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by Christopher Richard Davies

GAZ4 The Kingdom of Ierendi ...

... oh, where to start?

Not only did it completely contradict the only portrayal of the Kingdom in the modules -- admittedly, in X10, and so subject to a certain amount of revision -- but it greatly accentuated the absurdist elements that had begun to be added in GAZ3. Given the decision to take literally the statement in the Atruaghin Clans' description in X10 that they were like the Native Americans, the idea of a Polynesian nation in the Known World isn't so crazy, but the implementation left a lot to be desired. Tourism certainly existed in the medieval world, but it certainly didn't take the forms common in the modern world!

Furthermore, the history of the region presented in the Gazetteer was not only contradicted in other releases, like GAZ8, but contradicted itself. The historical narrative and the timeline disagree on several major points; the halfling settlement is dated to around 500 AC in the former, and specifically in 570 AC in the latter. There's being a bit off, and being quite a bit off. So what follows is basically a complete tear-down and rebuild. The timeline from GAZ4 is treated as correct for everything before 570 AC and all naval events after that date -- non-naval events should be completely ignored.

[*] First of all, there is no bizarre legend about a mixed group of cast-offs from the Five Shires ending up in the islands, who were actually a Thyatian penal colony.[1] The hin of the Five Shires had been sailing among the islands and engaging in some petty trade with the Makai for centuries, but it wasn't until the end of the fifth century (around 475 AC[2]) that they began to establish permanent settlements on Ierendi and other islands of the archipelago. These were intended solely as naval bases, rather than colonies, as the hin weren't interested in expanding the territories that they ruled.

As a result, the hin didn't protest the establishment of Thyatian prison colonies, a little less than a century later, on the islands now known as Fletcher Island, Alcove Island, Safari Island, Utter Island and Aloysius Island. They simply established firm walls around their naval bases, shot any Thyatian prisoners who tried to climb over those walls, and continued as they had before. Eleven years later, however, the halflings had cause to rue that decision, when the Thyatians proceeded to conquer the entire archipelago.

In 600 AC, the pirate lord Mad Creeg began the rebellion that would lead to the establishment of the Kingdom of Ierendi. He received a considerable amount of material aid from the Five Shires, whose rulers were eager to avenge the loss of their bases, as well as financial assistance from a group of Traladaran merchants who saw a possibility. By 602, the Thyatians were ready to negotiate an end to this second front in their ongoing war with Alphatia, and so agreed to recognise Mad Creeg as the ruler of Ierendi. The Five Shires received a favourable trade agreement with the new kingdom, and the Traladarans received grants of land on Ierendi, allowing them to set themselves up as nobles, owing fealty to the new king.

Mad Creeg, it should be noted, was originally from the Isle of Dawn. Following the advice of the local druids, he instituted a form of kingship on the island that drew on their traditions as well as those of his homeland. Four times a year, on the solstices and equinoxes, he would face a challenger in mortal combat, and if he should lose, the challenger would become king in his place. This had the dual effect of keeping him in fighting trim and allowing him to demonstrate that "trim" to his men. (Rumours that the challenger was drugged in the later years of Mad Creeg's life are scurrilous and unfounded. Strange then that they persist.)

As it happened, none of the challengers ever did defeat Mad Creeg, who died in his sleep in 637 AC. He was succeeded by his son, Black Toes, who had already married a traveller from the northern kingdom of Braejr[3], Kerhy Matrongle, and adopted her family name. It was Kerhy, a wizard, who proposed that the laws of rulership be amended so that both the King and Queen had to face challengers for their position. She may have hoped, in so doing, to draw the attention of the recently arrived wizards of Honor Island. If so, her intentions came to naught; no Honor Islander ever challenged her during her reign as Queen, or any other wizardly ruler who followed her.

The Matrongle family held onto the two thrones of Ierendi for nearly eighty years through a simple stratagem. Whenever either King or Queen was defeated, the remaining monarch would marry the victorious challenger, who would be compelled to adopt the family name. However, this stratagem eventually failed when both King and Queen were defeated in separate challenges on the same day. Furthermore, the new King and Queen showed no interest in marrying each other -- not surprising, given that they were brother and sister.

King Petros and Queen Luka would prove to be trend-setting rulers in other ways as well. During their fifteen-year reign, they gradually permitted many of the powers that the Matrongle dynasty had jealously reserved for itself to devolve upon the Council of Lords. By its end, the monarchy was largely a ceremonial office, with all real authority vested in the Council. Despite some historical speculation, this doesn't seem to have occurred as part of a concerted effort on the part of the Council -- while Petros and Luka were of Traladaran ancestry, they were descended from families that had never been part of the Council.

The early eighth century also saw the establishment of Ierendi's first overseas colony, named Slagovich for the Ierendian captain who first explored the Gulf of Hule. Out of necessity, the Margrave of Slagovich has been granted near sovereign rule over the city state, but remains tied to Ierendi by innumerable treaties. A large amount of the vast wealth that passes through the city from the Savage Coast and parts beyond is passed on to Ierendi, somewhat to the annoyance of the rulers of the Minrothad Guilds, who would understandably prefer to have as much influence over trade in this area as they do in the Sea of Dread and parts west.

Recent history saw the long reign of King Taran of the Steel Arm, an immigrant from territories beyond the Northern Wildlands. He took the King's throne in 980 AC and held onto it for fifteen years, outlasting two Queens. Taran was so well-respected by both the public and the Council, that when he faced his final challenge and -- in the opinion of virtually every onlooker -- threw the match[4], permitting his son to take the throne, there was no outcry. Fortunately for those who feared the start of a dynasty, the reign of King Gilliam was extremely brief, and he was replaced by King Palfrit two years ago. Gilliam's sister, Princess Corinna, is engaged to marry into one of the Old Families.

[*] Which Immortal or Immortals are honoured by the People's Temple? Trick question -- none! The People's Temple is a gigantic confidence scheme, albeit one now run by generally benign people. Any spell-casting its "priests" do is from ritual scrolls that they've acquired, either by buying them or, more rarely, arranging for their theft. There are no clerics or paladins involved with the faith.

[*] In case the introduction to this article wasn't clear enough, let's reiterate -- the absurdist elements of the setting in GAZ4 don't exist. There are no private investigators on Ierendi Island. Safari Island is a game preserve, but there are no "adventure parks" there. There are most assuredly no characters more than vaguely reminiscent of eighties television programs on Fletcher Island. Finally, while the wizards of Honor Island have a portal into the Elemental Chaos on their island, and do sometimes have visitors from that plane -- particularly from the nearby City of Brass -- they don't run a tourist trap for them!

[*] While slavery is technically illegal in Ierendi, the Council of Lords has been known to turn a blind eye to the activities of the Iron Ring, allowing them to work out of Ierendi City without harassment, as long as sufficient bribes are paid and the public doesn't make too much of a fuss. They are apparently unaware that the Iron Ring actually has its main headquarters on the island -- the so-called "Aerie" in a volcano -- as well as several lesser bases in the rain forests and hills. Dealing with the subtle threat that these slavers represent would be a truly heroic deed.

[*] The future of Ierendi, barring PC intervention, is likely to be slightly brighter than most of the mainland nations. The Kingdom is bound to offer some aid to Darokin when the Desert Nomads invade, though this aid will be slightly sabotaged by the Iron Ring if the slavers aren't overcome. But it's unlikely that the Nomad forces will be able to mount a credible naval challenge to Ierendi for quite some time, leaving the Kingdom free, though threatened. The potential loss of Slagovich, either to a foreign conqueror or independently-minded ruler, will also be a concern in the years to come.


[1] Bluntly, four centuries is time enough for legends to grow up surrounding the truth of a colony's origins, like Pocahontas and Captain Smith, but not long enough for that truth to be completely obscured, like believing that the Pilgrims were actually from another planet entirely.

[2] Misprinted as 575 in GAZ8.

[3] Misprinted as Glantri in GAZ4, which is hilarious given that Alexander Glantri wouldn't be born for another two hundred years.

[4] The challenges have not required the death of either combatant since late in the reign of Black Toes, when he finally felt secure enough on the throne to offer mercy to those he defeated. However, it should be understood that the terms of the combat are set before the match begins, by agreement between the combatants. If they agree that it is to be "to the death", then it is to the death -- the loser agrees that he or she will never be raised.