Greyhawk Gazetteer Addendum: The Sheldomar Valley, Part 4
|Posted on Tue, January 27, 2004 by Legate
|CruelSummerLord writes "Who among us has not wondered about the lines of government, or the social mores and customs of the various Flanaess states? What of an in-depth analysis of their military? The personalities of the various Flanaess rulers? Their foreign relations? The Sheldomar Valley overview concludes with the Valley of the Mage and the Sea Princes.
UPDATE: More Yeomanry Info and the County of Ulek Added!
Greyhawk Gazetteer Addendum: The Sheldomar Valley, Part 4
Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.
Respected Iquander and Respected Sir Pluffet:
I have, in rereading the standard scholarly works by
Xagyg, Sargent Silver, and your own esteemed selves, noticed that there
has never been much time or place to delve into the minutiae of each
nation of the Flanaess. What kind of culture do the various
Flanaess states have? How do they treat their citizens,
especially those that are not male and human? What are the
characteristics of each individual ruler or head of state?
These questions, quite understandably, cannot be
answered in works where space is at a premium. Therefore, I shall
take it upon myself to identify, as far as I can, characteristics of
each Flanaess state, including those that, since the Greyhawk Wars, no
longer exist. In cases where fundamental changes occurred after
the wars, I shall compare and contrast these changes.
There remains one caveat before I can begin,
however. Informed readers will know that my own version of the
events of the Flanaess differs sharply from that presented by Sargent
Silver. While some of the events presented in this ongoing series
are very different than those presented by Master Sargent, I have taken
pains to ensure both that the general characteristics of any given
state are usable by any Flanaess chronicler, and that enough ?canon? is
I shall not be describing history in any great
detail-the established works are quite sufficient for that
matter. I believe it is more important to break new ground rather
than go over the old yet again.
The general format I shall be using for each nation
goes as follows:
Society and Culture: Here I shall
identify the basic social structures of the nation, the various
attitudes of the people, their treatment of women and demihumans,
attitudes towards slavery, and so forth.
Military Structure: One of the major
weaknesses of the established Flanaess tomes is that, when examining a
given state?s military situation, they cannot go into enough detail on
the army?s actual strengths and, more importantly, its weak
Ruler: Here I shall discuss the
ruler of the nation-his personality, his beliefs, his deity, and so
forth. In those cases where changes of rulership have taken place
since the Wars, I shall also discuss the previous ruler(s) as
Foreign Relations: The Living
Greyhawk Gazetteer gives the general tendencies of the Flanaess states
as regards their being allies and enemies, but the relationships are
often more subtle than that. Greyhawk and Dyvers, for instance,
are technically allies, yet both would love nothing more than to
destroy and loot the other. The Horned Empire and Pomarj are
supposed to be Greyhawk?s enemies, yet the Gem of the Flanaess would
not hesitate at all to recruit them as allies if they could gain a
benefit from it.
population, history, resources, and so forth have been sufficiently
described in the Gazetteer, the essential tool for any Flanaess
scholar, and so I shall not waste time on these details.
THE VALLEY OF THE MAGE
This mysterious realm has too often had only sketchy details given to
it, and it has not been until recently that anyone has managed to
determine more concrete facts on this, the mysterious vale of the
valley elves. The following is the best that I can reveal about
the Valley?s history, social structure, and inhabitants, though I admit
much of it sounds fanciful, available nowhere else in canon?
?Long ago, the elven peoples had been born from the blood that Corellon
Larethian shed for his love, Sehanine Moonbow. This elven moon
goddess wanted to take her people to a sanctuary, a land where dreams
and visions could and would grant every wish the people could ever
want, making it a paradise for the spirits of the elves. Sehanine
hated the over-hasty, frenzied rushing of humanity, and its wanton
destruction and abuse of the oerth. She wanted to shield her
?children? from their corrupting and evil influences.
Corrupting was what many elves saw her teachings as being, long before
any contact with humans. Thus did they spit in Sehanine?s face
and turn away from her. Some elves journeyed eastwards over the
Solnor, to the mystical continent of Orannia, where they created the
elven kingdom of Miranda. Others pledged themselves to the study
of Law, traveling west beyond the Twin Empires, to the lands of
And one group of elves pledged themselves to Chaos, traveling to the
Valley that bore its name-the Valley of Chaos. The awful and
foreboding presence here was caused by the negative energy within the
valley itself, where gates and portals to other worlds could and did
open at random, bringing forth bizarre, horrible creatures.
The elves who came to the Valley of Chaos were reviled by all of their
kin, saying that they were bound to serve a master that had no
knowledge and sought no end. Even those elves who spurned
Sehanine Moonbow?s teachings were deeply offended at the shirking of
the basic tenets of elven philosophy, just as they hated those elves
who traveled to the far reaches of Kara-Tur.
The king of the valley elves was thus bound to Chaos, or perhaps some
manifestation of it, like the slaad lords, for instance. They
made friendly contact with gnome traders, the only people who would
approach them. Later came wanderers from the Great Migrations who
could find no home elsewhere, and were also taken in by the valley
Geoff, Bissel and Ket maintained their contact with the valley elves,
though they knew not what kind of society these people possessed.
By 500 CY, many of the valley elves came marching into Geoff, having a
private audience with the Grand Duke at Gorna. It seems that
these elves had rejected their old master, who had made them slaves to
An oaken chest containing ?certain sacred objects? and a set of scrolls
which told the entire story of the sundering of the elven peoples were
the elf king?s gifts to the Duke. The words of the valley elf
king were to swear the Grand Duke and his line to an oath-one to guard
the history and relics of the valley elves until the return of the One
True King of the valley elves. Those valley elves that had left
the valley were seeking the King, hoping to find him. It was
prophesied that the King would bring the valley elves ?home?, though no
one yet knows what this means.
Those elves, gnomes and men who remained in the valley were forced to
fight the monsters randomly summoned by the Chaos of the valley.
Bound to it by blood and oath, they could not leave. It seemed
that the valley elves and their neighbors would perish at the hands of
these continually appearing monsters, with few mourning their
It was then that Jaran Krimeeah, a wizard from the Great Kingdom, came
to the valley seeking a new home, being exiled from his nation for his
sorcerous experiments in planar control and summoning. These
talents were used by him to restrain the summoned creatures and put
them under his control, to protect and defend the valley elves, rather
than attack and kill them. For this, Krimeeah declared himself
suzerain over the Valley of Chaos, later renamed the Valley of the
Krimeeah allowed certain visitors to come and go from the valley as
they wished, though he never allowed them to stay long. His
public announcements were rarely heard In foreign courts, always
causing a great stir when news did come, such as the bizarre
ebon-skinned elf who was appointed to lead the valley?s military
forces, who he called a ?drow?.
Little contact was had with the valley after this time. Valley
elves would raid Geoff, Gran March, and the elven communities of the
Dim Forest on occasion. Captive valley elves would die a slow,
wasting death, so some whisper that the Mage has tied the lives of the
valley elves to the very land from which they came.
As the giant mobs ransacked the other western Sheldomar nations, so too
did they attack the Valley. A delegation sent from Geoff to ask
the Mage for assistance, and given audience with the Black One-or so it
seemed. One member of the party recognized the man claiming to be
the Mage as an exiled necromancer, one Nyeru of Bissel. The
delegates did not tell the ersatz Mage that they knew who he really
was, and tried to negotiate with him. Alas, negotiations were
fruitless, the ambassadors being forced to flee as the giants attacked
the Valley itself.
Since the Greyhawk Wars, it is rumored that both Rary the Traitor and
Mordenkainen of the Circle of Eight seek an artifact discovered by the
Mage, a magical artifact that could animate the shadows of fighters and
monsters, creating things made of shadow-stuff to fight at the command
of the artifact wielder. The Scepter of Shadows seems to have
been found by the Mage during his explorations of the Demiplane of
Shadow, and he is now ?plane-hopping? in order to throw his wizardly
foes off his trail, until he can determine how to strike back at them.
Society and Culture: The Mage
exercised the power of life and death over his subjects. Staying out of
the valley for too long would cause the valley elves to wither and
die. Also, Krimeeah could unleash the summoned monsters under his
control to slay any who would dare disobey his commands.
It is not known how the old elf-king ruled, but it seems that the
humans, gnomes, and elves of the Valley were each kept in their own
separate communities, working as a greater community to provide each
other with the basic necessities of life. There was little
opportunity for leisure or revelry-the people of the Valley worked
year-round to feed themselves and pay tribute to Krimeeah.
Theirs was indeed a sad fate, though, strangely enough, they did not
seem to mind. The humans would farm and hunt, and the gnomes
would work the mines and forge weapons. When the people needed to
release their tense emotions, Krimeeah would allow them Earthday and
Godsday as time to revel and regain their strength.
The valley elves had much more important business in mind-tracking down
their missing kin. In addition to raiding surrounding
communities, they also gathered information to try and find the missing
elf-king, and discover anything they can about the One True King.
Krimeeah fears this prophecy, and yet he wonders whether he can make
use of it. Until he finds out, he spent his time plane-traveling
and engaging in the usual research and experimentations of his
Military Structure: The valley
elves fielded no actual standing army, relying on highly-trained
guerilla units of archers, rangers and scouts to slay their enemies by
stealth, rather than fight them one-on-one. This tactic had only
mixed results against the giants, who ravaged the valley before
Krimeeah managed to slay the cloud giant leading them.
The only other times the valley elves have had to battle is when out
raiding, or when monsters and adventurers came wandering into the
valley. The same tactics would apply whether attacking another or
defending their own land, using deadly sorcery as a supplement to their
archery. They do not take slaves or gold, taking instead things
like grain, oats, farming tools, or any of the other necessities of
life one might need.
Ruler: Jaran Krimeeah came from
a disgraced lesser House of Aerdy, which had been demoted by Ivid I
because it had supported Rax in the Turmoil Between Crowns. The
family?s wealth and numbers dwindled steadily over the next century,
until at last Krimeeah was the last of his kind. Ivid IV banished
him for the crimes of his ancestors, being unable to kill him.
Ivid did not dare kill Krimeeah as he wished, due to the latter?s great
Jaran Krimeeah is a thin wisp of a man. Tall and lean with long
blond hair and a matching moustache, his eyes appear haunted by death
and misery untold, sometimes glaring with frightful intensity.
Dressing in low-key red and white diamond-patterned robes, he walks
like a shadow, his feet never seeming to move beneath his flowing robe.
Krimeeah is as cold as the Black Ice, and a calculating
adversary. He came to the Valley seeking a place to rule on his
own, where he could die in peace. His black mood expresses itself
strangely, as he often makes sarcastic comments about the meaning of
life, what elementals think when wizards summon them, or some other
philosophical topic that creeps into his mind. His strange rants
have left those few who have met him wonder if he is insane.
In truth, he is mourning?
On his travels after being banished by Ivid IV, he had stopped in
Keoland, the home of the wizard Dramidj. At that time, he was
trying to find a place to retire in comfort, and more
importantly someone to love. He saw the person he sought in
Their affair was camouflaged by magic, as Krimeeah would divine when
Dramidj was away, then sneak off with his wife via magical means.
This affair continued for three years or more-Drawmidj had become so
obsessed with his work as a magic-user that he all but neglected his
That did not prevent him from flying into a rage when he found out
about being cuckolded by his wife. He attempted to slay Krimeeah
in a wizardly duel, which Krimeeah would have won, except that the
woman they both loved gave her life for her husband?s, giving the dying
Dramidj her life-force. Anguished, Krimeeah immediately fled
west, seeking somewhere, anywhere he could live out the rest of his
It was thus that he made himself lord and master over the hapless
inhabitants of the Valley, as his proud Aerdi heritage would not allow
him to commit suicide, and yet compelled him to rule. He turned
his interests to researching the outer planes and exploring them for
strange and powerful magical items, even as Dramidj joined the Circle
of Eight and plotted revenge against his enemy.
Foreign Relations: The Valley
of the Mage is feared and distrusted by all outsiders, none of whom
know what actually goes on in the valley, or the past of its lord and
master. The Grand Duke cared nothing for the valley, and an
expedition from Gran March was slain. Those few adventuring bands
that attempted to explore the Valley for the great riches it was
rumored to contain never returned alive, and no one else, except the
merchants who met the valley elves at the entrance to their lands, ever
dealt with the cursed valley.
The Yeomanry is among the very few democratic governments of the
Flanaess, as well as being one of the more peaceful nations as
well. Blessed with natural barriers all around it to hinder any
invader, it was believed that the land was unassailable. Reports
of the looming giant attack were taken seriously, however?
The Yeomen were indeed fortunate that the weakest and most
poorly-organized giant forces fell upon them, rather than on Geoff or
Sterich. While all three of the western Sheldomar nations managed
to survive, Geoff and Sterich are both in very bad shape economically,
and are weakened militarily. Their anger and demands to Keoland
and Niole Dra have tacit support from some Yeomen, though they are
careful to maintain a neutral presence officially. The Yeomanry?s
new position of strength might offer a great temptation to those who
would seek political advantages, but the Yeomen are hardly the type to
pillage and profit from the misfortunes of others. They have
kindly taken in refugees from their neighbors, who for whatever reason
could not return home again. All the while, they remain silent in
the disputes between Keoland and her daughter states, preferring to
wait and see what will happen.
Society and Culture: The Yeomen
are robust, individualistic people, filled with boundless energy and
determination. They are ostensibly charitable, friendly, and
courteous, if a tad overbearing and candor-filled. A strong
political current goes through all of the people herein, as they all
participate in the representative democracy of this nation.
Any human, halfling, or dwarven male who has wielded a spear for the
nation in the past or present, or is an artisan or craftsman, may vote
in the quadrennial elections to elect spokesmen for their
communities. These spokesmen then get together to elect
representatives from among themselves, until one comes to the
hundred-member Council of Common Grosspokesmen. This council
meets in the capital of Loftwick four times a year to run the normal
legislative affairs of the nation, even as they choose one from among
themselves as a Freeholder to wield executive power, command the
armies, and conduct diplomacy. Nowhere else in the Flanaess are
executive and iegislative power considered separate. Elves and
gnomes do not vote in any case.
Only males may serve in the government-neither the government nor the
people are sufficiently enlightened to allow women to join.
Despite this, some powerful women have made their voices heard by
cowing weakling husbands in the government into voting and directing
according to their own commands.
With the general attitudes of political flair and strong central
beliefs, the Yeomen are an active people, freely debating and arguing
on the streets at all hours of the day. The nearness of the
surrounding hills, mountains and marshes have left them very wary and
alert, always ready to fight and fight hard in defense of their
families and homesteads.
Despite the fact that women, elves and gnomes cannot vote in elections,
the Yeomanry is not, as a whole, given to discrimination-it is simply
thought and accepted that these people have no interest in politics as
a whole, preferring to keep to themselves. Those farmers that may
end up poorer than their neighbors because of chance or banditry are
always cared for by their neighbors, and there are few misers or
hoarders of wealth within the realm.
Military Structure: The
Yeomanry has been very fortunate in that its military has not suffered
in the same way as that of Geoff and Sterich from the giant
invasions. All of its soldiers are generally of good training,
morale and equipment, consisting mostly of spearmen and crossbow
archers. The dwarfish light foot, clad in brigandine and wielding
axe and hammer, are the bane of the humanoids of the Jotens. The
elven spear and bow units and halfling light infantry are not as
impressive, though they are considered to be superior to their
equivalents in Geoff or the Ulek states.
Ruler: Crispin Redwell, the
Freeholder of the Yeomanry in 576 CY, is known to be a man of strong
passions and tempers, quick to anger and quick to forgive, a demeanor
more suited to a northern barbarian than the leader of a supposedly
enlightened nation. In spite of this, however, he is a good
enough leader and honest fellow, able to use his great speaking skills,
charisma and loud voice to get his point across when debating at the
council halls of Loftwick. He is very popular with the common
folk for his all-too-human demeanor and snappy wit, and he milks this
for all it is worth.
He is known to be a heavy drinker, becoming crude and arrogant when in
his cups, but always retaining the jolly and quick wit that are the
sources of his charisma. While he may laugh at bawdy humor more
than anyone, he will happily engage in a barroom brawl to protect the
honor of an actual woman, and has served as the champion of several
worthy ladies on more than one occasion. Although Crispin wields
a battleaxe when taking to the field, he is quite happy to duel with a
saber or rapier when his honor or that of a woman is challenged.
Marius Lindon, the Freeholder most recently elected in 589 CY, is
considerably more demure than his carousing predecessor. While
Redwell was known to enjoy more than his share of wine, Lindon is
considerably more serious and oerthly than Crispin (who tragically met
his end during the Wars underneath a boulder hurled by a stone
giant). He is nowhere near as beloved as his predecessors, though
he has the respect of the more militiant spokesmen for his attention to
detail, strict discipline, and no-nonsense approach to government.
Lindon was elected to the Freeholder?s office not for any great
charisma or political skills, but because of his expertise in battling
the evil nonhumans that continually assail the realm on all
sides. As such, he tends to delegate the everyday business of
running the nation to his bureaucracy in Loftwick, who speak for him
when debating in council. Lindon rarely stays more than a day or
two in Loftwick, usually to be found traveling around his realm
inspecting defenses and speaking to citizens on the streets.
Although some of the spokesmen question Lindon?s devotion to his
diplomatic responsibilities, given that he so rarely attends council
meetings, and others dislike him for his prudish sensibilities and
abrasive personality, none can deny his effectiveness as a military
Foreign Relations: The Yeomanry
is notoriously independent, preferring trading partners to
allies. It has alliances with Keoland, Sterich, and some of the
demihumans of the surrounding hills and mountains, though close
diplomatic relations usually remain a cursory side note to the regular
business of trade. Most of its neighbors have little regard for
the nation?s democratic leanings, and the yeomen do not mind one bit
that foreign visitors, especially the Keoish, rarely stay within their
ream very long.
Apart from the hostile nonhumans in all the surrounding hills,
mountains and marshes, the Yeomanry has implacably hostile relations
with the Hold of the Sea Princes, regardless of whether the Sea Princes
or the Scarlet Brotherhood are the ones in charge. Both realms
send raiders and bandits to harass the yeomen?s merchant caravans, and
the Brotherhood sends even more slaving raids against its northwestern
neighbor than the old regime it toppled during the Wars.
ULEK, COUNTY OF
The County of Ulek has long been a nation of peace, friendship and
respect for nature. It is steeped in the tradition of the Oerth
Mother, where halfling and Flan tribes lived off the land, creating
ancient celebrations that persist to this day.
Since the Greyhawk Wars, the nation has kept a low profile, except to
encourage coolness of temper and thoughtful diplomacy in the tense,
emotional debates going on in Gorna, Istivin and Niole Dra. Other
than this, the County is known as a good and peaceful, if sleepy and
Society and Culture: The Flan
elders of this land have long acted as teachers to the halflings (and
the later Oeridian arrivals) in learning to live in harmony with the
Oerth Mother, rather than simply taking her bounty without thought and
without giving anything in return. The County is known as the
place where agricultural techniques practiced through the whole
Sheldomar Valley were created.
The natural faiths of Ehlonna, Berei, Obad-Hai and Beory are worshipped
here, with the druids of all four faiths working towards a common good
for their people and their land, rather than bickering over matters of
doctrine and creed. The common people favor Obad-Hai and Ehlonna,
though the family of the Count worships Berei. And yet, this
matters none to the common people, who give token and tithe to all four
deities, just for good measure.
The social hierarchy of the county, if one can call it that, is very
horizontal. Though elders and druids are held in high esteem,
everyone else benefits from a rough and ready equality, with few
thoughts given to social rank or wealth. The count makes all
major decisions concerning matters both inside and out of the nation,
though he must have popular support to do so. The count must
always be a druid, and his family should follow his faith as well.
The people of the County regularly indulge in dances and rituals to
thank their gods for the bounty given to them, and visitors from other
nations are more than welcome to participate. Many of these
rituals have more than a ceremonial role-they determine whether a druid
is fit to act as Count. His personal prestige as a ruler is also
dependent on his ranking in the Old Faith druidic hierarchy.
The main problem with the County and its people is their lack of
attention to matters outside their own safe world. Threats are
still quite common in the Lortmils, and the social scars from the
Hateful Wars have not yet healed. As such, they tend to be
nervous and suspicious of armed strangers, particularly adventurers.
Military Structure: The Ulek
states are not known for their military expertise. ?Heavy? foot
consists of human billmen, wielding short swords as a backup weapon,
while medium and light cavalry ply the lance and saber. Gnomes
work as sappers, while halflings operate as scouts. In times of
need, the elves of the Silverwood add another element of medium
cavalry, wielding longsword and bow. In the east, rangers wield
axe, sword and spear.
None of these units, however, present a truly formidable opponent to a
well-trained army. A match for the marauding orc or goblin band,
most county patrols would fail against a troop of giants or ogres. More
than once, the people of the county have had to call upon the aid of
the Prince of Ulek, or Queen Yolande of Celene, for assistance in
defending themselves. Wisely, Count Lewenn kept his troops out of
direct combat, though he continued to feed and supply the front lines
Ruler: Count Lewenn, now in his
early sixties, has ruled the county longly and wisely for many years,
though he has become more and more withdrawn, in response to the
violence and bloodshed around him. He hears of the evil in the
north, and the enslavement of the vast fertile fields of the east by
the Aerdi, both of which break his heart. Rarely will he speak to
adventurers except in matters of life and death, preferring to let his
clerks handle much of the mundane business of government.
A short, broad-shouldered man with thinning brown hair and matching
eyes, Lewenn has grown used to a life of peace and solitude. The
Greyhawk Wars were a great surprise to him, and some say that his
recent demotion in the Old Faith druidic hierarchy was due to his
growing inattention of matters outside his realm and his decision to
simply feed all who come to his doors, not rousing himself for more
Foreign Relations: The county
retains warm relations with all its neighbors, and trades its excess
grain and foodstuffs to any and all who ask. The snooty merchants
and sneaky thieves of Greyhawk are carefully watched, though the people
will rarely do anything worse than charm these people and send them
home if they cause trouble. The gnomes of the county are strongly
tied to their kin in the Lortmils, and thus have strained relations
with the dwarves of the Principality of Ulek because of scars from the
Hateful Wars. The people of the county, however, are most upset
with the withdrawal of Celene, and its elves are torn between their
loyalties to their homeland and their desire to see what is going on in
their ancestral lands.
The only people seriously taken as enemies are (or were, as the case
may be) the rowdy thieves and drunks of the Wild Coast, the Horned
Empire of the north, the Cell of Iuz in the Suss Forest, and the malign
Orcish Empire of the Pomarj. No token or quarter is given to any
of these avowed enemies of all the people of the county hold dear.
(N.B. The setting of these articles is identical to that I posted in the article: "An Alternative View of the Greyhawk Wars", but that, except in the cases where it obviously differs, everything should mesh with canon. )"
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|Re: Greyhawk Gazetteer Addendum: The Sheldomar Valley, Part 4 (Score: 1)|
by Osmund-Davizid (email@example.com) on Wed, February 18, 2004
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|On the whole, these were very good articles. I do not 100% agree with all the elements of the articles (I have different ideas regarding the Valley of the Mage, for instance) but more information is always better than none at all.|
In particular, I liked the bits that detail the personalities of the rulers of the lands. Much of canon information gives the names, race, class, levels, but precious little regarding the personalities of the leaders. Those were great touches.
|Re: Greyhawk Gazetteer Addendum: The Sheldomar Valley, Part 4 (Score: 1)|
by Telas on Thu, April 14, 2005
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|Good stuff. I'm running a Yeomanry campaign now, and IMC, the emergence of a democratic republic has not put an end to corruption at all, especially at the local level. In addition, democracy has led to the development of an entire economy based not in money, but in favors and notoriety. While there may not be any monetary robber-barons or misers, there are definitely political bosses.|
(Basically, I'm using my personal experiences growing up in small-city Louisiana as a guide to Yeomanry politics.)