| Free and Independant|
Aerdi City of Rel Astra
|The arms of Rel Astra.|
|Motto/Nickname||City of the Heavens|
|Region||Old Aerdy East|
|Ruler||Drax the Invulnerable (human male animus)|
|Established||prior to -216 CY|
|Major Towns||Rel Astra|
|Provinces||Various towns, villages, and strongholds|
|Resources||Shipbuilding supplies, timber, and fish|
|Coinage||Modified Aerdy: victory (pp), newgold (gp), halfgold (ep), penny (sp), common (cp)|
|Races||Human 79%, halfling 9%, elf 4%, dwarf 3%, gnome 2%, half-orc 2%, half-elf 1%|
|Languages||Common, Old Oeridian, Lendorian, Halfling|
|Alignments||N, NE*, CN, LE, LN, CE|
|Religions||Wee Jas, Xerbo, Procan, Osprem, Syrul, Erythnul, Kurell, Norebo, Zilchus, Hextor|
|Allies||Ountsy, Roland, Sea Barons|
|Enemies||Scarlet Brotherhood, Ahlissa (distrusted), North Kingdom (distrusted), Lordship of the Isles (distrusted)|
The Free and Independant Aerdi City of Rel Astra, member of the Free Cities of the Solnar Compact, once the capital city of the Kingdom of Aerdy, is now a sovereign city-state, having gained its independent "palatinate" status directly from the Malachite Throne, approximately 150 years ago, during the troubles known as the Turmoil Between Crowns.
The Twin Cataclysms of 5094 SD (-421 CY) forced many Suel to migrate east, through the Hellfurnaces mountain range, by means of the Passage of Slerotin. This migration of the Suel forced many of the Oeridian tribes already dwelling in that region to move further eastward.
The most powerful of the Oeridian tribes were the Aerdi, who also moved the furthest east, reaching the coast of the Solnor Ocean and establishing their cities there. Among these cities was Rel Astra which, in Old Oeridian, means "City of the Heavens."
The Aerdi began building a nation for themselves, which became formally established in -216 CY (428 OR) as the Kingdom of Aerdy, with Rel Astra as its capital. And so it remained until the House of Garasteth lost the throne of Aerdy to the House of Cranden. This event also effectively moved the seat of power within the Kingdom from Rel Astra to the city of Rauxes.
In -109 CY (535 OR), during the reign of Almor II of Cranden, the House of Rax defeated their rivals, the Nyrondese, at the Battle of a Fortnight's Length. This victory doubled the size of the kingdom, creating a true empire, which was now renamed the Great Kingdom of Aerdy.
In 356 CY (1000 OR) the province of Nyrond broke away from the Great Kingdom, declaring its independence from the Overking and creating Medven I King of Nyrond. This event led to a considerable decline in the Great Kingdom's power and influence, which eventually resulted in a generally wide-spread rebellious attitude throughout the Kingdom. In 437 CY (1081 OR) the last Rax king, Nalif, was assassinated and civil war quickly ensued until, finally, the Herzog of North Province became king, as Ivid I. However, Ivid was only able to keep the throne through political compromise. One such compromise caused him to grant limited autonomy to several provinces, among these were Rel Astra, Almor and Medegia. Rel Astra has remained an autonomous city-state ever since and has become the favorite destination for anyone who finds themselves suddenly out of favor in the former Great Kingdom, now the United Kingdom of Ahlissa. For example, in 213 CY (857 OR) the Royal Astrologers relocated to Rel Astra after falling out of favor with Overking Zelcor.
Since the Greyhawk Wars, Rel Astra has joined with the Free Cities of Ountsy and Roland to form the Solnor Compact, a triumvirate of Free States united for mutual protection and trade. In 586 CY (1230 OR) the capital city of Rauxes suffered some unknown magical catastrophe, which was coupled with the death of the Overking, at this point the Great Kingdom effectively split into two parts. During the chaos that followed these two events, Prince Drax of Garasteth, who has ruled Rel Astra since 557 CY (1201 OR), broke completely with the Great Kingdom and sent his forces south to claim the chaotic lands of Medegia, in an attempt to wrest them away from the former Great Kingdom. As of 591 CY (1235 OR) Rel Astra has captured nearly one quarter of Medegia's former territory.
Rel Astra and the Solnor Compact count the Sea Barons as their tentative allies. It is known that Drax would like to have much closer ties, bringing the Sea Barons fully into the Solnor Compact. However, Lord Basmajian of Asperdi, leader of the Sea Barons, has resisted any type of permanent alliance with Rel Astra, because he and his nobles distrust Drax's motives. It is known that Ountsy, while technically an "equal" member of the Compact, is in fact "under the boot heel" of Lord Drax. Even the Free City of Roland is joined to the Compact only because of its fear of annexation by the North Kingdom (properly, the "Great Kingdom of Northern Aerdy"), which claims the lands around the Gull Cliffs and the city of Winetha and it's Council of Wizards. Still, the Sea Barons strong fear of the Scarlet Brotherhood keeps them loosely allied with Rel Astra, for the time being.
Geography and climate
Weather in Rel Astra falls within Oerth's temperate zone. Winters are fairly mild, with temperatures rarely falling below freezing. Spring is a nice time of year, with cool breezes blowing in from off of the Solnor Ocean, but is of disappointingly short duration. Summer can be rather warm, and is tempered only occasionally by the cool winds from off of the ocean. Autumn can also be pleasant as the temperatures start to cool down, but lasts no longer than does the spring. In addition, autumn is the stormy season on the Solnor.
The citizens of Rel Astra are mostly humans of Oeridian stock, though there are those of Suel derivative who live there as well. There are a few elves, halflings, and gnomes dwelling within the city as well, as there are populations of these three races living in the Grandwood Forest, which borders Rel Astra on the west. There is also a very small population of half-orcs within the city.
The last official census, in 591 CY, shows a population of 61,000 inhabitants in Rel Astra. Approximately 79% of these are humans, mostly of Oeridian stock, though Suel ancestry also finds representation.
The close proximity of the Grandwood Forest explains most of Rel Astra's demihuman population. Halflings are by far the largest of these, comprising 9% of Rel Astra's total population. Then come sylvan elves at 4%, dwarves at 3%, gnomes at 2%, half-orcs at another 2%, and half-elves at 1%.
Amedian gutworms have been discovered in Rel Astra's sewers.
Though no one faith predominates here; Rel Astra hosts congregations devoted to Wee Jas, Hextor, Zilchus, Procan, Osprem, Xerbo, Erythnul, Kurell, Syrul, and Norebo. The churches of Hextor, Nerull, and Wee Jas are sizable here. Syrul's faith is outlawed, as the patron of lies is contrary to the city's lawful ethos.
Common, Old Oeridian, Lendorian, and Halfling are the most prevalent languages in Rel Astra.
Rel Astra is a dictatorship under Lord Drax, whose titles include: His Most Lordly Nobility, the Lord Protector and the Eternal Custodian (this last may well be true, given that Drax is an undead Animus).
All decisions made and decrees handed down originate with Lord Drax.
Lord Drax is the head of government in Rel Astra. Drax is a prince of the House of Garasteth, the original ruling family of the Kingdom of Aerdy.
Though Lord Drax is sole ruler in Rel Astra, he does have a demon for an adviser. This demon is called the "Fiend-Sage" and has, on occasion, been seen walking the streets of Rel Astra in company with Lord Drax.
At present Rel Astra is enjoying a strong economy, as many nations bordering the Solnor Ocean sought to increase the size of their navies during the Greyhawk Wars. The Wars were also a great drain upon the economies of many nations and, now that they have ended, supplies of all kinds are desperately needed for their rebuilding. As the major trading center of the Solnor, most of these supplies pass through Rel Astra.
Rel Astra primarily deals in timber and ship building supplies, and is a significant source of fish for many inland areas. Rel Astra boast a vast harbor and safe anchorage and is the natural "weigh point" for all trading vessels.
Though there are roads leading to and away from Rel Astra, and overland travel is certainly possible and does take place, most travel is actually done by sea. Though a limited amount of trading does take place with both the United Kingdom of Ahlissa and the Great Kingdom of Northern Aerdy, seldom does anyone travel through these two realms to some other destination. Ahlissa and the North Kingdom are not on the best of terms with their neighbors and both governments view with stark suspicion anyone traveling to one of these distant realms.
Rel Astra boasts a large standing army and a navy as large as any on the Solnor Ocean. The Solnor Compact and their allies, the Sea Barons, control the shipping lanes along the coast, which allows for quick resupply and reinforcement of any of the Compact members that might suffer from aggression by either Ahlissa, or the North Kingdom.
It should be noted that it was an unnamed magician from Rel Astra who, while seeking to spawn the perfect familiar, inadvertently created the changecat. This magician was, perhaps, a member of the Sorcerer's Nexus. Residents of the city of Greyhawk will be familiar with Tobin Potriades, formerly of Greyhawk's University of Magical Arts, and his changecat, Tiddles.
Of note is "The Aerdian Coadjutancy for the Independant Practitioners of Magecraft and the Mystical Arts," or simply, the "Sorcerer's Nexus" (which is actually the name of the Guildhall itself). The "Nexus" is rather unconventional, as Magical Guilds go, routinely offering lodging, supplies, training and even employment to just about any magician. Control of the organization is currently held by the mysterious "Dweomermasters."
Who these men are, or what their exact purposes may be, no one knows. It is suspected that they are a cabal of noble mages joined together for some purpose related to the re-establishment of "Aerdy glory." But no one can ascertain the truth of this. The name of Daern, a legendary practitioner of the Art, has been linked with the Dweomermasters as well, but this rumor likewise is also unconfirmed.
Thanks to the governmental policies and practices of Grand Prince Ivid, the ranks of the Sorcerer's Nexus have swollen and it is fast approaching the size of the Guild of Wizardry in Greyhawk, much to that guild's chagrin as this state of affairs threatens Greyhawk's claim to being the preeminent center of magic.
The combined power of the magicians of the Sorcerer's Nexus is also a reason why the Overking did not try a direct assault against Rel Astra during the Greyhawk Wars, despite his desire to take the province back into his kingdom. For this reason Lord Drax gives the guild public deference, while he is privately concerned about the unseen tendrils the Dweomermasters seem to be weaving throughout Astran society. The situation bares close attention.
It is suspected that some members of the Nexus belong to another magical organization, the "Seekers of the Arcane." It is known that some members of this group are in Rel Astra. A group known as the "Seekers" are noted (in the Book of Artifacts) for their attempts at locating the "Throne of the Gods," though it is not explicit in canon that these groups are the same.
Sitting in the shadow of the Sorcerer's Nexus is another magic society called the "Scholars of the Arcane." They are a smaller and much more recent guild, interacting very little outside of their own circle. Their only interest seems to be the free interchange of magic and information, they are thought to be quite skillful, but wizened old men who do little more than plot their own research.
- Holian, Gary. "Silent Sorcery." Living Greyhawk Journal #4. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2001.
- -----. "Sorcerous Societies of the Flanaess." Oerth Journal #3. Council of Greyhawk, 1996.
- Holian, Gary, and Rick Miller. "Treasures of Greyhawk: Magic of the Company of Seven." Dragon #359. Bellevue, WA: Paizo Publishing, 2006.
- Holian, Gary, Erik Mona, Sean K. Reynolds, and Frederick Weining. Living Greyhawk Gazetteer. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2000.