Fitting the Great Kingdom onto the Flanaess

Author: DHBoggs / Labels: , ,

 Here we go.  For fun, take a look at the map below.

What you are looking at is one of the best medieval maps of the world, produced in 1154 by geographer al–Idrisi.

Observe how it is recognizable, yet "wrong".  Some places - like Spain or Arabia, are almost correct, while others like Britain and India are very wrong and in some cases there are places that are likely not even real.

That "similar but wrongness" is one way to look at the Great Kingdom map below.   

This map, as we've talked about before, was published in the Castles & Crusades societies Domesday Book #9 newsletter around June of 1971.  Details are still being researched, but the map was drawn by some artistic hand, apparently based on a map by Gary Gygax.

Technically, it is the first published map of what we now call the Flanaess.

Originally it was intended to be the shared map Castles & Crusades society members would use for campaigns - using whatever rules - involving their various holdings in and out of the Great Kingdom.

Few labels were put on this map by the cartographer, but using other hand-drawn copies, such as Dave Megarry's below, we are able to fill a lot of those blanks in.

Some of those names are familiar to Greyhawkers - like Nyr Div and Urnst - some, like Catmelun, not so much.

Nevertheless, it was on this map that the earliest Greyhawk adventures took place, and early Blackmoor adventures too, but like the al–Idrisi medieval map above, it was a crude representative of the world.

When TSR decided to publish Greyhawk in the late 70's it was decided a new and better map was needed - a modern map.  "For certain the WoG product as published by TSR came into being about two or three months before the date of its printing and sale.  Brian said that a campaign setting was needed, so after ascertaining the maximum size map sheet we could have printed, I free-handed the land outlines on... two sheets of paper, used colored pencils to put in terrain features, located the cities, and made up the names for everything. That took me about 1 week. Then I went to work on the text while Darlene made prettier maps."  Gary Gygax DF Forum

The end result of this process was the Darlene map of the Flanaess.  Did Gygax create one or more intermediary Flanaess maps between the 1971 C&C map and Gygax's new map of the Flanesse used by Darlene?  It doesn't appear that there was, but I don't presume to know all the steps it took to get to the final Darlene version, except that it all starts with the C&C Great Kingdom map.  

So I thought it would be fun to map the parts of the C&C map onto the corresponding locations on an official Greyhawk map, along with location labels, to see what may result.

The first thing you will notice is that I have cut the C&C map into 8 pieces where it seemed logical.  In two cases (Nyr Div and Catmelun) sections have been rotated, and in all cases the sections have been resized, bigger or smaller for best fit.

Now I don't for a second think somebody at TSR did something like that.  I expect the process was a lot more free form.  Gygax probably, sat down to sketch the new map with a copy of the C&C map close to hand and drew as he said in the quote above.  Certain areas, like the sea of dust and the Nyr Div, he copied pretty closely, while others, especially in the east, were more loosely inspired, and a whole lot of new geography was added, or redefined in between places - again especially on the eastern side of the new map.

Even so, there is much in the C&C map that is recognizable on the new Greyhawk maps we have now.

Here is the same map again, but this time I've ghosted the image so you can see what lies beneath and perhaps why the sections are where they are.

You can readily see, if you look closely, how mountains and coastlines follow together, and sometimes even rivers and forest.  The eastern three sections were the most difficult to place, but I think even there you can readily see how someone eyeballing a new map on a sketchpad is being guided by the C&C map outlines, at least in some places.  

Perhaps the NE section is most interesting.  That squiggly peninsula on the C&C map for all the world looks to have been followed on the Greyhawk map to form the line of The Frozen River, leaving the islands of Botulia and Maritz to be paved over by new land.

Here is another look.  This map has all the C&C sections removed but the place names left behind.  Placement for a lot of these labels was straightforward, but there were also a few that are more of a best guess, because they fall on the edge of a section that is separated from it's neighbors by a lot of space.  

There's some very interesting alignments and some possibilities for place names where our current Greyhawk map lacks detail.

Of the places listed, many have direct corollaries on the world of Greyhawk map.  Places like Urnst, Perrenland, Keoland, and Geoff have retained their names and the same general locations.  Some others seem to have simply changed names, while a few seem to be altogether novel.  For these new and usual names we have limited source information, the best source being Andre Norton's Quag Keep novel.  Norton was invited by Gygax to play D&D in his early Greyhawk campaign.  Her 1978 novel mentions several of the unusual place names seen on the various C&C maps, indicating she either had a copy of a similar Greyhawk map or, perhaps more likely given her unusual spellings, had jotted down some notes after having looked over Gygax' map.

Given that there are names in the list that we can identify in Quag Keep, but have been changed - for example Faraz/Furyondy - and that many of these can also be found in the older form in the pages of Andre Norton's Quag Keep, I would suggest that they are simply "old fashioned" or antique regional names, dating from the same period as the Quag Keep events.  Erik Mona, pegs this to CY 498, and I see no reason to argue otherwise.  That would of course also suggest that our "antique" C&C map represents some scholar's knowledge of the world at that time, much as al–Idrisi's world map reflected his knowledge of his time.

Leaving aside the familiar place names that are the same on both maps, we get the following list of new or changed places:

The Hold of Iron Hand - the location of the Hold of The Iron Hand on the coast north of the Paynims places this territory in the Greyhawk realms of Ekbir,  We can take Hold of the Iron Hand to be a nickname or older name for this collection of sheikdoms.  It is possible "Iron Hand" inspired "Stone Fists" but the Stone fists are nowhere near this location, so there's no good reason to take them as being the same, at least in game terms. 

March Slove  - Slove appears to be a small, otherwise unnamed area just north of the Yatil Mountains in an area dominated by lakes.

County of Hither Hills - The Hither Hills are mentioned in Quag Keep (p22) where it is described as a land of "Half Bloods", perhaps some kind of half elves or something else.  These Hills are one of the border areas on the map that are harder to place, but must fall between the Burneal Forest and the Land of Black Ice and appear to abut the Hold of the Iron Hand.

County of Celate - Celate appears in a mountain chain just NW of Blackmoor and west of the Egg of Coot.  While otherwise unknown in Greyhawk lore to my knowledge, Celate falls squarely on a place known only as "The Duchy of the Peaks" in Dave Arneson's Blackmoor campaign.  This is fortunate, because it allows us to give a "real" name to a place otherwise known by an unimaginative nick-name.   

County of Stabilny - Stabilny is another location seemingly in between C&C map sections.  Best fit seems to be the NW shore of Quag lake. 

Neron March - The Neron March on the old maps falls very near to the "Gran March" on the Greyhawk, map and we can safely assume these are one and the same.  As a name, Neron March is preferable to me.  One of the quirks of both Greyhawk and Blackmoor is the ready use of English words for names (The Cold Marsh or the Firefrost channel for example), so it is nice to have a non-English alternative.

Kingdom of Faraz - Faraz or Faraaz in Quag Keep, is undoubtedly Furyonody.  In Andre Norton's 1978 novel, Quag Keep Faraaz gets mentioned a fair few times.  We learn a for example that it appears to be some kind of theocracy under the control of Holy Lords.

Yerocunby - Yerocunby covers several territories on the Greyhawk map, including Dyvers, Narwell, Verbobonc and possibly Devarnish and Greyhawk itself.  We can imagine this name may have covered a temporary alliance of nations or may represent an old name for the geographic area. Zach Howard of Zenopus Archives made the suggestion that the Kingdom of Furyondy derives from a combination of Faraz and Yeroconby.  That seems very likely to me, and so we can imagine that Faraaz expanded at some point after 500 CY to merge or absorb Yerocunby temporarily - perhaps through a royal wedding, resulting in the merged name Furyondy.  For some reason the area of Yerocunby later Balkanized, but Furyondy retained the name (and perhaps the territorial claim).   Interestingly, as the protagonists travel away from Greyhawk toward the Sea of Dust, Quag Keep also mentions Yerocunby in the same relation we see on the C&C map. "We shall have Yerocunby and Faraaz facing us at the border. But the river then will lead us straight into the mountains." p32

Duchy of Maritz - The island duchy of Maritz or Maritiz as it is spelled in Quag Keep, seems to have been entirely swallowed up by the new NE peninsula drawn on the World of Greyhawk map, possibly falling about where the Atmanship of Kelten lies.  We know nothing of these islands except the useless but colorful fact from Norton that they use half-moon coins with sea-serpents on them.

Botulia - another island paved over in Greyhawk by the added NW peninsula, falling about where the Atmanship of Amaran is now.  Other than being given a name and kingdom status on the old maps, this island was not mentioned anywhere else that I have found. 

Walworth - Walworth derives from the county of the same name in Wisconsin where Gygax lived, and in fact, Earl of Walworth was a title Gygax used in the C&C Society.  It's useful to remember that Gygax envisioned the C&C map as an alternate North America in a parallel  dimension.  Of course the map doesn't look like North America, but it does have the same climactic regions (cold to the north, tropics to the SW and mountains running up the mid west.)  In an article sent to Alarums & Excursions #15 (October, 1976), Gary tells us, "The game world is a parallel earth, but the continents are somewhat different.  Most of our campaign activity takes place on what corresponds to North America, on the eastern half of the continent.  The "Blackmoor" lands lie far up on the northeast coast.  "Greyhawk" is in the central portion."  Elsewhere Gygax specifies that he imagined the Free City of Greyhawk to be positioned similarly to Chicago.  On the Greyhawk map, Walworth falls directly on the Shield Lands.  This may be another case where a real name (Walworth) may be a preferable substitute for an English Language nick-name (Shield Lands).   

Kingdom of Catmelun - The last mystery name we have is the Kingdom of Catmelun, and it is another example of having a name on a map with no other details.  If my guess is right, Catmelun is none other than Sunndi.  Perhaps Catmelun was the name of a royal house who ruled the area around 498, or perhaps the name can be ignored altogether in your Greyhawk campaign. 

For more on Quag Keep people and places, have a look at This Post by Eric Mona.


paleologos said...

This is great - nice work on those overlapping sections!

I've often wondered what the other continents would look like in Gary's OD&D game world. I'm thinking that 12th century map by al-Idrisi does the trick.

Havard: said...

This is very helpful both for understanding the later development of GH and also for understanding more of the ideas of behind the original GK :) Thanks for doing this!

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