Friday 1 March 2024

Citadel of Eight Membership


“Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.”
― Henry David Thoreau, Walden and Other Writings

Young Mordenkainen
I’ve covered a lot of ground over the past months, doing my damnedest to piece together what I could about the members of Citadel of Eight. It has not been the easiest task, but it has been rather fun too, for one with my idiosyncratic nature. I love history; I love research; I love unravelling Gordian Knots. Even fictional ones.
This is not to say that this was convoluted. If anything, it was actually straightforward, if a lengthy process. The only difficulty was that there were few concrete dates in canon. That’s understandable; I suspect those luminous few who’d penned Greyhawk canon had only given what thought they thought reasonable to these past personages and events they thought necessary to add flavour to our present.
And despite the Citadel’s seemingly sparce references, there were enough for me to reveal quite evocative narratives of their lives.
How’d I do? I’ll leave it to you to weigh judgement on what success I had, in that regard.
It is a lot, however, to digest. So, I’ve pared down all those posts to the most essential facts for easy digestion: Who was in the Citadel, and when.
I’ve taken liberties, however. I’ve included a few members who were not, canonically speaking, ever specifically cited as members, despite their association with actual members in its early and latter years. Also, I had made judgement that Otis was not an initial founding member. It’s assumed that Otis was indeed one, but were he, he’d have been rather long in the tooth when he made his final assault on the Temple of Elemental Evil. I, therefore, made a few decisions, some of which you may take exception with.
In any event, without further preamble, here’s a truncated timeline of the biographies of the past months.

551 CY
All endeavours begin, however conceived.
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]
No mention is how long their search was, but search they did, and choose they did.

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]

Thus, membership at its founding is:
Bigby, Mordenkainen, Riggby, Robilar, Serten, Tenser, and Yrag. Not quite eight, not yet.

550s CY
Merlynd the Mage
I took creative licence suggesting that the “mage” Merlynd was soon invited into their fellowship, since he is often mentioned in their company during these years.
In his adventurous youth, he traveled throughout the Flanaess and beyond and met Mordenkainen, Riggby, Merlynd (now the quasi-diety Murlynd), Robilar, Bigby and other now-famous personages. [Rot8 – 58]
Murlynd: Human magic-user [EX2 The Land Beyond the Magic Mirror – 8]
Why a quasi-deity should seek to join an adventuring group is anyone’s guess. I suppose he saw promise in their pursuit and wished to give them a helping hand, and a push in the right direction.

They are officially eight now. It was then that they decided on the name of their fellowship.
They called themselves the Citadel of Eight, taking the name from Mordenkainen’s renowned Obsidian Citadel, in the Yatil Mountains. [LGJ#0 – 5]
Membership is:
Bigby, Merlynd, Mordenkainen, Riggby, Robilar, Serten, Tenser, and Yrag.

Merlynd does not remain for long, however. He left, but not before Robilar’s brother, Terik, completes his “trial period.”
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]
Terik is never specifically cited as a member of the Citadel of Eight, but he is mentioned in their company (as was Murlynd) numerous times in the fellowship’s early years, thus I have taken liberty in adding him to their number.
Tenser, Robilar, and Terik [Dragon #290 – 22]
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]
The Crook of Rao
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]

Membership then, after Murlynd’s departure is:
Bigby, Mordenkainen, Riggby, Robilar, Serten, Tenser, Terik, and Yrag.

This would not be the case, for long, however.
560 CY
[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 was only a matter of time before its members would – how shall we say it – disagree with their (Mordenkainen’s) aims, their means, and methods.
[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. [LGJ#0 – 9]
Terik […] vanished, some said to the anonymity of the Bandit Kingdoms. [LGJ#0 – 5]
Why did Terik depart? And why does he thereafter consider Mordenkainen an enemy? 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]
Seeing that Terik has never been cited as an actual member of the Citadel (to which I still presume just that), no mention would be made as to why he left.
He was all too soon replaced.
Finally, the young woodsman, Otis, rounded out the group. [LGJ#0 – 5]
[Otis is] a ranger [.] [T1-4 The Temple of Elemental Evil – 34]

Membership is now:
Bigby, Mordenkainen, Otis, Riggby, Robilar, Serten, Tenser, and Yrag.

564 CY
The first “official” canonical member to depart [this is only implied and never actually specifically said] was Robilar.
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. [LGJ#0 – 5]
[B]y this time [Robilar] had begun to grow weary of his old friends [.] Feeling that all the others had grown soft and weak as a result of their prestigious positions, Robilar maintained friendly relations only with Rary. [WGR3 Rary the Traitor – 11]

560s CY
Who then followed Robilar and Terik? Names are mentioned in company with the Eight; but that does not equate to actual membership.
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]

I suggest that Otis replaced Terik (in 560 CY), and that Melf followed Robilar (in 564 CY).
[I’m taking liberties here, again. Melf has been declared by Luke Gygax as being one of Mordenkainen’s apprentices, and as a member of his Red Rampart Guard, and never as a member of the Citadel. But given the Citadel continued to be called the “Citadel of Eight,” one must presume that its number continued, for the entirety of its existence, to be… well… eight. The Five Dragon Bowl | Gary Con Forums]
Quij and Felnorith could only have ever 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).

Membership after 564 CY would then be:
Bigby, Melf, Mordenkainen, Otis, Riggby, Serten, Tenser, and Yrag.

569 CY
Short years later, Otis departed. He’d had enough, it would seem.
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]
It is then that I presume Felnorith was inducted into the fellowship.
But it could hardly be considered one at this stage.

Who then was striving to achieve the Citadel’s goals by this time?
Serten. He alone.
Only he of their number was present for perhaps the most important event that transpired while they professed to continue to exist.
Battle of Emridy Meadows
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 The Village of Hommlet – 2]
When Serten fell, none of his friends stood at his side. [LGJ#0 – 5]

Serten’s death was the last nail in the Citadel’s coffin.
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. [LGJ#0 – 5]
Yrag left the Citadel of Eight […] following a falling-out with Mordenkainen over long-term strategic policy. [TAB – 114]
Mordenkainen, the man who had brought the Citadel together, simply shrugged and returned, with cold eyes, to his studies. [LGJ#0 – 5]

The Citadel of Eight no longer existed. But its dissolution paved the way for another, perhaps loftier, fellowship.
570 CY
The chaos surrounding the return to power of the demigod, luz, in CY 570 prompted Mordenkainen to consider a new paradigm. […]
The Citadel's primary failure, he surmised, had been its inclusive philosophy. As its founding concept had been arcane, he had been foolish to assume that men like Robilar or Riggby would rally to his cause without subtly working against it for reasons personal, spiritual or political. Men of intellect and sorcerous skill, whose primary interests were more than material, would replace them. Thus was born the Circle of Eight. [LGJ#0 – 6]

“Isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”
― L.M. Montgomery

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:
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
Bigby, by Jeff Easley, from WG5 Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure, 1985
Riggby, by Jeff Easley, from WG5 Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure, 1985
Melf, by , from Artifact of Evil, 1986
Yrag, by Jeff Easley, from WG5 Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure, 1985
Sertenfrom Finger of the Wind, 2000
Cover art, from WG5 Mordenkainen's Fantastic Adventure, 1984

1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
1043 The City of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1989
9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
9026 T1 The Village of Hommlet, 1979,1981
9075 EX2 The Land Beyond the Magic Mirror, 1983
9112 WG5 Mordenkainen’s Fantastic Adventure, 1984
9147 T1-4 The Temple of Elemental Evil, 1985
9153 WG6 Isles of the Ape, 1985
9386 WGR3 Rary the Traitor, 1992
9576 Return of the Eight, 1998
9577 The Adventure Begins, 1998
9578 Players Guide to Greyhawk, 1998
11743 Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000
Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk, 2007
Dragon Magazine #290, 294
LGJ #0
Oerth Journal #3
Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda
The Greyhawk Wiki

1 comment:

  1. A fitting summary of the overall series of Citadel member articles. I think in a way, a typical PC group in AD&D would have the same shake ups regularly through character death and change of players. It is a wonder that the Circle of 8 was needed when continuing the Citadel further into lore would've led as an example for players' own companies. Ah well! Thank you again for this work!