In a short series of articles, I will detail six examples of Factions that are appropriate for the Greyhawk setting. Some of these might be old hat for setting purists, but are written up in the somewhat simplified, player-friendly manner of Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition factions. Others are heavily modified or all-new creations, meant to provide a few more widespread organizations as options, but keeping them relatively loose-knit so their sudden appearance in the setting isn’t jarring if you’ve already spent a lot of time using the Greyhawk setting.
Remember, these are just examples. Use them to your own ends, whether it’s whole-cloth or as templates for your own factions!
This final article in the series (for now!) presents an all-new faction write-up for the Seekers of the Arcane. The bulk of this article draws directly from The Oerth Journal #25, 25th Anniversary Gary Gygax Tribute Issue, with only minor lore changes.
Seekers of the Arcane
The Seekers of the Arcane, commonly called simply the Seekers, are a loose organization of treasure hunters, scholars, and explorers, with lodges throughout the Flanaess and beyond. They scour the world for artifacts, magic, and treasure, prominent among these is the Throne of the Gods. Though often described as unscrupulous and self-centered tomb robbers, freebooters, and thieves, the Seekers claim high-minded goals in collecting, cataloguing, and sharing the lore of ancient sites and artifacts.
The Seekers were founded in the early fourth century CY by Jonus Marius, who gathered together the royal explorers and surveyors who had served the Great Kingdom during its expansionist phase. As the kingdom’s expansion declined, so did the Throne of the Sun’s need for such specialists. Marius gave these individuals a purpose, suggesting they could explore (and plunder) the treasures of the Flanaess together. The Seekers have acted as a foil to the Silent Ones of Keoland for two centuries now, often contending for the same items. The Silent Ones strive to keep certain things undisturbed and hidden from the world at large, while the Seekers share a more egalitarian view. As they have begun exploring the southern seas and the jungles along the Amedio coast, the Seekers have attracted the enmity of the Scarlet Brotherhood, who share their interest in ancient secrets and ruined tombs.
Lodges, or clubhouses, owned by the Seekers are mostly secret and often disguised as more mundane establishments, such as drinking houses, cartography businesses, or social clubs. They can be found in such widely separated cities as Gradsul, the Free City of Greyhawk, Irongate, Rel Astra, and Sasserine. In Nellix, the Seekers meet with the Skeptics in the home of one Quintus Marius of Seltaren (a descendant of Jonus Marius). Known Seekers include Lashton of Grayhill, Tibarian Matreyus of Gradsul, the former Seer of Urnst, Baron Malweig of Dilwych, Khellek of Greyhawk, Ulavant (presumably of Greyhawk, deceased), Mordenkainen, the renegade Eli Tomorast, and a deceased magician named Zatar, who once found the Throne of the Gods. It is a common tale that the powerful mage Leomund was the founder.
- Knowledge is power: use it to uncover the sins of the past and thereby make a brighter future.
- Protecting lost artifacts and sites of magical power ensures they are accessible to those that might do good with them, and learn from them.
- Recover lost lore from the Flanaess’ fallen civilizations.
- Uncover lost relics, artifacts, and places of power. Catalogue them and share this knowledge with other Seekers and the trustworthy universities of guilds of the Flanaess.
Member Traits & Typical Quests
The only formal piece of the Seekers’ organization is that applicants are trained in a master-and-apprentice system, where the choice of pairing is completely voluntary. Seekers are almost always in need of assistance in the form of uncovering lore, hiring guides, drawing up or tracking down maps, procuring items, and cataloguing artifacts, and thus it’s fairly easy for them to find like-minded individuals seeking to join or rise in rank within the organization. Because of this, the faction has set up Seeker lodges, creating a community of folk that can handle the various aspects of finding, transporting, storing, and cataloguing, and this also translates to resources that can be shared among members. At the earliest stages of initiation into the faction, however, the work is often drudgery: digging, mining, long hours of study, translation, and other menial or arduous tasks that the higher-ranking members don’t have time for.
The creation of Seeker lodges has led to some very common activities, despite the otherwise informal organization of the group. First, all Seekers are expected to maintain journals of their investigations, journeys, and items that they catalogue. This journal doubles as a means to keeping records clean and helping members that are raised from the dead or subjected to terrible magics in recovering their memories, or pointing the organization to otherwise lost items. Establishing lodges in areas rife with untouched tombs, ruined sites, and so on is key to spreading this practice and making new and exciting discoveries.
- Knight of the Lodge
As a reminder, this article is not meant to be official and does not accurately reflect the most up-to-date or detailed Greyhawk lore. At its heart, it utilizes information from The City of Greyhawk box set for AD&D 2nd edition, as well as scattered bits of lore from Gygax’s home campaign mixed with some of the early AD&D and AD&D 2nd edition events (pre-Greyhawk Wars). Please use or abuse this information as you wish!
If you enjoyed this article, please comment, like, and share! We publish supplements, campaign accessories, and adventures for Dungeons & Dragons at Dungeon Masters Guild. We also write for OSR games and Cortex Plus at DriveThruRPG.