Historical Themes of the Flanaess

There are several “themes” that run throughout European history. The rise and fall of the Roman Empire arguably created the concept of Europe itself. The multi-century struggle between England and France, which began as early as the Norman Conquest in 1066 and continued through the fall of Napoleon in 1815. The rise of hegemonic Christianity under the Catholic church, and its eventual disintegration after the Protestant revolution. The struggle between Christianity and Islam.

I would argue that the World of Greyhawk has similar broad themes in its history. The waves of migrations of Suel and Oeridians after the Invoked Devastation and Rain of Colorless Fire and the resultant absorption of the Flan peoples. The rise and fall of the Great Kingdom, which at one point encompassed half the continent, but is now a mere fraction of its former glory (albeit still remaining one of the most powerful nations in the Flanaess as of CY 576). The domination of the North first by the arch-witch Iggwilv and then by her son, the cambion Iuz. The continued marginalization of the humanoid populations.

To give you a sense of what I’m talking about, check out this animation I made (using files originally created by Photobucket user kwintpendick). Focus on the march of the large red area westward, and then its inevitable retreat back to the east. It’s also wonderful to see the mutability of national borders expressed so visually; it shows that the upheavals between CY 576 and 591 aren’t an anomaly, but the norm.

This sort of “large sweep of history” should, by definition, encompass at least several centuries. That’s why I don’t count what are, essentially, local or short-term events such as the rise of the Scarlet Brotherhood, the overrunning of the western Sheldomar Valley by giants, etc.

When one looks at history in terms of huge, sweeping arcs, it can add a sense of grandeur and retrospective purpose to the grand sweep of history that mere lists of kings and lists of battles cannot.

Written by 

Wargamer and RPG'er since the 1970's, author of Adventures Dark and Deep, Castle of the Mad Archmage, and other things, and proprietor of the Greyhawk Grognard blog.

7 thoughts on “Historical Themes of the Flanaess

  1. Man I love this stuff. Would it be possible to post each of the original images from which the animation was made? The animation is too speedy for my slo-mo brain to follow all the changes.

  2. If you click on the link I provided just above the image, you should be able to find the originals from which I made the animation. No idea who he is, but he is to be commended!

  3. Very cool animation and a great topic! Kwint's original maps were a marvelous idea. I'm surprised I haven't seen more from him.

    I love the evolution of the Flanaess and with the canon available we could take it backwards even farther potentially.

  4. Wonderful. This puts a whole new perspective on the Flanaess, particularly in showing how some realms can fall, and then be replaced by new ones entirely, while others stand strong for long periods of time.

Comments are closed.