Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Ar: Through the Vortex

Continued from “Ar: In Search of the Sphinx”

This unique doughnut-shaped floating island is the last district to have been created in the Kingdom of Ar. A royal edict abruptly carved out a large area of open space and prime fishing waters once shared between Hippogriff, Griffon, Skybridge, and Wyvern Districts. Sour feelings remained ever since the partition, because viceroys weren’t consulted about the decision or even told of its rationale. Instead, a haze of secrecy surrounded the event, letting on solely that the new dominion was off limits to all but a select few in the Aran military. The new District of Vortex has no viceroy but a shadowy military governor. From neighboring floating islands and ships skirting the forbidden area’s borders, one can observe two floating islands and, fairly frequently, an enormous whirlwind spinning through the main island. The turbulence stretches from the lake’s surface to 13,200’ (4.400m) through the monolith’s midsection before blending with thick clouds above. At various times day and night, lightning bolts randomly discharge from Vortex Prime’s outer rim, adding intermittent rumbles to the tornado’s distant roar. The sight alone is enough to keep most visitors out. On certain days, freak storms develop on Crystal Lake, showering the shores with hail, miscellaneous debris, frosted fish, and occasional monster bits.

Mystara Alphatia Ar Vortex Hex Map
Vortex Military District -- Map Scale: 8 Miles per Hex
The roots of the mysterious event go back to a skyship commander, one Captain Aerwatt, who was concerned with the clear and present threat of a possible new ogrish invasion. He’d always shared with his friends and peers his concerns about the lack of adequate fortifications along Ar’s southern border and troops to hold them. Tired of his commanders’ apathy, he came up with a radical approach that was guaranteed to earn King Qissling’s interest, and his eventual approval. A top graduate in air magistry and aspiring grand wizard, Aerwatt’s basic idea spun from proverbial “mopping up” efforts to rid the land of foes and other undesirable features littering battlefields in one fell stroke—or in his case, in a gigantic whoosh. He devised the construction of a ring-shaped monolith fitted with magical devices accelerating air within its midsection, angled in such a way to create suction beneath. If properly focused, the resulting whirlwind could sweep a mile-wide stretch clear of any marching army and, quite certainly, damage beyond recovery any siege equipment. The prospect of building a controllable tornado was so appealing to the king that the project got underway overnight. Captain Aerwatt was made governor and head of the project. That’s about it for good news. . .

. . . for bad news abounds.

Cloudstones and building materials were sent aloft for the construction of two monoliths. The largest one, Vortex Prime, contains kinetic devices generating the whirlwind. The other, Vortex II, houses a fortified control deck. Unlike other floating islands, these two were designed from the onset as mobile war platforms. Not only did Vortex II protect flight controls, it could rotate around Vortex Prime in order to remain ahead of it, regardless of heading. Full speed rotation to the opposite side of Vortex Prime takes slightly less than an hour, moving at 48 miles per hour (77Kmh), or approximately one 8-mile-hex per Turn. Needless to say, the enchantments to make all the parts move together smoothly proved daunting to Aerwatt and his team of air wizards.

The next problem lay in difficulties associated with moving a tornado about two miles wide at its midsection. The first predicament came with a powerful clockwise torque effect due to the twister’s counter-clockwise spin conflicting with flight control. Naturally, it would have to be reversed in Mystara’s southern hemisphere, a process taking many hours to complete. Some degree of weather control became necessary to alter relative temperatures, barometric pressures, and humidity above and below the islands. The present position above Crystal Lake helps create the most favorable testing conditions. Nonetheless, flight control issues and perilous vibrations on Vortex Prime due to the funnel’s violent weaving have yet to be fully resolved. At full power, the cyclonic device may tear apart the main island or cause catastrophic loss of stability. Icy conditions, hurricane-strength currents buffeting Vortex Prime’s surfaces, the wind’s horrendous howl, and random lightning bolts resulting from static electricity buildup preclude anyone exiting tunnels and chambers inside the two islands. The only safe way aboard or across the two islands is via teleporters. Internal chambers and above ground structures, including an observation deck and a lighthouse, are fully pressurized and built to withstand the enormous forces at work. Challenges resulting from the giant whirlwind’s existence were foreseen, which explains why the command deck lies within Vortex II rather than the main island. Should something go catastrophically wrong, at least the command deck could separate and move to a safe distance.

Vortex Prime: A closer look at Vortex Prime reveals the use of force fields as observation bays. No defensive stations are needed since outside conditions are dire enough to prevent skyships or flying creatures from approaching. A circular hallway, 100’ wide (30m) and about 50 miles long (80Km), allows access to 12 chambers facing in the inner rim, or one every 8 miles (13Km). Evenly-spaced levitating chariots of steel fitted with a dozen seats follow a single rail enchanted with magical sigils, hurtling at up to 40Mph (64Kmh), taking 15 minutes to reach each chamber and stopping there for another two. The latter are about 30’x30’x30’ large, contain magical machinery generating kinetic power needed to induce the twister, and a teleporter to reach the command deck. Another twelve compounds lay across from accelerator chambers, enough for a dozen boltmen each, which accounts for 144 military on Vortex Prime alone, if fully crewed. Since Vortex Prime is still undergoing testing, only three boltmen are assigned to each compound. Another six also remain at the observation deck, also called Ventilion Tower, and at the lighthouse. Both connect via teleporters with the command deck.

Mystara Alphatia Ar HeraldryVortex II: The smallest of the two monoliths contains the flight deck, officers’ quarters, a teleporter chamber, and a compound large enough for another twenty boltmen. The flight deck includes three table-like displays arranged in a semi-circle and with two seats each. One enables operators to maneuver the island tandem. The next one is responsible for navigation, positioning, and the use of a telescope. The last one controls the machinery generating the twister in Vortex Prime, as well as local atmospheric conditions; officers assigned to this post handle the whirlwind’s power settings. Displays feature crystal balls glowing with information pertinent to each post, and phantasmal levers relaying the officers’ commands. At the center of the three displays sits Captain Aerwatt, facing a force field acting as a large view screen. This aperture can magnify forward sight or be angled to observe the ground. Behind him stands a portal leading to the other quarters. The teleportation chamber includes a transport platform and a nearby display to select a destination: 1. Skyreach*, 2. Ventilion Tower, 3. Lighthouse, 4a-4h Accelerator Chambers, 5. Away-Team*. Normal transportation takes place to and from connected teleporting platforms.

(*) The Skyreach address targets restricted military quarters at the royal palace on Chimera Prime. Troops can always be transported from Skyreach’s own teleporting device. The Away-Team setting teleports to the surface a group of up to 12 or as much as 10,000 cn in freight, directly beneath Vortex II, about 20 miles from the whirlwind’s touch-down location. The command deck’s teleporter has limited capability to retrieve a landing party due to the absence of a connected platform on the ground. Members of an away team must therefore wear magical bracers to enable remote teleportation; retrieval range is limited to 7,000’ (2.350m); up to 1d4 crew randomly selected can be retrieved at a time. Magically “tagged” freight can be brought up at the rate of 1d4 x 800 cn. Remote teleportation can only be performed once per Turn.

His Heavenly Majesty’s Flying Fortress Immortal Storm:    Cost (classified); Crew: 176 boltmen and petty officers, 6 officers, 1 captain; Capacity: 1,200,000 cn; Move: 60 miles/day, 200’/round (ground speed with idling whirlwind), 90’/round (ground speed with fully active tornado); HP: Vortex Prime 2,220, Vortex II 850. AC: 0 to pin-point a specific spot, or AC9 to hit any part of either monolith. Full-strength tornado can only be sustained 4d6+2 combat rounds before causing 4d100 structural damage per round to Vortex Prime. With pin-point damage of 600 Hull Points or more, kinetic accelerators malfunction, causing the tornado to inflict structural damage. In any case, the tornadic device incurs a cumulative 1% chance of malfunction per round of use.

Special Abilities: Individual weapons inflict only 1 point of structural damage for every 5 points of maximum possible hit points (including all bonuses, rounded up), save for metallic blunt weapons which inflict 2 instead of 1 basic point of structural damage (see RC pg. 115-116 on Siege Combat).

Special Defenses: while the twister is in operation, 20d6 lightning bolts shoot at random in any direction up to 12 miles (13Km) from Vortex Prime’s outer rim; odds of one hitting any approaching vessel or flying creature are 70% per Turn minus 10% for every mile (1,6Km) of range or fraction thereof. Odds can fluctuate further depending on the size of what approaches: +60% for ships HP 120+, +40% for ships HP 40-119, +20% for smaller ships, large creature nil, –10% for a man-sized target, –20% for a small target, +20% if metal armor or hull plating are present. Wind reaches hurricane strength within 12 miles of the whirlwind’s center; no flight is sustainable within Vortex Prime’s inner rim.

Special Attack: tornado—the twister stretches two miles across at its midsection. At its lowest point, it covers an area a mile wide. At its highest point, about 6,600’ (3.300m) above Vortex Prime, it forms an eight-mile-wide funnel (13Km). Anyone caught inside the funnel beneath Vortex Prime suffers 8d12 damage per round (save for half). Man-sized debris rises through the tornado at the rate of 1d4 x 600’ per round (200m). Damage above Vortex Prime drops to 4d12 per round (save for half) not counting exposure to rarefied oxygen environment and cold temperatures at the DM’s discretion. At the top of the funnel, debris is then dropped 1d8 eight-mile-hexes away from the tornado’s center. The funnel is equivalent to a +3 weapon as regards its ability to harm magical beings, except for native creatures of the elemental plane of air which are immune. Any magical equipment +2 or less is destroyed; other magical items with enchantments costing 5,000 gp or less are also destroyed (see RC pg. 250-252 on magical item creation costs).

Captain Aerwatt

Born from in a family of Shyie-Lawr elves, he became a top graduate in air magistry at the Skyship Academy in Skyreach and, for a time, a rambunctious cadet aboard the H.H.M.S. Auster. Throughout his career in the Aran navy, Aerwatt always kept in mind possible combat applications for ideas he or others conceived. His approach to militarizing forces of nature earned him a direct and personal link with King Qissling, with whom he now often exchanges ideas. Brash, heroic, flamboyant, somewhat narcissistic, and an incorrigible womanizer, Aerwatt had a knack for irritating his commanders. His propensity to disregard orders and his recent promotion to military governor of Vortex District didn’t help. Jealousy runs high at the Skyship Academy. Enterprising and strong-minded to a fault, this elf never abandons a quest he feels is crucial, relying on unconventional problem-solving skills to get around problems. Odds of success are not a concern. Nonetheless, those who serve under his command will follow him to whatever end and beyond.

Mystara Alphatia Ar Heraldry
Aerwatt has become aware of an odd phenomenon on both islands that has remained unexplained and is suspicious. While running tornado tests, he discovered areas inside Vortex II that somehow became wet. Oddly, the crew that should have reported that curious event failed to do so. Some said they hadn’t noticed until it was pointed out to them; others said they thought it didn’t matter. All indicated they suffered from violent headaches at some point, including a number of officers. There didn’t appear to be any location or frequency pattern to the wetness. On several occasions, Aerwatt feigned headaches during a tornado test as an excuse to absent himself, which several officers readily acknowledged with sympathizing nods. This subterfuge gave him the opportunity to turn invisible and quietly visit various areas of the islands. Leaving the first officer in charge, the captain used teleporters to move quickly. During one of his random visits, he found a dead boltman in one of the accelerator chambers. The body bore electrical burns and lay in a pool of water. The captain remained near the humming machinery, patiently waiting. Two other boltmen came in, quietly gazed at each other for an instant, picked up their companion’s body, and carried it away. As the captain stepped from his hiding spot to follow them, a mind-splitting headache tore through his skull, stopping him in his tracks. A moment later, the machinery’s hum changed, indicating the end of the tornado experiment. Just then and inexplicably, the floor dried up and his headache faded. The captain left the chamber and later found the two boltmen. When asked if everything was fine, they both nodded, seemingly unconcerned. The missing crewman was never reported nor did Aerwatt find his body. He kept his suspicions to himself, thinking that at least part of the crew and the officers had become compromised. His quiet investigation goes on.

It so happened that farmers discovered the boltman’s remains not far from Crystal Lake, battered and badly frosted, after it had fallen from the sky along with fish, birds, and other debris. They brought his body back to a local guard post. News reached King Qissling and was immediately suppressed. Worried about possible treachery, the king directed one of his trusted aides to hire reliable individuals unconnected with the military and pass them off as boltmen with all appropriate passwords and equipment, as part of the next crew rotation to Vortex Prime. Their mission is to quietly observe, ascertaining the captain’s loyalty and shedding light on the reason for the unreported casualty.

Appearance: Captain Aerwatt is tall for an elf and muscular, with a handsome longish face and a strong square chin. His pale cream skin contrasts with his shoulder-length glossy blue-black hair, which he wears in a single braid tied at his nape. His cheekbones are high-set, with hollows beneath that make them appear like cliffs. Confidence and command exude from him: Aerwatt is a magnet for any solider or lady within range of his large, dark blue eyes and authoritative baritone voice. He gives the impression of always being in the midst of something intriguing, even when he’s sitting still. His eyes drink in details, and he’s trained his sharp mind to analyze these and provide unusual options faster than anyone else in Qissling’s army. Aerwatt wears a short leather long-sleeved military jacket of blue so deep it borders on the hue of midnight. Leather form-fitting pants tuck into knee-high boots of the same color. His gestures are sure, and he prides himself at being seldom wrong about anything.

Captain Aerwatt: E15, AC3, hp 47, MV 120’(40’), AT 1 sword or spell, Dmg 1d8+2/+4 or by spell, Save E10+2, ML11, AL L; St13, In17, Wi11, Dx16, Co 14, Ch15. Special Abilities: using optional demi-human rules in RC pg. 266—hit rolls made as a 15th level cleric; spells cast as a 15th level magic-user; detects hidden and secret passages as an elf. Magical Equipment: sword +1/+3 vs. Ogres, sky commander’s leather jerkin, ring of protection +2, wand of many settings, and boots of resistance to electrical attacks.

Sky Commander’s Leather Jerkin: it is a standard element of an upper-ranking skyfleet officer’s uniform. It provides a basic AC of 7 as well as the effects of ring of survival. A small metal badge embedded in the leather on the upper left chest cycles through phantasmal symbols displaying the officer’s skills and past history. The badge’s shape and metal indicates the officer’s seniority. Silver or gold tooling in the leather relates to rank and general branch of service.

Wand of Many Settings: this rechargeable silver wand holds 3d10 charges. It comes with four separate powers and different command words to activate them. The first power enables the owner to produce a sleep effect, as the spell (240’ range, cost 1 charge). The second power unleashes three magic missiles, (150’ range, cost 2 charges). The third power invokes a disintegration ray (60’ range, cost 3 charges). The last power provokes a delayed kinetic blast equal in strength to the total number of charges left in the wand +5, up to a maximum damage of twenty HD. Damage applies within a 30’ radius, +2’ for every HD. Damage applies fully to wooden structures (half as much against stone or metal). The blast erupts 1d4+3 rounds after the command word is spoken, and destroys the wand in the process.

The Uninvited

With the debauchery of energy Vortex Prime generates, it was a foregone conclusion that something entirely unexpected would happen. At a very specific rotation speed, the twister and the magical power running the kinetic accelerators create a unique resonance capable of opening a wormhole into another plane. The power setting corresponding to the wormhole isn’t commonly used, thus preventing the phenomenon from lasting more than a few rounds. The wormhole is entirely invisible and randomly connects with one of the accelerator chambers. The part of the conduit in the Prime Plane otherwise leads from the chamber to the center of the tornado’s funnel before reaching the other world. So far, Captain Aerwatt and his crew have failed to detect either the event or the presence of a creature that came through the wormhole.
Mystara Alphatia Ar Heraldry

Thuusea is a Stracchyan, an entirely alien being who feeds on energy, from the faraway Straccheus universe. Attracted to the immense source of power emanating from the wormhole’s opposite end, she traveled through and reached Vortex II just as the tornado’s regime changed, trapping her aboard. Since then, she has explored the two floating islands inside and out, taking note of the crew and learning the way they communicate. Her goal is to first understand how the tornado works. Meanwhile, she uses her abilities to influence the crew. Her next goal is to use the contraption and bring in more of her kin. The end game is to hijack the two islands into the ethereal where its tornadic ability would be vastly magnified. The resulting wormhole would be large enough to take the two islands back to Thuusea’s world where her race would use it as a source of energy.

Appearance: Thuusea’s native universe is very similar to the ethereal plane, although a somewhat more aquatic version of it. In an ether-based environment, she appears as a thirty-foot-long leathery white snake with spiny diaphanous fins—two sail-like pectoral fins, two pelvic, one long anal, one dorsal stretching almost her entire length, and one caudal fin. She can float along with ethereal currents to travel, or slither and swim more quickly using her tail fin for short bursts of speed. Her head features two large iridescent eyes and a large mouth with long, crystalline fangs. While in the Prime Plane, she appears as a watery snake with large eyes. She can modify her shape at will to seep under doors and through small spaces, create up to three appendages with hands to manipulate objects, lay quietly as a pool of water, or imitate the human faces of her victims to appear on any part of her body. Ripples travel back and forth along her entire length as she moves or thinks. When she bears her fangs in either environment, they crackle with electrical energy. A detect invisible spell is needed to see her ethereal form from the Prime Plane.

Personality: Thuusea is a sharp-minded being, ruled by logic and necessity. Curiosity and the acquisition of a source of energy motivated her to study the wormhole. Normally emotionless, Thuusea became fascinated by “sensations” provoked by the wave lengths of Captain Aerwatt’s voice. Intrigued and desiring to experience more of these strange impressions, Thuusea refrained from altering the elven officer’s mind. She now faces a dilemma, hesitating between the necessary task of acquiring the source of energy and the fascinating effect of the captain’s voice. She also found worthy of further examination the synergy of two rival races cohabiting in close quarters: an isolated and resourceful elf leading intellectually advanced humans.

Stracchyan* (Ethereal Plane): AC 0, HD10**** (L), MV 180’(60’) or 360’(120’) for 1d4 rounds during an encounter, AT 1 bite + special, Dmg 1/HD or Strength drain, Save F20, ML7, In19, AL any (Thuusea is Neutral). Type: Planar Monster. Special Abilities: Hear Noise 30’ radius into the Prime Plane; mind meld once per day (save vs. spells negates); charm + ESP if mind meld succeeds; telekinesis from extra HD; may trade excess HD to lay eggs. Special Attacks: electrical bite—or—Strength drain; gains extra HD when draining Strength or from enemy attacks. Special Defenses: +1 or better magical weapon to hit; immune to most attacks originating from the Prime Plane; one 30’x30’x30’ cloud of ethereal inkiness when moving at 360’.

In most cases, Thuusea remains in the ethereal. While there, she can move at will and sense to a certain degree creatures in the Prime Plane. Unlike most other life forms, Thuusea’s eyes can perceive energy originating from the Prime Plane—heat appearing in reds, electricity in blues, kinetic forces in greens, and magical energy in shades of purple. She cannot sense the absence of heat, such as extremely cold temperatures. She can detect noise originating from the Prime Plane as vague echoes, forcing her to concentrate to be able to decipher what she hears. Hearing range is no more than 30’ radius (Thuusea is effectively deaf when the tornado is active). She does not have the ability to detect invisible or see very clearly into the Prime Plane.

This hearing ability is crucial in that it enables her to identify members of the crew. At first, it is a subjective idea of who they are based on their conversations. As she learns more of the Alphatian language, she acquires the sense of where those individuals fit in their hierarchy and what their functions are aboard the floating islands. She may attempt a mind meld once a day. Targeted crew are allowed a saving throw vs. spells at –1 for each subsequent encounter to resist the intrusion. Victims succeeding their saving throws suffer splitting headaches for 1d4 rounds; they do not identify their origins or the alien being’s presence. If the saving throw failed, Thuusea immediately learns all that a victim knows, which she perceives as images and sensations. Victims are subject to a charm effect (permanent until dispelled), and an ESP link with Thuusea allows her to place suggestions into their subconscious minds. The ESP range is limited to the two islands. Mind meld, charm, and ESP work from the Ethereal into the Prime Plane.

As a creature feeding on energy, Thuusea is able to absorb any ambient energy to survive. She does not require air or any other food. Her mouth and fangs aren’t connected to a digestive system. They are meant as power-draining nodes which, in the eyes of Prime Plane inhabitants, look like a fearsome feeding apparatus. Anytime Thuusea “bites” someone, she either inflicts 1 pt of electrical damage per HD or temporarily drains a point of Strength from her victim (no save). At zero Strength, a victim dies. Drained Strength is otherwise recovered within the hour. With each successful power-draining bite, Thuusea gains 1HD. She’s immune to physical attacks, spells, and other magical abilities originating from the Prime Plane. Instead, she gains another Hit Die for each such attack. Damage and spell effects apply normally when inflicted directly in the Ethereal Plane. Although extra HD vanish after an hour, each adds a further –1 penalty to saving throws vs. a mind meld attempt. She also gains telekinetic powers, at the rate of 500 cn and a range of 10’ per additional HD (10 cn = 1 lb).

At any time while in the Ethereal, Thuusea may trade earned HD and lay eggs, at the rate of 10 HD per egg. While they are concealed, eggs take two months plus 1d4+1 week to hatch. Hatchlings need 100 years to reach maturity, -10 for every 1 HD of subsequent energy Thuusea feeds to them. Early on, Stracchyan eggs looks like gossamer foam, which solidify as days go by. By then, ectoplasmic dust conceals them.

Stracchyan (Prime Plane): AC 0, HD10****(L), MV 180’(60’), AT 1 bite + special, Dmg 1/HD or Strength drain, Save F20, ML7, In19, AL any (Thuusea is Neutral). Special Abilities: Watery body; mind meld once per day (save vs. spells negates); charm and ESP if mind meld succeeds; telekinesis from extra HD. Special Attacks: electrical bite—or—Strength drain; gains extra HD when draining Strength or from enemy attacks. Special Defenses: immune to most attacks while on the Prime Plane. Special Weaknesses: double damage from cold-based attacks; subject to freezing; highly vulnerable to absorption and dehydration.

When the tornado runs at full strength, Thuusea is immediately forced into the Prime Plane and must revert to her physical watery form (her eggs are not affected). She returns to the Ethereal when the tornado goes idle. Thuusea cannot use teleporters to get across the two floating islands while in any form; she can travel at normal speed through the ethereal, taking 2-8 hours depending on how far the destination is. While in Prime Plane, one effective way to neutralize her is to trick her to come in contact with a massive sponge or any other absorbent large enough to contain her aqueous form. Thuusea does not get a saving throw and is immediately soaked up. In that state, she can still exert her charm and ESP effects, but cannot move or return to the Ethereal plane. However, if she happens to have acquired telekinetic abilities, she may “squeeze” herself free provided she has gained at least +10 HD. Otherwise, if left in the sun for a day while so trapped, she will die.

If aware of her presence, a telepath or someone with ESP abilities can communicate with her and, if she’s trapped, learn about the wormhole. Pushing her into the wormhole will forcibly return her to her native plane. Cold-based attacks on the Prime Plane cause double-damage to her kind. If her foes inflict (singly or cumulatively within a same combat round) at least as many dice of cold-based damage as she has Hit Dice, Thuusea must save vs. paralysis or be frozen and go dormant. Unless refrigerated, she will thaw 1 Turn later and wake up. If split apart, pieces will always seek to recombine (charmed crew will try to help her in this respect).

The Ethereal Plane

For convenience, I’ve summarized and updated information about the ethereal environment for those without access to out of print source materials.

The Ethereal Plane is contiguous with Mystara’s Prime Plane, occupying the same space. It is breathable and uniformly at a 50°F temperature (10°C). Objects in the Prime Plane exist in the ethereal as fog-like solids or semi-solids affecting movement and combat. Concepts of gravity or weightlessness do not apply here. As a result, visitors need magic to travel through the ethereal, such as a fly spell (120’ per round) or a potion of ethereality. Kinetic energy can be used to throw projectiles, but laws of physics may affect their ranges (see below).

Travel speed doubles when traversing an area corresponding to vacuum. Movement through normal open space is unaffected. Movement through fire or water is at ¾ speed, ½ speed through soil, wood, or flesh, and ¼ speed through rock. Metal objects are solid in the ethereal. These penalties apply as well to missile weapon ranges, rounded to the previous 10’ increment—for example, when cast through ethereal rock a javelin’s normal range of 30’/60’/90’ should drop to nil/10’/20’ (¼ original distances), counting all hit penalties due to range. Using these mechanics, a hammer could not be thrown through ethereal rock at all, stopping in mid air a few feet away. Spell ranges and areas of effect remain unaffected. Objects and creatures in the Prime Plane cannot be damaged or hurt from the ethereal unless a special ability makes it possible.

The denser the objects, the darker they appear. Light from the Prime Plane glows but faintly in the ethereal and provides its only ambient luminosity. Torches and magical lighting function normally but cannot be seen from the Prime Plane. A detect invisible spell enables a visitor to see clearly into the Prime Plane and vice-versa. The Ethereal Plane does not feature weather patterns; however, creatures with inherent affinities with the ethereal can sense arcane eddies and use them to travel. This region of the multiverse is adjacent to the Elemental and Astral Planes.

Special thanks to Janet Deaver-Pack for her editorial contributions and character descriptions.


  1. Nice, Very Nice. I only miss a picture of the strachyan. VVery curious how you imagine the beast.

  2. Could you inform me what you think it looks like?
    Maybe I can make a picture of it.
    Be as detailed as you'd like.

    At least if ya want to??....?

    1. I thought the creature was clearly described in the article. (???)

    2. Yep. Sorry. I wrote this way too fast and overread it. I'll try to make some of it.
      I'll show i'm when ready.

  3. I can't quite put my finger on why, but this gives me a 'Star Trek: The Original Series' vibe...

    1. There's more than one allusion to Star Trek here!

  4. Very interesting.

    Some aspects could also be used for a version of the module M1. :)

    1. The two adventures share very little in common though, other than the general idea for their titles -- "Into the Maelstrom" and "Through the Vortex..."

  5. I found an error in the upper district map posted here. The section I cropped came from an older version, with surrounding islands marked with incorrect altitudes. I think previous posts do show the correct closeup maps. On the other hand, the more recent map of Ar pegs Vortex at 14,000'. That's way too high. I need to bring it back to its original altitude of 6,600', as described in this post.


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