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The County of Sunndi

Land of the Sun
Few lands survived the Greyhawk Wars unscathed. Sunndi was lucky. Largely conquered by the Glorioles Army of the Great Kingdom, the people of Sunndi escaped the worst of Ivid's mad ambitions. Fighting from hidden bases in the Vast Swamp, Count Hazendel prevented the Aerdi from establishing a firm control of the land. When Osson led his raid, the Sunndian people rose up and liberated themselves from their oppressors. The Scarlet Brotherhood's subsequent attempt to invade the County was stymied by the Vast Swamp and the battle seasoned swamp fighters Hazendel had so ably led. In the aftermath of the Wars, Sunndi is a beacon of light amidst the glowing ashes of the Flaneass.

Blessed with a wealth of natural resources, Sunndi also enjoys a rich diversity of peoples. More precious still is the racial harmony of these folk. Hazendel, Olvensteward of the South, takes pains to include representatives of all factions and races in his Council to better promote understanding. He has been singularly successful. No other land can boast of Sunndi's diversity and unity.

The greatest challenge faced by the Sunndians is the flow of refugees from the shattered remains of the Great Kingdom, the South Province and Medegia. These people strain the County's resources and bring with them the intolerance of the once great Aerdi. Second only to the refugees is the trouble with Idee. Fallen to the forces of the Scarlet Brotherhood, Idee is a threat that must soon be met. Fortunately, Sunndi's natural defenses thwart outright invasion almost as well as an army in the field. The Scarlet Brotherhood still licks its wounds after being so lately turned back from these self same lands.

In his place, many a ruler might content himself with ruling a land such as Sunndi, but Count Hazendel is no ordinary sovereign. Strong in the service of good, he seeks to turn the tide of darkness that has washed over the Flaneass. He is aided by the druids of the Menowood and the Rieu Wood, who would see balance restored in the eastern lands. Hazendel also has the good fortune to have discovered within his borders two magical sites of power that can aid him. Now, he needs only stalwart adventurers to take up the fight.

Kheren bith Karan: The Pit of Stars
Far to the South the Vast Swamp rises, rolling North, mile after trackless mile. Spreading out as it approaches the borders of the County of Sunndi, the great bog lazily comes to rest at the foot of the rising land. Its energy spent, the black waters can come no farther, but neither do they recede. Stagnant, the Vast Swamp waits. Only the River Sunn slowly drains this sprawling wilderness of marshy hillocks, bleak bayou stretching to the horizon and overhanging Cypress trees. Few willingly traverse this mire. Fewer still emerge.

The Swamp is Sunndi's proof against invasion from the south but a fertile source of fell creatures that must be contained. For the most part the denizens of each land are content, if not happy, to let each other be. Too much inquisitiveness on either side is met with a stern rebuke. It is unlikely that Sunndi will ever tame the swamp or the bog rise farther to the north. Nature demands that the two share a common border. Theirs is an uneasy truce, born of necessity, and not infrequently broken.

Perhaps the greatest incursion into the Swamp came in the Oeridian year 428 in the reign of Dromdaniel, Olvensteward of the South, Count of Sunndi and father of Hazendel, the current sovereign. That year saw the birth of the Kingdom of Aerdy. As if to herald the birth of a nation whose banners would sweep across the Flaneass and whose mad rulers would be the death of multitudes, the sky rained fire in the month of Flocktime. Few could recall a more spectacular meteor shower but the greatest display was yet to come. Three great comets hung in the sky that summer, fading from view only in the month of Harvester. They seemed to pass quickly, and harmlessly, enough away and were soon forgotten.

None saw them fall to Oerth for they dropped from the sky in remote places. One fell far to the North in the Burning Wastes. Another fell deep in the Crystalmists. The last was lost in the depths of the Vast Swamp.

Only the good folk of Sunndi learned of their fate and that purely by chance. No flash illuminated the horizon when the third comet passed overhead only to crash into the swamp. The ground did not shake. A plume of steam, barely visible in the distant summer haze, was the only clue, but it was enough. Always wary of periodic invasions by his monstrous neighbors to the South, the Warder of the Marshes determined to investigate this strange phenomenon lest he be caught napping later and forced to answer for his lack of diligence.

Thus it was that a company of adventurers was retained to venture into the Vast Swamp and bring back news of what transpired there. Hazendel, the elven king's son, accompanied them. Long was their journey and difficult the road. Swarms of biting black flies, venomous snakes and menacing alligators were mere discomforts compared to the unnatural dangers they faced. But at last they won through and though depleted in number, arrived at their destination.

It was much as might have been expected and not a little disappointing. An immense hole had been dug out of the earth by the comets impact. So intense had been the resulting fireball that the sloping sides of the pit had fused into a hard baked shell, preventing the waters of the swamp from seeping in. In the very center of the crater, a twisted mass of black rock rose from the ground to a height of some ten feet, the cold heart of the comet. Dejected, the company consoled themselves that at least they would have dry ground upon which to sleep before beginning the long journey home. So it was that they made camp for the night.

Now, as it happened, among the company was a talented young bard, Aaran, blessed not only with the gift of music but of song as well. That night he played and sang for his companions as was his wont. As his voice rose high and clear into the night a single hanging note answered. It was the spire of black rock at the center of the crater, vibrating much like a tremendous tuning fork. Intrigued but not alarmed, the bard let the pitch of his voice rise higher and higher.

The rock answered and the night became strange. There was a subtle feeling of vertigo. The stars shinning in the darkened sky seemed to spin and whirl about the Pole Star. When Aaran stopped singing, all returned to normal. The companions set watches and went to sleep.

The morning dawned cold and a stench of sulphur was heavy on the air. Rousing themselves, the party climbed from the pit to discover that they had somehow been transported far to the north, to a land were the very ground burned. They were quick to guess the cause. Trial and error revealed the truth of it. By singing at just the right pitch, the central spire of the pit could be made to open a portal to the site of either of the other cometary craters. All within the pit at that moment would be transported along with all of their belongings to the new location. By repeating the process it was possible to teleport from pit to pit. Satisfied, the party teleported back to the crater in the Vast Swamp and started on the return to Sunndi.

While interesting, the power of the craters, translated in Olven as Pit of Stars or Kheren bith Karan, was of no immediate use. The trip into the swamp was too dangerous and the other Pits too remote from any settlement to hazard the trip. The Pit of Stars was marked on the Olvensteward's maps and forgotten.

Years passed and Hazendel followed his father as Olvensteward. The Aerdy Kingdom became the Great Kingdom. Sunndi was absorbed only to eventually break away to join the Iron League. Then, the Greyhawk Wars washed over the land. In the fighting, Sunndi was largely spared the depredations that destroyed other lands. In the aftermath of the Wars, Hazendel has determined that Sunndi must become an active force for good, because it can and because it is right. To that end he has begun to recruit adventurers whose exploits can make a difference but Sunndi lies far to the South and distances are great.

So did the Olvensteward's mind return to his days as an adventurer before he assumed his father's mantle of authority. He remembered the Pit of Stars. The very remoteness of the other craters that had once seemed a liability now seemed a perfect concealment. If a way could be opened through the Vast Swamp, the Pit of Stars would provide an answer to the problems of distance.

His mind made up, Hazendel set about the task. His success has been limited. A way has been opened to the Pit of Stars but it is neither safe nor sure. Adventuring parties that make the trek must still contend with the Swamp and its inhabitants. However, the time saved in traveling overland or by sea from a landlocked country is more than compensation in these desperate times.

The Pit of Stars can be activated by any character who has the Singing proficiency and makes a successful proficiency check. Hazendel will reveal the Pit's location only if a party is working in the cause of good and needs to travel great distances. Once an initial service to Hazendel has been rendered, parties will remain free to use the Pit on their own but will have swear an oath to the cause of good and to not reveal the location of the pit to others.

Borathe eth Alaane: The Fires of Time
High in the Hestmark Highlands a cave descends deep into Oerth. From the mouth of the cave it is possible to smell the sea breeze and hear the crash of the waves. Overhead, gulls circle slowly but the ocean remains hidden, just out of sight. Few visit this lonely reach. Fewer still know of the cave.

Descending through twisting caverns, forests of frosted stalactites and calcified stalagmites, past gardens of rock crystals, the cave widens into a huge subterranean cavern. The ceiling, lost is space and darkness, twinkles faintly with reflected light. The floor of the cavern is rent by great fissures that seem almost to trace some uncertain pattern. Rising from these wounds in the earth, strange phosphorescent gases pass into the air. Coruscating with color, they shimmer and dance. Looking closely, indistinct figures can be seen to move within the streaming gases.

These are the Borathe eth Alaane, The Fires of Time. The fissures in this cavern plunge down not only into space but also into time. Here, possible futures, the present and the past are one. Discovered by adventurers long ago, they sold the secret of the cave to Hazendel, Olvensteward of the South, who paid well for their silence. Since that day, he has shared his knowledge with but few. Now, events force his hand.

As the Greyhawk Wars raged Hazendel had not the luxury to turn to the Fires of Time, being pressed by events. In the Wars aftermath, however, he has been quick to recognize the potential of the Borathe eth Alaane, if it is not already too late. Though Sunndi is not immediately threatened by the forces of evil, if allowed to go unchecked those forces will plunge all of the Flaneass into greater darkness. Hazendel has decided. Sunndi must rise in the defense of good lest all be plunged into a storm of chaos.

The Fires of Time give Hazendel an invaluable means of looking out across the Flaneass. Within the flames, it is possible to see where evil may be weakest and where the dark tide can most easily be turned. If brave bands of adventures can be recruited, they can be dispatched to make the difference at critical moments in the coming days and months. Good may yet prevail, if any can survive the trial. The Seers of the South are those recruited by Hazendel, who have succeeded in their attempt to pass within the Fires of Time and return with a glimpse of the future. By concentrating the mind, a character can attempt to pass within the flames and influence the tableau. If successful, the Seer will gain a vision of when and where to strike at the evil forces plaguing the Flaneass, though other visions may also be had.

Characters with sufficient constitutions, intelligence and wisdom may attempt to become Seers and gain visions of the future. A Constitution of at least 15, an Intelligence of at least 16 and a Wisdom of at least 17 are necessary to even make the attempt. But there is a price to be paid. A saving throw vs death must be made for each attempt to pass within. Failure means certain madness and death, brought on by the mind's inability to handle the imagery flooding the brain. Not all of the visions are pleasant or natural.

Even if a character is successful, the vision he or she receives will be vague and cryptic. Visions will usually be of a place where good may triumph over evil. Monsters or NPC's associated with the place may also be seen. This should be particularly true if more than one PC successfully attempts to pass within the flames. This technique is also a useful method of foreshadowing and helps add to the atmosphere of prophecy. In no circumstance should PC's be able to learn the exact nature of the evil or precisely how to stop it. The visions may even be of potential allies that must be won over or aided in their fight, rather than evil to be defeated. It is also well to remember that the visions of the future are only of possible futures. Visions of the present are less useful but more reliable.

At any one time there will be a dozen Seers living in and guarding the Borathe eth Alaane. They will be of various classes and levels at the DM's discretion. No one will be allowed access to the cave unless authorized by Hazendel. Seers will fight to the death to protect the cave. The title Seer is a term of respect and does not bind a PC to service, though it indicates that one has served Hazendel in the past, as only he can grant access to the cave. Anyone who successfully passes within the Fires of Time may be appropriately called a Seer. In Sunndi, Seers are allowed to wear the Hazendel's personal insignia and are on that basis accorded great respect. NPC reactions should be modified by +20%.

Life Out of Balance
Guardians of the deep woods and the eternal balance, druids have often stood outside the affairs of the Flaneass, content to let nature establish her golden mean. But as nature priests, druids remain servants of the balance. Perhaps, none could have foreseen the disaster of the Greyhawk Wars but the balance has not been well served. Thus, it is that in the aftermath of the Wars, druids feel a special call to action.

The balance is out of alignment. Evil stands astride the Flaneass, poised to deliver the fatal stroke. The forces of good are scattered, isolated and desperately clinging to their once great stations. Now, must druids from every corner of the Flaneass, join in the fight against evil. The balance must be restored. Evil must be checked long enough for the forces of good to recover. To this end, druids must leave their groves and join the fray.

In the South lands of the once Great Kingdom, the sacred groves remain strong. In Sunndi, the Olvensteward organizes to fight the tide of darkness descending everywhere, even though his own nation has been largely unscathed. He senses that life is out of balance and reacts. He is an agent of the balance, unwittingly or no. Druids of the Menowood and the Rieu Wood must to his side and stand as one. From two great forests can Count Hazendel look for help.

Between the Hollow hills and the Vast Swamp, in the uttermost south of the County of Sunndi, lies the Menowood. As forests go, the Menowood is not great in expanse. Neither are its trees remarkable in size or kind. But the Menowood is old, far older than more abundant stands, and a sense of great age permeates the entirety of the forest. This is nature's cathedral. Time stands still here and the footfalls of man and elf echo hollowly. The druids of the Menowood are more truly caretakers of nature than any others in the Flaneass. The Menowood does not need them. It abides.

Even the most dull witted feel that the forest watches them here. Loggers, have disappeared. Wild fires seem to burn only long enough to clear away dead wood then mysteriously die down. Perhaps, it is the great population of treants that dwell here. Others speculate that the thick glossy moss that covers the forest floor and hangs thickly from the trees is alive and sentient. Darker tales are told of the fungi that grows so abundantly and of the rarely seen fairy races. Even the druids have yet to learn all of the Menowood's secrets.

The sacred grove of Haleigh lies in the western extent of the wood. It is here that the Druidess Bressen, the most senior of the Menowood druids, resides. Twelve great oaks rise from Oerth here and form a ring. In the center of the ring stands a large dolmen of unknown origin. Any druids who enter the circle can cast commune, weather control and call lightning spells in addition to the spells normally available to them for the remainder of the day. Druids sleeping within the circle gain the benefits of a cure serious wounds spell. Others sleeping within the circle, gain the benefits of a cure light wounds spell if their alignment is neutral. All persons sleeping within the circle will have vivid dreams of primordial forests, where some unseen presence seems to watch and wait. A saving throw vs spells must be made or these visions will haunt the waking sleeper and call for them to return to the Menowood. This haunting is not a curse and cannot be removed by a remove curse spell.

In sharp contrast, the Rieu Wood is an elven forest. The elves live in harmony with the forest and their lives and that of the forest have become one. Elven tree cities and dwellings dot the forest and well traveled trails crisscross its extent. Fruit and nut bearing trees are tended by elves, who usually live close by. The wild animals of the Rieu Wood are also carefully maintained to ensure the elves have a ready supply of meat and furs. The forest has an almost urban feel.

Only in the northern sections of the forest does nature run wild. Circumstance has made it so for the Rieu Wood almost completely spans the gap between the Glorioles Mountains and the northern most extent of the Hollow Hills. Any invasion of Sunndi from the North must pass through the Rieu Wood for the hills and mountains to either side are well guarded and all but impassable to a large army. Thus, invasions from Medegia and the Great Kingdom have concentrated on the Rieu Wood as the lesser of several evils. The elves have found it wise to let these reaches grow unchecked to better impede invaders. The unfortunate consequence of this policy has been to create a haven for monsters, driven from other areas of the forest.

The druids of the Rieu Wood are mostly elves. The sacred grove of Estoriale, lies in the western expanse of the wood where it abuts the Hollow Hills. This area has been given over to the druids and grows intentionally wild. Shevain is the chief druid of the grove. The grove itself is a circle of menhirs erected by the druids around a truly gigantic oak tree. The druids are inordinately protective of this tree, believing it to be the oldest tree of the Rieu Wood and the heart of the forest. They believe that the health of this oak mirrors the health of the forest as a whole.

Druids who enter the grove gain the spells bark skin and transport via plants in addition to any other spells normally available to them. Druids who sleep within the grove are healed as per the spell. Non druids gain no benefits and are only rarely allowed within sight of the sacred grove.

The Alliance
The druids of the Menowood and the Rieu Wood have joined with Count Hazendel in his effort to aide the cause of good throughout the Flaneass. Druids regularly accompany the parties of adventures recruited by Hazendel. Using the mystical power of the Borathe eth Alaane and the Kheren bith Karan, these adventurers have begun to make a difference. They prick Iuz in the north, forcing him to turn ever so slightly away from beleaguered Furondy. While in the west, the few remaining folk of the Grand Duchy of Geoff and Sterich tell of powerful strangers who have come out of the Crystalmists to aid them. None yet know the truth and Hazendel would have it so.