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💀 Necro [Let's Read] The Known World/Mystara - ALL of it, from the beginning

cimbrog

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I never really looked at the Monstrous Appendix. That is actually pretty flavorful and badass. I don't know if the flavor fits my personal image of the region but I certainly would be willing to include it.
 

Khyron

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The Fachan probably first appeared in a Dragon "CreatureCatalog" article in the 1e era, maybe issue #89.

I was not aware of it making any 2e re-appearance til now.
 

DarkMoc

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The Fachan probably first appeared in a Dragon "CreatureCatalog" article in the 1e era, maybe issue #89.

I was not aware of it making any 2e re-appearance til now.
Yes, it was in Dragon #89. It also made a 2e appearance in MC11, Forgotten Realms Appendix II. The Toril Fachan is less chaotic (NE instead of CE), weaker (4+2 instead of 8+3 HD) but more numerous (2-12 appearing instead of 1-4) and ridiculously fast (90 land, 150 swim!).
 

NPCDave

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1996 - Orc's Head Peninsula Campaign Book

This supplement serves as the expansion book covering the Orc's Head Peninsula, partially overlapping with the Red Steel Box set and the Savage Coast Campaign book which preceded it. It revisits the Squamous Kingdoms and reprints the rules for the three lizardkin races (shazak/lizardmen,gurrash/gatormen,caymas/cay-men). But it also covers the remaining races on the peninsula as well as two of the major races on the Arm of the Immortals. The ee'aar, the enduks, the Nimmurian manscorpions, the phanatons and the wallaras(aka chameleon men) are all given rules here as player character races, serving as a 2E update of the equivalent BECMI/RC character class rules provided in the Princess Ark/Known World Grimoire series. The unpolished text of this supplement becomes clear by comparing it to the original Dragon Magazines that visited these places. Much of the text from the Dragon articles have been copied over with updates sporadic. Some new material has been added but it varies depending on the entry, with the Arm of the Immortals getting less development.

I will cover the new kits first and then discuss the new player races. All of the kits are designed for the more primitive cultures of the Orc's Head Peninsula, although the Wilderness Warrior kit is also found elsewhere.

While it lists and describes what it says are five new character kits, two of these were first described in the Savage Coast Campaign Book. The Savage kit there is renamed the Savage Warrior kit, and is otherwise exactly the same as before. The Shaman kit is given a Special Benefit here, for phanatons only, where as the SC Campaign Book had none listed. The benefit phanaton shamans get depends on which Immortal they follow. Shamans of Ui(Ordana) move silently and hide in shadows of a thief of the same experience level while in trees, shamans of Mother-Earth(Terra) gain speak with animals, and shamans of the Huntsman(Zirchev) gain bonus tracking and alertness proficiencies. These abilities were copied from Dragon #188. Listed consistently here and in the SC Campaign Book which I did not mention before, shamans can't cast raise dead or resurrection but are able to cast reincarnation at 9th level as if it were a 5th level spell. Shamans also can start at 1st level with one item that is unusual or outside of their culture such as an item of advanced technology that is handed down from their mentor.

Of the remaining three new kits, the first is Mendoo(aka Medicine Man) which is a kit that wallaras must take if they are a cleric. They worship the Great One and revere the other Immortals of the Wallara pantheon. Mendoo can't turn undead or cast the spell animate dead, but can cast all other clerical and druidic spells. They prefer spells from the animal, charm, divination, plant and protection spheres. Each time they cast a spell, a small piece of quartz or opal is consumed...these are collected in caverns or the mines of Tooburra and Wirrawa. While most wallaras gain a +1 bonus to Dexterity, mendoos gain a +1 bonus to Wisdom instead. They don't wear armor but can use shields. They gain bonus proficiencies of direction sense, weather sense and fire-building. They detect incorporeal spirits and incorporeal undead within ten feet. Their dream effect is expanded to include the various speak with spells and commune. Mendoos have to spend four hours each day meditating, preferably into the embers of a fire. Outside their culture they suffer a penalty to their reaction roll. Lastly, the Immortals will call upon mendoo to complete certain tasks, like track down an enemy of his people or choose a new tribal chief.

The Wilderness Warrior kit is available in Robrenn, Eusdria, Herath, Shazak, Jibaru, and Wallara and open to enduks and ee'aar. Fighters can take the kit, as can rangers from Jibaru and rangers and paladins from Robrenn and Herath. They gain bonus survival and endurance proficiencies and a +5 bonus to all survival proficiency rolls for their homeland terrain types.

The last kit is Savage Wizard/Psionicist for characters from the primitive lands of the Savage Coast. That would include phanatons, wallaras and lizardkin. Savage wizards, if they specialize, are often elemental specialists. Phanatons and wallaras with this kit often hold high positions in their tribe, while lizardkin with this kit tend to be hermits who influence the local tribes from the outside. They receive bonus proficiencies of either direction sense or weather sense, as well as endurance, survival and reading/writing. Lizardkin read and write the Shazak language, while phanatons and wallaras use Risil(found in Risilvar) pictographs. Phanatons scratch spells in tree bark unless they gain access to paper, and wallaras prefer scribing their spells as pictographs on cave walls or great stone outcroppings known as dreamstones. Like Shamans, Savage Wizard/Psioncists start with one unique item not found in their culture. As a special benefit, phanatons with this kit can make a talisman once per week that functions as protection from evil for a day. Lizardkin can make a figurine of a victim once a week and attack the figurine, which does up to 10hp of damage to the victim, regardless of how far away they are. Wallaras can, once per week, forecast, based on omens, the outcome of some major undertaking. Lastly, all characters with this kit suffer a penalty to reaction rolls when interacting with those outside the tribe. For lizardkin, this penalty applies to everyone, even those within nearby tribes.

Next are the player races. The ee'aar are similar to elves in that they max out at wizard at 15th level, fighter at 14th level, and cleric at 12th level. They can multi-class as two of any of those three choices. They can't be rangers or druids and they max out at bard 10th level, thief 8th level and psionicist 7th level. Ee'aar become venerable at 300 years of age, which triples the number of generations compared to GAZ5 elves. With a wingspan of twelve feet, ee'aar have a fly speed of 18 and maneuver at class B(C if they carry more than half their body weight). Constitution checks are required per hour of flight, they can only glide when they have lost half their hp. Ee'aar hit by flaming weapons or failing a save against a fire attack have to spend d4 rounds extinguishing the flames or take an additional 2d6 damage and lose the ability to fly for a month. They have infravision and get an attack bonus using short swords, bolas and lassos. They still have their controllable light spell, which is cast on each ee'aar when they become an adult by a priest of the Immortal Mealiden Starwatcher. For kits, ee'aar can be Nobles or Swashbucklets, fighters prefer Defenders, Honorbound, Myrmidons and Wilderness Warriors. Wizards prefer Mystic but Militant Wizards are also found. War Priests are common for clerics, and the few ee'aar thieves are often Bandits or Scouts.

The enduks(called Eshu in Dragon #200) have unlimited level progression as clerics, can go 14th level as fighter and 12th level as wizards. They also can't be rangers or druids and are capped at bard, thief and psionicist at 9th, 8th and 8th level respectively. They can multi-class as fighter/cleric, psionicist/cleric or fighter/psionicist. The enduks can live past 200 years. Enduks can fly at speed 12 and maneuver at class C(D if they carry more than their body weight). Constitution checks are required every ten minutes of flight after thirty minutes. They also glide at 50% damage, and have the same vulnerabilities to fire that ee'aar have. Their horn attack does d4+1 damage. For kits, enduks can be Local Heroes or Swashbucklers, and the class specific kits all map exactly as they do for the ee'aar. White-furred enduks are usually inducted into the Order of Eshu, a group of honorable knights(fighters or fighter/clerics) who use the Defender kit. All enduk priests worship Idu(Ixion), and can produce fire twice per day and get a +1 bonus to turn undead rolls.

The manscorpions are capped at 12th level for fighter, cleric and wizard and 7th level for thief and psionicist. They are capped at 10th level for bard. They can multi-class as fighter and a choice of thief, cleric or psionicist. They also can't be rangers or bards. They get hefty penalties to their move silently and climb walls rolls. PC Nimurrians are expected to be those manscorpions who assisted the enduks in recapturing Um-Shedu in Nimmur. Idu aka Ixion took note of this and lifted the curse on those manscorptions only, so they can now tolerate sunlight on their bare skin. Such manscorpions only have access to sleep poison in their stinger, while normal Nimmurian manscorpions have access to deadlier poisons up to save or die lethality. The book does allow the possibility that a PC Nimmurian is still cursed and part of such a campaign would be the PC seeking redemption so Ixion will lift his or her curse. Manscorpions are immune to poisons of their own race and get a +2 bonus against all other poisons. Manscorpion PCs gain a bonus proficiency of artistic ability or charioteering. For kits, manscorpions can select Inheritor, Nobles or Swashbucklers, fighters can be Defenders or Honorbound, wizards can take Militant Wizard or Mystic, clerics can take War Priest, thieves can take Scout, Bandit or Spy.

Phanatons max out at 15th level for thief, 13th level for druid, and 10th level for ranger and cleric. Fighter caps at 9th level, and wizard, bard and psionicist are 8th, 8th and 7th level respectively. Phanatons can multiclass as fighter/thief, fighter/psionicist, and ranger/cleric. In a nice bit of symmetry, phanatons were introduced into D&D Lore at the same time as the Known World back in X1, and here phanatons get the 2E PC treatment in the last product released for Mystara. They can truly fly once they reach 3rd level provided there is significant wind present. They can use pass plant at 7th level once per day. For kits, phanatons have all the primitive culture kits open to them, they are rarely Inheritors, but warriors can take the Defender kit, wizards can take Wokani, thieves can take Scout, and clerics always take the Shaman kit.

Wallaras max out at 15th level for ranger, 12th level for fighter and 11th level for thief. They can't be druids, but they can be wizards, clerics or bards up to 10th level and psionicists up to 9th level. They can't multi-class and their thieves have a hefty penalty to Open Locks. For kits, Inheritor is possible but rare. In addition to the primitive culture kits, they can be a Defender for fighters, Mystic for wizard and Scout for thief. Wallaras average seven feet tall, are extremely thin with spindly arms and legs, and their scaly skin has mottled red tiger stripes interrupted by spotting of a variety of colors. They wear loincloths and simple shifts with a net or kangaroo bag to carry belongings. They still have their short range dimension door and at 3rd level can effectively turn invisible by standing still and blending into their surroundings. Their language includes their skin changing color as well as the spoken word. All wallaras get bonus proficiencies of tracking, ancient and local history.

The lizardkin are presented exactly the same as before, except the caymas and shazaks have each gained one new multi-class option. Caymas can be a thief/psionicist and shazaks can be a fighter/psionicist. Shazaks have access to most kits except for Noble, Gauchos, Heralds and Skalds. Gurrash can't take those either, nor can they take Spy, Swashbuckler, Beast Rider(the swampmare is unknown here), or Mystic. Same for cayma except they can take Mystic but can't take Honorbound.

Moving on to the descriptions of each country...

For the land of Wallara, the land is the Australian outback complete with the flora and fauna of that continent. I could point out this is implausible but this is D&D. The land is mostly dry with small streams, seasonal rivers and a few ponds and watering holes providing most of the accessible water. Indigenous animals and wallaras know how to locate underground sources of water, and artesian wells are dug in various places. In rainy times the grasslands come alive with varieties of wildflowers, drawing insects and small animals to the area. The Forbidden Highlands are mostly red sandstone, laced with the forgotten caves of ancient wallaras.

Some wallaras are nomadic hunter-gatherers, while others live in settled villages raising crops as well as hunting. Each village is led by a headman, renowned for his wisdom, and a council of elders. Wallaras tend toward good or neutral, are meditative and spiritual, and rigorous in following custom and ritual to the point of often being very superstitious. For example, they never allow their shadow to fall on another, requiring them to stand somewhat apart from each other. Violating customs can bring a punishing spirit known as the kurdaitcha man who can kill and wreak havoc until appeased and sent away. Wallaras don't have a sex, new generations are budded from the cast-off skins of elder wallaras and mature to adulthood in just eight weeks. All wallara settlements have a magical site known as a tookoo. It might be a special cave or grotto, or a singular rock or ancient tree. The tookoo radiates magic and grants all wallaras a +2 bonus to attack and damage rolls. Wallaras fighting there or for their homes are fearless and have unbreakable morale.

Wallara tribes each claim kinship with a particular type of animal or plant, believing it guards them and grants them wisdom. They see this particular creature as brethren who were once wallaras at the time they walked with Immortals but changed themselves into this new animal/plant form to escape destruction at the time the wallara civilization fell. Most wallaras see it as their duty to care for such changed brethren.

Wallaras enjoy games of all sorts, particularly races and war games to show off skill and ability. Even feuds and wars are conducted like a game, where both sides select a certain number to fight, pair them off, and observe as the two sides engage under very strict rules. Each combatant is allotted a certain number of spears, boomerangs and one club, and may only throw each weapon once and swing only once with a melee weapon. At the end, injuries are counted up and the side in better shape is the winner.

There are strict rules for strangers entering a village or city of the wallara. One is expected to sit in plain sight and wait for a delegation to greet them. It is also considered disrespectful to smile when entering a village until one knows for sure that the village is not suffering or in mourning over a death. This seems like something to trip up PCs.

The capital of Risilvar is their original city which the wallaras now explore seeking to learn about their forgotten past. Much of the city is below ground and now outlying caverns are used as private quarters or meditation areas. There are about 9500 wallaras in the city, ruled by Bakaloo Sunskin, the overchief of wallaras and chief Mendoo as well. Many caverns contain quartz and opal, which have been polished and serve as foci for Mendoo meditations. Some mining is done in surrounding areas but not inside the caverns of the city. The largest tookoo is in the city, a glittering upthrust rock in a quiet cavern where pure, cool water bubbles up around it.

There is still the occasional odd trade with the gurrash, carefully supervised by Mendoo and bardic traders so the gurrash do not realize who lives in the grasslands. With the phanatons, the wallaras trade their opals, quartz stones, emu eggs, giant termite larvae and crocodile skins for phanaton goods.

For Jibaru, the phanatons are the settled hunter-gatherers(only minor attempts have been made at agriculture) as described when the Princess Ark visited the region. Tribal villages are huts on platforms high in the trees, phanaton druids persuade the trees to grow intertwined to support the villages. Chieftains meet to discuss policy, with the chief of the oldest village, capital Itucu, being first among equals. Phanatons tend toward good or neutral, family is important and two or three generations live under one roof. They tend to trap prey rather than hunt it. Their preferred weapons are small spears, short bows and blowguns, the last one using needles dipped in paralyzing poison. They do not make metal weapons, instead they use wood and stone.

Phanatons are wary of all other races except the wallaras. They generally like elves once past initial reactions, and dislike the gurrash. They trade mostly with the wallaras and occasionally with the Texeiran colony at the edge of the Horn. Phanaton trade goods with wallaras, offering garish piranha-bird feathers, woven spider silk, and pottery.

Most of Jibaru is covered in forest of various types of trees. The more arid varieties are found on the border with Wallara, but many types of deciduous trees comprise the bulk of the country's temperate rainforest. All phanatons live in the forest, but a few hunting bands stalk the dry grasslands near the wallara border hunting the kangaroo and emu which wander near as well as native Jibaru boars and roe deer.

Itucu is situated in a huge grove of giant oak trees in a bend of the Xing River. Hundreds of platforms on several different levels are connected by a network of vine bridges and swinging vines. Wooden buckets attached to vines have been installed in various areas allowing one to lower a bucket and fill it from the river without leaving the city. Spider-breeding pens form a sort of suburb on the eastern side of the city, where dozens of large and giant spiders are kept as breeding stock and poison reserves. Phanaton children are taught early how to feed and care for the spiders, and when older they learn spider-wrangling as a skill that may come in handy as an adult should they venture into Herath to collect more spiders.

For Nimmur, there is more detail on the masks and makeup manscorpions wear when out in the sun. Most live underground in their cities, usually going above ground in daylight when on business. They tend towards being evil or neutral, and also tend to be competitive and aggressive. They keep large numbers of slaves for raising food, manufacturing fine oils and perfumes, and tending sheep. On the surface their cities consist of many mud brick houses, storehouses, slave quarters and shops at the feet of a grand palace, a series of monuments and a great ziggurat that serves as a place of worship. Every town with at least a thousand residents has walls. The military organizes into units of pincers, still consisting of twenty chariots pulled by mules with manscorpion warrior and driver, twenty heavy infantry and forty light infantry. Nimmur never uses mercenaries.

Much of the Nimmur entry matches the original entry in Dragon #192. The city of Ekiddu is now trying to attract foreign trade by legalizing any and all good and services, including questionable ones. In the dominion of the Southern Shield on the border of the Dark Jungle, it is now against the law to venture on the southern trail without a full military escort. Of course, breaking the law probably means torture and death by orcs rather than prison. The orcs there have learned the manscorpion secret, and enjoy staking them outside before dawn to watch them burn and die. Convicts and slaves are used to keep the trails in the jungle free of vegetation thirty feet on either side for the chariots, this requires an armed escort to keep orcs from ambushing and killing the workers. This section has text copied over from Dragon that was not updated, like the former King Dargon is still plotting to seize the Vilaverdan colony granted by Nimmur, just like he was ten years ago.

Half of Nimmur is covered with rich farmland and pasturage. Large rivers are found in the east, but small streams flowing down from the foothills in the north leave the west and central regions well-watered. Nimmur exports food, and its second main industry is mud to create the mud bricks coated with bitumen. Slave labor provides much of the manpower. The largest predators remaining are wolves, with smaller normal animals and birds plentiful. Light forest covers the rest of the country with one small patch of heavy forest. Many hardwood and other deciduous trees have been replaced with orchards of fruit trees. Other trees are cultivated for aromatic resins or rare spices. Bears and wild cats can be found in the northern woods and foothills.

Er is the capital of Nimmur and the location where the enduks failed to fully dismantle their star device and it still randomly activates and incinerates any unlucky manscorpion that stands where it unleashes its stored up energy. Foreigners in Er are becoming a more common sight, this includes wealthy Herathians, who have purchased homes to take up residence, as well as the Vilaverdans from their trading port in Nimmur called Porto Escorpio. The Herathians are very interested in discovering the secret of the star device on the ziggurat in the city, while the Nimmurians seek to prevent any Herathian discovery while they try to unlock the secret.

The small city of Um-Shedu lies in northern Nimmur, close to the Forbidden Highlands. As described in the Red Steel set, it has only recently been recaptured by the enduks with the aid of the ee’aar and a number of non-evil manscorpions, many of whom worship Ixion. With Nimmur distracted during WotI by a war with the orcs of the Dark Jungle, the enduks and their allies took the city by surprise, driving out the residents and guard force there. They flooded some of the underground tunnels and blocked others with strategic cave-ins to prevent the manscorpions from mustering forces in their underground kingdom and launching attacks from that direction. They also raised a new stone and mud-brick barrier which blocks access to the city from the south, west and east. The elevations of the Forbidden Highlands in the north make encircling the city from that direction difficult for the manscorpion chariots. The manscorpions have laid siege but their enemies resupply via flight and artesian wells inside the city. The situation remains a stalemate.

The orcs of the Dark Jungle(see the same link as Nimmur above) are not intended for PCs, but this book refers to the Complete Book of Humanoids to see how to create such a character, and that most orcs take the Savage Warrior or Shaman kit. They cover their bodies with sap from certain plants which dyes their skin green or brown, and often paint lines or stripes to provide camouflage in their terrain. They favor crude jewelry when not raiding, and facial tattoos are common on females and for males who have achieved a certain number of kills. Like humanoids elsewhere, might makes right and younger orcs constantly challenge their elders for the right to rule. Plants, animals and even large insects are part of the orc diet.

The orc tribes build great wooden forts, usually near the entrances to their ancestral caves. These are built on forested hills with the lumber cut down elsewhere and transported so that the fort is difficult to spot among growing trees. Screaming faces are carved into the wood and nearby ebon orc statues(created by Pyre) are incorporated into the structure.

Half of the orc population lives in their caverns, which connect to the ancient caves of the Herathians and Sohktars(manscorpions). The caverns along these borders are heavily fortified and guarded on both sides, so the orcs are much more successful launching raids on neighboring countries on the surface. Orcs of the Dark Jungle still have the thief hide in shadows ability and use it to ambush Nimmurian and Herathian caravans. War with those two nations keeps the orc tribal rulers united, along with Pyre punishing major warfare between the orc tribes by putting to death leaders foolish enough to engage in it.

The orcs continue to be successful at piracy with their giant outrigger canoes, which receive a full writeup and stats. Merchant activity past the Dark Jungle has increased over the last decade, with traffic between the Texeiran Colony of the Horn, Nimmur and even Slagovich. Ships must either stay out of sight of the coastline or travel in well armed flotillas. All orcs carry weapons, even children. They don't wear armor, but carry shields made of wood and covered with the skins of giant forest rodents. They tend to use short bows, spears and stone axes.

The Dark Jungle is always hot, humid and rainy. During the winter when it rains daily, the two great rivers that snake through the region flood the flat portions of the jungle on either side up to twenty feet deep for miles on either side. The rivers provide homes for dozens of varieties of fish, including piranhas and hatchet fish which can flap their fins and rise out of the water to catch flying insects. Lizards, frogs, turtles, wading birds and manatees are found in the rivers, along with the dreaded giant black caiman, an aggressive crocodile that grows over eighteen feet long. There are hundreds of types of birds, large jungle snakes, capybaras, anteaters, spotted cats, bluewing butterflies and army ants. Those ants can swarm in columns that are miles long and hundreds of feet across. The trees tower as much as 100 feet before spreading out in branches and leaves to form the lower canopy. Streams or pools of water are everywhere.

The central area of the jungle is a cloud forest, a combination of jungle and deciduous vegetation atop hills. The higher elevation means slightly cooler air and ever-present fog. In the midst of this area lies a lower elevation along the path of the Forbidden River which is below sea level and is all bog or marsh, with turtles, crabs and fish living in the bayou waters. This area is also home to green slime, which is cultivated by the Green Slayer tribe.

The overking of the orcs, Pyre is described here as a huge, ancient vermilion dragon, rather than the crimson dragon detailed in the SC Monstrous Compendium. Obviously, there was no coordination between these two products. The major differences between the two is that the vermilion does not have a breath weapon which drains cinnabryl, instead it does damage similar to a red dragon's breath weapon. Pyre also doesn't have as many Legacies as a crimson dragon of equivalent age would have. A crimson dragon of the ancient age category(about 10 on a scale that goes up to 12) would have about fifteen legacies, d4 -1 averages to about 1.5 Legacies per age category. Instead Pyre has a total of eight Legacies, which corresponds to a high level Inheritor. As a vermilion dragon Pyre has the normal abilities of a red dragon like affect normal fires, pyrotechnics, heat metal, suggestion, and hypnotism. Instead of the detect gemstones ability, Pyre has detect cinnabryl within 100 feet three times per week. In addition to the ebon eye, Pyre has an ankle bracelet of shapechanging and a hat of disguise. These allow him to move among the orc tribes and spy on the nations of Herath, Nimmur and Robrenn. He sometimes steals magical items and kill rulers or key military leaders.

The text notes that Pyre is one of the most powerful dragons on the world of Mystara. None of the orc tribes know where his lair is, but rumors say it lies in a mist-covered valley and he keeps hundreds of slaves there mining for gold(or diamonds depending on the rumor). One other item Pyre owns is a four-pointed flat star that functions as a crystal ball with clairaudience. This magic item was actually the viewing crystal that was one of two devices which once controlled the star device in the city of Er. It has Nimmurian hieroglyphics etched into its surface and this viewing crystal along with the second device, a key, would allow anyone to control the sole remaining functioning star device in Er.

More to come on the Arm of the Immortals as well as the included adventure...
 
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NPCDave

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1996 - Orc's Head Peninsula Sourcebook

Part 2

I forgot to include links for this online only expansion. You can download this book as a pdf here with Part 1 and Part 2. Or you can review it in html.

Continuing on to the Arm of the Immortals, the Kingdom of Aeryl includes the ee'aar as well as some pegataurs. The kingdom includes the Oethrun plateau, which is a commonwealth available to all citizens for both agriculture and hunting. The four major clans of the ee'aar each have their own territory and homes in the surrounding peaks and the royal lands belonging to the crown are also in the mountains. King Enerin II the Gaunt is also the clan leader of Mythror, which he rules from the capital city of Ithu'n.

Adults serve in a volunteer army one out of every twenty years, with clan nobility as commanding officers. A basic unit is fifty troops with five great eagles. Officers ride the eagles, twenty use a specialized weapon of their city like a net or bola, and twenty-five carry swords. Some of the army's time is still spent misdirecting ships approaching the Arm as well as explorers from Porto Maldicao who still seek a pass through the mountains. Flight lances are the largest weapon any ee'aar would use, which they can use for a flying charge attack.

Ee'aar history is expanded on slightly from Dragon #200. The ee'aar migrated from Davania long ago before they had wings, many died on the journey before they found their current home. They sought to be alone, and continue to be reclusive, preferring company of their own kind and the enduks. Some ee'aar have taken up the cause of the enduks to recover Nimmur. They pity those who can't fly and grow claustrophobic when in enclosed spaces. Half of ee'aar are more martially minded and hold to a warrior's code, while the rest are more inclined to art and philosophy. Ee'aar tend toward chaotic and good alignments.

Ee'aar build with glass and glassteel, they have tall buildings which are open and spacious. Rather than doors, they simply leave wide openings to enter and exit from high up. Their weapons are usually made of glassteel, and their special elven chainmail is composed of glassteel links. Ee'aar are well adapted to the cold environment of the mountains, and often take months to get acclimated to the warmth and humidity of the lowlands should they travel to the Savage Coast. Ithu'n is a city of slender glass towers and graceful arching walkways that hang outward from the mountain and blend in with the snow and icicles. A few crystalline balconies overlook a grassy valley below. The largest tower is the palace which has an icy, silver-blue tint.

The Oethrun plateau is grassland with alpine meadows and various nut trees, berry bushes and some fruit trees. Hardy grains are grown by the ee'aar, who also collect honey from bees that have adapted to the cool air. Deer, small pigs and mountain goats are kept for meat, also milk in the case of the goats. Game birds like pheasants and wild geese are present, as well as bears, foxes, mountain lions and the giant eagles. Above the plateau the mountains rise above the tree line and are often ringed in clouds, below the plateau the mountain slopes descend into heavy growth forest.

The kingdom of Eshu to the south of Aeryl occupies a plateau very similar to Oethrun. The plateau is a heart-shaped grassland that slopes down toward a northern bottleneck, the Gildesh pass. Eshunite rivers drain toward the pass, eventually forming a very high waterfall at the eastern end of the mountains. Like Aeryl, the kingdom has rich farmland and hunting areas, with surrounding high mountains.

Enduks are winged minotaurs who stand between 6 and 7 feet tall and are well muscled. Those enduks who are over 7 feet tall count as large creatures. Male and female have horns which stick out from the sides of the head, ranging from a foot to a foot and a half long. Their feet have only two large toes with hoof-like coverings. They are carnivores and have sharp teeth. Enduks tend toward lawful good and are religious and honorable, going to great lengths to keep promises. They seldom trust any but the ee'aar. Enduk priests decide on marriages and enduks mate for life. If psionics are used, enduks are more inclined than other races with twice the normal chance of having a wild talent.

Enduks live in stone structures low to the ground, homes are large and spacious but simple and practical in furnishings; trapdoors are often built into the roof. Most enduks are farmers, scholars or artisans, but all serve in the militia. Their armies form into companies of 100 troops. They are more comfortable fighting on the ground rather than in the air. Enduks prefer bludgeoning weapons like maces, enduk wizards can use clubs. Nets, crossbows and flight lances are also popular among enduks, enduk priests can use the flight lance. Enduks mostly wear leather armor, some enduks wear bronze plate mail including Enduk Defenders who can purchase it from the church hierarchy. Eshu's capital city of Sardon has straight and wide streets, with practical buildings. The palace and temple complex are built along patterns established in Nimmur, with the temple resting atop a three-tiered ziggurat.

Enduk history is the same as was outlined in Dragon #200. The warrior who slew Gildesh long ago was Minoides in a dispute over a holy treasure. Gildesh's curse caused Minoides and his treacherous lackeys to flee Nimmur and lose their wings to become Mystara's minotaurs. Later, when the enduks lived peaceably with the manscorpions, the two races repelled an invasion by the orcs of the Dark Jungle. After they were victorious, the manscorpions turned on the enduks to drive them out. Once relocated to their current kingdom, the ruler at the time, the priest-king Eshu had the northern end of the plateau pacified and the great fortress of Gildesh built to hold its entrance. King Eshu died several years later at the Battle of Urduk, when several hordes of orcs attempted to find a way onto the plateau. Gildesh returned to rule the enduks, as he does every three hundred years, for another mortal lifetime ten years ago and is still king. Prior to capturing Um-Shedu, the enduks would send adventurers to harass the manscorpions and plan raids. This seems a bit odd considering how secretive they are and their disinclination to trust others. Perhaps they did it through intermediaries.

The lizardkin races have a couple of pages which add some more details about their nature and their cultures, as well as more details about using them as PCs. The lizardkin nations are not described, as those details were found in the Savage Coast Campaign Book. Shazaks usually have golden yellow eyes, but shazaks born with brilliant green eyes become Wokani or Shamans. Shazaks don't usually wear armor unless working for Herath as mercenaries. Beast rider shazaks ride the domesticated giant bats. Gurrash PCs are among the few of their kind who have learned to control their violent impulses...mostly. Gurrash PCs who are frustrated, are wounded or in a situation they do not understand must make a Wisdom check at a -2 penalty. Failure results in the gurrash acting enraged (refer to the courage entry of the 4th level wizard spell emotion) for five rounds or until the cause of the problem has been resolved. Caymas can take architecture or engineering as a bonus non-weapon proficiency, but only get half their relevant ability score for that skill.

What if you want to play a standard human or demi-human on the Orc's Head Peninsula? You have a few small colonies you can choose from...Porto Escorpiao established by treaty between Vilaverde and Nimmur, the former Vilaverde colony Porto Maldicao, and the Colony of the Horn. The Horn lies outside of the Haze. The Richland Trading Post goes unmentioned.

Porto Escorpiao is now independent and ruled by Baron Jorge's first son Don Jorge. Don Jorge is quite unhappy with the uncertainty of whether he will inherit Vilaverde, for his brother Don Fernando remains in the capital representing his father's interests on the council. Porto Maldicao still exists on the Arm of the Immortals but has been left to fend for itself and is also independent.

...

The Colony of the Horn is still controlled by Texeiras on the northwestern tip of the Orc's Head Peninsula. It boasts plantations, a fortress manned by Torreoner mercs and Texeiran troops, a dozen ships and a small village Bom Jardim that is now a haven for those who wish to avoid the Red Curse. Afflicted come here to convalesce if they can afford it.
Not much new detail on these colonies. About one quarter of Nimmur's foreign trade passes through Porto Escorpiao, and Vilaverde has a monopoly on it. Private traders from Bellayne and lands further east all the way to Slagovich visit shallower ports along the coast of Nimmur. The manscorpions have no ships of their own. Don Jorge is rumored to be an Inheritor with a magical ring that replaces his need for cinnabryl. Porto Maldicao is a "rundown, seedy port filled with lowlifes searching for a quick profit"...perhaps they are providing Nimmur with slaves? The holding of Porto Maldicao includes the nearby town of Mato Grande.

Half the population of the Texeiran colony are convicts, mostly criminals and political dissidents. They provide labor for the colony, building, fishing and what little farming can be done. The guards and administrators are almost as miserable, the most lazy and inept in Texeiran government end up assigned here. Bom Jardim arose from a missionary clinic founded to provide relief to the Accursed and the priests there do the best they can, funding themselves through what the locals can pay, since they are unsupported by Texeiras.

The jungle lying on the eastern shore of the Arm of the Immortals is called the Western Orclands and consists of three major tribes that descend from smaller orc tribes who refused to submit to the larger tribes of the Dark Jungle and abandoned the Orc's Head Peninsula, as well as orcs who were just lost at sea and ended up on the Arm. Female orcs were in short supply in the past and are still valued in the Western Orclands and held in high regard because of this.

The Ghonam tribe is north of the other orc tribes and south of Mato Grande. Their main fortress is Ghonam-Pyrr, built in a similar manner to the fortresses in the Dark Jungle. They number 3000 strong and war with Porto Maldicao and the Yamekh to the south. The Ghonam were also the orcs who fought the enduks at the Battle of Urduk, where many hundreds of orcs were slain. The Ghonam tribe is led by the half-orc priestess Sutunu, and she seeks to overrun Mato Grando and expand against the Yamekh.

The Yamekh tribe numbers 2200 orcs and is led by an old orc named Furul Fire-breath. Their territory has mountains as well as coastal grasslands and interior forested hills. These mountains include an active volcano Mt Ej-Taar as well as a gold mine worked by slaves, either foreigners or orcs captured from other tribes. Their wooden fortress-city is Yamekh-Pyrr. Yamekh and the Sulkar both hunt in a small jungle area on their border, and the dispute over who owns the territory results in the two tribes skirmishing and laying traps for each others' hunters.

The Sulkar orc tribe claims the southern jungle and nearby forested hills. They number only 1000 strong and are led by a savvy orc female by the name of Tookala One Eye who slew the last chief. The Sulkar have no main fortress, relying on mobility and relocating villages to prevent the Yamekh from easily conquering them.

There are unclaimed territories along the western coast of the Orc's Head Peninsula between Nimmur and the Colony of the Horn, as well as some unclaimed areas on the Arm of the Immortals. As you can imagine, they are not pleasant places to live, they need a good name-level character to establish a stronghold and tame the area.

The manscorpions hope to claim the Wind Flats west of Jibaru soon for pasturage for their flocks of sheep, having found a new treatment against the black killer flies that infest the region. North of that is the Gray Swamps, famous for the gray slicers, a silvery-gray reed with sharp edges covered in slime mold. The reed cuts through clothing and skin and the mold leaves the wound infected. North of that is Mosquito land where heavy rainfall and stagnant pools of water allow mosquitoes to breed to the extent that they can form dark clouds in the air. The mosquitoes here carry disease, a fever that can bring on bouts of debilitating illness and eventual death. The last terrain before the Horn is the land of the Shifting Dunes, containing sand, scorpions and a few hardy, poisonous grasses.

On the Arm of the Immortals, the Grubb Nest Marshes lie between the Yamekh and Sulkar tribes. It is a wetland sanctuary for hundreds of species of birds and small creatures. It is also infested with rot grubs. Sea hydras that periodically foray into the sea to hunt also make their lairs in the Grubb Nest Marshes, and these fearsome creatures are another threat to ships approaching the Arm. The Rot Swamps lie west of Ghonam territory and Porto Maldicao, and is named for the miasma of rot hanging over the area. Sulfuric odors and the smell of decaying fish are strong enough to induce nausea(saves vs petrification are mentioned). Quicksand and aggressive black caimans(crocodiles) are the biggest threats here.
 
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NPCDave

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1995 - Savage Steel - Red Steel GenCon adventure
and
1996 - Orc's Head Peninsula Sourcebook

Part 3

The last part of the Orc's Head Peninsula Sourcebook is the adventure, which was actually first played at GenCon in 1995. It fulfills its purpose, which was to acquaint players with the Orc's Head Peninsula by sending them on a tour of the entire region. It wasn't updated or cleaned up before being added to this sourcebook, so what you get is a very rough adventure designed to be played in a few hours at a convention. The original rtf files even included references to the Monstrous Compendium sheets that were issued at GenCon, despite those sheets not being included as the SC Monstrous Compendium was already released. The pdf version done by fans cleaned up that bit.

Savage Steel is a set of four linked adventures involving the PCs in a treasure hunt. The first adventure is for six to eight characters of level 4 to 6, and each adventure assumes the PCs will gain a level when they complete it through story awards to provide the needed XP. The object of the quest is recovering the sole remaining key which activates the Star Device in the Nimmurian capital of Er. The PCs don't realize what it is they are pursuing at first, they only know some glorious treasure lies hidden with a trail of clues to lead the way. Unfortunately for them, they aren't the only ones now looking for it.

One other item Pyre owns is a four-pointed flat star that functions as a crystal ball with clairaudience. This magic item was actually the viewing crystal that was one of two devices which once controlled the star device in the city of Er. It has Nimmurian hieroglyphics etched into its surface and this viewing crystal along with the second device, a key, would allow anyone to control the sole remaining functioning star device in Er.
Pyre has realized the viewing crystal in his possession is linked to the star device in Er, but he needs the key. He has arrived at Bom Jardin to track down an old man who may have a map to the key's location, but there is a third party also, a 9th level aranea wizard who goes by the name Gior. Gior is a Herathian who lives in Nimmur and has learned enough about Er's star device to seek out the missing components.

The history of what happened in Er when the manscorpions took over Nimmur from the enduks is briefly explained. While in other cities the enduks had time to destroy their Star Devices, in Er this was not the case. A wounded enduk priest, however, was able to escape the city with the controlling key and viewing crystal, leaving it unusable. The enduk made it to a nearby abandoned outpost, and soon encountered a wallara on his adventuring walkabout. The enduk told his story to the wallara and then died from his wounds. The wallara wisely decided that the two items should be separated. He sealed the enduk's body with the key inside the cave and took the viewing crystal with him. He later found a successor and passed on the story and the crystal to that person, and so on and so forth. Eventually the crystal fell into Pyre's possession, but the story continued to be passed on, until an old human sea captain decided he was going to find the treasures. He began to write notes and draw maps and searched for years, but eventually became frightened of what he was searching for. Unwilling to destroy his life's work, he split up his notes and hid them around the peninsula.

One of the sea captain's diaries and maps ended up in the hands of a merchant sea trader who never quite got around to searching for the treasure. Now an old man living on Bom Jardin, he is set upon by Gior's hired thugs who have found him. The PCs just happen to be nearby and can step in to drive them off. Doing so makes the man so grateful he decides it is time to hand over what he knows about a hidden treasure. Pyre shape shifts into human form and introduces himself at an opportune moment to be the PCs' explorer and guide. He is completely immune to any form of magical detection and intends to either join or follow the PCs until he can seize the treasure for himself. If they do bring him, he acts as a non-combatant.

The map they have points them to Jibaru, they have the option of traveling by sea or hiking across the Shifting Dunes to reach the Jururu River. Before they reach Jibaru, an escaped prisoner from the Colony of the Horn will attempt to raid their camp. In Jibaru, they will make contact with the phanatons, and if peaceful relations are established, they will get an escort to the capital Itucu. If it comes to a fight, they will have to deal with phanaton ambushes using blowguns. When they arrive at the city, they get an opportunity to giant spider wrangle when one of the farm spiders escapes. A map of the palace in Itucu is provided, which is really a series of platforms spread across five trees. Queen Barana-U seems to recognize the PCs as guardians that were foretold, either some divination of hers or perhaps the sea captain warned the phanatons someone would be searching for his notes.

She points the PCs to a waterfall half a day's walk upriver. Well hidden there is a chest left by the sea captain containing another diary and half of a map showing a portion of a town or outpost labeled "The Hidden Way." The diary indicates the wallaras would know more about this, and the PCs are next expected to make the trip to that land. Some random encounters in Jibaru are provided, including both a manscorpion patrol that has become lost in the jungle, and a small party of Vilaverdan humans who claim to be looking for a missing child. Both of these are interesting. The manscorpion patrol just wants to get back home, and will consider themselves in the PCs debt if they are escorted out of the jungle. The humans are actually aranea from Herath, and are looking for one of their children who was in spider form and captured in Herath by phanaton raiders.

The PCs head northeast for the Wallaran outback, which begins the second adventure. They fight off some wild dingoes and reach a wallaran village. They will probably get tripped up by the customs of chameleon men, and have to engage in a formal ritual battle with a couple of wallaran champions. Once they do this, and are accepted into the village, PCs who ask about the clues from the diary will be directed to Risilvar. They get a guide to lead them there and have to avoid an emu stampede. In Risilvar, they will meet with the mendoo leader Bakaloo "Sunskin" and complete a rather clever initiation which the wallaras have set up that is trivially easy for them but provides a hidden way to complete the initiation for other races. They are then brought to the Great Tookoo of Risilvar where Jikaru, an old mendoo who is known as "Keeper of Tales" relates the story of the wallara who met the enduk priest. Jikaru suggests the hidden way might be discovered in the archives of the city of Er, and warns that the magical treasure they seek is dangerous. There really isn't any good reason that the PCs have to be told all this at the Risilvar sacred site, the adventure is just showing off the cool bits of the setting.

The wallaras recommend the PCs avoid the Forbidden Highlands and return to Jibaru before approaching Nimmur, while Pyre, as their presumed guide, insists the Forbidden Highlands is faster. As the PCs travel to the border, Gior and his hired thugs attempt to ambush the PCs, but will retreat if necessary.

The third adventure begins as the PCs approach Nimmur. If they took the route through the Forbidden Highlands, they arrive at Um-Shedu as the enduks and allies are attempting to repel a daylight assault by a manscorpion army. The PCs are approaching from the undefended north and may be attacked by the enduk defenders if they aren't careful, but assisting with the defense of the city can quickly get them on the good side of the enduks. The manscorpions have low morale(with infravision they should be attacking at night) and retreat quickly in daylight. Should the PCs inform their new allies about their search, the enduks immediately understand the implications.

Gundaluk, an enduk War Priest, explains what the Celestial Power Collector(his term for the Er Star Device) is and what it was intended to do. He agrees the archives in Er is the best place to learn more about the Hidden Way. Elessa, an ee'aar wizard, provides them with disguise rings that will let them appear as manscorpions, three charges each providing three hours of duration. They ask in return for the PCs to try and locate the underground manscorpion tunnel in the temple pyramid which also houses the archives. An attack on Er to capture the fortified temple depends on having that tunnel blocked off to prevent manscorpion reinforcement from that direction, they suspect the tunnel is located in the sanctuary area. Gilmun, an enduk fighter, joins the party to assist and then report back to Um-Shedu.

On the way to Er, Gior makes another attack with new mercenaries if necessary. He is getting desperate and may not retreat this time until it is too late. A nice map of the city itself is provided, a long canal is channeled through the city with small lakes serving as river harbors on either end of the city. The rest of the river winds its way past the west side of the city. There are a total of nine star device monuments stationed around the city, including two on top of the ziggurat. Slaves of all races work the fields, overseen by manscorpion taskmasters. Inside the city, the PCs find Vilaverdans and Herathians among the painted manscorpions wearing hideous masks and tunic shawls, shaded by huge parasols. While they are there, the monuments suddenly erupt with beams of fiery light, and the PCs will have to take cover or be harmed by one of the beams. The panic caused by this will make it easier for the PCs to infiltrate the palace grounds and enter the temple. Maps of the grand temple in Er as well as the courtyard outside are provided.

In the archives history section, they will find a book written by a manscorpion general with the title The Hidden Way: An Account of the Surprise Invasion of Nimmur. Here they will find the rest of the map they need to locate the cave where the controlling key is hidden. They can also explore the sanctuary where they can find a secret door that leads to the underground tunnel. They have to wait as the sanctuary is flooded with citizens of Er begging for mercy, as they do each time the CPC unleashes its light rays. Pyre, having gotten a look at the map, surreptitiously leaves to get a head start. The PCs can locate the secret entrance in the sanctuary and confirm the underground tunnel is located beyond, at which point, Gilmun departs for Um-Shedu.

Outside the temple on the palace grounds, the PCs fortuitously find the King of Nimmur has parked his flying chariot with only one manscorpion guard keeping a close eye on it. The PCs can get a quick ride to the forgotten outpost provided they promise the enslaved pegataurs their freedom after reaching their destination. Arriving at the outpost, they find the cave broken open. The ghost of the enduk priest who died here manifests telling them a creature of great evil has taken the controlling key and departed for its lair in the Dark Jungle.

The fourth adventure starts as the PCs review a wax tablet the ghost reveals before it departs. The ghost they just met was Sarshurgon, the high priest of Idu at the time Nimmur fell to the manscorpions. The tablet also informs us that the enduks allowed the manscorpions to live in Nimmur in exchange for assistance in the war to repel the orcs of the Dark Jungle. The tunnel into the great temple in Er is what allowed the manscorpions to capture the temple before the Celestial Power Collector could be destroyed. It is possible to dismantle the monuments and place them on wagons in order to make them into portable artillery. There are also instructions on how to destroy the monuments in Er, as long as both the viewing crystal and controlling key are in the city. There are hidden self-destruct devices in two of the monuments.

At this point, the adventure acknowledges two options. The PCs could return to Er and wait for Pyre to show up, which is the smart thing to do. Or they could travel to the Dark Jungle and try to find Pyre's lair hoping to reach it before he decides to head back to Nimmur. Because this was written as a convention adventure and it wants to give the players a tour of the Dark Jungle, the adventure goes with option B, while acknowledging players and DMs can instead go with option A.

The PCs travel to the Dark Jungle and a map showing the location of Pyre's lair is provided. The PCs will have to pass through the territories of the Black Orchid and Green Slayers tribes. The orcs they encounter will have up to 5HD with either the Savage Warrior or Shaman kits. The Black Orchid orcs coat their arrow with poison, and the Green Slayers have ballista-fired javelins containing jars of green slime. Should the PCs be captured, they will be shipped off to Pyre as tribute. Other encounters include such dangers as green slime, caimans and even the local monkeys are hostile and willing to pilfer attractive items when the PCs camp.

Should the PCs manage to escape all these dangers, they eventually catch a break when a shaman of Karaash(aside, I just noticed this supplement associates Karaash as an alternate name for Ilneval) from the Silent Death tribe observes them for a bit and realizes what they are after. Shaman Kagar is convinced replacing Pyre is necessary, and offers to guide them to the lair, being one of the few orcs of the tribes who has managed to find it and avoid discovery. More precisely, Kagar knows of Pyre's diamond mine in a hidden valley. The mine is worked by hundreds of slaves overseen by 60-70 elite orcs who are not members of the tribes but sworn to Pyre's service directly. Pyre's lair is hidden deep in the mine, requiring a dungeon crawl to locate it. A full map of the mines and Pyre's lair is provided.

Once the PCs locate the lair and find Pyre, the adventure breaks down due to some implausibilities. The PCs are 9th or 10th level at most and no match for this version of Pyre, who is a great wyrm and age category 12(not 10 as I mistakenly said in Part 1). With the equivalent stats of a red dragon, including the magic resistance and breath weapon plus his eight legacies, the PCs don't stand a chance so the text gives the PCs some special rules to survive. Ducking behind treasure piles or jumping into some pools found in the cave let the PCs completely avoid damage or take half on a failed save.

It is impossible for the PCs to get their hands on either of the two devices, as Pyre is holding them. The controlling key is a black rod that also has the powers of a rod of rulership. Despite this violation of his lair, Pyre decides it is more urgent to test out his control of the Celestial Power Collector than to make sure these invaders are all dead. So Pyre leaves his lair and teleports away! What kind of dragon would leave its lair behind with all its treasures when someone has violated its sanctity? Oh, right, Peter Jackson's Smaug would do that. Well it works just as poorly here as it does in the movie. Particularly because Pyre leaves behind a magic item that the PCs can find and use to teleport themselves to Er.

The final battle takes place in Er, regardless of whether the PCs waited for Pyre to show up or teleported here from his lair. The city is in chaos because Pyre isn't bothering with a disguise, he just landed inside the city and charged into the temple. Ten enduk fighters have been observing nearby and have flown over the wall to intercept. Pyre charms some manscorpions to help him. The final battle will need to hold off Pyre while someone activates the self-destruct mechanisms. Should the PCs succeed, the monuments throughout the city explode, and Pyre, completely frustrated, fires one more breath weapon before retreating. The PCs can likely escape the city in the confusion.

There are some suggestions for further adventures. Assuming things have followed the general plot, the PCs will have a good reputation in Jibaru, Wallara and Um-Shedu, and can leverage their knowledge of the Dark Jungle by selling their knowledge or services to enemies of the orcs. Gior, if still alive, will be out for revenge, as will Pyre. The Nimmurians, at the very least, want the PCs for questioning, preferably under torture, to find out exactly what happened.

The Dragon Magazine color maps of the various areas of the Orc's Head Peninsula are also included in this sourcebook, but they are identical to what was first presented in the Princess Ark/Known World Grimoire series.
 
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NPCDave

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1996 - Gates of Firestorm Peak

I am going to take advantage of this other thread to provide a synopsis of this adventure.

Okay. So Firestorm Peak. The main concept is this: Every 27 years, the gates of a mysterious dungeon open for a few days. Not much is known about what lies beyond the gates, but the father of one of the characters disappeared investigating the dungeon. The module starts off with the PC's entering the Outer levels: Duergar controlled halls. The dark dwarves put up fierce resistance to any attempts at entry. As the PC's delve deeper, it turns out there is far more down there - a gateway to a world of madness that must be closed before it threatens the world!
As far as Mystara is concerned, all this adventure does is name drop the setting in the last page or two when it discusses what happens after the adventure is over and if the PCs were trapped because they took too long. They might seek to escape through the Underdark or go through a portal(I forget which) and find themselves in a new world. Such as having started in Toril, they might now find themselves in Mystara. Or vice versa.

There are a few products that name drop Mystara going forward, but I don't plan to cover every book that does that. And neither do I object if someone else does want to do that here. My goal is to cover everything that adds at least something new or elaborates on stuff from before, using the criteria I quote again below. As an example to explain the difference, Night Below made a few attempts to link its adventure to Mystara, while Gates of Firestorm Peak, by its very nature designed to drop into most D&D settings as is, did not worry about devoting page count to that topic.

1) Material that actually focuses on Mystara. For example, Ravenloft's Domains of Dread hardcover identified one of its domain lords as coming from Mystara, and gave his historical background there. So I plan to cover it for 1997. Likewise the Princess Ark article during Paizo's days publishing Dragon and Dungeon.

2) Material that deals with iconic characters and iconic locations from Mystara, and to a more limited extent, iconic things, whatever those things may be. This would include everything Bargle, as well as the d'Ambreville family who make at least two future appearances. For locations, that includes the Isle of Dread, the Palace of the Silver Princess, and the Lost City, all of which show up in the future. It won't include the Keep on the Borderlands, however, because that technically was its own generic location when Gygax wrote and published it. It was only later set in Mystara. With that said, I can still briefly talk about Return to the Keep on the Borderlands, because even though it set the Keep in Greyhawk, it used a couple of Mystara characters.
 

NPCDave

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Over on Mystara Reborn, Lawrence Schick has explained that in the original Known World, it was Darokin, rather than Karameikos, that was the home base for PCs starting a campaign.


1996 - Dungeon Magazine #62 November/December issue

While not containing an official Mystara adventure like Dungeon #59, the last issue of Dungeon for 1996 had two adventures with ties to Mystara.


Dragon's Delve

Another entry from Chris Perkins, inspired by the solo module XS2 Thunderdelve Mountain. Presumably as a homage to the adventure's BECMI D&D origins, Chris also used some monsters from the Mystara Monstrous Compendium Appendix. By doing so, he actually cemented Thunderdelve Mountain into the Mystara setting more strongly than the original module did, which was tied primarily by the BECMI ruleset. Furthermore, this adventure uses a crystal dragon, and while that is a gem dragon rather than a Mystara specific gemstone dragon, you can easily substitute in a crystalline dragon if you so choose.

Forty years ago, a dwarven hero named Galvan Ironstar was named heir to the throne of Underduin, a cavernous dwarf kingdom. Drull, Galvan's twin brother, was envious and decided not to abide by the decision, departing Underduin with his loyal dwarven followers and taking refuge in the abandoned fortress of Thunderdelve not too far away. (This adventure assumes it was Drull who completed XS2.) Ten years later, Galvan was sworn in as king. Since then, he has appealed to his jealous brother to return to the kingdom and reunite with his fellow dwarves. Drull has, so far, politely but sternly refused.

Six months ago, the dwarves of Thunderdelve were subjugated by what they think is an evil dragon, which crawled up from Thunderdelve's chasms. It continues to terrorize them as it demands that they excavate a new tunnel passage deep into the earth. Normally the dwarves might be able to send one of their numbers for help or come up with a plan for resistance since the monster cannot be everywhere at once, but in this case the creature has been able to drain the Intelligence attribute of the dwarves through a particular item it wears. A few dwarves have gone missing, eaten of course. They believe the dragon can polymorph into other creatures and turn invisible.

A few days ago, another band of dwarf emissaries sent by Galvan arrived at Thunderdelve and requested an audience. Initially denied, they remained outside for the better part of a day waiting and deciding what to do, when they suddenly found themselves being pelted by snowballs.

Three days ago, a pair of crystal dragons named Quartz and Facet left their mountaintop lair to play a prank on an old amethyst dragon that lived beneath the frozen lake nearby. Their offspring, a young dragon named Glittershard, decided to take advantage of this lack of supervision by exploring south to get a look at settled lands. It spotted the dwarves outside the great pair of doors of Thunderdelve, and, after observing and listening to them, launched a snowball attack.


Eat white powder dwarf!

Once peaceful contact was established and Glittershard learned why the emissaries were here, it offered to help them. Eager to learn more about dwarves, it allowed them to offer himself as a gift for a period of service. When even this offer was rejected, Glittershard got impatient and just used his charm person ability to convince the gate guards to let everyone in. The interior of Thunderdelve was dreary, dark and lifeless. The guards escorted them to Drull, finding him seated on a crystal throne in the middle of a cold, dark cavern. Drull looked like a ragged version of his brother. As soon as the guards departed, a serpentine dragon appeared above Drull, curling its long tail around the base of the crystal throne. Shocked, Glittershard and the emissaries hesitated, and the dragon breathed a cloud of gas over them, knocking them all unconscious.

Glittershard's parents began a search for him, and using a crystal ball were able to see him laboring to excavate a tunnel, obviously forced into servitude but not in imminent danger. They caught sight of a rusted metal shield with the emblem of a silver hammer. They paid a visit to a dwarf hermit and learned the location of Thunderdelve Mountain. They next approached King Galvan to negotiate for Glittershard's release. Galvan was growing concerned for his emissaries, and the crystal dragons were able to located them as well, imprisoned in cells. They couldn't locate Drull, but Galvan assured them that he would resolve the matter by finding some qualified experts. Enter the PCs, whom he hires for the mission, giving them an old map of Thunderdelve Mountain and a magical horn capable of blasting open the outer doors of the fortress if necessary.

The real monster in control of Thunderdelve is no dragon. It is actually a baldandar, who can weave complex illusions, turn invisible and polymorph. The baldandar hails from Nizzinzar, a derro kingdom deep in the Underdark. The derro wish to establish a base close to the surface to launch raids against surface dwellers, and have sent the baldandar to subjugate the dwarves and secure the fortress. It reached Thunderdelve through an unstable fyrsnaca tunnel, and equipped with a diadem of thought draining, it remained hidden until it had lowered the intelligence of the dwarven population enough to use its powers to take over. Excavating a more stable tunnel to the Underdark is part of the plan.

The baldandar had no desire for dwarves from Underduin to learn about events in Thunderdelve, but the crystal dragon has forced its hand. Glittershard is unfamiliar with illusions, and thinks the illusionary deep dragon will eat the emissaries if he doesn't work as instructed. The baldandar is preparing for more arrivals, and has begun polymorphing dwarves into other creatures to defend the lair. Due to their lower intelligence, all the dwarves have succumbed to the mentality of these other creatures, which includes chokers, geonids, a gibbering mouther, ice mephits, and urds. A host of additional obscure creatures to be found in Thunderdelve include an aballin, an executioner's hood (I guess this would count as its 2E update), living crystal and iron statues, an undead dwarf, and a xaver. Dwarf trophies of various creatures and humanoids decorate a few rooms, including a quaggoth head found among the more mundane bugbear and hobgoblin trophies.

This adventure brings back the runes from the original adventure, and Chris fills in more background on the original dwarven clans of Thunderdelve which the PCs can learn about as they explore. There is even a table for the clan names of all the dwarves who currently reside in Thunderdelve, and you can see which dwarves can trace their lineage back to the founders of Thunderdelve and which founding clans have likely died out since then. The two most noted magic items from XS2 are back. The chaotic evil blade Render lies unused in a secret treasure chamber, and the Hammer of Vitroin is identified here as a relic with a note that its full powers are described in the 2E Encyclopedia Magica.

The diadem of thought draining was originally crafted by duergar and imbued with psionic energy allowing it to drain the intelligence of nearby dwarves, use telepathic communication, and once per day unleash something similar to a psionic blast that stuns those nearby. The baldandar was able to steal it from the duergar, and the derro realized it was ideal for allowing a single-handed takeover of a dwarven stronghold.

The PCs will need to navigate Thunderdelve, convince intellectually stunted dwarves to help them, fight off the baldandar, and rescue Glittershard and Drull. An advance party of three derro have also just arrived and will need to be slain. One of the derro carries a magical staff that is actually a huptzeen with a golden illithid head.

Assuming the PCs are successful, they will be rewarded by both Galvan and the crystal dragon parents. It is likely that, after the suffering the dwarves have gone through, Thunderdelve will be abandoned once again.


Esmerelda's Bodyguard

This adventure by Paul Culotta has an interesting origin. In this time period, he and Ted Zuvich lived in the Puget Sound area of Washington state, and both wrote for TSR. Ted asked Paul to review some monster compendium entries he was writing up for the TSR Games Department. Those writeups went into the Savage Coast Monstrous Compendium, and Paul was so enamored with two of the entries that he decided to build an adventure around them. The result was the closest thing we ever got to a Red Steel adventure in Dungeon Magazine, although there is one future entry which comes close. My favorite line in the introduction is the following...

It is perfect for a Red Steel adventure, and notes have been added for DMs who want to use it that way.
...I will show why later.

This adventure erroneously identifies the two creatures as being included in the upcoming Red Steel Monstrous Compendium Appendix. First, Red Steel was re-branded to Savage Coast for 1996 as we have already seen, and second the Savage Coast Monstrous Compendium Appendix was released before this issue of Dungeon. Another mistake I just noticed, in the SC Monstrous Compendium pdf the credit for design goes to Loren Coleman, Ted James, Thomas Zuvich. I see it is the same error in the original rtf file as well. It should be Loren Coleman and Ted James Thomas Zuvich, the latter name is just one person. In any case, let's move on to the background of the adventure.

Felipe Mercado was a rich and powerful wizard who died a little over two weeks ago. He lived in a country villa not far from a medium-sized town along with his beautiful daughter Esmerelda and some paid staff. Felipe had learned how to make magical constructs of clockwork, and built three in his lifetime. They are a clockwork cat, a clockwork lab assistant, and a clockwork swordsman, by the name of Cyrano.

The cat and lab assistant always remained in Felipe's basement laboratory, and that area of the home was off limits to everyone else. But Cyrano was created to be Felipe's bodyguard and adventuring companion, so the two went on many adventures together. Cyrano knew the daughter and household, and they knew Cyrano's nature, including how to wind him up with the magical key after he had wound down.

Felipe was overprotective of Esmerelda, and deemed the young suitors pursuing his daughter unsuitable. He relied on Cyrano to chase the men away to ensure she would be available when the perfect man showed up. This never happened, and once Felipe passed away, Cyrano decided to continue his mission of keeping suitors away until the "right" man arrived, with the criteria of the "right man" now left to Cyrano. This greatly annoyed Esmerelda, but she was in mourning for her father, and realized Cyrano would eventually wind down and the problem would resolve itself.

There is a second problem however, and it is in the basement. Esmerelda and the servants started hearing noises coming from the door, it sounded like scratching, though one servant heard growling. Later there was much crashing and banging, and when Esmerlda opened the door she heard something scuttle in the darkness. She had the door nailed shut and hoped whatever was down there would starve to death, but after ten days the noises at the door continue. Cyrano refused her pleas to investigate, deeming his job protecting her from suitors by standing guard in the front yard to be more important.

The PCs soon arrive at the country villa or merely pass by it, and Cyrano initiates some confrontation. Should a fight break out, there is a table for the DM to roll each round to see what kind of combat maneuver Cyrano uses. There is a 15% chance Cyrano can use a charm person effect and a 10% chance he can gain weapon specialization for the round. There is no stat block for Cyrano, presumably because he will wind down and go inert after a few rounds of combat.

Lady Esmerelda apologizes and explains the situation, and offers Cyrano as payment if the PCs will solve her basement problem. If they take him apart they can collect the gems, but she tells them that if they want to keep him as a swordsman, they have to find the magical key that winds him up, which happens to be in the basement.

The only mapped part of the villa is the basement, the rest of it is just briefly described. Here we find the sole sentence of conversion notes for the Red Steel setting.

In a Red Steel campaign, there is a locked chest in Esmerelda's room which contains enough cinnabryl to protect her and the servants from the effects of the Red Curse for a year.
Well that was...underwhelming...

In any case, the PCs find the lab completely trashed, and the clockwork lab assistant waiting patiently. There is a summoning chamber, and, ominously, the inscribed silver circle surrounding it has a small area scorched completely black. The PCs may or may not notice that. The lab assistant asks the PCs to use dispel magic to disable the wards at the top of the stairs blocking him from leaving.

Of course, the real lab assistant is already in pieces and carefully locked away in a trunk down here. The PCs are talking to the second monster used from the Savage Coast Monstrous Compendium, the utukku.

I didn't cover the utukku in my SCMC posts, so I will talk about them now. Despite being an evil outsider, they do have ties to the Savage Coast through the enduks, and there is a tantalizing hint of a long absent entropic Immortal served by utukku which was an enemy of Ixion.

Utukku usually inhabit the planes of Carceri, but on rare occasions they will come to the Prime Material Plane, inhabiting caverns or pits in desolate regions. On the Savage Coast, they are most often found in the deserts around the Horn and the Land of the Shifting Dunes, near Trident Bay.

Utukku are roughly humanoid in shape, standing about 12 feet high. An utukku has the head of a lion, with long quills in place of a mane, and a scaled humanoid body. It also has huge, white claws on its hands and feet. These creatures are mostly dark red in colour, but their faces are a golden-red. An utukku's eyes are bright yellow with catlike blue pupils.

Utukku have their own language, which resembles low growls and is composed of very few words; meaning is conveyed by tone and inflection. They also have their own written language a harsh and angular script, which bears some resemblance to the enduk writing style.

...

On the Prime Material Plane, utukku use their powers to spread misery and evil through nearby humanoid communities. They do not attempt to gain followers or lead humanoids, preferring to work alone. They attack other creatures from the Outer Planes on sight, regardless of alignment or plane of origin, unless they are outnumbered.

Unlike some extraplanar creatures, utukku are mortal, but they have a life span of several thousand years.

Rumors claim that the utukku are the minions or servants of a long-forgotten Immortal that was either destroyed or imprisoned by the enduk patron Immortal. The enmity between this shadowy Immortal patron and Idu would certainly explain the utukku's fierce hatred for the enduks.
This enmity between the utukku and the enduks extends to Gildesh, the greater shedu who currently is spending another lifetime as king of the enduks.

The greater shedu avatar will attack utukku or manscorpions if the opportunity presents itself. It is a known fact that the greater shedu avatar of Idu and the extraplanar utukku are eternal enemies, but no one outside the high enduk temples is quite sure of the reasons.
For some reason, there is no stat block for the utukku in this adventure, although Dungeon did reprint the Monstrous Compendium pages for both the clockwork swordsman and the utukku in this issue so you can build them yourself.

Felipe had managed to summon the utukku from a scroll, but it refused to do his bidding. He decided to leave it in his summoning circle until it changed its mind, but died shortly thereafter. The ututkku's magic resistance eventually let it overcome the wards around the circle, but finds the even stronger wards at the top of the stairs impassible, even via teleporation. The adventure ends once the PCs deal with the utukku.

Since the PCs may take Cyrano with them, there are rules for his long-term maintenance and repair, which are useful since they aren't part of the MC writeup.
 
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NPCDave

Registered User
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So the good news is, we are almost finished with 1996. And the great news is, the only thing left to cover for 1996 is the arcade game Shadows over Mystara. As I said before, I will give Blacky the honor of first post on it whenever he is ready.

In the meantime, this isn't a bad place to throw in an errata post as well as cover a few odds and ends that were overlooked before.

Maybe you were wondering, TSR produced the Endless Quest books, the 1-on-1 Adventure Gamebooks and the Super Endless Quest/Adventure Gamebooks. Not to mention a few others. Did any of those have ties to Mystara?

Although a lot of the early choose your own adventure books in the Endless Quest series tended to use generic D&D locations and drew on Basic D&D lore, the only book I can point to as being related to Mystara and the D&D Known World is the fifteenth book in the Super Endless Quest/Adventure Gamebook series.

1987 - Adventure Gamebook #15 The Vanishing City

The Adventure Gamebook series was like the Fighting Fantasy book series, each book a single-player RPG adventure where you are given a character and try to make your way through rolling dice to win battles and overcome challenges.

The Vanishing City is actually a stripped down version of the adventure module M4 Five Coins for a Kingdom. The character you play is one of the pregens from that module, the fighter Sir Theobald Redbeard. You have a second NPC helping you, the cleric pregen from that module, Theona.

This gamebook doesn't add anything new, and in fact goes out of its way to make the setting location even more generic.


1992 - GenCon Promotional Trading Card Set

In the early 1990s, TSR was offering collectible trading cards that featured artwork and stats for various NPCs, monsters, locations and items. This 1992 GenCon exclusive featured eleven trading cards which promoted all of their current games and settings at the time. The one card in that set that is of interest here is Card #6, featuring an 11th level fighter for BECMI/RC D&D with the name Brandt Esragoph.

As far as I know, that is the sole card for the D&D line, everything else was for AD&D, Gamma World and other game lines. TSR abandoned trading cards in 1993, before Mystara was moved over to 2E.


1993 - DMR1 Dungeon Master Screen

Included with the screen is a small adventure, Escape from Thunder Rift. Much of the adventure is set in Thunder Rift, but the PCs can find a magical gate which will lead them into...the World of Mystara. The magic portal only works one way taking characters to the land of Karameikos, near the village of Bywater, which also serves to tie in with the first Penhalgion novel, The Tainted Sword.

There are some hints of those who travel between the realms, and a magic item from the abelaat used in the first novel is also detailed in game stats here.

As I mentioned before, the hope was that new players brought into the game through the entry level products would move on to the RC hardcover rulebook and the Mystara setting, and this adventure was a belated attempt to assist with that transition. It also tried to help sell the novel, although Bywater doesn't survive there for very long
I got a chance to go back and read this adventure instead of relying on memory. The first half of this adventure is set in Thunder Rift, the second half is set in Karameikos. The idea is that the PCs and DM will "graduate" from the D&D Basic set to the Rules Cyclopedia. You only need the RC for the second half of the adventure.

A wizard by the name of Asticles built a mountain stronghold in Thunder Rift, where the dwarf settlement of Hearth-Home now lies. Asticles was able to build a magic item called a dimensional pool that allows transportation to any other plane or dimension. Asticles used a talisman he enchanted to attune the dimensional pool's gate to another location. The talisman is a diamond encased in nixie, mermen and nuckalavee hairs. Once the dimensional pool is opened to another location, it remains a one-way gate in that direction until the talisman is attuned to another location. Anyone can pass through the gate, but only the talisman user can attune the gate to return the same way.

Asticles used his gate to travel back and forth between Thunder Rift and Karameikos. Eventually, Asticles was slain by a dwarf hero named Farolas. Farolas found the dimensional pool, and feared it could be used by an army to invade Thunder Rift. He had his followers construct Hearth-Home so that they could forever stand guard to prevent anyone from using the gate, and had the double doors to the wizard's stronghold sealed.

Just before the adventure starts, an evil wizard by the name of Chambrin that had been plaguing Thunder Rift was captured by the dwarves of Hearth-Home. This was just a ruse, unfortunately, for Chambrin knew of the gate and what lay behind it. He fashioned his own talisman, and, once he was inside Hearth-Home, he escaped and bypassed the sealed doors. The PCs are hired by the dwarves to enter inside and deal with Chambrin and whatever horrors lie within.

The PCs explore the old stronghold, finding clues about this other land of Karameikos, including a map. When they reach the dimensional pool, they can continue with the second half of the adventure. They find themselves in in a small sunlit glade at the top of a hill, with a variety of trees surrounding a small pool of water.

They have arrived in Karameikos, south of the Castellan River and about twenty five miles southwest of the village of Bywater. They pick up Chambrin's trail and reach Bywater after fighting off harpies. There is a map of the village, half of it burned down recently by Verdilith in The Tainted Sword novel. All the buildings are described so you could run Bywater as it existed when it was a thriving village if you wanted. There is only one resident in town now, the former innkeeper of the Inn of the Wyvern, who is suffering from PTSD. A couple of ogres can be found looting a building on the other side of town.

We learn here that Chambrin is not native to Thunder Rift, but was originally in Karameikos. He knew the only mage who lived in Bywater, who died defending it from the dragon. Chambrin wasn't expecting Bywater to be destroyed, but searching the mage's home, he locates the magic he needs and continues on to a wizard tower further northeast another twenty five miles. This takes the PCs past where the Volaga River joins with the Castellan River. So the tower lies close to the south shore of the Volaga River, and this would take the PCs right past the town of Seragrad if it had been invented in 1993.

At the ruined tower, the PCs find Chambrin together with a wyvern he befriended in the past. He is currently working on summoning the leaders of two nearby orc tribes in order to gain their service and invade Thunder Rift. For this he uses abelaat's crystals, which he picked up in Bywater and are formed when an abelaat's saliva mixes with a mammal's blood. Warming a crystal with flame allows the user to view any person or place the holder of the crystal concentrates on, and the holder can communicate with that person. This is how Chambrin summoned the wyvern and is now summoning the orcs.

The adventure concludes with this final battle between the PCs and Chambrin. The adventure allows for the possibility the PCs will return to Thunder Rift if they find Chambrin's talisman, or remain in the Known World if they do not.

So this adventure implies one can get to Thunder Rift from Karameikos through means other than dimensional travel, since Chambrin did so...but the whole method of PCs traveling between the two realms with the dimensional pool obfuscates the matter.


1994 - Monstrous Compendium Mystara Appendix

While I could go into more detail, I can't really add anything that hasn't already been said in this Let's Read thread.
Actually I found something to talk about on this one. On the page before the first beastie, they went through a short list of monsters that were common to BECMI D&D and AD&D, but had different naming conventions. For example, the eye of the deep in 1E/2E was called an aquatic beholder in BECMI. The gas spore is called the blast spore on Mystara, and Mystarans never call something an unpronounceable ixitxachitl when they can call it the far more reasonably pronounced devilfish. A few of these name harmonizations introduced on this page shed some light on how native Mystarans view certain monsters.

Dragons - This book claims the only metallic dragons on Mystara are gold dragons. As we saw, this convention was abandoned in later 2E Mystara products.

Haoou - This is the name aerial servants call themselves.

Hook Beasts - Mystarans see the hook horror and umber hulk as being related, they refer to them both as hook beasts, and when being specific about the umber hulk they call them hulkers. You can read a bit more on this at ENWorld in this fantastic article by Echohawk.

Invisible Stalker - They call themselves the Sshai.

Lamara - The Mystaran term for lamia noble.

Mesmer - An undead Mystaran sea monster that is similar to the morkoth. The book speculates mesmers are a group of undead morkoths stranded on Mystara from another plane long ago.

Nekrozon - The alternative name catoblepas is an archaic term for the creature.

Sphinx - Only androsphinx and gynosphinx are known on Mystara, and they are the male and female sex of the same species.
 
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