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The Reconquista

Game Master Branding Opportunity

Veterans of the giant wars in the Sheldomar Valley return to their homes to claim their reward.


Map of Sterich

Map of Local Area

Map of Istivin

Sterich Gazetteer:
Sterich

Proper Name: March of Sterich
Ruler: Her Magnitude, Resbin Dren Emondav, Marchioness of Sterich, Stewardess of the Great Western Gate
Government: Feudal monarchy owing fealty to Keoland; ruling family has been weakened, and noble families are suffering from infighting and confusion over post-war claims of nobility, precedence, and land ownership
Capital: Istivin
Major Towns: Istivin (pop. 12,100)
Provinces: Seven counties, each with three to fifteen low baronies (conflicting baronial claims make final number per county uncertain in many areas)
Resources: Silver, electrum, gold, gems
Coinage: (Keoland standard) griffon (pp), lion (gp), eagle (ep), hawk (sp), sparrow (cp)
Population: 144.000—Human 79%, Dwarf 8%, Halfling 6%, Gnome 3%, Elf 2%, Half-elf 1%, Half-orc 1%
Languages: Common, Flan, Dwarven, Keolandish, Halfling
Alignments: LG, NG, LN
Religions: Heironeous, Pelor, Ehlonna, Berei, Fharlanghn, Ulaa, Fortubo, Zilchus, Allitur, Beory, Mayaheine, dwarf pantheon
Allies: Keoland, Gran March, Ulek states, Bissel, Yeomanry
Enemies: Nonhumans and giants of the Crystalmists, Iuz, Pomarj
Sterich is a land rescued from nonhuman occupation only to find itself embroiled in struggles between returning nobles. The boundaries of the reclaimed territory generally extend from the western banks of the Javan River to the east, through the lowlands of the Stark Mounds, down to the Davish River and around, in the south, to the Jotens (where fighting continues). The mountain lake, the source of the Javan River, remains a hive of evil activity, and the villages and mines nearby are completely abandoned.

The distant western Crystalmists were once the home of several competing clans of mountain dwarves. When the nonhumans invaded in 584 CY, many clans withdrew into their strongholds, while others fled the hills to warn their human allies. Since the nation has been reclaimed, five different clan holds have failed to send representatives to the court in Istivin. Most Sterish fear the worst, though hardy exiled dwarven lords (often at odds with each other) are organizing several bands of adventurers for reclamation missions.

Sterich claims no notable woodlands within its borders, and has had to conduct considerable trade with Keoland and Gran March for lumber to rebuild fallen towns and villages. The most heavily defended portions of the reclaimed lands are perhaps the passes of the Stark Mounds, which offer a relatively safe route of passage for logging missions to the Oytwood.

The military of Sterich, though blooded badly in the reclamation campaigns, has emerged as a well trained force with a handful of canny generals experienced in battling (and beating) nonhumans. A strong contingent of 1,500 halberdiers forms the heart of this force, which is supplemented by light infantry and renowned light cavalry. Unfortunately, the military’s division of power declares that most units are under the control of a lord. Since the lords are now squabbling among themselves for regained land, soldiers once united against a common enemy have turned upon each other.

History

Settled in as a client state of Keoland by relatives of the Grand Duke of Geoff, Sterich was founded as an earldom with the primary purpose of creating a stable political power with easy access to the mines of the surrounding hills and mountains.

For centuries, the nation’s nobles grew rich from trade that in turn attracted more nobles (often with paid-for, meaningless titles). The adventurer Fenwick Astakane of Skipperton noted, in his Travels (375 CY), that Sterich was “a hive of low nobility, with titled aristocrats as common as pigs, such that an ordinary serf gains political clout because his labor is in high demand.” True, serfs endured as miserable a life in Sterich as in anywhere in the Flanaess, but the general tone and the underlying truth of the matter dictated Sterich’s reputation for generations.

In recent years, Sterich had grown distant from the Keoish crown, and had been allowed, in most cases, to care for its own affairs. King Skotti had for years treated the earl of Sterich, the proud Content Not Found: Querchard, more as a favored relative than a vassal. The two often spent holidays in each others’ capitals, visits celebrated with much more vigor in Istivin than in Niole Dra.

Perhaps because king and earl shared such strong bonds of friendship, it came as a surprise to most Sterish folk in 584 when, with ranger reports of looming nonhuman activity in the western mountains, King Skotti failed to send any troops to Sterich’s defense. In truth, the king had long despaired over Sterich’s virtual independence (a relic from the reigns of his predecessors), and implored his friend to swear fealty to Keoland, conceding much of the mine take to Niole Dra. Querchard refused.

The earldom paid in blood. Within a score of weeks, uncounted legions of nonhumans, seemingly led by powerful giants, surged from mountain strongholds, quickly overwhelming Sterich’s petty baronies. Istivin was abandoned within days of the first attacks. Most other towns were put to the torch; stragglers were butchered and cooked on flames fueled by whole villages and towns.

Many Sterish followed their earl to Keoland. Others, angered by the lack of Keoish action (but oblivious to Skotti’s opportunistic offer) fled to the Duchy of Ulek or Gran March. In the latter, many joined the nascent Knights of Dispatch and planned the recapture of their lands. Regardless of where the Sterish fled, most believed the occupation to be but a brief era in the history of their great nation.

In early 585 CY, King Skotti (perhaps realizing the terrible cost of his opportunism) promoted the exiled Querchard to the rank of marquis. Reasoning that a semi-independent subject state added more coin to the treasury than a wasteland controlled by ogres and gnolls, the king of Keoland promised rich rewards for each recaptured barony, and mustered troops in the city of Flen, intent to recapture lost lands. These soldiers were joined by mercenaries and knights, all of whom hungered for a decisive victory in a decade that had provided so many grim defeats.

The first gains came in late 585 CY, when the Keoish force freed the town of Fitela from a fierce enclave of orcs and their kin. Much to the surprise of those who had fought inconclusive battles in Geoff, the armies discovered few giants in Sterich. Interrogations revealed, however, that the occupying forces were loosely aligned under the banner of one King Content Not Found: Galmoor, reputedly a powerful giant in residence in Istivin. As the armies marched west to the capital, past depressing smudges of ash and ruin that had once been villages, all prepared themselves for the worst.

When finally the army gained Istivin, in Readying 586 CY, no trace remained of King Galmoor, or indeed of any destruction after the initial raids of 584. In striking contrast to all other liberated towns, which had been destroyed, most buildings in Istivin remained in perfect repair.

Patchwall 587 CY, saw the liberation of all the cities of the heartlands, providing the army with a stable base from which to mount village-by-village attacks upon the nonhuman holdings to the west. By Coldeven 588, the whole of civilized Sterich had been reclaimed.

Still, something was not right in Istivin. Though most citizens noticed few differences, the city’s buildings seemed to cast longer shadows than before the war. Men in taverns seemed more likely to raise a fist in anger. A rash of mysterious fires consumed the homes of several important clerics. Iconic statuary on the walls of the temple of Pelor broke away, crushing children at play in the temple yards. More than a few speculated in private that it seemed that the taint of war had brought a touch of the Abyss to Istivin.

Nights now find the streets of Istivin nearly empty, even of city guards. Those brave souls who dare the darkness do so in great haste, running from place to place with weapons drawn. Many have disappeared in the city at night. The most famous victim is Querchard, marquis of Sterich.

The march is now controlled by Marchioness Resbin Dren Emondav, a dark-skinned, large-framed woman who took her husband’s role upon his disappearance in 590 CY. The marchioness is reclusive, emerging from Krelont Keep only to announce new laws intended to shield the citizenry from the chaos outside the city walls and protect themselves from each other.

Beyond Istivin, supernatural terrors are few. Mundane problems exist in abundance. Though King Skotti’s promise of wealth for each freed barony enticed many minor nobles to take up arms against Sterich’s oppressors, it also quelled a dangerous greed in the populace. This has resulted in several legal (and sometimes physical) battles with multiple claimants to the same property. As the marchioness rightly supposes and Skotti fears, many of the contesting nobles are not nobles at all, but opportunistic con artists hoping to carve land and a rich reward from the misfortunes of a largely deceased aristocracy. In some cases, evil men have harbored designs upon still-living nobles; assassination is now relatively common throughout the countryside. While for a brief period in 588 CY it looked as though Sterich had rebounded from invasion, the country remains threatened by its internal disorder.

Gods of Istivin:
In addition to honoring the deities presented in the Player’s Handbook, the diverse folk of Istivin worship several gods from the extended Greyhawk pantheon. The most important of these gods are summarized here. More information about these entities can be found in the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer.

Allitur: From the oldest days, the clergy of Allitur has played an important role in Sterish society, outlining for the nation’s rulers a rigid doctrine based upon ethics and propriety. Despite its religious origins, the doctrine is essentially secular, being a description of how to advance society. Most of Sterich’s oldest and most powerful nobles pay lip service to Allitur, and a litany of dull passages and rituals is all but required at most significant civic functions. Few in Istivin attend regular services to Allitur, but most acknowledge the wisdom of his teachings.
*Alignment: Lawful Good
*Domains: Good, Knowledge, Law
*Favored weapon: shortspear
*Holy symbol: a pair of clasped hands

Kelanen (The Prince of Swords): The master swordsmen who comprise Kelanen’s cult espouse a doctrine of cosmic balance between the Four Dooms (good, evil, chaos, and law), and have at times sided with any of these alignments to push the balance of power back toward the middle. Far more soldiers and warriors than priests honor Kelanen, making his clergy small and mysterious. It is a violation of the faith’s code of conduct to use any sort of weapon other than a sword or crossbow.
*Alignment: Neutral
*Domains: Travel, War
*Favored weapon: any martial sword
*Holy symbol: nine swords in a star shape, points outward

Mayaheine (The Shield Maiden): A recently ascended paladin of Pelor, the demigoddess Mayaheine represents protection, justice, and valor. Her righteous clerics travel on great pilgrimages to defend the weak and innocent, stand up for the disenfranchised, and generally make a nuisance of themselves. The loosely affiliated, youthful religion serves as a sort of strong arm of the church of Pelor. It is particularly accepting of women.
*Alignment: Lawful Good
*Domains: Good, Law, Protection, War
*Favored weapons: bastard sword, mace, longbow
*Holy symbol: a shield with a bastard sword, sunburst, two golden spheres, and two victory runes

Ulaa (The Stonewife): An ancient goddess of unknown origins, Ulaa holds earth elementals in thrall with her dominion over hills, mountains, and gemstones. Her clerics protect mountains from those who would enter for the sake of greed or evil, and instruct miners and quarrymen with timelost rituals they claim have been handed down from a civilization extinct more than 10,000 years.
*Alignment: Lawful Good
*Domains: Earth, Good, Law
*Favored weapon: warhammer
*Holy symbol: mountain with ruby heart

Zilchus (The Great Guildmaster): Honored by merchants and the wealthy, Zilchus is the dealmaker of the gods, the master of business, money, and prestige. His rigorous doctrine espouses personal improvement through the accumulation of wealth and political influence, and hence his religion enjoys great (if casual) attention in a city choked with [the nobility | nobles real and presumed].
*Alignment: Lawful Neutral
*Domains: Knowledge, Law, Trickery
*Favored weapon: dagger
*Holy symbol: hands clutching a bag of gold

Campaign Background:
Istivin lies at the political and geographic heart of the March of Sterich. The nation’s capital since its founding nearly 800 years ago, Istivin is the hereditary seat of the House of Qualtaine, modest rulers largely content to enjoy the wealth of vast mining operations in the nearby Jotens and Crystalmist Mountains. Maintaining those mines often meant cutting through tribes of savage humanoids and giants, however, and these struggles brought turmoil to Sterich for eight centuries. With its soaring walls and sturdy keep, Istivin and its citizens weathered many brutal incursions over the years.
Then, eighteen years ago, Istivin fell under attack from a wholly unanticipated opponent Lolth, Demon Queen of Spiders. An immense black hemisphere of eldritch energy appeared over Krelont Keep and much of the city’s central square, completely cutting off the government and constabulary housed within. Brave citizens were able to cross through the energy barrier, but none returned from its inky depths. Worse, the hemisphere expanded slowly, every day engulfing more of the city.
At the same time, organized raids by giant-led savage humanoids surged into the lowlands of Sterich, hitting the nation’s border forts with devastating effect. Only the timely intervention of brave and powerful adventurers destroyed the giant threat, unveiling it as the work of ebony-skinned elves from below the Crystalmists. Descending into the depths of the earth, these adventurers penetrated the fabled Vault of the Drow and ultimately ventured to the Abyss itself to solve the mystery of the black hemisphere, which turned out to be the physical manifestation of an attempt by Lolth to draw Istivin—and eventually all of Oerth—into her hideous Demonweb. With Lolth’s machinations defeated, Krelont Keep and its inhabitants returned to Istivin unharmed.
Ten years ago, mountain dwarves from the southwest sent warning to Istivin of a new giant and savage humanoid force gathering near the mountain headwaters of the Davish River. Soon thereafter, contact with the dwarfholds ceased altogether. Istivin moved against the threatening incursion but failed to anticipate the speed and ferocity with which the assault would come. The nation’s unprepared and undermanned border forts
buckled under the fierce assault, and many of their surviving soldiers fled to the interior to defend the capital. Sterich’s western baronies fell quickly as the forces of the Giant King Galmoor marched for Istivin. Overmatched and unprepared, Earl Querchard ordered a complete evacuation. Less than a decade after Lolth’s black hemisphere, Istivin had fallen.

Humbled, Earl Querchard fled to the city of Flen, in the neighboring kingdom of Keoland. Although now virtually independent, Sterich had been established as a Keolandish vassal state, and King Skotti felt some responsibility for its fall. He promoted Querchard to the
title of marquis, and installed the ruler at the head of a vast army of reclamation that struck back against the giants eight years ago. When the blooded army hacked its way to Istivin, they discovered a completely abandoned capital, with no sign of King Galmoor or his savage host. The city’s ancient buildings remained almost wholly intact, unlike the other conquered settlements of Sterich. A puzzled Querchard resumed his position of rulership in Krelont Keep and set to the task of liberating the whole of the land.

INFORMATION GLEANED DURING PLAY:

Istivin:
Captain-General of the Watch Frush O'Suggill (Member of the adventuring party that held off a giant invasion 18 years ago and stopped the demon goddess Lolth from taking over Oerth).
THE CIRCUS: Of all Istivin’s magnificent structures, only Krelont Keep is more spectacular in scope and imagination than the city’s Circus, an ancient relic dating back to Istivin’s earliest days nearly a thousand years ago. As Sterich began to adopt the more civilized ways of the east, bloodsport gave way to horse and chariot races and field games. Such endeavors now seem quaint to the battlehardened citizenry of Istivin, and lethal gladiatorial combat has made a triumphant return to the Circus.
MASTER DARDENELL: In charge person at the Circus.
ALGORTHAS: Well known wise man who lives in a mansion just outside the city walls. Believes that an Abyssal shadow has fallen over the city and believes that more information can be gleaned from whatever is being hidden in Krelont Keep's deeper dungeons.
ALANAR KANE: Krelont Keep guard who seemed to have been possessed by something within the Deeper Dungeons of the keep.


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