Hardby (small city): Conventional; AL: LN; 15,000 gp:
Assets: 3,325,000 gp;
Population: 5,100, Mixed (human 72%, half-orc 22%. halfling 2%, dwarf 1%, gnome half-elf 1%, elf 1%).
Authority Figures: Ilena Norbelos (NG Female human Wizard L13), Despotrix of Hardby; Wilbrem Carister (LN male human Fighter L9), Military Governor of Hardby and Commander of the Hardby Marines; Retep Mandel (LE male human Rogue L5/Assassin L4), Chief Secretary to the Military Governor,
Important Characters: Deirdre Longland (LG female human Fighter L3/Cavalier L4), Gynarch and Justicar of Hardby; Aleeta Norbelos (NE female human Wizard L7), Gynarch of Hardby and Judge of the Law Courts; )avka Gemeskir (NG female human Rogue L3/Cleric of Lirr L3), Didatrix to Despotrix Ilena; Mirian Rinshand (LN male human Rogue L10, Factor of the Royal Guild of Merchants of Aerdy.
Temples: Ehlonna (forests, woodlands), Joramy (fire, volcanoes, wrath), Lirr (literature, art), Mayaheine (protection, justice, valor), Myrhiss (love, beauty), Norebo (luck, gambling), Osprem (sea voyages, sailors), Pelor (sun, light, healing, protection), Procan (seas, navigation), St. Cuthbert (common sense, wisdom, discipline), Wee Jas (magic, death, vanity), Xerbo (seaborne trade), Zikhus (power, money).
Overview: Lying on the northern shores of Woolly Bay, the port of Hardby was once a free city with a proud history longer even than that of its more illustrious northern neighbor, the city of Greyhawk. Uniquely, Hardby was ruled by women, collectively known as the Gynarchy. Under their leadership the city once counted itself the equal of the Gem of the Flanaess.
The Greyhawk Wars brought Hardby’s long tradition of independence to an end. Reduced to a vassal of Greyhawk City, the Despotrix of Hardby is now little more than a figurehead. Despite this, the long shadow that Greyhawk casts over its neighbor conceals the machinations of many who would see the Free City humbled. The shame and anger of its enslavement have made Hardby a nexus for Greyhawk’s foes.
A busy seaport, Hardby is the gateway between the central Flanaess and the realms of the south. News of the war in Onnwal, whispers of the fabulous wealth of the new overking of Ahlissa, and tall tales of the strange, sweltering jungles of Hepmonaland are all to be found in the city’s taverns. Vessels bound for these destinations and many others throng the harbor. Adventurers intern on exploring the rugged and dangerous southern Abbor-Alz or the Bright Desert beyond often make Hardby their base. Some return with fabulous wealth or tales or Rary the Traitor. Most do not return at all.
Within the walls of Hardby itself, plots multiply among the disparate factions vying for control of the city. The despotrix is dying, and already the struggle to succeed her rages among the Gynarchs. Even as they bicker, sinister foreign powers seek to exploit the city’s internal divisions to their own ends. Hardby yearns to free itself from Greyhawk’s yoke, but in doing so it may replace one set of shackles with another.
Hardby lies on the eastern shore of Hard Bay, an inlet of Woolly Bay. The dark-blue waters of the harbor are deep enough for ocean-going vessels to navigate, while the sea cliffs on its southern and western shores ensure a sheltered anchorage. Hardby is a town that relies on its waterways to survive. Most of its money comes from the trade of goods entering or leaving its docks or from businesses that support people who work on the sea and shore – hostels, boarding houses, taverns, inns, brothels, and others. The original town wall follows the curve of the bay, though the city has grown nearly three times as large since that time. A wooden palisade has been built to protect those sections of town beyond the stone city wall.
Two lighthouses, which double troop garrisons, flank the city on its southern shore, with a second pair on opposite arms of Hard Bay. Rising from the water in front of that fourth tower are two massive statues. One depicts a bearded heavyset man of late middle age the other a slim, short, bearded fellow; both have their fists raised as if to box each other. Decades ago, a Gynarch commissioned these statues as a reminder of the violent and foolish nature of men and a symbol of the enlightened rule of the Gynarchy. They serve as a symbol of Hardby’s feminine spirit.
The Districts of Hardby
The oldest portion of the city lies between the bay and the Great Wall, a 20-foot-high stone structure strengthened by a series of square-built watchtowers. The district of Northend, also known as High Chapel houses most of Hardby’s administrative and military buildings. Hardby’s waterfront bristles with wharves, piers, and jetties. Along its length lies the rowdy Dock District, a chaotic assembly of inns, taverns, and flophouses. Between the docks and the Great Wall lies the residential and meatpacking section known as Fishtown, home to myriad maritime crafts, industries, and spacious warehouses.
The rest of the city, the portion of Hardby without the Great Wall, is divided roughly between the market Trade Town, where merchants barter with each other for their wares, and a sprawling residential district called the Ebbfields that hosts merchants, Greyhawk soldiers, and minor nobles, as well as artisans’ shops and quality inns and is girdled by a ditch and wooden palisade.
- The Great Wall and Lighthouses
- Northend (High Chapel)
- Dock District of Hardby
- Fish Town
- Trade Town
- The Ebbfields
- Hinterland of Hardby
A wooden stockade protects the buildings beyond the city wall. A few miles inland stands the Gynarch’ s Estate and Hardfield Manor, owned by a minor branch of the Gynarch family that has long avoided politics. Outside of the dock district, the city is pleasant and peaceful, with wide streets, attractive buildings, and plenty of open space, although it pales in comparison to the city of Greyhawk.
A small road leads westward from Hardby to the town of Orz, and another, known both as River Road and North Route, goes westward along the shores of the Woolly Bay to the town of One Ford and eventually reaches the city of Narwell.
Entrance to the city is open to all, whether on foot, by horse or wagon. A tax of 10% on all goods sold is levied on foreigners trading within sight of the city. This encourages merchants to pledge allegiance to Hardby and establish a permanent shop to avoid the higher tax. Due to the nearness of the Orcish Empire of the Pomarj and the comparatively wild Abbor-Alz, carrying weapons is legal in the city, but drawing a weapon is punishable by a hefty fine and imprisonment.
The Gynarchy has enough younger sisters and cousins to have wizard advisers present in all courts. They will use divination spells to verify the truth of statements and evidence in all but minor cases. Theft, vandalism, and breach of contract often result in sizable fines or confiscation of property of equal value, or the perpetrator may be sentenced to perform public service or join the militia (one day of service equals 10 gp value). Fighting in town occurs often enough that a strict punishment for fighting would quickly land half the town in jail; thus, as long as no serious injuries result, those involved are usually freed within a day. Still, brawls may turn violent enough to result in one or more deaths, and punishment for such crimes can be just as brutal. Penalties for manslaughter include payment of a wergilt (100 gp per character level 1), forfeiture of property, being sold into indentured servitude, and even beheading (depending on how heinous the crime is).
Maritime legal matters are decided by a ship’s captain who acts as judge and jury. He may mete out any punishment he chooses. The Hardby pilot’s office provides services to navigate the bay and trade inspectors to catch smugglers. The city has no thieves guild of its own, for most professional thieves in Hardby act as independents or belongs to Greyhawk’ s guild.
Hardby’s Trade Council consists of six merchants, six rivermen, and one judge. Six members (three merchants and three rivermen) are elected every three years by the merchants, dockworkers, and sailors of Hardby. The judge is elected every five years by the guardsmen of Northend and staff of the city courts. Currently, all six rivermen on the council are
from the Greyhawk Mountaineers or the Hardby Marines.
Hardby currently claims all the land within 15 miles, although such a claim is somewhat moot since the city is currently controlled by Greyhawk. Hardby uses Greyhawk coinage, not being large enough or influential enough to justify minting its own. It commands a decent amount of trade with salted fish and small farming, but most of its income derives from
shipping goods. Its major clients are the human towns and demihuman mines to the east in the Abbor-Alz sending their goods west to the Wild Coast and north to Greyhawk and cities along the Nyr Dyv. Although the Scarlet Brotherhood’s blockade of the Densac Gulf has limited the amount of trade from the south, the dock masters have high hopes that the United Kingdom of Ahlissa will soon begin shipping goods westward from the coastal city of Prymp in the Relmor Bay.
Hardby’s population is mostly human. As much as 20-25% are half-orcs, longtime residents of the region that have proven their loyalty to the city. The remaining population, less than 1%, are elves, gnomes, dwarves, and halflings. As in Greyhawk, the churches of Pelor, Cuthbert, Xerbo, Osprem, and Zilchus are the most popular, with a small following for the Suel goddess Wee Jas (magic, vanity, law) who is mainly worshiped by the Gynarchs. There is also a church of Berei (home, family, and agriculture) and the recent addition of a temple to the martial deity Mayaheine (protection, justice, valor; a servant of Pelor).
Of the six war galleys that the Hardby Marines operate, one is based in Safeton, one has made port in Hardby, and the other four sail patrols across the northern part of Woolly Bay. There are at least eighty Hardby Marines at home in the city at any time-one full crew plus new recruits. They wear leather armor and carry a cutlass, club, and knife or light crossbow. Each ship’s crew also includes a wizard and usually a priest of Pelor or St. Cuthbert. Each ship has a few special crewmembers trained in the use of grapples, harpoons, pikes, and flaming artillery. The marines are ready to defend the city even if they’re on land.
Wilbrem Carister (LN male human Fighter L9), a huge barrel of a man with tattoos, is commander of the marines. He sometimes is overzealous, making forays into waters controlled by the Orcish Empire and even making an occasional land raid against small ore war bands. He has a fierce parrot named Erule. In addition to the three hundred Greyhawk Mountaineers, Hardby has its own militia of one-hundred fifty infantry and one hundred cavalry that often patrol as far north as the Neen River.
Geography: Hardby lies on the eastern shore of Hard Bay, an inlet of Woolly Bay. The dark-blue waters of the harbor are deep enough for ocean-going vessels to navigate, while the sea-cliffs on its southern and western shores ensure a sheltered anchorage. A pair of giant statues depicting two brawling men dominates the entrance to the harbor. The statues, a heavyset, balding man in middle age and a younger, taller man. are a reminder of the violent and foolish nature of men and a symbol of the enlightened rule of the Gynarchy.
The oldest portion of the city lies between the bay and the Great Wall, a 20-foot-high stone structure strengthened by a series of square-built watchtowers. The district of Northend, also known as High Chapel houses most of Hardby’s administrative and military buildings. Hardby’s waterfront bristles with wharves, piers, and jetties. Along its length ties the Dock District, a chaotic assembly of inns, taverns, and flophouses. Between the docks and the Great Wall lies Fish town, home to myriad maritime crafts, industries, and warehouses. The portion of Hardby without the Great Wall is divided between the mercantile Trade Town and the residential Ebbfields, and is girdled by a ditch and wooden palisade.
The areas surrounding Hardby are relatively flat plains noted for their unusually rich soil. The fields within a few miles of the city have been converted for use as farmland. The River Road, which starts in Greyhawk, ends in the southwestern corner of Hardby after traveling through several small towns. Just north of Hardby along the River Road lie Greatrock and Arok’s Landing. The Hardby-Orz road leaves Hardby to the east and travels through Orz, changing into a trail five miles from Megas Landing, further southeast. Manor Road leaves Hardby’s Trade Town district traveling north, and after dividing a mile out of town, ends at both the Gynarch’s Manor and the Hardfield Manor.
Southeast of Hardby are the hills and mountains of the Abbor-Alz. Even further to the southeast lies the Bright Desert. Many ruins, dungeons, mines, and lairs exist in this area. The most notable include the ruined keep of Galap Dreidel, the Pits of Azak Zil, the ruins of Ogremeet and four mysterious Star Cairns. The lost Crypt of Lyzandred is also rumored to exist in the Abbor-Alz, but has yet to be located.
The heavy traffic in trading vessels has given the town of Hardby its reason for being. Surrounded by its wooden palisade, the town rests in a sheltered cove along the shore of the bay. It has docks and wharves far grander than its size would seem to warrant. For here is where the seagoing vessels of deep draft unload their cargoes, and here the cogs of the native folk load them. Hardby is a town of small, steady population. but a great number of inns. hostels. boarding houses, and eateries for these visitors from the water.
Weather: A coastal town on the Woolly Bay, Hardby is warmed by “bay effects” similar to the lake effects that communities on the Nyr Dyv know. This creates cooler weather in the summertime and mild temperatures in the autumn and winter times than that experience by inland communities. Cool winds usually blow inland during the afternoons, but may come from any direction at night. While snow is very rare here due to the Bright Desert, the winters are often rainy. Woolly Bay never freezes, though on rare occasions, ice forms along its shores, forcing the fishermen and sailors to free their ships with long polearms before going out to sea during the dark months of the year.
- Daily Life in Hardby
- Holidays and Festivals in Hardby
- Governing Bodies and Organizations of Hardby
- A Guide to the Streets of Hardby
History: Hardby is an independent-minded town of over five thousand souls. It has been under the protection and the control of the city of Greyhawk for almost 10 years. The city was founded in 278 CY by a Suel wizard named Ena Norbe, who desired a place to research spells in peace. Claiming this small harbor on the eastern side of Woolly Bay she had her hirelings and local fisherfolk build the town of Norbe Harbor. Severe storms that winter and a plague that spring resulted in changing the name to Hard Bay. Ena married the captain of her guards and had several daughters. Thus began a legacy of Norbe women ruling the town now known as the Gynarchy of Hardby. Compared to the pirate towns of the Wild Coast, the Norbe Gynarchy was mild, with the ruler of Hardby undeserving of the title of Despotrix.
The Norbe women all proved strong in magic and capable of defending their home. Many married wealthy merchants or ranking soldiers and continued to have many daughters. An early Despotrix declared that only women could own land in the city of Hardby, and with the power of Norbe magic to back this edict, it became law. However, many men were able to prosper by accepting land grants outside the city. They make a good living fishing, farming, hunting, or trading. Hardby’s strength permitted local merchants to make advantageous deals with other towns along the Wild Coast as well as with the young city of Greyhawk then called Selintan enriching Hardby through trade. The deep bay proved able to service both shallow-draft river vessels and larger oceangoing ships. This made it a perfect link between river trade and sea merchants. Through a marriage of one of the Gynarch s daughters to the mayor of Selin an, the two towns formed an alliance. Since then, these sister cities have never warred against each other despite political and mercantile competition as well as less than cordial relations at times.
Hardby continued to grow. After conquering and burning seven pirate towns north of Safeton in the early part of the third century CY, Hardby claimed all the land within 10 leagues of the north shore of Woolly Bay. This claim was later relinquished when piracy remained low, though towns of the Wild Coast remained as unruly as ever. Slavers During the middle of the third century the Great Kingdom of Aerdy placed garrisons in its border towns, including Selintan and Hardby, as the internal conflict known as the Turmoil Between Crowns wracked the realm. When these troops were withdrawn from the border towns in the last quarter of the century, quiet celebrations ensued in the two cities. That year, a boy-child named Zagig was born to a lesser member of the Gynarchy and a descendant of Lord Ganz of Greyhawk. He would later become Lord-Mayor of Greyhawk, a powerful archmage, and possibly a demigod.
During the next 200 years, the status and government of Hardby changed. While the Gynarch and her family remained in place, a trade alliance of merchants and river folk slowly took power, enforcing their rule at first with brute force and later with carefully worded laws and a well-funded constabulary. Oddly, the Gynarch yielded power without a fight, possibly because most of the men on the council were related to women of the Gynarchy. Many believe that the Despotrix still retains final authority in the city, using the trade alliance to handle routine affairs, while secretly influencing more important issues. In addition to these political changes, the city of Hardby started to pay tribute to Greyhawk for military protection.
Hardby remained relatively secure and prosperous until the Greyhawk Wars of 582-584 CY. Humanoid and bandit raids from the nearby Abbor-Alz hills increased, so Greyhawk sent a garrison of its mountaineers to protect Hardby. The townsfolk were glad to accept the additional military presence, especially since the mountaineers were well paid and disciplined, which prevented disturbances that might havebeen caused by less dedicated troops. In addition, enterprises that catered to soldiers experienced a boom in business from their presence.
When the humanoid armies from the Pomarj invaded the Wild Coast, Greyhawk sent several warships to patrol the upper reaches of Woolly Bay to guard against humanoid and pirate attacks. These marines are largely crewed by Wild Coast slaves freed by edict of the city of Greyhawk. As such, they are very loyal to Greyhawk and full of pride in their service. Greyhawk s mountaineers and the marines were given power over the ruling council and dictate many practical aspects of law and justice in Hardby, with the locals still deciding on trade policies. The Despotrix, an aged wizard named Ilena (NG female human Wizard L13), has not voiced any objection to this, as several of the military officers have also married into her extensive family. It is likely that she still exerts great influence over affairs in her city.
Ilena is greatly respected by the locals as well as by the mountaineers and marines. This causes some concern for the Directing Oligarchy of Greyhawk, who thought to make her little more than a figurehead. The Gynarch has gone so far as to claim a seat on the Greyhawk Council of Mayors and Manorial Lords, which includes representatives from all towns and settlements in the Domain of Greyhawk, despite unsubtle attempts to prevent this. The Gynarch and the Lord Mayor of Greyhawk, Nerof Gasgal, are unfailingly polite to each other in public, but obviously hate each other, a sentiment that is shared by several of the Gynarch’ s daughters and granddaughters.
While the Gynarch is the head of state in Hardby, the day-to-day details of maintaining order are handled members of the citizenry of Hardby. The Gynarch does direct external policy, and the Hardby City Guard and Marines answer directly to her. The security of Hardby is handled by a military council consisting of officers from the Greyhawk army, Mountaineer militia, the Hardby Marines and the Hardby City Guard. The Council of Guildmasters regulates trade policy. Many members of both councils are married into the Pharast extended family. The court of the Gynarch is still well respected by these councils, especially by members who have married into the late Nazar’s family. In fact, some of her most vociferous opponents have become some her most unnaturally loyal allies after marriages to the Gynarch’s nieces and cousins. One almost wondered if the often times reclusive Gynarch actually molded the policies of Hardby’s council through these marital ties. It remains to be seen how the councils will respond to the young Gynarch, who is unwed at this time.
Although termed a Despotrix, Hardby had been ruled by an alliance of merchants and rivermen, relying on brute force for their rule. During the war years, however, the Free City eliminated this form of rule by introducing first its Mountaineer Militia, using Hardby as a base for operations in the Abbor-Alz, and then the Hardby Marines. Now, Hardby is effectively ruled by a military council of Greyhawk men; it always paid tribute to Greyhawk for protection, and now, that protection has taken over rulership.
Native Hardby folk are not too bothered about this, for the most part. The soldiery from Greyhawk brings in money, is very well disciplined, and its presence has driven away some of the more ruffian elements of the city. It has attracted others (the presence of Marines attracts the presence of many ladies of dubious virtue), but these are not as anti-social as the muggers and thieves who formerly infested parts of the city. The Dock District is still a very dangerous place to go after dark, and rivermen razzled with drink regularly get into vicious fights.
The town of Highport, at the opposite end of the bay from Hardby, is the haven of the lawless pirates. That town is a center of depravity and bawdiness, for it is ruled by ignoble ores. It provides a haven for pirates of ores, human, and other races. Its military might is too great for it to worry about direct assault from its Woolly Bay neighbors.