Thursday, September 19, 2013

Great Mysteries of Greyhawk: The Invoked Devastation

It has long been known that the Rain of Colorless Fire was wrought upon the Suloise in return for the Invoked Devastation which befell the Baklunish.  And all along we've assumed that it must have been the Suloise who Invoked The Big D, but if you read the histories, this conclusion is far from certain.  Check out the actual quotes on the matter of the Devastation from the World of Greyhawk Gazetteer (Gygax, 1980).

From the Brief History:
“When the Invoked Devastation came upon the Baklunish, their own magi brought down the Rain of Colorless fire in a terrible curse” p. 5
From description of the Dry Steppes:
“Once the area of was well-watered and fertile... but it was destroyed by the Invoked Devastation in the war with the Suloise.” p. 21

From the description of the Sea of Dust:
“In return for a terrible magical attack, the Suloise lands were inundated by a nearly invisible fiery rain...” p. 26
And that is all that the Gazetteer has to say on the matter.

What's clear is that a not-insignificant portion of the Baklunish lands were devastated by a terrible curse, and that the Bakkies* let loose an even more thorough and complete devastation on the Suliemen in the form of the Rain of Colorless Fire.  But nowhere is it definitively stated that it was actually the Sulies who Invoked the Devastation that started the Great Cataclysm Race, leaving open the possibility that a third party was responsible for The Big D.  But who?

*Is it racist to call them Bakkies?

Well, how about the Oeridians; they were also victims of Bakluni expansion, the turmoil of the war having forced them to flee their lands and head east into the Flannaes.  As there is no mention of the Oeridian homelands in the gaz, could it be that any evidence of their native lands was wiped out by the Devastation?  Perhaps Oeridian mages left a curse upon their fertile homeland which was triggered by the departure of the last Oeridian peoples.  And, not wanting to incite a rain of colorless fire on their own asses, they decided to keep mum on the topic.

Or was it the Flann?  They too suffered heavily from Bakluni expansionism as their once peaceful lands were stampeded by refugees of Oeridian and Suloise stock alike.  Perhaps Flannish devastationists teamed up with dwarven demolitions experts, gnomish telemarketers, and elven poets to unleash the Devastation in hopes of stemming the flow.

Or even the Bakluni: The text from the Brief History in particular seems to lend itself to the interpretation that the Devastation was something that the Bakluni may have brought on themselves.  Perhaps while developing their apocalyptic technology they accidentally unleashed the Devastation on their own lands.  Undeterred, they sharpened up their game and let fly the Rain on their enemies. Or maybe it wasn't an accident; maybe they went all Guernica on some minority population in their realm--like the Oeridans--and then took it a step further, blamed it on the Suel, and used it as provocation for unleashing the Rain del Fuego sin Color, sort of like how Poland provoked Nazi Germany into starting WWII. 

Or, indeed, it might have been the Suloise all along.  The cataloguers of the Gazetteer may have been restrained in ascribing the Devastation to the Suloise because the RoCF was so thorough and widespread in its destruction that no Suloise who were in-the-know about the Big D survived to take credit for it.

Gygax, E. Gary. World of Greyhawk Gazetteer, 1980. TSR Hobbies, Inc., Lake Geneva, WI


grodog said...

Some good ideas in here, Tim. I've always been fascinated by the cataclysmic events in Greyhawk's history (my first post to Greytalk years ago focused on enumerating them), so it's good to see that I'm not the only one out here ;)


Timrod said...

Yeah, the more I read the old Greyhawk material the gladder I am that things were not more clearly enumerated. I would totally be out of business if not for the vagaries inherent to describing an entire world in 32 pages.

Mike Bridges said...

I really dig Greyhawk conspiracy theories. I'll be sure to spread this one around. Great use of the scant info available!

Mystic Scholar said...

The vagaries allow for DM input. Too detailed a world is far less interesting to play in.

And "the Hound" knows he's not the only one "out there."

You've inspired much thought and I shall have to give serious consideration into incorporating one of these theories into my version of Greyhawk.

Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

This is a great article, very good read! Belated reply here, but I vaguely remember reading something about the Oeridians as sort of a Gothic type of people, that served one or both empires (my memory is not THAT good), but fled the destruction of both empires. Seems like I read that they knew about it ahead of time in some way...but again, long time ago.