What’s Going On

Posted by The Dungeon Master

What if I told you that, about 70 years ago, the (then) mayor of Greyhawk City, the Mad Arch-Mage Zagig Yragerne, succeeded in capturing nine demigods of opposing alignments and imprisoned them beneath Castle Greyhawk. It was later learned that the capture of these deities was required as part of Zagyg’s apotheosis. Most of Zagyg’s captives did manage to eventually escape (including Iuz, who was freed within the last 5 yrs or so).

By the time of Iuz’s escape, it was revealed by Mordenkainen that Zagig Yragerne was alive and well, and had become a demigod in the service of Boccob, god of magic. Zagig is now known as “Zagyg”, a variant spelling of his name which he sometimes used when signing documents as Lord Mayor. A number of members of the Circle of Eight began honoring Zagyg, most likely for his magical prowess (it is said that no greater mortal mage has ever lived, except perhaps Iggwilv and Vecna).

((Why does that matter, you might ask…))

Around the time that Iuz was captured, he had been on a long, successful conquest of the lands north of Furyondy and the Nyr Dyv. It is whispered that he was born of the Sorceress Iggwilv and her unholy union with a great Demon Lord of the Abyss. In darker, under-worldly whispers, he was known to have courted and won common-cause with his paramour, Zuggtmoy, the Demon Queen of fungus.

Iuz, unlike his father, or most of the “Powers” known to the World of Greyhawk, makes his home domain on the Prime Material plane, on the planet Oerth. As such, he is somewhat exempt from the immortal “rules” of non-interference upon the Prime Material plane. He conspired with Zuggtmoy, and provided the resources and access to the Prime Material plane she needed to enact one of her nefarious schemes. The ultimate goal of the grotesque couple’s plan will never be known, but the broad strokes, and ultimate failure, of the plan are well known.

…about 20 or so years ago, Zuggtmoy (remember, these plans have been in motion for decades, because Iuz is still in Zagyg’s prison at this time) decides she’s done waiting for Iuz’s return and moves to enact the scheme. She had slowly but surely invaded and taken over a small cult dedicated to worshipping what they called “Elemental Evil”. With her power and influence, they raised a mighty temple, The Temple of Elemental Evil, just a few dozen leagues East of Verbobonc, near a tiny hamlet, self-styled “The Village of Hommlet”. From there, it appears, she intended to… nobody knows. (perhaps just insert, “Take over the world!” or maybe, “Destroy all life as we know it!”; who can say what dreams dance in Demon Queens’ minds?)

Ultimately, their plans were foiled by united armies of the forces of “good”, culminating in the Battle of Emridy meadows (just a few leagues North of Hommlet). No sign of Zuggtmoy has been seen nor heard since. Shortly after escaping, Iuz was known to have quickly returned to and reasserted his power in his own lands (are you surprised to hear his empire is simply named “Iuz”?) Since then, his attentions seem to be far away… at least for now, anyway.

((Let’s throw some more fuel on the fire, shall we?))

Long, long, LONG, ago, in a different place, in a different time, The vile Queen of Elfland was finally tricked into banishment and thrown into the never ending pit that is the Abyss. There she found purchase, and eventually, power enough to conquer that plane of the Abyss she found herself in: the Demonweb Pits. Now styling herself “Lolth, Demon Queen of Spiders”, she set out on a course of revenge.

Unfortunately for her, her access to Faerie (or “Elfland”) was gone, as she could find no passage to Faerie from the Abyss. The only common connection was on the Prime Material plane, as both the Abyss and Elfland could, with proper coaxing, great Magics, or really, really bad luck, overlap and coexist with the Prime Material. Determined to find a way back to Faerie, she decided to break the “rules” and “interfere” with Oerth.

After untold eons of scheming, manipulating, and patient persistence, she found a foothold in Oerth’s Mythic Underworld. There she found sympathetic “dark elves”, who themselves had been banished from the world-above and cast out by their own kind: the Drow. She cultured their civilization and forced their worship of her as their only god until their faith made her Apotheosis inevitable. All of this to finally groom a powerful enough cleric to be able to bring Lolth herself to Oerth.

((…are you seeing where this going?))

Lolth, through her most loyal servant Eclavdra, has slowly, and literally underneath the Flanaess’ notice, grown a strong, powerful civilization of vile, evil conquerors and oppressors. She has tried multiple times to use that power to gain purchase on the surface world (for she found, unfortunately for her, that Faerie never overlaps with Oerth in the underworld). Most recently, the disturbing rumors of Giants invading Geoff and Sterich are seemingly, inexplicably, linked to the drow and cults of evil from under the ground. Much closer to the lands of weal, a powerful syndicate of slavers operating up and down the Wild Coast were found to be operating in concert with, and in fact being funded and empowered by, the Drow —- Eclavdra herself, in fact. All of these efforts were thwarted by bands of adventuring heroes, but her motives are clear: find a way to carve out some niche of her own on the surface world of Oerth; specifically, in the Flanaess.

((Ok, now to mix the two Evils together… shaken, not stirred))

In fact, the only place currently known to harbor entry-ways to the lands of Faerie is in a little known, ancient forest spoken of as the Dolmenwood. There the influence of Elfland is strong, and only relatively recently (well, recently for faeries and elves, (ed. and demons, and Demi-gods,) anyway) was the fell shadow of Elfland’s Cold Prince removed, releasing the Dolmenwood from its endless winter. The forest is dark, mysterious, strange to outsider’s senses and sensibilities, but most germane to our story: it lies at the southeastern edge of the Viscounty of Verbobonc, just a few leagues south from the ruins of the Temple of Elemental Evil and the Gnarley forest.

At this most interesting intersection of geography and cultures, where the Kron Hills meet their mighty cousin the Lortmils Mountains to the South, and the Gnarley forest meets the Dolmenwood in the wooded hills East and South of the mighty Velverdyva river; where the goodly folk of Verbobonc intermingle with the Gnomes of the Kron Hills, the Dwarves of the Lortmils, and the Elves of the austere Queendom named Celene; lies a conjunction of nefarious and evil plots perpetrated by forces more Evil and powerful than ever imagined.

…the geographic center of all these forces? The place closest to “right in the middle of it all?” A foul, moist, sunken swamp known to the locals as, the “Barrowmoors”; so named for its most intriguing feature: the small peninsula of land which holds dozens, if not hundreds, of ancient barrow mounds, some rumored to lead down into a dungeon of epic proportions and beyond, into the Mythic Underworld itself. A place adventurers have come to call…

The Barrowmaze

…and THAT’s what’s going on! I don’t want to hear anyone tell me there isn’t enough “plot” in the game!!

…oh yeah, I forgot an important detail:

Recent intelligence from Furyondian spies deeply embedded in Dorakaa (capital of Iuz, and location of his dark palace) have reported dark skinned, elven diplomats/ambassadors being welcomed and hosted. One has been confirmed to be named, “Eclavdra”.