It is said in more civilized corners of the Flanaess, that the remote
frontier land of Ull is a godless wasteland; home to only
nomadic horselords, hill ogres, cruel slavers and debauched gladiatorial
fights. No mention is ever given to the denizens of Ull having a tradition for
the arcane arts. This is for good reason because its most powerful mages are
foreigners who like to stay out of sight and out of reach of their
contemporaries. In such a small realm however, these rare practitioners of
magic cannot exist peacefully without some contact and certain unwritten rules.
The Conclave of Ull
by Mike "mortellan" Bridges
The Conclave is a very loose association of mages dwelling
primarily in the towns and villages of Ull or among the encircling highlands.
Their meetings and communications are few and far between but at times,
external threats such as rumors of a new Brazen
Horde or more often pesky
treasure-seeking adventurers have resulted in a couple of these mages
cooperating for a common purpose. The local ruling khanates know little of the
mages, except through reputation, though individuals have on occasion served as
consultants to various warlords or sheiks at their own peril. The unwritten
rule of the Conclave is to stay out of each other's business lest they invoke
the ire of the others or worse, bring down the wrath of Ull's mundane populace.
These boundaries are pushed at times when interests overlap, but so far each mage's
privacy has been respected.
notorious "Father of Droughts" has haunted the foothills of the Ulsprues near Kester for half a century, but only recently
has been active since escaping from incarceration by the dao in the Great Dismal Delve. Abi-Dalzim
is an earth elementalist infamous for the creation of the spell Horrid
Wilting, and is likewise an adherent of Incabulos (god of disasters and famine), thus
combining the worst aspects of transmutation and necromancy.
Dalzim works through agents, rarely
leaving his tower, leading many to believe he is an impostor, however the
Conclave knows better. Among his personal schemes, Dalzim has a long vendetta
against the wizard Alhamazad of
the Circle of Eight.
Dalzim is also actively interested in defeating the dervishes of the Dry Steppes and preventing the ascendancy of their
Hornung (W16, CN): Originally hailing from another prime
material plane close to Oerth, Hornung is known to mages in Eastern
Oerik as the "Wild Archmage". Hornung is the foremost practitioner of
a disputed and dangerous school of arcane study called wild magic. Hornung's
reckless reputation and generally chaotic demeanor has led to his aggressive
banishment from many cities in the Flanaess, including the Free City of Greyhawk whose former mayor Zagig Yragerne is said to be a pioneer of the
Hornung might be a sociopath, but he is
certainly not a fool. The Wild Archmage has been meticulously searching the
continent for areas of wild magic around known Fading Lands and planar
gates, plus other untapped sources of arcane power such as dweorstones and
oerthblood. Hornung retreats back to Ull where he has been observed practicing
his wild spells unrestrained, but this is also where he must rest and review
his research. The location of his personal sanctum has yet to be discovered by
any of his Conclave peers, save his protege Nahal, though given his nature it
may randomly change.
Lorloveim (W24, N): The "Mistress of Shadows" is said to be an
ancient sorceress from a realm long lost in Oerik's past. and is perhaps one of
the first to be called quasi-deity. The penultimate master of shadow magic,
Lorloveim hides in the open among the small villages of southern Ull, blending
in flawlessly as a free-willed Baklunish woman when she wants to be seen at
all. Lorloveim seems content to be left alone, choosing Ull for its remote
location and dearth of magical entities. Only the Conclave has recently drawn
her into the open; indeed few others in the world even know she still exists.
This fact has been kept discreet by the Conclave, especially Abi-Dalzim who
fears the powerful sorceress most.
The shadow mistress is stern, quiet and
seems to have no personal goals though deep down she has a heroic bent.
Lorloveim spends her time with art, literature and preparing magical components
using her obsidian mortar and pestle. Lorloveim might walk among Uli by day,
but somewhere in the shadows she has concealed a gate to a private demiplane
where so far only the Baklunish alchemist Alamir has been invited. Alamir never
speaks of Lorloveim's home save for the mistress' preoccupation with images of
a certain obscure Flan hero-deity.
Khazid (W11, CG): The young Bakluni summoner known as
Khazid is originally from the bustling city of Zeif. Khazid was a child
prodigy who grew up on the streets of the capital, this life instilled in him a
mischievous personality that soon got him on the wrong side of the sultan's
court. Khazid's greatest achievement, his Procurement spell, was also his downfall.
Khazid learned how to create micro-gates to anywhere in the city through
a silver mirror in order to obtain material components with ease. The roguish
side in Khazid soon got the best of him as his superiors accused him of
thievery; a sentence that would've cost him a hand.
Panicked and with nowhere else to go,
Khazid fled the city, hiding along with a caravan heading south. He knew the
jealous, pampered wizards of Zeif wouldn't follow him into the wilderness.
Before Khazid knew he was stranded in the remote capital of Ulakand, fortunately his
streetwise nature allowed him to swiftly find employment as a sage and adviser
to the many uneducated khans and warlords of Ull. Khazid became part of the
Conclave through dealings with its founder Alamir and elementalist Maximilian.
Khazid is still a wanted man, but this time for his Procurement spell which he refuses to teach anyone
including the Conclave. Meanwhile back in Zeif, rare gems and magical
substances keep randomly disappearing from the palace yet servants report
seeing a hand swiping things out of thin air.
Alamir (W14, LN): The alchemist Alamir was once a
student in the famous Zashassar school of Ekbir. Alamir's obsessive
curiosity to know how all magic items are crafted led to the development of the
spell Fundamental Breakdown.
However, Alamir's efforts often resulted in the destruction of what ever item
was studied. This fact and Alamir's failed cover ups were soon discovered by
the Zashassari elite who promptly banished him from working in the Caliphate.
Alamir went to Tusmit next, then Zeif, but found he had
been blacklisted due to his reputation.
By the fate of Istus, Alamir fell in with the
wanted mage Khazid and the pair went to Ull where the two work closely together
from Ulakand to Kester as advisers and craftsmen for those who can afford their
services. The Conclave itself was devised by Alamir when he started to
encounter other mages in his travels throughout Ull and desired to bring them
together. Though the Conclave is hardly a coherent group like the Zashassar,
Alamir is still regarded as the most trustworthy mage in the region, a fitting
legacy for an alchemist thrown out of so-called civilized society.
Nahal (W11, CE): Nahal is an arcane phenom who was
discovered by Hornung manipulating wild magic in the city of Lopolla. Nahal was trained to
be a common hedge mage, but his propensity to drink and the acquisition of a wand of wonder changed his
life forever. By the time Hornung met Nahal, he had already lost his wife, his
job and was wanted by the beygraf for several counts of malicious injury and
vandalism. The unhinged Nahal was taken under Hornung's wing in an attempt to
save his life if not hone his talent in wild magic.
Nahal so far has proven to be a disaster
in the making. Hornung has been lacking as a teacher with his chaotic travels,
leaving Nahal alone to create questionable spells like Reckless Dweomer and Nonsensical
Nullifier. Only the
wide-open prairies of Ull and the careful watch of the Conclave seem to contain
his manic use of wild magic. To that end, the wild mage has been slowly growing
in power, lending his magic to various warbands. Nahal harbors many grudges in
Ull and back home for which he vows to someday repay. Hornung though affable,
is wise to be wary of Nahal.
Maximilian (W14, LE): This grim-faced, stocky earth
elementalist hails from the highlands of Geoff.
Already a capable mage as a young adult, Maximilian was displaced by the Giant Troubles a decade ago and
ended up with no family or money at a refugee camp in Bissel. A visiting mage from
Ekbir took pity on the angry, vengeful mage and personally sponsored him to
join the Zashassar school in Ekbir. Not surprisingly, Max was treated harshly as
a foreigner at the Bakluni institute, a hardship that forced him into many
fights and put many people in the infirmary with the use of his Stony and Earthen
Grasp spells. Eventually
Maximilian quit the Zashassar altogether to seek his own way and possibly find
a tutor more his temperament.
Max turned to the lawless frontier of Ull
to seek service with the ill-famed elementalist Abi-Dalzim, yet much to his
chagrin the Father of Droughts rejected his advances. Fueled by this setback
Maximilian found work for the pit masters of Kester and joined slaver bands in
the Yorod Hills before magically building his own
tower where he has crafted unique wonders such as clay golem-armor and also bred horrors like the Stone
Ettin. Through the Conclave, Max has found common ground to work with the likes
of Khazid and Nahal, and if he can be believed, even Abi-Dalzim is regretting
his decision to rebuff the formidable earth-mage.
All these wizards come from named spells in the highly underrated 2E accessory, Tome of Magic. This book was designed by David Cook, the late Nigel Findley, Chris Kubasik, Greyhawk's own Carl Sargent and Rick
Swan. This book has always
been a little treasure trove of conversion ideas for me as I never see anyone
else in the D&D community using these spells, items or proper names. Long
ago I co-opted Abi-Dalzim as a villain for Ull to much acclaim. By sticking
several more characters from the Tome
of Magic into my own
"living" Ull campaign I hope to develop and use them more in future