Few sites in the all the Flanaess conjure up in the minds of the populace such images of dread, foreboding, and fear as does Doomgrinder. Widely believed to be some kind of mystical or cosmic clock counting down the years to the Oerth’s destruction, the structure’s origins – and purpose – remain completely unknown. Some sages disagree, whispering that it is some kind of terrible war engine created by a long-dead civilization to annihilate their foes; these theories are widely derided as the fanciful mutterings of old and senile men. Nevertheless, Doomgrinder appears in the earliest oral traditions of the Flan hillmen who have dwelled in the hills since time immemorial. The dwarves and gnomes also have ancient tales of the site making it one of the oldest – if not the oldest – known structure in the hills.
Doomgrinder stands atop a plateau overlooking a fecund, oft-shunned valley deep in the rugged uplands of the Cairn Hills, roughly 200 miles east of Greyhawk City. While the valley is home to several impressive areas of plant growth (which is rare for the Cairn Hills), few journey here to study them; Doomgrinder’s fearsome appearance and the reported sightings of pale-skinned dwarves in the area persuading most explorers to stay away. Dao and efreeti are also said to lurk in the vicinity.
The structure – a massive windmill 80 ft. high and hewn completely from black stone – has no apparent entryway (although some tales do speak of a hidden entrance high up on the edifice). Doomgrinder’s sails move upwards toward their zenith at erratic intervals. Massive lightning storms always accompany such movements (that normally occur every ten to fifty years) as do localized earthquakes. It is obvious to all but the most intellectually deficient half-orc barbarian that magic protects and maintains the edifice. Indeed, the entire structure radiates strong evil and magic (of indeterminate aura) but seems impervious to all divinations and other magics.
This extraordinary edifice towers over a small valley, standing on a plateau outcrop. The valley is very fertile, with unusually rich plant life, but few dare enter it. The presence of the forbidding Doomgrinder is intuitively shunned by almost all creatures of the hills.
The Doomgrinder is a massive windmill, some 80 feet high, made entirely of stone, including its sails. It is obvious that magic maintains its structure, and it radiates magic and evil strongly if detected. Its sails move one degree at a time at unpredictable intervals (once every 10-50 years). This movement is generally accompanied by a ferocious lightning storm. Legend has it that the Doomgrinder is counting down the years to a major cataclysm as great as the Invoked Devastation. One of its sails is now but two degrees away from its zenith, and some say that when that sail moves to that point, the end will be at hand.
Who built this colossus is entirely unknown. What is known is that the building has no obvious entrance and is entirely resistant to magic (passwall, stone to flesh, etc.) that would destroy the structure. Reports of evil dao filter back from the surrounding hills from time to time, as do tales of wondrous magical treasures secreted within the mill. Dwarves believe that derro dwell beneath it, so they avoid the place.
Recent Goings On
After the Greyhawk Wars, the Doomgrinder’s uppermost sail was still two degrees away from its highest point. In 590 CY, however, an unnamed apprentice wizard drawn to investigate the site observed that the windmill’s sails had moved one degree closer to the vertical. Since then, the site has been relatively calm; a large pack of wolves was scattered in 592 CY and the year after a covey of vampire druids haunting the area was destroyed. Recently, however, explorers following the Urnst Trail have reported dark clouds gathering over the valley on otherwise fair weather days, the occasional flash of lightning to the south, and even the ground shaking on occasion. Thus, while Doomgrinder’s sails have not completed their upward journey many in the Free City believe that it is only a matter of time before a final doom befalls the Oerth.
Such developments have, of course, heralded a steady stream of adventurers and (particularly brave) scholars visiting the site. Most have returned empty handed, but a small number have disappeared, victims of either the denizens of the Cairn Hills or perhaps of Doomgrinder itself.