Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Ar: His Heavenly Majesty's Boltmen

Updated from the original version in Champions of Mystara

Chief Boltman
Armor Class
Hit Dice
MU1 or E1
MU3+ or E3+
120' (40')
120' (40’)
No. of Attacks
1 wand
    1 wand     or spell
      8d6 or       by spell
No. Appearing
1 squad (1d6+6)
Save as
MU1 or E1
Per class level
XP Value

The Imperial Alphatian navy and fighting skyships of Ar commonly use troops armed with wands of lightning bolts. Reliance on boltmen elsewhere in Alphatia varies with individual kingdoms. Differences may exist between imperial and provincial boltmen, depending on local culture and traditions. These experienced troops are well trained in the arts of aiming and discharging such weapons, and they understand limitations and risks involved with such magic. They neither use it inconsiderately nor without orders.

The wands typically contain six charges each and can be recharged, normally by a navy magist after a battle. If a warship hasn't engaged in battle for several days, it is likely that the boltmen's wands are fully recharged as per navy regulations.

Mystara Alphatia Ar Skyfleet Heraldry
Boltmen are usually 1st-level magic-users or elves. In the Imperial Skyfleet each wears knee-high hoots, white knickerbockers, a laced shirt, a blue padded jacket with epaulets, and a black velvet cloak. In Ar’s skyfleet jackets are red, and rods are slowly replacing wands. Rods are harder to conceal, come with a leather lanyard to secure them around their boltmen’s wrists, and can be used as clubs when depleted. Boltmen wear leather headgear and carry equipment on their belts in leather cases. Their equipment normally includes a wand (or a rod), one or two daggers, a score of darts, food, and other minor field equipment (rope, hooks, spade, bandages, waterskin, torches, etc.). Aran skyship crews all wear magical rings of air pressure. This equipment, not always available on other Alphatian skyships, enables them to operate at high altitude.

Chief Boltmen (Chief Petty Officer rank): these higher-level spell-casters use wands with more charges and causing more damage than regular boltmen's wands. Chief Boltmen wear magical headgear made of very thin metal over leather. This does not provide magical protection, except perhaps from sun, but does provide magical protection granting a +2 saving throw against any magical attack.

Chief Boltmen command boltman squads. They report to the Chief of the Guard on their ship. Boltman have different command words to activate their weapons and have sworn never to reveal them. However, many boltmen who have fought together know each other's magical words. Chief Boltmen ensure that these words get changed, especially after a major battle. In addition to the Ordinary Boltmen, there are Able-Bodied Boltmen (MU2 or E2) and Lead Boltmen (also known as 1st Class Boltmen, MU3 or E3, but not yet qualified for NCO status).

In addition to boltmen, squads may rely on various specialized troops. They have the same game statistics as those of the standard boltmen but use different magical items. Dispel Wardens use wands with six charges of dispel magic. Protection Wardens use
wands with six charges of protection from normal missiles. Light marines use wands with 20 charges of magic missiles (1d6 damage/shot). Heavy marines are not commonly seen: these are low-level fighters, complete with chain or plate armor and bastard swords. Heavy marines are used only during large-scale battles, usually on imperial vessels.

Although enlisted personnel, boltmen are paid better and have a few more liberties than non-spellcasting crew members.


  1. I'm really enjoying your Ar articles. You're doing an excellent job of bringing the maps to life.

    Talking of which, it's amazing how much you have created in the past year. Alphatia is a large area, and putting it all together I see that there are just four districts to go - Frisland, Blackheart, Shiye Lawr and the Imperial Territories. It's getting to the stage that you've covered more territory at 8 miles per hex in your new maps than you gave us back in the 80s and 90s!

    I can't begin to tell you how exciting this whole project is. And I can't wait to see what you have in store.

  2. Thanks, Thorf. There's also Qeodhar and Yannivey, but that's not part of the mainland area. :-)

    Ar is benefiting from an awful lot of time and attention from me. I'm not sure I'd want to do the same for every realm (some DMs might object to excessive amount of detail). I definitely want to revisit some of the earlier entries, at the very least to fix mapping issues and give them a little more color/substance. After I get past Ar at long last, I'll set sail toward Ambur first, Frisland next. After that... who knows: bouncing around between eastern coastal realms and Imperial Territories, Blackheart, and Shyie Lawr might be in line for the final stretch. Oh yeah, and what about the underworld? I touched upon that part with Rockhome. There's plenty to go around still left on the table.

  3. If we're talking about places still to detail - oh yes, there are many left that I'd love to see you do an article on!

    At the top of my personal wishlist would be the following areas:

    Heldann - this is paradoxically the region you have developed the most, and at the same time the least. You took the Heldann Freeholds and gave them a huge amount of character, turning them into the Heldannic Territories and creating the Heldannic Knights. You even gave us articles about them about 15 years ago on the MML. But there is still no map! (You can tell where my priorities lie. ;-)

    Rockhome - after seeing how you detailed the Stoutfellow underworld, I would absolutely love to see you do the same thing for Rockhome, the only predominantly underground setting in the Known World that never got its own map.

    Wendar - this is another one you gave us a little about on the MML, but of course there was never a map. We actually did some development of this ourselves, and I created a map to go with it, but I was never entirely happy with it. I guess for me it just didn't have enough Bruce Heard in it. I'd love to see you give it your touch.

    Sind - another one I've created a map for, but it's somewhat sparse. My map incorporates all the official info I could find from your article in Dragon and from Champions of Mystara, so it would be a great base if you feel like doing a map at any time.

    Hule - this one is the really big mystery region of Mystara. For more than 20 years I have wanted to see your take on it, after its major villain role in the Princess Ark series and being touched on enigmatically in other sources too.

    Those would be my top choices. After that, the following areas would be nice, although far less important than the previous list:

    Isle of Dawn - it's already partially done in 8 miles per hex. Adding a little more would allow the Alphatia maps to be joined up with the Known World. And of course it would also be cool to have just for the sake of having it, since it's quite an important (and adventurable) area.

    Great Waste - purely for the purpose of linking up existing 8 mile per hex maps, a lot of people request this one. It would be quite vast, but also require some effort to make it more than just a big boring old desert. (Or not - perhaps a big boring old desert is just fine.)

    Bellissaria, Esterhold - these regions exist only at the rather featureless 72 miles per hex scale. It would be nice to have them at 24 miles per hex, although 8 miles per hex might be overkill - at least until other more interesting areas have been seen to.

    Anyhow, these are just my personal wish list. I understand you have some sort of master plan for Mystara, and frankly I will be happy with whatever you decide to do. :-D

    1. Wow, that's a heck of a list! :-)

      When I'm done with Alphatia, these all sound like great ideas. Rockhome's underworld seems like a glaring opportunity. Hule often comes up in people's wishlist too. Plenty to work on!


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