When the hordes of Iuz descended into the Bandit Kingdoms, they were met with a hodge-podge of resistance. Most of the Free Lords' armies that did resist them were comprised of bandits and brigands and lacked the tactics to defeat an opponent with superior numbers. The freemen of Johrase, however, were not so easily defeated.
The realm of Johrase was situated west of the Zumker-Artonsamay confluence, extending southwest from the town of Kinemeet to the Rift Barrens and the Tangles. Established by Andrellus, a noble of Aerdy’s Rax dynasty, he established an orderly nation of his own in the lands of the Free Lords. This kingdom evolved into a warrior dominated society that produced some of the finest mercenaries employed in the Flanaess. Each noble house within Johrase fielded its own mercenary Troop loyal to their king and their fellow Johrase brethren. Even if employed by opposing armies, the mercenaries of Johrase refuse to fight those loyal to the black Morningstar standard of Johrase.
The army of Johrase was made up of bands of mercenaries called Troops. Each troop lead by a noble. The nobles leading these Troops gain their position through skill at arms and combat through the Grand Melee, which decides the nobility, and even the king or queen. The size of each band varied on the renown and skill of the noble leading them. The smaller Troops consisted of around one hundred mercenaries, while the larger Troops numbered between three to four hundred.
At the time of the Iuzian invasion, King Seinon knew that his nation stood little chance of repelling the invaders on their own and allied quickly with Dimre. King Seinon and the Johrase Mercenary Troops fought a delaying action to give Dimre time mobilized their small but highly trained army. The plan was for the Dimre forces to man fortresses along their border with Johrase, and then the Johrasians would fall back into Dimre.
Relying on the stronger Dimre defenses to save the day, King Seinon gave up Kinemeet.
King Seinon gathered his forces in the hills to the southeast of Kinmeet and north of Cornwald. Here he intended to briefly engage the Iuzians before breaking ranks in an orderly fashion and cross over into Dimre. Unfortunately, the Battle of Barston Hill did not go the way he expected it to. The Johrasians were ready to fight against the humanoids they knew fought for Iuz and relished the opportunity. They were unprepared for the demons.
As the horde drew near, a thick cloud of magical fog descended upon the battlefield. Visibility limited the Johrasians were unaware of the demonic forces mingled in amongst the humanoids. As the engagement commenced, Seinon quickly realized that they could not hold the Iuzian horde and were quickly being overwhelmed. He ordered Lord Marstun and Lady Orlease to hold the flanks so that the bulk of the army could withdraw, but Lord Marstun and his men fled, ignoring the order. As the right flank crumbled, the withdraw broke down into a route. If not for the iron discipline of the Johrasians, the day would have turned from a complete route into a complete slaughter.
King Seinon, along with Lord Badric and Lady Folsterie, were cut off and encircled. Some of the other Lords attempted to breakthrough and save the king, but they too were soon enveloped by the Iuzian horde. As King Seinon fought on, the trumpets continued to sound the retreat. In the end, of the twelve mercenary Troops that made up the Johrase Host, only five escaped the battle. Of the seven Troops that were wiped out, all the Lords were either slain or captured. The fate of King Seinon is still unknown, but those who survived believe that he also fell in the battle. Of the Troops that survived, Lady Orlease, Lord Krulden, and Lord Calvert were able to make it to Dimre. Lord Ovlin and Lord Garon were able to flee into Tenh.
After the War
During the war, the Troops of Lords Krulden, Calvert, and Lady Orlease fought alongside Dimre's forces until the war's conclusion. At the end of the war High Canon Winuid offered the Johrasians to join Dimre as new citizens by swearing fealty to the High Canon and Pholtus. The offer was politely rejected, and the Troops of Lord Krulden, Calvert, and Lady Orlease were asked to leave as soon as possible, which they did, traveling to the County of Urnst.
Upon entering the lands of Tenh, Lord Olvin and Lord Garon found immediate employment working for Duke Ehyeh, but when he was unable to pay them, they switched allegiances. Lord Olvin and his men went into the service of the County of the Urnst. Their role remained the same in supporting Duke Ehyeh of Tenh, but now they took their orders from the county instead. Lord Garon and his Troop took up employment working for Stonehold. This arrangement only lasted until the end of the War when the funds from Stonehold dried up as they lost interest in Tenh. Lord Garon and his men then found ready employment working for the Theocracy of the Pale. Since the end of the war, the five remaining Lords, came together for a conference in Redspan. There they discussed the future of Johrase and the succession of the throne. In traditional Johrasian fashion, a Grand Melee was held with all those who wished to vie for the vacant kingship to enter the tournament. Whenever a Grand Melee is held, which is usually every ten years, or during special circumstances, the leadership of the Troops is also settled.
Over the next week, the leadership of the kingdom of Johrase in exile was decided. Of the Five remaining Troops, Lord Krulden was deposed, and the Lordship of his Troop was taken by his lieutenant Artallis. Lord Calvert, Lord Olvin, and Lord Garon retained their Lordships, and Lady Orlease won the grand prize and Became Queen Orlease of Johrase. Lordship of Lady Orlease’s Troop was won by her lieutenant, Pernilla.
Since the defeat at the Battle of Barston Hill, survivors had trickled in and attached themselves to the other Troops. Queen Orlease conscripted them into her new House Troop, or personal guard. Command of this Troops was given to former Lord Krulden, who she recruited to be her new First Lieutenant.
The Future for Johrase
Queen Orlease knows that alone she and her Lords have no chance of retaking their homeland. Still, she does know that an opportunity will present itself eventually. She has served alongside evil commanders and humanoid armies in the past. It has taught her one thing, they lack discipline and cohesion. Until that time comes, Orlease needs to ensure that her nation in exile and the Troops of Johrase Host grows and becomes stronger. To ensure this, the Troops of Johrase will do what they have always done, contract themselves out as mercenaries. Fortunately, the war has provided many displaced warriors looking for new homes that can be brought into the fold to bolster their ranks. The Troops' earnings under contract, too, will begin to rebuild the kingdom's war chest.
Lord Garon and his Troop have remained in the employ of the Theocracy of the Pale. Lord Artallis and Lord Calvert are currently employed by the County of Urnst in Tenh. At the same time, Lady Pernilla found work fighting for Mortoth in Rookroost against former Free Lord rebels of the bandit kingdoms. Lord Olvin and Queen Orlease alternate between working for the Kingdom of Furyondy and the Shield Lands depending on whom can afford their services at the time.
Besides fighting for pay to replenish the kingdom's war chest, Queen Orlease is busy grooming the best lieutenants from the remaining Troops to become Lords when they have enough new mercenaries to fill them. Soon she will call another Grand Melee to determine who these new Lords will be.
Queen Orlase: Orlease is a strong leader and a competent warrior. Tactics, on the other hand, are not her strong point. Fortunately, she does not let her ego get in the way of listening to her advisors when devising and implementing strategy.
Orlease, like the other Lords, is loyal to the sons and daughters Johrase. However, her loyalty is tempered with realism, which keeps her from wasting the power they currently have before the time is right. The day will come when opportunity knocks, and Queen Orlease vows they will be ready to reclaim their homeland.
Lord Olvin: Or the weasel, as many calls him behind his back, is by far the most sneaky and underhanded of all the Johrase Lords, prefering ambush over a straight-up fight. Slight of frame and stature, he makes up for his lack of physical prowess by using poisons and dirty tricks.
Many thought that Lord Olvin would turn traitor and seek employment with the Iuzians after the Battle of Barston Hill. Still, much to everyone’s surprise, he did not. On the contrary, Olvin has become one of the loudest voices in opposition to Iuz and thinks they should be fighting a guerrilla war.
Lord Calvert: Calvert the Cautious is a title that is often used when speaking of this Lord. Calvert thinks it's always best to outnumber your enemy or to have a significant enough advantage to ensure victory. Despite his cautiousness, Calvert is a very skilled warrior and tactician.
Lord Calvert prefers working for the County of Urnst, especially now that the fighting has dwindled down to only minor skirmishes in Tenh where he's stationed.
Lord Garon: Lord Garon is a braggart and a pompous ass to all, excluding his brothers in arms and fellow Johrasians. The exception to this rule is Lord Calvert, whom Garon despises as a coward. Garon is brave, courageous, and thinks nothing of taking risks. His rash behavior has gotten him into many difficult situations in the past, but his luck so far has kept him alive.
Garon is of average build and size, but his lust for battle and victory is unmatched on the battlefield. Of all the Johrase Troops, Lord Garon’s at just over one hundred mercenaries is the smallest.
Lady Pernilla: Lady Pernilla, or the Lady of Pain as she is often referred to, was once Lady Orlease’s Lieutenant. Quick-witted and a deadly combatant wielding dual longswords, Pernilla enjoys inflicting pain upon her enemies as much as defeating them. Fortunately for Queen Orlease, Pernilla is fanatically loyal to her queen.
Pernilla is a tall, sturdy, and strong woman. She has a friendly rivalry with Lord Garon and shares his dislike of Lord Calvert.
Lord Artallis: Artallis is the youngest and the newest of the Lords. Despite his age, his skill with the blade is unquestionable. A strapping young man Artallis also has an innate sense of tactics and is a loyal Johrasian. It surprised no one that he was able to defeat Krulden and take charge of his Troop.
Artallis is eager to prove himself to his new queen and eager for the battle to liberate their homeland. Many say that unless he befalls an unfortunate accident, Artallis himself could become King of Johrase someday.
How to Use the Johrase Mercenary Troops in your Game:
Despite the loss of their homeland, the Johrase are still the disciplined mercenaries that have seen employment and action across the Flanaess. Famed for their skill and code of honor, Johrasian mercenaries are never questioned if they will perform according to their contract terms. The only stipulation that trumps all contracts and duties entrusted to them is that they will not fight a fellow Johrasian on the battlefield. While trial by combat is a time-honored tradition for determining the ruling elite and settling certain scores, it is always done in an orderly and honorable fashion.
Despite what is outlined in this article, the Johrase Mercenary Troops have fought all over the Flanaes and will do so again. The contracts that they are currently under could run out at any time. Johrase Troops could play a pivotal role in a campaign that revolves around war or even occupation.
While in the past, the bulk of the mercenaries that made up the Troops were drawn from the citizenry of Johrase itself, but since losing their homeland, this has created a problem. In the past, mercenaries from other lands could gain entry into one of the Johrasian Troops, but that required several years of working as an auxiliary first. With the need for more manpower, Queen Orlease has waved this traditional service period and left the discretion of recruitment up to the Lords that run the Troops. Characters could petition for acceptance into one of the troops and fight in their campaigns.
Name: Dolravna, Emerald Dragon
Age: Wyrm, 1,000+
Description: Dolravna is a magnificent looking dragon that moves with elegance and a refined air about her. She chooses her words carefully to find the right ones to ensure her refined mystique. Her heavy hooded eyes make her seem either disinterested or contemplative of what she will say next.
Personality: Dolravna likes to consider herself an oracle, a diviner, and a sage. Her curiosity is intense, but paranoia has kept her from venturing amongst other races to learn. Her appetite for knowledge on the former Suel Imperium is veracious, though, and drives her to make secret deals with shady merchants for ancient tomes and manuscripts.
Dolravna is soft-spoken and painfully polite and welcomes those that have braved the trek to her lair. Unfortunately for those who make that journey, her paranoia is such that most visitors are slain by her and her children. Those who are not slain are the ones that bring her gifts of knowledge or share her thirst for historical knowledge.
An overprotective mother, Dolravna, keeps her young close to her and encourages them to stay with her far longer than is normal for her species. Because of this, she will have 2 to 3 younger dragons ranging in age from hatchlings to adults living with her at all times.
Dolravna considers herself a scholar first and foremost. Spending hours on end reading books and staring into the scrying pool of her lair to see the locations of the reports and stories she reads. She instills respect for learning and Accademia into all of her children.
Location: Dolravna is originally from the Ladhur Range along the bay of Bhunat. She lived here with her father until she was a mature adult before finally leaving and heading out to establish her own lair. Over the following centuries, Dolravna lived in the Hellfurnaces and Crystalmist mountains before settling down permanently in the Sulhaut Mountains. Dolravna's lair itself is located in the Chepnoi Highlands.
Lair: Dolravna's lair is located near a cavern that once had significant value to the Suel peoples. Within this cave is a pool of crystal-clear water and a ceiling encrusted with similarly clear crystals. When the sun is at its zenith, light filters through the crystals, bathing it in light and turning the pool into a scrying pool. The pool allows those who gaze into its depths to see faraway lands and people. A similar phenomenon happens when either of the moons Luna or Celene are full and directly overhead. The images seen during the daylight have no sound accompanying them, but the images that occur during the full moons do.
To summon the images, a person merely needs to stare into the pool and visualize what it is they wish to see. Only those with a strong and disciplined mind can bring the images they desire to the surface, while most others will simply witness an ever-changing slideshow of images from around Oerth.
When Dolravna found clues that led her to the scrying pool, the entrance was sealed by a massive rockslide triggered by someone eons ago. The mentions of the scrying pool that Dolravna had found in ancient texts said that it had been used by Suel wizards to spy on others. Other texts mention that the scrying pool actually has a connection to the nine hells and was used by devils to help bring about the fall of the Suel and their Wizards of Power. Dolravna is not sure if this is true but has yet to notice anything devilish about it. However, all the texts agree that the Suel Wizards of Power sealed the cavern just before the twin cataclysms.
Dolravna and her children do not live within the scrying pool's actual cave. Instead, they inhabit a network of other caverns that honeycomb the area.
Relations: Dolravna has little contact with anyone besides her children as she trusts few. Her studies have reinforced her paranoia as she learns that no one is safe throughout history and that strife is constant. Regardless if you are a god or a mortal, treachery and discord are only a step away if you are not careful.
Despite Dolravna’s rampant paranoia, the dragon has a network of merchants that live in many surrounding lands. These merchants gather tomes of ancient histories and funnel them to her a few times a year. These merchants are gifted wonderous items and treasure that the dragon finds on her trips into the sea of dust and its surrounding mountains.
Despite her best efforts to keep her home a secret, every few years, a visitor that has found out about the scrying pool shows up on her doorstep. She is cordial to them and even offers to show them the pool while her children prepare to kill them at her command. While Dolravna visits and chats with them, she is also determining if they are worth sparing. Only those she deems as intellectuals or scholarly are spared.
History: Dolravna is obsessed with the history of the Suel Imperium, and to a lesser extent, the Bakluni. This obsession began while she was young and lived with her father in the Ladhur Range. There among her father's horde was a collection of old tomes from Changol that spoke of the region’s local history and the ancient Suel Imperium.
As she grew older, she began her own research and visited the Sea of Dust, searching for Suel ruins. To this day, She goes on extended visits to the area on expeditions. Dolravna has always lived somewhere in the mountains that ring the Sea of Dust because of this.
Despite Dolravna’s obsession with the Suel, she is not a powerful sorcerer. She only has at her disposal the natural abilities and magics of her species. Her obsession is not connected to gaining the knowledge of the Wizards of Power but is simply captivated by the stories of people that were once great.
Adventure Hooks: Characters can learn about the scrying pool from old tomes and writings about the Suel, or they could be hired by someone who knows about it. It is said that there is nothing that can remain hidden on Oerth from the scrying pool, a tool that many would like to use.
It is also possible for the characters to be hired by one of the various merchants Dolravna has working for her. The journey to her lair is dangerous, and these merchants are always in need of strong guards.
It is also possible that Dolravna herself is a patron to the characters and sends them on missions to find new books and artifacts for her.
It is important to remember that Dolravna is paranoid and will only trust those who have proven themselves to her or are related to those she has done business within the past. Even this trust only goes so far, and she is ever cautious. The only creatures that Dolravna trust completely are her own children.
An adventure module I wrote for the very first Virtual Greyhawk Con. I've given it away after the event and now you can have it too for free. DOWNLOAD it here and have some fun.
A new picture inspired by my upcoming stream in the new year in the city of Leukish in the Duchy of Urnst. The campaign revolves around the city Watch.
This entry into the Dragons of the Flanaess is an actual NPC that was talked about quite a bit in the Bone March campaign on Wicked Studios LLC live play stream Greyhawk Adventures. While his name came up often in the campaign he was never seen of encountered. Shaunoroth is one of my favorite big bads and the players in that game wisely decided not to confront him. I really didn't want to end that show by having a TPK, but they had no chance against him at their level.
Name: Shaunoroth, Crystal Dragon
Age: Great Wyrm, 1,200+
Description: Shaunoroth is an ancient dragon. While still luminescent in sunlight, his scales are not quite as spectacular as they used to be, having dimmed slightly. On closer examination, one can see that the scales have become cloudy around the edges. Shaunoroth is also very large, far larger than most other crystal dragons, more comparable to an ancient red dragon in regards to his bulk and size.
Personality: Shaunoroth, in many ways, is unique for his species of dragon, and it is hard for many to believe that he really is a crystal dragon. Shaunoroth is friendly, as his species is known to be, and enjoys talking with others that stumble into his domain. Still, the dragon has tendencies that lean more towards a more lawful and even evil nature.
Shaunoroth is a collector, but the things he collects are a bit odd. The ancient wyrm collects adventurers, albino maidens, and white dragons.
Any adventurer that dares to venture into his domain is not killed but captured and placed into a domed town located in a subterranean cavern. They are provided for, and he sometimes spends hours simply watching them like a child does an ant farm. Casters that happen into his realm undergo a treatment much like a lobotomy that takes away their ability to perform more complex magics (Anything over 2nd level). Most clerics are simply killed by Shaunoroth. The adventurers are not mistreated physically but are imprisoned to live out the rest of their lives. Shaunoroth infrequently will transform himself into a humanoid and even mingle amongst them, pretending to be a new addition to this strange and odd collection.
Shaunoroth also has a weird fascination with albinos. Slavers in the region, especially in the Bone March, know of this and are always on the lookout for albinos to kidnap and sell to the dragon. As a result there are several generations of albinos that have grown up knowing Shaunoroth as their lord. Female albinos are placed into a harem that Shaunoroth uses to breed his half-dragons.
Lastly, Shaunoroth collects white dragons as pets. The drake seeks out other adult white dragons and kills them to collect their young, or even their eggs that he will have his other white dragons care for. Shaunoroth enjoys breaking the natural viciousness inherent in white dragons and turning them into obedient servants. This, of course, doesn’t always work, and he is forced to kill those that refuse to conform. The white dragons that Shaunoroth kills in this way are harvested for materials to produce magical weapons, armor, and other items for his half-dragon children.
Shaunoroth sees himself as a being that will transcend the traditional role of dragons and become a god. He believes that his destiny is to reshape not just the Flanaess but Oerik itself into his own image. He feels that other people, races, and even nations should bow down before him in servitude. This revelation is relatively new to Shaunoroth, having come to it only some two hundred years ago.
While Shaunoroth is highly intelligent, it is evident that he is also quite mad. Speaking with him for any length of time, one will see that the dragon has concocted several fantasies in his mind to justify his actions and whims. No attempt to dissuade him from these actions will work. He believes that he is merely following a destiny that he deciphered from the stars he gazes upon at night.
Location: Shaunoroth began his life in the frigid northern Corusk mountains until he was an adult dragon. Then he migrated slowly to the southwestern branch of the Raker Mountains.
Lair: Shaunoroth’s lair is in an old dwarven citadel named Garnholm. When traveling through the Rakers, he happened upon this hidden vale of the Clan Blackanvil and snooped around for fun. There he was approached by a greedy dwarf looking to take the throne of his people for himself and arranged for Shaunoroth to slay the current clan chief and his heirs, which the drake did gladly. Unfortunately for the greedy dwarf, Shaunoroth didn’t just stop there. He slew most of the clan and took their citadel for his new home.
Shaunoroth did not just take the great hall of the Blackanvil clan as his new home, but the entire vale as well. The vale is dotted by old ruins of the dwarves' above-ground buildings. The vale is now home to a town that is the home of the drake’s half-dragon children.
Besides his children, the vale is currently home to three white dragons, two adults, and one juvenile. These white dragons are Shaunoroth's current white dragon pets. While they still show signs of their impulsive and animalistic side, they are loyal to Shaunoroth.
Relations: Shaunoroth has very few official ties with any of his neighbors. The other dwarven clans of the Raker Mountains despise him for what he did to the Blackanvil clan. A few Blackanvil dwarves still live scattered throughout other dwarven strongholds in the region.
Most of the humanoid tribes that live in the southwest Racker Mountains know to avoid his territory. However, in recent years the dragon has been making alliances with some in preparations for possible expansion. Earlier in Shaunoroth’s life at his lair, the dragon did employ some humanoids as guards, but this practice ended as soon as he had reared enough of his own half-dragons to take their place.
History: Shaunoroth grew up and spent his early life in the Corusk Mountains until he was of a venerable age. He was well known among the Schnai barbarians there. He interacted with them, but this was before he had decided on pursuing godhood and never kidnapped any of their people. While living there, he concentrated on hunting and killing other dragons and raising hatchling white dragons as his extended family. When exactly Shaunoroth grew tired of this lifestyle is unknown, but as he became a wyrm, he left the Corusk Mountains and migrated south.
First, Shaunoroth moved to the Griff Mountains and into the highlands of Tenh. Then he moved to Ratik before settling down in the southwest Raker Mountains and claiming Gornholm.
After killing off most of the Blackanvil clan dwarves and stealing their home, Shaunoroth settled down and put into motion his plan to raise up an army of his own race of half-dragons to help him eventually subjugate the Flanaess.
Shaunoroth believes that through conquering, capturing, and assimilating the lesser races and replacing them with his children, who worship him as a god, he will become divine.
The Great Wyrm knows these plans will take time to come to fruition, but he is patient. His children's population has blossomed into several thousand and are now breeding amongst themselves at a steady rate, ever-increasing their numbers. Shaunoroth himself has a small harem of albino humanoid and human women to make more of his children.
The time when Shaunoroth wishes to expand beyond his vale and conquer new lands is coming. He sees now as a perfect time for him to launch his first conquest and so many lands are weary after the Greyhawk Wars. The targets he is considering are Ratik, Nyrond, and the county of Knurl. Ratik is small and has far fewer troops than Nyrond, but is well organized. Nyrond, while being far larger, is in turmoil and on the verge of another civil war. The third and most likely first step for his domination is Knurl. This independent county in the Bone March is still human-dominated. It could act as a base from which he could expand his operations.
Adventure Hooks: While Shaunoroth has led a secluded life since moving to the Rakers and taking over the citadel of the Blackanvil dwarves, he has made several enemies. Those few remaining Blackanvils despise him and would jump at any opportunity for revenge. If the players are high enough level, one of these dwarves might hire them to slay the dragon.
Many slavers that operate in the region know of Shaunoroth and are constantly on the lookout for albinos for him. This has led to many families that have lost loved ones to the dragon and many who might seek revenge because of it. A friend or possibly one of the player characters themselves might have been captured and sold off to the dragon.
Regardless of how characters become involved with Shaunoroth, keep in mind that the dragon is mighty and has his own personal army and dragon servants. If, as a DM, you are looking to put the characters into direct conflict with the Shaunoroth they should be of a higher level.