September 2018

The Crystal of Ebon Flame Prologue

On Oerth it is the Common Year 579, and in eastern Oerik, known as the Flanaess, it has been ten years since the demoness Zuggtmoy and her evil horde were defeated at the Battle of Emridy Meadows. Her worshipers were scattered, and the forces of good captured Zuggtmoy and used powerful spells to imprison her in the dungeons below the ruins of the Temple of Elemental Evil. After the battle, her accomplice, the demigod Iuz, retreated north back to his lands; hemmed in between Whyestil Lake to the south and the Howling Hills to the north. As the years passed, he began to build his armies and gather lesser demons. He has moved slowly hoping to go unnoticed while gathering his forces and rebuilding his armies in a bid to expand his control over the central Flanaess. He plans to eventually bring the lands of Greyhawk, Nyrond, and Furyondy under his control. While doing so, he hopes to curry the favor of his father, the demon lord Graz’zt, so that he will help bolster his armies so he can eventually bring the whole of the eastern Flanaess under his control.

Iuz’s old ally, Zuggtmoy, hasn’t been idle either. Slowly gathering her worshipers and priests back to the site of her imprisonment hoping that they will eventually be strong enough to free her from the spells that bind her deep in the dungeons of the temple. Wishing to go unnoticed until it is too late. As a result, evil has crept back into the bog and woods that surround Hommlett and Nulb some thirty leagues south-east from the town of Verbobonc.

Slavers and other bandits had begun raiding the Wild Coast along the western shores of the Sea of Gearnat with increasing regularity. Eventually, they grew strong enough to invade the lower portion and now control the cities of Fax and Highport. Using them as bases, they have begun raiding villages and small towns along the coast of neighboring lands, sometimes taking hostages for ransom. The stronger kingdoms have been preoccupied with keeping the remnants of the Great Kingdom at bay. By forging alliances with those lands along its borders, such as those of the Iron League, they hope to keep the Overking of Aerdy bottled up in Rauxes and prevent him from reuniting the former lands, which have since managed to break away from his demented and tyrannical rule. The Raiders have taken advantage of the situation and have even managed to kidnap the Prince of Furyondy. They couldn’t have done this alone and without inside help, and agents of the Scarlet Brotherhood have infiltrated many positions in the lands who fight against evil as well as those who merely fight to maintain a balance between the two forces, ensuring that neither side gets the upper hand.

The slavers and bandits have paused to consolidate their control of the cities of Highport, Eredd, and Fax; all along the Wild Coast. For the moment only the town of Badwall remains free. Its the advantage being it lies further inland and not as easily accessible by sea as the others. The Slavers are spread thin but their ranks are growing each day and money from their raids is flowing into their coffers. Eventually, they will be able to mount an assault on Badwall as well. For the moment it is still a relatively safe city even though the roads leading to it from the north and east are perilous and armed gangs and thugs lie in wait to harass and rob travelers. It is also under strain as refugees from the other towns and cities have fled northward to escape the raids. It has enough food and water and other supplies barely to sustain its inhabitants. A few leagues west of the city lies the Suss Forest, made up of massive black trees, thorn trees, briars, and thickets. Humanoid bands use the Suss as a highway to raid the lands further north. It has an evil and foreboding feel, and few dare to enter it. It is rumored that the lost city of the Sullies is hidden somewhere within its boundaries, but none have ever found it, or if they did, they never returned.

Across the Sea of Gearnat to the east lies Onnwal, a free state, and member of the Iron League. Onnwal is part of an alliance with the Free City of Irongate, Idee, and Sunndi. Onnwal and Irongate provide mostly sea power for the Iron League and maintain a small force of regular militia and marines. Onnwal’s ports are heavily fortified due to frequent raids from the Herzog’s navy as well as pirates and bandits from the Wild Coast, even though they would never attack one of Onnwal’s major ports since they most likely would not survive the attempt.
The County of Sunndi became a member of the Iron League in 455 CY. It is protected by natural barriers which make it easy to defend against the Herzog’s troops, the Rieuwood Forrest and hills to the east and west, and to the south a great semi-salt swamp. Still, it faces constant threats from the north by the Herzog’s legions and to the east the forces of the Holy Censor of Medegia, and by the Sea Baron’s along its coasts. As a result, Sunndi troops are always in arms, and it has a well maintained and trained military augmented by Gray Elves from the Rieuwood as well as Mountain Dwarves and Gnomes from the Glorioles Mountains in the north.

The rest of the lands are in a state of constant alert. All-out war has not happened since the fall of the Great Kingdom, but the Herzog hasn’t given up the dream of rebuilding his empire, and other powers have their own plans. Iuz is continually building his armies of humanoids and demons, waiting until the time is right to release his hordes upon the middle of the Flanaess. To his southwest, the Pomarj and Wild Coast are teaming with humanoids and bands of marauders and brigands and to his east the Horned Society and Bandit Kingdoms. Far in the east, the remains of The Great Kingdom and its insane rulers. In the middle of the Flanaess and surrounded by all these are the free countries of Furyondy, Urnst, Nyrond, Almor, Sunndi, and the Iron League.

Such is the state of affairs when an ordinary merchant, stranded and under siege in the city of Badwall, comes across an unusual chest hidden in the back of his burned-out storeroom. He had never seen the chest before and had no idea how it came to be in his storeroom or who it may have belonged to. He placed the chest on the remains of his workbench and opened it. At first glance, it appeared empty, and so he thought nothing more of it but, as he turned to leave one of the table’s legs gave out and the chest crashed to the floor revealing a false bottom. On to the floor rolled an unusually shaped gem. A black stone about the size of a clenched fist and at its center appeared to be a flickering black flame.

The Crystal of Ebon Flame

Back in 1986 I started writing what I thought was going to be a short story about an adventure in the World of Greyhawk. Originally, it was based on a series of D&D sessions with friends. Over the years I’ve edited it and changed it. It has morphed so much that it bears precious little resemblance to the original premise. The main characters remain the same with only one addition.

My biggest impediment right now is how this will be received. Greyhawk is a creation of Gary Gygax, who also wrote several novels about the world as well as many of the gaming aids and a plethora of dungeon modules. Aside from the legal aspects I worry about fan reaction as well. Greyhawk has a very devoted fan base. I’d love to post what I have written here so far and receive feedback. I can handle negative comments and criticism. I just don’t like to disappoint anyone.

So if you are a fan of Greyhawk and AD&D and you think you may be interested in what I’ve done so far then keep an eye on this space.
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