Greyhawk, named for the small grey hawks which populate the region, was originally a trading outpost on the Selintan specializing in local wood and woven garments. In time the town developed strong textiles and meat-packing industries. From the earliest days, Greyhawk was ruled by a warlord who took the title "Landgraf of the Selintan." This first Landgraf's son was then married to the Gynarch of Hardby's daughter. The nuptials formalized a political alliance that served as the basis for rule over the Lanstadt of Selintan, the area that eventually became known as the Domain of Greyhawk.
In 4 CY, Greyhawk came under the domination of the Great Kingdom of Aerdy and remained so while strong Overkings ruled from the Malachite Throne in Rauxes. The Great Kingdom's influence over the city began to wane during the third and especially the fourth centuries as the House of Rax declined and the Overkings hold on distant provinces became increasingly tenuous.
Rise to prominence, decline and recovery
In approximately 310 CY, the mage Zagig Yragerne emerged from the Wild Coast and bribed his way into a seat on the Directing Oligarchy. Soon after, the Oligarchs elected Zagig Lord Mayor.
Greyhawk subsequently rose in fame and prominence under the leadership of Lord Mayor Zagig. He instituted legal reform, developed a new currency, fortified the walls, founded the city's first university and embarked on a major building program. Most notably, he directed the construction of nearby Castle Greyhawk.
Although Zagig -- later known as Zagyg -- became increasingly erratic over time, his rule is generally considered to be the most effective in the Free City's history and brought widespread prosperity to the region. Much to the annoyance of Dyvers and other rival cities, Zagig proclaimed Greyhawk to be the "Gem of the Flanaess," and did much to ensure this moniker was justified. Unfortunately, the "Mad Archmage" disappeared in 421 CY, leaving no clues regarding his whereabouts, and no heir to inherit the title of Lansgraf.
In 498 CY, after decades of Zagig's absence, the Landstadt was therefore abolished, the title of Lansgraf permanently retired, and the Free City's Directing Oligarchy assumed political authority. The new Lord Mayor Paerinn oficially proclaimed Greyhawk a free city, though it had been effectively independent of the Great Kingdom's rule for over a century.
Soon thereafter, the city lost its claim over Hardby and the Wild Coast, as the leading women of Hardby broke from Greyhawk and established the ruling office of Despotrix. This loss of lands sent the Free City into economic decline, a situation that persisted for several decades. Fortunately, the discovery of treasure in the dungeons beneath Castle Greyhawk and other nearby locales set off a gold rush of sorts, and Greyhawk's economic fortunes recovered substantially in the second half of the sixth century.
The Greyhawk Wars and the post-war situation
The Free City of Greyhawk actually had less direct involvement in the so-called Greyhawk Wars than many political entities across the Flanaess, but because the final truce was brokered in Greyhawk in CY 584, the war has come to be named for the city.
The Wars had several important effects on the city, however, particularly in that the unrest drove Hardby and the Wild Coast cities of Safeton and Narwell to re-submit to the rule of the Directing Oligarchs. This situation is unstable, however, as it was largely fear of Turrosh Mak's humanoid raiders from the Pomarj that prompted this move, and the Despotrix and the Wild Coast cities once again agitate for increased independence.
Also as a result of the Wars, the city has seen an influx of new citizens. Some of these are wealthy diplomats, and some are "nobles" who have contributed significantly to Greyhawk's coffers with the purchase of various counterfeit titles and documents. But many newcomers to Greyhawk are destitute refugees, or are merely using the city as a base for hatching political plots and intrigues across the Flanaess. In particular, there are persistent rumors of covert Scarlet Brotherhood operations in the city.
The post-war situation for the Free City is therefore mixed. Greyhawk's finances are in the best shape they have been since Zagig's departure, but the city faces significant challenges arising from political instability and increasing criminal activity.
The Free City of Greyhawk is located centrally in the Flanaess, which is the easternmost part of the continent of Oerik on the world of Oerth. The city controls a large swath of land along the Selintan River from the Nyr Dyv south to Woolly Bay most of the Cairn Hills, parts of the Gnarley Forest, the northern Wild Coast, and parts of the Abbor-Alz. The entire region is officially known as the Domain of Greyhawk. The Domain is bordered on the east by the Abbor-Alz and its western border lies within the Gnarley Forest. The area south of Greyhawk City along the Selintan is known as the Plain of Greyhawk.
As of 589 CY (Common Year), the city itself boasted a population of 69,500, making it one of the largest cities on Oerth. The population for the entire Greyhawk Domain is roughly 160,000, including the larger towns of Safeton (pop. 6,100), Hardby (pop. 5,100) and Elmshire (pop. 4,000).
The Free City of Greyhawk hosts temples and shrines to many deities, including Beory, Boccob, Celestian, Corellon Larethian, Ehlonna, Fharlanghn, Garl Glittergold, Heironeous, Istus, Kord, Kurell, Lirr, Moradin, Norebo, Obad-Hai, Olidammara, Osprem, Pelor, Pholtus, Procan, Ralishaz, Rao, Saint Cuthbert, Trithereon, Ulaa, Wee Jas, Xerbo, Yondalla, and Zilchus. The worship of evil deities and fiends is forbidden, and such cults, though they may have followers, do not have a public presence. Evil religions that have established a base in the city in recent memory include those of Incabulos, Iuz, Nerull, and Vecna.
Many more deities are worshipped in other settlements of the Domain of Greyhawk.
The most widely spoken language in Greyhawk City and most of the Domain is Common, though other tongues are spoken in settlements with large non-human populations, such as Elmshire, Greysmere, and Grossetgrottel.
The Domain of Greyhawk has no officially named provinces. Some of the region's settlements are under the direct rule of the Free City, while others have varying degrees of autonomy. Notable settlements include:
The Free City of Greyhawk
Blackstone -A mining town in the Cairn Hills directly controlled by Greyhawk City
Diamond Lake - A mining town in the Cairn Hills directly controlled by Greyhawk City
Elmshire - A large halfling town on the Nyr Dyv, east of the Selintan
Greysmere - A dwarven stronghold south of the Mistmarsh
Grossetgrottel - A gnome warren located in the northwestern Cairn Hills
Hardby - A small, virtually autonmous port city on Woolly Bay, east of the Selintan
Magepoint - A coastal village east of Elmshire, under the protection of Tenser the archmage
Narwell - A large inland town on the former Wild Coast
Safeton - A small port city on the former Wild Coast, virtually under martial law
Steaming Springs - A mining town in the Cairn Hills directly controlled by Greyhawk City
Greyhawk's Directing Oligarchy elects one of its own to as Lord Mayor, who serves as the head of state in addition to his directorial duties. The current Lord Mayor, Nerof Gasgal, has held office since 571 CY. The Lord Mayor heads both the Directing Oligarchy and the Council of Mayors and Manorial Lords. The chief of state also officially heads the military, though actual command is most often left to the Captain General of the Watch.
The Free City of Greyhawk is ruled by the Directing Oligarchy, an executive council of twelve to eighteen members representing the City's major professional guilds and the military. In some cases, the Oligarchy may include important wizards or clerics. New Directors are chosen by current council members when a vacency must be filled.
The Greyhawk Council of Mayors and Manorial Lords is an annual assembleage of leaders from the various baronies and towns in Greyhawk Domain. In theory, this gathering allows citizens of the Domain to have a voice in the governance of the region, but in practice this Council has little real authority.
Major legal matters in the Free City of Greyhawk are adjudicated by a Judge of Greyhawk, one of eight such officials appointed by the Directing Oligarchy. One of these eight is chosen to serve as Chief judge of Greyhawk, a position currently held by Sir Anton Palmirian who also sits on the Directing Oligarchy and oversees the Guild of Lawyers and Scribes. In cases of great import, three Judges of Greyhawk may preside. Appeals of major cases are always heard by a panel of three Judges of Greyhawk, though the Lord Mayor sometimes sits in place of one of the Judges.
Lesser matters in Greyhawk City are tried by magistrates from the Guild of Lawyers and Scribes.
The Free City of Greyhawk controls most of the Cairn Hills, which provide the domain with great mineral wealth, such as iron, gems, and silver.
Nearby Castle Greyhawk, with its extensive dungeons, draws adventurers and traders to the Domain of Greyhawk from across the Flanaess. As such, the Castle generates significant economic benefits for the City in trade, taxation and treasure.
The Domain of Greyhawk's standard coinage consists of the platinum plate, gold orb (gp), electrum lucky (ep), silver noble (sp), and copper common (cp). All of the coins are round, except for the platinum plate, which is square. The current coinage system replaced the previous system, which included coinage worth less than the copper common known as bronze zees, brass bits, and iron drabs.
Several roads link the settlements of the Domain of Greyhawk, including the High Road (from Greyhawk City to Elmshire), the Urnst Trail (from the High Road to the Duchy of Urnst), the Western Road (from Ford Keep on the Selintan to Dyvers), and the River Road (south from Greyhawk City along the Selintan).
Much river traffic takes place along the Selintan River, which can accommodate all but the largest sea-going vessels from the Nyr Dyv and Woolly Bay. Smaller vessels ply the Ery and Neen rivers.
The Domain of Greyhawk's military forces, though technically under the Lord Mayor's authority, are usually commanded by the Domain's highest-ranking military officer, the Captain General of the Watch, who also sits on the city's Directing Oligarchy. The current Captain General is Tigran Gellner.
Greyhawk's forces consist of several units, including:
The Cairn Hills Force, led by Commander Schinus Balint.
The Greyhawk Mountaineers.
The Hardby Marines, led by Commander Wilbrem Carister.
The Narwell Headhunters.
The Safeton Garrison, led by Commander Turin Deathstalker.
The "Water Rats."