The Plain of Greyhawk: This grassy reach surrounds the city on all sides and runs the length of the Selintan River valley. These gently rolling lands are characteristically very low hills that gradually climb away from the Selintan. Though travelers can see great distances across the grassy swales, it is also possible to be unobserved by remaining in the low places.
The soil is not particularly fertile for growing grain or fruit, but the hungry mouths of Greyhawk City have made farming a profitable endeavor. Many tenant farmers work small fields, or tend flocks of sheep, goats, or chickens. Also,vegetable cultivation is a staple of the many tenant farmers who live here.
The land is claimed by the Free City though the terms granted the farmers are not miserly. Each farmer is granted only a large enough plot to gain a comfortable livelihood. Greyhawk’s rule in the area, collecting taxes and tithes and reporting to the militia (who pay them infrequent visits) of towns and keeps in the area .
Individual farms are small, typically no larger than is sufficient to feed a large family and produce a little surplus for sale and trade. The farms tend to cluster in the more sheltered low places, with three, four, or more often gathered around a single well or creek bed. These gatherings are not actually towns, but such communal collections dot the landscape in all directions. The distribution of farmsteads follows a ribbon pattern, the large majority being within 15 miles or so of a river, road, or track. More central land is usually communal grazing land. The general standard of life here is comfortable.
In places there are larger holdings, farms are often grouped around manor houses built by some warrior or mage who has done great service to the city. Such grants of land are few, reserved only for the greatest of accomplishments. These lords in turn gather tenant farmers to their plots, which usually extend a mile or so from the manor in all directions.
The manors, perhaps two score in all, are scattered all about the countryside, though none lies closer than five miles to the River Selintan and the River Road. The lord mayors of the city have taken care to see that no lord gains too much control over the city’s economic lifelines. (see Lord Blackfair’s Manor)
During the springs of 583 and 584 CY, lizard men from the Mistmarsh became unusually active and attacked livestock and some outlying farms. This has resulted in the drafting of more militia into the area, and the construction of two new tower keeps to the north and south of the marsh: Marsh Keep and Blackwall Keep (technically part of the Cairn Hills force).
The Western Plains: There are two meanings to the term “western plains”: the fringes of the Gnarley Forest on the west bank of the Selintan, and the lands around the northern fringes of the Gnarley, which stretch west to those lands administered by Dyvers.
The lands on the west bank of the river shade into the old Wild Coast lands, and the farmers who eke out a living here tend to be poorer than most, suspicious, and hard folk. They have always had to face the threat of creatures marauding from the Gnarley Forest, as well as bandits from the Wild Coast lands. Approximately half the land in this area is hardly farmed at all, merely occasionally grazed by sheep.
All the farms here have shuttered windows and strong doors. Most have palisade walls and a system of water-filled ditches for defense. Most of the farms are family farms, with the menfolk likely to be experienced fighters rather than normal men. Fierce dogs are kept as guards. Farm folk trust few apart from their own immediate neighbors and do not travel far from home; consequently, they regard such places as the Free City to be very far-off (and usually as holes of depravity and dens of thieves to boot).
Anyone looking to these communities for generosity or accommodation will be disappointed. The locals will as likely throw eggs at a foreigner as sell them to him.
North of the Gnarley, matters are complex in the post-war picture. The borders are fixed by convention rather than a formal treaty with Dyvers. East, tenant farmers are rented their lands by the Free City, and to the west, the lands belong to Dyvers, effectively by consent of the powerful minor nobles who own the lands. However, groups of tenant and tied farmers have begun to press their lords to switch allegiance to the Free City and, should they choose to do so, there is little Dyvers can do about it.
The farmers, and some nobles, seek allegiance with Greyhawk simply because it is more powerful than Dyvers, and these folk feel it offers them better protection. This is extremely important, because they are, after all, just across the water from Furyondy. Some of them have seen for themselves what happened to that country during the wars.
Reciprocally, Greyhawk covets these lands because they are more fertile than most of the Plain of Greyhawk, and the farms offer resources of men while the nobles offer extra taxation revenue. The rulers of Greyhawk have not made an active pitch for new recruits, but rulers of lands just west of the border undoubtedly find themselves well-received by the Free City authorities. This has led to growing friction between Dyvers and Greyhawk, and both sides are known to seed rumors about the other among the border communities. Rumors about Dyvers usually reflect themes of weakness and vacillation among rulers there, while those about Greyhawk refer to the corruption of rulers and the new terrors of the criminal code (“they say they hang a man there for stealing a loaf of bread. Unless ’e’s a member of their damned Guild of Thieves that rules the place, of course”).
Lastly, it is also the case that Dyvers sees the improvements to the old road to Greyhawk, from the Greyhawk end, as a clear sign that Greyhawk is pressing westward with thoughts of dominion and eventually annexing Dyvers itself, just as it annexed Hardby. Dyvers has refused to upgrade the road from its own end, leaving Greyhawk to meet the costs of this. Naturally enough, farmers see this as a sign of the greater wealth (and thus power) of Greyhawk, and it also makes it easier for them to dispatch their produce east rather than west.
The village of Maraven lies right on the Dyvers/Greyhawk divide, currently paying tribute to Dyvers. The town’s merchant rulers exploit their position to the full, entertaining Greyhawk visitors so as to arouse the anxiety of Dyvers (which, as a consequence, keeps taxes in Maraven low). Since Maraven is semi-autonomous, it has attracted riff-raff from the Wild Coast and even the Bandit Kingdoms who are happy to hide out in an increasingly lawless outpost. Unscrupulous mercenaries and freebooters are plentiful here, and evilly-inclined employers know where to find them.