Proper Name: Viscounty and Town of Verbobonc
Ruler: His Noble Lordship, the Viscount Langard of Verbobonc, Defender of the Faith (CG male half-elf Rog4)
Government: Semi-independent realm owing fealty to the Archclericy of Veluna, but nearly autonomous in practice
Major Towns: Verbobonc (pop. 12,700)
Provinces: Fourteen freeholds and similar fiefs, all less than 500 square miles in size; the entire viscounty is a bishopric under St. Cuthbert, and it is divided into eight “guardianships” overseen by abbots; some guardianships include more than one political fief
Resources: Copper, gems (I-IV), timber
Coinage: [Modified Furyondy] leaf (pp), wheatsheaf (gp), knight (ep), spire (sp), common (cp)
Population: 177,800—Human 79% (Ofsr), Elf 9% (sylvan), Gnome 5%, Halfling 3%, Dwarf 2%, Half-elf 1%, Half-orc 1%
Alignments: LG*, N, LN
Religions: St. Cuthbert*, Ehlonna, Zilchus, Fharlanghn, Obad-Hai, Beory
Allies: Veluna, Furyondy (distrusted), Knights of the Hart (distrusted), Kron Hills gnomes (distrusted, technically in rebellion at present), Dyvers
Enemies: Iuz, Pomarj, assorted evil cults (particularly Iuz, Vecna, Tsuggtmoy, Elemental Evil)
Overview: The Viscounty of Verbobonc is a near independent province of the Archclericy of Veluna, ruled in palatine by a powerful viscount. The town of Verbobonc itself is the second largest port on the Velverdyva, bringing much wealth to the local lords. It is a city of just under 15,000 people and the capital of the Viscounty. The writ of the viscounty extends some fifteen miles into the Kron Hills to the south, though the current gnome troubles ensure that the viscount holds little true power there. Though relations with the lords of neighboring villages and strongholds within the viscounty are not nearly as tumultuous, Viscount Wilfrick’s inattentiveness during the latter part of his reign has ensured that some local rulers have more power than they ought to have, a problem that the current viscount, Langard, must deal with on a daily basis.
Verbobonc is not only a human city, but is home to many elves and gnomes, as well. A few of the former live in lofted ipt-houses, structures built within the boughs of trees of the same name. Most gnomes live in “rents,” small but comfortable dwellings excavated from the dozens of small hills within the city proper. Some few dwarves live in Verbobonc, while halflings are somewhat rare. The folk of Verbobonc are a hard-working group of gods-fearing souls.
Verbobonc is also one of the more powerful and influential cities in the Central Flanaess, due to the immense commercial wealth flowing through its gates. Not only does the bulk of the Flanaess’ East-West trade pass through via the Velverdyva River, but Verbobonc is also the primary market for precious metals from the Kron Hills as well as rare goods from the isolated elven realm of Celene. Most of its citizens lead healthy, prosperous lives, and their standard of living is remarkably high, surpassed only by Verbobonc’s mercantile competitors, Dyvers and Greyhawk City.
The town is rich with trade. The river brings goods of all stripe, with caravans and barges more than happy to leave the region loaded down with gems and copper from local mines. Verbobonc’s gnome smiths are renowned across the Flanaess. (Arguably, their most important structure, the Royal Furyondian Mint, spreads their handiwork farther than any other.)
While competition between the three city-states is fierce, they often work together in order to ensure the stability and safety of the trade routes upon which all three depend. Some of the more ambitious merchant houses have actually proposed linking the three states in a more close union or partnership, however, most people in all three cities scoff at the idea. Although tied financially and culturally to Furyondy and Veluna, the people of Verbobonc are quite proud of their independence and freedom. Further, they are generally isolated from the greater threats imperiling other states in the Flanaess and prefer to remain neutral. Recently, Viscount Langard has made strenuous efforts to change things.
Verbobonc rests on a plain overlooking the Velverdyva River to the north. This waterway is heavily traveled by traders plying the trade route between the far-off Baklunish lands and Dyvers and the other merchant capitals of the Nyr Dyv. Within the Viscounty, watchtowers have been established along the riverbanks to discourage piracy.
The grasslands and meadows adjacent to the Velverdyva are fed by clear river water and seasonal rains. They are rich and fruitful, supporting many farms which enjoy the protection of Verbobonc. The foothills to the south are well suited to grazing, and many locals raise sheep and some cattle. The lands to the west are lightly wooded, growing dense in the small Iron Wood, which lies on the border of Veluna and Verbobonc.
In the southern region of the Viscounty are the Kron Hills, which form a natural border between Verbobonc and the lands of Queen Yolande, Fey Majesty of Celene. The hills are rich in copper ore and mineral wealth, and the wealthiest of Verbobonc’s aristocracy sponsor mines in these highlands. Humanoid activity is very light, although some small bands of verbeeg and hill giants dwell here. The gnomes manage to keep the small groups of goblins in check. In addition, the Kron Hills, and more specifically the lightly wooded Greenway Valley, are home to the majority of the region’s gnomish population.
A small portion of the Gnarley Forest is also claimed by the Viscounty. The northern fringe of the forest, where it reaches the banks of the Velverdyva River, is well traveled and patrolled. The druids and rangers of the Gnarley maintain contact with Viscount Langard, and his Lordship also maintains a troop of foresters who monitor the woodlands. There is some banditry and humanoid activity in the denser, southern fringe, but this is mostly beyond the borders of the Viscounty. Still, incidents are not unknown on the highways that follow the Velverdyva. Many caravans follow these roads en route to Dyvers and Greyhawk City, and the value of such cargo is always an interest.
There are two primary roads which pass through Verbobonc. The most important, the Low Road, runs from Dyvers in the east to Veluna City in the west. It generally follows the southern bank of the Velverdyva, and is heavily patrolled to discourage banditry and humanoid activity. The Viscount charges a toll for travel on this highway to pay for its maintenance and safety.
The second highway is the High Road. The High Road runs south from Verbobonc, roughly bisecting the Viscounty. At the small village of Hommlett, the High Road branches in three directions. The southern branch continues through the Kron Hills until it eventually reaches the olven kingdom of Celene. The western branch leads to the heartlands of the Kron Hills and the gnomish settlements in the Greenway Valley. Finally, the eastern route winds through the hills, where it too eventually reaches Dyvers and the lands of the Wild Coast. Due to banditry, however, it has fallen into disuse, and only the most well-protected caravans and travelers use this route.
The local temperate is mild, featuring cold winters with little snow. The people of Verbobonc are friendly but cautious—most have seen evidence of true evil in their lifetimes, and know that a stranger could as easily slice your throat as look at you. The folk of Verbobonc have channeled this caution into a diligent work ethic. “Hard work keeps the demons away” is a popular local proverb.
Despite its small size, Verbobonc boasts both a religious and secular army. The First Army of the Church is little more than a collection of club-bearing zealots, beaten so often by the Cuthbertine Overseer Branditan (LG male human Fighter L6/Cleric of St. Cuthbert L2) that they have become a formidable and well-trained force. This body numbers perhaps two hundred men and women. The Viscount’s Standing Army consists of six hundred pikemen, cavalry and archers, nominally led by the extremely aged (and increasingly disabled) Mayor Velysin (NG male human Fighter L11). In times of great need, these troops are bolstered by rangers from the Gnarley, contingents of clerics from Veluna, and the famous Bootmen of Furyondy’s Duchy of the Reach. An alarming number of adventurers can be found in the viscounty, augmenting the resident forces in unpredictable, often destructive, ways.
Orders of knighthood are few and small in Verbobonc, though the new viscount recently proposed sponsoring a local branch of the Knights of the Hart. Though controversial (as no love is lost between the town and the Knights of Furyondy), it appears the proposal is gaining widespread public support so long as the knights were loyal first to their homeland, not to foreigners.
History: Long before the coming of humanity, Verbobonc was an elven settlement, a small but impressive river town filled with tall, thin towers, narrow walkways and delicate wood and ceramic statuary. The local elves shared their lives and livelihood with the good gnomes of the Kron Hills, banding together to battle off threats from the north and east. Verbobonc, then, was a military town, aligned with the gray elves of Enstad, though a political entity unto itself. The surrounding hillocks still hold relics of those ancient days, slowly crumbling towers of unsurpassed beauty, troves of buried arrowheads and still-useful armor, and even, it is said, the elven Old Places, sacred refuges hidden in the magical folds of the world.
As civilized humans entered the Flanaess and most elves receded into the woodlands, Verbobonc gained importance as a trade port on the Velverdyva River. At this time, many elves quit Verbobonc, leaving the town to the gnomes and the new arrivals. Thus began a new period in the history of the region, in which the two races worked together to improve and grow Verbobonc into a state of its own, not beholden to any greater power. At the dawn of the first century CY, the two primary races of Verbobonc encircled their home with walls, and constructed hundreds of new buildings, mixing a distinctly gnome architecture with the existing elven structures. In this spirit was the slogan “Earth and Stone, Man and Gnome” carved above the city’s north gate, a motto and approach to life that endures to this day.
The viscounty was formally incorporated into Veluna and the viceroyalty of Ferrond in 119 CY. Thereafter, it served as Veluna’s primary river port, a fact that made it a primary target of Keoish aggression during the Short War. Saved from annexation by the Treaty of Devarnish, much of the western land of the viscounty was nonetheless occupied. The looming Castle Estival, just east of the Iron Wood, is a telling example of how deeply the soldiers of Keoland influenced the region in the mid–fourth century CY. When Keoland withdrew from Veluna following the Short War, Verbobonc grew distant from Mitrik. Its viscount still sent a delegate to sit on the Celestial Order of the Moons, but never again would the citizenry be considered completely willing vassals. In these years, the church of St. Cuthbert came into great prominence in Verbobonc, displacing Raoan clerics in important government roles.
The trading town might have fallen from the gaze of history if not for the development, in the late 550s, of a nexus of evil just south of the town, in the Kron Hills. This outpost, the infamous Temple of Elemental Evil, soon became a beacon for vile men from across the Flanaess. These folk raided local caravans with impunity, constantly threatening the hill folk and local gnomes. By 568 CY, it became clear that the villains had established an army, and the following year saw a great battle between this horde and the forces of Verbobonc, Veluna and even Furyondy. Elves from the Gnarley proved vital to the success for the side of weal, and the Horde of Elemental Evil was scattered at the Battle of Emridy Meadows. Powerful mages and clerics sealed the temple with arcane bindings, claiming to have trapped a powerful demon within the golden doors of the edifice. For a time, peace returned to the lands of Verbobonc.
The peace was short lived. The so-called “Second Rising” of the Horde of Elemental Evil surprised no one. Viscount Wilfrick, alerted to the growing evil by agents in the south, ordered the construction of a castle at the sleepy Village of Hommlet. In the late 570s, dozens of parties of adventurers sallied forth against the temple. After much loss of life, the horde seemed at last to have met defeat. The castle at Hommlet was completed in 581 CY, and the folk of Verbobonc began cautiously to return to a life unhindered by the shadow of evil.
Verbobonc was not an official participant of the Greyhawk Wars, though dozens of volunteer companies native to the viscounty bolstered the armies of Furyondy and Veluna. Upon their return, they found their homeland embroiled in a desperate political struggle with the nations they had left to assist. In 585 CY, the Furyondian Knights of the Hart called for the annexation of Verbobonc. Though representatives from Veluna sniffed at such talk, the emergence of the Great Northern Crusade, in which Veluna and Furyondy acted as a single political unit, frightened many in the town who had long preferred the reason (and liberal tax laws) of Mitrik to the zeal (and active monitoring of the finances of the aristocracy) of Chendl. The situation came to a head when old Viscount Wilfrick died in his sleep in Harvester 587 CY, leaving Castle Grayfist to his eldest known son, the Right Honorable Sir Fenward Lefthanded.
Though Viscount Fenward publicly denounced all talk of annexation, he also enacted a number of rash policies that harmed the city and its allies. Since the fall of the Temple of Elemental Evil and certain well-publicized raids into nonhuman lairs in the Gnarley Forest (the success of which was overstated) had “eradicated all enemies of the viscounty, both imaginable and otherwise,” Viscount Fenward withdrew costly patrols from the forests and hills. Nonhuman communities that depended on those patrols to protect them from real and still present threats exploded in uproar against this new policy and an ill-thought insult Fenward aimed at the gnomes. The gnomes of the Kron Hills summarily declared themselves free from Verbobonc’s authority, swearing themselves only to their Clanlord, Urthgan the Eldest of Tulvar (LN male gnome Wizard L7 (illusionist)/Fighter L2), and to the Assembly of the Kron Hills, a council of gnome elders. The sylvan elves of the Gnarley, though hard pressed without human patrols, scarcely acknowledged the change.
A series of slanderous dispatches between Viscount Fenward and the Kron Assembly followed and left many city gnomes unsure of their allegiance. This dangerous development ended only when papers implicating the viscount as an agent of the Scarlet Brotherhood were discovered in Fenward’s chambers. The papers were later revealed to be forgeries, a fact that helped Fenward little, as he had been slain by his captain of the guard when he resisted imprisonment for treason.
Thereafter, rulership of Verbobonc fell to Langard of the Gnarley Border, a half-elven, half-forgotten bastard son of Viscount Wilfrick. The new viscount was surprised to find himself in charge of the town, and he is a cautious though naively open ruler (hoping that his past affairs as a minor smuggler do not come to public attention). In a land so controlled by fear (of monsters, evil cults, and annexation), many look upon Langard’s “discovery” with the suspicion that he is a Scarlet Brotherhood agent and no relation to the former viscount. No less a personage than the city’s venerable Bishop Haufren (LN male human Cleric of St. Cuthbert L14) vouches for him, however, so the skeptics have considerable opposition to overcome.
Notable Locations in Verbonbonc:
- Greyfist, Citadel of the Viscount
- The Laughing Rogue Hostel and Chapel of Olidammara
- Verbonbonc City Hall and Community House
- Jylee’s Inn
- The College Lane
Conflicts and Intrigues: Several evil cults are thought to operate in this region; cults of Vecna and Iuz are those most feared. The city’s gnomes must choose allegiance between the viscounty and their clans in the Kron Hills. Exiles from the Wild Coast have brought disease, drunkenness, and crime to the region. The Renvash Splinter, a reliquary of the Cathedral of the Holy Cudgel, was recently stolen by parties unknown.