History Of Oerth

Geography & Population

The planet Oerth has four continents. Only one of these continents, Oerik, will be the one you are familiar with. Its eastern end, known as the Flanaess, is where the majority of your adventuring will take place. The Flanaess can be broken down geographically as follows: the Baklunish Basin in the northwest, the Empire of Iuz in the north, the Thillonrian Peninsula in the northeast, the Sea of Dust in the far west, the Sheldomar Valley in the west, old Ferrond and its southern frontier (including the City of Greyhawk) at the center of the Flanaess, Old Sulm and the Aerdy frontier to the east, the old Great Kingdom to the far east, and the Amedio Jungle to the southwest.

Certain elements of Greyhawk’s geography are fantastic in nature, such as the Sea of Dust and the Land of Black Ice. Other elements are more closely analogous to real-world Europe, such as the Thillonrian Peninsula’s geographical resemblance to Scandinavia.

The Flanaess is home to Oerth’s “enlightened humanity,” and much of the flavor of the Greyhawk setting arises from the interplay of the various “sub-races” of humanity — Baklunish, Flannae, Oeridians, Olman, Rhennee, Suloise, and Touv in particular — as they have criss-crossed the Flanaess over the last millennium. The setting’s fans have debated the exact nature of these sub-races (and their real world analogues, if any) over the years, but key distinguishing features include antagonism between the Bakluni and Suloise (and the ancient war that nearly annihilated them both), the relative primitiveness of the indigenous Flan, and the Oerdians’ military conquest of much of the Flanaess.

Various fantasy races also populate the Flanaess, sometimes acting as allies to humanity in the same vein as J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth. Elves and dwarves of different sorts even have powerful strongholds and nations, with gnomes and halflings living in smaller pockets near friendly (and more powerful) neighbors. Even where these races are politically advanced, such as in Celene (realm) or the Ulek States, isolationist policies often limit their power to the regions they inhabit. Wicked drow elves often plot mischief against the free world, with other nefarious creatures such as orcs, ogres, giants, and dragons acting as all-purpose enemies. When viewed as a whole, however, the Flanaess appears anthropocentric (or more specifically, humanocentric) despite the presence of so many fantastic species. Gygax has described the setting “a sort of conglomorate of history and fantasy.

Political Powers

At the center of this game world stands the Free City of Greyhawk, a city-state once under the domination of the Great Kingdom of Aerdy. The Circle of Eight, a select group of wizards, monitor events across the Flanaess, intervening when the balance of power is threatened by extremes of good or evil. Several evil factions still prevail across the sub-continent, including the undead remnants of Aerdy, the wicked demi-god Iuz (who rules his expanding territory, the Empire of Iuz), and the mysterious Scarlet Brotherhood (whose racial purity doctrines and fanatical monasticism invite comparisons with both Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan). The orcs and other humanoids of the Pomarj, led by chieftain Turrosh Mak, threaten the Wild Coast and the Ulek States. Among the factions opposing these forces of evil are the major kingdoms of Nyrond, Furyondy, and Keoland as well as numerous smaller states, organizations and individuals.

Recent History

Prelude To War (577-581)

The years between luz’s return and 581 CY were a prelude to war. Several destabilizing forces fomented strife. The most insidious was the Scarlet Brotherhood, an occluded monastic order first reported in 573 CY. In this handful of years, semiregular skirmishes between Aerdy’s South Province and Nyrond erupted into open hostilities, with Overking Ivid V finally declaring war on Nyrond and its allies in the so-called “Golden League.” Though the war lasted only two years, it drained the coffers of both Aerdy and Nyrond, crippling them when continental war erupted only years later. A truly important, though seldom noticed, event occurred when an avatar of Vecna, the Whispered Lich of legend, struck down the entire Circle of Eight, a collection of archmages that included such respected names as Bigby, Tenser, and Otiluke. The Circle had acted subtly as a balancing agent for years, preventing any one power from dominating the Flanaess. Though the Circle’s leader, Mordenkainen, returned his colleagues to life, the Circle was weakened when the Greyhawk Wars finally erupted.

The Greyhawk Wars (582-584)

In 582 CY, the god Vatun appeared to his subjects among the barbarian tribes. Ancient legend told that the return of Vatun, who had vanished centuries ago, would signal the rebirth of a barbarian empire in the north. Unfortunately, the newly appeared Vatun was a sham perpetrated by luz to whip the northmen into war frenzy. It worked. The barbarians invaded Stonehold, smashed through the Griffs, and overwhelmed the Duchy of Tenh. The barbarian alliance crumbled soon after, but the damage was done. Returning to his homeland, luz conquered the Horned Society, the Bandit Kingdoms, and the Shield Lands in quick succession. Taking advantage of the chaos, Overking Ivid V mustered his Aerdy armies to retake Nyrond. The nobles of the Great Kingdom fell on each other, fearful of their increasingly insane Overking and eager to steal neighboring land. Ivid attempted to ensure loyalty by having his generals assassinated and reanimated as undead with all the abilities they possessed in life. In turn, he received the same treatment from the church of Hextor, after which he became known as Ivid the Undying. Southwest of the City of Greyhawk, a half-ore named Turrosh Mak united the tribes of the Pomarj. Turrosh Mak’s armies boiled north, conquering several cities, and capturing nearly half of the Principality of Ulek. The appeals of Prince Corond of Ulek to Yolande, the elven Queen of Celene, fell on uncaring ears. Celene closed its borders to even its most trusted allies. By 584 CY, decade-old paranoia regarding the Scarlet Brotherhood came true, as advisors in courts throughout the Flanaess were revealed as Brotherhood agents. The Lordship of the Isles, Onnwal, and the Hold of the Sea Princes fell under the influence of the Scarlet Brotherhood thanks to treachery or invasion. Barbarians from the Amedio Jungle were used to secure captured lands. The Brotherhood was revealed as an order dedicated to preserving the culture and racial purity of the ancient Suloise Empire. For three years, all of the Flanaess flew the banner of war. Demons and devils from the Outer Planes were summoned by unscrupulous wizards, and thousands died. Finally, the battleweary combatants gathered in the City of Greyhawk to declare peace.

Autumn of 584 CY saw the signing of the Pact of Greyhawk, an event that would close various hostilities plaguing the continent. On the Day of Great Signing, Greyhawk suffered a great treachery, as Rary, one of the Circle of Eight, destroyed his companions, Tenser and Otiluke, in a great magical battle. Many suspected that Rary wished to hold the ambassadors hostage, but instead, he fled to the Bright Desert to form his own kingdom. Fearing further disruptions, the delegates hurriedly signed the pact. Ironically, due to the site of the treaty signing, the conflicts soon became known as the “Greyhawk Wars.”

The Flanaess Today (591-592)

The Flanaess today stands within the portal of a dynamic new age. The last decade has seen the destruction and arrival of dozens of kingdoms. Refugee migrations have spread legends and beliefs far and wide. Today the common person of the Flanaess encounters a greater intermingling of cultures than at any time since the great migrations. With this tremendous upheaval comes opportunity for great profit and gallantry. The Flanaess is rife with adventure, and awaits those who would shape its future.

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History Of Oerth

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