Friday 12 January 2024

On Lord Yrag


“If you live long enough, a lot of people close to you are going to die.”
― Kurt Vonnegut Jr., A Man Without a Country

Lord Yrag Yragerne
Is Yrag Yragerne the oldest human on Oerth? He might lay claim to that.
He is not the eldest creature walking the Oerth, however. Certain others are longer “lived”: liches, aboleths, for instance, and whatever fiends that might have escaped the Flight. Come to think on it, God knows how many elves and dwarves and gnomes are older than he is. But they are not human. The Children of Johydee are older, and they are – presumably… human, that is. But one must make allowance for divine offspring, mustn’t one. I suppose there might even be one or two archmages who hold a longer shelf-life, as well.
So, I suppose Yrag is not the oldest human walking the Oerth. That said, he is rather long in tooth, by any mortal measure.
Yrag is a man of many secrets, not the least of which is his extremely advanced age. His own best estimate puts him at some 205 years old (he appears to be in his late thirties). [LGJ#2 – 8]
How might he have lived as long as he has? One wonders. Perhaps his history might shed some light on that. It surely should, shouldn’t it?

History precedes him. It precedes us all.
305 CY
Zagig Yragerne
In 305 CY, [a group of adventurers] led by a crafty young wizard of the Landgrafdom of Selintan […] navigated [Lyzandred the Mad’s] riddles and defeated many of his guardians. […] The lich conversed with them through a projected image before dismissing all save the wizard, whom he saw as having great potential. The mage was Zagig Yrageme. […] The young mage stayed with the lich for a short time and learned much, finally asking to leave and practice what he had been taught.
[LT2 Crypt of Lyzandred the Mad – 2]
Who were this group of adventurers? Legend has it they were the Company of Seven: Zagig, Keoghtom, Murlynd, Norlzur, Qyall, Heward, and Tasha.
Heward, Zagig, and others of their circle became the most powerful adventuring group known to the world at the time.
[TAB – 125]

How did those adventurers get on? As one expects of companies of adventurers, I surmise. Some Zagig knew he could rely on implicitly. Heward, for instance. Blood is thicker than water, as the saying goes.
The note says: “Dear Murlynd, Sorry you weren’t home when I brought Grampa C. back all fixed and running. No time to look at the rest now. Will fix the organ when I get a spare day. See you at Cousin Z’s place? Heward.” [EX2 The Land Beyond the Magic Mirror – 5]
Others proved less trustworthy, as time verified.
Little is known about the most mysterious member of the Company of Seven. Also the only female member, Tasha was rumored to be a beautiful but somewhat capricious woman who, for a brief time, might have even been the Mad Arch mages protégé. This was certainly her gateway into the Company of Seven, and while only Heward and Zagig appreciated her morbid sense of humor, she was nonetheless a skilled mage who created numerous spells and items [.] [Dragon#359 – 76]
Iggwilv [, Tasha to some,] served for a time as one of Zagig Yragerne’s apprentices. After she absconded with many of Zagig’s creations, she penned the infamous Demonomicon, and not long thereafter imprisoned the demon lord Graz’zt. [Dragon #359 – 62]

310s CY
Long before the close of the fourth century, the men and women of the Company parted ways as their interests increasingly diverged. […] Murlynd and Keoghtom [,] departed this plane of existence for a time, finding adventure and challenge in strange and alien places. Heward, as always, moved on to the next amusement.
[Dragon #359 – 71]

Zagig, we know, happened to alight in the City of Greyhawk. Or would it still be a town then, however sprawling?
Greyhawk became a haven for criminals fleeing Aerdy justice farther east, and its Oligarchy (as the city council was now known) had become corrupt and petty.
Into this mess came a wizard named Zagig Yragerne, rumored to have been born somewhere on the Wild Coast. [TAB – 58]
Zagig was not the only member of the Seven to find a home in the town of Greyhawk.
T29: Odd House
“Odd House” was one of the original dwelling places of the mortal form of the quasi-deity Heward [.] [TAB – 125]

c. 320 CY
Zagig prospered there. How could he not? He was one of the most powerful wizards in all of the Flanaess.
Over time, Lyzandred watched Zagig gather knowledge and power, use that power to build a small town into a bustling city, and construct a strange multidimensional castle on a nearby hill. [LT2 – 2]
The castle and its three towers were begun around 320 CY by Zagig Yragerne, the mad Archmage, before he became lord Mayor of Greyhawk. [TAB – 75]
His reign was bizarre in many other ways [.] [Folio – 11]
Exposure to Lyzandred and his esoteric knowledge might have had something to do with that.

370 CY
Indeed, Zagig grew ever more eccentric as the years passed.
If Zagig was Greyhawk’s greatest ruler, he was also undoubtedly its most dangerous and perhaps its most feared. Zagig’s eccentric personality appeared to gradually deteriorate after 370 CY, and the Oligarchy and many citizens were in terror of his humor and his rages. It became clear to many that Zagig had ceased to age, and his magical powers became so astounding that his every word became law; no one dared defy him. [TAB – 59]

375 CY
Regardless how the Oligarchs felt about him, Greyhawk grew under Zagig’s tyranny.
About 375 CY, the Free City of Greyhawk reached its first period of greatness under the leadership of Zagig Yragerne. [PGtG – 10]
Their descendants ruled a growing domain which rose to the considerable heights c. 375 CY under the rule of Zagig Yragerne (the so-called Mad Archmage). It was Zagig who built the sprawling Castle Greyhawk (now a ruin) and poured funds into the City of Greyhawk in order to make it into the "Gem of the Flanaess." [Folio – 11]
The phrase “Gem of the Flanaess,” as applied to Greyhawk, was coined by Zagig himself in a speech outlining his desire for the city to become the “keystone of civilization.” [TAB – 59]

386 CY
During this time, the royal House of Rax-Nyrond rebelled and formed the Kingdom of Nyrond, effectively cutting Greyhawk off from all contact with the Great Kingdom after 356 CY. This event was much celebrated in Greyhawk, which had long suffered under the chaotic impulses of the Rax Overkings. Zagig failed to declare Greyhawk a free city at the time, possibly believing (as did almost everyone else) that the Great Kingdom might still conquer Nyrond and return to claim Greyhawk as well. Possibly, he just didn’t care.
[TAB – 59]
If not yet the “Free City,” Greyhawk was now independent.

It is time for Yrag to finally make an appearance in his own history.
Yrag is born.
Suloise roots [TAB – 114] with flaxen hair [WG5 Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure – 31]
He is believed to be about 205 years old. [TAB – 114]
[By this measure, he would have been born in 386 CY. That said, he could have lost count after so many years.]
He was never named, as far as he knows. Granted that was a long time ago. He has no memory of his parents, either; although he must have had some (we all do, after all). And they must have survived long enough to ensure his initial survival – or this would have been a very short exploration of Yrag’s life – had they not.
So, when did they die? And how? Yrag has no knowledge of these; he only remembers surviving hand to mouth on scraps he could scavenge, and of the indifference and apathy – and cruelty – of his fellow man.

c. 390 CY
Then, one day, that all changed.
He remembers that day – I would say he remembered it because he was starving, because that would have been the case everyday until then – a short, inclined to be heavy, and […] round, flushed face [TAB – 58] was gazing down on him.
“Hello,” that round, jovial face said.
When asked what his name was the boy snapped back, “What’s yours?”
The jovial soul declared himself to be Zagig [Yragerne.] [LGJ#2 – 8]
The boy could pronounce neither well, so he christened himself “Rag,” since the portly saviour would not accept his initial declaration of “Zagig.” That was easy enough to say.
His portly saviour laughed uproariously as the notion that an urchin should be named Rag.
“You can be ‘Rag,’” Zagig conceded.
He took the skinny whelp by the hand, and said, “Come with me, Rag.”
Originally a Greyhawk street urchin [, Yrag was] secretly adopted by Zagig [Yragerne.] [LGJ#2 – 8]
And the rag who would become Yrag, did indeed take this fat man’s hand, hoping against all hope that he too could one day be as fat.
[Yrag was] a homeless child who was secretly raised by the archmage [Zagig Yragerne]. [Yrag] took his name from his adoptive father. [TAB – 114]
Zagyg (ZA-gig) was once Zagig Yragerne, the most famous lord mayor of the city of Greyhawk. [LGG – 189]
One wonders why the Mad Mage, the terror of the Oligarchs, should have done such a thing. Did he do it on a whim? Or had he some insight into who this rag of a boy might become, and what purpose he might serve were he to survive?
Yrag (henceforth registered by the unlikely name of Yrag Yragerne) would have been 4 years old in 390, old enough to have no memory of his parents. Thus, the only father he has ever known was Zagig.

395 CY
Rag became Yrag, as the boy’s verbal skills grew.
One can only guess what his upbringing might have felt like, surrounded by such opulence after such destitution, under the guardianship of such a man as the Mad Mage.
It was obvious by 395 CY that Zagig had unlimited power but was wholly insane. [TAB – 59]
But after experiencing the apathy of his fellow man and the cruelty of the streets and back alleys of Greyhawk, anything might have been perceived as paradise.
Did Yrag have the run of Castle Greyhawk. Within reason. There were a great many rooms that would have been off-limits to the boy. For good reason, too.
Yrag is 9 years old.

402 CY
One imagines that, being raised by the greatest mage of his age, Yrag would surely have followed in his father’s footsteps – he was bright enough to qualify, although he would never have excelled at being a mage – but he was never coaxed to pursue such a pursuit. It was if Zagig knew the pursuit was a futile one.
Yrag did grow strong, however. He ought to have, given the copious amount of food he ingested after his years of want and need.
S 18/46, I 14, W 14, D 16, Co 16 Ch 17 [WG5 – 31]
Yrag proved agile and exceedingly healthy, too. He revelled in physical activity; so Zagig engaged a doughty fellow to take his adopted son in hand.
[The earliest Yrag could have taken up his trade as a fighter is 16 {DMG 1e – 12}]

400s CY
Yrag was a quick study, soon surpassing his doughty instructor. Before long, Yrag began to accompany his adoptive father on little quests. Not that Yrag was declared Zagig’s son, not outwardly at first – to do so would have been dangerous for the young man, regardless the near omnipotence of his father.
Yrag is a friend of the (in)famous Zagig Yragerne. [TAB – 114]
Yrag adventured with the likes of Heward and Murlynd, and has traveled across Oerik. [LGJ#2 – 8]
All of that traveling and associating with quasi-deific luminaries gained Yrag a great deal of experience. [LGJ#2 – 8]
It has also gained him several powerful enemies. [LGJ#2 – 8]

If you wish to read about those adventures, they are detailed in Murlynd’s Early Adventures & Subsequent Ventures [EX2 – 6] and in Tales of the Company of Seven. I encourage you to get your hands on both, as they are real page-turners. Or so I’m told.
Murlynd rose to prominence in the Flanaess more than two centuries ago and accorded such luminaries as Zagig Yragerne and Keoghtom as his contemporaries (their adventures are best recounted in the tome Tales of the Company of Seven by the mage-bard Heward). [Dragon #306 – 98]
Murlynd is rather a misfit anywhere, for he mixes magic and technology—often to the detriment of everything concerned. Murlynd is a magic-user of no small ability, and has alchemical skills and certain technological items that, in general, only he can employ. [EX2 – 8]
He was once a paladin, and the principles of truth and justice he learned still influence his priests’ activities. [Slavers – 128]
It was from Merlynd that Yrag gained his notion of duty and honour, I would imagine.

421 CY
Then, one day, without so much as a how-do-you-do, Zagig up and disappeared.
As with Lyzandred so long before, Zagig’s thoughts clarified and he saw what he was becoming. He chose to leave his city and wander the planes, and that was the last day he was seen on Oerth as a mortal man. [LT2 – 3]
It came as no surprise when it was reported that Zagig Yragerne had mysteriously vanished after years of rule when no change or aging could be detected. [Folio – 11]
It may have come to no surprise to some; but I imagine it was to Yrag. Zagig left no note. One moment he was there, the next not. Then all manner of monsters began to boil up from the Castle’s depths. Yrag had no choice but to find safer lodgings elsewhere.
The castle was abandoned, supposedly due to a terrible curse upon the place, but the City proper continued to flourish. [Folio – 11]
[Castle Greyhawk] was abandoned after Zagig vanished in 421 CY. [TAB – 75]
It was only after Yrag relocated to the city proper that he discovered how hated Zagig was. Indeed, more than a few persons gave a sigh of relief that he was gone, hoping against all hope that he was gone for good. Those that did cast frequent glances over their collective shoulders anticipating his expected, unexpected – return.
Yrag, on the other hand, felt abandoned by his guardian, to say nothing of a little exposed without so powerful a protector. Until that moment, Yrag [,] doughty fighter [had always been a] a risk taker. [Dragon#297 – 20]
You like the more flamboyant style of fighting, preferring to use movement to your advantage when possible. You are strong enough and big enough to wade into foes when necessary, but that kind of fighting leaves little room for backup plans and other options. [COR1 – 00 The Citadel PCs – 10,11]
Risk was behind him now. Or for the time being, at any rate.
Yrag was alone in his explorations. With no comrades, even the bold warrior had to be ready to take flight when confronted with a potent creature or many foes. [Dragon#292 – 24]
He had reason to be concerned.
Yrag has one major liability. He made a number of great enemies among a cabal of spellcasters and demons in his past adventures. The cabal is not native to Oerth; its original stronghold was destroyed by Yrag and his associates on a demiplane, and the survivors moved elsewhere. The group is quietly searching for Yrag and would stop at nothing to destroy him and all his friends, family, and allies. Yrag stays on the move, knowing he is being hunted but doing some demon hunting on his own as well. [TAB – 114]
Yrag no longer felt as safe in the city of Greyhawk as he once had. Thus, Yrag took to the road, thinking mobility might keep his enemies from tracking him down easily. It was good that he had, because even as he left, his enemies were scouring the city for him.
This crusade has lasted more than a century, and the reclusive warrior has lost many allies and lovers to it. [LGJ#2 – 8]

Yrag appears as a stout and hardy man, with flaxen hair. You normally dress in gray and green robes, which cover your chain shirt. The chief trait you are known for is caution; you do not commit yourself to a venture unless people you trust will be accompanying you. You consider things carefully before acting, and like to have a backup plan or three in place. On the other hand, you don’t plan your life out very far in advance, and go where the winds take you. Your fighting style is flamboyant and yet graceful; you rely on speed rather than strength when you can. [COR1 – 00 – 10]
Yrag is 35 years old.

498 CY
Yrag had no idea when he left how many years he would take to the road.
Or why he did not seem to age in all those years, either.
In 498 CY [the city of Greyhawk] was proclaimed a free and independent city, ruling a territory from Hardby on the Wooly Bay to the Nyr Dyv, between the eastern folds of the Cairn Hills and the Gnarley forest, including much of what is now the northern section of the Wild Coast region. [Folio – 11]
Yrag is 112 years old. He looked 20!

505 CY
Iuz, The Old One
News was slow to come to Yrag while he roamed from place to place. Some news was hard to miss, though: Iuz, a despot of increasing concern far to the north, suddenly disappeared. Did he know that Iuz’s disappearance was the work of his father? It’s unlikely. There is no evidence to suggest that Zagig ever contacted Yrag during all their years of separation.
Iuz was imprisoned beneath Castle Greyhawk by the Mad Archmage Zagig Yragerne, former lord mayor of Greyhawk. [LGG – 14]
Heward […] has not been seen or heard of since 505 CY, when he joined his old comrades to entrap Iuz in Greyhawk Castle. [TAB – 125]
Murlynd was a part of the plot (along with St. Cuthbert and the mage Zagig) that saw the demigod Iuz confined to the dungeons of Greyhawk for a time. [Dragon #306 – 98]
Keogham and Murlynd became quasi-dieties and recently were elevated to hero-god status, gaining priests and followers. [TAB – 125]

But Yrag could not help but notice when, one day, he crossed path with a cleric who’d taken his father as his personal deity. He thought the man must be daft! The, he was not so sure. He had… feelings… that Zagig was with him. He began to pray to this new deity, this Zagyg, hoping that his father might someday answer him – and enlighten him as to why he had not appeared to age since His disappearance.
Eventually, [Yrag] took the Mad Archmage as his patron deity (it’s unknown if he played some role in Zagig’s ascension. [LGJ#2 – 8]
Yrag now holds his patron deity to be Zagyg, himself. [TAB – 114]

540s CY
Long years after venturing forth into the Flanaess, Yrag stumbled across the idealistic young Riggby.
You have wandered the Flanaess for years, finally settling where your friend Riggby had his post in the church of Boccob. You do not follow gods, though you believe in them, and you do say the occasional prayer to Zagig Yagrene [sic], your relative. [COR1 – 00 – 10]

In his adventurous youth, [Riggby] traveled throughout the Flanaess and beyond and met Mordenkainen, Riggby, Merlynd (now the quasi-deity Murlynd). Robilar, Bigby and other now famous personages.
[Rot8 – 58]
One wonders how different Riggby’s life might have been if he had ventured east into the Great Kingdom, or into the wilds of the north. He did not, though; his first steps were west towards the Selintan – and destiny, it would seem.
It was also here, upon the Plains of Greyhawk, that Riggby encountered another adventurous soul, Yrag. Before too long, the two were chasing down brigands and bandits and bringing them to justice, purging the Gnarly Forest of goblins and orcs and ogres, and scouting deep into the Pomarj. They could not have been happier.
Yrag follows [Riggby] and does what he ask[s], and does not question [his] agenda. [COR1 – 00 – 8]
Why was Yrag so unequivocally drawn to Riggby, one wonders? Perhaps it was because of the gods Riggby chose to serve.
DEITIES: Boccob & Zagyg
[WG5 – 32]

Was this the sign he had so desperately searched for? The answer to his as yet unanswered prayers?
Riggby [became Yrag’s] closest friend, probably in all the world, [in] this forthright, overbearing priest. His preoccupation with power in the church distresses you, but otherwise you could not like anyone more. You are not sure why you like him so much, though. Perhaps the attraction of opposites; he is not cautious, he overbears others, he insists on his own way. [COR1 – 00 – 11]

Late 540s CY
Riggby soon after becomes the cleric of a small chapel [.] [Rogues 1e – 46]
Where is this chapel? One would assume somewhere within the Plains of Greyhawk, near where he met Mordenkainen and Yrag. Perhaps those plains were too settled, too civilised for one such as Riggby, driven as he was to bring balance to the world and convert the pagan. In that vein, I would suggest his small chapel might have been in the vicinity of Narwell, that den of villainy at the crossroads of all of his and Yrag’s adventures then.
Narwell men in particular are often seen as thugs, muggers, and enforcers. [TAB – 104]
Here, in the wilds, he could do the most good, he would believe. He would bring peace, tranquility, and above all else, balance where there was none before.
Yrag endeavoured to aid Riggby – and Zagyg, by doing so – in the priest’s single-minded pursuit.

551 CY
Then, one day, Yrag felt what could only be a sign.
At that table, nearly thirty years ago, Mordenkainen debated with his young apprentice, Bigby, the merits of taking an active hand in maintaining the celestial balance of power. Thereafter, the two struck upon a plan to gather a group of like-minded individuals that would act to hinder advances by those who would dominate the Flanaess. That their expected exploits would impart upon the mages no small amount of lost magical lore only served to hasten the alliance.
[LGJ#0 – 4,5]
That group of like-minded individuals became the Citadel of Eight.
Within months, Mordenkainen had brought the renowned warrior Robilar to his cause, as well as the cleric Riggby, and his zealous assistant, Yrag. From the shores of the Nyr Dyv, Mordenkainen recruited the righteous Tenser, who in turn introduced the dim-witted though well-meaning Serten to the assembly. [LGJ #0 – 5]
Why Riggby chose to join Mordenkainen’s Citadel baffled Yrag.
He and Mordenkainen won’t get along, you think. [COR1 – 00 – 11]
Their aims were not the same, Yrag believed, regardless of what Mordenkainen claimed.
Little is known about Mordenkainen’s origins, particularly; the place of his birth. Rumors place him as Oeridian, perhaps Aerdi. Some even say he is of the line of Ganz Yragerne, making him distantly related to such notables as Zagig Yragerne and Heward. He has few friends, and no one in whom he completely confides. [LGJ#0 – 9]
Despite his reservations, Yrag felt that this was the path he ought to follow. He could not say why, but he was compelled to join Mordenkainen’s Citadel, whatever his reservations. And, where Riggby went, so would he.

Race: Human
Class: Fighter
Level: 8
Align: LN
Height: 6 ft. 1 in. Weight: 225 lb Age: 175 (looks 30)
S19, I14, W14, D17, Co16, Ch 17
[COR1 – 00 – 10]
Yrag’s abilities have fluctuated over the years, thanks to magical curses, undead attacks, injuries, and so forth, but he has always been a warrior. [TAB – 114]

What did Yrag think about the others in the group?
(10th level human male wizard): The leader of the group, and the reason for its existence. You don’t really trust this man, who always looks to be plotting something. You are sure that he would be an effective villainous mastermind if his philosophies lied in that direction. As it is, you are willing to adventure with him and learn about the world from him, but you will try to keep him at arm’s length.
Robilar (8th level human male fighter): This man is large and strong and a little forbidding-looking. His expression is always grim, even when enjoying himself and smiling. You are not sure how he manages this, but he does. He is quick-tempered, and you think that will be his undoing someday. He could use with more forethought. He is a strong fighter in the style you do not prefer; he wades into foes all the time. But better to have him in the group than against the group.
Young Bigby, of Oldridge
(7th level human male wizard): Mordenkainen’s apprentice is gaunt and thin, and looks like a monk with his robes. He does not fight like one, though. He is a decent spellslinger, and Mordenkainen is training him well. You are not sure you could get close to him. The only thing you like about him is that he is just as cautious as you are, and so when plans are discussed you know you have an ally when it comes to being thorough and careful. [COR1 – 00 – 11]
Riggby (7th level human male cleric of Boccob): [See 540s CY]
(7th level human male cleric of Saint Cuthbert): No mention is made as to what Yrag thought of Serten, but one might imagine that he found the cleric often been more a source of exasperation to adventurers than a great help. He is, quite simply, stupid but likeable. He likes to adventure, but is basically not bright enough to be trusted on his own; therefore, he will always be found with a group. He understands the physical side of melee very well and can seldom resist getting in and mixing it up with his foes. This often creates problems as he is too dumb to know when to run away, requiring the rest of the party to rescue him. He may not cast his spells for the cleverest of reasons either. [Rogues 1e – 46]

They called themselves the Citadel of Eight, taking the name from Mordenkainen’s renowned Obsidian Citadel, in the Yatil Mountains. [LGJ#0 – 5]
Whatever Mordenkainen’s reason for gathering his Citadel, they were to become a force for Good, for the most part.
Yrag is 165 years old. He did not look a day over 30.

Ancient Ruins and the Catacombs
In the years that followed, their adventures focused on Greyhawk and the Selintan valley, and the crags of the Cairn Hills and depths of the Suss Forest were opened to their prying vision.
[LGJ#0 – 5]
Indeed, Yrag was led to believe just that, that a great deal of their time would be spent exploring coastal wilds and swamps, cave and cavern complexes, and ancient ruins and the catacombs beneath them, routing out orcs and goblins and bandits, and the like. Not so; much of their time was spent pouring over dust tomes in libraries as vast and labyrinthine as those catacombs they would eventually explore. And talking. Talking, talking talking….
Yrag was reminded of his years of instruction before being introduced to the doughty instructor, finally putting an end to all of that early, endless talking.
But Yrag had to admit that all those hours in all those libraries and all that talking bore fruit. Those tomes led to unearthing those ruins and caverns, and all that talking once or twice led them to nefarious plotters and even a murderer or two.

557 CY
One day, those tomes and that talking led them, not surprisingly, to his now abandoned home: Castle Greyhawk.
In the company of his apprentice Bigby, the fearless Lord Robilar, and the willful cleric Riggby, the wizard [Mordenkainen] relentlessly explored the ruins of Zagig’s castle, charting its secrets and plundering its priceless treasures. [EttRoG – 4]
Yrag may not be mentioned, but one finds it hard to swallow that he was not by Riggby’s side during these explorations. Who wouldn’t want Yrag accompanying them into the depths of Castle Greyhawk? He was the only man alive who would have insight into the mind of its creator.
They certainly amassed a fortune of lout louted from its depths, to say nothing of baubles and magic items.
Not that Yrag minded. But to his mind, Mordenkainen was obsessed with those baubles, those relics and artifacts he appeared to be always searching for like no other. When he raised his concerns about that to Riggby, the cleric brushed them aside. What if he was, Riggby said; he too could do with an artifact or two to aid him in his own aims. Besides, he said, clerics of Boccob leave their churches to root out rumors of lost magic items or spells, or to defend a magical place or item from destruction. [LGG – 168]
Yrag did not argue. He trusted Riggby and Riggby’s judgement.
He sharpened hi sword and led his compatriots into his old haunt.

560 CY
It was dangerous work, all the same, whether they were chasing down bandits, routing orcs out of their lairs, or delving deep under the Mad Mage’s labyrinth; but perhaps the most dangerous task of all was unmasking those who sought to steer the fate of nations towards too great “good” or “evil.”
How did Mordenkainen’s Citadel of Eight fare? People came. People went.
[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]
It just so happened that the Citadel was just then shy of its optimal eight. Mordenkainen asked the membership if they knew of potential candidates. Serten believed he knew just a one: an idealistic young man from a village called Hommlet.
Finally, the young woodsman, Otis, rounded out the group. [LGJ#0 – 5]
[Otis is] a ranger [.] [T1-4 – 34]

What did Yrag think about the new addition to the company?
Otis (7th level human male ranger): You don’t know anything about this young man. He seems capable and friendly, but you have not spent any time with him in the month or two you have been part of the group. He seems remote, too. [COR1 – 00 – 11]

No sooner had Otis joined their illustrious group, certain core members embarked on a mission of great importance.
Yrag, Mordenkainen, Bigby, and Riggby
Events of WG5 Mordenkainen’s Fantastic Adventure
The adventure is assumed to take place before 570 CY, perhaps as early as 560, because of the lower levels listed for Mordenkainen and Bigby.  [TAB – 3]
Mordenkainen the Mage and his boon companions, Yrag, Riggby, and Bigby […] have been tempted to explore Maure Castle because of the widespread rumors concerning the “unopenable” doors. Preferring not to attract attention, they have traveled from their abode, the Citadel of Eight, upon Mordenkainen’s carpet of flying. [WG5 – 4]

DEITY: Zagyg
S18/46 I14 W14 D16 Co 16 Ch17
[WG5 – 31]
Armor: Plate Mail +2, Shield +2
In Hand: Longsword +1, Flame Tongue; Ring of Invisibility; Boots of Feather Falling
In Side Pouch: Scroll of Protection from Elementals (all)
Backpack: Potion of Storm Giant Strength
[WG5 – 31]
Yrag appears as a stout and hardy man, flaxen haired, and normally dressed in grey and green robes. He stands over 6 ft. tall and is very broad-shouldered. Yrag is ever watchful of things about him, and usually prefers no new undertakings unless these are shared with those persons he knows and trusts. [WG5 – 31]

Mordenkainen and his companions entered the dungeon [,] slew Tomorast and most of his agents, robbed the place of much lore and wealth, and departed for greater challenges elsewhere. [Dungeon #112 – 13]
They found the Tome of the Black Heart there.
This book was written by several evil magi, whose time of existence upon Oerth is not recorded, save that they dwelt near the Valley of the Mage. The Tome was lost during those years when the Mage of the Valley brought down a great ruin upon these evil ones. [WG5 – 25]
One might consider it a “good” thing that they retrieved the tome from mad Tomorast.
But it changed Mordenkainen. None knew it then, however.
Yrag is 174 years old.

560s CY
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]
Yrag was ennobled by the Oligarchy [of the Free City] several years ago, when he and Lord Robilar aided in bringing the villain behind the River of Blood mass murder case to justice. [LGJ#2 – 8]

Catching them was one thing; keeping them under lock and key was another.
Sir Bluto Sans Pite [, a fighter/rogue,] was a respected Knight of the Realm before his indictment in the River of Blood mass murder case. His mysterious disappearance from prison left even the Royal Magician-Detectives baffled, and a reward of 10,000 g.p. posted for his recapture. [S2 White Plume Mountain – 11 / White Plume Mountain Revisited – 25]

If Yrag had his way, they would mete out justice with the sharp end of a sword. Then there would be no need to recapture anyone. That said, they seemed to be doing some good. Perhaps he was wrong about Mordenkainen, he thought. Perhaps Mordenkainen’s Citadel of Eight was exactly what it appeared to be. Time would tell, he knew all too well.
But, enthusiasm for the cause was waning, or so it seemed to Yrag. Each of them were becoming ever more focussed on their own concerns: Mordenkainen more so than the others, spending ever more hours pouring over his Tome of the Black Heart.
Riggby, too, became far more involved in the politics of his faith. He soon declared his intent to take up administration of a far larger temple in Verbobonc. Would Yrag accompany him, he asked?
Of course he would, Yrag said. He would follow Riggby anywhere.

569 CY
The Citadel’s aim was true. And noble. But their Fellowship was not to last. Some of them were not as dedicated to their cause as others – if they ever were.
For a group that so decisively defeated its enemies, there remained several problems. Robilar never quite bought into Mordenkainen’s philosophy, and he and Tenser often bickered over matters of morality. Serten, though seen as useful, was never truly respected [,] and Otis, tired of underground excursions and forays into urban territories, left the group, decrying his friends as cave-delvers and treasure seekers blind to the real problems of the world. [LGJ#0 – 5]

That bickering had distracted them.
The Temple of Elemental Evil
The thickets and marshes around Nulb became the lair and hiding place for bandits, brigands, and all sorts of evil men and monsters alike. The chapel grew into a stone temple as its faithful brought in their ill-gotten tithes. Good folk were robbed, pillaged, enslaved, or worse. In but three years a grim and foreboding fortress surrounded the evil place, and swarms of creatures worshipped and worked their wickedness there.
The servants of the Temple of Elemental Evil made Hommlet and the lands for leagues around a mockery of freedom and beauty. Commerce ceased, crops withered, pestilence was abroad. But the leaders of this cancer were full of hubris, and in their overweaning pride sought to overthrow the good realms to the north who were coming to the rescue of the land being crushed under the tyranny wrought by the evil temple. [T1 – 2]
They, each in their now lofty influence, looked to lofty goals and lofty foes, forgetting that evil festers in shadow as much as in the utterings of courtly influence.
Alas, the Citadel was to have all but dissolved at just about the time the Flanaess needed their vigilance the most.
Battle of Emridy Meadows
Nearly a decade after the Citadel's formation, Otis' critical words took on the air of prophecy. 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. [LGJ#0 – 5]

Yrag and Riggby were not there. They were too old, Riggby reasoned, to be at the forefront of such exploits anymore. Their place was at the decisionmaker’s table. Best to let younger swords face what was to come. Indeed, Riggby did appear to be getting on in years. Yrag, on the other hand had hardly aged a day since they had first met. He, at least, ought to be present at the battle, he said. But Riggby convinced him otherwise; Riggby needed his steadfast and constant companion by his side, he said. Yrag bowed to his friend’s wisdom. But he did not like it.
A great battle was fought to the east, and when villagers saw streams of ochre-robed men and humanoids fleeing south and west through their community, there was great rejoicing, for they knew that the murderous oppressors had been defeated and driven from the field in panic and rout. [T1 – 2]

One wonders if Serten’s death was the final nail in what remained of Mordenkainen’s Citadel of Eight.
Tenser blamed Mordenkainen for the death of his friend, and retired inward to his castle. […] Even the loyal Bigby left the side of his one-time master and returned to Oldridge, where he adventured for a time with a band of boyhood friends. Mordenkainen, the man who had brought the Citadel together, simply shrugged and returned, with cold eyes, to his studies. [LGJ#0 – 5]
Yrag had always had misgivings about Mordenkainen, but deep down, he never thought those misgivings would ever be realised. Not after all those years of the work they had done. He confronted Mordenkainen on why they, the Citadel, had not been present at the battle. Mordenkainen informed Yrag that he could never understand the bigger picture and told the Yrag to leave him in peace. Yrag was furious. Riggby would not listen to his tirade against their “moral” compass, Mordenkainen. Serten’s death was a tragedy, to be sure, but the Forces of Weal had triumphed, he said. There was no need for the Citadel to be present.
Yrag could not believe what he was hearing from his old friend. He, unexpectedly, stormed out of Riggby’s rectory. And out of Verbobonc.
Terik and Yrag vanished, some said to the anonymity of the Bandit Kingdoms. [LGJ#0 – 5]
Yrag vanished?! Into the Bandit Kingdoms?!
Yrag left the Citadel of Eight several years ago […], following a falling-out with Mordenkainen over long-term strategic policy. [TAB – 114]
While he has many allies, Mordenkainen has just as many detractors. Among these are Lord Robilar, Tenser, and Yrag who consider him to be untrustworthy and a bit self-centered. [OJ#25 – 15]
Yrag is 183 years old. He looked 30.

570 CY
The Chessmaster
Would that Yrag had known what Mordenkainen planned to do next. Perhaps, if he had, he would have remained by Riggby’s side.
After decades of viewing himself as a chessmaster, Mordenkainen naturally began to view his friends and companions as pawns. When the opportunity to destroy Iuz once and for all presented itself to the wizard, he manipulated Lord Robilar and Riggby into releasing the imprisoned demon-god, freeing himself from the disastrous consequences and the scorn of his more altruistic associates should the plan fail. [EttRoG – 9]
He had no inkling, however. And he did not, more’s the pity. If he had, he may have dealt the decisive blow against Iuz. He was far to the north, amid Bandits.
Iuz returned to his lands more powerful and wicked than ever before, with an unholy priesthood leading his forces in his unholy name. [LGG – 15]
After it was all over, safe on the skull-adorned battlements of his grisly palace, Iuz swore vengeance upon the adventurers who had attempted to kill him, dedicating a portion of his eternal rage to plotting their destruction. [EttRG – 4]
He dreams of destroying the Free City of Greyhawk and those who nearly killed him when he was released. [PGtG – 24]
Did this concern Yrag? Not at first; but it was soon to dominate his very existence.

570s CY
What then did Yrag do in the years that followed? He travelled….
Tall, muscular and vigilant, Yrag now travels about in the guise of a mercenary and adventurer named Yr (not an uncommon name in this region because of its Suloise roots). [TAB – 114]
… in the Bandit Kingdoms. Why there? Because all exiles of all sorts make their way there sooner or later.
The Bandit Kingdoms
Bandit Kingdoms
In all there are 17 states within the confines of the area, ruled by 4 to 6 powerful lords, and the rest attempting either to become leading rulers or simply to survive. The whole relationship exists because no single bandit lord is strong enough to conquer the whole territory, and the combined strength of all is often required to defend against neighboring states' retributive expeditions. So bandit and brigand band together in self-interest, and no kinglet, regardless of ambition, has seriously attempted to rule the whole, for fear that threatened lords would tum to neighboring states in spite – even at risk of destruction by the summoned "ally." Thus the combined kinglets continue to stand more or less together. [Folio – 8]
Before the wars, nearly a hundred thousand humans lived in [the Bandit Kingdoms]. [WGR5 Iuz the Evil – 47]
Most outsiders thought of the people from the Bandit Kingdoms as marauding raiders and pillagers who rode across their lands taking whatever they could by banditry. However, it is obvious that 100,000 people could not survive in such a manner within their own land. […] While there were raiding horsemen aplenty, there were also many thousands who lived a semi-nomadic life, travelling with large herds of livestock who foraged on the generally poor grazing. To be sure, they would take to arms if their chieftain commanded, if their honor was impugned, or if they saw a chance for an opportunistic strike, but the bandits were certainly not all blood-crazed, parasitic pillagers. The Bandit Kingdoms had cities, and within them artisans and craftsmen could be found. Even if sages and men of learning weren't exactly common, mages were. Magic gives a keen advantage in strife and struggle, and no few foreign mages found that bandits respected wizardry and had a healthy fear of it. As a result, settling here and building a tower or stronghold was attractive to them. [WGR5 – 47,48]

A fitting place as any to lose himself...
It seemed as fitting place as any to lose himself. More so than most, in fact. He had reason to lose himself in such a place.
He made a number of great enemies among a cabal of spellcasters and demons in his past adventures. […] The group is quietly searching for Yrag and would stop at nothing to destroy him and all his friends, family, and allies. Yrag stays on the move, knowing he is being hunted but doing some demon hunting on his own as well. [TAB – 114]
He felt confident that he could overcome what came, though.
Yrag the Lord [N hm F13], former boon companion to Mordenkainen and a founding member of the Citadel of Eight, the adventuring band that eventually became the Circle of Eight. [LGJ#2 – 8]
So, if they had a mind to kill him, they had best come en mass.

579 – 583 CY
Did they find him amid the chaos that was the Bandit Kingdoms. They could very well have. If they did, none lived to tell the tale. And none noted their passing. Such was the way in the Kingdoms. Death reigned there as much as did those petty lords who sought to take what they might.
The ravaging of the Shield Lands by both the Bandit Kingdoms and Horned Society in 579-583 CY similarly served to weaken this entire region, leaving the Shield Lands in ruins. [LGG – 15]
Did Yrag take a hand in trying to prevent this? No. He was busy fending off cabalists. And, truth be told, what could he have done? He kept his head down and kept his head, ever watchful now that he was alone as to the coming of the cabal that never ceased in seeking him out.
All too soon that earlier chaos would appear a state of bliss.
Iuz took note of [the ravaging of the Shield Lands] and made use of it in his grandiose plans for conquest. [LGG – 15]

583 – 585 CY
All too soon, the war the Kingdoms had inflicted on others came knocking at their door.
Iuz’s true legions marched east, fording the Ritensa north of the Shield Lands and striking into the Bandit Kingdoms. The petty warlords were easily cowed by Iuz’s might [.] [Wars – 9]
Iuz then conquered the Horned Society, Bandit Kingdoms, and Shield Lands in quick succession. [LGG – 15]
Iuz found as much chaos there as he brought.
It is simply impossible for any occupier to fully control this territory, just as no single bandit chieftain, no matter how powerful, could ever have ruled them all in the two centuries of their existence prior to the wars.
Rather, luz's forces have secured key cities, towns and settlements, and recruited as many of the generally evil bandits to their cause as possible. [WGR5 – 47]

There is nothing written about Yr’s involvement in these events; then again, there is nothing said against what he might have done, either. But, Yrag being who he is, I have my doubts that he would have remained idle. He would have been in the thick of things. I also believe that he could have acted without drawing attention to himself.
Those lords who survived the invasion allied themselves with the Old One or else fled to the forests or Rift Canyon. [LGG – 31]
Several groups descended from the Bandit Kingdoms of past years are thought to be fighting the forces of Iuz in and around the Fellreev Forest, the Tangles, and Rift Canyon [.] [LGG – 17]
A great many of their successes might be attributed to his skill and experience. But however successful he might have been, his victories would have amounted to trying to stem the tide.
In the last two to three years, Iuz's forces first drew bandits to their service to swell the armies striking into the Horned Society and Shield Lands. [WGR5 – 48]
Some 10,000 of the bandits have become part of luz's troops and raiders, swelling his armies considerably. However, there are great swathes of the land where only chaos reigns. In some areas, luz's forces may only have been seen once or twice in all the time since the wars began. In others, bandits are left to their own lives as long as they don't dare to oppose the might of Iuz. [WGR5 – 47]
His efforts would have been all but futile. And dangerous to his continued well-being. Especially if Iuz and his Boneheart became aware that the rebellious Yr was, in fact, Yrag!

586 CY
Yrag would have had little choice but to flee the Bandit Kingdoms. But, where to go? He reasoned that the Free City was as good a destination as any. It would be far easier to lose himself in its teeming masses than anywhere else on Oerth.
Lord Yrag, formerly of Mordenkainen’s Citadel of Eight […], is still a new noble [of the Free City] though he was away from Greyhawk for many years. [TAB – 71]
Nerof Gasgal and his oligarchs could not have been more pleased of his return, I expect.
Lord Yrag Returns to Greyhawk
Evil cults are suspected of gaining footholds in the city, if not making the city their new headquarters. Violent crime is rising, Harwell, Safeton, and Hardby struggle to take power from the oligarchs and gain independence. The threat from the Pomarj is as great as ever. Rumors of Scarlet Brotherhood spying, sabotage, and assassination are rife. Banditry is rising in the Cairn Hills. Relations with the Duchy of Urnst are strained over their mutual border.
[LGG – 52]
The Free City could do with experienced lords who could protect them from those concerns. They were even in the process of completing a ring of strongholds to guard against exterior threats.
Few dispute that trade is the life’s blood of the Free City of Greyhawk. Certainly, the free city’s Directing Oligarchs have no illusions as to whence their wealth and power derive. Thus, when the Greyhawk Wars brought fire and ruin to their borders over a decade ago, the Oligarchs moved decisively. At their direction, a string of keeps was built to secure the routes along which Greyhawk’s trade flowed.
One of the most important of these is Ford Keep, some ten leagues south of Greyhawk City along the Selintan River. Ford Keep guards Wainford, the point where the Western Road from Dyvers crosses the Selintan and joins the River Road. Thus, Ford Keep commands one of only three fords along the Selintan, the river itself (Greyhawk’s main artery of trade) and the junction of two main roads, one leading to Greyhawk’s main rival, Dyvers, the other to Hardby and the northern Wild Coast.
[Ford] keep’s strategic importance was not lost on the dwarven engineers who built it in 585 CY.
But they were also appreciative of his need for secrecy, too.
Would he be so kind as to take command of one of Ford Keep?
[Yrag] is the secret lord in charge of the Fordkeep, west of Greyhawk, where the Western Road crosses the Selintan from River Road and heads for Dyers. [TAB – 114]
Yrag never lingers long within its walls, however. If he were to the Cabal would be able to pinpoint his position. He roams the plains, as he did in his younger days, returning often, overseeing the keep’s completion.

591 CY
Yrag has reached the ripe old age of 205 years young, even if he looks no older than 38.
He does not come into the City of Greyhawk often. Or might I say that he does not admit to entering the city often. One might say that Yr visits more often than he does.
Kerin Koeffel
A7: Fruit of the Mill
. The first building that anyone sees upon entering the [Free City of Greyhawk] through the Druid’s Gate is the Fruit of the Mill, a shop selling locally made wines, ales, pastries, cheeses, and dried meats. The shop is attached to the house of the owner, a 44-year-old Karin Koeffel […], a cheerful and petite woman who is a well-known personality in this quarter [the Low Market]. […] Karin has been known to have a boyfriend who is an adventurer and comes to the city several times a year. […] She calls her boyfriend “Yr” [Pronounced like “ear”). [TAB – 114]
Karin’s boyfriend is indeed an adventurer. He is also an extremely powerful one, and his stories – however wild they are – are completely true. His name is well known to the Circle of Eight, as he was once a member of the Citadel of Eight, the group from which the Circle was founded. He is Yrag [N hm F13 […] Str 18/46, Int 15, Dex 16, Con 16, Cha 17; many magical items], a lord of Greyhawk and friend of Mordenkainen, Bigby, and other luminaries. It is not commonly known that Yrag is much older than he looks, much of his aging delayed by magical means. He is believed to be about 205 years old. [TAB – 114]
Is he though? Friend to Mordenkainen and Bigby?
The only thing you like about [Bigby] is that he is just as cautious as you are [.] [COR1 – 00 – 11]
As to Mordenkainen, Yrag still does not trust him, and will try to keep him at arm’s length. [COR1 – 00 – 11]
If that is friendship, so be it.

Karin and Yr
Perhaps the only reason why Yrag has not moved on in Karin.
[Yrag’s] greatest fear is that Karin will [fall victim to the crusade of the Cabal of spellcasters that have hounded him for more than a century.] He has given her numerous magical protection items to shield her from his enemies, but if someone were to connect her tall tales of Yr’s adventures with the more famous exploits of Yrag the Lord, it’s possible Karin could come to grief. [LGJ#2 – 8]
He ought to be more cautious with her, he knows; but he wants to impress her. He does take great pains to ensure than no one sees him come and go – even if he doubts there are many still alive in this great city who still remembers him from so many years ago when he frequented its inestimable streets. He’s taken measures concerning that, too.
He is very fond of Karin; lately, she is the only person in the city he sees besides Nerof Gasgal and Captain-General Tigran Gellner. [TAB – 114]
Karin is his only love and his weakest spot. To defend her while he is gone, he has given her jewelry that is magical (amulet of mind shielding, ring of protection +3, and more), though it looks merely well-made. Nerof has informed the Thieves’ Guild that the Fruit of the Mill is off-limits, without explaining why. [TAB – 114]
Were something to happen to her he could never forgive himself.
Or those who did her harm. I would not desire to be those who had. There could never be a deeper or darker hole they could hide in that he could not find them. And make them pay.

“By the sword you did your work, and by the sword you die.”
― Aeschylus, Agamemnon

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:
Wizard, by Ken Frank, from Players Handbook 2e, 1995
Heward, by Harry Quinn (?), from Dragon #71, 1983
Tasha at Study, by Olga Drebas, from Tasha's Cauldron of Everything, 2020
Murlynd, by Harry Quinn (?), from Dragon #71, 1983
Domain of Greyhw map detail, by Sam Wood, from The Adventure Begins, 1998
Zagyg Yragerne, from Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk, 2007
Iuz, from Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk, 2007
Dwarf Door, by Arnie Swekel, from GR2 Dungeons of Mystery, 1992
Mordenkainen detail, by McLean Kendree, from Mordenkainen's Tome of Marvelous Magic II, 2020
Robilar, by Kristoph Nolen, from Oerth Journal #29, 2019
Flying Carpet, by Jeff Easley, from WG5 Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure, 1985
Yrag, by Jeff Easley, from WG5 Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure, 1985
The Temple of Elemental Evil, by Keith Parkinson, from T1-4 The Temple of Elemental Evil, 1985
Mordenkainen detail, by Dan Burr, from Dragon #185, 1992
The Bandit Kingdoms, from Dragon #63, 1982
Shacktown, by Ken Frank, from WGA1 Falcon's Revenge, 1990

1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
1043 The City of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1989
1068 Greyhawk Wars Boxed Set, 1991
2011 Players Handbook 1e, 1978
2011A Dungeon Masters Guide, 1979
9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
9026 T1 The Village of Hommlet, 1979,1981
9031 The Rogues Gallery 1e, 1980
9075 EX2 The Land Beyond the Magic Mirror, 1983
9147 T1-4 The Temple of Elemental Evil, 1985
9386 WGR3 Rary the Traitor, 1992
9399 WGR5 Iuz the Evil, 1993
9577 The Adventure Begins, 1998
9588 Players Guide to Greyhawk, 1998
9580 Crypt of Lyzandred the Mad, 1998
11621 Slavers, 2000
11843 Return to the Temple of Elemental Evil, 2001
White Plume Mountain Revisited, 2005
LGJ #0, 2
COR1 – 00 The Citadel PCs
OJ #25, and #34 (Reimagining Yrag the Lord), 2020
Dungeon Magazine #112, 221, 306
Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda

1 comment:

  1. Knowing that Yrag is related to Zagig totally changes how I perceive the character. Forever ago I only assumed he was one of many notables who adventured with Mordy and Co but I never read much into his age. They're long lived. But to think as a child he ran around in Castle GH at its height? Wild! Zagig definitely had a hand in keeping Yrag young. Overall the story of Yrag would make a good piece of fiction.