Proper Name: Archbarony of Blackmoor
Ruler: His Luminous Preponderancy, Archbaron Bestmo of Blackmoor (NE male human Ftr11/Wiz4)
Government: Actual government structure unknown; numerous nonhuman tribal leaders in area
Major Towns: Dantredun (pop. 700), Blackmoor Town (ruined), Egg of Coot (pop. 180?; many automata)
Provinces: Ten underbaronies (four ruined)
Resources: Walrus ivory, copper, gems (II)
Coinage: Currently none; old coins found in many ruins (standard types in odd shapes)
Population: 110,000—Human 37% (FOsb), Orc 20%, Halfling 18%, Elf 10%, Gnome 7%, Half-orc 5%, Half-elf 2%, Other 1%
Languages: Common, Flan, Orc, Halfling, Elven, Gnome
Alignments: LN, LE, NE*, CE
Enemies: Iuz, Wolf Nomads (sometimes)
Overview: The Archbarony of Blackmoor is possibly the most remote realm in all the Flanaess, situated between the western shores of the Icy Sea and the eastern edge of the Burneal Forest. The land of Blackmoor also includes the northern fringe of the Cold Marshes, and fully encompasses the Gloomfens, as the locals call the northern arm of the marshes. The northern border is vague, but few settlements lie within sight of the ominous Land of Black Ice.
Little is known for certain of the government of the archbaron; his court has no relations with those of the sovereigns of other lands. The militias of the small underbaronies are typically leather-armored villagers, wielding shortspears, longbows, or slings. The archbaron’s personal guard includes perhaps three score “knights” (heavy cavalry of offensive mien), and heavy and medium infantry made up of several hundred human and half-orc soldiers. All are located in the town of Dantredun, now the capital of Blackmoor. Many more nonhuman soldiers can be called up from the surrounding area.
Dantredun is a stonewalled city with rotting wooden gates that stand open day and night. Few invaders have ever bothered to threaten the city, though kobolds from the Burneal Forest are a constant nuisance. Many small villages and forts dot Blackmoor’s lands, often built near volcanic vents or hot springs. The occasional sharp tremor or emission of poison vapors is a common hazard in this northern land.
The former capital of the archbarony, called Blackmoor Town, now lies in ruins that overlook Blackmoor Bay. Atop its highest hill are the fabled remains of Blackmoor Castle. An orc “king” holds court at the Castle, claiming to rule the town in the name of the Egg of Coot, whose forces conquered the town fifty years ago. It is unknown who or what the Egg of Coot is, though he (it?) seems to possess magical ability of the highest order and is responsible for creating the nonhuman “automata” that populate the land immediately around his home.
The lands of Blackmoor are steeped in magic, often called Oerthmagic, the source of which has not yet been identified. Legend says that the numerous mounds and standing stones throughout the archbarony were created by the Northern Adepts of Old Blackmoor (presumably a cabal of Ur-Flan sorcerers) to constrain the encroaching Black Ice. If so, perhaps the stones also hold power against the demigod Iuz, for he clearly avoids the land.
History: Before the time of the Great Migrations, the moors north of the Cold Marshes were inhabited by the Tuocts, a Flannish tribe who dwelt in stockade-like hill-forts and built hill-forts on the rocky outcroppings protruding from the marshland near the numerous hot springs throughout the region. These remote tribesmen were little troubled by the events in the southern lands, though their own tales say that the Black Ice had already filled the northern valleys. It is not known what, if any, civilization existed in the far northern land before the Ice claimed it, but the rumor of evil in the north was old even when the Oeridians and Suel were new to the Flanaess.
The Suel were in fact the first outsiders to have a significant effect on the lives of the native Flan. Cousins of the Ice Barbarians calling themselves Zeai, or Sea Barbarians, colonized the Tusking Strand and Brink Islands north of Blackmoor. They raided the native villages, though this was little enough to the Flan, who raided each other constantly. The Zeai learned also of the City of the Gods and the Egg of Coot, and stood in awe at the looming menace of the Black Ice. Soon other peoples learned of these wonders as well.
Oeridians and some Suloise from the southern lands appeared in Blackmoor, usually in small bands, seeking treasure and magic. On their trail came more substantial groups, outcasts of other lands who wished to create their own domains. These minor barons built the first castles, and brought a new kind of warfare to the moorlands. The natives were driven from the most habitable regions, and were forced to take shelter in the bogs. Here they encountered the Hopping Prophet, and many joined his growing band of followers. Elsewhere in Blackmoor, the lichlord Ranial the Gaunt, Lord of Dantredun, Scion of Tenh and enemy of Great Kingdom, organized resistance to the Aerdi, creating the Crown of Blackmoor in an attempt to wield the Oerthmagic against the invading armies. He ultimately failed and was defeated at the Battle of Toadwash and the Great Kingdom made even this distant land a subject state. Blackmoor was first made a province of the Great Kingdom, and at the crowning of the first Overking saw its establishment as an Archbarony in the writ of Imperial Aerdy.
Viceroys of Ferrond administered the archbarony, but they took little interest in Blackmoor apart from occasional punitive actions. They did build the Stornawain Road through the Cold Marshes, linking the Northern Reaches with the archbarony, but the route was never maintained by the local lords and barons. Eventually, Blackmoor was released from the grasp of Furyondy and the Great Kingdom, unwanted and forgotten. Rumors of another lich-lord rising to power in Blackmoor were lost amid the general upheaval of the early 300s CY, as the Relentless Horde swept across the northlands and completely cut off the archbarony from the southern realms.
Adventurers still traveled to Blackmoor, searching for the legendary City of the Gods or testing their mettle in the dungeons of Castle Blackmoor. This was fortunate for the archbaron, for the Dungeoneers’ Tax was one of his few sources of income. Even this trade came to an end when the Egg of Coot conquered the capital, Blackmoor Town, and destroyed both town and castle. His orc army made the castle and upper dungeon levels their stronghold, but his elite nonhuman shock troops continued to do battle even after their enemies were gone. This race, called qullan in the Nomad dialect (after their mottled appearance), remains a hazard from Blackmoor to the Barrens to this day.
The Greyhawk Wars did not touch Blackmoor directly, but new immigrants have arrived in the aftermath, all fleeing from the evil of Iuz. Teuod Fent (N male human Wiz13 (illusionist)), a former Bandit King, now styles himself baron of Ramshorn. His successful raids on the slave-trains of Iuz have brought many former Tenha, bandits, and even Shield Landers into Blackmoor. Archbaron Bestmo has as yet taken no direct action against this possible threat to his authority. Iuz, meanwhile, does no more than send the occasional nonhuman contingent into Blackmoor, and a number of these have already deserted. The Egg of Coot has taken no action yet, either; his goals, as always, are inscrutable.
Locations and Settlements:
- Dearthkettle Keep
- Broomsage Abbey
- Ramshorn Castle
- Mosshold & Tonnsborg
- Blackmoor Town
- The Egg of Coot
- The City of the Gods
- The Temple of the Toad
- The Wizard’s Wood
Conflicts and Intrigues: Archbaron Bestmo is said to be searching for the fabled Crown of Blackmoor. Wolf Nomads have spotted forces of Iuz roaming the Cold Marshes, avoiding Blackmoor proper. The Wolf Nomads propose an alliance with local enemies of Iuz, coordinating raids from the north and west.