Saturday, December 15, 2012

Greenwood’s Folio of Faces

Continues from the previous post.  Click here to go back.

A note about Greenwood’s political topography is needed before one can understand where each player fits.  There are three official centers of power in the capital city.  The first is the monarchy.  The next two are relatively balanced as regards their abilities to influence the monarchy: the Great Clan House and the Wizards parliament.

Mystara Alphatia Foresthome Greenwood
Royal District: 1. Queen's Palace, 2. Wizards Parliament, 3. Great Clan House, 4. Golden Pond, 5. Royal Rangers Barracks
The Great Clan House: it acts as a sort of supreme court for woodland beings, and the place where Clan House representatives from different dominions can address each other in an official capacity.  The Speaker of the Clans represents all clans, a venerable old actaeon named Lord Cervidal.  When a motion is put to the assembly, each of the 18 clan houses gets one vote, except for the representative of the autonomous Clan Lands, which commands five.  The total number of votes is therefore 22.  A strict majority is needed to resolve any issue, with the speaker acting as the tie breaker.  A session at the Great Clan House can be an amazing sight to behold, with a bewildering crowd of woodland races present, each representative usually commanding half a dozen native aids, aside from druid and ranger facilitators.  Languages are as varied as morphologies and sizes, from sprite to forest giant.  Specially adapted carriages drawn by horses, oxen, or other creatures, allow attending personalities to travel from parvis of the Great Clan House to guesthouses in Little Sylvania. 

Present discussions involve a request from Queen Aberria to formalize measures to establish expeditionary forces among woodland beings in the event they may be needed to defend Foresthome’s borders.  It is a hotly debated topic which never yielded anything concrete in the past.  Considering the plethora of divergent views and interests, the Speaker hasn’t yet put the motion to a vote, being far too vague as is.  Based on responses, the Speaker will submit another proposal to the queen. The Prince of Llynsey and the Queen (known as the “Royals”) hold honorary seats, and may address the assembly but may not vote.

Wemics, actaeons, and greater equines are the most outspoken in favor of the request, but claim they couldn’t possibly be called away since they view themselves as guarantors of Foresthome’s security.  Gulons, itching for a good fight, don’t mind being called upon, although an appeal was made for a monument to be erected in Greenwood’s Golden Pond to honor their fallen comrades.  Sasquatches agree as well, but only if good ale is guaranteed.  Wood imps, to everyone’s surprise, agreed as long as they’re being asked politely and showered with royal gifts (though their reliability and true motivations remain anyone’s guess).  Woodsmen do not object, except in winter.  Bushmen will only go if woodsmen do.  Blackroots will definitely not go if bushmen do, which echoes the general feeling among Clan Lands tribes (treants, forest giants, fairykind, phanatons, etc).  Their representative therefore disagrees entirely with the queen’s request, seeing this as another encroachment upon their autonomy. 

Mystara Alphatia Foresthome Greenwood frog princess
Ravenfolk will not go either, but will provide intelligence on the enemy.  The brogga are ready to pledge an amphibious strike force, provided Queen Aberria offers her niece, Kikania, as a bride to the brogga prince, a tradition among brogga families seeking alliances.  Lady Kikania made it known through her friends she’d never kiss a “frog person” based on widespread superstition that doing so would transform her into a fine-looking brogga.  Meanwhile, the Decapus Queen deigned not to respond to the Great Clan House invitation, thankfully.

The Wizards' Parliament: it is the venue of choice of wizardly politicians to discuss affairs of state and provide a counterweight to the influence the Great Clan House may exert upon the monarchy.  Although mages make up the vast majority of members, clerics, elves, and warrior types find acceptance among their ranks.  The assembly includes 15 barons, counts, and dukes ruling dominions, as well as 78 other members.  The latter are elected officials representing various outsider cantons throughout Foresthome.  Cantons generally center around towns, villages, towers, and other strongholds.  “Front row” seats are reserved for dominion rulers; these confer 5 Parliament Votes each to their owners.  “Back row” canton seats confer a single Parliament Vote each.  As with the Great Clan House, the “Royals” hold honorary seats, and may address the assembly, but may not vote.  The Speaker of the Parliament, Lord Rathmore, presides over sessions and has authority to bring order to the chamber when matters get out of hand, as they often do.  In order for a motion to be accepted or rejected, one party must have more votes than the other, and a minimum of 60 total out of a maximum 153.

Following the king’s recent abdication, Queen Aberria entrusted the parliament with the task of making a decision whether to expand the League of Eight’s commercial charter beyond Lake Llyn.  Six “front row seaters” oppose the motion (including Mersey & Weil, Wessith, Ashbury, Tutleby, Burwynn, and Llynmouth as their most vocal leader).  Four in the front row quietly support the motion (Orfeander, Hârnmayne, Grünfold, and Suthermore).  Five others remain neutral (Rathmore, Tareston, Westford, Shielldon, and Ogresfell).  Among “back row seaters,” 28 oppose the motion, 39 support it (League investors or debtors), and 11 remain neutral.

Yea: 59 votes                   Nay: 58 votes                   Abstained: 36 votes

Neither party has accrued enough votes yet to win the day.  The measure was therefore put on hold for a year, pending another vote to accept or reject the motion.  The League of Eight and their opponents are likely to seek additional support behind closed doors, with possibe clashes along the way.

His Royal Highness, Lord Talthion: this crippled man is Queen Aberria’s husband, the former King of Foresthome.  Prior to abdication resulting from his infirmities, Talthion had an animated discussion with Master Grebbledin, a key man in the League of Eight.  Grebbledin requested the guild’s commercial charter be appended to include the Eastfollow River, Foresthome’s sea coasts, and foreign destinations.  Although an investor himself, Talthion refused, fearing the guild’s growing influence over the kingdom.  Turning the League loose could very well threaten the monarchy.  A few weeks after this crucial meeting, Talthion was stricken with an unexplainable affliction that left him unable to speak, write, or communicate effectively.  No magic in the kingdom could alleviate his worsening condition.
     Description: in his 50’s, Lord Talthion has a shoulder-length mane of salt and pepper hair, and cheekbones, a nose, and a chin like miniature cliffs.  His eyes are hazel and they change color with his moods:  they can appear intense blue, very green, cloudy, or stormy gray within instants.  Occasionally they gleam deep gold, like those of a wild animal.  Once a tall man employing thoughtful words and gestures, his head now thrusts forward and cocks slightly to one side from raised tense shoulders, as if he’s trying to communicate better by getting closer to his audience.  His eyes are sometimes eloquent, and at other times lost in what seems feral regard.  He often forgets what’s happened a few minutes ago.
     M25 (disabled), AC7, hp 37, MV 90’ (30’), AT none, Dmg none, Save M12 due to feebleness, ML6, AL N.  St6, In6, Wi6, Dx6, Co6, Ch8.  Magical Items: ring of protection +3, medallion of contingency (teleports him to a hidden chamber in the palace if harmed or if anyone else touches the medallion).

Her Royal Majesty, Queen Aberria: she acceded to the throne of Foresthome when her husband, Lord Talthion, abdicated for reasons of health.  Master Grebbledin requested an audience with the queen soon after the king’s demise, to bring up their earlier discussion regarding the commercial charter.  Sensing danger, Aberria eventually disposed of the problem by submitting it to the Parliament of Wizards.  She correctly assessed that the issue would be stalled.  She hopes to use the lull to curb the League’s power and find a cure for her husband.  Lord Allaran, Captain of Her Majesty’s Royal Guard, quietly informed the queen of his suspicions that the League of Eight may be consorting with Bettellyn through third party investors.  Aberria hopes to uncover the treacherous deeds as a way to regain control over the sprawling guild.  There is great danger in this endeavor because of the large number of investors and their key positions in Foresthome society.  It could be the end of the monarchy if mishandled.  Meanwhile, aside from a queen’s daily chores, much of her attention concerns diplomacy with Vertiloch, Randel, and Bettellyn, the adjudication of clashes between the Parliament of Wizards and the Great Clan House generally about land control, and growing troubles among druids in the west.  She loves her husband Talthion, and is very worried about his health.  Because she can’t rely on her husband or his failing memory, she has learned to trust Lord Allaran for information.  She maintains a public persona, and seldom shows her private side.
     Description: Queen Aberria is a woman of medium stature in her late 40’s, with a copper-toned skin and luxuriant long strawberry-blonde hair.  Her eyes are an unusual lapis blue with golden flecks.  She must work to control her crescents of reddish brows lest they betray her emotions.
     M21, AC7, hp 37, MV 120’ (40’), AT 1 spectral claw or spell, Dmg d6+2 + paralysis or by spell, Save M21, ML8, AL L.  St9, In17, Wi15, Dx14, Co11, Ch16.  Magical Items: earrings of protection +3, “slave” bracelet (multiple strings of small diamonds stretching from her middle finger to her wrist, with a floral design on the back of her hand—on command allows spectral claws to grow from her fingers; +2 to hit/Dmg + paralysis as a ghoul), tiara of leadership (see crown of leadership, AC4 Book of Marvelous Magic).

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Greenwood: City of Fairy Magic

Mystara Alphatia Foresthome Greenwood Map
Greenwood & Vicinity, map scale: 2 miles per hex
What is most striking about Greenwood is the city’s overall appearance.  From a distance, it seems more like a tall forest girdled by stone walls and stout bastions than a wizard-queen’s capital.  A few miles closer, light shining from windows betrays the presence of man-made structures within the woods.  In truth, entire city blocks support concentric glens topped with forests.  The largest buildings lie at the foot of immense trees, some almost 300 feet high.  Older trees stand at the center, with rows of shorter, younger growth surrounding them.  Altogether, Greenwood looks like a forested hillock.

These amazing trees result from the joint efforts of fairy folk, treants, forest giants, and Alphatian wizards wishing the capital city to feel as natural as possible.  Hollows in the walls and pillars supporting stone structures enable roots of the largest trees to reach the soil beneath Greenwood.  By the same token, water flows upward at night, distributing moisture to the endless stretches of suspended gardens adorning the city’s roofs.  Over time, when the trees reach maturity, segments of walls and pillars are removed or reshaped, leaving natural wood growth in their place.  As a result, much of the city features a blend of fancy stonework carved to look like organic material and enormous living roots.

Fairy folk dwell in this lofty realm, ensuring that the layers of soil remain healthy and bursting with nutrients and life.  Bridges at roof level connect most buildings, allowing visitors and citizens of this urban woodland to go as they please.  Above it all, an immense sylvan canopy arches over Greenwood, permanently shading its streets.  This semi-obscurity requires magical lights to shine permanently so townsfolk can go about their businesses down below despite the lack of sunlight.  Most streets in Greenwood are very narrow and flanked with buildings ranging three to five floors.  Balconies and overhangs are common, adding to the somewhat oppressive feeling in the darker passageways.  Water reservoirs lie beneath the city and, below them, a network of sewers.  The latter connects with the Eastfollow River through two underground gates.  An enchantment allows a relatively clean water supply upstream, and soiled discharge downstream from the canal.  Muck-thriving beasts need to be removed on occasion, especially in the summer when refuse emanates greater scents.

Mystara Foresthome Greenwood streetmap
Greenwood Street Map & Districts
 Royal District (1): the Queen’s palace, the Wizards’ Parliament, the Great Clan House, and all things royal lie in this area, centered around the Golden Pond.  City laborers work hardest here, especially in the fall when clearing cobblestone streets of giant fallen leaves and pine needles.  Some foliage is large enough to flop over heads and shoulders of unsuspecting passersby, to the amusement of observing children and pixies.  More than one clumsy merchant has slipped and fallen while attempting to tread too briskly upon pine needles as long as one’s arm.  Melon-sized nuts and acorns may come tumbling down as well, a peril that hasn’t quite yet been successfully addressed.  A royal edict was drafted decades ago, levying a special tax to keep the streets clean of leafy rotting piles or humus clogging sewer grates.

Middle Class Quarter (2): this area borders the south and east sides of the Royal District.  It is mostly residential, with many shops and inns welcoming travelers entering Greenwood’s Silkstone Gate.  Despite the prevailing dimness, large patches of moss, and creeping ivy carpeting the walls, it remains a lively, cosmopolitan, colorful area.

Red Light District (3): it is the seedier side of Greenwood.  Although not normally dangerous during the day, it should behoove visitors not to come alone or unarmed at night.  Streets aren’t quite as clean or well-paved as in the rest of the city.  Alleys are often muddy and strewn with refuse.  Cheap thrills come easiest here, between houses of ill-repute and sleazy cabarets with scantily-clad human, elven, and pixie dancers.  Performers of a far less human-like nature, fermented saps, enchanted resins, and forbidden narcotics aren’t rare if the price is right.

Artisans’ Quarter (4): most of the buildings here house workshops operated by the city guilds.  Leather goods, wood carvings, carts and wheels, barrels, furniture, stained glass, slate tiles, pottery, basket weaving, wool and cloth textiles, tin bottles and flatware, weapons, armor, tapestries, and porcelain wares are produced here.  Sprites have a hold on the messaging profession, darting from all corners of this quarter to the merchant district on the opposite side of the port, ferrying orders and messages.  An elf by the odd name of Tanglesnark operates such a messaging enterprise to purvey, for a fee, well wishes, birthday greetings, and such humorous tidings throughout the city.  During holidays, choirs of giddy sprites sometimes drive neighborhoods to the brink of rage with their cloying performances, usually when beneficiaries least expect them.

Port Area (5): This deep water pool is an artificial structure built long ago and enlarged over time.  Wooden piers enable visiting vessels to dock.  Although many warehouses and granaries surround the port, additional facilities are found outside Greenwood, along the banks of the Eastfollow River, about two miles away.  Port laborers under druidical supervision, as in many other areas of Greenwood, are mainly concerned with organic material falling from the trees into the port’s waters.  Except during winter months, dredging silt and rotting leafy remains are constant activities, often disturbing whatever wildlife thrives beneath the surface.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Foresthome: The Big Picture

Mystara Alphatia Foresthome South
Southern Foresthome Border Area

All things considered, I couldn’t resist going back to numbers defining Foresthome and its most meaningful neighbors, Floating Ar, Bettellyn, and to a certain extent, Randel.  Based on the survey posted on this blog (see upper right margin), there is interest in the politics of nations.  However, the latter can’t really be assessed without understanding relative economics and military capabilities.  So, let’s look at a few numbers:

1. Bettellyn: 2,116,776 (2.0% in armed forces)
2. Randel: 2,049,777 (2.3% in armed forces)
3. Foresthome: 1,794,868 (1.2% in armed forces)
4. Floating Ar: 913,640 (1.2% in armed forces)

Gross Incomes
1. Bettellyn: 557,174 (2.6 sp per capita)
2. Randel: 490,353 (2.4 sp per capita)
2. Foresthome: 235,113 (1.3 sp per capita)
3. Floating Ar: 131,601 (1.4 sp per capita)

Land Forces

  • 1. Randel: 37,317 warriors (incl. 26 level 7 spellcasters, 211 level 6 mage knights, 646 level 3 dragoons)
  • 2. Bettellyn: 34,691 warriors (incl. 112 level 5 spellcasters, 14 HD20 archons)
  • 3. Foresthome: 21,142 warriors (incl. 37 level 5 spellcasters, 10 HD14 forest giants, 45 HD8 treants; 9% of regular troops include fairy folk when in homeland forests)
  • 4. Floating Ar: 8,817 warriors (incl. 22 level 7 spellcasters, 13 HD7 griffins, 4 HD15 storm giants)
1. Bettellyn: 126 ships (incl. 31 skyships, 19 subs, 99 HP average)
2. Randel: 86 ships (incl. 10 skyships, 8 subs, 113 HP average)

3. Foresthome: 43 ships (incl. 6 skyships, no subs, 101 HP average) 
4. Floating Ar: 32 ships (incl. 29 skyships, no subs; 94 HP average)

Bettellyn is a powerful realm and a threat to both Randel and Foresthome.  On the other hand, the latter two are likely allied as a measure of self-defense, in which case they outnumber Bettellyn.  Floating Ar is the weakest of the bunch and, although they sympathize with Foresthome, they’re unlikely to commit themselves to a major conflict.  Foresthome faces one major challenge: protecting its western and northern lands against monstrous raids.  Nearly a third of Foresthome’s land forces must garrison this region.  Reducing forces there would almost inevitably invite attacks across the Snake River or from the Stone Crags.  The same can be said of Floating Ar’s concerns with the ogres.  Likewise, Randel would be reluctant to leave their capital undefended, right on the border with hated Eadrin.  News of a Bettellyn invasion into Foresthome’s south, would also be a clear signal for monstrous hordes to launch attacks across the Snake River.  An invasion is an opportunity for members of the Green Circle to eliminate opposing druids.  They may very well be the instigators of a monstrous invasion precisely for this reason.  Because they need to hold back troops and ships to protect their borders, joint Randel-Foresthome forces involved in a conflict would likely look like this:

Foresthome/Randel : 29,000 troops + 70 ships   vs.
Bettlellyn:                    34,000 troops + 126 ships

Using the general axiom that an invader ought to field at least twice a defender’s numbers, Bettellyn stands safe from attack.  Bettellyn, however, would have to fight a two-front war if it invaded Foresthome.  Randel is almost guaranteed to intervene against Bettellyn in this case.  On the other hand, the same may not be true of Foresthome, if Randel were attacked.  Therefore, if war were the order of the day, a savvy Bettellyn ruler would first invade Randel to knock it out before turning on Foresthome, negotiating all the while to placate Vertiloch.  Eadrin, on Randel’s southern side, would be unlikely to commit itself to any major conflict but could ramp up sabotage efforts and intrigue behind Randel’s lines.  The balance of strengths and the tension between realms on Alphatia’s oriental side create a political powder keg that a foreign power might be keen to ignite.  The risks for confrontation would be greatest if either or both rival fleets returned from imperial campaigns to Randel and/or Bettellyn.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Winds of Brun

Mystara Brun Climates

Here is how the information suggested in the previous post may apply to the entire Continent of Brun.  This continent is very close to real Earth North America, which simplifies much of the work.

1. Northwest Coast: Marine West Coast due to the winds blowing from the west.

2. Arm of the Immortals: Mediterranean to Arid on the west coast, just like real world California & Baja California; Tropical Wet & Dry (savanna) to Tropical Wet (jungle) on the east side, which collects moisture thanks to winds blowing from the northeast.

3. Yalu River/Yazak Steppes: Arid to Semi-Arid, essentially due to the presence of mountains blocking the ocean’s moisture.  Much of that area includes therefore grasslands and scrublands. A desert lies in the far southwest, similar to real world Arizona.

4. Midlands: Humid Continental weather, gradually turning to Sub-Arctic, like the American Midwest and Canada.

5. Savage Coast/Savage Baronies: mostly Humid Subtropical weather.  This emulates the US Gulf Coast, from Texas to Alabama.  Micro-climates reflect pre-existing designs, such as the lands of the Master, mostly semi-arid, or the east side of the Savage Baronies that should be Mediterranean (like the real world Balkans).

6. Serpent Peninsula: Tropical Wet & Dry (savanna) to Tropical Wet (jungle).

7. Sind Region: Arid to Semi-Arid

8. Known World: the coastal fringe features Humid Subtropical weather, prone to large storms, or Alpine conditions at altitude.  Ierendi and Minrothad enjoy weather comparable to real world Florida, explaining the number of retired adventurers living there.  Glantri qualifies as Semi-Arid due to its altitude
—ideal for dessicated old wizards.  Ylaruam remains a desert as the result of immortal magic and its location within a ring of mountains.  Ethengar’s vast grassland fits within the appropriate Semi-Arid classification.  The Northern Reaches demonstrate unusually cool Humid Continental to Marine West Coast elements due entirely to immortal magic, weather chilly enough to keep all that wholesome ale nice and fresh.

The map below provides a climate map for North America for comparison.

North America Climates

Here’s a short list of Known World cities listed with their approximate weather equivalents in the real world.

Ierendi-Minrothad: Fort Myers, FL 12°C/54°F to 33°C/92°F (humid subtropical)

Athenos, Darokin: New Orleans, LA 6°C/43°F
to 32°C/91°F (humid subtropical)

Known World Southern Coast: Norfolk, VA 0°C/33°F
to 31°C/88°F (humid subtropical)

Darokin City-Alfheimtown: Raleigh, NC –1°C/30°F
to 32°C/90°F (humid subtropical)

Glantri City, Glantri: Denver, CO –8°C/18°F
to 32°C/90°F (semi-arid)

Central Ethengar: Astrakhan, Russia –6°C/20°F
to 32°C/90°F (semi-arid)

Dengar, Rockhome: St. Moritz, Switzerland –18°C/0°F
to 18°C/65°F (alpine)

Ylaruam, Ylaruam: Damascus, Syria 0°C/33°F
to 37°C/98°F (arid)

Soderfjord-Norrvik, Northern Reaches: Riga, Latvia –8°C/18°F
to 22°C/71°F (humid continental)

Zeaburg, Ostland: Copenhagen, Denmark –2°C/28°F
to 20°C/69°F (marine west coast)

Freiburg, Heldannic Territories: Tartu, Estonia –10°C/13°F
to 22°C/71°F (humid continental)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Climate in Alphatia

While developing the realms of Alphatia, it seemed that a clear sense of relative weather conditions on the isle-continent was missing.  Having nearly completed the series on Foresthome, I felt I should take a break and focus on this topic.  Not being a scientist or even remotely acquainted with the mechanics of climatology, I relied on various Earth maps as rough guidelines.  Since Mystara is inspired from Earth’s prehistory, this approach seemed to make sense.  On the other hand, Mystara is a fantasy world, partly governed by magic and immortal fiat as the rationale for some of its improbable weather patterns.  Suggested climates may also reflect pre-existing designs rather than scientific logic.  This article isn’t meant to change any of the latter (at least substantially), neither is it the last word on the subject.  It remains open for debate, and its contents can (and probably will) be altered over time.

Earth Global Winds
Mystara’s prevailing wind directions match those on real Earth.  In the northern hemisphere between the equator and the northern tropic, trade winds blow toward the southwest.  North of the tropic, winds blow toward the northeast.  Along the equator and the 51st parallel (northern Europe), these winds pick up moisture, which generates more precipitation.  Along both tropics, however, dry air tends to keep the land below arid or semi-arid.  In the northern hemisphere, this is the latitude of the Yazak Steppes, Sind’s desert, the Emirates of Ylaruam, and the southern Isle of Dawn.  Alphatian winds blow predominantly toward the northeast.

The diagram below gives a general idea which way sea currents might be flowing.  Just north and south of the equator, waters are likely to move westward.  Mystara does not have an ocean equivalent to Earth’s Atlantic.  In its place lie a series of islands, including Alphatia, surrounded by relatively shallow seas.  The area around Alphatia still is befuddling as regards local sea currents.  The Coriolis effect that would normally cause warm waters to gyrate clockwise probably does not apply in this region.  Polar currents are likely flowing southward.  Warm equatorial currents are pushing northward.  The problem around Alphatia resides in three bottlenecks through which moving waters are channeled.

Jurassic sea currents
Following a pattern similar to real Earth, polar currents might flow down the east coast of Alphatia, reaching warmer waters south of Bellissaria.  On the other hand, currents also continue upward along its west coast, funneling slightly warmer waters.  Part of this flow finds its way around the Isle of Dawn’s northern tip, and south from there toward the Sea of Dread.  Currents around Alphatia are likely weak, except through bottlenecks such as Bellissaria’s Strait of Minaea, the Strait of Dawn around Greenspur, and the Strait of Helskir by the Isle of Dawn’s northern tip.

This contradicts a map published in the AC1010 Almanac, which shows a sea current heading north along the Isle of Dawn’s western coast.  This is debatable and I’m not sold on either version.  The trouble with a northward flow is that it seems to conflict with the Sea of Dread’s natural clockwise movement.  A southward flow looks equally strange, with a northbound current near Alphatia reversing itself to stream through the Strait of Helskir.  One may assume magic is somehow involved here—visions cross my mind of gargantuan koprus cursed for all eternity to flip their tails and fan sea currents. ::cringe::

Mystara winds sea currents map

A cold sea current affects Alphatia’s northeastern coast, while a relatively warmer one rounds its southwestern shores.  The expectation is that its oriental side would therefore be cooler.  A low pressure trough is likely to bulge deep from the north especially in the winter, inferring that much of Alphatia’s upper half would often be overcast during that season.  The far north would therefore be cool and moist, often foggy, as with real Earth’s northern Scotland.  The southern end, being very close to the 31st parallel, would be much drier.  The bottom edge of the map shown below is the 31st parallel (northern tropic) .

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Foresthome: The Marches of Ogresfell

Continued from the previous section.  Click HERE to go back.

Mystara Alphatia Foresthome Ogresfell map
Marches of Ogresfell, map scale: 8 miles per hex

For the longest time, this region between the Great Clans’ forest and the Realms of Ar and Frisland remained a dangerous wilderness claimed only by ogrish hordes living beneath the crags.  They once dwelled on the surface well before the founding of Ar and Foresthome.  In the face of Alphatian supremacy, the hordes retreated underground and reinforced vast networks of fortified lairs.  From there, they raided the land above until the jaws of Ar and Foresthome locked upon the last of the ogres’ ancestral lands.  Famine threatening, the hordes came out in vast numbers until their final defeat at the battle of Ogre Tusk.  The end of the ogrish peril came when Ar and Foresthome set aside their disputes and agreed to coordinate their efforts.  Ar held its ground and sent airships to rain a storm of magic upon their foes, while Foresthome’s warriors marched and struck the beasts like a hammer on an anvil.  Clans of every sort fought at the side of humans, combining their skills to decimate the hordes so thoroughly that the few survivors had no chance but to retreat once more to their caves.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Foresthome: The Barony of Shielldon

Continued from the previous section.  Click HERE to go back.

Mystara Alphatia Foresthome Shielldon map
Barony of Shielldon, map scale: 8 miles per hex

When Westford was elevated to the status of Duchy Palatinate, its duke took the opportunity to put in place a barony in its far northwestern possessions.  There were several reasons for the decision, the first being the existence of dominant clans of Hsiao rather than centaurkind.  Its main town, more than 200 miles from Haggleby, controlled a heavily-wooded region connecting with the remainder of the duchy through a vulnerable 20-mile-wide bottleneck along the Snake River.  Furthermore, with its location at the doorsteps of two foreign realms, Frisland and Blackheart—neither being genuinely friendly—Shielldon required strong local leadership that would be able to better focus on the area’s challenges and implement the duke’s authority.  The Hsiao agreed, and a cousin of the duke earned the title, duties, and responsibilities of baron.

This didn’t quite address all the duke’s concerns.  Although generally good natured, Hsiao (pronounced sh’HOW) aren’t the easiest creatures to govern.  Part of the problem is that missionaries of Elarion have done well among them, and as a result have become more able to influence their followers.  A cult of archons, avian-like Lawful immortals of whom one advocates woodland beings, has been very appealing to Hsiao.  In general, northern clans of Foresthome (including the fey-in-the-summer, phanatons, flitterlings, and sasquatches) have become somewhat partial to the Elarion aspect of Bettellyn’s philosophy.  Southern dominions have fared differently in this regard since they resent Bettellyn’s pressure and have fought against their neighbor on multiple occasions.  Consequently, southerners distrust anything from Bettellyn, especially undercover preachers.  When not disembarking at Orfil or Soctel, missionaries slip into the northern country from Frisland and Ar into Grünfold and Shielldon
respectively.  Meanwhile, Alphatian aristocracy grit their teeth at what they see as blatant sedition.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Foresthome: The Duchy of Westford

Continued from the previous section.  Click HERE to go back.

Mystara Alphatia Foresthome Westford map
Duchy Palatinate of Westford, map scale: 8 miles per hex

On the far side of Middle Weald lies a very large dominion and the old clan lands of centaurkind.  The past realm responsible for establishing towns like Shog (see County of Ashbury) relied on monsters and humanoid tribes inhabiting the territories west of the Snake River to help capture this region.  As a result, centaur clans were reduced to struggling enclaves or fled eastward into heavier forests.  The birth of Foresthome, a clan-friendly realm, sparked a “reconquest.”  An immense effort was made to expel the monsters and secure these western lands.  Nearly all of the forests that once covered the region had been felled and replaced with swaying grasslands.  It was a catastrophe for woodland beings, but centaurs accommodated themselves of the open plains so well that they became experts in cavalry tactics, something that the sylvan kingdom had lacked thus far.  There were many attacks and counter-attacks from both sides, their borders changing substantially over the years.  Scars remain with old battle sites like Crimson Hooves, Westford Banner, and Death Riders, bloody clashes heavy with magic cast in anger.  They are still haunted today, and spirits of the dead can often be seen there, forever fighting those battles.  Bones and implements of war survive in the grass, petrified by some unknown curse.  With a regular supply of troops from the County of Wessith, the fate of the hordes was sealed and they were finally beaten back across the river.