I ran two campaigns in the County of Ulek between 2001 and 2007, using similar themes: the invasion of the county by the “Fhoi Myore”, deformed giants (read Fomorians) with mystical powers, drawing heavily on Celtic mythology and the works of Michael Moorcock.
The County of Ulek was the homeland of my original AD&D character, Meliander Corthan, and material I developed for his background made its way into the games I ran.
I’m happy to say that the Fhoi Myore were eventually defeated in our final 3.5e session.
Court Wizards (2002)
Although it is the long-standing tradition in the County of Ulek to have a druidic ruler, various Counts have found it advantageous to have an advisor who knew more than a little about the arcane side of magic – a Court Wizard.
The power of the position has varied according to the holder and the Count; in most cases it has simply been as a minor advisory role, with little weight given to the advice, generally because the druidic training of the Count was in opposition to the arcane training of the Court Wizard.
The last three Court Wizards have been exceptional people, however. Count Lewenn has been more tolerant of their advice as well – which may be one reason that others in the druidic hierarchy are not entirely pleased with him at the current time.
Garion, the first of the three, took up the role as an elderly man, but held the position for fifteen years (566-580 CY). For the most part, he was retiring and deferential. The most important part of his service to the County was the introduction of more structured use of arcane magic into the celebrations of the four Festivals: Midwinter, Midsummer, and the Solstices. Illusions in the main, but fireworks and other amusements as well. The gnomes of Ulek now aid in the production of these illusions and fireworks, and the halflings are the most devoted spectators.
His student, Meliander Corthan (male human Wiz13, LG) returned to Jurnre after Garion’s death to take up the position of Court Wizard. Meliander had been an active adventurer, and honoured by King Belvor of Furyondy for his work in hunting down remaining elements of the Temple of Elemental Evil.
Meliander was a more active political figure than Garion, although none could doubt his love for his homeland. Under his advice, and with the support of the Count and the Knight-Marshal, the County of Ulek began to build up its army against reports of growing evil in the Pomarj and the Wild Coast. This effort had barely begun, however, when the Greyhawk Wars erupted over the continent. With the forces of Iuz invading Furyondy and the Shield Lands, Meliander counselled the Count to send troops to aid the beleagered realms. The Count, with the agreement of his other advisors, concurred, and most of the County’s army was sent north.
Meliander himself, receiving word of agents of both Iuz and Vecna looking for an artifact of some power – the Codex of the Infinite Planes – gathered together an adventuring company and left the County in order to stop them. It appears that he was successful, but none of the company returned.
His wife, an enchantress of noble birth from the City of Greyhawk, assumed his position as Court Wizard. The Lady Caitlin of Greyhawk (female human, NG, Wiz8), as she has become known, does not have the martial prowess of her husband, but is his superior in dealing with people and inspiring them. She soon had to deal with the invasion from the Pomarj of “General” Turmosh Mak and his horde of humanoids – with most of Ulek’s forces away to the north, the County and Principality found themselves in an unenviable position. Together with Knight Marshal Lachlan, she managed to inspire the folk of Ulek to resist the invaders.
Today, Lady Caitlin still holds her husband’s position as Court Wizard, and there is little doubt in anyone’s mind that she would retain it if he were ever to return. Although most in the court believe Meliander to be dead, Lady Caitlin believes that he is still alive, and rebukes severely any who suggest otherwise.
Lady Caitlin seldom makes overt use of her magical skills, instead preferring to rely on her insight and charm. Her enemies in the court are primarily those she has blocked in advancing beyond their abilities – a number that is steadily increasing. Caitlin splits her time between the Royal Court and a tower constructed by her husband in the Silver Wood. She is raising her young daughter, Teresa, aided by her familiar – a pseudodragon named Teri – and Gillian the White (LG female human Pal9), sister of Meliander. Teresa was born in 581 C.Y, and has no conscious memory of her father, which greatly grieves her mother. Adventurers in the County are likely to find Caitlin sympathetic and an occasional source of commissions, as she has a wide ranging network of informants keeping her up to date on events throughout the western portion of the Flanaess.
Knight Marshal Lachlan (2002)
Within the County of Ulek, Knight-Marshal Lachlan (LN human Ftr 7) is the overall commander of all troops of the County. Knight-Marshall Lachlan rose to prominence during the Greyhawk Wars, when the previous commander of the combined forces of the County was slain in combat with the forces of Vecna, far to the north. The Knight-Marshal is a practical man, a widower with one child, and extremely unidealistic. He sees the commitment of forces to the Furyondian war against Iuz as having been the greatest folly, and he lives by the following motto: “See that Ulek is safe, first and last!” The Knight-Marshal is a permanent member of the Count’s council, and one the Count gives much weight to, as the Count is very mindful of the heroic deeds that his commander did during the invasion from the Pomarj. Often, the Knight-Marshall finds himself in disagreement with the representatives from the clergy on the council board, especially with Huldil, a druid of Berei, or with the nobles who wish Ulek to be more open to trade, and thus, less secure. Strangely enough, the Knight-Marshal gets along quite well with Lady Caitlin of Greyhawk (NG human Wiz8), even though her views are often opposed to his own: this is because Lady Caitlin proved herself to the Knight Marshall during the War, as she rallied the Ulekian people. The Knight-Marshal’s relationship with his son, Elmo, is a complicated one. Elmo’s mother, whom the Knight Marshal loved dearly, died in childbirth, and Elmo has been raised by his stern father. Lachlan cannot look at his son without being reminded of his loss. In raising his son, Lachlan has rarely had a good word for him, seeking an unattainable perfection from his son. In addition to his duties as the commander of Ulek’s forces, the Knight-Marshal Lachlan is also the chief representative of the Count’s Justice. Twice a year, he makes a tour around the County to assure himself that no aspect of the Count’s Law is being misused, and to collect petitions for redress.
The Troops of Ulek It should be emphasised that, in the main, the commanders of the various Ulekian troops rarely work together in a wholly unified fashion, as they are of varied sorts. Making up Ulek’s armies are the following forces:
The Rangers of the East are led by Captain Lloyd (N human Ranger 6). Lloyd is independent as his troops are, though he does reluctantly submit to the Knight-Marshall’s orders when he thinks they make sense (as they often do). The Rangers, primarily of human stock, though a few elves and half-elves may also be found amongst their number, are trained woodsmen and hunters. Their writ is to protect the east of Ulek from incursions from the Wild Coast and from the Pomarj.
They do this by using ambushes, traps and snares where possible. Each of the rangers is typically attired in leather or studded leather armour, armed with short or long bows, and a sword and dagger. Their number is primarily made up of actual Rangers and also a number of Rogues and Fighter/Rogues specialising in woodland skills. Knight-Marshal Lachlan is the commander of the County Cavalry, a small group of light and medium cavalry which patrols the western borders and heartland of the County. The medium cavalry is primarily made up of those humans of noble birth in the County; the light cavalry is commanded by nobles but its numbers are made up much more of those of the middle classes. Although the County Cavalry is relatively small in numbers (perhaps no more than 300 riders), they have a disproportionate effect on the morale and reputation of the County’s defenders, due to their high level of training, their speed, and their dedication in battle.
Apart from these two bodies, the County of Ulek has no standing armies. However, during a time of war, the following bodies are formed:
* Light and Medium Human Infantry. The commanders of these forces come from various population centres around the county, or are assigned by Knight-Marshal Lachlan.
* Halfling Slingers and Shortbowmen. One company of such comes from Jurnre itself, others are formed as required from the halfling villages. The commander of the Jurnre Slingers, Master Proodfae, (LN halfling Ftr6/Rog1) is a permanent member of the Count’s Council, and also represents many of the halflings in Jurnre.
* Gnome Crossbowmen and Light Infantry. The gnomes are much more concentrated towards the east of the County; their commander Hylae Corrinan, (CG gnome Ftr2/Rog4) only rarely attends Council meetings, as she prefers to see to the security of her small settlements in the foothills.
It should probably be emphasised that by no means are the combined forces of the County a formidible force. They are trained primarily in repelling minor humanoid incursions from the Pomarj and Wild Coast.
During the early stages of the Greyhawk Wars, much of the army was sent north to aid in the defense of Furyondy, Veluna and the Shield Lands from the invading Vecna. When Turmosh Mak led his army from the Pomarj, the County was ill-prepared to defend itself: in addition to the army being out of position, its commander had been slain, and the Court Wizard of Ulek, Meliander the Mage, had disappeared. It was only by the dint of much diplomacy and rallying by Knight-Marshal Lachlan with help from Lady Caitlin of Greyhawk that the County was prepared in time.
The characters, several years later… (2006)
Lady Caitlin, Court Wizard is the wife of Meliander Corthan, who held the position of Court Wizard before he disappeared in 582 CY. Upon her accession to the post shortly thereafter, she had to deal with the invasion from the Pomarj of “General” Turmosh Mak and his horde of humanoids – with most of Ulek’s forces away to the north, the County and Principality found themselves in an unenviable position. Together with Knight Marshal Lachlan, she managed to inspire the folk of Ulek to resist the invaders.
Today, nine years later and in her mid 30s, Lady Caitlin is well regarded as the Court Wizard. Lady Caitlin still holds out hope for her husband’s return, and has not remarried.
Lady Caitlin seldom makes overt use of her magical skills, instead preferring to rely on her insight and charm. She has made several enemies amongst the more fanatical in the military and church, although Count Lewenn and his heir Lady Paeneitha are strong supporters of their wizard. Caitlin splits her time between the Royal Court and a tower constructed by her husband in the Silver Wood.
Adventurers in the County are likely to find Caitlin sympathetic and an occasional source of commissions, as she has a wide ranging network of informants keeping her up to date on events throughout the western portion of the Flanaess.
Teresa Corthan was born in 581 C.Y, and has no conscious memory of her father, which greatly grieves her mother. She is training in the Bardic College of Ulek, although Teresa has not yet settled on her discipline, absorbing skills in learning, music and magic extremely well.
Branagh is one of the younger masters of the Bardic College of Ulek. He is highly intelligent and charming, but has a selfish streak that may undermine what he achieves for the county. He is a master of song, oratory and history, especially the history of magic. On occasion, he travels on expeditions to research some piece of lore or another, mostly with a few mercenaries he has hired for the purpose.
It is rumoured that Branagh is in contact with the rogue wizard Lochiel, once a pupil of Lady Caitlin’s, but banished from the County Ulek for unknown reasons.
Raina is a senior librarian of the Bardic College and rather wedded to her job. She has a love of new knowledge that is only paralleled by her fear of venturing outside Jurnre – or her library! She is often the first person visitors to the library will meet, and will happily engage them in conversation for hours as she tries to learn everything they know. If the visitor can get a word in sideways, they find that she has an enormous store of knowledge – in addition to remembering everything she hears, she knows where most of the books are kept.
Huntmaster Haldir is the leader of the elven rangers of the Silverwood. He was captured by the Priests of Chaos when they first became active, and after being rescued became a strong voice in demanding action be taken against them. However, as they went quiet after their initial activity, he found himself the lone voice suggesting such action. With their recent resurgence, he is likely to find more support.
Lady Paenaitha is the orphaned niece of Count Lewenn – in fact, the count has never married – and in recent years has become his adopted daughter and heir. Well, as much of an heir as is possible in the County, where the druidical circles have final say in who becomes Count.
Her initial tomboyish ways have somewhat ameliorated, and she has been studying with the druids. That she displays some talent for the druidical arts is not in doubt, nor that she is drawn towards the faith of Ehlonna. This may prove troublesome down the path. Count Lewenn honours Berei above other deities, and the druids of Beory and Obad-hai are jealous of their diminished stature.
The halfling knight Savy is her protector and champion. A veteran of many adventures, Savy is occasionally sent on missions that Paenaitha considers important. (A recent example of this was during the recent incursion into the Bright Desert by forces loyal to Rahotep, a evil being from another plane).
Paenaitha is a NG Human Druid 3 or thereabouts – she certainly can scribe her own druidical scrolls, and sent some as a present to Sionaid of Copperleaf, with whom she is friendly.
She is most friendly with the Leafsisters of Ehlonna that live in the Oakhurst barony, along with members of the Baron’s court there. She wants to discover what happened to Willem of Copperleaf, who disappeared during the last incursion of the Fhoi Myore, but her studies and position preclude her from doing more at this time.
Sionaid of Copperleaf is the younger daughter of the cantankerous Baron Copperleaf. With her recent kidnapping by the Priests of Chaos, Baron Copperleaf has become even more disaffected with the Count and the druidic hierarchy, and has threatened to secede from the County!
Derwa Leafsister (2006)
Derwa Leafsister, NG Human Cleric 9
Derwa is a priestess of Ehlonna, and the commander of the rangers that are based in the Borderland Keep. She was posted there by members of the Old Faith to keep her out of the way, but her stout resistance of the various humanoid bands that have attempted to enter the County of Ulek has raised her stature significantly in the County.
Derwa has fiery red hair and a pale complexion, and dresses in functional garb of green and brown; her only concession to fashion is a necklace of emeralds. She is famed for her ability with the bow, and she instructs many young rangers in its use. She is worried about the orc’s destruction of natural habitats, and is somewhat suspicious of half-orcs.
Derwa tends to have an acerbic tongue and rarely suffers fools gladly, although she means well. She knows the terrain and humanoid tribes of the Wild Coast and Pomarj area very well, as in addition to collecting reports from the rangers who travel there, much of her early work as a priestess was spent travelling there.
Derwa is in her early forties (circa 591 CY) and is responsible for a group of a dozen rangers that are based in the Keep and Courwood. Although she spends most of her time in the Keep, she has family in Courwood and visits there for at least two months of each year.
Derwa often sends her rangers or allied groups into the Suss Forest, Wild Coast or Pomarj to keep track of what the various humanoid factions are doing, and thus may make a good patron for adventurers. As she is capable of casting raise dead, she can be a very useful person to know; Derwa will reduce the fee for doing so for characters of good alignment if they swear to serve her (and the County of Ulek) for a period of time – normally three to six months.
She is closer to the Keep’s Castellan, Withell, than any other authority figure, even those in her own faith, and the pair share most of their decision-making chores.