Friday 26 August 2022

On Bucknard

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to."
"I don't much care where –"
"Then it doesn't matter which way you go.”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Greyhawk is replete with wizards, great and small. We all know the famous ones:
Characters of personage status such as Bucknard (NPC), Mordenkainen [PC], Otiluke (NPC), and Tenser (PC), to name but a few, are not as powerful and broadly endowed as are the quasi-deities. [Dragon #71 – 19]
Hang on… Bucknard?
Yes, Bucknard. Few have gained such fame and yet remained as unheralded.
What do we know about Bucknard? Not much. The above quote from Dragon #71 might be his first mention, that March ’83 issue preceding the October release of the World of Greyhawk® boxed set by 7 months where he was mentioned again, if as sparingly.
THROUGHOUT the world of Greyhawk are quite a number of characters that have risen above the status of heroes, but who are not quite demi-gods. These personages are 'quasi-deities.' Among those contemporary in the World of Grey hawk are Daern, Heward, Johydee, Kelanen, Keoghtom, Murlynd, Nolzur, Quall, and Tuerny. […] Other well-known personages, such as Bucknard, Mordenkainen, Otiluke, and Tenser, are not as powerful and broadly endowed as are the quasi-deities. [WoGG – 33]

The above is what we were left with. Nothing more. Then again, we weren’t given much about any of the above, were we? It was mentioned that Mordenkainen got around, cavorting with the said quasi-deities; that was about it. If you wanted more on certain PCs from Gygax’s campaign, one had to invest in 1980’s The Rogues Gallery. And there it remained until, in 1984, WG5 Mordenkainen’s Fantastic Adventurewas released and we received more on the eponymous person, and Bigby, Riggby, and Yrag, and 1986 for Tenser to be highlighted in WG6 Isle of the Ape, if not stat-ed—no need, really, if you’d previously purchased The Rogues Gallery.
But no Bucknard.
But Bucknard was very “real” in Gary Gygax’s Greyhawk, though, as he revealed in Dragon #71:
Because the personages of Mordenkainen, Bucknard, et al, are actively used or played in my campaign, I cannot give details of their power and possessions. Suffice it to say that their status is something less than that of the quasi-deities. [Dragon #71 – 19]
To what extent? I’ve no idea.
He did contribute to Gygax’s campaign. Indeed, he bequeathed us his magical purse.
Bucknard's Everfull Purse
Bucknards Everful Purse:
Appearing as nothing more than a leather pouch or small bag, this magical poke is most useful to its owner, for each morning it will duplicate certain coins – and possibly gems as well. When found, the purse will be full of coins. If totally emptied, and left so for more than a few minutes, the magic of the purse is lost, but if 1 of each type of coin is placed within the bag, the next morning 26 of each applicable type will be found inside. […]
(This item was designed to maintain spice, providing a constant source of funds without attracting undue attention to the bearer or necessitating chests of treasure.)
[DMG 1e – 122]
That’s a bit of fun, really, inspired by a touch of truth:
"Bucknard was an NPC I created out of whole cloth. He was based on a neighbor of mine when I was a lad, a Mr. Bucknall. He had a great garden, an apple tree with five different kinds of apples, and he knew astronomy well, assisted me with my 100 power telescope. He did use a small change purse, and from it he would extract a small coin to give to me now and again."

There Bucknard remained until 2nd Edition when those early characters were given new life and purpose. And a sense of mystery.
Still other mortal wizards, villains, thieves and heroes have had such an impact that in a hundred universes great spells and magical devices bear their names: Mordenkainen, Iuz, Bigby, Drawmij, Heward, Iggwilv, Tenser, Acererak, Nystul, Tuerny, Ehlisra, Otiluke, Serten, Bucknard, Sustarre. These people made the Flanaess the greatest of legendary lands. [PGtG – 18]
Bucknard is mentioned in company with pretty powerful personages. As he should be, given that he was in the Gold Box, as well.
But Bucknard was not given the same love as others. His mention is fleeting, unlike others who loom large in the history of the setting.
It is in this period, I believe, that the Citadel of Eight and its descendant the Circle of Eight were conceived, elevated from their earlier incarnation as PC adventuring parties. Some surmise that these illustrious groups did indeed exist in Gygax’s campaign, but I can find no direct mention to them prior to 2nd edition mentions. It is certain that Leomund was never a member of either group despite his inclusion, because Len Lakofka said as much. I would suggest that NPCs would never have been included if they had existed beforehand.
But Bucknard was. He’s an also-ran in lore, but he’s there.

Bucknard’s simplified history follows. I’ve enclosed some Living Greyhawk material here for clarity of the timeline. And added a twist along the way.

Was Bucknard part of the Citadel of Eight? No. They were Mordenkainen, Biby, Robilar, Riggby, Yrag, Tenser, Serten and Otis. [LGJ#0 – 5] With the exception of Otis, all are noted in the 1e Rogues Gallery as PCs.
Bucknard enters the picture later.
In the mid-500s, a Wild Coast wizard named Mordenkainen quietly began to confer with several sorcerers in the Greyhawk area about the possibility of forming a group dedicated to the preservation of the Flanaess from external threats. This group became known as the Circle of Eight, an outgrowth of an earlier group of eight powerful individuals formed by Mordenkainen known as the Citadel of Eight, said to be headquartered in the Yatil Mountains at Mordenkainen’s retreat. A few of the members of the Circle of Eight have been publicly named, such as Bigby and Tenser. The latter was already a semi-resident of the Domain of Greyhawk, as he had taken control of an ancient castle on the southern shore of the Nyr Dyv near the city. 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]

570 CY 
The chaos surrounding the return to power of the demigod, luz, in CY 570 prompted Mordenkainen to consider a new paradigm. […]
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]

571 CY
Over the next year, Mordenkainen invited some of the most prominent magi in the Flanaess to join him. 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]

576 CY
Jallarzi Sallavarian
If I may be so bold as to weave some colour into Bucknard’s altogether drab tapestry.
Jallarzi Sallavarian moves to the Free City of Greyhawk in 576 CY at 27 years of age. [Conjecture]
Later travels brought her to Greyhawk. There, under the tutelage of Tenser, she became the youngest mage ever inducted into the Society of Magi. [LGJ #0 – 8]
Jallarzi, apprenticed to Tenser, a friend of Bucknard’s, is thrown into his acquaintance; she’s enamoured by his affability…. You get the picture.
9 months later, Skye “the Lion” is born.
[Skye the “Lioness”] is 9-year[s]-old [.] [Rot8 – 14]
If Skye is 9 years old in 585 CY, then she was born in 576 CY, before Bucknard disappears.
Why would I do this? Because Bucknard’s tapestry is pretty thin and needs a few threads to reveal the pattern within.
I digress. It’s just a suggestion; do with it what you will.

579 CY
In 581 CY Jallarzi Sallavarian replaced the powerful wizard Bucknard, who vanished in 579 CY while exploring an unknown demiplane. His fate is not known. Bucknard was fairly young when he disappeared but he was rumored to have become an archmage and was well-known in royal courts from Keoland to Nyrond. [PGtG – 23]

585 CY
Hiding behind a stack of barrels is 9-year-old Skye (“the Lioness”), already a 2nd-level wizard [.] If rescued, Skye tells the PCs she is a special student of Jallarzi’s, coming to her house every few days for lessons that Jallarzi gives in her messy, brightly lit bedroom/study on the third floor. [Rot8 – 14]
Why might Jallarzi take on young Skye as an apprentice? Because she is Bucknard’s child? And perhaps Jallarzi’s?
Being who she is, and the dangers that might attract, Jallarzi hides the fact that Skye is hers and Bucknard’s child to protect her….

The only canonical mentions of Bucknard in 2nd edition were his inclusion and his subsequent disappearance. That’s not much. But The Adventure Begins and the Players Guide to Greyhawk were setting the stage for future adventures; that said, a lot of history was included, in which the Circle of Eight is mentioned.
Where was Bucknard? Out and about, it would seem; and of little note.
Or was he?
He was a powerful mage. Mordenkainen “invited some of the most prominent magi in the Flanaess” to join the Circle. Bucknard was one of them. He was compared to quasi-deities in the Gold Box, after all.
All being archmagi, they were given a lot of autonomy.
While Mordenkainen might be the “leader” of this group, it is not a hierarchy, but a close group of wizards with similar concerns. [CoG:GotF – 21]
That goes without saying. Controlling archmagi would be as difficult as herding cats. I expect Bucknard was as autonomous.
He is noted as “fairly young” when he disappeared. That’s quite a feat for him to have become an archmage is so short a time, to my reckoning. Only Otiluke is also mentioned as “young.” Despite his youth, Bucknard penned at least one tome available to us:
“Inexplicaple Reflections” by Bucknard
(mirror image, magic mirror, gaze reflection)
[Dragon #82 – 59]
One wonders how many others he’s have produced had he not disappeared.
What else do we know? Members of the Circle of Eight had to be of a certain mindset.
The majority of the members of the Circle of Eight are of pure neutral alignment, and do not revere one diety to the exclusion of others. [CoG:GotF – 21]
He was well-connected: “well-known in royal courts.”
Bucknard is also referred to as “affable.” Friendly, good-natured, easy to talk to. I like that. Few of the Circle come off as affable. Bucknard being affable would lead me to believe that he was NG and not TN (granted, Neutrals don’t have to be dour, as a rule). Only Tenser was the exception to the pure Neutral rule. Latter members also deviate from pure Neutrality.

No mention is made as to his exact age when Bucknard disappeared, nor where he hailed from. Maybe we can divine where that might be.
Each of the original Circle appears to have a sphere of responsibility, with the exception of Mordenkainen.
  1. Otiluke, an Oligarch of the Free City, presided over the City of Greyhawk (and its environs, presumable)
  2. Nystul appears to be concerned with Tenh and the northeast, west of the Rakers
  3. Otto worked tirelessly to defend and then later to free Almor (the western Great Kingdom)
  4. Bigby, being from the GK, later settled in Scant, would appear to focus on Onnwal and the southeast (no matter his affiliation with the Hazen of Mitrik)
  5. Drawmij from Keoland, appears to preside over the Sheldomar Valley
  6. Tenser is from the Wild Coast (Fax, presumably), and would seem to be concerned with the Wooly Bay and lands surrounding the Nyr Dyv
  7. Rary is from Ket. I presume his sphere was the northwest, west of the Yatils
  8. This leaves Bucknard. What is left? The northwest, east of the Yatils?
Might we presume then that Bucknard is from the northeast then? Bissel works; although I think Bissel is a little too close to Rary’s Ket (that said, Tenser and Otiluke sat on one another’s back porch, didn’t they?). Furyondy? Furyondy would be fine, but I prefer Perrenland, and not just for its alliteration. I prefer Perrenland because that weaves him in with Iuz and Iggwilv and S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth. Bucknard, if he were a native of Perrenland, would by his nature be very concerned about any news that suggested that the witch-queen might return, or that her vile magics might fall into Iuz’s hands. In that regard, he would not be above manipulating the Margrave of Bissel to act upon those rumours, seeing that their concerns aligned.
Your party has been gathered by agents of the Margrave of the March of Bissel. He tells you that there are "political considerations," which he does not explain, that prevent him from searching for lggwilv's trove himself. However, it is vital that the treasure not fall into the hands of his enemies. Your party's goal is to get the treasure before Bissel's enemies do. [S2 – 3]
The realms of luz, Perrenland, and Ket have sent expeditions into the Yatil Mountains seeking the exact location of the caverns; the few that have survived have all failed. [S4 – 3]
The module does suggest that Bissel’s expedition is racing another from Perrenland, but this does not preclude the possibility that Bucknard didn’t urged Perrenland’s rulers from mounting their rival expedition, does it? He might have; two parties have a better chance of beating Iuz to the prize than one, after all. Perhaps Rary urged the one from Ket….
The Circle in those early days worked to check the power of influential beings in Eastern Oerik. When they could not directly intervene, they sponsored groups of adventurers, as in the sacking of Iggwilv's former haunt at the Tsojcanth Caverns in the mid-570's. Whether or not those agents always knew who set them upon their quests is a matter of some debate. [LGJ#0 – 6]
Bucknard might even have persuaded the Margrave to include Westlocke (Elven F/MU) and Hockerbrecht (1/2 Elf F/MU/T) [Hockerbrecht sounds Germanic enough that he might hail from Perrenland, don’t you think?] of the Vesve or Dim Forest to accompany the expedition. One advantage to Bucknard’s exploits being as undeclared as they are is that it’s easy to make the case that he could have been involved in any of the doings of the region.
In this brief history, we see that Bucknard is powerful—which he is—, potentially prolific, that he is affable and adventurous. He disappeared “while exploring an unknown demi plane” – that’s adventurous, I’d say. He is by no means dead. He could very well return.
I like this open thread. It leads to possibility.

I expect quite a few DMs have extrapolated upon the terse notes available to us. Richard Pett and James Jacobs certainly did when Eric Mona set them to the task in the 3e era. Bucknard was given a new lease on life, so to speak, in Dungeon magazine in 2006, when his story was expounded upon for the Age of Worms AP.
I’ve a point of contention with this extrapolation: Bucknard is not what I’d call affable in this version, and that is decidedly at odds with original canon, however sparce it may be. Be that as it may, I’ve taken the liberty of stitching theirs in with the original canonical references.

The Citadel of Eight had disbanded.
In the mid-500s, a Wild Coast wizard named Mordenkainen quietly began to confer with several sorcerers in the Greyhawk area about the possibility of forming a group dedicated to the preservation of the Flanaess from external threats. [TAB – 60]

556 CY
Bucknard and Maralee
Forty years ago, the talented and powerful (and headstrong and stubborn) wizard [Bucknard (alias [Balakarde)] encountered the spawn of Kyuss for the first time. The resulting battle was grueling, and by the time the spawn lay dead at his feet, the ravenous worms had claimed the life of his adventuring companion and sister, a bright-eyed and vivacious woman named Maralee. [Bucknard] took his sister's death hard, and fell into a depression that lasted for two years.
[Dungeon #134 – 56]
Headstrong? Stubborn? Depressed? These are not the definition of affable.

558 CY
He emerged changed for the better (or so his friends supposed) and went on to become one of the most powerful wizards of his generation.
Yet [Bucknard] never forgot the terror and despair of his sister's death. He vowed to do something about it, and when he reached the peak of his powers, he did. Abandoning his responsibilities, his work, and his friends, he dedicated himself to one task — destroying Kyuss. [Bucknard] hoped to spare others the pain the Wormgod's spawn brought him by eradicating all remaining trace of Kyuss’ cull.
He soon realized that there was something larger than scattered cultists afoot. [Dungeon #134 – 56]

570 CY 
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]
It is obvious that Mordenkainen would see Bucknard as a potential member of the Fellowship he wished to create. Bucknard is one of the Flanaess’s most powerful magi; why else would he be compared to quasi-deities, as Mordenkainen is.

571 CY
Over the next year, Mordenkainen invited some of the most prominent magi in the Flanaess to join him. 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]

The Yatil Mountains
The Circle in those early days worked to check the power of influential beings in Eastern Oerik. When they could not directly intervene, they sponsored groups of adventurers, as in the sacking of Iggwilv's former haunt at the Tsojcanth Caverns in the mid-570's. Whether or not those agents always knew who set them upon their quests is a matter of some debate.
[LGJ#0 – 6]
This ties into the above speculation that Bucknard might be involved in the later expeditions to Tsojcanth.
Privately, members of the Circle explored fantastic corners of Oerth, including the strange and foreboding City of the Gods, near Blackmoor, further depths of Castle Greyhawk, and even the manifold layers of the infernal Abyss. More importantly, through their own adventurers and the exploits of those related to them, the Circle began to formulate what soon would become one of the most impressive networks of informers and agents the Flanaess has ever known. [LGJ#0 – 6]

571 – 578 CY
Bit by bit, he uncovered evidence that the cult of Kyuss was very much alive and working to bring about a terrible apocalypse. [Bucknard]'s fears and rage grew, but instead of relying upon others for aid, he grew paranoid and secretive. He trusted only a few, and even to them he gave only hints of what he’d discovered, fearful of just how deeply Kyuss' taint had reached. [Dungeon #134 – 56]

576 CY
Jallarzi moves to the Free City.
Later travels brought her to Greyhawk. There, under the tutelage of Tenser, she became the youngest mage ever inducted into the Society of Magi. [LGJ #0 – 8]
Skye the Lion is born.
Hiding behind a stack of barrels is 9-year-old Skye (“the Lioness”), already a 2nd-level wizard [.] If rescued, Skye tells the PCs she is a special student of Jallarzi’s, coming to her house every few days for lessons that Jallarzi gives in her messy, brightly lit bedroom/study on the third floor. [Rot8 – 14]
See above….

579 CY
Kyuss, Lord of Worms
In the months leading up to his disappearance, the wizard [Bucknard] became obsessed with Kyuss and the Age of Worms. As he learned more about the ancient prophecies, be also grew increasingly paranoid, to the extent that he ceased confiding in close friends like the archmage [Tenser]. He told no one of his discovery of the sinister connection between the Ebon Triad and the cult of Kyuss, nor did he divulge his theory that the Ebon Triad itself seemed to have been founded in the town of Alhaster. His research led him there, where he attempted to contact a woman named Lashonna, one of Prince Zeech's most trusted advisors and the foremost authority on the town's occult affairs.
Unable to secure an audience with Lashonna when he first arrived, [Bucknard] began his own investigations into the cult, investigations that led him to believe that a hidden shrine of the Ebon Triad (perhaps the original such shrine) existed somewhere under the town of Alhaster. What he discovered was something far more than a simple shrine — he discovered the Well of Triptych Knowledge, the site where ancient minions of Kyuss known as avolakia first developed the Ebon Triad as a sort of '"cover cult” for their own nefarious ends, [Bucknard] was unable to fully explore the complex, before he encountered a potent magical creature the avoloakia had nurtured to serve as a “mock aspect" of the Overgod the Ebon Triad so desperately sought to create.
As he fled, [Bucknard] ordered his own guardian to remain behind in the Well's entrance room, in the hope that if the Triad discovered the well, they would be destroyed by what he left behind rather than retain access to such a potent and dangerous ally.
Given a few more months, or even weeks, [Bucknard] would certainly have discovered the fact that Lashonna herself was much more than a mere advisor to the Prince of Redhand. She is, in fact, a vampiric silver dragon whose allegiance to Kyuss stretches back over 1,500 years. Once allied with a reclusive sect of druids who fought against Kyuss, Lashonna was captured and transformed into a vampiric minion of the Wormgod by Dragotha, the undead dragon who served as Kyuss’ voice and proxy. Over the next several centuries, Lashonna succumbed to the Wormgod's evil taint and became Kyuss’ most powerful priest. And as her devotion to Kyuss grew, so did her hatred and jealousy of Dragotha, While she did most of the work organizing events for the Age of Worms (including the foundation of the Ebon Triad with the aid of the avolakia of the Wormcrawl Fissure), Dragotha was content to remain in his lair. Now that the Age of Worms is imminent, one of Lashonna's final steps is to remove Dragotha from the equation so that she can take his place at Kyuss' side.
When she returned to Alhaster and learned of [Bucknard]'s discovery of the Well of Triptych Knowledge, she immediately realized he was a perfect patsy for testing Dragotha's strength. She agreed to meet with him and fed him enough knowledge about Dragotha's connection to Kyuss that [Bucknard] eagerly set off to the Wormcrawl Fissure. [...] Meanwhile, Lashonna learned much of her enemy by scrying upon [Bucknard] during his last adventure. She now feels she can defeat Dragotha by sending a properly armed party of adventures into his lair.
In the intervening years. Lashonna used her pawn Zeech to see to the construction of a huge ziggurat. Her use of dream spells and her subtle manipulation of their conversations has convinced Zeech that the construction of such a monolith would guarantee him a righteous place at Hextor's side, when in fact it simply serves as a foundation for the manifestation of a new Spire of Long Shadows, the last component necessary to bring Kyuss back into the world and begin the Age of Worms. [Dungeon #131 – 50]

580 CY
It was thus an ironic twist of fate that led [Bucknard] to Lashonna. In his obsession with Kyuss, he failed to recognize the mark of Kyuss on the woman's soul, and blindly followed her advice and clues into the Wormcrawl Fissure, where Dragotha captured him and tormented him for months. Eventually, the hateful dragon revealed a final depravity to the wizard; he recovered the remains of Manilee's corpse and had transformed her into a Kyuss Knight. It was at the hands of his undead sister that [Bucknard] breathed his last, and in death his soul shattered. [Dungeon #134 – 56]

581 CY
Jallarzi Sallavarian was invited to join in 581 CY, replacing the much esteemed Bucknard, who had mysteriously vanished two years earlier.
[LGJ#0 – 6]
In 581 CY Jalarzi Sallavdlian replaced the powerful wizard Bucknard, who vanished in 579 CY while exploring an unknown demiplane. His fate is not known. Bucknard was fairly young when he disappeared but he was rumored to have become an archmage and was well-known in royal courts from Keoland to Nyrond. [PGtG – 23]

585 CY
[Skye the “Lioness”] is 9-year-old […], already a 2nd-level wizard [.] Skye is a special student of Jallarzi’s, coming to her house every few days for lessons that Jallarzi gives in her messy, brightly lit bedroom/study on the third floor. [Rot8 – 14]

595 CY
Bucknard's Ghost
Long dead, his soul shattered into three fragments, the tripartite ghost of the archmage [Bucknard] has lingered here for a decade and a half awaiting absolution and a chance to finish the job he attempted long ago. […]
[Bucknard] can answer almost all of the questions […] about Kyuss, Dragotha, and the Age of Worms. The most important piece of information he can share […] is the fact that Lashonna is in fact one of Kyuss' greatest minions, second only to Dragotha himself. Whenever [Bucknard] speaks of Dragotha, his features twist in rage — he seethes with a need for revenge against the undead dragon for what he did to his sister Maralee. [Dungeon #134 – 70]

What can I say about this? Is this an epic journey for Bucknard? It is.
“To die will be an awfully big adventure.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan
But it also paints him as a far more impulsive, and potentially rash soul than the prior, short, far more open, study.
He’s tragic in this 3e AP. And he meets a tragic end. Indeed, it’s even Shakespearian, in a Lovecraftian sort of way; it also makes him the least of the Circle of Eight, in my opinion. He’s heroic, yes; but his end is less effective in his failure than was Otiluke’s, who gave his life in the defense of his fellows and his city.

All things considered, I prefer the first history. Jallarzi’s falls in love with an affable Bucknard in it. And why not; he’s young, and full of life, unlike the somewhat dour and altogether serious Circle members when he disappeared. Why wouldn’t he catcher her eye, considering the company?
But that’s me.
My preference allows for greater possibility, to my mind. Obviously. He's alive in the first.
Consider this:
The Colourless Mage of Perrenland
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.
[A6 Die, Marquessa, Die!, by Calos Lising, from caslEntertainment]
And consider the “Colourless Mage of Perrenland” as Bucknard, returned from his travels with esoteric knowledge….
What, do tell, would you make of that?

I expected when I began that this would be a short piece. (You’d think I should know better, by now.) How much could there possibly be on Bucknard, I asked myself? A few lines, at most, I thought; no more than a couple hours’ work, a page or two. This will be easy! Piece of cake. But things being what they are in the Greyhawk setting, Bucknard refused to be reined in, as you are witness to.
I’m pleased, though. Pleasantly surprised. This was more fun than I imagined it would be. But isn’t that the way when you leave no stone left unturned.

What's with the sword?
Eva Widermann depicted him with one, and her art inspired Athos of Dumas' Three Musketeers.
Does the sword conflict with canon? Not a jot. Who's to say that Bucknard didn't dabble with a poniard or two before taking up magic in earnest?

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:
Bucknard's Everfull Purse, by David Wise, from AD&D Trading Cards, 1992
Yatil mountain, by Stephen D. Sullivan, from S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, 1982
Alhaster, by Eric Deschamp, from Dungeon #131 supplement, 2006
Lashonna, by Eva Widermann, from Dungeon #134 supplement, 2006
Alhaster detail, by Eric Deschamp, from Dungeon #131, 2006
Jallarzi Sallavarian, by Sam Woods, from Living Greyhawk Journal #0, 2000
Bucknard's Ghost, by Eva Widermann, from Dungeon #134, 2006

1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
1043 The City of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1989
9031 The Rogues Gallery, 1980
9038 S4 The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth, 1982
9576 Return of the Eight, 1998
9577 The Adventure Begins, 1998
9578 Player’s Guide to Greyhawk, 1998
11743 Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000
Living Greyhawk Journal #0, 2000
Dragon Magazine 71, 82
Dungeon Magazine 131, 134
A6 Die Marquessa Die!, casl Entertainment, 2017
Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda

Friday 19 August 2022

On Dullstrand

“Colonialism. The enforced spread of the rule of reason. But who is going to spread it among the colonizers?”
― Anthony Burgess

The Dullstrand Docks
Dullstrand. It’s a little-known port on the Aerdi Sea, of little consequence, and little interest to most. But is it?
Perhaps the proof is in its name: Dull, stranded upon its rocky shores. Could such a place be of consequence? Of interest?
It is. It, like so many other places of little consequence and interest, has played its part in the creation of the present. Important events occurred here. None heralded. None noted in the annals of the great kingdoms that have risen and fallen; overlooked by anyone who didn’t live there. Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe that’s why it carries on, ignored by those who concern themselves only with those places that matter.
Does Dullstrand matter? Perhaps it does. It has guarded the underbelly of the Great Kingdom, fought pirates, wars, supplied ships of trade, and sheltered those very same ships from the storms that roil the seas and lash the coast it perches upon.
For all its service, it was left to languish, far removed from more valuable centres, and left, ultimately, to fend for itself. It is little wonder that it seizes what opportunities arise, and distrusts those who declare they have its best interests at heart.
Dullstrand (Pop 5,500)[Folio – 22/FtAA – 58]
Small independent towns such as Dullstrand, Dustbridge, and Knurl, which have little overall political effect, are excluded in this gazetteer though they do trade with, raid, or otherwise interact with the outside world to some degree. [LGG – 17]
Excluded, but mentioned, as they do play a part in the greater narrative of other places.

But some are referenced enough to get a feel for them.
Dullstrand, we discover, is a rough and tumble place, as most ports of call tend to be; more so, perhaps, considering its independent nature.
Rough and Tumble
Thugs are most common in major trade cities, particularly seaports and river towns where thieves are common, protection rackets are well entrenched, and large shipments of valuable goods exist to be protected or hijacked. If the city has a general alignment that is not Good, thugs are all the more likely to exist. Within these parameters, thugs are frequently seen in the cities of Greyhawk, Dyvers, Safeton, Nanvell and Hardby, as well as in other major cities of the Wild Coast and Pomarj, the Hold of the Sea Princes, the former Great Kingdom (especially along the rivers and coasts), the Sea Barons, the Lordship of the Isles, Dullstrand and Iuz’s Empire (especially in the Bandit Lands).
[PGtG – 59]
One would expect pirates and smugglers. Bandits and brigands. But those are few and far between, if not entirely absent. The city fathers—some weaned from those very pursuits—don’t tolerate such behaviour; or don’t unless they get a piece of the action. And so long as they do it at a distance. It’s not like they can stop it, after all: the Heights are pocked with caves and caverns, the coast incised with inlets and coves and scattered with reefs, atolls, and islands, great and small.

Where is this inconsequential independent town, you ask? Betwixt Sunndi and the Duxchan archipelago, clinging to that rocky coast that begins as the Hestland Highlands and ends in the Tilvanot’s Spine Ridge, where the Choke River tumbles and spills out into the turquoise expanse of the Aerdi Sea.
Aerdi Sea: The reach of water from the Tilva Strait to the northern tip of Asperdi Island, as far west as the islands beyond Spindrift Sound, and generally demarked by the islands which border the east coast of the Flanaess is referred to as the Aerdi Sea. Much seafaring takes place upon these waters, and many monsters are found upon and under its waves. [Folio – 20]
Spindrift Sound: In these waters are fought some of the fiercest sea actions, for when Sea Barons and ships of the Lord of the Isles meet, no quarter is ever asked or given. Unknown pirates and buccaneers frequent these waters also, and it is a lively place indeed. [Folio – 20]

The Southern Seas

Oljatt Sea:
The blue-green tropical waters east of the Duxchans, south of the Lendores, and north of Hepmonaland are known as the Oljatt Sea. This region of the Solnor is believed to be extremely deep and is known to be inhabited by sea monsters able to drag down solitary merchantmen with ease. Ships voyaging into the Oljatt are known to chain themselves together, with men-at-arms ready with pikes and bows to drive off giant octopi and sea serpents. Sharks of unbelievable size trail convoys in hopes of stealing scraps from a fight; giant crocodiles from the saltwater Pelisso Swamp do likewise near that area. Ships from the Lordship of the Isles and Scarlet Brotherhood sail here freely, hunting down vessels from other realms that dare invade "their" territory. Hobgoblin pirates are noted near Hepmonaland. [LGG – 149]

Hestmark Highlands: These long broad hills form a barrier between eastern Sunndi and the Aerdi Sea. The remoteness and ruggedness of these hills made them an ideal refuge for the disaffected from surrounding states for centuries, particularly during the depredations of the Ivid overkings. This isolation has increased since the fall of Medegia, as expeditions south of the Thelly river have become too costly for the Aerdi to mount. East of these hills, along the coastline, lies the independent port of Dullstrand, which has an informal alliance with the men and dwarves of the hills and also sends goods to Sunndi. [LGG – 145]
The Highlands themselves are very barren, with a thick, brackenlike plant choking all other fauna in many places, and polluting drinking water in the bargain. The traveler here is well advised to bring many waterskins and a tarpaulin for collecting dew and rainfall. [FtAA – 58]
[T]he Kingdom of Sunndi is wetter than the Ahlissan Principality of Naerie to the west, thanks to the Hollow Highlands, but is drier than Dullstrand and old Medegia, thanks to the Hestmarks. [PGtG – 8]

Barren above, but not on the shelf itself.
Dullstrand is a tropical port, stiflingly hot in summer, tolerable in winter, and wet at any time. Indeed, innumerable rivulets and streams discharge from the Hestland’s heights, their rain dancing like diamonds in the morning sun. Dullstrand is paradise. Its narrow forests are dense, lush, a panoply of every green you could imagine. Its narrow streets are replete with gardens, unparalleled by the richest courts, who envy the palette of colours even the lowest-born window boxes boast. Orchids flourish. Brooks babble. Palms sway in breezes that never abate, gently most days, but bending terrifically when the storms crash onto its shores. When they do. Despite claims otherwise, they rarely do.
The climate is very warm but temperate, with much rainfall throughout the year, especially in the winter; snow is unknown, and freezing temperatures are a sure sign that foul magic is afoot. [LGG – 110]
The climate of these islands is very tropical, and stifling warmth and humidity persists almost year round, save in the late summer months when the great tropical storms that sweep in from the Oljatt are not uncommon. [LGG – 70]
The coasts usually receive more rainfall and remain cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter than inland areas. Several areas have subtropical conditions, during which in summers are relatively dry but winters bring considerable rain. These areas include the Hold of the Sea Princes, the Pomarj, Onnwal, Idee, the Vast Swamp, Dullstrand, the northern Lordship of the Isles and the Spindrift Isles. [PGtG – 8]

Perched precariously as it is on such a narrow strip, one wonders how it ever came to be founded. By whom. And why?
Because there was need that it should be, that’s why.

-216 CY
The Solnor Coast
Long centuries ago, the Aerdi came to the coast.
When the Aerdi completed their drive to the eastern coast of the Flanaess nearly a millennium ago, it became clear to most of them that their journey had finally come to an end at the shore of the Solnor. Their first permanent settlements were soon founded along the coast of the Aerdi Sea, between Pontylver at the mouth of the Flanmi and the Gull Cliffs in the north. After decades of battle with the native Flan and treacherous Suel, the Aerdi noble houses sought a place to call their own, and these places included settlements at Roland, Ountsy, and the largest of all at Rel Astra, the site of a small abandoned Suel settlement. In 428 OR (-216 CY), these small states finally united under a single banner, and the kingdom of Aerdy was born. [LGG – 93]

One might say they were a martial people. And ambitious. They wished to carve out a home for themselves after having trekked across the whole of the Flanaess. They were ruthless in doing so.
The Great Kingdom (Kingdom of Aerdy): chaotic evil, lawful evil; Oeridian 01-20, Common 21-99, Suloise 00. [Dragon #52 – 20]

In 428 OR (-216 CY), the scion of House Garasteth, Lord Mikar, became the first grand prince (equal to a king). He ruled a land now called the kingdom of Aerdy ("aer" meaning "sky" in Old Oeridian). [LGG – 23]

Old Aerdy East (former Great Kingdom)
The Oeridian Aerdi
The lands south and east of the Rakers and north of the Vast Swamp, off to the Solnor coast, were once the heartland of Aerdy, the Great Kingdom. These lands are rich and their climate pleasant, though long years of civil war and oppression have damaged the economy. Many orcs and goblinoid races live among the numerous, warlike Oeridians here.
[LGG – 4]

[T]he most powerful of all Oeridian tribes, the Aerdi, reached the Flanmi River. From there they spread outward again, conquering indigenous peoples and fellow migrants alike. In time, the kingdom of Aerdy ruled the whole of the eastern Flanaess and moved its borders westward. [LGG – 14]

The Aerdi made their capital in Rel Astra, and spent the next few decades conquering the neighboring Flan and driving the Suel to the south. Due to the cooperative effort of the various Aerdi tribes settling in the Flanmi basin, they expanded quickly. First they conquered the Flan's crumbling kingdom of Ahlissa in the southwest, then swept north to contend with other Oeridian tribes who had settled the Flanaess behind them. [LGG – 23]

c. –9 CY
Theirs was not the only kingdom then. Indeed, there were other Oeridian Kingdoms to contend with: Lum’s, and Leuk-O’s, among other petty kingdoms, some more worrisome than others. And some were worrisome indeed.
Leuk-O’s evil outlived his long years. He had opened a gate that had all but closed, and it throbs even today, spreading a black cancer each time it waxes. It was around this time that the last contact between the inhabitants of the Belching Vortex of Leuk-O and the hill folk of what are now called the Hestmark Highlands occurred.
The folk of the Hestland Highlands hold many secrets, but perhaps none so enigmatic as the great portal known colloquially as the Belching Vortex of Leuk-O. Named for an ancient Oeridian general who is said to have entered the place and emerged with unheard of treasure. The Vortex appears as an undulating black, leprous membrane set against a sheer cliff face on the mountain known as Vashal-Tul in the language of the dwarves who once made their homes in the craggy hillsides nearby. In the days before the Kingdom of Aerdy, a small band of hill folk established a small colony at the foot of the membrane, which ancient texts refer to as a smooth opalescent barrier, soft to the touch but impenetrable even by magic. At some point, however, the gateway degraded, as did the village. Now, little more than eroded foundations can be found at the site, along with the time-buried remains of a people set upon by a terrible wasting disease. Leuk-O is said to have fallen victim to this illness, which caused his skin to turn sallow and his hair to fall from its roots.  Those who have visited the Vortex […] report a wasteland bereft of animal of plant life. Occasionally, it is said, the black membrane opens suddenly, expelling an invisible gas that can strip flesh from a man’s bones. [LGJ#1 – 6]

1 CY
Nuisance or not, worrisome or otherwise, they all fell in turn.
In the year 645 OR (1 CY), Grand Prince Nasran declared universal peace in the empire, taking the new title of overking. Nasran was by all accounts a wise and dutiful ruler, and few openly begrudged him his claim. However, it quickly became clear to all the noble houses of the Aerdi that power in the Great Kingdom was being centralized in the hands of the rulers of Rauxes, and that the fortunes of the Great Kingdom would now rest with them. [LGG – 23]
Settlers flocked to the plains, the coasts. And with them the faith of the Oeridan peoples.
The Holy Censor was originally the chief cleric of the Great Kingdom. Clerical holdings were granted from Rel Astra to Pontylver south of the Mikar and Flanmi Rivers, including a portion of the Imperial Preserve (Grandwood Forest). This fief became so strong as to be virtually independent when the Malachite Throne went into decline. [Folio – 12]

Early 1st Century CY
An Aerdian Empire
Until Pax Aerdia rested over one and all.
But for all their inland might, the Aerdi had never tamed their coast ore the sea.
It was only a matter of time before they would.
Early in the history of Aerdy, when the Aerdi expanded west from their holdings in the Flanmi basin, little attention was paid to naval pursuits in the Solnor. Most of the islands off the eastern coast of the Flanaess were either inhabited by Flan natives in the north or Suel colonists in the south, and these peoples posed little threat to the expansion of the dominant Aerdi on the continent. It was only centuries later, after the founding of the Great Kingdom, that the overkings sought to extend their dominion to the seas. [LGG – 99]
Of course, there were those there who had no wish to be blessed by Pax Aerdi.
The overkings colonized the islands off the eastern coast of the Flanaess, but standing in their way were the Flan and Suel inhabitants who had controlled these islands and plied the surrounding waters for centuries. For the most part they were no match for the Aerdi, and the isles of the Sea Barons were settled quickly. None of these maritime powers and their natives were more powerful than the Duxchaners of the Oljatt Sea. 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]

Taming the East was not easy. Had the Aerdi been more able at sea the task might have proven easier, but they weren’t, and the Duxchaners were.
None of these maritime powers and their natives were more powerful than the Duxchaners of the Oljatt Sea. 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]

166 CY
Following a particularly terrible attack on Pontylver, during which the shipyards were set ablaze, Overking Erhart II was determined to put an end to the marauding. In 166 CY, he committed the combined navies of the Great Kingdom to breaking the power of the Duxchaners. Old Baron Asperdi's young but powerful naval force from the Sea Barons was brought to bear on them, led by Lord Admiral Aeodorich of House Atirr, then accorded the finest naval captain of the time. The town of Dullstrand was specifically founded to act as a base of operations for the invasion of these southern islands by the Aerdi fleet. [LGG – 71]
An Ideal Site
The East “tamed,” the Aerdi set about solidifying their hold. Ports and forts sprang up along the coast, and maybe more importantly, lighthouses, to guide the way. There was never more need of them along the Hestlands. Rocky. Windswept. The passage sprouting with rocky outcrops, sandbars, and reefs. Dullstrand was chosen as an idea sight. Its sound was treacherous, and yet its barrow expanse was resplendent with fruit—coconuts and plantains, bananas and dragonfruit, and kiwis; and others, like the durian, sweet to taste yet foul to smell—, its cliffs rife with seabird nests. And most importantly, the Choke river afforded a treasure more valuable than gold upon the sea: fresh water. Paradise found, dispatches declared!
Its string of islands and ragged cliffs were soon dotted with Dullstrand’s lights.
Most who flocked to its shores were the Aerdi, and those Suloise who had fished its banks for generations.
Great Kingdom: OS [Dragon #52 – 18]

168 CY
The East Tamed
Within two years of hotly fought battles in the Aerdi Sea, Atirr and his armada, which was outfitted with mages and powerful clerics of Procan, finally defeated the Duxchaners and their allies at the Battle of Ganode Bay.
[LGG – 71]
With the naval power of the Sea Barons at the fore, the Aerdi captured the Lordship of the Isles in 168 CY by defeating the Suel of Duxchan. [LGG – 100]
A puppet was put in place, and the Aerdi congratulated themselves that none could withstand their might for long, forgetting how long it had actually taken.

213 CY
With none left to conquer, it was only a matter of time before the Great Kingdom, having grown fat, became increasingly decadent. And inattentive. Before long, their possessions dreamed dreams of self-determination.
From 213 CY on, the Aerdi overkings grew lax, caring more for local prestige and wealth than for the affairs of their vassals in distant lands. This period was called the Age of Great Sorrow. [LGG – 14]

446 CY
Their dreams of self-determination waxed as the Great Kingdom’s attentiveness waned. Their newfound desire for increased independence did not go unnoticed.
In 446 CY, the herzog granted an audience to representatives of Irongate, who went to Zelradton to air their grievances. The offer turned out to be a ruse, and the ambassadors were imprisoned, tortured, and executed for Overking Ivid's enjoyment. The whole of the south arose again in violent rebellion, and one year later formed the Iron League and allied with Nyrond. [LGG – 24]

447 CY
Irongate, Onnwal, Idee, Sunndi, and the Lordship of the Isles declared independence from the Great Kingdom, witnessed by ambassadors from Nyrond and dwarf nobles from the Glorioles, Hestmark Highlands, and Iron Hills. This was followed by the formation of the Iron League by Irongate, Onnwal, and Idee in late 447 CY. [LGG – 57]
Dullstrand found itself surrounded, and isolated.

448 CY
Letters of Marque
The overking in Rauxes quickly issued letters of marque to the Sea Barons, designating the ships of the Lordship of the Isles as targets for any Aerdi vessel.
[LGG – 71]
Inland, Sunndi was a battleground; to sea the Sea Barons and the ships of the Lordship clashed.
And Dullstrand found itself in an awkward position as ships from their overking and their neighbours, the newly christened Iron League weighted anchor in their waters for repairs, for water, for respite.
Small and alone, it played host to each fleet in turn, and held their tongue as to who anchored in its harbour when the other came to call.

455 CY
What could Dullstrand do? Deny one or the other? That would have spelled its doom. Neither side drummed its citizenry into their service, for if they did, who would tend to their ships when in port? Dullstrand learned to keep its own council.
Within a decade of the formation of the Iron League, human, dwarf, elf, and other nobles of the Pawluck Valley, Hestmark Highlands, Rieuwood, and Glorioles Mountains rose up against the occupiers, liberating Sunndi in a short but brutal uprising still remembered with bitterness in Ahlissa. In 455 CY, Sunndi officially joined the Iron League. [LGG – 110]

488 CY
In 448 CY, the Sea Barons suddenly gained sole authority over naval pursuits in the eastern Great Kingdom, following the affiliation of the Lordship of the Isles with the Iron League. Overnight, the prince of Sulward and the baron of Asperdi became nemeses instead of rivals, with the Aerdi Sea as their field of battle. [LGG – 100]
Their squadrons protect the coasts from Bellport to Pontylver, driving off the northern barbarian seawolves, protecting the coastal sealanes, and fighting with the ships of the Duxchan Lord whether piratical or otherwise. [WoGA – 34]

The Iron League was quickly joined by the Lordship of the Isles in 448, and eventually the county of Sunndi in 455. [LGG – 58]
Dullstrand remained neutral, without ever declaring itself such, and became “independent.” None contested what was never said.

572 CY
More than a century and a half of conflict has ensued between the two powers, and while the names and faces have often changed, the contests are still hotly fought. The Sea Barons won the most recent encounter, the massive Battle of Medegia, fought in the Aerdi Sea in 572 CY. [LGG – 100]
The Sea Barons believed that Dullstrand remained loyal to the Malachite Throne. Dullstrand had always welcomed their fleets, after all. And did they now command the sea lanes?
There is particular enmity between the Sea Barons and the Lord of the Isles for rather obvious reasons. The Duxchaners are still smarting from the Battle of Medegia (572 CY), wherein the Sea Barons sank four of their warships and made prizes of three loaded cogs before they could gain safety in Pontylver. [Folio – 12]

576 CY
Was Dullstrand loyal when brigands and bandits and insurgents commanded the inland heights?
The Hestmark Highlands run northwards up the coastline of South Province from the town of Dullstrand to the mouth of the Flanmi, branching northwestwards into the Glorioles. These hills have always been a rallying point for disaffected humans, as their remote location and rugged character have enabled their demi-human inhabitants to remain free of the rule of the Overking or his minions. Many gnomes and dwarves live in the Hestmarks, and free spirited men have their villages amidst the shelter of these hills as well. [Folio – 22]
Dullstrand was as welcoming to these disaffected as they were to the Overking’s fleets. And they had always welcomed the Overking’s fleets, and his landed marines. To do otherwise would have been suicidal.
Battle-hardened Veterans
The area is well known for its precious metals and gems, and for this reason it is often raided by forces of the Overking who badly need the wealth thus obtained. Medegians, troops from the Herzog of South Province, and imperial soldiery alike probe these hills all too often.
[Folio – 22]
But the wise knew that the Medegians were not always in port.
Its inhabitants, doughty in the beginning, have become battle-hardened veterans because of these continual skirmishes and raids, and with the men and elves of Sunndi are beginning to conduct their own forays into the lowlands beyond the Hestmarks in reprisal. [Folio – 22]
Besides, gold was gold, regardless whether it originated in Sunndi or Medegia.
The independent town of Dullstrand […] and its environs proclaims neutrality in these matters, but it is probable that secret aid is given to the insurgents in the hills. Freebooters certainly find safe haven in the town, and its forges make weapons and armor which are not seen by the Overking or his men-at-arms. [Folio – 22]

582 CY
Then the War came. But it was waged far away, or so it seemed.
The Father of Obedience’s plans necessitated that he gain control of the southern waters, and this was best done by capturing an existing fleet. true to form, the Brotherhood did not attempt to conquer the islands from without. Instead, agents of the Scarlet Sign corrupted a distant While defending Irongate, and thus Onnwal, cousin to the throne and then, through their secret connections, engineered the overthrow of Prince Latmac Ranold. [Wars – 22]

During the Greyhawk Wars, the wintry Latmac Ranold was abruptly deposed and an unheralded successor immediately took his place. The Lordship of the Isles quickly became a hotbed of intrigue. [LGG – 72]
Prince Frolmar Ingerskatti 
Once the puppet Prince Frolmar Ingerskatti was securely on the throne, the Brotherhood signed him to a favorable treaty and then took over. By the Father of Obedience’s demand, Ingerskatti installed Brotherhood agents in powerful offices. Priests of the Scarlet Sign opened temples and preached to the disaffected. New laws suppressed the old nobility. In short, the Scarlet Brotherhood swiftly remade the isles in its own image.
[Wars – 22,23]
The masters of Dullstrand could only watch, and wonder….
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]
Fewer ships made port after Ingerskatti declared allegiance to the secretive Kingdom of Shar and the blockade was raised. The masters of Dullstrand could only watch, and wonder: could they be next?
They probed the seas, and even risked landing spies at Sulward and then Duxchan. Few returned, but those who did told disturbing tales:
It is clear to most that Ingerskatti is a puppet of the Scarlet Brotherhood, but little can be done about it, as these cultists are very successful at putting their operatives in key positions within the realm, deposing Oeridians whenever possible in favor of loyal Suel. Most of Ansabo, the port of Sulward, and the whole isle of Ganode are now completely under their control. [LGG – 72]

The masters of Dullstrand could only watch as the Great Kingdom attacked Nyrond, Idee, Almor, and, Sunndi, and wonder if they might not see Medegia occupy their lonely port as Osson of Chathold flit across the plains of Ahlissa.
During the wars, Osson bypassed Pontylver. A diviner among his retinue informed him that the city rulers would not come to the holy censor's aid if Osson ventured further into Medegia. The advice was correct. [Ivid – 106]

584 CY
Only later did Dullstrand learn of the oppression and atrocities that befell the people of the Lordship of the Isles.
A handful of the original Lords of the Isles managed to escape with their vessels to Dullstrand when they saw how the Brotherhood would subjugate them, but they have found little welcome there. Those who sailed northward met gleeful Sea Baron warships only too happy to sink them. The Lordship of the Isles is now wholly controlled by the Scarlet Brotherhood. [FtAA – 31]
Indeed, they would have preferred the entirety of the Duxchanders to have sailed north. But they had landed in numbers greater than their militia could have repelled.
Unexpected Refugees
The sudden fall of the Lordship of the Isles into the hands of the Scarlet Brotherhood, in Fireseek 584 C.Y. stunned all in this region. The following month a half-dozen tall ships of the Lords entered Dullstrand Bay, commanded by four of the Lords themselves. The Lords had brought along their noble families, many of their closest allies, and some of their wealth; the Lords and their followers totaled about 400. The Masters were not pleased to see the Lords' arrival, as the latter clearly anticipated taking control of the City and using it as their own domain (if not a base from which to regain their lost islands). After considerable argument and some bloody skirmishing, the Lords agreed to settle on the opposite side of the small inlet, where they quickly began building their own manors, plantations, and other buildings. The inhabitants who held farms or dwellings on that side of the inlet were moved out but given compensation, which they took with many a bitter curse.
[DUL4-01 The Gift]

Trade Increased
Otherwise, Dullstrand was largely untouched by the War. If anything, trade increased after the dust settled, as did the number of ships in harbour, if only from those ports along the Solnor.
Sunndi's economic position is difficult because of the problems of exporting the wood, metals, and ores which it can offer for trade. It is very isolated now that Idee has been subverted and conducts only minimal trade with old Aerdy cities. Trade with Dullstrand, and especially Rel Astra, is on the increase. [FtAA – 31]
And truth be told, Dullstrand needed friends and allies in this uncertain world.
[T]he town of Dullstrand, once part of Aerdy, always looked to Sunndi in a friendly way. Perhaps half of its original population of 5,500 has fled into the Hestmarks, fearful of the Lords of the Isles and the tales of madness and slaughter within the anarchic Aerdy states to the north. They are being trained by the dwarves, who are exceptional veteran troops after decades of skirmishing with Medegian and South Province troops which culminated in Sunndi's invasion. [FtAA – 58]

585 CY
The Solnor had became isolated, of late. The Great Kingdom had collapsed in on itself and had sundered. The mainland had split, becoming the North and South Kingdoms; the Sea Barons were all but independent, regardless its close familial ties to the North; Medegia had been razed by those they had always professed the greatest loyalty to; and the great cities of the sea had become independent states.
Rel Astra trades with virtually anyone. It has a fleet of six coasters and two heavy cogs for protection, and several small pilot vessels which guide foreign ships into the harbor. Ships come here from the Sea Barons, from Dullstrand (rarely), from northern Aerdy ports, and even from the barbarian lands. Initially, Drax allowed Duxchan vessels to trade, but now that he has taken stock of the Scarlet Brotherhood he no longer permits this. Even pirate vessels and a few ships which have looted, or traded with, the free Hepmonaland peoples have been known to bring their cargoes to Rel Astra. [Ivid – 97]

Thamassen Hariador
Krakenhunter is a small galleon from Vernport whose captain, Thamassen Hariador, commands a crew of 28 including two aggressive mages. Rather than turn to piracy, or throw in his lot with the rival captains of the Sea Barons, Thamassen sails the east coast seeking employment. He's happy to sail anyone anywhere, to smuggle, run slaves or contraband, or just to protect coastlines. Currently he is defending Rel Astra until the coming Harvester. Competent and trustworthy, Thamassen knows most inlets and bays along the east coast of Aerdy from Atirr to Dullstrand.
[Ivid – 163]

Ountsy is a puritanical and mean city, it has a sprinkling of visitors as all the southeastern port cities and towns do. Dullstranders sometimes trade here, likewise do men from the Darmen lands, the Sea Barons, and one or two Hepmonalanders. There is no specific foreign quarter in the city, as there is in Rel Astra. But there are hostelries and dockside taverns which cater mostly to travelers, merchants, and seafarers. Because Ountsy has a reputation as a place where the walls don't have ears, and since Ountsians are so pragmatic and uninterested in anything which smacks of the exotic or intrigue, many of them speak more freely of their travels and events across the lands than they would elsewhere. [Ivid – 102]

Medegian Lands: Most of Medegia is anarchy, with Pontylver a hellish city of ghosts and madmen. This is a dreadful, insane land of nightmare and terror. [Ivid – 26]
Outside of Pontylver, not many fiends stalk the lands. However, there are orcs, deserting soldiers, and ex-mercenaries who have taken to a life of pillaging what they can from this land. [Ivid – 104]
[R]oaming orc mercenaries are having a good time of it, especially in central lands where the opposition to them is weak and the pickings rich. The orcs have grown wily and smart, and they have altered the practice of warfare and skirmishing in Aerdy. The most famous example of this is the desertion of Prince Trellar's orcish mercenaries to the city of Pontylver in an abortive sacking of that city in Coldeven, CY 585. [Ivid – 10]

Yet Dullstrand endured. It traded as it could, prospered as it might, and yet, its populace remained ready to take to the hills and its innumerable hides should the need arise. There they could hold out for however long was necessary, as they had prepared for just that possibility for years, if not generations.

Late 580’s CY
Yet the Scarlet Brotherhood never came. Nor did Ingerskatti, for that matter. Were they stretched too thin? Were the Duxchans rife with insurgency? Or had the Aerdi Sea and Spindrift Sound become too dangerous for them to cross?
Spindrift Sound itself is navigable, but shipping is menaced by the Scarlet Brotherhood and the activities of a few pirates based on the eastern Medegian coast. Elven vessels are sometimes seen to cross the Aerdi Sea in the direction of Lendore Isle, presumably shipping from secret ports cut beneath the Hestmark Cliffs. A number of elven warships also travel to or from the Lendore Isles as escorts for passenger craft. They will certainly intercept any seagoing craft that manages to bypass the barrier of magical mist that envelops these islands. Elven ships were also sighted farther east on the Solnor by Sea Barons' ships in the late 580s, perhaps exploring or trading with distant elf colonies. [LGG – 68]

586 CY
Few ships ventured south of Dullstrand, what with the blockade.
Shulof Island
Shulof is a highly fortified port on the island of the same name. Central to the town is a building called the tower of the Eye, in which wizards use a crystal ball with clairaudience to scry Dullstrand, Rel Astra and Ountsy, reporting ship movements there to the captains of the Lordship and brotherhood vessels via sending spells. Storm wizards on this island can also send disruptive weather into the path of enemy ships. Most of the civilian population of Shulof manufactures weapons, mainly arrows and ballista bolts, while others dredge the sea floor for catapult stones. Shulof is a way station for savages and slaves from Hepmonaland; a night spent on dry land prevents attrition due to seasickness. The kesh of Shulof is Uncle Ikkens […], a grey-haired man with a meticulous attention to detail and a long history of working on the sea.
[SB – 28]
Great standing waves of water have been seen off Dullstrand; the Brotherhood is experimenting with weather-controlling magic. Many locals are fleeing the city for Rel Astra.  [FtAA – 79]
That served its port well, it turned out. Caravans trekked across the Highlands with regularity once tension cooled between Alhissa and Sunndi.
Merchant ships from Rel Astra ceased to appear in the Azure Sea after 586 CY. It is now known that the Tilva Strait has been blockaded by ships and possibly monsters under the command of the Scarlet Brotherhood and likely its puppet, the Lordship of the Isles. The seaports od Ekul and Duxchan are undoubtedly part of this blockade, though additional ports to support the effort may have been built along the Tilvenot Peninsula and even in northern Hepmonaland. This situation has led to an increase in trade along an overland corridor from the town of Dullstrand uphill to the Kingdom of Sunndi, and from there into the Kingdom of Ahlissa to Nyrond and on to the west. This trade connection has served to moderate tempers in diplomatic relations between the Iron League and Ahlissa. [TAB – 30]

587 CY
One would be wrong in assuming that the Scarlet Brotherhood did not have designs upon those eastern ports and archipelagos they had yet to usurp.
Two captains loyal to the Sea Barons were killed and replaced by agents of the Brotherhood in 587 CY. The spies were uncovered, but the Sea Barons are extremely concerned that they will be targeted by the Scarlet Ones to suffer the same fate. For that reason, they have allied with Lord Drax and the Free Cities of the Solnor Compact, keeping a close watch over the activities of their captains. [LGG – 100]
It would be safe to assume that the Brotherhood had infiltrated Dullstrand, as well, even if they had not oved against the Masters. It’s just that the Masters have always been wary of outsiders; so too the Lordship lords upon their shores, for good reason.

While the ships of the Scarlet Brotherhood dock at few foreign ports, their junior partner, the Lordship of the isles, successfully acts as a neutral intermediary; they trade with Nyrond and the Principality of Ulek; some have even entered the Nyr Dyv. [SB – 7]

589 CY
Sunndi declared itself a Kingdom. They needed a port, and made their intentions known to the Masters of Dullstrand.
Count Hazendel
After long consideration and consultation, Count Hazendel (himself of a major noble house of the gray elves) declared in Growfest 589 CY that Sunndi had forevermore severed all ties with the Great Kingdom and its successor states and noble houses.
[LGG – 111]
Sunndi chose not to join the Kingdom of Alhissa in 6104 SD; it hopes that Dullstrand will join them. The Dullstranders fear retaliatory attacks from the Brotherhood should they do this, but members of the Scarlet Sign have no such plans. Sunndi served better as a buffer between the Great Kingdom and the peninsula; it can serve as well now that the Great Kingdom is replaced by the United Kingdom of Ahlissa. A strong Sunndi is preferable to a powerful Overking at their northern border. Dullstrand’s trade can be easily restricted by Brotherhood-controlled vessels from the Lordship of the Isles—and by spies. [SB – 7]

The independent town of Dullstrand, to the east, did not join the kingdom [of Sunndi] but continues to act as its ally in deed, if not in word. Hazendel hopes Dullstrand will join eventually and become Sunndi’s main seaport to the world, though Dullstranders fear this will invite retaliation from the Scarlet Brotherhood. (Infiltration of Dullstrand by the Brotherhood is rumored but unproven; the town now trades with the Lordship of the Isles without incident). [TAB – 29]
An ally in deed, if capricious and self serving, but with Ingerskatti  no more than a day’s sail away, unsure what might befall them should they commit to Sunndi.
Attempts to get Dullstrand to join the kingdom as its only seaport have met with failure, since the town's rulers make certain demands that Sunndi will not consider. [LGG – 112]

In that same year [6104 SD], the Brotherhood fortified its closest Hepmonaland ports to help maintain the blockade of the Tilva Strait. A third was build farther south on the western Hepmonaland coast; this third port was largely created to move goods, slaves and recruits north. [SB – 7]

590 CY
Uneasy Allies
Where does Dullstrand stand, then, in these uncertain times?
As uneasy allies of Sunndi.
Hazendel also has reaffirmed Sunndi's allegiance to and support of the Iron League, though only Irongate and the rebels in Onnwal remain as members. Despite the Iron League's anti-Aerdy stance, cautious trade began with Ahlissa through Hexpools, Kalstrand, and Nulbish in 590 CY. […] Glorioles dwarves, long reluctant to cooperate with elves, have remained subject to the king by old treaties, though they have asserted their separation from other peoples at the same time they fight alongside them. [LGG – 111]
And supposedly under the suzerainty of the Kingdom of Ahlissa.
The lands south of the Thelly, down to the Glorioles and Hestmark Highlands, are currently claimed by Ahlissa but not held in force; some Sunndi units pass through here in pursuit of bandits, but it is unlikely Sunndi could take and hold this area against Ahlissa's might, if push came to shove. [LGG – 110]

It is betwixt these that Dullstrand’s caravans weave, geographically, and politically. It sides with neither, knowing that should it, the other would see fit to take measures. And it could repel neither. Nor rely on the other for aid.
Some trade with Ahlissa through Hexpools, Kalstrand, and Nulbish began in 590 CY, though Sunndi and Ahlissan army units glare at each other across the Thelly and Grayflood Rivers. [TAB – 29]

“In the end, it is impossible not to become what others believe you are.”
― Julius Caesar

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:
World of Greyhawk detail, by Darlene, from the Folio, 1980
Dullstrand map, from DUL4-01 The Gift, 2004

1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
1064 From the Ashes Boxed Set, 1992
9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
Ivid the Undying, 1998
11374 The Scarlet Brotherhood, 1999
11742 Gazetteer, 2000
11743 Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000
Oerth Journal #1, #11
Living Greyhawk Journal, #1
Dragon Magazine 57,63
Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda
The map of Anna B. Meyer