The Greyhawk setting was the first campaign setting created for the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game. This setting is a place where almost anything is possible, a fantasy land where humanity shares a world with elves, dwarves, dragons, giants, and other creatures of myth, folklore, legend, and elsewhere. Magic is superior to technology here; wizards cast great spells, and warriors wield enchanted weapons against monstrous foes.
The land of the Greyhawk setting is called the Flanaess (fla-NESS), an eastern peninsula on a vast continent called Oerik (OH-rik), on a world known as Oerth. Oerth is much like Earth in nature and climate, though with many differences as well. Oerth has two moons, for instance, Luna (a great white moon) and Celene (a smaller aquamarine moon). The calendar followed by inhabitants of the Flanaess has 364 days, divided into 12 months of 28 days each, with week-long holidays between each season. Summertime is long in the Flanaess, winter is mild, and crops are usually good. Magic may be responsible for this.
The Flanaess is a European-like region where a central group of numerous kingdoms and states, great and petty, struggle for supremacy and survival against countless foes. A widespread conflict called the Greyhawk Wars greatly damaged the fabric of life here a handful of years ago. Armies of humanoids brutish creatures with human and bestial featuresūmarch across the land.
Giants and extraplanar monsters lay waste to civilization. A decaying empire breeds lawlessness and debauchery in its realms and threatens its neighbors. A mysterious elite order holds several nations in its evil grip. A vile demigod rules a northern empire as a tyrant. Barbarians, assassins, and monsters run rampant.
Yet the Flanaess is alive and vibrant, and it has great hope for its future. Adventurers strike out against the enemies of civilization and order, uncover lost and forgotten treasures, and gain the magic and monies they need to become the new heroes and leaders of their time. There are captured lands to be retaken, artifacts to be rediscovered and used, and incredible lands beyond the Flanaess to explore. It is an age of adventure with no limit to what one person can achieve.
The Peoples of Greyhawk
Numerous human races inhabit the Flanaess. Though humans have identical abilities, each human race has a particular place of origin, physical appearance, and pantheon of gods closely allied with it. Despite outward differences, few humans pay attention to skin color and similar features; this is, after all, a land with numerous other humanlike and nonhuman races. Humans of different races frequently intermarry, leading to a slow blending of peoples and cultures.
The Flan were the original human inhabitants of the Flanaess, which is named for them. The Flan lived as hunters, fishers, gatherers, and farmers, though there is evidence they once had a great culture that long ago vanished. The Flan were greatly displaced by invading races from the west, following the destruction of the Baklunish and Suloise Empires 1,000 years ago. The Flan may be compared in some ways to Native American Indians. A typical Flan has bronze skin and dark eyes and hair, and prefers to wear clothing with bright, primary colors.
The Baklunish are an Arabic-like people with golden skin tones. Their eyes are often gray or green, and their hair is dark. When their empire was destroyed, the survivors fled north to the Dramidj coast. Some nomadic tribes were pushed northward almost into arctic areas. Nomadic Baklunish have a Mongol-like culture; settled Baklunish resemble the medieval Ottoman Turks or Persians in their culture and architecture.
Olive-skinned Oeridians were a warlike barbarian tribe many centuries ago. They entered the Flanaess less of their own free will than because they were being pushed ahead of Baklunish refugees and marauding armies of humanoids in the latter stages of the ancient Baklunish-Suloise war. The Oeridians marched down into the Sheldomar Valley and past the Nyr Dyv into the far eastern part of the Flanaess. They fought the Suloise in many places, often aided by native Flannae and demihumans, who hated the slave-taking, evil-tempered Suloise. Eventually the strongest tribe of Oeridians, the Aerdi, established their own empire: the Great Kingdom.
Suloise humans have pale skin, blue eyes, and blond, white, or red hair. They have intermarried with many peoples across the Flanaess. "Typical" Suloise may still be found in the Thillonrian Peninsula, on the islands off the eastern coast of the Flanaess, on the Tilvanot Peninsula, and in the Duchy of Urnst. Barbaric tribes of Suloise, heavily tanned and freckled from exposure to the sun, may be found in the Amedio Jungle and Hepmonaland.
A minor human race, called the Rhennee, may be found in the central Flanaess. These Gypsy-like people travel on river barges and are very clannish. Rhennee claim to have come to the Flanaess from other world, and they do not trust outsiders. They have a bad reputation.
The Olman is yet another minor race, known from the Amedio Jungle and Hepmonaland. This Aztec-like people once had an empire in the southern jungles, but it collapsed long ago, leaving only scattered tribes and ancient ruins behind.
Other human races are rumored to exist, but these are not well known at present.
Elves (called "olve" or "olvenfolk" in Flan) inhabited the Flanaess for many centuries before the destruction of the Baklunish and Suloise Empires. Suloise, Oeridian, and humanoid invaders pushed the elves from their grassland and prairie homes, forcing them deep into ancient forests. Fortunately, the elves already preferred forests to other environments, and they were able to hold their own in many ancient timberlands as various human kingdoms rose, expanded, made war, and fell nearby. The Suloise and the humanoids, particularly the orcs, gave the greatest trouble to the elves, who often found themselves allied with their old Flan neighbors and with the aggressive but reasonably trustworthy Oeridians.
High elves are known from the Town of Highfolk, Duchy of Ulek, Archclericy of Veluna, and the Spindrift/Lendore Isles. As a rule, they are the elves most likely to be in contact with other peoples of the Flanaess, particularly humanity. Elves of Highfolk and the Ulek states are particularly friendly. The Lendore Isles high elves, however, are very reclusive and have little to do with other peoples. High elves are slim and pale in complexion, standing about 5 feet in height, and like to wear greens, grays, and pastels. Most high elves are dark haired and have green eyes. Like all elves, they are often highly skilled in magic as well as swordcraft, and they have extraordinarily long lifespans. Elves invariably have pointed ears.
Gray elves have either silver hair and amber eyes, or else golden hair and violet eyes. The gray elves of the Flanaess are traditionally reclusive, especially when confronted with hostile human kingdoms. Gray elves are especially prevalent in the Kingdom of Celene and the County of Sunndi. Sunndi elves are extremely militaristic, thanks to their facing many enemies at once, and have extensive alliances with local humans and demihumans to fight off incursions of evil.
Sylvan elves are inhabitants of old woodlands, with darker complexions than high elves. They dress in browns and greens, and most value their privacy and separation from all other peoples. The collapse of the Great Kingdom and the Greyhawk Wars have only encouraged further isolation. Sylvan elves inhabit the Kingdom of Celene, Town of Highfolk, Duchy of Ulek, and many old forests (Celadon, Dreadwood, Gamboge, Gnarly, Grandwood, Vesve).
Wild elves, or grugach, keep themselves isolated from all other peoples, including other elves. They are found scattered across the Flanaess in small bands in remote, temperate forests. They are very pale, shorter than most elves, and are xenophobic. They resemble sylvan elves.
Valley elves are known only from the Valley of the Mage, serving the wizard who rules that land. These elves are taller than usual, some reaching 6 feet in height, and resemble golden-blond gray elves. Valley elves are not well liked by other elves. They travel about with cooshees, which are sometimes called "elven dogs."
Aquatic elves are found in temperate and tropical oceans and seas. A large number of them are known to live near the Spindrift/Lendore Islands, where they are allied with the high elves. Aquatic elves have webbed fingers and toes, and they can breath water as well as air.
Half-elves, the offspring of long-lived elves and short-lived humans, are found everywhere across the Flanaess.
Dwarves ("dwurfolk") are about 4 feet tall, broad-shouldered and muscular, with stocky builds. Both males and females are bearded. They prefer to live underground in vast cavern or tunnel systems, where they mine precious metals and gems. Their skin comes in earth tones, from red-brown to tan to gray. In nature they tend to be dour and suspicious, but grudgingly helpful. Dwarves live long lives, though not as long as the elves, and they reproduce slowly. Dwarves are good but vengeful warriors with long memories of who has done them harm.
Hill dwarves are the most common sort. They are known to work with other good-natured races across the Flanaess, and are often seen as soldiers and mercenaries in wars against giants and humanoids. Hill dwarves are especially common in the Principality of Ulek.
Mountain dwarves are less common than hill dwarves. They tend to be paler and taller, averaging 4-1/2 feet tall, and prefer caverns deep under the mountains. Mountain dwarves are usually known from the Archbarony of Ratik and the Principality of Ulek.
Duergar, also called gray dwarves, live far underground. These evil-natured dwarves are hostile to their brethren as well as to all other races.
Gnomes ("noniz") are thought to be related to dwarves, though they are smaller and enjoy the open air and forests more than their cousins. Gnomes have wood-colored skin in a variety of shades, from light ash to dark oak. Many gnomes live underground in burrows, near the surface; they prefer hilly country and forests. They enjoy merry-making and work equally well.
The gnomes of the Flanaess are highly organized and quite aggressive in defending their territory. Those in the Kron Hills are especially noteworthy, as they defeated and drove out many humanoids who had preyed upon them. Kron Hills gnomes have great reputations as warriors. Large numbers of gnomes appear in the Flinty Hills, the County of Ulek, the Archclericy of Veluna, the Towns of Verbobonc and Highfolk, and the Kingdom of Celene.
One important but little-seen subrace, the deep gnomes (or svirfneblin) live far underground; these have gray, hairless skin and excellent heat-sensing vision, but little else is known of them. Some are rumored to command creatures made of living earth and rock with their magic. Deep gnomes are among the few good underground races known.
Halflings ("hobniz") are half the size of humans and look much like human children, though their faces age like human ones. A light covering of hair runs over most of their bodies, especially the backs of their hands and the tops of their feet. Halflings usually travel about barefoot, their thick-soled feet protecting them from the ordinary pain humans would feel in stepping on briars, sharp stones, and so onūthough such protection only extends so far, of course. Most halflings build shallow burrow homes or cottages in grasslands, forests, or hills.
Three subraces of halflings live in the Flanaess. The hairfeet is the most numerous and usual group, and most of these live among humans. Tallfellows are about 6 inches taller and rather willowy in build, usually living near elven groups, and stouts are about 6 inches smaller and live among dwarves. All groups are basically good natured and enjoy creature comforts.
There are no halfling-ruled states in the Flanaess. Halflings in general are the least forward of any demihuman race, preferring to live in the shadow of bigger folk like humans, elves, etc.
A History of the Flanaess
The cultural landscape of the Flanaess has changed greatly in the last 1,000 years, going from a relatively peaceful and lightly populated region of primitive human, demihuman, and humanoids tribes to a crowded, war-torn land of civilized feudal states armed with powerful magic and armies. The following history of the Flanaess is necessarily brief but sufficient for our purposes. The current year is 585 in the Common Year (C.Y.) calendar, dating from the crowning of the Great Kingdom's first Overking in the year 1 C.Y. Other calendars exist, including an elven one, but they are no longer in widespread use.
The distant past of the Greyhawk setting is shrouded by time, many of its secrets lost as a result of the magical wars that have plagued the region. Most historians believe that until just over 1,000 years ago, the Flanaess was uncivilized but relatively peaceful. No high political states unified the peoples of this realm or gave them a great purpose or broad view of their world. Little real information is available on this time. The only humans known to have lived here were the bronze-skinned Flannae, who were superb hunters but unskilled at war.
To the west, however, two titanic empires drifted into open war with one another. To the southwest of the Flanaess was the Suel Imperium, known for its command of magical power and its bend toward evil. To the direct west of the Flanaess was the Baklunish Empire, much less evil than the Suloise realm but equally noted for its mastery of magic. As the Baklunish-Suloise Wars progressed over a 60-year span, bestial humanoids were employed as mercenaries by both sides, civil order broke down, and increasing numbers of refugees fled both empires to the relative safety of the east. Many ivory-skinned Suloise crossed directly over the great Crystalmist Mountains that separated the Suloise and Baklunish empires from the Flanaess, and some even went _through_ the mountains in a magically carved tunnel. The gold-complected Baklunish and a fierce human tribe called the Oeridians moved into the Flanaess by crossing the plains to the north of the Crystalmists, moving up along the coast of the Dramidj Ocean or through the pass between the Barrier Peaks and the Yatils, and thus directly into the heart of the Flanaess.
Then the wicked Suloise brought about the Invoked Devastation with their sorcery, laying waste to the whole of the Baklunish lands. In retaliation, the enraged Baklunish wizards began the Rain of Colorless Fire, which completely reduced the Suel Imperium to an ashen desert now called the Sea of Dust. The few Baklunish who were left established new states around the eastern shores of the Dramidj Ocean. Oeridian and Suloise survivors, as well as many of the humanoid mercenaries from the wars, spread across the central Flanaess in all directions, battling each other and all original inhabitants of the new lands.
The olive-skinned Oeridians came to dominate much of the Flanaess after two centuries of war. The Oeridians gained as allies both the Flannae tribes and scattered demihuman enclaves, warring against the troublesome Suloise and armies of rapacious humanoids, particularly orcs. The Aerdi tribe of Oeridians eventually established the Kingdom of Aerdy in the far east, and this kingdom grew in power until it controlled most of the Flanaess, from Sunndi in the southeast to Ratik and Tenh in the northeast, westward as far as what is now Furyondy and Veluna. This vast empire, called the Great Kingdom, lasted for about 300 years.
The first major break in the Great Kingdom was the loss of the Viceroyalty of Ferrond, which became the Kingdom of Furyondy in 254 C.Y. This realm eventually split into the separate states of Furyondy and Veluna; the city of Dyvers and other areas broke away later on.
A second sundering of the empire came in 356 C.Y., when the ruling Aerdi dynasty (the House of Rax) was split by an internal feud. The junior branch, Nyrond, rebelled and declared its lands free of the Overking's rule. (A barbarian invasion in North Province prevented the Overking from turning all his armies westward.) These lands became known as the Kingdom of Nyrond.
Nyrond later went through an imperialistic period, eventually adding the County of Urnst and the Theocracy of the Pale to its holdings. These two lands eventually regained their independence from Nyrond at the Great Council of Rel Mord (the capital of Nyrond).
At the time these events were going on, the Kingdom of Keoland had reached its zenith in the far west, in the Sheldomar Valley. Founded by Oeridian and Suloise tribes who were less warlike and more tolerant than their fellows, Keoland rapidly grew in this rich land until it ruled the whole region from the Pomarj to the Crystalmists, and its armies had pressed into Ket and Veluna around 350-360 C.Y. Reverses in military fortune followed quickly, and Keoland was pushed out of the latter regions. Within a century's time, Keoland itself lost its frontier regions (the Ulek states, Celene, Bissel, and the Yeomanry). After this, Keoland settled down into a stable realm, with the semi-independent lands of Gran March and Sterich supporting its army.
The third recent split in the Great Kingdom came in the south, in 446 C.Y. Extreme repression and taxation of the population here led to a general rebellion among commoners and nobles alike. The city of Irongate was the first to go, quickly joined in an alliance by the County of Idee, Onnwal, and (in 455 C.Y.) the County of Sunndi. (This was about the time Keoland was reduced in size.) The armies of the Overking, operating out of South Province and the See of Medegia, tried without success for over a century to regain the lost territories.
Greater disaster was on the way, however. The House of Rax became decadent and weak, and large areas within the shrunken Great Kingdom were ruled by nobles of other houses almost as minor kingdoms of their own. In the first half of the 5th century, the House of Naelax destroyed the House of Rax in a conflict called the Turmoil Between Crowns, and Naelax took the Malachite Throne. The nobles of Naelax are generally regarded today to have been either insane or evil fiend-worshipers, or else both.
While the Great Kingdom and Keoland grew and shrank, other parts of the Flanaess were taking shape. Oeridian and Baklunish horse barbarians took much of the northern steppes at the time many of the outer realms were breaking free of the Great Kingdom. A century later, the Sea Princes and Bandit Kings looted and pillaged their ways to political power. And the City of Greyhawk was founded and reached its first period of greatness about 375 C.Y. under the rulership of the "Mad Archmage" Zagig Yragerne. Some regions of the Flanaess remained relatively independent for many generations, such as the Flan duchies of Tenh and Geoff.
However, the humanoids, especially the orcs, were on the rise. As demihuman and human armies drove humanoids out of the Lortmil Mountains, the humanoids fell on the Pomarj Peninsula and destroyed the human states there, taking the land for themselves in 513 C.Y.
In the north, the half-fiend child of a female human necromancer seized his own kingdom and brought humanoids into his armies. This wicked-beyond-nightmares ruler was named Iuz. And, in 560 C.Y., the northern Great Kingdom province of Bone March was invaded by humanoids from the Rakers. Bone March fell three years later and has been in a barbaric state since.
In 573, a secretive monastic group called the Scarlet Brotherhood was discovered living on the Tilvanot Peninsula, south of Sunndi. Despite horrifying rumors of this group's aims (the control of the Flanaess by Suloise-descended peoples) and forces (monsters, assassins, thieves, and martial artists), the Brotherhood was virtually ignored for a decade.
In 582 C.Y., a series of conflicts collectively called the Greyhawk Wars began. Iuz (who had escaped magical imprisonment in 570 C.Y.) tricked the northern barbarians of the Thillonrian Peninsula into attacking Tenh and Ratik. Iuz's armies hurled into the realms of the Horned Society, Shield Lands, and Bandit Kingdoms, even striking at Furyondy. The Great Kingdom, under the insane rulership of Ivid V, attacked Nyrond and Almor. A giant and humanoid army conquered Geoff and Sterich; Ket invaded Bissel. Finally, the Scarlet Brotherhood's agents conquered several states from within, adding the Hold of the Sea Princes, Idee, Onnwal, and the Lordship of the Isles to its territory. Barbarians from the Amedio Jungle and Hepmonaland are used as soldiers by the Brotherhood across the south.
The current day is the spring of 585 C.Y. Much of the Great Kingdom is in ruins. Nyrond is bankrupt; Furyondy is nearly so. Iuz and the Scarlet Brotherhood sit atop great empires. The free lands across the southern center of the Flanaess face enormous difficulties. It is a hard time for the forces of good, but the game is not over yet. Heroes can still change the balance and throw evil back from its recent takings. This struggle defines the Greyhawk campaign. _________________ Richard Di Ioia (aka Longetalos)
Last edited by Longetalos on Thu Aug 13, 2020 6:12 am; edited 3 times in total