Friday, 12 August 2022

The Dullstrand Primer


“Me? I'm dishonest, and a dishonest man you can always trust to be dishonest. Honestly. It's the honest ones you want to watch out for, because you can never predict when they're going to do something incredibly... stupid.”
― Captain Jack Sparrow

Dullstrand stands betwixt a towering rocky escarpment and the sea, lone and lonely, some might think isolated. Basking beneath a persistent sun, refreshed by a restless, sultry breeze, one would expect a tropical paradise. It is. Tall palms sway. Orchids bloom with abandon the whole year long. An azure Aerdi Sea breaks upon its blinding white beaches. Ribbons and rivulets and rivers plummet from the Hestland's heights, catching the sun, the rain dancing, scintillating. Paradise indeed.
But beneath the beauty, beneath the perception of paradise, shadows cling to the crevices and caverns and sea caves of the coast. The horizon is speckled with islands and atolls, with long shifting sandy shoals and ribs of reefs. Lonely, isolated, scattered as though adrift upon a relentless current. Far removed from prying eyes. Opportunity beckons in such places, some might say. Opportunity, you grin? Don't you mean ill-gotten coin, you ask? Don't you mean smuggling and piracy?
Crevices and Caverns and Sea Caves of the Coast
Certainly, but your phrasing is such slander. Wasn't Dullstrand birthed by them? Weaned on them? What you call pirates, I call "privateers," once commissioned by the crown, more recently by the Masters of the City, gentlemen bearing "letters of marque." These are a different breed than mere pirates. They are honourable men, not miscreants. And those brave souls you malign as smugglers are merely locals applying intimate knowledge of their backyard to "resupply" their kith and kin under siege. They're heroes evading illegal blockades to access markets otherwise closed to them. 
When the crown faltered, and they found themselves encircled, not only by their piratical neighbours, but also by the Iron League and the South Province, all insisting that Dullstrand's thin strip of paradise was theirs by right, if not proximity. What then would you do, if not play haven to both, and neither, and apply those hard-won skills in the pursuit of your own liberty and survival? Come now, you scoff. You're spitting hairs, you say. Are these neighbours truly enemies, you ask? Ahlissa and Sunndi have noble reputations, both, you say. And could such a small, supposedly independent city-state stand against those that supposedly stand against it if such powerful nations truly wished to annex it, you wonder? It's still standing, isn't it?

Swashbuckling Swords and International Intrigue
Those who wish to campaign in a tropical paradise, where swashbuckling swords and international intrigue reign supreme, will be well-suited by placing their game in Dullstrand. Danger is everywhere. Caught between the South Province (Alhissa, as it has come to be known) and Sunndi; between Imperial dominion and the Iron League; between wars waged upon the Flanaess mainland and the machinations of the Scarlet Brotherhood; there is no end to the possibility for adventure. Indeed, Dullstrand is literally between a rock and a deep blue sea.

Inspiration can be found in the Pirates of the Caribbean films. Nautical adventure might be inspired by the “Master and Commander” series, by Patrick O’Brian; as well as “Treasure Island” and “Kidnapped,” by Robert Lewis Stevenson; and Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick.” Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness,” and the film “Apocalypse Now” evokes tropical possibilities.
Further inspiration can be found in the “Golden Age of Piracy”: “A General History of Pyrates,” by Daniel Defoe; “Pirates: A Complete History From 1300 BC to the Present day,” by Angus Konstrum; and “Pirates: A New History, from Vikings to Somali Raiders,” by Peter Lehr.
Might I also recommend: “Borderland Smuggling; Patriots, Loyalists, and Illicit Trade in the Northeast, 1783-1820,” by Joshua M. Smith.

Country Specific Resources:
Dungeon #10 They Also Serve...
There are none specific to the Dullstrand, but most pertinent information can be found in:
The Greyhawk Folio, The Greyhawk setting boxed set, Greyhawk Adventures, Greyhawk Wars, From the Ashes Boxed Set, Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, and Dragon magazine #52,55,57,63
Dragon #116 – High Seas
Dungeon #136 – Company of Thieves, Generic (Thieves)
For the History of the Great Kingdom, I cannot recommend highly enough the unpublished supplement "Ivid the Undying," by Carl Sargent. It can be found here, on Canonfire!

Adventures in this country include:
World of Greyhawk Gazetteer (Gold Box), Jungle of Lost Ships
Greyhawk Adventures, Diver Down
I12 Egg of the Phoenix (noted on Canonfire! It’s a bit of a stretch, but it you flip the map…)
Dragon #78 – Citadel by the Sea, Generic
Dungeon #3 – A Desperate Rescue, Generic
Dungeon #4 – Escape from the Tower of Midnight, Generic (Thieves)
Dungeon #6 – After the Storm, Generic
Dungeon #8 – For a Lady’s Honor, and Flowers of Flame, Generic (Thieves)
Dungeon #9 – The Ghostship Gambit, Generic
Dungeon Magazine #10 
Dungeon #10 – They Also Serve, Generic (Thieves)
Dungeon #11 – Kingdom in the Swamp, and The Deadly Sea, and Wards of Witching Ways, Generic
Dungeon #12 – Light of Lost Souls, and Intrigue in the Deeps, Generic
Dungeon #14 – Stranded on the Baron’s Island, Generic
Dungeon #15 – The Wreck of the Shining Star, Generic
Dungeon #16 – Vesicant, Generic
Dungeon #34 – The Lady Rose, Generic
Dungeon #39 – Last of the Iron House, Generic
Dungeon #49 – The Dark Place, Generic
Dungeon #50 – The Vaka’s Curse, Generic
Dungeon #62 – Rat Trap, Generic (Thieves)
Dungeon #66 – The Sunken Shadow, Generic
Dungeon #74 – The Scourge of Scalabar, Generic
Dungeon #97 – Blind Man’s Bluff, Generic
Dungeon #107 – Dead Man’s Quest, Generic
Dungeon #116 – Death in Lashmire, Generic
Dungeon #125 – Seekers of the Forge, Generic
Dungeon #156 – The Last Breath, Generic
Dungeon #107 – Dead Man’s Quest, Generic

- Ancient crypts of the Flan
- Sea adventures on or under the Aerdi Sea and Spindrift Sound, pirates, sahuagin
- Aquatic Elves have begun interfering with fishermen
- Smuggling arms into and aiding rebels in the Hestland Highlands and Medegia
- Scarlet Brotherhood/The Lordship of the Isles and the Sea Barons, spies in the city
- Sedition of Lordship of the Isles refugees
- Northern Barbarians raiding south

Adventures in nearby areas include:
World of Greyhawk Gazetteer (Gold Box) Werewolves of the Menowood
I1 Dwellers of the Forbidden City, Hepmonaland
S1 Tomb of Horrors, The Vast Swamp
Return to the Tomb of Horrors, The Vast Swamp
L1 The Secret of Bone Hill, Spindrift Isles
L2 The Assassins Knot, Spindrift Isles
L4 Devilspawn, Spindrift Isles (available on Dragonsfoot)
L5 The Kroton Adventures, Spindrift Isles (available on Dragonsfoot)
Dungeon #4 – Kingdom of the Swamp, Generic
Dungeon #71 – Priestly Secrets, Spindrift Isles
Dungeon #89 – Wedding Bells, South Province/Ahlissa
Dungeon #91 – Kambranex’s Mechinations, South Province/Ahlissa
Dungeon #121/Ghosts of Saltmarsh – The Styes, South Province/Ahlissa
Dungeon #123 – The Salvage Operation, Tilvenot Peninsula
The Scarlet Brotherhood
Thunder in the Earth, Hepmonaland
Fire of the Worlds Heart, Hepmonaland
Death on Black Wings, Hepmonaland
Sky of Mourning, Hepmonaland
Pray to a Different God, Hepmonaland
Shaman, Hepmonaland
LF1 The 9, from casl Entertainment, 2021, Medegia

- Oeridian Ruins and the Betching Vortex of Leuk-O (see: Kambranex’s Mechinations)
- Spy on the Lordship of the Isles/Scarlet Brotherhood
- Trade caravans into Sunndi/South Province

Dullstrand, City of:
The Great Kingdom (Kingdom of Aerdy): chaotic evil, lawful evil;
Languages: Oeridian, Aerdi, Suloise
County of Sunndi: lawful neutral, chaotic good;
Languages: Oeridian, Aerdi, Ferral
Lordship of the Isles: neutral, chaotic neutral;
Oeridian, Aerdi, Suloise, Ferral
[Dragon #52 – 20]

Rulers: Masters of the City (Oligarchy)
Resources: Seafaring technology and knowledge, shipbuilding supplies; Rare woods, spices; Foodstuffs, platinum, whale oil;
Population: 5,500 [Folio – 22/FtAA – 58]
Human 79% (SOz), Halfling 9%, Elf 5%, Dwarf 3%, Gnome 2%, Half-elf 1%, Half-orc 1% [z = Olman]
Languages: Oeridian, Aerdi, Suloise, Ferral, Olman
Alignment: CN*, CG, N, LE
Religions: Procan, Osprem, Xerbo, Norebo
[Interpolated from Dragon #52, WoGG, LGG]

One must always give credit where credit is due. This Primer 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 exhaustive.
Special thanks to Jason Zavoda for his compiled index, “Greyhawkania,” an invaluable research tool.

The Art:
They Also Serve..., by Larry Dixon, from Dungeon #10, 1988
Dungeon #10 cover, 1988
S1 Tomb of Horrors cover, by Jeff Dee, 1978
Dullstrand Heraldry, originally from World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
2011A Dungeon Masters Guide, 1st Ed., 1979
9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1981
1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
1064 From the Ashes Boxed Set, 1992
9577 The Adventure Begins, 1998
9578 Player’s Guide to Greyhawk, 1998
Ivid the Undying, 1998
11743 Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000
Dragon Magazine
OJ Oerth Journal, appearing on Greyhawk Online
Living Greyhawk Journal
Greychrondex, Steven B. Wilson
Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda
Anna B. Meyer’s Greyhawk Map

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