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Kingdom of Ghyrby Andrew Theisen
Hey all! My Gazetteer of Ghyr is nearly done, so I thought I'd go ahead and post some of it for your inspection. Just as a precursor- Ghyr is a kingdom first introduced in XL-1: Quest for the Heartstone. It's never really fit in anywhere, but I've placed it just to the north of the Denagoth plateau, and tied it in with , well, a lot of stuff. For more on Ghyr, see XL-1 and AC1: Shady Dragon Inn.
Other notes: there will be a map (nearly complete, except names) for Ghyr that I'll try and talk Shawn into putting on his page. :)
Also, this history doesn't exactly mesh with that proposed for Denagoth/Wendar by Shawn and DM, but it should be able to fit with a bit of adjustment, if you care to do so. There will be a timeline coming later, but for now- enjoy reading!
Far to the north of the lands of the Known World, even far removed from the newly created dominions of Norwold, lay a kingdom spoken of only in rumour. Still a young nation by the standards of other realms, its roots nevertheless reach far back in time. It is a realm of stalwart heroes and nefarious villains, a nation forged from the legacies of terrible warfare, yet possessed of virtue and hope for a bright and glorious future. This is the Kingdom of Ghyr.
History of Ghyr
For millennia, the lands that would come to encompass Ghyr were covered in ice and snow, uninhabitable for all but the hardiest strains of life. As the surface of Mystara gradually warmed, the ice gradually receded, opening up new lands to the north and west of human settlements in the Known World.
Most of the new lands were unfit for habitation- vast marshes, gradually giving way to tundra in the north; sparse, cold grasslands even further to the west. Yet nestled between the towering Icereach Mountains and the southern plateau lay a fertile, wooded valley.
It was in this valley that the first men of the east came to settle- a rough, blond haired race of barbarians, hailing from a realm they named Antalia. Mostly nomads, they used the valley as a seasonal range, settling in for periods and moving on once more. No permanent settlements of note were formed during this time.
The valley's most significant function in these early years was as a gateway to other realms. Unlike the surrounding mountains, which became blocked by snow during the winter months, the valley of Ghyr was accessible throughout the year. This allowed the nomadic Antalians the freedom to roam wide and far across the northlands. Perhaps more importantly, it finally allowed them access to the plateau of Denagoth to the south.
Back in the time of Blackmoor, the Denagoth plateau was thinly populated by primitive tribes of Neathar. The Mengul mountains which surrounded it tended to isolate the plateau from the rest of the surrounding nations; as such, the technomancy of the Blackmoorians never reached the peoples living there.
During the latter days of the Blackmoor Crusades, Beastmen from surrounding areas were killed and driven off by the commands of the priests of Blackmoor. Many of these Beastmen made their way to the Denagothian plateau, where they settled and warred with the Neathar tribes.
The Great Rain of Fire which devastated Blackmoor and altered the axis of Mystara had little consequences for those living on the plateau. High up and isolated as they were, the only significant change they noted was a decrease in temperature from the climatic alterations. Meanwhile, the plateau they lived upon was completely cut off from the rest of the world as the surrounding mountain ranges were blocked by glacial formations.
Over time, the two major races of the plateau, the Beastmen and Neathar, gradually became less distinct. Warfare and interbreeding exterminated most of the original races, leaving only a strange crossbreed, a brutish, hairy manlike creature, to dominate the plateau. Still maintaining a distinctly tribal culture, these creatures formed a crude language (with various dialects), and roamed the breadth of their lands, warring amongst themselves and the other races atop the plateau.
It was these people that the nomadic Antalians first encountered. The consequences of two warlike races first meeting were inevitable- war broke out. At first, the Antalians were overwhelmed by the ferocity and numbers of the plateau dwellers, but word spread among the northmen. Within a few seasons, thousands of Antalians, eager to prove themselves in battle, flooded the plateau. The primitive stone-age technologies of the plateau dwellers couldn't hold against the bronze weapons and organisation of the Antalians, and they were driven into the wastelands and mountains of the plateau, to the lands that would be called Denagoth (in the plateau dweller's own language). The Antalians themselves settled the southern forests and plains of the plateau, where they continued to war against the Denagothians and their own kind.
Elsewhere, several clans of elves, survivors of a devastating explosion in the Broken Lands, resurfaced after centuries of subterranean dwelling. Arriving aboveground in the forested lands south of the plateau, they began to readjust to surface life. One clan in particular, followers of an elf named Enoryll, migrated northwards to the plateau, settling among the southern forests there (which they named Geffron). They lived in relative isolation from the other two dominant races atop the plateau for many centuries, as the superstitious Antalians avoided the magical creatures, and the Denagothians remained far north in their wastelands.
Hundreds of years passed thus, and the Antalians gradually became more sedentary. They formed settlements and progressed from bronze age technologies to iron, and later, steel. Their distance from Antalians outside the plateau isolated them from the goings on in the world- conquests of Nithians, the imperial wars between Alphatia and Thyatis. They gradually turned away from their warlike origins, becoming farmers and merchants. Some contacts were established with the elves of Geffron (who had by now established holdings in the forest of Lothenar), and many began to turn away from the Northmen pantheistic faiths, instead adopting some of the indigenous beliefs of the Denagothians.
Such was the state of affairs when a Denagothian warlord, Nebunar, stormed the plains of the south. A mighty leader, he had formed a tremendous horde of warriors, wielding bronze weapons, and organised them into a powerful army. At the command of his patron Immortal Idris, he led a crusade against the Antalians of the southlands. The battles were bloody and protracted, but eventually the Antalians fell before the ferocity of the Denagothians. Years of warfare resulted in the Antalian surrender to the barbarian hordes, and Nebunar set about forming a kingdom in the southlands, a kingdom he named Essuria.
The conquering Denagothians mingled their culture with that of the Antalians over time. Nebunar in particular, at the command of his patron, attempted to make Idris' faith the dominant belief system in Essuria. His successors, however, weren't of the same religious convictions as Nebunar, and a second Denagothian faith, that of He Who Watches, gradually was formalised into a religious order (later known as the Church of Essuria). Essuria itself became a kingdom in the manner of outside nations, with petty baronies, classes, and a self-sustaining economy. Denagothians became replaced by the more numerous Antalians (now seeing themselves as purely Essurians), though a minority of the former still remained, mainly as retainers to the kings. Around the same time, halfbreeds- crossbreeds of Denagothian and humanoids of the surrounding mountains- began to become more common. Largely unwanted, these half-breeds mostly became thieves and brigands of the wilds.
As the kingdom of Essuria expanded, settlers ventured further afield. Still avoiding the elves to the south and west, they travelled largely northwards. They conflicted still with the barbarians of Denagoth, and formed small settlements in the rich and forgotten valley of the north. Under the reign of the Essurian king Gallathon, expansion was at an all time high. Baronies were formed in the northern valley- the first being the Barony of Ghyr, from which it gets its name- and trade routes were established. Contacts with the elves of the plateau were once more formed, as well as contacts with dwarves and halflings living in the northern realms. The kingdom of Essuria was thriving.
The men who settled Ghyr were an independent, self-sufficient lot. Seeking new lands and new adventures, and largely free of the watchful eyes of the Essurian monarchy, they built their homes in the northern valley. They formed many petty baronies, warring occasionally with the Antalian nomads who still roamed seasonally through, and trading with the dwarves of the Icereach Mountains (who had only settled very recently themselves). The mountains were rich in mineral resources, which became an important part of Essurian economy, and the fertile valley supported the population agriculturally. It was only a matter of time before the Ghyrian nobles began to become more and more independent of the monarchy of Essuria.
A scant few decades later, the glory of Essuria would come to a shrieking halt. Landryn Teriak, succeeding to the throne after murdering his brother, once more brought the faith of Idris to the land. He embarked upon a reign of terror- cruelly taxing and enslaving the populace, actively working against the followers of the Church of Essuria, and warring with the surrounding nations. For years he ruled Essuria with an iron fist, a despot who served only his own avarice and sadism. His attempts to bring the Ghyrian nobles back to the Essurian fold led directly to conflicts with the Denagothians, who lived between the two realms.
Finally, a Denagothian known as Henadin formed a barbaric horde. Assisted by a pair of gold dragons, the Denagothians descended on Essuria, ravaging the countryside and warring with Teriak's armies. Henadin's army fought their way to the Essurian capital of Drax Tallen, driving Teriak out of Essuria, though Henadin and one of the gold dragons perished in the final conflict. Bereft of its leader (even a despot like Teriak), and with no heir apparent, Essuria fell into anarchy. In a twist of irony, the nation founded by barbarians was brought down by the same.
Meanwhile, Ghyr had largely managed to avoid the conflicts entirely. Though they had fortified their southern borders against the possibility of Essurian invasion, Teriak's conflicts with Denagoth prevented the Essurian army from becoming a real threat. With Essuria in anarchy, the nobles of Ghyr now had the independence they had always desired. Unfortunately, they would find independence brought many troubles of its own.
The loss of Essuria as a trading partner hurt the economy of the northern baronies. That, combined with the hesitance of the barons to cooperate with one another, would have been enough to cause conflict in the valley, but that wasn't to be the end of things. Miners in the northern mountains discovered a wondrous new type of mineral- apparently natural prismatic formations that possessed magical properties, such as healing. The reports of magical gemstones led the barons scurrying to claim them. Armies were formed, and barons fought one another in a conflict that came to be known as the Prism Wars.
Even as the northern baronies became torn by internal strife, conflicts raged in the world outside the valley. Landryn Teriak had risen once more, this time with hordes of Denagothians and humanoids under his command. He waged war with the elves of the plateau and further Wendar, hoping to reclaim his former legacy. At the same time, he began to send patrols further north, to claim the prisms for himself and his army.
Enter Qasmar, Baron of Ghyr. Throughout the conflicts in his nation, he managed to maintain a level head. With the new threat of Landryn Teriak, he saw that the northern baronies would fall, unless united. Turning to the Church of Ghyr (which had split from the Church of Essuria years before), he sought advice from the priests of He Who Watches. It was through them that he first learned of the Heartstone, a powerful artifact that would enable him to see into the hearts of men, and know their innermost desires.
With the Heartstone, Qasmar sought out and found men of similar ambition and virtues as himself, and together they were able to overthrow the petty nobles who were the cause of the baronies' divisiveness. Now firmly united, the northern barons were able to defend their nation against Teriak's advances. Eventually, Teriak was overthrown with the help of adventurer's enlisted by southern Wendar.
The northern baronies were now safe from outside aggression, and opted to remain united under a monarchy such as they had known in Essuria. With the unanimous agreements of the barons, Qasmar was crowned first King of Ghyr. Despite the theft of the Heartstone by the master thief Dahnakriss, Qasmar was able to maintain the unity of the baronies of Ghyr. Under his reign, too, elven refugees from Lothenar (destroyed by Teriak and his draconic allies) were allowed to settle the northwestern forests of Ghyr.
Qasmar's son, Ganto, continued the line of Ghyrian kings, and brought further prosperity to the realm. A renowned hero of the Prism Wars, Ganto was well respected by the other barons, peers of his father's. Ganto's reign progressed, and new barons came to replace those of his father's generation. Of these, there were those of ambitions and desires that sometimes clashed with King Ganto. In particular, the treaties formed over the prism mines were often brought into question by avaricious barons. But none were ambitious enough to stir up revolt against the monarchy.
When King Ganto died without an heir, it was time for the barons to make their move. They sought the hand of Queen Leahrah in marriage, to satisfy their petty ambitions. Leahrah, unsure of what to do, sought out the advice of Loftos, patriarch of the Church of Ghyr, much as Qasmar had done decades earlier. He informed her of the Heartstone, and its whereabouts, that it might be of use to her.
Leahrah summoned a band of adventurers to Castle Ghyr, and commissioned them to find the Heartstone. Together, they tracked the stone to Dahnakriss' lair in the Icereach Mountains, and liberated it from the Master Thief, though it left its mark on them all.
With the Heartstone, Leahrah was able to discern the true motives of the barons of Ghyr, and to find one with a virtuous heart and noble intentions to wed. Together, they have taken over where King Ganto left off, ruling over the nation of Ghyr, and managing to weather even the tumultuous events of recent years.