Customs of Flanaess

  

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.
Mordenkainen the archmage (N male human
Wiz20+) formed the Circle of Eight as a tool to manipulate
political factions of the Flanaess, preserving the delicate
balance of power in hopes of maintaining stability
and sanity in the region. Mordenkainen's view of
"enforced neutrality" is not tit-for-tat equality, but rather
a detailed theoretical philosophy derived from decades
of arcane research. He has fought ardently for the forces
of Good, most recently during the Greyhawk Wars, but
just as often has worked on darker plots to achieve his
ends. In all things, the Circle of Eight prefers to work
behind the scenes, subtly manipulating events to
ensure that no one faction gains the upper hand.
In the last two decades, the Circle has seen members
come and go, but its dedication to Mordenkainen's
goals and methods remains steadfast. Current members
include Bigby of Mitrik (N male human Wiz19),
once Mordenkainen's apprentice and now an archmage
in his own right; the rotund and jovial Otto (N
male human Wiz15/Clr3 of Boccob), who favors the
kitchen over the laboratory; Jallarzi Sallavarian of Greyhawk
(NG female human Wiz15), one of the most
dynamic wizards in a city of mages; the reclusive
Drawmij (N male human Wiz18), who oversees
Keoland and the south from his undersea lair near
Gradsul; and Nystul (N male human Wiz17), a Tenha
expatriate who wishes to expand the Circle, beyond
eight if need be, to combat the growing threats presented
by Iuz, Turrosh Mak, and the consolidating factions
of the former Great Kingdom.
The treachery of Rary in 584 CY saw the destruction
of Tenser and Otiluke, leaving the Circle at five.
After a successful mission to rescue one of Tenser's
clones from the clutches of the infamous necromancer-
witch Iggwilv, the Circle added three new
members, rounding out the membership. (Tenser,
chafing at Mordenkainen's agenda, left the group in
disgust after his rescue.) New members include the
redoubtable Warnes Starcoat (N male human Wiz20)
of Urnst; Alhamazad the Wise of Zeif (LN male
human Wiz19); and the cold, unemotional Theodain
Eriason (CN male elf Wiz17). Mordenkainen remains
the ninth member, a "shadow leader" dictating his
agenda to others and influencing the Flanaess
through his powerful network of agents and servitors.

  

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
583 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 the god Nerull or devotees
of deviltry. 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 thirteen 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 of the
Horned Society were presumed destroyed in Coldeven
583 CY, during the night of the Blood-Moon Festival.
Demonic forces sent by Iuz slew the Hierarchs
there and allowed Iuz to quietly take command of
their nation. It is possible that one or more Hierarchs
survived the incident and is attempting to rebuild
the organization, but most assume that the group is
no longer a threat.
Still, Arkalan Sammal, the renowned sage of Greyhawk,
made an interesting appraisal based on reports
gathered by the old sage in recent years. The society,
he claims, survives in the present day and has metamorphosed
from a group centralized within a single
nation to one with its secret tendrils buried across
the Flanaess. "The Horned Society must surely have
known that the return of Iuz would spell its ultimate
downfall," he reasons. "It would have planned for this
eventuality, most likely by moving its operations out
of Molag before the Old One's axe fell."
Rumors during the last five years have placed the
group's headquarters along the coast of the Pomarj, in
Bone March, or even in the Bright Desert or Rift
Canyon. Most people no longer care, for Iuz is now perceived
as the true threat. However, suggests Arkalan,
the Horned Society has become even more dangerous
since its dispersal. As the Archmage Mordenkainen was
heard to comment last year during a conclave in Greyhawk,
"Are their members now dozens, hundreds, thousands?
Where are they headquartered? What do they
plot? Can we rest assured of the death of the Unnamable
Hierarch? To the one who could answer these
questions would go the thanks of a free people."

  

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 Holy
Shielding. Their legends permeate the cultures of all
the former provinces of the Great Kingdom.
Even the founding of the order was an auspicious
occasion. It occurred in the year 537 OR (-107 CY),
when an attack upon the traveling train of the king of
Aerdy was foiled by a group of young men, primarily
woodsmen and farmers from a nearby village. Ur-Flan
insurgents released a winged horror upon the royal
tent city in an effort to assassinate the leader of their
conquerors. The young men of the village thwarted
the attack, at the cost of most of their lives. The king
was so impressed with the courage of the survivors
that he raised them up as his "Knight Protectors."
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
Jallarzi, Mordenkainen, and Otto in battle
known to come cheaply (for example, 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.
Few events shook the order as greatly as the
betrayal of the paladin Sir Kargoth, who made a pact
with the forces of evil and unleashed a demonic terror
upon the Great Kingdom in 203 CY. The abomination
was destroyed at great cost, but the fallen knight
seduced no fewer than thirteen members of the order
to his dark banner. Kargoth's treachery cursed everything
he touched, and sunlight turned all fourteen
traitors into the first and most powerful of the socalled
death knights.
The order went into slow decline after this
upheaval, as many loyal knights spent much time
hunting down the 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 were widely dispersed, and some disappeared
from the courts of the provinces to go into hiding.
Most Knight Protectors of the Great Kingdom live
now in Ratik, refugees from Bone March, where
Clement was a powerful member of the order until
the province's fall in 563 CY. Those Knight Protectors
stationed in Almor are now in Rel Deven. Some
purportedly hide in the Grandwood and Adri Forests,
and a few joined the Iron League and are in Sunndi.
The order's old heraldry, showing the great crowned
sun of Aerdy guarded by a white axe and red arrow, is
no longer used.
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. How
they will reorganize and what their new goals will be
are as yet unknown to the outside world. Overking
Xavener has expressed no interest in them, but no
animosity toward them, either. Grenell of North
Kingdom might consider a Hextorian order of
knights, but not of the caliber of old. Rel Astra has its
own knights, the Iron Nation cavalry. Perhaps the
Knight Protectors will again rise in Ratik or Ahlissa.

  

KNIGHTS OF THE HART

Once the least militant major order of knights in the
Flanaess, the Knights 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 from any quarter, the Knights of
the Hart bulwark standing armies and hunt for
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 mountains, forests, and countryside (where they
often personally mete out justice to the lawless).
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.
Since the Greyhawk Wars and Great Northern
Crusade, all Knights of the Hart oppose Iuz in every
way; they live to destroy him, his armies, and his
empire. The order also has a long-held dislike of Perrenland,
Dyvers, Nyrond, the Knights of Holy
Shielding, and the Knights of the Watch, each for
separate reasons.
The three orders of the Knights of the Hart are as
follows.
Knights of Furyondy: This branch now has 170
knights and many associated warriors under its command.
About 50 Knights of Furyondy died during
the Greyhawk Wars and Great Northern Crusade
(583-588 CY). The branch's primary concerns are the
recruitment of new members, without lowering its
standards to do so, and the maintenance of all strongholds
along the border with Iuz. The order accepts
humans and half-elves. The coat of arms is azure, a
pair of antlers or.
Knights of Veluna: Only 120 knights are in this
politically active branch; each is of great repute and
commands many sergeants and warriors. The order
once admitted only fighters, but recently it has
brought in several fighting clerics of renown. All
members of the Knights of Veluna are landowners,
and the order values diplomacy and negotiation as
much as it values skill with blades. Most members
worship Rao, though a growing number swear to the
faiths of Mayaheine or St. Cuthbert, and a few to
Heironeous. The order accepts humans and halfelves.
The coat of arms is sable, a pair of antlers or.
Knights of the High Forest: This order's fortyfive
members are exclusively olve. These elves are
skilled in forest skirmishing, spending their short
time outside the forest as merchant lords in the High
Vale, where they are justly hailed as heroes while
they try to raise money for their cause. The coat of
arms is vert, a pair of antlers or.

  

KNIGHTS OF HOLY SHIELDING

Established in the mid-300s CY to support the lords
of the petty domains north of the Nyr Dyv, the
Knights of Holy Shielding once made up the core of
an impressive army. Unfortunately, the years preceding
the Greyhawk Wars saw the Shield Lands fall in
humiliating defeat to the Horned Society and Bandit
Kingdoms. Many Shield Knights fled to goodly
nations, establishing relations with local rulers in an
attempt to regain their lost homeland through military
force. When the forces of the Horned Society
withdrew in 583 CY, it appeared that those efforts
were successful. The withdrawal proved only a brief
respite, and soon the entire nation fell to Iuz. By the
end of the Greyhawk Wars, only a third of the order's
original 1,800 esquires still lived.
In 587 CY, under the leadership of the newly
installed Knight Commander Lady Katarina of Walworth,
the expatriate Knights of Holy Shielding
returned to their homeland in force. With considerable
support from Furyondy, they liberated Critwall
and Scragholme Island in a series of bloody battles in
which no quarter was asked or given. From Critwall,
the knights continue to strike against very strong
occupying forces to the north and east. The liberation
of the Shield Lands and the destruction of Iuz
and his armies are this order's foremost goals.
Most Knights of Holy Shielding are now engaged
in this "War of Reclamation." However, several
agents remain in Greyhawk, Dyvers, the Duchy of
Urnst, and Furyondy, working as mercenaries and
sending their revenue to support the army at home.
Within the reclaimed lands, the Shield Knights represent
the best sort of heroism. Commoners regard a
Shield Knight with respect and awe.
Outside the Shield Lands, the knights are looked
upon with less favor. For all their idealistic chatter,
these were the same knights who failed to intelligently
defend their own nation twice in the last ten
years. Cynics reason that it is only a matter of time
before they fall to defeat once again. Though the outside
world knows the Shield Knights for an arrogance
and naivete unacknowledged in their homelands,
all know that Shield Knights can be trusted in
word and deed. The Knights of Holy Shielding are
noted rivals of the Knights of the Hart, who dismiss
them with contempt.
The core of the Knights of Holy Shielding are paladins,
though fighters and clerics of Heironeous are
found among their number. Katarina is titular head
of the organization, but the daily operations of the
Knighthood are seen to by Knight Banneret Incosee
of the Bronze Band (LG male human Ftr13), a surpassingly
brave Flan general.

  

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 (NG
male elf Wiz14/Ftr4), 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 of the order. Successful completion
of a score or more quests allow a knight to gain
rank and a squire. Several highly successful adventurers
in Sterich are Knights of Luna who helped reclaim
that realm. All questing knights must tithe part of the
treasure they acquire; since the end of the Greyhawk
Wars, this payment has supported the Knights of the
High Forest.
Though no formal alliance exists between the
Knights of Luna and the Knights of the Hart, the two
groups at times assist each other. They both consider
Iuz to be the greatest menace to the cause of Good in
the Flanaess, though the Knights of Luna are also
foremost in the fight against the Pomarj nonhumans.
The isolationism of Celene is a cause of great contention
between the Knights of Luna and the rest of
the Grand Court. The knights attempt to influence
the policies of Celene by reasoned debate and by
hosting foreign dignitaries and sponsoring them at
court. They also support limited military actions, particularly
on Celene's southern border and in the Principality
of Ulek.

  

KNIGHTS OF THE WATCH

The Knights of the Watch was created several centuries
ago on the foundation of an earlier organization
based in Gran March. Tasked with protecting
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
order's strongest bases of power can be found in Gran
March (Hookhill), Geoff (Hochoch), and Bissel
(Pellak). Members of the knighthood are drawn from
the best and wisest lands in the Sheldomar Valley.
The Knights of the Watch are devotees of a nearmonastic
school of teachings based upon the writings
of the philosopher Azmarender, who chronicled
a code of duty and belief 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. The mysterious Seventh Precept,
said to reveal ancient secrets about the creation of
Oerth, is known only to the Grandiose Imperial
Wyvern, titular head of the knighthood (currently
the ailing Hugo of Geoff (LN male human Ftr16)).
The teachings are not connected with any one religion,
yet they fit well into the lives of militant followers
of St. Cuthbert, Heironeous, Pholtus, Allitur,
and Mayaheine.
As befits the mysticism that dwells at the heart of
their organization, the Watchers are known internally
by a selection of fanciful titles. General knights, the
lowest in rank, are called Vigils, with minor ranks
adding to the base title (Stalwart Vigil, Resilient Vigil,
Radiant Vigil, etc.). As knights ascend in rank, a
number of adjectives are added to their titles, with
"vigil" replaced by the names of fantastic beasts (manticore,
hippogriff, griffon, etc.), such that a mid-level
commander is known as the Magnificent Elder
Gorgon. Few outside the order understand the ranking
system of the Watchers, which gave rise to the
peasant saying "frightful as a Watcher's title" to denote
someone who wishes to appear more powerful than he
truly is.
Prior to the Greyhawk Wars, the Knights of the
Watch claimed more than 6,500 members. War
trimmed that number by more than half. Currently,
2,500 Knights of the Watch roam the Sheldomar
Valley, protecting the interests of their nations and
digging out "agents" of the hated west (a charge carrying
a liberal interpretation tainted with racism
against the Baklunish). The recruitment of new
members (fighters, clerics, and paladins) is a constant
and major concern.
The Watchers currently regard the giants and orcs
occupying Geoff as scarcely worse than the Baklunish.
Iuz is greatly hated; some Watchers believe the
Baklunish worship the demigod in secret. The Scarlet
Brotherhood is also an avowed enemy (possibly in
league with the Baklunish, claim some). An old
rivalry with the Knights of the Hart is also fueled.
Curiously, the knights do not see the Valley of the
Mage as a major problem area, despite periodic raids
by valley elves on nearby lands.
The Greyhawk Wars brought a new development,
the division of the order into two distinct branches:
traditional Knights of the Watch and the new
Knights of Dispatch. The Dispatchers eschew traditional
rites of battle, often forming scouting and
guerilla bands to range within conquered Geoff (and,
until recently, Sterich). The Knights of Dispatch
have traded their hatred of the west for a deep hatred
of the nonhumans who caused their homelands so
much grief in the last decade. Fighters, rangers, clerics,
and rogues fill their ranks.
While some Watchers despise the "cowardly" tactics
of this new branch, the leaders of both organizations
pledge support for each other and share the same (confusing)
hierarchy and titles. Both the Knights of the
Watch and the Knights of Dispatch share a common
coat of arms: an owl displayed argent.

  

MOUQOLLAD CONSORTIUM

The Mouqollad Consortium unites the merchant
clans of the Baklunish nations into a powerful association
to ensure the prosperity of its members. The
consortium is organized into territories and specialties,
with its headquarters in the city of Zeif. Member
clans and trade houses are from every Baklunish
nation, and its trading posts and colonies are found
in many western states and islands.
In populous realms such as Ket, a merchant clan
must administer each urban bazaar. The clan is obligated
to guard against theft and violence in the marketplace.
In return, it gains control over the allotment
of space and collection of fees from individual
traders. In poor or less-populated regions, merchant
clans are granted larger territories, though such clans
are likely to delegate some of their administrative
responsibilities to local merchants or groups.
Control of certain specialty trade is assigned as
well. For example, trade in Ekbiri woolens or gems
from Zeif is the province of a specific merchant
house; the sale of authentic magic items is restricted
to individual merchants who have passed rigorous
qualifying examinations. Of course, black markets
thrive in some areas (particularly Ull), but agents of
the Mouqollad diligently seek out their locations and
the merchants who attend them.
Leadership of the Mouqollad is organized around
a group of high-ranking clerics of Mouqol called
the Worthy Elders, most of whom are also senior
members of prosperous and respected merchant
houses. A few wizards have risen in the hierarchy
over the centuries, usually noted scholars and masters
of divination. Warriors also have risen in the
ranks of the Mouqollad, many through service in
the merchant fleet. Even rogues are found in the
consortium's employ, though they have no place in
leadership.
In fact, the Mouqollad might employ members of
any profession, sometimes for lengthy terms. The
most demanding service is required on the trading
expeditions to distant lands. Caravans travel throughout
the lands of the Paynims and sometimes to
regions farther south and west, beyond the mountains.
The merchant fleet voyages across the Dramidj
on journeys that can take many months, while
extended visits to the islands' trade colonies and distant
outposts can last for years.
The consortium maintains a select force of agents
who monitor its interests in all major Baklunish cities.
It is careful to maintain the appearance of neutrality in
political and military matters, but it also works discreetly
to secure influence in all levels of government.
The Mouqollad strives to police its own constituent
clans and houses. The skills of mediation and negotiation
are raised to a fine art by the merchants, yet sometimes
disputants are so closely matched that agreements
cannot be concluded without the intervention
of a higher authority. On such occasions, an Appraiser
of Merit can be called to hear the case and make a
binding judgment. Should that judgment be breached,
the offending party is expelled from the Mouqollad,
and all his goods are forfeit to the injured party.
The Mouqollad has few enemies, though it has no
real allies, either. The consortium is tolerated by the
governments of Zeif, Tusmit, Ekbir and Ket; in Ull,
the rulers are as likely to seize goods as they are to
buy them, so the merchants are often in conflict with
the government. Among the Paynims, merchants are
subject to raiding like all other travelers (or other
Paynims). In the Gulf of Ghayar and the Dramidj
Ocean, piracy threatens the ships of the Mouqollad;
the merchants wage small-scale wars with these
pirates at times, but they prefer to play one group off
against another if possible, avoiding lost cargoes and
expensive mercenaries.

  

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. Of course, other
"nature" religions exist outside the Old Faith, even
different branches of the druidic heritage, but few
of these are in the Flanaess. The druids of the inner
circles of the Old Faith gain far more prestige and
respect than these other groups. Mistletoe, oak
leaves, and holly leaves are their common 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,
yet there is a dark legacy within the Old Faith.
The druids of antiquity allied themselves with the
sorcerous Ur-Flan, who once held whole tribes in
bondage to their evil. The unspeakable rituals performed
by the Ur-Flan went unchallenged by the
druidic hierarchy of that era, so long as the former
were not so prevalent in any region as to threaten the
balance of nature. Eventually, the Ur-Flan sorcerers
waned in power and vanished. Some of their magical
secrets are still preserved by the Old Faith.
The Old Faith is still widely practiced in the
Flanaess, and not only in those regions dominated by
descendants 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.
The most junior druids must first serve as Ovates,
simple administrators and readers of auguries who
govern only the aspirants who seek admission to the
hierarchy. Above the Ovates and the Initiates are
those who may claim the title of Druid. They,
together with the three Archdruids and the Great
Druid, provide tutelage to their underlings (there are
nine Great Druids in the Flanaess, one representing
each of the geographic divisions outlined in Chapter
One). Legends also speak of a Grand Druid and a
cabal of ascended mystics called the Hierophants,
but complete knowledge of these masters is hidden
from those outside the hierarchy.

  

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 these
colleges, and the true enchantments worked by the
ancient craftsmen come alive only 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 through 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 been reported only 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. The People
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.
No hierarchy exists among the People of the Testing,
but each has an area of expertise and authority
based on the particular trials he or she experienced
under the Moonarch. The distinct role of each elf in
this rarified community is presumed to provide some
vital service to the gods of their race. The elven sage
Elraniel Tesmarien (CG male elf Wiz13) is one who
openly, if quietly, avows his role among the People.
Residing in the city of Greyhawk, he is in contact
with others of the People, throughout the Flanaess
and beyond.
Seeming largely uninterested in worldly matters,
the People of the Testing have few allies or enemies.
Yet, some folk accuse them of conspiring against
humanity, particularly in light of the expulsion of the
nonelf inhabitants of the Lendore Isles. The People are
known to have a strong presence in Sunndi, where
some fear that the group may have designs to usurp
the authority of Olvenking Hazendel. They are poorly
received at the Grand Court of Celene; they have influence
there, but they are suspected of contriving the
death of the royal consort of Celene. The fact that most
People of the Testing choose to remain anonymous
hinders them from refuting such rumors. Perhaps
they are not concerned with the opinions of the uninitiated.
The ultimate goals of the People of the Testing
remain mysterious, and it seems the only authority
they truly respect is their own inner voice.

  

SILENT ONES OF KEOLAND

This ancient society is almost entirely closed to outsiders,
but its mystique and influence extends
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 chronicled
some of their exploits in his apocryphal work,
The Chronicle of Secret Times.
The group's name comes from an ancient Suel
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 to the
order. Rather they are chosen during pilgrimages
conducted by the Silent Ones annually during Needfest,
when they 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.
While the Silent Ones typically wear drab gray
garb, they have no traditional dress nor any visible
devices or emblems. The primary cloister of the order
is an infamous spire known as the Tower of Silence,
located less than a day's ride south from Niole Dra. It
is an architectural wonder, erupting from the ground
without support to rise many hundreds of feet and
completely dominate the featureless plain that surrounds
it. No mage who casts eyes upon it will deny
that it would be nearly impossible to build today,
since great sorcery was no doubt required for its construction.
The bluish-gray stone that composes it has
no counterpart for 1,000 miles.
The inhabitants of the Lonely Tower are headed by a
single undisputed leader called the Wyrd. Currently,
this magus is Mohrgyr the Old (N male human
Wiz20), a former Nehelan nobleman believed to be
over two hundred years old. The tower is staffed by a
few dozen adherents, whose numbers are thought to
shrink with every passing year. Their most powerful
supporters in the kingdom are the nobles of House
Neheli, and a plurality of their membership is from
this ancient and decaying house. The Silent Ones have
smaller enclaves in a handful of Keoish cities to which
they frequently travel.
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 Scarlet Brotherhood and the
uncovering of Slerotin's Passage from the Yeomanry to
the Sea of Dust

Customs of Flanaess

The Night Shade of Greyhawk and the Hallowed Revenant Amphoras tatafornow