Saturday, 31 October 2020

On the Green God and the Elder Evil, Part 2

 

“Bow down: I am the emperor of dreams;
I crown me with the million-colored sun
Of secret worlds incredible, and take
Their trailing skies for vestment when I soar,
Throned on the mounting zenith, and illume
The spaceward-flown horizons infinite.”
― Clark Ashton Smith, The Last Oblivion: Best Fantastic Poetry of Clark Ashton Smith

Of Secret Worlds

 
I had an idea. I thought I might write about what was the eldest of the eldest in Greyhawk, and in my imaginings, that was the Old Faith and the Elder Evil. It’s all in the name, I thought. This will be easy, I thought. I was wrong. Over the years, it has become a gordian knot, begging for Alexander’s sword.
What is to be made of it all?

If you haven’t already, read the treatise on the Green God, and the first part of the Elder Evil exploration, before diving into this, a much longer read. This is longer. Why? Because Dungeons and Dragons has always been more interested in things to smite and it ever has been about the nature of Nature. That’s why. 

But where to begin? At the beginning, I suppose. 

The Elder Evil

The Elder Evil has had a long history in Dungeons and Dragons. It’s been called the Elder Elemental God, the Elder Elemental Evil, the Elemental Eye, and a whole host of other names over the years.  Are they the same being? Or are they separate things altogether? 

I believe its first mention was in B2 Keep on the Borderland. Not by name, per say, but hinted at, through its presence, its temples, and its cultists.
The Realm of mankind is narrow and constricted. Always the forces of Chaos press upon its borders, seeking to enslave its populace, rape its riches, and steal its treasures. If it were not for a stout few, many in the Realm would indeed fall prey to the evil which surrounds them.  [B2 - 6]

The Chaos could just be the untamed wild. But such was not the case. There were bandits aplenty—as might be expected where the Rule of Law had yet to asset itself, but there were orcs and ogres and a great many other monsters, as well, beyond the borderlands.
Not to mention those of questionable intent.
Rogahn the Fearless

Many years ago, rumor has it, two noted personages in the area, Rogahn the Fearless […] and Zelligar the Unknown […] pooled their resources and expertise to construct a home and stronghold for the two of them to use as a base of operations. The location of this hidden complex was chosen with care, since both men disliked visitors and intruders. Far from the nearest settlement, away from traveled routes, and high upon a craggy hill, the new construction took shape. Carved out of the rock protrusion which crested the heavily forested hill, this mystical hideaway was well hidden, and its rumored existence was never common knowledge. Even less well known was its name, the Caverns of Quasqueton.
Construction of the new complex, it is said, took over a decade, even with the aid of magic and the work of hundreds of slaves and laborers. Vast amounts of rock were removed and tumbled off the rough cliffs into large piles now overgrown with vegetation. A single tower was constructed above ground for lookout purposes, even though there was little to see other than a hilly, forested wilderness for miles around.
Rogahn and Zelligar lived in their joint sanctuary for quite some time, conducting their affairs from within except for occasional adventures in the outside world where both men attempted to add to their reputations as foremost practitioners of their respective arts.
The deeds and adventures of these two characters were never well known, since they both kept their distance from civilization. Some say, and perhaps rightly so, that their motives were based on greed and some kind of vague […] evil. No one knows for sure. [B1 - 6]

Zelligar the Unknown
Was it Roghan and Zelligar that carved their lair from the rock? The module says they used both magic and hard labour by slaves to hollow out their mountain; but I believe they might have been drawn to the spot by a far older evil and raised their tower above it. If they did, there’s no telling how old Quasqueton is. It may even date from the time when Keraptis reigned over all the lands dominated by the Rakers (should you have placed Quasqueton in Ratik or the Pale, as originally suggested).
Who were they? Roghan and Zelligar, that is. Zelligar is a Suel name, and unless he preceded his people into the Flanaess by centuries, they had only been active in those lands mere decades ago. Surely not long enough to have hollowed out their mountain so extensively, even with the use of magic and slave labour.
However long ago Quasqueton was excavated, one thing is for certain; a temple was consecrated within it:

WORSHIP AREA. The stronghold's worship area Is no more than a token gesture to the gods, It would seem. On the back wall of the room [is] a great Idol which is actually sculpted from the wall itself. The image (of a horned head with an evil visage) appears about 4' wide and 6' high, and is surrounded by religious symbols and runes.
The floor is smooth black slate. In the center of the room Is a circular depression, or pit, which measures 5' across and slopes to a maximum depth of 3'. This sacrifice pit is open and mostly empty, except for a small quantity of residual ash covering the bottom. [B1 - 16]

Zelligar Defeats the Barbarians
It’s obviously dedicated to an evil deity. Was its patron the Elder Evil? Not likely, or should I say, not implicitly; the carven frieze isn’t the some as those in the temples that followed, but these were early days. Despite its differences, there is a tenuous link to what would come later. Did I mention that Quasqueton is connected to the Caves of Chaos?
You have the option of allowing this passage to lead to the outside somewhere to the southwest of the Caves of Chaos, or you may choose to have it go all the way to the Cave of the Unknown. [B2 - 21]
Had they always been? Let’s say they had, owing to the Cave of the Unknown being on the map of the borderlands. 
The heroes of the adventure have found the Caves of Chaos in the valley and it is infested with monsters, out to inflict harm upon humans and their allies, and they had gathered in this place in anticipation of doing just that. But who or what had gathered them? Those disparate beings were as likely to slaughter one another as there were us, so what was keeping them at bay? Most heroes never gave it a second thought as they crept down passageways, ambushing kobolds and goblins and orcs and hobgoblins, and were possibly ambushed themselves, in turn.
Discovery of the inhabitant’s chambers who had recruited those vile creatures reveal them to have curious vestments.

ADEPTS' CHAMBER: There are 4 adepts […] here, each clad in a black robe with a maroon colored cowl [….] They have plate mail beneath their garments, and each bears a mace. Their waists are circled with copper chains […] with skull-shaped clasps fashioned of bone. [B2 -22] 

The Chamber of the Evil Priest is furnished lavishly, with a red carpet, furniture of black wood with velvet upholstery of scarlet, and a large bed covered with silken covers of black and red cushions and pillows. A demon idol leers from the wall to the north, directly over the bed. [B2 - 23] 

No priests dedicated to the cause of good would wear such things. Indeed, none in the service of good would employ such a motley collection of beasts, either. These were evil men who worshiped a vile and sinister god.

CHAPEL OF EVIL CHAOS: This place is of red stone, the floor being a mosaic checkerboard of black and red. The south wall is covered by a huge tapestry which depicts a black landscape, barren trees, and unidentifiable but horrible black shapes in silhouette — possibly demons of some sort — holding aloft a struggling human. A gray sky is torn by wisps of purple clouds, and a bloody moon with a skull-like face on it leers down upon the scene. Four black pillars support the domed ceiling some 25' overhead. Between these columns, just in front of the tapestry, is a stone altar of red veined black rock, rough-hewn and stained brown with dried blood. Upon it are 4 ancient bronze vessels — a shallow bowl, a pair of goblets, and a ewer, a vase-shaped pitcher. They are also bloodstained but obviously worth a great deal of money. ([…]  but these are relics of evil, and any character possessing them will not part with them or sell them nor allow others to handle them.) [Those who pick] up one of these objects […] will get a "feeling of great evil" about the object [, if they are very lucky], and [they] may voluntarily put it down, [but most] will rapidly fall under the influence of a demonic spell and within 6 days become a servant of chaos and evil, returning to this chapel to replace the relics, and then staying as a guard forever after. If someone attempts to destroy these relics the great bell […] will sound and the Shrine's residents will come running [….] [Should auguries be] cast upon these items, they will glow an ugly purple, and all [august persons] will feel instant loathing for them. [Should any person take them, a priest must intervene quickly to save their immortal soul, for each day thereafter, the evil that inhabits the objects will surely possess them.] Otherwise, nothing will be able to save [them!] [B2 - 22]

That’s pretty powerful. It’s insidious, in fact.
But such was the way of Dungeons and Dragons, back in its infancy, when Lovecraftian horror still radiated from the darkness.
Further on, the party of adventurers discover the temple, itself, along with those acolytes attending it.

TEMPLE OF EVIL CHAOS: This huge area has an arched ceiling some 30' or more in height. The floor is of polished black stone which has swirling patterns of red veins through it. The walls behind the draperies, the ceiling as well, are of dull black rock, while the west wall is of translucent red stone which is seemingly one piece, polished to mirror-like smoothness. A great bell of black iron stands near the entrance point, with a pair of mallets beside its supports. To the south are several long benches or pews. There are three stone altars to the west, the northernmost of pure black, the middle one of streaked red and black, the last of red with black flecks. At the western end of the temple area is a dais of black stone, with four lesser chairs on its lower tier and a great throne above. The chairs are of bone; the ivory throne is set with gold and adorned with gems of red and black [, each of incredible value.] The signs and sigils upon these seats are of pure chaos and evil. The other walls are covered by draperies of deep purple with embroidered symbols and evil sayings, done in scarlet and gold and black thread. As soon as the party enters the place, black candles in eight great candelabras on either side of the place will come alight magically, shooting forth a disgusting red radiance. Shapeless forms of purple, yellow and green will dance and sway on the western wall, and if anyone looks at them for more than a moment, they [will] be mesmerized into chanting a hymn to chaotic evil. Should three or more voices be so raised, the iron bell will sound automatically by magic, but even one such chant will alert the guards of the head cleric [….] Zombie guards will enter here in 3 rounds after entry, even if the party is quiet. [B2 - 22] 

But clearing out those caverns and dispatching those acolytes of evil would not be the end of their ordeal. The Keep itself had been infiltrated with the High Priest of that foul temple.
The western portion houses the jovial priest who is taking advantage of his stopover at the KEEP to discuss theology with learned folk and to convert others. Everyone speaks well of him, although the two acolytes with him are avoided, as they never speak — the priest says they must follow vows of silence until they attain priestly standing. His well-appointed chambers are comfortably furnished and guests are always welcomed with a cozy fire and plenty of ale or wine. The priest is a very fine companion and an excellent listener. He does not press his religious beliefs upon any unwilling person. He is outspoken in his hatred of evil, and if approached by a party of adventurers seeking the Caves of Chaos, he will certainly accompany them. [B2 - 9]

He appears very robust […], as do his assistants. […] All are chaotic and evil, being in the KEEP to spy and defeat those seeking to gain experience by challenging the monsters in the Caves of Chaos. [B2 - 9] 
The Cleric is unnamed. Why because just about every NPC was then. What to name him? Lareth is a great name. Lareth the Beautiful is even better.

What has this to do with the Elemental Evil? Maybe nothing. Maybe everything. The Deity remains unnamed, as was the custom in those days, allowing you to plug and play any evil deity you might like to shoe into your game. The name is evocative, though, isn’t it? The Evil Chaos. It touches on what was to come, if not landing completely on the mark.
This was just the beginning. There was more to come. Far more.
If the descriptions of the Chapel and Temple in The Keep on the Borderlands weren’t creepy enough, Gary Gygax surpassed himself in G1, Steading of the Hill Giant Chief. 
Events begin simply enough, much as they had in the Borderlands. Hill giants are raiding the countryside. Adventurers are bid to put an end to their doing so. Are you experiencing déjà vu? If you are, you are forgiven. The scenario is very much the same as it was in the Borderlands, one might say identical: Danger on the borderlands. Monsters. Etcetera. It was a standard introduction to a module then.
But their raids are far too calculated. The party storms the steading and put the giants to the sword.
The party is engaged. The ensuing bloodbath takes place. The party rifles through the detritus in the aftermath.
A note is found; a clue to a greater plot, and a greater enemy, it would seem.

Several scroll tubes are concealed in this room, under a stack of logs in the alcove to the northwest. Only one tube has anything in it, this one being sealed and marked with a triangle containing a Y. Inside is a set of instructions on the next raid, written in giantish, and signed "Eclavdra."  [G1 - 4]

They also find a map showing the GLACIAL RIFT OF THE FROST GIANT JARL and an obsidian box. In the latter is a chain of weird black metal and instructions written in hill giant on a sheet of human skin. The instructions show that the chain is a magical device which is to be looped into a figure 8. Thus shaped, it will transport up to 6 persons in each circle of the figure 8 to the Glacial Rift if one of their number holds the map. [G1 - 8]

But more importantly—for our purposes, anyway—they stumble upon a temple within the steading as they massacre everything that breathes in the cause of greater good: 

WEIRD ABANDONED TEMPLE: This room is of faintly glowing purplish green stone, carved with disturbing shapes and signs which seem to stare out from the walls and columns, to shift position when the watcher's back is turned. Touching the walls makes one chilled, and contact with a pillar causes the one touching it to become nauseous. At the far west end of the temple is an altar of pale, yellow-gray translucent stone. It feels greasy to the touch, but it has no effects upon those who touch it. Behind this altar is a flight of low, uneven steps which lead to an alcove with a concave back wall of purplish-black, glassy appearing substance. If any creature stands before this wall and gazes upon it for one round, a writhing amorphous form of sickly mauves and violets will be seen stretching its formless members towards the viewer. This sight causes the creature seeing it to have a 50% chance of becoming insane. If the creature does not go insane, a touch upon the curving will cause a scarab of insanity to appear upon the altar for the first one so doing, and a 5,000 g.p. gem for the next. [G1 - 7] 

The temple is suspiciously similar to the one in Gygax’s Borderlands. Likely by design.
It’s rather Lovecraftian, as well, don’t you think?
This hall was no relic of crudity like the temples in the city above, but a monument of the most magnificent and exotic art. Rich, vivid, and daringly fantastic designs and pictures formed a continuous scheme of mural painting whose lines and colours were beyond description.
--The Nameless City, H.P. Lovecraft 
Even if the temples in the Borderlands and the Steading are coincidental, the one in G3, Hall of the Fire Giant King is not:

TEMPLE OF THE EYE: Note the illusion walls which screen this area. This place is illuminated by a strange swirling light which seems to be part of the very air of the place. Eddies of luminosity drift and swirl here and there, causing the whole scene to be strange and uncertain. Distances and dimensions are tricky to determine in the shifting light of rusty purple motes and lavender rays. Globs of mauve and violet seem to seep and slide around. The ceiling of the Temple is out of visual range, 50' at the lowest, and well over 65' where it vaults upwards. [G3 - 9] 

Giants' Worship Area: Each pillar radiates a sense of unease and insecurity [….] The wall to the west is a mural showing giants bowing to a cairn of black offering sacrifices, giving gifts, etc. The floor on this side of the column in the center is of porphyry, the pillars of serpentine, and their well polished surfaces clash with each other and the strange light as well. The scenes on the west wall grow more horrific, showing human and giant sacrifice near the altar (north) end. [G3 - 9] 

Servants' & Thralls' Worship Area: The polished floor of red and black hornblende seems to flow between the obsidian pillars which close off this area. Each of these pillars radiates mild fear in a 2' radius, and if one is touched, the creature contacting it [just might] run away in absolute panic. Passing between 2 pillars causes [a bust of electrical energy]. The wall to the east shows a scene of various creatures crawling, then creeping, up to huge, vaguely squid-like creatures with 10 hairy tentacles. In the forefront of this mass self-sacrifice are elves and men, but there are also dwarves, gnolls, orcs, trolls, halflings, ogres, goblins, etc. amongst the crowd. Those near the monsters are being torn apart and the bloody gobbets eaten as dainty morsels. There are 3 of these ghastly things, mottled in various shades and tints of purple and violet. [G3 - 9,10] 

Priest's Area: The north wall of cloudy purple stone shows an amber-like inlay of a huge inverted triangle with a Y enclosed in it and touching the sides of the triangle. Beneath this, hanging on chains from the ceiling, is a black metal triangle and cylinder. The first tier of the area is of black stone shot through with veins of violet. The second tier is of dark gray stone, with specks of lilac and orange and purple. The third tier is dull black stone with whorls of plum and lavender and splotches of red. There is a great drum of blackened skin and chitinous material on the western third of the first tier. On the eastern third of this tier stands a rack from which depend 9 silver cylinders. […]
On the second tier is a huge stone altar block of dull, porous looking, somewhat rusty black mineral. To either side of it are ranked large bronze braziers whose corroded green coloration is particularly nauseating in this setting. To the left and right of these braziers, set in triangular form with the point to the south, are 2 sets of 3 candelabra, each candelabrum having 3 branches. These are made of bronze green with age, and each branch holds a fat black candle which burns with a flame of leaping lavender and deep glowing purple but never grows smaller.
Nothing save the metal triangle stands upon the third tier.
A Glowing Golden Eye
If the altar stone is touched by living flesh or hit, it will begin to fade in color, and in [seconds] it will become a translucent amethyst color with a black, amorphous center. Any further touch when the altar is thus transformed will paralyze a creature touching it for [hours.] If the drum is beaten, the chimes rung, and the triangle struck while the altar is changed, a glowing golden eye will swim into view from the stone's writhing center. All creatures seeing the eye [might instantly die, lose their mind, fly into a rage and attempt to kill their companions, be stricken by their fright, or age decades.]
If the 3 tentacle rods […] are present when the eye appears, however, and the braziers are lit, the altar becomes transparent heliotrope in color, the black mass at the center grows larger and shows swollen veins of purple, and the eye is a fiery red-orange. A tentacle will come OUT of the altar and grab the nearest living creature, draw it INTO the stone, and whatever it was will be totally gone, destroyed. The altar will return to its dead state, and atop of it will be the thing most wished for by the party — or something which will enable them to attain the end or state they most desire. If a second summoning of this Elder Elemental God is made within the same day, it will act as follows [:]
  1. Seize and devour 1-4 more creatures and then not grant any desires
  2. Strike everyone present totally blind and then not grant any desires
  3. Raise [up a selected creature’s being in some way] and take no sacrifice
  4. Ignore the whole thing
The large pillar to the east on the first tier is of malachite and is covered with graven signs and sigils. If the correct pair are touched, the creature touching them will be transported [deep within the caverns to where the drow gain entry to their passage home.] [G3 - 10]
There we have it. The Elder Elemental Evil. It’s a terrifying encounter, certain death for some. 

Which brings us to the drow,
first mentioned when the party searches the Fire Giant King’s council chamber and discovers a note.
[…] scroll tube contains a set of instructions for the King, telling him to gather forces of hill, stone, frost, and fire giants, along with whatever strength he can raise in ogres, ogre-magi, cloud giants, and any other creatures for an all-out attack on the provinces to the east and northeast. The scroll promises powerful help from "Drow". It is signed "Eclavdra" [G3 - 6]

Who, or what are they, and what do they hope to gain from their association with the giants? Do they have any connection to these temples?
We do not have to wait long before meeting these “Drow,” for the first time. The party likely encounters their captives first, kept for sacrifice. So, in that regard, they are very much connected to these temples.

[Cells, 8 elven males and 1 elven female meant for sacrifice in the Temple.] [G3 - 6]

It is from these captives that they get their first description of these ebony skinned elves. The elves would know little, only the horrors of their captivity, and vague stories told by their grandparents about the evil elves who had warred with their ancestors before being driving underground, and never encountered again. They are obviously evil, their introduction still years before Unearthed Arcana and the Salvatore novels opened Pandora’s box.
What do we know? When we first meet them, they are worshipers of the EEG; or these are, and not of Lolth, their spider demon goddess. In fact, there is no mention of Lolth whatsoever, yet. She is yet to come.
Our introduction to their world is through Eclavdra, and her clan.

THE HOUSE OF EILSERVS: Device: Copper staff. Rank: 1st. The Eilservs have long seen a need for an absolute monarch to rule the Vault, and as the noble house of first precedence, they have reasoned that their mistress should be Queen of All Drow. When this was proposed, the priestesses of Lolth supported the other noble families aligned against the Eilservs, fearing that such a change would abolish their position as the final authority over all disputes and actions of the Dark Elves. Thereafter, the Eilservs and their followers turned away from the demoness and proclaimed their deity to be an Elder Elemental God [….] Although there is no open warfare, there is much hatred, and both factions seek to destroy each other. [D3 – 18]

What are their motives?
Into the Upper World
An attempt to move worship of their deity into the upper world, establish a puppet kingdom there, and grow so powerful from this success that their demands for absolute rulership no longer be thwarted, was ruined of late, and the family is now retrenching. 
[D3 – 18]
Eclavdra’s “Elder Elemental God” worshipping drow are entrenched in a power struggle, in which we have unwittingly become embroiled. 
Two noble families, House Eilserv and the lesser House Tormtor, have sought to extend their power over the surface world through actively encouraging evil agents in the lands above. It is house Eilserv that provided the support for the slave-lords of the Pomarj, and have been rallying the giants of the Crystalmist mountains to raid the human lands.
This sudden increase in activity (with the equal increase in power for the houses involved), brought those two houses into conflict with the other noble houses of the vault. The other six houses felt that Eilserv and Tormtor were acting in an unseemly fashion and appealed to the clerical followers of Lolth. The priests attempted to bring Eilserv and its ally back into line, but the houses (led by Eilserv’s ruler Eclavdra) pulled away from the worship of Lolth entirely, instead offering their veneration to a nameless Elder Elemental God, and encouraging his worship among their servants in the surface world. [GDQ - 4]

Many years ago, there were eight [drow] noble houses. The most powerful of them, the House of Eilservs, tried to rake control of the Vault and put into place a new religion – worship of the Elder Elemental God. They had a brilliant scheme to establish a puppet kingdom on the surface of Oerth, but the upper-worlders destroyed the giants they used as pawns. The noble house fell, and the priestesses of Lolth managed to keep their tenuous hold on power. [Dead Gods – 75] 

Despite Eclavra’s best efforts, the drow are and always will be Lolth’s children.

There are others in drow society who worship the Elemental God. Are they tolerated? No. Yes. That depends on the intent of the cult.
Govoc the Prophet is the leader of the Poxbearers. Many years ago, he formed a secret cult dedicated to the worship of an Elder Elemental power whose alter he discovered hidden in the sewers of Erelhei-Cinlu. The primitive rituals that he and his followers enoct, however, do not constitute an actual religion Instead, their rites are dedicated solely to summoning a manifestation of their “god,” whom they sacrifice living offerings. Any living creature will suffice, so Govoc and his beggars wander the streets collecting stry animals, or sometimes people, who are never seen again. The city authorities are aware of this and use the beggars to handle certain awkward “disposal” jobs for them, in return for being left alone. [Dragon #300 - 93]

The oldest mentions of the Elder Evil were those in the Giants and Drow series. Do any of these references explain what that entity might be? No. Not in the least. But I would hazard a guess that by its very name that, whatever it is, it is very old indeed, maybe even older than the gods, themselves; because the gods dwell on the Outer Planes, and those Outer Planes are replete with air and land and seas and elements of all sort. Ergo, the Elemental Planes must be older than the Outer Planes. Primordial, in fact.
The Elder Elemental God does not seem particularly sentient, though, does it? It reacts, briefly, but only when nudged, and then it goes back to sleep, as it were. So, it is more like Azathoth than Cthulhu of Lovecraftian myth, in that regard. It is seemingly unaware of the universe the revolves around it, otherwise, it would have wiped out the entire party upon awakening, and not arbitrarily devour or bestow a boon upon an unwitting recipient.

There is far less written about the Elder Elemental God than there is the Elder Elemental Eye (Tharizdun), presumably because Gary Gygax had not developed the idea until later, when writing WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun.
The question need be asked: If the Elder Elemental Eye was Tharizdun, was the Elder Elemental God Tharizdun?
"No, the Elder Elemental God I envisaged as an entity of vaguely Chronos-like sort, a deity of great power but of chaotic sort, and not always highly clever in thought and action. Big T on the other hand is the epitome of pure, reasoning and scheming evil. Eclavdra, being more of the mold of Tharizdun, would prefer to have as "master" a powerful deity she might hope to influence, thus the EGG."
Gary Gygax ("Col_Pladoh"), 10th January, 2003, Q&A with Gary Gygax Part I, Enworld. 

The Elemental Chaos

To be perfectly honest, Gary Gygax muddied the waters when he said that. If the Elemental God was not Tharizdun, then who the hell was he? The two are so similar-- and dare I say it -- as to be identical in theme and application. Chronos was nothing like the Elemental God. Cthulhu is. Azathoth is. And yes, Tharizdun is.
The waters would only get more opaque as time marched on.





 

 

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. 
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 Greyhawk Adventures hardcover, The Living Greyhawk Journals, Dragon Magazine.

 

The Art:
All art is wholly owned by the artists.
Zelligar Illustration, from Into the Borderlands, by Goodman Games, 2018
Temple of Evil Chaos, from Into the Borderlands, by Goodman Games, 2018
Drow Illustration, from D1-2 Decent into the Depths of the Earth, by Bill Willingham, 1980
Drow Illustration, from Fiend Folio, by Bill Willingham, 1981
Drow Illustration, from Drow of the Underdark, by Wayne England, 2007



Sources:
1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
1068 Greyhawk Wars Boxed Set, 1991
2011A Dungeon Masters Guide, 1st Ed., 1979
9023 B1 In Search of the Unknown, 1979
9034 B2 Keep on the Borderlands, 1980
9058 G1-3 Against the Giants, 1981
9065 WG4 The Forgotten Temple of Tharizdun, 1982
9147 The Temple of Elemental Evil, 1985
Dead Gods, 1997
Dragon Magazine 294
Into the Borderlands, Goodman Games, 2018

Friday, 23 October 2020

History of the South-East, Part 10: An Uncertain Future


 “To win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War 

“Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories.”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War 

The Right Words, the Right Ears, the Right Time
The Scarlet Brotherhood had designs on the Flanaess. And had taken measures, quietly, as was their way, understanding that the word can truly be more lethal than the sword. The right words. In the right ears. And the right time. This required patience. And perseverance.
It was because of such words that the Bone March fell. And with such words, the agents of the Brotherhood had revived dreams of glory and plunder in the hearts and minds of the Schnai. And with such words they had made inroads into the dark heart of Hepmonaland, and gathered in their kin, to the unbeknownst misfortune of that kin.
It was not terribly difficult. It was mainly telling the listener what he wanted to hear. Raid here. Conquer there. You have a greater destiny than this.
And now they had arrived in the courts of the Iron League, in Sunndi, in Onnwal, in Idee, and in Irongate.
And the Duxchan Isles. Their red robes had long been seen in the streets of Duxchan, and Mahan, Shulof and Sulward, for they, like the Schnai, were kin. 

576 CY  One would think that the Scarlet Brotherhood was a strict and ordered society, and in that thought, one would be correct. It was; far more than most in fact. This is not to say that all within it were pulling in the same direction, so to speak. There was division within the Brotherhood. Secrets abounded.
Hesuel Ilshar

            The recent alliance between the Oriental monks and the Scarlet Brotherhood contained the seeds of division, despite similar alignments, philosophies, and even symbolic colors. At the root of the difficulty is the Scarlet Brotherhood’s program for racial superiority. […] Initially their superior knowledge of martial arts allowed the Orientals to maintain something of a balance of power, but that advantage has been gradually eroded, while the need to maintain Suelites in exposed public positions has distanced them from the centers of power within the Scarlet Brotherhood. […] Even now [the Kara-Tur] confine themselves to the inner quarters of Hesuel Ilshar and go forth among general members of the population cowled and in long robes that conceal the color of their skins.
            Several other factors have recently combined to put Hesuel Ilshar in a state of foment. Among these are the news of turmoil in the Flanaess (which causes some factions to press for immediate action), and the approaching millennium of the Scarlet Brotherhood’s foundation, which many consider to be a sign that they should either reform, or go forth and conquer, or both. Last but not least, a golden box has appeared in the inner courts of Hesuel Ilshar at the very place which once opened onto Kara-Tur. The highest representatives of the monkish order, both Oriental and Suel, have received visions intimating that the box must be kept secret and safeguarded from all others, even those within the Scarlet Brotherhood; that it contains an essence vital to the continuation of the known order. [WG8 - 109,110]
            The casket […] mysteriously one night next to the Central Compound of Hesuel Ilshar. […] It is decorated with intertwining dragons. […] [It] is presently concealed in the Garden of Meditation. [WG8 - 110]
            The casket contained the spirit of Morgoroth, a minion of Istus sent to test and evaluate the peoples of the Flanaess. As to why, and to what end, who can guess the intentions of Istus, for hers is the inexplicably woven web of fate.
            
            The Holy Land of Shar was most assuredly a structured, well ordered society. But not all castes within were satisfied with their lot.
            Within the Scarlet Brotherhood, there are the obvious divisions according to city quarter and according to profession (the [Silent Death, the Aesthete, the Cloaking Shadow], and the more diffuse orders of [Arms and the Arcane]). The fact that the highest leadership remains within the hands of those trained as monks is a source of unhappiness for all those of other professions (calling a monk “father” is particularly galling to them). In addition to this, there are the more fundamental divisions according to what might be called political philosophy. [WG8 - 110]
            The Pure Suels wish to eliminate the Kara-Tur, and the ancient and heretical houses of Rhola and Neheli of Ulek and Keoland.
            The Strong Hand wish immediate domination of the Flaneass, beginning with predominately Suel nations.
            The High Unity are the most moderate, and secret faction, believing that the Shar should take in what strength there might be gained from other human races, and to gain skills they might from the elves and dwarves.
            Finally, there are the Millennialists, whose doctrine states that “at the millennium of the Foundation a great miracle will occur which will be the beginning of a purified and strengthened Scarlet Brotherhood.”
            
Factions Within Factions
The descendants of the original monks from Kara-Tur amount to a faction in themselves. They are increasingly uncomfortable and isolated, and many of them have come to believe that their ancestors were wrong to embrace a foreign country [….]
[WG8 - 110]
            Indeed, there were even factions within the Kara-Tur: The Sapphire Celestials, the Black Order, The Golden Monks, and the Scarlet Order. 
With the passing of the "Millennium" date predicted by Huro for the Scarlet Brotherhood, when nothing oerth shattering occurred, the Millennialist Party begins to decline.
They assumed that the Foundation referred to the inception of the Brotherhood in 5091 SD, and thus the millennium date would be 6091 SD, or 576 CY. However, no earth-shattering miracles occurred in that year, and this faction’s membership has dwindled away since then, although a few steadfast members cling to Huro’s writings, claiming that they were misinterpreted. [SB - 17]
Vigils were held at the Ziggurat of Black for such a sign, none forthcoming. Prayers made. Sacrifices as well. But for naught. Silence met the millennium. And incredulity. Had they been forsaken?

Ziggurat of Black:
The Enigma Upon the Okalasna Plateau
This strange place appears to be a tower of stacked black metal disks, each five feet high and smaller than the one below it. 75 feet across at the base and 40 feet tall, it is surrounded by an odd time-inverting effect—within 100-foot-diameter hemisphere of the tower, it is the opposite time of day as the land beyond the hemisphere. In other words, if it is late afternoon outside the hemisphere, near the Ziggurat it is approaching dawn. Also, the sun and moon are switched within this zone, so when it is high noon outside, the darkened area has the moon directly overhead. The effect is no illusion—undead and other creatures affected by sunlight are harmed when the hemisphere is in daylight, and creatures and spells enhanced by night work normally when the hemisphere is dark.
The Ziggurat itself is pitted and tarnished as if from great age. It is terribly cold to the touch, capable of peeling off bare skin on even the warmest days. Scrying and sounding have determined that there is a hollow space within the object, but no entrances have been discovered and no wizards have volunteered to teleport blindly into it. Those who spend too much time near it experience blurred vision and terrible nightmares about spiraling downward into blackness. The Scarlet Brotherhood believes the Zigguarat may be connected to Tharizdun and are trying to learn more about it. [SB - 33] 
Despite the silence that met the Millennial’s vigil, there was a spark of hope that the people of Shar had not been abandoned after all. During their vigil, the Order of Arcane discovered the Weeping hexagram. The faithful wondered: Is this the sign we have been waiting for?
[The Weeping Hexagram] was discovered by the Scarlet Brotherhood in 6091 SD in a cavern near the Ziggurat of Black. It was a ten-foot-diameter ring of black iron inset with a bowed hexagram; it seeped blood when exposed to sunlight. Believed to be tied in some way to the mysterious god Tharizdun, the Brotherhood began exploring and cataloguing its magical abilities, which included the ability to create darkness, animate the dead, attack minds with phantoms and summon creatures from other planes. [SB - 86]
The discovery of the Weeping Hexagram did indeed prove to be the omen the Millennials believed. Or so they said. And so too did many of the Order of the Arcane believe it to be.

Having recently discovered a resonance between the Weeping hexagram and the Ziggurat of Black, the Office of Sorcery is investigating the possibility of using the two as some sort of power source, utilizing the artifacts’ supposed link to Tharizdun; the Office of Sorcery is enthusiastic about the possibility of creating wide-scale madness and freezing temperatures in other parts of the Flanaess, though the Office of Faith advises caution. [SB - 24]

But not always.
The Brotherhood did not succeed in all their endeavours of seduction. They failed utterly in their seduction of the Cruski.
They came with tales of the lost glory of the Suel race and its ruined empire. They told how the Cruski were descended from an Imperial House, the noble and loyal servant of the last Suel emperor.
With this cup...
Old King Cralstag knew well that his ancestors, be they slaves or scoundrels, were never the lapdogs of an emperor who stank of magic. So he told the Scarlet Brothers, and before all in his court, as his judgment on their words. For this, the Brothers murdered him soon thereafter—not with clean blade or strength of arms, but with hidden venom in his cup.
The king's nephew, Lolgoff, knew the old king's judgment and the manner of his death. When the Brothers were brought before him, they spoke words of praise and honor for the dead king, and they smiled. Lolgoff smiled too, as he cut them apart with the old king's sword, for he honored Cralstag in deeds, not words. As king and fasstal, Lolgoff pronounced his judgment: The Brothers of the Scarlet Sign should receive only death in the kingdom of Cruski. [LGG - 55]
And they had failed in Fruztii, if not so completely, for they retained a foothold in Djekul, its jarl despondent of his kin having fallen under Ratik’s shadow.
His Most Warlike Majesty, King Ralff of the Fruztii, did not see it as such. Bonded by blood, and having shed blood to protect one another, the Fruztii and Ratik ratified their bond in the eyes of both their gods, for they knew that if they were to have any hope of standing against their enemies they would need to stand as one.
This symbolic parchment was endorsed and blessed by the gods of both Ratik and Fruztii, and the superstitious Frost Barbarians place great store in its safety. [WoGG - 29]

c 577-578 CY      Why had the Scarlet Brotherhood sent emissaries to the Iron League? Because they had designs upon them. But also because as they had been watching the accelerating downward spiral of the once Great Kingdom with concern. They required a buffer to such chaos and potentiality and the Iron League were already one such, and it suited their plans that they remain so. For now.
            After pursuing his own aims for most of 577, the Holy Censor [of the See of Medegia] decided obedience to the Malachite Throne would be a better course to follow. Severe losses in manpower due to the successes of his enemies, coupled with threats of a punitive invasion by the Overking’s forces, brought about this change of attitude.
            During the remainder of the year, and well into CY 578, the See has been a hive of frenzied activity. Spidensa, His Equitable Nemesis of Medegia, is now heavily into the councils of Ivid. Past transgressions evidently forgiven, the arch-cleric has been named Imperial Constable, with instructions to gather an army and send it deep into the heart of Sunndi. [Dragon #63 - 16] 

            Bellport grew tired of the repeated raids by the Schnai, and demanded the protection due them as a city of the North Province and the Great Kingdom. Lord Captain Aldusc was dispatched from Asperdi of the Sea Barons with a squadron of warships and troops to do just that.
            The warships are now reported to be operating along the coast. Included are no fewer than six large galleys and perhaps a score of other war ships. The troops were divided after landing into main [joining Herzog Grenell] and reserve [defending Bellport's landward approaches] groups. [Dragon #63 - 15] 
The Schnai Take to the Sea

Although the Schnai had not raided as far and as often as the Fruztii had in their days of glory, they were no strangers to such things; indeed, they were the most accomplished of seafarers, and they were truly as fierce as their cousins, as were the Cruski. They increased their raids, and their longships swept down the coast, striking the North Province and the Baronial Isles both, luring those who chased them or sought to stop them far out to sea where they could lose them with ease.
But not all were so lucky.
During the season of 577, much minor activity took place along the coast of North Province and off the northern end of the Island of Asperdi. Some raiders were met and actions were fought; some slipped through, some turned elsewhere. Reportedly a squadron of seven Schnai longships were set upon whilst sinking the hulks of two provincial merchants, the vessels Marntig and Solos. Guided by the smoke and flames, a flotilla of Baronial warships surprised the barbarians. Three of the Schnai were rammed and sunk. In hand-to-hand action, the flagship of the barbarians’ fleet was captured, but the three remaining longships escaped after jettisoning all of their captured cargo.
In hand-to-hand action, the flagship of the barbarians' fleet was captured. Jarl Froztilth, leader of the Schnai, many of his men, and the captured ship were all taken to Asperdi. News of this success was said to have greatly heartened the Herzog. [Dragon #63 - 16] 

The Schnai had been humbled. They recalled how they and the Fruztii had once been the terror of the seas, and they wished the southerners to fear them so again. So, the Schnai treated with their cousins, the Cruski. And the Cruski were glad to treat with them, for the Schnai held what was theirs. The Schnai gave up the lands south of Glot along the east coast [and] the Cruski regained their southern harbors. This made the raids into North Province and the Isles of the Sea Barons all the easier next year, and most of the able-bodied men were away on those journeys when the warbands of Stonefist (now Stonehold) rode into the tundra which the King of Cruski claimed. The few wandering tribes of Coltens there welcomed the invaders, while surviving Cruskii headed east as quickly as possible. The returning warriors were enraged at the boldness of the invasion. [Dragon #57 - 14] 

The Terror of the Seas

Chelor III, of the South Province, was every bit as ambitious as any of House Naelax. He too had dreams of conquest and empire, and strove to gather in what lands he might in the ensuing chaos.
Herzog Chelor, third of that name to rule the once-greatest fief of Aerdy, scion of the House of Naelax-Selor, spent two years securing his base of power. In 577, Chelor sent troops from the Thelwood (at the head of the Thelly River) along the east bank of the Thelly. At the junction of the Grayflood, these soldiers crossed the Thelly and swept along the south bank, securing all of the land between the river and the Glorioles and Hestmark Highlands to the point where the Flanmi is joined by the Thelly. Despite leaving garrisons throughout the area, the force under General Reynard’s command grew from 2,000 horse and 5,000 foot to 3,000 and 7,000 respectively. Vacillating petty nobles hastily bowed to the Herzog, abandoning the Censor and sending contingents with the Provincial army. Furthermore, recruiting, mercenaries, and irregulars (brigands and bandits) allowed the Herzog to place over 3,000 troops in garrisons and still field a growing and more effective force. [Dragon #57 - 15] 
In 577 CY, however, Herzog Chelor's forces crossed the Thelly, seizing Sunndi's northeast frontiers in a series of bitter charges. [LGG - 111]
Chelor’s forces crossed the Greyflood and pressed into the Downs, and then further, into the Rieuwood. The elves and dwarves stood with Sunndi at Rieuwood against the might of the South Province and held against his greater force.
This forest lies entirely within northern Sunndi. Its mighty ipp trees stretch between the Hollow Highlands and the foothills of the Glorioles. It is heavily patrolled and defended by gray elves and many rangers, in case Ahlissa ever invades across the Grayflood. This was the site of two major battles in 577 (failed invasion by South Province) and 583 CY (Osson's liberation of Sunndi). [LGG - 141]
It was a small miracle that Sunndi held against the Herzog. They were stretched thin, oh so very thin, to the point of breaking, for they were defending north and south. If not for the elves and gnomes and dwarves, they would surely have fallen.

[Around 6088 SD (572 CY)] Wastri and his followers began an active campaign against Suundi; the Hammer of Demihumans sent more and more minions into Suundi’s south, destroying all demihumans and unbelievers they met. This campaign peaked in 6093 SD (577 CY), after which the gnomes of the Hestmarks and elves of the Menowood pushed back, eventually reducing the raids from the swamp to fewer than five per year. [SB - 5] 

Chelor was confident of a quick and inevitable victory against Sunndi, so he sent his fleet against Onnwal, too.
Several naval actions were fought in 577 between Onnwalish ships and Provincial ones. These battles took place in both Relmor Bay, where the Herzog wishes to close off trade between Nyrond-Almor and the Iron League, and in the Sea of Gearnat. No decisive engagement occurred, however. [Dragin #57 - 16]

578 CY The Battle of Loftwood
            Their expedition into Bluefang-Kelten Pass thus far successful, the Ratik-Frutzii alliance turned their attention south, their aim to destroy the humanoid forces under the Vile Rune orcs of the Bone March. [D57 - 14]
            
            As Ivid clashed with Nyrond and Almor, the Schnai and Cruski raided up and down the Solnor coast, landing warriors, murdering and pillaging, carrying away what they could, leaving broken villages and pillars of smoke I their wake. They bellowed and howled. They laughed, knowing in their hearts that is was what Vatun wished of them.
            [The] Lord High Admiral reacted promptly to the summons of the Overking — this despite some severe raiding from the northern barbarians. Asperdi has recently dispatched a sizable contingent of ships and men to the North Province. In essence, this force represents a squadron of warships to control the sea, while a solid block of fighting men, most of them veterans of skirmishes with barbarian raiders, stiffens the forces of the Herzog. Led by the Admiral’s eldest son, Lord Captain Aldusc, known as a respectable commander and excellent strategist, the convoy reached Bellport about mid-year in CY 578. The warships are now reported to be operating along the coast. Included are no fewer than six large galleys and perhaps a score of other warships. The troops were divided after landing into main and reserve groups.
            The main force […] has moved to join Herzog Grenell. In addition to providing a solid infantry block, the light units are reputed to be fine scouts and adept at raiding. [Dragon #63 - 15]
            The reserve force has stayed in Bellport to assure that a secure base is maintained. [Dragon #63 - 15]

            

Grenell, Herzog of the North
The time granted to Herzog Grenell was indeed fortunate for him, as it allowed the integration of the new units into his army and enabled them to be trained to some degree. With the addition of the contingent of troops from the Sea Barons, the Herzog’s array again approaches a strength of 10,000, and attaining that size would likely prompt the Herzog into initiating a campaign of his own. If the humanoid bands do not immediately force the issue, Grenell might well turn the tide of affairs. If there are major moves from the north, then even the presence of the troops from the Sea Barons may not suffice to stem the tide of invading humanoids bent on sacking the whole land. [Dragon #63 - 15]               

The See of Medegia entered the fray, further taxing Sunndi’s defence. Why? Because they were bid to do so. And in truth, the Holy Censor wished to take the lands of Sunndi as his own.
After pursuing his own aims for most of 577, the Holy Censor decided obedience to the Malachite Throne would be a better course to follow. Severe losses in manpower due to the successes of his enemies, coupled with threats of a punitive invasion by the Overking’s forces, brought about this change of attitude.
During the remainder of the year, and well into CY 578, the See has been a hive of frenzied activity. Spidensa, His Equitable Nemesis of Medegia, is now heavily into the councils of Ivid. Past transgressions evidently forgiven, the arch-cleric has been named Imperial Constable, with instructions to gather an army and send it deep into the heart of Sunndi. There are many tracks through the Hestmark Highlands, and at least one pass through the Glorioles, and by midyear the following troops were said to be marching towards these heights [.]
Speculation has it that the Overking does not believe this army will actually be able to accomplish the penetration of Sunndi. But the mere attempt, however costly to the Holy Censor [of Medegia], will serve to bleed Sunndi and her allies as well. The threat will also occupy troops that could otherwise be used to confront Herzog Chelor’s array led by General Reynard. [Dragon #63 - 16]

The Great Kingdom took to the sea. Or more specifically, Relmor Bay. Were they posturing? Were they presenting a show of force? Or were they en route to Onnwal, in aid of Chelor’s assault of the Iron League. Whatever its intent, Nyrond engaged the Great Kingdom’s fleet.
The first major naval skirmishes between the Great Kingdom and the powerful Nyrondese navy took place in Relmor Bay in CY 578. Some say the Nyrondese engineered these skirmishes, preparing for what they considered to be an inevitable war.Certainly, Ivid V was making noises at court about reclaiming Aerdy's great imperial heritage, and Nyrond was the first major power heading west. He did have designs on Nyrond, but it may well be that the Nyrondese forced his hand. [Ivid - 4]

Nyrond’s action pleased Ivid V. He had been looking for an excuse to attack Nyrond. It need be punished for its having begun the unraveling of his once and still glorious empire. As did Onnwal and Idee and Sunndi and the Duxchans. They had the audacity to call themselves the Iron League, alluding to they might and invincibility, and the so-called Golden League, intuiting that theirs were the greater, if not the greatest and most illustrious of nations, when those titles should rightly, and only be held by his very own.
The reports of war, blood, and great conquests being made by the hated barbarians and barely-civilized Fists of the North excited and enraged the overking. Egged on by the priesthood of Hextor, Ivid entered the fray by storming into Nyrond and its ally Almor. [Ivid - 4,5] 

Ivid V declared that the Great Kingdom and the nations of the Iron League were hereby in a state of war. Nyrond had little choice but to reciprocate.
During CY 578 (late Needfest) a proclamation of war was issued against the Great Kingdom and her satellites by the Kingdom of Nyrond, the Prelacy of Almor, and their allies. This, in conjunction with the various military activities already in motion, makes the southern and eastern portions of the Flanaess as busy as the marketplace at Rauxes, and the masterless men gather round as a pack of famished wolves clusters near weakened prey. [Dragon #65 - 77] 

Chelor Takes to the Field
Chelor III was displeased with his armies inability to defeat the lesser strength of Sunndi, dismissing the excuses of terrain and the guerrilla tactics used by the enemy; so much so that he decided to take matters into his own hands.
Chelor himself took the field, gaining the territory between the Grayflood and Rieuwood. The amassed army, under the command of General Reynard, crossed the northern Hollow Highlands, hoping to cut off all of Sunndi from her allies in Irongate, Onnwal, Almor, and Nyrond. The invasion achieved only modest gains, however, thanks to an allied force of nearly twenty thousand men, dwarves, and gnomes. Though fighting continued in the region, with guerilla raids staged from the Rieuwood and the hills, Ahlissa held on to its gains. [LGG - 111] 
The Iron League was now forced to guess which army would strike where. Would each move southward? Would one move across the northern Hollow Highlands to join the other? Could they aim at taking the Iron Hills and Hollow Highlands preparatory to a campaign against ldee next year?
Men of Sunndi harassed the flank of General Reynard’s force from the safety of Rieuwood, but this was a mere annoyance, and late in the summer, the general led his force across the arm of the Hollow Highlands. The plan was to march the combined force south into Idee, not stopping until reaching the Azure Sea. This move would effectively sever half of ldee and all of Sunndi from Irongate, Onnwal, and aid from Nyrond and Almor. [Dragon #57 - 15] 
So went the first engagements. It was a vicious, brutal war. It could be said that there was little glory to be had. Few fought with honour. Sunndi learned that soon enough; quarter was not received; so, none was given. Such is the way when orcs and hobgoblins and demons are put to the field.
Luckily for Sunndi, their foe was hardly unified.
The Overking intends that, one way or another, the Iron League will be fatally crippled through thrusts against Sunndi and Idee. Spidensa is a willing tool, for he apparently can’t lose either way. If the war goes in favor of the Great Kingdom, Medegia will have contributed substantially to the victory. If it fails, the Holy Censor can’t be blamed, as he will (ostensibly) have committed his every available unit to the plan.
 In actuality, it is believed that the cream of Medegia’s troops are remaining with the Holy Censor. There are no fewer than 6,000 “guards” of various sorts at the capital city [of Mentrey], and about 1,000 more at Pontylver. These troops can follow up a victorious foray into Sunndi, cover a retreat, or see to the arch-cleric’s personal safety.
The Holy Censor would likely have given the Overking more wholehearted cooperation had lvid allowed his new Imperial Constable to conscript troops from Rel Astra, command a contingent of the Overking’s own soldiers, and assault Sunndi without interference from Herzog Chelor’s forces. The Holy Censor disdains the Herzogal troops and wishes to conquer the south himself, to bring that area the “light” of his rule.
Chelor is reportedly not unaware of this double-dealing. He has, it is said, asked lvid to send a Marshal (one of the strongest of the Demonic Knights of Doom) to inspect the See and report on its readiness to furnish more troops for the campaign, should the effort be protracted. Discovery in this manner would, of course, humiliate and possibly disgrace the Holy Censor. Already some of his eastern nobles have deserted, abandoning the arch-cleric for service with Reynard. Such an inspection would force Spidensa to yield up his reserves, and in all likelihood they would fall to the command of Herzog Chelor. Therefore, the Holy Censor is using all of his influence and wiles to avoid the Herzog’s attempts to maneuver him into this highly vulnerable position.
Ivid, also reputedly aware of less than full cooperation on the Censor’s part, does not wish a rebellious servant in yet another quarter, being pressed from three sides already. Therefore, it is most likely that the Holy Censor will be kept in line by the continued threat of an inspection and allowed to proceed in his own fashion, since the force he has volunteered is probably sufficient to meet the desired goals of the Overking.
The Holy Censor is himself troubled by news that the dwarves, gnomes, and hillmen of the Glorioles and Hestmarks are responding to his invasion in a most warlike manner and massing to smash any attempted movement through their territory.
Sylvan Sentry at Grandwood Forest's Edge
And worse still is the news from the north. In Grandwood Forest, a raid by wood elves and foresters has dealt a severe blow to Medegian troops holding the west bank of the Mikar River. An estimated force of more than 3,000 sylvan elves and men lured a host of nearly 5,000 humanoids and somewhat fewer men (mostly levies but also some 300+ picked cavalry) away from their encampment and deep into the forest. Captain General Gahru, commander of the Censorial army, blundered into a carefully hidden trap laid about 4 leagues west of his camp. Thinking that he was pursuing marauding raiders who had come upon him unawares, the Captain General pushed ahead, engaging in light skirmishing against an enemy who was always just out of reach . . . until the trap was sprung.
The trap consisted of two elements: an area of nearly impassable terrain, and well-placed units of elves and men. When missiles from bow, sling, and crossbow began to rain upon Gahru’s now closely bunched troops, it was too late. A panic ensued, and the army virtually disintegrated when it was attacked by a reserve of some 2,000 forester infantry. No humanoid prisoners were taken. Captain General Gahru is missing and presumed slain. Early reports said that less than 20% of the army survived, but later that month (Wealsun 578) stragglers brought the total of survivors to slightly over 30%. Most casualties were humanoid, since these troops were most ardent in pursuit of the “fleeing” wood elves.
With the continued hostile activity in the Grandwood as a menace to the Censor’s southern campaign plans, he has had to strike a pact with a fellow Constable, Drax, the Mayor of Rel Astra. In return for sworn support for Rel Astra’s continued independence of direct control by the Malachite Throne, Drax has agreed to furnish support for the Censor’s tattered forces guarding the forest’s borders. The Rel Astran contingent is said to number some 2,000 men and 1,000 humanoids — although orcs and like troops are not currently eager to enter The Grandwood. [Dragon #63 - 16,17]
 
If war was not enough, piracy was on the rise. And why not? If I were a pirate, I’d be dancing a jig of delight. Navies were occupied. And rapidly depleting.
Onnwal would have none of that. Troops needed safe passage, as did the materials of war. Food. Pay. Gold. Piracy could not be tolerated, and their convoys secured, even if that meant that ships need be diverted from the defence of their coasts.
Doing so was difficult. It was taxing. And Onnwal still needed to support they allies, lest their allies cease to support them.
Coupled with the usual freebooting and piratical activities common to the waters around and the waters frequented by the shipping of Onnwal, Count Elverd (of the House of Destran) had no easy time. CY 578 was better, with victories over the Pirate Blidg Fanger fought near Blue (Pomarj) with a huge amount of loot captured, and then a squadron action off Norland Point when raiding ships from Ahlissa were caught in Dunhead Bay (between Onnwal and South Province) by four warships. The latter brought considerable irritation to Herzog Chelor, for Onnwalish vessels then began raiding in Relmor Bay and along the coast of Ahlissa from Prymp to Galdol below the Tusk [….] This caused the Provincials to withhold several thousand troops from the army being mustered at Zelradton. [Dragon #57 - 16] 

Villages burned...
The war ground on, a gruesome affair with not end in sight. Villages burned, the smoke rising across the horizon. Bodies lay strewn across the fields, clogging ditches; the dead often risen to blunt the defenders’ resolve.
War has been a steady diet of the Overking’s realm for several years. Allies are few, but include the Herzog of South Province, the See of Medegia, certain tribes of humanoids to the north […] and certain factions of the Sea Barons, although the latter—as a whole—are not trustworthy. Ivid has become obsessed with extending his lands in order to form a “Greater Aerdi Empire” ever since his declaration of war against Almor and Nyrond The Herzog’s subsequent blunting the armies of the Golden League […] has added fresh fuel to his megalomania. [WG8 - 69]
[The war spanned two years], ending in a minor strategic victory for Ivid's field army under the leadership of the Herzog, and seeing the withdrawal of Almorian and Nyrondese armies to the west of the Harp River. [WG8 - 69] 

 

 

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, From the Ashes Box Set, Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, Ivid the Undying, The Living Greyhawk Journals, Dragon Magazine.

 

The Art:
All art is wholly owned by the artists.
Hersuel Ilshar, by Daniel Horne, from WG4 Fate of Istus, 1989


Sources:
1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
1043 The City of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1989
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
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