Proper Name: (formerly) Combination of FreeLords; (now) Bandit Lands (within the Empire of Iuz)
Ruler: Various petty warlords and tyrants or Lesser Boneheart mages, all supposedly in service to Iuz
Government: Many loosely allied petty dictatorships, currently “administered” (often in name only)by occupying forces of Iuz
Capital: (formerly) The largest city in the strongest fiefdom, usually Rookroost; see “Provinces,” below.
Major Towns: Alhaster (pop. 4,700), Balmund (1,300),Groucester (1,100), Hallorn (540), Kinemeet (2,300humans, 5,000 orcs), Marsakeer (630), Narleon (2,400),Riftcrag (pop. 5,000), Rookroost (17,500), Sarresh(3,600), Senningford (1,200), Stoink (13,300)
Provinces: (Formerly) seventeen independent fiefdoms, number variable over time; (now) various ill-defined territories governed from four “regional capitals” (Hallorn, Riftcrag, Rookroost, and Stoink); entire region is itself part of the Empire of Iuz
Resources: Silver (in Rift Canyon)
Coinage: Various currencies produced by each fiefdom or stolen from sovereign nations
Population: 475,200—Human 79% (OFSb), Half-orc 9%, Halfling 5%, Elf 3%, Gnome 2%, Dwarf 1%,Half-elf 1%
Languages: Common, Orc, Halfling
Alignments: CN, CE*, NE, N, LE, CG
Religions: Iuz (officially), but also Olidammara,Erythnul, Norebo, Hextor, orc pantheon, Nerull,Ralishaz, Kurell, Fharlanghn, Pholtus, Trithereon,Rudd, various goblinoid gods
Enemies: Shield Lands, Furyondy, Stonehold, Rovers,Tenh, County of Urnst, the Pale, Nyrond, Knights ofHoly Shielding, Knights of the Hart, hostile factions within Iuz’s command structure (sometimes)
Overview: The lands of the Bandit Kings are arable but not especially fertile, being rocky and grossly over-farmed. Some scholars believe the rowdy disposition of the natives can be traced to these agricultural difficulties, since they discourage large settlements and set the stage for banditry by poor farmers against trade caravans moving from city to city.
Despite being largely a land of flat, featureless horizons, the area is home to one of the most stunning geographical features of the continent: the foreboding Rift Canyon. Hundreds of tales and legends tell of how the great canyon came to be. Most know it as a den of foul creatures and strange magical conditions. Presently, it is infested with bandits fighting against the occupying forces of Iuz.
Weather conditions here are generally temperate,though winters tend toward harsh storms and even blizzards throughout late Sunsebb and early Fireseek. In contrast, high summer often brings drought,threatening grain crops and cattle production.
Prior to the Greyhawk Wars, the local lords frequently made war with one another. When the entire realm came under threat from exterior foes(usually the Shield Lands, Tenh, or the Horned Society), each lord sent a portion of his troops; bandit army counts often totaled as high as fifteen thousand troops.
Though the forces of Iuz now occupy and administer much of the lands of the Bandit Kingdoms,some old political divisions remain, even if entire populations do not. Some states here have survived or even returned to life after Iuz’s conquest of this region, adding chaos to a very tumultuous empire.
History: As the migratory Oeridians ranged east-ward in their search for a land that would suppor them, they passed through many regions of in hos-pitable climate, infertile land, and unfriendly local populations. Chief among these lands were the rugged plains north of the Nyr Dyv, which resisted meaningful human settlement for centuries, even as a strong Aerdi empire created the Vice royalty of Ferrond to the west. Long held by ill-favored nobles,these “Middle Lands” fell to complete degeneracy when Furyondy cut relations with its progenitor and the courts of Rauxes became inept and mad.
In time, these petty barons established formal,independent domains, loosely aligning themselves as the Combination of Free Lords. This alliance served little purpose internally. The locals fell upon each other with zeal as each lord attempted to solidify his holdings while stealing those of his neighbors. When foreign states threatened the borders of the Combination, however, the lords reacted fiercely, banding together impressive armies to dis-courage meaningful invasions.
By the early 300s CY, the Bandit Kings had become such a threat that the lords of the Nyr Dyv’s northern shore banded together in their own alliance, a bulwark against banditry and lawlessness forevermore known as the Shield Lands. For more than two centuries, northern and southern lords made war on each other with great regularity. Iuz conquered the far western Bandit Kingdoms between Whyestil Lake and the Ritensa River, which the Horned Society then took for its own in 513 CY.
Then came the successful invasion of the Shield Lands in 579, and the coming of Iuz’s human, orc,and hobgoblin armies out of the Horned Society in early 583 CY, crossing into the Bandit Kingdom sbefore turning on and destroying the Shield Lands.Except for a few pockets of resistance (notably Dimre), most bandit armies buckled beneath the threat of invasion or else suffered resounding military defeat. Those lords who survived the invasion allied themselves with the Old One or else fled to the forests or Rift Canyon.
The war years saw much of the central Bandit Kingdoms become parade grounds for armies of orcs, ogres, and worse. Crucial supply lines to Tenh remained well guarded, as per the personal wishes of Iuz, but deep corners of the land, such as Stoink, Rookroost, and Redhand, encountered few changes under the new leadership. The appearance of a stray orc warband seemed preferable to the tales told of demons walking the streets of the towns of the heartlands.
In late 584 CY, news from Greyhawk declared an official end to the war, and many warriors gathered in northeast Wormhall to confer with their leaders regarding plans for next year’s summer raiding season. After many nights of drunken Brewfest revelry, more than ten thousand bandit men from Abbarra, Freehold, Midlands, Warfields and Wormhall were attacked as they slept by a treacherous (and probably mad) cleric of Iuz, using magic,assassins, and demonic servants. About half of these men escaped, most badly wounded, and fled over-land to refuge in Greenkeep, Tangles, or the Rift. All nurse a grim hatred for Iuz and his forces in their homeland.
The abandoned campsite, now known as Steel-bone Meadows, is overgrown today, with rotting tents, rusted weapons, and scattered bones forming a grim, open graveyard. Though it is likely the massacre went against the wishes of Iuz (who had the mad cleric carried off to an unknown fate), it nonetheless offers a stern warning to those who wish to throw off the puppet rulers installed by the Old One.
With Iuz’s supply lines badly damaged and his nonhuman armies restless, ill managed, and under-fed, this region is riddled with political machinations on behalf of the old bandit lords and new ones yet to appear. Robbed of most of the fiends that made up the backbone of his presence here, Iuz is thought by many to have lost considerable influence in the area. Still, the Old One counts it among his holdings, and a resistance force of any size is likely to encounter frightening, impressive resistance.
Conflicts and Intrigues: Thousands of lawless bandits search for ways to regain their independence from Iuz. Many have joined Iuz’s side but subvert Iuz’s orders. Several old fiefs are depopulated and without leadership. If a new lord entrenched himself in this land through force, the Old One would be hard pressed to do much of anything about it.