The Horned Society of the Flanaess is an area that had a great deal of potential for skulduggery and general malfeasance before the Greyhawk Wars. The thirteen Hierarchs were never fully detailed, although information on some of their members could be found in the City of Greyhawk boxed set, Iuz the Evil, Roger Moore's House on Summoner Court and some early 3E products. Using these and several fan sources, I have managed to come up with a full compliment of the Hierarchs for use in my home campaign.
I play in a version of GH that does not use the Wars (in fact, I have a pet campaign project aimed at preventing them, just for the fun of it). One of the things I have done over the years is adapt later edition information back to a pre-Wars compatible format - reverse engineering on the plane of ideas, if you will. I have done this for a number of the later edition deities for the milieu and happily alter any other useful items as I go.
With this in mind, I took some liberties with a 3E creature I discovered in reviewing my copies of Dungeon Magazine - Xollox, a beholder information seller. I liked the concept but felt he was redundant as things stood since Evard was already portrayed a a free lance information broker in the pages of Dungeon. This got me thinking about where and how Xollox could fit into a pre-Wars campaign. Although the beholder was listed as a refugee from the Horned Lands, I asked myself what would have happened if he had been a non-human Hierarch in the era before the Wars, chiefly in charge of the information gathering and intelligence reports for that realm. Thus, by taking a few liberties, I came up with the following.
Xollox (The Dread Eye), Hierarch of the Horned Society Lawful Evil Beholder ARMOR CLASS: 0/2/7
HIT DICE: 9 (52 hit points)
NO. OF ATTACKS: 1
SPECIAL ATTACKS: See below
SPECIAL DEFENSES: See below
MAGIC RESISTANCE: Standard
ALIGNMENT: Lawful Evil
PSIONIC ABILITY: Nil
Attack/Defense Modes: Nil/Nil
LEVEL/XP VALUE: 14,000
Racial Abilities 1. Central Eye: Anti-magic ray (140’ range)
2. Eyestalks: Charm person (non-functional), charm monster, sleep, telekinesis (250 lbs.), flesh to stone (non-functional), disintegrate (20’ range), cause fear, slow, cause serious wounds, death ray (40’ range)
Items Amulet of proof against detection and location, ring of x-ray vision, ring of blinking, ioun stones (deep red and pale lavender - 15 spell levels remaining, total), 2 dweornite longevity stones, 2 potions of ESP, potion of fire breath
The aging beholder Xollox the Hierarch, known to those he interacts with as the Dread Eye, was born first and strongest of his five siblings long ago in the upper catacombs of the sandstone spire of Pinnacle within the Horned Society. Seeking to expand the power of their bloodline, Xollox’s family carved out claims to various territories across the northern and central Flanaess. Some sages conjecture that Xollox may be kin to Father Eye. If this is true, it may explain why that particular beholder has so many enemies from UnderOerth. It is also hinted that two of his siblings traveled into the Baklunish lands and then beyond, to the western portions of Oerik, possibly to the realms of the Celestial Imperium and even as distant as the Empire of Lynn or far Tharquish. Without a doubt, the beholders of Xollox’s line have access to one or more of the rare dweornite stones from within the spire.
Xollox entered the ranks of the Dread Hierarchy in his middle age through a combination of politics, information selling and selective murder. His ultimate goal is the construction of a continent-spanning state that serves the needs of the one true race of beholders – his race of course.
Xollox is currently the spymaster of the Horned Society and his information network is vast, frighteningly accurate and devious in its secrecy. Nothing of importance within the Flanaess (and indeed very little else) escapes the beholder’s attention. His agents are of many races and varied abilities - beggars, townsmen, humanoids, adventurers and monsters of various stripes all pledge allegiance to the Dread Eye. Xollox can obtain information on almost any topic, given sufficient time. He is known to have a vast reference library, which he adds to regularly, hidden somewhere in the sewers Molag. There may also be secondary repositories of knowledge maintained at other locations. Hushed whispers of sightings of agents of the Dread Eye frequenting Ringstone and Ixworth may add some veracity to this claim.
Xollox’s true form is horrid. His vermilion hide sports foot-long black horns and strikes terror in all who gazed upon him. Curiously, a strange arcane interaction with his ring of x-ray vision changed the irises of his many eyes to an odd silver color. He only retains eight of his ten eyestalks; he wears a magical ring on each of the two withered stumps. Because of his advancing age, the beholder is very interested in potions, magical items or artifacts that may restore his youth.
Few people outside his loyal followers and comrades in the Horned Society have ever laid eyes on Xollox and survived. Amongst those few, Evard is believed to have had at least one clandestine meeting with the beholder, although for what purpose it is not known. Preferring to work through agents wherever possible, the beholder is just paranoid enough about his spy network to continue granting personal audiences to those he deems worthy. Within the Palace of the Hierarchs are several chambers used as secret meeting places with the Dread Eye. Those who exchange information with Xollox directly see only a shrouded humanoid figure perched atop a pile of pillows. This is merely a dummy that Xollox manipulates with his telekinetic eye ray. He rests beneath the heaped pillows, using his magic items to evaluate his visitors. Though very evil, the beholder does honor his agreements - few of his informants have any overt reason to harm him.
If threatened or attacked, Xollox simply unleashes a fusillade of deadly rays at the offending parry. When faced with numerous and powerful antagonists, the beholder retreats down a concealed vertical shaft to a warren of underground passages to safety. Being nearly undetectable and able to both see and cut through rock, he can hide and strike at will, preferring to ambush victims with his damaging eye rays, all the while blinking to defy counterattacks.
To the rest of the Hierarchs, Xollox is an invaluable resource. Amongst the Horned Lands’ inner circle he is often privately referred to as the “all seeing eye” for the accuracy of his intelligence reports. Being quite egotistical, the beholder accepts this accolade as his rightful due. Indeed, the Dread Eye relishes the title, and it soothes his innate paranoia somewhat.
In the history of the Horned Lands, it is quite likely that Xollox’s long established spy network is one of the main reasons that the current regime rose to power so quickly and completely. Reports from the Dread Eye’s boundless wellspring of information played a critical role in gaining control over the native hobgoblin tribes, establishing humans as the dominant race.
The lich Dahlvier has consulted with the beholder many times and is indebted to him for helping to track down rare and useful magical items. In fact, Xollox is said to have brokered the deal that ties the lich’s sympathies to the Hierarchs, in return for unrestricted access to Dhavier’s historical records. The lich agreed, seeing that the beholder had no real interest in magical research.
The church of Nerull in the Horned Society relies on the Dread Eye for information - many are those within the surrounding lands that they spy upon and plot against. The Devilish faiths currently in power also draw upon Xollox’s network, since it provides accurate information on the activities of the good-aligned churches from one end of the Flanaess to the other.
Further, it has long been wondered what method these churches use to communicate with some of their far-flung temples and shrines. Intercepted messages, invariably written in unknown glyphs and sealed with an unembellished ten-pointed starburst, have long given the rulers of many lands within the Flanaess pause. To this day, attempts to translate the glyphs via normal methods are impossible and magical attempts result in nothing but rhyming gibberish, which invariably causes feeblemindedness to those who read it. If these glyphs are the handiwork of Xollox, then the Dread Eye has a grim sense of humor.
Xollox’s ultimate aims are, of course, to further his bloodline’s cause. Being both patient and extremely crafty, the beholder has managed to insinuate himself as an indispensable fixture within both the structure of the Hierarchy and the fabric of the Horned Society itself. Unbeknownst to the Hierarchs, it is his full intention to use his network to take control of the Horned Lands, but only after they have established rule over the rest of the Flanaess. This is all part of the elaborate plan set up and maintained by the beholder and his siblings in their bid to control as much of Oerik as possible. It may be centuries before such can be accomplished and it explains both Xollox’s seemingly boundless patience and his deep desire for additional magical methods to prolong his life.
Sources: World of Greyhawk Folio - Horned Society Entry, World of Greyhawk Boxed Set - Horned Society Entry, WGR3 Rary the Traitor - The Mines of Father Eye, WGR5 Iuz the Evil - Horned Lands entries, Map of Oerik, Dragon Annual #1 - Beyond the Flanaess, I - Tyrant, Dungeon #97 _________________ <div>Braggi, Swain and Varlet at Large<br /></div>
I noticed there were absolutely no replies to this topic and thought I'd add a bit, just in case someone actually is watching it. (Mayhaps a beholder Hierarch in Greyhawk is sacrilege? Well, if so, read on... I have thirteen viable Hierarchs now and you can happily skip Xollox if you like.)
In line with trying to get a "grand unified theory of Greyhawk" for my home campaign, I did some more digging on the Hierarchs. I've always been a big proponent of making later items backwards, sideways and edge-on compatible - even if I have to bend, fold, spindle and mutilate to get it that way. (Grabs a blowtorch and some scissors then looks thoughtfully at From the Ashes...)
So without further ado:
The Thirteen Hierarchs...
1. The Unnameable Hierarch (Erac’s Cousin)
Dual Classed 14th Level Magic-User/7th Level Fighter
Source: Oerth Journal #7, Gateway to Adventure - The House on Summoner Court
16th Level Cleric (Asmodeus)
Source: City of Greyhawk Boxed Set, Adventure Card - To Slay a Hierarch
10. Christophe Jean Markosian
16th Level Mage* Source: Dungeon #111, Strike on the Rabid Dawn
12th Level Ilrigger** (Dispater)
Sources: WGR5 Iuz the Evil (for the name and territories associated with it)
Dragon #106, A Plethora of Paladins (for the character class)
12. Kentellan Mar
17th Level Magic User
Source: Novel - Nightwatch
18th Level Magic-Using Lich
Source: WGR5 Iuz the Evil, The Horned Lands
... and Friends (aka Honorable Mention)
Verithmirax, "The 14th Hierarch"
Huge Ancient Green Dragon
Source: Canonfire, Osmund-Davizid's Wyrms of the Flanaess article
8th or 12th Level Cleric of Nerull
Sources: Greyhawk Adventures Hardcover, Hall of Heroes, Elsewhere on Oerth
The Adventure Begins, The Domain and City of Greyhawk, G11: Golden Phoenix Inn
I am currently working on a writeup for the history of Blontug, the half-orc Hierarch, and will also be creating others for Jhanser, Kolkis, Rothen and Kentellan Mar. (I'm leaving out Durgoth Shem from my personal campaign since I don't have the novel to work from and I have a perfectly good beholder gathering dust one post above anyways... not to mention that beholders are almost impossible to get the deposit back on once you crack one open.)
Three of the Hierarchs mentioned might need some explanation since they come from fairly obscure sources, so here goes...
Kolkis and Rothen are the main antagonists in the Dungeon module Ghost Dance. This adventure pits the two Lesser Hierarchs against several small tribes of the Rovers of the Barrens in the northern Fellreev. The adventure is not well known since it was published fairly early in Dungeon's history - November/December of 1991 according to the magazine's cover.
Kentellen Mar is the main antagonist from Robin Wayne Bailey's Greyhawk City novel Nightwatch published in 1990 by TSR Books. I've had this book for some time now - owned it twice actually. I read the first half the year it came out and then sold it due to a cash crunch. I came across it again some three years back and just got around to re-reading it this month. (I had one slot left to go in the big Thirteen, so imagine my surprise to discover that Mar was a Hierarch! )
The novel Nightwatch is a bit wonky in terms of Greyhawk lore - it is set in the future after most of the known Free City personalities from the 576-580+ era are dead. It also runs on the premise that the Circle of Eight has been absent from the city for 50 years (due to Vecna mayhaps - WGA4 Vecna Lives!, a module that kills off the entire Circle except for Mordy, was published the same year. My guess is that Mr. Bailey was under contract to "reinterpret" Greyhawk City in some manner, perhaps to launch support for the sweeping change brought about in that adventure.) Regardless, it's not a bad read and it gave me my final Horned Society baddie.
* - The experience level given here is is my best guess, not being terribly familiar with 3E equivalents.
** - The Illrigger is a lawful evil unholy warrior NPC class, analogous to the classic paladin, and well suited to those of diabolic faiths.
*** The main reason I left ol' Guily out of the big Thirteen is that I like her as she was presented in Greyhawk Adventures, namely as an example of a rank-and-file priestess of a lawful evil state. Making her a Hierarch, as was done in later Greyhawk lore, just wasn't necessary given the current lineup.
***************************************************************************************************************** _________________ <div>Braggi, Swain and Varlet at Large<br /></div>
Sorry I don't know enough about this subject to offer any assistance to you. You've even listed source material to which I do not have access, currently.
Have you tried PMing Rasgon or Robbastard? You could direct them to this post directly, just in case they haven't already noticed it. They are among the most knowledgeable here. Best I can do. I really just wanted you to know that your post wasn't being completely ignored.
Thank you for the reply and no worries about the post getting ignored. I wrote the introduction to the second post as a mostly tongue-in-cheek thing. Half of it was poking fun at my self, since my life got rather busy the last six months and it took me away from some GH projects I've been meaning to update, like this one.
I do hope the list is of use though - the Thirteen has been one of those mysteries I've wanted to plumb since starting out in the Flanaess back in 1984 or so. (Dogged determination? Me? Nahhhh... )
_________________ <div>Braggi, Swain and Varlet at Large<br /></div>
First, love your work and I will certainly be using it, assuming my players survive that long. Second, as mentioned earlier, this will save me research time too. Third, and I am not trying to hijack the thread, I was always surprised that the Horned Society wasn't, imho, used as effectively as well as it could have been as an evil force. I understand there was Old Wicked (Iuz) and The Horned Society kind of offsetting each other and preventing a major invasion southwards (so much for that), but I would like to have seen The Horned Society potential used more in WoG. Lastly, again, loved what you posted!
I have Blontug's early history fleshed out and largely polished. I just need to get that last bit of inspiration to bring his entry into the Horned Society into sync with the rest of the current lineup of Hierarchs.
More to come...
_________________ <div>Braggi, Swain and Varlet at Large<br /></div>
Blontug, Hierarch of the Horned Society Neutral Evil Half-Orc Male, 4th Level Cleric of Nerull/9th Level Fighter/9th Level Assassin Strength: 17 (To Hit/Dmg: +1/+1; OD: 1-3; BBLG 13%)
Intelligence: 14 (+Lang: 4; Learn Spell: N/A; # Spells: N/A)
Wisdom: 16 (MAA: +2, Bonus Spells: 2,2)
Dexterity: 17 (RAA: +2; -3 to AC)
Constitution: 15 (HP Adj: +1; SSS: 91%; RS: 94%)
Charisma: 12 (LB: 0%; RA: 0%)
AC: -3; Shieldless: 0; Surprised: 3
Hit Points: 57
Base THAC0: 11; Strength: 10; Missile: 9 Hurled: 8
No. of Attacks: 3/2
Damage: By weapon
Base Saving Throws: P/P/DM: 8; P/P: 9; RSW: 10; BW: 9; Spell: 11
Current X.P.: 13,001/300,001/500,001
Racial Abilities * 60’ infravision
Cleric Abilities * Spells: 5,4
* Command Undead (2 levels higher then normal): Skeleton: D, Zombie: D, Ghoul: T, Shadow: T, Wight: 4, Ghast: 7, Wraith: 10, Mummy: 13, Spectre: 16, Vampire: 20, Ghost: N/A, Lich: N/A, Special: N/A
* May take sickle as a proficient weapon
* Surprised on a 1-2 (d12)
* Gains animate dead plants as a granted 2nd level spell
Fighter Abilities * Gains 1 attack/level/round vs. creatures of 1 HD or less
Assassin Abilities * PP 70%; OL 77%; F/RT 65%; MS 75%; HiS 61%; HN 35%; CW 103%; RL 35%
* Backstab: +4 to hit, 4x damage
* Disguise ability (see page 29, 1E Player’s Handbook)
* Chance to kill on surprise attack by opponent level: 0-1: 95%, 2-3: 90%, 4-5: 80%, 6-7: 70%, 8-9: 55%, 10-11: 40%, 12-13: 30%, 14-15: 20%, 16-17: 5%, 18+: Nil
* Chance of Spying: Simple 85%; Difficult 60%; Extraordinary: 40%
Items Spiked flail +2 (1d6+3/2d4+2), scimitar +2 (1d8+2/1d8+2), dagger of venom (1d4+1/1d3+1), banded armor +1, medium shield +2
Blontug was born in 534 C.Y., a child of the stinking gutters of Garel Enkdal, the orcish city hidden deep within the bowels of the western Griff Mountains. The son of an orc raider and a human prisoner who soon perished, the young half-orc was relegated to the Ogre Barracks - the quarter with the worst conditions the city had to offer. It was here that Blontug developed his great strength and his taste for blood. The young half-orc made a name as a brawler amongst the wretched inhabitants of the Barracks, able to face a small ogre on even terms. In time, he came to view the weak as despicable, believing degradation was a fitting punishment for their physical wretchedness. His delight in havoc and slaughter were born in this period, since he was able to use his size and dexterity to his advantage against larger foes.
In the spring of 550 C.Y. the Barracks chieftain was impressed after a particularly bloody fight where Blontug was outnumbered four to one. Seeing the victorious half-orc still standing and drunk with bloodlust, the chieftain took him as a bodyguard. To add to his new henchman’s ferocity, the ogre also had the young half-orc trained by a minor member of Garel Enkdal assassin’s guild over the next three years. It was here Blontug gained his knowledge of stealth and love of poisons.
In the bitterly cold winter months of 553 C.Y. the ogre chieftain was slain in combat with a rival over the leadership of the Barracks. Blontug fled both the city and the Griff Mountains entirely, after several near-successful attempts were made on his life. As 554 C.Y. began, he discovered the world beyond Garel Enkdal, beginning a wandering adventuring career that took him into the southern lands of Stonefist over the remainder of the year.
By the late fall, the half-orc joined a mercenary company employed by the Master of the Hold in Vlaakstad. The mercenaries were to raid, harass and spy on the Rover of the Barrens wintering in the Forlorn Forest, collecting as much information as possible on tribal gatherings for the year ahead. Sevvord Redbeard sought to identify when and where the Rovers would all be in one location in order to make a single overwhelming strike to rid the Barrens of them entirely. Unfortunately, half the mercenary company was slaughtered in a crafty ambush engineered by the Rovers themselves - this was not the first time Redbeard had used such a tactic against the wary nomads. The spies were driven westwards out of the Forlorn and onto the Barren Plains, where mounted groups of Rovers harassed them mercilessly. Blontug came to hold a deep hatred for the nomads after two weeks of his company’s flight punctuated with slow, steady decimation in the cold snows of the wintry Plains.
Realizing the company was doomed, the half-orc deserted the makeshift camp one night during guard duty and began stealthily making his way south. His instincts for survival proved sound - the next day, a great pillar of smoke rose from the direction of the mercenary encampment. The Rovers had overrun it in the night, burning the bodies of their fallen foes as was their custom. Patting the pouches of silver pieces - the hiring pay he had stolen from both his living brothers-in-arms and the bodies of the company’s dead over the previous weeks - the half-orc turned away from the devastation without a second thought.
After weeks of secretive travel and learning to live off the land by theft, Blontug finally made his way into the northern Bandit Kingdoms in late Fireseek of 556 C.Y. Hugging the eastern edge of the Felreev Forest, the half-orc carefully made his way to Rookroost. Here he rented a room and paused to think and plan. He knew he did not want to spend the rest of his life drifting or on the run - he wanted power, respect and to be feared. Most of all he wanted victories, and the bodies of his foes at his feet. One thing he knew for certain: he would no longer involve himself in any activity or cause that he did not have the power to shape and control.
Nerull intervened at this point, ever eager to add another convert to his faith. Through auguries and divinations over the previous year, the Reaper made known to his high priest Nezmajen that it would serve the church to recruit in the service of death. The high priest left on an extended trip to the Bandit Kingdoms in the fall of 565 C.Y. to improve the Hierarch’s spy network. Ever mindful of his dread lord’s commands, he happened upon the brooding half-orc in a tavern. Blontug left a lingering impression on the priest. Performing a small divination, Nezmajen discovered that his intuition was correct – this humanoid would make an excellent servant of Nerull. He took the half-orc into the faith of the Reaper and within three months Blontug was a regular servant to the Nerullian temple of Molag.
Blontug’s conversion, coupled with his skills as an assassin and fighter, turned out to be of great import. In subjugating the Horned society, the adventurers who forged the state’s current borders and power structure were constantly at odds with the hobgoblins and other humanoids they enslaved. The humanoids respected strong leadership, yet they chafed at human control over their native lands. Insurrection was always bubbling under the surface of the Society as a result.
It came to the attention of Their Dread and Awful Presences that herein might lie the answer to this long-standing thorny problem: a talented, brutal half-orc with a sworn faith in a state church and a desire to lead. By the end of 566, under the watchful eyes of Nezmajen and the Nameless Hierarch himself, Blontug was inducted into the Hierarchy as provisional commander of the Society’s humanoid forces.
Current Sketch (Fireseek 576 C.Y.)
Blontug is considered by the rest of the leaders of the Horned Society to be ultimately expendable, yet far too valuable to throw away thoughtlessly. As a Hierarch, he is more then a figurehead, commanding the bulk of the Society’s humanoid armies. He has earned the humanoids’ respect and fear after a few quietly bloody demonstrations of prowess amongst the hobgoblin leadership. The Hierarchs will keep him in their ranks, so long as he continues to carry out his office in accordance with their schemes.
As for Blontug himself, the half-orc is quite satisfied with his position. He has the power to shape things as he likes amongst a subject population that is well aware of his power. Having established a keep in Ixworth as a personal base, Blontug has since been looking for opportunities to further his ambition and settle old scores. Any opportunity to launch the full force of the humanoids of the Society against the Rovers of the Barrens will garner his fanatical support. There are indications amongst the Hierarchy that such may even come about in the next year and Blontug anticipates this with grim glee.
The half-orc also works intensively with the assassin’s guild of the Society and is deeply involved in its affairs. He uses the guild as an information source and as a merciless arm for order amongst the hobgoblins. One of his pet projects concerns gathering intelligence on a puzzling event that occurred soon after his joining the hierarchy.
Although not yet aware of it, Blontug has already tangled indirectly with Turin Deathstalker. The head of the Greyhawk City assassin’s guild slaughtered a camp of Bloody Fist hobgoblins near The Fence on one of his periodic humanoid murder sprees. In order to save face and preserve personal power, Blontug claimed the act was judgment sent by Nerull, a dark hint that he was its originator. This particular camp was one of the most fractious and rebellious within the Bloody Fist tribe, so the unexpected massacre actually served the humanoid Hierarch.
Blontug does not yet know that Deathstalker was the assassin, but is relentlessly searching for the true identity of the culprit. Should the half-orc discover the truth, his reaction can only be guessed at. Deathstalker has gone to great pains to cover his activities, but the information-gathering resources of the Society are notoriously effective given time. A hidden war of assassination on the Free City would certainly meet the approval of the Hierarchy, although they may not fully anticipate the consequences were the power of Deathstalker’s long-reaching arm unleashed with the full backing of the Free City’s ruling Oligarchy.
Source: Expanded from Dragon 56
Notes and Sources
1. Blontug's clerical ability with undead is listed as "two levels higher" then is normal for a generic cleric. I did this based on the description of Nerull given in the Greyhawk boxed set.
2. The additional second level spell, animate dead plants is an addition of my own. I ran up a codex covering all of the Greyhawk gods for humans and demihumans in 1e/2e compatible format about 3 years back. This was built on the foundation of three main sources:
a) The official deities from various early Dragon Magazines, the boxed sets & the Greyhawk Adventures hardback.
Anyways, to make it march, I added numerous specialty spells in my version from official AD&D sources (both editions) and fan sources from around the Net. The spell mentioned above is one of them. Feel free to ignore it altogether or use something else more to your liking if you prefer. _________________ <div>Braggi, Swain and Varlet at Large<br /></div>
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