Proper Name: Great Kingdom of Northern Aerdy
Ruler: His Righteous and Transcendent Majesty, the Overking of Northern Aerdy, Grenell I, Grand Prince of House Naelax (LE male human Clr19 of Hextor)
Government: Independent feudal monarchy with strong theocratic elements; current monarch is the highest-level cleric of Hextor in the realm, simultaneously commanding the forces of the church, the northern branch of the royal house (Naelax), and all feudal nobles and nonhuman leaders in his service
Major Towns: Atirr (pop. 19,700), Bellport (pop. 9,100), Darnagal (pop. 6,400), Delaric (pop. 22,000), Eastfair (pop. 35,000), Edgefield (pop. 15,800, plus 4,000 orcs), Kaport Bay (pop. 5,800), Luvern (pop. 3,100), Rinloru (thousands of undead; besieged), Stringen (pop. 4,700), Winetha (pop. 19,300)
Provinces: Eleven principalities, with a few tiny counties, baronies, etc.; nearly all are centered around cities, towns, castles, or strongholds
Resources: Foodstuffs, cloth, electrum, whale oil; resources are not exported
Coinage: [Modified Aerdy] dragon (pp), crown (gp), noble (ep), penny (sp), common (cp), wheel (iron piece, 20 ip = 1 cp)
Population: 2,618,200—Human 83% (OFs), Orc 9%, Goblin 3%, Halfling 2%, Half-orc 1%, Other 2%
Languages: Common, Old Oeridian, Orc
Alignments: LE*, NE, N, CE, LN
Religions: Hextor*, Zilchus, Erythnul, orc pantheon, various goblin gods
Allies: Bone March (weak)
Enemies: Ahlissa, Nyrond, Ratik, Frost/Ice/Snow Barbarians, Scarlet Brotherhood
Overview: As recently as a decade ago, the lands that now constitute the notorious North Kingdom included both North Province and other northern possessions of the old Great Kingdom. After the sundering of the empire following the Greyhawk Wars (584 CY) and the subsequent devastation of Rauxes, these lands united as an independent realm, ruled from the old provincial capital at Eastfair. Military units no longer wear imperial heraldry, and the Herzog’s administrators are busy drawing up designs for new coinage, new heraldic symbols, and other badges of a young nation. However, everyone knows that what happens within North Province will be affected by what happens elsewhere in Aerdy.
North Kingdom’s northern border remains the Teesar Torrent, stretching from the independent county of Knurl in Bone March to the hills of Bellport and the Solnor Coast. The southern border is more tenuously defined, as the claims of the newly formed kingdom often exceed its actual grasp. This informal boundary currently extends from the northern verges of the Gull Cliffs at the Solnor Coast (including the city of Winetha) and continues west through the Principality of Delaric to the Adri Forest, some three days south of Edgefield. The lands farther to the south are in active dispute between North Kingdom and Ahlissa. That domain is defined by a triangular region between the Gull Cliffs, the northwestern Grandwood, and the southeastern Adri. It includes some independent towns like Dustbridge, which have yet to choose their ultimate master, but most importantly it includes the environs of fallen Rauxes. Ownership of this region will likely be settled (soon) by force of arms.
North Kingdom enjoys few of the rich natural resources abundant in the rest of the former Great Kingdom. Only a small fraction of these lands exhibit the fecundity of the river basins in the south, and these tracts are generally clustered around the banks of the upper Flanmi. The rest of the soil of the kingdom, particularly along the extensive coasts, is especially rocky and more suitable for grazing than tillage. Mineral resources are also few, but the ores drawn from the extensive hills between the cities of Bellport and Johnsport are key to the economic wellbeing of the country. The vast Adri Forest in the west also provides a rich source of forage and pillage, though its denizens resist such efforts. Coastal cities like Kaport Bay and the port of Atirr thrive on fishing and whaling, industries whose products are in high demand to feed and supply the masses who labor inland in the central cities and towns. In its favor, North Kingdom has an extensive system of dirawein, magical highways built by ancient Aerdi that allow quick transport over long distances. One dirawein runs south to Ahlissa and is carefully watched.
The people of the land differ somewhat from their brethren elsewhere in the former Great Kingdom. While the Aerdi of the south are more commonly an Oeridian-Suel mix, in the north and most particularly in the former North Province they are more typically Oeridian Flan, often displaying darker features and hair colorings. A sharp and worrisome increase in the numbers of orcs and other evil nonhumans has been noted in recent decades. These races are considered inferior by the Aerdi gentry but are widely employed as laborers and mercenaries throughout the northlands.
Grenell of House Naelax rules North Kingdom, and he is an utterly ruthless and cold blooded monarch. Grenell’s temporal authority is augmented by his dominance of the church of Hextor in the north, of which he is the titular head. The line of succession in North Kingdom is unclear, with many potential claimants to the throne; Grenell has no children of his own. Fawning Naelax princes abound in the debauched court of Eastfair.
Grace Grenell is in a very difficult position politically. During the Greyhawk Wars he allied with the humanoids of the Bone March out of desperation. This alliance was successful in forcing a stalemate which created peace, but a very tense legacy has been left behind.
The Bone March humanoids are not a single coalition with one overall warlord. The Euroz orcs are the dominant tribe, however, and it is with them that Grenell made alliance. So far, different warlords among the Euroz have not indulged in their traditional inter-tribal warfare within North Province, but that is probably just a matter of time. In any event, matters are difficult enough already.
Humanoid armies in some numbers are still stationed in Eastfair, Bellport and elsewhere within the northern and western regions of North Province. A war to drive them back to the Bone March would be ruinous to North Province at the present time. What’s more, Grenell desperately needs the ores which are supplied from the mines of Bellport. Coin minted with these ores is accepted for trade by the Sea Barons, the Twin Cities, and for imports from points south. The humanoids have massed armies which are encamped in strong defensive positions in and around those mines; the orcs have their hands around North Province’s throat, as it were, and Grenell knows it.
So, this alliance has to be maintained, but the orcs and other humanoids want to get something in return. While the attention of Grenell is turned to the south, that of his evil humanoid allies remains to the north, for the orcs and gnolls of the Rakers greatly desire the destruction of Ratik. For himself, Grenell doesn’t give a fig about Ratik. Unfortunately, no few of his most powerful local rulers care a great deal about Ratik—as do many ordinary folk. Many of them share the same Oeridian-Flan racial mix as the men of Ratik, and they admire the rugged bravery of Ratik’s warriors in having kept the humanoids at bay for so long. They are opposed to any plan to conquer Ratik, and some of them are ready to go and fight for Ratik should Grenell dare act against that nation.
While the presence of the rapacious orcs threatens to send North Kingdom into chaos, they may also be one of the most important factors holding the nation together. Every prince and lord in North Kingdom realizes that crossing Grenell may bring down his wrath in the form of a raid from his orc allies, who are organized as shock troops with no love of humanity and its culture (though they have benefited greatly from human arts of warfare and command).
There is another twist to this. The barbarian nations are strongly allied with Ratik. At the present time, their raids are focused on the Sea Barons and they do not often raid most points along the eastern North Province seaboard, save for Bellport. This is because many of the rulers and armies of that eastern seaboard have managed to make a peace of sorts with the fierce Flan barbarians, Prince Elkerst of Atirr being a notable example. Indeed, the barbarians increasingly trade with some North Province coastal towns and villages, and that trade brings much-needed wood, furs, and other commodities in short supply in North Province.
If Grenell helped the humanoids against Ratik, the barbarians would certainly begin their raids again, and trade would cease. Grenell can’t really afford to have either of these things happen.
Grenell has some supporters, else he would not be able to sustain his position. Patriarch Halldrem of Bellport is a church ruler, and the church of Hextor owns Arrowstrand and the lands around it, with a few other minor fiefdoms in North Province. Princes Hastern of Edge Field, and his liegeman Rinshern (with lands to the northeast of that town), have humanoid soldiers they use to pillage the Adri. The pair support the alliance with the Bone March. Hastern has offered Grenell a possible escape route; use the humanoids to march on Rauxes itself in a great orgy of pillaging. This plan appears to offer Grenell the best way out of his dilemma, but even the Herzog balks at marching more than 300 miles to depose his cousin. He is also unsure of the attitudes of a string of Naelax princes who own the lands around the Flanmi to the south. Few support Ivid, some openly voice their hatred of him, but Grenell knows all too well that they are utterly unprincipled and treacherous. Their troops, and provisioning, would be vital to any plan to march on Rauxes.
There is a final twist. Grenell does not have the military might to march on local rulers he would like to subdue. With thousands of orcs in armies along his western frontier, Grenell simply cannot risk internecine war among the human armies of North Province. It would weaken the control Grenell has too much, and it would make the orcs feel more confident about attacking a divided human enemy. Grenell might take control of some small estate in such a manner – but he might lose Bellport, the northwest, even Eastfair itself, to invading orcs if he used this tactic.
Thus, the political situation in North Province is very tense and dangerous. Some humanoid forces have already struck off on their and have begun to pillage the northwestern fringe lands where the intransigence of Baron-General Shalaster infuriates them. Mercenaries are increasingly attracted to trouble spots, finding no few rulers ready to protect their lands with armed resistance to any marauding humanoids or bandits. The level of rulership in any local area is generally “medium” or better, but the conflicts between those rulers threaten to plunge North Province into a civil war every bit as bitter as the Turmoil Between Crowns. There is no organized resistance to Grenell, and most thank him for getting North Province out of the Great Kingdom just in time. But some new alliances are just beginning to emerge, and Shalaster and his excellent army are a possible focal point for a new style of rulership in these lands.
The major principalities of North Kingdom (generally named for their local capitals) and their governing Houses are named in the following table. Too little is known of the region to offer more than this.
1The capital principality of the kingdom.
2Highlander’s capital is Redfalls, a great castle and military fortification on the Teesar River.
3Rinloru is currently a city of undead, besieged by Torquann armies attempting to destroy a mad undead cleric of Nerull (once a Torquann prince) and his ghastly armies that control the ruined city.
Taxes and Tithes
Grenell imposes whatever taxes and tithes he thinks he can get away with. That depends on the military strengths, and the steeliness, of the various local rulers. The situation is tough, but not desperate, for Grenell. He can always count on the support of the church lands of Hextor’s priesthood. And the support of the ruler of Edge Field is crucial to him.
North Province does not have a navy of any significant size. In the pacts accompanying Ivid I’s ascension, naval strength was almost exclusively ceded to the Sea Barons, who used eastern ports as naval bases while keeping control of the war galleys of Aerdy firmly to themselves. However, following the fall of the Lordship of the Isles, offering new threats to the south, and the increased need of the Sea Barons for their own vessels to fend off barbarian raids, some seaboard cities have begun building military vessels and establishing their own squadrons. This is a piecemeal affair, and the Herzog has no formal control over the navy—or, more accurately, navies. These small squadrons lack any centralized command, unlike the armies of North Province.
Beyond the North Kingdom
Grenell is concerned with only two Aerdy lands, save for Rauxes itself; the broad swathe of Naelax lands to the south and the Twin Cities. Grenell must keep peace with the rulers of Rinloru and Winetha. He cannot afford conflict in the east and south as well as the problems the humanoids pose him north and west. Grenell can hardly send any emissary to Rinloru’s frightful ruler, but as yet there seems no threat from that quarter. North Province maintains plenty of spying keeps on the borders of Delglath’s lands, however. Overtures to the Council of Wizards in Winetha have met with a cool response. Prince Lakaster of that city doesn’t care at all about North Province, but some Winethan goods flow to North Province and that trade is good for all. Grenell judges that it is not in Lakaster’s interests to precipitate any conflict, though he wishes that the ruler there was more aggressive toward the barbarians. That might take some of the heat off North Province.
Locations and Settlements of the North Kingdom
- Bortrend, Harrast and Marder
- The Causeway of Fiends
- Delaric and the Naelax Lands
- Eastfair, The Granite City
- Edge Field
- The Highlander Castles
- Kaport Bay
- King’s Justice
- Rinloru and Winetha, The Twin Cities
History: When the Aerdi moved north from their initial holdings between the lower Flanmi River and Aerdi Coast about eight hundred years ago, they were less interested in the vast lands of the Flan between the Adri forest and the Solnor Coast than they were in the south. After they conquered the kingdom of Ahlissa and absorbed it into the growing realm as South Province of old Aerdy, they won domains for the Cranden and Darmen princes in the vanguard.
Other Celestial Houses, such as Naelax and Torquann, desired their own homelands and looked to the northlands. By all accounts, the Flan of these lands were vile and decadent. Worshiping dark powers and draconian overlords, they preyed upon their neighbors for centuries. These gentler folk were quick to ally with the Aerdi when their armies marched up the Flanmi River and conquered those Flan kingdoms in the fifth century OR. Most of these lands were soon consolidated as North Province of the Aerdy, with the Naelax in the primacy. After eradicating most of the vestiges of the previous Flan culture, they founded the court at Eastfair in 503 OR (–142 CY), and began setting up a state heavily steeped in the dogma of Hextor.
In 134 CY, the early Rax overkings inaugurated a series of actions that would ultimately lead to the downfall of their house some three centuries later. In that year, the ill-tempered Overking Toran I deposed the scion of Naelax from rulership of North Province, appointing in his place the leader of the smaller but rapidly rising House Atirr. Citing the failures of the Naelax in supporting the heroic efforts of the Aerdy military in Bone March and Ratik, Toran reduced the house to a secondary role in the province. House Atirr ruled the province from its capital on the coast, eschewing Eastfair. The land experienced a brief renaissance under this enlightened leadership. However, this demotion was a slight that the Naelax would never forget. The Atirr ruled for nearly a century, reaching heights under the Herzog Atirr Aeodorich, a former head of the Aerdi admiralty and hero of the Duxchan Wars. House Naelax finally regained the throne of North Province in 223 CY, after the untimely death of Herzog Atirr Movanich. Some say this was accomplished by paying off the heavily indebted Overking Zelcor I, who had no aversion to procuring his own berth over a decade earlier.
The Naelax grew powerful after the mid–250s CY, when their primary rival, the Heironean church, achieved independence in far-flung provinces such as Ferrond and the Shield Lands. Many of them withdrew from the increasingly decadent Great Kingdom, and no longer would these two rival orders contend equally for the attention of the Malachite Throne. Indeed, many tragedies seemed to befall House Rax over the next two centuries, while the power of the Naelax waxed greater. Many of these tragedies were surely of Rax’s own making, but some appeared to be inflicted upon them, and whispers in the court suggested that an old debt in the north was being repaid.
House Naelax reached its nadir in North Province with the rise of Herzog Ivid I of the North in the 430s CY. Over the intervening two centuries, the Naelax had grown to be the strongest individual house in the kingdom, and by this time an undeclared war was raging between Rax and Naelax. Unusual for Aerdi up until that time, the Naelax employed orc and goblin mercenaries to augment their forces. When Ivid I finally assumed the Malachite Throne by 446 CY, North Province remained his closest ally and the chief possession of his cousins.
The importation of orcs and goblinoids began in earnest after the fall of Bone March, when Herzog Grenell, cousin to Ivid V, made a pact with the orc and gnoll chieftains who deposed Marquis Clement. It has become the suspicion of many that Grenell plotted the downfall of Clement in some way, for he was quick to ally with the nonhumans who soon took over the nation. Now, nearly 10% of the population of North Province consists of evil humanoids, primarily orcs of the Death Moon tribe. These brutish forces cause much trouble in North Kingdom, and they often work at cross-purposes with Grenell’s plans (as well as their own).
Following the devastation of Rauxes in 586 CY, Grenell became the scion of House Naelax. Like his rival in the south, Grand Prince Xavener of House Darmen, the former herzog styles himself an overking, the head of a true empire. Grenell’s assertion is taken much less seriously than Xavener’s by most peers and royal houses of the former Great Kingdom. However, it is widely acknowledged that so long as they both exist, Grenell and Xavener threaten each other’s claims to rule the true successor state of the Aerdi people. For the time being, the overking of Eastfair is too embroiled in his own affairs to make a concerted effort to settle the matter, and Xavener appears to have the upper hand. Everyone anticipates war.
The most serious internal threat to this realm (aside from the risk of a chaotic orc uprising) is a civil war centered around Rinloru, now devastated after a four-year siege. Ivid V had a noble, a minor priest, turned into an animus during the Greyhawk Wars to govern this city and surrounding lands. The priest took a liking to his ghastly condition and developed a megalomaniac desire to convert the whole Great Kingdom into an undead empire under Nerull. Since 587 CY, Delglath the Undying (NE male animus Clr17 of Nerull) has proven to be a military genius and master spellcaster, holding off a vast encircling army with his own undead forces, created from the city’s once-living inhabitants. He is aided by a large number of Nerull clerics, loyal to him though he is unquestionably insane. Delglath has several actual artifacts in his possession, and there is real concern that unless he is destroyed, the situation might get out of control.
Conflicts and Intrigues: War is almost certain with Ahlissa over their undefined border and the fertile lands between them. While Grenell would like to send his orcs to attack Ahlissa, their interests lie in attacking Ratik and supporting Bone March. Forces of the herzog still fight an epidemic of undeath in the city of Rinloru, though the disaster appears to be contained. Grenell has sent priests of Hextor and mages to the Isle of Lost Souls, a place once denied to him by Ivid V.