Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ar: Where Griffons Dare

Continued from "A Dream of Djinni."

Mystara Alphatia Ar Griffon Map
Lower Griffon District -- Map Scale: 8 Miles per Hex
This grand old district lies at the heart of the kingdom, on the west bank of Crystal Lake.  It was the original seat of Aran monarchy, dating back to the time of the Archmage Ar himself, until this first dynasty ended for lack of an heir.  An unfortunate punitive foray into ogre lands resulted in the sole successor passing away.  The last words of Dalberron the Skald tell the story:

“Out of the mist, one fateful winter dawn, the devourers appeared.  Filled with hatred and feral bloodlust, the deathly tide swarmed the village.  Not a soul among town and gown, neither cattle nor poultry, dog, cat, wall, or barrel were spared.  The demons fled as fast as they’d come, leaving death and desolation in their wake.  Good Prince Teliddes on his heavenly warship raced by the plume of smoke rising high, and bravely gave chase.  Standing at the prow, he motioned the Nashi and the Ostro to join the hunt.

“Together with the Shamal, they tore apart the fleeing mob, piercing ogrish flesh with heavy javelins or riving their bodies asunder with sizzling bolts.  Many a wondrous rod was depleted and replaced as the merciless punishment was wreaked upon the demons.  Despite their losses, there was always one to turn and stare defiantly at the prince while its brood sank deeper into the woods.  The game went on until their leader, a horrid giant covered in blood and dangling upon its misshapen body the severed heads of once-fair maidens, stood its ground and challenged the prince.  It was then, when Aran justice at last was dispensed high from the Shamal’s deck, that the unthinkable happened.  A powerful device, hot with wokani magic, shot a mighty harpoon from the mouth of the demons’ hideout.  It was a trap.

“The weapon struck the Shamal’s underside, its wicked barbs jamming hard in the planking.  A solid line fastened to the iron shaft was anchored to great boulders, forbidding escape.  Instead, two, nay, three more harpoons struck the Shamal, and a gut-wrenching sound of winches followed while the prince’s vessel was reeled ever lower.  The Nashi and Ostro swooped down to bring help, but the veil masking the true nature of the trap dropped and revealed the beasts’ final scheme.  Foliage suddenly pulled from the surrounding woods, bared enormous catapults, and on them, ogres bearing armor of steel, grappling hooks, and monstrous cleavers.  All at once, the siege machines released their deadly loads.  As they landed upon the three ships, the demons stuck their hooks through the gunwales and dropped ropes for their brethren to climb.  Though these champions all fell in their mission to protect the iron claws, the clamoring throngs overwhelmed the crew by the sheer force of numbers.

“I now end this story and send a plea for help through my enchanted scroll, but I fear that none of us shall live through this battle.  The prince has already been taken.  I now stand alone at the stern.  They are coming.”

Forewarned of the ruse, subsequent airborne missions changed their combat tactics when fighting ogres.  The three burned-out wrecks of the stricken skyships were found a day later, along with the destroyed remains of the siege machines.  Adventurers sent into the lair determined that its occupants had withdrawn, taking with them their treasures and possibly Good Prince Teliddes.  The ogres had held a victory feast and left such a heap of gnawed-upon bones that no one could tell beast from man, let alone those of the monarch’s son.  Stricken with grief, the old king died within a fortnight.  So deep was his sorrow that none could revive him.

Mystara Alphatia Ar Heraldry
Thus did the crown of Ar pass to Lord Damyon, the First Vizier to the late king and the power behind the waning royal house.  Token vengeance was exacted upon the ogres to please the aristocracy.  Most of the nobles fell in line, except for a faction rejecting his authority.  It seemed their motivation might have been linked to a dispute between shareholders of a nearby Cloudstone mine—the only one in Ar at that time.  They broke from the kingdom and established the Principality of Arreghi around its fortified town.  Of comparable strength, the two factions began a long standoff, resulting in the mine falling eerily silent.  It was during these unrestful times that the kingdom grew to include new dominions in the northwest.

Lord Damyon died soon afterward, when he choked on a piece of pickled flying-fish stick.  Oddly, no one sought to revive him.  After a speedy burial, leading aristocrats selected a new ruler who was halfway acceptable to all and twice so to themselves.  The crown went to the House of Qimeth which resulted in the old capital moving from Ceafem to Skyreach.  The new royal demesne chose Chimera as its name and symbol, while the appointed viceroy of the former dynasty’s lands raised the Banner of the Griffon.  In view of the change, Arreghi rejoined the realm as a district, with Hippogriff as its name and symbol.  At long last, mining resumed for the relief of all concerned.  The Qimeth dynasty, dubbed after its first inheritor, has ruled Ar since then.  Its present monarch, King Qissling, is the last of this line.

Griffon hasn’t lost much of its former prestige or wealth.  Ceafem is an important urban center, and it still possesses all the trappings of its former royal status.  It is the only district to include two key towns, Ceafem and Reer.  The latter town, a bustling commercial center, has outgrown the sleepy old capital.  Upper and Lower Griffon now claim more than 121,000 souls, the vast majority farmers and common folk.  Slightly more than 16,000 live in towns above and below.  In total, more than 7,600 people inhabit Griffon Prime and the other four floating islands.  Forces on the land and in the sky account for nearly 1,400 of the overall population.  Griffon boasts ten skyships, including six small vessels (H.H.M.S. Zephyrean, Gilavar, Vardar, Halny, Vendavel, and Zonda), three large ones (Prince Teliddes, House of Ar, House of Qimeth), and one troop transport, the Spirit of Shamal.

The skyborne dominion consists of five islands, ranging progressively from 4,500 ft to about 5,100 ft altitude (approx. 1,400-1,500 meters).  Prime is the largest island in Ar and the best known, bearing the small town of Empyrion, two gambling resorts, hills, plains, forests, and a small river cascading in multiple waterfalls from the edge.  More uniquely, it boasts a paved road connecting with Griffon-III and Skybridge District.  Bridges hang from chains fastened to levitating spheres, and are flexible enough to allow for the islands’ slow bobbing and weaving.  Positional anchors prevent the spheres from drifting with the wind.  Enchanted lamp posts line the road along its entire length. Compared with conditions prevailing at the level of Crystal Lake, insular temperatures drop 17°F to 25°F (9°C to 14°C) as altitude increases, even more if one climbs mountains topping Griffon-III and –IV.  The latter reach another 20,000 ft high (about 6,000 meters).  Before saying more about Prime, minor islands are summarized below.

Mystara Alphatia Ar Griffon Map
Upper Griffon District -- Map Scale: 8 Miles per Hex
Griffon-II: this island, about 30 miles long and 18 miles across at its widest point, offers a gentle wilderness with manor houses scattered between lightly forested expanses.  From a real-estate point of view, local properties fetch moderate prices.  Abodes near the southeastern cape are actually available to land-dwelling gentry wishing easy and affordable access to the wonders of Griffon Prime without the exorbitant price ranges prevailing there.  Residence in these very small domains can be purchased through an arrangement by which joint owners share time slots.  They all feature small skyships suitable for a family of moderate size and capable of reaching the Skydome resort in less than an hour, at 35 Aran knots (31/3 leagues per hour).

Griffon-III & -IV: they feature high mountains with towering peaks, perilous precipices, and narrow rocky valleys.  Part of the road on Griffon-III goes through vertiginous viaducts and tunnels dug through the island’s rocky face.  Pressurized towers and underground lairs can be found at various altitudes, usually far apart from each other.  Many are home to griffon ranches.  The creatures are tamed at birth and made to serve whomever purchased their eggs.  Griffons are wild creatures at heart, and interacting with them bears certain risks inherent to their temperament.  By law, purchased griffons must be registered, and their operation requires both recurrent training and renewable licenses.  Screening is routinely performed by the Celestial Bureau for both owners and their beasts to ensure their characters are compatible, and that griffons aren’t abused, used without permit, employed in unlawful endeavors, lost, stolen, turned loose, sold illegally, or otherwise smuggled in or out of Ar.  Finally, any droppings upon public places are subject to fines, public service, and/or confiscation in the case of recidivism.  This legislation is in force, urbi et orbi, thus throughout the Kingdom of Ar and Floating Ar if not beyond, if such can be enforced there.  Cultural taboos forbid using griffons for military purposes other than personal transportation.  This Alphatian atavism contributes to the dislike of all things Thyatian, considering their despicable Retebius Air Fleet.  “By the Ears of Ar, proper wizards fly or use skyships—not petty, temperamental beasts!”

Griffon-V: the fifth island consists of heavily-forested hills for more privacy.  It is peculiar in that its access remains entirely restricted.  Hidden in the woods and below ground are a number of abodes used specifically for high-level spell research on behalf of the monarchy.  Each residence houses the leading mage, wizardly assistants, common laborers, and everyone’s immediate families.  Constructs guard the manor houses and patrol the woods.  Other activities include monster research or the manufacturing and storage of enchanted rods for Ar’s boltmen.  The H.H.M.S. Zonda is typically assigned to watch this sector.  This skyship operates from a levitating monolith stationed 3,000 ft above the island.  It acts as a halfway stop where all incoming or outgoing vessels are inspected.  A magical barrier around the island negates teleportation in or out.  It may be switched into a solid force field from the fortified monolith above.

Prior to its present size and shape, a number of smaller islands populated the sky above Griffon.  The town of Empyrion did not yet exist at the time of the Ceafem-based monarchy.  When other mines were excavated elsewhere in Ar, existing islands slowly combined to form Griffon Prime.  This process ended after the Qimeth Dynasty began its rule.  A few more floating islands were created nearby, the last one being Griffon-V.  But with the majority of Cloudstones already extracted, the pace at which new monoliths were released has been slowing.  Current proprietors were owners of these former islands, most of whom now reside in Empyrion or in huge estates scattered across Griffon Prime.  The latter can cover 30,000 acre
s each (120 Km2), or about 23 such domains for the whole of the island, not including the vicinities of Empyrion and the two gambling resorts.

Empyrion: The town rests on the gentle slope of a rocky promontory ending at a cliff.  A white wall topped with an elegant promenade edges the precipice.  In winter, children use its smooth and well-protected walkways for sledding.  The viceroy’s palace sits on the highest spot, overlooking a valley and the Griffon River extending northward.  The western branch of the Griffon falls through a huge chasm and then into open air.  Within four to six miles, grassy hills ring the Empyrion on all other sides.  Griffon's capital is the typical sort of Upper-Ar wizardly town celebrating beauty and peace.  Its architectural style involves straight lines, with heavy rustication and stately columns.  Colors are very pale, powdery blue, green, pink, or yellow, with white or ochre accents.  Roofs are typically light gray, occasionally with golden cupolas and pointy spires.  Animated bas-reliefs depict scenes of historical relevance.  They react to the presence of live visitors, and to a certain degree may communicate silently with gestures, such as pointing someone in the right direction (intelligence score: 1d4+3).  They can read as well as demonstrate a modicum of emotions and good manners.

Empyrion is a town of 2,830 inhabitants, about a mile and a half across (2.4 Km).  Assuming average households of seven aristocrats, each with a staff of forty to fifty and commensurate facilities to house them, there would be about forty-nine manor houses in the town, plus structures for municipal administration, entertainment, hospitality, education, faith, and general logistics.  Everything else remains in Ceafem, especially shops, workshops, and main warehouses.  Horses and carriages are permitted throughout Griffon District.  Typical domestic staff is listed below with usual yearly wages.

"House" Staff (live downstairs or below ground)
House Steward
110 gp
Handles purchasing, hiring, firing, disbursing servants salaries. This is a educated freeman rather than a servant. Could also work as a secretary to the master of the house.
60 gp
Runs all domestic staff in the house.
50 gp
Directs female staff, and handles issues regarding the house’s furnishings.
30 gp
In charge of the kitchen and its staff.
Lady’s Maid or Master’s Valet
30 gp
Private servants of the lady or master of the house.
First Footman
25 gp
Assists the Butler; must be tall and dashing to make the household look good.
Second Footman
20 gp
Assists the First Footman. Both get a 5 gp bonus if they look like twins.
100 gp
Provides education to the children of the house. Salary is ten times higher if basic magical apprenticeship is included.
25 gp
A member of gentry forced to rely on employment to survive. Generally oversees teenage ladies in the household.
Head Nurse
25 gp
In charge of nurses watching over small children.
20 gp
Wait on tables, open doors, assist residents in all ways possible.
Chamber Maids
20 gp
Keep bed chambers tidy.
Parlor Maids
20 gp
Keep all other rooms clean.
House Maids
16 gp
General purpose laborers.
Between Maids
15 gp
Work as needed in the house or at the kitchen.
15 gp
Watch over young children.
Under Cook
15 gp
Cook’s apprentice; prepares meals for the staff.
Kitchen Maids
15 gp
Assist the Cook.
Scullery Maids
13 gp
Wash dishes.
Laundry Maids
13 gp
Wash and iron clothes.
13 gp
Apprentice Footman.
"Out of House" Staff (separate dwellings on estate grounds)
Land Steward
300 gp
Manages farms on the lowland and collects rents. As an educated freeman, lives in a separate dwelling on the estate’s grounds.
Stable Master
50 gp
Runs the stables. Wages can be ten times higher if any monsters (such as griffons) or unusual beasts are part of the stable
15 gp
Care for mounts and saddles
Stable boys
12 gp
Clean the stables
20 gp
Drives the household’s carriage. If a magical device is involved, double the wages.
Head Gardener
120 gp
Manages the manor’s grounds and their appearance.
Game Keeper
50 gp
Ensures that birds and fish are plentiful on the estate for hunting and fishing. Wages fetch ten times as much if monsters or unusual beasts roam the grounds.
Master of the Hounds
50 gp
Responsible for hunting events. Can receive wages ten times higher if monsters or unusual beasts are involved.
Grounds Keepers
16 gp
Assist the head gardener, planting trees, cutting grass, etc.
Caretaker, Handyman
12 gp
Makes minor repairs around the house; lives/works in a workshop by a shed.
Gate Keeper
10 gp
Guards the estate’s entrance; lives in a small house by the gate.
Skyship Captain
400 gp
Commands the household’s private yacht; lives in a stand-alone residence.
Skyship First Officer
100 gp
Assists the Captain; lives in a stand-alone residence.
Junior Officers
50 gp
Assist Senior Officers; live on the yacht.
Petty Officers
20 gp
Man the vessel; live on the yacht.
Common Crew
15 gp
"Part of the crew, part of the ship. . ."

Downtown Empyrion estates typically cover about 10 acres, including gardens with surrounding walls, fences, and gates, or areas equivalent to 800’x800’ blocks (or about 240x240 meters).  Main buildings are at most 500’x200’, multileveled, and possibly featuring additional wings or separate structures.  Forty-nine such domains cover about half of Empyrion.  Streets, public squares, the viceroy’s extensive palace grounds, a public airfield, abodes of minor gentry, and other town facilities take up the rest.

Skydome: it is one of two gambling resorts on Griffon Prime.  As others elsewhere in Ar, this resort benefits from a protective force field.  It blends together steel and stone, reflecting a more daring, avant-garde Alphatian architecture.  Aside from traditional games of chance, Skydome hosts über-popular regional “hard-ball” games, such as the ones played in Sundsvall (or Ampulia, its urban alter-ego).  Its stadium can seat up to 10,000 eager spectators.  Weekly games of the Aran League involve teams owned by the wealthier aristocrats.  During the right seasons or the right years, competitions include the Empire Cup, the Pan-Alphatian Tournament, or the Crown Championship.

Wagering is fast and furious, involving all possible aspects of the game’s performance as well as victory or defeat.  Losing a wager entails anything from revealing a unique spell, handing over money or property, or (more commonly than one might imagine) having to do something quite silly and in plain view of all.  Since beverages are permitted during the events, the atmosphere remains exceedingly jocular.  Teams sport the most garish colors one could imagine and bear names related to their mascots or their origins.  Blimps flashing messages supporting teams fly lazily overhead, adding to the traffic jams of skyships full of spectators.  Others loiter in the area before games, allowing “sterngate parties” on deck where brats and good spirits are the norm (the latter either demonstrated or imbibed with reckless abandon).

The top team in the Aran League is the Ailpon Drillers, a team drawn from Cloudstone mine workers.  In the Imperial League, the best hard-ball team lines up elven athletes from the Shire-Lawr, absolutely deadly accurate and well rehearsed.  Stoutfellow is hot on their heels, sparking a fierce rivalry between the two teams.  Games showcasing the Sundsvall Imperials, the Trollhattan Trotters, or the Eadrin Shadows are always popular. . . and routinely over-sold.

Glittergold:  built with the same general aspirations as neighboring Skydome, this resort provides a totally different feel.  Slender towers and alleys of brass adorned with artful silver motifs, mirrors galore, arcane halos on all things, and impalpable golden glitter suspended in mid-air give the estate a heavenly atmosphere.  Imaginary fireworks visible from as far away as Empyrion grace the nocturnal skies.  Much of this relies on fancy illusions rather than precious metals or chemicals of any sort.

Aside from its striking appearance, Glittergold is best known for its mysterious Dungeon of Dread.  It is a sort of arena, although spectators observe from the privacy of their chambers using three-dimensional projections issued from a network of specially-enchanted crystal balls.  The action takes place inside a large cubic space where illusions generate monsters, obstacles, tricks, riddles, and traps, each one more wondrous than the next.  Relying on their imagination, cash bets, dice-rolling, and popular votes, spectators determine the nature of the encounters.  Competitors, young aristocrats in search of strong emotions and adventure, must complete a maze-like circuit and exit the Dungeon of Dread without being eliminated.  If successful, the competitor collects part of the monies paid by the spectators, and a great deal of prestige.  The instigator of the winning trick otherwise collects the prize.  There is quite a bit of pride in “surviving” the maze, and famous champions wield an enormous amount of esteem among their social peers, as top gladiators once did in real-Earth ancient Rome.

Spell-use is a key component in a “dungeon crawl.”  In reality, none of these spells actually work there, but illusions are programmed to respond to the choice of magic or to a physical course of action.  As competitors become more skilled in the game, difficulty increases accordingly.  Lower levels are entirely inoffensive to participants.  Higher level games attract the greatest crowds and yield even more prestige (and profit).  They involve a certain physical risk, and some unfortunate participants have died or were grievously injured.  The danger is well understood and accepted by all.  Competitors who perform with panache, as actors would on a theatrical stage, draw throngs of young, screaming aristocratic fans.  Even for passive spectators, the spectacle is well worth the visit.

Some of the magical items in this section are listed in the Encyclopedia Magica Vol. I-IV or in AC 4 Book of Marvelous Magic.  Those marked with an asterisk are explained in the text below.

Her Highness Aerielle, Viceroy of Griffon

Mystara Alphatia Ar Heraldry
Aerielle, a native of Griffon-III, spent much of her adult life in the service of King Qissling in Skyreach.  After demonstrating the soundness of her magical skills, she was appointed Viceroy of Griffon a few years ago, after its previous administrator passed away.  A few months later, a security breach on Griffon-V came to her attention.  A creature resulting from magical experiments escaped the floating island.  Following investigative reports, she began suspecting that the creature was linked to a series of odd murders in the district.  She endeavored since then to have news of the situation suppressed to avoid panic among lowlanders.  She also became concerned about the king’s response if he found out because of her responsibility to oversee Griffon-V.  She did, however, have the magical laboratory connected to the creature shut down and its wizards dismissed.  Aerielle is also connected with Griffonese aristocrats scheming to return the crown to Ceafem.  Since Quissling does not have an heir at this time, these nobles are quietly recruiting supporters to take action when their monarch passes away.  In preparation for a possible clash, Aerielle’s had part of the boltmen’s rods produced on Griffon-V relocated to one of her cronies’ manor houses outside Empyrion.

Appearance:  in her late 40s, Aerielle’s conformation belies her name.  She is large-boned, strong, and hard-footed.  Long blond hair, which she keeps braided in whorls on her head, makes her all the more conspicuous.  Rounded cheekbones, a snub nose, and a wide forehead do not make her pretty; instead, a sense of authority gives her unmistakable charisma.  Her eyes are deep turquoise, and never still.  She wears the Gown of Hearing at all times, its silky bright turquoise surface marked by multiple intersecting ripples as if someone tossed pebbles into a quiet lake.  Aerielle also habitually carries the Staff of Earsplitting, or has it within reach.  It is six feet high, made of pale willow withes twisted together, and terminates in a globe of perforated black metal.

M17, AC0, hp31, MV 120’(40’), AT 1 staff, Dmg 1d6+3 or by spell, Save M17, ML8, AL C; St14, In17, Wi12, Dx14, Co12, Ch13.  Magical Items: gown of hearing*, +2 staff of earsplitting*, +2 ring of protection, earrings of safeguard vs. clairaudience/clairvoyance (negate either powers).

Gown of Hearing: this magical garment confer upon the owner AC4 and two other special powers upon command.  Once a day, the first power enables Aerielle to eavesdrop on a conversation taking place at least partially within sight, regardless of ambient noise or of whether words are whispered.  The second power is permanent and enables the viceroy to become aware of instances when her name is spoken and by whom (no other information is revealed, such as who else was involved in the conversation, what was said, or the location).  The latter power only concerns those on whom Aerielle already eavesdropped.  The gown can monitor up to 6 people, discarding the least recent targets as more are added.  A successful dispel magic negates either powers.

Staff of Earsplitting: with a successful attack, this +2 magical weapon enables Aerielle to inflict upon a foe extreme sensitivity to loud noises.  A saving throw vs. spell negates the effect.  A small voice utters the words: “Can you hear me now?” anytime Aerielle smites a foe with her staff.  Loud sounds, such a someone striking a person or an object, a roar, a door slamming, etc, causes 1d4 points of damage to the affected victims (up to a maximum of 3d4 per round).  Damage can be reduced to a single point when holding both hands against one’s ears.  Beings who are deaf, devoid of hearing organs, or within a magically silenced area are immune.  The effect lasts for another 1d4 hours after Aerielle takes her leave.  If a thief is affected, hear noise checks increase halfway up from the present score to 100% as long as the immediate area remains silent.

Master Trevon, Hardball Champion at Large

Unbeknownst to all who know him, Trevon was born in a wizard’s beaker as the result of an attempt to create an improved soldier for the Aran military.  Although human in appearance and quite handsome, he is a monster that escaped Griffon-V one stormy winter morning.  Not only was Trevon immune to mind-control from the start, but his improvement powers did not “switch off” as expected after the initial indoctrination period.  His abilities enable Trevon to drain the quintessence of his victims when they are unconscious (no save).  This power requires victims with at least half as much experience levels as Trevon has HD.  The entire draining process takes 1 round per level or HD of the victim and, when complete, randomly provides one of the elements listed below.  Some of hem reflect the victim's prior knowledge or skills:

+1 to an ability score (taken from the victim’s best score)
+1 HD
a new spell or weapon proficiency
a non-weapon proficiency
A single class-related ability, or a +10% bonus to such
d% of the victim’s entire life memories, starting from the most recent ones (these memories do not include spells or class abilities)
+1d4% magic resistance

Victims die and dry out like mummies at the end of the process.  If revived, their memories of what happened to them remain permanently erased.  Victims are also diminished, according to what Trevon took from them.  If memory was stolen, that portion of the victim’s life remains void, denying all experience levels gained during the affected period.  All losses can be restored with a wish spell after the beast is killed.

When Trevon escaped from Griffon-V, his facial features weren’t yet formed.  His present appearance developed within the next several months while he hid in the marshes outside Reer, feeding on muck and vermin.  His later wanderings took him to Ailpon where he found employment at the nearby Cloudstone mine.  His abilities enabled him to secure his place among the Ailpon Drillers hard-ball team.  He now travels Ar and sometimes Alphatia with his team, taking opportunities to quench his burning thirst in various cities.  Trevon is now a star player in the Aran League.  Some trainers in the Imperial League already covet his amazingly fast-growing skills.  His present manager would go to great lengths to protect his star player if he suspected Trevon was “in some kind of trouble.”

The Viceroy of Griffon District, Her Highness Aerielle, dispatched investigators and bounty-hunting adventurers to track the creature, without revealing its origins or its appearance.  She suspects someone in the hard-ball team (or its traveling supporters) to be involved with the killings.  Her henchmen are now watching the players.  Trevon is aware of this surveillance and has begun burning the mummified remains of his victims.  He also learned that the viceroy was looking for him well before he found employment at the mine, when he ambushed and killed a bounty-hunter trailing him.  It is unknown at this time how much further Trevon’s abilities may grow or how long he may live.

Appearance:  seven feet tall, athletic, perfectly proportioned with wide shoulders and a narrow waist, Trevon appears to be in his early 20’s.  Wavy medium brown hair with gold highlights tops his handsome, tanned triangular face.  His wide mouth often shows a winsome grin, and his green eyes sparkle with good humor.  The brown leather Bracers of Defense buckle on mainly during games, along with a body-hugging padded cloth uniform in team colors of brilliant red, white, and blue.  Trevon’s cleated hard-ball shoes complete his sports attire.  During time off the pitch, he affects rich colors for shirt, jerkin, and trews, finished by a swirling deep gold cape.  A wide silver and jeweled belt buckle helps assert his reputation as the star of his team.

HD15, AC-1, hp92, MV 150’(50’), AT 2 fists, Dmg 1d6+6/1d6+6 or by spell, Save F15, ML11, AL C; MR 12%, St20, In17, Wi14, Dx21, Co19, Ch18.  Regarding inhuman ability scores, see Codex of the Immortals, pages 52-53 (bonuses apply as listed).  Magical Items: AC3 bracers of defense, +2 hard-ball gauntlets and bootsSpecial Attacks: when fist-fighting, “killed” victims are knocked out instead; smash (fighter combat option); drain quintessence (once per moon cycle).  Special Defenses: immune to poison, drugs, and mind-affecting powers.  Trevon may cast any spell he learned from past victims as a magic-user with an experience level matching his own HD.  Class-Related Abilities: as required by a DM, including a few thief abilities.  Clerical abilities cannot be taken because they are provided by a patron Immortal.  Many monster abilities cannot be taken either, especially if they reflect a certain morphology (wings, dragons breath, etc.)

Hard-Ball Gauntlets & Boots: this leather gear gives an additional +2 (or +10%) bonus to intercept/throw/kick*/punt*/drop-kick* hard-ball-sized items, as well as tackling, wrestling, and punching.  They are equivalent to +2 magical weapons as regards Trevon’s ability to hit magical monsters.  (* Bonuses specific to the boots.)  Hard-ball is a non-weapon proficiency based on Dexterity, except for tackling, wrestling, and punching, which are Strength-based.

Prince Theslan (a. k. a. The Great Theslan), Most Valuable Dungeonmaster, Current holder of the Tour of Alphatia Trophy

Mystara Alphatia Ar Heraldry
This young elf, the son of the Sky Lord of Griffon-IV, is a dashing adventurer.  He became famous as a survival virtuoso in the Dungeon of Dread at Glittergold.  His irresistible charm and stardom earned him throngs of adoring fans, a majority of young screaming ladies chasing him everywhere he appears for autographs, a lock of hair, or better yet, a place in his heart.  As he discovered to his horror, there are few things in life worse than a rabid pack of magically-endowed, obsessed juveniles.  Naturally, his dungeon crawls are highly sought after and advertised throughout the kingdom, on animated billboards, enchanted daily gazetteers, on fine porcelain mugs, flashing on the sides of skyships, and even as living embroideries on blouses and capes.  Theslan became a household figure and valuable asset for the House of Glittergold.

The prince has been gradually removing himself from the limelight for this reason, and also because the Dungeon of Dread no longer offers the sort of strong emotions that attracted him there in the first place.  Instead, he now seeks true adventuring, either in the service of the viceroy or to help out someone in distress.  The prince also enjoys skyship regattas, especially the sort that involve cross-continental journeys fraught with dangers and unexpected mishaps.  He’s already won several great races to and from Skothar, Davania, and Sind, and the prestigious Tour of Alphatia.  Fluent in griffon-speak since his childhood on his father’s ranch, he’s also become an ace griffon-rider in competition.  Out-paladining paladins, Theslan is the sort of unsinkable good-hearted hero who almost always comes out clean of whatever muck surrounds him (literally and figuratively), partly the result of an enchantment bestowed upon him at birth.

Appearance:  At the peak of his prowess, Theslan is tall (for an elf) and ruggedly handsome, having shining bright blue eyes and blue-black curly hair.  A fleeting glint on perfect teeth always accompanies his brilliant smile.  He loves the limelight, except occasionally when his public gets too insistent. His white pleated, open front, suede jerkin reveals the Chainmail of Silverness covering his snowy shirt.  Knee boots and white leather leggings complete his habitual attire.  A specially-designed harness rides his back, carrying his bow, arrows, and sword;  these are never far from his dextrous hands.  The elven dagger hangs in a silver-embossed sheath from his belt.  He never goes anywhere without his white archer’s plumed cap, and for good reason.  Theslan does everything with such grace, verve, and light-hearted determination that even his enemies, should he have any, adore him.

E10 (Rank E, or a 12th level elven F/MU with the AD&D Game), AC0, hp33, MV 120’(40’), AT 1 sword or bow, Dmg 1d8+3, or 1d6+2, or by spell, Save E10, ML11, AL L; St14, In16, Wi14, Dx17, Co11, Ch18.  Magical Items: +3 elven chainmail of silverness*, +2 sword and long bow of showmanship*, arrows of faerie fire (6), elven dagger, and a hat of survival (similar to a cloak of survival).

Chainmail of Silverness: it is equivalent to a +3 elven chainmail with additional powers.  Under normal light, let alone in full sunlight, this armor scintillates, giving Theslan a fabulous demeanor.  It confers to his foes a –1 penalty on attack rolls, AC, and saving throws.  Its also gives Theslan a permanent protection from evil, and prevents small pests, creepy-crawlies, creatures less than ½ HD, and
all monsters hit only by silver from touching him.

Sword and Bow of Showmanship: they enable the prince to strike foes in most spectacular ways, at least from a visual sense.  The weapons are immune to fumbles, and unmodified damage scores of “1’s” are always rerolled.  When foes are defeated (whether real or illusory) they expire in the most theatrical manner possible, provoking "ooh's" and "aah's" from delighted spectators.

Special thanks to Janet Deaver-Pack for character appearances and editorial support.

To be continued.


  1. Bruce (and Janet!), I'm really enjoying all the work you've been doing here detailing the new-and-improved Alphatia. But I'm curious, why Alphatia?

    I came across a response you offered to Thorf during a back-and-forth about mapping on the 22-May-2013 "To Boldly Go..." post:
    [Thorf] You do realise that starting on this tiny corner of the huge Alphatian continent means everyone will expect you to continue on from there?
    [Bruce] Yes, it was my intention to revist all these areas devoid of interesting map detail, such as Alphatia, Bellissaria, and the Alphatian Islands.

    Wonderful! Exciting! But why Alphatia (as opposed to, say, developing more of Western Brun, or deeper into Davania starting from the Hinterlands)? And where else have might you a mind to revisit (in the course of adequate time, obviously)?

    1. Hi David.

      I'm glad you're having such fun with this stuff. There are several valid answers to your question:

      1. Why Not
      2. Alphatia hadn't received the level of detail that other Gazetteers provided to Known World realms.
      3. It's a "giant Glantri" and everyone knows how much fun I had writing about the principalities.

      Northern Davania, Sind, and Hule stand as potential areas of future interest. I want to finish mainland Alphatia (at least that) before looking west again. There's also Alphatia's underworld, which is an entire subject on its own.

    2. There's also an idea I came up with a few months ago about continents appearing/disappearing from the ocean between Skothar and western Brun. I would make that a Mystara-Asia setting. Since there isn't enough space on Mystara to actually fit a whole-Asian-style continent, the "Brigadoon" concept should work.

    3. MysTara-Kur? Love it.

      I do recall reading on the Piazza some discussions on the subject. My preference is to fill the needs-to-be-much-bigger Farend Ocean with archipelagos and micro-contents that stick around and serve as forgotten/undiscovered/mythic lands, at least from the perspective of Known Worlders. But I won't say no to new settings that I don't have to design. :)

    4. An Asian Concept? interesting. I think however that that easily would fit on the Continent of Skothar (especially the Southern parts).
      Otherwise I'would place them in the Hollow World on one of the larger remaining undescribed continents.


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