Monday, January 18, 2010

Southern Border of Keoland, a Chronology (576-591 CY)

Date: Sun, 02 Jan 00 00:44AM PST
From: Jason Verbitsky Add To Address Book Add To Junk Mail To: GREYTALK@MITVMA.MIT.EDU
Subject: [GREYTALK] Southern Border of Keoland, a Chronology (576-591 CY)

Scott Rennie wrote:
> Frank Timar wrote:
> < > breading experiments can enhance the Cthulu flavor proposed for this region.>>
> I think Jason Verbitsky once also pointed out to me that my map doesn't extend far enough west to cover Saltmarsh.
>Speaking of Saltmarsh, we need an official story of how events played out in that module series. Saltmarsh and nearby communities will be important in suplying Westkeep.>>
> Cue Jason... ;-)

Yes, O' great master, you summoned me? I hear and obey. ;)

I'll answer the second question first: the result of the Saltmarsh Series of Modules (U1-U3) is that the Sahuagin were defeated and driven from the Lizard Men's lair (a raid which, BTW, is not dissimilar to the Raid on Innsmouth -- coincidence? ...) [see U3 page 36]

Now the first question, OTOH, is a bit more complicated and requires a longer answer:

Southern Border History


Date Events Occurring / South Keoland Occupied By
---- --------------------------------------------

576 Needfest (New Years)
Keoland (Start of Classic Greyhawk Campaign)

584 Fireseek (1st month)
Treaty of Niole Dra with Furyondy against Iuz

584 Readying (2nd month)
Allied armies march to aid Furyondy against Iuz

584 Goodmonth (8th month)
Scarlet Brotherhood Invades SP & Southern Keoland

584 Harvester (9th month)
Scarlet Brotherhood calls for peace, Council of Greyhawk convened

585 Readying (2nd month)
Keoish, Gran March, Ulek armies march forth from Flen to liberate the giant-held Earldom of Sterich.

585 Coldeven (3rd month)
Treaty of Greyhawk is finally signed Keoish Southern Border fixed where armies were at
the time of signing.

585 Coldeven (3rd month)
Scarlet Brotherhood holds Southern Keoland (Start of Ashes Campaign)

586 Coldeven
Flight of the Fiends

586 Patchwall (4th month)
Furyondy/Veluna attack Iuz breaking the Treaty of Greyhawk

586 Patchwall (4th month)
earliest possible date Keoish liberation efforts could begin

588 Coldeven (3rd month)
last settlement of Sterich liberated from Giants

589 Summer
Revolts sweep through the Hold of the Sea Princes
Probable that Keoish have begun liberation efforts

590 Early in the year
Keoish armies control Southern Keoland
Keoland captures Westkeep in the Hold of the Sea Princes

591 Needfest (New Years)
Keoland's Southern border reaches to the Hools and beyond (Start of Living Greyhawk Campaign)


In 576 CY the town of Saltmarsh, and thus the Southern region between the Dreadwood and the Hool Marshes, is firmly in the Kingdom of Keoland. According to the module U1, THE SINISTER SECRET OF SALTMARSH: "...Saltmarsh is placed in the southernmost part of Keoland, at the western edge of hex U4/123." (1981, p.3). However, the national maps in the 1983 GUIDE TO THE WORLD OF GREYHAWK are less conclusive as the area between the Dread Wood and the Hool Marshes is somewhat of a no-man's land (p.44-45). But as the maps don't say that it isn't (any more than they say that it is) and the module explicitly states that it is, IMNSHO, it is.

In 584 CY, during the Summer/Goodmonth, during the so-called 'Greyhawk Wars' after the Scarlet Brotherhood (SB) conquered the Hold of the Sea Princes (SP) they then proceeded to invade southern Keoland and blockade Gradsul (GW p.15, 23-24).

By 585 CY's "cold, harsh spring", the border between Keoland and the SB/SP is in the middle of the Dreadwood -- right from the Javan River to the Azure Sea (as can be seen on the map on the inside cover _FtA:AotF_, the date of which is stated in the text on page 9).

Here it is worth noting that the it could well have taken the Scarlet Brotherhood's forces up until Spring/Coldeven (3rd Month) of 585 to achieve the border depicted on this map. Many would say that this border would have been achieved by Summer-Fall/Harvester (9th Month) 584, but that seems rather quick for my taste. The dating methodology used by TSR for this period is seriously flawed as the date of the FtA is supposed to be the "Year of Peace" after the Treaty of Greyhawk was signed, and that didn't really happen until Spring/Coldeven (3rd Month) of 585! (GW p.24 vs GH:PG p.11, GH:tAB 5, 19, 62). So this FtA map could either refer to Summer-Fall/Harvester (9th Month) 585 or Coldeven 586.

One really should be responsible and go with the date of the earlier publication and make it 586. (BTW, FWIW, Roger Moore himself has agreed with and admitted to me that the date that TSR uses for the Treaty of Greyhawk is in error, but that AFAHK it will be used in future Greyhawk products nonetheless -- I opt to use the correct date regardless of TSR's choice).

Thus, from sometime between Goodmonth (8th month) of 584 and Coldeven (3rd month) of 585 a bloody struggle ensued between the forces of the Scarlet Brotherhood and Keoland for the area of the Dreadwood to the Hool Marshes. The two sides fought each other to a standstill and in Coldeven 585 with the signing of the Treaty of Greyhawk the southern border of Keoland became fixed midway through the Dreadwood. IMNSHO, this up to 7 month war seems a bit better, and more realistic, than having the SB deliver ultimatums, sail ships in and conquer both the SP and southern Keoland all in a single month.

So in Coldeven of 585 CY the Southern border of Keoland was certainly amidst the Dreadwood (as depicted on the FtA map); However, at some point after Coldeven 586 CY, and before the end of 590, the Keoish could have taken the offensive and liberated Saltmarsh and the rest of Southern Keoland. This is possible because in Coldeven and Planting (4th Month) of 586 Furyondy and Veluna were the first nations to cast aside the Treaty of Greyhawk when they invoked the famous 'Flight of Fiends' and attacked Iuz (GH:tAB 19-21, 31, GH:PG 11-12).

Strictly speaking, however, this would require a SB/SP withdrawal rather than a Keoish offensive as Furyondy-Veluna were the first to break the PACT OF GREYHAWK on the 1st of Patchwall 586. But the Keoish with ties to Furyondy-Veluna may have had some advanced warning of the imminent dissolution of the Pact/Treaty so that they could prepare their offensive better than the SB/SP could their defences, and strike early in the month Patchwall (or soon after) to reclaim the civilized portions of the lost Hool Marches (the Keoish Southlands).

In the summer of 589 CY, revolts swept through the Sea Princes domain shaking the hold that the Scarlet Brotherhood had on that nation (Gh:tAB p.32). If Keoland hadn't already moved to liberate southern Keoland, following Furyondy/Veluna's lead, it is probable that this revolt would be the perfect opportunity to do so. If they already had begun such efforts, the revolts would aid the Keoish by seriously distracting the Scarlet armies as to which threat to deal with -- the Keoish or the Sea Princes, and as the revolt is behind the their own lines opening a second front for the war it is probable that they'd devote more effort to suppressing the revolt than fighting the Keolanders.

In 590 CY, Keoland takes the stronghold Westkeep on the other side of the Hool Marshes, across the Javan River (GH;tAB p.32). Here although it is possible that they take Westkeep before liberating all of Southern Keoland, I think that it is highly unlikely as the resources such an expedition would require would be put to better use freeing Keolanders from their Scarlet yoke. Moreover, the Scarlet Brothers would likely have much reduced forces as they still have to deal with the 589 revolt in the Hold of the Sea Princes. With these southern Keolanders freed the Keoish armies swelled as some joined their ranks in vengeance, and the Scarlet occupational forces were seriously diminished. This way the taking of Westkeep after the liberation of Southern Keoland makes more sense, to me at least, than liberating it after taking Westkeep.

Exactly how long this liberation of Southern Keoland would take, as with how long it took to conquer in the first place, is an open matter. Again I prefer to have both the conquest and liberation to take a longer rather than a shorter period of time and thus make for a more epic struggle between Great Powers. But, despite my opinion on this, the evidence does not preclude one or the other, or both, from being lighting attacks with quick results. I think that 'officially' it should be stated that during these nebulous periods that the battle raged back and forth and the individual DMs can then decide exactly where was occupied when according to what is best for their story at the time. But if this approach is taken in the Living Greyhawk Campaign (or any other official form) it should be done with a most cautious eye on the consequences so that once a particular location's occupation during a certain time is stated in a future module or sourcebook, all subsequent works dealing with the area of southern Keoland be forced to take this into account. However, if this flexibility is too much because of WotC's suggested lower standards of fact-checking for Greyhawk writers, then these nebulous periods should be be provided with a single unambiguous chronology that is simple enough to grasp for even the laziest designer -- thus favouring a quick conquest and liberation in order to minimize the opportunities for any further corruptions and convolutions of the 'official' or 'canon' Greyhawk history. I realize that this sort of detail won't matter to the vast majority of players and/or DMs but for Greyhawk purists, like myself, it is an important consideration.

Regardless, in 591 when the Living Greyhawk campaign is to begin, Keoland's southern border once again stretches to the Hool Marshes and now reaches even beyond as the Keoish armies continue their imperial march...

FWIW, this is only my (unofficial) interpretation of when the Southern border of Keoland was where, YMMV. I hope that it is of some use to you, my fellow Greyhawk, and especially Keoland, fans. Gentle readers amongst you will forgive my inevitable errors in grammar and spelling, and I trust that you'll be kind enough to correct me on something that I may have misunderstood or not stately as clearly as I
should have, or add additional references that I have overlooked this evening. I will be considering this issue in more depth to determine the exact chronology, but I welcome any suggestions that you may have so that this chronology can be refined and improved both for my own campaign and for the Living Greyhawk effort.

P.S. For more information on the other events of the Greyhawk Wars involving Keoland see my message on the "Against the Giants: Combined Chronology". FYI, this message can be found in Morgan's Fantastic GreyTalk Archives:

I'll post this message to the Keoland group as it is particularly on topic for Keoish history. If I were to actually receive sufficient feedback, I could possibly be persuaded to revisit the issue to provide a complete Keoish chronology for the entire Greyhawk Wars somewhat earlier than I'd otherwise get around to it...


* * * * * * * * * * * * *
His Dread and Awful Presence,
Jason Verbitsky

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