Doomgrinder and Cairn Hills
Few sites in the all the Flanaess conjure up in the minds of the populace such images of dread, foreboding, and fear as does Doomgrinder. Widely believed to be some kind of mystical or cosmic clock counting down the years to the Oerth’s destruction, the structure’s origins – and purpose – remain completely unknown. Some sages disagree, whispering that it is some kind of terrible war engine created by a long-dead civilization to annihilate their foes; these theories are widely derided as the fanciful mutterings of old and senile men. Nevertheless, Doomgrinder appears in the earliest oral traditions of the Flan hillmen who have dwelled in the hills since time immemorial. The dwarves and gnomes also have ancient tales of the site making it one of the oldest – if not the oldest – known structure in the hills.
Doomgrinder stands atop a plateau overlooking a fecund, oft-shunned valley deep in the rugged uplands of the Cairn Hills, roughly 200 miles east of Greyhawk City. While the valley is home to several impressive areas of plant growth (which is rare for the Cairn Hills), few journey here to study them; Doomgrinder’s fearsome appearance and the reported sightings of pale-skinned dwarves in the area persuading most explorers to stay away. Dao and efreeti are also said to lurk in the vicinity.
The structure – a massive windmill 80 ft. high and hewn completely from black stone - has no apparent entryway (although some tales do speak of a hidden entrance high up on the edifice). Doomgrinder’s sails move upwards toward their zenith at erratic intervals. Massive lightning storms always accompany such movements (that normally occur every ten to fifty years) as do localized earthquakes. It is obvious to all but the most intellectually deficient half-orc barbarian that magic protects and maintains the edifice. Indeed, the entire structure radiates strong evil and magic (of indeterminate aura) but seems impervious to all divinations and other magics.
Recent Goings On
After the Greyhawk Wars, the Doomgrinder’s uppermost sail was still two degrees away from its highest point. In 590 CY, however, an unnamed apprentice wizard drawn to investigate the site observed that the windmill’s sails had moved one degree closer to the vertical. Since then, the site has been relatively calm; a large pack of wolves was scattered in 592 CY and the year after a covey of vampire druids haunting the area was destroyed. Recently, however, explorers following the Urnst Trail have reported dark clouds gathering over the valley on otherwise fair weather days, the occasional flash of lightning to the south, and even the ground shaking on occasion. Thus, while Doomgrinder’s sails have not completed their upward journey many in the Free City believe that it is only a matter of time before a final doom befalls the Oerth.
Such developments have, of course, heralded a steady stream of adventurers and (particularly brave) scholars visiting the site. Most have returned empty handed, but a small number have disappeared, victims of either the denizens of the Cairn Hills or perhaps of Doomgrinder itself.
Detailed map of the Cairn Hills. Click map to view a larger image.
Rumors and Whispers
Rumors cluster thickly about Doomgrinder as darkness cloaks the Old One. A selection of the most lurid and sensationalist rumors appear below. One, some, or all of them may be true (or not).
- Vast treasures are sealed within the Doomgrinder.
- The Circle of Eight knows how to destroy the Doomgrinder, but they choose not to for some reason.
- Doomgrinder was built by Zagig the Mad Archmage for some strange, unknowable purpose. Many believe it was a vital part of his plan to ascend to godhood while others think it is a product of Zagig’s strange humor.
- When Doomgrinder reaches its zenith, Oerth will be destroyed in some great cataclysm.
- A network or caverns and passages lies beneath Doomgrinder. Some of the deeper tunnels connect with the UnderOerth. A nest of mind flayers therein are engaged in a Machiavellian scheme to plunge the surface world into unending darkness.
- Rary knows the truth about the Doomgrinder, that’s why he turned against Mordenkainen and the Circle of Eight. His real interest in ancient Sulm is related to several ancient texts that contain instructions on how to control Doomgrinder; the configuration of the sails is said to be able to call forth a variety of powerful magical effects.