CIRCLE OF EIGHT
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.
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. In the
current era of the campaign, the Circle of Eight is needed more than ever to counter the
forces that threaten to upset Oerth's delicate balance of power.
Balance is Struck
Circle of Eight's reputation spans the breadth of the Flanaess. Its name
(if not its exact demeanour) is common currency among noblemen and
this, the Circle's full membership has never
known to those outside the organization (everyone knows of the
‘eight’ – but there are many underlings).
group has not always been so reclusive. Its precursor, The Citadel of
Eight, was a known opponent of darkness in its
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 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 territories left the group, decrying his friend’s as cave-delvers and treasure seekers blind to the real problems of the world. Over the years, the Citadel played home to such luminaries as Prince Melf Brightflame of the Olvenfolk, the half-orc Quij, Felnorith, Robilar's brother Terik, and even, at one point, the Quasi-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 Emridy 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.
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
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
of Oerth, including the strange and foreboding City of the Gods near
Blackmoor, further depths of
Greyhawk, and even the manifold layers of the infernal Abyss. More
importantly, through their own
and the exploits of those related to them,
Circle began to formulate what soon would become one of the most
impressive networks of informers and agents the Flanaess has ever known.
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.
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
Return of Vecna
to a rising evil in the Flanaess, the Circle hastily gathered for a
nearly unprecedented field operation
581 CY. A new power sought to join Oerth's vast
and its efforts threatened to corrupt the magical order of the known
Circle travelled to the hills south of Verbobonc,
they investigated the tomb of a long-dead
tyrant who was thought to have possessed the
artefacts known as the Hand and
Eye of Vecna.
the tyrant alive, after a fashion, and
controlled by the Whispered One, the
Circle of Eight panicked and was defeated.
destroyed the entire Circle, save
who had elected to remain in Greyhawk
a safeguard against lust such an occurrence. When
reached the arch mage he mobilized the Circle's
and a small cadre of apprentice wizards. Former
and long-time confidantes embarked on a
hopeless bid to thwart Vecna’s apotheosis.
(it is whispered that they employed the aid
luz, who stood to lose much under the deification of
Lich Lord). The intrepid adventurers managed to
the Maimed God at the strange stone circles
as the Tovag Baragu, and Oerth returned to
normalcy, save for the absence of the Circle
addressed this absence by recovering
was left of his fallen comrades and cloning them.
endeavour consumed time that otherwise might have
him addressing the reports of the Circle's allies in
North, who warned of alarming developments in
and the Barbarian Lands. When those events
into the first conflicts of the Greyhawk Wars,
Circle's clones remained undeveloped and by the time the clones reached
full maturation, the
of Eight had been forced to take a reactive stance
the tumultuous events unfolding before them.
the Circle never acted concertedly during
Greyhawk Wars, certain hotspots received a good
of their attention. Mordenkainen, Bigby and Otto
against the Old One's army at the infamous
of Critwall Bridge, and Drawmij was instrumental in organizing the
flood of refugees from the Lost
to fastnesses in the Good Hills. Nystul worked
alone in besieged Tenh, while Otto and Bigby
Mordenkainen in the Vesve Forest to do what they
for the Iron League. Citing pressing personal
Rary retreated to his tower in Lopolla and
to come to the aid of his companions.
the political rumblings that signalled the end to
conflict reached the Free City of Greyhawk the
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.
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
been done to re establish the Flanaess's balance of power. Much work
remains however, and Mordenkainen and the mage
have resolved to ensure that it is completed.
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.
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.
is an extremely powerful archmage who appears middle-aged but is much
older. He has a shaven head, 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.
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.
became a member of the Circle in 585 CY
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
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,
survived an assassination attempt by Iuz’s agents.
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.
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.
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.
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
first demihuman to join the Circle in .585 CY,
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.
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.
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
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.
and Other Past Members
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.