Empire of Iuz

From his hideous throne in the wretched gloom of Dorakaa, luz the Old, Lord of Pain, stretches his bony hand across the Flanaess. Since the signing df the Pact of Greyhawk, his emgire of tyranny and suffering is secure – at least for a time. None of the lands of good and hope are strong enough to threaten him. luz surveys his domain and cackles gleefiilly. He has added mu+ to his holdings, but he is not yet content.

The Greyhawk Wars
That move came in 582 CY, when a band of barbarian heroes—Stumred Barduran, Baern Barraeth, Fenestir “Swifthand” Galander, Ingrid Hashandir, Sabrala Starbreaker, and Helden Stormfist—reunited the legendary Blades of Corusk. The mage Karasten Meldraith arranged them in an alternating pattern, uncovering a spell hidden in the runes of the blades. Before he could finish reading the spell that would awaken the lost god Vatun, however, Iuz manifested in Vatun’s guise, scattering the blades to the four corners of the world. The whole episode had been a set-up by the clever Fiend of the North. With a guileful tongue, Iuz convinced the rulers of the Fruztii, Schnai, and Cruski, and the raiders of the Hold of Stonefist, that he was the Great God returned. At his direction, the Fists invaded the Duchy of Tenh, decimating its armies and driving the Duke and Duchess to exile in the County of Urnst.

The alliance did not last long. The Suloise barbarians resisted “Vatun’s” orders to invade the Bone March and Ratik. Eventually they refused to believe Iuz was their Great God at all, but the damage had already been done: Stonefist was firmly allied to Iuz’s cause.

Iuz returned to Dorakaa in 583. During his absence, his chaotic empire had already begun to disintegrate. Iuz responded by executing the exiled Furyondian nobles who had been his vassals and replacing them with things from the Abyss—nabassu, cambions, vrocks, hezrou, and mariliths. His mother, using her Nethertome, summoned many demons to bolster her son’s armies, but this resource soon ended when she attempted for the second time to summon Graz’zt himself. This time Graz’zt was prepared for her arts, arriving in her protective circle with a device that disrupted it. Smiling wickedly, Graz’zt seized the shocked Mother of Witches and dragged her back to his Abyssal realm to torment her at his leisure. Iuz continued to gate in summoned demons, but from then on he did so only with the permission of his demon lord allies Pazuzu and Graz’zt. Graz’zt had the upper hand in these dealings, holding Iuz’s mother hostage as he did. Yet Iuz knew that Iggwilv craved only her own power, and might well have turned against him had she been free, so his feelings on the matter were complex. Iuz dealt regularly with Lolth as well, though they made no formal alliance. Lolth’s ambassador to Iuz’s court, Eclavdra, served Lolth and Graz’zt simultaneously at the time, with all parties involved being well aware of this.
On the night of the Blood Moon Festival of that year, Iuz struck against the Hierarchs of the Horned Society, his agents slaughtering all but two of them (who were away at the time) and adding the Horned Lands back to his growing empire. With the hobgoblin warriors of the former Horned Society bolstering his own troops, Iuz swept into the Shield Lands in the Flocktime of the following year. Perhaps the Shield Lands could have resisted, but they refused to allow the Furyondians to aid them, fearing re-annexation by their former Furyondian rulers. The Shield Lands were conquered, and Iuz moved on to the borders of Furyondy. Worse yet for the forces of Good, Iuz had managed to acquire an alliance with Ket, who had long born a grudge against the peoples of the Sheldomar Valley. With Ket flanking them on one side and Iuz attacking on another, the defenders were hard pressed to resist. At the same time, Lolth manipulated hordes of giants into invading Geoff and Sterich, distracting the peoples of the Sheldomar still further.

Somehow, despite losing much of its northern territories and the Vesve, Furyondy managed to hold. With tens of thousands of his troops slain, Iuz agreed to the sign on to the Pact of Greyhawk. He would consolidate his gains for a time before striking anew.

The Empire Today
No simple picture of the lands Iuz controls can be given here, because they vary greatly. In his homeland, Iuz has total control of the evil bandits and humanoids who dwell therein. To the east, his hold is firm on the old Horned Society lands and the Shield Lands. In the Bandit Kingdoms, though, there are many renegades who attack Iuz’s forces. The Fellreev forest is a hotbed of opposition to Iuz. On the borders of his own land, the Vesve Forest is a site of constant turmoil and battle. To the north, the Northern Barrens are a wasteland where only remnants of clans and tribes live. In Tenh, Iuz exercises influence but not control. In some lands, humanoids form the majority; in others, this is not so. Where there are humanoids, the dominant race (orcs or hobgoblins) varies from land to land. The role of fiends differs greatly from land to land also, and while in some lands humans are used as slaves and sacrifices only, in others, Iuz’s forces still seek to draw evil (or at least non-good) people into their fold.

However, Iuz faces two problems throughout his empire: resources and control. Most lands of his empire do not have abundant natural resources. The Lands of Iuz and the Horned Society have very poor agricultural areas, for example. Now, orcs and hobgoblins may feast on flesh, but some food must be grown or somehow obtained by trade to sustain livestock for humanoids and feed humans. Iuz can call upon some furs, wood, precious metals and the like in his wide array of lands, but these resources must be harvested. Warbands need metal weapons and the metal comes from mines. However, there must be miners to excavate the minerals. This can be difficult when the empire’s manpower has been diverted to providing men for Iuz’s vast armies. Slaves solve this problem to some extent, though manpower is still needed to keep them in line. Also, slaves rarely work very hard and many times die, leaving the manpower problem as a constantly recurring theme in the resource dilemma.

The control problem takes different forms. Sometimes, it is simply making sure that chaotic or poorly-disciplined humanoids don’t disobey orders, turn on and kill each other. Iuz’s priesthood, and sometimes a fiend or two, are given this duty and generally they discharge it well enough. The main problem is paranoia. If the dominant ethos is that of Chaotic Evil, everyone is looking to backstab someone else. Senior leaders try to pin the blame for failures on their juniors, who in turn look for any scapegoat they can And. The paranoia has its greatest intensity at the apex of the pyramid, where Iuz himself is paranoid about the loyalty of his priests and servitors, the powerful who once imprisoned and tried to kill him, and the politics of the Abyss in which he is embroiled. As the empire grows, control is harder to retain and paranoia becomes Iuz’s dominant emotion. Though control is many times mandatory in order to accomplish his desires, Iuz’s inner rages and whims mitigate against firm control at all times. There are times when Iuz, selfdestructively, actually enjoys observing seething chaos in his empire.

Then again, control is harder to keep the farther east one travels, where renegade Bandits, the remains of the Rovers of the Barrens, the exiled remnants of Tenh, and the men of Stonefist strain against the yoke of Iuz. Against bandits and rovers, force will do the job, so Iuz can dispatch fiends and humanoids. In Tenh and Stonefist, though, there is no love of humanoids or Iuz himself, and control can only be exercised by influence and subtle stratagems. That does not truly appeal to the cambion’s vicious, paranoid mind. Iuz is happier when his rule is exercised by baneful magic, steel, and fire. Presently, he frets over his inability to exercise rulership in such brutal ways. He hopes time will be the answer, and as his armies swell with the fecundity of orcs and hobgoblins, he may be right. But he is always looking over his shoulder….

Rule Through Fear
This is the cardinal principle of the priesthood. Priests of Iuz rule by fear over the slaves, humanoids, non-priestly human servitors of Iuz, least fiends, and even lesser fiends if the priest is powerful enough. Position in the hierarchy is likewise established, and kept, through fear. At the apex of the pyramid are the High Priestesses.

Bandit Kingdoms
The Howling Hills
The Road of Skulls

More to come!

Empire of Iuz

Post Greyhawk Wars: 585 CY Juan