Sunday, May 10, 2020

2E Greyhawk Wars: Great Kingdom War of Succession

Welcome back Greyhawk aficionados! Today is a pivotal installment in my 2E War Campaign series. If you don't know what all this historical fuss from my home game is about, be sure to read the prelude to this series first. To sum up, I started posting the epic three-part Iuz-Furyondy War, but then realized I had notes on way more wars that we had played back in the 1990's. Below is the timeline of wars I am writing about..

Aerdy Civil Wars 615-616 CY
The Greyhawk Wars aka "The Bandit War" 617 CY to 618 CY
Battle of Bellport Harbor 623 CY
Iuz-Furyondy War 627 CY to 629 CY (Part 1Part 2Part 3)

Now that you're hopefully caught up (you might want to read the Great North War before this one), let's begin the Great Kingdom War of Succession. This time I have included a map, showing the principle antagonists and keyed to the chain of events in the narrative so you can follow along more easily. By the way, thanks to Anna Meyer for her wonderful spread maps. Hang in till the end, because I always add some personal commentary at the very end. I did run this game nearly 30 years ago after all. Enjoy!

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The Great Kingdom War of Succession

Summer 610 CY

At the close of the Great North War and following the flight of ousted Overking Ivid V, Herzog Grenell of the North Province threatened war against any who opposed his claim to the vacant Malachite Throne in Rauxes. Drax of Medegia (House Rax), the Kingdom of Nyrond and the Barbarian Alliance were soon at odds over succession1. The Theocracy of the Pale had allied with Grenell during a secret meeting at the Rel Mord peace talks in 609 CY2. Many other secret meetings took place at this fateful conference. Robed ministers of the Scarlet Brotherhood clandestinely made a pact with the See of Medegia for rights to the lands of the Iron League3. Meanwhile, an even more secretive plot was formed between Holy Censor Spidasa of Medegia and the fiery Herzog Grenell4.
A): Bone March, already in league with the North Province, ended this brief period of peace as it covertly sent its humanoid armies through mountain passes to devastatingly conquer Ratik.
B): The Barbarian Alliance took advantage of this truce breaking action. Under the command of Halfgrim the Night Shadow, they launched new raids on their old enemy, the Sea Barons though no gains were ever made.
C): At the same time, the same barbarian horde which had sacked Rauxes in 608 CY was still at large in the Great Kingdom for the last two years5. Led by another Night Shadow, Valkaun Dain, this veteran army was recalled and redirected to invade the North Province in an effort to quickly end the Herzog’s bid for succession. Grenell’s provincial army, which had stayed out of the Great North War, was fresh and well-prepared however. After driving deep into the province, the Suel horde was defeated at the Battle of Eastfair by the Herzog’s new High Marshall, the former adventurer Cromwell; who won yet again at Kaport Bay.
D): Here, Halfgrim’s longships returning from the last Sea Barons incursion sought to give succor to their routing kinsmen by ferrying the survivors back across Grendep Bay.
E): To the south, Nyrondal forces still occupied much of fractured Aerdy since the end of the previous war. Once the truce was ended, their armies adjusted to the barbarian horde’s attack on Eastfair by striking southeast at Medegia in an attempt to end the claim of succession by Drax. The Nyrondese Army was stretched thin from years of fighting however, and so were easily repelled at the border by Medegian forces.

Autumn 610 CY

F): Now on the offense, the North Province turned southward and with little opposition, Grenell’s forces seized the contested capital city, Rauxes. The citizens of Rauxes who had lived autonomous and rebuilt since Ivid’s ouster, were forced to attend a dreary victory parade for Grenell while provincial troops searched and looted their homes for any signs of the enemy.
G): Sensing the tide of the war turning against their favor, King Archbold reluctantly ordered Nyrondese forces to strategically withdraw for home. Since the fall of Ratik to Bone March and the ruinous Battle of Eastfair, it seemed the Barbarian Alliance and the royal claim of Juma Dain was in jeopardy as each king regrouped to defend their home shores. King Orvung was not yet beaten though, as the Schnai began work on a huge new fleet of longships.
H): After a successful coup involving spies and assassins, the new government of the Lordship of the Isles was now in openly allied with the Scarlet Brotherhood. This meant the Duxchaners would no longer fight their traditional rivals, Medegia and the Sea Barons. With the threat of an Iron League naval invasion eliminated, Drax of Rel Astra and Holy Censor Spidasa went on the offense. Fast moving Medegian forces crossed through southern Aerdy and finally into Ahlissa, easily liberating it from Nyrond who was already retreating home across Relmor Bay. Herzog Chelor6 was summarily placed back on the provincial seat in Zelradton, but this time as a subject of Holy Censor Spidasa. The Prelacy of Almor and the Iron League, who had been supported by Nyrond for years, was shocked by the sudden abandonment of Ahlissa. These small bordering states readied their navies and armies to deal with the inevitable consequences of Nyrond’s withdraw.

Winter 610 CY

Events abruptly changed for the Scarlet Brotherhood. The Scarlet Sign-backed leaders of the Lordship coup were overthrown by Duxchan loyalists before any aid could be mustered to augment the Medegian or Brotherhood warfleets. Subsequently the Lordship of the Isles rejoined the Iron League, who were amassing for an impending Brotherhood attack by sea and Medegia by land. Meanwhile, a Sea Barons envoy carrying Spidasa and Drax, sailed across icy waters to the Schnai capital of Soull. At this unprecedented visit the Holy Censor pleaded with the Schnai king to back Drax’s claim against the vile Herzog Grenell. King Orvung had no love for the Sea Barons or Medegia, but the North Province and Bone March were a more immediate threat to Thillonria. The king took their gifts and assured the scheming Aerdians that he could convince the Barbarian Alliance to side with Drax and Medegia.
I): While the forces of Grenell continued to overrun the Aerdian countryside, Herzog Chelor, whom was not privy to the treaties between Spidasa and the Scarlet Brotherhood, started to raise a new South Provincial army with the intention of ending the Iron League. While conflict intensified in the south, the envoy of Spidasa and Drax sailed next for the North Province to speak with their main rival, Herzog Grenell.

Spring 611 CY

J): By now the North Province had managed to occupy all but parts of the southern Great Kingdom that were taken by Medegia. Grenell’s only resistance left was an elite company of Nyrondese cavalry still stationed in the city of Jalpa, tasked with covering their kings withdraw. Encircled at the Battle of Jalpa, the Nyrondese skillfully held the city resulting in the North Province’s only major defeat.
K): To the north, the patient Theocracy of the Pale had been quietly massing troops on the Nyrond border, ready to march into the heartlands once the War of Succession went to Grenell. King Archbold had been warned about this treacherous pact between the Pale and Grenell, which was integral to his decision to abandon the Great Kingdom campaign. Aware of this new front in the war, Archbold himself led the defense, easily forcing the Theocrat’s inexperienced army back to Wintershiven.
L): Now with the Duxchan fleet on their side again, the Iron League sent their warships on the Azure Sea and Tilva Strait to intercept the war-transports of the Scarlet Brotherhood. Outmatched and outnumbered, the invasion fleets were utterly annihilated, and with them the Scarlet Brotherhood’s part in the war7.
M): Far to the north, Ratik which had been suffering since the war began, was liberated by the Barbarian Alliance. Striking by land though the Timberway Forest, the horde rallied their Ratikan allies from hiding and in the process Bone March was overrun, even into their own land. By summer’s end, the barbarians also razed Spinecastle, avenging a centuries old loss at the Battle of Shamblefield. Though Bone March was now conquered, the war-weary barbarians dared not attack the North Province8.
Not far away in Eastfair, Spidasa and Drax finally gained audience with Herzog Grenell who was already in jubilation for his generals reported that Nyrond had finally pulled out of Jalpa, thus ending the foreign intrusion. Much to Drax’s horror, Spidasa turned on him and the Sea Barons, pledging all of Medegia in favor of Grenell9. Back in Nyrond, King Archbold called a cease in fighting for his armies, but the Iron League wasn’t done, neither was King Orvung and the barbarian fleet.

Summer 611 CY

N): Coordinated assaults were made into the South Province by the Iron League and Almor. None of these battles were successful however, for Chelor had the backing of Medegia. Furthermore, the fast-spreading news of Grenell’s victory caused fear in the Iron League, spurring their armies and fleets to return.
O): The North Province had no intention of dragging out the war. Grenell had finally got everything he wanted10. So did King Orvung of Schnai. Keeping his word to not attack Medegia or the Aerdian coast, the renewed barbarian fleet invaded and finally conquered the weakened isles of the Sea Barons. There was no reprisal for it was a minor loss in the eyes of Overking Grenell11. The Great Kingdom War of Succession was over.

1.      King Archbold of Nyrond and the Barbarian Alliance both favored Ivid’s distant Naelax relative, Juma Dain, as next in line for the throne. Young Juma was orphaned when his expatriated parents were killed by assassins. He was later adopted by the barbarian hero Valkaun Dain who famously led the Sack of Rauxes. This Nyrond-Thillonrian backed claim was viewed as not only the best hope to bring lasting peace to Aerdy, but also between Suel and Oerid peoples.
2.      The Theocrat in Wintershiven was convinced that an over-extended Nyrond would inevitably be conquered in this alliance, thus greatly expanding the Pale’s rule and religion. This alliance was a masterful lie by Herzog Grenell to keep the Pale out of the Great Kingdom.
3.      Holy Censor Spidasa was sure if the Scarlet Brotherhood could be focused on conquering the Iron League states, they would make better allies than enemies. Spidasa wisely spent the necessary time to ensure this alliance with the Father of Obedience.
4.      Spidasa and Grenell colluded to take back the Great Kingdom. Grenell would rule matters temporal and Spidasa matters spiritual. Mayor Drax’s claim to the throne while legitimate, was in reality used to draw attention away from their hidden alliance until the right time.
5.      Valkaun Dain and the restless barbarian horde had abandoned the city the Rauxes after it was razed because even though Ivid had been deposed they were ill-equipped to control such a heavily populated region. Post-war, the horde mostly remained in Nyrond-held Aerdy during the peace talks in hopes their candidate, 14 year-old Juma would be installed as Overking.  
6.      Herzog Chelor had sought refuge in Rel Astra, living in luxurious exile as a guest of Drax, until his province could be retaken.
7.      The Father of Obedience thought it wise to conserve the Scarlet Brotherhood’s forces for another day.
8.      It is suggested Grenell was not just focused on taking Rauxes, that he allowed Bone March to be taken, since he cared little for its humanoid populations.
9.      In the Herzog’s courtroom, Spidasa had Drax beheaded, not before admitting he was never in favor of a Rax on the Malachite Throne. This pleased Grenell and he accepted Spidasa’s “surrender” gracefully.
10.   Deposed overking Ivid V had fled Rauxes to the Sea Barons in 609 CY. Because he rightly did not trust Spidasa, he then discreetly made his way to Eastfair the following year to desperately seek the aid of his cousin Grenell. Much like in the Great North War, Grenell still would not aid his kin. Instead, Ivid was quietly destroyed and with his demise, the royal staff, orb and crown were obtained. All that remained was the Malachite Throne.
11.   Spidasa remained Holy Censor of Medegia and chief cleric of the entire Great Kingdom. Influenced by the fate of Drax, Herzog Chelor swore fealty to Grenell. For winning the war, High Marshall Cromwell was elevated to Herzog of the North Province. Grenell of House Naelax, was crowned Overking on Harvester 14, 611 CY.

Commentary: Wow so having re-read and edited my timeline notes from this war, it is possible, but not entirely clear if it was a continuation of our use of the Greyhawk Wars board game for mass combat resolution. I still maintain in hindsight I will never use these rules again, much more preferring War Machine from the Companion D&D Rules. I still wonder if this narrative was forced by me instead of entirely played out. After all, my friend Jayson's PC Valkaun had a huge stake in this war. If the barbarian alliance and Nyrond win, his NPC son Juma becomes Overking. Unlike the Great North War, there is virtually no wins by the forces of Good until the end. Was the war fixed? Maybe so. There is still many more wars to come though.
I am also discovering that I either did not use Carl Sargent's animus for my Great Kingdom nor did I use the Death Knights of Aerdy. More accurately I think I ignored them. I didn't need all that undead craziness going on in my politics. However I'm sure mad Ivid "the Undying" was an animus because I wrote that Grenell had to "destroy" him. I also fondly recall using Duke Szeffrin the animus, but that tragic tale  is probably in a future installment...
Another reason I know I used Greyhawk Wars for this theater, is when I was constructing the map to go with this article I found that the events in my notes flawlessly followed the Wars game map (divided into playing spaces ala Risk).
High Marshall Cromwell was a former PC of my friend Eric, who was in the army at the start of this campaign. I would NPC Cromwell while Eric was away, to keep him part of the game. Eric would later get heavily involved in this 2E campaign when he returned, but this time with a new set of PCs.
Who are the Night Shadows? I just wrote about them last post.
Lastly, I'm kind of pleased at the impotence of the Scarlet Brotherhood in my campaign. Since I started writing about my Sea Princes campaign on this blog, and in Oerth Journal, I've railed against the Brotherhood's ability to easily conquer someone halfway across the continent. You saw in this war, that the Lordship was taken by guile, but the swashbuckling Duxchaners overthrew them too. Then proceeded to wipe out the Brotherhood fleets. Spoiler, it doesn't get much better for the Scarlet monks in the coming installments. I guess I liked them as small scale antagonists for my players, but not as a large scale military threat (shrug).

Until next war!

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