Chapter 1: The Spark...
If a sage had been asked in 582 CY where the first strike in a continental war would most likely come from, he would not have replied 'from the Hold of Stonefist', which is exactly where it originated. Founded some 150 years earlier, the Fists were usually considered to be slightly better-organised barbarians than those in the Bandit Kingdoms or in the neighboring lands of the Fruztii, Schnai and Cruskii tribes.
Under Vatun's direction, the Fists swept into the Duchy of Tenh in 582 CY and conquered it quickly. The Duke and Duchess fled to the County of Urnst for safety. The Tenhas' former arrogance cost them dear as no help was forthcoming from other nations. Nyrond was nervously watching The Great Kingdom, unable to risk forces far to the north.
The alliance forged by Vatun soon collapsed. The Great God instructed the barbarians to invade the small state of Ratik, but their chiefs refused. They had long allied with Ratik against the humaniods of the Bone March and indeed against the Great Kingdom itself. They began to doubt Vatun, very wisely, since Vatun was a sham and a lie, a mask worn by Iuz the Old. But now Iuz was ready to strike elsewhere, both south and east.
To the east, Iuz toppled with astonishing ease the Heirarchs of the evil Horned Society, long his enemies and a thorn in the flesh of the Shield Lands. With the aid of powerful fiends, his forces made the street of Molag run red with blood for a week. Iuz's puppets then ruled from that fell city.
This strike panicked Furyondy. It sought alliances with the Shield Lands to secure itself against the Old One, but stupidly, the petty-minded rulers of the Shield Lands refused, believing this to be a step in a planned annexation by Furyondy. They paid dear for their foolishness. Iuz feinted an attack westward. Meanwhile, this main body of troops struck far to the east and southeast, into both the Bandit Kingdoms and into the Shield Lands, which they flanked to the east from bases in the old lands of the Horned Society. Amundfort and Critwell fell swifty. Lord Holmer, who had refused a pact with Furyondy, was taken to meet his fate in the dungeons below Dorakaa.
Furyondy was able to hold it's eastern border at the great Battle of Critwall Bridge in CY 583. To the north, however, a massed humaniod force, swollen with mercenary humaniods from the Vesve Forest hired with looted gold, advanced almost unto Chendl, the capital, and took Crockport. After many battles and a desperate relief of a beseiged Chendl, both Furyondy and Iuz were stretched to their limits. Still, to many it seemed like a provincial war of northern states; which is when the true hammer blow fell. The Great Kingdom struck, massively and on many fronts.
Chapter 2: The Great Kingdom Awakens
Despite their anxiety about the Great Kingdom, the Nyrondese had begun to take steps against the
Fists pillaging the Duchy of Tenh. Nyrond moved troops into the Phostwood and attacked to the north. While they advanced some, their losses against the determined Fists were higher than expected, and the army could not continue it's advance so far from Nyrond borders. Nyrondese caution was wise, the Great Kingdom struck south, west and southwest.
To the south and southwest, Aerdi forces attacked the states of the Iron League; to the west, they moved through Almor and on towards Nyrond. Almor was swiftly subdued, but under the legendary Commandant Osson, one Almorian army led the Aerdi forces in a merry dance by moving through Ahlissa, Sunndi, and even into Medegia before it's daring but ultimately pointless deed was put to the sword.
The winter brought respite on the field of war and time for desperate diplomacy. The Iron League allied with Nyrond, it's old protector, but suffered immediately from a startling secession from it's own ranks. Prince Lathac Ranold of the Lordship of the Isles was replaced by a distant cousin who at once announced his support for the Scarlet Brotherhood. Too late, their machinations began to dawn on the beleagured forces of good. And Nyrond had another threat to content with; the Bone March humaniods skirmished with Ratik and Nyrond itself.
To the west, matters appeared more secure. Realising the true nature of Iuz, the southern states allied in signing the Treaty of Niole Dra, which bought together Keoland, the Yeomandry, the Gran March, and the Duchy and County of Ulek, Even isolationist Celene agreed to send a token force to join with the others in assisting Furyondy. Yet Iuz himself had not been idle, and while his overtures to Perrenland proved largely fruitless, he was welcomed in the western land of Ket. It's rulers saw the chance to annex the fertile lands of Bissel and to secure a southern bulwark. Iuz saw the opportunity to divide the forces of the southern lands. The spring of CY 584 brought a renewal of hostilities and abundant bloodshed.
Chapter 3: Sunset in the West
Added to the phalanx of forces poised to strike came a new force: the hitherto unremarkable humaniods rabble of the Pomarj. United under a half-orc leader of greater strength than had been seen before, one Turrosh Mak, they strove to reclaim the 'birthright' their new tyrant stressed to them: their old homes in the Lortmils. Striking into lands poorly defended as the southern armies moved northward, Turrosh's armies annexed the eastern half of the Principality of Ulek (now unaided by any neighbour) and teh southern lands of the Wild Coast with their squabbling cities. They were stopped at the Pass of Celene by brave Dwarves, Gnomes, Humans and a handful of Elves furious at the unwillingness of Queen Yolande of Celene to help the main cause of good. But Turrosh was satisfied; his fief had swollen in size, and while stymied in further territorial ambitions, there was none to threaten him in retaliation.
To the north, Ket raiders beset Bissel, and the Ulek forces crucial to it's defense dithered between defending that small state and protecting Furyondy against Iuz. Bissel was eventually forced to surrender by the fierce horsemen of Ket. This could have been avoided but for another fell stroke worse than the eruption of humaniods from the Pomarj. From the Crystalmist Mountains, great forces of giants and humaniods swept down into the Grand Duchy of Geoff, Sterich, and into the Yeomandry. In the latter, they were finally replused at the Battle of Longspear with the timely arrival of a group of adventurers bearing the legendary 'Sword of the Iron Legion'. Utilising the artifact the tide of the battle swiftly changed for the beset Yeomandy/Keoland forces as the invading giant and humaniods armies were routed and then annihilated. Geoff and Sterich however fell, the Keolandish armies too distant to oppose the invaders.
The 'Giant Troubles', as they were called, have been ascribed to all manner of evil schemings. Some sages say that the demon power Zuggtmoy, freed from her prison in the Temple of Elemental Evil by the meddling Lord Robilar, allied with Iuz and drew forth the giants via agents in the Underdark. Some say Lolth had her own schemes and her drow organised the giants. Still others see the hand of the Scarlet Brotherhood in this, as in so many things. The truth is obscured from our view. In this matter, Istus spun her web impenetrably. But the effect was to present the Keoland-Furyondy axis and its allies with threats from the west when they were beset in the north. It destroyed all possibility of sweeping back the forces of Iuz.
But Iuz was well defeated by Belvor of Furyondy, acting with the elves and rangers of the Vesve Forest, to prevent his drive into Furyondy from gaining any further lands, and Chendl was secured. The forces of Veluna held of Kettite incursions aimed at Mitrik. If good could not win, it held evil at bay.
Chapter 4: Death of a Kingdom
Finally, Ivid V decided to create utterly loyal servitors among his generals and nobles. He expediently had them murdered and raised in unique undead forms; each was revived as an animus, an undead being possessing all the skills and talents of the former living person. With the logic of the terminally deranged, Ivid came to see this revivification as a reward for his favoured courtiers.
Unsurprisingly, as Nyrond defeated Aerdy forces and their demented monarch offered death and eternal restlessness as a gift, the nobles of the Great Kingdom schemed and plotted and had Ivid assassinated. Unfortunately, for them, priests of Hextor (with fiendish aid, most agree) revivified Ivid who rose as an animus monarch. Executions were no longer enough for Ivid. Now he instigated wholesale massacres and genocide.
The North Province seceded, and with the aid of humaniods from the Bone March, suceeded in repelling Nyrondese forces in the Flinty Hills. Wisely, the Nyrondese held off further massed battles, perhaps sensing the imminent collaspe of Aerdy. The North Province's secession did indeed trigger the complete disintefration of the Great Kingdom. Animus nobles across the land (and the few still living) withdrew all support and the remnants of their armies from the Overking. The Great Kingdom was no more; a welter of petty states, ruled by disputatious nobles (many of them undead), was all that was left. An empire that had stretched from Perrenland to the Aerdi Sea had been wholly expunged in less than four hundred years. So passes away the glory of the world.
Chapter 5: Those Who Watch
The biggest winners of the Greyhawk Wars were those who never fielded a force of their own people on the plains of battle. The Scarlet Brotherhood pursued their own ends by treachery, deceit, intrigues, magical complusion, and strategies unused by others: the breeding of special monsters and the enslavement of so-called savages. When the Great Kingdom sought to exert it's power in 583 CY, the Brotherhood did indeed support the Iron League secretly: with weapons, equipment, advisors, and mercenaries. The Father of Obedience wanted a buffer between the Brotherhood and the mad Overking. But at the same time, Brotherhood agents undermined the unity of the League, and when the Great Kingdom fell apart, the Scarlet Brotherhood demanded the surrender of the Iron League states. When they refused, assassins slew nobles and rulers by the score.
Far to the west, too, the Sea Princes capitulated to the unknown assassins of the Brotherhood, and as Onnwal and Idee fell to the fleets and Hepmonaland armies raised by the men in red, the Brotherhood secured a iron grip on the Azure Sea. From the Sea Princess lands and ports, the Brotherhood even sought to take Gradsul, the vital southern Keolandish port, but were repulsed.
Not all of the old Iron League was lost. Wily Cobb Darg of Irongate knew exactly where his support had been coming from, and had every Scarlet Brotherhood agent executed or exiled as Idee and Onnwal were falling. Sunndi still stood, it's formidable natural defenses of hills, woodlands and swamp defying all attempts made against it. But the Brotherhood had time on their side. Alone of the major powers of the great wars, they were not spent. Not everything had to be achieved in one fell swoop. The Father of Obedience still had many agents in readiness.
Chapter 6: War's End
For almost three long years, as 584 CY drew to a close, the nations of the Flanaess had schemed, murdered, and warred against each other until nearly all sides lay bloody and beaten. Proposals for a great peace treaty gained rapid acceptance in many quarters, aided by the persuasive whisperings of the agents of the Scarlet Brotherhood. In the month of Harvester, 584 CY, in the untouched Free City of Greyhawk, countless ambassadors assembled to inscribe their names on the treaty at the Day of the Great Signing. It very nearly didn't happen.
Magical scrying and the strenuous efforts of sages have not availed to give the full story of what happened that day. All that is known for sure is that, within the Great Hall where the treaty was to be signed, a fierce magical battle erupted and spread havoc through the Old City. Afterwards, two members of the famed Circle of Eight, the Great Mages of Greyhawk, lay dead; Otiluke and Tenser were no more. Their magical clones likewise shrivelled and perished, and their own bodies could not be resurrected. It is also known that Rary of Ket, another Circle member, was last seen fleeing with Lord Robilar into the Bright Desert, and that Rary had turned traitor and had slain his old friends. Why this is, is a tale yet in the telling. A sideshow to the main event, to be sure, but one that still shook Oerth.
Despite this, the treaty was signed and the Greyhawk wars drew to a close. The Pact of Greyhawk ensured peace - of a sort.
The Sense of an Ending
4 weeks ago