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.