Prophecy: Circle of Eight

THE CIRCLE OF EIGHT

No living persons are more famous in the Flanaess than
Mordenkainen and the Circle of Eight. These nine wizards serve as
unofficial “watchdogs” on the continent, monitoring Oerik for
trouble. Because most members are neutral in alignment, the group
is concerned with maintaining balance in its world and not allowing
any faction to become too powerful or overwhelming. In recent
years, however, as evil forces have threatened to
seize control of the land, the Circle of Eight has
worked on the side of good in order to contain these ever-growing
evils.

The
contributions of the Circle of Eight are woven into the fabric of
Greyhawk and Oerth itself. Much has changed since Mordenkainen
first founded the organization. The Flanaess has suffered years of
continental war. And the face of this pivotal group has changed
forever. 

 

                        


               

A Balance is
Struck

The Circle
of Eight’s reputation spans the breadth of the Flanaess. Its name
(if not its exact demeanour) is common currency among noblemen and
villagers alike.
Despite this, the Circle’s full membership
has never
been known to those outside the organization
(everyone knows of the ‘eight’ – but there are many
underlings).
The group has not always been so reclusive.
Its precursor, The Citadel of Eight, was a known opponent of
darkness in its
many guises. Its members stood, and fell
protecting the
land, defending Oerth from the influence of malign beings
and rarely those of benevolent interlopers as well.

The
Citadel

The series
of alliances that would evolve into the Circle
of Eight
began simply over a meal of venison and
Celenese nectar
wine in a posh inn near the shores of the
Wild Coast. At that
table, nearly thirty years ago,
Mordenkainen debated with
his young apprentice, Bigby,

the merits of taking an active
hand in maintaining the

celestial balance of power.
Thereafter, the two struck

upon a plan to gather a group
of like-minded individuals

that would act to hinder
advances by those who would dominate the Flanaess. That their
expected exploits would impart upon the mages no small amount of
lost magical lore
only served to hasten the alliance. Within
months, Mordenkainen had brought the renowned warrior Robilar to
his cause, as well as the cleric Riggby, and his zealous assistant,
Yrag. From the shores of

the Nyr Dyv, Mordenkainen
recruited the righteous Tenser, who in turn introduced the
dim-witted though well-meaning

Serten
to the assembly.
Finally, the young woodsman, Otis, rounded out the group. They
called themselves the Citadel of Eight. Taking the
name
from Mordenkainen’s renowned Obsidian Citadel, in the Yatil
Mountains. In the years that followed, their adventures focused on
Greyhawk and the Selintan valley and the crags of the Cairn Hills
and depths of the Suss Forest were opened into
their
prying vision. In the years of their companionship, both Robilar
and Yrag were ennobled by Greyhawk and Riggby was promoted speedily
within the church of Boccob in Verbobonc. ­
Tenser,
Bigby, and Mordenkainen likewise advanced in their own wizardly
ways, gaining arcane knowledge and power. For a group that so
decisively defeated its enemies, there remained several problems.
Robilar never quite bought into Mordenkainen’s philosophy, and he
and Tenser often bickered over matters of morality. Serten, though
seen as useful was never truly respected and
Otis, tired of
uunderground
excursions and forays into urban territo
ries left the
group,
decrying his friend’s
a
s cave-delvers and treasure
seekers
blind to the real problems of
the
world.
Over the years, the Citadel played home to such
lumi­
naries as Prince
elf Brightflamc of the
Olvcnfolk,
the half-orc Quij, Felnorith, Robilar’s brother Terik, and
even, at one
point, the Ouasi-Deity Murlynd in
disguise.

Nearly a
decade after the Citadel’s formation, Otis’ crit­ical words
took on the air of prophecy. In 569 CY, the first arrow flew at
Ernridy Meadows. The Citadel was noticeably absent. Whether
investigating magical secrets

far to the west or unearthing
lost passages in Urnst’s

Maure Castle, these
self-absorbed celebrities were too preoccupied to influence one of
the century’s most critical battles. All were absent save Serten,
who fought valiantly at the side of Prince Thrommel, against the
hordes of
Elemental Evil. When Serten fell none of his
friends
stood at his side. Though most attended his
ostentatious funeral service in Verbobonc, a crucial rift had been
torn
in the organization. The Citadel was crumbling. Tenser
blamed Mordenkainen and retired inward to his castle. Terik and
Yrag vanished, some said to the anonymity of the Bandit

Kingdoms. Even the loyal Bigby left the side of his
one-time master and returned to Oldridge, where he
adventured for a time with a band of boyhood friends.
Mordenkainen, the man who had brought the Citadel
together, simply shrugged and returned, with cold eyes
to his studies.


Formation of the Circle
      

The chaos
surrounding the return to power of the demi-god Iuz, in CY 570
prompted Mordenkainen to consid­er a new paradigm. Though the
Old One worked to check the growing power of the Horned Society,
and
kept Furyondy’s eyes on its northern borders,
Mordenkainen knew well that the situation would not last. The dissolution of the Citadel left Mordenkainen
without a tool to shape events as he would and though he hardly
admitted it to himself he longed to return to a life of adventure.
The Citadel’s primary failure, he surmised had been its inclusive
philosophy. As its founding concept had been arcane, he had been
foolish to assume that men like Robilar or Rigby would rally to his
cause without subtly working against it for reasons personal,
spiritual or political. Men of intellect and
sorceress skill,
whose primary interests
were more than material, would replace them. Thus was born the
Circle of Eight. Over the next year Mordenkainen invited some of
the most prominent magi in the Flanaess to join him. By the first
month of 571 CY, he had gathered eight mages to his cause. Among
them Bigby, Otto, Rary, Nystul, Drawmij, and the affable Bucknard.
The Circle in those early days worked to
check the power of influential beings in Eastern Oerik. When they
could not directly intervene they sponsored groups of adventurers,
as in the sacking of Iggwilv’s former haunt at the Tsojcanth
Caverns in the mid-570’s. Whether or not those agents always knew
who set them upon their quests is a matter of some debate.
Privately, members of the Circle explored fantastic
corners of Oerth, including the strange and foreboding City of
the Gods near Blackmoor, further depths of
Castle
Greyhawk, and even the manifold layers of the infernal Abyss. More
importantly, through their own
adventurers and the
exploits of those related to them,
the Circle began to
formulate what soon would become one of the most impressive
networks of informers and agents the Flanaess has ever known.     
                           

The Circle
Completed    

The
membership of the Circle changed little in the years between its
inception and 574 CY, when Tenser, still bitter over the
dissolution of the Citadel, sought membership. After one of the
founding mages of the group abandoned Oerth to explore other planes
of existence, the petition was granted and Tenser brought his
unique, if less-than-subtle, ambition to the ideology of the group.
Two years later, with the addition of the mage Otiluke, the Circle
solidified its reputation as a political power in the Central
Flanaess. As president of the Society of Magi, Otiluke brought with
him a seat on Greyhawk’s Directing Oligarchy and the group
initiated its long-anticipated drive to influence the policies of
temporal leaders throughout the Marklands.
Jallarzi
Sallavarian was invited to join in 581 CY, replacing the much
esteemed Bucknard, who had mysteriously vanished two years earlier.
The final week of her six-month trial membership was to be a
baptism by fire.

The Return of
Vecna

Alerted to a
rising evil in the Flanaess, the Circle hastily gathered for a
nearly unprecedented field operation
in 581 CY. A new
power sought to join Oerth’s vast
pantheon, and its efforts
threatened to corrupt the magi­cal order of the known
world.
The Circle travelled to the hills south of
Verbobonc,
where they investigated the tomb of a
long-dead
Oeridian tyrant who was thought to have
possessed the
awesome artefacts known as the Hand and Eye of
Vecna. Finding the
tyrant alive, after a fashion, and
completely controlled by
the Whispered One, the

ill-prepared Circle of Eight
panicked and was defeated.

Vecna destroyed the entire
Circle, save
Mordenkainen, who had elected to remain in
Greyhawk
as a safeguard against lust such an occurrence.
When
news reached the arch mage he mobilized the
Circle’s
allies and a small cadre of apprentice wizards.
Former
companions, and long-time confidantes embarked
on a
nearly hopeless bid to thwart Vecna’s apotheosis.
Somehow (it is whispered that they employed the aid
of luz, who stood to lose much under the deification of
the Lich Lord). The intrepid adventurers managed to
banish the Maimed God at the strange stone circles
known as the Tovag Baragu, and Oerth returned to relative normalcy, save for the absence of the Circle
of Eight.

Shattered
Circle

Mordenkainen
addressed this absence by recovering
what was left of
his fallen comrades and cloning them.
This endeavour
consumed time that otherwise might

have
seen him addressing the
reports of the Circle’s allies in
the North, who warned of
alarming developments in

Stonefist and the Barbarian
Lands. When those events

spiralled into the first
conflicts of the Greyhawk Wars,
the Circle’s clones
remained undeveloped and by the time the clones reached full
maturation, the
Circle of Eight had been forced to take a
reactive stance
to the tumultuous events unfolding before
them.
Though the Circle never acted concertedly
during
the Greyhawk Wars, certain hotspots received a
good
deal of their attention. Mordenkainen, Bigby and
Otto
fought against the Old One’s army at the infamous
Battle of Critwall Bridge, and Drawmij was instrumen­tal
in organizing the flood of refugees from the Lost
Lands
to fastnesses in the Good Hills. Nystul worked
primarily
alone in besieged Tenh, while Otto and Bigby
left
Mordenkainen in the Vesve Forest to do what they
could for
the Iron League. Citing pressing personal
needs Rary
retreated to his tower in Lopolla and
refused to come to
the aid of his companions.

When the
political rumblings that signalled the end to
the
conflict reached the Free City of Greyhawk the
entire
Circle was on hand to ensure a favourable outcome to the peace
process. Their network of agents researched the backgrounds of key
diplomats and participants in the proceedings and magical
divinations were conducted to unmask any would-be saboteurs. Never
did the view of those scrying crystals turn inward however, toward
the plans of the single individual who could do the most harm to
the delegates’ cause. Rary’s treachery that day killed Tenser and
Otiluke and gained the Arch mage of Ket everlasting infamy. Spurned
from his family by his brother and banned from Greyhawk itself by
Mordenkainen, Rary fled to the Bright Desert to uncover its secrets
and inaugurate an empire.
                  

Coming full
Circle 

Since the
war, the Circle has admitted three new members rounding out their
number. From the far reaches of the ancient lands of the Baklunish,
they courted Alhamazad the Wise, 
Theodain Eriason, the Circle’s first true demihuman member came
from the Yeomanry. The first post-war addition however, was the
most obvious, Warnes Starcoat, Counsellor to the Courts of Urnst
had already dignified himself by helping the Circle recover the
powerful Crook of Rao from the clutches
of the Mother of All Witches, Iggwilv. Canon Hazen’s heroic use of
that artefact in 586 CY validated Starcoat’s inclusion, as did the
arch mage’s crucial role in the horrific circumstances surrounding
Tenser’s return from the realm of the dead. In the years since the
close of the Greyhawk Wars much
has been done to re
establish the Flanaess’s balance of power. Much work remains
however, and Mordenkainen and the mage
Circle have
resolved to ensure that it is completed.             

In the early
580’s, the Circle of Eight included Bigby, Drawmij, jallarzi
Sallavarian, Nystul, Otiluke, Otto, Rary of Ket and the archmage
Tenser. During the Greyhawk Wars, two members of the Eight, Tenser
and Otiluke, were killed as a result of the actions of Rary of Ket,
now known as Rary the Traitor. Tenser was returned to life in 585
CY, but chose not to return to the Circle of Eight. Otiluke is
still dead. Three new members were appointed in 585 CY: Alhamazad
the Wise, Theodain Eriason and Warnes Starcoat. The three former
members are listed here, following the members of the Eight in
591CY. 
    

All
members of the Circle of Eight possess or have access to large
numbers of magical items, particularly potions. They might be
approached for assistance on a quest, requesting little more than a
full report of the journey or an errand in return. Any of the
members of the Circle of Eight might be contacted by leaving a
message at the Wizards’ Guildhall, Otto’s home in the Garden
Quarter or Jallarzi Sallavarian’s home in the High Quarter of the
City of Greyhawk. The members of the Circle of Eight have fast
communication with each other through various magical
devices.


Mordenkainen

Mordenkainen
is an extremely powerful archmage who appears middle-aged but is
much older. He has cropped black hair, brown eyes, and a black
beard streaked with silver. A brilliant thinker, Mordenkainen feels
responsible for the Flanaess and manipulates political and military
events to suit his vision of what the Flanaess should be.

Mordenkainen
serves as a director for the Circle of Eight. Mordenkainen lives in
his Obsidian Citadel in the Yatils, but he also travels disguised
as a merchant to learn facts on his own. The Citadel houses
Mordenkainens unequalled library which is said to contain spell
books of every known spell (except those designed by individual
wizards), intelligence reports from across the continent, and a
detailed and continually updated history of the Flanaess. Only
Bigby and Tenser know of his home’s precise location.

Alhamazad the Wise

Alhamazad became a member of the Circle in 585 CY
and thus is one of the newest members of the Circle. A thin,
elderly Baklunish man in plain robes and a simple turban, he looks
like a poor wanderer during his frequent travels. He is in fact
highly powerful as a mage, and has forged alliances with noble
elementals and genies. His primary goals are the maintenance of
modern Baklunish culture, society and power.


Bigby

Bigby is a lean, severe-looking man with brown hair and eyes
who prefers dark grey hooded robes, At 57 years of age, he is known
for being cautious, quiet, nervous and puritanical. Though a
fault-finder and nitpicker, he is steadfast and has a fine sense of
humour. Bigby lived in Onnwal, but fled after the Scarlet
Brotherhood conquered it. He now lives in the city of Mitrik in
Veluna.    He adventures
only infrequently, preferring to remain at home in one of his
libraries or tinkering in his laboratory. Only when he gets wind of
rare spell components or unusual magical items will he go
adventuring, but he visits his wizard friends frequently. He nearly
killed luz once and is greatly hated by the demigod; in 590
CY,
he survived an assassination attempt by Iuz’s
agents.    


Drawmij

Despite
his age of 63 years, Drawmij is tall, slim and young-looking, with
dark blond hair and deep blue eyes, which contribute to make him
arguably the best looking male of the Eight. He is secretive and
says little even to fellow members of the Eight. He is a dedicated
foe of the Mage of the Valley. The mage makes his home in an
underwater lair located at least a hundred miles offshore in the
Azure Sea. As might be expected Drawmij is an expert with magical
devices involving water (he has a number of magical boats) and in
adapting spells to underwater use. He visits the City of Greyhawk
only when he must.

Jallarzi Sallavarian

The only
woman in the Eight and one of the few leaning more toward good than
neutrality, Jallarzi offers a much-needed fresh perspective on
matters put before this curmudgeonly men’s club. Even at the age of
42, she remains beautiful, with blonde hair and bright blue eyes.
Jallarzi has been a member of the Circle of Eight for just over
nine years; she truly enjoys her membership and uses her other
affiliations to benefit the Circle whenever possible. The wizard
makes her home in the City of Greyhawk and will entertain visitors
there, but she prefers to hold meetings at the Guild of Wizardry.
She is also known to disguise herself and creep through the seedier
areas of town in order to spy on the shady side of society. Her
familiar is a pseudodragon named Edwina.


Nystul

This wizard’s appearance is that of the stereotypical
absent-minded mage. Tall, gangly, and plain, Nystul has brown hair
that looks as if it has never met a comb in all his 52 years. He
has become a master of disguise to conceal his
ridiculous appearance, and
frequently
travels under the guise of a half-elven maiden to gain assistance
from. Paladins and knights. Nystul has a special interest in spells
involving light and darkness. He is also an expert in the use of
concealing and defensive spells, claiming that a wizard who finds
himself in hand­ to-hand combat has not used his arsenal of
spells properly. Nystul visits Greyhawk on occasion, but is
occupied with the war in his homeland of Tenh. He is always on the
lookout for discovered spell books and magical
items. 

           


Otto

Otto was once a priest of Boccob, the god of magic, but is now
a major wizard and a member of the Circle of Eight. One of the
younger members at age 53, Otto is also one of the most colourful
Otto often poses as a rich, cheerful merchant, but he is easily
picked out in a crowd because of his huge girth and his ruffled and
beribboned clothing. He is a gourmet constantly in search of new,
exotic dishes to sample, and is a patron of the arts. He has a
natural talent for music and adds musical elements to his spells,
which include singing fireballs and yodelling ice
storm
. Once a native of Almor far to the
cast, Otto has moved to the City of Greyhawk following the complete
destruction of his country. He can be found visiting the opera
house, the Wizards ‘Guildhall or his fellow Circle
members.


Theodain Eriason

The first
demihuman to join the Circle in .585 CY
, Theodain is a
tall, slim high elf with long black and silver hair, high
cheekbones and a pale complexion. His manner is cold, and he often
seems disdainful or even evil, but he is in fact a  passionate defender of regional stability,
since such order protects his homeland, the Yeomanry. Theodain is
unusual in that he is able to use a short sword despite being a
wizard. He shows no compunction in attacking foes directly.


Warnes Starcoat

Warnes Starcoat joined in 585 cy to become one of the newest
members of the Circle, a middle-aged man with a bald spot in his
long blond hair and piercing pale eyes. He has a long-standing
interest in the politics of the central Flanaess, particularly the
County and Duchy of Urnst. He was involved in the recovery of the
Crook of Rao.

Rary the
Traitor

Rary is
about 80 years old, but at Last sighting, Rary was healthy in both
mind and body. Age has diminished none of the mage’s faculties.
Rary of Ket was originally a trusted member of the Circle of Eight;
known as a gentle, quiet man, and a skilled mediator and
peacemaker. His sage abilities earned him a reputation far and
wide. He was even known to avoid offensive spells, preferring
charms and other non-combatant spells to assist him m difficult
negotiations. At some point he decided that turning to evil was the
way to accomplish his goals. In 584 CY, he organized what seems to
have been a plot against the Circle of Eight. Mere moments before
the Pact of Greyhawk was to he signed, which would end what has
become known as the Greyhawk Wars, Rary attempted to destroy the
signing site. Members of the Eight, Tenser the Archmage and
Otiluke, were killed m the subsequent magical battle, leaving
nothing that could be resurrected. Simultaneous to the battle,
fellow conspirators including Lord Robilar attacked the residences
of Otiluke and Tenser, destroying all their
clones
and cloning material The notion that
Rary had plotted against his fellow Circle members and killed two
of them came as a total shock to all who knew him. Rary and Lord
Robilar fled the scene and eventually found their way into the
Bright Desert.


Tenser

Formerly a
member of the Circle of Eight, Tenser the Archmage is still
associated with this group in the public mind, though he does
little work with the Circle now. Before his death in 584 CY, this
wizard was the strongest advocate for law and good in the Eight~
and often found himself at loggerheads with those members who
prized balance above all. Following a near-tragedy at the hands of
Vecna’s followers, all members of the Eight kept a number of active
clones However, after the battle that killed Tenser and Otiluke,
all discoverable clones of the two mages were destroyed by
co-conspirators of the assassin, Rary of Ket. One
clone
of Tenser was finally recovered from a secret location.
When the cloned Tenser returned to his castle on the shore of the Nyr Dyv in 585 CY, he
retired from the Circle of Eight and began a campaign to promote
the forces of law and good in the Flanaess.


Otiluke and Other Past Members

Otiluke
joined the Circle of Eight in 576 CY, replacing the aged wizard
Leonund who retired that year to pursue other interests. Like
Tenser, Otiluke fell to Rary’s treachery m 584 CY and was slain in
the City of Greyhawk, though not before wounding Rary. Otiluke
seems to be permanently dead. He was formerly the President of the
Society of Magi and a member of the Directing Oligarchy of the City
of Greyhawk, and his membership in the Circle of Eight was a
complete secret to any but the other members. Leomund was a clever
and practical individual who invented numerous spells of
containment used by adventurers the Flanaess over. He kept his
whereabouts a secret, though he is generally thought to have once
lived in Medegia. He has not been heard from in some years. In 581
CY Jallarzi Sallavarian replaced the powerful wizard Bucknard, who
vanished in 579 CY while exploring an unknown demiplane. His fate
is not known. Bucknard was fairly young when he disappeared, but he
was rumoured to have become an archmage and was well-known in royal
courts from Keoland to Nyrond.