Friday 19 January 2024

On Terik


“What strange creatures brothers are!”
― Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

A long time ago, in a campaign far, far away, innumerable characters partook and held sway.
I exaggerate. There could not possibly have been innumerable characters; but I imagine core players had a great many PCs – and a great many of them died in their pursuit of fame and fortune, I would expect – some more successful than others; I also suppose that a great many players came and went over those early years, as well – some more noteworthy than others.
We’ve all heard tales told about Gary Gygax’s famous menagerie, to say nothing of his sons, Ernie’s and Luke’s: I speak of Mordenkainen and Bigby, of Tenser and Riggby and Melf, etc. Perhaps the most famous of those early players, aside from the Gygaxs, was Rob Kuntz: who hasn’t heard of Robilar.
There were others, of course. I must admit that I’d never heard of Rob’s brother, Terry, nor of his Terik, until rather recently. My introduction to him preceded my reading Scott Casper’s and Mike Bridges’ Castle Greyhawk Blog, but not by much.
In the Greyhawk Campaign, Teric was played by Theron "Terry" Kuntz, Rob's real brother, though the characters themselves shared no familial relationship (this having been added by Gygax during the writing of Isle of the Ape). [OJ#7 – 41]
I had heard the name, Terik, even if I’d long ago forgotten that I had. You must have too, if you are of a certain age; indeed, who has not if you’ve read WG6 Isle of the Ape? (More on that below.) So, I had at least read of Terik. But, truth be told, he did not leave much of an impression. I’d never read that adventure too deeply, never expecting to run it – no player in my campaign had ever had a character rise to such lofty levels at the time of my perusing its pages. Thus, Terik was spilled into a memory drawer, never to be peered into again.
Until Scott and Mike brought Robilar’s all-but-forgotten brother back to life for me.
I thought it interesting that Scott and Mike devoted nearly as many panels to Terik as too his far more famous brother….

513 CY
Terik is born in the City of Greyhawk. [Date conjecture – see 520 CY]
I surmise he was born into poverty. Dire need. So many are. I believe this to be true, since Robilar appears hard done by in his early years. We can expect that Terik’s origin to be no less trying.

520 CY
He grew up on the streets...
Speaking of Robilar: Robilar is born.
[Calculated from 551 CY {LGJ#0 – 4}]
Age: 31 [COR1 – 00 The Citadel PCs – 7]
Robilar’s backstory is a little more fleshed out than Terik’s, so we must extrapolate what we can from him to apply to his brother.

Robilar was born in the City of Greyhawk. His mother died in childbirth, and he never knew his father. [OJ#7 – 41]
No mother, no father; how might Robilar have survived? His sibling raised him, obviously.
Module WG6, Isle of the Ape, introduces Terik (or Teric), Robilar's [older] brother. [OJ#7 – 41]
[If Robilar’s mother died in childbirth, Terik must be older than his brother; he must also be old enough to have served as Robilar’s caregiver, however young. I decided that Terik must then be about 7 years older than Robilar to be even remotely capable in that role.]
Terik is 7 years old in 520 CY.

520s CY
His First Instruction
He grew up on the streets of the free city, an outcast from his mother's family
. [OJ#7 – 41]
Robilar started his career as neutral in alignment [.] [OJ#3 – 41]
What applies to Robilar must apply to Terik. They would have lived hand to mouth, taking what they might to survive in the cruel slums of the city of Greyhawk. Terik takes up the sword in that pursuit.
I doubt that he was what could be considered a “fighter,” proper at first. Not then. I expect he began his career as an opportunistic street urchin, killing his first man at a very young age. He would have then survived as a member of the city Beggars Guild, where he received his first instruction.
Was he evil? That would presume him self-serving; which he was not: He was Robilar’s caregiver, his guardian. I would guess that he would be True Neutral, then, caring only for himself and his brother.

529 CY
Terik’s “training” is complete.
He is 16 years of age. [DMG 1e – 12]
Did he remain in the Beggars Guild? For a time, long enough until Robilar could fend for himself.

530s CY
Terik sells his sword for the first time.
In time, while others fell, he’d have gained a reputation as a good man in a pinch. In time, he would have joined what mercenary bands would have him.
He then ventured up and down the Wild Coast, earning what he could, in what bands paid best.
Legendary natives of the Wild Coast include such persons as Mordenkainen, Robilar, and Tenser, to name but a few. [WoGA – 42]
Terik would always be in need of money. Meat shields are rarely paid well. Or expected to survive long. I expect that he sent what copper and silver he could home to Robilar, with instruction that he gain better training than he, himself, had had, ensuring that Rob would never have to stoop as low as he once had to, to ensure their survival.
Note that he is not noted among those faring from the Coast as one of the legendary. Because he wasn’t. He was a mercenary.

540s CY
Terik sells his sword
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]
In his adventurous youth, he traveled throughout the Flanaess and beyond [.] [Rot8 – 58]
Regardless whether these passages were penned about Robilar’s early years, they could just as easily apply to Terik, too.
Robilar soon followed in his brother’s footsteps. Mostly. Where Terik had had to sell his sword early on, Terik’s tutelage and stipends would have opened doors for Rob that would not have been open to his older brother.
[Robilar] met Mordenkainen, Riggby, Merlynd (now the quasi-diety Murlynd), Robilar, Bigby and other now-famous personages. [Rot8 – 58]
We do know that Terik eventually escaped mere mercenary work. He very well began his own adventuring career as a hireling for some other fellowship, perhaps rising to membership within them as others fell. Or perhaps he accepted Robilar’s invitation to join his….
Either way, Terik and Robilar began plunging into whatever adventure shoulder to shoulder, Robilar in his pursuit of fame and fortune, Terik to protect his reckless and ambitious brother.

Castle Greyhawk
Tenser, Robilar, and Terik were delighted when, upon entering a large chamber, they saw a figure apparently made entirely of gold. […] Surely, the strange golden automaton represented millions and millions of gold pieces worth of wealth [.]
Even as a spell was cast to keep the Jeweled Man from acting, warriors were rushing to come to grips with this marvel. Alas for the adventurers, the spell had no effect, and before the eager fighters were near, the figure was off and away, running so quickly that even boots of speed could not keep pace. Down a passageway went the glittering form, the party in pursuit. In all too brief a time, however, the Jeweled Man was lost, vanished in the labyrinth of the surrounding passages. Swearing to return, the adventurers went away empty handed, settling eventually for far less precious items taken from likely more fearsome opponents. [Dragon #290 – 22]

Delving into the dark depths of Castle Greyhawk was good to them. Lucrative. Terik being almost a decade older than Robilar, he rose to some distinction before his brother did.
Terik had become Lord Terik [Dragon #293 – 18] along the way and must surely have built a stronghold somewhere, given all the loot he had his adventuring companions have unearthed beneath Lord Zagig’s deadly funhouse. Somewhere close to the Free City, given he continued to explore the Castle’s depths in the years to come.
When a fighter attains 9th level (Lord), he or she may opt to establish a freehold. This is done by building some type of castle and clearing the area in a radius of 20 to 50 miles around the stronghold, making it free from all sorts of hostile creatures. Whenever such a freehold is established and cleared, the fighter will [a]utomatically attract a body of men-at-arms led by an above-average fighter. These men will serve as mercenaries so long as the fighter maintains his or her freehold and pays the men-at-arms [.] [PHB 1e – 22]

Did Terik’s newfound success drive Robilar to ever greater daring? It might have, sibling rivalry being what it is.
Robilar fears nothing, and to prove that point, he often adventures alone, even when the odds appear greatly stacked against him. Three things drive him: magic, adventuring and information, three things he can never seem to get enough of. [OJ#3 – 41]
Robilar decided to delve into the dungeons alone. […] He decided to carry on so as to go as deeply as he could and discover what lay in the dungeon’s depths. That he did, and he was promptly rewarded and then sent off to the other side of Oerth.
[Dragon #295 – 20]
The next day, Robilar’s companion, Terik, searched the city for his [brother]. He learned that Robilar had adventured alone into the ruined castle, so he decided to seek his companion there. I was astonished by what followed. Somehow Terik managed to follow much the same course Robilar had taken. It took him about six hours, but eventually the worthy fighter also came to the lowest level of the dungeons, and he likewise was transported to the other side of the planet. The very next day, Tenser […] sought his usual cohorts, but soon discovered that both Robilar and Terik were gone, vanished into the dungeons without a trace. Of course Tenser then went into the dungeon to search, and [followed them to their distant destination]! [Dragon #295 – 20]

All too soon, Terik found himself without his constant companion. But Lord Terik was easily as brave as Rob. Indeed, he was far more skilled, then, than Robilar.
Lord Terik
The doughty Lord Terik, returning from a successful solo foray […] came upon the easily accessed “trick” area. Following a set of directional options, for example “always north or west,” Terik made the circuit several times, climbed “upward” a like number of times to a “higher level,” and only after such exertions did he alter his rule, escape the maze that led nowhere, and eventually complete his ascent to the outside.
Assuming that he had been far deeper in the dungeon than was actually the case, Terik led a party of adventurers to the special complex, […] they went around in circles, down stairs, and up ascending passages to take the same steps downward again. After “descending” to what they felt was a near-infernal depth, they altered their route so as to explore. […]
[L]ong passages sloped gradually down to a central area where a flight of stairs conveyed the wayfarer back up to the elevation of the surrounding area. However, once inside, the number of direction choices was seemingly Far greater, although all eventually led back to the central declivity, the stairway back up. [Dragon #293 – 18]
He was far more experienced than he gave himself credit. Perhaps Rob did introduce Terik to the adventuring life; but Terik was as seasoned as his far more ambitious brother. He realised that he would do just fine without Rob, even if he had no desire to.

550 CY
Robilar decided to follow his own path. Sans Terik, it would seem.
Was that Robilar’s choice, solely? Or was he convinced to?
Mordenkainen, approach you a couple months back about joining an adventuring group he was forming. He prattled on about Balance and working to prevent anyone from getting the upper hand, but all that meant nothing. To you, the invitation looks like a call to adventures that you cannot pass up. [COR1 – 00 – 3]
I can’t help wondering whether that caused a bit of friction between Terik and Robilar? Then again, perhaps Robilar desired greater independence from his elder – aging – mothering brother father-figure.
Also, Terik was getting on in years. He was 37, then. Old! His best years were behind him, whereas Robilar was only 30. Still young! Or so he told himself. He still had a great many years ahead of him. Terik, perhaps, did not…
So, perhaps it was high time that he parted from his protective, over-mothering, elder brother.

551 CY
And Robilar did just that. He sought opportunities outside of those with Terik.
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]
That group of supposed like-minded individuals became the Citadel of Eight.
They called themselves the Citadel of Eight, taking the name from Mordenkainen’s renowned Obsidian Citadel, in the Yatil Mountains. [LGJ#0 – 5]

550s CY
Terik may not have originally been invited to join the Citadel of Eight, but membership was what we might call fluid over the years in that yet unknown adventuring group.
Over the years, the Citadel played home to such luminaries as Prince Melf Brightflame, of the Olvenfolk, the half-orc Quij, Felnorith, Robilar's brother Terik, and even, at one point, the Quasi-Deity Murlynd, in disguise.
[LGJ#0 – 5]
Who followed whom in this ever-shifting dramatis personae? Your guess is as good as mine. It has been suggested that Quij was a founding member, as possibly presumed in the 7-round 2000 GenCon Tournament “Finger of the Wind,” by Robert Weise. But I doubt that, given Quij’s henchman status (of Robilar) at the time. [The timeline of the Citadel is a bit dodgy, depending on how one interprets certain vague canonical references. The more people added to the narrative, the more it gets muddy. Did characters come and go, repeatedly, or did they stay for a time and leave once and for all time? I might make some decisions as who who and when that you may disagree with, which is fine. Decide as you will.]
I suggest that Merlynd the mage was an early member of the Citadel.
The Crook of Rao
Merlynd the Mage
The Crook was borne by a party of powerful adventurers, including Tenser the Arch-Mage, Lord Robilar, his brother Terik, and the quasi-power Merlynd during their adventures beneath the ruins of Castle Greyhawk circa 5[50s*] CY. It is likely that they found the Crook in the dungeons of Zagig Yragerne, although that is not known for sure.
[OJ#3 – 18]
To the average man of the modern era, the Crook [of Rao] existed only in scripture and hymn. In the mid-sixth century CY, however, the adventurers Tenser, Terik, Merlynd, and Robilar discovered the artifact in the depths of Castle Greyhawk, only to lose it again in a bizarre demiplane known as the Isle of the Ape. [Dragon #294 – 95]
[*OJ#3 says the Crook was borne by the Citadel circa 569 CY, implying its membership of that year. It’s one of those muddy passages I refer to earlier.]
I tend to follow Scott Casper’s (implied?) suggestion in his Castle Greyhawk blog that the events therein occurred before the Citadel formed, or soon afterwards, thus Merlynd could have been a founding member. Maybe I’m in error. Whatever. In for a penny, as it were. Let us then throw caution to the wind and suggest Terik followed Merlynd.
One wonders how long Terik was a member of Mordenkainen’s Citadel. And why he left.
We know why Robilar left.
Robilar never quite bought into Mordenkainen’s philosophy, and he and Tenser often bickered over matters of morality. [LGJ#0 – 5]
I would not doubt that Robilar’s departure inspired Terik’s.
[Mordenkainen’s] philosophy has gained the archmage a virtual army of enemies, not a few of whom once considered him a good friend. Among these last can be counted Evard the Black, Terik and, of course, Rary. luz and his underlings, particularly Kermin Mind-Bender, have hated Mordenkainen from their first meeting. [LGJ#0 – 9]
Did Terik, perchance, discover that he and Robilar, and perhaps the whole of the Citadel, were mere pawns in Mondenkainen’s schemes?
After decades of viewing himself as a chessmaster, Mordenkainen naturally began to view his friends and companions as pawns. [EttRoG – 9]
That would have been a revelation too dire to bear.

Regardless Robilar’s bickering, he never drifted too far from Mordenkainen’s circle.
After the dissolution of the Citadel, Mordenkainen remained great friends with the organization’s most cunning fighter, Lord Robilar, and together they traveled the length and breadth of the Flanaess, from the City of the Gods in the northern wastelands of Blackmoor to the vine-choked crumbling pyramids of the Amedio Jungle. [OJ#25 – 15]
Perhaps Mordenkainen believed Robilar was still of use to him.
I expect that Terik was not pleased with Robilar’s decision. But Robilar would not be mothered by his brother anymore.

560s CY
Who then followed Robilar and Terik? I will suggest Melf followed Robilar, and Otis replaced Terik (in 560 CY, as per my blogpost suggestion). Quij and Felnorith would only have been associate members of the Citadel, to my mind. Quij was Robilar’s henchman and would have left with him. And Felnorith? Felnorith was Mordenkainen’s hireling – if also his friend – an elite guard of his Citadel [CoG:FFF – 21]; if Felnorith were indeed a member of the Eight, he might have been for mere days before it split asunder, forevermore (in 569 CY).

569 CY
The Bandit Kingdoms
Mordenkainen’s Citadel finally failed, one might say upon the fields of Emridy, when Serten died.
What then, became of Terik?
Rumour has it that Terik ventured into the Bandit Kingdoms, although this has never been substantiated.
Terik and Yrag vanished, some said to the anonymity of the Bandit Kingdoms. 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]
When did Yrag and Terik venture north. The passage does not say. That year? A decade prior?
And where exactly was Terik’s stronghold? Could it have been in the Bandit Kingdoms? Doubtful. Why then did he not just go home?
No matter. Terik left. Terik did not leave a forwarding address. Terik is lost to time.
Terik is 56.

576 CY
Indeed, not even Tenser, with all his magic, and all his network, knew Terik’s fate.
Tenser: “Most of you are familiar with the name Robilar, and perhaps a few have knowledge of his brother, Terik. It was in this company, and with Merlynd as well, that I first ventured to the Isle of the Ape...” [WG6 Isle of the Ape – 6]
“Robilar’s feet are now on a path unspeakable. Terik? Who knows. Dead, probably. Merlynd too is now elsewhere, and of the four only I remain to speak of the misadventure. [”] [WG6 – 6]
So suggests Tenser; but Tenser is not sure, is he.
Terik could still be alive.
If he is, he would be 63 in 576 CY.
I doubt he would be wielding a sword at that advanced age.
But he could very well have changed his name.
And taken charge of some petty kingdom in that land where rogues take what the will. Because he could, if he chose to.
Bandit Kingdoms
Bandit Lord?
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]
You decide.

“Not all those who wander are lost.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

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:
Robilar, by Kristoph Nolen, from Oerth Journal#29, 2019
Terik, by Mike Bridges, from the Castle Greyhawk blog/graphic novel, 2015
Mordenkainen detail, by McLean Kendree, from Mordenkainen's Tome of Marvelous Magic II, 2020
Murlynd, by Mike Bridges, from the Castle Greyhawk blog/graphic novel, 2015
The Bandit Kingdoms, from Dragon #63, 1982
Tenser detail, by Gary Williams, from WG6 Isle of the Ape, 1985

1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
2011 Players Handbook 1e, 1978
2011A Dungeon Masters Guide, 1979
9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
9153 WG6 Isle of the Ape, 1985
9576 Return of the Eight, 1998
9577 The Adventure Begins, 1998
Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk, 2007
Dragon Magazine #290, 291,292, 293, 294, 255
LGJ #0
Oerth Journal #3, 7, 25
COR1 – 00 The Citadel PCs
Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda

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