Sharifate of Risay

What do we know about the Sharifate of Risay? To answer this question, I’ve looked at three areas.

I. Published Sources

There are two primary sources for information about Risay: Living Greyhawk Gazetteer (2000) and “The Rock of the West,” Living Greyhawk Journal 5 (July 2001). Based solely on these sources, we learn that:

  • Risay is a state on the Gulf of Ghayar.
  • Diplomatic relations with Zeif extend back to the rule of Sultana Ismuyin the Wise (2529-2577 BH).
  • Risay was ruled by an Imam. In 3186 BH, the government was overthrown. No information about subsequent government exists.
  • Risay has been visited by Deshani, daughter of the sheik of Barakhat. Risay is now a sharifate, and we know it is south of Barakhat.
  • II. Secondary Sources

    Again, there are two secondary sources for information on Risay: articles on canonfire! and background developed by the Zeif Triad. From these, we learn that:

  • Risay fashions mirror those of the other Baklunish states around the Gulf of Ghayar. It tends to be flowing as the summers in Risay are often very hot. However, this clothing can also be surprisingly heavy, or is intended to be worn in layers, because winters can be as cold as the summers can be hot. Changing clothes throughout the year is a necessity, not just a fashion statement. (“Fashion in the Flanaess – The Baklunish,” by gvdammerung)
  • Risay may be seeking any of the Baklunish artifacts (Jacinth of Inestimable Beauty / Cup and Talisman of Al’Akbar) for its own purposes. It might seek to weaken Zeif, or even establish its own claim on the easternmost part of the Baklunish West, however tenuous this might be. At times Risay is either neutral or hostile toward Zeif, and would certainly like to thwart Zeif’s ambitions both in the east and at home, if possible. Spies and assassins from Risay are present in Zeif, although it still has normal diplomatic and trading relations with the sultanate. Zeif’s importance as a supplier of food and precious chrysoberyls means that Risay must not anger it. (“Living Greyhawk Gazetteer Addendum: The Baklunish West, Part II,” by CruelSummerLord)
  • Komali ships have come under increasing attacks, with Zeif, Mur, and Risay seeming to be the likely culprits. This is driving the Matriarchs to negotiate an alliance with the Janasib corsairs. (“Komal,” by Galiana)
  • Risay is rumored to be smaller than Komal and Mur, though its boundaries are uncertain. (Zeif Triad)
  • Risay was settled after the Invoked Devastation by followers of Ghayar Khan, a Baklunish commoner who claimed to be the last descendant of the royal family. Ghayar installed a satrap in Risay, eventually known as one of the Imperial Pretenders. (Zeif Triad)
  • Other than the addition of the character of Ghayar Khan, there is no significant addition to the lore on Risay here.

    III. Word Meanings (courtesy of Wikipedia)

    In 3186 BH, Risay was said to be under the rule of an “imam.” Imam is an arabic word meaning “leader.” The ruler of a country might be called the imam, for example. However, the capitalized term or The Imam has important origins in the Islamic tradition, especially in Shi’a beliefs. In the first few centuries of Islam, it was used to refer to the Caliph in both Sunni and Shia religious text. It is also an honorific title; for example “Imam Abu Hanifa” could arguably be translated as “the honorable/leader father of Hanifa.”

    Risay is currently a Sharifate. “Sharif” is a traditional Arab tribal title given to those who serve as the protector of the tribe and all tribal assets, such as property, wells, and land. The sharif is charged with protecting the cities and their environs and ensuring the safety of travelers and pilgrims.

    The titles “imam” and “sharif” appear to connotate similar roles – the safeguarding and welfare of the people under them. Sharif is purely tribal, leading me to believe that Risay is now controlled by a dominate tribal group. Imam has more religious significance, which might mean that, before 3186 BH, Risay was under the control of church leaders. The imam’s fall could be read as a move to a more secular society.


    Risay is on the Gulf of Ghayar, south of Barakhat. I would place the Sharifate at the tip of the Gulf, perhaps hugging a river flowing north out of the Sulhaut Mountains. Risay has never been said to be on the western shore, as have Mur and Komal, so I would draw its western border from the spur of the Salhaut that rises closest to the Ghayar, north-northeast to the coast.

    The gulf state of Mur is said to have mountainous regions. Placing Risay as suggested would most easily allow for this to fit. If Komal is assumed to occupy the lands to the northwest of Mur, one would expect that Risay was effected by the Brazen Hordes migration from southern Komal to the Plains of the Paynims.

    Risay is probably made up of grassy plains and steppe, with desert and wastelands to the southeast.

    I would give Risay a long history, a mixture of subjugation and independence. At different times it could have been ruled by the Baklunish Empire, Ghayar Khan, and the Celestial Imperium. Each would leave its mark on religion, language, customs, and laws. The Baklunish Empire would promote religious beliefs. Ghayar’s influence would leave a lingering mystery of magical might and terror. The Celestial Imperium could built a framework of a bureaucracy and civil law, allowing trade to flourish and prosper in Risay.


    2529-2577: Treaty with Zeif under Sultana Ismuyin the Wise

    Late 2900s: Melek II of Zeif incites the Brazen Horde to leave southern Komal and enter the Plains of the Paynims, passing through Risay en route to their new home.

    3186: Imam overthrown in Risay


    Risay has a predominately baklunish (90%+) population, with the occasional immigrant from neighboring lands. There are sizable minorities of nomadic clans in the southeast, and immigrants from the Celestial Imperium in the southwest. Dwarves are rumoured to live in a great mountain to the south, though the few that visit Risay never speak of it. The main occupation for a Risari is in the army or as a merchant. Though there are thieves present in Risari cities, their activities are not tolerated and harshly punished.

    Risari culture is similar to that of the Baklunish West. Sandwich’d between the Dry Steppes and the so-called “western reaches,” Risay is a mix of settled and nomadic cultures. Eastern and western baklunish traditions would find eachother in Risay, as well as whatever lasting influence the Brazen Horde and Celestial Imperium might have left.

    Neighboring Mur has likely spread many influences in dress, food, and religion. The horsemen of the Dry Steppes have made their impact on the armies of Risay, which have a large proportion of cavalry.

    Risay is a land of wealthy cities and poor villages, great learning and unsolved mysteries. It is famous for its ruins, lost tombs, and strange monsters. The dark forest of the Shai, and the monsters of the Narian Gap present continuous challenges to adventurers. Perhaps there are even more wonders to be found throughout the land.

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