A Long Slow Fall
The subsequent inexorable decline of the Great Kingdom can be seen in two stages. The first is the beginning of the many secessions from the Overkingdom, with Furyondy the first to establish independence in CY 254 and Veluna and Tenh following soon after with Perrenland re-asserting its independence. The decisive blow was the division of this royal house in CY 356 when the Nyrond branch rebelled.
The attempts of the then-overking, Portillan, to reconquer Nyrond were stymied by an assault on the North Province of Aerdy from Flan barbarians which forced Portillan to defend his own lands rather than reconquer Nyrond. With the Urnst states and the Theocracy of the Pale swiftly following Nyrond’s path, Aerdy’s dominance was broken.
While further secessions would follow, such as Almorian independence and a relatively short-lived attempt to ally the South Province with the Iron League, these would not be of major importance.
However, the second element of the Great Kingdom’s decline now came to the fore. While some overkings had been less than masters of warfare or diplomacy, the House of Rax produced a succession of inept rulers. Galren, Portillan’s son, was a half-wit. In turn, Galren’s son and heir, Sonnend, was a drunkard who left all affairs of state to his advisers. Further ineffectual and weak rulers followed their dismal reigns. Some were said to be insane, but this was mostly untrue—save for feeblemindedness now and again.
This produced a vital change in Aerdi society. Local rulers who were members of other royal houses began to use their titles of prince rather more aggressively. They began to enact more laws of their own, to administer local taxes increasingly independently of the overking, to build fortifications not only for themselves but for their own leigemen who came less and less to answer to the overking and more and more to obey only their own local lords.
Mercenary armies became more common, and some princes conquered slices of other princes’ lands. The drunken, enfeebled, or effete overkings allowed this to happen.
The House of Naelax was the first to use humanoid mercenary troops around the Adri Forest for provisioning raids late in the fourth century. And it was this royal house which came increasingly to the fore.
At this time, the Great Kingdom still had a relative freedom and equality of many priesthoods, although those of Lawful alignments were dominant. In Rauxes itself, the priesthood of Pholtus still played a commanding role as advisers, judges, and mediators. However, Naelax aligned itself firmly with the burgeoning priesthood of Hextor. In a land with increasing strife and struggle, this aggressive evil priesthood became more influential as the decades passed.
Before many years went by, Prince Ivid of Naelax acted decisively to oust the wretched Rax ruler.
Carl Sargent. Greyhawk Adventures, Ivid the Undying, 1995