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    Fashion in the Flanaess - Furs
    Posted on Thu, April 06, 2006 by Dongul
    gvdammerung writes "
    Except in the most primitive societies, furs rarely compose the entirty of one's wardrobe. Rather, they are accessories, sometimes practical, usually to provide warmth, but more often luxuries. Among the rich and powerful, furs are an affectation, a way to demonstrate wealth. This article will discuss furs in the World of Greyhawk fantasy setting, which is not to be confused with the real world and issues surrounding the taking and wearing of fur.

    Fashion in the Flanaess - Furs
    by Glenn Vincent Dammerung, aka GVDammerung with the able assistance of S. Katherine Dammerung, aka SKDammerung
    Posted with permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.

    Introduction - Fantasy and Reality

    The subject of furs is simultaneously simple and complicated. It is a historic fact that humans have clothed themselves in animal furs for thousands upon thousands of years. In fact, it is hard to imagine how human beings would have survived in some periods if they had not done so. Historically, furs have also been a sign of wealth and status, particularly in the middle and modern ages. Some types of furs have been reserved exclusively for the nobility, or even royalty, through sumptuary laws.

    In the recent past, however, animal rights groups have come forward to protest the continued use of animal furs for clothing or fashion accessories, given that the use of such furs is no longer strictly necessary and that many fur bearing species are close to extinction due to over hunting, loss of habitat, pollution or some combination. With so called "ranch" furs, where the fur bearing animal is raised in controlled conditions so that it may eventually be killed and its fur harvested, animal rights groups have raised ethical questions about "cruelty to animals."

    This article discusses furs as a clothing item and fashion accessory within the context of the Dungeons and Dragons roleplaying game, specifically within the World of Greyhawk fantasy setting. Both the game and the World of Greyhawk suppose a quasi-medieval fantasy world where swords and bows are the principle weapons, magic flourishes and fantastic creatures abound. Human denizens of the World of Greyhawk exist in a pre-modern, pseudo-medieval state. Within the World of Greyhawk, then, the use of animal furs is logical and consistent with an analogy to the real world prior to the year 1600.

    There remains, however, the question of whether players living in the modern world should depict in a game the taking of animals for their fur. Some may see this as tacitly condoning the modern taking of furs or trivializing a serious issue of extinction or animal rights. It is not the intent of this article to do either. The extinction of animals is a serious issue; it speaks not only to the condition of the planet generally but aesthetically. Cruelty to animals is an issue of immediate relevance to anyone who has ever had a pet for which they cared and which they would not see caused to suffer.

    Recognizing these issues and accepting them as wholly legitimate topics for serious, real world, consideration and discussion, this article will not apply a modern sensibility to a fantasy game premised on a pre-modern model. Whether this is appropriate or a copout or cheap evasion is ultimately a personal determination. Certainly by proceeding in this manner, the question is left open, because in the alternative one could simply dismiss any use of fur. The author, however, does not see these issues as an ideological zero-sum proposition in the context of a fantasy game.

    While it is not possible to avoid offending people with particularly strong viewpoints, no offense is intended. Neither is any real world commentary or sanction intended, one way or the other. On with the show.

    Furs in the Flanaess

    Animal furs are distinguished by two types of hair. Underfur is the dense short hair that lies close to the skin. Underfur chiefly provides warmth. Guard hairs are the long, often silky, outer hairs that are immediately visible as an animal’s coat. Guard hairs provide any protection from the elements and are essential for appearance. The object in taking animals for fur is to obtain prime pelts. Prime pelts are those furs taken when the guard hairs of an animal are at their thickest and most luxuriant. For most animals, this means just prior to or during winter. Very few furs are usefully taken in spring or summer. To obtain a valuable fur, then, most animals must be taken in the fall or winter.

    Taking an animal is not necessarily the same as hunting. Many of the finest furs come from animals far too small to hunt in any meaningful way. Trekking through the wilderness to shoot an animal with a bow (or spearing it) is simply not efficient when the animal is smaller than a large rat. Most of the best furs are obtained by trapping the animal. The trapper will set out his or her traps and depart, returning periodically to check the traps for any animals that may have been caught.

    In either case, the adventuring possibilities that can be associated with taking furs should be obvious. Any adventure offered by the animal itself is incidental to the character trekking through the wilderness where any type of encounter may occur or discoveries may be made.

    What follows is a listing of furs frequently used in the Flanaess. The format of the presentation is taken from the article "Treasures of the Wild" in Dragon Issue 137 by author David Howery. As long time Greyhawker’s will know, David Howery is the old man of Greyhawk fandom, having published a number of articles in the Dragon and the Dungeon specifically set in the World of Greyhawk or thinly disguised to appear generic. Howery’s articles remain among the best and most creatively inspiring ever published in either magazine and the authors express their great appreciation to Mr. Howery for his outstanding work.

    The Noble Furs

    Five furs are held in an esteem greater than any others. These are the Sable, Ermine, Miniver, Chinchilla and Mink. All of these furs are typically the province of only the most wealthy or the nobility. Each of these animals is relatively small and is usually trapped.







    Sable is black in color. Ermine is white and black. Miniver is white. Chinchilla is brown. Mink comes in a variety of colors, each with a specialized designation. These are -

    Aeolian - Taupe (light brown).

    Argenta - Gray

    Autumn - Brown

    Jasmine - White

    Blackglamma - Dark brown/black

    Azurene - Blue-gray

    Arcturus - Lavender-beige

    Cerulean - Blue

    Rovalia - Rose

    Brown, gray, white and black mink are the most common and desired.

    All of the animals from which the Noble Furs are taken are found in northern climes, forests or plains, not mountains. None are found in southern, warm weather areas.

    Fox Furs

    After the Noble Furs, fox furs tend to be the most sought after, if not necessarily the most expensive. Fox may be hunted or trapped. The fur is universally attractive and with a range of values is the most commonly encountered general type of fur. Foxes also have the broadest range of any fur bearing animal. They are found throughout the Flanaess.


    Fox, White__100gp_____1000gp____5000gp_____________10,000gp

    (Hoar Fox)

    Fox, Platinum_10gp_____100gp_____1000gp_____________3,000gp

    Fox, Blue_____5gp______50gp_______500gp_____________1,500gp

    Fox, Silver____4gp______40gp_______400gp_____________1,000gp

    Fox, Red______3gp______30gp______300gp______________800gp

    Fox, Black____2gp______20gp_______200gp______________600gp

    Fox, Grey_____1gp______10gp_______100gp______________400gp

    Big Cats

    Furs from large cats are not particularly popular, largely because their patterning is not considered particularly attractive. At best, they are a seasonal wear.

    Of the big cats, only the Panther has a broad range. Panthers of various types may be found throughout the Flanaess. All of the remaining big cats are found in northern climes or in the case of the Snow Leopard, high mountains.


    White Tiger____100gp____1000gp_____5000gp____________10,000gp

    Snow Leopard___10gp____150gp______5000gp____________7,500gp





    Bears and Wolves

    Bears and wolves are common throughout the Flanaess. Their fur is not particularly sought after but is an option for the lower or rural classes.



    Wolf, Common__2gp_______20gp_____100gp______________200gp

    Wolf, Winter____5gp_______75gp_____2500gp_____________5000gp

    Chamois and Seals

    Chamois is a type of gazelle. Its hide makes a particularly soft leather. They are found in mountainous areas.

    Seals are fur bearing animals found in the northern seas. Their fur is particularly soft. Seal fur is not, however, particularly sought after as other furs are preferred.




    Hunting Grounds

    The two greatest areas for trapping and hunting for fur are Blackmoor and the lands of Iuz.

    Blackmoor, to include the Burneal Forest and its verges, is so vast and remote that wildlife thrives in an almost primeval setting. Every type of fur bearing animal may be found here in rich abundance but the journey is long and the safety of civilized lands is almost entirely absent.

    The lands of Iuz, to include the territory of the former Horned Society, are much closer to civilization and offer almost as good hunting and trapping as Blackmoor. Iuz is concerned with conquest. The populations of his lands are similarly obsessed, beaten down or oppressed. Little attention is paid to hunting animals not immediately identifiable as food. This allows the Noble Fur animals, the foxes and even the big cats to thrive almost entirely unmolested. Iuz’ lands offer rich rewards to those who would brave the obvious, and not so obvious, dangers. These hazards are very real and usually fatal. Few attempt to take bounty from these lands but those who successfully do so become very wealthy, very quickly.

    Furs and Fashion

    The article Fashion in the Flanaess - Silks, Satins and Textiles presents a system for valuing fashions. The furs presented in this article are not part of that system but are supplemental to it. Furs do not usually compose someone’s complete attire. They are added as a flourish or accessory. The cost of this flourish or accessory is calculated separately from the underlying garments themselves. The same is true of jewelry.

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    Re: Fashion in the Flanaess - Furs (Score: 1)
    by Crag on Thu, April 06, 2006
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    Nicely done; especially given the subject matter.

    However some problems arise, accepting the monetary values since these can easily be tailored to individual games is not an issue but I was surprised at the lack of development offered on the industry, markets and trade routes found within GH.

    Even the hunting grounds only have two examples, Iuz's example is questionable since all published gazetteers claim furs as one of his main exports of value therefore their must be some organized fur trapping taking place under his authority. Also there is no mention of Northern nomads, Rovers or Barbarians all of which trap not only for financial gain but for spiritual benefits as well.

    A weakness of this article and series to a lesser degree is the lack of uniquely fantasy GH examples of (furs, dyes, textiles) and how they are handled. Furs and dyes especially should have been explored given the unique flora and fauna within GH. I find it difficult to believe these GH invented plants and animals play no part in the economy.   

    Re: Fashion in the Flanaess - Furs (Score: 1)
    by GVDammerung on Thu, April 06, 2006
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    Hi Crag,

    Thank you for the very thoughtful critique.  I agree with all of your points.

    I left out industry and trade routes for two reasons.  I more wanted to open up possibilities than anything else and felt that industry and trade routes etc. were beyond the scope of what I had in mind.  I also did not want to pin DMs down or dictate to them.  This goes to your second point.

    Hunting grounds were largely left out because I felt they were fairly obvious or probably would be to each DM, depending on their own campaign.

    All these topics could have been discussed.  They still can be if anyone would want to explore them.

    I really appreciate your comment on the lack of uniquely fantasy elements.  This is fair comment and then some.  It boils down to how I play the game.  A couple personal notes.

    I dislike fantasy elements in my games more than is absolutely necessary to establish the fantasy.  With respect to most "common place" topics, I prefer to adapt real world facts to the fantasy setting rather than to imagine the fantastic equivalents or companions of the real world elements.  Opinions will differ but I feel my approach helps establish a verisimiltude that I find harder to create and more important to my game than establishing the fantasy.  For me, the fantasy largely takes care of itself and I concentrate on getting those little details down (and translated to the setting) that say "real world" to players - verisimiltude. 

    I'm dating myself but, all the same time, I recall when D&D was often said to "teach" players, by which was meant a larger vocabularly and math skills.  I've always found that proposition somewhat overstated but I've nonetheless found something very real there but along a different track.  By adapting real world elements to the setting without mixing in much fantasy, I have learned a lot about a lot of things - those real topics I adapt to the setting.  So have my players. 

    For example, when one of my players decided to have their PC take an interest X, I would go out and read books on X and introduce more detail.  When the player would raise questions on a particular application related to X, I would advise that this was appropriate to X in the real world and that I had adapted it to the setting.  The player would then go out and read books on X and return with their own ideas to add to the game.  Both the player and I then learned about X, where we might not have otherwise.  The other players, even if only by listening to the byplay also learned more about X.  This pattern has repeated endlessly for me and my players.  For us, using this "realism" approach rather than more fantastic additions, we have all learned things we might not have otherwise ever explored or inquired into.

    Certainly, this is not the only way to go.  Nor is is the "best" way.  Nor is it "better" than any other manner of proceeding.  But it is what I use in my game and my posts tend to reflect this.

    To further illustrate, I have always been somewhat uneasy as a DM when my players go into a tavern or restaurant and want to order food.  "What's on the menu?"  I fumble around too often in answering for my taste.  Sure.  Its a small detail in any game but it nags at me.  Its worse at times because when a game may take on an extreme social component where banquests, feasts etc. add to the questions about "what is there to eat?"

    For the longest time, I've had in mind to "solve" this little problem.  To do this, I have read books on gastronomy, taking copious notes.  I am now finally starting to put all those notes together in some useable order.  When done, I will have a "tavern" menu generator/resource and a larger "cuisine" generator/resource with speciific regional notes.  In the process, I have learned a ton about cooking, food and gastronomy.  Some things have suggested whole new lines of possible adventures to me.  Some things have seen me say to my wife, "Honey, we are going out to eat!" or "Let's get this at the grocer and try to make that."

    Again, this does not have to be for everyone but it is part of how I approach the game.

    So, you are correct when you note a distinct lack of fantastic elements.  Rather than create more of the fantastic, my preference is to translate/adapt the real to the fantastic.  This is what you are correctly seeing and pointing out.

    Thank you again for the thoughtful comment! :-D


    Re: Fashion in the Flanaess - Furs (Score: 1)
    by mortellan on Thu, April 06, 2006
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    This fur article is rather useful to players in that furs/pelts are often a very tangible byproduct or treasure players can take from slain animals, creatures. As to GH specific fur bearing creatures, its not much of a stretch to use these charts as a guideline. My thought would be the average medieval consumer won't be able to distinguish a wolf-like monster fur from a true wolf fur and so forth. What might be addressed is how Dire animals can affect the fur trade economy. I imagine their prevalance in a campaign could change the prices GVD suggests.


    Re: Fashion in the Flanaess - Furs (Score: 1)
    by Wolfsire on Fri, April 07, 2006
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    GVD:  “I also did not want to pin DMs down or dictate to them.”

    While you have articulated some very good reason for why the article did not get into certain matters, don’t let that quote limit you, especially when you have done the research.  Everyone is free to disregard anything that you might write concerning such matters, but everyone is not free or inclined to do the research to establish such thing realistically in the first place.  More likely the Great Fur Road, or what have you, would be established ah hoc and arbitrarily to suit a transient campaign need.  Any complex system or just tidbits you can rationalize specific to Greyhawk would be appreciated. 

    That being said, nice job, as always.  This is appreciated.

    BTW- My 6th grade math teacher used to let us play in class.  It may just be a coincidence, but subsequently I got more learnin’ in that subject than I will ever need.  Too bad they can’t allow PBEM in English class.


    Re: Fashion in the Flanaess - Furs (Score: 1)
    by GVDammerung on Mon, April 10, 2006
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    Hi Wolfsire,

    With respect to the "fur industry" please see my holiday article - the Great Western Rendevous.


    Re: Fashion in the Flanaess - Furs (Score: 1)
    by GVDammerung on Mon, April 10, 2006
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    Hi Crag,

    With respect to the "fur industry" please see my holiday article - the Great Western Rendevous.

    IMC, this is THE substantial source of furs, with local trapping providing only a much smaller fraction of the total.


    Re: Fashion in the Flanaess - Furs (Score: 1)
    by Wolfsire on Mon, April 10, 2006
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    I forgot about that one.  It was fun.


    Re: Fashion in the Flanaess - Furs (Score: 1)
    by Kirt on Fri, April 07, 2006
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    An interesting article and good spur and resource to DMs.

    I am not sure of your statement that none of the
    noble furs come from mountains.  As I understand chinchillas, there
    are two or three species, and their range is from the lowlands to high in the
    Andes.  I don't know, but would guess, that the ones most valuable for fur
    would come from the mountains, as that is the coldest habitat.

    Also, I wonder about the process of turning a pelt into something
    wearable.  All of your noble furs have a pelt value of 5gp but just
    for trim a value of 100 to 200 gp.  Where does that value added come from?  The skill of the furrier?  That is, there seems to be a great
    profit in making furs - the resource suppliers are paid very low compared
    to the finished product.  Is there a strong furrier guild that regulates prices and competition?  Is it a difficult profession that has its own inherant restrictions on numbers?  Why aren't more people furriers if it is such a lucrative field?

    No rabbit, beaver, martin, ferrit, etc?  Too base and common?

    It seems worth mentioning that ermine in the summer are not ermine, they are weasels, for the DM encounter tables.  

    Fantasy notes:
    Any rules for taking a fur from a monster?  As a house rule I allow players to slay monsters with blunt weapons without damaging the fur or hide, but every slashing or piercing attack reduces 10% from the value of the hide or fur.

    I would like to see a fashion article on insect parts.  What giant insect
    parts have become part of the fashion of the flaneass?  One of my player's has equipped her followers with shields made from the carapace of ankhegs.


    Re: Fashion in the Flanaess - Furs (Score: 1)
    by Cebrion on Fri, April 07, 2006
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    I'll second the notion of more furs.

    Perhaps there needs to be a Fashion in the Flanaess - Furs Part 2: The Wild and the Wilder   What might be included would be more common animal furs such as beaver, muskrat, etc. (a single chart would probably suffice) and also the more fantastical furs like griffon, manticore, displacer beast, leucrotta, and other furry monsters.



    Re: Fashion in the Flanaess - Furs (Score: 1)
    by GVDammerung on Mon, April 10, 2006
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    Go for it!  There seems to be an interest in fantasy furs.  For reasons set out in an earlier response, I'm probably not the person to write it but it seems a popular idea.

    The only monster furs that immediately strike me are derivations on common animals - Hoar Fox, Winter Wolf, etc.  With more exotic monsters - leucrotta, dispacer beast etc. - I wonder whether 1) the populations are large enough to stand sustained hunting/trapping and 2) whether the dangers inherent in such efforts wouldn't sour many hunters/trappers.  And this says nothing about whether the fur would be attractive.


    Re: Fashion in the Flanaess - Furs (Score: 1)
    by Cebrion on Tue, April 11, 2006
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    It doesn't sound right that anyone/anything would farm displacer beasts or hunt them in any great quatity, so they would just be very expensive exotic furs(as would most "monster furs"). 

    The fashion series is yours Glenn, and should remain so.  Do a part 2 if you have the inclination, or just roll it into an exotic clothing article all of its own.  I'm sure it would make for an interesting read.


    Re: Fashion in the Flanaess - Furs (Score: 1)
    by GVDammerung on Mon, April 10, 2006
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    Hi Kirt,

    With respect to mountainous terrain, that reference was to the Corusk's and Griff's.  It was my thought that they were not suitable for the noble furs.  If a DM envisions those ranges differently, they could have noble furs there.

    With respect to the markup on furs, it is huge and the craftsmanship is the reason.  No one ever got rich as an individual fur trapper.  It is all in the aftermarket for processed furs.  Supply is perhaps the largest reason more people are not furriers - there is a limit to how many of the more valuable furs can be taken, most of these are either practical (number of tappers willing to go or surviving) or environmental (number of animals, hazards etc.) but in a fantasy game both of these factors are exacerabated.  As you note, there will also be, in a pseudo-medieval setting, be a guild structure as well.

    You are correct that I left out the common furs because they are common.

    Fantasy furs were, as I noted in another response, beyond the scope of what I was looking to do.  There does seem to be a lot of interest there, however.

    Insects, and I'd add feathers, are a fascinating possibility.  I see these as more likely a fashion fixture among the Olman and Touv, and any survivng nativist Flan cultures (letting out the assimilationist Tenha) than among the Oeridian and Suel dominated nations.

    An article on feathers is one I'd love to see (or do, but I have been unable to locate any good references in that regard).  Insect fashions would also be fascinating. 


    Re: Fashion in the Flanaess - Furs (Score: 1)
    by Kirt on Tue, April 11, 2006
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    GVD wrote:
    With respect to the markup on furs, it is huge and the craftsmanship is the reason.  No one ever got rich as an individual fur trapper.  It is all in the aftermarket for processed furs.  Supply is perhaps the largest reason more people are not furriers - there is a limit to how many of the more valuable furs can be taken, most of these are either practical (number of tappers willing to go or surviving) or environmental (number of animals, hazards etc.) but in a fantasy game both of these factors are exacerabated.  As you note, there will also be, in a pseudo-medieval setting, be a guild structure as well.

    Sorry, but I still don't understand.  Perhaps I'm being dense, or perhaps my thinking is too grounded in capitalism. 

    If the real limit to the number of furriers is the supply of furs, that seems like it should drive up the price of raw furs.  If the hides are rare, they should be valuable.

    Imagine a city with two furriers.  If what is really limiting their profit is the supply of furs, wouldn't one of them at least pay 10gp for a pelt rather than 5gp?  Doubling the price to the supplier seems like an incentive to take more furs, or at least to sell them to one furrier and not the other.  And if the furrier sells the fuinished fur for 200gp, I don't think he is going to miss that 5gp.

    What am I missing?


    Re: Fashion in the Flanaess - Furs (Score: 1)
    by Wolfsire on Tue, April 11, 2006
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    Insect fashion?  Don't forget the followers of Bralm.


    Re: Fashion in the Flanaess - Furs (Score: 1)
    by BlackListed on Thu, April 20, 2006
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    This article and the others are great! Lot's of details, and those in turn provide a good basis for expansion to include more Greyhawk specific creature hides.

    A few comments:
    1. Quote "Except in the most primitive societies, furs rarely compose the entirty of one's wardrobe." <- This seems highly out of place in a fantasy setting where the fastest means of travel is generally a horse or a ship. Furs and hides will be as commonly the dominant part of a resident's wardrobe as they are indiginous to the areas those residents live in. After all, if there are no nearby cotton fields or loads of shaveable Wooly mammoths (sheep seemed like a boring example), then you'll find far more tanners and trappers in that region than farmers / shepherds. In addition, the quoted statement remarkably has the feel of recent "modern" society, and doesn't even have validity less than 150 years ago in modern real world times.

    2. Quote "The two greatest areas for trapping and hunting for fur are Blackmoor and the lands of Iuz." <- I think this deserves more research into the various Greyhawk resource books. It's going to take some digging on my part, but at least the early 1st edition Gazateers detailed the more important trade materials of each nation. More recent examples include : "From the Ashes" infers that the various northeastern barbarians actually were driven to revolt against the Hold of Stonefist tribes when Ratik was threatened, mainly due to the threats to their trade in furs and other commodities.
    As for the Lands of Iuz: I can't imagine them as anything other than a burned out shell. Overrun with hobniz, eroz and whatnot, those creatures would be bent on killing, plain and simple. Whether it's invaders, furry animals, or each other, any pause in a march across those lands would be sure to invoke a near "scorched earth" type of razing of the natural resources.

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