Greetings! This world that you and your characters will be calling home is Greyhawk; the original milieu for which D&D and AD&D was built. The creator of Chainmail/D&D/AD&D, Gary Gygax, created this land for his players. All the early games and source material are based on the Greyhawk world, thus, the creatures you find in the PHB, MM, Fiend Folio got their start walking the lands you will soon be adventuring in. There are other lands (Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, Ghostwalk, Ebberon) with different flavors, monsters unique to their environs, evil and good in different forms, some recognizable but others totally foreign. But, it is Greyhawk that stands as the basis for the entire D&D world, it is the land I am most familiar with and one that I have considerable experience adventuring in myself.
This is the world in which the current campaign will take place; The campaign will occur immediately following the end of the Greyhawk wars (CY 587), a two years after signing of the Pact of Greyhawk. The Pact finally laid to rest active hostilities between nations, but not covert operations. The surviving world is a shattered place, kingdoms have fallen, Gods have been imprisoned, destroyed or eliminated, societies have collapsed, humanoids have established kingdoms of their own and evil, although seriously put into check with the banishment of Iuz, is again spreading its tendrils thought the land.
Major stretches of land lie fallow and empty due to the devastation of the peasantry; other lands have been destroyed through a combination of combat, magic and malice. Still other lands remain wholly intact, by choosing instead to be forcefully neutral in the recent conflict, either while pursuing their own agendas or through indifference. The peasantry has been decimated, the gentry uprooted and famous places and monuments all but destroyed during the wars. Orders of mages, knights, temples, great and noble houses with influence throughout the Flanness, have been decimated and their power diminished. New guilds and orders are arising, attempting to fill in the voids left by the devastation of the Greyhawk wars. Who knows what powers can and will arise in this time of power vacuum and cataclysm.
Our adventures will start on the Wild Coast, just to the south and west of the Greatest free city, Greyhawk. This area of the coast, sandwiched between the Wooley Bay, the Gnarley Forest and Welkwood, has a long and sorted history. Originally the land was settled by the migrating Suilose tribesman who were later conquered by Oeridian invaders aligned with demi-humans. As new owners of this land and seeing the value of the mineral rich Lortmil Mountains nearby and with the resources to be culled from the Suss, Welkwood and Gnarley Forests it is rumored that the Suilose had built a huge city in the heart of the Welkwood, somewhere along the banks of the Jewel river. The invading Oeridians evidently sacked this city of legend, leaving it unoccupied to pass into history as a legend. While the city has never been found, many a foolish adventurer has set off in pursuit of rumor and ended up as giblets for a band of orcs.
The land of the wild coast is not particularly fruitful. Peasants here grow mainly sustenance crops, producing little extra beyond their yearly tithe to the local lordling. The only real exception has been Narwell, where a substantial amount of fruit orchards have been planted on the northern slopes in recent years. Narwell has seen a substantial growth in trade from Dyvers to the ports of Hardby and Safeton, the roadway through the Gnarley forest becoming more heavily traveled each season as caravans seek to avoid paying transport duties through the city of Greyhawk. This has all provided unusual stability to the local lord and giving rise to a significant political entity, something of a rarity on the Wild Coast. Narwell has recently been trying to increase its influence thought the recently devastated Wild Coast region through invasion and less overt methods.
The Gnarley forest and Welkwood are home to many woodsmen and their elvish counterparts who derive livings from the forest. The Kron hills have a significant population of gnomes and halflings, their enclaves scattered piecemeal in the productive valleys of the forested hills. The Lortmil Mountains also contain a significant number of gnome enclaves but are dominated by the Dwarven lords. The Dwarves have called the Lortmil mountains home for millennial and have riddled these ancient hills with tunnels in their quest for riches. These closed societies have been rumored to have encountered something dark and sinister in the depths below the Lortmils, which would explain their disinterest in the world above them. The Suss forest is a dark and forbidding tangle, full of evil and foul creatures thought to derive from remnants of the perverse Suel magics. Even the Pomarj orcs and humanoids and the warbands of Turrosh Mak avoid venturing deep into the Suss for fear of what lies within the fetid groves.
Narwell (pop 3600) is the town in which your adventures started from. It is run by lord XX, who inherited the title from his father XX, a magister of some repute. Lord Rutlin has been busy expanding his trade, taking advantage of increased protection from the city of Greyhawk and the rise of the free city of Dyvers to the north. They also have the only caravan route into the elvish enclave of Celene and Lord Rutlin is very careful to maintain friendly relations with the closed society. As a reward, the city is seeing much more caravan traffic both from Celene for the fine goods produced there, and from Dyvers, who have been taking advantage of the newly reopened southern caravan route. Rutlin was instrumental in negotiating with the Arch-Druid of Gnarley for the rights to pass through the forest and maintain caravan grounds throughout the area.
The town itself has seen a considerable amount of growth, with a rise of new merchant houses and guilds. Much of the expansion lies outside the city walls. Recently there has been talk of starting to enclose the New Merchants quarter and the nearby caravaneers grounds within a new city wall, but Rutlin appears to be blocking the move. Possibly because his resources are stretched thin maintaining a string of wayfarers stops in the Gnarley forest.
The town is located on a southern facing sloping hillside adjacent to a tributary of the Jewel river to the west. The original bailey and fortifications are located on a promontory overlooking the city. Newly planted orchards stretch to the north and west; a venture with the gentry to increase local trade, the seedlings were rumored to been 'obtained' from citrus groves in Celene. The surrounding lands are a mixture of small orchards and fields for staple goods. A large caravaneers ground is located on a plain to the south of the city, a 40' wooden roofed tower oversees the grounds, enclosed by a wooden wall of sharpened logs.
Politically the city is fairly stable. Guilds control trade in the city and Lord Rutlin is content to let them maintain order. The guild council allows only limited trade without a guild patch, thus if you come into the city to get rid of loot, beware that you first need to join a guild, the wayfarers guild would be best, and have your goods properly assessed and taxed.
It is rumored that the current Mayor of Fax (pop 5700), Guldof Tholf, is nothing but a Narwell plant. Suspicions have arisen due to the increasingly friendly tax situation between the two cities. There has also been a huge increase in the amount of caravan traffic to Fax from Narwell, bypassing the much closer Safeton. Fax, with its newly rebuilt dock, a decent deep water port and protection of a local Order of the Hart, who are rumored to have started rebuilding the watchtower complex on Ornthol Point, has a number of advantages over the cesspool Safeton has become.
Although it was overrun by Turrosh Mak's troops, the Fax itself was not heavily damaged as battles took place around Ornthol Point and castle Vorirmarg, both of which lie outside the city proper. The town docks and warehouse district were heavily damaged by Mak's fleet and rebuilding took almost a year to complete once troops withdrew back to Pomarj.
Safeton (pop 5500) was on the receiving end of an enormous amount of refugees fleeing the southern coast region as Turrosh Mak's troops of advanced into Badwall and later Fax. The city, bulging from the influx of people (over 3000+ refugees) was hit with a mysterious plague in the winter of 581, causing much misery and considerable casualties throughout the city. Casualties ran into the thousands, affecting both refugees and townspeople equally. The local temples were stretched thin trying to comfort the sick while the plague took its tool indiscriminately on them too.
The political situation in Safeton has and is always unstable at best. The Mayor is accused of passing information and supplies on to Turrosh Mak, the guild council wants him out, but probably for their own nefarious reasons. Open combat between the constabulary and guild wardens has taken place on the city streets. And the threat of further combat dominates the mood in the town. Everyone seems to be holding their breath waiting for open combat or revolution to take place. The commander of the constabulary was recently caught at a local Fight Night event and rumors of a slave trading ring have been whispered in the dark. Taxes have been steep on incoming and outgoing goods, much of the trade is bypassing Safeton for Hardby and Fax.
Badwall (pop 2000) is currently overseen by a former bandit, Erbin Sharag and a motley band of former robbers and ruffians. He has clamped down on what remains of the sacked town (original population 6500) fairly hard, made repairs to the inner walls and raised a small force for defense. He has been successful in controlling the immediate countryside, protecting the peasantry from wandering bandits either by eliminating or making pacts with them. Land grants and many of the former gentry's estates were exchanged for pledges of fealty to Erbin. This succeeded in calming the local area and gaining a political base for the self appointed Lord Sharag. Land and estates were granted to human, demihuman and humanoid depending on their power and needs (obviously giving an richly appointed estate to an orc tribe is not very smart). Since little formal structure of the town remains, Badwall remains quite chaotic; humanoids walk freely through the streets.
Celene lies immediately to the west of the Wild Coast and is primarily an Elvish enclave. Founded and built almost exclusively by the elves they allow few outsiders into their country, and those that are allowed in are escorted. The unique geographical position of Celene allows it to remain aloof from the rest of the Flanness, the Lortmils enclose it on two sides, the Welkwood and Suss border it on the other two. The borders of this small country are closed and actively patrolled, invaders are repulsed without mercy. Trade is strictly regulated by the noble houses and exclusively through Dyvers, Greyhawk and now Narwell. Celene and her highness Yondilla remained neutral in the Greyhawk wars and there is considerable resentment on the Wild Coast for the elves not coming to the aid of the poor neighbors.
The free city of Dyvers (pop 49,000) recently declared their independence from the country of Furondy and removed itself from under the direct influence of the city of Verbobonc. They are quickly becoming a powerhouse in trade in the northern Flanness, and with the rebuilding of their dock in the last year have been expanding trade both overland and on the Nyr Dyv. While there have not been open hostilities between Greyhawk and Dyvers, the political situation is heating up as a substantial amount of trade is moving away from Greyhawk through Dyvers.
Greyhawk is the largest free city in the Flanness, with a population of almost 60,000. It is home to most of the major magic guilds, many major temples make their home here. Greyhawk is seen as the cultural center point for the world and indeed many great deeds have been achieved there. For example, Iuz was imprisoned below castle Greyhawk not once, but twice (and escaped twice too!). The mysterious Council of Eight makes its home in Greyhawk, although three of the Council are now dead (Tenser, Zagyg the Mad and Otiluke), one is missing (Mordikain) and Rary joined forces with Lord Robilar and retreated into the bright desert after a massive battle on Signing Day with other members of the Council of Eight. Rary and Lord Robilar quickly rounded up the disorganized humanoid tribes in the bright desert and forged a nation of their own.
The nation of the Pomarj was forged by a half-orc barbarian, Turrosh Mak, who managed to control and round up the scattered orc and goblinoid tribes into a viable fighting force. After invading into the southern Wild Coast and Ulek and being defeated at the Battle of Celene Pass, the invaders along with Turrosh Mak retreated back into the Pomarj. Being no fool, Turrosh Mak manned his borders with human and humanoid mercenaries whose loyalty could be bought with gold and silver, allowing his humanoid armies to dissipate back to their tribal lands. The city of Elredd remains the only territory in the Wild Coast which the Pomarj maintains control over. Troops fortify positions to the north of the city, preventing incursion into the northern passage into the Pomarj. Few humans visit this land of reputed vast mineral and magical wealth. Of those that do, they report widespread chaos, slavery rampant and degenerate practices of the the tribes. The cities of Blue and Highport have all but ceased to exist but as abandoned ghost towns. Stoneheim (pop 5200) is the nominal capital of the Pomarj, where Despot Mak holds court and where the Nedla tribe of orcs, which Mak is the chieftain of, claims within their boundaries.
The dreaded Yellow Sail slavers are rumored to have started along the Wild Coast. The Yellow Sail Slavers raided along the coastlines as far south as Keoland, Iorngate and into Relmor bay as little as 20 years ago. Eventually, they ran afoul of Greyhawks' Council of Eight and most of the leaders were rounded up and put to the sword or imprisoned under Castle Greyhawk. It is known that many slavers escaped into the Pomarj and the city of Highport, well out of the Council's reach. With the demise of almost half of the Council's numbers in a battle over the Pact of Greyhawk, there are rumors of the Yellow Sails being seen again along the southern coast.
Orc, hobgoblin and demihuman tribes from the Pomarj under the leadership of Turrosh Mak recently participated in the last Greyhawk wars, raiding into the Kingdoms of Ulek to the west and the successfully sacking the southernmost towns of the Wild Coast, Fax, Elredd and Badwall. Ultimately they were not successful in capturing and retaining what they call their homeland, the Lortmil Mountains and retreated back into the Pomarj before the tenuous bonds that held a precarious alliance fell apart. Turrosh Mak regarded this not as a defeat but as a mere setback, and swore to return the Lortmils to their rightful heirs.
Turrosh Mak and the Pomarj nominally still hold most of the Suss forest, as much as anyone can claim ownership of that foul track of forest, parts of the southern Welkwood and the hills bordering the Principality of Ulek. Along the Wild Coast they ceded control of Elredd, Badwall and Fax. Those towns are just starting to rebuild, but with the elimination of the nobility and gentry in those regions, bandit kings, pirate captains, guild masters and religious sects have all been battling for control of the region. The Pomarj nominally controls the region just south or Elredd, but this region was devastated and is now little more than an empty land.
Recent rumors have indicated that Turrosh Mak lives still and has been organizing groups of raiders and specialists to enter the Suss Forest and Welkwood looking for forgotten Suloise artifacts of power. It is not known of their successes, and in many cases it is known the parties fail to return or be heard of from again. However, of the pitiful few that have come back, in their possession have been powerful artifacts of war and magic.
Deeper grumblings from the Suss and Welkwood hint to something dangerously strange afoot. Foul creatures are raiding into settled lands more often and with greater ferocity and many woodsmen have disappeared or departed the forests. This may just be because of the decreased population of human and demi-humans on the Wild Coast. However, entire settlements are rumored to have disappeared altogether and in other areas the recently deceased have been seen on strange errands, walking among the living again. The Arch Druid of Gnarley has recently gone missing as have many of the guardians of the forests, the Druid groves in parts of the Gnarley and Welkwood having been decimated or retreated to a different plane altogether.
Seals on foul and evil places, long held tight, have also been loosening. Foul, evil fey and unnatural creatures not seen in hundreds of years are rumored to be out walking among the daylight again. Of great concern is the Gramarad Mines of the southern Kron hills, which have rumored to have again appeared. It was reported that the great seals on the mine's entrances were broken and the doors asundered. A source of unnaturally powerful onyx and agatite gems, the mine was sealed and the entrance hidden on the ethereal plane by the priests of Heironeus with aid of the shadowy High Order of Grameris two hundred years ago. Onyx gems are highly prized for their necromantic properties, a profession considered repulsive to most and abhorrent to the priests of Heironeus. These two, once great, organizations set the wards to prevent the opening of the mine on the prime material plane.
Ghostlike figures have been rumored to be stalking old battlefields around the thorp of Homlet where the remains of the Temple of Elemental Evil lay buried. Deep within the forests, castles have appeared where none were before, incredibly antique but in excellent repair and condition. Bands of humanoids have been seen traveling through the forests where there have been none in hundreds of years.
This is the land we will adventure in, one filled with an endless possibilities for adventure and excitement for years to come. Hope you enjoy it....