Gruka was born in the tiny human barbarian village of Duk in the Crystalmist Mountains just south of the town of Hornwood (southeast of the woods called Hornwood). Gruka wasn’t very welcome in the civilized areas like the town of Hornwood, but he knew a bit about the mountains near the village of Duk.
Half-orcs mature before their human counterparts, so the teenage Gruka was nearly fully grown before the war. The village of Duk was overrun before anyone else in Gyruff knew the war was upon them. Gruka’s mother sent him ahead with a warning for the human lands. Only later did he realize that she made sure that he got out, but he hasn’t seen her since the fighting began. That was a couple years ago, so she is probably dead and gone.
Gruka’s warning to the local villages wasn’t heeded, but it didn’t matter much as the goblin worg riders seemed to be constantly on his heels. Eventually, Gruka made his way to Gorna, the capital of Gyruff with his warning, but it was already too late. The giants besieged the city. Mighty heroes held the giants at bay while Gruka and the civilians were evacuated through the sewers and gnomish secret tunnels to be smuggled to Gran March as refugees.
Feeling alone and lost in the refugee areas of Gran March, Gruka lived meal to meal, often working as a guard or physical labor. While the Gyri were not fond of half-orcs, the people of Gran March seemed to really hate Gruka for his parentage. Gruka wondered how they could find it his fault that his father was an orc? – There was nothing wrong with Gruka. Gruka was fine and he just needed a way to prove that he was just as good as any of these “pure” humans. – Finally, his chance came with a crier calling for any and all volunteers to join the Gyri army. They were desperate enough to take criminals, mercenaries and even monstrous beings who would work for the spoils of war. Although illiterate, Gruka put his mark on the paper and was issued an extra large tabard for his bulky form.
After some basic training, Gruka was rolled into Wolfpack 31, a mixed unit of misfits with enough potential to go on special missions. They would go on missions by themselves to cause mayhem, strike at the giant leadership, get invaluable intelligence and fight evil in its many forms.
When Arglwyth Darlon Lea made his declaration that he would be dedicating his life to the rescue of captives held by the giants, the Rangers of Gyruff and the Wolfpacks went with him. Even as they were being declared outlaws, they continued the good fight. When Wolfpack 31 returned from a very public mission, they were instead touted as Ban Cant 31, a regular army unit instead of a now illegal Wolfpack.
The missions of Wolfpack/Ban Cant 31 are well documented. From his possession by the ghost of Ivar the Terrible, possession by the ghost of Ariel Fireheart, magical transformation into a hill giant and various other heroic exploits, including the deaths of the Necromancer, Cloud Giant Monk, Frost Giant Jarl, Arbrozzar, the Balrog and even the avatar of Vecna himself. He acquired the Hand of Vecna, Sword of Kas and a multitude of other magic items and relics. https://gyruff.obsidianportal.com/adventure-log/summary-of-the-senior-campaign
Along the way, Gruka made powerful friends. Four have become the horsemen of the Apocalypse (Marshall Hillock, Trogdor Hammerfall, Ariel Fireheart, Vilquar/Time), the Brenin of Gyruff, the Minister of Health and the Master of Coin/Weights/Measures of Gyruff, Arglwyth of Dwyr, King of the Lizardfolk and the love of his life, Lily Gellsblood, another half-orc who underwent a magical transformation into a hill giant.
After foiling the plans of Vecna, all of Sigil rejoiced, but Gruka knew he still had a job to do. The ghost of Ivar the Terrible’s mission to defeat Vecna in all his forms still loomed dark upon Gruka’s heart and the ghost continued to whisper in his ear. The Sword of Kas agreed that Vecna must be destroyed, but that Gruka would need a powerful army to face a god again. The Hand of Vecna urged Gruka to take power for power’s sake. Should he amass enough power, he could become a god himself. It was natural, that Gruka take charge, build an empire and ascend to godhood.
First, Gruka would need an army. With Llwyr Melwyn Greatarm and Sion dead, there was no one to lead the were-boar barbarians of the Barrier Peaks. Gruka would go there with Lily and the ghost of Ivar. They would unify the barbarian tribes against the giant invaders. Barbarians respect strength, so Gruka had to defeat the first were-boar chieftain through force of arms, but gained rulership of the tribe in return. From there, the were-boars sought out other were-boar barbarian tribes to join to Gruka’s banner. Those that would not join willingly were defeated in combat and brought to heel. A few non-were-boar barbarian tribes were brought into the fold and “blessed” with lycanthropy, at least those that survived the process.
Once the were-boar barbarian tribes were fashioned into a horde, Gruka began collecting stragglers from the giant armies, from goblins and orcs to ogres, hill giants and frost giants. Eventually, he returned to the Glacier of the Frost Giant Jarl, where he defeated the surviving Frost Giant Lady Yngling and married her as a second wife (after Lily).
Next, Gruka needed a proper seat of government and Ban Cant 31 had just recently taken the stone castle from Abrozzar. (The glacier of the Frost Giant Jarl was too cold and too impermanent, if the weather warmed. Gruka had no desire to be trapped under the ice or have water flowing through his bedchambers.) The castle was re-occupied, so Gruka sent a demand to the dwarves that they give him the castle that he and his companions had taken from the giants as spoils of war. The giants had long warred with the dwarves, so when the giant messengers to the Stonereaver dwarves were slain without response, Gruka knew that he would have take the castle by force. The battle did not last long, though many dwarves and ogres were regrettably slain in the process.
Once the capital was established, it was time for Gruka to take the war to the giants. Goblin worgriders had been raiding the lowlands for months and it was a time to put a stop to it. As the were-boar army advanced, the goblin worgriders withdrew. It seems that the goblin worgriders have experience with the were-boars and knew enough to keep clear. It wasn’t until Pregmere that Gruka’s army had its first real trouble with the giants.
Pregmere had turned into an armed camp by the giants and as their goblin worgrider scouts reported back, the giants were ready with hordes of goblins, bugbears, hobgoblins, gnolls, ogres, hill giants and fire giants. The giants had a number of silvered weapons, but the were-boar barbarians were still tough and determined at revenge against the giants. Gruka himself led the charge. Defenders died by the thousands, though were-boars fell by the hundreds in a dance of mutual annihilation. It wasn’t quite enough, though. Lady Yngling and Lily pulled Gruka’s unconscious form from the battle with Sjatte, sixth of the Storm King’s sons. Lady Yngling ordered the retreat, but only a dozen very wounded and tired were-boar barbarians were even left to retreat.
As the remnants of Gruka’s army, now just an entourage, withdrew, he regained consciousness. Furious at first, his advisors (Lily, Yngling, Ivar, the Sword and Hand) calmed him down and got him focused again. He considered sending a message to the Brenin that Pregmere was weakened and that the Sakhut was there, but decided against it. Some of the Brenin’s people had started pressing into his lands, attempting to recruit some of Gruka’s were-boar barbarians for themselves. – Gruka couldn’t afford to look weak in the eyes of another ruler. – Gruka would have to rebuild his army, say a couple hundred were-boars, so he could treat with the Brenin from a position of strength. – The Sakhut had a cache of weapons, wealth and slaves in the mountains. With a single blow, Gruka could rearm and recruit new followers to take on the Sakhut. Soon the war would be won in the west, and Gruka could negotiate terms, land and a place for all the half-orcs and other monstrous races to live without prejudice. They would build a sanctuary for the disaffected and rejects from “civilized” society. It would be an equalitarian society, rewarding those who contributed more to the collective whole. They would again have peace in the valley and the rebuilding and healing could begin.
Lady Yngling was the first to point out a bright light falling from the sky. It appeared to be getting closer until it all ended in a brilliant flash of light….
The ghost of Ivar the Terrible stood mute over the fallen form of Gruka, his mates and the rest of his entourage. His latest best chance to finally destroy Vecna was lost. He would have to find another…
Still lost in thought over what to do, where to go and who to recruit for the crusade against the Whispered One, Ivar the Terrible was at a loss for the fast metal cylinders that arrived and struck Gruka’s broken body with incredible bolts of radiant energy. Now these magical devices were just the kind of power that Ivar needed to start the crusade, but the cylinders moved way to fast to approach. That’s when one of the cylinders landed and a wizard-type got out. The wizard hacked off the Hand and using Telekinesis or Mage Hand, moved Gruka’s relics and other possessions into his cylinder. Now this was someone Ivar could latch onto, though it was doubtful that Ivar could dominate him. Ivar would ride with this wizard until he found someone more weak-willed to control.
The magical cylinders flew at incredible speed and arrived at Pregmere within minutes instead of days on foot. Although a couple of the cylinders were lost in the brief battle, the bolts of radiant energy severely wounded or killed a fire giant with each hit. From there, the cylinders flew to a newly constructed town (that Ivar was unfamiliar with), itself ravaged by war. It was there that the wizard unloaded and left his artifact cargo with a broken down husk of a man. If only the wizard understood the true power of either the Hand of Vecna or the Sword of Kas, he wouldn’t have left them so easily. Then again, the corrupting power of those artifacts is so compelling, it was probably best for the wizard to be rid of them. This would be Ivar’s chance with a new bearer of the artifacts…. One way or another, the Whispered One will fall…