Proper Name: Free City of Greyhawk (sum of lands controlled by the city is often called the Domain of Greyhawk)
Ruler: His Solemn Authority, the Lord Mayor of Greyhawk, Nerof Gasgal (LN male human Rogue L12)
Government: Lord mayor elected by an oligarchy representing the city’s major mercantile, military, legal, economic, criminal, religious, and magical guilds
Major Towns: Elmshire (pop. 4,000), Greyhawk (pop. 69,500), Hardby (pop. 5,100), Narwell (pop. 4,400), Safeton (pop. 6,100)
Provinces: One metropolis, two small cities, two large towns, and numerous villages and manorial estates run by noble lords, military authorities, or local officials who answer to the oligarchy; land not controlled by urban areas is controlled by Greyhawk military
Resources: Silver, electrum, gold, platinum, gems (IIV), river and road trade nexus
Coinage: Plate (pp), orb (gp), lucky (ep), noble (sp), common (cp)
Population: 160,000—Human 79% (OSfbr), Halfling 9% (lightfoot), Gnome 5%, Elf 3 (sylvan), Dwarf 2%, Half-elf 1%, Half-orc 1%
Languages: Common, Rhopan, Gnome, Halfling
Alignments: N*, all others
Religions: Zilchus, Pelor, St. Cuthbert, Norebo, Fharlanghn, many others
Allies: Duchy of Urnst, Furyondy, Nyrond, County of Urnst, Veluna, Verbobonc, Dyvers, Shield Lands
Enemies: Pomarj, Iuz, Bright Lands, Scarlet Brotherhood, various evil cults (Iuz, Vecna, Wastri, Nerull, etc.), Horned Society
Overview: Nestled in a river valley near the geographic center of the Flanaess, the City of Greyhawk is perfectly suited for trade coming from the Lake of Unknown Depths to the north and Woolly Bay to the south. Here the rich and the poor share the same outer walls, though their worlds are divided into separate cities, new and old. Coin from as far away as Blackmoor changes hands in the city’s markets, and the opulent mansions on the hill overlooking the city attest to the wealth generated by its markets. This wealth brings artisans, scholars, and laborers to Greyhawk. It also breeds a brand of thieves that has given Greyhawk a reputation for shadowed villainy that spans the continent.
Treasures plundered from ancient tombs in the nearby Cairn Hills first brought Greyhawk to prominence hundreds of years ago. Every decade or so, someone discovers the entrance to an unexplored cairn, and the hills crawl with swordsmen and wizards consulting ancient maps and bizarre historical riddles. The presence of Castle Greyhawk, the greatest treasure laden tomb of all, ensures the interest of those who live by sword and spell, making adventurers an important part of the city’s social fabric.
The city of Greyhawk controls a sizable estate ranging from the northern coast of the Woolly Bay to the southern shores of Midbay in the Nyr Dyv. The Cairn Hills (including the scattered extension that leads up to the city walls called the North Hills) and the Abbor-Alz mark the eastern limits of this domain, while its western boundary is generally considered to lie within the Gnarley Forest and along the edge of the Welkwood. The other towns in the Greyhawk territory each have their own history of independence. Were the entire region not threatened by upheaval in the adjacent lands, none of them would willingly submit to Greyhawk. The “empires” of the Pomarj and the Bright Desert lands are seen as unstable, but quite dangerous. In addition, neither Dyvers nor Celene, Greyhawk’s western neighbors, hold any affection for the free city; the Duchy of Urnst, to the east, is a luke-warm ally.
Greyhawk endures a midwinter period of 10–16 bitter weeks, when night brings temperatures as cold as 20 degrees below zero. Daytime temperatures remain below freezing for 11–20 days per year.
The Cairn Hills spare the city from the worst of the northern winds off the Lake of Unknown Depths, but the shacks on the banks of the Selintan and some of the cruder constructions of the Slum Quarter are far from safe. Every day holds a 25% chance of precipitation of a half inch or less. During the winter there is a 60% chance that the precipitation will fall as snow to a depth of 1-6 inches.
Greyhawk is girdled by 30 feet high curtain City Walls built from blocks of Cairn Hills granite fitted together in a tight pattern and is 18 feet thick at the base (where a splay confounds would be rams). The platform along the top is ten feet wide, with a parapet running along both the inside and outside edges.
The soldiers of the free city are typically armed with sword and club, and also include a substantial number of crossbowmen. They are provided with chainmail and shield, with the exception of the Hardby Marines, who wear leather armor. The Greyhawk Militia patrols the entire region, dealing with unruly elements such as bandits, Rhennee, orcs, and assorted monsters. The Greyhawk Militia’s strength is focused in the south, facing endless raids by orcs and goblinoids from the conquered Wild Coast. The army includes the seagoing Hardby Marines of Woolly Bay, in their six war-galleys, and the Mountaineer Militia of the Abbor-Alz, with a score of griffon-riding “skymen” attached.
Sooner or later a trouble-seeking people are bound to tangle with Greyhawk’s City Watch. The notoriously bribe-friendly officers of the law attempt to defuse hostile situations with stern verbal warnings and eventually the application of nonlethal force. If seriously threatened, they draw their weapons and defend themselves, often to the death. No one bothers to conduct investigations into these incidents, which are most common in the Thieves’, Slum, and River Quarters.
All those wishing to enter the city must explain their business to the Watch, who take pains to question all comers – especially foreigners. Those hailing from realms hostile to or at war with the Domain of Greyhawk are barred from the city – as are humanoids and monsters. All granted access to the city must make their mark on a roster that is carefully kept by the Watch.
Seven gates pierce the city’s external walls. All are warded by patrols of the city Watch and most remain open between sunrise and sunset. Four gates – Black, Highway, Garden, and Cargo – are larger than the others, reaching 16 feet in height and a total entrance width of 24 feet. In all other respects mentioned here they resemble their smaller kin.
The gates consist of two doors of iron banded roanwood, 12 feet high, 8 feet wide and 1 foot thick. Cargo and the Highway gate are larger – 16 feet by 12 feet; all are backed by an iron portcullis. Two 40-feet high towers flank each gate, forming heavily fortified gatehouses.
The two gates within the city – Black Gate, leading from the Old to the New City, and Garden Gate, leading from the upper district of the city into the Foreign Quarter and Clerkburg in the more crowded central district – divide the city, in function if not necessarily by intent, into three classes. The Garden Gate remains open except in rare instances of emergency, such as riots or panic. The Black Gate, on the other hand, is closed during the deepest hours of the night.
The Free City of Greyhawk is divided into eight districts or quarters. The oldest of these are the Thieves’ and Slum Quarters. These lie east and west, respectively, of the southern end of The Processional – the broad avenue that runs the length of the city from the Highway Gate in the south to the Grand Citadel in the north. Together, the Slum and Thieves’ Quarters make up the Old City, which is separated from the New City by the Black Wall.
In Old City, south of the grimy Black Wall, agents of the Thieves’ Guild are everywhere. In this long-shadowed area of leaning tenements and filthy streets, a man’s life is worth less than his shiny brass belt buckle. The penniless laborers who keep the city running dwell in squalid conditions here amid the wanton criminals and desperate beggars. Opportunity and wealth seem distant notions, zealously guarded privileges kept forever out of reach.
Immediately north of the Black Wall lie the Artisans and Foreign Quarters (the former on the east side of the Processional, the latter on the west). Clerkburg lies north of the Artisan’s Quarter, faced across the Processional by the infamous River Quarter. These districts (which make up the Middle City) are separated from the High and Garden Quarters (the Upper City) by the Nobles’ Wall. The Garden Quarter stands atop bluffs overlooking the Selintan, while the High Quarter occupies the slopes of the city.
- High Quarter
- Garden Quarter
- The Foreign Quarter
- The River Quarter
- The Artisan’s Quarter
- The Thieves’ Quarter
- The Slum Quarter
Three districts of note lie outside the city walls. The Wharf District occupies a narrow strip of land along the Selintan in the Shadow of the city’s western wall. The collection of shanties at the northern end of the wharf is called Shacktown and is considered a separate district. A far more orderly district is emerging at the opposite end of the city, just outside the Highway Gate. In recent times it has come to be called the Wainfields for the large numbers of caravans that halt here before entering the city proper.
The Selintan River and the River Road that runs alongside it are the main avenues of travel in the lands of Greyhawk, connecting Woolly Bay to the Nyr Dyv. The Western Road carries traffic to Dyvers and beyond, while Urnst Trail crosses through the Cairn Hills to the east. Trade from all across the Flanaess passes through the free city, and people of all nations can be found there. In addition to being a center of commerce, Greyhawk is a city of learning. The University of Magical Arts and the Grey College, among others, attract numerous students here. Finally, it is also a city of diplomacy; statesmen and politicians from nations throughout the central Flanaess serve as ambassadors to this domain, forging alliances and treaties.
Governance of the city falls to fifteen members of the Directing Oligarchy, a council of coequal members who represent various interests in the city. The Directorate, as it is sometimes called, elects one of its members to sit as Lord Mayor, with the current title held by Nerof Gasgal, an aging politician who has strong ties to the Thieves’ Guild. Due to his influence and the presence of several of his guild fellows on the Directorate, many believe that the city is managed by thieves, an assumption not far from the truth.
Ambassadors in the Free City:
As a matter of course, the Ambassadors of Greyhawk meet with the Directors in the City Hall on the first day of each Festival Week, under conditions of extreme security. These meetings are usually rather strained affairs. Nonscheduled meetings are arranged periodically as the need arises. Some ambassadors (Furyondy, Nyrond, Veluna) meet with Directors more regularly. Informal meetings between individual ambassadors and Directors are held rather secretively and are considered off the record.
In the fine print of conditions in the Pact of Greyhawk, diplomats may not carry out espionage, magically scry upon other diplomats or Directors, or perform other actions that are “incompatible with diplomatic status.” The fine print on this clause is endless, and is a matter of pragmatism. The Greyhawk authorities won’t worry too much about a little spying, so long as they feel they know about it and it doesn’t hit a real nerve (such as spying on Nerof Gasgal).
Other Mercenary Groups in Greyhawk
Many mercenary and adventuring groups visit Greyhawk, among other cities (Dyvers, Verbobonc, etc.), looking for employment.
History: A thousand years ago, the area now called the Domain of Greyhawk was entirely wilderness, more widely forested than it is now. Nomadic Flannae hunted and fished along the banks of the Selintan and the shores of the Nyr Dyv. The Flannae also traded and hunted with the olven who lived in the western end of a great forest that covered what is now the Wild Coast, Celene, the Plain of Greyhawk, and much of the land south of the Velverdyva River. Next to nothing is known of Flan history before this time, though it is possible these people were descendants of empires or states that had long ago collapsed into barbarism. The only due is the monolithic StoneRing, built by the druidic priests of the local Flan for their ceremonies, which still stands outside Greyhawk’s eastern city wall by Ery Trail. It is now claimed by the followers of Beory.
Investigations of the many burial cairns in the Cairn Hills hint at the possibility that the hills, for their seclusion, were colonized for a time by wizards predating the arrival of the Suel in the Flanaess. (The four known Star Cairns in the Abbor-Alz are guessed to be only 400-500 years old). The nature of the builders has never been established with certainty, however, and some sages believe that beings from other worlds or planes settled here for unknown reasons. How they interacted with the Flan and demihumans of the area at that time is also unknown. Only dwarves kept written records of this ancient time, but these accounts have been sealed and hidden, their location and contents guarded by the clergy. The and privation to seek the fabled security of the uncivilized lands beyond. These were joined after the Rain of Colorless Fire by a flood of weary survivors who walked directly through the Crystalmists by way of the Passage of Slerotin. This magically engineered tunnel, which was recently rediscovered and is now being explored, exited at the border of the present-day Yeomanry. Though the new land they entered was green and fertile, most Suloise pressed eastward, eager to put as much distance between themselves and their decaying empire as possible.
The last of the Suloise to migrate beyond the Crystalmists, the Houses of Rhola and Neheli, took possession of the vast and fertile Sheldomar Valley. When southward-moving tribes of Oeridians entered the valley and the inevitable conflicts were finished, the two peoples united and created a new civilization to bury their dark memories of old. In this manner, the Kingdom of Keoland was founded in 303 OR.
The majority of the Suloise moved on. They spilled out of the Sheldomar Valley, heading eastward through passes in the Lortmil Mountains until they reached the forests and plains between the Nyr Dyv and Woolly Bay. Some of the Suloise attempted to cross north of the Nyr Dyv, but they were driven back by tribes of warlike Oeridians who had followed the Velverdyva River downstream, still seeking their destiny. Many of these Oeridians settled along the Velverdyva, forming the core of the land that would be later called Ferrond by the Great Kingdom, and Furyondy and Veluna today.
A few Suloise clans settled around the western shores of Woolly Bay, circa 300 OR (just over 340 years before the first Overking was crowned). Most were driven to the isolated coast by infuriated olvenfolk of what are now the Gnarley Forest, Welkwood, and Celene. Along this poor strip of land, the Suloise established the Wild Coast’s long traditions of independence, adventuring, and seafaring, as well as treachery, slavery, theft, brigandage, piracy, tracking with humanoids, and so on. Certain humanoid bands encountered by the Suloise in the Lortmils were encouraged by threats or bribery to join the Suloise as partners in their exploitation of the coast; wicked demihumans of every local race also found this trouble-prone region to their liking. A ruined city of the Suloise is said to lie under the roots and boughs of the Suss; it is thought to have been a river port along the Jewel, southwest of Elredd, and was a center of wickedness for centuries before it fell. Descendants of its folk are said to have founded the city of Badwall.
The majority of the Suloise moved farther east, following Flan legends of a great fertile plain fed by a great river and rich with wildlife. They crossed the Selintan (where the less hardy settled down as fishers and farmers), avoided the reptile-infested Mistmarsh, then crossed over the Cairn Hills into a vast, temperate prairie every bit as rich as the Flan legends had promised, though with no rivers of consequence. The invading Suloise drove the hunter-gatherer Flan southward, away from the Nyr Dyv and its plains into the Abbor-Alz. Some Suel mistakenly went south into the Bright Desert, thinking their paradise lay in that direction. When they discovered otherwise, they could no longer fend off the vengeful Flan tribesmen of the hills, who kept the desert-bound Suel as virtual prisoners there. The descendants of each side live in this desolate region even today.
The luckiest Suloise settled the prairie and river valleys to the south and east of the Nyr Dyv, establishing a rough civilization that eventually brought out their better side. They called their slightly tyrannical kingdom Urnst, after an ancient imperial House of the Suel. Other Suloise moved to the northeast and east, pursued (once more) by the barbaric Oeridians, who had paralleled the eastward progress of the Suel across the central Flanaess by passing north of the Nyr Dyv. Though many believe the Suloise who moved toward the Thillonrian and Tilvanot Peninsulas were driven solely by the Oeridians, evidence suggests that these late-migrant Suloise clans were first forced out of the settled lands around the Nyr Dyv by their more civilized fellows, who had grown tired of banditry and chaos, and yearned for rest and security.
The Oeridians, meanwhile, had cleared and settled the region north of the Nyr Dyv, and they blended with the Suloise east of the lake. Led by the most powerful tribe, the Aerdi, the majority of the Oeridians moved farther to the east, following the very same Flan legends of a magnificent fertile river plain that had drawn the Suloise. The Oeridians’ luck could scarcely have been better. They encountered ever-more-marvelous lands open for the taking, crossing the Franz, Duntide, and Harp Rivers and leaving slain monsters and cleared farmsteads in their wake. Finally, in the easternmost reaches of the Flanaess, the Aerdi encountered the mighty Flamni River basin. All that remained was to shoo the Suloise and Flannae out of the area, and the Kingdom of Aerdy was born.
This left behind the Suloise who had wearied early of the migration and built their homes on the banks of the Selintan River. A small amount of trade existed between the settled and civilized Suel of Urnst, encompassing both the modern-day duchy and county of this name, and the Suloise outcasts who held the Wild Coast (as it was known even then). Adding to this was a westward trickle of goods from the Oeridian land east of Urnst called Nehron, after the tribe that settled there. A similar eastward trickle came from the Kingdom of Keoland, founded over a century before the Kingdom of Aerdy (303 OR for the former, 428 OR for the latter). The Suloise along the Selintan River contributed little to this traffic, but a few prospered by locating fords, running ferries, boating small cargoes down to Woolly Bay, and establishing inns and farms to sell meat and produce to hungry travelers. Four early settlements are notable.
The oldest, Naer’s Well, began as a cluster of farmsteads near a large spring circa 260 OR. This turned into a fortified inland village that traded goods with coastal communities and any olvenfolk tolerant, daring, or corrupt enough to deal with the villagers. Naer’s Well (now Narwell) immediately gained a nasty reputation for supporting local bandits, who served the town as scouts and guerilla fighters during wars with enraged olvenfolk, woodland monsters, humanoid bands, and Suloise neighbors.
Safe Town (now Safeton) sprang up on the coast itself, trading with Naer’s Well, sending out fishing boats and small trade ships and sponsoring privateers that raided the seafaring merchants of other Wild Coast towns. As the town developed, it began quarrying stone to build the homes of its most powerful citizens, who would have been petty warlords anywhere else. Safe Town was called such as it was so able to defend itself from external assault, though the town itself was quite lawless in its early years. (When the town became much better policed in the current century, it was said to have always had safe streets – a common remark that simply isn’t true. After the fall of the southern Wild Coast, Safeton has slid toward evil once more.) Safe Town and Naer’s Well, for all their drawbacks, lacked a large humanoid population that became characteristic of Wild Coast cities farther south. This put the northern cities in slightly better stead with the much-abused olvenfolk to the west
In 366 OR, a Suloise wizard named Fria Norbe left Safe Town aboard a small merchantman with a group of hirelings. She was a follower of Wee Jas, the Suel goddess of magic, and wished to settle an area where she could research her spells in peace. She ordered the anchor dropped in a secluded inlet just to the east of the mouth of the Selintan, where she flew ashore and chased off a few Suloise-Flan fishermen. She claimed the bay as her own, named it Norbe Harbor, and ordered her hirelings (and the local fishermen, when they returned) to begin construction of a small village and tower. The effects of plague and bad weather eventually changed the settlement’s name to Hard Bay. Ena Norbe eventually married the captain of her guard, had six daughters, and established the Gynarchy of Hard Bay (later Hardby). The Gynarch’s authoritarian rule was mild compared to that of other tyrants along the Wild Coast; though considered cold and ruthless, she had remarkable success in defending the town against pirate raids from Wild Coast cities across Woolly Bay.
The Gynarch and her descendants became very popular, and their subjects quite loyal and aggressive. All of the Gynarch’s daughters learned spellcasting, married soldiers and merchants, and had more daughters. Only the daughters of Ena Norbe were allowed to govern and own land (which was parceled out as fiefs to vassals, in feudal tradition), and no one dared defy their magic to change this tradition. However, the men (and those women not related to the Gynarch) were able to make a good living from fishing, farming, hunting, and trading, and strong merchant relations were soon established with the Wild Coast cities to the west and Greyhawk to the north. The dark blue inlet of Hard Bay turned out to be remarkably deep, allowing access to not only the shore-hugging merchantmen, cargo rafts and oared galleys of the time, but (later) larger cogs and caravels, and even massive deep draft carracks, freighters, and galleons.
Hardby has remained an independent town for most of its existence, reaching its zenith about 205-220 CY (849-864 OR), when Gynarch Jik Jonnosh’s marines and navy conquered and burned a number of pirate-sponsoring villages along the Wild Coast north of Safeton, claiming all lands up to 10 leagues from the coast. This claim was allowed to lapse when no further raids were forthcoming, though Safeton, Fax, and Highport, farther south, proved to be troublesome as always. The town has otherwise weathered plagues, fires, pirates, war, famine, monsters, humanoid assaults, and insanity in one Gynarch who nearly cast the town into the sea. Thanks to many local bards and the Gynarchs’ penchant for recording every detail of daily life for posterity, this town’s history is the most complete of all communities in the region, perhaps including Greyhawk.
The fourth settlement of note, of course, is Greyhawk, which was known by that name from at least 330 OR, after the small gray hawks native to the region. (The city’s nobles and oligarchs greatly prized these birds). Greyhawk was born as a log trading post surrounded by shacks on the Selintan River, at about the point where Cargo Gate is today. Goods and foodstuffs came from the settled Oeridian Ferroi tribe living along the upper Velverdyva, in what is now Furyondy and Veluna, and from the Oeridian Nehron tribe by the Duntide River (now Nyrond: nehr/nyr meaning “lake,” after the Nyr Dyv – the “deep/bottomless lake” to the west).
Dwarves and gnomes in the hills of the Lortmils traded fine iron weapons for magical devices, with which to fight their bitter, endless war with the goblins and orcs there. Their Suloise cousins of Urnst and the elves of the Gnarley Forest had also begun to trade among themselves overland, and Greyhawk was a natural stopover between east and west Further, trade and fishing boats from Safeton, Fax, Hardby, and several coastal villages were able to move up the Selintan to Greyhawk and to the Nyr Dyv beyond. This crisscross of traffic (river vessels going north and south, and caravans and traders going west and east) served to expand Greyhawk steadily over the next few centuries. It gained a reputation as a primitive, lawless, but enjoyable and profitable meeting place for merchants from all nearby lands.
Bigger things were in store, however. In 535 OR, the Nyrondese cavalry was defeated by Aerdy forces commanded by nobles of House Rax, during the Battle of a Fortnight’s Length. Shortly, all the lands from the Harp River west to the Nyr Dyv swarmed with Aerdi farmers, hunters, fishers, merchants, bandits, and soldiers. This conquest changed the character of the Kingdom of Aerdy, which saw its destiny as the rulership of all the Flanaess.
In 645 OR (1 CY), the first Overking, Nasran of House Cranden, was crowned in Rauxes. The Kingdom of Aerdy was an empire, and its borders rolled unstoppably west and north. At this time, the outer borders of the province of Nehrond (as the name was corrupted by the conquering Aerdi) reached the Cairn Hills and AbborAlz.
Greyhawk would probably have remained a muddy hamlet had it not been for Marat Nial. In 4 CY, an opportunistic infantry captain in the service of the Great Kingdom of Aerdy, Nial (originally from Greyhawk) crossed the Cairn Hills with a large band of ex-soldiers, men who had served with him in the Nyrondal campaign a year earlier. Having earned a captain’s commission and a small fortune in booty, he arrived at the village of Greyhawk, proclaimed it conquered without bothering to have a battle, and set about with his men building a motte-and-bailey keep in exactly the spot where the Grand Citadel stands today. (Nothing of this keep now remains.) Nial’s authority was not challenged by the villagers, who had no possible way to overthrow him. One and all feared they would soon fall victim to the ruthless exploitation for which the Aerdi were becoming quite notorious. They could not have been more wrong.
Nial is viewed in hindsight to have been clever and wise beyond the judgment of his peers. He declared his domain to be part of the Great Kingdom, which brought about an imperial tax obligation but also boosted the land’s security from banditry and piracy with the resources of the Overking. (It also prevented a more violent “conquest” by other landhungry migrants.) Rather than pillage his subjects, Nial taxed them quite lightly except for the local merchants, who were taxed more heavily but appeased by the granting of “royal” monopolies on handling of land and river traffic.
Nial ordered packed-earth roads built from Greyhawk south to the independent port of Hard Bay (now Hardby) and west to the river town of Dyvar (Oeridian for “deep water,” now called Dyvers). Dyvar benefited from its land and water trade links to Greyhawk, becoming a major trade city in its own right as a part of the Viceroyalty of Ferrond (established circa 100 CY). Annexation brought taxes, but also stability and development. Trade grew and the town with it.
The self-styled Lord Nial seems to have run an effective protection racket involving the rising merchant traffic that flowed east and west as the Great Kingdom swiftly grew in its first century. The ancient cairns of the Cairn Hills had been discovered by Suloise settlers centuries earlier. Explorers began to plunder the tombs and their looted contents flowed east by ship to the Nyr Dyv ports of the province of Nehrond, or west and south by barge and overland caravan, depending on the origin of the tomb-looters. Traffic heading toward Greyhawk seems to have been remarkably free of bandit troubles, while caravans of silver ingots and ancient jewels heading in other directions were frequently attacked and robbed. It was soon clear that safety lay in allowing Lord Nial’s soldiers to guard the caravans and in sending all treasures directly through Greyhawk, where the local merchants happily shipped it or traded for it. This wealth caused Greyhawk to balloon into a sprawling river port within a decade; by about 15 CY, its population rose from perhaps a couple hundred souls to several thousand. In what is now known as the First Treasure Rush, this boom foreshadowed the later boom in “adventurer traffic” from the dungeons of Castle Greyhawk, but it unfortunately gave rise to a long tradition of semi-legal banditry in the Cairn Hills.
Lord Nial became very rich and now oversaw a well-trained force of hundreds of warriors, all intimately familiar with the local terrain. For Nial’s service to the empire, the Overking saw fit to grant him and his descendants the title of Landgraf of Selintan, Selintan being the official name of his domain in addition to the river. He controlled a territory from the foot of the Cairn Hills south to the Neen River, and west across the Selintan River to the border of the Gnarley Forest. (It must be said that this region was barely settled during this time and monsters were common, so his claim far exceeded his actual reach.) The establishment of Selintan led to a further boom in trade, as the region was perceived as more secure than it actually was. Greyhawk’s geographic importance in linking the core of the empire with its westernmost provinces escaped no one, and many merchants moved to Greyhawk in hopes of seizing a monopoly on any form of overland or river trade.
Lord Nial’s son and heir, Ganz, was more a bureaucrat than a soldier, more a manager than a leader. However, he was a very good manager, and he had all of his father’s shrewdness. Ganz married Maro, the daughter of the then-current Gynarch of Hardby, forging a loose but lasting alliance between the two towns. Though Greyhawk and Hardby have been competitors in political and mercantile fields for centuries, and the relationship between the two is prickly at times, the two have never warred with one another, and they nearly always support one another in times of danger. Ganz also established many accounting procedures that have survived to the present day, greatly improving business practices in both towns.
About 43 CY, Ganz oversaw the repulsion of a humanoid army from the Abbor-Alz led by six spellcasters; this force had unsuccessfully tried to storm Hardby a week earlier. Ganz and his wife recruited several local wizards and appropriated magical items from various citizens (by force, it is said), then used their hastily assembled resources to generate horrifying illusions that broke the morale of the attacking humanoids. Ganz then posted substantial bounties for the capture or death of the six spellcasters who led the humanoids. Unsavory adventurers set out at once from Greyhawk and Hardby on the trail of the commanders, who were all slain by year’s end. The best of these bounty hunters were hired by Ganz for other services, a practice that, in later years, led to the founding of the semi-legal Guild of Assassins in Greyhawk.
The heirs of Ganz and Mato (who became Gynarch in 49 CY) oversaw a domain with vast potential. With Selintan tied to the Great Kingdom (albeit by fairly loose strings), settlement of the region expanded steadily. Greyhawk’s reliance on trade and dislike of distant authority figures (in other words, the Overking) gave it a libertarian character. Even the nobles of the town were careful to distance themselves from the Great Kingdom in both word and deed when officials from Rauxes were not among them. The town also became notorious for the large number of con artists, thieves, and crooked merchants who flocked to it in hopes of making their fortunes in the free-for-all trade environment
Corruption among fellow merchants could be tolerated, as there was wealth enough at the time for all. However, banditry in the Cairn Hills became a serious problem, and these bandits were in no way allied with the Selintan Landgrafs. The town of Greyhawk was enclosed in walls about 200 CY, this later becoming the Old City. The Grand Citadel was also rebuilt as a huge stone fortress, with a large garrison of Aerdy troops stationed here. This show of force succeeded in driving away many of the brigands in the countryside, and in winning the grudging respect of local citizens. It also gained the ire of several evil religions that had become established in Greyhawk. After the garrison commander and the Landgraf of Selintan were both assassinated in 209 CY, the next officer in line declared martial law and led his force into the town itself. His soldiers burned several evil temples to the ground, massacred every worshiper of evil gods that could be hunted down, and seized their property. This event, the Expulsion of Evil, established the policy of intolerance for wicked deities and priests that continues to this day.
The new commander, Ponjes the Bull, reordered the town’s government as well. As the de facto ruler of the region (the young landgraf had left no heirs), Ponjes ordered the formation of a council of the most important town leaders. He included priests, merchants, the heads of the Watch and town militia, and anyone else he felt had political pull. This council met monthly to discuss important issues, and Ponjes’ willingness to listen to the townsfolk made him popular. Few grumbled when word eventually came that the Overking had appointed Ponjes the new Landgraf of Selintan. Ponjes did not use the title, instead calling himself Mayor of Greyhawk. He spent the rest of his life there, rooting out much of the corruption that threatened to choke off trade to the town.
The period up to 254 CY was marked by a new surge of trade. More houses were built along the road leading from the walled town of Greyhawk to the Grand Citadel. (Wealthier citizens built their mansions close to the citadel.) A strong textile industry sprang up and the town exported carded wool and yarn from the many flocks kept in the Cairn Hills. Local hunters were able to preserve their game in sea salt from Woolly Bay, shipped north by Hardby, and a large meatpacking trade began. Exploration of the Cairn Hills and Abbor-Alz by treasure-hunters continued, and the peculiar Silver Metal Cairn was discovered and later lost. Hardby became particularly powerful in the early 200s under Gynarch Jonnosh, whose navy and marines cleared many pirates from Woolly Bay; that town operated independently of Greyhawk once again.
Also at this time, the Rhennee first appeared in Greyhawk. Some came overland by wagon from the Duchy of Urnst, fleeing persecution farther east in the Great Kingdom, but others came by boat, having learned with great trouble to navigate the rivers of the central Flanaess. The Rhennee seemed confused by the flora and fauna of this land, and they claimed to have come here from another world or plane they called Rhop. Their exact origins and how they came to the Flanaess have never been established, but certainly, they are not native to Oerth. They are thought to have first appeared in the Flanaess in the area around the Adri Forest circa 150 CY, moving west to avoid harassment by Aerdy soldiers and citizens. The Rhennee increasingly left the land to become migrants on the central rivers, until very few land-dwelling Rhennee now exist. Relations between Rhennee and Greyhawkers were never good, but they found more acceptance in the Free City than in the Duchy of Urnst or elsewhere.
However, the boom was not to last and this period was also marked by the noticeable decline in the quality of Aerdy rulership from Rauxes. This time, called the Age of Great Sorrow, led to an important change in 230 CY, when Aerdy soldiers were withdrawn from Greyhawk and the landgraf was charged with defending the Selintan region using only the local militia. This order was briefly rescinded in 254 CY when Furyondy declared itself independent of the Great Kingdom, putting Greyhawk right on the Great Kingdom’s border with the former viceroyalty.
In 254 CY, misrule by the Overkings of Aerdy drove the imperial Viceroyalty of Ferrond to rebellion. Trade plummeted in the inevitable war that followed. Worse was to come, Over the three quarters of a century, a succession of weak overkings ruled Aerdy, each more incompetent that the last. As the treasure in the cairns dried up and imperial taxes strangled trade, Greyhawk fell into a deep slump. the streets were overrun with cutthroats and outlaws fleeing justice elsewhere in the Great Kingdom. The city’s nobles were scarcely better, having grown fat on bribes and corruption. A large imperial force was stationed at Greyhawk, with a smaller force camped outside Hardby, but their skirmishes with the Furyondian army came to nothing. The Overking withdrew most of the troops in 261 CY, leaving a small garrison at Hardby until 277 CY.
As the Aerdy army left, the Landgraf of Selintan was ordered to bring his militia up to imperial standards and defend the Great Kingdom’s border with the Kingdom of Furyondy. However, the landgraf (Ponjes’ son, Omt, often called Omt the Hairy had been holding secret talks with representative of King Thrommel I in Dyvers. He knew Greyhawk was in no danger from the new kingdom, which believed that seizure of Greyhawk would provoke a determined counterattack from Rauxes’ huge military forces in Urnst. Omt chose instead to further boost Greyhawk’s grip on east-west trade, and he successfully argued for official in Urnst to accept Furyondian goods. River trade, which had fallen off during the Furyondian secession, swiftly rose to comfortable levels.
By 310 CY, however, Greyhawk had fallen into a slump. A series of particularly bad Overkings had levied so many taxes and tariffs on merchant cargo that all trade with Furyondy had nearly ceased. Many businesses in Greyhawk collapsed or moved elsewhere. Trade was still conducted with a number of states and cities by river, but the Rhennee were difficult to deal with.
Monsters were appearing in larger-than-usual numbers in the Nyr Dyv, and “bandit kings” were spreading across the northern shore of the vast lake. Greyhawk became a haven for
criminals fleeing Aerdy justice farther east, and its Oligarchy (as the city council was now known) had become corrupt and petty.
Into this mess came a wizard named Zagig Yragerne, rumored to have been born somewhere on the Wild Coast and was a thought to be a full distant heir of the first Landgraf, Lord Nial. Zagig was short, inclined to be heavy, and had a round, flushed face. The earliest records of his presence in Greyhawk often call him the “laughing mage” or “the mad;” he was known as an eccentric with an unfathomable sense of humor. Zagig brought some wealth with him, which he used to build a small manor north of the city in the Cairn Hills. He managed to get a seat on the town’s oligarchy by bribing everyone currently on the council, then managed to have himself elected mayor. The rest, as they say, is history.
Zagig’s rulership as lord mayor and landgraf was unquestionably the most successful in the history of Greyhawk. The list of achievements his administration brought about are staggering. He reformed the city’s legal code, established a city currency, reformed the militia and led it to many victories over bandits in the Caim Hills, had the Midbay channel to the mouth of the Selintan marked with buoys and lights, founded the Guild of Wizardry, invited scholars to Greyhawk to create colleges, had the city’s sewers and the Free City Arena built, oversaw the creation of two mines in the Cairn Hills (Diamond Lake and Steaming Springs), organized the first Desportium of Magick, and so on. Zagig became so rich that he had his manor rebuilt and enlarged almost a dozen times, until a whole industry existed in the city just to support Zagig’s building whims. The colorful lights atop the three spires of Castle Greyhawk could be dearly seen from the streets of the city, glowing in the distant northern hills, until the new walls were built after Zagig’s reign ended. The phrase “Gem of the Flanaess,” as applied to Greyhawk, was coined by Zagig himself in a speech outlining his desire for the city to become the “keystone of civilization.” He refortified the city, reformed many of its more onerous laws, established a university, and brought great prosperity to the region as a whole. His construction of Castle Greyhawk was an unparalleled achievement of engineering. While some of his projects seemed without purpose or even destructive, his rule in total was of great benefit to Greyhawk and its inhabitants.
Zagig’s reign was remarkable in other regards. During this time, the royal House of Rax-Nyrond rebelled and formed the Kingdom of Nyrond, effectively cutting Greyhawk off from all contact with the Great Kingdom after 356 CY. This event was much celebrated in Greyhawk, which had long suffered under the chaotic impulses of the Rax Overkings. Zagig failed to declare Greyhawk a free city at the time, possibly believing (as did almost everyone else) that the Great Kingdom might still conquer Nyrond and return to claim Greyhawk as well. Possibly, he just didn’t care. The Kingdom of Keoland reached its greatest heights at this time, and Furyondy underwent a revival in the arts and literature. Trade did not so much bloom in Greyhawk as explode, with unbelievable fortunes being made every month as caravan and ship traffic stretched Greyhawk’s manpower and resources to their limits. It was an age of greatness without parallel – but it came with a price.
If Zagig was Greyhawk’s greatest ruler, he was also undoubtedly its most dangerous and perhaps its most feared. Zagig’s eccentric personality appeared to gradually deteriorate after 370 CY, and the Oligarchy and many citizens were in terror of his humor and his rages. It became dear to many that Zagig had ceased to age, and his magical powers became so astounding that his every word became law: no one dared defy him. Accounts of this time read like reports from a world of dreams and madness. Among the minutes of a typical meeting of the Oligarchs during Growfest, 400 CY, is a note that Zagig was accompanied by a black dragon he had captured in the Mistmarsh, a small army of homonculi, a flesh golem dressed as the Overking, and an unidentified artifact that burned off the little finger of one of the Oligarchs when Zagig toyed with it. (How the unlucky Oligarch reacted to this event is not recorded.)
It was obvious by 395 CY that Zagig had unlimited power but was wholly insane. He planned the layout of great walls that would surround the part of Greyhawk south of the Grand Citadel up to the northern wall of Old City (encompassing what is now the New City), but apparently meant for them to be made of elemental forces such as water, fire, or air. How this would affect the citizenry did not seem to enter his consciousness at all. The city both thrived and suffered in the last years of his rule. When privately asked what he could possibly want in a city that had everything, an unnamed Oligarch had a quick, one-word reply: “Sanity.”
Then came the day in 421 CY when Zagig did not appear for a meeting of the Oligarchy. He was not seen by mortal beings on Oerth thereafter. This day, Coldeven 8th, has been quietly commemorated ever since by Greyhawk’s Lord Mayor and Directors, who share a single, unremarkable loaf of bread and several cups of water for lunch at the Lord Mayor’s home. The Lord Mayor opens the meal with a short but heartfelt prayer to the gods that Greyhawk remain, for all practical purposes, “normal.”
By 430 CY, the city had recovered somewhat from Zagig’s long reign. His castle was found to be abandoned but guarded by spells and creatures that defied the imagination; it was believed cursed and soon abandoned. New walls (of normal blocks of stone) were built around the city, and the various quarters were established. After a tragic incidence of meat poisoning in 432 CY, the first of the great guilds of Greyhawk was formed, the Guild of Butchers. More guilds were swiftly created when the collective bargaining power of the butchers was realized, and the Oligarchy was forced to permanently reduce taxes for guildmembers to avoid a general revolt. Tales of unrest, open rebellion, and civil war in the distant Great Kingdom intrigued the citizens but had little effect on their daily lives. Ships and merchants of the Iron League were welcomed in Greyhawk, and when the Ulek states and Celene organized themselves into semiindependent realms, their merchants and representatives were welcomed as well.
Of more concern at home was the tension between the Duchy of Urnst and Nyrond, which
some feared would break out into a general war (which had nearly happened a century earlier). This, however, remained a war of words at most between the capitals of Leukish and Rel Mord. Less pleasant was the news from the north, of a conqueror named Iuz who was rumored to be of other-than-human stock, and of the fall of Perrenland to the humanoid armies of a witch named Iggwilv. The Hateful Wars began in 498 CY with savage, no-quarter fighting spreading throughout the Lortmil Mountains and Kron Hills between humanoids and the dwarves and gnomes. Greyhawk aided the demihumans with money and goods, not wishing to lose the trade in precious gems the dwur and noniz supplied.
Ultimately, his eccentricities took him far from his duties as ruler. He was also without heir. The year 498 CY marked a turning point in the city’s international politics as well. Lord Mayor Paerinn (in his only notable act while in office) declared that Greyhawk was then and forevermore a free city, unallied with the Great Kingdom or any other known state. It was clear to all that any association with the Great Kingdom was undesirable given the atrocious behavior of the Naelax Overkings. Greyhawk stood to benefit in many ways from such a neutral stance in politics, though unfortunately, it would be some time before this advantage could be realized. No longer beholden to the overking of Aerdy – stating in law what had been true in fact for over a century and slicing all political ties with the Great Kingdom. The old Landstadt was abolished, and absolute authority was formally vested in the Directing Oligarchy.
A major problem was on the horizon for Greyhawk – within the city walls. The disappearance of Zagig Yragerne created a power vacuum in the city. The Oligarchs had been mere figureheads for several generations, and the city was ripe for corruption. Within a decade of Zagig’s last appearance in the city, numerous thieves and crooked businessmen formed a broad alliance to enrich themselves on the enormous volume of trade to which they had access. Parodying the many guilds in town, the leader of the thieves, thugs, smugglers, and charlatans of the city’s underworld named his organization the Guild of Thieves, and the name stuck. The Guild of Thieves soon had several members on the Oligarchy in its pay, and eventually grew to such power that even the Greyhawk Militia obeyed the orders of its guildmaster. Greyhawk’s trade volume began to drop as foreign merchants sought new shipping routes to avoid the ever-increasing bribes and tariffs placed on their goods
Greyhawk lost its authority over much of the associated territory after 500 CY, most notably the Wild Coast and Hardby. In Hardby, the female wizards, knights, and nobles restored the sovereignty of the gynarchy, though by tradition the title of gynarch belonged to House Yragerne. Therefore, the women of Hardby named their new ruler the despotrix, ruling over a domain extending from the lower Selintan to the Abbor-Alz.
However, as the century turned, a new treat arose to Greyhawk’s peace and prosperity. Though beginning with great promise with the legacy of Zagig, the city quickly fell and for a time, the future was bleak indeed Greyhawk was dearly in decline once more. The war in the Lortmils was in doubt. In the lawless lands north of Whyestil Lake, Perrenland had freed itself from Iggwilv’s domination, but Iuz (rumored to be the witch’s child by an unnamed demon) began carving out a realm for himself with fiendish aid and openly stated his intention to pluck the “Gem of the Flanaess” to highlight his crown, and bragged that he planned to visit the city himself. Dread and panic spread through the streets of Greyhawk, yet Iuz’s boast came to nothing.
Then, in 505 CY, Iuz mysteriously vanished, leaving the burghers of the free city to breathe easy again. Stories spread from unknown sources that the monstrous tyrant had indeed come to Greyhawk, but he had run afoul of a trap set long ago by Zagig in the depths of the nearly ruined Castle Greyhawk. In 510 CY, the Hateful Wars ended with the demihumans triumphant. Great celebrations were held for days in Greyhawk by local dwarves, gnomes, and their human supporters. This joy was muted when, in 513 CY, the “Poor March” peninsula, governed by petty human lords, fell to the forces of the orcs, goblins, and other humanoids driven from the Lortmils. Still, the Pomarj could be militarily isolated to prevent the humanoids from ever escaping again to trouble the Flanaess – or so everyone thought at the time.
Then new trouble appeared to the north in the wake of Iuz’s fall. A group of evil humans calling themselves the Homed Society established a state that threatened river traffic from Furyondy, then threatened Furyondy itself, as well as the Shield Lands bordering the Nyr Dyv. Several attempts were made by the Horned Society to infiltrate Greyhawk’s government and militia, but these were detected and stopped with some difficulty.
Reform in Greyhawk was also on the horizon. Realizing that the Thieves’ Guild’s excesses were driving away profits, the Union of Merchants and Traders (itself infiltrated by numerous thieves who sought legitimate sources of income) threatened to leave the city and move its operations to Dyvers or Umst. The guildmaster of the thieves, Yavos the Elder, agreed with the union, but a significant number of high-level thieves had no desire to lose their highway to wealth. Nearly all of these “old-guard” thieves were followers of Kurell, and they were already considering a war to unite all thieves under the direction of the priests of Kurell. Fighting broke out within the upper ranks of the Guild of Thieves in 533 CY and casualties were great. Many lower-level thieves fled the city for their lives. When the war ended, the great power of the guild was broken, and the reformers had won out.
Under Yavos the Younger (whose father died in the fighting), the Guild of Thieves changed its tactics and began working almost hand-in-hand with the city’s merchants and businessmen. A rough system of paid protection and guardianship was established Though the merchants hated it, they recognized the futility of preventing every theft, and they came to appreciate the value in having the city’s criminals not only avoiding their premises, but acting to prevent foreign and nonguild thieves from taking their goods. Yavos was even given a seat on the Directing Oligarchy, and the Guild of Thieves achieved an air of legitimacy that astonished foreigners (and many citizens of Greyhawk, too).
The subsequent rumored appearance of a Guild of Assassins in the city was even further cause for amazement, and not a ’ little fear. Every death in the city thereafter was suspected of being caused by hired killers, when in fact almost none were. The Guild of Assassins was formed by a group of guild thieves who were ordered to hunt down several priests and thieves of Kurell who had escaped the guild war in 533 CY but were now making trouble for Greyhawk’s merchants in Dyvers. The vengeful thieves accomplished their mission so well that they were made a permanent enforcement arm of the guild. In a short time, they became a separate entity and began to serve the needs of the Directing Oligarchy as well, successfully assassinating a Hierarch of the Horned Society who tried to enter Greyhawk and stir up a revolt among the masses.
In the mid-500s, a Wild Coast wizard named Mordenkainen quietly began to confer with several sorcerers in the Greyhawk area about the possibility of forming a group dedicated to the preservation of the Flanaess from external threats. This group became known as the Circle of Eight, an outgrowth of an earlier group of eight powerful individuals formed by Mordenkainen known as the Citadel of Eight, said to be headquartered in the Yatil Mountains at Mordenkainen’s retreat. A few of the members of the Circle of Eight have been publicly named, such as Bigby and Tenser. The latter was already a semi-resident of the Domain of Greyhawk, as he had taken control of an ancient castle on the southern shore of the Nyr Dyv near the city Two other mages known to have joined the Circle were Bucknard (who vanished in 579 CY and was later replaced by Jallarzi) and the ancient mage Leomund, an immigrant from the east who retired from the Circle in 576 CY and has been little seen since. Otiluke replaced him later that year.
The reasons for the creation of the Circle of Eight were many. The Hierarchs presented a growing threat to the security of the north, and their network of spies and assassins had to be defended against. Equally troubling were a number of evil cults arising in supposedly secure areas such as Verbobonc and Furyondy; a continuing threat from the morally decayed but militarily overwhelming Great Kingdom; and several power-mad wizards and priests of the time who saw Greyhawk (like Iuz before them) as a gem to be plucked for their own or shattered under their heels. The most infamous of these evil spellcasters was Iggwilv, believed by Mordenkainen and others to still be alive and capable of returning to Oerth. Hardly less notorious was the rogue wizard known as Murq, who, in 561 CY, kidnapped two-score children of Greyhawk’s noble families and fled the city. The fate of the children was never determined, though a group of adventurers (subtly guided by the Circle of Eight) tracked down Murq in the far north and, through a magical construct, prevented him from attacking the city again. The fate of Murq and the children was never revealed to the public.
The invisible manipulations of Mordenkainen and his two groups soon had notable results. They quietly directed, in part, the downfall of the Temple of Elemental Evil in 569 CY in Verbobonc, foiled Iggwilv’s conquest of Oerth in the 570s, disrupted plots of the Horned Society and Iuz, and performed other deeds too numerous and sensitive to mention, primarily by arranging for adventurers to take up these causes as their own. A major consequence of this group’s use of adventurers to investigate a certain area or perform a given task was a sudden boom in the exploration of the ancient cairns in the hills around Greyhawk, with the discovery of several new burial sites in the Abbor-Alz that were named the Star Cairns. Greyhawk Castle was again the scene of determined exploration by seekers of treasure and magic, and the City of Greyhawk saw a flood of would-be heroes fill its streets and taverns, spending wildly before they departed on their expeditions and returning (if they came back at all) with strange tales and bizarre artifacts that drew even greater crowds.
The seeking of treasure in Castle Greyhawk itself had unintended consequences. Iuz was suddenly freed from imprisonment in the dungeons under Zagig’s old castle in 570 CY, to the great consternation of those in Greyhawk who saw the half-fiend briefly when he emerged from the ruins. He then returned by magic to his old kingdom in the north. Several members of the Circle of Eight attempted to prevent Iuz’s escape but were unsuccessful. Other powerful beings, some of demigod status and some demon lords, appeared around this time, also apparently freed from captivity by their own struggles or the careless intervention of adventurers such as Lord Robilar of Greyhawk, a Wild Coast warrior who displayed a bad habit of setting evil monstrosities loose from their magical bonds. Every powerful being freed from Castle Greyhawk blamed Zagig personally for his or her imprisonment and vowed revenge as they fled to recover from their ordeal.
Awful as this was, the city could not escape certain remarks made by these enraged beings that hinted that Zagig was still alive and active long after he was believed by all to be dead. Then came the revelation by Mordenkainen and several of his associates that they believed Zagig (now called Zagyg, a variation that the archmage often used at whim in signing documents when he was Lord Mayor of Greyhawk) to not only be alive but to be a demigod; several of the Circle accorded him their worship. Priests could cast spells in Zagyg’s name, and Zagyg was discovered to be a servant of the god of magic, Boccob. The cult of Zagyg has since gained a minor following in Greyhawk, though it has never been strong in his adopted home town.
A violent conflict in the Old City of Greyhawk between the Thieves’ Guild and the Union of Beggars in 571 CY led to a portion of the Old City being burned down by accident, at the same time that the Thieves’ Guild reached a new pinnacle of power. A master thief named Nerof Gasgal had decided to make a career in politics after surviving a traumatic exploit; he became Lord Mayor of Greyhawk in 570 CY at the age of 30 (not the youngest Lord Mayor ever, but nearly so). His close friend, Org Nenshen, became Guildmaster of Thieves and an Oligarch in 572 CY after the death (by natural causes) of Arentol, who led the guild to victory over the Beggars’ Union. The two brought great dynamism to the government of the city, and they were able to improve business conditions and bring in foreign merchants and tradesmen to settle as citizens, adding to the pool of local wealth and talent. Glodreddi Bakkanin, long-time Inspector of Taxes for the city, was encouraged to develop new sources of income for the city’s coffers, and this he did with enthusiasm and cunning. (The appearance of the annoying People’s Constables in 575 CY was one of Glodreddi’s more financially successful projects.)
The Oligarchy also reformed Greyhawk’s currency in 579 CY, simplifying it to the relief of many. Greyhawk was widely acknowledged once again as the center of civilization, and it attracted many powerful individuals who saw the city safely through the twisted plotting of several evil cults (for example, the monstrous Falcon and her Spurned Cult of Iuz, and the terrifying Cult of Vecna, both of which made bids for power in 581 CY). Diplomats from foreign countries began appearing in the neutral Free City to negotiate international agreements on trade and regional boundaries, which further boosted Greyhawk’s image abroad.
In 574 CY, the Oligarchy was joined by Turin Deathstalker after the entire upper hierarchy of the Guild of Assassins was slain by a summoned mezzoloth. (An insane wizard had arranged for the summoning in case he was ever killed, with the mezzoloth to hunt down his murderers. As fate would have it, the wizard threatened the City of Greyhawk, and the Guild of Assassins was dispatched to eliminate him.) Turin improved his guild’s intelligence-gathering abilities further than ever, and this was of great help to Greyhawk in learning of troop movements across the Nyr Dyv when war between the Horned Society and the Shield Lands began in 579 CY.
Greyhawk finally recovered several decades ago, benefiting from dungeon-loot taken from several major troves discovered in the region, particularly beneath the ruins of Castle Greyhawk. By the time of the Greyhawk Wars, the city was again being called the “Gem of the Flanaess” (a term coined by Zagig) and received increasing numbers of visitors. Greyhawk was perceived as an unassailable place of refuge, and some Shield Landers, made homeless by the fighting, moved there during 580-582 CY, when the Shield Lands fell entirely to the forces of Iuz at the start of the Greyhawk Wars. Greyhawk’s territory, as noted earlier, expanded greatly as a result of the Greyhawk Wars.
In the aftermath of the wars, refugees replaced many of these visitors. Some of the wealthier refugees purchased invented titles, with the prerequisite counterfeit histories and lineages. As a result, the true history of the city and surrounding region is slowly being overwritten. Many see this as the price of growth and success. Greyhawk is, for all its difficulties, more vital and prosperous than it has been at any time since the departure of Zagig Yragerne.
When the Pact of Greyhawk was signed in Harvester 584 CY, Greyhawk’s Lord Mayor and Directors had laid claim to a large amount of territory guarded by the largest army Greyhawk had ever fielded in its history. The most direct threat came from Turrosh Mak’s empire in the south, but the traitorous archmage Rary, agents of the Scarlet Brotherhood and Iuz, and the priests of banned religions had the ability to destroy Greyhawk from within. A terrible plague in Elmshire in 583 CY was a frightening blow to Greyhawk’s security as well. The rebirth of the Circle of Eight in 585 CY, a year after Rary slew two fellow members before the signing of the Pact, was thus welcomed by all in the Free City.
Between 585 CY and 591 CY, Greyhawk has undergone further changes. Secret support once sent to Furyondy to maintain its fleet on the Nyr Dyv has ceased, but this invisible support money now flows east to Nyrond to keep King Lynwerd I in power and avoid the complete collapse of the kingdom. King Lynwerd reduced taxes, which gave his subjects more money to spend on foreign goods, which brought back many merchants to Nyrond in search of markets. The Scarlet Brotherhood’s stranglehold on the straits between the Pomarj and Onnwal means the riverfront is not as busy as it might be, but many vessels do choose to pay the fees demanded by the Brotherhood for passage, and so Nyrondese merchantmen join vessels from Keoland at the docks. Emissaries from the United Kingdom of Ahlissa’s Royal Guild of Merchants now confer with their opposites in Greyhawk’s Union of Merchants and Traders. The prosperity of the times caused the fragmenting of some guilds and reordering of others to boost their standards, gain more wealth, and expand their markets. Many of the war refugees that once crowded the city have been relocated to outlying villages, where they have been given small farms and allowed to build new lives while supplying Greyhawk with more agricultural produce and tax money. Other refugees with strong skills have started new businesses or added to old ones.
With northern overland trade routes blocked by the Empire of Iuz, and with the great importance of naval traffic between the states of the Nyr Dyv and the Azure Sea through Woolly Bay, the militarily secure City of Greyhawk is again the center of business for all the Flanaess. How long it will hold this position in an age of political uncertainty is unknown, perhaps even to the gods.
Conflicts and Intrigues: Evil cults are suspected of gaining footholds in the city, if not making the city their new headquarters. Violent crime is rising. Narwell, Safeton, and Hardby struggle to take power from the oligarchs and gain independence. The threat from the Pomarj is as great as ever. Rumors of Scarlet Brotherhood (See the Scarlet Brotherhood in Greyhawk) spying, sabotage, and assassination are rife. Bandits are rising in the Cairn Hills. Relations with the Duchy of Urnst are strained over their mutual border.