The Free City of Greyhawk
, also known as Greyhawk City
and the "Gem of the Flanaess," is a fictional city-state
in the World of Greyhawk campaign setting
for the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy roleplaying game
. The word "Greyhawk" is often used in reference to those lands controlled by the Free City, though the proper term for the entire realm is the Domain of Greyhawk
The campaign setting, created by Gary Gygax in the 1970s, takes its name from the city and was the most widely developed setting for the Dungeons & Dragons game until it was overtaken by the Forgotten Realms setting in the 1990s.
TSR, Inc. first published a description of the city in 1980's The World of Greyhawk folio, which was supplanted by the World of Greyhawk boxed set in 1983. The Greyhawk Adventures hardback of 1988 provided additional information regarding the city, along with background information for several small adventures set in the city.
The City of Greyhawk boxed set from 1989 offers the most complete treatment of the Free City. The publication provides information regarding the history and culture of the city, along with maps of the city and its sewers. Descriptions of major political organizations, leaders, villains and a number of adventure setups were also included.
The boxed set was followed in 1990 by a trilogy of adventure modules set in the city and centered around a mysterious villain called "The Falcon." These included Falcon's Revenge, Falconmaster and Flames of the Falcon. Some of the other modules set in part or entirely within the City of Greyhawk include: Vecna Lives! (1990), Treasures of Greyhawk (1992) and Return of the Eight (1998).
Another boxed set, 1992's From the Ashes, updated the overall Greyhawk setting, included information regarding the City's situation following the Greyhawk Wars, and contained additional adventure cards set in the City. Publications such as Greyhawk: The Adventure Begins (1998), the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer (2000), and Expedition to the Ruins of Greyhawk (2007) also provide information regarding the city in the post-wars period.
Greyhawk, named for the small grey hawks
which populate the region, was originally a trading outpost on the Selintan specializing in local wood and woven garments. In time the town developed strong textiles and meat-packing industries. From the earliest days, Greyhawk was ruled by a warlord who took the title "Landgraf of the Selintan." This first Landgraf's 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, the 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. The Great Kingdom's influence over the city began to wane during the third and especially the fourth centuries as the House of Rax declined and the Overkings hold on distant provinces became increasingly tenuous.
Rise to prominence, decline and recovery
In approximately 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" 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 Landstadt 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 second half of the sixth century.
The Greyhawk Wars and the post-war situation
The Free City of Greyhawk actually had less direct involvement in the so-called Greyhawk Wars
than many political entities across the Flanaess, but because the final truce was brokered in Greyhawk in CY 584, the war has come to be named for the city.
The Wars had several important effects on the city, however, particularly in that the unrest drove Hardby and the Wild Coast cities of Safeton and Narwell to re-submit to the rule of the Directing Oligarchs. This situation is unstable, however, as it was largely fear of Turrosh Mak's humanoid raiders from the Pomarj that prompted this move, and the Despotrix and the Wild Coast cities once again agitate for increased independence.
Also as a result of the Wars, the city has seen an influx of new citizens. Some of these are wealthy diplomats, and some are "nobles" who have contributed significantly to Greyhawk's coffers with the purchase of various counterfeit titles and documents. But many newcomers to Greyhawk are destitute refugees, or are merely using the city as a base for hatching political plots and intrigues across the Flanaess. In particular, there are persistent rumors of covert Scarlet Brotherhood operations in the city.
The post-war situation for the Free City is therefore mixed. Greyhawk's finances are in the best shape they have been since Zagig's departure, but the city faces significant challenges arising from political instability and increasing criminal activity.
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
As of 589 CY
, the city itself boasted a population of 69,500, making it one of the largest cities on Oerth. The population for the entire Greyhawk Domain is roughly 160,000, 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
, Corellon Larethian
, Garl Glittergold
, Saint Cuthbert
, Wee Jas
, 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
, and Vecna
Many more deities are worshipped in other settlements of the Domain of Greyhawk. See also: List of Greyhawk deities
The most widely spoken language in Greyhawk City and most of the Domain is Common, though other tongues are spoken in settlements with large non-human populations, such as Elmshire, Greysmere, and Grossetgrottel.
The Domain of Greyhawk has no officially named provinces. Some of the region's settlements are under the direct rule of the Free City, while others have varying degrees of autonomy. Notable settlements include:
- The Free City of Greyhawk
- Blackstone -A mining town in the Cairn Hills directly controlled by Greyhawk City
- Diamond Lake - A mining town in the Cairn Hills directly controlled by Greyhawk City
- Elmshire - A large halfling town on the Nyr Dyv, east of the Selintan
- Greysmere - A dwarven stronghold south of the Mistmarsh
- Grossetgrottel - A gnome warren located in the northwestern Cairn Hills
- Hardby - A small, virtually autonmous port city on Woolly Bay, east of the Selintan
- Magepoint - A coastal village east of Elmshire, under the protection of Tenser the archmage
- Narwell - A large inland town on the former Wild Coast
- Safeton - A small port city on the former Wild Coast, virtually under martial law
- Steaming Springs - A mining town in the Cairn Hills directly controlled by Greyhawk City
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 571 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.
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
. 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 assembleage 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.
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.
Lesser matters in Greyhawk City are tried by magistrates from the Guild of Lawyers and Scribes.
The city's coat of arms
is blazoned thus: Sable, a castle triple-towered argent, in chief two chains each of four links chevronwise of the second, in base six bezants
The Free City of Greyhawk controls most of the Cairn Hills, which provide the domain with great mineral wealth, such as iron, gems, and silver.
Nearby Castle Greyhawk, with its extensive dungeons, draws adventurers and traders to the Domain of Greyhawk from across the Flanaess. As such, the Castle generates significant economic benefits for the City in trade, taxation and treasure.
The Domain of Greyhawk's standard coinage
consists of the platinum
plate (pp), gold
orb (gp), electrum
lucky (ep), silver
noble (sp), and copper
common (cp). All of the coins are round, except for the platinum plate, which is square. The current coinage system replaced the previous system, which included coinage worth less than the copper common known as bronze zees, brass bits, and iron drabs.
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 Able Carter is a coach
company created by author Erik Mona
, and first appeared in the 2000 RPGA adventure module
, River of Blood
. It has coaching inns
in Greyhawk City, Hardby
, Diamond Lake
, Steaming Springs
, and Dyvers
, among other locations.
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:
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- Bailey, Robin Wayne. Night Watch (TSR, 1990).
- Brown, Anne. Player's Guide (TSR, 1998).
- Brown, Richard W. Falcon's Revenge. World of Greyhawk: TSR, inc.. 9279.
- Brown, Richard W. Falconmaster. World of Greyhawk: TSR, inc.. 9289.
- Brown, Richard W. Flames of the Falcon. World of Greyhawk: TSR, inc.. 9302XXX1501.
- Cook, David "Zeb" Vecna Lives!. World of Greyhawk: TSR, inc.. 9309XXX1501.
- Cook, David. "History of the Greyhawk Wars." Wars (TSR, 1991). Available Online:
- Gygax, Gary. Saga of Old City (TSR, 1985).
- Gygax, Gary. The World of Greyhawk (TSR, 1980).
- Gygax, Gary. World of Greyhawk Fantasy Game Setting (TSR, 1983).
- Holian, Gary, Erik Mona, Sean K Reynolds, and Frederick Weining. Living Greyhawk Gazetteer (Wizards of the Coast, 2000).
- Miller, Steve The Doomgrinder. World of Greyhawk: TSR inc.. 9581XXX150.
- Mona, Erik. "Gem of the Flanaess: City of Greyhawk - Clerkburg." Living Greyhawk Journal #4 (Wizards of the Coast, 2001).
- Moore, Roger E. Greyhawk: The Adventure Begins (TSR, 1998).
- Moore, Roger E. Return of the Eight. World of Greyhawk: TSR, Inc. 9576XXX1502.
- Niles, Douglas, and Carl Sargent. The City of Greyhawk (TSR, 1989).
- Sargent, Carl. From the Ashes (TSR, 1992).
- Tetreault, Denis, and Erik Mona. "The Artisans' Quarter." Living Greyhawk Journal #2 (Wizards of the Coast, 2000).
- Tetreault, Denis, and Erik Mona. "Gem of the Flanaess: City of Greyhawk - Clerkburg, part 2." Living Greyhawk Journal #5 (Wizards of the Coast, 2001).
- Ward, James M. Greyhawk Adventures (TSR, 1988).