Proper Name: Hold of the Sea Princes
Ruler: Contested: (eastern isles and cities) Elder Brother Hammandaturian, Shepherd of the Sea Princes (LE male human Mnk12); various local warlords, tribal clerics, and foreign armies hold the remainder of the region
Government: see “Ruler”; region in civil chaos
Major Towns: Hokar (pop. 21,000; controlled by local folk), Monmurg (pop. 15,000; Scarlet Brotherhood controlled), Port Toli (pop. 11,000; Scarlet Brotherhood controlled), Westkeep (pop. 9,500; Keoland controlled)
Provinces: (preconquest) 30 separate noble domains; (post-conquest) unknown number of warring military/religious domains Resources: (preconquest) Foodstuffs, slaves; (postconquest) the same, though no exports of note
Coinage: Old coinage used but greatly devalued: highlord (pp), gold admiral (gp), bright ship (ep), silver (sp), common (cp)
Population: 420,000—Human 79% (Sofz), Halfling 8%, Elf 4%, Dwarf 3%, Gnome 2%, Half elf 1%, Halforc 1%, Other 2%
Languages: Common, Olman, Amedi, Keolandish, Halfling
Alignments: CN*, CE, N, NE, LE
Religions: Osprem, Xerbo, Procan, Norebo, Kelanen (native Holders); Syrul, Bralm, Tharizdun? (SB); Olman pantheon, esp. Chitza-Atlan (Olman)
Enemies: Native peoples of the Amedio Jungle, Keoland, Yeomanry (minor)
Overview: The Hold of the Sea Princes is a land bordered on all sides by the protection of natural terrain. To the north, its reaches extend to the Hool River at the heart of the marshland of the same name. To the west and south, the lands of the Sea Princes are walled in by the Hellfurnaces. The Hold’s eastern border, along the Jeklea Bay, accounts for the nation’s former prosperity.
That prosperity, however, is now gone, perhaps forever. Now, the Hold is wracked by violent political upheavals, invasion, and bitter ethnic conflict—a beautiful, tropical land marred by the sins of the past and the conflicts of the present.
Despite the political climate, the Hold is renowned for its beautiful weather and pleasant beaches. Before the Greyhawk Wars, nobles from as far as Nyrond flocked to Monmurg every winter, hoping to escape the dreary north for a few months of relative paradise.
The land here is fertile and suitable for farming all manner of crop. Fruit production is perhaps the Hold’s most famous industry, though a traffic in slavery brought it the most prewar enemies (and whole ships filled with coin, thanks to the greedy lords of Ahlissa and elsewhere). In fact, the slave trade of the Sea Princes was so lucrative that captains called their captured Amedio slaves “two-legged admirals,” referring to the platinum coinage of the realm.
The Sea Princes once commanded the grandest navy in all the Flanaess. Now, most of these ships are sunk or used by the Scarlet Brotherhood. Regardless, few still dock along the coast. The Hold’s small but effective army fell early to the armies of Amedio and Hepmonaland savages, imported by the Brotherhood during the Greyhawk Wars.
History: In the mid–fourth century CY, as Keoland made war in the north, the buccaneers of the Azure Sea and Jeklea Bay grew courageous, correctly assuming that the king’s wartime ambition would leave much of his southern holdings for the taking. Operating from hidden island and mainland bases, these pirates harried the coastline as far as the Sea of Gearnat, from Monmurg to Gradsul, from Blue to Scant. By 444 CY, the pirates had formed a loose confederation, naming themselves for the Sea Prince, the ship of a successful pirate captain of noble Keoish blood.
The Sea Princes raided the mainland coast, conquering even Port Toli and finally Monmurg in 446, breaking Keoish control of the southlands in a flurry of naval actions. As Tavish III’s northern holdings crumbled, however, he ordered the eradication of the Sea Princes, charging his military commanders to regain all of the land lost to the seafaring opportunists. The Sea Princes’ operations had expanded even to the mainland, a fact that infuriated the king. The pirates openly scoffed at his decrees and challenged the monarch to a battle by sea. Tavish III would not oblige.
Instead, in the spring chill of 453 CY, the king himself led a large army of men through the tangles of the Hool Marsh, intending to lay siege to the fort city of Westkeep. The trek through the swamp proved disastrous, however, and many of the soldiers were forced to cast away their armor in the quagmire. The army’s wagon train suffered tremendous difficulty, and many soldiers took sick within the first two days of the march. Tavish seemed indignant. Westkeep would fall, and he himself would hoist the Lion Rampant upon its highest tower.
When finally the army arrived at the outskirts of the fort city, the Sea Princes forces had been well prepared. Those Keolandish soldiers who did not mutiny were cut down by an unrelenting barrage of arrow fire and magic. The Siege of Westkeep, as it would soon be known, lasted a pathetic 70 minutes. Tavish himself was slain in battle, and the forces of the Sea Princes celebrated that night under the standard of the crowned caravel.
The Battle of Jetsom Island, in 464 CY, saw the Keoish navy sink the Sea Prince, with all hands lost. Though not a decisive military victory for Keoland, the action marked a turning point for the holders. Thereafter, many of the old captains retired from piracy, settling the mainland and forming a more stabilized government. The younger captains turned from piracy to relatively legitimate pursuits, including exploration of the Amedio coast and, eventually, the sale of slaves captured within the fecund southern jungles. Thus a chaotic nation of pirates and scalawags turned their attention to mercantilism, and the coffers of the Sea Princes swelled to bursting.
With this newfound industrial power, the Sea Princes expanded their borders to the Hellfurnaces. Vast plantations, worked by imported Amedio slaves, provided shiploads of tropical fruits and sugar, goods that could be exported to foreign ports for unheard-of low prices. Though the sale of human beings drew the ire of upstart radical nations such as the Yeomanry, the Sea Princes’ slave trade was seen by most of the Flanaess as a necessary evil on the road to fantastic wealth.
As the years progressed, however, the practice of slavery was less supported by the gentry of client nations. When the moderate Prince Jeon II of Monmurg assumed the throne in 573 CY, most expected the issue to come to a head. In 577, Jeon assembled a grand council of his peers and demanded an end to slave-taking. The prince of Toli, the plar of Hool, the grandee of Westkeep, and the commodores of the Isles shouted down his plan. Only the ineffectual governor of Sybarate Isle and the duke of Berghof supported him. In disgust, he withdrew his proposal.
He need not have bothered in the first place. Within the next few years, the Hold of the Sea Princes became a nation of slaves. Like many nations during the Greyhawk Wars, the Sea Princes fell victim to the Scarlet Brotherhood. Within a single night in 584 CY, twenty-seven of the thirty nobles making up the nation’s nobility and government were assassinated by killers loyal to the Scarlet Sign. The remaining three nobles signed a notice of surrender, ceding all land to the Brotherhood. Thereafter, ships bearing red sails unloaded armies of Amedio and Hepmonaland natives in Monmurg and Port Toli.
The lands of the Sea Princes were forever changed. Many non-Suel slave owners were imprisoned in chains by the brotherhood, often in the same pens as their former thralls, a situation that usually ended in bloodshed. Among the most sadistic members of the brotherhood “Herdsmen,” creating power struggles between slaves and their former owners became something of a contest, with the creator of the most violent clashes winning accolades among the invaders. Such games fermented dissent, however. Slave revolts became common occurrences. Unless one wore robes of scarlet, the Hold became dangerous ground to tread.
The intense heat of summer, 589 CY, instilled a great fervor in the land among the slaves, the few remaining nobles, and even the ranks of the Herdsmen. Details remain clouded, but in that year, a great and ancient temple was discovered in the Hellfurnaces, near the Sea of Dust. For reasons known only among the principals, and surely the Brotherhood’s leadership on the Tilvanot Peninsula, this discovery triggered a bitter schism between the western Herdsmen and their kin in Monmurg, which in turn triggered a brief war of assassination among the nation’s Brotherhood leaders.
Several junior members, allied with the westerners, revealed themselves as the so-called Black Brotherhood. In the name of entropy, they triggered an armed revolt in the capital, leading brutish Hepmonaland soldiers through the streets of Monmurg. The action was crushed within a single day, but telling damage was done to the hierarchy of the Scarlet Brotherhood Herdsmen. The cry of revolution spread throughout the nation, and all descended into total chaos.
In early 590 CY, King Skotti himself led the Keoish army to Westkeep, taking advantage of the chaos. It was a move many criticized, hearkening back to the sad fate of Tavish III. As if to fulfill this historical prophesy, Westkeep is a squalid, ill-supplied locale. Disease runs rampant, morale is low, and agents of the Brotherhood are thought to be everywhere.
The Brotherhood still controls key settlements in Monmurg, as well as Jetsom, Flotsom and Fairwind Isles. Olman ex-slaves control the western half of the hold. Among these folk, newly appeared Olman clerics stir up long-lost tales of ancient gods of the jungle, allegedly inciting their converts to acts of grim butchery and human sacrifice. The city of Hokar is the center of a new government formed by an alliance of commoners, middle-class folk, and emancipated slaves. This alliance is governed (badly) by a coalition of minor nobles who, through their intrigues and assassinations, seem set to complete the job of complete civil destruction started by the Brotherhood some seven years ago.
Conflicts and Intrigues: Minor nobles of the old regime are currently united in the Fraternity of the Brazen Blade, ostensibly a religious order dedicated to Kelanen but in fact a vicious revenge society. Disease is rampant throughout the northwestern lands. Violent, organized attacks on Brotherhood shipping by merfolk and tritons are increasing across the Azure Sea.