M-Mars Gazetteer?

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Sturm
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Re: M-Mars Gazetteer?

Post by Sturm »

KtA wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 7:41 am
Do you mean, holding molten lava, or (water-holding) canals formed by volcanism (rather than by technological or magical means) - like open lava tubes?
I thought open lava tubes as sometimes there are in Hawaai or Iceland, but Robin's ideas indeed are much more interesting :)
Yet some lava lake/river connected to the Plane of Fire could be present too.
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Re: M-Mars Gazetteer?

Post by KtA »

Sturm wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 8:41 am
KtA wrote:
Tue May 19, 2020 7:41 am
Do you mean, holding molten lava, or (water-holding) canals formed by volcanism (rather than by technological or magical means) - like open lava tubes?
I thought open lava tubes as sometimes there are in Hawaai or Iceland, but Robin's ideas indeed are much more interesting :)
The ideas aren't necessarily incompatible. Perhaps there were original lava tubes, that were expanded and opened to the surface by the burrowing activity of earthquake beetles or giant Martian sandworms...

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Re: M-Mars Gazetteer?

Post by Sturm »

Sure, even better :)
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Re: M-Mars Gazetteer?

Post by KtA »

I'm thinking the giant lava-worms would be like purple worms except with the ability to burrow through hard rock (which 5E purple worms already have) and immunity to fire damage.

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Re: M-Mars Gazetteer?

Post by Chimpman »

Wow, you guys have made some great progress on this topic!
KtA wrote:
Mon May 18, 2020 7:47 am
OK, first big decision to make... what to do with the canals?

The map from the old thread (by Chimpman) shows three canals going into the Tharsis area and joining up. If we are assuming that the broad topography of Vaniae is that of our Universe's Mars, just with life and magic added on top, this doesn't seem like a very good place for canals. The Tharsis Rise is a very high plateau, so the canal-builders would have had to cut nearly miles deep. And it doesn't seem that there is much reason to irrigate the area.
I definitely made a conscious decision to include the canals, in major part as a tribute to the early real world research by Schiaparelli and Lowel. Yes, their research was erroneous, but in a fantasy setting it's not really that important to mimic the real world exactly.

If I remember correctly, I envisioned the canals as pre-dating the Alphatians... probably created by the Chak (planar spiders). (I'll try to cobble together a list of the relevant posts below so you can easily see the progression of my original ideas):
http://www.thepiazza.org.uk/bb/viewtopi ... 594#p31594
http://www.thepiazza.org.uk/bb/viewtopi ... 667#p31667
http://www.thepiazza.org.uk/bb/viewtopi ... 676#p31676
http://www.thepiazza.org.uk/bb/viewtopi ... 712#p31712


The idea was that the canals could be used to connect all of the disparate nations of the current day Vaniae, even though they themselves didn't create them. In fact, they can be seen as a world spanning artifact of a bygone time, and vying for control of the ancient canals (and thus easy access to other parts of the planet) could be very important military objectives.

I think that the original idea was that the Chak built the canals in an effort to save their dying planet by shipping water from the poles to the rest of the world. [This is also a call back to Orsen Well's War of the Worlds - I like making these little real world references when working on Mystara projects ;) ]. In modern times, what is left of the canal system is basically controlled by the Alphatians who use it as leverage to maintain dominance over the other nations (thus keeping their tenuous empire intact).

Anyway, I'll try and stay more up to date on this thread. Feel free to incorporate or abandon any aspects you want. Looking forward to see where you take this material!
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Re: M-Mars Gazetteer?

Post by KtA »

Oh, yeah, I absolutely agree that there should be canals on M-Mars/Vaniae!

I was only questioning their presence in the Tharsis region specifically, due to altitude and apparent lack of civilizations in the area -- not on the planet as a whole.
Chimpman wrote:
Mon Jun 01, 2020 4:58 am
If I remember correctly, I envisioned the canals as pre-dating the Alphatians... probably created by the Chak (planar spiders).
Ah, ok, I had thought that the implication was their being Alphatian - I probably mis-read that. (Probably because I think of planar spiders as a society of travelers, not really settling down anywhere on a large enough scale to build major infrastructure other than maybe saucer ports or whatever. With how natural planar travel is to them, wouldn't it be easier just to hop over to another world that isn't dying?)
In modern times, what is left of the canal system is basically controlled by the Alphatians who use it as leverage to maintain dominance over the other nations (thus keeping their tenuous empire intact).
Ah, ok, I guess this is what I'd mis-read as the Alphatians creating it in the first place.

EDIT: fixed quote

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Re: M-Mars Gazetteer?

Post by KtA »

Noctaurus is divided into five provinces. Three of these have the status of kingdoms, and are named after the royal Houses that rule them - Caelus, Deimos, and Phobos.

Populations -

Caelus
Total: 20,000
Capital and environs: 6,000
Capital city only (within walls): 2,500

Deimos
Total: 30,000
Capital and environs: 8,000
Capital city only (within walls): 3,000

Phobos
Total: 28,000 (27,500 minotaurs + 500 others)
Capital and environs: 10,000
Capital city only (within walls): 4,000

Central Province
Total: 7,000

Western Province
Total: 5,000 (1,000 minotaurs + 4,000 sandfolk)

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Re: M-Mars Gazetteer?

Post by KtA »

Map of Noctaurus, with the five provinces labeled. EDIT: Scale of 24 miles per hex.

Image

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Re: M-Mars Gazetteer?

Post by Chimpman »

Loving this KtA!

I had to go back to the original map for a second to get a sense of where these places (Noctauris and the Torch of the Immortals - great name!) were in relation to one another. I'm really digging this so far, and there is still plenty of room to drill down deeper into 8mph maps once you've got the higher level overview relatively settled.

Keep going, this is awesome stuff!
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Re: M-Mars Gazetteer?

Post by Robin »

I found this map of the John Carter Man of Mars comic
Maybe it is useful in this project
https://www.erbzine.com/mag39/barsoom72.jpg
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Re: M-Mars Gazetteer?

Post by KtA »

Phobos has the least sea-coast of the three kingdoms, but the large lowland valley that contains the capital is rich with life - green pastures full of livestock and fields making up great ranching and farming estates.

Arx Phoboi, the capital itself, presents a strong contrast to its surroundings. A grim combination of fortification and temple-city of Entropy, the walls built of massive stones rise high above the fields and the fishing villages along the coast. Within the walls, the streets of Arx Phoboi are all roofed - no direct sunlight ever shines in this city.

Giff mercenaries come here to take service in the Emperor's forces, but traders - whether giff or gren - rarely approach the bleak place. Sandfolk sometimes enter as captives, taken in conflicts in the Western Province, but never leave alive.

The Emperor uses no personal name. He is thoroughly ruthless and exceptionally intelligent. While proud of his power, he is aware of his weaknesses and always seeks to minimize/mitigate them. He does not truly trust anyone, but Vanth is almost an exception - before making any consequential decision, he listens carefully to Vanth's advice, even if he ultimately chooses a different path.

After 1,200 years of undeath, he scarcely remembers his natural life, retaining only dream-like fragments of disconnected memory. He disdains living nobles, and his attitude toward commoners goes beyond disdain to utter contempt. This view is strengthened by Vanth's influence.

Most importantly, he is a calculating planner who thinks on a time scale far beyond humans or even most elves -- he genuinely intends to rule forever.

The Emperor is unusually powerful. He is a vampire minotaur*, but his Charm has a -4 penalty to saves against it (or +4 to its DC in 5E terms), and it is permanent unless magically removed. An unique magical amulet gives him immunity to sunlight and also acts as a Ring of Fire Resistance.

Vanth, The Guide Unto Conclusion, is the chief cleric/shaman of Orcus in the Empire and the Emperor's personal counselor and most highly valued advisor.

Vanth was 'inducted' into the House of Phobos (changed into a vampire) 900 years ago. He was at the Emperor's side in the succession war. Vanth is utterly convinced that undeath is far superior to life, and that Vaniae is a dying world where life will sooner or later fail entirely. His great obsession is to discover a way that vampires can survive without feeding upon the living. If this were achieved, he would seek (with the Emperor's help) to transform all the living minotaurs in Noctaurus into zombies.

Vanth is a vampire minotaur* who is also a 7th-level shaman (BECMI) or cleric (5E).

*Vampire minotaurs use the statistics of a vampire, except have a minotaur's gore attack and can fly without transforming into a bat.

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Re: M-Mars Gazetteer?

Post by KtA »

Chimpman wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 9:25 pm
Loving this KtA!

I had to go back to the original map for a second to get a sense of where these places (Noctauris and the Torch of the Immortals - great name!) were in relation to one another. I'm really digging this so far, and there is still plenty of room to drill down deeper into 8mph maps once you've got the higher level overview relatively settled.

Keep going, this is awesome stuff!
Robin wrote:
Thu Jun 11, 2020 9:47 pm
I found this map of the John Carter Man of Mars comic
Maybe it is useful in this project
https://www.erbzine.com/mag39/barsoom72.jpg

Thank you both!

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Re: M-Mars Gazetteer?

Post by KtA »

Some notes on the other provinces of Noctaurus:

Deimos is the most populated province, though by a small margin, and somewhat less than it was 400 years ago when the House of Deimos held the Imperial Throne and the imperial court was centered in Oppidum Deimoi.

Oppidum Deimoi is a city divided. The inner citadel is a grim and sunless fortress, completely roofed over. This is the home of the House of Deimos and their immediate servants. The outer city, where living nobles owing fealty to the House of Deimos govern day-to-day matters, is sunlit and more spacious. Outside the wall of the outer city, fishing town "suburbs" line the coast, and farming villages extend up-canyon.

Deimos is almost entirely a broken land of canyons and mesas, lacking the cold northern high-elevation plateau of northern Phobos or the sandy desert of southern Caelus. Outside the immediate vicinity of Oppidum Deimoi, agriculture is unpromising and rare. But Deimos has a long coast, and most of its food comes from fishing and from hunting other water creatures.

Lady Deimos, like the Emperor, has used no personal name in many centuries. This terrible being ascended to the lordship of her House after her two predecessors were quickly killed in the succession war around 400 years ago. The need to consolidate her control over her own kingdom, along with Lord Phobos' superior ability to control minds, allowed Phobos to seize the Imperial throne.

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Re: M-Mars Gazetteer?

Post by KtA »

Lady Deimos was a relatively 'new' vampire when she attained the throne, which led to the difficulties she had consolidating her control (along with the very short reign of her predecessor, about two months, and the instability resulting from the ongoing war). She has been undead for "only" 450 years.

Lady Deimos has the ordinary abilities and statistics of a vampire minotaur, except that she is extremely intelligent (INT 18). She is a patient planner, with many schemes in motion at once. She intends to topple the Emperor and claim the throne for herself, but is willing to wait centuries if that is necessary for success to be certain.

Caelus retains historical prestige, as it was the location of the first minotaur settlements in the Noctaurus area and the home kingdom of the first Emperor of Noctaurus, but its real power is now vastly diminished. Its population is the least of the three kingdoms (though more than the two imperial provinces). It produces food from both farming and fishing.

The living nobles of Caelus greatly fear the charm ability of the vampire nobles. Their enmity with vampires has largely led them to reject the Immortals of Entropy and follow those of Matter instead. They rarely go anywhere without mirrors and holy items blessed by a cleric of a Matter Immortal; most carry a few flasks of holy water in a belt pouch.

Caelus is the friendliest province to giff and gren traders, and other outsiders, though it is less wealthy than the other kingdoms.

The south of Caelus is sandy desert, bordering on Mygalla. An imperial garrison is stationed at its southwest limit.

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Re: M-Mars Gazetteer?

Post by KtA »

The Central Province's small population of 7,000 consists of a few villages and a town centered around a stronghold, placed in a valley forming an oasis of rich life amid a desolation of canyons and mesas. These villages live by fishing in the valley's lake and farming the soils enriched by ash from the cinder cone to the north.

This is an Imperial province, governed by a military governor – the commander of the stronghold's garrison – who is appointed by the Emperor. This governor is chosen from one of the less powerful noble families that were vassals of Phobos even before Phobos held the Imperial Throne. The current governor, Marak (a living winged minotaur), is under the Emperor's mental control and therefore completely loyal to him.

The stronghold here – Lasthold - was built about 1,300 years ago during the Alphatian imperial expansion on Vaniae. It was built as a fallback for the Emperor and his elite forces in case of an Alphatian incursion through the Valles Marineris waters, which are connected to the canal system; 100 miles of Noctauran terrain would be an almost insurmountable barrier to any land force.

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Re: M-Mars Gazetteer?

Post by KtA »

Western Province: Despite the presence of an Imperial garrison, most of the Western Province is not really effectively under Noctaurus' control.

The only minotaurs here are the garrison (of 100 common minotaur soldiers and 5 winged nobles) and a village surrounding it and supporting it (of about 500), and those living on ranches and farms spread out around the area within a dozen miles or so (totaling about 400 more minotaurs) – outside this area, there are no minotaur settlements.

The western part of the province is home to about a dozen sandfolk tribes, totaling around 4,000 individuals. A low-intensity but centuries-old conflict goes on here between the sandfolk and the imperial minotaurs. Small skirmishes occur regularly, usually several times a year.

The garrison stronghold (and province) was established around 400 years ago as part of Phobos' consolidation of power after the succession war, beginning the conflict with the sandfolk.

Like the Central Province, the general of the garrison also serves as governor of the province, and is chosen from a less powerful noble family among the long-term vassals of Phobos. The current general and governor (Lukach) is controlled by the Emperor's unusually powerful Charm ability.

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Re: M-Mars Gazetteer?

Post by Big Mac »

Princess Strega wrote:
Wed Jan 22, 2020 8:57 am
It's a bit early in my exploration of Mystara to project myself to M-Mars. Before I do, I am rather curious if there has been a fannon gazetteer going over it in any level of detail.
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