I guess I should clarify that I'm not advocating for this little detail to change our established views of Mystara or the Thyatian Empire. I only seek to draw attention to the reference as a point of historical interest.
agathokles wrote: ↑
Mon May 20, 2019 11:50 am
Interesting. IIRC, other adventure modules take a different approach. In particular, X11 assumes that Wendar is an ally or satellite of Thyatis.
One aspect is that M5 is likely written as taking place after the B, X and CM modules, so it assumes a version of the near-future (w.r.t. 1000 AC) that obviously did not materialize as such in the product line (i.e., WotI, PWAs, etc.)
This is always a possibility with these old modules, I agree, though the idea of moving them backwards or forwards in time always seems to antagonise the B/X crowd, with cries of "Ret-con!"
Zendrolion wrote: ↑
Tue May 21, 2019 5:18 pm
Like agathokles said, the M series is ideally taking place at least some years after the campaign starting date and also on a different timeline than the one who made its way through the GAZ series. This could help explain the mention of Thyatian expansion/conquest of some KW territories found in M5.
Besides, I don't think we should take too much seriously things like the Master Set map or the short background paragraphs of CM and M adventures; their goal, in fact, was to project the PCs in a much wider world of warring kingdoms and empires in which they could earn glory and build their own realms. Imagine something like this: the PCs play CM1 and the following modules (CM/M); now their concerns are all directed toward their dominions and Norwold; they could hear rumors or reports about the southern realms (Karameikos, Darokin - their homelands!) falling one after the other to Thyatis' armies. This would only make them more wary of Thyatis' imperialism, worried about Norwold's future, and would make a great starting point for the M2 module or the M5 peace conference in Helskir. This is the aim of old school modules I think, setting a general background from which to start a new adventure, not explaining in detail - for example - how the various countries of the KW fell to Thyatis. Obviously, a pattern like this works if your PCs are focused on Norwold, otherwise it should be the GAZ-using DM's duty to adopt a different point of view on Thyatis and its military power.
This is a very nice explanation. Thank you Simone, and also GP!
As you stated about diplomacy, it needn't necessarily be Thyatis's armies that the countries fell to; they could simply have been diplomatically "absorbed" into the Empire, whether as liege realms or just really close allies.
Regarding Master Set's map, handle it with care, as IMO the problem is the dotted lines, not the arrows: the map doesn't even mention Hule or Sind, but I suppose no one thinks the former has been conquered by the Empire of Dorfin IV (whatever might it be... ) or the latter by the "Serpent Peninsula"... The area labeled "Empire of Thyatis" on the map shows three arrows: two are directed toward lands belonging to Thyatis as per DotE - the mainland and Ochalea - while the other points to the Glantri-Wendar area, which by X11 (as agathokles said) is considered a Thyatian ally or subject realm. That said, the map is very simple, lacking a huge amount of detail, and makes an useful tool only for undeveloped areas outside the KW-DotE region.
Totally agree here. This discussion began for me on Facebook at the Mystara Cartographic Society, where I had a discussion with Travis (see this post
if you want to read it — if you haven't already
Personally my interpretation of the map aligns with Frank Mentzer's "sphere of influence" idea, that the labels on the map describe either geographic regions or just the dominant power in that region. And I agree, the "borders" shown on the map are not very complete. Often the regions encompassed by them are vast, stretching across continents, and it's not at all clear which are geographic regions and which are political spheres of influence.
For Thyatis, the problematic arrow can be interpreted as X11's Wendar being a Thyatis ally, which is presumably what X11's author did. Although Travis interprets the map as meaning that Thyatis owns the whole region delineated east of Borea, I can't say I agree with that interpretation, as it takes the map absolutely literally, without any thought to previous products, let alone future products that disagree with the interpretation.
I'm all in favour of people cherry-picking their favourite features to make their own ideal Mystara, but I'm not a great fan of the idea of there being a clear split in the series, effectively Mentzer vs Heard Mystara. I feel that this smoothes over the organic development process in the earlier products, which already disagreed with each other in all sorts of ways. It suggests that there was a master plan for Mentzer Mystara, which was clearly not at all the case. Even in the Gazetteer era, with Bruce overseeing the setting, the individual products were all done by different people, and often conflict with each other (and what came before). This is all likely due to lack of access to previous and concurrent books, which is why I so dislike all the shrieks of "ret-con!" It seems silly to me to make such criticisms. Just because we have access to the whole body of work on Mystara now, it does not follow that the original authors did — and in fact we know that most didn't.
Anyway, to answer Thorf's question I'd say yes, M5 has the only clear reference to the fact that in the near future Thyatis has absorbed Karameikos, Glantri, and Darokin.
Michele also pointed out X11 from 1986, which definitely seems to be influenced by the map. But M5 is the only one that really takes it at face value; while X11 tried to rationalise the strangeness of the idea, M5 just states it outright, unapologetically and without much explanation.
All in all, apart from Borea and the northern stretch of the area labeled "Thyatis" in the Master Set map, what is shown on it could not be all that wrong, from a geopolitical point of view. After all, if Thyatis is modeled on the Byzantine Empire, diplomacy should be its most efficient weapon - making and breaking alliances, weave plots, play enemies one against the other...
I fully agree with your assessment. And it's backed up by the successive products by Aaron Allston as well as Bruce Heard, and in fact by Frank Mentzer's comments on the subject.