In this 6th installment for the City of Rookroost we take another look at the power structure of the city and its power brokers. Many different factions vie for power within its walls, and outside of them. Once again thanks to everyone that have given me inspiration from Nigel Findley, Erik Mona, Gary Holian, Sean K. Reynolds, Frederick Weining, Casey Brown, and all the fabulous BK authors and lastly Gygax himself.
Wherever people gather, the gods they worship are not far behind, and Rookroost is no exception. While the gods worshiped in Rookroost are a motley bunch, they are openly worshiped. One might think that this type of religious freedom is refreshing, but it has led to open hostilities between different faiths. This hostility, which could flare up at a moment’s notice, was the main reason the Council of Lords added the Lord of Temples' to the council. This figurehead helps them to mediate differences and settle qualms between the faiths nonviolently. Of course, this does not mean that the animosities between rival gods have disappeared, just that it has become more discrete and gone underground.
Initially, no such position was considered for the Council of Lords because no one believed priests would listen to anyone except their patrons on how to conduct themselves. Of all the gods worshiped within Rookroost, only one is acknowledged by all the faiths; Istus, goddess of fate. Being in her graces is said to open more doors of opportunity for a worshiper, while angering, or mocking her, limiting one's possibilities. Regardless of the validity of these beliefs, no one wishes to have a life of limited opportunity. Since she speaks nothing against other deities, she is worshiped widely even by those that venerate other gods. Because of this, the position of the Lord of Temples has been held by a priest of Istus since its inception.
The Lord of Temples helps to make sure that all holy days and festivals do not impede the city's everyday traffic and business. While some religious rites can be unsavory, none are outlawed so long as they are performed in private. The Lord also helps organize all large festivals and gatherings, with the majority held outside the city walls.
There are occasions when the different religions unite to throw their collective force behind a cause, usually in opposition to some religion's rights being taken away, like worshippers of Nerull right to give blood sacrifices in public. All the faiths realize that once one of them loses their rights, it could cause a domino effect. Despite these odd moments of solidarity, the temples are a diverse collection of independent churches and temples.
The Rebel Scum
Rookroost being the largest of the cities found in the Free Lords lands is considered the unofficial capital of the region. The Great Old One realized this and placed high importance in taking it intact. Iuz had no desire to see this gem destroyed when he could reap the benefits of its resources. The sensitivity of capturing and holding the city is believed to be why Mortoth was handpicked to capture it. Most of Iuz's other generals couldn't be trusted not to destroy it in the process. Rookroost's strategic importance to the Great Old One's empire is not lost on his enemies either. Because of this, several resistance and rebel groups operate within the city.
While Iuz is a foul and evil being that commands hordes of terrible humanoids and demons, not all of his foes are fighting for justice and freedom. The resistance groups that sprung up from the Free Lords' destroyed kingdoms were far from shining examples of good. Unlike in the Rift Canyon, and the Fellreev Forest Rookroost has no significant resistance group made up of local fighters.
The Congress tries to keep tabs on the rebel groups as best they can, and when possible, they will pass on the locations of any resistance groups to Mortoth. To the Congress, it's in their best interest to keep Mortoth in power, at least for now. If the winds should change, and it appears that the minions of the Great Old Ones might be ousted, they would most certainly turn from hampering these resistance groups to helping them. They currently allow some groups to exist in Rookroost, but only so long as their influence and numbers are not significant. If one begins to get out of hand, the Congress takes measures to keep them in check.
Below are the major factions in the resistance that are currently active and attempting to destroy or interfere with all of Iuz's plans whenever they can.
Chief among the Great Old One's rivals on the battlefield is the kingdom of Furyondy. Located southwest of the Free Lords' lands, Furyondy interacted little with them. Now with the Bandit Kingdoms helping to fuel the armies of Iuz they have become a major target of covert operations to disrupt all assistance flowing from there.
To help destabilize the region, bands of spies from Furyondy, often lead by paladins and priests of Trithereon, the god of freedom, have moved infiltrated the city. A group headed by a paladin named Arnol Marsh leads the freedom fighters within Rookroost. Marsh's main job is to destabilize all aid that would be heading from Rookroost to the empire of Iuz. Including the quarterly tribute collected in the region and sent to Doraka. In addition to hampering with the delivery of tribute, the Furyondian resistance fighters act as saboteurs. Marsh also attempts to gather as much intelligence on the Free Lords' realms' activities and send it back to Furyondy.
While Marsh hates the people of Ravensrook and the Free Lords, he hates the Great Old One's minions even more. Despite this hatred, he realizes that his mission comes first, and all under his command realize that tipping their hand of being Furyondy agents is not acceptable. Marsh and his people often will plant evidence at the scenes of their attacks to mislead Mortoth's men into thinking it's either the Horned Society's agents or even sometimes the resistance fighters from the Shield Lands.
Marsh knows Beanor Borralis, the Shield Land's resistance fighters' leader in Rookroost, but has only met him twice. Marsh does not coordinate jobs with Borralis as he thinks that the man is far too wild and unpredictable and would draw undue attention to his people.
The Shield Lands
One of the worst-hit lands during the Greyhawk Wars was the kingdom of the Shield Lands. The Shield Lands' lords rose from a collection of smaller nations that banded together to protect themselves from their neighbors. The glue that kept them together was the widespread worship of Heironeous, a god of justice, honor, war, and courage.
More than half of the Shield Lands now lies in their enemies' hands and has been for nearly seven years. While the war is technically over, skirmishes along the border are frequent. It is a well-known secret that both sides are merely licking their wounds and preparing for future hostilities.
The Shield Lands sends small bands of agents into their former lands to fight a continuous subterfuge and resistance battle. The occupying humanoids easily root out most. The Bandit Kingdoms are far easier to infiltrate and operate in with its high volume of rebels and resistance fighters. These resistance fighters either join forces with or simply merge quietly with these rebels to help them carry the fight to Iuz.
In Rookroost, one such band is led by a fiery and hot-tempered fighter named Beanor Borralis. Beanor is a man with a death wish, and he intends to go out in the biggest ball of destruction that he can orchestrate. Despite this death wish, Borralis, realizes that he still has a job to do in Rookroost, and until he can find a suitable way of accomplishing his mission, he bids his time and tries to disrupt as much of the Great Old Ones plans as possible. Borralis has attempted to waylay the tribute caravan to Doraka seven times and failed each time at great cost.
Borralis sees the use of fear as a weapon, and unlike his counterpart, Arnol Marsh from Furyondy, Borralis, and his people often leave a calling card in the form of the symbol of Heironeous carved or painted onto the corpses they leave behind.
The Horned Society
The Great Old One's demon and humanoid hordes were not the only feared nation in the region before the Greyhawk Wars; the lands of the Horned Society had grand plans of empire themselves. A more orderly land than the Empire of Iuz, the Horned Society, was methodical in its preparedness and conquest plans. Run by a council of 13, known as Hierarchs, they also employed armies of humanoids but preferred the more organized and reliable Hobgoblins over orcs. Many considered them a greater threat than Iuz, at least until most of the thirteen were assassinated and the whole of their lands taken over in a nearly bloodless coup.
While the coupe eliminated most of the Hierarchs, a few were able to anticipate or survive the assassination attempts and flee. No one is sure how many survived, but Hierarch Nezmajen, a priest of Nerull, fled to the Fellreev with a small band and has been recruiting and reorganizing there.
Nezmajen sees the Bandit Kingdoms as a linchpin to helping regain the lost territories of the Horned Society. The Free Lords provide needed supplies, resources, and more reliable troops for the Great Old One's war machine. Without them, Iuz's plans for domination would fall flat and grind to a halt. Wishing to destabilize the region, which needs little encouragement, Nezmajen has sent small groups of saboteurs and assassins to critical locations in the Bandit Kingdoms, with Rookroost being of particular interest.
Heading Nezmajen's efforts inside the city is Karst, a half-drow assassin. Karst is sly and cunning and recruits via third person most of her operatives. She relies on small bands of loyal Horned Society operatives to help her coordinate them. Rookroost is ideal for this kind of tactic as the city is overflowing with desperate men and women looking to make quick coin. Karst's favorite tactic is having her operatives pose as members of the Congress when recruiting for missions as it redirects attention and helps to sow the seeds of dissent.
This Hero-Deity patron is by far the most restrictive and powerful of all the one's I have done so far. Daoud charges a steep price for a warlock to follow the Path of the Seeker. I felt that this offset the powers of the warlocks granted abilities.
In this 5th installment for the City of Rookroost we take another look at the power structure of the city and its power brokers. Many different factions vie for power within its walls, and outside of them. Once again thanks to everyone that have given me inspiration from Nigel Findley, Erik Mona, Gary Holian, Sean K. Reynolds, Frederick Weining, Casey Brown, and all the fabulous BK authors and lastly Gygax himself.
The Horde of The Great Old One
Grand Marshall Mortoth only leads one of four armies that invaded the Bandit Kingdoms. One was designated to invade the western lands, one headed to the Heartlands and the Rift Canyon region. At the same time, another was tasked with trying to clear out the giant forest of the Fellreev, leaving Rookroost to Mortoth. Of these four armies that invaded, only two remain. The army that attacked the west was withdrawn after treaties with Chief Ulgun, head of the Hobgoblin confederation, secured their western border. The army tasked with the emptying of the Fellreev was annihilated, leaving only Mortoth's and the army lead by Cranzer, which destroyed the heartlands and is camped around the Rift Canyon.
Officially, Cranzer, a dark sorcerer, is the commander for all of the Bandit Kingdoms, but Mortoth pays the wizard no attention. With the departure of the demons that had been so effective in subduing the Free Lords now banished, Cranzer's forces are little more than a horde of unruly humanoids. Cranzer would love to beat Mortoth into submission or even crush him and his private army, but the rebels and freedom fighters in the Rift Canyon and the Fellreev keep him fully occupied.
In addition to bands of former bandits, Cranzer is dealing with insurgents from the lands of Furyondy, The Shield Lands, Urnst, and remnants of the Horned Society looking to undermine the region and deny the Great Old One the resources they plunder from it.
With Mortoth busy controlling Rookroost, his horde's running fell to his 2nd in command, Kostana. Staying with tradition, when it comes to assigning command of armies, Mortoth was paired with a power-hungry subordinate to keep him on his toes. Within the chaos that is the lands of the Great Old One, there is a firm belief that the best results come when fear is a motivator. Despite Kostana's ambition, Mortoth has no fear of her and has shown open contempt towards her, while fear of Mortoth undermines Kostana's attempts to sew dissension among its ranks.
Kostana has tried setting up a spy network within Rookroost to keep tabs on Mortoth, but those few she has been able to place without the Congress finding out about have given her minimal intelligence. The ambitious half-orc reports all that she thinks might be traitorous back to Dorakan; unfortunately, she has yet to hear anything back or be given permission to oust Mortoth. Not even Cranzer trusts in her ability to spy on Mortoth and refuses to join her in these attempts.
Kostana spends most of her time leading detachments of Mortoth's horde on various sorties into neighboring lands and putting down uprisings within the eastern half of the Free Lords' Lands. Toth has even sent her on several occasions into the Fellreev forest, missions that always lead to high casualties hoping that Kostana might fall to the rebels hiding there.
The Merchants League
The Merchants League of Rookroost lost much of the influence they once had, but their coin can still buy a lot, making them dangerous to cross. Many of the precautions they installed in the government to ensure their authority endured have eroded. Infiltration from the Congress and corruption from within was inevitable. Things have become so bad that most of the high-ranking guilds in the league hire their protection in the form of mercenary troops and spies instead of trusting the government they were instrumental in forming.
The Generalship had always been a staunch ally of the Merchant League, and the two worked hard to help counterbalance the power of the Congress. This tactic sometimes worked if the sitting General was like-minded, but not all were, and some preferred the easy coin of looking the other way. Despite the back and forth power struggle with the Congress, the thieves guild never strangled the Merchants League to the point that they were not profitable. The Congress always knew that they thrived when the Merchants League thrived.
The Merchants League, which is a collection of the most prosperous and merchant guilds in the city, has always been the destination of merchants looking to strike it rich. The wealth that one can make in Rookroost is well known, and it attracts thousands of merchants from neighboring and far off nations. Most of them end up destitute, and a fair amount end up dead, but the allure of fast money keeps a steady stream of them coming. The flow of these merchants slowed considerably during the war. Still, now that it's been over five years since the treaties were signed ending it, they have been coming in even higher numbers as the war created a more significant amount of desperate men and women looking to earn fortunes.
Merchants coming to Rookroost looking to strike it rich have first to find a guild willing to take them on or have enough resources of their own to start a guild and go freelance. The Merchants League funnels the ill-gotten goods from the bandits and brigands back into the very nations they plundered.
The power brokers within the Merchants League is in constant flux as merchants come, strike it rich, and leave. Merchants also tend to get killed in deals gone bad or merely rubbing people the wrong way. Even the most influential merchants are not immune to this, although it is rare.
While the Congress is always looking for muscle to employ, so is the Merchants League. The League funds expeditions and raiding parties if they feel like the return is worth it, and they are continually looking for guards for their caravans leaving Rookroost.
The Guild of Wizardry
One of the later additions to the power structure in Rookroost was the Guild of Wizardry. While there had always been the odd spellcaster in the city, the most famous being Uhltrix the Unwise, they had been more a motley collection of wizards and sorcerers looking out for themselves. Uhltrix worked with many of the brigand and bandit groups and regularly dealt with Valtavian. Uhltrix outlived Valtavian, though, and his original tower in the Peak is still standing and acts as the Guild of Wizardry's headquarters. No one knows what happened to Uhltrix, but his apprentices are the wizards that formed the Rookroost’s Guild of Wizardry.
Once Uhltrix disappeared, his apprentices soon found the respect they had enjoyed previously was because of the fear the brigands had of their master. Once enough time had passed, and everyone had become convinced Uhltrix wasn’t coming back, the pressure was put on his apprentices to join other guilds. Questions over ownership of Uhltrix's tower arose as many of the powerful guilds sought to claim it. The apprentices knew to ensure their freedom; they would need to stick together, so they declared themselves the Guild of Wizardry and began conducting business as such.
Elshore, Uhltrix's senior apprentice, took control of the guild, and began offering services at standard rates. Still, in a place like Rookroost, your credibility on the streets means everything, and the wizards at the new guild were more academic. Because none of the current members of the guild had fried anyone on the streets with magic, they were still hounded by those looking to get at the treasures supposedly in Uhltrix's tower. With so much attention targeting them, they rarely left the tower, and when they did, it was under heavy escort.
As word spread of the new Guild of Wizardry in Rookroost, the Bandit Kingdoms' wizards flocked to join a guild of like-minded individuals and have some semblance of safety. One of them was named Razohr the Grim. Not long after Razhor joined the ideas of pilfering the tower and bullying, the guild's members changed. Razohr was not just the most powerful wizard in the lands of the Free Lords; he was also one of its most notorious assassins. A deadly half-elven man with a reputation for being ruthless when paid, Razohr saw the value of an active Guild for Wizardry in Rookroost. When he became a member of the guild, the guild automatically got a degree of respect that the city's roguish types could understand and respect.
The Days of Elshore and Razohr are long gone, but Riziln, the head of the Guild of Wizardry and the Lord of letters, has led the guild for fifty years. Riziln has taken painful steps to ensure that the Guild of Wizardry remains neutral and above the everyday struggle that is life in Rookroost. The conquest of the city by Mortoth and the Great Old One's minions has tested this stance. Riziln was unsure if they would throw in with the city to defend it, or simply pick up and leave for other less volatile lands. Fortunately, they never had to make such a choice as the city agreed to sign a peace treaty. The peace treaty allowed her to begin making plans for a possible future departure if necessary.
Rizlin has been pleased with Mortoth's changes, and the two have a mutually beneficial relationship, much to the chagrin of Elara and the Congress. Riziln has taken all of these possibilities into consideration, and while she has not given her complete backing to Mortoth, she has allied with him in keeping the city safe.
The goal of the Guild of Wizardry is to become a place where practitioners of the arcane arts can gather and conduct their experiments and studies unhindered. Necromancy, mind control, and a list of other magics frowned upon in other lands are considered just different magic forms to be learned and studied at the guild. Wizards who desire this type of freedom, and camaraderie, still move to Rookroost to conduct their studies.
The Guild of Wizardry sells their spells to those who can afford them and are in good standings with them. Like most things in Rookroost, you need to be a guilded citizen for a request for a spell even to be entertained, and even then, there is no guarantee that you'll be able to purchase one.
*NOTE: Spells above level 4 can be acquired, but there are no set rates or prices. Spells of higher than 4th level need to be negotiated if allowed at all. The Lord of Letters having the last word on these transactions.