Friday, 25 August 2023

On Alhamazad the Wise

“Begin, be bold, and venture to be wise.”
― Horace

Alhamazad the Wise
The 2nd generation of the Circle of Eight would almost appear to be an afterthought. There is, honestly, very little written about them, especially its final two inductees. Jallarzi had the good fortune to be fleshed out in the City of Greyhawk Boxed Set. Warnes Starcoat had the good fortune to have participated in the quest for the Crook of Rao in WG6 The Isle of the Ape and is thus made mention of here and there (particularly because of his association with Jallarzi; if not for that happy happenstance, he too might have only warranted mere mention later, as well, I imagine). The most thorough missives about these new members – and the Circle, for that matter –, to my mind, is what was revealed about them in the Living Greyhawk Journal #0, and their bios in Return of the Eight, the 2nd addition adventure module that deals, however obliquely, with their introduction to that most august fraternity.
There is very little said about the final two inductees beyond those two forementioned sources.
Perhaps the least mentioned is Alhamazad the Wise.
So, who is Alhamazad the Wise? Well… he’s a wizard. And he’s wise.
Alhamazad the Wise, Wiz19: AL LN. Str 7, Dex 13, Con 10, Int 20, Wis 17, Cha 14
[LGJ#0 – 7]
Alhamazad became a member of the Circle in 585 CY and thus is one of the newest members of the Circle. A thin, elderly Baklunish man in plain robes and a simple turban, he looks like a poor wanderer during his frequent travels. He is in fact highly powerful as a mage, and has forged alliances with noble elementals and genies. His primary goals are the maintenance of modern Baklunish culture, society and power. [PGtG – 22]
Being Baklinish, we surmise that he’s from west of the Yatils, the least developed region of the setting, although, early on, that is not specifically said, if it is implied. That does make Alhamazad a bit of a mystery, doesn’t it?
Alhamazad is a thin, elderly Baklunish man in plain robes with a decorated beard and a bald head always covered by a simple turban. He often looks like a beggar or outcast, and he attracts little attention on the street. Even his magical items seem worn and mundane. He walks with a pronounced limp and uses a (magical) staff to support himself. True to his magical heritage, his is unfailingly polite and hospitable, with a strong regard for personal honor, family ties, proper conduct, civilized behavior and education. [Rot8 – 62]
Being unfailingly polite and hospitable and honorable might be a cultural fa├žade, though.
He sometimes uses questionable means to achieve important ends. [Rot8 – 62]
Later, we are told that he is from Zeif.
He has no known dwelling, though he calls the city of Zeif home. He has been encountered throughout the Baklunish lands from the southern Dry Steppes to Blackmoor‘s ruins, and in the westernmost Flanaess. [Rot8 – 62]
Beyond being Baklunish and steeped in tradition and ritual – and perhaps a bit secretive and deceptive, as well – little light is shed on Alhamazad.
His turban is telling, however. We now apply an Arabic model to the Baklunish, even if that was hardly implied originally. In fact, originally, there was a fair bit of latitude given to what the Baklunish might be.

The Baklunish

Golden-hued Skin Tines
The Baklunish people have golden-hued skin tones. Eye color is commonly gray-green or green, with gray uncommon and hazel rare. Hair color ranges from blue-black to dark brown. Ekbir, the Tiger Nomads, Ull, and Zeif typify the straight Baklunish strain.
[Dragon #55 – 17,18]
Their traditional dress does imply a middle eastern motif, truth be told.
Baklunish peoples are of two sorts. The northern branch favors bright patterns and gaudy colors. They wear gowns and robes, or else short breeks and flowing coats. The poorer folk even wear gaudy prints, although their garments are typically a one-piece coverall with whatever additional garb they can add. The southern branch likes parti-colors of a more pastel hue. Their dress is complex and full of many puffs and slashes when adorned for special events. They commonly wear rough hide and cloth when traveling or at war, with shields and banners showing clan colors. [WoGA – 14]
Indeed, except for references to the Relentless Horde (obviously alluding to Genghis Khan and his Mongol Horde (hardly Arabic, but decidedly Asiatic), little would recommend their being Arabic, or even Asiatic, at all.

Asiatic or not, what went on beyond the Yatils might shed light on Alhamazad and his origins.
The current state of affairs in the Flanaess is confused indeed. Humankind is fragmented into isolationist realms, indifferent nations, evil lands, and states striving for good. The Baklunish countries in the northwest are more powerful. [Folio – 8]
400s CY
The west is a largely humancentric world (according to the Folio); later on updated to make it a little more D&D inclusive.

Demi-humans: Doubtful
Humanoids: Few
[Folio – 9]
[Population: 1,960,000—Human 96% (B), Halfling 2%, Elf 1%, Other 1% {LGG – 4}]

Demi-humans: Few
Humanoids: Few
[Folio – 12]
[Population: 275,000—Human 96% (Bos), Dwarf 2% (hill 70%, mountain 30%), Halfling 1%, Other 1% {LGG – 66}]

Demi-humans: Doubtful
Humanoids: Doubtful but possible
[Folio – 14]
[Population: 500,000—Human 96% (Bos), Centaur 2%, Halfling 1%, Other 1% {LGG – 83}]

Tiger Nomads:
Demi-humans: Few
Humanoids: Few
[Folio – 17]
[Population: 1,628,300—Human 88% (B), Orc 10%, Halfling 1%, Other 1% {LGG – 136}]

Demi-humans: Few
Humanoids: Few
[Folio – 17]
[Population: 273,000—Human 79% (Bo), Dwarf 8% (mountain), Halfling 6%, Elf 3%, Gnome 2%, Half-elf 1%, Half-orc 1% {LGG – 115}]

Demi-humans: Doubtful
Humanoids: Doubtful
[WoGA – 43]
[Population: 1,628,300—Human 88% (B), Orc 10%, Halfling 1%, Other 1% {LGG – 136}]

Alhamazad’s world was, by and large, a human one. One in which Zeif dominated one and all.
The Sultanate of Zeif is the largest single nation of the Baklunish. […]
Zeif's broad southern border is the open plain, still dominated by the uncounted tribes of Paynims.
The Paynims roam freely across the border, for many are mercenaries in the service of the sultan's armies and so are seldom questioned. […]
Sea trade is vitally important to Zeif, and her coastal cities are by far the most prosperous. The greatest merchant fleet in the western Flanaess is that of Zeif. […] [LGG – 136]
It would appear that orcs and half-orcs play a very different role in the west than they do in the east.
Zeif has a significant minority of orcs and half-orcs, the distant descendants of nonhuman mercenaries used by the old Baklunish Empire before the Invoked Devastation. These tribeless nonhumans have become fully integrated into the state, though most are within the lower class. A number of noted generals and spies of Zeif were obviously half-orcs. [LGG – 136]

Zief, however vast, was even larger than it is now.
Tusmit has been an independent nation for almost two and a half centuries. Originally a province of Zeif, Tusmit came to be dominated by the caliphate following the Nomad Intrusion of Ekbir. [LGG – 115]
The state of Tusmit is maintained through the crafty playing off of one neighbor against the other - Ekbir against Zeif, Zeif against Paynim nomads, Paynims against Ket, and so forth. By such careful diplomacy, Tusmit maintains her rich holdings south of the Tuflik and avoids costly warfare of an open nature. [Folio – 38]

Ekbir, Zeif's Rival
If Zeif were to have a rival, it would be Ekbir.
The city of Ekbir and the coastal areas of the caliphate are mild and pleasant year-round. The interior of Ekbir is another matter, for the winters there can be quite severe. The Hadash River marks an unofficial boundary between the settled and wild lands of the caliphate. The country is quite fertile, and the interior is almost purely agrarian. The people are very devout for the most part, though few here could be described as zealots. […]
Ekbir's military is more than sufficient for the defense of the realm [….]
[F]ollowing the Nomad Intrusion [in 2975 BH], the borders of Ekbir were closed to large groups of pilgrims or other wanderers. The nation took a decidedly more aggressive stance toward its security, assuming control of Tusmit from the sultanate in the process. Teachers and administrators were sent to Tusmit to help organize the necessary social reforms in the new protectorate, but the obstreperous nobles (many of whom had supported the successors of the grand mufti of the Yatils) resisted every effort made by the Ekbiri. Finally, the pasha himself was forced to compromise with the nobles, and Tusmit was declared an independent state [.] [LGG – 43]

The Crossroads Between East and West
However important Zeif might be in the west, trade revolves around Ket.
Ket has long been the crossroads between east and west, resulting in a mixture of peoples and traditions, but it is the Baklunish heritage that has remained dominant. […]
Through most of the fifth century CY, Ket was at peace with her neighbors, though border disputes with Bissel and skirmishing with the Paynims was not uncommon. [LGG – 67]

Tiger Nomads. These herders and hunters roam freely across the steppe south of the Burneal, trading with the folk of Ekbir and Perrenland, as well as the Wolf Nomads to the east, and the Chakji tribes of the northern coast beyond the border of the Black Ice, They are also known to raid their neighbors, particularly their nomad cousins, for livestock and prisoners (who may be either ransomed or enslaved), or simply for sport. […]
Over the next century, the Tiger Nomads maintained their independence from the Wolf Nomads, but were unable to increase their territory; thus, a certain stability was achieved, despite chronic warfare. Raids into Perrenland and Ekbir continued as well, though the Perrenders became so skilled at negotiating with the nomads that often, raids would turn into exchanges of horses for liquor. [LGG – 115]

The western states such as Ket, Tusmit, and Ekbirwill often employ forces of mercenary Paynim nomads against each other or other marauding nomads. [Folio – 14]

The west, it would seem, is always in tenuous balance. Most tribes and nations showed obeisance to Zeif, even the Paynim and Tiger nomads, who might raid and trade their neighbours, or serve in their armies, whatever might suit them at any given moment. Tensions are high between nations, but they rarely war.
Peace, it would seem, rules. Mostly. Praise Istus. Or perhaps Al'Akbar.
This could be for many reasons, not all benign:
The alliance of merchants, called the Mouqollad, is perhaps the next greatest power, for they too have wealth, though no authority. Finally, assassins and spies are also plentiful in Zeif, serving any number of masters or causes. [LGG – 136]

c. 491 CY
Alhamazad the Wise was born in the Ekbiri port of Kofeh nearly a century ago. [LGJ#0 – 7]
Kofeh (pop. 29,400) [LGG – 42]
The nation's formidable war-fleet is based primarily from the capital city, though her mercantile fleet is divided almost equally between the capital and the more southerly port of Kofeh. [LGG – 42]
Kofeh is a large city by any reconning. One imagines it to be cultured and cosmopolitan; and judging by its being a crossroads and the obvious terminus of all travel down from Ket, rich beyond measure.
Alhamazad is not native to Zeif, then.
Ekbir: LN, N [Dragon #52 – 18]
Alignments: LG*, NG, LN, N [LGG – 42]
Caliphate of Ekbir: lawful neutral; Baklunish, Oeridian, [Kaoish*]. [Dragon #52 – 20]
Religions: Al'Akbar, Istus, Mouqol, Pelor, Geshtai (all state favored); other Baklunish gods [LGG – 42]

[*Common. Why did I choose Kaoish and not Aerdian? Aredian could be construed as the logical language of trade, the Great Kingdom dominating the continent; and because Ancient Baklunish is a root language on Common…
Ancient Baklunish: One of the ancestors of the Common tongue, Baklunish nevertheless bears its offspring little resemblance; this is to be expected after nearly a millenium of change, however. {Folio – 8}
But all trade traffic must pass through Ket, and Ket abuts Bissel, which was for centuries the Littlemark of the Kingdom of Keoland.
The Littlemark, or March of Bissel, was the northernmost frontier of the kingdom of Keoland c. 400 CY. {Folio – 9}
One assumes centuries of discourse would leave its mark. Granted, if you prefer that the Common tongue spoken west of the Yatils conform with the once vast Great Kingdom, have at ‘er; one can see how that might be:
{Bissel} was wrested from the latter in the Small War (Furyondy vs. Keoland) which ended Keoish influence in Veluna ( 438 CY). {Folio – 9}
Personally, I prefer that the Sheldomar Valley and its environs are in Keoland’s sphere of influence, regardless who happens to rule there. And besides, west of the Yatils 1000 years of Kaoish predominance in Bissel might trump 200 years of Aerdian GK rule.]

c. 504 CY
Alhamazad comes from a family of means. Connected. Perhaps even influential.
Who might they be, then?
When he came of age, his family sent him away to Ekbir for training in the civil service [.] [LGJ#0 – 7]
Ekbir (pop. 63,700) [LGG – 42]
Somewhat affluent, then. He could be the son of a senior government official, likely, if his family could afford to send him away. I imagine his parents were minor nobility, given they had the pull to enlist him in the civil service. Not a particularly lofty office, but respectable, and perhaps they best they could hoe for their son. If they were of higher station Alhamazad’s prospects would have been better.
If Kofeh had afforded Alhamazad all the pleasures and benefits of a cosmopolitan port city, Ekbir must have been all that and more: the seat of power and government, and faith, devout and a bastion of peace and order.
Ekbir Is the strongest city of the Bakluni in the Flanaess. […] The original village grew into a walled town, and town grew into thriving city. Ekbir controls a sizeable territory and has a large warfleet. [Folio – 9]
Ekbir is noted for proper government, trade, and agriculture [and] well-defined social order [.] While most of the rest of the Flanaess was in disorder, Ekbir was an island of stability and benevolence. [LGG – 42]

The Court of the Caliph
Alhamazad came to serve at the court of the caliph, where his aptitude for the mystical arts was recognized immediately. [LGJ#0 – 7]
His Sublime Magnificence, the Caliph of Ekbir (Cleric, 16th level) [Folio – 9]
What might Alhamazad’s position be in the court of the caliph? Probably a page. Placed there in deference to his family’s position. He was obviously still being schooled. Arcane arts were obviously a course of study. Due to his families lofty status, and deep pockets, he would only be toutered by the very best.
Alhamazad's magical training was conducted at the magical school known as the Zashassar of Ekbir, under the unforgiving Masters of the Elements. [LGJ#0 – 7]
Alhamazad is 13 years old. [Conjecture]

511 CY
Rary [of Ket] is born in Ket. [It’s not as if he was ever mentioned to have been born anywhere else…]
Rary 71 years old [CoG:FFF – 25]
Rary is of mixed Baklunish-Suloise stock [.] [CoG:FFF – 25]
[Mentioned as a comparative reference. This makes Alhamazad 20 years older than Rary.]

518 CY
How did Alhamazad fare in Ekbir [,] arguably the oldest of the Baklunish states in the Flanaess [LGG – 42]?
He sometimes uses questionable means to achieve important ends. [Rot8 – 62]
One can not then be surprised when Alhamazad rebelled.
Young Alhamazad
A hot-headed lad, he rebelled against the strictures of the place and emerged on his own as a free mage before his education was complete.
[LGJ#0 – 7]
One might think he was chaotic in temperament; but he was not: he was Lawful Neutral; and his school too could only have been typically Lawful, much like the state of Ekbir. Why then did he rebel? Was his path charted out for him once there, what to study, school of magic to specialize in, his duties afterwards? It might have, indeed; his skills appear “focused,” revolving around “summoning,” and “elemental,” spells in nature.
Regardless why Alhamazad left, he hit the road, eager to be free of dictated destiny and suffocating constraints, of possible censure for his presumably rash decision, and a-brim with youthful optimism.
Alhamazad is 27. [Conjecture]
He did not go it alone, obviously.
As a young wizard, Alhamazad traveled throughout his homeland, gaining knowledge and experience with the multiplicity of Baklunish cultures and peoples, from the Tiger Nomads in the north to the southern valleys of Ull. He explored the Yatils to pierce the secrets of the Mounds of Dawn with freebooting compatriots and sailed the warm waters of the Dramidj to lands only spoken of in myths. [LGJ#0 – 7]

520s CY
Alhamazad might be rash, and a bit of a freebooter (at least according to his tutors in Ekbir), but he was not stupid.
Alhamazad does not like hand-to-hand combat. [Rot8 – 62]
He has many defensive spells active at any time. [Rot8 – 62]
Wizards, he knew, were not warriors. Wizards surrounded by warriors were more likely to survive dangers than were they not. But Alhamazad also knew that even if surrounded by able-bodied and iron-clad fighters, injured fighters would soon be dead warriors if they were forever facing every danger encountered.
If attacked, he […] summon[s] unintelligent monsters to do his bidding. [Rot8 – 62]

Freebooting Alhamazad
As noted, Alhamazad travelled extensively with those freebooting compatriots.
The Tiger Nomads are tough and hardy horsemen who dwell on the prairies above the Yatil Montains. They are herdsmen and hunters, roaming from the Bumeal Forest to the foothills of the Yatils, the Dramidj Ocean to the banks of the Fler. [Folio – 18]
ULL: A strong tribal clan of the Paynim nomads found the rich area between the Barrier Peaks and the Ulsprue Mountains provided them with ample grazing and a perfect territory to "settle" in. [Folio – 18]

Yatil Mountains: These mountains are clustered thickly for many leagues west and south of Lake Quag. They, along with the Barrier Peaks, divide the Baklunish portion of the continent from the rest - save in the north where western nomads have pushed across the top and beyond. […] There are numerous humanoids and monsters dwelling within this range of mountains, but there are also some hardy demi-humans and mountaineers there. [Folio – 24]
Yatil Mountains: These great mountains are nearly impassable for many leagues west and south of Lake Quag. Numerous orcs, ogres, giants, trolls, and bestial monsters dwell here, even dragons, though less than in the mountains to the south. Hardy nonhumans and human mountaineers fiercely defend their mines and highland territories, as the Yatils are quite rich in ore deposits and gems. The miners (particularly dwarves) are often aided in their work by strange tunneling creatures. The Yatils have a fair body of "lost magical treasure" stories, most of which are unreliable; some, however, are disturbing for their mention of ancient lairs of evil.  [LGG – 143]
Dramidj Ocean: This body of water continues far westward. Warm currents from this direction sweep past Zeif and Ekbir and tum northwards. In winter this ocean is cloaked in great fog layers, and huge chunks of ice move about on Its waters as if they were ghost ships. [Folio – 20]
Dramidj Ocean: This body of water is actually a vast circumpolar sea surrounding the arctic continent of Oerth, called either Hyboria or Telchuria in old accounts. The portion west of the Flanaess (the only pan known well) is strangely warm, and its currents sweep past Zeif and Ekbir en route northward. Ships and sailors here are nearly all Baklunish, as their empire colonized many Dramidj isles and coasts. Mariners have encountered deadly marine puddings that cling to the hulls of ships, slowing and rotting them away from underneath. Dragons and rocs often fly from island to island. This ocean is sometimes cloaked in fog, and huge islands of ice drift about, likely from the arctic continent's rim. [LGG – 148]

Alhamazad had a great many adventures, and he met a great many wise men in his travels and learned much from them.
Following His Hints...
This subtle wizard knows much about the ancient Baklunish Empire. He knows many old ruins, and adventurers have found riches or doom following his hints.
[Rot8 – 62]
If he learned anything, it was that he was not getting any younger. Indeed, his freebooting friends were getting a little long in the tooth; and all too soon the heartiest of them began to retire from the dangers of the Dramidj and the Yatils. And before too long, he too spent less time on the road than buried in his books.
He sometimes asks for the recovery of a device, book or other Baklunish object, and adventurers are careful to see that he gets what he requests, though they may keep anything else they acquire while looking for the object. He has several times sent adventurers to Tovag Baragu […] or to mysterious islands in the Dramidj Ocean. [Rot8 – 62]
He began to be courted by many a court for his experience and wisdom. He decided he might as well make use of them as they tried to make use of him.
Years of attendant service in the courts of many local emirs and pashas alike wore heavily on the mage, and Alhamazad found himself increasingly drawn to the tenets of the Lady of Fate. [LGJ#0 – 7]
He reveres the neutral goddess Istus, Lady of Our Fate. [Rot8 – 62]
His political manipulations to maintain modern Baklunish culture, society and power usually go unnoticed. He seeks to defend his culture from “extremism,” primarily that of evil priests, cults, wizards and monsters, but also including extremes of chaos. [Rot8 – 62]

c. 540s CY
One imagines that the future sage of Zeif must have made many notable acquaintances in his travels.
Alhamazad has ties to sorcerers far to the west, across the Dry Steppes and beyond the Dramidj Ocean. [Rot8 – 62]
One wonders, then… did Alhamazad know Rary of Ket? He might have. Alhamazad could not help but know of him, could he?
Rary […] is a living legend within Ket. His sage and archmage talents are legendary, but his strange affinity with the marauding Paynim is as well-known and causes Ket folk to shake their heads in wonder. [CoG:FFF – 25]
Indeed, Rary travelled many of the same roads as Alahamazad did and met many of the same peoples.
Rary knows the history and beliefs of the Paynim in great detail, and has spent many days talking with Paynim shamans and wise men, bringing back to the wild men long-lost echoes of their ancestors, legends, and past. The Paynim thus hold him in the greatest respect, and the frequency of their raids into Ket has greatly diminished in recent years. [CoG:FFF – 25]
But Alhamazad appears to have spent most of his time in the Baklunish north, and ever more time in Zeif as he grew older, while Rary mostly ranged south; so, while it is not out of the question that they knew one another, it is also not certain. It’s not like either have ever made a point of admitting to any association with the other to anyone, ever.

553 CY
At 62, Alhamazad had not yet retired to his future sagely ways. What wizard desires such a fate while still “young”? Mysteries abound upon the oerth that never fail to entice; and one need to “mature” before considering even the possibility of unravelling some of those puzzles.
The Pinnacles of Azor’alq
which have haunted Bakluni legend for upwards of three thousand years. They have been variously described as the ancient dwellings of the gods, the protruding spires of a titanic drowned city, the monumental tombs of the near-mythical First Dynasty of the Bakluni, and the nesting place of phoenixes, rocs, or the Dramidj Ocean’s numerous dragons. [GA – 89]
[T]he Pinnacles are no more than 50 leagues from the mainland, somewhere in the angle of the Dramidj between Ekbir and Zeif. They are less frequently found than one would think, but this is perhaps accounted for by their being away from the regular shipping lanes, and by the dense fogs peculiar to the Dramidj. Indeed, the Pinnacles are often concealed by banks of fog even when those waters are otherwise clear. [GA – 89]
Few ventured there. Few dared.
Mariners regard a sighting of the Pinnacles as an ill omen, and will rarely so much as speak of them, and then only when ashore. [GA – 89]
Thus, the Pinnacles captured Alhamazad’s imagination.
Cup and Talisman of AI'Akbar
Cup and Talisman of AI'Akbar:
This pair of holy relics were given by the gods of the Paynims to their most exalted high priest […] in the days following the Invoked Devastation. It was lost to demihuman raiders and was last rumored to be somewhere in the Southeastern portion of the Bandit Kingdoms. [DM 1e – 157]
So it was assumed. So some say. Some say otherwise.
The Cup and Talisman of Al’Akbar is rumored to reside there. [GA – 89]
Alhamazad decided to find out if that were true, once and for all.
Did he discover the Cup and Talisman there? One can only guess, because he does not speak about his experience behind those banks of fog that roil around the shores of the Pinnacles. He did not come away unscathed, whatever he might have discovered there.
Indeed, whatever he found there caused him to reconsider the wisdom of his continued exploration of the mysteries of Oerth.
After a foray to the Pinnacles of Azor'alq that resulted in a fall that broke his leg in 553 CY, he retired to the city of Zeif, where he became an unofficial advisor to the court of the sultan. He has remained there ever since, gaining a reputation as a wizened old sage of Baklunish history. [LGJ#0 – 7]

Maybe the wisest thing Alhamazad learned from this experience (if not from all his travels) was not to divulge too much about oneself to others, something he has kept to heart to this very day; because there are those, he discovered, who just might wish to see for themselves if he held those fabled relics – if they had any inkling that he might, that is. So, he never told anyone about his adventure.
Indeed, most in Zeif don’t even know that he’s a wizard.
Alhamazad the Wise
Alhamazad the Wise is well known to Baklunish emirs, sultans, pashas and tribal khans, but few believe he is more than an old wizard lost in his scrolls and books.
[Rot8 – 62]
The Sultanate of Zeif is the westernmost state of the Flanaess, a portion of it extending beyond the north-south dividing line marked by the Ulsprue Range. [WoGA – 43]
Capital: Zeif (pop. 40,300) [WoGA – 43]
Zeif: LN, N [Dragon #52 – 18]
Alignments: LN*, N [LGG – 136]
Sultanate of Zeif: lawful neutral; Baklunish, Oeridian, [Kaoish] [Dragon #52 – 20]
Religions: Istus, Al'Akbar, Mouqol, Geshtai, Xan Yae, other Baklunish gods [LGG – 136]

One wonders: why Zeif? Why would he not settle in Ekbir? Was it because Zeif afforded him a certain anonymity he might not have in his homeland? Or might it be that Murad of Zeif ensured that he could lead a quiet, reserved retirement, free from the meddling of other prying eyes?
Zeif, Sultanate of: Murad, T 4/ F 13 [WoGG – 17]
Might it be that the sultan asked no questions? Or might it be that Murad had no clue who Alhamazad the Wise really was?
While he still travels broadly, he does so primarily in secret. [LGJ#0 – 7]
Alhamazad the Wise travels with a minimum of equipment, as he disdains temporal things and often travels in disguise. [Rot8 – 62]

Alhamazad certainly maintained a much lower profile than other wizards in the realms.
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. [TAB – 60]

560 CY
One wonders, did Mordenkainen know who the once freebooting Alhamazad was then? And if he did, did he ask Alhamazad to join him in his Citadel? Perhaps Mordenkainen only considered his own acquaintances for his Citadel’s membership. If he did, though, Alhamazad declined. I might add, Rary of Ket was not in that number, either.
[T]he Citadel of Eight, was a known opponent of darkness in its many guises. Its members stood, and fell, protecting the balance and defending Oerth from the influence of malign beings and, rarely, benevolent interlopers, as well. [LGJ#0 – 4]
In the years of their companionship, both Robilar and Yrag were ennobled by Greyhawk, and Riggby was promoted speedily within the church of Boccob in Verbobonc. Tenser, Bigby, and Mordenkainen likewise advanced in their own wizardly ways, gaining arcane knowledge and power. [LGJ#0 – 5]

Perhaps Rary was like Alhamazad insofar as neither had any desire to meddle in what they believed others’ business; Rary was of like mind with Alhamazad, pursuing greater knowledge, and ever greater arcane power.
Alhamazad is a known expert in the fields of summoning and elemental magicks. He is known to associate with noble elementals and is an expert on geniekind. [LGJ#0 – 7]
Rary is very much the reserved, patient, and wise old wizard of bards’ songs. He holds in his head a great store of knowledge on all subjects and is always interested in learning more. He is an expert on Paynim lore as well as a respected figure among the tribesmen. With his disdain for crude, damage-causing magic in favor of more complex and subtle spells, Rary has both impressed and alienated many of the wizard community. [WGA4 Vecna Lives! – 88]
The Citadel of Eight did not last, however.

569 CY
In 569 CY, when the first arrow flew at Emridy Meadows, the Citadel was noticeably absent. Whether investigating magical secrets far to the west or unearthing lost passages in Urnst's Maure Castle, these self-absorbed celebrities were too preoccupied to influence one of the century's most critical battles. All were absent save Serten, who fought valiantly at the side of Prince Thrommel against the hordes of Elemental Evil. When Serten fell, none of his friends stood at his side. [LGJ#0 – 5]

570 CY
Mordenkainen’s Circle followed his Citadel.
Mordenkainen the archmage […] formed the Circle of Eight as a tool to manipulate political factions of the Flanaess, preserving the delicate balance of power in hopes of maintaining stability and sanity in the region. […] In all things, the Circle of Eight prefers to work behind the scenes, subtly manipulating events to ensure that no one faction gains the upper hand. [LGG – 156]
Mordenkainen invited some of the most prominent magi in the Flanaess to join him. [LGJ#0 – 6]
The first were Bigby, Yrag, Rigby, Felnorith, Zigby, Vram & Vin, but these first came and went, never committing.

571 CY
In time, the membership of the Circle settled.
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]
Rary was one of them.
Rary was 60, Alhamazad 80.

c. 572 CY
But, did Mordenkainen approach Alhamazad to join? Who’s to say? One might think not, since Alhamazad was 81, old if not venerable; but Alhamazad has never mentioned whether he was, either way; then again, Alhamazad is closed-lipped at the best of times when it comes to his personal business.
Alhamazad speaks the common tongue with a thick accent, but is fluent in a dozen languages. He is shy and retiring in the company of others, particularly foreigners such as easterners, whom he finds clamorous. [LGJ#0 – 7]
He may not be telling, but Mordenkainen might very well have asked Alhamazad. Indeed, Mordenkainen made a point of coming to the old mage’s aid. Perhaps when the old mage needed his help most.
Mordenkainen met Alhamazad almost 20 years ago, when a crisis in Zeif drew the Archmage of Greyhawk to the assistance of the old mage. The affair ended with the departure of Alhamazad's traitorous apprentice, Kermin Mind-Bender. [LGJ#0 – 7]

Kermin Mind-Bender, ha[s] hated Mordenkainen from their first meeting. [LGJ#0 – 9]
Kermin Mind-Bender
What was Kermin up to? Whatever it was his deeds drew Mordenkainen’s attention; and both Mordenkainen’s and Alhamazad’s wrath was sufficient that Kermin had little recourse other than to seek out Iuz’s protection in the aftermath. Was he already Iuz’s agent? Perhaps. His being one would certainly had drawn Mordenkain’s interest west of the Yatils.
Kermin is Iuz's expert diviner, but he also has an affinity for mind-affecting and mind-control spells. [WGR5 Iuz the Evil – 86]
He has persuaded Iuz that trained mages will form a vital support for the priesthood in the Old One's dominion [.] [WGR5 – 86]
The sinister, dark-haired, swarthy Bakluni figure of Kermin Mind-Bender is one disliked by all the other Greater Boneheart, for all fear his power. Kermin is strong, tall at 6' 2" and well-built, his brown eyes over-shadowed by thick, bristling black eyebrows. Kermin is 60 years old, but is fit and looks considerably younger. [WGR5 – 86]

DRG#290 – 108

Mordenkainen and Alhamazad have been fast allies ever since. [LGJ#0 – 7]

570s CY
Kermin’s betrayal would have angered, and worried, Alhamazad, so much so that he redoubled his desire to safeguard his Baklunish homelands from the evils festering in the east. Even if Mordenkainen had asked Alhamazad to join his Circle, he declined.
Alhamazad's primary interest is in maintaining Baklunish culture, influence and power. [LGJ#0 – 7]
Alhamazad is an ally of Mordenkainen and knows Bigby, but is unfamiliar with the rest of the Circle. [Rot8 – 62]
This is not to say that he did not watch what was transpiring in the east.
Alhamazad is not known to have any enemies, though he is openly contemptuous of Iuz, and “disappointed” in the Beygraf of Ket for dealing with the fiend. Alhamazad regards the ancient Suel Imperium as evil beyond redemption. [Rot8 – 62]
He would have declined because he could not be distracted from keeping the tenuous balance in the west.
The relationship between Ekbir and Zeif […] is near ruin. For the [next] twenty years the sultan has sought to advance his claim as the highest temporal authority in all Baklunish lands. [LGG – 43]

576 CY
And the balance is tenuous, indeed.
Goods from Zeif and Wintershriven pass through Lopolla. [Folio – 12]
The state of Tusmit is maintained through the crafty playing off of one neighbor against the other – Ekbir against Zeif, Zeif against Paynim nomads, Paynims against Ket, and so forth. [Folio – 17]
It is likely that numbers of mercenary Paynim horsemen are also enlisted in [Zeif’s military]. [WoGA – 43]
Alhamazad is 85.

581 CY
Ever increasingly ominous events in the east would have worried the ever aged Alhamazad.
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 – 15]
Alhamazad is 90 years young.

582 – 584 CY
War had descended on the east, just as the Circle was at its weakest.
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 west was mostly spared, regardless Ket’s allying with the Old One.
The years preceding the Greyhawk Wars saw increased tension in the north, primarily due to the return of the Old One to his throne in Dorakaa. His agents visited the Tiger Nomads, proposing alliance between the two nations, but Ilkhan Cligir had little tolerance for the demigod's advances. [LGG – 115]
The decades preceding the Greyhawk Wars were prosperous ones for Ket, but early in that conflict the beygraf allowed his armies to be drawn into the fighting in the central Flanaess. [LGG – 67]
Zeif has not been directly affected by the Greyhawk Wars, beyond a decline in trade with the central Flanaess nations for several years. [LGG – 138]
This is not to say that tensions were not high.
Tension increases in the Dramidj between Zeif and [Ekbir]. Advisors express concern over contacts between the Ataphad city-states and the Tiger Nomads. Religious authorities are disturbed by tales of a new Mahdi among the Paynim tribes. [LGG – 43]

584 CY
Even as the war came to an end, the east continued to confound the aged sage of Zeif.
One wonders whether the Kermin’s betrayal rose up in Alhamazad’s mind when news of Rary’s betrayal of the Circle, so recently brought back to strength, was brought to his attention.
The treachery of Rary in 584 CY saw the destruction of Tenser and Otiluke, leaving the Circle at five. [LGG – 156]

585 CY
The time had come, Alhamazad decided, to set aside his sedentary sagely pursuits to stem the tide of evil in the east before it engulfed his beloved west.
After a successful mission to rescue one of Tenser's clones from the clutches of the infamous necromancer-witch Iggwilv, the Circle added three members, rounding out the membership. (Tenser, chafing at Mordenkainen's agenda, left the group in disgust after his rescue.) New members include the redoubtable Warnes Starcoat (N male human Wiz20) of Urnst; Alhamazad the Wise of Zeif (LN male human Wiz19); and the cold, unemotional Theodain Eriason (CN male elf Wiz17). Mordenkainen remains the ninth member, a "shadow leader" dictating his agenda to others and influencing the Flanaess through his powerful network of agents and servitors. [LGG – 156]

Human male 19th-level Baklunish wizard
Str 7, Dex 13, Con 8, Int 18, Wiz 17, Cha 17, SZ M (5’7”), AL LN
Weapon Proficiencies: Quarterstaff.
Magical Items: Alhamazad the Wise has access to caches of scrolls containing any spell up to the 6th level. Aside from his protective items, he owns several magical staves with elemental powers. He has devices for summoning genies; they never attack him, as he asks only for information and offers rich rewards.
Gridle of defence AC 0, ring of protection +3, turban of displacement +2, cloak of protection +2 [Rot8 – 62]
Spells (5,5,5,5,5,3,3,3,1): Alhamazad the Wise […] has skill with magic involving earth, air, fire and water, the elements the Baklunish recognize as the foundation of all matter [….] Alhamazad is known to use many defensive spells, such as stoneskin, protection from evil, Sertens’s spell immunity, and spell turning. [Rot8 – 62]

Better late than never.
The famed Circle of Eight […] 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]
But Alhamazad’s spending so much time in the east worries him.
Alhamazad has ties to sorcerers far to the west, across the Dry Steppes and beyond the Dramidj Ocean. He has hinted that he would like someone to visit one of these distant friends in his stead, as he is infirm these days: the path would follow known caravan routes into lands with a strong Oriental flavor. [Rot8 – 62]

586 CY
As such protection often requires defeating the plots of evil mages, cults, and extra-planar menaces, he has found common cause with the Circle of Eight. LGJ#0 – 7]
But Alhamazad did not know these mages of the Flanaess.
Mordenkainen's view of "enforced neutrality" is not tit-for-tat equality, but rather a detailed theoretical philosophy derived from decades of arcane research. He has fought ardently for the forces of Good, most recently during the Greyhawk Wars, but just as often has worked on darker plots to achieve his ends. [LGG – 156]
He kept his distance.
Alhamazad the Wise is new to the Circle and its politics and as such has kept his distance from the other mages. He is wary of Drawmij, though the two share many common interests. Alhamazad has displayed antipathy for Warnes Starcoat, though there appears to be no obvious explanation for the cause of his feelings. [LGJ#0 – 7]

The Circle of Eight
Perhaps Alhamazad was wary of them because they were of him. Perhaps when they saw him, they were reminded of Rary and his betrayal.
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]
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. He has treated coolly with Alhamazad the Wise and Warnes Starcoat, whom he views with suspicion (they, in turn, consider him a firebrand who all-too-often resorts to morally questionable methods). [LGJ#0 – 11]

Perhaps they believe him too old to be affective in his new role as guardian of the Flanaess.
Alhamazad's appearance is elderly: he is thin, frail, and walks with a pronounced limp. The mage sports a decorated beard and typically wears the plain robes of a Baklunish mendicant, donning a simple turban atop his shaved pate. [LGJ#0 – 7]
He supports himself with a staff and avoids melee at all costs. [LGJ#0 – 7]
Alhamazad is 95.
However old he may be, Alhamazad is effective.
If attacked, he curses his opponents with a wish, following this by summoning unintelligent monsters to do his bidding. He has many defensive spells active at any time. [Rot8 – 62]

591 CY
Alhamazad is 100 years young.
Although still an active member of the Circle, he has stepped back from flitting about the realms as he once did.
[Alhamazad still] calls the great city of Zeif his home [.] [LGJ#0 – 7]
Although I expect he quietly curtails the schemes of others – in the interest of peace…
The government of the current sultan has attempted to assert its authority over all the territories once held by Zeif. [LGG – 138]
… and prosperity.
The Great Western Road is well-fortified, and sees more traffic than the river. Most of this traffic flows west, anchored by caravans bound for Lopolla and the rich markets of Ekbir, Tusmit, Zeif, and beyond. [LGG – 129]
… and good government.
While most of the rest of the Flanaess was in disorder, Ekbir was an island of stability and benevolence. [LGG – 42]
He would have all the nations of the Baklunish west to be bestowed with the same good fortune.

I must say, Alhamazad is near and dear to my heart.
In many Commonwealth jurisdictions (in one of which I reside), the phrase "peace, order, and good government" is an expression used in law to express the legitimate objects of legislative powers conferred by statute. The phrase appears in many Imperial Acts of Parliament and Letters Patent, most notably the constitutions of Barbados, Canada, Australia and formerly New Zealand and South Africa. It’s in my blood. So too Alhamazad, by all accounts; indeed, if any one of any of the Circle of Eight personifies that belief, it would be him.
Alhamazad the Wise
I’m drawn to his life story arc: Born to service and affluence, he rebelled in his youth, exploring the world around him on his own terms, later devoting himself as originally intended to the service of others, not as a minor functionary, but as one of the western world’s most notable sages. (I too strapped on a backpack in my younger years, my love of history only increasing with age as I experienced the wider world around me.) We can only empathize with him in his elder years – I do, anyway. Just as he decides to embark on what he believes to be a much-deserved retirement, his world begins to explode. What does he do? Send others to fix it? No, he joins the Circle of Eight, takes up his staff, straps on his components belt, and sets out to set it right again.
What’s not to like? I just wish we had a little more lore about his younger years; the betrayal by his apprentice, Kermin; his exploits, if any, to safeguard his Baklunish world from the madness enveloping the Flanaess east; and what his fast friendship with Mordenkainen might have won.
Does Alhamazad deserve the moniker “the Wise”? I expect he does, regardless of what little we know about him.

“The wisest men follow their own direction.”
― Euripides

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:
Alhamazad the Wise, by Sam Wood, from LGJ#0, 2000
Map detail, by Darlene, from World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
Peh'reen, Zeif, by Vince Locke, from Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000
The Pinnacles of Azor’alq, by Anna B. Meyer
Cup and Talisman of AI'Akbar, from Book of Artifacts 2e, 1993
Alhamazad, by Ted Neifeh, from Return of the Eight, 1998
Kermin Mind-Bender, by Sam Wood, from Dragon #290/LGJ#6, 2001
Alhamazad detail, by Sam Wood, from Dragon #290/LGJ#6, 2001
The Circle of Eight, by Mark Zug, from LGJ#0, 2000
Alhamazad detail, by Mark Zug, from LGJ#0, 2000

1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
1043 City of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1989
1064 From the Ashes Boxed Set, 1992
1068 Greyhawk Wars Boxed Set, 1991
2011A Dungeon Masters Guide, 1st Ed., 1979
2023 Greyhawk Adventures, 1988
9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
9153 WG6 Isle of the Ape, 1985
9309 WGA4 Vecna Lives!, 1990
9399 WGR5 Iuz the Evil, 1993
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 #52,55
LGJ #0
EN World Forum
Greychrondex, Wilson, Steven B.
Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda
The map of Anna B. Meyer

1 comment:

  1. It's unfortunate that there was so little on Alhamazad. I feel that Roger Moore wanted a Baklunish member to replace Rary, but without him to guide the line and possibly push towards the West, he just fell by the wayside. I am curious on whether the Canadian or French LG Triads used him at all.

    Also, if he curses his opponents with a wish, I am wondering what his real age is, since I believe that still ages the caster by 5 years in AD&D 2nd edition.