Saturday, November 26, 2005

Dyvers, Highfolk, Iuz, & the Horned Society

The Free City of Dyvers, the City of Sails, is located in perhaps the most lucrative trading nexus in all the Flanaess, a fact that has benefited it greatly throughout its long history. The city's position on the southern banks of the Velverdyva River allows Dyvers to capture the flow of trade from markets such as Perrenland, Highfolk, Ket, and Verbobonc. Of course, trade flows up the Velverdyva, as well, so Dyvers sees much traffic from the Nyr Dyv and her various port cities. Accordingly, Dyvers is a reflection of many cultures -- even the common barkeep can make change in a dozen different coinage systems.

Long a trade port, Dyvers was also the capital of Aerdy's Viceroyalty of Ferrond, until it declared its independence and became the Kingdom of Furyondy (see "Furyondy, Iggwilv, & the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth"). The new king abandoned the City of Sails for his new seat of power, the meticulously crafted architectural wonder of the city of Chendl. In the ensuing centuries, Dyvers slid further from the affairs of central Furyondy. The new port of Willip diverted much of the lake traffic from Dyvers, and the city entered a severe economic slump until Greyhawk entered its period of expansion and wealth (see "Free City of Greyhawk & Zagig"). This served as a mixed blessing for the City of Sails, for it increased the territorial ambitions of Greyhawk's ruler. While both cities grew richer, a bitter rivalry developed and still exists today.

The people of Dyvers are a mercantile folk, prone to cutting corners to achieve a profit. Furyondy's relationship with the Archclericy of Veluna (see "Temple of Elemental Evil, Verbobonc, Bissel, & Veluna") troubled the freethinking folk of the city. When many cities in Furyondy established a code of "canon law", replete with church courts stocked with the doctrines of Rao and the punishments of St. Cuthbert (see "Clerics in Greyhawk", later this week), the Gentry of Dyvers decided that enough was enough. Preparing for the worst, they informed the crown of their intention to split from Furyondy exactly 50 years ago -- it is currently CY 576. For reasons unknown, the king allowed the secession to pass unchallenged. In recent years, especially following the routing of the Horde of Elemental Evil (see above), some adherents to darkness who did not flee to the Wild Coast instead traveled north to Dyvers, bolstering the criminal element in the city. The city has since gained the unfortunate reputation of being a good place to "get lost".

The Town of Highfolk, technically still a vassal of Furyondy, acts independently. It is of importance simply because it is the southern outpost of the olve (elves) of the Quagflow Valley. The town itself is a trading center and home to some 2,000 humankind. It is well fortified and protects the homeland -- the 100-mile stretch of valley above, which lies between the southern arm of the Yatil Mountains and the Vesve Forest to the east. There are many thorps set in beautiful dales along the banks of the river. The folk of Highfolk and the valley above are at peace with their neighbors to the north and south. The more restless sometimes take service with mercenary bands of Perrenlander soldiery.

The humans dwelling in the valley are woodsmen who live in harmony with their demi-human fellows, or hillmen who are allies of the noniz (gnomes). The Lord of the High Elves is deferred to as the nominal ruler of the valley, but this is through general consent and respect. The word of the noniz Prince, a village Elder, or the Earl of a community of hobniz (halflings) is listened to with as much respect. All the peoples of Highfolk Valley are independent and free-spirited. However, in time of need, they are able to muster a considerable body of fighters, including humans armed with longbows and many sorts of demi-human troops. The main enemies of the people of Highfolk come from the land of Iuz, penetrating the Vesve Forest.

Iuz, old Iuz of fearbabe talk, may be human -- or may once have been human -- but this is not known for certain one way or another. He has ruled the lands from the Howling Hills to Whyestil Lake for ages longer than any man can live. These lands are steeped in wickedness and evil, so much so that the otherwise fearless Wolf Nomads and Rovers of the Barrens pass through the Cold Marshes rather than cross even the edge of the Land of Iuz.

For many decades the evil of the place was relatively quiet, seeming to lack evil direction, and the neighbors of good ilk prospered. The cause of this change is unknown, but the forces of Iuz began again gathering for fell purpose six years ago (570 CY). In addition to many evil humans which have gathered under the grim banner of Iuz, numbers of the foulest tribes of humanoids have grown in strength and are ready to march. Goblins, hobgoblins, and orcs in the thousands are known to be in arms, swelling the human contingents of Iuz's armies.

Originally a stronghold of the more organized of Iuz's armies, the Horned Society came under the rule of a group of mysterious leaders known as The Hierarchs some decades ago. Hobgolins, orcs, and other nonhumans flocked to the Horned Society's dark banner. Most scholars believe they are opportunist bandits who filled the void when the quiet decades fell over the lands of Iuz. More ominous speculation places the roots of the Society well before the Great Migrations of old (see "The Great Migrations"). 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.

The Veng River, once thick with trade between the Lake of Unknown Depths (Nyr Dyv) and Whyestil, is now strongly patrolled by river craft, cavalry, and infantry. Trade on the river still exists, but is slow and quite dangerous. The Horned Society combines the masses of humanoid troops with the organization and powers of their human leaders. Its leading Hierarch is purported to be a powerful high priest of evil, though conflicting reports place the group's members as either worshippers of Nerull (NE God of Death, Darkness, Murder, The Underworld) or devotees of Deviltry.

It is known that many troops of bandits from the east frequent the walled capital of Molag, and the Horned Society is on favorable terms with Iuz. The philosophy of the Society is rulership through fear and might, with overtones of human supremacy and the subjugation of lesser races to achieve their goals.

Adventure Seeds
- Aid the gentry of Dyvers by sabotaging trade bound to/from their rival, the Free City of Greyhawk.
- Chase pirates, Rhennee smugglers, or saboteurs from Greyhawk.
- Use guerilla tactics to make raids from the Vesve Forest into the humanoids-infested lands of Iuz.
- Aid the demi-humans and woodsmen of Highfolk in keeping their trade route open along the Velverdyva River and through the southeastern Yatil Mountains, to Perrenland.
- Help Furyondy resist raids by both Iuz and the Horned Society.
- Make raids into the Horned Society to capture evil artifacts or destroy outposts.

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