Lordship of the Isles (Greyhawk)
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|Lordship of the Isles|
|Ruler||Prince Frolmar Ingerskatti of Duxchan|
|Government||Monarchy (puppet state of the Scarlet Brotherhood)|
|Major Towns||Sulward, Duxchan, Mahan|
|Provinces||Diren, Ansabo, Ganode, Jehlum, Mirim, Luda|
|Resources||Rare woods, spices, shipbuilding supplies|
|Coinage||Great anchor (pp), sunship (gp), dolphin (ep), trident (sp), shelly (cp)|
|Population||266,000 (human 79%, elf 9%, Halfling 5%, dwarf 3%, gnome 2%, half-elf 1%, half-orc 1%|
|Races||human (Suel, Oeridian, Olman), elf, halfling, dwarf, gnome|
|Languages||Common, Ancient Suloise, Elven, Halfling|
|Alignments||N, CN, NE, LE, CE|
|Religions||Osprem, Norebo, Xerbo, Syrul, Wee Jas, other Suloise gods|
|Enemies||Seas Barons, Iron League, Lendore Islands, Ahlissa|
In the fictional World of Greyhawk campaign setting for the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game, The Lordship of the Isles is an archipelago of seven islands off of the eastern coast of the Flanaess well known for its naval power, tropical forests, rare woods and trade in exotic animals. Various editions of material published about this region between 1980 and 2000 enable dungeon masters to set their games within a milieu of tropical volcanic islands redolent with themes of piracy, political intrigue, a popular resistance movement against an invader, nautical adventure, vulcanism and spelunking, exotic jungles, and tropical storms. From 2001-2008, the Lordship of the Isles was also a region of the Living Greyhawk campaign linked to play in Spain.
In the 1970s, while helping to co-develop Dungeons and Dragons, Gary Gygax created a campaign setting which eventually became known as the World of Greyhawk. In 1980's The World of Greyhawk folio (TSR 9025), Gygax set the campaign in 576 CY, and included a brief paragraph about the Lordship of the Isles. The population was listed as 80,000+, the ruler was identified simply as the Prince of Duxchan, and the country’s natural resources were mainly transit fees charged to merchant ships plying their waters.
An almost identical paragraph appeared in Gygax’s World of Greyhawk boxed set in 1983 (TSR 1015); however, the ruler was now identified by name as Prince Latmac Ranold of Duxchan, and the country’s population was specifically given as 80,000.
TSR and Gygax parted company in 1985, and TSR took the Greyhawk storyline in a new direction via a boxed set called From the Ashes (TSR 1064). The storyline was advanced nine years to 585 CY; much of Gygax’s world was now splintered and in disorder due to a continent-wide war that had taken place 582-584 CY. However, how this affected the Lordship of the Isles was not clear since developments in regions surrounding the Aerdy Sea were not included in this edition. In any case, the overall departure of the Greyhawk campaign from Gygax's original setting to this darker vision of post-war Flanaess was not well received by the public, and TSR stopped publishing Greyhawk material in 1993.
In 1996, Wizards of the Coast took over TSR, and in 1998 revived the moribund Greyhawk setting for their new Third Edition of Dungeons and Dragons, advancing the storyline a further five years to 590 CY. The Greyhawk Wars had ended six years before, and the storyline now dealt with the new alliances and problems that had developed in the interim. Gygax's original description of the Lordship of the Isles was generously expanded to include a comprehensive history, as well as recent political developments in the area. Several changes were made to information about the Lord of the Isles, the most significant being that the Isles, formerly an independent kingdom, were now a puppet state of a semi-secret organization known as the Scarlet Brotherhood. In addition, the population in this edition was increased threefold to 266,000, and exotic woods, animals and shipbuilding supplies were now listed as the region’s resources.
Summary of published material
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Using the sources of information mentioned above, a person playing Dungeons & Dragons within the current World of Greyhawk campaign setting would know of and utilise the following information about the Lordship of the Isles.
Gary Gygax strove to create a world with as many different settings as possible. Oerth, the planet on which he set his "world", is very similar to our Earth in terms of size and climatic variance. In order to provide as many different settings for players as possible, he designed the land he called the Flanaess to stretch from icy northern wastes to steamy southern tropics.
Dungeons & Dragons began as a game of knights in shining armour, therefore played in a "northern European" medieval milieu; in keeping with this, the main focus of the World of Greyhawk setting lay in the centre of the Flannaess, around the feudal city of Greyhawk and the regions that surround it. However, Gygax also strove to create as many different geographical and political settings in his world as possible; as part of this diversity, Gygax created a tropical ocean to the south and west of the mainland of the Flanaess, and scattered within it and around various regions, peoples, alliances and conflicts.
The Lordship of the Isles refers to an archipelago of tropical volcanic islands that lies across the middle of this tropical ocean; the islands form a demarcation between the northern half of the ocean, known as the Aerdy Sea, and the southern half, called the Oljatt Sea. The mainland of the Flanaesss lies to the west, separated from the Isles by a major maritime trade route called the Tilva Strait. To the east, at the "edge" of Gygax's original map, lies a mysterious archipelago known as the Lendore Isles.
The Lordship of the Isles comprises seven main islands in the archipelago. In order of decreasing size and importance, they are
- Diren (Capital: Sulward. For years the centre of power in the Isles.)
- Ansabo (Capital: Duxchan. Political power has recently shifted to this island.)
- Ganode (capital: Mahan)
- Lesser isles: Jehlum, Mirim, Luda and Temil
Due to the southern latitude of the archipelago, Gygax gave the region a tropical climate, where heat and humidity blanket the islands year round. Gygax described the islands as covered in jungle except for the highest elevations of the dormant volcano peaks that are central to most of the islands. This tropical climate was further detailed in the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, where the weather is described as generally fair despite daily showers, except in the late summer months when great tropical storms sweep north out of the Oljatt Sea.
Thus the story of the Flanaesss is one of continual invasion. A thousand years before the current campaign setting, the Suel invaded the Flanaess and overran the gentle Flan. Several centuries later, it was the turn of the Suel to flee as the Oeridians invaded, led by a fierce tribe known as the Aerdi. The Suel moved further and further south, and one of the many places they ended up was the archipelago now known as The Lordship of the Isles. Arriving here, the Suel pushed out the previous settlers, a peaceful people known as the Olman. In time, the Aerdi Oeridians set up a powerful empire on the mainland known as the Great Kingdom, and started a new calendar, the Common Year (CY) Reckoning, to commemorate the event. While the Oeridians were empire building, the Suel who had arrived on the Isles quickly became pirates who terrorized the southern seas, none more so than the captains of the port of Duxchan.
When the Aerdi of the Great Kingdom started to expand their sphere of influence southwards, they sought to destroy the pirates of the Isles in order to regulate trade in the region. In 166 CY, the Oeridian overking of the Great Kingdom sent a massive fleet into the Aerdy Sea to destroy the pirates. The fleet admirals, needing a base of operations, created a new port on the uninhabited coast of the mainland called Dullstrand. Two years later, the Aerdi fleet cornered and defeated the Duxchaner pirates at the Battle of Ganode Bay.
An Aerdi lord with close ties to the courts of the Great Kingdom was appointed as Lord of the Isles and given the right to carve up the islands into provinces under his control. The new prince appointed fellow Oeridians to rule all of these new provinces except on Ansabo, where he allowed the Suel pirate lord to remain in charge. The new principate became known as the Lordship of the Isles.
A wave of Oeridian settlers arrived, but not enough to displace the Suel, who remained a dominant part of the population, especially on islands of Ansabo and Ganode. The navy of the Lordship controlled the Tilva Strait, the maritime trading route that between the Isles and the mainland, and over the next few centuries, the Isles became extremely wealthy by charging transit fees and various other "taxes" on the merchants who plied this route. Some of these riches were sent to the herzog (prince) of the South Province of the Great Kingdom as tribute.
Over the centuries, the Aerdi rulers of the Great Kingdom became cruel and evil. Many of its southern fiefdoms such as Sunndi and Onnwal went into open rebellion, and the power of the Great Kingdom started to crumble. Although the Lordship of the Isles did not openly rebel, they did not respond to pressure from the overking to help put down the rebellious states either. When the herzog of the South Province seized some ships of the Isles in 448 CY, the Lordship responded by declaring independence from the Great Kingdom and joining the Iron League, an alliance that had overthrown their Aerdi masters. In response, the overking issued letters of marque to the Sea Barons, longtime rivals of the Lordship of the Isles, and for a century, piratical warfare existed between the two maritime regions.
The Prince of the Isles had always been the Oeridian lord of Diren, the largest island. However, in the middle of the 6th century CY, the reigning prince died without an heir, and the Oeridian noble houses of Diren were unable to agree on a new Prince. After several years of squabbling, the Suel lord of Ansabo, Latmac Ranold of Duxchan, managed to procure the throne in 564 CY. Prince Latmac, not content with utter control of the Isles, wanted to extend his influence over the entire Aerdy Sea. Without the approval of the other members of the Iron League, he openly preyed on the shipping of the Great Kingdom and the Sea Barons, trying to goad them into a fight that he believed his mighty fleet would win. However, in 572 CY, the fleet of the Sea Barons soundly defeated Latmac's fleet at the Battle of Medegia. Not only was this a military defeat, but because so much of Prince Latmac's personal prestige was tied to his naval ambitions, his iron grip on the Isles loosened, and he also lost much influence in the wider region.
It was at this time that agents of a secret organization called the Scarlet Brotherhood began to infiltrate the government. Although the Brotherhood and their message of Suel racial purity was anathema to the Oeridian lords, the large Suloise population of the Isles was more sympathetic to their cause. In 584 CY, the Brotherhood suddenly struck, assassinating Latmac and replacing him with an obscure cousin, Frolmar Ingerskatti of Duxchan. As the Brotherhood began a ruthless campaign to assassinate the other Oeridian rulers, some lords escaped and sailed to Dullstrand, where they wait for an opportunity to return.
Once the Brotherhood had consolidated power, especially on the three largest islands, they used their puppet, Prince Frolmar, to withdraw from the Iron League, and immediately closed the Tilva Strait to all but Brotherhood traffic. They ruthlessly enforced this blockade by sinking all other ships on sight. Open warfare now exists between the Lordship of the Isles and the Iron League as well as most of the free ports on the Azure Sea.
Of the remaining people, 9% are high elves, 5% are halflings, 3% are dwarves, 2% are gnomes, 1% are half-elves, and the remaining 1% are other races.
Common is the predominant language, although the demi-human races use their own language amongst themselves, and Ancient Suloise is spoken by many of the humans.
The Lordship of the Isles was a fief of the South Province of the Great Kingdom for several centuries. After it declared independence, it became a hereditary monarchy, ruled by the Prince of Diren, the largest island. However, as related above, in 564 CY, power shifted to the Prince of Ansabo. Although the Lordship of the Isles is still nominally a monarchy, the current Prince is a puppet of the Scarlet Brotherhood.
The coat of arms of the Lordship of the Isles features a sable anchor on an azure field, the anchor surmounted by an argent crown decorated with three sapphires.
Role within the World of Greyhawk
Play within the Lordship of the Isles is central to the themes common to the regions of the southern (subtropical and tropical) Flanaess.
For players utilising the 1980 or 1983 edition of World of Greyhawk, the Lordship of the Isles is a part of the Iron League. The Isles can therefore be used by players to explore the theme of righteous rebellion against the crumbling, corrupt, decadent and cruel Great Kingdom and its minions.
For players who use later "post-Greyhawk Wars" versions of this campaign world, the Lordship of the Isles is central to the attempted takeover of the entire southern Flanaess by the Scarlet Brotherhood. Dungeon masters can use the ongoing achievements of the characters in the Lordship of the Isles as a measure of the Brotherhood's overall progress in achieving their continental ambitions.
The Lordship of the Isles can also be used to explore the racial tensions between the Suel population, the Oeridians who have ruled for four centuries, and possibly the Olman, who were here before either the Suel or the Oeridians.
In addition, using the Lordship of the Isles allows dungeon masters to move their campaign away from a traditional northern European land-based setting to adventures involving ships, tropical jungle or volcanoes.
The Lordship of the Isles as a region of the Living Greyhawk campaign
In the RPGA Living Greyhawk campaign that ran from 2001 to 2008, the Lordship of the Isles was assigned to Spain and was placed within the Splintered Suns metaregion. Adventures written for this region assumed the players would want to be part of a resistance movement against the Scarlet Brotherhood, but some adventures also included the option to cooperate with the Brotherhood. However, the region suffered from a lack of players as well as a lack of adventures published by the regional Triad, and by 2005, RPGA had removed the region from the campaign.
- Gygax, Gary. The World of Greyhawk (TSR, 1980).
- Gygax, Gary. World of Greyhawk Fantasy Game Setting (TSR, 1983).
- Moore, Roger E. Greyhawk: The Adventure Begins. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 1998.
- Sargent, Carl. From the Ashes. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1992.
- Holian, Gary; Mona, Erik; Reynolds, Sean K.; Weining, Frederick (2000), Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, Wizards of the Coast, p. 67, ISBN 978-0-7869-1743-3
- Living Greyhawk Campaign Sourcebook, v7.5, RPGA, 2007-05-21, archived from the original on 2009-06-03
- Gygax, Gary (1980), The World of Greyhawk, TSR, p. 12
- Gygax, Gary (1983), World of Greyhawk, TSR, p. 28
- From the Ashes: Atlas of the Flanaess, TSR, 1992, p. 30
- Moore, Roger E. (1998), Greyhawk: The Adventure Begins, TSR, p. 38, ISBN 0-7869-1249-9
- "Gary Gygax Interview". Game Banshee. Archived from the original on 2009-03-02. Retrieved 2009-03-13.
- Sic transit gloria mundi: "Thus passes the glory of the world"
- Sargent, Carl (June 1994), "The Sea Barons", Dragon (Issue 206), p. 36
- Sargent, Carl (1995), Ivid the Undying, TSR, p. 17
- This is at odds with the original estimate by Len Lakofka in 1981, when in an official Greyhawk article published in Dragon Magazine, he listed Common as being spoken by 95% of the population, Oeridian by 3% and Suloise by only 1%: Lakofka, Len (August 1981), "Leomound's Tiny Hut: Adding Depth to the Flanaess", Dragon (Issue 52), p. 20
- Haarlaa, Sampo (2006), ISL6-01 The Luminous Cloud, Wizards of the Coast, p. 9
- "Living Greyhawk: The Regional System". RPGA. 2005-05-24. Retrieved 2009-03-12.