My history with the World of Greyhawk campaign setting began about a decade after Gary Gygax created it for his home D&D campaign in the early 1970s. I had the poster map by Darlene pinned up on my bedroom wall, and in the early 1980s I ran several AD&D modules that were based there. In college during the late 1980s, I ran a City of Greyhawk campaign, very loosely using Gygax’s notes – mainly just used the city maps and a few key NPCs.
Now more than three decades later, I’ve dusted off my City of Greyhawk notes from TSR and worked up cribsheets to return to the year 576 CY – even if it’s a non-canon “alternate universe” to the follow-up products that came later (RPGA’s Living Greyhawk, the Greyhawk Wars, After the Ashes and so forth).
The story backdrop focuses on Iuz conquering neighboring lands, prompting several diverse factions to unite against the evil demigod. The City of Greyhawk, while far from the front lines, remains a hub of intrigue where both sides scheme for advantage. (Think Berlin during the 1960s Cold War.)
THE RECENT PAST
* 112 years ago … The witch Iggwilv imprisons the demon lord Graz’zt and mates with him, producing a child named Iuz.
* 97 years ago … The 15-year-old Iuz works with his mother’s magical help to conquer surrounding fiefdoms north of the Kingdom of Furyondy.
* 78 years ago … Graz’zt magically fights Iggwilv to escape. Caught in the crossfire, Iuz’s body appears to age into an old man and split into human and demon forms. Iggwilv leaves Oerth to recover from the battle.
* About 70 years ago … Iuz begins his quest for divinity, draining wizards and extra-planar beings in the Soul Husk Caverns below the Howling Hills. He also courts an alliance (some say romance) with the demon queen of fungi, Zuggtmoy.
* 71 years ago … The threat of Iuz divides political factions in Furyondy, but suddenly the demigod disappears. (Iuz is imprisoned under Castle Greyhawk by the mad archmage Zagig.)
* 68 to 8 years ago … Cults in Iuz’s lands begin to worship the missing demigod. Several “Iuz” pretenders surface over the six decades.
* 6 years ago … An adventurer frees Iuz and eight other demigods from their prison beneath Castle Greyhawk. The “real” Iuz returns to his lands.
* Recently … Iuz pretends to be the god Vatun to manipulate northern barbarian tribes into war. The Empire of Iuz conquers the Horned Society as well as small portions of the Vesve Forest.
See https://www.annabmeyer.com/ for the ultimate geography resource.
THE ALLIANCE AGAINST IUZ
There are five factions allied against the dark lord: The Kingdom of Furyondy, the scattered knights of the Shield Lands, the ancient elves of the Vesve Forest, the northern barbarian Wolf Nomads and mercenary heroes linked to the Thieves Guild in Greyhawk.
FURYONDY: A large kingdom prosperous from trade and renown for its open culture, Furyondy has been hindered for decades by a state of constant war with the Empire of Iuz. A half-dozen noble families of knights lead the fight in the north while merchant houses sail fleets of goods south across a lake as big as a small sea.
THE SHIELD LANDS: A refugee people driven from their holy land by invading hordes of orcs, they have settled west in the lands of their allies to await the day they retake their entire sacred kingdom. They are passionate about righteousness, seeing themselves as models of divine perfection called to inspire the less devoted and morally weak around them.
THE WOLF NOMADS: Their proud warriors ride on exotic horses, fight with bow and lance, and are only lightly armored. They tend to be more open to civilized culture than their western Baklunish kin, the feared Tiger Nomad barbarians. Except for those rare individuals studying spellcraft at their capital of Eru Tovar, their people stay on the move – hundreds of small tribes on horseback following herds of game and avoiding marauders from the Empire of Iuz.
THE VESVE OLVENFOLK: The faerie grey elves and their related peoples – the high elves, wood elves and gnomes – dwell in a vast and ancient forest to the northwest. Within its trees roam tribes of orcs, gnolls and hobgoblins, along with ancient evils from an age long forgotten. The elves of the Vesve remember the time before humans, and they play the long game in terms of secretly undermining tyrants and unnatural threats.
THE THIEVES GUILD OF GREYHAWK: Although the Free City of Greyhawk lies miles away south across a freshwater inland sea, its adventurers and spies seek to know everything that exists across the world – and acquire the best bits of it for themselves when no one is looking. The other factions tolerate its members in exchange for sharing the latest news from abroad and the occasional help with espionage.
IUZ: Named for its half-demon ruler, the land where the soil itself has become corrupted by demonic chaos, where humans and others are enslaved by hobgoblins and the traitors who would serve them. Poverty is enforced by divine law and everything ultimately goes into service fighting the wars on three fronts: the Furyondy border, the barbarian northern frontier and Vesve Forest.
For those more familiar with D&D5e’s five factions…
* The Elves of Vesve Forest (like The Harpers, but more strange and alien).
* The People of Furyondy (like The Lord’s Alliance, but more into social good).
* The People of the Sheild Lands (like the Order of the Gauntlet, but self-righteous).
* The Thieves Guild of Greyhawk (like the Zhentarim, but more spying than crime).
* The Wolf Nomads (like the Emerald Enclave, but more about their people than nature).
THE CITY OF GREYHAWK
OLIGARCHY OF GREYHAWK (circa 576)
* Nerof Gasgal – Lord Mayor and Assistant Guildmaster of Thieves
* Derider Fanshen – Constable
* Sental Nurev – Captain-General of the Watch
* Org Nenshen – Guildmaster of Thieves
* Turin Deathstalker – Guildmaster of Assassins
* Kieren Jalucian – Guildmaster of Wizards
* Otiluke – President, Society of Magi
* Ravel Dasinder – Patriarch of Rao
* Ren o’ the Star – Guildmaster, Merchants’ and Traders’ Union
* Laup Cobrun – Merchants’ and Traders’ Union
* Carmen Halmaster – Merchants’ and Traders’ Union
* Dernen Nathane – Merchants’ and Traders’ Union
* Bodmi Hollerdel – Guildmaster of Jewelers and Gemcutters
* Sir Anton Palmirian – Guildmaster of Lawyers and Scribes
* Glodreddi Bakkanin – Inspector of Taxes
The Thieves’ Guild, Assassins’ Guild and half the leadership of the Merchants’ and Traders’ Union, along with the Inspector of Taxes, make up the dominant political faction currently running the city.
Guilds within Greyhawk…
* The Guild of Apothecaries and Herbalists
* The Guild of Architects and Stonemasons
* The Guild of Bakers and Cooks
* The Guild of Barbers and Dentists
* The Butcher’s Guild
* The Cartographers’ Guild
* The Dockers’ and Wharfmen’s Union
* The Guild of Embalmers and Gravediggers
* The Guild of Jewelers and Gemcutters
* The Laborers’ Union
* The Lamplighters Guild
* The Guild of Lawyers and Scribes
* The Guild of Leatherworkers, Tanners, Smiths and Stablers
* The Merchants’ and Traders’ Union
* The Mintworkers’ Guild
* The Union of Moneychangers and Pawnbrokers
* The Guild of Nightwatchmen
* The Ostlers’ and Brewers’ Guild
* The Guild of Performing Artistes
* The Union of Sages and Academics
* The Sewermen’s and Streetcleaners’ Union
Some common travel times…
* 120 miles – Greyhawk to Willip by merchant ship or galleon (across Nyr Dyv): 2 days
* 420 miles – Greyhawk to Willip (along Nyr Dyv coast): 9.5 days by horse, 14 days by foot
* 120 miles – Willip to Critwall (Shield Lands): 2.5 days by horse, 4 days by foot, 8 days with wagon/cart
* 270 miles – Willip to Molag (Iuz Horned Lands): 6 days by horse, 9 days by foot, 18 days with wagon/cart
* 360 miles – Willip to Chendl (Furyondy capital): 8 days by horse, 12 days by foot, 24 days with wagon/cart
HISTORY OF THE AGE
* 1000 years ago … Tribes of Flannae people dwell in the east. Empires of Baklunish and Suel go to war in the far west.
* 950 years ago … Beginning of The Great Migrations eastward of Baklunish, Oeridians and Suloise peoples.
* 900 years ago … Suel mages cause the Invoked Devastation to destroy Baklunish lands, creating the Dry Steppes. In response, Bakluni mages cause the Rain Of Colorless Fire over the Suel homeland, creating the Sea of Dust. Both empires immediately end.
* 900 to 700 years ago … Western people wander, eventually settling down and evolving into crude kingdoms.
* 700 year ago … The Kingdom of Aerdy defeats Nyrond, forming The Great Kingdom.
* 600 years ago … Overking of the Great Kingdom declares peace, settling his empire.
* 600 years ago to today … Increasing madness among the Great Kingdom’s rulers and constant civil wars lead borderland realms to break off and become their own countries.
(Approximate dates used; see published campaign guides for specific dates.)
* About 650 years ago … A trading outpost is founded on the Selintan River. It is named “Greyhawk” in honor of the small birds native to the area.
* 570 years ago … Aerdy forces take control from a warlord to rule the frontier City of Greyhawk.
* 200 years ago … The “mad archmage” Zagig Yragerne gains political power in Greyhawk through bribery.
* 200 to 150 years ago … As Lord Mayor, Zagig greatly improves the City of Greyhawk. (During his tenure, the legal code is reformed, sewers are first developed, Castle Greyhawk is built, the Guild of Wizardry is founded, mining towns in the Cairn Hills are established, scholars found city colleges and more.) Influence by the Great Kingdom’s throne quickly diminishes.
* 150 years ago … Zagig vanishes, not to be seen again by the common folk. (He later resurfaces as the demigod Zagyg.)
* 80 years ago … The “lansgraf” government model is officially replaced by an oligarchy and Greyhawk becomes a free city. The neighboring free city of Hardby and the Wild Coast break off from the Domain of Greyhawk’s influence, causing an economic decline.
* 20 to 30 years ago … Discovery of gold and treasure under the nearby Castle Greyhawk spark an economic boom.
* 7 years ago … Battle of Emridy Meadows, united forces of good destroy the Temple of Elemental Evil cult (about 300 miles southwest of Greyhawk).
* Today … The city is revitalized and stable, albeit controlled directly by the local thieves’ guild who seek to build a network of political influence across the continent.
TRACKING TIME IN THE WORLD OF GREYHAWK
A 7-DAY WEEK…
* Starday (work) – 1st, 8th, 15th, and 22nd of the month.
* Sunday (work) – 2nd, 9th, 16th, and 23rd of the month
* Moonday (work) – 3rd, 10th, 17th, and 24th of the month
* Godsday (worship) – 4th, 11th, 18th, and 25th of the month
* Waterday (work) – 5th, 12th, 19th, and 26th of the month
* Earthday (work) – 6th, 13th, 20th, and 27th of the month
* Freeday (rest) – 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th of the month
COMMON CALENDAR AND HOLIDAY WEEKS
(16 divisions, common human names listed below)
(1.) NEEDFEST (6 days) (winter solstice, gift-giving, like Christmas/New Year’s Eve)
(2.) Fireseek (28 days) (winter)
(3.) Readying (28 days) (spring)
(4.) Coldeven (28 days (spring)
(5.) GROWFEST (6 days) (smaller festivals as people keep working, seek blessings for the year)
(6.) Planting (28 days) (low summer)
(7.) Flocktime (28 days) (low summer)
(8.) Wealsun (28 days) (low summer)
(9.) RICHFEST (6 days) (midsummer, summer solstice, music festivals)
(10.) Reaping (28 days) (high summer) (harvest beans, melons, fruits, vegetables)
(11.) Goodmonth (28 days) (high summer)
(12.) Harvester (28 days) (high summer) (harvest barley, rye, oats, rice, sweet corn, wheat)
(13.) BREWFEST (6 days) (lots of drinking, eating, drinking, taking off work and drinking)
(14.) Patchwall (28 days) (autumn)
(15.) Ready’reat (28 days) (autumn) (harvest feed corn, cotton, late wheat)
(16.) Subsebb (29 days) (winter)
Extended families tends to travel and gather during festival weeks.
References to specific days are formatted as “Flocktime 25, 576 CY” – the 25th day of the month of Flocktime, common year 576. The “common year” counts the years since the crowning of the Overking in the Great Kingdom.
PEOPLE OF THE EASTERN OERIK CONTINENT
Most humans in the known lands are descendants of the fallen ancient empires whose migrating survivors fled east. These five ancestries have intermarried for centuries, mixing their cultures and languages into the “common” of the current age. It is unknown how long the non-human races have dwelled here, but elves, dwarves, gnomes and halflings often co-exist in human lands.
THE BAKLUNISH: Descendants of the Baklunish Empire that fought the Suel. Strong traditions of horsemanship. Golden-hued skin. Straight blue-black to wavy dark brown hair. Eyes green or gray-green. (Arabian and African-looking humans who have been on the continent the longest. Act like Arabians crossed with Hun/Mongol horsemen.)
THE FLANNAE: Aboriginal inhabitants of the Flanaess before the Great Migrations into the east. Light coppery to deep brown skin. Full facial and body tattoos common. Hair tends to be wavy or curly. Renown as physically strong in body and facial features. (Celtic in the south, American Indians in the north. Horsemen who worship their ancestors. Default “barbarian” culture.)
THE OERIDIANS: Descendants of proud horse nomads from the central continent. Olive or tan skin and any color of hair, from honey-blonde to black. Their core culture and language dominate the lands of humanity. (Mediterranean/Italian/Roman-looking humans. Formerly act like Visigoths, now more “knights of Camelot” types. Default of “civilized” quasi-medieval culture, like “Dark Ages” Europe between 5th century Fall of Rome and 14th century Reformation/Renaissance.)
THE SULOISE: Descendants of the Suel Imperium that was destroyed by a magical apocalypse.
Pale white skin. Kinky or curly hair of blonde or red. Tend to have lean physiques. (Nordic-looking humans who once worshipped evil gods. Once like “land Vikings” in conquering the lands of the south – less like Scandinavians, more like Michael Moorcock’s Melniboneans.)
THE RHENNEE: Literally the Romani people from medieval Europe after magically teleporting to this planet 400 years ago. Marginalized people, they live a nomadic lift on the continents’ waterways. Olive to tan skin, hair usually curly and brown or black, with grey, blue, hazel and sometimes green eyes.
THE OLMAN: Very rare except in the southern jungle lands. (They’re just like Earth’s Aztecs – may even be an ancient “crossover” people from Earth.)
THE OLVENFOLK (GREY ELVES): Rarely seen elves who live outside the mortal world, mostly in the Feywild plane. (See “Eladrin” racial notes in DMG5e, p. 286.) In this world, most dwell in the isolated Kingdom of Celene southwest of Greyhawk.
THE OLVENFOLK (HIGH ELVES): Live natural lives of centuries to study nature, magic and arts, age slowly unless cut down by violence or disease. Common in Vesve Forest and the Duchy of Ulek.
THE OLVENFOLK (SYLVAN ELVES): Live primitive lives close to nature deep in primeval forests. Also age slowly over centuries unless cut down by violence or disease. Settlements found in Vesve Forest in the northwest, the Duchy of Ulek in the south and in the Kingdom of Celene.
THE DROW: Generally believed to have gone extinct by those who live on the surface world. Only other elves would recognize a dark elf’s ancestry should they run into one on a city street, and they would likely react with shock and suspicion.
DWARVES: Maintain several mining strongholds under hills and mountains across the continent, esp. the southern Principality of Ulek.
GNOMES AND HALFLINGS: Typically living in sylvan woods allied with elves or within human-settled lands. The County of Ulek, ruled by druids, is heavily populated by these people.
ORCS AND HALF-ORCS: Typically tribal and viewed as “savage” by humans, there’s been enough contact for half-orcs to move freely through human lands. About two generations ago, humans and dwarves attempted a genocidal purge of orcs and goblins from the Lortmil Mountains. Those surviving tribes fled southeast and conquered the Pomarj peninsula – a land they claim and successfully rule into the present day. Lately orc and goblin privateers have taken to piracy across the seas, and mercenaries seek work up the Wild Coast.
TIEFLINGS AND DRAGONBORN: Not native to this world, they are often viewed as monsters until shown otherwise. (Dragonborn assumed to be a type of lizardfolk.)
GOBLINKIND: Goblins, hobgoblins and bugbears are typically viewed with suspicion or enmity by humans, though individuals sometimes dwell among others in human cities. Goblins co-rule the Pomarj with orcs, and hobgoblin legions are known to serve Iuz.
OGRES: These small giants are found as mercenaries almost everywhere: From shock troops serving in the goblin infantry of the Pomarj, all the way to working night shifts as bouncers in Greyhawk’s seediest taverns.
GIANTS: Several kinds of giants are known to have established themselves in the Rift Valley just south of the bandit kingdoms. Large numbers also dwell in the mountains ranges far to the west.
RELIGIONS AND THE GODS
See the “Deities of Greyhawk” list in the Player’s Handbook, p. 295. Though some become devout clerics, most lay people pay homage to multiple “good” or “neutral” gods depending on their own current worldly needs. Worship of “evil” deities, demons, devils or primordial elementals is considered a high crime, almost always punishable by death.
TRINITY OF THE NORTH: The “patron deities of the civilized world” are given human-like faces for the sake of ritual and myths. Those listed here originally came from different human cultures but are broadly worshipped by all peoples.
* HEIRONEOUS: God of chivalry and valor, patron of The Shield Lands and several noble/upper class families in Furyondy. Originally a Oeridian war deity. (Picture a Lawful Good knight of Camelot in divine form, an immortal paladin.)
* RAO: God of peace and reason. Popular among the “civilized” middle class in Furyondy. Originally a Flannae folk deity. (Picture a Lawful Good sage with teachings similar to Thoth.)
* ST. CUTHBERT: God of common sense and zeal. Popular among the “civilized” lower class in Furyondy. Origin unknown. (Picture a Lawful Good crusader cleric.)
* ISTUS: Goddress of fate and destiny, a lesser figure armong non-Baklundish people but hugely revered among the Baklunish Wolf Nomads. Seen as aloof, neutral. (Picture the Moirai / goddesses of fate, or one of the Norns from Norse Myth.)
* THE OLD FAITH: The druids, a mix of various ancient nature cults, prioritize respect for the Natural Balance (or Cosmic Balance) and shaman-like bargaining with elemental and nature spirits. Still very popular among rural common folk and those living in the wilds. (Picture a cross between Wicca and Native American experiences.)
Within the Old Faith, when specific divine powers are called, it usually names these older “folk deities” from Flan and Oeridian cultures…
* Beory: Flan goddess of nature and weather, esp. rain. (“Mother Earth” figure.)
* Bleredd: Oeridian god of metal, mines and smiths. (Ties to Ulaa.)
* Ehlonna: Flan/Oeridian goddess of spring, woodlands, fertility, flora, fauna – esp. sylan forests. Rival to Obad-Hai.
* Obad-Hai: Flan god of nature, freedom, hunting and summers. Rival to Ehlonna.
* Procan: Oeridian ancient god of seas, sea life, weather, navigation. (Basically a more chaotic Poseidon.)
* Ulaa: Oeridian goddess of hills, mountains, gemstones. (“The Stonewife” to Bleredd.)
Other popular divine figures worshipped across the civilized lands…
* Boccob: God of magical knowledge, balance, foresight. (A divine Merlin/Gandalf sort.)
* Celestian: Oeridian god of stars, outer space, the Astral Plane and wanderers.
* Fharlanghn: Oeridian god of roads, horizons and travel across the mortal world.
* Kord: Suel god of strength, athletics, war. (Kinda like Thor.)
* Norebo: Suel god of luck, gambling and risks
* Olidammara: God of revelry, wine, parties. (A lot like Bacchus/Dionysus.)
* Pelor: Flan god of the sun and healing. (“Sun-Father,” bit like Apollo.)
* Pholtus: Oeridian god of light and law.
* Ralishaz: God of misfortune and madness. (Not evil but very chaotic, more like Murphy’s Law given form. Patron of the Bandit Kingdoms.)
* Trithereon: God of liberty and retribution, rival to Heironeous. (Chaotic Good, patron deity to rebels.)
* Wee Jas: Goddess of magic (witchcraft), vanity and death. (A bit like Hecate or the Evil Queen from “Snow White” tales.)
* Xerbo: Suel god of the sea, sailing, money and business. (More sophisticated than Procan.)
* Zilchus: Oeridian god of power, prestige, money, business, influence. Dealmaker between deities. (A lot like Hermes.)
The outcast deities and others whose worship is always viewed as a crime…
* Erythnul, god of envy and slaughter.
* Hextor, god of war and discord. (A bit like Ares.)
* Incabulos, god of plague and famine. (Like half the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in one.)
* Iuz, rising divine power of pain and oppression.
* Nerull, god of death. (Totally the Grim Reaper.)
* Tharizdun, god of eternal darkness and entropy. (The Chained God, The Elemental Eye.)
* Vecna, god of evil secrets.
* Wastri, god of amphibians, bigotry and self-deception.
* Archdevils (Asmodeus, Baalzebul, Dispater and so forth).
* Demon lords (Demogorgon, Orcus, Yeenoghu and so forth).
* Elemental Evil lords (Imix, Olhydra, Yan-C-Bin and so forth).
RECENT RUMORS AND MYSTERIES
VISIONS OF WAR FORETOLD: Divination cults and seers all see the Flanaess falling to devastating widespread wars. The Great Kingdom shatters into rival nations and the evil demigod Iuz expands his empire by conquering neighboring lands. Some claim this vision is only a “might be” future, not certain future events.
THE FALSE FATE OF VECNA: Some students of the arcane suspect the lich Vecna has somehow manipulated the entire cosmic multiverse, becoming a god and changing the past in a way that none living now can tell. People, places and events have been eradicated from history, and even some gods once worshipped on Oerth as now gone.
SIXGUNS AND SORCERY: The famed paladin of Heironeous named Murlynd once visited another prime material world that had strange weapons made of iron. This world is rumored to be “Earth” from another period in time.