Shield Lands

Proper Name: Restored Holy Realm of the Faithful
of the Shield Lands
Ruler: Her Most Honorable Ladyship, Countess Katarina
of Walworth, Knight Commander of the Shield
Lands (LG female human Pal15 of Heironeous)
Government: Commonwealth of local lords ruled
by highest ranking noble of Walworth Isle, who is
also Knight Commander of local religious army
Capital: Critwall
Major Towns: Admundfort (pop. 5,000? [occupied
by Iuz]), Bright Sentry (pop. 2,700; Scragholme
Island), Critwall (pop. 14,300); all other towns
destroyed
Provinces: (Formerly) twenty-three petty noble
domains on the mainland, ruled from Admundfort
(the island was its own separate domain); (now) two
free domains (mainland area controlled from Critwall,
and Scragholme Island), with the remainder of
the land overrun but badly controlled by Iuz's forces
Resources: Livestock and foodstuffs in northern
occupied lands, not exported; few resources in free
lands
Coinage: Currently none, but a mint is being prepared;
old coinage is used when found: knight (gp),
axeman (ep), shield (sp), sheaf (cp)
Population: 27,000-Human 79% (Osf), Halfling
9%, Elf 5%, Dwarf 3%, Gnome 2%, Half-elf 1%, Halforc
1%
Languages: Common, Halfling, Elven
Alignments: LG, LN, CG
Religions: Heironeous
, St. Cuthbert, Mayaheine,
Pholtus, Trithereon
Allies: Furyondy, Veluna, Verbobonc, Dyvers, Greyhawk,
Duchy of Urnst, County of Urnst, Highfolk,
church of Heironeous
Enemies: Iuz, all remaining forces of the Hierarchs
of the Horned Society, all remaining forces of the
Bandit Kingdoms; disliked greatly by Knights of the
Hart

Overview: The Shield Lands consisted of two dozen
provinces of various size, stretching from the Ritensa
River in the south to the Vigilant Highway, from
Plague Fields to Alhaster (which joined the Bandit
Kingdoms in 577 CY as part of Redhand). The
nation's northern border has shifted throughout the
centuries, but it was generally defined by the southern
margins of the Rift Barrens.
The current nation, often referred to as the "New
Shield Lands," encompasses only the 20-30 miles
surrounding the city of Critwall and Scragholme
Island, at the mouth of the Veng-Ritensa River. A
keep on Scragholme Isle, Bright Sentry, guards a
small but growing port that bears the same name and
serves as the island domain's local capital. The current
government proclaims that the recapture of all
lost lands is its primary goal, though fighting has
ground to a virtual standstill within the last year.
The rest of the Shield Lands are under the administration
of Iuz, through his agents in Admundfort,
proclaimed a regional capital in 587 CY. The effectiveness
of the rulership in Admundfort is questionable,
as the island is currently besieged by the
Furyondian navy and occasionally invaded by fanatical
adventuring groups. The isle is thought to be
defended entirely by orcs, who may have killed
everyone else present. The current ruler is a Lesser
Boneheart mage, Vayne (CE male human Wiz17),
about whom little has been heard since the Great
Northern Crusade. Tens of thousands of humans
live in the occupied lands, eking out a horrible existence
of slavery and degradation. Towns such as Axeport
and Stahzer were completely leveled and
depopulated.
Prior to the wars, the Shield Lands had established
perhaps the most modern and well-cared-for system
of roadways in the Flanaess. When armies overran
the nation from the north and east, these roads
helped to speed the land's downfall. Most roads
remain in good condition, and are used by the forces
of Iuz to ship goods to northern lands.
The local climate is temperate, and less harsh that
the Bandit Kingdoms to the north. Though far from
tropical, the southern coast of the Shield Lands provide
the most hospitable beaches in all the Nyr Dyv
coastline.
Iuz controls a chaotic army of nonhumans here,
numbering in the tens of thousands. The Shield
Lands forces, stationed in Critwall, consist of some
5,000 infantry and cavalry. Though most of these
men and women are elite, battle-hardened veterans,
they are war-weary and know that the sheer numbers
of nonhumans in their homeland makes a direct
assault suicidal.
The people of the New Shield Lands have changed
considerably in the last two decades. What once was
overweening pride has changed to determination to
regain lost lands. These are good, dedicated (if occasionally
overzealous) folk who see their mission
clearly. They are willing to sacrifice their lives to
regain what once was theirs.
History: When Ferrond broke from the Great
Kingdom in 254 CY, the nobles of the Nyr Dyv's
north shore refused to acknowledge the new king
In the ruins of the Shield Lands
in Dyvers. Loyal to the ideal of ancient Aerdy but
wholly opposed to the decadent regime in Rauxes,
these nobles failed to declare complete independence,
instead existing somewhere in-between
autonomy and their former status as vassals to the
viceroy.
When similar circumstances resulted, ultimately,
in the formation of the lawless Combination of Free
Lords to the north, the southern nobles banded
together, forming the "Shield Lands" as a bulwark
against the depredations and chaos of the north.
Since the earl of Walworth commanded Admundfort,
at the time the only notable city in the region,
he was chosen as the knight commander of the combined
forces of the nobles. Within a handful of years,
the new capital saw the formation of the Knights of
Holy Shielding, a Heironean order that both formed
the core of the new national army and served as an
example of good, clean living through dedication to
strict, militaristic goals.
The first true challenge to the authority of the
shield came during 420-445 CY, when a local warlord
gained the Hand and Eye of Vecna, two surpassingly
evil artifacts. The lord, Halmadar the Cruel,
conquered the region near Delcomben and laid siege
to Critwall before being drugged by his subjects and
interred alive in the Kron Hills. After the Halmadar
affair, the earl of Walworth increased the size of the
Knights of Holy Shielding, stationing his holy warriors
as advisers throughout the land.
When the Horned Society appeared after the disappearance
of Iuz, affairs in the Shield Lands reached
a desperate crescendo. Here were enemies dedicated
to vile darkness and evil sacrifice, who had sworn
upon the ashen altars of Molag's Hall of Dread that
they would march to Admundfort and line the walls
with the earl's intestines. Though years passed without
significant military activity, the period between
550-570 saw heavy skirmishing along the western
banks of the Ritensa River. Great forts such as Torkeep
were raised, but such defenses soon proved
inadequate.
In 579 CY, the Horned Society banded together
with the lords of the bandit realms Warfields and
Wormhall. With hobgoblin and mercenary armies
supported by daemons and demodands, the vast host
swarmed the western territories, bypassing strongholds
and laying waste to villages and farmsteads.
Thousands of Shield Landers gathered at Axeport to
halt the invasion, but their line was broken and their
bodies thrown as fodder to inhuman beasts. By 581,
all but Critwall had fallen to the invaders, who had
been joined by other Bandit Kingdoms' troops. The
victors carved up the Shield Lands, dividing it into
chaotic holdings ruled by bandits, goblinoids, and
agents of the Horned Society.
Though many Knights of the Shield remained in
Critwall, hundreds more spread to the good countries
of the Flanaess, pleading with their leaders to
send armies and aid to their fallen land. The gruff
arrogance of the Shield Lands nobles had caused
deeper rifts than anyone had imagined, however, and
despite faint agreements that something must be
done, little came of the recruiting effort.
In the early months of 583 CY, however, the occupiers
began fleeing the country, leaving only handfuls
of easily defeated bands behind. Though few
understood at the time, reports that Iuz's armies were
on the march frightened even the cold-blooded Hierarchs,
who ordered all armies back to the heartlands
to prepare for a defense. By Coldeven, when the
Hierarchs were nearly all slain and the Horned
Lands quietly fell to Iuz, the battered Shield Lands
had been reconquered in the name of Earl Holmer,
Knight Commander of the realm.
Furyondy, which had great experience dealing
with Iuz and his armies, dispatched emissaries to
Admundfort, offering military and financial support
for the grand invasion that surely was to come. Fearing
annexation so soon after reclaiming his damaged
homelands, Holmer curtly refused these offers and
expelled Belvor's agents from his realm. Within
months, Iuz's armies, which had savaged the western
Bandit Kingdoms, stood on his eastern border.
Outflanked and unable to support resistance on
two fronts, the Shield Lands crumpled swiftly. Over
11,000 Shield Landers fell in the invasion, with as
many dying in the subsequent occupation. While life
under the bandits and Hierarchs had been difficult,
at least the rulers had been (in most cases) human.
Now, under Iuz, farmers were forced to work for
orcs, necromancers, and demons. These creatures
knew nothing of mercy, and life in the Shield Lands
became that of fearful persistence, of not knowing if
the next day would bring death or disfigurement,
knowing that it would not bring hope.
Except for lone fortified keeps and minor pockets
of rural resistance, the whole of the Shield Lands fell
to Iuz. A daring defense of Admundfort allowed
much of the capital's population to flee via ship to
Willip, but the evacuation was not completed. Earl
Holmer, ever the noble knight, remained with his
homeland, only to be carried off to the dungeons of
Dorakaa. (A daring group of Furyondian heroes rescued
him in 585 CY, but he was a broken shell of a
man by then and died, insane, late that year.)
Occupied Admundfort was taken by Iuz as the new
regional capital, to be administered by a Lesser Boneheart
mage, Vayne, and assorted demons. The rest of
the country fell to lesser leaders, including several
fiends. The fertile lands of the Shield Lands became
the breadbasket for Iuz's entire army, much of the
physical labor carried out by zombies or humans
under the constant threat of murder and subsequent
revivification.
When King Belvor IV called the Great Northern
Crusade in Planting 586, the ranks of Furyondy
swelled with Shield Lands exiles. Belvor appointed
Lady Katarina, Earl Holmer's young cousin, as Lady
Marshall of an entire army of Shield Landers,
Knights of Holy Shielding, Furyondians, and foreign
mercenaries. This force distinguished itself in early
victories and was instrumental in the recapture of
Grabford.
Thereafter, Lady Katarina turned her attentions to
her homeland, smashing into Critwall with zealous
military precision. By 588 CY, with Critwall cleared
of enemy forces, the government of the Shield Lands
was reestablished, albeit over a very small area. Katarina
was named Knight Commander of the region.
Lady Katarina and her knights now look east, planning
surgical strikes against the enemy, confident
that they will reclaim their lost land. ("Perhaps not
this year or the next," they say.) Heironeous has
shown them the path of righteousness, and it is long
and lined with great sacrifice and furious battle.
Those shackled by the Lord of Pain will be released,
they cry. Those who fear the break of dawn will be
taught the art of war and the strength of courage. The
lost lands will be reclaimed, they promise. The Shield
will rise again!
Soldiers outside the knighthood, however, view
the prospects of liberating the rest of the Shield
Lands as bleak, at least through the rest of the decade
and probably longer. The forces arrayed against them
are overwhelming in numbers, arms, and fortifications.
It will be a long and bitter fight.
Conflicts and Intrigues: Some "liberated" humans
are suspected of being agents of Iuz, but they are now
ensconced in important positions in Critwall. A proposed
alliance with the bandit refugees in the Tangles
caused a bitter schism between Countess Katarina,
who does not tolerate lawlessness, and her
closest advisors, who are far more practical ("The
enemy of our enemy is our friend").

Kingdoms of Flanaess

Shield Lands

The Night Shade of Greyhawk and the Hallowed Revenant Amphoras tatafornow