Saturday, 27 February 2021

Aloysius Foyle

Aloysius Foyle

"I wear the chain I forged in life," replied the Ghost. "I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.”
― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Aloysius' mother claims she was taken forcibly. Rumours abound, but the hamlet on the borderlands had periodically suffered the attentions of the Clan of the Red Hand. Women had been left for dead before, and lived; but there was nary a mark on her when they found her. Those who had survived such encounters always bore the scars of such treatment. Not she. The babe arrived early. And she was evermore watched. Distrusted. Banished to the edge of the village, her presence tolerated only because she had a way with unguents and salves and tinctures.

The boy grew up shunned by the village, as one ought to be, born of such a foul union, and largely unloved by a mother that treated him with a rough hand and a sharp tongue. She loved none but herself, the gossips claimed; was vain, vainglorious, and haughty before her fall; and contrary to her fair face, had always been petulant, prone to fits of spite and rage, which she hitherto, inevitably, took out on the boy.

She never named the boy, not to his or anyone else's knowledge, and eventually sold him to a gypsy troupe, where he was whipping boy, gopher and scullion. He scavenged his food and took what he could when no one was looking, until Ariistuun Foyle, headman of the troupe took note of it and began to teach him more "tricks." Ariistuun's wife, Dika, adopted him, named him and taught him how to play the chalumeaux and lyre, to sing, to act, and to deceive.

Aloysius had found a home; and a friend in Nunamnir, his twin in spirit, if not in aspect, so alike that one was never far from the other. And he fell in love with Nayda Hobbs, a minstrel girl. Her father Djordji did not approve of the match.

The troupe came to a bad end when a local lord caught one of them flirting with his daughter, and another picking the pocket of a courtesan. He killed the flirter, arrested the pick-pocket, and ordered the rest of them rounded up.

They fled. Most were slain. But not Aloysius, who, fleet of foot and kin to shadow, slipped away, but not before he spent more time than was wise in search of Ariistuun and Dika and Nayda, and indeed Djodji; not to mention Nunamnir.

Aloysius waited for them at the rendezvous, but none arrived.

Aloysius seethes with rage, for the orcs, for his hamlet, for the lord who "killed" his family.

Character backstory.
It's a tricky thing, and it should never be too long, or too short, for that matter. Why should it not be long? Because you are 1st level. You do not have elaborate history; if you did, you'd be 5th level.
What should be in it?
An origin. Even if that origin is "I woke up six months ago, and had no recollection of who I was, or where I came from." This is a very open background, and should only be used with a DM you trust to fill.
A mystery. Something to investigate. Something the DM need imagine and develop.
An enemy. Something to hate. 
A path forward. Hooks. If every adventure began with I'll give you 250 gp to do whatever, you as a player will not be invested in it; but if there were clues to your love's survival, you will dash into danger with nary a thought to the consequences.

In short, keep it vague, yet interesting. It's the DM's job to develop your family, and your unknown, unsuspected history and destiny. If it were yours, there is no need to play the game.

Who is Aloysius?
He's a half-orc. More like quarter-orc. Or in 5e terms, leaning towards a variant human, but still a lalf-orc. In any event, as a half-orc, he's a whelp; he would never survive in orc culture, and its lucky that he did not have to. 
He's an angry young man. He's a survivor. And at the beginning, he is most certainly self serving and, dare I say it, evil. But he does have his qualities. He is loyal. He most assuredly lives by his wits, his skills, and his troupe's code of ethic. Lawful Evil.
In 1st Edition, I would negotiate with an inspired DM to see if he would allow that Aloysius be treated as a half-elf, and if so, I might send him down the path to be a bard. If not, I would lean towards assassin. That suits the rage he lives, and he's spent his life trying to fit in, so he's good at playing roles. The troupe has taught him make-up and disguise. Assassin makes sense.
2e disallowed his existence as a playable race for a while, but allowed for it in supplements.
I'm not terribly familiar with 3e, but possibilities abound in that edition.
4e? Not a clue. I suppose the options are similar to 5e, in which the rogue is more akin to a martial class than the 1e thief.
In 5e, I would begin him as a rogue (assassin's path at 3rd level), and dive into bard, and see how that plays out.
What are my hopes and desires for Aloysius? Revenge. Redemption.

One must always give credit where credit is due. This piece is made possible primarily by the Imaginings of Gary Gygax and his Old Guard, Lenard Lakofka among them, and the new old guards, Carl Sargant, James Ward, Roger E. Moore. And Erik Mona, Gary Holian, Sean Reynolds, Frederick Weining. The list is interminable. 

The Art:
Orc, smoking, with cat by Brenoch Adams.
The art is solely owed by the artist

Friday, 19 February 2021


"Speaking as a fellow kobold, I'll be as direct as possible. The odds of you dying by adventurer are high. So high, in fact, that if you accidentally drank a quart of poison it would only reduce your chance of dying at the hands of an adventurer by five percent."
— Mokumok the Shaman
Dragon #342 (2006)

Kobolds, Vicious and Evil
We all know what kobolds are: one of the first organized monster we are likely to encounter. They are small, tiny even, despite being vicious, and undeniably evil. They infest almost every part of the Flanaess, because burgeoning adventurers of all corners of the map need something other than giant rats to kill.
Sound familiar?
Were they your stepping stone to goblins, before tackling orcs, and then hobgoblins, in turn? Very likely.
But they can be more, so much more.
But what are they, exactly?
The kobolds, also named celbit, are small, vicious, reptilian scavengers, picked on by every larger race. Their most numerous tribes include the Torturers, the Impalers, the Gougers, the Cripplers, and the Mutilators. Like goblins, they are found in many places. [LGG]
Where did they come from, anyway? I’m not talking D&D here; I’m talking origins. Where did Gary Gygax get the idea for them? From mythology, where else?

Kobolds originated as small helper spirits in Teutonic Germany, where they can be found in carvings dating to the 13th Century. They are spirits, or of the faerie realm, and are most commonly found in woods or mines.
Although they are helpers, once attached to a particular human or place they refuse to leave. If angered then the help turns to hindrance, and the kobold becomes an annoying prankster bent on making life miserable for those it once helped.

There are three types of kobolds, all of which are considered to be beneficial helpers unless provoked. The first are household helpers, coaxed from the woods they inhabited by offerings at their tree and carvings at the homes that desired their presence. The second are associated with mines and other underground domains. Finally there are the Klabautermann, associated with ships and seafaring.
All three are shape shifters, capable of taking any form, although they remain short of stature when they transform into humans. They are also capable of invisibility, so will often attach themselves to a human without their knowledge. The unfortunate upshot of this is that the human can offend the kobold without ever being aware of its presence, and then suffer the consequences.

Wood You Be My Helper [?]
Wood spirit kobolds were often sought out as household helpers, and are one of the origins of the house spirit. They can be coaxed from their trees with offerings of honey or water. Although the kobold may take in instant liking to the petitioner, it is more likely to take several attempts to coax the kobold from its tree. In order to facilitate the transaction, a portion of the tree can be taken, while being careful not to upset the residing kobold, and removed to the house where the petitioner wants the kobold to live.
The petitioner will know that their offerings have been answered when branches fall at their feet. The kobold will then follow them home and live in that house forever, assisting in any way it can.

Do You Mine?
Subterranean kobolds are similar to wood kobolds, but instead of living solitary lives they live in communities or kingdoms. This is where the ability to turn invisible really comes in handy, because they can disappear if someone ventures into their domain that they do not want to associate with, they simply disappear.
Unlike wood kobolds, if a mine kobold takes a liking to a human that travels into their domain, they will follow them home, often remaining invisible for the journey. They will then take up residence in the house and help with chores and in other ways, sometimes using their magic in beneficial manners. In the mines, they are known to lead miners to good veins by knocking. The more knocks, the better the vein that is being shown.
The mine kobolds can vary from being beneficial to being harmful. They are blamed for causing mining accidents, replacing good ore with worthless (or even poisonous) ore, and causing all manner of trouble for miners that they see as invaders and thieves.

Koboldly Onto the High Seas
Klabautermann reside on ships, helping to maintain the ship. This is especially helpful in times of stress, as they will hammer at leaks until the crew can fix them properly. They are also known to arrange cargo in the most efficient manner, and to generally help the crew when sailing.
These kobolds are most likely related to the wood dwelling kobolds, as they are believed to arrive via the wood used to construct the ship.
If the three types, they are the ones best left unseen, because to see one is an omen of impending death, either of the crewman that sees the kobold or of the entire ship sinking.

You Wouldn’t Like Me When I’m Angry
For the most part, kobolds seem to like helping humans, as long as that help is appreciated. However, if they become offended, ignored, or are outright asked to leave, their mood turns from friendly to foul.
Kobolds should receive regular offerings to show that their help is appreciated. When they do not, they become angry. Asking a kobold to leave creates similar offense, because it also indicates that their help is not appreciated.
When a kobold is angry or offended, all the help they were providing reverses. An example would be that if they used to turn milk into butter during the night, now they would cause the milk to sour for no reason. They might pull thatch from a roof at night, causing a need for repairs. On ships they might tangle the ropes or sails, or distract the crew with laughter and jeers. In mines, the beneficial kobolds will take on the traits of the evil kobolds described above, although not as vicious or deadly.
Even an angry kobold is not considered to be dangerous. They will cause all manner of mischief, but will not generally cause outright harm to humans.

Current Influence
Kobolds remain important in German folklore as house spirits, guardians of the homes they inhabit. They can be most easily coaxed to your home on Midsummer’s Eve, and unlike most other house spirits they appreciate gifts. Clothing is their favorite, and is certain to keep a kobold from feeling neglected or underappreciated.

They began as sprites, akin to brownies and goblins, when those terms were somewhat interchangeable. That’s all interesting and esoteric, and far removed from fantasy gameplay. They are not fey in Dungeons and Dragons, and never have been; and they are certainly not beneficial or helpful. They are evil beings, whatever their origins, and they hate all life. Why? Because they are evil, that’s why. They are not a noble draconic race; they are not craven, yet industrious slaves who only hate those who enslave them—maybe they are, if you’re new-school, but I’m old school, and monsters were created to be at odds with the world at large (blame Tolkien and a whole host of other writers of the past for that). So, why do kobolds hate all other races? Probably because most other evil races enslave and abuse them. Orcs did, because kobolds speak orcish in AD&D: slaves need understand their master’s commands. They speak goblin, too; and I would suggest that they speak hobgoblin, as well, even if they are not said to, because goblins and hobgoblins and orcs speak kobold. Dwarves do too, and gnomes. No mention was ever given as to why. Or how. One would wonder who taught them?
In addition to the tongues of lawful evil and kobolds, these monsters can usually (75%) speak goblin and orcish. [MM1e]
Kobolds speak their own language; some (75%) speak orc and goblin. [MM2e]

That makes more sense, what with those species enslaving kobolds for their uses.
3rd edition dispenses with some of the prior logic.
Kobolds speak Draconic with a voice that sounds like that of a yapping dog. [MM3e]
3e does not dismiss whether certain kobold speak orcish or goblin or hobgoblin, or ever common, for that matter. I would suggest that some kobolds, headmen and shamans and sorcerers might know more than one.

Because kobolds are so abused, they hate all other species so much they rejoice in inflicting torture upon them, if and when they can capture them. (Maybe not all others, but more on that later.) They hate fey above all others. And gnomes. Particularly gnomes. And gnomes hate them.
Kobolds hate most other life, delighting in killing and torture. They particularly hate such creatures as brownies, pixies, sprites and gnomes. They war continually with the latter, and will attack them on sight. [MM1e]
[The gnomes’] great hatred of kobolds and goblins, their traditional enemies, gives them a +1 on their attack rolls when fighting these beings. [MM2e]

2e Kobold (really?)
Why might that be? Might gnomes be distantly related to fey? Could they be fey dwarves, as it were?
There is idle speculation that kobolds are related to goblinoids, but I would take that with a grain of salt:
It is possible that goblins are distantly related to kobolds. Like the latter, goblins enjoy dwelling in dismal surroundings, although they tend to inhabit coves and similar underground places in preference to any habitation above ground. They too hate full daylight and attack at a -1 when in sunlight. [MM1e]
1e Goblin
I find it this highly unlikely. Whichever sage wrote that has never ventured far from the Free City of Greyhawk. Kobolds lay eggs. Goblins do not. It’s far more plausible (to my mind) that kobolds could be draconic fey than goblinoid, that they, and maybe dragons—their more likely distant kin—have fey origins. Imagine that they were cast down, and out of the feywild…. That would explain their hatred of all fey. And gnomes, for that matter…. No matter; that’s idle speculation.
What we do know is that the gnome god, Garl Glittergold, played a trick on the kobold god, Kurtulmak, and they have hated one another since.
However, there is another side to Garl than that of the witty adventurer who collapsed the Kobold King's cavern. [Deities_1e]

Garl Glittergold, deity of the gnomes, once collapsed Kurtulmak’s cavernous home as a joke. The event wounded Kurtulmak’s pride on two fronts, as he considered himself both an expert trickster and a miner without equal. Since then Kurtulmak has hated Garl and all gnomes. [Deities 3e]

Back to the question at hand. What are kobolds, exactly, in game terms?
Kobolds are the “weakest” of foes in D&D.
Kobolds, goblins, orcs, etc. are all powerless to affect elementals because they have neither magical property nor four or more hit dice. [MM1e]

Yes, there are weaker monsters, but we are discussing organized groups here and not ear grubs and the like. So, how weak are they? They are not particularly hearty, 1-4 hp, not even 1HD. That’s rather fragile, by all accounts, and would also explain their high birthrate.
But they are not much weaker than your average 0-level human.
What they are is dexterous, fleet of foot; you would be too if you were the wiping boy of the underoerth.
They aren’t stupid, either, always noted to be of average intelligence (8-10). They may not be genius, but they are smart as the average 0-level human.
But they are seen as stupid, are they? Only the foolish would believe it.
Kobolds are a cowardly, sadistic race of short humanoids that vigorously contest the human and demi-human races for living space and food. They especially dislike gnomes and attack them on sight. [MM2e]
Cowardly? Don't you believe that for an instant. What they are is tenacious tinkerers. They persevere. Despite their supposed weakness.
Sadistic? Maybe. Most likely.

Barely clearing 3 feet in height. kobolds have scaly hides that range from dark, rusty brown to a rusty black. They smell of damp dogs and stagnant water. Their eyes glow like a bright red spark and they have two small horns ranging from tan to white. Because of the kobolds' fondness for wearing raggedy garb of red and orange, their non-prehensile rat-like tails, and their language (which sounds like small dogs yapping), these fell creatures are often nor taken seriously. This is often a fatal mistake, for what they lack in sire and strength they make up in ferocity and tenacity. [MM2e]

That’s fairly vague. One requires a picture to truly describe them. They’re described as scaly, and smelling like damp dogs, and in early days they were always described as being so—maybe not in text, but certainly around the table—although the artwork begs to differ. In the picture panels, they might look somewhat canine, but they really look draconic, or reptilian, at the very least.

That’s barely more than what was written in the AD&D Monster Manual:
The hide of kobolds runs from very dark rusty brown to a rusty black. They have no hair. Their eyes are reddish and their small horns are tan to white. They favor red or orange garb. Kobolds live for up to 135 years. [MM1e]
That’s long-lived by most reckoning, considering their high birth rate, which usually indicates a need to replenish their numbers quickly.
30-300 eggs. [MM1e]

KoboIds are egg-laying creatures. They mature quickly and can live to be "great wyrms" more than a century old. However, many kobolds perish before they reach the end of their first decade. Physically weak, they are easy prey for predators. This vulnerability forces them to band together. Their superior numbers can win battles against powerful adversaries, but often with massive casualties on the kobold side. [MM5e] 

How then, are they so long lived? Because they are reptilian? Cold-blooded? That’s unlikely, considering how many climates they infest. Might it be because they are intelligent, tribal, and cooperative, that they are duty-driven, and rabidly devoted to the survival of their tribe; willing to sacrifice their very lives to ensure the survival of their kin? Might their longevity be owed to that?
The society of these creatures is tribal with war bonds based on gens. The stronger tribes rule weaker ones. Kobolds are usually found in dank, dark places such as dismal overgrown forests or subterranean settings. They hate bright sunlight, not being able to see well in it, but their night vision is excellent, and they have infra-red vision which operates well up to 60'. If they are in bright sunlight they have a lesser chance to fight well (-1 from dice rolls to hit opponents). [MM1e] 

They do not seem particularly adept at metallurgy.
A force of kobolds is typically equipped as follows:
5%          short sword and javelin
10%        short sword and spear
10%        short sword
20%        axe
30%        spiked wooden club
15%        javelins (2-3)
10%        spear
 Chief and guard types always have the best available weapons. All kobold shields are of wood or wickerwork.

Swords are likely pillaged from raids and ambushes, where javelins and spears and axes would be crafted from stick and stone.

3e Kobold
3rd Edition gets a little more specific:
Kobolds are short, reptilian humanoids with cowardly and sadistic tendencies.
A kobold’s scaly skin ranges from dark rusty brown to a rusty black color. [This might be the first time they are specifically referred to as reptilian.] It has glowing red eyes. Its tail is nonprehensile. Kobolds wear ragged clothing, favoring red and orange.
Kobolds usually consume plants or animals but are not averse to eating intelligent beings. They spend most of their time fortifying the land around their lairs with traps and warning devices (such as spiked pits, tripwires attached to crossbows, and other mechanical contraptions).
Kobolds hate almost every other sort of humanoid or fey, especially gnomes and sprites. A kobold is 2 to 2-1/2 feet tall and weighs 35 to 45 pounds. [MM3e]

—Special Qualities (see above): Light sensitivity.
—Automatic Languages: Draconic. Bonus Languages: Common, Undercommon.
—Favored Class: Sorcerer.
They are Draconic.
They are also noted as reptilian and humanoid.

4e Kobolds
This is not to say that they are homogenous. Indeed, they are an old species; a very old species, indeed. They’ve evolved into an abundance of types: there are mountain varieties, swamp and forest and arctic, evolved and adapted to every climate imaginable. And they evolved biological castes: minions, skirmishers, slingers, dragonshields, wyrmpriests, and slyblades. [MM4e]
And urds.

A few koboIds are born with leathery wings and can fly. Known as urds, they like to lurk on high ledges and drop rocks on passersby. Although the urds' wings are seen as gifts from Tiamat, the dragon Queen, wingless kobolds are envious of those gifts and don't get along with the urds. [MM5e]

Urds are distant relatives of kobolds. Three feet tall, with short ivory horns. their bodies are frail and covered with mottled yellow to brick red scaler. Their leathery, batlike wings span 8 feet.
Urds have 60-foot infravision and prefer to hunt at night, dropping jagged stones (2-3 pounds each) from the air. Unsuspecting victims are AC 10 for the attack roll. Actively dodging opponents are considered AC 2 before modifications to Dexterity. Rocks cause 2d4 points of damage. Some urds (25%) carry light spears (1d4 damage).
A band of 20 urds is accompanied by a subchieftain (AC 7, 7 hp). Urd flocks of 100 or more include the chieftain (10 hp, 50% have magical leather armor). Urd lairs contain ld6 shamans able to speak with bats as per speak with animals. Urd life spans can exceed 100 years, but they rarely live past 50. [MM2e]

Despite their diversity, they are primarily subterranean.
Kobolds live in dark places, usually underground locations and overgrown forests. They are good miners and often live in the mines they are developing. A kobold tribe sends out warbands that patrol within a 10-mile radius from the lair, attacking any intelligent creatures that enter their territory. Kobolds usually kill prisoners for food but occasionally sell some of them as slaves. Their nasty habits and their distrust of most other beings mean that they have many enemies.
A kobold lair has one noncombatant child and one egg per ten adults.
The patron deity of the kobolds is Kurtulmak, who despises all living creatures except kobolds. [MM3e]

Cautious, Calculating, Cunning
The stronger races might describe them as cowardly; and to the strong, they would certainly seem so; but in truth, they are only smaller and weaker, and thus more cautious, and calculating. They would have to be, or they would have been wiped of the face of the oerth long ago. Why should they attack a stronger foe on anything other than their own terms?
Kobolds like to attack with overwhelming odds—at least two to one—or trickery; should the odds fall below this threshold, they usually flee. However, they attack gnomes on sight if their numbers are equal.
They begin a fight by slinging bullets, closing only when they can see that their foes have been weakened. Whenever they can, kobolds set up ambushes near trapped areas. They aim to drive enemies into the traps, where other kobolds wait to pour flaming oil over them, shoot them, or drop poisonous vermin onto them. [MM3e]

4e Kobold
One would, and should, expect small creatures to use terrain and lair design against their enemies. They would utilize pack tactics, luring their enemies down blind alleys, and yeah, into traps.
Kobolds make up for their physical ineptitude with a cleverness for trap making and tunneling. Their lairs consist of low tunnels through which they move easily but which hinder larger humanoids. Kobolds also riddle their lairs with traps. The most insidious kobold traps make use of natural hazards and other creatures. A trip wire might connect to a spring-loaded trap that hurls clay pots of flesheating green slime or flings crates of venomous giant centipedes at intruders. [MM5e]

One might be led to believe that their lairs are rife with traps. And set to be triggered by weight greater than their own.
This diminutive race also enjoys setting up concealed pits with spikes, crossbows, and other mechanical traps. They usually have view ports and murder holes near these traps so they can follow them up by pouring flaming oil, firing missile weapons or dropping poisonous insects on their victims. [MM2e]

I would also go so far as to suggest that kobolds would not make it easy for the larger folk to get around in their liars. I envision 3’ high tunnels, no wider than 2’, with pinch points and crawlspaces fortifying entrances to key places, and gates set to drop fore and aft of invaders in these tight spots, with only “temples” and “palaces” being “vast” and “spacious.”
No, on second thought, they would excavate neat 10’x10’ passages. That’s standard in every manual. And they are a Lawful bunch, aren't they?

They also seek the protection of other, stronger species. This is never an equitable relationship. The kobolds are always of lesser status, inevitably servile; but living in the shadow of such powerful beings affords protection, and what’s a little grovelling if the tribe is safe and secure?
Those beings are usually reptilian, in one aspect or another. Like nagas:
Nagas often work closely with yuan-ti, guarding their vaults and temples. A lone naga sometimes rules a primitive tribe of kobolds, lizardfolk, or troglodytes who regard it as a god. [MM4e]

And they most certainly, preferentially, seek out dragons:
Kobolds often dwell near a dragon’s lair, maintaining a safe distance but bringing sacrificial offerings to their “god.” Most dragons ignore kobolds, as a crocodile ignores the birds that pick its teeth clean. Once in a great while, however, a young dragon takes an interest in its kobold cult, which then becomes a real menace to the dragon’s enemies. [MM4e] 

Kobolds are craven reptilian humanoids that worship evil dragons as demigods and serve them as minions and toadies. Kobolds inhabit dragons' lairs when they can but more commonly infest dungeons, gathering treasures and trinkets to add to their own tiny hoards. [MM5e] 

KOBOLDS REVERE DRAGONS and tend to dwell in and around places where dragons are known to lair. They skulk in the darkness, hiding from stronger foes and swarming to overwhelm weaker ones. Kobolds are cowardly and usually flee once bloodied unless a strong leader is present.
Kobolds like to set traps and ambushes. If they can’t get their enemies to walk into a trap, they try to sneak up as close as they can and then attack in a sudden rush. [MM4e] 

Kobolds are skilled at making traps, which they use to capture prey and to acquire sacrifices for their dragon lords. [MM4e] 

Kobolds infest the lairs of many black dragons like vermin. They become as cruel as their dark masters, often torturing and weakening captives with centipede bites and scorpion stings before delivering them to sate the dragon's hunger. [MM5e] 

Green dragons accept the servitude of sentient creatures such as goblinoids, ettercaps, ettins, kobolds, orcs, and yuan-ti. They also delight in corrupting and bending elves to their will. A green dragon sometimes wracks its minions' minds with fear to the point of insanity, with the fog that spreads throughout its forest reflecting those minions' tortured dreams. [MM5e] 

The only creatures that typically serve a white dragon are intelligent humanoids that demonstrate enough strength to assuage the dragon's wrath, and can put up with sustaining regular losses as a result of its hunger. This includes dragon-worshiping kobolds, which are commonly found in their lairs. [MM5e] 

In addition to the dragons they revere, kobolds worship a lesser god named Kurtulmak. Legends speak of how Kurtulmak served as Tiamat's vassal in the Nine Hells until Garl Glittergold, the god of gnomes, stole a trinket from the Dragon Queen's hoard. Tiamat sent Kurtulmak to retrieve the trinket, but Garl Glittergold played a trick on him, collapsing the earth and trapping the kobold god in an underground maze for eternity. For this reason, kobolds hate gnomes and pranks of any kind. Kurtulmak's most devoted worshipers dedicate themselves to finding and releasing their lost god from his prison-maze. [MM5e] 

Regardless where they are found, Kobolds in Greyhawk are nasty little things, maybe the worst of the ankle biters.
The kobolds, also named celbit, are small, vicious, reptilian scavengers, picked on by every larger race. Their most numerous tribes include the Torturers, the Impalers, the Gougers, the Cripplers, and the Mutilators. Like goblins, they are found in many places. [LGG – 11]

What have we learned about these supposedly low beasts?
Simply, that they are not beasts at all. They are artisans! True, they are not as bright as a great many other foes, but they make up for that with cleverness and guile.
And they are somewhat symbiotic to other “greater” reptilian beings. That makes them low HD, high level monsters. It is a very brave and foolhardy adventurer that would delve into their lair. Because he would surely not return. It matters not how may kobold he kills. There are always more. 

“The chief once asked me what kobold warriors could do to counter the tactics of adventurers. All I could come up with was, ‘Kill themselves to deprive the adventurers of the pleasure.’”
— Mokumok the Shaman
Dragon #342 (2006)

Mokumok the Shaman


One must always give credit where credit is due. This piece is made possible primarily by the imaginings of Gary Gygax and his Old Guard, Lenard Lakofka among them, and the new old guards, Carl Sargant, James Ward, Roger E. Moore. And Erik Mona, Gary Holian, Sean Reynolds, Frederick Weining. The list is interminable.

The Art:
All art is wholly owned by the artists.
Kobold illustration, from 1e Monster Manual, by David C. Sutherland III (?), 1978, 1979
Kobold illustration, from 2e Monstrous Compendium, by Jim Holloway, 1978, 1979
Goblin illustration, from 1e Monster Manual , by D.A. Trampier, 1978, 1979
Garl Glittergold illustration, from 1e Deities & Demigods, by Jeff Dee, 1980
Kobold illustration, from 3e Monster Manual, by Anthony Waters (?), 2000
Kobolds illustration, from 4e Monster Manual, 2008
Kobold illustration, from 4e Monster Manual, 2008
Kurtulmak illustration, from 1e Deities & Demigods, by Erol Otus, 1980

1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
2009 Monster Manual, 1e, 1978, 1979
2013 Deities and Demigods 1e, 1980
2102 Monstrous Compendium, Volume 1, 2e, 1989
11552 Monster Manual, 3e, 2000
11743 Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000
Deities and Demigods 3e, 2002
Monster Manual, 4e, 2008
Monster Manual, 5e, 2014
Dragon Magazine 34

Friday, 12 February 2021

History of the South-East, Part 13: The Ensuing Chaos

"The first way to lose a state is to neglect the art of war;
the first way to gain a state is to be skilled in the art of war."
Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince

To What End?
The Great War, or the Greyhawk Wars, as it came to be known, had not ended, so much as exhausted itself. Manpower was depleted, coffers spent, resolve at wits end.
To what end? Those hardest pressed would say, “For survival.” They would not be wrong; for those who had succeeded in doing just that might have realized that success was just that. To have not persevered, to have not “won,” would surely have meant, at best, slavery, or death, or a fate far worse than either those. There were those who suffered so: The Holy Censor, for one. And possibly, Osson of Chatwell, for another.
For others, war’s end meant victory; and if not victory, a reprieve. 

584 CY  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] 

In 584 CY, Frolmar Ingerskatti of Ganode [despot of the Duxchans] used his fleet to terrorize ports on the Azure, first by attempting a failed raid on Gradsul, then by harrying the vessels of Irongate, whom they view as their most important rival. [LGG - 72]

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] 

In villages of southern Keoland, commoners are hanging anyone wearing a red cloak, out of fear of the Scarlet Brotherhood (not quite true, but people brazenly wearing red are treated with great suspicion and hostility and may be assaulted). [FtAA - 79] 

585 CY  The Euroz of the Bone March had not been invited to the peace talks in the Free City of Greyhawk. Not realizing that hostilities had come to an end, they continued to clash with Ratik and Nyrond.
            Bone March is now steeped in discord, ruled by a coalition of invading nonhuman tribes, particularly orcs, gnolls, and ogres. Humanity, which once thrived here, is generally enslaved and subject to the capricious whims of petty bandit chiefs and nonhuman warlords who raid Ratik and even North Kingdom at will, going as far as Nyrond and the Flinty Hills to pillage. [LGG - 35]
His Grace Grenell
Despite the fact that Euroz tribes abut the North Kingdom still raided those towns with impunity, the Bone March still expected the debt of their having helped the North Kingdom by attacking Nyrond to be paid: "We helped you fight Nyrond, now you help us storm Ratik." They and the North Kingdom shared a border, and common interests, were mentioned. Grenell could not help but notice the implied threat.
For himself, Grenell doesn't give a fig about Ratik. Unfortunately, no few of his most powerful local rulers care a great deal about Ratik—as do many ordinary folk. Many of them share the same Oeridian-Flan racial mix as the men of Ratik, and they admire the rugged bravery of Ratik's warriors in having kept the humanoids at bay for so long. They are opposed to any plan to conquer Ratik, and some of them are ready to go and fight for Ratik should Grenell dare act against that nation.
There is another twist to this. The barbarian nations are strongly allied with Ratik. At the present time, their raids are focused on the Sea Barons and they do not often raid most points along the eastern North Province seaboard, save for Bellport. This is because many of the rulers and armies of that eastern seaboard have managed to make a peace of sorts with the fierce [Suel] barbarians, Prince Elkerst of Atirr being a notable example. Indeed, the barbarians increasingly trade with some North Province coastal towns and villages, and that trade brings much needed wood, furs, and other commodities in short supply in North Province. [Ivid - 44] 

Grenell thought on what might happen if he honoured his debt to the orcs. If he attacked Ratik, the Barbarian raids would surely recommence. His was a precarious balance. And besides, he’d already aided the orcs when he sent agents to liberate the Seal of Marner from the Baronial Vault. And they did, and they passed the Seal on the orcs waiting in the Kelmar Pass. It wasn’t his fault the orcs had lost the Seal to the Ratikkans pursuing them.
Besides, hadn’t he already helped them enough?
The influence of North Province (now North Kingdom) has led to greater organization and military effectiveness among these barbaric tribes. [LGG - 35] 

Nyrond and the South Province had never been friends. Indeed, they have a very long history of conflict as they vie for control of Relmor Bay. Relations have not improved since the South Province became the Kingdom of Ahlissa, most assuredly because Alhissa was as vile a land as the one the Great Kingdom had devolved into.
Along Relmor Bay, South Province is engaged in a sporadic piratical war with Nyrond. The fleets of Prymp and Shargallen raid southern Nyrond, seeking slaves, plunder, and food. In return, Nyrondese vessels raid Ahlissa's northern coast and, indeed, mounted a major raid on Prymp itself in Coldeven. This piracy is still relatively small-scale because neither side seeks all-out war and neither has a truly dominant fleet. Still, this gives Reydrich concern. For one thing, building up defenses such as city walls is expensive, and local rulers demand help with such constructions which Reydrich is loath to give. [Ivid - 44] 

Prymp is a major center for the vile trade of slavery, and in truth virtually anything is for sale here, including the loyalty of many of its mercenary and blackhearted defenders. Many are ex-slaves, pirates of old, or simply chaotic and utterly untrustworthy souls held in check by the rigid Lawfulness of the city's rulers. [Ivid - 132] 

The Raid on Prymp
Relmor Bay: The eastward branch of the Sea of Gearnat is Relmor Bay, long the battleground for the fleets of Almor, Nyrond, and Onnwal, against the naval squadrons of old South Province. Warfare was almost constant here in 579-584 CY, during the War of the Golden League and Greyhawk Wars. Nowadays, Nyrond is the sole major power around, projecting considerable naval force from [her ports.] However, Ahlissa fully intends to sail this sea again with newly built squadrons from the infamous port of Prymp, and the bitter rivalry and conflict could easily be reborn. [LGG - 149] 

Nyrond has taken steps to ensure that does not happen.
Keeping close to port is a reaction to the Nyrondese raid on Prymp earlier this year (585 CY). [Ivid - 132]

Winter of Hunger
Not all casualties of war are from battle. Peasants and serfs suffer as much as, if not more than, their betters. Are they not conscripted? Is not the abundance of their fields not expropriated by necessity? Who then is there to reap what is sown, if the land is sown at all, if the farmer himself is left to enrich the soil in the cause of a greater good?
The folk of Gamboge Forest play a vital role in supplying the towns and villages of northern Nyrond with tubers, nuts, winter berries, and other food with which the Nyrondese can stretch their meager grain reserves. This supply of forage products is declining; Gambogers say they have been ambushed by forces of the Theocracy of the Pale who have stolen their goods, slain some of the woodsmen, and abducted others. The forest folk are reluctant to travel now, and a Nyrondese trading group that went to the forest has not returned. Starvation threatens many villages and people. [FtAA - 76] 

There were rumors that Duke Szeffrin, the Butcher of Chathold, was in control of one of the Orbs of Dragonkind, the Orb of the Hatchling, specifically.
“I must also tell you that I was profoundly distressed to read of the rumors you have heard regarding a white orb said to have been seen in the claws of the Great Murderer of Almor, Duke Szeffrin. This was news of the worst sort, and your report regarding the powers that the orb is said to possess has only fed my nightmare that a true artifact has fallen into the possession of our hated enemies. That this orb is held by an undead wretch such as Szeffrin is ghastly news[.]” 
Excerpt of a letter from the archmage Otto to Johanna, dated Sunset, 8th of Coldeven (585 CY) [Dragon #230 - 8]

Otto had cause for concern:
Almor has passed from the map of the Flanaess. Weakened and embarrassed 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]
Otto understood how dire that prospect was. Szeffrin was as mad as Ivid, if far more calculating. 

There is an old saying that “Blood is thicker than water.” Most believe that to be true. But Kith and Kin are not blood; they are relatives; they are not one and the same. Grenell understood the difference, if King Archibold III did not.
In the fall of 585 CY, King Archbold appeared to suffer a stroke. Clerics from around the land convened in Rel Mord, finally determining that he had been poisoned. Within hours of the discovery, Prince Sewarndt and a group of military officers attempted to seize the throne. Only the intervention of the capital's entire Heironean clergy saved the crown and the king. By the time Archbold's older son, Crown Prince Lynwerd, could lead an army to his father's side, Sewarndt and a handful of his cohorts had vanished into the Nyrondal countryside. [LGG - 16] 

585 CY  Crown Prince Lynwerd was on an inspection tour in Mithat, but he was notified (by magical means) within an hour of the attempted coup and immediately led an army back to the capital. Prince Sewamdt and some of his supporters fled before his brother arrive& his other allies were quickly skin or captured.
            King Archbold recovered from the assassination attempt, but he never recovered from the knowledge that one of his sons had tried to kill him He became deeply depressed and ceased speaking with anyone, even his own family.  [TAB - 30]

One would think the Herzog Genell had matters well in hand. He had escaped Ivid’s Kiss, and held Nyond at bay long enough to retain his lands. Had he done so by skill? Or did fickle Istus and her capricious luck play a role?
Only in North Province, where Herzog Grace Grenell actively allied with the Bone March against Nyrond, are these troops still reliably under the control of the ruler. [Ivid - 10]

Orcs Among Us
The rest of what was once the Great Kingdom had not been so fortunate as he.
These roaming orc mercenaries are having a good time of it, especially in central lands where the opposition to them is weak and the pickings rich. The orcs have grown wily and smart, and they have altered the practice of warfare and skirmishing in Aerdy. The most famous example of this is the desertion of Prince Trellar's orcish mercenaries to the city of Pontylver in an abortive sacking of that city in Coldeven, CY 585.
Against Prince Trellar's orders, the orcs put up their siege engines and sent a chieftain emissary into Pontylver. Offered a better pay rate by the city's ruler, the orcs spent two long days in financial discussions before they promptly turned right around and massacred Trellar together with his armies.
Indeed, in some lands the orcs have settled down and built towns. The most notable examples are the coastal orcs of Montesser on the Spindrift Sound. Thousands of miles from home, with few orcish priests to rabble-rouse them, these members of a non-influential orcish tribe simply decided that two years of marching was enough and a warm summer with plenty of sun and food in the belly was appealing. Such peaceability is distinctly unusual, however. [Ivid - 10] 

586 CY  Fireseek
Nyrond had been stuck many blows throughout the War, so much so that it was a miracle that it still stood; but no blow struck as keenly as when Archbold’s youngest son tried to wrest the throne from his father and brother. Archbold never recovered from that betrayal.
Sewarndt's treachery shattered whatever resolve Archbold had clung to during the difficult war years. A wholly broken man, he abdicated in favor of Crown Prince Lynwerd in Fireseek, 586 CY. [LGG - 78]

During Fireseek 586 CY, the king abdicated the throne and went into retreat at his estate outside the capital. Lynwerd was declared king. His brother has not been seen in Nyrond since, but he is believed to be alive and in hiding, possibly still planning to take the throne. [TAB - 30] 

Nyrond had been far less fortunate than the Pale had been. The Stonehold, Iuz, and Ivid had set upon Nyrond, and though it had prevailed, it had done so at a cost. It had lost many in those battles. Indeed, its citizens had fled the onslaught. Its soldiers had fallen. Lynwerd needed to replenish his peoples. He encouraged his people’s return, enacted a “baby bonus” for fertile families, and he appealed to refugees and the nervous citizens of the County of Urnst to move to Nyrond to aid in its rebuilding.
King Lynwerd I seized the moment and made every effort to revive his declining realm. In his first year on the throne, he restructured Nyrond’s military command and cut back the size of his armies, freeing many troops to go home and farm their lands again. He reduced taxes almost to prewar levels, and he even authorized a bonus of 1 gp from his personal treasury to each Nyrondese family that celebrated a birth in 586 or 587 CY. (This latter project, though dogged by fraud, had the desired effect of boosting the postwar baby boom to record levels.) [TAB - 30]

Despite financial reverses and personal tragedy, [Lynwerd] has been able to expand and stabilize Nyrond's eastern borders, and to repair and strengthen his kingdom's roads, armies, cities and trade links. [PGtG - 25]

[He] seized the western half of Almor, realigned the command structure of his armies, and reduced taxes to prewar levels. While the latter did much to boost the morale of his lords, it has done nothing to pull Nyrond from the bitter clutches of poverty. [LGG - 78] 

Demons and devils walked the oerth. They brought mayhem and terror with them, misery and death. And where they took to the field, those nations of the world fell, riven and torn. The champions of weal searched for an end to their terror, and found it in Veluna.

The Flight of Fiends
In Coldeven 586, Canon Hazen of Veluna employed the Crook of Rao, a powerful artifact, in a special ceremony that purged the Flanaess of nearly all fiends inhabiting it. Outsiders summoned by Iuz, Ivid, or independent evils fell victim to this magical assault, which became known as the Flight of Fiends. [LGG - 16]

No one knows how many demons survived the Flight of Fiends in 586 CY; few have surfaced. [LGG - 61] 

Canon Hazen’s banishing the fiends whipped a blight from the face of the Oerth. Demons and devils ought not to walk the land. But none could have predicted what chaos might arise from such a righteous act.
[Spies] and agents of the overking [had always] kept careful watch on the actions of [the priesthood of Hextor, for its power was hardly contained.] The priests, lacking detection and subtler magic, were not well-equipped to uncover such agents. 
The crafty Naelax overkings kept this situation in existence for many decades, with one twist and turn after another keeping the Hextor priesthood firmly under their thumbs. When the Greyhawk wars came, however, the overking truly needed the support of the priests.
Ivid neglected his usual intriguing for the purpose of giving with one hand and craftily undermining with the other. And under Patriarch-General Pyrannden the priesthood waxed powerful. Ivid must have felt utterly betrayed when he called upon Medegia for aid during the Greyhawk wars and found that the chief censor refused him—with the backing of the Krennden, Patriarch of Hextor in Rel Astra, the nominal capital city of Medegia. Ivid has had his revenge on the Censor, of course, but the patriarch fled to the safety of the north-east coast.
What has happened subsequently is almost without precedent within this priesthood. Patriarch General Pyrannden has stood by Ivid. However, Krennden, Patriarch of Hextor in Rel Astra, has pronounced the Overking insane and renounced his sacred guardianship of the Malachite Throne on account of that. [Ivid - 22]

Krennden’s pronouncement was soon heard across the length and breadth of the Kingdom, and beyond. Ivid was not fit to rule, he said. He had lost command of the fiends. He had lost the Great War. He was mad. He would be the death of them all if left to continue. Many agreed.
Ivid V the Undying, Overking of the former Great Kingdom, had retreated to his capital city of Rauxes during the Greyhawk Wars, There, in his madness, he allowed the kingdom to dissolve, focusing instead on the unfortunate residents of the city. [PGtG - 12] 

Immediately thereafter, priests of Hextor appeared in Rauxes, the former capital of the Great Kingdom, and announced that Ivid V was no longer Overking. Conflict engulfed the capital in a matter of hours. Many of Ivid’s generals and nobles, filled with spite and ambition, marched on Rauxes. No one can explain what followed. but the city itself was engulfed by a strange magical warp. Few willingly approach Rauxes now, and bizarre eldritch forces still prevail where the city once stood. [Gaz 3e - 4] 

A reason for [why the priest of Hextor declared this] was never given; possibly, the disappearance of fiends from nearly all the Flanaess, which occurred just before this, had some connection.
Whatever the cause, the next event was only minutes in coming. The Malachite Throne of Rauxes was open for the taking. A conflict almost immediately broke out in the city between rival nobles, many of them spellcasters and some of them undead It appears that several contenders magically transported themselves to the city from afar to take advantage of the situation. Perhaps even the animus Duke Szeffrin, who oversaw the destruction of Almor, was in Rauxes, as he was no longer seen in the Almorian Lands after this date.
Eyewitness accounts are few and confused, but most tales indicate the capital was in flames within the hour. Thousands fled as houses were consumed by terrific bursts of magic. A number of reports have filtered back in recent years indicating that Rauxes yet stands, but the city and the lands around it for several leagues are dominated by bizarre and dangerous magical effects. Spellcasting is unpredictable and monsters never seen before inhabit the ruins. (One very dangerous monster is said to resemble a two-headed man.) What became of the people who were not able – or who refused – to flee can only be imagined. The wizard Mordenkainen commented in private that such destruction could only have been brought about by an artifact, and a rift in the planes may have been opened there. (He was furious when his remark was repeated by a hireling and widely circulated.) No reliable adventurers are known to have explored the old capital, so nothing more is known of this matter. Rauxes is still considered a part of the Kingdom of Ahlissa, but its status is complicated [.] [TAB - 24] 

Immediately after the Flight of Fiends, it was announced in Rauxes that Ivid V was no longer overking, though it was unclear if he had actually died. Conflict engulfed the capital in a matter of hours as many of Ivid's generals and nobles, filled with rage and ambition, marched upon Rauxes. No one can explain the events that followed, but the city itself was soon engulfed in a strange magical field. Few willingly approach Rauxes now, given the bizarre eldritch forces that prevail where the ruined city stands. [LGG - 16] 

The end came swiftly in 586 CY, when rivals for the throne, perhaps including the fiendish Duke Szeffrin of Almor, attacked the capital after hearing news indicating Ivid V had died or been deposed. Rauxes fell victim to a vast magical conflict that left the city in ruins and submerged in a region of distorted magical force with unpredictable effects. The final fate of Ivid V, the rivals for the Malachite Throne, and Rauxes's citizens remains unknown. All central authority gone, the provinces of Aerdy went their own ways. [LGG - 24] 

As Rauxes burned, and writhed under a twisted dome of spiraling mauve and purple lights, those who still cared asked, “Is Ivid alive?” He wasn’t, though, was he? All knew as much; so, the question might have been, “Does Ivid still exist?”
“What does it matter,” they said, elevating Grenell to oversee his House. For he surely lived. He surely existed.
Following the devastation of Rauxes in 586 CY, Grenell became the scion of House Naelax. [LGG - 74] 

Lynward looked upon his Kingdom and despaired. She had been laid low, and it was his solemn duty to rebuild her, protect her, and raise her back up form her unexpected poverty. All this he must do, and do it quickly if she were to weather what storms would surely come. Nyrond still had enemies: what remained of the Great Kingdom, Iuz, the Euroz of the Bone March.
He needed farmers and stonemasons, and goodwives; and he needed them now!
When in 586 CY war flared again between Furyondy and Iuz, Lynwerd appealed to nervous citizens of the County of Urnst to move further from Iuz’s empire and settle instead in Nyonds western lands. More importantly, King Lynwerd stood up to representatives of the church of Pholtus and the Theocracy of the Pale, resisting calls to allow the North Lands of Nyrond to be given to the Pale. This policy produced bad feelings in the Pale for the young king, but the Pale is now preoccupied with the war in Tenh and does little but sow dissension among Nyrondese peasants through temples and clerics of Pholtus. [TAB - 30] 

Just then, Baron Baystrayne of Woodwych revealed himself to be the villain he most surely had always been.
Lynwerd’s worst defeat in 586 CY came when Baron Bastrayne of Wocdwych fled the kingdom with the bulk of the ax money he had been collecting from local peasants and merchants for years. He was also found to have despoiled pan of the Celadon Forest, and the inhabitants of the woodland were in arms over their mistreatment. The king’s men were unable to find the baron, who disappeared without a trace. Worse, the elves and woodsmen of the Celadon were in full revolt, attacking anyone who entered their real. Lynwerd was forced to order troops to secure the forest’s perimeter, though he kept his soldiers out of the wood itself. [TAB - 30] 

Was Nyrond the only nation in need of rebuilding? No. The whole of the Flanaess was in such straits.
Trade need be found if the markets to the west were closed to the East due to the Scarlet Brotherhood’s blockade. Maybe there were markets to the east? There was the rumoured Fireland. And there had to be other lands east of there. There was only one way to find out. A small Fleet from Asperdi (Sea Barons) set sail across the Solnor Ocean.
Ships from resource-hungry lands of the eastern Flanaess are striking out in search of trading partners, hoping to rebuild from the wars. The Sea Barons and the east coast city-states of Rel Astra, Ountsy, and Roland are now exploring the mini-continent of Hepmonaland, returning with fantastic tales and riches. (Many fall prey to disease, pirates, monsters, and privateers from the Scarlet Brotherhood and Lordship of the Isles, however.) Several major kingdoms full of new peoples are said to lie in this tropical land, some rumored to be at war with the slave-taking Brotherhood. [TAB - 38]

Several ships captained by half-elven smugglers joined a flotilla of the Sea Barons in their journey over the Solnor. They had an ulterior motive. The half-elves were reportedly searching for the last members of the dispossessed Council of Five of Lendore.
In the years since the Greyhawk Wars, some of the surviving exiles have joined together with half-elven captains on the Medegian coast. It is an open secret that they are smugglers, willing to transport any cargo for a price. Several of these ships secretly accompanied the flotilla of the Sea Barons in their voyage over the Solnor in 586-589 CY. The Spindrift exiles were thought to be searching for the last members of the Council of Five, who had fled across the waves when the clerics of Sehanine usurped their authority. It is not clear what benefit they seek by contacting their deposed leaders, but the half-elves clearly wish to return to their birthplace and free it of the magical affliction of Sehanine. [LGG - 69,70]

The Great Kingdom sundered, and Ivid apparently lost, the North Province declares itself Great Kingdom of Northern Aerdy, and Herzog Grenell of House Naelex was crowned Grenell I.

In 586 CY, Herzog Grenell of North Province declared himself overking of the Great Kingdom of Northern Aerdy. [LGG - 16]

In the north, Ivid's cousin, Herzog [Grenell,] founded the Great Kingdom of Northern Aerdy and crowned himself overking, a title not used outside his own realm. He focused his energies entirely on defending and consolidating his new realm. [LGG - 24]

The South Province also sought to step into to vacuum left by the Great Kingdom’s collapse. Under the aegis of its provincial graf, Reydrich, South Province restructured itself as the Kingdom of Ahlissa. [TAB] 

c. 586-591             Grenell did not have his nation as well in hand as one might think.
            Rumors spill from a dozen sources about a dreadful civil war fought in the late 580s around the city of Rinloru, with men, orcs, and hobgoblins pitted against a vast army of undead; details are sketchy even now. Fighting is likely to continue there still. [TAB - 23] 

Rinloru is currently a city of undead, besieged by Torquann armies attempting to destroy a mad undead cleric of Nerull (once a Torquann prince) and his ghastly armies that control the ruined city. [LGG - 73]

The most serious internal threat to [the North Kingdom] (aside from the risk of a chaotic orc uprising) is a civil war centered around Rinloru, now devastated after a four-year siege. Ivid V had a noble, a minor priest, turned into an animus during the Greyhawk Wars to govern this city and surrounding lands. The priest took a liking to his ghastly condition and developed a megalomaniac desire to convert the whole Great Kingdom into an undead empire under Nerull. [LGG - 74] 

Grenell wondered about the tactics of the orcs, for in truth, they had developed a cunning and patience hitherto unknown to those savage tribes, and strategies he had not taught them. Rumours abounded that the hierarchs of the Horned Society were not dead after all, that a few, if not all, had escaped Iuz’s wrath, and were now headquartered along the coast of the Pomarj, or even in the Bright Desert or Rift Canyon. Rumours persisted that they had found their way into the Bone March.
The Horned Society Endures
The Hierarchs and the rest of the leadership of the Horned Society were presumed destroyed in Coldeven 583 CY, during the night of the Blood-Moon Festival. Demonic forces sent by Iuz slew the Hierarchs there and allowed Iuz to quietly take command of their nation. It is possible that one or more Hierarchs survived the incident and is attempting to rebuild the organization, but most assume that the group is no longer a threat. Still, Arkalan Sammal, the renowned sage of Greyhawk, made an interesting appraisal based on reports gathered by the old sage in recent years. The society, he claims, survives in the present day and has metamorphosed from a group centralized within a single nation to one with its secret tendrils buried across the Flanaess. "The Horned Society must surely have known that the return of Iuz would spell its ultimate downfall," he reasons. "It would have planned for this eventuality, most likely by moving its operations out of Molag before the Old One's axe fell." Rumors during the last five years have placed the group's headquarters along the coast of the Pomarj, in Bone March, or even in the Bright Desert or Rift Canyon. Most people no longer care, for Iuz is now perceived as the true threat. However, suggests Arkalan, the Horned Society has become even more dangerous since its dispersal. As the Archmage Mordenkainen was heard to comment last year during a conclave in Greyhawk, "Are their members now dozens, hundreds, thousands? Where are they headquartered? What do they plot? Can we rest assured of the death of the Unnamable Hierarch? To the one who could answer these questions would go the thanks of a free people."
[LGG - 157] 

As the Great Kingdom broke apart, the herzogs and grafs and the Holds of the Celestial Houses saw fit to take what they might while they might. If they did not, others surely would. The Scarlet Brotherhood, mayhap….
Graf Reydrich of South Province, though hampered by the loss of his fiendish servitors to the Crook of Rao, set in notion his plans to enlarge his kingdom and turn it into a true empire. By unknown means thought to consist of a combination of spells, enchanted assassins, and a spy network of his own […] he was able to find and slay many of the Scarlet Brotherhood’s commanders in Onnwal and Idee. His powerful military units rode directly into Idee in late 586 CY, conquering the northern half. He planned to move on Onnwal as well, but bad weather and heavy fighting in Idee forced him to delay those plans. [TAB - 24] 

The Brotherhood suffered a major setback in 6101 SD when Reydrich, Graf of South Province, used his own spy network to discover and slay many Brotherhood members in Odee and Onnwal. He followed this with a military strike that conquered the northern half of Idee. [SB] 

Reydrich knew that he could not let such quiet aggression go unchallenged, not when those of his inner court knew what he did, that the mysterious nation of Shar to the south had infiltrated every level of his government. Why would they, unless they had meant to take control of it.
Reydrich told one of his generals to be prepared to ride to the Tilvanot Peninsula by year’s end over the bodies of the Scarlet Brotherhood’s finest spies, assassins and savages. [TAB - 24]

But Reydrich as truly fortune’s fool. Just as he declared his intent to march unto the land of Shar, fickle fate decreed otherwise.
The general returned to Reydrich’s quarters later that day to find the archmage dead, apparently slain during the casting of another spell against the Brotherhood’s leaders. His assassins were never found. [TAB - 24] 

Assassins? Assassin. Fate does not require a hammer when a needle will do.
Tyrum is the man who killed killed the original Reydrich of South Province in 6101 SD, infiltrating the Graf’s domicile, slaying him, and transporting a piece of flesh back to the Brotherhood wizards to make a clone. The success of this solo mission caught the attention of the Father of Obedience whom after observing him in subsequent missions, appointed him [Foster Uncle of Faith.] [SB - 18]

A charismatic and evil man, he left his position in the Temple of Pyremius [years earlier] when he realized he could best serve his god and the Suel race by becoming an assassin, a profession recognized as part of the official Brotherhood government. [SB -18] 

The plot thickens. Was Reydrich truly master of his own fate. Not so, says the Scarlet Brotherhood.
[Reydrich had been] under the magical influence of the Brotherhood. The Father of Obedience used him to eliminate ambitious political rivals in Indee and Onnwal, then had the graf assassinated before he could overcome the enchantment. Idee and several units of savages seemed acceptable losses compared to the elimination of potential challengers to the Father’s leadership, and he retained several backup plans to compensate for Idee’s “freedom.” [SB - 6]


But is this truly true? I wonder. Reydrich was a powerful man, few his arcane equal. It would take an immensely powerful wielder of the Arts to have dominated one such as he. It would be far easier to spin such a tale, and to quietly spread it far and wide, and see how it might undermine trust.

With Reydrich reputedly dead, the Scarlet Brotherhood agents attempted to usurp the South Province, assassinating those members of the newly declared Kingdom of Ahlissa’s Oligarchy.
[A] coalition of military officers and nobles who briefly attempted to establish a realm of their own, renaming South Province the Kingdom of Ahlissa Several of this oligarchy were slain by Scarlet Brotherhood agents during the winter of 586-587 CY, but the oligarchy held together and oversaw the complete reconquest of Idee by the end of 586 CY. [TAB - 24]

Wars are costly affairs. Lives are lost. Wealth too. In the aftermath, the peoples of the land need time to breathe, to replenish, to rebuild. And to heal old wounds. Re-establish broken bonds. Trade can help do that. It opens dialogues. It reminds those who fought that not all across the border are foes and fiend. The Scarlet Brotherhood preferred that not happen.
Merchant ships from Rel Astra ceased to appear in the Azure Sea after 586 CY. It is now known that the Tilva Strait had been blockaded by ships and possibly monsters under the command of the Scarlet Brotherhood and likely its puppet, the Lordship of the Isles. [TAB - 29]

This situation has led to an increase in trade along an overland corridor from the town of Dullstrand uphill to the Kingdom of Sunndi, and from there into the Kingdom of Ahlissa to Nyrond and on to the west. This trade has served to moderate tempers in diplomatic relations between the Iron League and Ahlissa. [TAB - 29]

Even the Scarlet Brotherhood can change their mind. A piece of the action is far more lucrative a proposition than a blockade, and less costly than the loss of a single ship and its crew, even if that crew are Duxchaners and subjects of the Sea Princes.
The Scarlet Brotherhood in Scant originally blockaded the Strait of Gearnat, but soon switched strategies, instead allowing ships through—with the payment of protection money. This is particularly irksome to the Domain of Greyhawk and the kingdom of Nyrond. [TAB - 25]

Had Duke Szeffrin of Almor perished amid the devastation of Rauxes? If he had, few would mourn him; none would; but his absence left a vacuum to be filled, and Lynwerd meant to fill it.
The disappearance of Duke Szeffrin from Almor in 586 CY, after being confirmed by priests and wizards at court in Rel Mod, led Lynwerd to take a gamble and order his troops on the eastern border to advance into Ahorian Lands, clearing them of bandits, humanoids, and undead. Though slowed by unexpected resistance from many humanoid bands (ex-soldiers from the Great Kingdom), Lynwerd‘s forces were successful in reaching the Harp River late in 586 CY. This gave Nyrond the appearance in the minds of many in the Flanaess of being militarily strong once more, though this was far more illusion than reality. [TAB - 30]

The Scarlet Brotherhood’s hold in Onnwal had begun to slip. The Land of Purity was a small nation, and despite its people’s dedication to duty, its resources were stretched to the very limit.
The Scarlet Brotherhood gained much in the Greyhawk Wars but suffered later reversals. In 586, the people of Onnwal rose up against their occupiers, reducing the Brotherhood's holdings to the capital, Scant. [LGG - 16]

Onnwal continued to struggle against the Scarlet Brotherhood. The core of the rebelling force consisted of the entire [thieves’] guild of Scant, led by a notorious master thief, Rakehell Chert. [TAB - 25]

Rakehell's Resistance

[Chert’s’ thieves had worked hand-in-hand with the dwarven clans of the Headlands and with Irongate [….] Chert also received considerable help from the famed archmage Bigby, once a resident of Onnwal, and a group of Bigby’s former associates and apprentices in Scant. The rebellion began on the first day of Brewfest, 586 CY, and lasted through Patchwall.
[TAB - 25] 

Since 586 CY, rebellious Onnwallers had tried to recapture [Chadwell] manor unsuccessfully, until a storm raging in off the Gearnat veiled their assault. Inside, they discovered a scene of unrivalled butchery amongst the Brotherhood's troops. Several of the Onnwallers remained inside overnight to investigate and were found dead the following morn. Both sides now avoid the area, unsure of what lurks below the house. [LGJ#0 - 12] 

With Onnwal's rebellion in late 586, a counter to [the chaos of the piracy plaguing the Wooly Bay] has formed, with Safeton and Hardby sending out warships to patrol the north, and Onnwalish ships from Scant guarding the south. This reduced the incidence of piracy, but it has hardly eliminated the problem. [Slavers - 38] 

(Year End)
Oligarchy of Ahlissa conquers all of Idee.
In late 586 CY, South Province captured the northern half of Idee, and would own the whole of the territory by the end of the year. [LGG - 98] 

The fall of Idee to South Province in 586 CY and the emergence of the United Kingdom of Ahlissa in the following year panicked many in Sunndi, who already felt threatened enough by the Scarlet Brotherhood's attempts to overthrow the realm from within. A few heavy-handed overtures by Ahlissa for the county to join their nascent empire did not help matters. [LGG - 111] 

The citizens of Idee feared for their future under Ahlissa, but the oligarchy was not inclined to exact revenge on the rebel province, though looting was widespread. The main enemy was now the Scarlet Brotherhood, whose savage army was not equal to the task of defending itself against heavily armed, highly trained, highly motivated cavalry, infantry, and sorcery. As expected and feared, most of the leaders of the Scarlet Brotherhood here escaped, their whereabouts unknown even to this day. [TAB - 24,25] 

No siege lasts forever, although they can last a very long time, indeed.
Irongate lived under siege until late 586 CY, when the Scarlet Brotherhood suffered setbacks in Idee and Onnwal that prevented it from keeping the pressure on Irongate's defenders. Irongate is no longer pushed back on its heels and has tried to reestablish the alliance. [LGG - 58]

The Scarlet Brotherhood’s iron grip had begun to slip. The Father of Obedience had planned well, and his conquests had been swift; but he also knew that holding onto those swiftly gathered gains was quite another thing, altogether.



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.
The Orbs of Dragonkind, by Larry Smith, Dragon Magazine 230, 1996
Lynwerd and Archbold, by Joel Biske, from Living Greyhawk Gazatteer, 2000
Arabian-esque Nights, by Bill Willing, from A3 Assault on thre Aerie of the Slave Lords, 1981

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.
The map of Anna B. Meyer