The Flanaess is the eastern part of the continent of Oerik, one of the four continents of the fictional world of Oerth in the World of Greyhawk campaign setting for the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy roleplaying game. The Flanaess has been the setting of dozens of adventures published between the 1970s and 2000s and continues to be the central focus of the campaign world.
In late 1972, Dave Arneson demonstrated a new type of game to a group of gamers in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, including game designer Gary Gygax. Gygax agreed to develop a set of rules with Arneson and get the game published; the game eventually became known as Dungeons & Dragons. Gygax designed a set of dungeons underneath the ruins of Castle Greyhawk as a testing ground for new rules, character classes and spells. In those early days, there was no "Flanaess"; the world map of "Oerth" was developed by Gygax as circumstances dictated, the new cities and lands simply drawn over a map of North America. Gygax and his friend Rob Kuntz further developed this campaign setting, and by 1976, the lands within a radius of 50 miles had been mapped in depth, and the lands within a radius of approximately 500 miles were in outline form. In addition, more distant lands had been roughly sketched out to accommodate various adventures. (For more information about the first days of Gygax's home campaign, see Greyhawk.)
Following yet more work, in 1978 Gygax agreed to publish his world and decided to redevelop Oerth from scratch. Once he had sketched out the entire planet to his satisfaction, one hemisphere of Oerth was dominated by a massive continent called Oerik. Gygax decided to concentrate his first efforts on the continent of Oerik and asked TSR's printing house about the maximum size of paper they could handle; the answer was 34" x 22" (86 cm x 56 cm). He found that, using the scale he desired, he could fit only the northeast corner of Oerik on two of the sheets. This corner of Oerik became known as "the Flanaess", so named in Gygax's mind because of the peaceful people known as the Flannae who had once lived there. Gygax also added many more new regions, countries and cities, bringing the number of political states to 60:
- Bandit Kingdoms
- Bone March
- Frost Barbarians
- Gran March
- Great Kingdom
- Horned Society
- Ice Barbarians
- Lordship of the Isles
- North Province
- Rel Astra
- Rovers of the Barrens
- Scarlet Brotherhood
- Sea Barons
- Sea Princes
- Shield Lands
- Snow Barbarians
- Spindrift Isles
- South Province
- Tiger Nomads
- Ulek (county)
- Ulek (duchy)
- Ulek (principality)
- Urnst (duchy)
- Urnst (county)
- Valley of the Mage
- Wild Coast
- Wolf Nomads
Needing original placenames for all of the geographical and political places on his map, Gygax sometimes resorted to wordplay based on the names of friends and acquaintances. For instance, Perrenland was named after Jeff Perren, who co-wrote the rules for Chainmail with Gygax; Urnst was a homophone of Ernst (his son Ernie); and Sunndi was a near-homophone of Cindy, another of Gygax's children.
From Gygax's prototype map, Darlene Pekul, a freelance artist in Lake Geneva, developed a full colour map on a hex grid. Gygax was so pleased with the end result that he quickly switched his home Greyhawk campaign over to the new world he had created.
This map formed the basis of the World of Greyhawk when it was published as the 32-page The World of Greyhawk folio in 1980.
Gygax also developed a thousand-year history for the Flanaess that involved a series of cultural and military invasions: the peaceful Flannae had been pushed out by the warlike Suloise; the Suloise in turn had been pushed out by the noble Oeridians, who set up a Great Kingdom of peace and prosperity. However, by 576 CY (the year Gygax chose for his setting), the Oeridian empire had grown decadent and evil, and many subservient regions were rising up in rebellion.
In 1992, after Gygax had been forced out of TSR, the storyline of the Flanaess was moved forward a decade by the From the Ashes boxed set, which dealt with the aftermath of wide-ranging conflict known as The Greyhawk Wars. In 1998, the storyline was advanced even further, to 591 CY, by The Adventure Begins softcover. The massive multiplayer Living Greyhawk campaign, which started in 2001, used The Adventure Begins as a starting point, and advanced the timeline of the campaign ahead one year for each of real-world time. For example, in 2002, the campaign year was 592 CY. In 2003, it was 593 CY.)
As well as being home to a number of demihuman and humanoid races, it is also inhabited by the Suel, Bakluni, Oerid, and Flan subraces of humanity. The Oerid once inhabited the plains of Central Oerik, but moved into what is now known as Ull starting 1,235 years ago. The Oeridians settled in much of the Flanaess, often conquering and assimilating the Flan natives and Suel settlers, though some lands, such as the Sheldomar Valley and Vale of Luna, were settled more peacefully.
The Flanaess can be broken down geographically as follows: the Baklunish Basin in the northwest, the Empire of Iuz in the north, the Thillonrian Peninsula in the northeast, the Sea of Dust in the far west, the Sheldomar Valley in the west, old Ferrond and its southern frontier (including the City of Greyhawk) at the center of the Flanaess, old Sulm and the Aerdy frontier to the east, the old Great Kingdom to the far east, and the Amedio Jungle to the southwest.
Except in the far north, temperatures reach below zero only in the winter months of Sunsebb and Fireseek and sometimes at night in late autumn and early spring. Even then temperatures seldom dip far below 0. The northeast and central regions of the Flanaess are the coldest, with winters extending into Ready'reat and Readying. The warm currents of the Dramidj Ocean moderate the climate of the lands that border it. Summer typically lasts five or more months. Prevailing winds blow from the northeast in winter and autumn and from the southeast the rest of the year. Wintry northern winds are sometimes known as "Telchur's breath," while easterly winds are sometimes called "Atroa's laugh." Plentiful rainfall supports bountiful agriculture throughout most of the Flanaess.
- Gygax, Gary (October 1976). "Letter from Gary Gygax". Alarums and Excursions. Lee Gold (15): 5–7.
- Q: "In Dragon 315, Jim Ward talks about the origins of the Greyhawk setting, and is quoted as having said: 'He [Gygax] had the whole world mapped out'. Does this mean you have material about the rest of Oerth hidden in your basement?" Gygax: "Yes, I had a sketch map of the remainder of the globe..." "Gary Gygax: Q & A (Part IX, Page 33)". EN World. 2005-06-21. Archived from the original on 2011-06-15. Retrieved 2009-03-15.
- Gygax: "The exact form of the remainder of the globe was not settled upon. I wanted an Atlantis-like continent, and possibly a Lemurian-type one. Likely two large continents would have been added. The nearest would house cultures akin to the Indian, Burmese, Indonesian, Chinese, Tibetan, and Japanese. Another would likely have been the location of African-type cultures, including the Egyptian. A Lemurian culture would have been based on the Central and South American cultures of the Aztec-Mayay-Inca sort.""Gary Gygax: Q & A (Part II, Page 19)". EN World. 2003-04-06. Archived from the original on 2011-06-15. Retrieved 2009-03-15.
- Gygax: "When I was asked to create a campaign setting for TSR to market, I did a new and compact "world"—that only in part, of course, as that was all I could fit onto the two maps allowed. So that became the World of Greyhawk." "Gary Gygax: Q & A (Part I, Page 8)". EN World. 2002-09-06. Archived from the original on 2011-06-15. Retrieved 2009-03-15.
- Gygax: "I found out the maximum map size TSR could produce, got the go-ahead for two maps of that size, then sat down for a couple of weeks and hand-drew the whole thing. After the maps were done and the features shown were named, I wrote up brief information of the features and states. Much of the information was drawn from my own personal world, but altered to fit the new one depicted on the maps.""Gary Gygax: Q & A (Part IV, Page 11)". EN World. 2003-11-05. Archived from the original on 2011-06-15. Retrieved 2009-03-15.
- Gygax borrowed the name of Dave Arneson's campaign world, Blackmoor, for one of his regions. However, his intention was not to move any part of Arneson's campaign to his own, and the Greyhawk region of Blackmoor bore no resemblance to Arneson's world, other than a sly reference to a ruined castle and "extensive ruins are supposed to exist under these ruins". Gygax: "The Blackmoor on the Oerik maps is certainly not the same as Dave Arneson's campaign setting. I liked its ring, so I put it onto the map as I was making up names for the various states.""Gary Gygax: Q & A (Part X, Page 7)". EN World. 2006-05-29. Archived from the original on 2011-06-15. Retrieved 2009-03-15.
- Ket was accidentally left out of the Table of Contents in the folio edition.
- Gygax knew that Len Lakofka's first TSR adventure, The Secret of Bone Hill, was being readied for publication. It was set in Lakofka's home campaign setting of Lendore Island, so Gygax added that placename to the Spindrift Islands archipelago, and slyly added a reference to Lakofka in the description of the islands: "Lendore Isle is named for the Arch Mage who founded it, but tales of him and the fellowship he brought to the Spindrifts are all but lost."
- Valley of the Mage was accidentally left out of the Table of Contents in the folio edition.
- "Revised Greyhawk Index". TSR. Archived from the original on 2011-07-11. Retrieved 2009-03-29.
- "Interview: Darlene". Grognardia. Retrieved 2009-06-23.
- Gygax: "Of course as my campaign world was active, had many players, I did not wish to detail it [for the general public], so I created Oerth, the continent of Oerik, and all that went with it for general use by other DMs. I found I liked it so well that I switched my group's play to the World of Greyhawk soon after I had finished the maps and manuscript" "Gary Gygax: Q & A (Part X, Page 11)". EN World. 2006-06-04. Archived from the original on 2011-06-15. Retrieved 2009-03-15.
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- Cook, David. "History of the Greyhawk Wars". Wars (TSR, 1991).
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- Gygax, Gary. World of Greyhawk Fantasy Game Setting (TSR, 1983).
- Holian, Gary, Erik Mona, Sean K. Reynolds, and Frederick Weining. Living Greyhawk Gazetteer (Wizards of the Coast, 2000).
- Moore, Roger E. Greyhawk: The Adventure Begins (TSR, 1998).
- Sargent, Carl. From the Ashes (TSR, 1992).
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