Thursday, June 19, 2014

Major Powers in Greyhawk

The Major Powers:

The Circle of Eight:

The mysterious assembly of wizards known as the Circle of Eight has long benefited from a past obscured by misinformation and enigma. The group's influence reaches from the Baklunish west to the Solnor Ocean, though its secretive methods ensure that few know the extent of its ministrations. Certain members of the Circle are well-known and liked, their talents appreciated throughout the Flanaess. The mages Bigby, Jallarzi and Otto, for instance, are welcome in courts far from cosmopolitan Greyhawk. Others, such as Drawmij, Nystul, and Theodain prefer to operate away from the public gaze. The Circle is led by the archmage Mordenkainen, who founded it as a tool to preserve the balance of power in the Flanaess and keep any one faction from dominating it. Mordenkainen's view of "enforced neutrality" is not tit-for-tat equality, but rather a detailed theoretical philosophy derived from decades of arcane research.

The Horned Society:

No one knows the true age of the Horned Society. Most scholars believe its Hierarchs were opportunist bandits who filled the void in Molag left by the disappearance of Iuz in 505 CY, only to be swept away in 570 CY after the demigod's return. More ominous speculation places the roots of the organization well before the great migrations of old. Certain old druids speak of the dreaded "Horned Ones," cultists who stalked the night in ancient times and preyed upon the Flan tribes. It is not certain if the modern Horned Society is actually a descendant of this dark sect or simply an imitator exploiting old legends.

In any case, the Horned Society came to prominence in 513 CY, a few years after the disappearance of Iuz in the north, when the cambion's malign kingdom went leaderless. The group seized the city of Molag and set about consolidating the territory around under its rule. Hobgoblins, orcs, and other nonhumans flocked to the Horned Society's dark banner. Conflicting reports placed the group's members as either worshipers of Nerull or devotees of devils. Both seem likely, as it appears the organization was a congregation of many factions, not a monolithic entity. The actual glue that held it together was likely more dogmatic than spiritual.

The Horned Society was made up of 13 leaders, called Hierarchs, including powerful fighters, clerics, rogues and wizards. The philosophy of the Horned Society was rulership through fear and might, with overtones of human supremacy and the subjugation of lesser races to achieve their goals. The Hierarchs and the rest of the leadership were presumed destroyed when Iuz sent his demonic minions into the territory in 570 CY. Still, it is possible, even likely, that they foresaw this event as a possibility and made plans to rebuild in case it became true. Rumors have placed the Horned Society's new headquarters in the Pomarj, Bone March, or even the depths of the Rift Canyon. No one knows for sure, which makes them a threat. The philosophy of the Horned Society has always been to rule through fear and might. Overtones of human supremacy also factor in.

Knight Protectors of the Great Kingdom:

Of all the orders of knighthood in the history of the Flanaess, none was greater than the fabled Knight Protectors of the Great Kingdom. Once many hundreds in number, their membership has since dwindled to perhaps no more than two dozen today. Throughout their history, these knights were formidable warriors with a matchless reputation for courage and honor. They have become the model for numerous orders of knighthood that have sprung up in the Flanaess in their wake, including the Knights of the Hart and the Knights of the Holy Shielding. Their legends permeate the cultures of all the former provinces of the Great Kingdom.

Founded in 537 OR (-107 CY) when a group of young men foiled an attack upon the Aerdy king by a group of Ur-Flan sorcerers, the order has always been auspicious and legendary. From its inception, the order was unique in the Great Kingdom in that it chose its own membership through contests of skill and courage. Positions were not royally appointed, nor could they be bought, like many other knighthoods in the kingdom that were known to come cheaply (such as the Knights of Medegia). The Knight Protectors numbered followers of both Heironeous and Hextor in their ranks; while this produced strong rivalries, deadly conflicts were few. The goal of the order was always a united and protected Great Kingdom under an honorable and lawful monarch.

Unfortunately, the knighthood was betrayed by the paladin Sir Kargoth in 203 CY, and while he only had 13 followers, their betrayal was so great they all became death knights. The order went into slow decline after this, as many loyal knights spent much time hunting down renegades. The royal House Rax went into slow decline at about the same time. In 443 CY, Ivid I set about hunting down and destroying the remaining Knight Protectors, for they opposed his ascension to the throne after he assassinated the last Rax overking. He did not succeed in destroying them, but they became widely dispersed and many went into hiding. Most Knight Protectors today dwell in Ratik, or have joined the Iron League and dwell in Sunndi. With the apparent passing of Ivid V in Rauxes, some expect the Knight Protectors to emerge from their dormancy and take a more active role in the recovery of the Great Kingdom's former realms.

Knights of the Hart:

Once the least militant major order of knights in the Flanaess, the Knighs of the Hart have lately become more "aggressively defensive" in nature. These knights have a tripartite organization formed in ancient days to serve the needs of the lords of Furyondy, Highfolk and Veluna. Because these states are decentralized and thus severely threatened by sudden invasion by any quarter, the Knights of the Hart bulwark standing armies and hunt potential threats. The Knights of the Hart must swear to serve as a vanguard of defense at an instant's notice, maintaining certain strongholds, serving in local governments, and supporting scouting actions into the wilderness and countryside.

Membership in the Knights of the Hart is open to commoners and nobles alike, provided each candidate is devoted to the protection of Furyondy, Highfolk, and Veluna. Further, each candidate must possess proven combat skills and have performed an act of exceptional honor, bravery, courage and service.
This group of knights was designed to make sure that Furyondy, Veluna and High Folk kept their freedom. The nobles and lords of these areas kept their own men-at-arms and guards but to gather them together took time and this problem was solved with the Knights of the Order of the Hart who vow to always be battle ready. They are divided into three branches.

The Knights of Furyondy hold 170 to 200  men. These guys aren't really trusted by Dyvers and Verbobonc even though the Knights are trying to protect their trade. They feel that the knights would be happy to see them become a part of Furyondy.

The Knights of Veluna number at 120 and used to house nothing but seasoned veterans of seventh level or higher, but have begun accepting war clerics, human paladins of at least fifth level and human and half-elven priests of at least sixth level.

The Knights of the High Forest consists completely of elves and has only 45 members. They fight in the Vesve forest and also trade, although they aren't merchants they need the money.

The Knights of the Order of the Hart spend their time drilling, protecting the strongholds and are well respected by the people of their nations. They do have a bit of a rivalry going on between themselves and the Knights of Shielding.

Knights of the Holy Shielding:

These knights are the backbone of the army of the Shield Lands. The Knights of Holy Shielding are paladins and young men hoping to join their ranks usually start as squires. A paladin must be of at least seventh level and be capable of proclaiming some heroic deed. They are well respected in their homeland but have become hated and despised by Iuz and his following with whom they battle.

Established in the mid-300s CY to support the lords of the petty domains north of the Nyr Dyv, the Knights of the Holy Shielding make up the core of an impressive army.

The core of the Knights of the Holy Shielding are paladins, though fighters and clerics of Heironeous are found among their number.

Knights of Luna:

The Knights of Luna is an elven order of knighthood dedicated to preserving the monarchy of Celene and the noble traditions of the elves throughout the central Flanaess. They espouse values that call for elven leadership in the cause of Good, and noblesse oblige toward their allied kindred and the lesser races. Most of the leading members of this order are gray elves from the Grand Court of Celene, although they are currently at odds with the policies of their fey queen and her councilors. Numbering just over two-hundred knights, this order includes many high elves and half-elves, many of them wizards as well as fighters. The majority live and operate in Celene, but increasingly they are found in the Duchy of Ulek, with a small presence among the elves of Highfolk and the Fairdells.

No strict hierarchy exists among the Knights of Luna, though Melf, Prince Brightflame of Celene is their acknowledged leader. Generally, the most senior and experienced knights have the most authority, and they are permitted to take squires of any elven or part-elven lineage. Knightly quests are typically the province of young, inexperienced members fo the order. Successful completion of a score or more quests allow a knight to gain rank and a squire.

Knights of the Watch:

These are the best of the best from the armies of Bissel, Gran March, Geoff and Keoland. They are there to protect from Baklunish threats from the west. They use traditional warfare techniques that cost them dearly when dealing with the humanoids, giants, and groups from Ket.

The Knights of the Watch are divided into two groups. The first is referred to as the Watchers. They stand on their traditions and see no reason for changing them. The second is called the Dispatchers. They tend to split into scouting parties and ambush humanoids in Geoff that shouldn't be there.

They both fight to protect Gran March and Keoland, but while the Knights of the Watch wait for enemies to come, the Knights of Dispatch actively go out and attack them.

The Knights of the Watch was created several centuries ago on the foundation of an earlier organization based in Gran March. Tasked with protection Keoland, Gran March, Bissel and Geoff from the incursions of barbaric Paynims and "westerlings" (civilized Baklunish armies), the Watchers maintain castles, fortresses and strongholds along the border with Ket, as well as in the western mountains.

The Knights of the Watch are devotees of a near-monastic school of teachings based upon the writings of the philosopher Azmarender, who chronicled a code of duty known as the Twelve and Seven Precepts. The Twelve Precepts govern how a knight of the order is to carry out his daily activities, with an eye toward the traditions of battle. The Seven Precepts guide "life beyond the self," giving meaning to the world beyond the field of battle. These latter teachings are jealously guarded secrets, revealed to knights only as they gain station within the organization.

Old Faith:

Oerth's natural fertility has inspired the devotion of its people. The cult of the Oerth Mother (Beory) once dominated the entire Flanaess, and the traditions of her worship persist in many lands. The present hierarchy of the Old Faith is built upon the ancient religion of the druids, though deities in addition to Beory are worshiped. Mistletoe, oak leaves, and holly leaves are their emblems. Druids of the Old Faith are completely neutral in philosophy and personal alignment. They yield only to the world-spanning authority of the legendary Grand Druid.

The practices of the Old Faith are generally in accord with those of other nature priesthoods. The druids do not engage in the sacrifice of sentient creatures.

The Old Faith is still widely practiced in the Flanaess, and not only in those regions dominated by descendents of the Flan peoples. The age-old sacred groves and monolithic circles of the Old Faith may include shrines dedicated to any nature deity the resident druids permit, but most often they are unadorned. While Beory the Oerth Mother is the best known deity associated with the Old Faith, any druid of purely neutral alignment may matriculate through the Nine Circles of Initiation, regardless of which nature god that druid venerates.

Old Lore:

The Colleges of the Old Lore are an order of bards appended to the druidic society of the Old Faith. Very few of these archetypal bards are left, as their traditions are primarily those of the ancient Flan. Bards of the Old Lore are distinguished from today's common bards and minstrels by their noble origins, their tradition of scholarship, and their use of druidic magic. The prospective Old Lore bard must be of human descent and noble birth, although half-elves are permitted as well. Tradition demands that each candidate have proven skill in warmaking and stealth, in addition to surpassing grace, in order to receive druidic training. The Old Lore legacy also includes a small number of magical, stringed instruments crafted specifically for each of the seven colleges of the Old Lore. Recovery of any such instrument is of prime concern to the remaining members of the colleges, and the true enchantments worked by the ancient craftsmen only come alive at the touch of a bard of the Old Lore.

People of the Testing:

The mystic cabal known as the People of the Testing is a society of elves whose members are scattered across the Flanaess. These elves are loosely bound by the memory of their experiences in the elven otherworld discovered by the Moonarch of Sehanine. The Moonarch appears only while Oerth's lesser moon, Celene, is in full phase, and the Moonarch is never encountered twice in the same location. Thus far, it has only been reported in the northern region of Celene.

Those elves who pass under the Moonarch must then pass a series of spiritual tests administered by three elven deities. Some elves never return from their journey through the Moonarch, but all those who do are profoundly changed. Some withdraw from the concerns of their previous lives and heed the Calling Away, which many call the Leaving, even though they may have centuries of life remaining to them. These elves immediately travel to the Lendore Isles; what becomes of them is not known. Other elves may become clerics (usually of Sehanine), seers, poets, savants or outcasts. From among all these come the People of the Testing.

The concerns of the People involve the destiny of all elves and their vision of the true nature of elvenkind. They are said to have special insights into the Mysteries of Faerie, but their practices are by no means as sensual as those of traditional elven participants. They see more deeply than other elves and have secret knowledge of forgotten magic, ancient banes, hidden realms, and lost races. They guard their secrets carefully, and few publicly acknowledge membership in the People of the Testing. They are present in all levels of society, however, and they use their influence to keep elven interests secure in the Flanaess, no matter what the cost to other races.

The Scarlet Brotherhood

This group makes it's home on the Tilvanot Peninsula. Their one driving goal since it's founding a thousand years ago is to have the Suel recognized as the master race throughout the Flanaess. Apparently there was a premonition of doom right before the Rain of Colorless Fire descended upon the Suel Empire. One man named Kevelli Mauk that had founded the Brotherhood three years prior had enough time to gather ten of his students along with their slaves, the Tome of the Scarlet Sign (the Brotherhood's manifesto) and use a now lost artifact called Lendor's Matrix to teleport them all to the western side of Hellfurnaces just before the fall of the Rain of Colorless Fire.

They, over time, eventually made there way down into the Tilvanot Peninsula where they reside. They believe that by their physical perfection, the early birth of their empire and their mastery of magic that they are the superior race. They are a people where assassins and thieves are as common place as farmers and merchants on the main land.

Silent Ones of Keoland:

This ancient society is almost entirely closed to outsiders, but its mystique and influence extend throughout the valley of the Sheldomar. The Silent Ones are said to form the backbone of an eldritch order that seeks to protect the last vestiges of Ancient Suel magic that has remained in Suloise hands since the Rain of Colorless Fire. Whether the order is actually this old is uncertain, since they communicate little outside their own circles. What little is known of the Silent Ones comes from one of the few individuals who departed it alive. Uhas of Neheli chronciled some of their exploits in The Chronicle of Secret Times.

The group's name comes from an ancient Suloise phrase literally translated as "those who must not speak." It is something of a misnomer as the Silent Ones are by no means mute, but they are extremely secretive and do little to dispel the aura of mystery that surrounds them. These ascetics live completely outside the authority of the ruling Keoish king, according to the first lines of the founding charter of the nation, penned nearly one thousand years ago. They do not form a magical guild in the traditional sense, as supplicants are not usually accepted into the order. Rather, they are chosen during pilgrimages conducted by the Silent Ones annually during Needfest, when the scour the countryside for youths especially attuned to their ways. Those chosen are said to be gifted in some way, and most of them are of pure Suel bloodlines. Curiously, many of the chosen are also albinos and frequently are blind. Uhas of Neheli was both.

In centuries past, sorcery was in the hands of a small few in Keoland, and the Silent Ones monitored this tradition with dispassion. That is no longer their role, though they are still viewed with fear and superstition. Silent Ones seem to be drawn to ancient places and items of strong magical power and import. On rare occasions, they openly contend with individuals, both good and evil, who seek magical power beyond the ken of mortals. Recently they have expressed disquiet over the rise of the Secret Brotherhood of the Elder Eye and the uncovering of Slerotin's Passage from the Yeomanry to the Sea of Dust.

Minor / Regional Powers

Rangers of the Gnarley Forest

This "little" group consists of more than two hundred rangers. They come from all over to protect the vast expanse of the Gnarley Forest. There is no set order of command except for several Ranger Knights that gather every two to three months to exchange information. Young rangers are taken in under one of these Knights and trained although rangers of any level may join by finding one one of these Ranger Knights, be interviewed and pass several woodland tests.

The rangers are a close group and will come to one another's aid as soon as possible. Even the animals of the Gnarley Forest seem to cooperate with them by dragging wounded rangers to safety or alerting to possible dangers. Their main goal is to control lumbering in the wood, flush out bandits and protect the people of the Gnarley Forest.

They also must stay close the the forest. Any extended leave of over six months must be approved by a Ranger Knight and long journeys away without good cause will usually result in the ranger being asked to turn in his/her insignia of oak leaves.

This is an update of the previous entry on Organizations & Societies.

Just as an FYI the current campaign's timeline is set in 577CY, with no plans on instituting the Greyhawk Wars. 

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