Well met, Greyhawkers! One of my absolute favorite Greyhawk source books is Anne Brown’s Players Guide to Greyhawk from the 2E era. Among the many useful tidbits of Greyhawk lore and info on how to make a character set in the Flanaess, there is a section on expressions and sayings. This kind of stuff is a delight because it adds spice to your roleplay, further adding to the immersion of the setting. By now most of you have heard gems like “I Spit on the Old One”, “Cold Iron Avail You”, or “May the Axe Grow Great.” Well in this post I am going to attempt to add to this cultural exchange with some custom expressions from the frontier land of Ull. Keep in mind Grey-scholars, these sayings are translated from the original Ulagha dialect of Ancient Baklunish, so the actual wording may or may not be accurate. Until the Starbreak!
“Yoll, Yoll, Yoll!” This is an ancient battle cry used by Uli warriors, predating their occupation of the Oeridian lands. It was most famously yelled by the united forces of Ull when it turned back the invading Brazen Horde at the Battle of Ulakand in 308 CY. Over time however, this specific expression has fallen out of popular use by the many khanates of Ull who have developed their own local battle cries. Only the small warband called the Wild Men still cling to this expression as they harass travelers passing though Ohkir Khanate. Note: this expression originally comes from Gary Gygax’s novel Sea of Death, where for copyright reasons the land of Ull was renamed Yoll.
“I’d sooner go to Kester.” The derision felt between the traditional northern nomadic clans of Ull, and their corruptible southern kin is no more evident than in this familiar saying which has now spread across the neighboring plains and steppes. Kester’s reputation for danger and depravity lends itself well to this forceful rejection of an obviously perilous request. Example: “You want to go in the Tomb of Horrors? I’d sooner go to Kester!”
“The arrow has been loosed.” Variations of this idiom are found throughout Eastern Oerik. In Ull, it is commonly asserted that once an arrow is launched there is no changing its course. To put plainly, it refers to a decision that is made which cannot be taken back. Example: “I told the sheik we will not give in to his demands. The arrow has been loosed!”
“Ride fast, ride far.” Many nomadic tribes in the north of Ull will travel vast distances in a shorter time than most riders due to the strength and resiliency of their horse breeds. This expression of parting is quite popular among the khanates and has even found use by their distant kin on the Plains of the Paynims. The saying is also the rallying cry of the annual Najaam Trials (during Richfest), a cross-country horse race that brings honor to a rider’s family.
“Come down from your saddle.” This expression is used to imply someone is being stubborn or unreasonable and needs to humble themselves. This usually includes a subtext of violence. For context, it is customary in Ull for negotiations to be conducted on foot, mainly in the event combat breaks out to decide the matter. Example: “Seventy gold pieces for that old bow? Come down from your saddle…”
“Blood is strength.” Ull is a land of internal strife with warring raiders and contentious nomad families. When Uli have common foe however, the entire domain will rally together behind a strong leader. The phrase “blood is strength” is thus used by locals as a rousing means of setting aside differences to deal with a foreign problem.
Your god did not follow you here.” While not outright hostile, this expression is often invoked as a way to rebuke clerics and missionaries foolish enough to come to Ull. Uli are distrustful of religions in general believing more in spirituality centered on their ancestors. They do believe the gods exist but only harmful ones like Incabulos or Ralishaz pay any mind to Ull. Example: “Keep your prayers and begone beggar, your god did not follow you here.”