Post Greyhawk Wars: 585 CY
The Circle of Eight
Rary the Traitor
In 584 CY, he organized what seems to have been a plot against the Circle of Eight. Mere moments before the Pact of Greyhawk was to he signed, which would end what has become known as the Greyhawk Wars, Rary attempted to destroy the signing site. Members of the Eight, Tenser the Archmage and Otiluke, were killed m the subsequent magical battle, leaving nothing that could be resurrected. Simultaneous to the battle, fellow conspirators including Lord Robilar attacked the residences of Otiluke and Tenser, destroying all their clones and cloning material The notion that Rary had plotted against his fellow Circle members and killed two of them came as a total shock to all who knew him. Rary and Lord Robilar fled the scene and eventually found their way into the Bright Desert.
Formerly a member of the Circle of Eight, Tenser the Archmage is still associated with this group in the public mind, though he does little work with the Circle now. Before his death in 584 CY, this wizard was the strongest advocate for law and good in the Eight~ and often found himself at loggerheads with those members who prized balance above all. Following a near‑tragedy at the hands of Vecna’s followers, all members of the Eight kept a number of active clones However, after the battle that killed Tenser and Otiluke, all discoverable clones of the two mages were destroyed by co-conspirators of the assassin, Rary of Ket. One clone of Tenser was finally recovered from a secret location. When the cloned Tenser returned to his castle on the shore of the Nyr Dyv in 585 CY, he retired from the Circle of Eight and began a campaign to promote the forces of law and good in the Flanaess.
Otiluke and Other Past Members
Otiluke joined the Circle of Eight in 576 CY, replacing the aged wizard Leonund who retired that year to pursue other interests. Like Tenser, Otiluke fell to Rary’s treachery m 584 CY and was slain in the City of Greyhawk, though not before wounding Rary. Otiluke seems to be permanently dead. He was formerly the President of the Society of Magi and a member of the Directing Oligarchy of the City of Greyhawk, and his membership in the Circle of Eight was a complete secret to any but the other members. Leomund was a clever and practical individual who invented numerous spells of containment used by adventurers the Flanaess over. He kept his whereabouts a secret, though he is generally thought to have once lived in Medegia. He has not been heard from in some years. In 581 CY Jallarzi Sallavarian replaced the powerful wizard Bucknard, who vanished in 579 CY while exploring an unknown demiplane. His fate is not known. Bucknard was fairly young when he disappeared, but he was rumoured to have become an archmage and was well-known in royal courts from Keoland to Nyrond.
Mordenkainen and The Circle of Eight
No living persons are more famous in the Flanaess than Mordenkainen and the Circle of Eight. These nine wizards serve as unofficial “watchdogs” on the continent, monitoring Oerik for trouble. Because most members are neutral in alignment, the group is concerned with maintaining balance in its world and not allowing any faction to become too powerful or overwhelming. In recent years, however, as evil forces have threatened to seize control of the land, the Circle of Eight has worked on the side of good in order to contain these ever-growing evils.
The contributions of the Circle of Eight are woven into the fabric of Greyhawk and Oerth itself. Much has changed since Mordenkainen first founded the organization. The Flanaess has suffered years of continental war. And the face of this pivotal group has changed forever. In the current era of the campaign, the Circle of Eight is needed more than ever to counter the forces that threaten to upset Oerth’s delicate balance of power.
A Balance is Struck
The Circle of Eight’s reputation spans the breadth of the Flanaess. Its name (if not its exact demeanour) is common currency among noblemen and villagers alike. Despite this, the Circle’s full membership has never been known to those outside the organization (everyone knows of the ‘eight’ – but there are many underlings). The group has not always been so reclusive. Its precursor, The Citadel of Eight, was a known opponent of darkness in its many guises. Its members stood, and fell protecting the land, defending Oerth from the influence of malign beings and rarely those of benevolent interlopers as well.
The series of alliances that would evolve into the Circle of Eight began simply over a meal of venison and Celenese nectar wine in a posh inn near the shores of the Wild Coast. At that table, nearly thirty years ago, Mordenkainen debated with his young apprentice, Bigby, the merits of taking an active hand in maintaining the celestial balance of power. Thereafter, the two struck upon a plan to gather a group of like-minded individuals that would act to hinder advances by those who would dominate the Flanaess. That their expected exploits would impart upon the mages no small amount of lost magical lore only served to hasten the alliance. Within months, Mordenkainen had brought the renowned warrior Robilar to his cause, as well as the cleric Riggby, and his zealous assistant, Yrag. From the shores of the Nyr Dyv, Mordenkainen recruited the righteous Tenser, who in turn introduced the dim-witted though well-meaning Serten to the assembly. Finally, the young woodsman, Otis, rounded out the group. They called themselves the Citadel of Eight. Taking the name from Mordenkainen’s renowned Obsidian Citadel, in the Yatil Mountains. In the years that followed, their adventures focused on Greyhawk and the Selintan valley and the crags of the Cairn Hills and depths of the Suss Forest were opened into their prying vision. In the years of their companionship, both Robilar and Yrag were ennobled by Greyhawk and Riggby was promoted speedily within the church of Boccob in Verbobonc. Tenser, Bigby, and Mordenkainen likewise advanced in their own wizardly ways, gaining arcane knowledge and power. For a group that so decisively defeated its enemies, there remained several problems. Robilar never quite bought into Mordenkainen’s philosophy, and he and Tenser often bickered over matters of morality. Serten, though seen as useful was never truly respected and Otis, tired of uunderground excursions and forays into urban territories left the group, decrying his friend’s as cave-delvers and treasure seekers blind to the real problems of the world. Over the years, the Citadel played home to such luminaries as Prince Melf Brightflame of the Olvenfolk, the half-orc Quij, Felnorith, Robilar’s brother Terik, and even, at one point, the Quasi-Deity Murlynd in disguise.
Nearly a decade after the Citadel’s formation, Otis’ critical words took on the air of prophecy. In 569 CY, the first arrow flew at Emridy Meadows. The Citadel was noticeably absent. Whether investigating magical secrets far to the west or unearthing lost passages in Urnst’s Maure Castle, these self-absorbed celebrities were too preoccupied to influence one of the century’s most critical battles. All were absent save Serten, who fought valiantly at the side of Prince Thrommel, against the hordes of Elemental Evil. When Serten fell none of his friends stood at his side. Though most attended his ostentatious funeral service in Verbobonc, a crucial rift had been torn in the organization. The Citadel was crumbling. Tenser blamed Mordenkainen and retired inward to his castle. Terik and Yrag vanished, some said to the anonymity of the Bandit Kingdoms. Even the loyal Bigby left the side of his one-time master and returned to Oldridge, where he adventured for a time with a band of boyhood friends. Mordenkainen, the man who had brought the Citadel together, simply shrugged and returned, with cold eyes to his studies.
Formation of the Circle
The chaos surrounding the return to power of the demi-god Iuz, in CY 570 prompted Mordenkainen to consider a new paradigm. Though the Old One worked to check the growing power of the Horned Society, and kept Furyondy’s eyes on its northern borders, Mordenkainen knew well that the situation would not last. The dissolution of the Citadel left Mordenkainen without a tool to shape events as he would and though he hardly admitted it to himself he longed to return to a life of adventure. The Citadel’s primary failure, he surmised had been its inclusive philosophy. As its founding concept had been arcane, he had been foolish to assume that men like Robilar or Rigby would rally to his cause without subtly working against it for reasons personal, spiritual or political. Men of intellect and sorceress skill, whose primary interests were more than material, would replace them. Thus was born the Circle of Eight. Over the next year Mordenkainen invited some of the most prominent magi in the Flanaess to join him. By the first month of 571 CY, he had gathered eight mages to his cause. Among them Bigby, Otto, Rary, Nystul, Drawmij, and the affable Bucknard. The Circle in those early days worked to check the power of influential beings in Eastern Oerik. When they could not directly intervene they sponsored groups of adventurers, as in the sacking of Iggwilv’s former haunt at the Tsojcanth Caverns in the mid-570’s. Whether or not those agents always knew who set them upon their quests is a matter of some debate. Privately, members of the Circle explored fantastic corners of Oerth, including the strange and foreboding City of the Gods near Blackmoor, further depths of Castle Greyhawk, and even the manifold layers of the infernal Abyss. More importantly, through their own adventurers and the exploits of those related to them, the Circle began to formulate what soon would become one of the most impressive networks of informers and agents the Flanaess has ever known.
The Circle Completed
The membership of the Circle changed little in the years between its inception and 574 CY, when Tenser, still bitter over the dissolution of the Citadel, sought membership. After one of the founding mages of the group abandoned Oerth to explore other planes of existence, the petition was granted and Tenser brought his unique, if less-than-subtle, ambition to the ideology of the group. Two years later, with the addition of the mage Otiluke, the Circle solidified its reputation as a political power in the Central Flanaess. As president of the Society of Magi, Otiluke brought with him a seat on Greyhawk’s Directing Oligarchy and the group initiated its long-anticipated drive to influence the policies of temporal leaders throughout the Marklands. Jallarzi Sallavarian was invited to join in 581 CY, replacing the much esteemed Bucknard, who had mysteriously vanished two years earlier. The final week of her six‑month trial membership was to be a baptism by fire.
The Return of Vecna
Alerted to a rising evil in the Flanaess, the Circle hastily gathered for a nearly unprecedented field operation in 581 CY. A new power sought to join Oerth’s vast pantheon, and its efforts threatened to corrupt the magical order of the known world. The Circle travelled to the hills south of Verbobonc, where they investigated the tomb of a long-dead Oeridian tyrant who was thought to have possessed the awesome artefacts known as the Hand and Eye of Vecna. Finding the tyrant alive, after a fashion, and completely controlled by the Whispered One, the ill-prepared Circle of Eight panicked and was defeated. Vecna destroyed the entire Circle, save Mordenkainen, who had elected to remain in Greyhawk as a safeguard against lust such an occurrence. When news reached the arch mage he mobilized the Circle’s allies and a small cadre of apprentice wizards. Former companions, and long-time confidantes embarked on a nearly hopeless bid to thwart Vecna’s apotheosis. Somehow (it is whispered that they employed the aid of luz, who stood to lose much under the deification of the Lich Lord). The intrepid adventurers managed to banish the Maimed God at the strange stone circles known as the Tovag Baragu, and Oerth returned to relative normalcy, save for the absence of the Circle of Eight
Mordenkainen addressed this absence by recovering what was left of his fallen comrades and cloning them. This endeavour consumed time that otherwise might have seen him addressing the reports of the Circle’s allies in the North, who warned of alarming developments in Stonefist and the Barbarian Lands. When those events spiralled into the first conflicts of the Greyhawk Wars, the Circle’s clones remained undeveloped and by the time the clones reached full maturation, the Circle of Eight had been forced to take a reactive stance to the tumultuous events unfolding before them. Though the Circle never acted concertedly during the Greyhawk Wars, certain hotspots received a good deal of their attention. Mordenkainen, Bigby and Otto fought against the Old One’s army at the infamous Battle of Critwall Bridge, and Drawmij was instrumental in organizing the flood of refugees from the Lost Lands to fastnesses in the Good Hills. Nystul worked primarily alone in besieged Tenh, while Otto and Bigby left Mordenkainen in the Vesve Forest to do what they could for the Iron League. Citing pressing personal needs Rary retreated to his tower in Lopolla and refused to come to the aid of his companions.
When the political rumblings that signalled the end to the conflict reached the Free City of Greyhawk the entire Circle was on hand to ensure a favourable outcome to the peace process. Their network of agents researched the backgrounds of key diplomats and participants in the proceedings and magical divinations were conducted to unmask any would-be saboteurs. Never did the view of those scrying crystals turn inward however, toward the plans of the single individual who could do the most harm to the delegates’ cause. Rary’s treachery that day killed Tenser and Otiluke and gained the Arch mage of Ket everlasting infamy. Spurned from his family by his brother and banned from Greyhawk itself by Mordenkainen, Rary fled to the Bright Desert to uncover its secrets and inaugurate an empire.
Coming full Circle
Since the war, the Circle has admitted three new members rounding out their number. From the far reaches of the ancient lands of the Baklunish, they courted Alhamazad the Wise, Theodain Eriason, the Circle’s first true demihuman member came from the Yeomanry. The first post-war addition however, was the most obvious, Warnes Starcoat, Counsellor to the Courts of Urnst had already dignified himself by helping the Circle recover the powerful Crook of Rao from the clutches of the Mother of All Witches, Iggwilv. Canon Hazen’s heroic use of that artefact in 586 CY validated Starcoat’s inclusion, as did the arch mage’s crucial role in the horrific circumstances surrounding Tenser’s return from the realm of the dead. In the years since the close of the Greyhawk Wars much has been done to re establish the Flanaess’s balance of power. Much work remains however, and Mordenkainen and the mage Circle have resolved to ensure that it is completed.
In the early 580’s, the Circle of Eight included Bigby, Drawmij, jallarzi Sallavarian, Nystul, Otiluke, Otto, Rary of Ket and the archmage Tenser. During the Greyhawk Wars, two members of the Eight, Tenser and Otiluke, were killed as a result of the actions of Rary of Ket, now known as Rary the Traitor. Tenser was returned to life in 585 CY, but chose not to return to the Circle of Eight. Otiluke is still dead. Three new members were appointed in 585 CY: Alhamazad the Wise, Theodain Eriason and Warnes Starcoat.