Proper Name: Obedient State of Onnwal (Scarlet Brotherhood); or, Free State of Onnwal (rebels, member of the Iron League)
Government: Hereditary feudal monarchy (currently contested)
Ruler: Contested: (Scarlet Brotherhood) Exalted Sister Kuranyie (LE female human Mnk10); (rebels) His Noble Authority, Jian Destron, the Szek of Free Onnwal (LN male human Ftr8), and His Honor Rakehell Chert, Commander of the Free Onnwal Army of Rebellion (N male human Rog18)
Capital: Scant (but see below)
Major Towns: Scant (pop. 4,500)
Provinces: One city district (Scant, held by the Scarlet Brotherhood), twenty-four lairdships and village mayorships (nearly all held by rebels)
Resources: Platinum, gems (III, includes pearls)
Coinage: Sea eagle (pp), gull (gp), wader (ep), goose (sp), duck (cp)
Population: 85,500—Human 79% (Os), Dwarf 9% (hill), Gnome 5%, Halfling 3%, Elf 2%, Other 2%
Languages: Common, Dwarven, Gnome
Alignments: LE*, NE (SB rulers in Scant); LG, LN*, N, CG, CN (Scant citizens, “Free Onnwal” rebels)
Religions: Scarlet Brotherhood gods (SB rulers in Scant); Osprem, Zilchus, Procan, Norebo, Xerbo, Jascar, Fortubo (rebels)
Allies: [of Brotherhood rulers] Scarlet Brotherhood, Lordship of the Isles, elements in the Pomarj; [of rebels] Irongate, Sunndi, Nyrond, Duchy of Urnst, Greyhawk
Enemies: [of Brotherhood rulers] dwarves and gnomes of the Headlands, Irongate, Sunndi, Nyrond, Duchy of Urnst, Greyhawk, County of Urnst; [of rebels] Scarlet Brotherhood, Lordship of the Isles, Pomarj. Ahlissa is regarded as an enemy by both sides.
Overview: Onnwal is located on the Dragonshead Peninsula that separates the vast Azure Sea from the Sea of Gearnat and Relmor Bay. Its major city (and capital) Scant is strategically located to control the Gearnat Straits and all the trade that passes through that 150-mile wide channel. To the east it is bounded by the Headlands inhabited by clans of dwur, noniz, and hobniz, and even a few Flan hillmen. The Free City of Irongate (itself an old imperial fortress-town) controls the few routes through the almost impassable Headlands into Onnwal, isolating the realm from the rest of the continent. These formidable barriers have generally isolated the realm from the affairs and conflicts of the continent.
The lowlands that form the head of the peninsula are covered in rich pastures. These lands are home to clusters of small farms that surround villages connected to each other by a spidery road network spreading out from Scant. Mining of silver and platinum in the western foothills of the Headlands is the primary industry of the nation, but this activity has slowed to a crawl since revolt spread across the countryside. Food was once exported to Irongate, but the Scarlet Brotherhood halted such shipments out of Scant.
Most Onnwal citizens are an Oeridian-Suel mix, descendants of settlers who displaced the original Flan natives to build farms. Some Flan tribes remain in the region, but they are not considered citizens and live in the hills, herding animals. Many dwarf clans live alongside these Headlanders, and the lot of them owe fealty to no one though remain on friendly terms with the Iron League.
Prior to the Greyhawk Wars, Onnwal had been independent since the Turmoil Between Crowns and the Battle of a Thousand Banners (447 CY), which led to the lifting of the siege of Irongate. Its navy, operating in conjunction with that of Nyrond, safeguarded it from the threats of the Pirates of the Pomarj (based in Blue) and the warships of the South Province (operating from the Imperial port of Prymp). Since independence Onnwal had never suffered a full-scale invasion of its territory, being subject only to sporadic raids from the Herzogs of the South Province. Onnwal fell almost overnight to the machinations of the Scarlet Brotherhood, a victim of its own complacency.
Currently, Onnwal is divided into two controlling camps. Agents of the Scarlet Brotherhood command the fortified port of Scant and the immediate precincts of the city. While this represents less than 10% of the country, Scant is still the primary gateway to the rest of the Flanaess and the Scarlet Brotherhood fleet can use this city as a base to extort levies from sea traffic passing through the Strait of Gearnat. However, the hinterlands of the country are no longer theirs. A movement calling itself “Free Onnwal” has taken control of most of these lands since a general revolt against the Brotherhood invaders was launched in 586 CY. They have the support of most of the lairdships in the villages outside the capital. These insurgents are led by Lord Jian Destron, son of the deposed and assassinated Szek. His closest adviser is Rakehell Chert, the former leader of the thieves in Scant and now commander of the (ex-thief) guerrillas. These rebels are strongly allied with Irongate and the surviving states of the Iron League, who support them with goods, weapons, and intelligence.
- Festivals in Onnwal
- Rulership and Law in Onnwal
- The Military of Onnwal
- Trade, Tax, and Money in Onnwal
- People and Races of the Dragonshead
- Religion of the Dragonshead
- Climate of the Dragonshead
The Provinces of Onnwal:
- The Azure Coast
- The Eastern Marchlands
- The Storm Coast
- The Western Portion Of The Gearnat Sea
History: Prior to the Great Migrations brought about by the cataclysmic war between the ancient Suel and Bakluni empires thousands of miles to the west, primarily nomadic Flan tribesmen inhabited the “Dragonshead”. Ancient Flan legends speak of an elder time when their ancestors struggled against a forgotten enemy for control of the peninsula.
In some places on and near the coasts of Onnwal, strange and convoluted ruins can be found. Regarded as curiosities by the vast majority of the population, several scholars and academics have studied them without success. As to the identity of this foe the legends are silent. Other myths tell of Great Wyrms that supposedly lived in the Headlands, devouring any who entered their demenses.
At around the time that the Flan struggled with their ancient enemy for supremacy, in the fertile lowlands of the peninsula the dwur and noniz were engaged in their own struggle for dominance against the goblinoids of the Headlands. Although ultimately victorious, the demi-humans (particularly the noniz) would never again be numerous on the Dragonshead.
The first newcomers to the peninsula were several small clans of stoutish hobniz pushed aside from their traditional homes to the north by successive waves of migrating Suel and Oeridians. Hardy folk, and much like the dwur in their outlook, they were welcomed by the dwur and allowed to settled in the northern portion of the Headlands.
The conflicts raging to the east and north affected the folk of the peninsula little in the early years following the Twin Cataclysms. The Headlands (and their inhabitants) barred passage to the peninsula and few to the north had the inclination (or time) to construct enough vessels to allow wholesale migrations south. However, a Suel tribe known as the Onnwi did make the perilous sea voyage from what is now known as the Pomarj. Discovering the Dragonshead Peninsula, they decided to take it as their own. They were evil natured even for Suel and they quickly established themselves in the lowlands of the peninsula by killing or driving away the indigenous Flan.
By this time, the Flan were divided into many warring tribes and this disunity was a major cause of their defeat by the Suel. However, in the face of the threat of invading Suel forces and the hostile dwur of the Headlands, Garantheuld, the Warrior King, united some of the Flan tribes under his banner.
Uninterested in the hill country, the Suel did not attempt to dominate the Headlands being content to build a string of forts across their eastern border. Here they dwelt for centuries perfecting their magical arts, oppressing their Flan slaves, and occasionally launching punitive raids against the dwur, noniz, and Flan of the Headlands.
The Slave Lords
In 576 CY yellow-sailed vessels began raiding the coastal settlements of the Gearnat Sea from Onnwal to the Wild Coast. Several villages were completely destroyed by these raiders and their populace carried off to the Pomarj to be sold into slavery. These raids continued for four years and, although Onnwal did not pay bribes like other states to stop the attacks, its navy seemed incapable of detecting and sinking the raiders.
To combat this threat Szek Ewerd granted letters of marque to several prominent sea captains and mercenaries with a charter to seek out and destroy the yellow-sailed invaders. These irregular forces, freed from the highly regimented chain of command actually reported some small successes against the Slave Lords. However the bulk of the slavers’ raids went uncontested – but not for long. In 580 CY a small band of heroes managed to penetrate the hidden lair of the Slavelords breaking their power over the region.
Onnwal, unlike Irongate, failed to recognize the treachery that caused it to fall into the hands of the Scarlet Brotherhood during the Greyhawk Wars. The land had never been invaded and had previously been subjected only to periodic naval raids by South Province. The Scarlet Brotherhood assassinated Szek Ewerd Destron and took over the land almost overnight. Some anticipated the takeover just in time, particularly the thieves’ guild in Scant, which absconded from the city to the countryside in 584 CY.
The Greyhawk Wars
When the Greyhawk Wars began, none in Onnwal had the vision to foresee what would befall their country within a few short years. When it became apparent that the Great Kingdom would use the conflict as an attempt to reclaim lost territory, the Scarlet Brotherhood secretly dispatched gold and mercenaries through circuitous routes to strengthen the states of the Iron League.
The Overking’s entry into the war simplified one task for Almor and Nyrond – persuading the Iron League to join the alliance. With Irongate, Idee, and Sunndi threatened, the land-based members of the League met in Oldred at the invitation of King Archbold III of Nyrond and signed the Eastern Pact, formally allying themselves against “the mad aggressions of the Great Kingdom”. The County of Urnst also signed the pact, but the Theocracy of the Pale, citing Nyrond’s many heresies, refused to join.
Soon thereafter a sudden coup in the Lordship of the Isles replaced Prince Latmac Ranold with his distant kinsman Prince Frolmar Ingerskatti. The new Prince immediately proclaimed his allegiance to the Great and Hidden Empire of the Scarlet Brotherhood.
In 584 CY the Sea Princes were given an ultimatum by the Scarlet Brotherhood – “Submit to the Scarlet Brotherhood or be destroyed.” When the proposal was rejected the Brotherhood ambassador presented the Princes a list the names of 30 nobles of the Hold. The next morning, 27 of the 30 were dead. The Sea Princes surrendered and within a fortnight Brotherhood and Lordship vessels docked in Monmurg and Port Joli bearing legions of savages from the jungles of the south.
Strengthened by the forces of the Sea Princes, the Brotherhood immediately struck at Onnwal and Idee, both of which fell swiftly. In Scant, Szek Ewerd Destron was struck down by an assassin’s blade as the streets of his capital echoed to the sounds of vicious and bloody battles between the outnumbered warriors of Scant and the Brotherhood’s savage allies. Within days only Irongate still stood – the wily Cobb Darg had known all along the precise source of the mysterious aid that had been so fortuitous. Now totally surrounded, Irongate stood alone, the last bastion of freedom in the Iron League.
With the fall of their country many Onnwalons attempted to flee to southern Nyrond making the perilous ocean crossing in any craft that they could find. Even Bigby, Archmage and member of the Circle of Eight, was forced to escape his residences in Scant for Veluna.
The occupation of Onnwal was so brutal that the populace began to flee the country in such numbers that Sister Kuranyie (the Brotherhood’s appointed ruler) was forced to take hostages from every family in the land to ensure that no one else would attempt to escape. Rumors swept the land of strange red-hued trolls said to be immune to fire stalking the Headlands and of the disappearance of many citizens who exhibited Suel characteristics.
The barbaric treatment of the populace by the Scarlet Brotherhood whet the cry for revenge, and a general revolt was launched in late 586 CY before the Brotherhood could crack down on the rebels. The countryside became a battleground during a brief, bitter struggle in which the freedom fighters drove the Scarlet Brotherhood back to the city of Scant. These insurgents have nearly convinced Lord Mayor Cobb Darg of Irongate that they can win back the whole land soon.
Resistance & Rebellion
When Onnwal fell, the only effective resistance to the rule of Sister Kuranyie was the Wreckers (Scant’s thieves guild) under the leadership of Rakehell Chert. Chert had somehow gained knowledge of the Brotherhood’s imminent attack on Scant and moved his headquarters into the countryside. He spent the remainder of the year organizing his followers into cells that operated independently throughout the country and establishing relations with the demi-humans of the Headlands and surviving Onnwalish soldiers hiding in the hills and those that embarked upon the few ships to escape the fall of Scant. Chert also managed to make contact with the archmage Bigby. An erstwhile companion of his, Bigby gave him aid and the names of several of his apprentices and associates that remained in Onnwal that could possible help Chert’s cause.
Sister Kuranyie became aware of Chert’s Resistance early on, but although expending considerable effort she failed to make any significant in-roads in infiltrating the organization.
Finally, Chert made contact with Jian Destron, son of the assassinated Szek, who had escaped the blades of the Brotherhood not by skill at arms but by virtue of being on a patrol vessel sailing the Gearnat at the time of the attack. Jian raised his standard in Nessermouth in southern Nyrond and wintered there gathering to him vessels and men who had escaped the fall of Onnwal. By winter’s end he had gathered four warships and almost 800 followers, the bulk of whom were either marines or sailors.
On the first spring tides came a Brotherhood vessel, ostensibly to trade with Nyrond. Jian’s followers promptly sank the ship and warned that any other Brotherhood vessels trying to put into port would be similarly dealt with. The Brotherhood protested this to the Bailiff of Nessermouth whom, lacking instruction from Rel Mord and being sympathetic to the young monarch-in-exile, ignored the matter.
Secure in Nyrond, Jian plotted throughout the stormy autumn months and as soon as the weather allowed, he dispatched a fast ship across the Gearnat to gather news of events on the peninsula.
Chert also began diplomatic efforts to gain aid from Irongate. Leading these efforts was Duke Coriell of Onnwal who had taken refuge there after the fall of his castle and estates at Killdeer. Although Coriell managed to gain a trickle of aid for his beleaguered nation from Cobb Darg, most of Irongate’s resources were employed in resisting the Brotherhood and Aerdi armies that menaced the city.
After the burning of 34 farmers in Scant’s Grand Market in Richfest of 585 CY, Chert encouraged the populace of the country to support their new rulers, at least tacitly, but made clear that actual treason would not be tolerated and indeed would be punished harshly. This state of affairs lasted into 586 CY until a dozen of Sister Kuranyie’s Herdsmen were slain in a magical attack of great ferocity. Sister Kuranyie survived the assault by dint of her arcane protections and determining that the assault originated from the Resistance prepared a “genocidal sweep” of the countryside in revenge.
Warned of her intentions by his own agents Chert called for a general uprising to begin on the first day of Brewfest, 586 CY. Completely surprised, and in many cases surrounded, Brotherhood resistance was surprisingly weak. Initial fighting lasted throughout the month of Patchwall and ended with the Brotherhood losing much of the country to the rebel advance. However, the Brotherhood troops held Scant by cunning use of its formidable defenses and the presence (and magical powers) of Sister Kuranyie – denying the rebels access to their capital city.
The rebellion has now dragged on for five years. As before, the Brotherhood still holds Scant, being able to re-supply their troops by sea at will. Communication with the rebels is difficult, but Destron claims to rule “Free Onnwal” although what this name actually refers to is a matter of conjecture amongst some outside observers of the area. Some believe that this refers simply to the underground Resistance while others argue that it actually refers to the portions of free countryside.
It is unknown who leads the Brotherhood forces in Scant, although it is assumed that if Kuranyie has survived the intrigues of her fellows and the blades of the Resistance, she would still be in power.
The Onnwal of today is a battleground for the two factions that dominate the land. The Scarlet Brotherhood holds Scant, from which they operate a virtual blockade of the Gearnat Straits with the aid of their pirate allies operating from Blue, and some small portions of the surrounding countryside. Jian Destron, son and heir to the assassinated Szek Ewerd Destron, has raised his battle- banner at Killdeer and leads “Free Onnwal”. Free Onnwal now controls much of the hinterland of Onnwal and has forged diplomatic links with many former allies of the country.
Small Hochebi warbands also roam the Headlands, many with their females and young in tow. These ex-soldiers of the Brotherhood were either left behind in the retreat or are deserters. The Brotherhood originally brought them to Onnwal to fight the dwur and noniz of the Headlands, now several groups are known to have established themselves in the hills preying on all that pass nearby. Raiding parties of Hepmonaland savages also stalk the countryside killing, looting, and spreading terror into the hearts of the people of Free Onnwal. Periodically they return to Scant with booty and slaves for Kuranyie’s pleasure.
Conditions within the city of Scant are terrible. Although the Brotherhood’s fleet manages to keep the city supplied with essential items, most of these go to the Brotherhood, their troops and sympathizers. All families in the capital (and indeed throughout the land) have lost at least one member to the Brotherhood; many are alleged to be held captive in the dungeons beneath the Szek’s old citadel as insurance against revolt or attempted escape to nearby good-aligned countries. Their true fate is unknown.
Outside the city things are better – there is sufficient food available for all to eat and even some left over to be sent to Irongate. Many of those who fled into the Headlands, or to
Irongate, or Nyrond have returned. Large-scale actions are so far unknown in this war of attrition. Small skirmishing groups attempting to gain control of a village or strategic location characterize most of the fighting. Naval conflicts are also common as ships belonging to Free Onnwal try to run the blockade of the Gearnat Straits or make for Nyrond or the Free City of Greyhawk.
Will Onnwal Win its Own Freedom?
Although the rebels now control most of the country, the Brotherhood still control the strategically located fortress-port of Scant (and a few isolated outlying areas). Before the Wars, Scant was considered almost impregnable to either land or sea assault. The Brotherhood still control most of the Onnwalish navy which makes it impossible to blockade the port into submission and their troops skillfully make use of the port’s landward defenses.
Troubles elsewhere for the Brotherhood have stretched the Brotherhood’s resources considerably and as long as Sister Kuranyie manages to maintain her grip on Scant no aid will be forthcoming from the Tilvanot Peninsula. Rumors are rife in the countryside of Onnwal that Kuranyie is considering a pact with Turrosh Mak of the Pomarj, which would bolster her strength with fresh humanoid forces. It is thought that she will pay for these troops with slaves drawn from the population of the peninsula. More worrying indeed is the possibility that the Brotherhood might relinquish its grip on its remaining territories in the Hold of the Sea Princes and re-deploy its forces from that conflict to Onnwal.
The rebels are not without friends of their own however, in late 590 CY, they managed to convince Irongate’s Lord Mayor Cobb Darg of the legitimacy of Jian Destron’s government and garnered his official, though measured, support. The struggle was almost over. Irongate now recognizes Destron’s government in exile in exchange for the export of desperately needed supplies to the besieged capital of the Iron League. Sunndi also strongly supports the rebels with supplies of desperately needed weapons, foodstuffs, and intelligence. Sister Kuranyie (in hiding to prevent her assassination) has demanded a relief force from Kro Terlep to quash the rebellion. However, troubles for the Scarlet Brotherhood elsewhere have made her situation lose priority in the hierarchy, so long as control of the port of Scant is maintained.
The situation in Onnwal is currently a stalemate. The rebels cannot take Scant without more troops and the Brotherhood cannot exert much control on the hinterlands of Onnwal because of their own manpower shortages. Thus until one side develops a substantial advantage in numbers or power, there is no end in sight for the conflict that rages across the peninsula.
Conflicts and Intrigues: The Scarlet Brotherhood in Scant plans to approach Turrosh Mak in the Pomarj for the orcs necessary to accomplish this goal. Mak might be paid in slaves drawn from the population of Onnwal. Rebels want to get Irongate actively involved in the war by blockading Scant. Rakehell Chert might approach leaders of the Flan Headlanders, promising them autonomy for the hills if they join his cause.