“Pity is the most agreeable feeling among those who have little pride and no prospects of great conquests.”
―The Joyful Wisdom
|An Aerdian Age|
The Aerdi has long since settled upon their vast and trackless sea. And long since embarked upon their conquest of the known world. But even as they sought to tame it and bring it to heel, they were doomed to fail, no matter that they succeeded in every endeavour they had ever embarked upon. There were portents afoot that would prove prophetic. Portents observed. Noted. Discussed ad nauseum. Ignored. And thus made unavoidable.
Such lack of wisdom is not unique to the Great Kingdom, though. Even as the Celestial Houses were beginning their long journey to their inevitable corruption and collapse, other empires were as doomed as theirs. There were other portents, other prophesies, equally dire elsewhere. All equally unavoidable.
Such is Fate.
1st Century BCY
After the Aerdi first conquered the lands surrounding the lower Flanmi and founded the kernel of their empire along the Solnor Coast, their ambitions soon turned to the southwest, where great riches awaited. The Flan kingdom of Ahlissa was conquered in the [fifth century OR] and eventually became the core of mighty South Province. LGG - 80]
Early 1st Century CY
Even as the Aerdi began their march west they began to build their first ships. They were small vessels, flimsy vessels, incapable of venturing far from the coast. Be that as it may, those early vessels informed the Aerdi to what extent the Flan and Suel had colonized those coasts and islands within their reach, within their grasp. Before long, those ports and villages, those islands and clans were subsumed.
Early in the history of Aerdy, when the Aerdi expanded west from their holdings in the Flanmi basin, little attention was paid to naval pursuits in the Solnor. Most of the islands off the eastern coast of the Flanaess were either inhabited by Flan natives in the north or Suel colonists in the south, and these peoples posed little threat to the expansion of the dominant Aerdi on the continent. It was only centuries later, after the founding of the Great Kingdom, that the overkings sought to extend their dominion to the seas. [LGG – 99]
Over time, spies planted in the Aerdi Kingdom moved to other lands, strengthening the Brother’s information network. Even when the Great Kingdom swelled to its greatest size in 5516 SD under Overking Nasran, Shar was protected from land assaults by the Vast Swamp, and from naval attacks by the Brotherhood’s ships and its powerful magic. [SB – 4] (5516 SD)
The lands farther south [of Ahlissa] were controlled by the Suel, but a series a brutal wars brought regions such as Idee and Sunndi into the burgeoning Aerdi kingdom (as part of South Province) over the next century. In 598 OR (-46 CY), Onnwal was taken after a long and bloody conflict that ended with the establishment of Irongate and final control of the Headlands for the Aerdi. [LGG - 80]
Onnwal under heel, the Great Kingdom needed a port from which it could secure the Gearnat Strait and Relmor Bay to the east, and the Sea of Gearnat and Woolly Bay to the west, and thus lend safety and security to all who might sail within, so it set about constructing Scant.
The peninsula was awarded as a fief to the herzog of South Province, who constructed the port of Scant in 12 CY to facilitate its colonization by the Aerdi. The port also served as a means by which to share Onnwal's resources, particularly the silver and platinum being drawn out the hills, with the markets of Prymp and Chathold. The szeks of Onnwal who administered the land were originally appointed by the herzog in Zelradton and were usually favored members of his court. [LGG - 80]
Meanwhile, far asea in the Misty Kingdom, the dragons there went about their business without interference from the young races, the ever warring, disagreeable races of the mainland.
The three dragons were joined by Vehement Debate in 102 CY, who fathered a clutch of two with Fundamental Thought. Since then, the dragons have hatched three more young, and now each of the nine dragons claim part of the seven islands. [SB – 66]
The great houses were laying claim to lands throughout the realm. House Garasteth was no different, settling the isles of the Solnor Sea. So had House Atirr. War broke out between them, and Overking Manshen was forced to intervene, for so long as those forces fought, his coast was open to raids from the Barbarians to the north. He declared that a naval competition would settle the dispute; upon its completion, House Atirr was declared the winner and given dominion of what was to be christened the Sea Barons.
|Colonizing the Coast|
Irongate was tens of decades in the building. Its walls were raised high upon its cliffs, thick and sturdy, impossible to scale or breach, a fortified Aerdian presence on the Azure Sea.
The city known today as Irongate was completed in 124 CY by imperial architects charged to give the Aerdi a fortified presence on the Azure Sea. [LGG – 56]
The potential of the outpost and surrounding terrain was recognized early on by the imperial architects sent to fortify the harbor on behalf of the Malachite Throne. This was done in coordination with imperial miners and engineers, who organized the excavation effort with the dwarves. These master builders set about the task of erecting a city equal to the Great Kingdom's ambitions for the region, a plan that would take decades to complete. Not only did the Aerdi want a base of operations from which to exploit the resources of the peninsula, but they earnestly wanted a fortified port from which to maintain a naval force on the Azure Sea the year round. [LGG – 56]
There are mysteries aplenty upon the Oerth. Some are old, truly old, old even when the elves were young. Most are best avoided. But what can one do if one rises unexpectedly from below keel, and is stranded upon it?
Atirr did return northward some years later, but as Herzog of North Province. Not until his middle years did he have the leisure to the examination of certain ancient Suel tomes, and the exercise of the arts he learned at Astra, he devised a way to either predict or command the vagaries of the Sinking Isle. This knowledge, like much else, was lost in the Turmoil Between the Crowns, but several different descriptions survive of what he found when he drew alongside the risen city.
In the short time before the sank Once again beneath the waves, Atirr and his to followers were able to recover and record information about a great many artifacts from among the spiky and highly decorated ruins. Among these were many panes of fine stained glass, some still intact, and some in tints never yet achieved by modern artists. Besides these were a number of twisted ornaments Of gold and lead, later discovered to be Of sahuagin manufacture. Attir also discovered a book sealed against the water in a lead casket. All of these were returned to the court at Rauxes in honor of the Overking. The patient Atirr hoped to study them further in his retirement. He declared the book in particular to be most interesting, being among other things a recording in a lost language of “an ancient history together with magical secrets.”
Later observers have examined the coastlands and sea near the site of the Sinking Isle, and have on a dark evening seen what may have been its upper towers. The region is chill and forbidding for such a southern latitude. Fishermen say that the catch in those parts is extraordinarily good, but that nets are often fouled. Those attempting the water, find it dark and chill. Most are content to leave the Sinking Isle to the sahuagin, or whatever race of the deeps now holds it. [GA – 93,95]
The east coast of the Great Kingdom has never truly been pacified. Barbarians raided the North Coast unmolested, and piracy was ever a problem on the south seas. The Overking was losing patience, and he committed forces to deal with it, once and for all time. He set his sights to putting the Duxchaners to task for their misdeeds.
Following a particularly terrible attack on Pontylver, during which the shipyards were set ablaze, Overking Erhart II was determined to put an end to the marauding. In 166 CY, he committed the combined navies of the Great Kingdom to breaking the power of the Duxchaners. Old Baron Asperdi's young but powerful naval force from the Sea Barons was brought to bear on them, led by Lord Admiral Aeodorich of House Atirr, then accorded the finest naval captain of the time. The town of Dullstrand was specifically founded to act as a base of operations for the invasion of these southern islands by the Aerdi fleet. [LGG – 71]
Old evils never remain buried forever, even those that should. Who in their right mind would ever wish to repeat the sin of the Twin Cataclysms? No one, one would think. Or so we would wish. But there are those who would, sure that their unexpected strike could not fail and result in their own doom. It is those we should be wary of, for they cannot be sane, surely.
|The Wrath of Murtaree|
The naval forces of the Great Kingdom defeated the Duxchan forces at the Battle of Ganode Bay with the naval power of the Sea Barons at the fore. Thus, the Duxchan Isles became The Lordship of the Isles, supposedly under the heel of those mariners.
With the naval power of the Sea Barons at the fore, the Aerdi captured the Lordship of the Isles in 168 CY by defeating the Suel of Duxchan. [LGG – 100]
Within two years of hotly fought battles in the Aerdi Sea, Atirr and his armada, which was outfitted with mages and powerful clerics of Procan, finally defeated the Duxchaners and their allies at the Battle of Ganode Bay. This won greater fame and praise for the Aerdi admiral, who eventually rose to the throne of North Province some years later. The most militant of the surviving Suel buccaneers retreated to the port of Ekul, on the Spine Ridge of the Tilvanot Plateau, but were no longer a significant factor. The Aerdi settled these islands in large numbers, founding Sulward as the capital, though the population remained largely Suel, particularly on Ansabo and Ganode, where local Suel lords were absorbed into the government of the realm. An Aerdi lord was appointed prince of the new realm and he was made responsible to the herzog of South Province, but given the right to carve up the islands into provinces as he saw fit and award them to his kin. [LGG – 71]
What of the southern continent? Did it prosper? Did it wither under the gaze of the fell serpent Meyanok? Yes. The Olman warred amongst themselves. The Touv tended their herds, much as they always had. But both suffered the yuan-ti. And both were beset with the machinations of the cult of the serpent.
Tolanok was once an Olman city in the highlands of Hepmonoland. Abandoned during the Olman exodus, the Touv moved warriors into the city to hold the front line and to initiate attacks against the yuan-ti of Xapatlapo. After several years when the Olman did not return and the Xapatlapoans closed their borders, the Touv capital allowed civilians to settle the city. The hillside mines were reopened, and precious metals and gems flowed back to the capital [.] [SB – 54]
The decadence and snake-worship of [the city of Ichamamna] first attracted the attention of the Tuov people, and Ichamamna was the first city to fall to the might of warriors of the Kingdom of Kunda. The Tuov took over the city and reconsecrated it in the name of their own gods, then attacked their northern neighbor, Xapatlapo, with aid from Tuov warriors of Tolanok. When the yuan-ti proved intractable, the Touv continued westward around the serpent city to drive the Olman out. [SB – 49]
Tolanok became a very wealthy state, although the mediocre soil of the region kept it from growing too large. It was its financial prosperity and status as the smallest of the Touv city-states that eventually attracted the attention of the priests of Meyanok.
Over the years the priests slowly replaced key individuals in the temples and the city government. In 170CY, the high priests of Meyanok called down the power of their god and withered all vegetation within five miles of the city wall. The city’s stores of grain were lost, and the people were best by famine. Many fled, but most could not; those that died of starvation rose as the ravenous, a new form of undead. [SB – 54]
When Tolanok was rendered barren in 170 CY, Prince Okelo saw an opportunity to take the yuan-ti by surprise.
Unfortunately, the inhumans anticipated such a move and laid poisonous traps all along the path of the Prince’s troops while simultaneously flanking the humans and moving into the flatland, catching the citizens unawares. The people were enslaved and corrupted by the blood curse of Tlaloc, and Ichamamna remains a yuan-ti nation. [SB – 49] (1577 TC)
It is no wonder that the Olman and the Touv floundered, even as the Great Kingdom flourished.
All eyes looked to the heavens as a comet appeared over the Flanaess.
|Lyzandred the Mad|
A great ball of fire appeared over the Oljatt Sea in 198 CY, passed over the southern Great Kingdom, and vanished beyond the Sea of Geamat. [LT1 The Star Cairns – 2]
The meteor struck the eastern Abbor-Alz and shook the bedrock hard enough for an echo to be felt in the demiplane. Lyzandred timed the impact to occur while two Suel wizards tested spells simultaneously; the spells went out of control, overlapping each other and other magics at the site. The laboratory vanished from Oerth, taking with it one piece of an unassembled Suel war artifact, the Doomheart. [LT2 – 2]
The impact was felt several hundred miles away in Murtaree’s southernmost site, momentarily distracting the attention of the mages working there. Mysteriously, the site vanished a few seconds later – with it, three well-known wizards of the Great Kingdom. Even worse, one of the pieces of the ancient weapon had been stored in the lost site. The remaining wizards abandoned for a time their plans of Bakluni destruction to deal with the troubles in the east, and fled the laboratories, some caking the time to activate magical and mundane defenses to protect their research. [LT1 - 2]
|Selvor the Younger|
In mid-locktime of CY 198, the Great Kingdom was astounded by a ball of fire which appeared over the Oljatt Sea, passed over Sunndi, Idee, Ahlissa, and Onnwall, and vanished somewhere beyond the Sea of Gearnat. It was visible as far south as the Olman Isles and as far north as Eastfair and Rel Mord, and was cause for wonder and concern even in those prosperous and confident times. [GA – 91]
Eventually, the wizards who knew the true purpose of the dungeons were scattered to the winds or dead; the items found inside sparked their own legends, leading people to believe that the ruins were merely burial sites for great mages. They came to be called the Star Cairns, after the star-shaped entrances, and the belief that they were mausoleums. Monsters and other undesirables began using the cairns as lain, the great plans of the Suel wizard forgotten. [LT1 - 2]
How complacent was Rauxes? How depraved? How self-serving?
Upon the death of Overking Jiranen, his son Malev auctioned off the throne to the highest bidder. For how much? A princely sum, reputedly, for few could meet the price Malev would accept. His cousin Zelcor could and did.
[With] the death in the spring of 213 CY of the Overking Jiranen, a sovereign who had reigned many years, succession became a matter of intrigue. His fatuous son Malev was uninterested in the office and proceeded to secretly auction it off to the highest bidder among his relatives. Malev did not care who took the throne, and it came as some surprise when his cousin Zelcor reportedly met his price. [LGG - 23]
Royal Astrologers at Rel Astra proclaimed the coming of the Age of Sorrow, vindicating the disgraced Sage Selvor the Younger.
Selvor the Younger, an Aerdi astronomer, extrapolated its path [of the comet that passed overhead in 198 CY] back to its celestial origin and declared the fireball to be an omen of “wealth, strife, and a living death.” This pronouncement caused panic in Rauxes and throughout the Great Kingdom, where it was interpreted to mean the end of the world. The subsequent incidents and unrest foreshadowed the Age of Great Sorrow to come, in 213 CY. [LT1 – 2]
The Royal Astrologers proclaimed it as a great portent, confirming the sign of a coming Age of Great Sorrow prophesied by Selvor the Younger fifteen years earlier. Overking Zelcor promptly abolished the astrologers' order for trying to recreate earlier hysteria and banished the members to Rel Astra. So proceeded an inexorable decline that began as the rulers of House Rax became progressively neglectful, decadent, or dimwitted. [LGG – 23]
From 213 CY on, the Aerdi overkings grew lax, caring more for local prestige and wealth than for the affairs of their vassals in distant lands. This period was called the Age of Great Sorrow. As each sovereign passed, he was replaced with a more dimwitted and less competent successor, until the outer dependencies of Aerdy declared their independence. [LGG – 14]
Who was Wastri the Hopping Prophet? The Malachite Throne had no idea. Neither did the Scarlet Brotherhood. Some few in the Brotherhood assumed him to be one of the original followers of Kevelli, but they had no proof of such a claim. He was powerful, to be sure; a god some thought; most believed him a heretic.
|Wastri, the Hopping Prohet|
It is he who preaches the ultimate superiority of humankind. While humanoids can serve, demi-humans are fit only to be slain — especially dwarves, gnomes, and halflings. These, with the aid of his gray-clad “Servants,” he hunts with his toad packs and exterminates whenever possible. [Dragon #71 – 56]
Orcs, goblins, bullywugs, and such are sufficient to serve humans [….] Those who disagree […] are wrong and must be convinced of their error, with a weapon if need be. [LGG – 187]
Was Wastri Iuz? Is that possible? Might that master of mayhem and deceit begun to weave his web that far south of his domain?
This beg the question to be asked: Why did Choldraf flee to the Vast Swamp of all places? To redeem himself there? Why there unless that was where Iuz was to be found.
|Wastri Upon His Steed|
The community of his followers grew, and as things developed, Wastri’s main interest centered on the first friends he’s made in the bogs, the giant toads. Over the course of decades, the Hopping Profit grew more powerful, even as he and his faithful following assimilated certain characteristics of a strange sort as a result of their mingling.
To this day, Wastri has continued to evolve to a point where he is no longer human. [Dragon #300 – 16] (5730 SD)
Some seeds take decades to germinate: the Theocracy of the Pale, for instance. Who would have thought that its first seed was planted a century prior to its Emancipation? But it was. And it was first seed was sown by Overking Toran II, a paranoid, suspicious soul, if there ever was one. He saw enemies everywhere, he heard whispers in the far corners of his court. And knew that he had tenuous hold on the length and breadth of his Great Kingdom. None should rule but him. And to that end, those with any influence need be uprooted. Replaced. With those more loyal.
“This world is for those who are born to conquer it,
Not for those who dream that are able to conquer it, even if they're right.”
―Poems of Fernando Pessoa
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 Sinking Isle, by Jeff Easley (?), from Greyhawk Adventures Hardback, 1988
Lyzandred the Mad, by Sam Wood, from LT2 The Crypt of Lyzandred the Mad, 1998
Wastri, by Jeff Easley, from Dragon Magazine #71, 1983
Iuz, by Anthony Granato, from WGR5 Iuz the Evil, 1993
Pholtus of the Blinding Light, by Anthony Granato, from Dragon Magazine #294, 2002
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
2023 Greyhawk Adventures Hardback, 1984
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
9579 LT1 The Star Cairns, 1998
9580 LT2 Lyzandred the Mad, 1998
Dragon Magazine, 56, 71, 300
OJ Oerth Journal, appearing on Greyhawk Online
LGJ et. al.
Greychrondex, Wilson, Steven B.
Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda
The map of Anna B. Meyer