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: Verbobonc extends from the Iron Wood in the west and well into the Gnarley Forest to the east. The Viscounty of Verbobonc is approximately 150 miles from east to west, although the eastern third of that distance lies within the Gnarley Forest. Past the Iron Wood is the Archclericy of Veluna; past the Gnarley Forest is the trade nation of Dyvers. Verbobonc’s northern border is the mighty Velverdyva River, beyond which stands the proud Kingdom of Furyondy. In the south, Verbobonc extends into the Kron Hills. The Viscounty of Verbobonc is about 50 miles north to south. Due south is the Free Alliance of the Kron Hills, which many will say is a part of the viscounty (the gnomes there will hotly disagree). The southwest is bordered by the forbidding Lortmil Mountains, and the southeast is bordered by the isolationist fey nation of Celene.
The grasslands and meadows of central Verbobonc, fed by clear river water and seasonal rains, are rich and fruitful. The foothills to the south are better suited to grazing, and many raise sheep and some small amounts of cattle.
Settlements and Locations within the Viscounty of Verbobonc
- Abbey of the Valorous Knight
- Carter’s Meadow
- Castle Estival
- Castle Hagthar
- Castle Sarkiri
- Clan Rockhall
- Cienega Valley
- Dechute’s Ford
- Fens of Tor
- Gallow’s Corner
- Greenway Valley
- Hummings’s Endo
- Ketter’s Hearth
- Korbin Township
- Kron Fortress
- Loren’s Ford
- Mol Township
- Ruby Falls
- Swan (Fort Wilfrick)
- Terre Vert
- Twilight Falls
- Verbobonc City
- Village of Hommlet
- Woodstock Township
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. 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 the neighboring villages and stronghold 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.
The local temperate is mild, featuring cold winter 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 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) Baron Avgustin. 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.
Although the Cudgeller is the official state deity of Verbobonc, Verbobonc is a religiously diverse region. In the central, civilized regions of the viscounty Fharlanghn, Pelor, Pholtus, Rao and Zilchus are also widely worshipped. In western Verbobonc, a large and venerable abbey to Heironeous stands, and wields secular as well as religious power in the area. In the wild areas of Verbobonc, older nature gods are revered, such as Ehlonna, Obad-Hai, and Beory.
History: Long before the coming of humanity, Verbobonc was an elven settlement set on a wooded hilltop overlooking a spot where a minor tributary, Gillendyl’s Run, enters the Velverdyva River’s wide expanse. The small river town featured an impressive elven tower fortress surrounded by yet more tall, thin towers, narrow walkways, lofty ipt-houses, and parkways filled with delicate wood and ceramic statuary. Considered a safe haven on the great river, a market place developed along the riverbank attracting goods from near and far.
The local elves shared their lives and livelihood with the good gnomes of the Kron Hills to the south, 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. Her elven patrols ranged into the deep Gnarley Forest to the east, the Kron Hills to the south, and through the Iron Wood to the west. The surrounding hillocks still hold relics of those ancient days, slowly crumbling towers of unsurpassed beauty, troves of buried weapons and still-useful armor. It is even said there remain elven Old Places, sacred refuges hidden in the magical folds of wood and hill.
As civilized humans entered the Flanaess and most elves receded into the woodlands, Verbobonc gained more 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. Humans soon took over the great elven fortress for which the ground dwelling gnomes had little interest. What few elves remained were content with their ipt-houses. Thus began a new period in the history of the region, in which the two majority 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 growing town with walls. They constructed hundreds of new buildings, mixing a distinctly gnome architecture with the existing elven structures, and more human styles. In this spirit was the slogan “Earth and Stone, Man and Gnome” carved above the city’s east gate, a motto and approach to life enduring to this day.
The viscounty was formally incorporated into Veluna and the viceroyalty of Ferrond in 119 CY. Verbobonc became the primary river port for Veluna, a fact that made it a primary target of Keoish aggression in the 350s CY. By 355 CY the Second Keoland Expeditionary Force had taken Devarnish and fanned out into the lands south all the way to the Lortmils and east past the Iron Wood and into the Kron Hills. Only Canon Turgen IV of Mitrik’s negotiation of the Treaty of Devarnish saved the remainder of Verbobonc territory from annexation. However, much of the western lands of the viscounty were occupied. The looming Castle Estival, just east of the Iron Wood, housed the furthest eastward Keoish garrison. From there the forces of Keoland controlled all trade traveling on the Great Western Road and controlled the western and southern approaches to Verbobonc Town itself.
In 415 CY, however, a new governor for the northern Keoland provinces arrived, Commander Berlikyn of Gran March. He initiated a program of grim oppression in the occupied lands, and by 436 CY publicly threatened to violate the Treaty of Devarnish and annex the whole of Veluna, including Verbobonc, in the name of the Keoish crown. Whether the king of Furyondy decided to act due to the agents dispatched by the Velunese canon in that year, or because the looming threat of Keoland had simply become too large to ignore, act he did. The armies of Furyondy surged into Veluna, battling south of the Velverdyva in a ferocious series of actions soon known as the Short War. Several volunteer companies from Verbobonc assisted a small Furyondian force in isolating the Keoland garrison in Castle Estival, rendering them helpless. The bulk of the Furyondy armies battled to the west through Veluna, the Fals Gap, and capturing all of Bissel in the process by 438 CY.
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 people of the Viscounty be considered completely willing vassals. The Velunese College of Bishops, rallied by a contingent of orthodox Cuthbertine Overseers, voted overwhelmingly to break from Furyondy in 446 CY signing an agreement known as the Concordat of Eademer. In these years, the church of St. Cuthbert came into great prominence in Verbobonc, inspired in no small part by the actions of the Cuthbertine Overseers in the College of Bishops. To many in the Viscounty it was taken as a sign of autonomy. Gradually, over time, clerics of St. Cuthbert displaced Raoan clerics in important government roles throughout Verbobonc.
Verbobonc forces assisted their gnome-friends in the Kron Hills. Gnome volunteers from the Kron in turn assisted their relatives in the Lortmils during the Hateful Wars, when the dwarves and gnomes of the mountains forced out nearly all the major humanoid tribes. Verbobonc forces helped patrol those areas of the Kron left unprotected by the gnomes fighting away from home and protecting their southern frontiers from humanoid incursions.
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 southeast of the town, in the Kron Hills. This outpost, the infamous Temple of Elemental Evil, soon became a beacon for vile men and humanoids from across the Flanaess. These evil forces began raiding the overland caravan routes which pass through or near Hommlet, thus threatening this avenue of trade between Dyvers and Verbobonc as well as the local hill folk and gnomes. The raids did not appear alarming at first, but gradually increased over time. Efforts by the Gnarley rangers, mounted patrols from Verbobonc, local woodsmen, and gnomes from Ostverk apparently checked, but did not stop, the spread of outlawry and evil.
In the year 560 CY various troubles began to crop up between the Viscounty and the Kron Hill gnomes. Trade goods disappeared on their trek from the Kron Hills to Verbobonc City, gnome merchants reported being harassed by Verbobonc patrols, Verbobonc patrols reported defeating humanoid raiding parties paid by gnomish coin, and gnome claims of human raids on their caravans. Worst of all was an attempted assassination of Prince Jimm of the Gnomes of the Kron Hills, a resident of Verbobonc City. All of these troubles proved to be the doings of an agent from the Temple of Elemental Evil. He was revealed and chased out of the city.
By 568 CY, it became clear that the Temple villains had established an army, and the following year saw a banding together of the forces of good to clear the Verbobonc lands of its evil scourge. Contingents of men-at-arms and cavalry from Verbobonc, Furyondy, and Veluna, together with a force of dwarves from the Lortmils, gnomes from the Kron Hills, and an army of elven archers and spearmen gathered together against the vast horde of evil men and humanoids based at the Temple of Elemental Evil. The opposing forces initially met on the grassy fields south of the Velverdyva River and several leagues to the east of Verbobonc Town. The allied forces of good maneuvered against the evil forces, closing upon the stronghold of the evil creatures, the walled Temple near Nulb. Elven scouts reported that a huge evil army was approaching from the south. The Marshall of Furyondy, leader of the combined forces, ordered a withdrawal northward to a position scouted earlier. This new position would afford more open ground for the heavy cavalry and pikemen to effectively operate. Light cavalry skirmishers were sent out to screen the withdrawal, and no real fighting took place that day.
The horde of evil creatures and men marched forth the next morning into the Emridy Meadows northwest of Nulb. These meadows were so named from the Emridy Run, a small tributary of the Imeryds Run, which enters the larger river from the west. The allied army awaited with formed ranks, pike-men from Furyondy, Veluna and Verbobonc were arrayed so that their right flank was secured by the Emridy Run; in the center were the banners of horse, and on the allied left were deployed bands of dwarves and gnomes, with a few units of elven archers place in the intervals between. The flank of the demi-humans protected by the Imeryds Run. The humanoids fell immediately upon the allied left, while the men in the evil ranks rode to engage the allied center and right. The hordes of orcs, gnolls, and ogres thrust aside their hated foes and rushed to encircle the balance of the allied army. But, this fell into the Marshall of Furyondy’s planned trap. The whole human portion of the allied army pivoted backward to the left as the demi-humans pivoted backward and right, and a large contingent of previously screened heavy cavalry charged into the right flank of the humanoids. Meanwhile, squares of elves emerged from the Imeryds Run where they had remained hidden until this moment. Trapped in this pocket with the pike-men now advancing into their left flank, the cavalry in their front, the demi-humans on their right and the elven squares at their rear, the packed mass of evil humans and humanoids fought hopelessly.
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 in the Greyhawk Wars, though dozens of volunteer companies native to the viscounty bolstered the armies of Furyondy and Veluna. It was rumored that Scarlet Brotherhood agents and “advisors” had counseled the Viscount to sit tight in those troubled times. Yet no proof was ever discovered. When the volunteers returned from the wars in the north, they found their homeland embroiled in a desperate political struggle with the nations they had left to assist. The Viscount’s influence over his own vassal lords also declined to the point where they nearly exerted free rein to rule their small holdings.
In 585 CY, the Furyondian Knights of the Hart called for the annexation of Verbobonc and Dyvers. Wilfrick, more loyal to Veluna, hosted a visit from a Velunan representative. The representative assured Wilfrick and a gathering of the populace in Verbobonc Town itself that their Furyondian allies would do no such thing. But the emergence of the Great Northern Crusade in 586 CY, 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.
Wilfrick’s age appeared to weigh heavily upon him during this time. He began to lose interest in maintaining patrols into the Gnarley Forest and the Kron Hills. Also, he did little after the visit of the Velunan representative to quell the fears of his own people. The situation came to a head when the old Viscount died in his sleep in Harvester 587 CY, leaving Castle Greyfist to his eldest known son, the Right Honorable Sir Fenward Lefthanded.
The new Viscount publicly denounced all talk of annexation and embarked on a series of well-publicized raids into nonhuman lairs of the Gnarley Forest. At first, the people and nobles of the Viscounty were pleased with the boldness of their new leader. But, Fenward then enacted a number of rash policies that harmed the city and its allies. He declared he had “eradicated all enemies of the viscounty, both imaginable and otherwise.” He withdrew all patrols from the Gnarley Forest and the Kron Hills, declaring these patrols to be too costly and no longer necessary. Nonhuman communities that depended on those patrols to protect them from real and still present threats exploded in uproar against this new policy. Fenward responded to the Kron Hills gnome protests with an ill-thought insult; “the craven little moles can take care of themselves.” The gnomes of the Kron Hills summarily declared themselves free from Verbobonc’s authority, swearing themselves to their Clan lord, Urthgan the Eldest of Tulvar, 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 worsened when papers implicating the viscount as an agent of the Scarlet Brotherhood were discovered in Fenward’s chambers. They hinted at plots to cut off all river trade along the Velverdyva and the assassination of those nobles who supported increased patrols. Later, the papers were revealed to be forgeries, a fact that helped Fenward little. As the captain of his own guard attempted to place Fenward under arrest for treason, Fenward resisted and was slain in the resulting struggle by the captain. Shortly after, the guard captain killed himself, supposedly over the humiliation and shame of having killed his Viscount. Again, suspicion fell on the possible involvement of Scarlet Brotherhood. And as before, no real proof could be found. However, a known minor advisor to both former Viscounts had disappeared without a trace.
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 hind 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 Haufren, Bishop of St. Cuthbert, vouches for him. However, he does not have the support of a majority of the nobles, who would rather see one of their own, take control. Langard quickly became popular with the lower classes for his openness. He quickly established fair relations with Veluna and Furyondy. He also wants to smooth relations with the Kron Hill gnomes, boost internal security, and improve trade with Dyvers.
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.