Saturday, 30 January 2021

On Osson of Almor


 “Some of the bravest and most resourceful people in the world have come to bad ends.”
― Lemony Snicket, Shouldn't You Be in School?

Osson of Almor
A great sage of Keoland once said in connection with the many rival powers in the east: “Behold the sapping of strength, continuous and unabated, checked only by the ferocity of battle, and erstwhile victories. Be aware that these powers never cease turning over the old stone in search of the golden nugget placed there by those who didn’t care. Be it known that such odious men as these that thwart men’s survival, these are convinced that such nuggets are as plentiful as the languages of Oerth. Be still, people, lest by your movement you attract the attention of the “mad ones,” for nuggets may remain buried beneath an old stone, or in combination with others be used to adorn a conqueror’s breast as a necklace.”
 [Dragon #65 – 11]
Rob Kuntz understood the soul of the Great Kingdom. Despite the many good and august persons with its vast breadth and span, the Kingdom had paired depravity to its long tradition of brutality. It found such pairing much to its taste, as Lum and Leuk-o most assuredly would have, and did.

Were they all such?
No. There were those states within the “magnificence” of the Great Kingdom that were shining examples of what that austere nation declared itself to be.
Nyrond was one such. The Bone March was another.
So too Almor. Almor may have been the most shining example of that presumed magnificence. It was just. Benign. A beacon of faith. It had birthed and weaned Saint Benedor Monlath of Chathold, after all; and he most certainly stood what one would consider a high watermark of what might have been. Ideally, the whole of the Great Kingdom should have strived to such excellence; but empires being what they are, those principalities that would not or could not measure up sometimes strove to bring those others that could down.
The prelate Anarkin hopes to have his armies up to quality and number so as to be able to deal with the threats that the Great Kingdom and (especially) Herzog Chelor are posing at this time. [Dragon #65 - 12]

And so it was for as long as the Great Kingdom rose and waned. More so as it waned. Those who could ceded. Furyondy. Veluna. Then Nyrond and the Pale. Close kin to Nyrond, Almor followed.
Those who could not, could only watch.
The Great Kingdom had begun its long slow slide.
One might suggest that the Turmoil Between the Crowns marked the Great Kingdom’s fall from grace. With the coming of the Turmoil, those principalities that had hitherto remained loyal to Rauxes were loyal no more, even as they paid lip service to the Malachite Throne; but they were in truth independent of it. And being independent of the Throne allowed each to plot and scheme, and see their selves as its heir. They bided their time. For their time was drawing near. They mustered their levies when bid. They marched where commanded. Bur they watched, and waited, and from time to time, they tested the fortitude of their neighbors.
The Turmoil worried those nations of loftier intentions, and they, like those others, armed their selves, and prepared for a time they knew would surely come.
And it did.
The Wars came.

The Great Kingdom’s intentions could hardly pass unnoticed. One country that held an anything-but-casual interest was the Prelacy of Almor. This small nation had long witnessed the brutal ambition of the Overking at work and therefore knew not to be caught unawares. The Prelate Kevont had personally organized an extensive spy network to monitor the lands of the madman. That network now reported the mustering and movement of massive armies in all landed quarters of the kingdom. When he received this intelligence, Prelate Kevont dispatched messengers to Nyrond and the Iron League and sent the war banner throughout the country. With the speed of a people ever poised on the brink of war, Almor’s defenses were fully manned.

A prudent ruler, Kevont did not personally take command of Almor’s troops. The old prelate had long led his country by wisely recognizing the best man for every job. In this case, the best man was the Honorable Osson of Chathold. Kevont appointed the energetic young knight as Commandant of the Field, with every knight and yeoman of Almor’s forces under his command. [Wars - 13]

But Osson knew that Almor could not withstand the Ivid’s intent. Surely Chelor, of South Province, would strike in his cousin’s name. 

Osson’s Raid
Commandant Osson had little difficulty assessing the grave situation facing Almor. The Great Kingdom could squash the tiny country through sheer numbers-and apparently intended to do so. Though the dilemma was clear, the solution was not. Recognizing that Almor could not be defended against such a foe, Osson decided to take the offensive—committing a daring raid into the Great Kingdom’s lands to keep its forces from attacking. The plan would have met with insurmountable objection from older and “wiser” knights had the prelate wavered even momentarily in support of his young protege.
The plan was simple and daring. Osson divided his army into two forces, posting the first along the border with the Great Kingdom. Too small to block a major attack, this army aggressively patrolled and probed the frontier. Their rigor would make them seem twice their actual number and thus hopefully forestall any major assault by the Aerdians. [Wars - 31]

Osson correctly measured his foes. The Aerdi Army, strongest in the Great Kingdom, was staffed not with warriors, but courtiers-experts in pandering and fawning to the Overlord. The Grandee Despotrix of the army, his Highness Yimdil of Jalpa, customarily commanded his regiment from the comfort of his palace at Jalpa rather than endure the rigors of an actual campaign 200 miles away. His subordinates were no better, vying among themselves more than against the enemy and each seeking to discredit his colleagues and thus gain favor in the eyes of the Overking’s dreaded censors. [Wars - 28] 

Osson's Army
The second half of the army consisted of all available cavalry, riding under Osson’s personal command. Baggage, notoriously cumbersome and complicated for most armies, was all but forbidden. Osson ordered that each man live in the saddle, forsaking all the comforts normally carried. For the outnumbered forces of Almor, speed could make the difference between life and death.
Having divided his forces, Osson set his plan in motion. Knowing that neither of his armies could long withstand the full attention of the Great Kingdom, the commandant hoped to divert Ivid’s armies away from Almor. Almor needed time for Nyrondese aid to arrive, and if Osson could fluster the mad Ivid like a wasp in the helmet, the Overlord might never attack. Either way, Osson preferred to keep the battle on Aerdian soil. [Wars - 14]

In the east, rains had an equally retarding effect. Mired in mud and hamstrung by the Overking’s pettiness, the Great Kingdom’s armies massed on the borders of Medegia, Almor, and Nyrond. Osson’s raid and the coming of the rains bought the Almorians time to fortify their borders and gather new reserves. Nyrond also raised new armies to meet the threat from the Great Kingdom. [Wars - 14]

To the south and southwest, Aerdi forces attacked the states of the Iron League; to the west, they moved through Almor and on toward Nyrond. Almor was swiftly subdued, but under the legendary Commandant Osson, one Almorian army led the Aerdi forces in a merry dance by moving through Ahlissa, Sunndi, and even into Medegia before its daring but ultimately pointless deed was put to the sword. [FTAA - 7]

Osson first struck south, passing through the Thelly Forest. With speed and surprise on their side, the horsemen brushed away Ahlissa’s ill-trained troops and plunged into the South Province. The land fell quickly into disarray. The peasants, long oppressed by their Herzog, welcomed the Almorian forces. The Herzog himself was slow to respond, for the bulk of Ahlissa’s troops were massed on her western border, preparing to assault Irongate. Rushing detachments of his army toward the east, the Herzog reluctantly accepted offers of aid from the Overking. [Ivid extended these offers not out of friendship or kinship, but because the Overking saw a chance to secure a grip over his wavering cousin. [Wars – 28] The Aerdi army marched southwest to engage the intruders, but before either force could catch him, Osson advanced again.
Instead of returning to Almor, Osson led his horsemen into the Rieuwood. The Glorioles Army of the Overking, though victorious, had suffered badly in its conquest of Sunndi. Osson calculated that a defeat in Sunndi would swing Ivid’s attention from Almor. Once through the wood, Commandant Osson found the Overking’s forces arrayed and ready for him. Even badly hurt, the Glorioles Army would have proved an equal match for the Almorians but that the Aerdians did not have a general of genius on their side. At the Battle of Rieuwood, Osson initiated the tactic of false retreat that was to become his hallmark. Believing the cavalry routed, the Aerdians gave chase, only to blunder into a deadly trap. The Glorioles Army was decimated. [Wars – 13,14]

The Glorioles Army: This has been decimated by the Greyhawk Wars. Perhaps only a fifth of its pre-war strength remains intact. The rest was lost in the campaigns against Sunndi, Osson, Medegia, and Almor. Some residual units remain in cities such as Torrich, Nulbish, and Kalstrand, but others are in Szeffrin's service in Almor, or exist as marauders or madmen in Almor, Medegia, and the edges of forests in Aerdy. [Ivid – 145]

Rieuwood: 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] 

By 583 CY, the heavily bulwarked Ahlissan presence in the area coupled with extreme attrition among the elf and dwarf protectors of northern Sunndi made for a disastrous combination. With the full might of the Glorioles Army, Herzog Chelor pushed south all the way to Pitchfield, burning the count's estates and ravaging the central countryside. Thousands of Sunnd perished in battle against one of Ivid's most skilled armies. For a time, it seemed as if the entire nation would be lost. Within two months of invasion, however, Sunndi gained hope with the arrival in late 583 of Almor's Commandant Osson, who had led most of Ivid's army on a distracting chase throughout much of the southlands, away from Chathold. Osson's host met the Glorioles army at the Battle of Rieuwood. Aided by native sylvan elves, Chelor's army was decimated and shamed. [LGG – 111] 

Osson claimed Pitchfield in the autumn of that year. As light snows blanketed much of Ahlissa, Osson and his men took a month to recuperate in the relative warmth of the Pawluck Valley. A failed attempt at taking Nulbish eroded at his army's already fragile morale, and word that the Aerdi Army had cut off any hope of return to Almor painted a landscape of desperation. [LGG – 111]

The County of Sunndi was originally a fief within a fief, being granted to a loyal peer of the Herzog of the South Province when the Herzog was in favor with the Overking. After a miserable, long period of repressive rule, the Sunndis proclaimed independence and joined the Iron League shortly after its founding. Largely recaptured by the Glorioles Army of Ivid V in the Wars, it was liberated through a combination of uprisings and the derring-do of Commander Osson. Sunndi has managed to remain free; the threat from the north has been replaced by the threat of the Scarlet Brotherhood, whose "advisers" were dispatched just in time to prevent Sunndi from going the way of Onnwall and Idee. [FTAA – 39]

When the Honorable Knight Osson of Almor raided Sunndi, freeing it from the Great Kingdom, the Father of Obedience did nothing to stop it, knowing that an independent Sunndi would accept advisors from the south. [SB - 5]

After a brief delay to reorganize, proclaim Sunndi’s liberation, and recruit volunteers, Osson set off again. Crossing the Glorioles, the commandant made a stab at Nulbish on the Thelly River. Sadly, the good fortune that had followed him to this point fled. The garrison commander at Nulbish, Magistar Vlent, had the military training that other Aerdi commanders lacked. Refusing to fight outside the city, Magistar Vlent used a heavily armed river flotilla to maintain supplies and harry the Almorians. After several weeks of futile siege, Osson received word that the Aerdi Army was descending from the north. Any return to Almor was clearly impossible, for a massive army now blocked the path.
Many options—all of them grim—came under debate in Osson’s war council. [Thredus, Commandant Osson’s personal wizard and chronicler, faithfully recorded these war councils. Thredus’ ’True Account of the Great Almorian Campaign spans five volumes and provides both historical accounts of battles and biographical information about Osson himself. Wars - 28] Some of the knights argued for fighting back to Almor, others suggested wintering over in Sunndi, and a handful even proposed a drive for Rauxes, capital of the Great Kingdom! In the end, Osson chose none of these, calling instead for a march on the See of Medegia. For Almor’s sake, Osson argued, the cavalry must continue to pressure the Great Kingdom. If reports held true that the Lordship of the Isles and the Iron League were planning to ally, surely the Lordship’s fleet could provide an escape to the Almorian cavalry. [Wars – 14]

During the wars, Osson bypassed Pontylver. A diviner among his retinue informed him that the city rulers would not come to the holy censor's aid if Osson ventured further into Medegia. The advice was correct.
Pontylver saw itself as a free city, and Spidasa as being too bound to Rauxes. Having failed to take Nulbish, Osson was ready to accept his diviner's advice—and he was surely right to do so. [Ivid – 106]

Memories of the near-fall of Nulbish to Osson's men during the wars are still fresh, and families here lost many more of their sons to soldiers than elsewhere. [Ivid – 124]

Though the attack into Medegia surprised the Overking, his reaction was equally surprising. As soon as Osson’s intentions were clear, Ivid ordered his armies to stop their pursuit. Rebellious Medegia would receive no aid from the Great Kingdom. In a series of stunning field battles, Osson’s army crushed the forces of the Holy Censor and seized the land from Pontylver to Lone Heath. Spidasa, the Holy Censor, fled to Rauxes to beg his imperial majesty’s forgiveness. Compassion failing him, Ivid V arrested the chief cleric and sentenced him to the Endless Death. [Wars – 14]

When Osson veered into Medegia and conquered large swaths of that land, the Holy Censor made the desperate mistake of heading for Rauxes in exile. Ivid's judgment was swift; the Censor received the delights of the Endless Death (being perpetually tortured while wearing a ring of regeneration), which he still endures. [FTAA – 27]

Osson of Chathold conquered most of Medegia during his extraordinary run-around of southern Aerdy, with Ivid's armies deliberately not coming to the aid of the rebellious Medegia. Incredibly, Censor Spidasa fled to Rauxes from Osson's victorious armies, where he now enjoys the agonies of the Endless Death. [Ivid – 104]

Victims of the Endless Death are forced to wear a ring of regeneration while torturers endlessly perform their arts on them. These torturers, trained from youth to perfectly gauge the intensity and extensity of pain, always stop one step short of inflicting death. Rumors tell that victims of this punishment have been tortured by grandfathers, fathers, and sons of the same executioner families. [Wars – 28]

While Rel Astra did not fall to Osson during the war, the Overking's pillaging army in Medegia didn't worry much about technicalities, and tried its best to sack and loot the town anyway. By this time, having despoiled their way through Medegia, the imperial army was both weakened and sated, and the city's troops fought them off. This created a great hatred of Ivid within Rel Astra, however, and the generals and ordinary folk long for the day when Ivid's gutted carcass will hang on a meathook above the city gates. In addition, Drax was blessed by his Overking with the gift of undying, and he is an animus and none too happy about it. He, too, longs for revenge. So, Rel Astra wants money and plenty of it. Armies of revenge are not hired without bulging coffers. [FTAA - 47]

[The] worst setback for the alliance came when a sudden coup replaced Prince Latmac Ranold of the Lordship of the Isles with his distant cousin, Prince Frolmar Ingerskatti. The new ruler surprisingly proclaimed his support of the Great and Hidden Empire of the Scarlet Brotherhood. This proclamation not only pulled the Lordship from the alliance, but effectively trapped Commandant Osson of Almor in Medegia. Though the Brotherhood’s hand had heretofore gone unfelt, its effect would become increasingly undeniable. [Wars – 14,15]

General Kalreth:
Kalreth
Animus with abilities of 15th-level fighter (Str 18/00, Dex 17). AC -6, hp 100, AL NE. Kalreth is only 5
’ 9” […], but he is massively muscled and powerful of stature. His brown curly hair is cut short, and he has a very lined forehead above the thick, bushy eyebrows that dominate his face. […] He regards anything other than complete fealty to Ivid as treason, and he is uncompromising and brutal.
Kalreth’s character has been changed irrevocably by his ownership of the spear of sorrow. […]
The special purpose of the spear, which may lie dormant for many years, is to locate and revivify temples and sleeping guardians devoted to the god Tharizdun. [Dragon #206 - 44] 

Kalreth is a general of the Companion Guard, and he hunted down Osson in Medegia and razed much of that land. [Dragon #206 - 44]

As the clouds of spring cleared in the east, Commandant Osson, still encamped in Medegia, could little deny the fate dealt him and his men. The hope he had posted on the Lordship of the Isles proved misplaced. Ships of the Sea Barons-the sharks of Ivid V-patrolled the waters of the Aerdi Sea while the rested and refitted Aerdi armies awaited Osson across every border. Even the peasantry that Osson hoped would arise remained quiescent, fearing retribution when the Overking’s legions returned. Thus, with certain knowledge of their doom, the cavalry took the field one last time, in a break-out attempt toward the Hestmark Highlands.

The Fallen
Though Osson planned an orderly dash for safety, it was not to be. As the cavalry charged across the Flanmi River, most of its officers fell to the bowmen of the entrenched Aerdi Army. So many fell, in fact, that even the energetic and brilliant commandant could not reign in the cavalry. Before even securing the field, every horseman who still drew breath rode hard for the hills and the safety of Sunndi. From there, the ragged line of cavalry wormed its way home by way of the Iron League. Commandant of the Field Osson of Chathold did not return, and his final fate remains a mystery. The Great Almorian Raid had finally met its end. 
[Wars – 19]

Finally, the Almorian army surged north to the See of Medegia, which fell quickly without support from Rauxes. Ultimately, Osson's army was put to the sword, its few survivors returning to the villages of Sunndi that supported them. Some say that Osson himself lives on here, though this has never been confirmed. [LGG – 111]

The Ragged Remains Return to Sunndi
Osson's armies never returned home, and when they left Medegia Ivid sent in his armies to loot, pillage, and murder in an act of senseless destruction. Ivid saw this as revenge for the lack of support from the small nation, and his men carried out their work thoroughly and with a grim pleasure. The very dregs of armies were employed: the remnants of the Glorioles Army, orcish forces, and even penal legions of convict and slave militias and levies.
Added to this, the rag-tag, brutal army faced little active resistance in Medegia, since so many of the censor's forces had already been overwhelmed by Osson. Among its commanders were two cousins of the overking (subsequently executed for treachery) who were true Naelax men—they dealt with tanar'ri and yugoloths. [Ivid – 104] 

When Ivid's armies finally crushed Osson's troops in this land, the Overking ordered an orgy of brutality and destruction inflicted on it and its inhabitants. Rape, pillage, torture, and the suffering of every man and woman in Medegia were what Ivid ordered, and his army was pleased to obey. Medegia was utterly despoiled, and what remains of it is barren and underpopulated. Its few surviving inhabitants are bitter, twisted, and half-mad people tormented by fiends and petty despots. [FTAA – 27]

Only after the fiends among the Aerdi legions had sated themselves on the dead did the Overking occupy Medegia. Ivid ordered the land-protected from looting during Osson’s brief tenure-raped and looted. Unsatisfied by the eternal punishment meted out to his Holy Censor, Ivid wanted every man, woman, and child of the upstart province to suffer. The Overking authorized plundering and spoils for every soldier, and commanders even fought minor battles over the right to sack each town. Ivid’s commitment to despoiling Medegia thus removed his mightiest army from combat for some time.
Osson’s raid accomplished much for Almor: destroying the Glorioles Army, redirecting the Aerdi army to conquest of Medegia, and providing Almor time to raise armies and fortifications. Even so, Almorian resistance ultimately proved futile. The Overking-with Ahlissa, Medegia (what remained of it), the North Province, and the Bone March at his sideunleashed all his might against the hapless Prelacy.
Historians hesitate to call the invasion of Almor a battle: it was more accurately a massacre. Armies from Ahlissa and the heartlands converged upon Chathold from the south and east: the Army of the North marched through the Adri Forest to seize the border between Almor and Nyrond: and orcs of the Bone March boiled through the Flinty Hills, cutting into the flank of Nyrondese forces. Ivid thus overran Almor on three fronts and prevented Nyrond from aiding the Prelacy.
Ironically, both the attack and fall of Almor came within Goodmonth. Though Chathold contained a large garrison, well-provisioned for conventional siege, its defenders fell to the magical fury unleashed by the Overking’s wizards and clerics. In a single day, now called the Day of Dust, fell mages and priests leveled the walls, buildings, and citizens of Chathold with an onslaught of earthquakes, fireballs, floods, clouds of poisonous gas, and worse. When the smoke cleared, nothing remained of Chathold to loot and despoil. Ivid did order, however, that the body of Kevont, Prelate of Almor, be hunted out and exposed for a month on the toppled city gates. Thus, the nation of Almor passed from the face of the Flanaess. [Wars – 19]

In the Aftermath:
Historians hesitate to call the invasion of Almor a battle: it was more accurately a massacre. Armies from Ahlissa and the heartlands converged upon Chathold from the south and east: the Army of the North marched through the Adri Forest to seize the border between Almor and Nyrond: and orcs of the Bone March boiled through the Flinty Hills, cutting into the flank of Nyrondese forces. Ivid thus overran Almor on three fronts and prevented Nyrond from aiding the Prelacy.
Ironically, both the attack and fall of Almor came within Goodmonth. Though Chathold contained a large garrison, well-provisioned for conventional siege, its defenders fell to the magical fury unleashed by the Overking’s wizards and clerics. In a single day, now called the Day of Dust, fell mages and priests leveled the walls, buildings, and citizens of Chathold with an onslaught of earthquakes, fireballs, floods, clouds of poisonous gas, and worse. When the smoke cleared, nothing remained of Chathold to loot and despoil. Ivid did order, however, that the body of Kevont, Prelate of Almor, be hunted out and exposed for a month on the toppled city gates. Thus, the nation of Almor passed from the face of the Flanaess. [Wars: ADV - 19] 

Ivid's Rage
While the heroism of Osson of Chathold is celebrated in song and verse, there is little doubt that his exploits cost Almor the lives of tens of thousands of people and plunged it into a nightmare which endures still. Osson's raids so enraged Ivid that he struck against Almor as brutally and forcefully as he did against Medegia. Ahlissan armies, the Army of the North, and Bone March humanoids converged on Almor and simply overwhelmed its armies. On the 17th day of Goodmonth, 584 CY, mages and priests in Ivid's armies razed Chathold by fire, lightning, acid, earthquake, poisonous gas, and more. The Day of Dust, as it is now known, saw the nation of Almor disappear from the maps of the Flanaess, probably forever. [Ivid – 145]

Almor burned like dry wood following Commandant Osson's eventual defeat. [LGG – 78] 

Almor has passed from the map of the Flanaess. Weakened and embarassed by Osson's exploits, it was invaded by Ivid in 584 CY and its old capital, Chathold, utterly decimated by the Overking's mages and priests. The animus Duke Szeffrin now rules half of the old Almorian lands, and this creature, formerly a greatly favored general in Ivid's armies, is reputedly one of the cruellest of the animus nobles now holding sway over so much of Aerdy. [FTAA - 27] 

Fiends have been seen plundering the razed ruins of Chathold. They are carrying off corpses and skeletons, probably to be animated, but they appear to be seeking something else—a magical treasure or symbol of authority of the Great Kingdom, perhaps. The fiends are unusually well organized, persistent, and thorough. [FTAA - 79]

[One] must add to Ivid's crimes the decimation of Medegia by troops. This came about because of his rage over the Medegian failure to support him in his military campaigns, the failure to resist Osson's raids, the execution of the ruler of Ahlissa, and the destruction of Almor. [Ivid – 5] 

The Signing of the Eastern Pact
As 583 came to a close, the king met in Oldred with representatives of Almor, Onnwal, Idee, Sunndi, the Pale, the County of Urnst, and Irongate. There, all but the Pale signed the Eastern Pact of Alliance, a treaty meant to ensure the containment of Ivid's armies. [LGG – 78]

While defending Irongate, and thus Onnwal, the Brotherhood worked elsewhere to destroy the unity of the Iron League. Confident the Vast Swamp would block any overland attack, the Father of Obedience did not lift a finger when Osson liberated Sunndi. Under Ivid’s rule, the courts of Sunndi were impervious to the Brotherhood’s advisors, but liberated from the yoke of the Great Kingdom, the people would welcome the Scarlet Brotherhood-at least for a time. [Wars – 22]

Though the tide of evil seemed certain to flood the land—even to the gates of Greyhawk City—fate intervened, wearing the guise of madness. The mad Overking Ivid V compared the success of the Almorian campaign, in which he had played a small part, with the previous handling of Osson’s raid. He concluded not that Osson had been a brilliant commander, but that his own generals were incompetent bunglers, requiring his aid to be successful. In short, Ivid decided he was a military genius and all his generals were fools. [Wars – 20]

[Such] trivial diversions as Osson's raid into Ahlissa and Medegia brought out the very worst in Ivid. He became utterly obsessed about such matters and ordered appalling reprisals, verging on genocide, against the people of those lands. He saw it as punishment for treachery in not dealing with such affronts to His Imperial Majesty. [Ivid – 5] 

Ivid executed the third Chelor during the Greyhawk Wars, a fair reward for his cousin's dithering. Indeed, most of the Naelax-Selor House perished with the Chelors at the hands of Ivid's executioners and assassins. Ahlissan armies did not readily march to war against Nyrond, and they suffered humiliating defeats at the hands of Osson of Almor. This was, indeed, a pitiful display by the Herzog's armies. For some years before the wars, Ahlissan armies had threatened the Iron League nations, and Chelor had built a powerful standing army around the Province.
In mitigation, it must be said that Osson's attack was wholly unexpected.
At the height of Osson's invasion, Chelor begged aid from his cousin. The army which arrived was too late to deal with Osson, but it also had orders to detain Chelor. The Herzog and most of his senior advisers were brought to Ivid and summary justice was dispensed. [Ivid – 128] 

Guests to Ivid's Pleasure
The dungeons of the royal palace contain an unknown number of wretches suffering the Endless Death. Here, they are tortured by priests of Hextor, given a ring of regeneration, and then tortured all over again. Such treatment renders the victims insane very swiftly. The current victims include Spidasa, Censor of Medegia, and it is possible that Chelor, Herzog of South Province, is similarly tormented—though some say he is dead. Some folk believe that Osson of Almor is similarly imprisoned in the unspeakable dungeons, swarming with evil priests, lesser and least baatezu, undead of most kinds, and worse. [Ivid – 32]

Dallrend Gresinen
Let us not think that Ossen’s Raid was foolhardy, or folly. His exploits raised the hopes and courage of many in the field; and it may be that his dash across South Province and Sunndi and Medegia drew much needed resources away from Nyrond and Urnst.
His name has been and still is an inspiration to many, most notably The Knights of the Chase, the fellowship of the followers of Trithereon, and most notably Dallrend Gresinen.
A native of Chathold in Almor, Dallrend has fought for almost two decades against the incursions of the Great Kingdom; the Aerdi remain for him the culprits for all misfortunes and calamities that befell his land. Now that Almor has passed into history and his family’s fate remains a mystery, he spends his time searching for his family and punishing any who seek to persecute his shattered homeland. Many within Nyrond’s occupying forces consider Dallrend a hothead, but they respect him because he rescued several of their countrymen from slavers raiding the coastal areas of old Almor. [Dragon #297 – 96] 

Active throughout the Flaneass battling oppression and tyranny, Knights of the Chase can be found throughout the old Great Kingdom (where they are often hanged as seditionist), Sunndi, Ratik, Old Almor, the Bandit Kingdoms, the Shield Lands, [and] ruined Tenh, [where] members of the order war against both Stonefolders and the law-obsessed zealots armies of the Theocracy of the Pale. [Dragon #297 – 92]

Shall Almor rise again? Who can say?
It will if Otto, archimage of the Circle of Eight, has any say in that.
And Dallrend.
And those other unknown and unheralded heroes who strive for such a day. 

“When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw.”
― Nelson Mandela


Ode to Freedom--a fragment
O Liberty! if such could be thy name
Wert thou disjoined from these, or thry from they:
If thine or theirs were treasures to be bought
By blood or tears, have not the wise and free
Wept tears, and blood like tear?
        Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1820





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.
Special thanks to Jason Zavoda for his compiled index, “Greyhawkania,” an invaluable research tool.

 

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


Sources:
1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
Greyhawk Wars Boxed Set, 1991
1064 From the Ashes Boxed Set, 1992
11374 The Scarlet Brotherhood, 1999
11743 Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000
Dragon Magazine #65, #206, #297
Ivid, the Undying, 2009
Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda
The map of Anna B. Meyer

Friday, 22 January 2021

The Schnai Primer


“Anyone with gumption and a sharp mind will take the measure of two things:
what's said and what's done.”
― Seamus Heaney, Beowulf

A Return to Glory
His Bellicose Majesty, King Ingemar Hartensen of the Schnai, yearns for a return to the glory days of Rhizia. The strongest, and most populace of the Barbarian states, they held sway over their brethren for years, but that has changed in recent years. Their brethren have shown increased autonomy. He is not pleased about that; but to march against one would risk conflict with the other, and while he was certain that his jarls could defeat one, his folk would be hard pressed to defeat both at once. So They said. So, he waits. And watches. And prepares.

King Ingemar Hartensen
The Fruztii's alliance with the Ratikians will surely bring them low, they said; the Ratikians are only using their northern neighbours to blunt the swords of the Euroz and the Fists.
And the Cruski, for all their high opinion of their selves, are few, and could never stand against any meaningful invasion. Their coasts are too long, too rugged, too sparsely populated. And ill-defended. They trust in the ice and to inhospitable seas to safeguard their scattered settlements.
Let them think themselves independent, they advised. The fools will, without doubt, return to the fold, pleading aid, and pledging fealty.
So say the Red Robes. They know patience. And they are wise. And have they not decreed that the Schnai are the true masters of the North?

Once the Scarlet Brotherhood landed upon their shores, their whispers of glory have taken root.
The Schnai have taken to raiding more, pitching their ships against those of the Sea Barons, their most hated enemy, even more often than usual of late. Sea Barons bested the Schnai in their most recent clash, capturing or sinking seven ships in the exchange. 

The Snow Leopards
In truth, the snow leopard clans were never the fiercest (that distinction was held by the Fruztii) or the most adventurous (that might be said of the Cruski); they were the slyest, the most cunning, and the most calculating. One must not think that the snow leopards are not ferocious, because they are. Many are called to the path of the berserker, eschewing armor for the spotted hide of their patron totem, the axe, and shield and their trust in the favour of Vatun. 
Vatun favours them. Truly he does. He listens, and answers their call in time of need. As do their ancestors.
Black Sails of Schnai: Enchanted in the land of Snow Barbarians and blessed by shamans of their barbaric gods, these square sails are hoisted only on the funeral ships of great barbarian heroes and lords. The deceased warrior’s body is burned along with the ship and all but a small piece of the sail. Afterwards, the character’s spirit can be called on by the tribal chiefs in time of battle by burning the remainder of the sail. The spirit appears as a spectral einheriar (spirit warrior) and fights on the side of the tribe until destroyed. […] It is reported that several villages have up to 10 of these spirit warriors on call. [GA - 77]

DMs who wish a campaign in the frozen north will find this an idea locale. There are fiords and jarls and berserkers, filled with longships and combat.

There is great intrigue in the court of Soull, with the Scarlet Brotherhood in attendance and in the Halls of the Jarls.
Cruski barbarians would undermine their machinations, killing them outright; but not the Schnai, who find their words profetic and pleasing.
PCs from Ratik would work to expose the Brotherhood’s wicked plans. Ships from the Sea Barons might raid the Schnai, flipping expectations. 

Primary sources:
Dragon Magazine_52,55,57,63,87,88,89,256,291,315
WGS1 The Five Shall Be One, WGS2 Howl From the North

Adventures in the country include:
The Witch of Serpent Bridge, Dungeon #95
Forest adventures in the Spikey Forest. Winter wolves and sable firs.
Mountain adventures (Underdark adventures) in the Corusks and Griff mountains (alternate placement of G1-3). Dragons. Remorhaz. Yeti.
Intrigue in Glot. Scarlet Brotherhood agents!
Fey fading lands. Ruins of the Ur-Flan from the time of Keraptis.
 
Adventures in nearby adventures include:
WGS1 The Five Shall Be One
WGS2 Howl From the North
The Dancing Hut of Baba Yaga
WGS1 The Five Shall Be One, Bandit Kingdoms
WGR5 Iuz the Evil
OJ#9, A Slight Diversion; Redspan, 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
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.
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.

Schnai Shieldmaiden
Expeditions to Skrellingshald (Tostencha)
Arctic adventures in the Taival Tundra; Big Seal Bay (outer doors of ancient dwarven clanholds); The Land of Black Ice, and the Zeai Clan (Sea Barbarians) upon the Icy Sea.
Forest adventures in the Hraak Forest.
Adventures upon the Solnor. Clashes with the Sea Barons; Trade with or Raid Ratik and the Bone March and beyond.  Clashes with the Sea Barons.
The Scarlet Brotherhood, Invitation to the Kingdom of Shar, Tivenot Peninsula).
Exploration of the far south (Hepmonoland).
The search for and discovery of Fireland, and the arrival of a ship from Fireland.
 

Snow Barbarians:
chaotic neutral, chaotic evil; Suloise, Common, Cold Tongue
[Dragon #52 - 20]

KINGDOM OF SCHNAI
His Bellicose Majesty, King of the Schnai
Capital: Soull (5,400)
Population: 90,000+
Demi-humans: Some
Humanoids: Many (in mountains)
Resources: copper, gems (I-II)
[WOGA – 35]

Proper Name: Kingdom of (the) Schnai
Ruler: His Bellicose Majesty, King Ingemar Hartensen of the Schnai (CN male human Bbn16)
Capital: Soull
Major Towns: Soull (pop, 5,600), Knudje (pop- 4,500)
Provinces: Eleven noble fiefs controlled by clan jarls, with numerous minor noble fiefs below each
Resources: Copper, gems (I-II)
Population: 209,000—Human 79% (S), Dwarf 8% (mountain 60%, hill 40%), Halfling 6%, Elf 3%, Gnome 2%, Half-elf 1%, Half-orc 1%
Languages: Cold Tongue, Common, Dwarven, Halfling
Alignments: CN, N, CE, CG
Religions: Kord, Llerg, Norebo, Xerbo, Vatun
[LGG - 105]

Patient, the Leopard Waits



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.
Special thanks to Jason Zavoda for his compiled index, “Greyhawkania,” an invaluable research tool.


The Art:
All art is wholly owned by the artists.
The Witch of Serpent Bridge by Vinod Rams, from Dungeon magazine #95, 2002
Snow Barbarian shield, from the Greyhawk Folio, 1980


Sources:
1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
9577 The Adventure Begins, 1998
9578 Player’s Guide to Greyhawk, 1998
2023 Greyhawk Adventures, 1988
11374 The Scarlet Brotherhood, 1999
11743 Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000
Dragon Magazine 68, 82
OJ Oerth Journal #10, appearing on Greyhawk Online
Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda
The map of Anna B. Meyer

Friday, 15 January 2021

History of the South-East, Part 12: The End of an Age

 

“Dark clouds are smouldering into red
While down the craters morning burns.
The dying soldier shifts his head
To watch the glory that returns:
He lifts his fingers toward the skies
Where holy brightness breaks in flame;
Radiance reflected in his eyes,
And on his lips a whispered name.”

― Siegfried Sassoon, The War Poems 

The Great War
The Great War had enveloped the Flanaess. No nation was spared. But some were better prepared than others. The Scarlet Brotherhood continued to bide its time. Our time is now, the Millennialists urged, eager to prove the predictions of their prophet, Huro, long defamed after being sentenced to death by ritual torture for blasphemy. The Strong Hand agreed, but they most certainly would have agreed to any plan that began the immediate conquest of the mainland.
But they waited, as all did, for none would act without the approval of the Father of Obedience. Patience is a virtue, Jellevi Mauk had taught them, and the Father of Obedience agreed.
Such wisdom served the Brotherhood well; for the longer they waited, the weaker their prey became. 

584 CY  Throughout the first year of the war, one faction had remained notably silent—the ominous Scarlet Brotherhood of recent legend. While other nations hurled massive armies against each other, the Brotherhood insidiously wormed advisors into courts of kings. Against armies the Father of Obedience sent agents. Though the isolated Brotherhood seemed a mere bystander in the wars, nothing could have been further from the truth. The first phase of the Scarlet Brotherhood’s plan was simple-wait and watch. The Father of Obedience spent the opening months of the war assessing who would fight whom and where the true centers of power lay. So long as the war stayed in the north, the Father of Obedience contented himself with reports from agents in all camps. These men, posing as tutors and learned sages from before the start of hostilities, advised lords and commanders and thereby added the Brotherhood’s invisible hand to every battle. In all things, these spies worked to assure that neither side came too close to victory or treaty. The Father of Obedience commanded that the war continue, and so it did.
            Another group of the Brotherhood’s agents work even further afield, in desolate and horrible places. These men sought out foul things and whispered promises in their ears. “Arise, take the lands of men as your own, and you shall find great reward,” was their song. From the Crystalmists to the ‘Roll Fens, fell creatures responded. Thus, like the silent and inexorable tug of the moon, the Father of Obedience raised the tide of evil. [Wars - 20] 

The Amedio remains a place of mystery to most of the Flanaess because so little information has been brought back from it. It wasn’t until 584 CY, when the Matreyus expedition brought back detailed notes and artifacts from the jungle, that the Amedio became something other than a distant hazard to be avoided. These notes allowed some to realize that certain unusual items traded by the Sea Princes were products of the Amedio. The Jungle became even more real to the people of the Flanaess when the Scarlet Brotherhood began unloading slaves and warriors in Flanaess ports. [SB - 63] 

“We are ready,”
Brother Renho, the Father of Arms declared when asked by the Father of Obedience. The Brotherhood had waited long enough, he thought; but he would never be so bold as to tell the Father of Obedience that.
There are three major divisions within [the Brotherhoods armed forces]: the Suel armies and navy, consisting of citizens (mainly officers and special operatives), subcitizens and “promoted” Hepmonaland or Amedio Suel; the humanoid armies, consisting of goblins, hobgoblins and orcs; and the slave armies, consisting of human and demihuman slaves from across the Flanaess, including Suel savages from the jungles who have not been promoted. These branches work in tandem, although each branch has its own chain of command leading to the Father of Arms. [SB - 20] 

Brother Marshenref, the Father of Thralls, was not as sure as was his brethren. He understood patience, even if Brother Renho did not. He understood the need for deliberation. Long planning inevitably defeated quick action. “One must not squander our resources needlessly,” he cautioned. It was well and good for the Millennials and the Strong Hand to call for action, but it was his slaves they meant to spend in doing so, and waste if their reach proved greater than their grasp.
If there was one thing Brother Marshenref could not tolerate, it was waste.
But if the Father of Obedience saw the need that those slaves should be spent in the pursuit of the greater good, that was what they were meant for; and they should be happy to sacrifice themselves. “Be happy in your toil,” the writings of Jellevi Mauk instructed them, “for salvation is found in your dedication to servitude.”
Brother Marshenref was happy to oblige, if that was the bidding of his Master, but in truth, Brother Marshenref was far less interested in the war than were his brethren.
Under his leadership, the Brotherhood has produced two additional slave races, the Komazar and the Kurg. [SB - 19]
After many failures in trying to recreate the derro slave race, the Office of Thralls set its sights a little lower and developed […] the komazar. Resembling stunted humans [, and] are an inbred mix of [Flan] and dwarves. […] The komazar work the mines of the Scarlet Brotherhood. [SB - 87]
The Scarlet Brotherhood desired a slave race to move heavy objects, and the creation of the kurg fulfilled this nicely. Tall, with tiny bovine horns, […] and stiff fur on their heads, shoulders and backs, the kurg are very strong, gentle and not too clever. [SB - 87]
The result of a crossbreed between captured Olman and a lemur-like native of the jungles, the rullhow are hairy humanoids with […] very large eyes and short tails. […] Agile climbers, the rullhow are responsible for keeping the streets and buildings of the Brotherhood cities clean. [SB - 88]


Sister Arinohal, Mother of Purity, abhorred waste, as well.
One of the few remaining Pure Suel faction members, she makes sure that the youth of the Brotherhood are raised with the certainty of Suel superiority over every other sentient race. [SB - 19]
The Office of Puruty has the most influence on [the’ Brotherhood, for it is this Office that selects citizens to produce children, coordinates the upbringing and training of these children, and directs them onto paths that allow them to best utilize their skills in service of the Brotherhood. [SB - 19]

The Father of Obedience Listened
The Father of Obedience listened, deliberated, weighted what he had heard, and decided. The time was indeed now. He gave his blessing. Go forth, he decreed.
Because of its ambivalent position in the Brotherhood’s plans, the Iron League received strange helps and hindrances in the war. Irongate, threatened by armies of the South Province, received secret support: equipment, money, advisors, and mercenaries all flowed into the city, evidently from diverse sources. In truth, the Scarlet Brotherhood guided everything to the city. Apparently unsuspecting of the source of this aid, Cobb Darg, Lord High Mayor of Irongate, put it to good use. The mayor, an able and energetic leader with good sense and tactical cunning, used the resources to repeatedly trounce the South Province’s Grand Field Force with his drastically outnumbered Army of Irongate. Cobb Darg, aided by many wise advisors, made astute use of deceptions, magic, fortifications, and traps-luring more than one Ahlissan army to destruction.
While defending Irongate, and thus Onnwal, the Brotherhood worked elsewhere to destroy the unity of the Iron League. Confident the Vast Swamp would block any overland attack, the Father of Obedience did not lift a finger when Osson liberated Sunndi. Under Ivid’s rule, the courts of Sunndi were impervious to the Brotherhood’s advisors, but liberated from the yoke of the Great Kingdom, the people would welcome the Scarlet Brotherhood—at least for a time. [Wars - 22] 

The Scarlet Brotherhood’s plan was complex, indeed. Even as they lent aid, its agents and “uncles” spread discontent, and also began its program of targeted assassinations.
The demesnes of Count Cadwale, the “Tunneling Count,” has again risen to prominence in Onnwal. The long dead noble (thought to be horrifically ugly or diseased but in fact handsome and fanatical about his privacy) was renown for the tunnels he constructed. Brotherhood agents slew the incumbent count and occupied the manor in 583 CY. [LGJ#0 - 12]
And very soon Onnwal fell.
No plan ever works out perfectly, however, no matter how meticulous its planning, or how deft its execution.
The Brotherhood made a move for Irongate as well, but crafty Cobb Darg, who had known the allegiances of his "advisers" all along, survived the sudden onslaught. [LGG -98] 

Onnwal, unlike Irongate, failed to recognize the treachery that caused it to fall into the hands of the Scarlet Brotherhood during the Greyhawk Wars. The land had never been invaded and had previously been subjected only to periodic naval raids by South Province. The Scarlet Brotherhood assassinated Szek Ewerd Destron and took over the land almost overnight. Some anticipated the takeover just in time, particularly the thieves' guild in Scant, which absconded from the city to the countryside in 584 CY. [LGG - 80] 

Next fell the Lordship of the Isles.
The Duxchan Isles had always been an unpredictable port of call. One always had to wonder where its allegiances lay. The answer to that question had always been obvious to any who had laid foot upon its beaches: With itself, for the most part.
This chain of islands has been occupied by the Suel for nearly one thousand years, and this race remains the most dominant population of the isles, most notably on Ansabo and Ganode. [LGG - 70]
These pirates and buccaneers were the terror of the south, holding a near stranglehold over traffic through the southern straits and raiding the southern coastal cities with ease. [LGG - 71]
But they had been put to rights, brought into the fold, and once the Aerdi had placed one of its own upon its throne, flown the colours of the Kingdom.
The island lords became very rich over the next few centuries, profiting from the trade that flowed through their islands, a portion of which was due the herzog of South Province.  [LGG - 71]
But one always had to wonder, even if it had been properly cowed and held at bay….

And so it had been. Until it joined the Iron League. And so it seemed it would remain. Would the Lordship have stood with the League? It might have, but it was never given the chance to prove what faith might have been laid upon that decision.
During the Greyhawk Wars, the wintry Latmac Ranold was abruptly deposed and an unheralded successor immediately took his place. The Lordship of the Isles quickly became a hotbed of intrigue.  [LGG - 72]
Was the elderly Aerdian assassinated? Some thought so. Most Aerdi believed so. For in no time, the Lordship steered the Duxchans on a hitherto unforeseen path.
Frolmar Ingerskatti of Ganode
The new prince, a little-known Suel lord named Frolmar Ingerskatti of Ganode, immediately withdrew the Lordship from the Iron League and set about lending his naval forces to the maneuvers of the Scarlet Brotherhood, including the blockade of the Tilva Strait that continues to the present day. It is clear to most that Ingerskatti is a puppet of the Scarlet Brotherhood, but little can be done about it, as these cultists are very successful at putting their operatives in key positions within the realm, deposing Oeridians whenever possible in favor of loyal Suel. Most of Ansabo, the port of Sulward, and the whole isle of Ganode are now completely under their control.
[LGG - 72]
The Lordship of the Isles and its new lord declared support of the Brotherhood during the winter of 583-584, and Irongate reacted with revulsion at the activities of its former ally. These included raids on ports of the Iron League and assisting in the subsequent isolation of Irongate by blockading the city. The city's fleet suffered greatly at their hands, and now has standing orders to attack the ships of the Lordship of the Isles upon sight. [LGG - 58] 

An Uncle Arrives
With the Iron League under control and the Great Kingdom headed for certain decline, the Father of Obedience initiated the third phase of his plan. A red-hooded ambassador arrived at the court of the Sea Princes, bearing an ultimatum: “Submit to the Scarlet Brotherhood or be destroyed.” When the lords of the land mocked the messenger, he presented them with a list of 30 names, all petty nobles of the Sea Princes’ lines. Before the next sunrise, 27 of those names had been crossed off the rolls of heraldry, slain by red-hooded assassins. Only three of the listed nobles survived the attacks, and two of them were seriously injured. The mockery stripped from their ashen faces, the Sea Princes surrendered and signed a treaty stating as much. Within a fortnight, ships bearing the Scarlet Sign docked at Port Toli and Monmurg, off-loading strange, savage warriors from the jungles of the south. [Wars - 23] 

Irongate was largely untouched by the Greyhawk Wars until a new enemy revealed itself from the south. The Scarlet Brotherhood and its agents usurped the governments of three member states of the Iron League, but old Cobb Darg proved to be one step ahead of them and prevented the same from happening in Irongate. [LGG - 58]
By 584 CY, decade-old paranoia regarding the Scarlet Brotherhood came true, as advisors in courts throughout the Flanaess were revealed as Brotherhood agents. The Lordship of the Isles, [Idee,] Onnwal, and the Hold of the Sea Princes fell under the influence of the Scarlet Brotherhood thanks to treachery or invasion. [WoG Gaz 3e - 4] 

The Scarlet Brotherhood soon took Idee and Onnwal from the alliance. Irongate and Sunndi, geographically isolated and deeply enmeshed in their own struggles with the Scarlet Sign and Aerdy, wen impotent to back up their promises of aid. [LGG - 78] 

Osson’s Fall
As the clouds of spring cleared in the east, Commandant Osson, still encamped in Medegia, could little deny the fate dealt him and his men. The hope he had posted on the Lordship of the Isles proved misplaced. [Wars - 19]
Though Osson planned an orderly dash for safety, it was not to be. As the cavalry charged across the Flanmi River, most of its officers fell to the bowmen of the entrenched Aerdi Army. [Wars - 19]
So many fell, in fact, that even the energetic and brilliant commandant could not reign in the cavalry. Before even securing the field, every horseman who still drew breath rode hard for the hills and the safety of Sunndi. From there, the ragged line of cavalry wormed its way home by way of the Iron League. Commandant of the Field Osson of Chathold did not return, and his final fate remains a mystery. The Great Almorian Raid had finally met its end. [Wars - 19]
Some folk believe that Osson of Almor is similarly imprisoned in the unspeakable dungeons, swarming with evil priests, lesser and least baatezu, undead of most kinds, and worse. [Ivid - 32] 

The Fallen Hero
While the heroism of Osson of Chathold is celebrated in song and verse, there is little doubt that his exploits cost Almor the lives of tens of thousands of people and plunged it into a nightmare which endures still. Osson's raids so enraged Ivid that he struck against Almor as brutally and forcefully as he did against Medegia. Ahlissan armies, the Army of the North, and Bone March humanoids converged on Almor and simply overwhelmed its armies. On the 17th day of Goodmonth, 584 CY, mages and priests in Ivid's armies razed Chathold by fire, lightning, acid, earthquake, poisonous gas, and more. The Day of Dust, as it is now known, saw the nation of Almor disappear from the maps of the Flanaess, probably forever. [Ivid - 145] 

Almor burned like dry wood following Commandant Ossor's eventual defeat. By the end of 584 CY, Nyrond could count only on aid from the Urnst States to protect it against Ivid's mad bid for revenge. [LGG - 78] 

The Beginning of the End
Ivid was elated. He was truly thrilled when he heard that the upstart Osson had met his end. To celebrate, he launched attacks upon those other upstarts: Nyrond, Almor, and the Iron League.
Ivid launched an attack upon Nyrond, Almor, and the Iron League states, but the conflict served only to bring ruin to the heartlands of the Great Kingdom and destruction to many tens of thousands of citizens. Ivid made terrible enemies of his kinsmen. North Province declared independence from the Great Kingdom in 584 CY, dragging itself out of the Greyhawk Wars, and the empire shattered within weeks into many pieces. [LGG - 24] 

Despite his madness, Ivid came very close to defeating Nyrond. So very close. But he hadn’t.  Nyrond had been blessed in that Ivid had taken command of the field from his plush chambers in Rauxes. If it were not for his incompetence, and the valor of the Nyrondese, that most august nation, which had shouldered so much of the Aerdy’s wrath, would surely have fallen.
Though the tide of evil seemed certain to flood the land [,] fate intervened, wearing the guise of madness. The mad Overking Ivid V compared the success of the Almorian campaign, in which he had played a small part, with the previous handling of Osson’s raid. He concluded not that Osson had been a brilliant commander, but that his own generals were incompetent bunglers, requiring his aid to be successful. In short, Ivid decided he was a military genius and all his generals were fools.
[Ivid] personally assumed complete command of all the armies of the Great Kingdom, despite the counsel of his best advisors. Ivid did not just overrule or even sack his generals: he executed them, sparing only his favorites.
The military campaign that followed was, predictably, a disaster. Flushed with victory over Almor, Ivid pushed his leaderless armies into Nyrond, believing that through magic and messengers he could command them from the distant Malachite Throne. The first efforts to cross the Harp River near Innspa ended in disaster. The few commanders who had escaped Ivid’s wrath feared to act on even the smallest tactical details without explicit commands from Rauxes. Such orders required hours to arrive, if they came at all, and even then were illogical or clearly surpassed by battlefield developments.
A Trusted Noble
Ivid responded to these failings with more executions. Fear began to spread through the nobility: the death of a commander led to the appointment of a “trusted” noble, who was placed in an impossible situation and thus became the next candidate for execution. Intended as an honor, command appointments became the mark of death. Generals quickly learned the only way to survive was to do nothing. All progress in Nyrond ground to a halt, but the armies continued the futile attack, mindlessly following the Overking’s orders.
Nor did Ivid stop there. Believing—with good reason—that his generals conspired to mutiny, the Overking sought even greater control over them. The priests of Hextor, seeking favor in the eyes of the mad Overking, devised a solution to his problem. Through secret rituals, the priests revived each dead general as an animus—a being that, though dead, retained its intelligence and abilities. Perhaps the Overking believed such beings would serve him better or be more amenable to his will. In fact, Ivid was so taken with his animus generals that he broadened the program, first slaying and reviving those nobles who offended him and eventually working the death and revivification as a reward for all his favored courtiers.
Though Ivid’s nobles were undeniably decadent, they were not mad: they considered Ivid’s gift an unenviable “reward.” Because winning the Overking’s favor had become as deadly as incurring his wrath, most nobles sought refuge in mediocrity, obscurity, and anonymity. A few of the more courageous and less astute nobles attempted to dissuade Ivid from his insane schemes, but succeeded only in convincing Ivid to “reward” them on the spot. Fear gave way to defiance as the nobles plotted against their mad lord. Thus, Ivid’s prediction of mutiny became a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The crisis reached its climax during the Richfest celebrations of that year. An assassin emerged from the thronging crowds and struck Ivid a mortal blow with a poisoned dagger. When news spread of Ivid’s death, the gloom over the land lifted. The nobles stoked the fires of celebration, joyously preparing for the power struggle to come.
The Great Kingdom was spared that turmoil, however, by an even greater one. Just as the cunning of the mad Overking had saved Ivid from countless threats past, it saved him now from the grave. Secret arrangements, perhaps made with fiends summoned while on the Malachite Throne, resulted in the Overking’s revivification. Ivid V—who had seemed cold and soulless in life—seemed doubly so in death.
The vengeance visited by the animus Ivid was swift and terrible. The orgy of execution and revivification soared out of control. Ivid rewarded even the slightest suspicion with death. Nobles falsely implicated enemies, seeking to settle old scores, but Ivid cared little whether the accusations were false or true. The mad Overking, now styled the Undying One, revelled in the chaos and destruction in his lands
 Hearing of massacres in Ivid’s lands, King Archbold in Nyrond counterattacked the Army of the North between Womtham and Innspa. Though Ivid’s animus generals fought wellbeing themselves unafraid of death—the chaotic heartlands of the Great Kingdom offered no support to the Northern Army. [Wars - 21,22] 

The great battle of Karndred's Meadows occurred towards the end of the war. King Archbold of Nyrond was trying to reclaim as much of the kingdom's land as he could. Nearly five thousand of Nyrond's best soldiers fell in a single day against the demented, fiend-driven armies of the Overking. Nyrond fought them to a bloody standstill, but the losses were enormous. The cost is still being felt today, and Nyrond's future looks grim indeed. [WGR4 The Marklands - 58] 

Grenell, Herzog
The cost of Ivid’s mad displeasure was a tithe too dear to pay for some. Grenell, Herzog of North Province, had enough! Ivid and his Glorious Kingdom be damned! Grenell had been able to keep his cousin at bay for years, but if he did not rid himself of that lunatic then, while the iron was hot, he too would surely be rewarded with Ivid’s great gift; and he enjoyed his pleasures and his women far too much to consider joining the ranks of the animus anything but a boon. Grenell led his North Province in rebellion against his cousin. The other herzogs were soon to follow, and the Great Kingdom of Aerdy fractured into hundreds of petty states.
North Province declared independence from the Great Kingdom in 584 CY, dragging itself out of the Greyhawk Wars, and the empire shattered within weeks into many pieces. [LGG - 24]

Freed from constraint, the Grenell did what he always did best, he saved his own skin.
Grace Grenell, Herzog of the North Province, rebelled against his cousin in a desperate attempt to hold his lands against the march of King Archbold. Freed of the mad king, the Herzog and the orcs of the Bone March halted the Nyrondese armies in the rugged Flinty Hills. The Herzog callously sacrificed both human and orcish troops to grind King Archbold’s advance to a halt. Though the Nyrondese could advance no further against the combined armies, Archbold, tantalized by the prospect of ultimate victory, refused to break off his assault. [Wars - 21] 

This “new” realm has not changed in character from the old, being cruel and tyrannical in the extreme. The new imperial capital was proclaimed to be Eastfair, to no one’s surprise. [TAB - 23] 

Grenell was not the only one to strike while the iron was hot. There were others, even within his own “Kingdom,” who saw opportunities arise; the House of Garasteth, for instance, when they soon liberated the Highland Castles, and took them for their own.
They have, in effect, seceded from North Province. Their war leaders swore an oath of allegiance to Baron-General Shalaster, who commands them from his base at the southernmost castle. [Ivid - 55]
Grenell does not have the military might to march on local rulers he would like to subdue. With thousands of orcs in armies along his western frontier, Grenell simply cannot risk internecine war among the human armies of North Province. It would weaken the control Grenell has too much, and it would make the orcs feel more confident about attacking a divided human enemy. Grenell might take control of some small estate in such a manner—but he might lose Bellport, the northwest, even Eastfair itself, to invading orcs if he used this tactic. [Ivid - 44] 

Others have taken measures, even if Grenell could not. Castle Greenkeep is proof of that.
This ruin marks the easternmost point of the highlander castles. In Suns' Ebb CY 584, the castle was decimated by an immensely powerful magical strike. A boiling black cloud settled in the sky above Greenkeep, and vast strokes of lightning and acid rain cascaded down on the building. The walls and towers were shattered and the keep ruined, with most of the garrison here slain and only a few managing to escape westward to safety.
It is still unknown who mounted this formidable attack. The most often-rumored theory connects the attack with the necromancer Raspalan, garrisoned with the troops here. Raspalan was a minor princeling of the House of Garasteth, and was known to have fled his birthplace west of Rinloru and no few other eastern and southern cities during his lifetime. He left behind a trail of murder, outrage, and bitter enemies. The destruction of Greenkeep is generally believed to be due to one of those enemies catching up with him.
The ruin takes its name from a radiant green glow which still emanates from the keep on exceptionally cold nights. The few who have ventured anywhere near the place mumble about moving stones, the keep swelling and contracting before their eyes, and blood-freezing screams that seem to come from far beneath the ground. But this is probably just a hallucination. Nonetheless, survivors are rumored to speak with horror of Raspalan's experiments in the keep dungeon and to tell tales of wretches and the strange supplies which were ferried down to those dungeons to enable the grisly wizard to continue his malign research. [Ivid - 55]
The question rises: Who might have destroyed Greenkeep? The Dreadlord Monduiz Dephaar? 

Few were so lucky as Grenell. Ivid’s Kiss graced more than would have wished it. Granted, the Kiss was better than the eternal torment of the Endless Death.
The North Province’s defection from the Great Kingdom unleashed the pent-up fears and ambitions of all nobility in the Great Kingdom, both living and animus. The Herzog of the South, among the first nobles rewarded with death and revivification, reasserted his claim to the South Province. The wave spread outward from there: living nobles turned their fiefs into armed camps and animus lords sought to expand their realms. The Overking’s authority collapsed entirely, leaving Ivid with only his personal estates. Thus, the always fragile Great Kingdom shattered into a hundred petty principalities, dukedoms, baronies, counties, and earldoms. The Aerdi Empire was no more. [Wars - 21,22] 

Nyrond had defeated Aerdy. But at such a cost.
Nyrond lost nearly seventy thousand soldiers in the Greyhawk Wars. Though her armies held off Aerdy's siege, they did so at terrible cost. Archbold had expended the nation's entire treasury, and had depleted much of his family's wealth. Hideously in debt to the Urnst States, the king faced a future of mined fields and horrible food shortages. Nearly half of his holdings were in tax rebellions. Many of the nation's best mages, craftsmen, and nobles fled Nyrond for easier lives to the west. Whether Nyrond would fall was never an issue. The question was simply that of timing. [LGG - 78] 

War’s End
The Pact of Greyhawk
For three years, the whole of the Flanaess flew banners of war. Nations fell as new empires were born. Demons and devils from the Outer Planes were summoned en masse by Iuz and Ivid V, and hundreds of thousands of mortals died. Finally, the battle-weary combatants gathered in Greyhawk to declare peace. Harvester 584 CY was to see the signing of the Pact of Greyhawk, fixing borders and mandating an end to hostilities.
[LGG - 16]
Strangely, the Pact was suggested by the Scarlet Brotherhood, which may have sought to consolidate its gains from the war. [PGtG -11] 

Sensing that his reach was nearing his limit, the Father of Obedience halted the troop advances and instructed his agents to solidify their holds in the Brotherhood-controlled governments, where new laws suppressed previous officials, and temples to Brotherhood Faiths rose. The Father’s agents, acting as representatives of the nations in his grip, called for a Flanaess-wide truce. Some nations welcomed the chance for a rest; others were convinced via diplomacy and assassination. In the end, the countries of the Flaneass agreed to the Brotherhood’s peace proposal, hurriedly signing the Greyhawk Pact in 6099 SD in the City of Greyhawk. [SB - 6] 

Autumn of 584 CY saw the signing of the Pact of Greyhawk, an event that would close various hostilities plaguing the continent. On the Day of Great Signing, however, Greyhawk suffered a great treachery, as Rary, one of the Circle of Eight, destroyed his companions, Tenser and Otiluke, in a great magical battle. Many suspected that Rary wished to hold the ambassadors hostage, but instead, he fled to the Bright Desert to form his own kingdom. Fearing further disruptions, the delegates hurriedly signed the pact. Ironically, due to the site of the treaty signing, the conflicts soon became known as the “Greyhawk Wars.” [Gaz 3e - 4] 

Ivid signed the Pact of Greyhawk to give himself time to prepare for a final, crushing onslaught of Nyrond. Yet, that will almost certainly never come—at least not from Ivid himself.
The mad overking can claim direct control over not much more than a few hundred square miles around Rauxes. And his leigemen find pursuing their own squabbles—building their own empires within old Aerdy—much more interesting than sending their armies to Nyrond. They have no intention of leaving their own landholdings vulnerable to opportunistic conquest by their neighbors.
Ivid believes himself to command great provincial armies, which have in actual fact long marched homewards. [Ivid - 5,6] 

When peace came in Harvester 584 CY, the whole world was weary of war. Many hoped that the treaty signed then marked the end of the marching armies, bloody fields, and the burning cities. But this was not to be. The peace of the Greyhawk Wars is now seen to have marked the end of only the first part of a great period of conflict that has reached into every part of the known world and affected every creature from the highest prince to the lowest peasant farmer. [TAB - 19]

  

 

One must always give credit where credit is due. This History is made possible primarily by the Imaginings of Gary Gygax and his Old Guard, Lenard Lakofka among them, and the new old guards, Carl Sargant, James Ward, Roger E. Moore. And Erik Mona, Gary Holian, Sean Reynolds, Frederick Weining. The list is interminable. Thanks to Steven Wilson for his GREYCHRONDEX and to Keith Horsfield for his “Chronological History of Eastern Oerik.”
Special thanks to Jason Zavoda for his compiled index, “Greyhawkania,” an invaluable research tool.
Primary sources for this history were the DMG 1e, The World of Greyhawk Folio, and The World of Greyhawk Gold Box, 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.
Renho illustration, by Sam Wood, from The Scarlet Brotherhood, 1999
Suel illustration, by Sam Wood, from The Scarlet Brotherhood, 1999
Suel Slave Races illustration, by Sam Wood, from The Scarlet Brotherhood, 1999
Scarlet Brotherhood Assassin illustration, by Sam Wood, from The Scarlet Brotherhood, 1999

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
9398 WGR4, The Marklands, 1993
9399 WGR5, Iuz the Evil, 1993
9577 The Adventure Begins, 1998
9578 Player’s Guide to Greyhawk, 1998
11374 The Scarlet Brotherhood, 1999
11742 Gazetteer, 2000
11743 Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000
Ivid the Undying, 1998
Dragon Magazine
OJ Oerth Journal, appearing on Greyhawk Online
LGJ et. al.
Greychrondex, Wilson, Steven B.
The Map of Anna B. Meyer