Greyhawk - Back to the Beginning
Free City of Greyhawk
Clicking on any of the four quarters of the city will bring up a much larger image.
The Free City of Greyhawk is known as "The Gem of the Flanaess." As of c550 the city is prospering, though the grey hawks indigenous to the city have disappeared, replaced by ravens. Many secrets are held within the city.
Greyhawk, named for the small grey hawks which populate the region, was originally a trading outpost on the Selintan River specializing in local wood and woven garments. In time the town developed strong textile and meat-packing industries. Eventually, Greyhawk came to be ruled by a warlord, who took the title "Lansgraf of the Selintan". His son was then married to the Gynarch of Hardby's daughter. The nuptials formalized a political alliance that served as the basis for rule over the Lanstadt of Selintan, an area that eventually became known as the Domain of Greyhawk.
In 4 CY, Greyhawk came under the domination of the Great Kingdom of Aerdy and remained so while strong Overkings ruled from the Malachite Throne in Rauxes. By the third century CY, the Great Kingdom's influence over the city began to wane as the Overkings fell into evil ways and their hold on distant provinces became increasingly tenuous.
Rise to prominence, decline and recovery
Circa 310 CY, the mage Zagig Yragerne emerged from the Wild Coast and bribed his way into a seat on the Directing Oligarchy. Soon after, the Oligarchs elected Zagig Lord Mayor.
Greyhawk subsequently rose in fame and prominence under the leadership of Lord Mayor Zagig. He instituted legal reform, developed a new currency, fortified the walls, founded the city's first university and embarked on a major building program. Most notably, he directed the construction of nearby Castle Greyhawk.
Although Zagig, later known as Zagyg, became increasingly erratic over time, his rule is generally considered to be the most effective in the Free City's history and brought widespread prosperity to the region. Much to the annoyance of Dyvers and other rival cities, Zagig proclaimed Greyhawk to be the "Gem of the Flanaess," and did much to ensure this moniker was justified. Unfortunately, the "Mad Archmage" suddenly disappeared in 421 CY, leaving no clues regarding his whereabouts, and no heir to inherit the title of Lansgraf.
In 498 CY, after decades of Zagig's absence, the Lanstadt was therefore abolished, the title of Lansgraf permanently retired, and the Free City's Directing Oligarchy assumed political authority. The new Lord Mayor Paerinn officially proclaimed Greyhawk a free city, though it had been effectively independent of the Great Kingdom's rule for over a century.
Soon thereafter, the city lost its claim over Hardby and the Wild Coast, as the leading women of Hardby broke from Greyhawk and established the ruling office of Despotrix. This loss of lands sent the Free City into economic decline, a situation that persisted for several decades. Fortunately, the discovery of treasure in the dungeons beneath Castle Greyhawk and other nearby locales set off a gold rush of sorts, and Greyhawk's economic fortunes recovered substantially in the latter half of the sixth century.
The Free City of Greyhawk is located centrally in the Flanaess, which is the easternmost part of the continent of Oerik on the world of Oerth. The city controls a large swath of land along the Selintan River from the Nyr Dyv south to Woolly Bay most of the Cairn Hills, parts of the Gnarley Forest, the northern Wild Coast, and parts of the Abbor-Alz. The entire region is officially known as the Domain of Greyhawk. The Domain is bordered on the east by the Abbor-Alz and its western border lies within the Gnarley Forest. The area south of Greyhawk City along the Selintan is known as the Plain of Greyhawk.
Several settlements fall within the Domain of Greyhawk:
Blackstone, Diamond Lake, Elmshire, Ery Crossings, Erybend, Greatrock, Greyhawk City, Greysmere, Grossetgrottel, Hardby, Magepoint, Narwell, One Ford, Phandlish, Safeton, Steaming Springs, Two Ford.
As of 575 CY, the city itself boasted a population of 58,000, making it one of the largest cities on Oerth. The population for the entire Greyhawk Domain is roughly 75,000-100,000+, including the larger towns of Safeton (pop. 6,100), Hardby (pop. 5,100) and Elmshire (pop. 4,000).
The Free City of Greyhawk hosts temples and shrines to many deities, including Beory, Boccob, Celestian, Corellon Larethian, Ehlonna, Fharlanghn, Garl Glittergold, Heironeous, Istus, Kord, Kurell, Lirr, Moradin, Norebo, Obad-Hai, Olidammara, Osprem, Pelor, Pholtus, Procan, Ralishaz, Rao, Saint Cuthbert, Trithereon, Ulaa, Wee Jas, Xerbo, Yondalla, and Zilchus. The worship of evil deities and fiends is forbidden, and such cults, though they may have followers, do not have a public presence. Evil religions that have established a base in the city in recent memory include those of Incabulos, Iuz, Nerull, and Vecna.
Executive branch: Greyhawk's Directing Oligarchy elects one of its own to as Lord Mayor, who serves as the head of state in addition to his directorial duties. The current Lord Mayor, Nerof Gasgal, has held office since 550 CY. The Lord Mayor heads both the Directing Oligarchy and the Council of Mayors and Manorial Lords. The chief of state also officially heads the military, though actual command is most often left to the Captain General of the Watch.
Legislative branch: The Free City of Greyhawk is ruled by the Directing Oligarchy, an executive council of twelve to eighteen members representing the City's major professional guilds and the military. In some cases, the Oligarchy may include important wizards or clerics. New Directors are chosen by current council members when a vacancy must be filled.
The Greyhawk Council of Mayors and Manorial Lords is an annual assemblage of leaders from the various baronies and towns in Greyhawk Domain. In theory, this gathering allows citizens of the Domain to have a voice in the governance of the region, but in practice this Council has little real authority.
Judicial branch:Major legal matters in the Free City of Greyhawk are adjudicated by a Judge of Greyhawk, one of eight such officials appointed by the Directing Oligarchy. One of these eight is chosen to serve as Chief judge of Greyhawk, a position currently held by Sir Anton Palmirian who also sits on the Directing Oligarchy and oversees the Guild of Lawyers and Scribes. In cases of great import, three Judges of Greyhawk may preside. Appeals of major cases are always heard by a panel of three Judges of Greyhawk, though the Lord Mayor sometimes sits in place of one of the Judges.
Several roads link the settlements of the Domain of Greyhawk, including the High Road (from Greyhawk City to Elmshire), the Urnst Trail (from the High Road to the Duchy of Urnst), the Western Road (from Ford Keep on the Selintan to Dyvers), and the River Road (south from Greyhawk City along the Selintan).
Much river traffic takes place along the Selintan River, which can accommodate all but the largest sea-going vessels from the Nyr Dyv and Woolly Bay. Smaller vessels ply the Ery and Neen rivers.
The Domain of Greyhawk's military forces, though technically under the Lord Mayor's authority, are usually commanded by the Domain's highest-ranking military officer, the Captain General of the Watch, who also sits on the city's Directing Oligarchy. The current Captain General is Tigran Gellner.
Greyhawk's forces consist of several units, including: The Cairn Hills Force, led by Commander Schinus Balint. The Greyhawk Mountaineers, led by Commander Carstane Geronten. The Hardby Marines, led by Commander Wilbrem Carister. The Narwell Headhunters. The Safeton Garrison, led by Commander Turin Deathstalker. The "Water Rats."
Free City of Greyhawk Heraldry
From the darkest alleys and most fetid cellars of the Old City, along the alabaster spires of temple and university lining the great length of the Processional, and on to the regal grandeur of the High Quarter and the looming towers of the Grand Citadel beyond…
The city beckons. Greyhawk, grandest jewel of the Flanaess, awaits you, offering adventures to stagger your imagination, treasure beyond your wildest dreams-and of course, dangers aplenty.
The city and its lands lie in the heart of civilized Oerth. The barren slopes of the mysterious Cairn Hills loom to the north of the city, within sight of the high walls. The placid expanse of the great river Selintan meanders past Greyhawk’s bustling wharf region, giving the city its primary claim to strategic significance, for it lies along that waterway between the great lake of Nyr Dyv to the north and the broad surface of Woolly Bay and the Azure Sea to the south.
The City of Greyhawk and its domain are ruled by a Directing Oligarchy, a group of technically coequal members who head various major interests within the city. The number of Oligarchs (also known as directors) usually varies between 12 and 18, depending on the political circumstances. Replacement of an Oligarch who dies or retires is not required. If a vacancy in the Oligarchy should be filled, the new Oligarch is chosen by vote of the current Directors. The Oligarchy meets every Starday during the year to cover business relevant to the City, the Domain, and themselves.
The Directing Oligarchy periodically elects a Lord Mayor among it’s members to lead them. THe election of a mayor occurs whenever the old mayor dies, retires, resigns, or fails a no-confidence vote consisting of a two-thirds majority of the Directing Oligarchy. Since 570 CY, Nerof Gasgal has been the Lord Mayor. So far, he has been one of the best.
The guilds of Greyhawk are all designed to protect and further the social and economic interests of their membership. While not all of the Free City’s Guilds have been granted or have been able to maintain a monopoly on the services and crafts they provide, they can nevertheless present a united front to any form of competition and have a recognized degree of political influence with the Directing Oligarchy.
On the first days of Fireseek, Planting, Reaping, and Patchwall, the Grand Council of Greyhawk Guilds meets at City Hall. All the city’s Guildmasters are required to attend (and must send deputies should they be unable to do so). This meeting is used to discuss petitions and legislation before the Directing Oligarchy that may affect the trade or business of one or more of the Free City’s guilds, and allegedly serves the purpose of granting those city guilds not directly represented in the Directing Oligarchy a say in the city’s government.
This quarter of the Free City is one of the most peaceful, lacking the wild taverns and crowds of most other districts. The Craftsmans’ Ward is home to hardworking people and their families. Its major features are the guildhalls for many of those craftsmen and women.
Sure, the Craftsmans’ Ward has its share of taverns, but these are quiet, neighborhood places. Most of the customers recognize each other and the proprietor—who is usually the owner. Strangers are treated cordially, but any unruliness arouses the resentment of the entire establishment. The City Watch, while not a great presence here, is not neglectful.
The houses here are small. At first glance one might think they are crowded uncomfortably close together. Upon closer examination, the buildings all seem to fit snugly together, while leaving a surprising amount of space between them.
The hallmarks of each tradesperson can be seen on the front of the house: an ornately carved balcony and railing for the woodcarver, a wide, sweeping stairway for the carpenter, an imposing facade of granite for the stonemason, and so on. Weavers, painters, metalsmiths, and the like use an example of their craft to decorate the front of the house—a tapestry, unusual color scheme, or metal rack of tools, for example.
While some of these artisans work for employers and travel to a different location for their job, the majority work in shops within their homes. Consequently, a great number of different businesses can be found in the Craftsmans’ Ward.
Craftsmans’ Ward Businesses
Shipper and Haulers, Brewers, Leatherworkers, Weavers, Tailors, Metalsmiths, Jewelers, Gemcutters, Furniture Makers, Carpenters, Stonemasons, Architects, and Taverns with food
Clerkburg—The HallsThe city district that houses Greyhawk’s universities, colleges, and schools is referred to by two names: “Clerkburg,” as a reference to the students, tutors, scribes, and clerks who live here in great numbers; and “The Halls,” meaning the large, airy buildings that typically house the schools. Though it is not apparent from outside the quarter, Clerkburg is an area of plants, grassy yard, and small parks. It is second only to the Garden Quarter in the number and variety of its greenery. The City Watch does not neglect Clerkburg. Generally a patrol arrives within 2d6 rounds of a summons. The People’s Constables tend to avoid Clerkburg, to no one’s disappointment. An interesting feature of the quarter is the outside seating, or veranda, available at most of the small taverns and eateries. It may be squeezed precariously between the building and the street, barely wide enough for a single row of tables, but this outdoor dining area is required of any successful eating establishment in Clerkburg. In fact, the major attractions of this district to the citizenry of the city are these street-side tables. On Godsday with nice weather, the streets of Clerkburg swell with folk from all over the city, coming to enjoy their meal in the fresh air. Clerkburg is not a thriving business district—most of the buildings not used for schools are the residences of students and instructor. However, the following types of establishments can be found here:
Art Galleries, Bakeries, Boarding Houses, Book Binderies, Butchers, Inksellers, Launders, Leatherworkers, Locksmiths, Potters, Private Libraries, Scribeshops, Tailors, Taverns, Tiny Food Shops, Weaponsmiths, and Weavers.
The High QuarterWhat a grand array of buildings and personages await the fortunate traveler who decides to stroll down the Promenade! What marvels of architecture! What splendid grace and beauty, such impressive style! The grand edifices of the Free City’s High Quarter are, in general, mansions that would be fit for the ruler of most political entities. In Greyhawk, however, such homes are the just rewards for successful merchants, important ambassadors, the city’s own Directors, and others of wealth and station. (Actually, in the Free City, wealth is station.) The mansions sprawl over large estates—an equivalent amount of property might hold the homes of 1,000 souls in the cramped confines of the Old City. Stores and shops are not found in the High Quarter; the residents can usually find everything they need at the city’s High Marketplace. The only businesses in the quarter are those gambling houses, taverns, and clubs that cater to a wealthy clientèle. The noble district is the best illuminated of the city’s quarters after dark, for each mansion maintains a lamp on the road before it, and the city maintains other lamps at frequent intervals along each thoroughfare. In addition, the guard patrols of the city watch are diligent and common in the High Quarter. A standard patrol will arrive within 1d6 round following any loud cry of alarm in the High Quarter. Also, the private agents of the night-watchmen are employed throughout the High Quarter, sometimes to watch a single mansion, and other times to patrol a region of several estates. When the night-watchmen from such roving patrols, they go in groups of five, accompanied by two great hounds (war dogs). The roads of the High Quarter bustle with crowds only on the occasions of parades and festivals. The quarter receives a lot of traffic every Starday, attracted by the grand array of booths and stalls in the High Marketplace. Otherwise, the quarter is quiet, with only a few people moving about at any one time. These travelers are nobles in carriages, on horseback, and afoot, their servants (with or without their masters), craftsmen hired to work in the High Quarter on their way to and from the job, and many others. Travel is allowed to and from the High quarter with no restrictions, but a visitor to the quarter who appears to be up to no good (loitering about, acting furtive, associating with known criminals, etc.) is quickly accosted by a guard patrol. If the visitor can produce no good reason why he is in the High Quarter, he is escorted out with orders not to return without a valid purpose
The Garden QuarterThe Garden Quarter sits right above the High Quarter, In truth, an untutored observer could not tell where one district ends and the other begins. But the boundaries are clearly defined in the collective social consciousness of the city’s elite. If the estates in the Garden Quarter tend to be a little smaller than their uphill neighbors, if their statuary is less exquisite and the architecture more plain, these deficiencies are more than made up for by the brilliant profusion of blossoms grown here. The sweeping expanses of manicured beauty have given the quarter its name and its character. On a pleasant spring day the fragrance of lilac is carried by each passing breeze, while in summer a stroller can sample the dewy aroma of the lilies, and so on. The patrols of the city watch are as diligent and common here as in the High Quarter, though there are fewer hired security agents in the Garden Quarter. There are no shops in the Garden Quarter, save for the region of the Marketplace. Several fine inns and clubs offer fine cuisine and often gambling to wealthy patrons.
Foreign QuarterThis is the most crowded quarter of the New City, not just because this is the residential district assigned to all those who have not inherited or adopted Greyhawk citizenry, but because it is a nice place to live. It offers a variety of eateries and taverns, as well as tiny shops of many unique types. It has long been city policy that visitors who take up residence in Greyhawk should not be allowed to inhabit certain areas, particularly places adjacent to the city wall. Thus, all foreigners who actually rent a residence (as opposed to taking a room in an inn, even for many weeks) must find such a residence in this quarter. Of course, foreign nobles and official guests of the city are exempt from the restriction. Foreigners are not permitted to purchase property in the Free City. After seven consecutive years of residence (at least six months each year) in the city, a foreigner can apply for citizenship. Provided he has two citizens to vouch for him, and no record of troubles with the watch or any influential guilds, citizenship is granted. Certain of the Foreign Quarter’s shops and inns retain a distinctive character reflecting their owners’ origins. But for the most part this district has blended very well into the rest of the Free City’s character. The City Watch is here, but not in any considerable numbers. The People’s Constables on the other hand, are a common and bothersome presence during daylight. At night, the Nightwatchmen’s Guild puts regular patrols through this and the neighboring River District. In many ways it is representative of the city in miniature, with its diversity of shops, its theater (the Pit), and its mix of people from all places and all levels on the social scale. Indeed, the Foreign Quarter even has its own nobility, in the form of The Duke. Every type of business can be found in this quarter. Problem is though if you asked someone where to find what you are looking for, half the time the directions are wrong.
The Old CityThis maze of alleys, shacks, boarding houses, and everything else is the true soul of Greyhawk. Herein lie the city’s roots, and herein also live its most volatile citizens. The Old City, separated by the Black Wall from the New City, has taken on a life all its own. If the New City should suddenly disappear from the earth, the Old City would function much as before. The same cannot be said for the reverse. The Old City sees less of the City Watch than do its neighboring districts. Crime and misery are commonplace here, but so are gallantry and decency. Thieves control the bulk of the business ventures and other activities, but nowhere else is the proverb “honor among thieves” more in evidence. The Nightwatchmen maintain two regular stations here, and many families devote a proportion of the precious incomes for the additional protection provided by the guild. And the Nightwatchmen in the Old city take their duties very seriously indeed—their fee is always money well spent. The City Watch patrols are scarce to nonexistent, but the Nightwatchmen usually respond quickly, but only when the alarm is raised by one of their clients. The People’s Constables are a major nuisance here during the day, nit-picking every possible weapons violation, subjecting disreputable-appearing characters to searches, and quoting an assortment of vague and obscure regulations. ( “And that’ll be another two silver, oaf—you should know better than to blow your nose on the same street as waves the city banner! Be thankful I don’t run you in!”) The balance of power in the Old City centers on the Thieves’ Guild, which controls the major sources of income here, except for the Public Bath, which is owned by the city. The Beggars’ Union is a force to be reckoned with in the Slum Quarter, however, and the Merchants and Traders are also well represented in the Old City. The patrols of the City Watch move unchallenged here during the daytime, but at night two patrols always march together. Even then they remain on the lighted thoroughfares and other major avenues. The border within the Old City between the Thieves, Labors’, and Brewer’s Quarters is ill-defined.
Armorers, Bakers, Brewers, Bawdy Houses, Blacksmiths, Boarding Houses, Brewers, Butchers, Carpenters, Embalmers, Expedition Supplies, Inns with Food, Jewelers, Laundry Services, Leatherworker/Tanners, Livery Stables, Locksmiths, Pawnbrokers, Potters, Scribes, Shipper and haulers, Stonemasons, Tailors, Taverns, Warehouses, Weaponsmiths, and Weaver/Dyers
River QuarterThis most riotous district is centered around the great curving avenue known as the Strip. With its taverns, brothels, gambling dens, and worse, the Strip at night is a cacophony of noises, a shadow land of flickering torches and blazing lamps. And always, day and night, it teems with drunks and toughs, river men and city folk. Always there are many who fight at any implied slight, and never are there enough patrols of the City Watch to keep the peace. People’s Constables are common during the hours of daylight, especially near the Cargo Gate. There these tin-pot enforcers of law and order nab many people just off the river, before they have a chance to adjust to city life. Naturally, adventurers love it here. Lodgings are cheap, and news from the world beyond is plentiful. There are numerous merchants and innkeepers willing to relieve a traveler of his heavy load of treasure. Behind the Strip the River Quarter is a mixture of boarding houses and warehouses. While much cargo brought up the river is stored on the wharf, many small warehouses are offered for rental here as well. Cargo moves quickly in the lively economy of the Free City, so a load generally remains in a warehouse only for a week or two.
Armorers, bakers, bawdy houses, boarding houses, boats/nautical equipment, boot maker/leatherworker, butchers, eateries, expedition suppliers, shipper and haulers, tailors, taverns, warehouses, and weaponsmiths.