Rift Canyon

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Bandits of Rift Canyon, as depicted in the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer (2000).

Rift Canyon is a deep canyon, over 180 miles long and 30 miles wide at its widest point. In some places, the Rift is over a mile deep (WGR5). The canyon, which was not created by river erosion, is surrounded by a rocky wasteland known as the Rift Barrens, adding to the area's unnatural character. To the southwest of Rift Canyon can be found a solitary volcano known as White Plume Mountain and to the north can be found a forest called the Tangles.


Rainwater drains into this cavernous fissure throughout its expanse, but no known crops are grown here. The canyon is marked by massive sheer faces of rock, scrub-covered screes, and paths on which only the most sure of foot would dare set foot. The Rift is honeycombed with warrens, caves, and caverns, and it is therefore very probable that the Rift contains passages to the Underdark. Dark things are said to slither in the canyon's deepest recesses.

Rift Canyon contains a number of mines that provide silver to the region, mostly near Riftcrag. A jade deposit was also once discovered in the Rift, but has long since been exhausted (WGR5).

The inhabitants of the Rift often venture out of their domain to procure both food and weapons. Iuz's commanders have tried, but are unable to block all of the exists from the Rift Canyon.


The generally temperate weather of the Rift has been described by some as "bizarre." Swirling, highly localized gales can sweep men from the canyon's rock faces in an instant. Bitter frosts during the winter months make traversing the canyon's rocky surfaces extremely dangerous. Drifting mists can also create slippery conditions on par with the ice and frost. Rockfalls commonly occur, and cave-ins somewhat less frequently.

Flora and fauna

Lizards, fish, and similar creatures can be found in the caves, springs, and pools of the Rift itself, while hardy goats can be found on the rocky surfaces of the ravine and the Rift Barrens beyond. Birds and small animals (such as hares) are sometimes caught by trappers.

In the deepest caves and on the Rift floor, carrion crawlers, behirs, giant lizards, gelatinous cubes, and cave fishers are among the more commonly encountered dangers, and some have reported dinosaur-like creatures and prehistoric beasts in a few of the very deep caves below the canyon.


The ruins of Veralos, as depicted in Dragon #293 (2002).

Rift Canyon is populated by many of the former inhabitants of the bandit kingdom which once ruled the Rift Canyon and surrounding barrens from the town of Riftcrag. Known as the Men of the Rift, many of these bandits sought refuge in the Rift itself after abandoning the town to Iuz's forces in 583 CY. Made up of chiefly humans, bugbears, gnolls, ogres, and orcs, these forces are supplemented by thousands of refugees from other bandit kingdoms (chiefly men from Reyhu, a bandit kingdom south of the canyon), who also fled here to escape Iuz's forces during the Greyhawk Wars. In 585 CY, these bandits numbered some 6000 humans (2000 original settlers, plus some 4000 refugees). Many of these bandits are worshipers of Erythnul, and are quick to sacrifice any intruders into their realm to their evil god.

The Men of the Rift are led by Durand Grossman, Plar of the Rift, and plan a "dark revenge" against the Old One. The Plar is said to have a pair of trained hippogriffs, a number of hell hounds, and nearly a dozen displacer beasts at his service. In times of dire need, Durand is rumored to be able to call upon a "deep-laired gorgimera" for aid. The presence of such beasts in the Plar's forces may be partially due to the services of Menfri Rauveen, an "ex-Aerdi mage," who has been researching the Rift's secrets for years.

A tribe of roughly one hundred ogres make their home in a cluster of caverns north of Sheerwatch (a keep located south of the Rift), and are brutally hostile to all who approach their domain. A beholder, a single annis, and (allegedly) a band of illithids are some of the rarer threats offered in the most inaccessible reaches of the Rift.

In addition, a powerful undead dragon, a dracolich named Dragotha, makes its home in the Wormcrawl Fissure located near the Rift Canyon.

Features and settlements

Many lawless folk inhabit Rift Canyon. Many menaces, dreadful and deadly monsters, inhabit the west end of Rift Canyon and seem to issue forth from multiple and various caverns.

The ruins of the ancient Flan city of Veralos (of the pre-migration era) sits on the northern edge of Rift Canyon, as does the giant-occupied city of Kongen-Thulnir.


Rift Canyon was formed in the Age Before Ages during the Battle of Pesh, when the armies of Law, led by the Wind Dukes faced the forces of the Queen of Chaos, led by her greatest general, Miska the Wolf-Spider. The rift was caused when the Rod of Law was used by the Wind Duke Qadeej to defeat Miska (DMG1; BoA; Ro7P; DNG#124; DNG#129).


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  • Cook, David. Book of Artifacts. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1993.
  • Cordell, Bruce R. Dragotha's Lair. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 1999 and 2001. Available online:[1]
  • Gygax, Gary. Dungeon Master's Guide. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1979.