[Malatra] Anyone use Malatra?

Soaring above the jungles of southern Kara-Tur, the Malatran Plateau has been invisible to the natives of Abeir-Toril for thousands of years. Most sages consider the area nothing more than an uninteresting wilderness.

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[Malatra] Anyone use Malatra?

Post by Big Mac » Tue Apr 14, 2009 11:49 pm

Like waylander39, with his The Horde thread, I'm going to pop this in here as it is another "lost" Forgotten Realms campaign setting that is next to Kara-Tur.

I'd never heard about the Malatra Campaign Setting until a few days ago when someone casually described it over on the Spelljammer forum and - wondering what on Earth they were talking about - I did a bit of digging on it and realised how interesting it was.

Malatra is the setting used for the RPGA's Living Jungle game. Here is a key bit of the blurb:
Living Jungle Campaign - Player Information Guide: page 2 wrote:Deep in the most remote jungles south of the Forgotten Realms oriental setting of Kara-Tur is a vast plateau called Malatra. Malatra is isolated from the rest of Toril by sheer cliffs that raise it thousands of feet from the jungle floor... Also, the jungle below is filled with a dense population of carnivorous dinosaurs that will rend any unwary travellers that approach. Malatra is hidden by powerful magics that obscure the plateau from the outside world and prevent anyone from approaching its borders, inside or out.
Jean Rabe (Dragonlance novelist and RPG author) made two adventures for this campaign setting. I'm not sure who the other authors were, but I might find out a bit more about them later.
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Re: [Malatra] Anyone use Malatra?

Post by waylander39 » Wed Apr 15, 2009 12:03 am

Wow, I didn't even know this place existed till today. I really wish Wotc had put some more effort into developing these subsettings. I suppose being an RPGA subsetting it wasn't as widely known as some of the other Realms locales but this is one I would have happily bought to use at some point if it had been more widely available. I would love to know if anyone has ever used this as well, what it was like, did it have anything which differentiated it from say, Chult?

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Re: [Malatra] Anyone use Malatra?

Post by dulsi » Wed Apr 15, 2009 3:28 am

I've never played it but it is much lower magic setting than most D&D. Roleplaying and social interactions was stressed more than combat. I've a lot of the material at:

http://identicalsoftware.com/rpg/dnd/living_jungle/

I have some more adventures in doc files but the formating is screwed up when I load them so I haven't been able to convert them to pdf.
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Re: [Malatra] Anyone use Malatra?

Post by waylander39 » Wed Apr 15, 2009 3:06 pm

Dulsi that's really cool, thanks for the links!

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Re: [Malatra] Anyone use Malatra?

Post by Big Mac » Fri Apr 17, 2009 3:12 am

waylander39 wrote:Wow, I didn't even know this place existed till today. I really wish Wotc had put some more effort into developing these subsettings. I suppose being an RPGA subsetting it wasn't as widely known as some of the other Realms locales but this is one I would have happily bought to use at some point if it had been more widely available.
Me too. My biggest frustration with 4e's launch is that they didn't bother to finish the 3e Realms. (So I'm pretty sure that the 4e Realms will also be unfinished by the time they make 5e. It is one of the major reasons I'm not going to bother learning the 4e rules - I don't have time to spend on constantly converting this "cool abandoned stuff".)

BTW: The RPGA also had another FR campaign called Living City. You might want to look that up. I'm not sure if the new Living Forgotten Realms is connected to Living City or Living Jungle. My guess is that it is based on the "nuked" 4e setting.
waylander39 wrote:I would love to know if anyone has ever used this as well, what it was like, did it have anything which differentiated it from say, Chult?
If you read between the lines a couple of the races/monsters living in Malatra are actually spacefarers from The Sea of Night. I know you are not a fan of SJ, so you might miss the connections, but the Scro (spacefaring Orcs who evolved a "posh" culture) are in there. Dulsi mentioned another race that had the original name changed, but I've forgotten what it was. I suppose that some of these guys might have gotten there when spelljamming ships headed for a landing in Kara-Tur got caught in a storm and crashed (although what the Scro would be doing trying to travel to Kara-Tur is beyond me). Dulsi probably knows more than me about this.

Anyhoo, the other thing going on is the magic keeping the place from being seen. That is a very interesting concept.

On the one hand the magic barrier implies parallel evolution (and I'm not sure "evolution" as Charles Darwin defined it exists in D&D, but evolution of culture would exist). Races in Malatra might have totally different ways of living from anywhere else on Toril.

The other thing the magic implies, is that some sort of powerful being (or maybe some gods) are watching over this area (for reasons I don't currently know).

So Living Jungle might have new gods. And people worshiping different gods could have a totally different viewpoint from the people who worship the Faerunian pantheon.

(Actually, the one advantage you have - if you are not into Spelljammer - is that you don't have to look at these radically different FR subsettings and then realise that Realmspace really needs about 12-24 new pantheons to make the other planets seem as vibrant as Toril is. One of the really frustrating things about SJ, is that if you look at FR you realise that there just is not enough "Realms" in Realmspace.)
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Re: [Malatra] Anyone use Malatra?

Post by Big Mac » Fri Apr 17, 2009 3:16 am

waylander39 wrote:Dulsi that's really cool, thanks for the links!
Ah! Dulsi! You are my "someone"! :lol:

That makes you are resident Malatra expert! :ugeek:
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Re: [Malatra] Anyone use Malatra?

Post by waylander39 » Fri Apr 17, 2009 12:09 pm

Posh orcs, whatever next although that does sound interesting. Quite liking the idea of the magical barrier, you're right, parallel cultural evolution would take place and allow a GM to go off at a tangent with how races/cultures would have moved on. Turning things on their head would be very easy, allowing for the scro to be the dominant, civilised race and maybe making humanity a more savage/barbaric one. Perhaps the challenge for a visiting party would be to get their heads round these opposites to their usual racial assumptions.

The point you make about FR being incomplete is a very good one. I've got the FR Interactive Atlas and it shows huge swathes of land that are left blank and were never developed in the days of 2e let alone 3e. There was ample room for all sorts of interesting expansion ideas. I for one would have loved to have seen something based on Africa, with the fantasy equivalent of Zulu and Masai tribesmen, rolling savannahs and lost civilisations. Instead Wotc decided to press the reboot button and now the Realms that I know and love are completely unrecognisable (which is just one more reason that 4e is being avoided at all costs).

Living City IIRC was the RPGA project that brought Raven's Bluff to the Realms in the days of 1e/2e. There were several supplements produced that eventually got collated (sort of) in the City of Raven's Bluff book late on in 2e's lifecycle. I honestly don't know if it continued into 3e, I don't think it did as RPGA seemed to choose Greyhawk and Eberron for their next projects but I could be wrong.

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Re: [Malatra] Anyone use Malatra?

Post by Big Mac » Thu Apr 23, 2009 6:29 pm

waylander39 wrote:Posh orcs, whatever next although that does sound interesting.
The scro are "posh" in the sense that they eat grilled elf ears with a knife and fork! ;)
waylander39 wrote:Quite liking the idea of the magical barrier, you're right, parallel cultural evolution would take place and allow a GM to go off at a tangent with how races/cultures would have moved on. Turning things on their head would be very easy, allowing for the scro to be the dominant, civilised race and maybe making humanity a more savage/barbaric one. Perhaps the challenge for a visiting party would be to get their heads round these opposites to their usual racial assumptions.
Malatra calls these orcs: oscray, but from this part of their description they are clearly scro:
Living Jungle: Oscray wrote:The oscray came from across the skies, fleeing a far away war with a horrid race called The Elves. They came in ships that flew in the sky, although those ships no longer have that power.
That war is probably going to be the Second Unhuman War (as the First Unhuman War was too long ago).

I'm not sure how the oscray (scro) ships broke through the barrier, or why they lost their magic. Maybe the two things are connected. A Malatra player might know (or might be able to make up a good fanon answer).
waylander39 wrote:The point you make about FR being incomplete is a very good one. I've got the FR Interactive Atlas and it shows huge swathes of land that are left blank and were never developed in the days of 2e let alone 3e. There was ample room for all sorts of interesting expansion ideas. I for one would have loved to have seen something based on Africa, with the fantasy equivalent of Zulu and Masai tribesmen, rolling savannahs and lost civilisations. Instead Wotc decided to press the reboot button and now the Realms that I know and love are completely unrecognisable (which is just one more reason that 4e is being avoided at all costs).
The frustrating thing is that there was enough blank space for all of the 4e stuff (and more) to be dropped onto unused parts of Toril. :roll:
waylander39 wrote:Living City IIRC was the RPGA project that brought Raven's Bluff to the Realms in the days of 1e/2e. There were several supplements produced that eventually got collated (sort of) in the City of Raven's Bluff book late on in 2e's lifecycle. I honestly don't know if it continued into 3e, I don't think it did as RPGA seemed to choose Greyhawk and Eberron for their next projects but I could be wrong.
Hmm. Well, I don't think that Living City continued, but then again, I didn't realise there was a small Yahoo Group where talk of Living Jungle was still chugging along slowly.
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Re: [Malatra] Anyone use Malatra?

Post by waylander39 » Thu Apr 23, 2009 9:43 pm

Yes well I suppose eating with a knife and fork does count as being civilised for orcs.. :lol: It would seem to me that the scro probably spotted Malatra as a potentially safe area for them to land and rest after the second Unhuman war. The problem of course is that the barrier probably damaged their ships beyond their ability to repair, especially in a new wilderness area where they have no spelljamming ship facilities. Add to that the idea that they can't easily get off the plateau and you can see how their society might have evolved along a route which differed to the scro in Spelljammer.

Hmm it's definitely a case of Wotc missing a trick with the 4e reboot. Never mind, there's still plenty of room for us to develop the Realms to our own tastes. It also wouldn't surprise me if there was a small group of enthusiasts still chugging away on Raven's Bluff somewhere. Might be worth trying some Google-fu to see if there's anyone still out there.

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Re: [Malatra] Anyone use Malatra?

Post by AuldDragon » Sat Apr 25, 2009 3:29 am

Big Mac wrote:
waylander39 wrote:The point you make about FR being incomplete is a very good one. I've got the FR Interactive Atlas and it shows huge swathes of land that are left blank and were never developed in the days of 2e let alone 3e. There was ample room for all sorts of interesting expansion ideas. I for one would have loved to have seen something based on Africa, with the fantasy equivalent of Zulu and Masai tribesmen, rolling savannahs and lost civilisations. Instead Wotc decided to press the reboot button and now the Realms that I know and love are completely unrecognisable (which is just one more reason that 4e is being avoided at all costs).
The frustrating thing is that there was enough blank space for all of the 4e stuff (and more) to be dropped onto unused parts of Toril. :roll:
There's at least as much undocumented land as there is documented. What's most frustrating to me is that one of these continents has man-made landmarks visible from space; this is the kind of thing that should be documented from a spelljammer point of view.

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Re: [Malatra] Anyone use Malatra?

Post by Big Mac » Sat Apr 25, 2009 11:17 am

waylander39 wrote:Yes well I suppose eating with a knife and fork does count as being civilised for orcs.. :lol: It would seem to me that the scro probably spotted Malatra as a potentially safe area for them to land and rest after the second Unhuman war. The problem of course is that the barrier probably damaged their ships beyond their ability to repair, especially in a new wilderness area where they have no spelljamming ship facilities. Add to that the idea that they can't easily get off the plateau and you can see how their society might have evolved along a route which differed to the scro in Spelljammer.
The main things to think about (from a Malatra point of view) is that these oscray are from the outside and are much better at using tactics than orcs. Where common orcs might fall into in-fighting, the scro seem to have used their desire to "get back at the elves" to hold their subrace together. I think the oscray would still have that sort of thing going on (except where the Malatra campaign shows that they differ from the scro).

Basically, I think that oscray would function as rebooted scro (with the spacefaring elements removed). They might even bang on about being the "lords of The Sea of Night", but wouldn't be able to do anything about escaping from Malatra.
waylander39 wrote:Hmm it's definitely a case of Wotc missing a trick with the 4e reboot. Never mind, there's still plenty of room for us to develop the Realms to our own tastes. It also wouldn't surprise me if there was a small group of enthusiasts still chugging away on Raven's Bluff somewhere. Might be worth trying some Google-fu to see if there's anyone still out there.
I found one fairly good webpage called RPGR (r) Living City. It has some dead links on it (including a few TSR links :o ) but dead links are good, because you can throw them into the Wayback Machine and then grab the archived content that search engines can't find.

There is one Raven's Bluff website, where the webmaster pulled all of his content, as he "didn't like the way players were being charged to join Organised Play", but looking at the archive allowed me to find information about the UK RPGA's expansion to Living City: Sarbreenar. (It looks like the same sort of regional thing that Living Greyhawk had might have been happening with Living City. Obviously, this makes me wonder if the UK RPGA had a Malatra expansion.)
AuldDragon wrote:There's at least as much undocumented land as there is documented.
I'd have really loved to have seen a "Returned Abeir" be turned into one of those places (and be given a background that said it was always there). In fact, it might have been nice for WotC to have made a new Abeir Campaign Setting and included a throwaway reference that their was a continent called Faerun on the other side of the planet. (If I ever buy FRCG, I'd probably want to find a way to reboot it to make it fit into the 3e FR.)
AuldDragon wrote:What's most frustrating to me is that one of these continents has man-made landmarks visible from space; this is the kind of thing that should be documented from a spelljammer point of view.
Ohh. That is a bit like the Nasca Lines. They should really be in the Maztica area instead of on what looks like Toril's answer to Australia. I wonder if any FR fans have created an Aborigine inspired continent.
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Re: [Malatra] Anyone use Malatra?

Post by Marco Fossati » Mon Apr 27, 2009 12:17 pm

Never known the existance of Malatra.

thank guys I'll give a look at the stuff

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Re: [Malatra] Anyone use Malatra?

Post by Big Mac » Mon Aug 24, 2009 12:05 am

Marco Fossati wrote:Never known the existance of Malatra.

thank guys I'll give a look at the stuff
Have you seen this yet, Marco? What do you think of it?
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Re: [Malatra] Anyone use Malatra?

Post by Bonetti » Tue Dec 29, 2009 10:01 pm

Cool. I had no idea this was developed, and I think that's the first real planetary map[*] I've seen of Toril. That alone might prove useful if I ever get the chance to run an SJ game again... :-)

Out of curiosity, is Malatra related to the Dark Continent stuff that was in... oh, Dragon 190ish? I seem to (very vaguely) recall that there was a letter writer somewhere around 160 or 170 who asked about African-themed campaign settings, and he turned around and eventually wrote one up which was published later. (I'm guessing in the 190s, might've been 180s -- before 200, which is about when I stopped collecting...)

[*] specifically:
AuldDragon wrote:There's at least as much undocumented land as there is documented. What's most frustrating to me is that one of these continents has man-made landmarks visible from space; this is the kind of thing that should be documented from a spelljammer point of view.
Jeff: what is the source on those continent maps? I mean -- the whole planet, not the poster maps fit into it. Thanks!
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Re: [Malatra] Anyone use Malatra?

Post by AuldDragon » Wed Dec 30, 2009 12:59 pm

Bonetti wrote:Cool. I had no idea this was developed, and I think that's the first real planetary map[*] I've seen of Toril. That alone might prove useful if I ever get the chance to run an SJ game again... :-)

Out of curiosity, is Malatra related to the Dark Continent stuff that was in... oh, Dragon 190ish? I seem to (very vaguely) recall that there was a letter writer somewhere around 160 or 170 who asked about African-themed campaign settings, and he turned around and eventually wrote one up which was published later. (I'm guessing in the 190s, might've been 180s -- before 200, which is about when I stopped collecting...)
Nope, at least, none that I've seen. Malatra is the FR/Kara-tur analogue to the jungles of south-east Asia and Indonesia, not Africa. I'm not sure there really is an analogue to Africa in FR.
Bonetti wrote:[*] specifically:
AuldDragon wrote:There's at least as much undocumented land as there is documented. What's most frustrating to me is that one of these continents has man-made landmarks visible from space; this is the kind of thing that should be documented from a spelljammer point of view.
Jeff: what is the source on those continent maps? I mean -- the whole planet, not the poster maps fit into it. Thanks!
They're from the Forgotten Realms Interactive Atlas that came out something like ten to twelve years ago. It certainly seems like someone at WotC kept them around, too, since if you look at that grand history of FR book that came out a few years ago, the very first, ancient map (era of the creator races/days of thunder or something; I can't recall exactly offhand) included the southern part of the Maztican continent, pretty much as it appears there (although the ocean was a lot smaller/more compressed).

Getting those maps alone made the product worth it to me. :)

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Re: [Malatra] Anyone use Malatra?

Post by Big Mac » Wed Dec 30, 2009 9:03 pm

Bonetti wrote:Cool. I had no idea this was developed, and I think that's the first real planetary map[*] I've seen of Toril. That alone might prove useful if I ever get the chance to run an SJ game again... :-)
If you own (or can borrow) the 3e version of Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, you will see a global map on page 231.

I see the text "Unknown Lands" six times on that map and it is really frustrating that they didn't just ask Ed Greenwood to invent six throwaway name for these places.

IIRC, there was a named land north of Maztica. I'm not sure if that was canon or fanon, but feel free to start a thread about it in the Maztica forum if you like.
AuldDragon wrote:
Bonetti wrote:Cool. I had no idea this was developed, and I think that's the first real planetary map[*] I've seen of Toril. That alone might prove useful if I ever get the chance to run an SJ game again... :-)

Out of curiosity, is Malatra related to the Dark Continent stuff that was in... oh, Dragon 190ish? I seem to (very vaguely) recall that there was a letter writer somewhere around 160 or 170 who asked about African-themed campaign settings, and he turned around and eventually wrote one up which was published later. (I'm guessing in the 190s, might've been 180s -- before 200, which is about when I stopped collecting...)
Nope, at least, none that I've seen. Malatra is the FR/Kara-tur analogue to the jungles of south-east Asia and Indonesia, not Africa. I'm not sure there really is an analogue to Africa in FR.
According to the talk page of the (as yet) uwritten Malatra article on Forgotten Realms Wiki, Malatra is based on Laos, Cambodia, Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam. So anyone wanting to expand the setting could look for inspiration from the culture of those countires. A bit of mixing up and it should look appropriate, but new.
AuldDragon wrote:
Bonetti wrote:[*] specifically:
AuldDragon wrote:There's at least as much undocumented land as there is documented. What's most frustrating to me is that one of these continents has man-made landmarks visible from space; this is the kind of thing that should be documented from a spelljammer point of view.
Jeff: what is the source on those continent maps? I mean -- the whole planet, not the poster maps fit into it. Thanks!
They're from the Forgotten Realms Interactive Atlas that came out something like ten to twelve years ago. It certainly seems like someone at WotC kept them around, too, since if you look at that grand history of FR book that came out a few years ago, the very first, ancient map (era of the creator races/days of thunder or something; I can't recall exactly offhand) included the southern part of the Maztican continent, pretty much as it appears there (although the ocean was a lot smaller/more compressed).

Getting those maps alone made the product worth it to me. :)
Hmm. Now I'm starting to regret not having this.
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Re: [Malatra] Anyone use Malatra?

Post by dulsi » Wed Dec 30, 2009 10:07 pm

Big Mac wrote:IIRC, there was a named land north of Maztica. I'm not sure if that was canon or fanon, but feel free to start a thread about it in the Maztica forum if you like.
I think they are talked about in the Maztica modules. I haven't read them so I don't know for certain.
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Re: [Malatra] Anyone use Malatra?

Post by Big Mac » Thu Dec 31, 2009 7:09 pm

Just to let you know, I've started another thread called [Malatra] Other Malatra Websites (& Free Downloads) for useful links.

These are mostly links that I grabbed from Dulsi's page, but I have added one more. I suppose I could have added them to the Kara-Tur links, but I figure that if we get a lot of chatter about Malatra, it might eventually get split off from the Kara-Tur forum and having the links separated now, could make it easier to move things later. (The thread might also be easier for random Malatra fans to locate on a search engine.)

I've listed all the archived downloads that Identical Software are hosting, but didn't put in direct links as I didn't want to steal Dulsi's bandwidth.

The nice people over at the Jungle Tales group asked us to give them a shout out a while ago. I meant to do it back then, but it slipped my mind. :oops:

Anyway, I'm hoping that the new thread will bring more attention to their Malatra project. Please do surf over to the other thread and check out their website. You will need a Yahoo ID to join and you will need to wait a bit while an admin manually verifies you are not a spammer.
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Re: [Malatra] Anyone use Malatra?

Post by Big Mac » Thu Dec 31, 2009 7:21 pm

Big Mac wrote:Malatra is the setting used for the RPGA's Living Jungle game. Here is a key bit of the blurb:
Living Jungle Campaign - Player Information Guide: page 2 wrote:Deep in the most remote jungles south of the Forgotten Realms oriental setting of Kara-Tur is a vast plateau called Malatra. Malatra is isolated from the rest of Toril by sheer cliffs that raise it thousands of feet from the jungle floor... Also, the jungle below is filled with a dense population of carnivorous dinosaurs that will rend any unwary travellers that approach. Malatra is hidden by powerful magics that obscure the plateau from the outside world and prevent anyone from approaching its borders, inside or out.
Here is another bit of blurb from the (now dead) TSR homepage for Living Jungle:

RPGA wrote:Welcome to the Living Jungle

Far beyond the Living City(tm) lies an undiscovered land of savage tribes, fabulous creatures, and the mysterious ruins of a forgotten race. Soaring above the jungles of southern Kara-Tur, the Malatran Plateau has been invisible to the natives of Abeir-Toril for thousands of years. Most sages consider the area nothing more than an uninteresting wilderness.

They could not be more wrong.

The Living Jungle is a tournament setting for members of the RPGA® Network. Like its older sister, the Living City, this campaign is designed for players who create their own characters to play at conventions all over the world. These PCs gain levels, treasure, and power with every adventure, just as in a campaign played at home.

The Living Jungle setting is very like the Living City, but it is at once simpler and more exotic. You will not need a suitcase full of books to play or judge in the Living Jungle; all you need are the core AD&D® Game rules and the information from this web site. Just as with the Living City, you can contribute your own characters, adventures, and locations by submitting articles to the RPGA®, writing tournaments, and participating in club and Network contests.

Remember: The Living Settings are meant to grow and change, so what you see here is just a beginning. Read the other articles for more ideas on how your contributions can become an important part of the Living Jungle!
Two things spring to mind:
"Malatran Plateau has been invisible to the natives of Abeir-Toril for thousands of years" suggests that it might have been visible prior to those thousands of years. (Perhaps if anyone ever does an Arcane Age for Kara-Tur it will have a connection with Malatra.
"Most sages consider the area nothing more than an uninteresting wilderness." would suggest that people know that something is here, but discount it.
David "Big Mac" Shepheard
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AuldDragon
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Re: [Malatra] Anyone use Malatra?

Post by AuldDragon » Thu Dec 31, 2009 10:14 pm

Big Mac wrote:Two things spring to mind:
"Malatran Plateau has been invisible to the natives of Abeir-Toril for thousands of years" suggests that it might have been visible prior to those thousands of years. (Perhaps if anyone ever does an Arcane Age for Kara-Tur it will have a connection with Malatra.
"Most sages consider the area nothing more than an uninteresting wilderness." would suggest that people know that something is here, but discount it.
You might be reading too much into it with that invisibility thing. I read it as metaphorically invisible rather than magically invisible.

I've not read much of the campaign material, though, so I dunno. That was just my gut reaction.

Jeff
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Big Mac
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Re: [Malatra] Anyone use Malatra?

Post by Big Mac » Fri Jan 01, 2010 3:55 am

AuldDragon wrote:
Big Mac wrote:Two things spring to mind:
"Malatran Plateau has been invisible to the natives of Abeir-Toril for thousands of years" suggests that it might have been visible prior to those thousands of years. (Perhaps if anyone ever does an Arcane Age for Kara-Tur it will have a connection with Malatra.
"Most sages consider the area nothing more than an uninteresting wilderness." would suggest that people know that something is here, but discount it.
You might be reading too much into it with that invisibility thing. I read it as metaphorically invisible rather than magically invisible.
Either way, I would say that there is an implied connection to the rest of the world in the (more distant) past. Maybe some sort of historical event threw the Malatran Plateau up into the air. :?
David "Big Mac" Shepheard
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