Age of Worms
The Free City of Greyhawk
From the darkest alleys and most fetid cellars of the Old City, along the alabaster spires of temple and university lining the great length of the Processional, and on to the regal grandeur of the High Quarter and the looming towers if the Great Citadel beyond…
The city beckons. Greyhawk, grandest jewel of the Flanaess, awaits you, offering adventures to stagger your imagination, treasure beyond your wildest dreams—and of course, danger aplenty.
The city and its lands lie in the heart of civilized Oerth. The barren slopes of the mysterious Cairn Hills loom to the north of the city, within sight of the high walls. The placid expanse of the great river Selintan meanders past Greyhawk’s bustling wharf region, giving the city its primary claim to strategic significance, for it lies along the waterway between the great lake of Nyr Dyv to the north and the broad surface of Woolly Bay and the Azure Sea to the south.
Greyhawk, named for the small grey hawks which populate the region, was originally a trading outpost on the Selintan specializing in local wood and woven garments, which was known by that name as early as 330 OR (-315 CY). In time, the town developed strong textile and meat-packing industries. From the earliest days, Greyhawk was ruled by a warlord who took the title “Landgraf of the Selintan.” This first Landgraf’s son was then married to the Gynarch of Hardby’s daughter. The nuptials formalized a political alliance that served as the basis for rule over the Lanstadt of Selintan, the area that eventually became known as the Domain of Greyhawk.
In 4 CY, Greyhawk came under the domination of the Great Kingdom of Aerdy and remained so while strongOverkings ruled from the Malachite Throne in Rauxes. The Great Kingdom’s influence over the city began to wane during the third and especially the fourth centuries as the House of Rax declined and the Overkings hold on distant provinces became increasingly tenuous.
Rise to Prominence, Decline and Recovery
In approximately 310 CY, the mage Zagig Yragerne emerged from the Wild Coast and bribed his way into a seat on the Directing Oligarchy. Approximately 320 CY, the Oligarchs elected Zagig Lord Mayor of the city.
Greyhawk subsequently rose in fame and prominence under the leadership of Lord Mayor Zagig. He instituted legal reform, developed a new currency, fortified the walls, founded the city’s first university and embarked on a major building program. Most notably, he directed the construction of nearby Castle Greyhawk.
Although Zagig — later known as Zagyg — became increasingly erratic over time, his rule is generally considered to be the most effective in the Free City’s history and brought widespread prosperity to the region. Much to the annoyance ofDyvers and other rival cities, Zagig proclaimed Greyhawk to be the “Gem of the Flanaess,” and did much to ensure this moniker was justified. Unfortunately, the “Mad Archmage” disappeared in 421 CY, leaving no clues regarding his whereabouts, and no heir to inherit the title of Landgraf.
In 498 CY, after decades of Zagig’s absence, the Landstadt was therefore abolished, the title of Landgraf permanently retired, and the Free City’s Directing Oligarchy assumed political authority. The new Lord Mayor Paerinnofficially proclaimed Greyhawk a free city, though it had been effectively independent of the Great Kingdom’s rule for over a century.
Soon thereafter, the city lost its claim over Hardby and the Wild Coast, as the leading women of Hardby broke from Greyhawk and established the ruling office of Despotrix. This loss of lands sent the Free City into economic decline, a situation that persisted for several decades. Fortunately, the discovery of treasure in the dungeons beneath Castle Greyhawk and other nearby locales set off a gold rush of sorts, and Greyhawk’s economic fortunes recovered substantially in the second half of the sixth century.
The Greyhawk Wars and the Post-War Situation
The Free City of Greyhawk actually had less direct involvement in the so-called Greyhawk Wars than many other political entities across the Flanaess, but because the final truce was brokered in Greyhawk in CY 584, the war has come to be named for the city.
The Wars had several important effects on the city, however, particularly in that the unrest drove Hardby and the Wild Coast cities ofSafeton and Narwell to re-submit to the rule of the Directing Oligarchs. This situation is unstable, however, as it was largely fear ofTurrosh Mak’s humanoid raiders from the Pomarj that prompted this move, and the Despotrix and the Wild Coast cities once again agitate for increased independence.
Also as a result of the Wars, the city has seen an influx of new citizens. Some of these are wealthy diplomats, and some are “nobles” who have contributed significantly to Greyhawk’s coffers with the purchase of various counterfeit titles and documents. But many newcomers to Greyhawk are destitute refugees, or are merely using the city as a base for hatching political plots and intrigues across the Flanaess. In particular, there are persistent rumors of covert Scarlet Brotherhood operations in the city.
The post-war situation for the Free City is therefore mixed. Greyhawk’s finances are in the best shape they have been since Zagig’s departure, but the city faces significant challenges arising from political instability and increasing criminal activity.