My next Greyhawk campaign: Onnwal, 606 CY

The next few months are going to see my Friday night D&D game playing through the Starter Set adventure, getting used to how the new Dungeons & Dragons rules work, incorporating the additional features of the Player’s Handbook, Monster Manual and Dungeon Master’s Guide as they come out. Based on comments from the Wizards design team, I expect it will take five or six sessions to play through, which means about three months.

After the Lost Mine of Phandelver is finished, it will be time to return to Greyhawk. My plans are to run the next campaign in Onnwal, a small state to the south of the Great Kingdom, which has been in a lot of trouble with the Scarlet Brotherhood of late. The date, 606 CY, is a couple of years after the last Friday campaign ended (and is about the time of my Saturday Greyhawk campaign as well).

Onnwal is a small state that was conquered by the Great Kingdom a long time ago (598 OR, or -46 CY), but regained its independence in the Turmoil between the Crowns (437 CY), joining a band of allied states known as the Iron League. During the Great Wars (582-4 CY), Onnwal was captured by the Scarlet Brotherhood, and remains in that state to this day.

Yes, for those reading the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer: the history of my campaign does not match up with all official references! I use them for inspiration, but in areas of the world where we haven’t yet ventured, I’m quite happy to reschedule events. The new campaign is going to be based (initially, at least) on the fight to free Onnwal from the Scarlet Brotherhood.

Onnwal’s population is made up primarily of Humans of Oeridian descent, with Dwarves and Gnomes making up the bulk of the demi-human population. I’m sure there are elves and halflings about, but their numbers are few.

Here’s a really nice map of Onnwal created by Anna B Meyer – see her website for more maps.

During the Living Greyhawk campaign, the UK and Ireland were in charge of what happened in Onnwal. Unfortunately, the adventures they created for their campaign aren’t available to us who lived elsewhere (or anyone now, really), due to the licenses involved. I have found the Gazetteer they did for Onnwal, so I’ll use that as reference material… somewhat, at least.

Ultimately, the campaign that we run in Onnwal will be informed primarily by the desires of my players and myself, without too much reference to what came before. The published work exists as a springboard for our imaginations, without dictating what we must do!

So, what’s the state of Onnwal in 606 CY? The Scarlet Brotherhood has possession of Scant and quite a bit of territory around. It has installed local lords (or raised up traitorous Onnwallians into those roles). Most of the local folk are farmers or fishermen, and treat the Brotherhood much as any other rules – trying to avoid them, pay their taxes and get on with their lives. However, there are some who remember what it was like to not be under the Brotherhood’s yoke, and that is where our players come in.

Culturally, I’m leaning towards Onnwal being a bit like Spain in the middle ages – well at least that bit towards the end of the Reconquista, where the Moors only have a foothold on the peninsula. The Scarlet Brotherhood aren’t particularly like the Moors – they’re far more like Nazis, white racial supremacists. But they perform the role of cruel overlords who must be rebelled against quite well.

The primary religions of Onnwal include Osprem (LN goddess of sailors), Zilchus (LN god of wealth and prestige), Procan (CN god of storms), Norebo (CN god of gambling), Xerbo (N god of sea merchants), and Jascar and Fortubo (LG god of hills and mining).

It might be that some of the characters come from the nearby city state of Irongate, which is strongly aligned with the Lawful Good god of paladins, Heironeous, but I’d prefer it if most of the characters were local.

Initial adventures? Probably surviving a raid by the Scarlet Brotherhood might be an idea. We’ll see what the players want to do first!

I’m likely to plot this campaign out a bit more than my usual campaigns, to give it more structure and the feel of an ongoing story. The initial goals for the characters are unlikely to be the same goals at the end of the campaign!


  1. Shieldhaven

    This may or may not be of any interest to you, but have you considered including a minority populace to parallel the Spanish Jews at the time of the Reconquista? Relatively protected under Moorish rule, but expelled or forced to convert (and thereafter oppressed) by Ferdinand and Isabella… anyway, that’s what I’d do in a similar context.


    • merricb

      I’ve vaguely considered it. It’s a good thought, though. (One book that may inform the campaign is Guy Gavriel Kay’s “The Lions of Al-Rassan”, which covers this story in a fantasy world).

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Starting a new 5E campaign: The Onnwal Rebellion | Merric's Musings

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