Friday, 20 May 2022

On Duchess and Candella


“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Candella and Duchess
Anyone who has followed this blog may already realise that Duchess and Candella are my favourite NPCs. One or two of you may ask, why? They are low level, hardly heroic. They’re thieves, for goodness sakes.
That would be unkind. NPCs are ours to define and develop; they are what we make them.
Shekespeare said it best in Twelfth Night, I believe, even if its inference was less than kind when spoken: “Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.”
That may be the very reason why I love them so. Room to grow, so to speak. And what room, indeed!

Where’d this dynamic duo spring from? The imagination of Jean Wells.
Consider this comment from this Dragonsfoot Forum thread:
Candella and Duchess
“Those are indeed Jean [Well]'s favorite duo in both pictures. They come from her and/or Skip's campaign in the late 1970s, iirc, tho she played other characters in my Lake Geneva campaign c1981-85.”
This leads me to believe that Duchess and Candella were 2 of her PCs, her favourite, it would seem, judging by the above quote. She loved them enough that she wished to immortalise them in her one and only adventure module, that only briefly saw print, before office politics decreed that her effort be recalled and destroyed. Why was it destroyed? Not by her doing, rumour has it; it had everything to do with presumably suggestive and immoral artwork, none of which she was happy with. Much has been said about this “lost” classic (which is not lost at all: the PDF is readily available for download; and a number of copies were “rescued” from destruction and those that were demand a pretty penny these day), so I won’t dwell on it. Use a little Google-fu if you’d like to learn more. The art may not have been her fault, but that did not save her from the fallout. Alas, she produced no other products for TSR.
Sadly, we cannot ask her, personally, what happened. She is forever mum on the subject.
(Oeva Jean Wells Koebernick, July 25, 1955 – January 25, 2012, 56 years old)

She will be forever mum on the subject of Duchess and Candela, as well. There might be a few who are privy to the story. The aforementioned Skip [Williams?] might have insights, perhaps a few others from those early hallowed halls of TSR who are still alive and well might, as well. I have not reached out to any of them on the subject, and likely never will, preferring to dream what dreams I may, instead. That way D & C will be forever mine.

All we do know is the little she wrote about them.
As the party searches the room, roll for a wandering monsters. If on the first roll none was indicated roll again. On the last roll if one was indicated the wandering monster will be two female thieves: Candella (20) F (AC 7, T2, hp 8, #AT 1, D 1-6. Save T2, M 7, AL N, S 12, I 15, W 13, D 17, C 15, CH 14) Duchess (18) F (AC 7, T2, hp 6, #AT 1, D 1-6, Save T2, M 7, AL N, S 11, I 12, W 15, D 16, C 18, CH 15). Both women will have an above average appearance (CH 14, 15) and will attempt to use it to their benefit. They will pretend to be young inexperienced fighters in search of adventure, fame and fortune, but mostly fortune. Candella is the spokesman of the two women.
These two thieves will be friendly towards the party, not acting hostile if they win the initiative. They will politely ask to join the party, saying that they are not quite as tough or prepared for adventuring as they had originally thought themselves to be. Dutchess [sic] (hp 6, CH 15) will stress her desire to accompany them, saying she fears that she and her companion have made a grave error in attempting to venture into the palace ruins by themselves, especially after seeing the strange 3 headed monsters they have managed to flee from so far. Both thieves will have the following on them including normal dungeon supplies, weapons and thieves tools:
15 gp.
7 sp.
21 cp.
Wolfsbane (Duchess)
poisoned daggers (poison effective for one attack)
Strand of pearls (Candella) (value 600gp)
These two thieves may be used by the DM as NPCs (nonplayer characters) or as a normal dungeon encounter.
[B3_Original – 10, 11]

What have we learned from this short passage? That they are pretty, and that they use their beauty to their advantage. They misrepresent themselves—perhaps not unexpected, as they are thieves and of dubious moral fortitude (they are packing poison, after all), and one might expect (they certainly do) that thieves would be less welcome in Lawful parties than fighters—although there is no mention that they will not be true to the party. That may be implied, citing the poison, but they are not Chaotic, are they?
We also learn that although it is Duchess who wishes (stresses her desire) to join the party, it is Candella who their spokesperson. That suggests that Candella (I 15, W 13, CH 14), the smarter of the 2, is the leader, but that Duchess (I 12, W 15, CH 15), the wiser and more charismatic of the 2, is not without influence.

That’s not much to go on; but it is also enough to inspire the imagination.
I’m not the only person to be inspired by Duchess and Candella, either. Those who are do pop up from time to time, in art, mainly (most notably Domenico Neziti, as seen below); but I also expect that quite a few DMs have seen fit to include them in adventures they’ve devised. ArtoftheGenre certainly used their image on the cover of his bonus module A Secret Respite, if only there and not in the adventure, itself.
Candella and Duchess
First, that is a great 'catch', as yes, the entire scene is a homage to the Red Box, as the shop is the one used by the fighter character in the introduction mini-adventure, and the cleric is the one from the book, although it isn't Aleena (who sadly died in the mini-adventure intro), as in the book she's called Clarion if you read the description under the Cleric class. I've used her extensively in my Roslof Keep adventure series because I fell in love with her when I was 12 and haven't stopped yet, obviously. AND the two other female characters are Duchess and Candella from The Palace of the Silver Princess (originally drawn by Roslof). This image is done by artist Domenico Neziti, who has done some great work for Art of the Genre in the past. And sadly no, none of the characters appear in the mini-adventure, unless you are using the playable characters from the Roslof Keep Campaign, in which Clarion has been stat-blocked at high level. I just enjoy putting Duchess and Candella in various situations, because I think they are fun.

More importantly, Tom Moldvay saw fit to salvage D & C and include them in his refit of Jean’s disgraced adventure. One wonders whether he was inspired by these exceptional NPCs, or maybe perhaps he wished to exonerated Jean by ensuring her favourite characters survived the axe that felled her. We will never know how so about this, either, as Tom shall be as forever mum on the subject as Jean is, for the same reason.
B3 Candella and Duchess
(Tom Moldvey, November 5, 1948 – March 9, 2007, 58 years old)
But salvage, and immortalise them, he did.
A statue of a young girl playing with a dove is in the south-eastern corner of this oddly shaped room. A large handcarved bookcase stands next to the northeastern wall. Two wooden benches, one in front of each of the two southwestern windows, have scrolls lying upon them. Two women stand next to one of the benches. Both women wear leather armor and carry swords. One of the women has just unrolled a scroll and is reading it. [B3 – 24]

Tom did not deviate much from Jean’s original intent, although his room we encounter them in differs from the one she introduced them.
This room contains the remains of bunks, bedrolls, round oaken tables, stools, benches and dead soldiers which have been beheaded. Along the north wall is a line of 6 heads. [B3_Original – 10]
Jean’s is far more grim.

Other than that, Tom’s D & C are as equally deceitful in their profession.
The two women appear to be fighters, but are really thieves. [B3 – 24]
Otherwise, they are very much identical to Jean’s “heroines.”
The two women are named Candella (AC 5; T/2; hp 8; MV40'; #AT 1; D 1-8; Save T2;  ML7 ;AL N; S 12,  I 15 ,W 13,D  17, C 15, Ch 14), and Duchess (AC 5; T/2; hp 11; MV 40'; #AT 1; D1-8; Save T2; ML 7; AL N; S 11, I 12, W 15, D 16, C 18, Ch 15). Because of their wisdom ability scores, both women gain a bonus of +1 on magic-based saving throws. The two thieves are both very attractive and will attempt to use this to their benefit. [B3 – 24]
The thieves will have the following on them: dungeon pack C; 21 cp, 7 sp, 15 gp, wolfsbane (Duchess only), and a string of pearls worth 600 gp (Candella only). [B3 – 24]
Take note of the picture included in the module. I would hazard the guess that Candella is the blonde, since it is she depicted wearing a necklace.

Tom expounded on why they were there, in his castle, though, weaving them into his backstory, which differed from hers.
Candella and Duchess
They were trying to loot the rooms of Mirabilis before the disaster struck. Mirabilis caught them and put them to sleep with a sleep spell. He was going to clean up and then report them to the guards, but disaster struck first. The women thieves were not affected by the disaster. They have only recently awoken and are setting out to loot the palace. The scroll they are looking at is just a sketch of a black cat.
[B3 – 24]
But he did not deviate from their choice of deception.
These two thieves will act friendly toward the party. They will pretend to be young inexperienced fighters in search of adventure. They will politely ask to join the party, saying that they are not quite as tough or as prepared for adventuring as they had originally thought.  [B3 – 24]

He then elaborated on how they might be played.
If they join the party the two thieves will wait for a good chance to steal whatever they can (either by trying to pick pockets or just grabbing any loot in sight), and then run away. [B3 – 24]
This shows patience on their part, in keeping with their above average wisdom.
If the thieves are not allowed to join the party, but are not attacked, they will try to get close enough to a character to try to pick that person's pockets. If discovered, they will claim that the person made a mistake, that they merely bumped into the person by accident. If successful they will leave with their loot. [B3 – 24]
Demon Bait_Candella and Duchess
Either way, the girls are going to steal from the PCs, at the first opportunity, it would seem. I would suggest that both will not make the attempt, only one will, most likely Candella, while Duchess distracts the PCs. To me, this seems out of character, and that the girls would not place themselves in such quick jeopardy, unless the PCs were so foolish as to display, or brag about, rather valuable, or more importantly, “useful” magical items that would ensure their survival and escape from this obviously dangerous situation they’ve found themselves in. Desperate measures, and all that….
Remember, these are wise and intelligent ladies, and not rash, nor foolish, in their pursuit of their ill-gotten gains.
When playing the roles of NPCs the DM should keep in mind that NPCs are reasonably normal persons. They seldom act suicidal, usually fighting only if there is a chance to win. While they will take risks, they will seldom take unreasonable risks. In this particular encounter, the two thieves want loot. They are likely to try what- ever method offers the best possibilities for gaining the most loot at the least risk. [B3 – 24]

Tom goes on to declare our heroines expendable, in relation to the PCs, in his adventure. Which they would be, I suppose. The PCs are always front and centre, as they should be.
If Duchess and Candella are with the party, the doppleganger [sic] may choose one of them as a victim or one of the party members. Of course, if the doppleganger [sic] succeeds in killing its victim, and hides the corpse, it will pretend to be the new character. […] The doppleganger [sic] will continue to kill characters secretly until caught. [B3 – 24]
I declare their being expendable as short-sighted. Few NPCs are as evocative, in my opinion. Actually, there are a lot of “indispensable” NPCs stowed away in a lot of modules; you just have to keep an eye out for them.

Take this NPC, “found” in G3 The Hall of the Fire Giant King, for instance:
Duchess in Distress
12c. Human female (11th level thief: […] Strength 15, Intelligence 15, Wisdom 8, Dexterity 18, Constitution 16, Charisma 17) chained to the wall. She will gladly admit to being a thief caught trying to find the King's treasure room, and volunteer to aid the party faithfully for a chance to escape. If opportunity presents itself, she will heist as much in gems and magic as she can and then slip away, but until then she will actually help the party. Of course, during this time she will be casing each character to learn what he or she carries…
[G3 – 9]
I’m reminded of Duchess and Candella. Duchess, in this case, owing to her dark locks.
Her stats don’t match our heroine…
Duchess: AL N; S 11, I 12, W 15, D 16, C 18 Ch 15
…but that’s of no never mind. Stats are as stats used. What’s important is her capricious thanks, reminiscent of our “point in case.”
These two thieves will act friendly toward the party. They will pretend to be young inexperienced fighters in search of adventure. They will politely ask to join the party, saying that they are not quite as tough or as prepared for adventuring as they had originally thought.
If they join the party the two thieves will wait for a good chance to steal whatever they can (either by trying to pick pockets or just grabbing any loot in sight), and then run away. [B3 – 24]
I suggest that we swap out this NPC with our Duchess? Why? Because I wish it; and because D & C are my favourite foils. When I say foils, I’m suggesting how useful our girls can be. They can be love interests. Lovely, lovable, loyal to a fault… Or not… Depending on their whim.
As to their capricious nature, they could be instrumental in absconding with what items you’ve mistakenly lavished upon your PCs. That said, this should not be an overused plot device. This might be a one-shot-deal occurrence.
I would ensure their inexpendability before attempting such a thing: they’re a font of expositionary lore, they’ve rescued the PCs when all seemed lost, delivered them from sure defeat more than once, pawned a thing or two, or delivered some much-needed graft when the PCs could not. Whatever.

Candella and Duchess
Consider the case above. The PCs were engaged to deal with recent giant raids; one thing leads to another, and as the PCs are readying to reconnoiter the Snurre’s fortress, they come across Candella. She tells them that Duchess has gone missing. She’d heard about Snurre’s wealth and took it upon herself to relieve him of some of it. But she bit off more than she could chew. And Candella is intent on a desperate rescue mission, willing to spin any yarn she might imagine to get the PCs to aid her in that regard. She need not have to. They must. They owe the two of them too much to not help. To say nothing about whether Bill’s character Aragorn is in love with her….





“We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.”
― Anaïs Nin







One must always give credit where credit is due. This post 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:
Duchess and Candella original art (unpublished)
A Secret respite cover, by Domenico Neziti (nezart), from CRK B3 A Secret Respite, The Folio
Candella and Duchess, by Harry Quinn, from B3 Palace of the Silver Princess, 1981
Demon Bait, by Domenico Neziti (nezart)
Captured Thief, by David Trampier, from G3 Hall of the Fire Giant King, 1978

Sources:
9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
2009 Monster Manual 1e, 1977, 1978
2011A Dungeon Masters Guide, 1st Ed., 1979
9018 G3 Hall of the Fire Mountain King, 1978
9044 B3 Palace of the Silver Princess, 1981
9058 G123 Against the Giants, 1978, 1981

Wednesday, 18 May 2022

Because I could not stop for Death

 

He kindly stopped for me
Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labor, and my leisure too,
For his civility.

We passed the school where children played,
Their lessons scarcely done;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.

We paused before a house that seemed
A swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible,
The cornice but a mound.

Since then 't is centuries; but each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses' heads
Were toward eternity.


Because I could not stop for Death
—Emily Dickenson, from Poems: Series 1, 1890



The Art:
All art is wholly owned by the artists 




Thursday, 12 May 2022

Thoughts on A6 Die, Marquessa, Die!


“Success is not final, failure is not fatal:
it is the courage to continue that counts.”
― Winston S. Churchill

A6 Die, Marquessa, Die!
A brave fellowship of heroes failed last year to bring the notorious villainess known as The Marquessa to justice—and as a result, the innocent folk of the land have suffered greatly. However, the elusive and sinister enchantress has been located once again, giving the forces of weal another opportunity to extinguish the grim silhouette she casts across the region.
  [A6 – cover]

Thus begins Carlos Lising’s second installment of his continuing expansion of his A series, where the said fellowship of heroes again endeavour to put an end to “Marquessa’s” dastardly deeds, once and for all.
Markessa
Who is Marquessa? She’s an homage to Markessa. See my post Thoughts on A5 Kill Markessa! for further details. If you aren’t familiar with who Markessa is, then you haven’t been reading this blog, or own the original A series of tournament modules released by TSR in 1980 and 1981. The short version is that Markessa is one of the Flesh Traders [Slavelords] who terrorized the Tanraeg [Gearnat] Sea and Wooly Bay coasts in 584 CY, and returned in Chris Pramas’ and Sean Reynold’s sequel (in 2000 AD, not CY) to do it all over again.
Be advised that I will adhere to Carlos’ spelling throughout this review [except where noted].
This, like Carlos’ A5 adventure, is a tournament module, first played at GaryCon in Lake Geneva in 2017. It was designed for OSRIC, very much a sibling to 1st edition AD&D, so if you have that elderly rule set you will be able to run it without any conversion. It’s intended for characters 7th to 11th level. A Wandering Monster Table is included for campaign play, not tournament play.
Have I played it? No. Have I Dm’ed it? No. You can cease reading here now, if that admission renders my opinion irrelevant to you. I do own a hardcopy of the adventure, and Carlos has graciously bequeathed me a digital copy that I might review his effort. I have read it, obviously—commenting on the adventure would have been difficult, otherwise—extensively, I might mention. With a critical eye.

Still with me?
As noted above, the heroes failed in that endeavour the prior year at GaryCon 2016. (That might depend on the session, but their failure is presumed in the blurb on the cover.) One should not be too harsh. It’s no easy task defeating high level NPCs. The odds were stacked against them, what with Marquessa’s paranoia. Security in her complex was tight.
Once a party of adventurers is detected inside the fortification complex, the guards will raise the alarm. This will generally be done by means of an alarm switch (with which every room is equipped) that sounds a great klaxon within the facility. […] Should the alarm switch be thrown, the entirety of the fortification will be alerted at the end of the turn in which it is sounded.
[A5 – 2]
Is this a spoiler? One might think so, but this strategy is all but identical to that in A2.
And she had always prepared means of escape.
Markessa has a contingency spell cast upon herself that should she be reduced to 10 or fewer hit points, she will be teleported to the home of a charmed ally in Furyondy. [Slavers – 105]
Aside from that, she has always fought smart. She wants to win. And she wants to survive.
If things are going badly for her she will either cast her darkness spell and flee or she will pick up a flask off of a shelf and throw it down to smash on the floor. The contents of the flask will form a blue cloud of smoke, 10‘ radius, that cannot be seen through. Anyone caught in the smoke will find that it stings their eyes and blinds them for 1 round after they leave the cloud. [A2 - 27]

We know that the fellowship of heroes put Marquessa’s minions to the sword in A5, but while doing so the alarm was raised and Marquessa escaped, or if she was confronted, she fled when she deemed her defense hopeless; either way, they failed in their quest, and one of the Flanaess’ most heinous villains escaped, yet again.
Unfortunately, this new fellowship failed in their aim. Though they managed to kill Marquessa's loyal henchman, the sly Storm Zothculb, the enchantress herself learned of their presence in her labyrinthine stronghold and used her potent magics to teleport herself away to a position of safety. [A6 – 1]
Far be it for Marquessa not to hold a grudge.
Leander Hatgled
Marquessa is not the sort of woman who takes threats upon her person lightly or with any sort of sense of humor. After the failure of Hatgled's mercenaries to lay her low, it was a relatively simple process for her agents in Diver to discover his role in the attempted assassination. Afterwards, she mustered the Fulvous Reavers – a powerful group of men and humanoids that have remained loyal to the Flesh Traders and their lieutenants even a decade after their defeat in Mahredus – and set them upon the mage's tower with a mandate to bring its master before her to face the consequences of his impetuousness. This collection of villains and blackhearts found far more success than Hatgled's mercenaries in this venture, dispatching most of the wizard's henchmen and men-at-arms on their way to overwhelming and subduing the lord of the tower. His fate, left to Marquessa's tender mercies, is better left to the imagination than explicitly described.
[A6 – 2]
And far be it for Marquessa to not be thorough in her retribution.
A score of his mercenaries, each one a potent warrior, were found slaughtered within his home. The wizard was never seen again. Perhaps even more terrible, after he returned to the village of his birth from his failed mission, the redoubtable paladin amongst the fellowship discovered that the entirety of the community had disappeared. His family, his friends...all vanished like morning dew beneath sunrise. All that remained was a simple note, written in an elegant feminine script:
Freedom, fleeting as the petal of a rose. –M.
[A6 – 1]

Marquessa’s reaction is typical of what we would expect of her. She’s, if anything, thorough. She’s a survivor, after all. Granted, one or two were likely to slip her net; someone who, perchance, might already be looking over her shoulder….
Skye, The Lioness
Still, a scant few of Leander Hatgled's allies managed to survive the assault upon his home. One of these was a woman named Skye, the Lioness, who had ascended to a place of trust within the mage's retinue. A wizard of no small power herself, Hatgled was unaware that Skye was in truth an agent of the mysterious Colorless Mage of Perrengaard, reporting his activities and noteworthy information she collected while performing duties as his henchman. With her allegiances elsewhere, it bothered Skye little to go into hiding with her familiar (a massive grizzly bear named Ursula) when it was clear that the battle with the Fulvous Reavers had turned in the favor of the enemy, teleporting to a place of safety far from the fray.
Yet, even as a black plume of roiling smoke rose from the top of the sacked tower of Leander Hatgled, Skye would receive a sending from her master to remain in Diver. Warriors from the north would arrive in but a night to reinforce her and aid her in a new mission. The task of reforging the fellowship that had failed to lay Marquessa the Enchantress low before had fallen to her. This group of powerful worthies would be sent forth once more to finish the job they had started and regain their honor, in the process. [A6 – 2]

The stage is set. The props do raise some questions, though.
Skye seems a little dodgy, to my mind. Her loyalty lies elsewhere, and not to Leander Hatgled, at all. Who might this Colourless Mage of Perrengaard be? Why does he care what goes on in the Tanraeg? It matters not a whit if you are just running this as a tournament. Motivations and McGuffins are a means to an end. These questions need answering, however, should this adventure be slipped into an ongoing campaign.
So, who exactly is this Colourless Mage? What’s he all about? Why does he hate Marquessa so, that he sent a trusted agent into harms way to spy on Leander Hatgled and report on his ongoing war with the dire elf?
Grist for the mill, I’d say.

As to the powerful worthies sent forth, these Pregens are the same as those made available in A5. Their gear is identical. They include:
Our Heroes
Marya Hammerfist, 8th level Dwarf Female Fighter
Quenden Tasander, 6th level Elf Male Fighter / 6th level Magic-User
Sildan Enathwrel, 8th level Elf Male Magic-User
Ilsandre Sunshower, 6th level Gnome Female Illusionist / 6th level Thief
Jaran Braxx, 7th level Half-Elf Male Ranger
Telvas Thistlewine, 8th level Halfling Male Thief
Khâzratha Ironthews, 7th level Half-Orc Female Cleric
Lyandra Yrsanthi, 6th level Human Female Cleric / 6th level Magic-User
Merranen Eagleheart, 8th level Human Male Druid
Ravella Zaar, 8th level Human Female Illusionist
Brother Lyrwend, 8th level Human Male Monk
Kendrel Rilsheven, 7th level Human Male Paladin
Players may choose among them, or play their own characters, advice given in every classic adventure module ever published.

OSRIC
I will not spoil what happens within the adventure’s covers. Carlos wants to sell it, after all.
I will say that it will be challenging for players, more so than A5 was, I wager; as it should be: Marquessa has been tipped off by that earlier assault that there are worthy adversaries hunting her; and one might expect that after that earlier ordeal, she will be better prepared, and that she will be holed up in a far more secure bunker than she was the first time. This is not to say that A5 was a cake walk. I expect it was not.
One should expect that she has surrounded herself with equally worthy minions. Because she has. All are fugitives, in one way or another; and all are fitting companions to their mistress.
In her employ are a hot-tempered sociopath, Hargrath Gernad, the Headless Lion of Hicrets [Sterich]; a paranoid Lesser Heirarch of the Six-Fingered Society [the Horned Society], named Ranzir, on the run from the Empire of Zuii [Iuz]; and Lady Tazmin il-Varzii, a fallen Paladin who was once in the service of the Great God of the North [—an albino noted as Xuloise {Suloise}, I’ll go out on a limb and say that she’s Schnai]. Marquessa’s right hand man is the extremely formidable Azaak Tolin, from The Black Heath [Blackmoor].
A relevant history is given for each of Marquessa’s entourage. So too their personalities. These will be far more useful for the module’s inclusion into a larger, and longer, campaign, but will also help the DM give each life should the PCs get chatty with their opponents before engaging with them.
The history of Marquessa’s fortress is given in the Campaign notes, as well. You might imagine it’s a dark one, and in that you’d be correct.

The maps given are simple, concise, and functional. Room descriptions are equally clear and concise.
The bound maps are grey in colour, and look to be computer generated. Carlos was kind enough to donate a digital copy for my review purpose (to which I am grateful), and that has B&W maps. I prefer these. I printed copies of the maps and doodled in what was described for each room, to better understand the layout and how the furniture might help or hinder combat and can say that everything stated fits with ease. I’ve always found dungeon rooms to be a little large for my liking—let’s call them unnecessarily spacious—what with what I know about subterranean excavations, and these are no different. The 40’ span of certain rooms appear enormous to my mind’s eye. Why are they so large, I wonder? Battle maps, maybe? Minis? I wonder why the adventure is laid out as it is, too. I assume because doing so afforded the greatest challenge to players. Carlos has a reputation as a masterful, and much sought after, DM at conventions, so I don’t doubt that it is so for just that reason. One thing is certain: should the players by chance choose a specific route they would bypass much, if not most, of the potential encounters and expedite their confrontation with Marquessa, the only way they could possibly face Her Vileness, what with the security measures she has in place.
They had best be quick about it, too, if they’re going to catch the Sculptress of Flesh, because if they learned anything last time, she’s a tough nut to crack, and if they fail again, they had better fear what she’ll do to exact revenge afterwards!

Is this a good adventure module? I think it is.
Is it worth the money? I think it is, too. Especially if you’re a fan of the Greyhawk setting. Little has been created for it outside of fandom, most of it either in Canonfire! And the Oerth Journal. Indeed, the setting was all but unsupported for decades since the Living Greyhawk Campaign folded decades earlier. In fact, I might suggest that fans of the setting would be remiss to not support those authors and game designers willing to take the time and effort to create and publish new content for the venerable Flanaess.

What do you get for your money?
The adventure hardcopy is staple bound, with glossy cardstock cover. The actual adventure is 20 pages in length of the total 64 pages. There is no interior artwork. Marquessa is extensively detailed, as are 4 of her lieutenants; and each PC is given 2 full pages, ideal as handouts. There are new monsters and new magic items. There is a page for tournament scoring, one for the Open Gaming Licence, and 2 for maps.



Just remember that should the players fail again, they should take heart, because:
“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”
― Winston S. Churchill



The Art:
Die, Marquessa, Die! cover art, by Chet Minton, 2017
Markessa by mli13, originally published in A0-4 Against the Slavers, 2013
Markessa detail, by Bill Willingham (?), from A2 Secret of the Slavers Stockade, 1981
OSRIC cover, by Mark Ahmed, 2006
Die, Marquessa, Die! map, from the digital copy, 2017

 
Source:
2011A Dungeon Masters Guide, 1st Ed., 1979
2010, Players Handbook, 1st Ed, 1978
2160 Dungeon Masters Guide Revised, 2nd Ed., 1989/1995
2159, Players Handbook Revised, 2nd Ed., 1989/1995
OSRIC, 2006
9040 A2 Secret of the Slaver’s Stockade, 1981
11621 Slavers, 2000
A5 Kill Marquessa! casl Entertainment, 2016
A6 Die, Marquessa, Die! casl Entertainment, 2017
A7 Marquessa, Thy Name is Evil, casl Entertainment, 2018

Friday, 6 May 2022

History of the South, Part 11: Dereliction and Duty

 

“The flowers left thick at nightfall in the wood
This Eastertide call into mind the men,
Now far from home, who, with their sweethearts, should
Have gathered them and will do never again.”
― Edward Thomas


Was war inevitable? Not so, philosophers might claim, citing that, War is the failure of discourse.
Were that so.
But has there ever been a time when the Flanaess has not been hung on tenterhooks? Not poised on the brink of conflict, and perhaps disaster? Its majesty and gentry would argue that peace and prosperity has reigned supreme under their husbandry. Consider the state of the Sheldomar, Niole Dra would declare, dismissive of their Short and Small Wars, and their continued discord with their kith and kin of the Hold. Consider Pax Aerdia, the Celestial Houses of the Great Kingdom would cite, blind to their own descent, and their endless parade of patricide, fratricide, and indeed, their natiocide.
They cite not what is obvious for all to see were they to look, but at their small victories, and declare that today is the brightest of days. The first of many, the first of centuries of bright days.

576-580 CY
The Terror of the Seas
The Slavelords plied the waters of the Gearnat and Wooly Bay for nigh on half a decade and mayhap more before the lofty lords finally deemed to put an end to their raiding their coastal shores.
Original Slavelords terrorize the coast.  [Slavers – 120]
For several years, organized bands of pirates and slavers have made a living by raiding the coastal towns on the Sea of Gearnat. Ranging from Onnwal to the Wild Coast, they have descended quickly and ruthlessly on the small towns and villages, and carried off innocent citizens into the night. [A1 – 2]
Before long, Stalman Klim’s Yellow Sails were the terror of the seas.
The lords have finally become determined to take action, forgetting their petty squabbles to unite against the marauders of the yellow sails. [A1- 2]

579 CY
(Early)
Ever at Odds
Aerdy and Nyrond had ever been at odds. So, it comes as no surprise that they should “erupt” into open hostility; or that those nations that wished to be rid of any more oversight from the overking should seek to join Nyrond in its trial.
Semiregular skirmishes between Aerdy's South Province and Nyrond erupted into open hostilities in early 579, when Overking Ivid V made war against the so-called "Golden League" (Nyrond, Almor, and the Iron League). [LGG – 15]
(End)
In 579 CY, the Iron Alliance expanded to formally include Almor, and together with its supporters in Nyrond was dubbed the Golden League. A series of naval battles in Relmor Bay soon followed [.] [LGG – 58]
[I]n 579 CY, reacting to increased militarism on behalf of Ivid and Herzog Chelor of South Province, Nyrond, Almor, and the Iron League banded together to form the Golden League, a military union that presented a declaration of war against the Great Kingdom in late Needfest. Not to be outdone, Aerdy followed up with its own decree, stating that Rel Mord would fall within the year and the treacherous King Archbold III would pay for the sins of his rebellious ancestors [.] [LGG – 78]

580 CY
The Order of the Scarlet Sign watched the hostilities with interest. And concern. A stable Great Kingdom had always served them well. This is not to say that an unstable Great Kingdom did not invite thought that the realisation of their destiny was at hand.
They had the tools to do so, they believed. They had agents afield, and minions and mercenaries at hand. And artifacts of chilling power, should they learn how they might be applied. Alas, they had fallen short of divining how that might be, thus far. Their experiments upon the Weeping Hexagram and the Ziggurat of Black had yet to yield results. Luckily, fate had intervened before any could be reached. When I say fate, I mean Fate—Istus. She sent the spirit of her minion, Morgoroth, to put an end to such doings; and just to be sure, for she is always sure, she had set others on that same path. No artifact, no matter how minor, linked to Tharizdun, shall be left to tempt His faithful. It had to be destroyed.
[The Weeping Hexagram] was broken in 6096 SD when a party of outworlders led by a paladin of Hieroneous infiltrated Hesuel Ilshar and discovered the location of the hexagram. [SB – 86]

(End)
The Great Kingdom of Aerdy’s war with the “Golden League” had stalled.
[B]y the end of 580 Ivid V gained a minor victory against the insurgents by preventing their further expansion and stalemating their armies. [LGG – 58]
Had either combatant won? No. Neither side could claim as much, although both did. Or so they told themselves.
Though this dreary war lasted through to the end of 580, it resolved nothing except to drain the coffers and manpower of both Aerdy and Nyrond, leaving them weakened [.] [LGG – 15]

Early 580’s
Turrosh Mak
Might Turrosh Mak’s rise to power been prevented? It is doubtful that either the Free City, or the might of the Sheldomar, had the power to do so; even had they combined their efforts, even had they the understanding what was afoot; for if they had, or did, then they surely would have long ago rid the Pomarj of the orcs and goblins that had taken refuge there in the aftermath of the Hateful War. But they didn’t then, did they? They never had the power, nor the will, to have ever done so.
In the early 580s, a new leader emerged to unite the tribes, a rabble-rousing half-orc named Turrosh Mak. [LGG – 88]

c. 581 CY
Not all news was bad. The cause of Evil was dealt a blow that raised the hopes and spirit of all souls who dwelt on the shores of the Wooley Bay.
Mercenaries had been commissioned to deal with the Slavelords, for once and all time, and Klim and his associates were put to the sword. The Slavers were no more. Or were they? Klim and many of his allies escaped, whence, none could say.
In truth, despite their declaration the lords and ladies of the Wild Coast and the Wooley Bay were ever mindful that yellow sails could once again sail their seas with as much impunity as they had until then.
[The] Slavelords were defeated. Through their raids harried only the Wild Coast and lands of the Bright Desert, reports of entire villages disappearing made the Slavelords the scourge of the free lands. [Slavers – 2]

581 CY
Another small band of mercenaries had been coerced by Istus to do her bidding. They never knew that Fate had bid them—indeed, they were wholly unaware that Istus Herself had set them upon their path—but bid they were to penetrate the defenses of the Hidden City of Hesuel Ilshar and steal the Weeping Hexagram, putting an end to the Scarlet Brotherhood’s investigations into its relationship with the Ziggurat of Black.
In 6096 SD, a small band of foreign mercenaries reached the Brotherhood’s hidden city, penetrated its defenses and seized a mysterious artifact that had been discovered months before. [SB – 5]
The paladin’s holy sword broke the hexagram into three pieces when the two made contact, but the Brotherhood was able to intervene before the artifact was completely destroyed. Now they study the pieces and their fragmented powers, and seeks way to repair the item. [SB – 86]
Had the Oerth been spared? Surely only Istus knows whether it was, and by how near a margin. If only Istus understood gratitude. But alas, Hers is a web of innumerable strands, and lives are such short things to one so seemingly capricious.
Shaken by the infiltration, the Brotherhood tracked down and killed the mercenaries before they escaped the peninsula, but the artifact—the black hexagram that wept blood during the daylight—was destroyed. [SB – 5]

If war and hurricanes were not enough, the Red Death continued to plague the Flanaess. Where did it come from? It first reared its scythe in Rookroost years ago before reaping untold thousands. It burned itself out, then; but it rose again. And again. And each time the people looked to its rulers and its prefects and asked, “Why?’ They demanded that those very same persons help them, and when they did not, the people’s rage burned as hot as the buboes that welted upon their flesh.
Despite creeping insanity, [Ivid V] ably defended his realm from the combined forces of the Golden League (579-580) and civil unrest during the Red Death plague of 581. After years of political maneuvering and scheming, Ivid finally brought far-flung provinces together in an attempt to launch a great war to reestablish the former glory of the empire of the Aerdi. [LGG – 24]

Ivid was never so insane that he did not see where threats to his rule might come from; and act to extinguish them. Then again, there’s no saying that those threats were, in truth, real…. Or, indeed, that he is sane, either….
Ishainken is not without interest; he knows some hidden secrets concerning the Naelax bloodline. Specifically, he has carefully concealed at his home castle a text written by Xaene himself. It states that Ivid V was not the biological son of Ivid IV, but rather the son of a union between a tanar'ri and an enchantress. While the claim may be wholly false, the individual who owned the other copy was pursued for years by Ivid's agents and finally slain (Stankaster of Stankaster's Tower; see From The Ashes, Campaign Book). [Ivid – 33]
STANKASTER TOWER
This fire-blasted ruin once stood nearly a hundred and fifty feet high, the marbled home of the Invoker Stankaster. What little reliable eyewitness evidence exists reports that a great magical battle, with fire, acid, meteor storms, and earth elementals, raged here for two days and a night in 581 CY, until the tower was breached. What has become of Stankaster, and who his assailant was, is a mystery. [FtAC – 30]
No one knows what happened to Stankaster [. He] may have escaped, or [he] may have died. Stankaster was an invoker who fled the Great Kingdom. He reputedly had information on Ivid’s genealogy. Ivid sent fiends and mages to silence him. [Dragon #191 – 67]

581-582 CY
The Scarlet Brotherhood are not a particularly warlike people, despite their temperament. The Suel had clashed with the Aerdi in ages past and had been herded before their greater ferocity. They had learned their lesson well and would rather not risk such a confrontation again. Let lesser beings and the lesser evolved wage war, they reasoned. They were above such trifles. There were better ways to gain one’s goals against nations that could never hope to understand the Suel peoples’ destiny, or the Suel’s natural and innate superiority, for that matter.
Let others die. That was the purpose of hobgoblins and the lesser Suloise of Hepmonoland: to sacrifice themselves for the Greater Destiny of the Suel.
And let others toil: The Flan and the Olman and Touv. And yes, the Oeridians, too.
But realising their plans was not going to be easy. Some, most, of the lesser cultures were reticent about realising their place in the world.
Some, like to descendants of the original Suels do:
The Zarii are content with their lot; in exchange for goods and warriors, they receive exotic (to them) clot, weapons and food. They ferry agents of the Brotherhood along newly built roads to Lerga, travel to strange lands, fight and pillage; most don’t ralize that they are second-class people to the Brotherhood—barely astep above hobgoblins. [SB – 55]
Others, like the Tuov Kunda Kingdom do not:
Emissaries from the Scarlet Brotherhood were slain and sent downriver, which caused the Brotherhood to patrol the Jolan coast; Prince Ilamo Alamo looks forward to testing the blades of his warriors against the flesh of the white-skinned northerners. [SB – 50] (6096-6097 SD)

Korenth Zan was not dissuaded from his plan. If anything, such failures were lessons learned.
More warrior, thief and wizard agents were deployed into the outer world. [SB – 5]
But those agents were, if anything, more circumspect.
Korenth Zan ordered that agents in the field no longer be tattooed with identifying marks: How can members of a secret society travel undisguised when all bear a distinctive symbol on their forearm? [SB – 5]
Korenth Zan took further measures to ensure that the secrets of the Scarlet Sign remained secret.
He also revised their policy of allowing rare visitors into their secret city – thereafter outsiders in the forbidden city would never leave, even if it meant blinding, amputation, or death. [SB – 5]

One might say that events were afoot.
What did the Elves know of what was to transpire? Who can say? They see much and say little. Whatever they knew, they were taking steps. To the west, the Highfolk of the Vesve were taking up arms; Celene was closing its borders. So too the elves of the Spindrifts who began to debate the wisdom of ever having allowed humans to settle upon their shores.

582 CY
War had come to the Flanaess, though few knew it. Of those who did, few paid it much heed then. It began far afield. It was a northern affair. It was none of their affair. Barbarians raiding, they reasoned. They were an unruly lot, and they would scatter in due time, as they always had.
But the Barbarian’s conquests gave others ideas.
Taking advantage of the chaos, Ivid V ordered the Great Kingdom's armies to muster, with the intention of paying back his foes for centuries of impudence. The war that followed was staggering in scope and consequence. [LGG – 15]

While one thought to act, another power, far more patient, thought to bide their time, and wait, and see.
Throughout the first year of the war, one faction had remained notably silent—the ominous Scarlet Brotherhood of recent legend. While other nations hurled massive armies against each other, the Brotherhood insidiously wormed advisors into courts of kings. Against armies the Father of Obedience sent agents. Though the isolated Brotherhood seemed a mere bystander in the wars, nothing could have been further from the truth.
The first phase of the Scarlet Brotherhood’s plan was simple-wait and watch. The Father of Obedience spent the opening months of the war assessing who would fight whom and where the true centers of power lay. So long as the war stayed in the north, the Father of Obedience contented himself with reports from agents in all camps. These men, posing as tutors and learned sages from before the start of hostilities, advised lords and commanders and thereby added the Brotherhood’s invisible hand to every battle. In all things, these spies worked to assure that neither side came too close to victory or treaty. The Father of Obedience commanded that the war continue, and so it did.
Another group of the Brotherhood’s agents work even further afield, in desolate and horrible places. These men sought out foul things and whispered promises in their ears. “Arise, take the lands of men as your own, and you shall find great reward,” was their song. From the Crystalmists to the Troll Fens, fell creatures responded. Thus, like the silent and inexorable tug of the moon, the Father of Obedience raised the tide of evil. [Wars – 22]

583 CY
And the Elves of the Spindrifts were taking steps to safeguard their mysteries. And to finally withdraw from the trials and tribulations of humans.
For centuries the Spindrift Isles maintained their independence from all foreign powers, both through strength and through cunning. Perhaps the Scarlet Brotherhood made incursions into the Council of Seven in the years leading up to the Greyhawk Wars, but they were given no time to take advantage of their gains before the high elves took control of Lendore Isle. Elves have always been plagued with mysticism, and those of the Spindrifts had finally succumbed to the cult of Sehanine. The Final Calamity, it seemed, had arrived.
A Bloodless Revolution
It was a bloodless revolution, yet catastrophic for the inhabitants of Lendore Isle. They were informed that they must be exiled from the only home they had ever known, in order for the Spindrifts to serve as high elven holy ground. The high elves used powerful phantasms to overcome strong resistance, and threats of imprisonment persuaded most others to cooperate. The humans were given three days to prepare for their removal from the island. In that time, perhaps half of Lo Reltarma's population escaped through the Gate of Glass before the elves could deactivate it; the rest were either exiled to the mainland, the Sea Barons' isles, or other local regions, or were among the few allowed to remain as workers in Lo Reltarma.
[LGG – 69]
In 583 CY, the elves moved swiftly to subjugate Lendore Isle, offering the humans safe passage to the Sea Barons, the Lordship of the Isles, Medegia, or elsewhere along the east coast of Aerdy as it then was. They simply informed the humans that the time had come for the elves to use the whole island chain for religious purposes, and no mere humans would be allowed to get in the way. A minority were permitted to stay as humble fisherfolk and laborers. [FtAA – 30]

Nonhumans are very rare here except in the Lendore (Spindrift) Isles, where elves were as common as humans until they took over the cluster in 583 CY and forced almost every other race out. The southern islands are subtropical in climate, while the northern isles are temperate. [LGG – 146]

Ivid struck north and south. This time the Golden League would collapse without upstart Nyrond to buttress them. His Glorioles Army pressed into Almor, and ultimately into Sunndi.
With sizeable but unreliable armies, the Overking struck in several directions at once. His Glorioles Army crossed the Thelly River and entered the Glorioles. After hacking through stiff resistance there, the army broke south into the County of Sunndi. [Wars – 13]
By 583 CY, the heavily bulwarked Ahlissan presence in the area coupled with extreme attrition among the elf and dwarf protectors of northern Sunndi made for a disastrous combination. With the full might of the Glorioles Army, Herzog Chelor pushed south all the way to Pitchfield, burning the count's estates and ravaging the central countryside. Thousands of Sunnd perished in battle against one of Ivid's most skilled armies. For a time, it seemed as if the entire nation would be lost. [LGG – 111]
Months later, as Ivid's Northern Army converged on Innspa and Almor seemed certain to fall before the might of the Glorioles regiments, Archbold called upon his lords to provide him with an army never before seen in Nyrond's long history. Crops would wither in the fields, bandits would be free to prey upon the roadways; to Archbold, the very survival of Nyrond was at stake. [LGG – 78]

The Glorioles Army of the Overking, though victorious, had suffered badly in its conquest of Sunndi. [Wars – 14]

Ivid’s ambition was beyond his reach, it would seem.
Ivid launched an attack upon Nyrond, Almor, and the Iron League states, but the conflict served only to bring ruin to the heartlands of the Great Kingdom and destruction to many tens of thousands of citizens. Ivid made terrible enemies of his kinsmen. [LGG – 24]

Indeed, the heroism of a select few were the inspiration that even the defeated could strike a blow for freedom.
Osson’s Raid
Commandant Osson
Commandant Osson had little difficulty assessing the grave situation facing Almor. The Great Kingdom could squash the tiny country through sheer numbers-and apparently intended to do so. Though the dilemma was clear, the solution was not. Recognizing that Almor could not be defended against such a foe, Osson decided to take the offensive committing a daring raid into the Great Kingdom’s lands to keep its forces from attacking.
  [Wars – 13]
The plan would have met with insurmountable objection from older and “wiser” knights had the prelate wavered even momentarily in support of his young protégé. [Wars – 13]

Knowing that neither of his armies could long withstand the full attention of the Great Kingdom, the commandant hoped to divert Ivid’s armies away from Almor. [Wars – 13]

Osson first struck south, passing through the Thelly Forest. With speed and surprise on their side, the horsemen brushed away Ahlissa’s ill-trained troops and plunged into the South Province. [Wars – 13]

Instead of returning to Almor, Osson led his horsemen into the Rieuwood. […] At the Battle of Rieuwood, Osson initiated the tactic of false retreat that was to become his hallmark. Believing the cavalry routed, the Aerdians gave chase, only to blunder into a deadly trap. The Glorioles Army was decimated. [Wars – 14]

Osson chose [to] a march on the See of Medegia. For Almor’s sake, Osson [reasoned], the cavalry must continue to pressure the Great Kingdom. [Wars – 14]

Osson’s army crushed the forces of the Holy Censor and seized the land from Pontylver to Lone Heath. Spidasa, the Holy Censor, fled to Rauxes to beg his imperial majesty’s forgiveness. Compassion failing him, Ivid V arrested the chief cleric and sentenced him to the Endless Death. [Wars – 14]

(Winter)
It was then that the Scarlet Brotherhood took measures in the Duxchans.
The Duxchan Isles had always been an unpredictable port of call. One always had to wonder where its allegiances lay. The answer to that question had always been obvious to any who had laid foot upon its beaches: With itself, for the most part.
This chain of islands has been occupied by the Suel for nearly one thousand years, and this race remains the most dominant population of the isles, most notably on Ansabo and Ganode. [LGG – 70]
These pirates and buccaneers were the terror of the south, holding a near stranglehold over traffic through the southern straits and raiding the southern coastal cities with ease. [LGG – 71]
But they had been put to rights, brought into the fold, and once the Aerdi had placed one of its own upon its throne, flown the colours of the Kingdom.
The island lords became very rich over the next few centuries, profiting from the trade that flowed through their islands, a portion of which was due the herzog of South Province.  [LGG – 71]
But one always had to wonder, even if it had been properly cowed and held at bay….
And so it had been. Until it joined the Iron League. And so it seemed it would remain. Would the Lordship have stood with the League? It might have, but it was never given the chance to prove what faith might have been laid upon that decision.
During the Greyhawk Wars, the wintry Latmac Ranold was abruptly deposed and an unheralded successor immediately took his place. [LGG – 72]

Frolmar Ingerskatti
Was the elderly Aerdian assassinated? Some thought so. Most Aerdi believed so. For in no time, the Lordship steered the Duxchans on a hitherto unforeseen path.
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. [LGG – 72]
The Lordship of the Isles quickly became a hotbed of intrigue. The new prince, a little-known Suel lord named Frolmar Ingerskatti of Ganode, immediately withdrew the Lordship from the Iron League and set about lending his naval forces to the maneuvers of the Scarlet Brotherhood, including the blockade of the Tilva Strait that continues to the present day. [LGG – 72]

Prince Frolmar Ingerskatti [, the] new ruler surprisingly proclaimed his support of the Great and Hidden Empire of the Scarlet Brotherhood. This proclamation not only pulled the Lordship from the alliance, but effectively trapped Commandant Osson of Almor in Medegia. [Wars – 15]

583-584 CY
While the war would be decided afield in the north, with great armies waging great battles, the lifeblood of its youth spilled upon the land, the fate of the south was decided upon the seas, for the most part.
The Lordship of the Isles and its new lord declared support of the Brotherhood during the winter of 583-584, and Irongate reacted with revulsion at the activities of its former ally. These included raids on ports of the Iron League and assisting in the subsequent isolation of Irongate by blockading the city. The city's fleet suffered greatly at their hands, and now has standing orders to attack the ships of the Lordship of the Isles upon sight. [LGG – 58]

Straits were blockaded. And trade and supply waned to a trickle, and what little that did find its way to port was paid for dearly. If at all.
The Lordship of the Isles long collected tribute from states wishing to use this long, tropical, shark-infested passage between the Tilvanot Peninsula and northwestern Hepmonaland. Such tribute was negotiated through diplomats and paid in advance, and Lordship vessels patrolled the straits, hunting for vessels whose home states had not paid the fee while also ensuring that those who had paid made the journey safely (i.e., were not attacked by pirates, rumored to actually be Duxchaner privateers). When the Lordship fell to the Scarlet Brotherhood in late 583 CY, the nature of the tribute changed. A complete blockade of the straits was applied, with only ships of the Scarlet Brotherhood or Lordship of the Isles being allowed free passage. Cargo from other states could be shipped by Lordship vessels through the straits for an exceptionally high fee. It is heard that piracy here has fallen dramatically as a consequence. The Brotherhood may have charmed sea monsters into aiding the blockade, but details are not available. [LGG – 150]

The great battles of the Greyhawk Wars were indeed waged in the north. But there were other battles waged, less grand in scope, but as significant. The Scarlet Brotherhood took steps that would ensure their stranglehold over the entirety of the south when they invaded Hold of the Sea Princes.
Farther south is the Hold of the Sea Princes, once ruled by slave owners and former pirates, now torn by civil rebellion against the Scarlet Brotherhood, which invaded in 583 CY. [PGtG – 5]
“Submit to the Scarlet Brotherhood or be destroyed.”
A red-hooded ambassador arrived at the court of the Sea Princes, bearing an ultimatum: “Submit to the Scarlet Brotherhood or be destroyed.” When the lords of the land mocked the messenger, he presented them with a list of 30 names, all petty nobles of the Sea Princes’ lines. Before the next sunrise, 27 of those names had been crossed off the rolls of heraldry, slain by red-hooded assassins. Only three of the listed nobles survived the attacks, and two of them were seriously injured. The mockery stripped from their ashen faces, the Sea Princes surrendered and signed a treaty stating as much. Within a fortnight, ships bearing the Scarlet Sign docked at Port Toli and Monmurg, off-loading strange, savage warriors from the jungles of the south.
[Wars – 23]
Who could stop them? Keoland? Keoland was watchful of Ket and of the giants who were then boiling out of the mountains into Geoff. And of Turrosh Mak in the Pomarj.
The Iron League? They were pitted against Ivid, themselves blockaded, and fighting for their very existence.
As 583 came to a close, the king met in Oldred with representatives of Almor, Onnwal, Idee, Sunndi, the Pale, the County of Urnst, and Irongate. There, all but the Pale signed the Eastern Pact of Alliance, a treaty meant to ensure the containment of Ivid's armies. [LGG – 78]

The coming of winter brought respite to all the warring states. […]
In the east, rains had an equally retarding effect. Mired in mud and hamstrung by the Overking’s pettiness, the Great Kingdom’s armies massed on the borders of Medegia, Almor, and Nyrond. Osson’s raid and the coming of the rains bought the Almorians time to fortify their borders and gather new reserves. Nyrond also raised new armies to meet the threat from the Great Kingdom.
Though the winter halted armies, it seemed to spur diplomatic efforts forward. The Bone March, fairly reeling from promises of gold and land, cast its lot with Ivid V, pledging to march when the snows lifted. Ahlissa, sensing its fate could have been like Medegia’s, affirmed its intention to fight at the Overking’s side. The Sea Barons too expressed their steadfast resolve, while the North Province crowed about its ever faithful loyalty to the crown.
The Overking’s entry into the war simplified one task for Almor and Nyrond—persuading the Iron League to join the alliance. With Irongate, Idee, and Sunndi threatened, the land-based members of the League met in Oldred at Archbold’s invitation and signed the Eastern Pact, formally allying themselves against “the mad aggressions of the Great Kingdom.” The County of Urnst also signed the pact, but the Theocracy, citing Nyrond’s many heresies, refused to join. [Wars – 14]



“Though the object of being a Great Power is to be able to fight a Great War, the only way of remaining a Great Power is not to fight one.”
― A.J.P. Taylor





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:
Turrosh Mak detail, by Wayne Reynolds, from Slavers, 2000
Hesuel Ilshar map, by Sam Wood, from The Scarlet Brotherhood, 1999
Plague, by Karl Waller, from WG8 Fate of Istus, 1989
Amedio Suel, by Ken Frank/Charles Frank, from Greyhawk Wars box set, 1991

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
9039 A1 Slave Pits of the Undercity, 1980
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, 1995
Dragon Magazine, 191
OJ Oerth Journal, appearing on Greyhawk Online
LGJ et. al.
Greychrondex, Wilson, Steven B.
Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda
The map of Anna B. Meyer