Friday, 28 January 2022

Nystul’s Spells


“There are darknesses in life and there are lights, and you are one of the lights, the light of all lights.”
― Bram Stoker, Dracula


Nystul
One’s experiences might light the way, some might say. I suspect that Nystul would agree, for hadn’t his done just that? Would he have been so fascinated by light and shadow if he hadn’t been
taken away from his parents by servants and raised in a small monastery bordering the Pale. [LGJ#0 – 10]
Would he have been so inclined to protect the oppressed of his native Tenh if he hadn’t been taken in by a small sect of pacifist Pholtan monks living near the Phostwood. [LGJ#0 – 10]
I suspect not.
On the other hand, he has little faith in the altruism of his native gentry when the court of Duke Pet'yeu saw the proud clan brought low on charges of sedition and insurgency [,] despite his clan’s good reputation among many fellow nobles [.] [LGJ#0 – 10]
It comes has no surprise then that his spells revolve around light and shadow, on the deep heart of darkness. Do they not illuminate the hidden, and cloak the illuminated? Do they not smite darkness? And harness it?

Nystul's Magic Aura
Nystul’s Dancing Werelight
Nystul’s Flash

Level Two
Nystul’s Blackmote
Nystul’s Blazing Beam
Nystul’s Crystal Dagger

Level Three
Nystul’s Crystal Dirk
Nystul’s Expeditious Fire Extinguisher
Nystul’s Golden Revelation
Nystul’s Radiant Baton

 Level Four
Nystul’s Blacklight Burst
Nystul’s Grue Conjuration
Nystul’s Lightburst

Level Five
Nystul’s Enveloping Darkness
Nystul’s Radiant Arch



Nystul's Magic Aura (Illusion/Phantasm)
Level: 1
Components: V, S, M
Range: Touch
Casting Time: 1 round
Duration: 1 day/level
Saving Throw: Special
Area of Effect: Special
Explanation/Description: By means of this spell any one item of a weight of 50 g.p. per level of experience of the spell caster can be given an aura which will be noticed if detection of magic is exercised upon the object. If the object bearing the Nystul's Magic Aura is actually held by the creature detecting for a dweomer, he, she or it is entitled to a saving throw versus magic, and if this throw is successful, the creature knows that the aura has been placed to mislead the unwary. Otherwise, the aura is simply magical, but no amount of testing will reveal what the magic is. The component for this spell is a small square of silk which must be passed over the object to bear the aura.
[PHB 1e – 67]

Nystul’s Dancing Werelight (Alteration)
Components: V, S, M
Range: 60 yds + 20 yds/level
Casting Time: 1 segment
Duration: 2 hours + ½ hour/level
Saving Throw: None
Area of Effect: Special
Explanation/Description: This spell creates a mote of light completely under the caster’s control. The light shed by the mote can be increased or decreased at the caster’s will, ranging from the brightness of a light spell to the dim glow of a candle. The werelight can flit about from place to place as the caster directs, as long as it stays within the range of the spell. The werelight could be called upon to hang over the caster’s head as a convenient reading light. The werelight spell cannot be attached to an object or creature. It can only exist as a mote hanging in the air. The material component is a live firefly.
[GA – 58]

Nystul’s Flash (Evocation)
Level: 1
Components: V, S
Range: 30 yds + 5 yds/level
Casting Time: 1 segment
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Special
Area of Effect 10’ radius globe
Explanation/Description: This spell creates a sudden flash of bright light in a 10’ radius globe. All creatures within the area of effect who fail a save versus spells are blinded for 1d4 rounds. Those who make their saving throw are merely dazed for 1d4 rounds, suffering a - 2 penalty on all hit rolls. They are also off-balance in melee, so any attack made against a dazed creature has a +2 hit modifier. Creatures outside the globe facing the flash do not suffer any ill effects. Creatures without eyes are not affected by the spell.
[GA – 59]

Nystul’s Blackmote (Evocation)
Components: V, S, M
Range: 30 yds + 5 yds/level
Casting Time: 1 round
Duration: Special
Saving Throw: None
Area of Effect: Special
Explanation/Description: This spell summons a microscopic mote of energy from the Negative Material Plane to the caster’s hand. The caster must immediately roll a saving throw versus death magic at +2 to be able to control the blackmote. If the caster saves, the blackmote will lie dormant in the mage’s hand for one round, building up power. The caster can do nothing else during this period, as he or she must concentrate fully on the blackmote. If the caster’s concentration is broken during this time, the blackmote is dispelled. At the end of the round, the spell is at full power, and the blackmote can be hurled at a creature within the range of the spell. The blackmote automatically strikes, exploding in a burst of darkness and cold, inflicting 2d6 damage plus one point of damage per level of the caster. Undead and creatures from the Negative Material Plane or lower outer planes are unaffected by a blackmote. If the caster fails the initial save versus death magic, the mage loses control of the mote. It immediately explodes in the caster’s hand, inflicting one point of damage and paralyzing the mage for 1d4 rounds. The material component is a sliver of bone taken from an undead skeleton.
[GA – 59]

Nystul’s Blazing Beam (Evocation)
Level: 2
Components: V, S
Range: 30 yds + 10 yds/level
Casting Time: 2 segments
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Special
Area of Effect: One creature
Explanation/Description: This spell draws a parcel of energy from the positive material plane to the caster’s hand, which can be fired in a ray 1‘ wide and up to 30’ + 10’/level of the caster in range. Except for undead, a creature struck by the beam is entitled to a saving throw. A creature that successfully saves is struck by a glancing shot and is only dazed for 1d4 rounds, suffering a - 2 penalty on hit rolls and a +2 penalty to armor class. A creature that fails is struck full in the face by the beam and is blinded for 2d4 rounds, suffering a -4 penalty on hit rolls and a +4 penalty to AC. An undead creature struck by the beam is not entitled to a save, and is not dazed or blinded, but suffers 4d6 points of damage.
[GA – 59]

Nystul’s Crystal Dagger (Evocation-Conjuration)
Components: V, S, M
Range: 0
Casting Time: 2 segments
Duration: 2 rounds + 1 round/level
Saving Throw: None
Area of Effect: Special
Explanation/Description: This spell summons into the caster’s hand a dagger composed of material from the quasi-elemental plane of mineral, strongly infused with energy drawn from the Positive Material Plane. The crystal dagger has no hit bonus and inflicts 1d4 +2 points of damage to opponents struck in melee. Against undead and creatures from the lower outer planes, the dagger inflicts 1d4 + 3 points of damage. If the crystal dagger does maximum damage to an undead or a lower plane creature, that monster is paralyzed for the next melee round and the dagger vanishes. The material component is a tiny dagger made from fine lead crystal, worth 250 g.p.
[GA – 59]

Nystul’s Crystal Dirk (Evocation-Conjuration)
Level: 3
Components: V, S, M
Range: 0
Casting Time: 3 segments
Duration: 3 rounds + 1 round/level
Saving Throw: None
Area of Effect: Special
Explanation/description: This spell creates a weapon similar to that described in the 2d-level crystal dagger spell. The dirk is faintly magical, granting a + 1 bonus on attack rolls. The dirk does 1d4 + 2 points of damage when it hits. Against undead and monsters from the lower outer planes, the dirk does 1d4 + 3 points of damage on a successful hit. If the crystal dirk scores maximum damage, the monster will be paralyzed until the end of the next round following the hit. The material component is a tiny dagger made from lead crystal worth 350 g.p.
[GA – 59]

Nystul’s Expeditious Fire Extinguisher (Evocation)
Level: 3
Components: V, S, M
Range: 20 yds/level
Casting Time: 1 segment
Duration: 1 segment
Saving Throw: Special
Area of Effect: Special
Explanation/Description: This more powerful version of the affect normal fires spell enables the caster to quickly extinguish a large fire. When the spell is cast, anti-energy from the quasi-plane of ash is momentarily drawn down upon the fire. An area of non-magical fire up to 10 feet by 10 feet per level of the caster can be put out in just one segment, so the spell is ideal for combatting forest and brush fires. The spell is less effective against magical fire. The chance of extinguishing a magical fire is only 60%, and a maximum area of 10 yards by 10 yards, regardless of the level of the spellcaster, can be snuffed. The spell has no effect on a fire-based creature or flames emanating from a creature’s body, such as fire elementals, fire grue, or the type VI demon. The material components for the spell are a pinch of cold ash mixed with salt.
[GA – 59]

Nystul’s Golden Revelation (Alteration)
Components: V, S, M
Range: 0
Casting Time: 3 segments
Duration: 5 rounds/level
Saving Throw: None
Area of Effect: 30’ wide cone 60’ long
Explanation/Description: With this spell, the mage can reveal hidden, concealed, or invisible creatures within the conical area. The concealed creature will be surrounded with an aura of golden light, shining out in a 1-foot diameter about the creature, making it easily seen. The mage can make a full 360 degree sweep-search of the area in one round. The spell might reveal a thief hiding in shadows, a barbarian concealed in natural terrain, or a creature hiding behind an obstacle. The spell creates a glow around an invisible, out-of-phase, ethereal, duo-dimensional, or astral being in the area of effect, as well as a creature using a cloak of elvenkind, robe of blending, or ring of chameleon power. A saving throw against being affected by the golden revelation is not permitted, although successful magic resistance protects a creature from being outlined by the spell. The material component is a box wrapped with waxed parchment, containing a glowworm.
[GA – 60]

Nystul’s Radiant Baton (Evocation)
Level: 3
Components: V, S, M
Range: 0
Casting Time: 3 segments
Duration: 1 round/level
Saving Throw: None
Area of Effect: Special
Explanation/Description: When the mage casts this spell, it summons into the caster’s hand a slender baton formed from energy drawn from the quasi-elemental plane of radiance. The baton can be one of the seven colors of the rainbow as the caster chooses. The attack form of the baton will correspond to the color chosen, being similar to the attack of a radiance quasi-elemental creature, as follows:

Red baton: cold energy (+ 1 damage to fire-based creatures, no damage if cold-based)
Orange baton: heat energy (+ 1 damage to cold-based creatures, no damage if fire-based)
Yellow baton: acid damage (save vs spells to take no damage)
Green baton: neutralize poison (per cleric spell)
Blue baton: electrical energy (+ 10 damage to metal armored enemy)
Indigo baton: undead specific (only undead harmed)
Violet baton: vegetation specific (only plants harmed)

The baton will do a base 2d4 points of damage plus one point of damage per level of the caster when a hit is scored. The type of damage corresponds to the color of the baton. The color of the baton is chosen during casting, and cannot be changed thereafter. Creatures are allowed no saving throw versus the effects of the radiant baton. The baton automatically hits any creature that successfully strikes the caster in that melee round, otherwise the caster must use his own THACO to determine a successful strike on an enemy. The material components are a crystal prism (which shatters after the spell) and a set of seven small, silver rods.
[GA – 60]

Nystul’s Blacklight Burst (Evocation)
Level: 4
Components: V, S, M
Range: 10 yds/level
Casting Time: 4 segments
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Special
Area of Effect: 20‘radius sphere
Explanation/Description: This risky spell brings forth a blast of energy from the Negative Material Plane for an instant. Those within the area of effect suffer 1d4 points of damage per level of the caster, or only half damage if a save vs. death magic is successful. Affected creatures who fail their save will also be slowed (as the spell) for 1d4 rounds. Creatures from the Positive Material Plane or upper outer planes take an additional point of damage per level of the caster, and the saving throw is made at -2. Such creatures who fail their save will also be stunned for 1d4 rounds, rather than slowed. There is always a 10% chance that the mage will lose control of the spell and be affected by its attack, as a ray from the area of effect bounces back to strike the caster. Undead are never affected by the spell. The material component is a bit of earth taken from the grave of a ghoul or ghast.
[GA – 60]

Nystul’s Grue Conjuration (Conjuration/Summoning)
Grue – Harginn

Level: 4
Components: V, S, M
Range: 60 yds
Casting Time: 1 turn
Duration: 3 rounds/level
Saving Throw: None
Area of Effect: Special
Explanation/description: This spell, which is actually a group of four risky spells, will summon one grue – harginn, ildriss, chaggrin, or varrdig – from one of the four elemental planes:
Air – Incense
Earth – Soft Clay
Fire – Sulfur
Water – Sea Water
These material components must be used when summoning the grue desired. The type of grue to be summoned must be decided before the caster memorizes the spell. Grue are notoriously untrustworthy and difficult to control, so the caster must rely on more than just concentration to keep the grue under his command. As soon as the grue is summoned, it will demand a payment from the caster for its service. The payment offered must be at least 500 g.p. worth of goods of interest to the grue, or the grue will be angered and immediately attack the caster. If the grue is satisfied with the offer, it will grudgingly perform one service for the caster for the duration of the spell. The grue will try to subvert or openly disobey the caster’s orders if the grue finds them unpleasant.
[GA – 60]

Nystul’s Lightburst (Evocation)
Components: V, S, M
Range: 10 yds/level
Casting Time: 4 segments
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Special
Area of Effect: 20’ radius sphere
Explanation/Description: This spell summons a burst of energy from the Positive Material Plane. All creatures within or facing the sudden blaze of energy are blinded for one round, with no saving throw. Creatures without eyes cannot be blinded. In addition, all undead, creatures from the Negative Material Plane, or beings from the lower outer planes within the area of effect take 1d6 points of damage per level of the caster. Such creatures suffer only half damage if they make their saving throw, but undead make their save at -2. The material component is a small, solid gold orb worth 500 g.p. It is destroyed after the spell dissipates.
[GA – 61]

Nystul’s Enveloping Darkness (Evocation-Alteration)
Components: V, S, M
Range: 0
Casting Time: 5 segments
Duration: 5 rounds + 2rounds/level
Saving Throw: None
Area of Effect: 20’ radius globe about the caster
Explanation/Description: This spell creates a zone of impenetrable darkness around the mage 20 feet in radius. Although the caster can see in and through the zone of darkness without trouble, all others cannot see through the envelope, not even with infravision or ultravision. In addition, a distortion exists within the globe, appearing as if the caster has the power of displacement as a displacer beast. The caster is attacked at -2, in addition to the darkness penalty. Nystul’s Instant Daylight will negate the spell. The material components are a drop of pitch, a whisker from a black cat, and a bit of fur from the coat of a displacer beast.
[GA – 61]

Nystul’s Radiant Arch (Alteration)
Level: 5
Components: V, S, M
Range: 10 yds/level
Casting Time: 1 round
Duration: Special
Saving Throw: Half damage
Area of Effect: One creature
Explanation/Description: This spell creates a glimmering rainbow of light that arches between the caster’s open hands. Once the rainbow takes form, the caster can choose to fire a ray 1 foot wide from the rainbow, aimed at one creature up to 10 feet away per level of the mage. The ray can take the form of one of the seven colors of energy drawn from the quasi-plane of radiance.

Red: cold energy (+ 1 damage to fire-based creatures, no damage if cold-based)
Orange: heat energy (+ 1 damage to cold-based creatures, no damage if fire-based)
Yellow: acid damage (save vs spells to take no damage)
Green: neutralize poison (per cleric spell)
Blue baton: electrical energy (+ 10 damage points to metal armored enemy)
Indigo: undead specific (only undead harmed)
Violet: vegetation specific (only plants harmed)

The ray will inflict 1d6 points of damage per level of the caster, of a type corresponding to the color of the ray. If the creature makes its save, only half damage is suffered. The mage must concentrate to keep the radiant arch active, so any attack that breaks the caster’s concentration will dispel the rainbow and prevent the caster from launching a ray. The material components are a crystal prism (which breaks after the spell) and a small black board with a pinhole through the center.
[GA – 61]



Sadly, Nystul’s array of spells was dropped from subsequent editions.
Nystul’s Magic Aura is the only one to see publication beyond the Greyhawk Adventures release.



“How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.”
― William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice




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


The Art:
Harginn illustration, by Harry Quinn, from Monster Manual II 1e, 1983

Sources:
3010 Players Handbook 1e, 1978
011A Dungeon Masters Guide, 1st Ed., 1979
2011 Unearthed Arcana, 1985
2023 Greyhawk Adventures, 1988
Living Greyhawk Journal #0
Dragon Magazine
 

Saturday, 22 January 2022

On Nystul


“Light
Light
The visible reminder of Invisible Light.”
― T.S. Eliot

Nystul
Much can be said about the Circle of Eight, although some might say that most of what might would concern Mordenkainan.
Nystul would be fine with that. Let others take the credit, he would say. He might then also say, let others take the blame. Why? Because Nystul seeks neither fame, nor fortune. Most of the Circle don’t. Most are content to quietly carry on with their work to make their corner of the Flanaess a better, safer, place.
One might not think Nystul to be a person of much account, at first glance.
Nystul is 43, 6’7” tall, 184 1bs, with mousy brown hair (lank and uncombed), brown eyes, and rather plain features. His ridiculous gangling beanpole figure sticks out anywhere, so it is hardly surprising that the mage places strong reliance on magics of disguise and detection. [COG:FFF - 24]
One might not even be aware that Nystul is indeed Nystul.
Gangly and plain, Nystul considers himself a master of disguise. He is seldom seen in his true appearance, often using magic or magical items to change his looks. [WGA4 – 86]
He often travels in the form of a demure half-elf maiden with his hat of disguise; as he says, this is ideal for gaining protection from stalwart paladins and chivalrous knights. [COG:FFF - 24]
And even when he appears as who he is, he has never cut the figure of what one might consider a hero, or even someone who takes anything seriously.
Flippant and humorous, with a preference for puns and quips which displeases Mordenkainen and the sober Bigby and Drawmij, Nystul is nevertheless a profound thinker and a master of subtlety. [COG:FFF - 24]
But he is and does. If anything, this fa├žade is as much a disguise as those others he so often dons.
His tactical sense is unerring. He believes that almost any battle can be won if his side has enough obscuring magic (invisibility and illusions) to deceive the opposition. While Nystul is proficient with the dagger, he almost never uses it (except to peel an apple occasionally). He argues reasonably that if a mage is caught in melee, he has totally failed to conduct himself correctly—a mage with sound obscuring and defensive magic should never be so caught. However, to allow for surprises, Nystul will usually have his personal crystal dagger and crystal dirk spells memorized […]. [COG:FFF - 24]

How did Nystul come to be as he is? His origin might shed some light on that.
537 CY
Nystul is born.
Nystul was born in Tenh 53 years ago to a family of well-connected nobles in Nevond Nevnend who unfortunately were ambitious and faced with better-connected enemies. [LGJ#0 – 10]

537 CY – 540 CY
A Small Sect of Pacifist Pholtan Monks
Nystul learned at a young age that there were those who were not what they seemed.
Despite a good reputation among many fellow nobles, they could not prevent their downfall when an intrigue with the court of Duke Pet'yeu saw the proud clan brought low on charges of sedition and insurgency. The nobles of Nystul's House were tried for treason, and the House was disbanded. [LGJ#0 – 10]
And he learned that there were others who were.
Nystul was taken away from his parents by servants and raised in a small monastery bordering the Pale. There he was taken in by a small sect of pacifist Pholtan monks living near the Phostwood. [LGJ#0 – 10]
It was these monks who first instructed Nystul on the beneficence of light, and the perils of shadow. And it was here where he learned that people could be other than deceitful, self-serving, and that others might aim to serve the greater good.

It comes to no surprise then that he should be fascinated by light and shadow. And in harnessing them.
A special interest of Nystul’s is spells which involve alterations of light and darkness, some of which he has developed himself. [COG:FFF - 24]
Otto has heard, from a contact in northern Nyrond, that Nystul has been working with powerful druids within the Phostwood to develop a potent form of faerie fire which blinds the victim in addition to normal effects, but what has come of this is as yet uncertain. [COG:FFF - 24]

c. 540-550 CY
An Adept Nystul
Nystul was an adept student. He learned his lessons well, even if he did not see shadow and light in the same light as his tutors.
The monks raised Nystul well, and encouraged the oft-mischievous student's talent for magic, particularly that of illusions. He was given rudimentary instruction by a wily old cleric named Friar Nemonicus, himself obsessed with the powers inherent to light and darkness. Nystul's permanent protection from evil spell was in fact a gift from Nemonicus. [LGJ#0 – 10]
Nystul wondered, as Nemonicus did not, if light and shadow were not so opposed as the monks believed. Shadow could not exist without light, he surmised. He wondered if they were not servants of higher powers, after all, but tools that could be bent to one’s Will, and Purpose?

c. 550 - 571 CY
Nemonicus was an enlightened soul. He understood that Nystul had a quick mind, and that his talents might be more suited to the pursuit of the arcane than it was of the divine.
Radigast City
Eventually, the monks raised sufficient monies to send Nystul south to a proper magic school at Radigast City's well-regarded Sorcerous Union. There he befriended a young Otto, resting from one of his occasional sojourns to the Nyr Dyv. Despite the arduous experiences of his youth, Nystul managed to come away from them with a deep concern for his homeland, and it was to Tenh that he eventually returned when he consumed his wanderlust. He constructed a home in Redspan and took on young apprentices.
[LGJ#0 – 10]

Nystul hails from the Duchy of Tenh, where he has many worries about his home which he sometimes feels others do not express enough concern about. Bandits to the northeast, humanoids to the north, a well-meaning bust often intolerant Theocracy to the east and yet more bandits to the west and southwest—the Duchy is ringed with problems. Nystul is eternally scrounging for information about events on the borders of the land, which he feeds surreptitiously to the rulers. The last thing he wants is personal recognition or publicity; he operates secretly, in disguise, and some of his friends might be less friendly if he was known for what he is, and not as the elven maid, chortling gnome, or barbarian he chooses to appear to be. Nystul avoids any proffered contact from the rulers of the Duchy, often being “away” should some message or summons arrive. [COG:FFF - 24]
Nystul was rightly concerned. Tenh had many enemies. And few allies. The Rovers were capricious allies, at best, as wont to raid as to aid. But they both recognized the Horned Society and Iuz, the Old Old One, as a far greater threat than any other.

570 CY
Nystul wasn’t the only one concerned about the Horned Society and the Old One.
Mordenkainen
The chaos surrounding the return to power of the demigod, luz, in CY 570 prompted Mordenkainen to consider a new paradigm. Though the Old One worked to check the growing power of the Horned Society, and kept Furyondy's eyes on its northern borders, Mordenkainen knew well that the situation would not last. The dissolution of the Citadel left Mordenkainen without a tool to shape events as he would and though he hardly admitted it to himself, he longed return to a life of adventure.
The Citadel's primary failure, he surmised, had been its inclusive philosophy. As its founding concept had been arcane, he had been foolish to assume that men like Robilar or Riggby would rally to his cause without subtly working against it for reasons personal, spiritual or political. Men of intellect and sorcerous skill, whose primary interests were more than material, would replace them. Thus was born the Circle of Eight. [LGJ#0 – 6]
Nemonicus was not the only one to note Nystul’s talent.
It was only a matter of time before Mordenkainen should see the light: that Nystul was an excellent candidate for his new Circle.

571 CY
Over the next year, Mordenkainen invited some of the most prominent magi in the Flanaess to join him. [LGJ#0 – 6]
It was not long before his exploits brought the attention of Mordenkainen and an offer of membership in the Circle of Eight in 571 CY. [LGJ#0 – 10]
By the first month of 571 CY, he had gathered eight mages to his cause, among them Bigby, Otto, Rary, Nystul, Drawmij, and the affable Bucknard. [LGJ#0 – 6]
Each was as different from the others as could be.
To the distress of others in the Circle, he is fond of puns and quips. Still, Nystul has a keen mind for battle tactics and believes that, given time, he can derive victory from even the worst situation. [WGA4 – 86]
Except in that each believed wholeheartedly in the pursuit of Balance.

576 CY
Nystul 16th-Level Mage Neutral
Str 7 Int 18 Dex 10 Wis 17 Con 15 Cha 15
[WGA4 – 86]

Cloak of displacement
Hat of disguise
Helm of telepathy
wand of illusion
[COG:FFF - 24]

Nystul

This new paradigm suited Nystul well. It just so happened that the Circle’s preoccupation with Balance happened to be in line with his own aims, for surely Iuz was not as interested in any aim not his own. Nystul focused his attention on checking the Old One’s eastward expansion, to say nothing of the Horned Societies dark purposes, or the Bandits’ raids, or Palish fanaticism.
Nystul has been known to seed information among mercenaries and adventurers that employment awaits them in the Duchy when bandits loom, although Nyrond and the County of Urnst are usually his first ports of call on such missions. He also “shadows” shipments of weapons from Stoink sown the Artonsamay River and across the Nyr Dyv, on their way to the western lands of the Iron League, where he has ex-apprentices now of medium (7-12) level. [COG:FFF - 24,25]

580 CY
The Circle has never been a static group. Members come and go.
Two other mages known to have joined the Circle were Bucknard (who vanished in 579 CY and was later replaced by Jallarzi) and the ancient mage Leomund, an immigrant from the east who retired from the Circle in 576 CY and has been little seen since. Otiluke replaced him later that year. [TAB – 60]
In the early 580s, the Circle of Eight included Bigby, Drawmij, Jallarzi Sallavarian, Nystul, Otiluke, Otto, Rary of Ket and the archmage Tenser. […] [PGtG – 21]

One might ask: Does the Circle act as One? Are they close knit?
Some are closer than others. Nystul has known Otto since before either became members, and their continued camaraderie after so many decades is telling. That Tenser should be receptive to Nystul’s teleporting into his fortress is illuminating, to say the least.
Nystul visits Greyhawk on occasion, seeking magical items or new spells which fill his ever-expanding shelves in the inconspicuous house he maintains in Redspan. He travels using a teleport without error spell to Tenser’s fortress, and makes his way on from there. [COG:FFF - 24]

The Circle does fraternise. In some rather colourful establishments. None are particularly pretentious, which suits Nystul just fine; he is not what you might call a black tie sort of guy.
High Tower Tavern and Hostelry
High Tower Tavern and Hostelry
This inn, distinguished by its tall tower, pointed at the top like the hat of an old and eccentric wizard, is the favorite of the [Free City of Greyhawk’s] upper reaches. It is unpretentious and not as expensive as most neighboring establishments. The style of dress might not be as elegant here as at the Patricians’ Club, bit it would be hard to find customers who are having a better time.
The proprietor, Eric Goodfellow, was once an aspiring mage, ever reaching [middling power] before deciding that his life calling involved more sedentary pursuits. He still keeps his hand in the magical arts, but he keeps his magic quiet, known only to himself, his good friends, and the occasional customers who have seen him cast a spell.
This is a favorite gathering place of the powerful wizards of the Council of Eight, when one or more of them are in Greyhawk. On most occasions, these wizards disguise themselves before venturing in public. Otto, Tenser, and Nystul are the three wizards most commonly encountered here. [COG:GOTF – 63]

581 CY
Is Nystul powerful? You might say that.
Nystul
Nystul
16th-Level Mage
Neutral
Hit Points: 45
Str 7 Int 18 Dex 10 Wis 17 Con 15 Cha 15
Nystul is guarded by a permanent protection from evil spell.

Nystul’s traveling Spell Book: (spells/day)

1st Level (5): Armor, audible glamer, burning hands, change self, detect magic, friends, grease, jump, light, message, Nystul’s dancing werelight*, Nystul’s flash*, read magic, shield, ventriloquism

2nd Level (5): Alter self, darkness 15’ r., flaming sphere, knock, levitate, Melf’s acid arrow, Nystul’s blackmote, Nystul’s blazing beam, Nystul’s crystal dagger, pyrotechnics, ray of enfeeblement, spectral hand, summon swarm, web

3rd Level (5): Clairaudience, clairvoyance, dispel magic, feign death, fly, hold undead, infravision, invisibility 10’ r., non-detection, Nystul’s crystal dirk*, Nystul’s expeditious fire extinguisher*, Nystul’s golden revelation*, Nystul’s radiant baton*, tongues, vampiric touch

4th Level (5): Enchanted weapon, extension I, fumble, improved invisibility, Nystul’s blacklight burst*, Nystul’s lightburst*, plant growth, polymorph self, remove curse, shout, stoneskin, wizard eye

5th Level (5): Animal growth, domination, extension II, Nystul’s enveloping darkness*, Nystul’s radiant arch*, seeming, sending, stone shape

6th Level (3): Disintegrate, geas, mass suggestion, mislead, programmed illusion, transmute water to dust

7th Level (2): Control undead, delayed blast fireball, duo-dimension, power word stun, reverse gravity; vanish

8th Level (1): Incendiary cloud, mass charm, polymorph any object

Magical Items: Bracers of defense AC 5, ring of protection + 3, cloak of displacement, boots of levitation, dust of disappearance, hat of disguise, wand of enemy detection, wand of illumination, wand of illusion

Gangly and plain, Nystul considers himself a master of disguise. He is seldom seen in his true appearance, often using magic or magical items to change his looks. To the distress of others in the Circle, he is fond of puns and quips. Still, Nystul has a keen mind for battle tactics and believes that, given time, he can derive victory from even the worst situation. [WGA4 Vecna Lives – 85,86]


Most of the Circle are powerful. Most are resourceful. They are certainly all capable.
But they are not invincible, no matter people might believe, no matter what tales are told of them.
Vecna
Alerted to a rising evil in the Flanaess, the Circle hastily gathered for a nearly unprecedented field operation in 581 CY. A new power sought to join Oerth’s vast pantheon, and its efforts threatened to corrupt the magical order of the known world.
The Circle traveled to the hills south of Verbobonc, where they investigated the tomb of a long-dead Oeridian tyrant who was thought to have possessed the awesome artifacts known as the Hand and Eye of Vecna. Finding the tyrant alive, after a fashion, and completely controlled by the Whispered One, the ill-prepared Circle of Eight panicked, and was defeated.
Vecna destroyed the entire Circle, save Mordenkainen, who had elected to remain in Greyhawk as a safeguard against just such an occurrence. When news reached the archmage, he mobilized the Circle's allies, and a small cadre of apprentice wizards, former companions, and long-time confidantes embarked on a nearly hopeless bid to thwart Vecna's apotheosis [.]
Somehow (it is whispered that they employed the aid of luz, who stood to lose much under the deification of the Lich Lord), the intrepid adventurers managed to banish the Maimed God at the strange stone circles known as the Tovag Baragu, and Oerth returned to relative normalcy, save for the absence of the Circle of Eight. [LGJ#0 – 6]

The Circle of Eight

Their loss was quite a blow.
An important though seldom noticed event took place in 581 CY, when an agent of Vecna, the Whispered One of ancient Flan legend, struck down the entire Circle of Eight [.] The Circle had acted subtly as a balancing agent for years, preventing any one power from dominating too much of the Flanaess.  [LGG – 14]
What happened next may shine a light on how great a blow it was.

582 CY
The recent deaths of the members of the Circle of Eight was the prelude to an attempt by the evil Vecna to overthrow the entire pantheon of Greyhawk’s deities and install himself as absolute ruler of the gods. Only the bravery and fortitude of a brave handful of adventurers was able to thwart Vecna’s machinations and put an end to his plans. [WGR2 Treasures of Greyhawk – 32]
The Flanaess was in shock. The Circle of Eight was gone? Dead? Was that possible? Surely it was a lie!
But it wasn’t.
They were dead. Truly dead.
Bigby’s will is in an unmarked envelope under the pillow. His first request is that his friends in the Circle of Eight clone him from a flesh sample he has left for the purpose. If this is not possible, he will leave his magical items and all but three of his spell books to Mordenkainen. The other three spell books go to Andrui, with an apology for not being able to teach him more magic himself. His money is to go first towards paying off Fraznier’s creditors, with 75% of the remainder going to his old friend, Ortux the Hand, and the rest to a charity of Ortux’s choosing. The will mentions a few items of sentimental value that Bigby wished to leave to Otto, Nystul, Drawmij, and the others. [WGR2 – 38]

But Death is not always the end, is it? There is always hope. Especially where archmagi are concerned.
Mordenkainen addressed this absence by recovering what was left of his fallen comrades and cloning them. This endeavor consumed time that otherwise might have seen him addressing the reports of the Circle's allies in the North, who warned of alarming developments in Stonefist and the Barbarian Lands. When those events spiraled into the first conflicts of the Greyhawk Wars, the Circle's clones remained undeveloped and half-aware. By the time the clones reached full maturation, the Circle of Eight had been forced to take a reactive stance to the tumultuous events unfolding before them. [LGJ#0 – 6]

The entire Circle of Eight was slain by an agent of Vecna, and so would fear and hate this cult greatly. [TAB – 3]

Though the Circle's leader, Mordenkainen, returned his colleagues to life using powerful magic, the group was in disarray when war again erupted in the distant north in 582. [LGG – 14]

582 CY – 584 CY
One wonders what might have been had Nystul been vigilant.
But events were already apace before he could act.
The "Fists"
By 582 CY, Calbut lay completely unprepared for the storm of barbarians sweeping through Thunder Pass. The once-great gorge wall that sealed the heights of the pass toppled before the Fists’ onslaught and Tenhas runners bearing word of the attack fell between footfalls. The relentless tide of Fists flooded through the pass, inundated the walls of Calbut, and stormed the still-open gates, catching the garrison commander completely unawares. Every man among the townsfolk was slaughtered and many women and children carried off to captivity.
[Wars – 7,8]
While Tenh’s forces mustered to waylay the Fists, Sevvord Redbeard pushed his troops forward again. In the brief campaign that followed, the Fists marched down a branch of the Zumker River, easily overwhelming the thin ranks of the Tenhas militia in their path. Within five days of the fall of Calbut, Seword’s horde laid siege to the walled capital of Tenh, Nevond Nevnend. [Wars – 7,8]

When the Wars came to Tenh...
When the Wars came to Tenh, Nystul did his best to evacuate Redspaners to Urnst as well as to arm his kinsfolk against the surprising onslaught from the north and east. His visibility rose considerably during this time, even as Ehyeh and the court made a hasty retreat to Radigast City and the protection of Countess Belissica. Nystul already had allied himself with a little-known organization calling themselves the Keepers of the Flan, comprising mages, druids, and the archaic loremasters of the clans, most of whom escaped luz and the barbarians to the Rakers or the Phostwood. Nystul has been working to recover his homeland ever since.
[LGJ#0 – 10]

Though the Circle never acted concertedly during the Greyhawk Wars, certain "hotspots" received a good deal of their attention. Mordenkainen Bigby and Otto fought against the Old One's army at the infamous Battle of Critwall Bridge, and Drawmij was instrumental in organizing the flood of refugees from the Lost Lands to fastnesses in the Good Hills. Nystul worked primarily alone in besieged Tenh, while Otto and Bigby left Mordenkainen in the Vesve Forest to do what they could for the Iron League. Citing pressing personal needs, Rary retreated to his tower in Lopolla and refused to come to the aid of his companions. [LGJ#0 – 6]

584 CY
The War was long and perilous. Luckily, not one of the Eight perished in its waging.
But one never sees betrayal from a brother, does one?
Rary's Betrayal
On the Day of the Great Signing, however, Greyhawk suffered a great treachery: Rary, one of the Circle of Eight, destroyed his companions Tenser and Otiluke in a great magical battle, then fled. Many suspected that the former Archmage of Ket had hoped to hold the ambassadors hostage, perhaps capturing Greyhawk itself in the process. Instead, he and his cohort, Lord Robilar, went to the Bright Desert to form their own kingdom. Fearing further disruptions, the delegates hurriedly signed the Pact of Greyhawk.
[LGG – 16]
The treachery of Rary in 584 CY saw the destruction of Tenser and Otiluke, leaving the Circle at five. [LGG – 156]
Nothing was left of their bodies to allow revival by clone, resurrection or any other spell. The assassin was, incredibly, another member of the Circle, Rary of Ket. The treachery left the Eight (now Five: Bigby, Drawmij, Jallarzi Sallavarian, Nystul and Otto) reeling. [Rot8 – 2,3]

Drawmij met the news of the treachery of Rary with classic dispassion. Indeed, the nascent archmage appears to have been the Circle member least affected by the events of the Greyhawk Wars and Reconstruction. [LGJ#0 – 8]

Alone among the other members of the Circle of Eight, Nystul holds the belief that Rary's so-called traitorship is nothing but a ruse perpetrated either by the Archmage of Ket himself or some greater enemy of the Circle, with the archmage as a dupe. To this end, he has contacted Rary's old companion, Torik Redaxesson of Highfolk, who has been pushing for an investigation into the cause of the archmage's alleged corruption.
Nystul perceives the Old One and his diabolical retinue as the Circle's true enemy, and he is eager to increase the Circle's number, beyond eight if need be, to combat this menace. The tide of evil and tyranny must be turned, and he believes it should begin where it first began last time, in Tenh. [LGJ#0 – 10]

585 CY
Three new members were appointed in 585 CY: Alhamazad the Wise, Theodain Eriason and Warnes Starcoat. [PGtG - 21,22]

586 CY
The famed Circle of Eight was re-formed in 586 CY, with the addition of the Urnst archmage Warnes Starcoat, an elderly Baklunish sorcerer from the Sultanate of Zeif, and – to everyone’s surprise – a powerful elven wizard from the Yeomanry. [TAB – 37]

Sadly, the Circle was not as it once was. As one. It might never be again.
One wonders why Drawmij and Nystul were so opposed to a certain nomination.
[Drawmij] only grudgingly agreed to the addition of Warnes and Alhamazed, and argued steadfastly against expanding the purview of the Circle to include nonhuman members. Finding Nystul his only ally in the matter, however, he has since treated the olve Theodain Eriason with bland acceptance. [LGJ#0 – 8]

Thankfully, Theodain was not of a similar mind.
Theodain has taken to the affairs of the Circle with avid enthusiasm. He finds Drawmij, Nystul, Otto, and Jallarzi particularly to his liking, and he has enjoyed his infrequent visits to the Free City. [LGJ#0 – 11]

All too soon, Nystul was soon back in the thick of it, helping his long-time friend Otto in his desire to rid his beloved Almor of the Darkness it was being plunged into.
The end came swiftly in 586 CY, when rivals for the throne, perhaps including the fiendish Duke Szeffrin of Almor, attacked the capital after hearing news indicating Ivid V had died or been deposed. [LGG – 24]
The famed mage Nystul, of the Circle of Five, was caught up in the exodus from Almor when Szeffrin was cementing his hold on the land. This normally humorous and flippant man was almost speechless when he fled to Mordenkainen and Bigby, and he shook with rage recounting what he had seen here. He has vowed to destroy Szeffrin, and, while the Circle's current ethos is strongly against direct action and for careful watching and learning, it may be hard even for Mordenkainen and the ever-cautious Bigby to prevent him from trying. [Ivid – 146]
Their endeavour did not go as well as they had hoped.

588 CY
Nystul and Otto had failed to liberate Almor. For now. But there was hope for Tenh. He hoped.
Events occurred that bespoke of a light at the end of the tunnel. For a time. Too short a time….
The retreat of Rhelt Sevvord and the Stonehold troops to the northern foothills of Tenh pleased IUZ, even if the battering of his forces did not. In late 588 CY, Iuz’s humanoid armies moved out of Rookroost to pick over the ruins in Tenh. [TAB – 23]
But all to soon, another shadow was cast over the beleaguered Tenh.
At that point, eastern Tenh was invaded by two armies, commanded by Theocrat Tillit, from the Theocracy of the Pale which had quietly converted and trained many expatriate Tenhas as warriors in the church of Pholtus. These converts, once homeless refugees, planned to retake their country and make it an allied subject state of the Pale. Other expatriate Tenhas returned to Tenh for the fight, but these were not well organized at first. The exiled Duke Ehyeh now “commands” the latter from his new home in the County of Urnst. As a result four mutually hostile groups now make war over the bloody fields of Tenh, led by Iuz, Rhelt Sevvord, Duke Ehyeh, and Theocrat Tillit Rhelt. Sevvord‘s force has the strongest defenses: Duke Ehyeh’s group is weakest, and some of those have defected to the Pale. The mage Nystul of the Circle of Eight is said to support Duke Ehyeh. [TAB – 23]
Hope endures. But one wonders if Nystul should ever tire in his pursuit of freeing his homeland from the dark grip of horror and tyranny it suffers under.

589 CY
Nystul
Nystul
This wizard's appearance is that of the stereotypical absentminded mage. Tall, gangly, and plain, Nystul[’s] brown hair [, if now peppered with grey, still] looks as if it has never met a comb in all his 52 years. […]
[PGtG – 22]
And probably hadn’t. Nystul was never vain. He was always too busy for pretense, too pragmatic for either pomp or ceremony. And too focussed on his mission, whatever that might be at that moment, to care about anything else. And too little help to waste any time for anything else.
Nystul visits Greyhawk on occasion, but is occupied with the war in his homeland of Tenh. He is always on the lookout for discovered spellbooks and magical items. [PGtG – 22]

Veralos does exist, and it is located along the northern edge of the Rift Canyon, but the land immediately surrounding the ruin is reportedly cracked and perilously dotted with sinkholes, making it difficult to approach. Mordenkainen himself has reluctantly confirmed as much on a few occasions, especially to the mage Nystul (of Flannish heritage) who took particular interest in the place. [Dragon #293 – 91]

The war-ravaged lands between the Griff Mountains and the Artonsamay River, north of the Yol, hold the remains of the former duchy of Tenh. The Greyhawk Wars that destroyed this country have not yet ended here; Tenh, the first victim of the wars, seems destined to be its last. Duke Ehyeh III, scion of an ancient Flan lineage, attempts to reclaim his homeland with meager assistance from the County of Urnst. He has other supporters, of course, including the mage Nystul of the Circle of Eight, but few followers, troops, and resources are available to him. [LGG – 112]

One must not think that Nystul is without allies, because he is not.
Yars Blud-Sigul
Yars Blud-Sigul
Male Dwarf 14th-Level Fighter Neutral
Yars hails from the Rakers, a wild and uncivilized mountain range near the Duchy of Tenh. It was there that he made the acquaintance of Nystul. It was the wizard who brought the savage little warrior back to Greyhawk, perhaps to vex his friends. Whatever the reasons, Yars has found the city to his liking-for now. [WGA4 – 95]

Otto has heard, from a contact in northern Nyrond, that Nystul has been working with powerful druids within the Phostwood to develop a potent form of faerie fire which blinds the victim in addition to normal effects, but what has come of this is as yet uncertain. [COG:FFF - 24,25]

Armies from the Pale and forces loyal to the exiled duke quickly crossed the borders, battling each other for possession of the southern and eastern regions of the duchy, including the Phostwood. The duke's forces fought a hard battle against bandits and surviving agents of Iuz in the city of Redspan, gaining the aid of Nystul of the Circle of Eight. [LGG – 114]

The famed Circle of Eight has many roots in the city and the nearby Wild Coast. This exceptionally powerful group is a political body of wizards who work to maintain a balance of power across the whole Flanaess, so that states can formulate heir own policies without interference or Fear of invasion and conquest by outside Forces or empire-building neighbors. Two merit members of that body (Otto and Jallarzi Sallavarian) have homes in Greyhawk; all the others (Mordenkainen, Bigby, Drawmij, Alhamazad, Nystul, Warnes Starcoat, and Theodain Eriason) visit on an irregular basis. Tenser, a former member, lives near the city in a fortress on the south shore of the Nyr Dyv. [TAB – 7]

590 CY
Nystul is now 53 years young.
Nystul was born in Tenh 53 years ago to a family of well-connected nobles in Nevond Nevnend [….] LGJ#0 – 10]

Nystul. Wiz17: HP 76. AL N. Str 7, Dex 10, Con 15, Int 22, Wis 17, Cha 15.
Nystul is protected by a permanent protection from evil spell.
The mage Nystul is a rare sort. A man of allegedly comical appearance, he uses obfuscating magicks to alter his appearance to something suitable for any given situation. Beneath the illusion, his features are atypically Flan, with an olive complexion more common in Oeridians and a tall, spindling form that towers over six and a half feet high. His intellect is keen and his insight piercing. Subterfuge and intrigue are his fortes. Mordenkainen often notes that Nystul seems sometimes to lack a well-grounded, rational temperament. Nystul is not as well-known as Mordenkainen, Bigby, or the others, even in his native Tenh, where prior to the Great Wars he was seen as an aloof and eccentric mage from Redspan, of passing interest to Ehyeh or his court. [LGJ#0 – 10]

Only five of the Circle of Eight have been part of its august and storied assembly for its duration: Mordenkainen, its founder, has; and so has Otto and Bigby and Drawmij. So too Nystul. Long and tirelessly have they sought to maintain the Balance. Long may they continue to, and long may they endure.
In the last two decades, the Circle has seen members come and go, but its dedication to Mordenkainen's goals and methods remains steadfast. Current members include Bigby of Mitrik (N male human Wiz19), once Mordenkainen's apprentice and now an archmage in his own right; the rotund and jovial Otto (N male human Wiz15/Clr3 of Boccob), who favors the kitchen over the laboratory; Jallarzi Sallavarian of Greyhawk (NG female human Wiz15), one of the most dynamic wizards in a city of mages; the reclusive Drawmij (N male human Wiz18), who oversees Keoland and the south from his undersea lair near Gradsul; and Nystul (N male human Wiz17), a Tenha expatriate who wishes to expand the Circle, beyond eight if need be, to combat the growing threats presented by Iuz, Turrosh Mak, and the consolidating factions of the former Great Kingdom. [LGG – 156]

The Circle of Eight

The mysterious assembly of wizards known as the Circle of Eight has long benefited from a past obscured by misinformation and enigma. The group's influence reaches from the Baklunish west to the Solnor Ocean, though its secretive methods ensure that few know the extent of its ministrations. Certain members of the Circle are well known and liked, their talents appreciated throughout the Flanaess. The mages Bigby, Jallarzi, and Otto, for instance, are welcome in courts far from cosmopolitan Greyhawk. Others, such as Drawmij, Nystul, and Theodain, prefer to operate away from the public gaze. [LGG – 156]


Prolific, Creative
Is Nystul prolific? You’d think that he wouldn’t have the time, what with his tireless struggle against those who’ve laid his beloved Tenh so low; but in that you would be wrong. Otto may correspond more than he, but Nystul has written more. He has two tomes to his credit to Otto’s one.
The Metaphysics of Mathematics, by Mage Nystul
[U1 – 7]

Libram of the Great Paravisual Emanations, by Nystul
(Nystul’s magic aura, shadow magic, demi-shadow magic, shades, Leomund’s trap)
[Dragon #82 – 58]

And 15 spells to Otto’s 14! (Otto may have written 16, but two are mere rumours, to date.) How he found the time to research and create them is anyone's guess. Mayhap he is tirless, or a bit of an insomniac.

Level One
Nystul's Magic Aura
Nystul’s Dancing Werelight
Nystul’s Flash

Level Two
Nystul’s Blackmote
Nystul’s Blazing Beam
Nystul’s Crystal Dagger

Level Three
Nystul’s Crystal Dirk
Nystul’s Expeditious Fire Extinguisher
Nystul’s Golden Revelation
Nystul’s Radiant Baton

Level Four
Nystul’s Blacklight Burst
Nystul’s Grue Conjuration
Nystul’s Lightburst

Level Five
Nystul’s Enveloping Darkness
Nystul’s Radiant Arch
[UA – 125] [PHB 1e – 67]



What do I think of Nystul?
Nystul is a prince among men, if a disheveled one. A hero, and a daring one at that, maybe more of an adventurer than the others of his august company. Does he not rescue refugees? Vie against the oppressor? Plunge into the unknown, in search of lost magics?
He may not look the part, but he is indeed a hero; and a humble one.
I like Nystul. I like him a lot. He’s curious. He’s dogged. He’s pragmatic. He has a sense of humour, even if other’s may not share his quick wit. And he does not put on airs.
What’s not to like?



Postscript:
Some time ago, I asked a choice few members of the Greyhawk community which personalities they would like me to address in this ongoing biography series. I’ve been lax in getting to what was suggested. Too lax, it would seem. I’d focused mainly on those in the Northeast—those not suggested by any of those asked, I might add—those I was somewhat familiar with, thinking I had all the time in the world.
It turns out I did not. Jason Zavoda had suggested I do Nystul. I thought that was a great idea. I could do each of the Circle of Eight in turn; indeed, I could do all the members of the Citadel, as well. I compiled notes, and began with Leomund, and posted it a few months before Len Lakofka’s passing. Len took what he thought of my effort to his grave, so I will never know if he was pleased, or flattered, or annoyed. Knowing Len a little, I suggest he might have been all three. I followed that up with a grand history of the Eight and then one on Otto. Progress! I expected to continue unabated, but I became distracted. I do that. There are times I wonder if I am not addled. I’d collected many notes on Nystul, nothing polished, more bullet points than notes, really. And then Jason passed, too, before I thought to complete this piece.
I may be late, but it’s done, and it’s dedicated you, Jason. I’m saddened that you’ll never read it. I do wonder what you’d have thought of it.

A word to the wise. Don’t delay. You never know what’s around the bend.
“Ah, Nothing is too late, till the tired heart shall cease to palpitate.”
― Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


“O dark dark dark. We all go into the dark,
The vacant interstellar places, the vacant into the vacant […]”
― T.S. Eliot



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


The Art: 
Nystul portrait, by Sam Wood, from Living Greyhawk Journal #0, 2000
WG5 Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure cover detail, by Clyde Caldwell, 1984
The Circle of Eight, by Ken Frank, from WGA4 Vecna Lives!,  1990
Defensive Wall, by Ken Frank, from Wars Boxed Set, Adventurer's Book, 1991
Rary's Berayal, by Ken Frank, from WGR3 Rary the Traitor, 1992
Nystul detail, by Sam Wood, from Living Greyhawk Journal #6,  2001
The Circle of Eight, by Sam Wood, from Living Greyhawk Journal #6,  2001
Jason Zavoda, photographer unknown



Sources:
1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
2023 Greyhawk Adventures Hardback, 1988
1064 From the Ashes Boxed Set, 1992
9309 WGA4 Vecna Lives, 1990
9360 WGR2 Treasures of Greyhawk, 1992
9576 Return of the Eight, 1998
9577 The Adventure Begins, 1998
9578 Player’s Guide to Greyhawk, 1998
11743 Living Greyhawk Gazeteer, 2000
Dragon Magazine 82,270,273
LGJ et. al.
Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda