The largest province of Onnwal encompasses the plains of the Gilderlea to the west and the Silvervale in the east – some of the most fertile lands in Onnwal. In the west, the broad valley of the meandering Bergard forms Onnwal’s agricultural heartland. The land is generally flat – and dotted with farming villages and interspersed with surviving copses of trees. Most of Onnwal’s grain (maize, wheat and barley) is grown in the Bergard and Fallnos valleys and the Bergard is known for its wheat and barley beers. Most of Onnwal’s Hobniz dwell in High Bergard and around the town of Bergardbridge.
Between the two rivers, the land rises into a low series of dells, which form a saddle between the peaks of the Headlands and the coastal ridges of the eastern Azure Coast. Here the last remnants of Onnwal’s primordial lowland forest cling on under the stewardship of the Szek. Patches of forest are also found on the slopes of Low Headland. Away from the river valleys, sheep and goat herding predominates – supplying most of the wool for the looms of Onnwal’s weavers. To the east, cradled by the Headlands, lies the fertile Silvervale. Blessed with both mineral wealth in the form of gem and silver mines in the Headlands, it is also an agricultural centre – with maize and grapes being the main crops, while cattle rearing is also common. Silvervale is noted for its fortified wines – which appeal greatly to the Noniz and even some Dwur. The largest populations of demi-humans (especially Noniz) in the lowlands were found in the Silvervale before the occupation – though most fled to their cousins in the hills, and are only now beginning to return.
Dukes of Gilderond, Barons of Middle Bergard and Deyshond
The House of Destron has held sway over the bountiful plains and vales of Gilderond since the land’s conquest by the Aerdi. The house grew wealthy on the rich harvests that their fief produced. As the rule of the Szeks appointed from Zelradton grew more tyrannical – it was the Destrons, being closest to the seat of the Szek in Scant, who bore the brunt of their abuses. It was the Destrons too, under Duke Parmus who led the rebellion against the Great Kingdom – an act which saw him condemned as a traitor in Rauxes and crowned as Szek in Scant. His heirs have ruled Onnwal capably and wisely, ever attendant to their responsibility to defend the country from its enemies. The Destron Szeks have, by in large, been capable warriors and sailors – a characteristic of the house as a whole. The Szek holds the city of Scant as his personal domain, while his heir holds the title of Duke of Gilderond. In addition to this, junior branches of the house held the baronies of Middle Bergard and Deyshond. As the ruling house, the Destrons formed alliances by marriage with a number of houses – the three other Great Houses and most recently the minor house of Geldrenn.
The Brotherhood stuck deep at the heart of the ruling house in the very first hours of its invasion of Onnwal. The Szek Ewerd Destron was stuck down in his own palace, while his cousins, the barons of Middle Bergard and Dayshond, were poisoned and burned respectively. All scions of the house were ruthlessly hunted out and executed. Only Jian Destron, Duke of Gilderond and heir to the throne, escaped their murderous sweep – being at sea commanding a naval squadron in the Sea of Gearnat at the time. Szek now in name if not in fact, Jian has done his utmost to rally resistance to the Brotherhood, regain his lost birthright and avenge the murder of his kinsmen.
Dernail (Minor House)
Barons of Low Bergard
A prominent merchant family based in Scant, the Dernails were raised to nobility in 576 CY. Due to their commoner origins, other nobles consider them vulgar and lowborn and despite their titles treat them with disdain. The former baron was hanged by the Brotherhood in Myrhill when the town fell. His widow Calwenn Dernail is fighting off a challenge by Halden Dernail, her brother-in-law, to the baronial title. She wishes to ensure that her daughter Calrinn succeeds to the title and fortune when she comes of age in three years.
Farness (Minor House)
Barons of Low Headland
The barons of Low Headland have long derived their wealth from wool and silver – the main produce of Low Headland. In addition, to helping to maintain patrols on the stretch of the Hind Road between Bergardbridge and the Silvervale, the House of Farness has special duties to preserve the Szek’s woodlands – many of which are located within Low Headland. The father of the current Baron Apparent, Tiren Farness, a Glaive Valourous of the Knights of Azharadian, was assassinated in the first Brotherhood attacks on the country. Tiren is a staunch supporter of Gellen Cadwale for the position of Glaive Superior.
Geldrenn (Minor House)
Barons of Silvervale
Another old Aerdi house, the Geldrenns have ruled the rich Silvervale for centuries. They are possibly the most wealthy of the minor houses, due to the revenues from the Cantred’s many silvermines and from its rich agricultural bounty. The Geldrenns also wield a great degree of political influence, not only because of their fortune, but due to their links by marriage to the House of Destron, which effectively make them a cadet house of the ruling family. The current Baron Silvervale, Halshas Geldrenn is a first cousin of Jian Destron and his closest living relative. Halshas survived the Brotherhood’s attempt on his life, though he still limps from the blow the assassin struck him, ere he fell to the baron’s broadsword. The baron withdrew into the Headlands with his household guards and waged a guerrilla war on the Brotherhood until he retook Silvervale during the Brewfest Rebellion. Halshas is a fine warrior and leader of men.
Detailed below are a selection of location that can be found in Gilderond. This should not be considered an exhaustive listing.
The debate has long raged in scholarly circles as the origins of the name of Onnwal’s capital. Radmond of Trigol claims Scant is a corruption of the Sueloise “Sekarant” (lit. “Reef-haven”). Craedon the Broad counters that the name derives from disparaging comments made by the cosseted Imperial courtiers dispatched there from the splendour of Rauxes who described the then rough and ready Imperial outpost as having “…scant comfort, scant pleasures and scant worth.” Finally, Germin of Dyvers suggests the name comes from a contraction of “thieves’ cant” – the patois of the smugglers and pirates who plagued the city in former times.
Whatever the truth – there is no argument that Scant is one of the best-defended and fortified cities in the Flanaess. It is situated upon a steep and rocky outcropping surrounded on three sides by the sea and connected to the mainland by a narrow, sandy strip of land, known locally as the Langneck. The city and the Langneck enclose a large, sheltered bay called the Great Harbour. The mouth of this bay and the seaward approaches to Scant are barred by a line of treacherous reefs, breached in only two places by channels that are navigable only with the aid of an experienced pilot. Before the Greyhawk Wars, this lore was the closely guarded secret of Scant’s Loyal Company of Pilots. It was the infiltration of this now-defunct group by the Scarlet Brotherhood that allowed the ships of the Scarlet Sign to safely enter the Great Harbour and land troops.
Scant is spread across two steep hills – Gate Hill and Palace Hill, the seaward sides of which are fringed with precipitous cliffs ranging from fifty to two hundred feet in height. These are almost unnecessarily topped by a thirty-foot curtain wall. The tallest cliffs are those of the Palace Hill, which overlook the reef fanged channels and bristle with artillery engines poised to rain fiery ruin on any vessel foolish enough to attempt to force a passage through to the Great Harbour. Alas – treachery undid these defences too when the Brotherhood took the city.
Between the two hills nestles a gap in the encircling cliffs and a small, sheltered inlet from the Great Harbour that forms Scant’s Inner Harbour. Two sturdy fortifications flank the mouth of the Harbour – Daern’s Redoubt upon the eastern side and the Bastion of the Golden Sun opposite it. Thus the combination of natural features and cunning fortification make the city nigh unassailable by land or sea by conventional means.
Scant is a comparatively small city of no more than five thousand people before the Wars. It is divided into three main districts:
Gate Hill: Overlooking the Langneck, Gate Hill houses most of the city’s artisans. Before the Wars, Scant’s Noniz and Dwur communities were centred here. The scruffy north end of the district is home to Scant’s poorer inhabitants.
The Harbour Quarter: This district describes the natural amphitheatre of land that nestles around the Inner Harbour at the feet of the two hills. It was the centre of commerce and trade, with the Grand Market, the temples of Xerbo and Zilchus and the Custom’s House all being located here.
Palace Hill or the High Quarter: Separated from the rest of Scant by an internal curtain wall and looming over the Inner Harbour atop high cliffs, the High Quarter houses the city’s more affluent inhabitants. The hill is crowned by a magnificent palace dating from the golden age of the Great Kingdom, which served as the seat of Onnwal’s szeks and gives the district its name.
In the middle years of the current century as the population of Scant grew, pressure for space increased, particularly in Gate Hill and the Harbour Quarter. Thus the city as a whole has a very cramped feel about it. There is little in the way of open space, bar the Grand and High Markets. The pale limestone buildings seem to be piled chaotically atop each other, with narrow streets twisting between them, winding their way up the hills.
Construction was forbidden by decree on the Langneck – for defensive reasons. Therefore the town of Halmarn, which faces Scant across the Great Harbour, profited from the overflow from the city. Many rich merchants or nobility maintained villas either in Halmarn or atop the steep cliffs that fringe the Great Harbour to the south, taking full advantage of the breathtaking views over the harbour and the city. The tower formerly occupied by the Archmage Bigby stands at the seaward end of these cliffs, directly opposite the city and overlooking the harbour entrance. It was customary for those that could to flee to these villas, to escape the heat and stench of the teeming city in summer. So much so that during these months, more of the business of governance went on in Halmarn than in Scant, prompting one local wag to dub the small town “Onnwal’s other capital”.
Now, however, both Scant and Halmarn are firmly in the grip of the Scarlet Brotherhood. Sister Kuranyie rules what remains of her domain in Onnwal from the Szek’s palace. She is determined not to lose control of the city and maintains strong garrisons in both Scant and Halmarn, and a substantial military presence in the surrounding land – holding the landward approaches to the city. The city is resupplied by sea by Brotherhood vessels. Scant is the main base for the Brotherhood’s naval presence of the Straits of Gearnat and is thus well protected from seaward attack or blockade.
The condition of Scant’s populace is appalling. More than three-quarters of the population is believed to have been classified as slaves, with the remainder enjoying the dubious privilege of being sub citizens. Marnafel Toktot, Kesh of Scant, enforces the Brotherhood’s rule in the city with brutal efficiency. Rumours of atrocities and the barbaric behaviour of the occupiers abound. With the current stalemate between Free Onnwal and the Brotherhood, there is little hope that the suffering of Scant’s populace will end anytime soon.
The Bergard River
Onnwal’s longest river flows from the western Headlands and meanders across the plains of Gilderond. Though fast flowing at near its source, the river slows considerably below the market town of Bergardbridge, and is thereafter sluggish and placid until it eventually reaches the sea at Halmarn, near Scant. Like many of Onnwal’s rivers, it is prone to flooding in summer – and levees have been constructed to protect the more vulnerable parts of the floodplain. The river is navigable by skiffs, rafts and small flat-bottomed craft as far as Bergardbridge.
Hosselholt is a small mining community that can be found in the easternmost fringes of High Bergard. Here, Noniz, Dwur, Hobniz and humans can be found working side by side. It is was founded -310 CY by a Noniz miner who discovered a bountiful vein of topaz and agate here. Local Legend has it that he was lead to the hills by a badger grateful to the miner for saving him from a snare. Many of the more devout and older Noniz firmly believe that this talking animal was an avatar of a Noniz god. This view is not shared by many of the younger Noniz who believe that this is taking things too seriously.
Hosselholt has a temple devoted to the gods of the Noniz pantheon. There are also shrines dedicated to Jascar and Fortubo here. Hosselholt is known mainly for its gemstones, many of which are used in the manufacture of jewellery and other ornaments. However, it also has a strong agricultural background, rearing goats on the hills and growing oats in the field. Hosselholt Goats Milk and Cheese are known for their pungent aroma, which is considered a delicacy among the elite of Nerakarn. The Burgomeister, an elected official that serves as mayor and sheriff, rules Hosselholt. Only the village elders may vote to ensure that no short-lived human has yet been elected.
The mines were occupied by the Brotherhood between 584 and 586, with almost the entire populace being enslaved and forced to work the mines. The demi-human workers singled out for particularly brutal treatment by the slave drivers, and few Noniz and Dwur families did not lose a loved one during this terrible time. The experience has left an undercurrent of bitterness and resentment on one hand and shame on the other between the demi-human and human inhabitants of the settlement respectively.
Along with its tributary, the Goldstream, the Silverstream drains the southern Headlands and the fertile Silvervale, flowing into the Azure at Haylind. Some gold-panning goes on in the upper reaches of the Goldstream, but this has never really been commercially successful – and only a few die-hards remain. The river is known by the Dwur as the Nera – and has its principal source close to the Dwur citadel of Nerakern.