The Defenders of the Greenkeep are little more than a motley collection of survivors from the invasion of the Bandit Kingdoms by Iuz and the massacre at Steelbone Meadows. They inhabit a section of the eastern Fellreev Forest that was traditionally a zone of contention or a border region between the Dazark orc tribe and sylvan elf clans. The worship of Olidamara was the bonding agent that kept most of them together through the roughest of times. These bandits view life with a devil may care attitude. With the constant threat of possible death just around the corner, they laugh and live life to its fullest.
The Defenders of the Greenkeep exist in loosely knit bands of bandits turned foresters that move freely throughout their territory—Scavenging and avoiding trouble. A handful of permanent campsites are located throughout their area of the Fellreev, but are shared by all. They come to these camps to share news and recoup after encounters against Iuzian's Dazark orc and sylvan elf tribes.
With a grim sense of humor and determination, they learned the ways of the forest. Their very name is a joke, as they can't defend the Greenkeep, their name for the Fellreev, they can barely hang onto their territory. While they have not allied with their stronger and more numerous neighbors, they have benefited from the alliance between the displaced Reyhu and the sylvan elf tribes.
The Defenders have become master ambushers and deadly archers. They excel at hit-and-run tactics and are highly mobile when it comes to traversing the rugged terrain of the forest. Despite the close ties between the various bands of Defenders and their sharing of a common worship of Olidamara, no new leader has risen to forge them into a cohesive force.
The Dreadwood is a large forest in southern Keoland that separates it from the Hool Marshes. This forest is home to a fiercely independent nation of wood elves that aggressively defend the wood from intruders, most notably monsters that filter in from the Hool Marshes. Still, even greater evil exists in the wood's thick interior centered around ancient ruins once used by dark wizards.
A royal writ was bestowed upon the elves giving them the right to govern most of the forest as its protectors. A convenient way for Keoland to save face appearing to grant the elves that which they already claimed. Still, the Keoland crown and the elves have been on good terms for centuries.
The Dreadwalkers were founded over 900 years ago by House Lizhal to help protect against the foul and dark magics of House Malhel. House Malhel fled into the Dreadwood to escape their punishment by House Neheli and the Silent Ones for ravishing parts of Keoland with their foul magic. Unable to eradicate them, the Dreadwalkers did contain them in the deep interior of the woods. Aberrations sometimes emerge to torment the forest from these very same areas, and an evil taint has twisted the forest there.
Over the centuries, the Dreadwalker's mission has changed and become one in line with the visions of the wood elves. Today, they protect the entire forest against all its enemies. Traffic traveling along the Dreadwood Road is often targeted by bandits and humanoids infesting the forest, forcing the Dreadwalkers to patrol its length constantly.
The Dreadwalkers are comprised of wood elves, humans, and a handful of the indigenous gnome population. They are on good terms with the Keoland garrisons, the wood elf nation, the great druidess Reynard Yargrove and the druid circle that calls the Dreadwood their home. While they often work with these other organizations, they predominantly scout the forest in their own bands.
Many thanks to the brilliant work of Joseph Bloch, the Greyhawk Grognard himself for inspiring me with his writing on the Baklunish West. I encourage you to check it out along with his other offerings on his webpage. www.greyhawkgrognard.com/
In the realm of the Baklunish West, there exist vast swaths of dry steppe and deserts. This sea of grass and sand can be deadly to travelers that find themselves lost within its depths. The threat of dying of thirst is as fatal as the wandering monsters, bandits, and Paynim warlords that can be found there. While streams, wells, and even lakes can be found in this landscape, the threat of getting turned around by the vast sameness of the landscape is a real possibility for the untrained. Even among those accustomed to living there, the chance of delusions and visions brought upon by heat exhaustion is a real threat.
Worshipers of Geshtai, the Daughter of the Oasis, goddess of lakes, rivers, wells, and streams, have long sought to help those in need upon the dry steppe. While her Rashaws (Baklunish Cleric) are found at particular sites throughout the Baklunish West, a class of rangers more suited to the task roaming the steppe has arisen to help them. These Palins Shepherds work in tandem with the far fewer priests of Geshtai to help travelers and protect these life-giving places.
While initially derived from the faithful of Geshtai, it is not a requirement for a Plains Shepherd to worship her to be a Plains Sheperd. Regardless of the faith of the Plains Shepherd, they are treated with reverence by most people, and it is generally forbidden in the Baklunish West to harm a Plains shepherd. Those who do are shunned or staked to the ground to bake in the hot sun.
A Plains Shepherd works primarily in solitude when not leading travelers to water sources and safe-havens. Still, it is not unusual to find them in the company of a Yatama or apprentice. These students who wish to take up the profession of a Plains Shepherd will ride with them for several years, learning their ways.
Plains Shepherd's wear flowing robes of white trimmed in blue, along with a blue tagelmust (Headscarf and turban). Sheperd's are highly trained archers and usually are armed with a tulwar and spear. Most Shepherds do not wear armor, and if they do, it is always light armor. Shepherds are also excellent riders and generally prefer to use camels over horses.
Over the generations, many of those that found themselves persecuted by the evil Aerdy despots fled into the Adri Forest. Eventually, out of this grew small but well-organized bands of rangers, priests, and druids dedicated to protecting the forest and those that live within it.
Among these groups, one organized by the priesthood of Ehlonna, calling themselves the Warriors of the Huntress, took shape. These militant foresters believed in being aggressive and proactive against threats to the forest. They also bring the blessing and teachings of Ehlonna to all who wish it along the way.
As the reputation of these priests grew, they took on followers of like mind and faith. Chief among these followers are the rangers who aid in their crusade to keep the forest clear of the evil that ruined and broke apart the Great Kingdom.
The Warriors of the Huntress are on good terms with most in the forest, even if they are considered hotheaded by some. This lustful approach to defending the Adri has led to the warriors pursuing threats, or perceived threats, outside of the forest. Because of this, the Warriors of the Huntress have a reputation outside of the Adri. In the North Kingdom, the warriors are wanted criminals with bounties on their heads.
The Warriors of the Huntress have no real structure to their organizations and instead make decisions by committee. But the priestess Lisara Elmhern is regarded by most outside of the Warriors of the Huntress as being their unofficial leader.
Deep within the depths of the Burneal, a cold primordial northern forest, live the aboriginal Uirtag flan. These forest dwellers who once lived upon the fringes of the Burneal withdrew into its depths at the onset of the Great Migrations to avoid these conquerors. Well aware of the dangers that dwelt deep within the forest's interior, the Uirtag relied heavily upon their rangers for guidance and help in adjusting to this new isolated form of living amongst the trees. Fortunately for the Uritag the Mist Wolves of the Burneal were there to help them.
The relationship between the Uirtag and the Mist Wolves had already been a strong one of mutual respect. Still, it quickly evolved into a mutual existence that has grown well beyond a partnership into a close bond between the two. From the Uirtag the Mist Wolves gained a valuable ally in their constant crusade against the evils of the Burneal, and from the Mist Wolves the Uritag tribes that adopted them learned an good and orderly view of life within the forest.
From this bond grew a new warden of the Burneal, the Mist Walkers. These rangers live alongside the Mist Wolves and have joined them in their never ending quest to keep the dangers of the Burneal at bay.
Prominent among the loosely knit organization of the Gnarley forest is its seven Ranger Knights. While there is no recognized hierarchy amongst the rangers of the Gnarley, the knights unofficially serve that role. Each of the knights watches over a section of the forest and trains a number of followers in the ways of the Ranger Knights.
The history of the Ranger Knights can be traced back to the 400's CY when a disgraced knight made his way into the forest to hide out from those seeking his head. Who he was before entering the Gnarley is unknown, but this knight became known as the Knight of the Gnarley Forest soon after. Called Tedric by his friends, the Knight of the Gnarley soon found and became fast friends with one of the Gnarley's rangers, Drikel Zondwin.
Secretly looking to redeem himself for whatever his past transgressions were, Tedric began a campaign against the evils that dwelt in the Gnarley and preyed against its inhabitants. In this endeavor, his trusted friend Drikel accompanied him and taught him the ways of the forest, making him the first Ranger Knight of the forest.
Tedric's party of close companions grew to seven in total. Each one an experienced ranger in their own right, but Tedric began teaching them the ways of knightly virtue and courage. In turn, he knighted each one and appointed them as the official Ranger Knights of the Gnarley forest. Even though the knights have no written charter or bylaws, or a lord liege they serve, the Ranger Knights follow the example of chivalric duty as shown to them by Sir Tedric. They swear to protect the weak and the innocent of the Gnarley with unto their last breath.
Today there are still seven Ranger Knights of the Gnarley, a number they hold as a sacred symbol of their order. Unlike in the days of Sir Tedric, the knights have their sections of the forest they oversee and protect instead of roaming around altogether. Each knight, in turn, trains a group of followers in the ways of the Ranger Knights. These squires are instructed in the ways of living and surviving in the forest and the virtues of being a knight. While they do not fit the typical image of knights in their worn leathers and sporting bows, falchions, and axes, they act with as much virtue and grace as any other courtly knight from around the flanaess.
Every two to three months, the knights travel to the town of Corustaith, where they exchange information about what is happening in their forest sectors. If threats are deemed concerning enough, the knights band together and will assault the problem with all of their numbers, but this is rare.