Proper Name: (formerly) Combination of Free Lords; (now) Bandit Lands (within the Empire of Iuz)
Ruler: Various petty warlords and tyrants or Lesser Boneheart mages, all supposedly in service to Iuz
Government: Many loosely allied petty dictatorships, currently “administered” (often in name only) by occupying forces of Iuz
Capital: (formerly) The largest city in the strongest fiefdom, usually Rookroost; see “Provinces,” below.
Major Towns: Alhaster (pop. 4,700), Balmund (1,300), Groucester (1,100), Hallorn (540), Kinemeet (2,300 humans, 5,000 orcs), Marsakeer (630), Narleon (2,400), Riftcrag (pop. 5,000), Rookroost (17,500), Sarresh (3,600), Senningford (1,200), Stoink (13,300)
Provinces: (Formerly) seventeen independent fiefdoms, number variable over time; (now) various illdefined territories governed from four “regional capitals” (Hallorn, Riftcrag, Rookroost, and Stoink); entire region is itself part of the Empire of Iuz
Resources: Silver (in Rift Canyon)
Coinage: Various currencies produced by each fiefdom or stolen from sovereign nations Population: 475,200—Human 79% (OFSb), Halforc 9%, Halfling 5%, Elf 3%, Gnome 2%, Dwarf 1%, Half-elf 1%
Languages: Common, Orc, Halfling
Alignments: CN, CE*, NE, N, LE, CG
Religions: Iuz (officially), but also Olidammara, Erythnul, Norebo, Hextor, orc pantheon, Nerull, Ralishaz, Kurell, Fharlanghn, Pholtus, Trithereon, Rudd, various goblinoid gods
Enemies: Shield Lands, Furyondy, Stonehold, Rovers, Tenh, County of Urnst, the Pale, Nyrond, Knights of Holy Shielding, Knights of the Hart, hostile factions within Iuz’s command structure (sometimes)
Overview: The Bandit Lands are the most chaotic and uncontrolled of all luz’s captured domains. This is due to their sheer size as it consists of the realm once dotted with the so called Bandit Kingdoms, west of the Artonsamay and Zumker and partly bounded by the Bluff Hills, Fellreev Forest, and Ritensa River. All together, these lands are larger than the Horned and Shield Lands combined. It is simply impossible for any occupier to fully control this territory, just as no single bandit chieftain, no matter how powerful, could ever have ruled them all in the two centuries of their existence prior to the wars. These days, this area is not actually a province as such, instead being broken into huge warlord fiefs centered around four regional capitals.
Rather, luz’s forces have secured key cities, towns and settlements, and recruited as many of the generally evil bandits to their cause as possible. Some 10,000 of the bandits have become part of luz’s troops and raiders, swelling his armies considerably. However, there are great swathes of the land where only chaos reigns. In some areas, luz’s forces may only have been seen once or twice in all the time since the wars began. In others, bandits are left to their own lives as long as they don’t dare to oppose the might of Iuz.
The lands of the Bandit Kings are arable but not especially fertile, being rocky and grossly over-farmed. Some scholars believe the rowdy disposition of the natives can be traced to these agricultural difficulties, since they discourage large settlements and set the stage for banditry by poor farmers against trade caravans moving from city to city.
Despite being largely a land of flat, featureless horizons, the area is home to one of the most stunning geographical features of the continent: the foreboding Rift Canyon. Hundreds of tales and legends tell of how the great canyon came to be. Most know it as a den of foul creatures and strange magical conditions. Presently, it is infested with bandits fighting against the occupying forces of Iuz.
Weather conditions here are generally temperate, though winters tend toward harsh storms and even blizzards throughout late Sunsebb and early Fireseek. In contrast, high summer often brings drought, threatening grain crops and cattle production.
Prior to the Greyhawk Wars, the local lords frequently made war with one another. When the entire realm came under threat from exterior foes (usually the Shield Lands, Tenh, or the Horned Society), each lord sent a portion of his troops; bandit army counts often totaled as high as fifteen thousand troops.
Rulership of the Bandit Lands
luz’s writ runs no farther than his forces can impose themselves, for the most part, and the Bandit Lands are bedeviled by petty conflict among the priesthood and mages of Iuz. Just as the bandit chieftains competed to possess the largest forces, the biggest city base, and the largest herds of livestock, so do the puppets of Iuz now in Rookroost, Riftcrag, Stoink and elsewhere. Indeed, as the map shows, all three have been designated regional capitals, though the regions have not been specified by Iuz.
Cranzer, a Lesser Boneheart mage, is stationed at Riftcrag and is technically the ruler of the lands in luz’s name. What this actually means is that if anything goes wrong and Iuz learns of it, Cranzer gets the blame. Thus, the mage spends much of his time covering up the problems which the key resources, locations and peoples of the land face him with frequently. His position is tricky indeed, for the rulers of Rookroost and Stoink are both ambitious themselves and frequently ignore orders Cranzer sends them or “interpret” them to their benefit. Worse still, Archmage Null and Jumper are frequent visitors and they often “drop in” on Cranzer unannounced. They generally like to leave him with the feeling that the job he’s doing in the Rift Canyon isn’t quite up to snuff and that they would like to see some improvement immediately.
In many areas of the Bandit Lands, the “ruler” is whomever has the troops to enforce his rule. Further, large areas of the Bandit Lands have no settlements larger than hamlets of one to two hundred people. The typical way of life of all but the largest bandit groups does not include settling down in towns and cities. This is especially true of the western margins of the lands, as the color map shows.
luz’s commanders adopt a wide range of strategies for dealing with the Bandit Lands. They vary wildly, from one local commander to another, from time to time, and certainly on the nature and size of the bandit groups being dealt with. Leaders may try to recruit “free” bandits, ally with them, hire them as mercenaries, force them into submission, try to wipe them out, or just warn them away from important roads, cities, towns and fortifications. The bandits respond in a variety of ways, as noted below, but in very few cases can they actually offer any stiff opposition to luz’s forces, especially in the controlled castles and cities. Thus, Iuz hasn’t fully subdued these lands, but they offer him little in the way of stern opposition and aggression.
Though the forces of Iuz now occupy and administer much of the lands of the Bandit Kingdoms, some old political divisions remain, even if entire populations do not. Some states here have survived or even returned to life after Iuz’s conquest of this region, adding chaos to a very tumultuous empire. The following is an outline of these old states and their current status:
- Artonsamay, Duchy of the
- Dimre, Grand Theocracy of
- Freehold, Mighty
- Greenkeep, Defenders of the
- Grosskopf, Grand Clans of
- Johrase, Kingdom of
- Midlands, Stronghold of the
- Redhand, Principality of
- Reyhu, Great Lands of
- Rift, Men of the
- Rookroost, Free City of
- Stoink, Free City-State of
- Tangles, Earldom of the
- Warfields, Unified Bands of the
- Wormhall, Barony of
In the Bandit Kingdoms, the towns of Hallorn, Riftcrag, Rookroost, and Stoink are regional capitals. Hallorn rules the western Bandit Kingdoms, Riftcrag the Rift and Rift Barrens, Rookroost the region between the Rift and the Bluff Hills, and Stoink the southeastern Bandit Kingdoms. Admundfort was designated the regional capital of the Shield Lands in 587, but the island is almost completely cut off from the empire by a naval blockade.
Locations and Settlements in the Bandit Lands
- The Bluff Hills
- The Rift Canyon and the Barrens
- Riftcrag and the Leering Keeps
- Camp Arnsten
- Larn’s Tower and Salfrayfields
- The Wormcrawl Fissure
History: As the migratory Oeridians ranged eastward in their search for a land that would support them, they passed through many regions of inhospitable climate, infertile land, and unfriendly local populations. Chief among these lands were the rugged plains north of the Nyr Dyv, which resisted meaningful human settlement for centuries, even as a strong Aerdi empire created the Viceroyalty of Ferrond to the west. Long held by ill-favored nobles, these “Middle Lands” fell to complete degeneracy when Furyondy cut relations with its progenitor and the courts of Rauxes became inept and mad.
In time, these petty barons established formal, independent domains, loosely aligning themselves as the Combination of Free Lords. This alliance served little purpose internally. The locals fell upon each other with zeal as each lord attempted to solidify his holdings while stealing those of his neighbors. When foreign states threatened the borders of the Combination, however, the lords reacted fiercely, banding together impressive armies to discourage meaningful invasions.
By the early 300s CY, the Bandit Kings had become such a threat that the lords of the Nyr Dyv’s northern shore banded together in their own alliance, a bulwark against banditry and lawlessness forevermore known as the Shield Lands. For more than two centuries, northern and southern lords made war on each other with great regularity. Iuz conquered the far western Bandit Kingdoms between Whyestil Lake and the Ritensa River, which the Horned Society then took for its own in 513 CY.
In 576 CY, Zered, Baron Trallant and oldest son of the Viscount Alhaster, is slain by bandits from Riftcrag while patrolling near Reyhu. The bandits, fearing reprisal, flee into the Rift Canyon. The Honorable Zeech, second son of the Viscount Alhaster, leads a retaliatory attack against bandits in the Rift Canyon to avenge the death of his older brother. During the attack, Plar Lintoff of Riftcrag is slain by Zeech. The Viscount and Viscountess Alhaster are slain as they dine in their castle, apparently by their son, Zeech. Zeech proclaims himself Viscount Alhaster. When the Knights of the Holy Shielding arrived in Alhaster to arrest the Viscount Alhaster, on suspicion of murdering his parents, in early 577 CY, Zeech drove the knights from the city and declared himself Prince of Redhand, ruler of a new independent principality.
Many skirmishes among the fiefdoms in 578 CY when Armies from the Warfields, led by Guardian General Hok, Wormhall, led by Lord Oltagg, Abbarra, led by Rhelt Kor, and Freehold, led by Master Eab Huldor, join the Horned Society to help fight the Rovers of the Barrens.
In reprisal for past attacks, the Duchy of Tenh crosses the Zumker River, conquering the Barony of Grosskopf and entering the Fellands. Lord Skiven of Grosskopf, Lord Despot Avaerd of the Fellands and Plar Teuod Fent of Rookroost ask the other free lords of the Combination for assistance in driving the Tenha back across the Zumker. Hok, Oltagg, Kor, and Huldor abandon the Horned Society and lead their armies eastward to help fight the Tenha.
Horned Society forces cross the Ritensa River in retaliation for the desertions, conquering the Warfields and capturing Wormhall before moving eastward. The Horned Society’s advances are halted by a stubborn defense led by the Abbarrish civilian population.
A truce is reached with the Duke of Tenh in which the various bandit lords agree to cease raiding into Tenh. Grosskopf cedes to Tenh the lands between the Griff Mountains and the Zumker River. Hok, Oltagg, Kor, and Huldor march their armies westward and discover that the Horned Society has overrun the Warfields and occupied Wormhall. Horned Society representatives offer peace if Hok and Oltagg agree to lead their forces south into the Shield Lands the following spring. After Hok and Oltagg agree, the Horned Society army returns to Molag.
Then came the successful invasion of the Shield Lands in 579, Guardian General Hok of the Warfields and Lord Oltagg of the Barony of Wormhall, at the direction of the Horned Society, lead their forces into the Shield Lands. As their successes mount, mercenaries from other bandit fiefdoms, primarily Abbarra, Freehold and Reyhu, join their army. For over three years, their forces ravage the Shield Lands, followed by the coming of Iuz’s human, orc, and hobgoblin armies out of the Horned Society in early 583 CY, crossing into the Bandit Kingdoms before turning on and destroying the Shield Lands. Except for a few pockets of resistance (notably Dimre), most bandit armies buckled beneath the threat of invasion or else suffered resounding military defeat. Those lords who survived the invasion allied themselves with the Old One or else fled to the forests or Rift Canyon.
The war years saw much of the central Bandit Kingdoms become parade grounds for armies of orcs, ogres, and worse. Crucial supply lines to Tenh remained well guarded, as per the personal wishes of Iuz, but deep corners of the land, such as Stoink, Rookroost, and Redhand, encountered few changes under the new leadership. The appearance of a stray orc warband seemed preferable to the tales told of demons walking the streets of the towns of the heartlands.
In late 584 CY, when news from Greyhawk declared an official end to the war, but for skirmishing in the far-distant lands of the Pomarj, Ratik, and the margins of the Lost Lands, and the Pact of Greyhawk had been drafted, the priest Bernel of Hallorn commanded a gathering of bandit forces drawn from these western lands. Ten thousand bandits gathered in northeast Wormhall to confer with their leaders regarding plans for next year’s summer raiding season and to celebrate the war’s end. Bernel was certainly paranoid, possibly completely insane.
As most of them slept in their huge tented campsite, Bernel, who believed that the bandit leaders intended to turn against Iuz and reclaim their lands from Iuz’s control, had over half of them slaughtered by fiends, orc assassins, and lethal magic. More than ten thousand bandit men from Abbarra, Freehold, Midlands, Warfields and Wormhall were attacked as they slept. About half of these men escaped, most badly wounded, and fled overland to refuge in Greenkeep, Tangles, or the Rift. They currently eke out a perilous living in these infertile, poor plains lands and all nurse a grim hatred for Iuz and his forces in their homeland.
Unfortunately, the survivors own evil disposition prevented them from allying against their oppressor. Many of them turned on each other, claiming that the other had co-operated with Bernel, betraying his fellows to ensure his own survival. Thus, the roaming bandit gangs are as likely to attack and kill each other as they are to strike against Iuz’s forces, who rarely patrol these lands any more. Bernel was swiftly replaced by Iuz and is now a prisoner in Dorakaa’s dungeons.
The abandoned campsite, now known as Steelbone Meadows, is overgrown today, with rotting tents, rusted weapons, and scattered bones forming a grim, open graveyard. Though it is likely the massacre went against the wishes of Iuz (who had the mad cleric carried off to an unknown fate), it nonetheless offers a stern warning to those who wish to throw off the puppet rulers installed by the Old One. Perhaps the dying curses of the men slain at Steelbone Meadows have affected one victim, at least. The new commander at Hallorn has suffered a strange fate of his own.
With Iuz’s supply lines badly damaged and his nonhuman armies restless, ill managed, and underfed, this region is riddled with political machinations on behalf of the old bandit lords and new ones yet to appear. Robbed of most of the fiends that made up the backbone of his presence here, Iuz is thought by many to have lost considerable influence in the area. Still, the Old One counts it among his holdings, and a resistance force of any size is likely to encounter frightening, impressive resistance (see Iuz, Empire of).
Conflicts and Intrigues: Thousands of lawless bandits search for ways to regain their independence from Iuz. Many have joined Iuz’s side but subvert Iuz’s orders. Several old fiefs are depopulated and without leadership. If a new lord entrenched himself in this land through force, the Old One would be hard pressed to do much of anything about it.