Friday, 25 September 2020

The Hold of Stonefist Primer


“The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.”
― Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace

“The darker the night, the brighter the stars,
The deeper the grief, the closer is God!”
― Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment


The Fierce Forces of Stonefist 
A hard land breeds a hard people, and the land of the Fists is a very hard land, indeed. Cradled between the Icy Sea and the Griff Mountains, it is a cold land of rivers lakes and bogs, where winter reigns for six months of the year. Nevertheless, in tune with their stoic spirit, they adapted and the Dog and Reindeer made life possible, as had the sled and the canoe, and more recently, the kayak; the Horse, less so, and only to the furthest west.

Settled life has always been challenging, structures lifting and twisting with the frost’s heave. Most settlements hugged the coasts, for the seas were always bountiful; and as they migrated inland, they perched atop long, winding eskers. But the flatter, more arable, plains beckoned. Structures were only made possible there by driving posts deep into the clay bed. Due to the short growing season, only those heartiest of crops took root. Husbandry was more successful.

The Flan were the first peoples to dwell here, and they thrived, first under the dominion of Tostencha, then under the Ur-Flan wizard-priest Keraptis, and it was under his tutelage that they, the Colten Feodality, first learned cruelty.

It remained as such until the Suel arrived, and then the Oeridians, until those people in turn were forced north by the Rovers of the Barrens, brought into the fold of that which they had once overwhelmed. All have lived under the shadow of long sealed dwarven gates, their people rumoured to have fallen upon some unknown fate, likely from having dug too deep in their lust for gold and mithril.

Vlek Col Vlekzed
There came a time when Vlek Col Vlekzed, a scion of the Hold in exile, returned, and massacred those delegates of the Colten Feodality. The Stonefist established the Mastership of the Hold as a semihereditary position, available only to his descendants. They were allowed to compete in the biannual Rite of Battle Fitness, which determined the rank of potential challengers to the Hold's leaders.

No boychild could take Vlek's name, so great was his person; each considered the sole property of his mother by the Stonefist. And thus he set precedent among his Fists. Each scion had to earn his right to a name, indeed, his right to vassalage; and upon surviving the Rites, if he survived, he could then take his father's name, or his own name, if he so chose, and upon that name gained acclamation or infamy, and with it his status among his peers.

The Fists, fleet of foot and sled
The Hold took to raiding, over mountains and plains, pillaging what they could lay their hands on from the Fruztii and the more affluent Tenha, and testing their might against the Rovers upon the Barrens. They were regularly raided it turn, even on occasion by the Zeai, the Cruski’s cousins to the west.

And so it went for centuries. The Rite of Battle Fitness had caused the death of so many aspiring leaders that its proponents grew scarce. The Hold became divided between those who supported the traditions of Stonefist, and those who wished to see the restoration of the Coltens Feodality.

Sevvord Redbeard
Until Sevvord Redbeard came to the throne, and took the title of Rhelt.

The Fists have long been at war with the Cruski, the Barbarians, and surrounding Flan clans. But their greatest hatred has always been the centaurs upon the Barrens. It is their belief that the Rovers had known congress with their herds, and the centaurs were the result of those foul unions.

Thus was the reputation of the Hold abroad: Superstitious. Simple. And savage. It should also be said that those who hate them respected the danger they represent, saying that they are as sly as an arctic fox.

Vlekstaad upon White Fanged Bay

It should be said that the Stonehold is not just roaming bands of Fists. They have their tradesmen: Farmers, as noted, miners, merchants, and smiths. They were called scratchers, diggers, babblers and pounders, once; but that opinion has changed as these have altered the prospects of this dour land. Goods have been exchanged with the Free Lords and far Blackmoor, who have sent delegations to the Hold. They have their traditions: the Old Faith is strong here, despite what outsiders believe. 

Inspiration for play in the Stonefist may be found in Dostoyevsky, War and Peace, Dr. Zhivago, Baba Yaga, and the myth of the black serpent Czernobog.

The Hold of Stonefist is a dangerous place where only the strong survive, and where surrounding powers watch with great concern. It is a good home for evil characters; it is also where the Coltens strive to return to prominence.


Country specific resources: Country specific resources:
Dragon magazine #57
WGS1 The Five Shall Be One; WGS2
Howl From the North; WGR5 Iuz the Evil
The Nightmare Realm of Baba Yaga, Adventure Gamebook #8
Adventures in country:
WGS2 Howl From the North
The Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga
The biannual Rite of Battle Fitness
Adventures in the Forlorn and Hraak forests:
The pinewood is exploited by the people of Stonehold for fuel, trapping, and hunting. The warlike Forest People (a Cohens tribe now part of Stonehold) live within. Great bears and wolves roam its depths, and a fair number of white dragons unexpectedly lair within. LGG – 141
Adventures on the Icy Sea
Whales of all sorts frequent these waters, said to be the domain of a mighty leviathan lord. LGG – 148,149
[Big Seal Bay, the] shallow arm of the Icy Sea, lying just east of the Hraak Forest, marks the usual boundary between Stonehold and the Ice Barbarians. Few humans visit this desolate region, though the chiseled outer doors of an ancient dwarven clanhold are said to be visible high in these isolated peaks. LGG – 147
Dungeon delves into Ur-Flan and dwarven ruins.
Adventures in the Griff and Corusk mountains:
Sightings of aquatic monsters on the Abanfyl’s surface are common. The lake is also said to be the home of a family of dragons who lair on a small, haze-shrouded island on the central waters. WGG – 26
Legends tell of a beautiful land in the heart of [the Griff mountains], where buildings are roofed with precious metals and gems lie about on the ground. More reliable are reports that a gigantic city of orcs lies underground here, near Stonehold. LGG – 143
While the lower parts of the mountains are inhabited by humans, various bands of evil humanoids and monsters of all sorts dwell in the central fastness. WOGA - 52
Border skirmishes with the Cruski, Fruztii, and Ratik; defense against Barbarian invasions.
Adventures in nearby areas include:

WGS1 The Five Shall Be One, Bandit Kingdoms
WGR5 Iuz the Evil
Fright at Tristor, Theocracy of the Pale
Forge of Fury, Bone March
The Stolen Seal, World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, Ratik
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
Armistice, Dungeon #84, Griff Mountains
The Sharm’s Dark Song, Dungeon #87
Glacier Seas, Dungeon #87
The Witch of Serpent's Bridge, Dungeon #95
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 Magazine #148
C13 From His Cold, Dead Hands, by Carlos Lising, casl Entertainment, 2019, Jotsplat & the Icy Sea
FB1 While on the Road to Cavrik's Cove, casl Entertainment, 2021, Ratik
Tomb of Zhang the Horrific, by William Dvorak, Rovers of the Barrens.
Exploration of Iceland to the north
Expedition to Blackmoor
Clashes and war with the Rovers of the Barrens, the Zeai and the Cruski. Raids into Tenh, Ratik, and Fruztii.
Trade with Blackmoor and the Bandit Kingdoms
Exploration of the Rift Valley

Stonefist, Hold of
(Pop 60,000+)
Hold of Stonefist: chaotic evil; Flan, Suloise, Common, Cold Tongue
Capital: Vlekstaad (pop. 2,100)
Population: 60,000 +
Demi-humans: Doubtful
Human 96%, Orc 2%, Dwarf 1%, Other 1%
Humanoids: Some
[WOGA  - 36]

Capital: Vlekstaad Major Towns: Bastro (pop. 1,700), Kelten (pop. 2,800), Purmill (pop, 1,900), Vlekstaad (pop. 2,200 before being burned, now 700)

Resources: furs, ivory, silver, gems (I)—

Religions: Erythnul, Syrul, Beltar, Beory, Obad-Hai

[LGG - 108]


In the shadow of the Griff Mountains



One must always give credit where credit is due. This History is made possible primarily by the Imaginings of Gary Gygax and his Old Guard, Lenard Lakofka among them, and the new old guards, Carl Sargant, James Ward, Roger E. Moore. And Erik Mona, Gary Holian, Sean Reynolds, Frederick Weining. The list is interminable. 
Thanks to Steven Wilson for his GREYCHRONDEX and to Keith Horsfield for his “Chronological History of Eastern Oerik.”
Special thanks to Jason Zavoda for his compiled index, “Greyhawkania,” an invaluable research tool.


The Art:
All art is wholly owned by the artists.
WGS2 Howl From the North cover art, by Jeff Starlind, 1991
WGS1 There Shall Be One cover art, by , 1991
Hold of Stonefist Shield, from the World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
WGS2 Howl From the North interior Art, by Ken Frank, 1991

1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
1064 From the Ashes Boxed Set, 1992
2011A Dungeon Masters Guide, 1st Ed., 1979
9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
11743 Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 1999
9577 The Adventure Begins
9578 Player’s Guide to Greyhawk, 1998
Dragon Magazine
OJ Oerth Journal, appearing on Greyhawk Online
Living Greyhawk Journal
Greychrondex, Steven B. Wilson
Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda
Anna B. Meyer’s Greyhawk Map

1 comment:

  1. This couldn't have come at a better time for me. Running a 5E group up in the Ice Barbarians. Now you got me thinking of Stonefist.