Friday, 27 August 2021

History of the South, Part 3: Collapse


“To plunder, to slaughter, to steal, these things they misname empire; 
and where they make a wilderness, they call it peace.”
― Tacitus

New Lands
The Flan found that there were a great many lands to be had in the Flanaess. They spread north and east, ever mindful of the benevolence of the olve, and ever mindful of their taxed tolerance as well.
But where their migrations were peaceful, there were those whose weren’t. The Olman were ever warlike, and forever cruel wherever they might settle. They would abide no others in sight of their settlements, even if those others had settled those lands long before them. Those Tuov would have to make way, they reasoned, if they could not make proper use of those lands that were destined to be Olman. The Tuov were of a different opinion.
As were those Baklunish and Oerid that found themselves in the path of Suel expansionism.

c. -1000 CY
The Earth Dragon
Once, the Pomarj was a peaceful peninsula, inhabited by primitive Flan who worshipped powers of earth and sky.
Ages ago, before humans laid claim to this monstrous peninsula, an ancient spirit, the Earth Dragon, rise to claim this land its own. In those early days of the Flanaess, the Earth Dragon was but one of many spirits worshipped by the primitive people of the Pomarj. It was the elemental spirit of Mount Drachenkopf the great mountain lying in the heart of the Drachensgrab Hills, and it was said to dwell deep in the heart of that mountain. Like other spirits of the land, the Earth Dragon demanded sacrifices from the local tribesmen. Those tribes that sacrificed to the Earth Dragon prospered, while those that did not were destroyed by avalanches and earthquakes. […]
Before the great migrations that transformed the Flanaess, the nomadic Flannae were the only humans to live in this sparsely populated land. The tribes of Flannae that wandered the Sheldomar Valley knew of the Earth Dragon and respected its power. But, since the Drachensgrab Hills made travel difficult, the Flannae tended to avoid the region, leaving sacrifices of food and wine only when they needed to ensure safe passage. [Slavers – 120]

c -1000 CY
Just as the Flan were migrating into the Pomarj, so too were the Olman beginning their mass migration from Hepmonaland unto the Olman Islands, and into the Amedio jungle, and beyond, into the southern seas.
They had little choise. The Tuov struck back at the warlike Olman, loath to accept their northern neighbour’s raids and subsequent slaughters any longer. And as the Tuov pressed the Olman ever further back into their jungles, they were horrified to discover the dark depravities the Olman had sunk to.
The monsters of Alocotla spread into the countryside, diluting their tainted blood with the remaining humans, eventually drawing all of them into the cold embrace of the serpent-men. The human aspects of the yuan-ti of this nation have Olman traits, while their snake parts are predominately dark green with red or black patterns.
Although most Olman fled Hepmonaland when invading Tuov proved too strong, those of Alocotla stayed and fought, managing to retain control of much of their territories. They fought occasional wars against the neighboring city0states, spied on their Xapatlapoan cousins, and seemed mostly content to rule their own lands. [SB – 47]

The Shores of the Amedio
The Olman arrived from Hepmonaland around -1000 CY, long after the d’kana vanished. Finding this new land largely uninhabited by intelligent foes, the Olman burned off large swaths of jungle to make their progress through the Amedio easier, stopping when they found sites of which their gods approved. They built great cities, burning away the nearby jungle to make room for farmland. Seven cities were built, each surrounded by villages and farming communities. The land around each city was considered a kingdom, with the city its capital, but all city-states owed allegiance to the high capital city in the central Amedio.
[SD – 62]

Though uninhabited by civilised cultures now, the Olman discovered evidence that this was not always so.
The Olman had discovered remnants of the troglodyte culture and declared that their civilization had fallen because the gods judged them lacking. [SD – 63]

The Isle of Dread
The Isle of Dread

The Olman have lived on the Isle of Dread for countless ages in small villages separated from the body of the island by a gigantic wall.
[Dragon #351 – 70]
The Olman are a remarkable people whose traditions remain unsullied by the rising forces of commerce, industry, and corruption.
The human tribes of the Olman have existed on the Isle of Dread as far back as their stories stretch. Decended from the once-great Olman theocrats of the sprawling city-state of Thanaclan, their capital city is now nothing more than a mist-shrouded ruin filled with horrors that have driven mad the stoutest men. Their dieties of old are now worshiped as powerful totems, granting the dark-skinned natives power over life and death. Seven tribes live southeast of the Great Wall on the Isle of Dread: Burowoao, Dawa, Kirikuka, Mora, Panitube, Tanaroans, and Usi. [Dragon #352 – 70,71]
The Olman are divided into four clans, each of which venerates a fierce animal: the elk, hawk, tiger, and sea turtle. Each clan has its own proud traditions and rituals, but each comes to the defense of the others in times of crisis. While the leader of each clan is male, the leader of each village is female, ensuring a balance of power and opinions. Olman are not afraid if outsiders, instead finding them curious and almost foolish with their determination to explore the deadly island. [Dragon #351 – 71]
While they are dedicated to their tribes, numerous individuals have left over the years to explore the world beyond. [Dragon #351 – 70,71]
Other Olman tribes exist beyond the wall, but no peaceful contact has been recorded with these cannibalistic savages whose war drums herald only slaughter and madness. [Dragon #352 – 71]

-805 CY
The Black Heart of the Amedio
Tentative at first, the Olman plunged into the black heart of the Amedio from their first coastal cities, slashing back the jungle as they raised their first cities, burning the clears to farm, and cutting paths between those towns that crouched under the oppressive and sweltering canopy.
They adapted to the Amedio’s harsh life, not so dissimilar to what they once knew in Hepmonaland. Before long, their scattered settlements took shape and form, until they had truly become a nation again.
The starting year of the Amedio Olman calendar is -805 CY, the year the Olman of the Amedio themselves the true Olman nation. [SB – 64]
As this region varies little from season to season, the calendar is based on cycles of Luna and Celene, which the Olman call Mazlateotl and Apocatequil. Each nation adopted different names for the months and days based on their own patron gods and high priests, so there are too many variants to list, although numerically the calendars are identical. [SB – 64]

c. -800 CY
Early Olman Amedio Settlements
While these city-states initially considered themselves colonies of the Hepmonaland Olman empire, all seven had declared themselves independent before -800 CY, when they discovered that the old empire was dead. From that point forward, the Amedio Olman considered themselves the true Olman civilization.
The new Olman empire extended from the southernmost jungles of the Amedio through the Olman Islands and also onto the northern part of Hepmonaland, as well as a few scattered settlements on the Tilvanot peninsula. [SD – 62]

Xamaclan Warrior
Their nation did not last long. The Olman nature railed against such subjection, and confinement. The Olman desire, above all else, their freedom. Before too long, each and every city-state colony revolted, and, and by this time, all seven had declared themselves independent. (OL 6)

Several hundred tribes live in the Amedio Jungle, each regularly warring with, conquering and being absorbed by others. As such, little effort is made for a distinct totem or symbol for each tribe, with individuals choosing a favorite animal or color as their personal icon. Only Telaneteculi, Hucanuea and Xamaclan retain true heraldic symbols: a bat-like humanoid on a field of green, a jaguar’s head on a mottled brown and green, and an eye superimposed on a ziggurat, respectively. [SB – 62]

-728 CY
The Red Death has been with the peoples of Oerth for a very long time, indeed.
When did it begin sweeping the land and culling its people? That has been lost to the fog of Time. But its first recorded appearance was devastating. The Suel prayed for protection, wondering why their gods had forsaken them so. When prayer failed them, their lamentations did little better, nor the burning of incense, nor the wards of blood painted upon their lintels, nor the thick black columns of smoke curling up into the heavens from the innumerable sacrifices pledged of goat, of sacred calf, nor even of their firstborn sons. Soon, they took to cowering within their huts and their palaces and estates, wondering how long it might be before every last one of the chosen people would fell victim to its burning.
The empire slips into stagnation. Numerous plagues sweep through the Seul Empire, some magical and some mundane. The population falls by over 40%. Many towns are completely emptied, and the border defenses are greatly weakened. This is the first year of those known as "The Plague Years." (4788 SD) [OJ1]

-720 CY
The Olman Refused To Go Willingly
Those Olman who remained in Hepmonaland refused to go willingly. Indeed, they fought the Touv with the ferocity of the jaguar, and the stealth and speed of the viper, until the Tuov feared the twilight under the jungle canopy. But the Tuov would not be pressed back out of their hard gained territory. They raised crenelated walls and palisades, redouts and fortresses as the pushed ever forward, eager to be rid of the Olman once and for all. Until they could push no more. (689 TC)
As the Tuov swept north to drive out the Olman, they built fortifcations to defend their newly conquered lands. The northernmost fort was Anatal, built in -720 CY at the base of the Fyalo hills, at the edge of the jungle close to the sea.  [SB – 47]

-645 CY
Johydee's Mask
The repeated outbreaks of plague, the Red Death had weakened the Imperium perceptibly. It could patrol its borders. It could keep vigil against invasion; but it could no longer safeguard its borders and suppress its conquered, allowing those subjugated by its tyranny to dream of emancipation. The notion of Freedom was as virulent as was the Red Death.
The Oeridian High Priestess Johydee using her Mask, breaks the Oeridian free from Seul domination. (1 OR\-645 CY) [OJ1]

-644 CY
Free at last, the Oerid vowed that they would never be subjugated again. The Suel sent what troops they could spare, but no number proved enough against the fury of the Oeridians.
After repeated attempts by both the Seul and Bakluni to regain control of the Oeridian tribes, Johydee breaks the Oeridians away from the control of the Seul. The tribes swear the Oath of Unity. This oath places allows for the common defense of Oeridian tribes under one War Leader, the First War Leader (styled Herzog) is Chenil of Aerdy. (4871 SD) [OJ1]

-627 CY
The Red Death had left the Imperium vulnerable, and the Bakluni knew it. And they meant that the Suel should pay for their raids upon Bakluni territories, their conquering, their slaving, and their supposed racial superiority.
The population begins to recover, but the Bakluni peace begins to break down. Raids become frequent. (4889 SD)

-604 CY
Strife is rife within the Imperium. The people are displeased with their nobility—that is no matter, as the people invariably always are, and are of no account—but more importantly, the Great Houses of the Suloise nobility were not pleased with the state of their state.
The first of the Succession Wars. The Schnai are removed from the throne. (4912 SD) [OJ1]

c. –600 CY
A Need for Stealth
One must never believe the Olman incapable on ingenuity. They could not chase their prey through dense jungle; nor could they stalk unheard. Even the draw of a bowstring alerted their ever-vigilant prey. And prey needed to fall quickly, lest they be lost in the tangle of the jungle, taking their arrows with them. The Olman discovered that a dab of poison on a slender needle could accomplish when bows and arrows and spears could rarely do, and quickly too.
Most [Olman tribes of the Amedio] use the blowgun, which was developed by [them] about 1200 years ago; it is commonly used when stealthy attack is needed. [SB – 65]

-558 CY
Sulm was a tainted land, an evil land. One wonders if that might be the legacy of Galap-Dreidel and his wicked ways. Mayhaps it is. More likely, Sulm was doomed by the hubris and sins of its rulers; and that Galap-Dreidel, wherever he had flown to, looked on at the folly of his successors and laughed at their foolishness, and their myopic vision.
Shattados, mage-king of Sulm and his entire people are translated into Scorpion Men. (4948 SD/1583 FT) [OJ1]

Finally, after a long slide into decadence, the land's last king, a sorcerer named Shattados, appealed to one of his wicked deities for a boon, a magical item which would enable him to be his people's unquestioned ruler.
Shattados's Wish
Shattados's wish was granted, but in a way that both he and the Sulm people would soon regret. A crown appeared to him in the shape of a great scorpion. Eagerly, Shattados donned it, expecting it to simply bend others to his will. It did far more. The gods of evil are possessed of a perverse sense of humor, and Shattados was about to be the victim of an unpleasant practical joke. In an agonizing moment, he was transformed into a monstrous scorpion and his people into the wild manscorpions which still plague the desert. In less than a day, the kingdom of Sulm ceased to exist, and perhaps, far away, in an isolated corner of an evil plane, dark laughter echoed. Those nomads and centaurs who were not citizens of Sulm were unaffected by the curse and soon returned to their nomadic lifestyles, fighting each other and the manscorpions with equal vigor. Within a few generations, the kingdom of Sulm had vanished from memory, and the desert was as it always had been.
 [WG3 – 15]

-505 CY
The last of the Succession Wars. After 500 years with the succession falling to nine different Houses, the House Zolax regains control of the Imperium. (5011 SD) [OJ1]

-504 CY
The Bakluni withdraw their ambassador from the Seuloise Empire when Zunid-ad-Zol, the Prince of House Zolax is crowned Emperor of the Seul Peoples. (5012 SD) [OJ1]

-490 CY
Regular Mass Sacrifices
The emperors of the Olman are omnipotent, omniscient; so say the priests of the Olman. Yet so too are those chosen to walk the path of faith, decreed to do so by the very gods themselves. It is a precarious balance, at best, a tenuous equilibrium of politics and power, so long as the interests of the emperor and the priesthoods align, so long as the precognitions of the priests declare that the gods approve of and are in agreement with the edicts of the emperor. So it was. So it shall always be, so long as the wheels of the Olman calendar turn. When the interests diverge, the gods’ Will be done. (OL 316)
Chetanicantla was once the capital of the Amedio Olman empire. It and the other city-states prospered in typical Olman fashion, with frequent raids into the countryside and regular mass sacrifices to the Olman gods, until -490 CY when Emperor Tloqasikukuatl was assassinated by priests of Zaotzilaha. This plunged the empire into open warfare between the noble houses and priests, each ordering their personal guards into the frey. [SB – 65]

Other cities became involved [….] The imperial army retaliated […] and went on to sack the cities [….] [SB – 65]

The city-states prospered for over 500 years, but eventually they turned on each other in a series of destructive internal wars over control of certain mines, choice of emperor and religious differences. [SB – 62, 63]

The Olman of the Amedio worship the same gods as their cousins in Hepmonaland. Regional differences account for minor name changes or differences in appearance. Two points to note are alternate names for two Olman powers. The god Tezcatlipoca is worshipped under a different aspect by some Amedio Olman; as god of the moon and lightning, he is known as Apocatequil. The bat-god Camazotz is worshipped as Zotzilaha, who includes an aspect of vampirism and the underworld. [SB – 64]

-485 CY
Two empires cannot remain posed on the brink of conflict forever. Sooner or later, something’s got to give. Tensions rise as they stare one another down, each sure the other will break the precarious peace. If there had ever been peace, and not just a pause.
Beginning of the Baklunish-Suloise Wars. (5031 SD) [WOGA – 9]

Just over one thousand years ago, two ancient western empires, the Suel and the Baklunish, were enmeshed in titanic conflict. The root of animosity between them is lost, but the result of their final war haunts even the modem historian. [WOGG 3e – 3]

The beginning of "The Great War." Nine thousand Bakluni are slaughtered in the Salhaut Pass. Munid promises to destroy the Bakluni entirely, even if the majority of mages of his own house die in the process. (5031 SD) [OJ1]

Emperor Ad-Zol sends 9000 troops across the mountains to punish the black-haired northerners. Bakluni Padishah Ramif sent similar number to meet these troops. Battle of Fields of Padyr fought to inconclusive end.) [OJ1]

The Great War
“The start of the Great War surprised no one. For longer than a year, raiders from both nations stormed across the Haut Range, pillaging and burning homes and farms on either side of the great mountains. In the spring of 5031 SD Emperor Ad-Zol sent nine thousand troops across the mountains to punish the black-haired northerners. They were met on the fields of Padyr by a comparable force sent by the Bakluni Padishah Ramif; after a pitched battle that lasted almost three days, the armies had annihilated one another. The handful of surviving warriors from the Emperor’s army retreated to their homeland and reported imminent invasion by the foul Bakluni, and the very air that my people breathed became charged with the fervor of war.”
—from the Journal of Kavelli Mauk [SB – 2]

The Suel Peoples, mainly fleeing from the great wars in the Suloise Empire, moved northwards through the Kendeen (Harsh) Pass of the southern Crystalmist Mountains (now known as the Hellfurnaces) and spread out in all directions. [Folio – 5]

-466 CY
Endless war is a taxing affair. It wastes a nation’s youth and bright future. Better that the Oerid and the orcs and hobgoblins shed their blood rather than those regals to the north and south who employed them, those very same nobles reasoned.
First employment of humanoid mercenaries. WOGG – 9
Both Bakluni and Seuloise began to go east of the mountains, recruiting Humanoids as mercenaries in their battles for the first time. (5050 SD) [OJ1]

-458 CY
Refugees
Stalemate threatened both empires. Neither could gain ground, having long since dug in and fortified the undulating front. They needed a breakthrough, if there were to be an end to this bloody affair. To that end, if they could not flank the front, they would flank the war. Both Balkuni and Suel armies spilled into the lands of the Oerid, in hope of taking their bitter foes by surprise. Both were slowed by the Oeridians, who took offence at their lands being so sorely used, and attacked both. The Oeridians fought as best they could, but pinched betwixt two fronts, they had allies, no supply, and no hope to repel either. Soon, they reeled, with little hope other than retreat.
Oerid migrations [at] peak point. (187 OR) WOGA – 9

Heeding their prophets, many Oeridians began moving eastward, coming into contact and conflict with the Flanae. (5058 SD/ 1693 FT) [OJ1]

The fierce Oeridian tribes likewise moved east, thrusting aside Flan and Suloise in their path. The Oerid migrations were similar in cause to those of the Suel, in that the Baklunish-Suloise Wars, and the hordes of Euroz and associated humanoid groups used as mercenaries by both sides, tended to pillage northwards and eastwards, driving the Oerids before them. [Folio – 5]



“Listen to me
Ooh war, I despise
'Cause it means destruction of innocent lives
War means tears, to thousands of mother's eyes
When their sons go off to fight and lose their lives…”
--Excerpt from War, by Edwin Starr, 1970
Songwriters: Whitfield Norman Jesse, Strong Barrett





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

The Art:
All art is wholly owned by the artists.
The Isle of Dread map, by Robert Lazzaretti, from Dungeon #143, 2007
 
Sources:
1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
1064 From the Ashes Boxed Set, 1992
1068 Greyhawk Wars Boxed Set, 1991
2011A Dungeon Masters Guide, 1st Ed., 1979
9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
9577 The Adventure Begins, 1998
9578 Player’s Guide to Greyhawk, 1998
11374 The Scarlet Brotherhood, 1999
11742 Gazetteer, 2000
11743 Living Greyhawk Gazeteer, 2000
Ivid the Undying, 1998
Dragon Magazine, 351
OJ Oerth Journal, appearing on Greyhawk Online
LGJ et. al.
Greychrondex, Wilson, Steven B.
Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda
The map of Anna B. Meyer

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