, until the forests thin and the heathered highlands and tundra meet the Fruztii and the Kelten Pass, where gold and silver reign, and the defense against the Fists raised towns and trade and walls anew. The Old Faith is very much alive and well in the north, where rangers, barbarians, and druids are more likely to capture the imagination than the knights of derring-do of the south.

Those wishing a Celtic, Nordic, or Viking game will be well suited to campaigning here.
Great inspiration for this area can be found in: the Mabínogíon, Beowulf, the Kalevala, Nibelungenlied, Robin of Sherwood (TC), The Last Kingdom (TV), Vikings (TV), The Eagle (film).

Country specific resources:
There are none specific to Ratik, but most pertinent information can be found in:
The Greyhawk Folio
The Greyhawk setting boxed set
Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, Greyhawk Wars
From the Ashes Boxed Set
Dragon magazine #52,55,57,63,191,206,241,243,291,293,294,297

Adventures in the country include:
The Rakers, the Timberway
The Stolen Seal, World of Greyhawk Boxed Set
Armistice, Dungeon #84, Griff Mountains
FB1 While on the Road to Cavrik's Cove, casl Entertainment, 2021
Although later retconned into the Yeomanry, B1 In Search of the Unknown (in the monochrome edition) was originally suggested as located in Ratik. That would make north Ratik would be an ideal location for B2 Keep on the Borderlands as well.
Other possibilities for adventure include:
Forest adventures in the Timberway: trouble with the Sylvan elves, raids from savage orcs and gnolls.
Mountain adventures (and possibly Underoerth adventures) in the Rakers and Griff mountains (alternate placement of G1-3).
Intrigue in Marner and Ratikhill. Ratik has many enemies (the Bone March, Lord Grennell, the Barbarians early on, the Hold of Stonefist, the Scarlet Brotherhood later) and dubious allies (the Sea Barons and Theocracy of the Pale).
Border skirmishes with the Bone March.
Fey fading lands. The sylvan elves would most assuredly have had a long history with the fey.
Ruins of the Ur-Flan from the time of Keraptis.

Adventures in nearby areas include:
WGS1 The Five Shall Be One
WGS2 Howl From the North
RPGA The Fright at Tristor
Forge of Fury, Bone March
OJ#3 A Slight Diversion, Tenh
WG08a, The Sage’s Tower, Rookroost
WG08e, Service for the Dead, Wintershiven
Tomb of Zhang the Horrific, by William Henry Dvorak, Rovers of the Barrens
Out of the Ashes, Dungeon #17, Bandit Kingdoms
Ghost Dance, Dungeon #32, Rovers of the Barrens
Ex Keraptis Cum Amore, Dungeon #77, Burning Cliffs
Deep Freeze, Dungeon #83, Theocracy of the Pale
Glacier Seas, Dungeon #87
The Witch of Serpent's Bridge, Dungeon #95, Schnai
Beyond the Light of Reason, Dungeon #96, Tenh
Raiders of the Black Ice, Dungeon #115, Blackmoor
Ill Made Graves, Dungeon #133, Jotsplat & the Icy Sea
In the Shadows of Spinecastle, Dungeon #148, Bone March
C13 From His Cold, Dead Hands, by Carlos Lising, casl Entertainment, 2019, Jotsplat & the Icy Sea
Mutual defense negotiations with the Barbarian tribes.
Mutual defense with Fruztii barbarians of the Kelten Pass.
Expeditions into the Griff mountains in search of lost Skrellingshald (also known as Tostencha), Greyhawk Adventures hardcover
Trade expeditions to The Sea Princes and the North Province.
The search for and discovery of Fireland, and the arrival of a ship from Fireland.
Espionage with the North Province/Kingdom. Alliance with Knurl.
The Freeing of the Bone March. There would be a great deal of raiding back and forth between these two countries.
I might add that the fallen city of Spinecastle is close by.
In the Shadows of Spinecastle, Dungeon Magazine #148


There are likely few dungeons to be explored in the North aside from those that might have been constructed by the Ur-Flan, and abandoned dwarven cities, but there are wilderness adventures to be had and seaside mysteries to be discovered.
There are great possibilities for Lovecraftian themed adventures to be pursued here. What might have the Ur-Flan been up to? And what about Rogahn (likely Oeridian) and Zelligar (a Suel name) from B1? Did they discover some Ur-Flan tomb that turned them to the pursuit of evil?

Archbarony of Ratik
Barony of Ratik: neutral; Common
DRG#52 – 20
His Valorous Prominence, Lexnol, the Lord Baron of Ratik
[WoGA - 32]

Proper Name: Archbarony of Ratik
Ruler: Her Valorous Prominence, Evaleigh, the Lady Baroness (also Archbaroness) of Ratik (CG female human Rog9/Wiz3)
[LGG – 88,89]

Capital: Marner (pop. 3,240)
Population: 35,000
Demi-humans: Mountain Dwarves (8,000 + ).
Gnomes (3.000 +)
Humanoids: Many
Resources: shipbuilding supplies, furs, gold, gems (IV)
[WoGA  - 32]

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
[LGG - 89]

One must always give credit where credit is due. This piece 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. 

The Art:
All art is wholly owned by the artists.
WGS2 Howl From the North cover, by Jeff Starlind, 1991
B1 In Search of the Unknown cover, by David A Trampier, 1979 (1978)
Ratik Heraldry, from the Greyhawk Folio, 1980

1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
1043 The City of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1989
1064 From the Ashes Boxed Set, 1992
2011A Dungeon Masters Guide, 1st Ed., 1979
9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
9578 Player’s Guide to Greyhawk, 1998
11374 The Scarlet Brotherhood, 1999
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
Anna B. Meyer’s Greyhawk Map

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