[Project] The Thunder Rift Gazetteer

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[Project] The Thunder Rift Gazetteer

Post by Belathauzer » Fri Nov 07, 2008 9:20 pm

This topic shall serve as the home for all dicsussions related to the fan-based Thunder Rift Gazetteer.

The current project team members are:

Project Director:
  • Havard
Project Contributors:
  • Belathauzer
  • Fflewddur
  • Firebee
  • Phoenixmcl
Some areas of interest that have been discussed so far and are close to being in consensus are:

1) Wizard-Warrior Conflict: Everyone seems to like the idea of it being an Alphatian/Thyatian or Chaos/Law type conflict, rather than a black & white good vs. evil Wizards vs. Warriors conflict. We should definitely develop this more along these lines.

2) Geoffrey: I seem to have coined a new title here with “Keeper of Secrets”. We should continue to develop Geoffrey as a benevolent wizard who quests to know and possess all things magical. He should be used as a patron of the PCs as well as connected to the Quadrial and it’s network, perhaps even as a patron or benefactor. Most of us seem to like the idea of him being connected to Wizardspire at some point in time as well. This should be developed more.

3) Wizardspire: This still needs to be nailed down better. We have lots of fantastic ideas circling about. Regardless of exact history it seems to be the consensus that it had at one time been a formal magical college and it may have had Alphatian influence. We all seem to be in agreement about the Mad Mage being a lich and evil. I for one like the idea of him using resurrected wizards as undead servants. I found the book I was looking for, “College of Wizardry’, and am reading it over. It would be a great basis for Wizardspire. It even has suggestions for incorporating into Mystara and Red Steel.

4) Mage Island: Lots of great ideas here too. Regardless of our individual takes, we all agree that the island needs to be steeped in mystery (this makes sense if it is owned by the Keeper of Secrets). I for one like the idea of the island being magical, or at least mystical (if there is indeed a difference). Rather than being invisible, it could be constantly shrouded in mist or fog, even on clear days (much like Avalon was described). This simple fog could be enough to dissuade most from trying to reach the island. Those bold enough to try could find themselves lost in the fog, only to emerge once again in a different point on the lake. Those persistent enough may be swallowed by the fog altogether, never to be seen again. The lake may even have a resident “monster” that could be the source of the missing persons.

Those privileged (or lucky) enough to reach the island should find it to be just as mystical and mysterious up close as at a distance, if not more so. I’m picturing something very much like Avalon or Lothlorien. Old ruins, buildings, statues, and structures should dot the landscape, most covered with natural growth – moss, ivy, trees and such. Geoffrey’s library should contain staggering amounts of books, scrolls, and codices, plus items of a magical nature.

5) Pickman: seems to be a natural fit for a servant of Geoffrey and the Quadrial. I believe that the Thunder Rift campaign setting listed him as a ‘sage’ or ‘scribe’. He supposedly works for the mayor in the capacity of a scribe and does personal research on the side. He will also do research for the PCs at a fair price if hired to do so, and he is also a good source of adventure, either through direct hiring or rumors/stories. I like the idea of him being the middle-man between the Geoffrey and the Quadrial. He could also serve Geoffrey in a similar capacity as the Mayor in that he does research for him as well as scribing. In return Pickman may receive magical instruction. He may even be a current or former apprentice of Geoffrey??

6) Barrick: should be connected to the former Wizardspire in some way, much like Geoffrey. Perhaps he could have been a neutral wizard during the time of the conflict, while Geoffrey was more good aligned? I like the idea of Barrick preferring a more personal master/apprentice style of teaching, as opposed to Wizardspire’s more “institutional” approach. Most of us have connected Barrick & Zanzer Tem, especially in a master/apprentice relationship. Perhaps this needs to be fleshed out more? I really like firebee’s use of Barrick’s spirit to possess one of his PCs. Something I never thought of doing. It has a very Raistlin/Fistandantilus quality to it that I really, really like. It makes for an interesting way of bringing back the dead without creating another lich or some such.

7) The Black Knight: definitely needs to be a major plot aspect of the Rift. He, along with the Assassins Academy, will be marshalling forces composed of humans, demi-humans, and humanoids, in an attempt to re-introduce a monarchy and feudal system in the Rift and declare himself King. Geoffrey and the Quadrial are working against his machinations, but cannot yet afford to be open about it. This is where the PCs come in.


Team contributors - please comment on these 7 items, even if it is to just say Yea.

Havard - as project lead, please feel free to take control of this topic and manage it as you see fit.
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Re: [Project] The Thunder Rift Gazetteer

Post by Havard » Fri Nov 07, 2008 10:27 pm

Thanks for starting this Belathauzer! :)

Well, I can see our work here ending up in more than just one product for Thunder Rift, but we might want to start off with the gazetteer and make it a managable introductory product.

Using OldDawg's gazetteers as a basis, the gazetteer should probably not be much more than 35 pages total.

Here is an outline for a possible structure of the gazetteer:
Dungeon Master’s Guide to Thunder Rift
  • Introduction
  • History as the Immortals Know it
  • Geography
  • Society
    • Races
    • Social Standing
    • Religion
    • Societies and Organization
    • Language
    • Currency and Trade
    • Governance
    • Crime and Punishment
    • Relations with Other Nations
  • Military
  • Monsters
  • Artifacts, Treasures and Hidden Places
  • Adventures
Player’s Guide to Thunder Rift
  • History as the people of Thunder Rift know it
  • Creating Thunder Rift Characters
  • Special Rules

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Re: [Project] The Thunder Rift Gazetteer

Post by Belathauzer » Fri Nov 07, 2008 10:51 pm

Other ideas that I've had regarding Thunder Rift:

In my current campaign I have three permanent PCs in the party with a semi-regular cast of rotating NPCs filling in as needed or as the story dictates.

The roster is:
Male Human Cleric - named Pardeux
Female Elf Fighter/Wizard - named Kala
Female Halfling (Hin) Fighter/Thief - named Alassea Underfoot (of the Underfoot clan)

rotating NPCs:
Male Dwarf Fighter
Male Halfling (Hin) Thief
Male Elf Fighter/Wizard (or Ranger depending on ruleset used)

I've established the following backgrounds:

1) The Cleric Pardeux is an orphan raised by his paternal grandmother in Melinir. His mother died in childbirth. His father was (supposedly) killed in the Sword vs. Wand conflict. He is a cleric with a shady past based in Melinir and was recently sent by the High Priest to aid the town of Torlynn. On the way he is captured by bandits/slavers and wakes up in Zanzer's dungeon where he meets the rest of the party. After their escape and later on in the campaign, during an expedition to the Black Knight's castle events will unfold which provide a window into the past. His father is still alive, and is working for the Black Knight!

2) Kala, the Elf is a member of the Silvercrest clan whose family is cousins to the clan leader's bloodline. Though schooled in the arts of magic and warfare, she has been sheletered by her family while her older brother is allowed to go out with the elven border patrols. After learning of her brother's disappearance she decides to leave home to search for him. She is captured by bandits/slavers on the edge of the Gauntlin Forest/Melinir hills and wakes up in Zanzer's dungeon where she meets the rest of the party. After their escape and later on in the campaign she and the rest of the party manage on freeing the village of Torlynn from the grip of eternal winter, and at the same time manages on rescuing her brother who was part of the elven party that was captured by Keshute the wererat and his ratling minions. Her brother is one of the rotating NPCs - Celenasse - a.k.a. Silverthorn, who is played as a fighter/wizard in basic D&D, or as a ranger in AD&D 1e, 2e, or D&D 3.x.

3) The halfling Alassea Underfoot is a member of the Hillstrider clan, a group of travelling halflings that inhabit the Melinir hills. They travel about with their gypsy-like wagons, raising sheep and selling goods & services to local homesteads. She hails from a large family, consisting of a mother, father, three siblings (two brothers & a sister), aunt and several cousins. Alassea's father is a haberdasher and tinkerer. He has changed his name to Haberdash as he always liked the ring of it, that and he always seems to have random bits of junk on hand - exactly what is needed for the situation. The rest of the family raise sheep and pitch in where ever possible. Their aunt and mother's sister is the head of the clan. They are considered elf-friends (in fact, Alassea and all of her siblings bear elven names) and her family is actually familiar with Kala's family, though the two have never met before. They have met Kala's older brother Silverthorn in the past however and are on very good terms with him. Alassea leaves the clan against the wishes of her aunt and older brother after her parents are not heard from for a long period of time after going on one of their "expeditions". Suspecting them to be lost or in danger, and her aunt & brother not telling the whole truth, she sets off to find them. On the way through the Melinir hills she is captured by bandits/slavers and wakes up in Zanzer's dungeon where he meets the rest of the party. During their escape she finds that her parents have been captured by Zanzer as well. The truth comes out and she learns that all of the stories that her father told around the campfire when she was a child were true. Her parents reveal that they are secretly agents of the Quadrial. Together they all go on to rescue the town of Torlynn and free the people from eternal winter (and rescue Kala's family members too).


In my game, I modified the halfling history some by adding travelling and sedentary types. The travelling halflings are part of the Hillstrider clan, who were the original protectors of the halflings that first colonized the Rift. They secretly harbor a Crucible of Blackflame, stolen from the Shires when they first migrated here. The Crucible is protected by not leaving it in the same place for more than a day or two. The sedentary halflings used to inhabit burrows on the edge of Torlynn, but a masacre in the past scared the survivors into the town proper where they live to this day. Alassea's family has some family in Torlynn as their father once hailed from the tiny village, but the wanderlust and love for his future wife Aurora was too great a call and he eventually left to join the Hillstrider clan.

The start of my campaign focuses mainly around the village of Torlynn and the Melinir area. After some adventures around Torlynn the group moves on to Melinir for some city (if you can call it that) life and adventure and come to use it as a base of operations. While in Melinir they run afoul of the other rotating NPC - the male Halfing thief Wilbur Stumbledrunk. As it turns out he is a childhood friend and crush of Alassea. He knows another party member, though not as intimately. It seems as if the cleric owes him for some gambling debts, and he means to collect. Wilbur has been doing well for himself since joining the thieves' guild in Torlynn. He came to Melinir prior to the eternal winter and closing of the Thieves' guild there. He has been operating a gambling and shylocking business in Melinir since and is still affiliated with the Thieves' guild. The PCs end up using him as an underworld contact, which becomes especially useful when the run afoul of Maybrush.

WRT the Melinir hills - the bandits/slavers operate out of one of the abandoned mines. They are in league with Nicholas Maybrush of Melinir, who poses as a legitimate business man, but is really the kingpin of this organized crime ring. He is "doing business" with Zanzer Tem at the moment as he is paying the best gold for able bodied slaves. He could change his allegiance at any time. There is no honor amongst thieves.


Well, what do you all think of my take on the Rift so far? How do you like the PCs, which were all created by individual and drastically different players? I had to be as clever as possible to create the story & plot connections while not treading on the players' established view of their character.

I really like what I have come up with regarding the Melinir hills gang and Nicholas Maybrush. I will stand by this much at least and try to get it in the Gaz.
Last edited by Belathauzer on Fri Nov 07, 2008 11:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: [Project] The Thunder Rift Gazetteer

Post by Belathauzer » Fri Nov 07, 2008 11:08 pm

Havard wrote: Well, I can see our work here ending up in more than just one product for Thunder Rift, but we might want to start off with the gazetteer and make it a managable introductory product.

Using OldDawg's gazetteers as a basis, the gazetteer should probably not be much more than 35 pages total.
Agreed. The gazetteer should be set in either the gaz era (AC 1000) or the modern era (AC 1010) and anything that doesn't explicitly pertain to a gazetteer or that gaz year (like future events, rumors, adventures, and plot twists) would probably better be served by an almanac or separate products, like adventure modules, regional sourcebooks, and a who's who-people & groups of the Rift.


Now that I think of it, a long time ago there had been something called the Fantasy News Network that put out an ASCII text based journal via a monthly email/BBS (yes, I'm dating myself here). It provided "news" for various RPG worlds, mostly, but not limited to, TSR ones. They even covered Mystara and Thunder Rift in a few issues! I think it would be great if we could revive something like that, just for TR or Mystara at first, and eventually encompass other worlds. It would be a great way for our individual campaigns to live in "other" worlds. We may all have different views when it comes to the same material, but it would be great if a character or event in my game could be mentioned, or even affect events in yours, and vice versa.

Take a look at this link for a sample of what I'm talking about THE ADVENTURER'S JOURNAL Vol II, Issue #4. BTW - the first two news stories are for Mystara & Thunder Rift. I'd love to find more of these and incorporate them into our world as well.
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Re: [Project] The Thunder Rift Gazetteer

Post by Havard » Sat Nov 08, 2008 2:41 pm

Belathauzer wrote: Agreed. The gazetteer should be set in either the gaz era (AC 1000) or the modern era (AC 1010) and anything that doesn't explicitly pertain to a gazetteer or that gaz year (like future events, rumors, adventures, and plot twists) would probably better be served by an almanac or separate products, like adventure modules, regional sourcebooks, and a who's who-people & groups of the Rift.
OldDawg's gazetteers are all set in AC1000, but many have information about Future events. I think we should use this premise for the TR gaz as well.
Take a look at this link for a sample of what I'm talking about THE ADVENTURER'S JOURNAL Vol II, Issue #4. BTW - the first two news stories are for Mystara & Thunder Rift. I'd love to find more of these and incorporate them into our world as well.
Wow, I had never heard of that. How cool that they mention Thunder Rift! We have to include this on our project somehow :)

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Re: [Project] The Thunder Rift Gazetteer

Post by firebee » Mon Nov 10, 2008 3:43 pm

YEA!!! :D
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Re: [Project] The Thunder Rift Gazetteer

Post by Fflewddur » Mon Nov 10, 2008 5:26 pm

That's pretty cool Belathauzer,

Always nice to see a lost relic found. I'd love to see the info on TR from the Adventurer's Journal incorporated into the GAZ.

Fflewddur.

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Re: [Project] The Thunder Rift Gazetteer

Post by firebee » Mon Nov 10, 2008 5:31 pm

I really enjoyed your write ups Bleathauzer! I love the way the backgrounds lead directly into adventures. IMHO that is the hallmark of a great campaign. One of my favorite aspects about playing and DMing D&D is the campaign and character development. My process is very similar to yours. First I spend some time with each player finding out how the player envisions his/her character. From this discussion, and based on my campaign knowledge, I develop a short, three-paragraph character background for each PC:

1st paragraph - physical appearance and personality description
2nd paragraph - brief history (family, jobs, important events, etc.) based on what the player described and the characters characteristics (stats, class, and general skills)
3rd paragraph - current (as of the start of the campaign) status and goals

What has been pleasantly surprising it how much my kids enjoy this! While my son is more of a puzzle solver and my daughter is more of a role-player, both thoroughly enjoy reading (and re-reading) their character descriptions. The few times we've skipped this step to get right into playing, they've always grumbled, and keep asking me when I'm going to fill in their backgrounds on their character sheets.

Well-developed backgrounds are also very useful to me from a DM perspective. They allow me to plant plot hooks in the character's histories that lead them to certain adventures (like you've done) and allow for a smoother plot flow to the campaign - e.g. the party investigates the old building outside of town because the Cleric has been searching for a new location for the church that burned down, rather than the old "you are sitting in the tavern after your last adventure when someone looking really desperate approaches you..." Also, it makes it easier for me to give out more XP awards for good role-playing, since both the players and I are working off the same character descriptions.
Belathauzer wrote:In my game, I modified the halfling history some by adding travelling and sedentary types. The travelling halflings are part of the Hillstrider clan, who were the original protectors of the halflings that first colonized the Rift. They secretly harbor a Crucible of Blackflame, stolen from the Shires when they first migrated here. The Crucible is protected by not leaving it in the same place for more than a day or two. The sedentary halflings used to inhabit burrows on the edge of Torlynn, but a masacre in the past scared the survivors into the town proper where they live to this day. Alassea's family has some family in Torlynn as their father once hailed from the tiny village, but the wanderlust and love for his future wife Aurora was too great a call and he eventually left to join the Hillstrider clan.
I love the idea of Halfling gypsies (although a very funny vision of hairy-footed jawas popped into my mind at first!) It adds a real unique flavor to the rift and neatly explains why there isn't a "base" community of halflings similar to what the Dwarves and Elves have in TR.
Belathauzer wrote:The start of my campaign focuses mainly around the village of Torlynn and the Melinir area. After some adventures around Torlynn the group moves on to Melinir for some city (if you can call it that) life and adventure and come to use it as a base of operations. While in Melinir they run afoul of the other rotating NPC - the male Halfing thief Wilbur Stumbledrunk. As it turns out he is a childhood friend and crush of Alassea. He knows another party member, though not as intimately. It seems as if the cleric owes him for some gambling debts, and he means to collect. Wilbur has been doing well for himself since joining the thieves' guild in Torlynn. He came to Melinir prior to the eternal winter and closing of the Thieves' guild there. He has been operating a gambling and shylocking business in Melinir since and is still affiliated with the Thieves' guild. The PCs end up using him as an underworld contact, which becomes especially useful when the run afoul of Maybrush.
Reoccurring NPCs (both helpful and otherwise) are key components to an enjoyable campaign. My kids currently have three different parties running in TR, and each is affiliated somehow with a major NPC (although they don't interact with them all that often.) For example, the party adventuring in the Kleine area of TR (comprised of two Silvercrest Elves, a Magic-User from Mage Island, and a Thief from Melinir) discovered that the thief's long lost father was in fact Raven, and that her "patron" in the Melinir thieves guild, Black Tom, was actually her uncle. Because of the jealousy Tom felt towards his brother for "stealing" the woman he was in love with (the PC's dead mother), Tom arranged for Raven to receive the magical picture that put him into suspended animation for many years. The thief is plotting revenge against Black Tom, while keeping her father's return a secret from him. Meanwhile Raven himself is searching for information about his wife's fate.
Belathauzer wrote:WRT the Melinir hills - the bandits/slavers operate out of one of the abandoned mines. They are in league with Nicholas Maybrush of Melinir, who poses as a legitimate business man, but is really the kingpin of this organized crime ring. He is "doing business" with Zanzer Tem at the moment as he is paying the best gold for able bodied slaves. He could change his allegiance at any time. There is no honor amongst thieves.
Cool! In my campaign, Nicholas is involved with a silver smuggling ring operating out of the mines north of Melinir. Unknown to him, his "partners" are actually a group of wererats intent on taking over all the human settlements in TR. Keshute was one of their agents working in the Torilyn area.
Belathauzer wrote:Well, what do you all think of my take on the Rift so far? How do you like the PCs, which were all created by individual and drastically different players? I had to be as clever as possible to create the story & plot connections while not treading on the players' established view of their character.

I really like what I have come up with regarding the Melinir hills gang and Nicholas Maybrush. I will stand by this much at least and try to get it in the Gaz.
I really like what you've come up with Belathauzer. It is sometimes difficult to come up with a plausible background that is consistent with the players wants. That's why I reserve the right as DM to alter some aspects of the character (typically a collection of "munchkin" general skills) to better fit into the campaign. Because I add plot hooks to the backgrounds that really give each character an important role in some part of the campaign, I haven't received any complaints about this.

Great job!
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Re: [Project] The Thunder Rift Gazetteer

Post by Belathauzer » Mon Nov 10, 2008 11:28 pm

Thanks for the feeback firebee.

So, you are running three separate groups in Thunder Rift, all of them with your kids? WOW! :shock: I really hope to be able to do something like that with my kids one day. I love the fact that you've spoiled them to only love three-dimensional characters. I've always hated having a pre-rolled character or just a sheet of numbers in front of me. The background & personality is key.

I've actually been thinking about doing the same thing in my current Thunder Rift game - having multiple separate groups that is. Just one group can't possibly explore every dungeon and go on every adventure. I think it would be cool if each group heard of the other's exploits, but never managed on running into each other (quite a rare feat in an area as small as the Rift). Maybe they could meet up when they become especially powerful (level 5 or so) and create a super team for taking on the ultimate enemy? Hmmm... 8-)

Thanks for also mentioning aspects of your own games. It's very beneficial for getting the creative juices flowing in new and interesting directions. I'm glad to see other DMs who believe that their PCs should have lives of their own with plenty of background. It really does help when making adventures and plot hooks. Plus the players should be involved in the game at least as far as their characters are concerned.

I would love it if you could post some of your PCs and self-made NPCs (complete with backgrounds & personalities) to the Who's Who topic. You could even post them here if you don't mind them showing up in a Gaz. I promise to give them a home in my game as NPCs provided you are OK with that. Consider them to be alternate reality/parallel dimension aspects of your beloved characters. I'll be sure to do proper writeups of my characters and post them there as well. It would be great if they can live on in another world too.

I hear the sound of a halfling tinker wagon winding down the road now... it sounds like, chaos on wheels. :D
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Re: [Project] The Thunder Rift Gazetteer

Post by BlU_sKrEEm » Fri Nov 14, 2008 5:29 am

I can't wait to see this projects result. I had honestly never heard of thunder rifts before coming to this site. I've just started to explore the setting in my game, unfortunately my game won't be exploring it for long (i'm running Warriors of the Eternal Sun with Harvard's Suggestion of starting with Thunder Rifts.) That said i like the setting and am supprised at how little is available for it. Good luck guys.

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Re: [Project] The Thunder Rift Gazetteer

Post by Belathauzer » Fri Nov 14, 2008 6:28 pm

OK guys, here it is... after lots of clever keyword search combinations I've managed on finding a site that has collected what appears to be all of the Fantasy News Network's - Adventurer's Journals. They were all simple text mailings from back in the day and ran from 1992 to 1999 it seems.

http://members.tripod.com/~elmair/fnnmain.html

A few issues contain information on Thunder Rift, and several have news from Mystara.

Enjoy! :D
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Re: [Project] The Thunder Rift Gazetteer

Post by firebee » Wed Nov 19, 2008 4:17 pm

Belathauzer wrote:So, you are running three separate groups in Thunder Rift, all of them with your kids? WOW! :shock: I really hope to be able to do something like that with my kids one day.
How old are your kids? Mine are 10 and 12, but we've been playing for several years. My nephews just started playing with us (ages 6 & 7) and they really enjoy D&D as well. In fact, before they joined us, they'd already made up their own "D&D" game using MageKnight figures and dice! They based it on the D&D computer games they play with their Dad.

We run so many parties (3 Thunder Rift, 1 Alfheim, 1 Thyatis, 2 Karameikos) for a number of reasons. First, my kids love creating different characters. Having so many parties gives them the opportunity to do so. Some parties we've hardly played (namely the Thyatian campaign), while others they play quite frequently (the three Thunder Rift campaigns) so it's not like ALL we do is D&D :lol: Also, some of the campaigns involve different groups of players. Our two Karameikos parties we play with my brother and his two boys, and one of the TR parties is just my son (who likes to play more than my daughter). For the Thyatian campaign, the kids persuaded their Mom to play. So rather than play other people's characters as NPCs, we simply base which campaign we play based on who is available. We do try to push through to the end of an adventure though, just because it's difficult to remember where we left off sometimes! (Though I am getting better at record keeping! You would think that after DMing for over 25 years, I would be a pro by now :roll: )
Belathauzer wrote:I've actually been thinking about doing the same thing in my current Thunder Rift game - having multiple separate groups that is. Just one group can't possibly explore every dungeon and go on every adventure. I think it would be cool if each group heard of the other's exploits, but never managed on running into each other (quite a rare feat in an area as small as the Rift). Maybe they could meet up when they become especially powerful (level 5 or so) and create a super team for taking on the ultimate enemy? Hmmm... 8-)
That's definitely a cool idea! While I think it can be hard to run more than two characters, my kids essentially do just that when they're playing with their dolls & action figures, so I'm pretty sure they could pull it off. I would have to do some work though to: 1) coordinate the time lines of each party (they play the parties with different frequencies), and 2) come up with some compelling sub-plots that logically pushes the parties together for that climactic. Luckily each party has good relations with the local governors - one party has worked with Councilor Baur (Kleine), another one with the mayor of Melinir, and the third with the bugormeister of Torlynn. Perhaps there could be a rift-wide menace that incapacitates/eliminates the Quadrial, requiring each community to send their greatest heroes to battle the evil! I'm thinking Scorch (is he the current Red Dragon?), but perhaps there is some greater evil?
Belathauzer wrote:I would love it if you could post some of your PCs and self-made NPCs (complete with backgrounds & personalities) to the Who's Who topic. You could even post them here if you don't mind them showing up in a Gaz. I promise to give them a home in my game as NPCs provided you are OK with that. Consider them to be alternate reality/parallel dimension aspects of your beloved characters. I'll be sure to do proper writeups of my characters and post them there as well. It would be great if they can live on in another world too.
That is a great idea. I've been meaning to put up some sort of TR campaign website for some time, but have never gotten around to actually doing it. Starting with the PCs (there are only 12 of them) and a few of the major NPCs seems like a reasonable place to start, and something I could accomplish given that the PCs are already in electronic format. I will try to work on this over the weekend, and post a link next week. The kids will get a kick out of their characters existing in "parallel dimensions"!
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Re: [Project] The Thunder Rift Gazetteer

Post by firebee » Wed Nov 19, 2008 4:40 pm

Havard wrote: Here is an outline for a possible structure of the gazetteer:
Dungeon Master’s Guide to Thunder Rift
Introduction
History as the Immortals Know it
Geography
Society
[*]Races
[*]Social Standing
[*]Religion
[*]Societies and Organization
[*]Language
[*]Currency and Trade
[*]Governance
[*]Crime and Punishment
[*]Relations with Other Nations
Military
Monsters
Artifacts, Treasures and Hidden Places
Adventures

Player’s Guide to Thunder Rift
History as the people of Thunder Rift know it
Creating Thunder Rift Characters
Special Rules
I think this is a great outline for the project! Before we start though, I think we need to come to some consensus about a few things that will greatly influence how we flesh out each of these sections:

1) Where is TR actually located? There have been a number of great suggestions in past threads regarding this topic, but for the purpose of the Gazetteer, I think we need to settle on one. I've alternately placed my TR campaigns either in NE Karameikos, or somewhere in the mountains between/near Darokin, Rockhome, Karameikos, and Ylaruam. (I haven't had to come to a real decision, since none of my player characters have ever attempted to leave TR!) However, I am completely open to any/all suggestions.

2) How big is TR? While I'm okay with the cannon scale to the map (1 inch = 1 mile), I guess I would like to see a larger scale if possible (though this decision may depend on where we ultimately locate the rift) as it allows for larger communities, and greater separation amongst them.

3) Do we see TR as an integral part of another nation (like a barony), a sort of nation within a nation (e.g. the elven communities within Karameikos), or a completely separate "lost world" setting (e.g. Haven or the lost valley of the Huttakan)? By default, I've always leaned toward the lost world idea, but there are clearly merchant roads leading out from the rift.

4) How do we integrate the published and fan material in the Gazetteer? Do we keep everything that has been published as canon, and simply add to that? Or, should we feel free to edit some of the canon material to make it fit better with the additional material we come up with?
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Re: [Project] The Thunder Rift Gazetteer

Post by Gawain_VIII » Wed Nov 19, 2008 4:54 pm

firebee wrote:I think this is a great outline for the project! Before we start though, I think we need to come to some consensus about a few things that will greatly influence how we flesh out each of these sections:

1) Where is TR actually located? There have been a number of great suggestions in past threads regarding this topic, but for the purpose of the Gazetteer, I think we need to settle on one. I've alternately placed my TR campaigns either in NE Karameikos, or somewhere in the mountains between/near Darokin, Rockhome, Karameikos, and Ylaruam. (I haven't had to come to a real decision, since none of my player characters have ever attempted to leave TR!) However, I am completely open to any/all suggestions.

2) How big is TR? While I'm okay with the cannon scale to the map (1 inch = 1 mile), I guess I would like to see a larger scale if possible (though this decision may depend on where we ultimately locate the rift) as it allows for larger communities, and greater separation amongst them.

3) Do we see TR as an integral part of another nation (like a barony), a sort of nation within a nation (e.g. the elven communities within Karameikos), or a completely separate "lost world" setting (e.g. Haven or the lost valley of the Huttakan)? By default, I've always leaned toward the lost world idea, but there are clearly merchant roads leading out from the rift.

4) How do we integrate the published and fan material in the Gazetteer? Do we keep everything that has been published as canon, and simply add to that? Or, should we feel free to edit some of the canon material to make it fit better with the additional material we come up with?
<OPINION>
<OL type=1>
<LI>This should be kept intentionally vague, IMO. If there must be mention of it, I would prefer an obscure reference to Davania, since that was the original intent of the line.
<LI>Small enough to keep the "feel" but large enough that one wouldn't feel constrained. As a reference, I would suggest comparing to the WotC mini-setting adventure "Shattered Gates of Slaughtergarde"
<LI>Option 3: Lost World
<LI>Suggested Order of precedence: 1)Published print material=base canon; 2)unpublished print material=canon (presuming no conflict with published material); 3)consideration of fan material (ensuring continuity with the previous two items).
</OL>
</OPINION>

/!-- Roger
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Re: [Project] The Thunder Rift Gazetteer

Post by Havard » Sat Nov 22, 2008 12:27 am

firebee wrote:
I think this is a great outline for the project! Before we start though, I think we need to come to some consensus about a few things that will greatly influence how we flesh out each of these sections:
Thanks! You raise some important questions. My view differs a bit from Roger's:
1) Where is TR actually located? There have been a number of great suggestions in past threads regarding this topic, but for the purpose of the Gazetteer, I think we need to settle on one. I've alternately placed my TR campaigns either in NE Karameikos, or somewhere in the mountains between/near Darokin, Rockhome, Karameikos, and Ylaruam. (I haven't had to come to a real decision, since none of my player characters have ever attempted to leave TR!) However, I am completely open to any/all suggestions.
I think different locations should be discussed. We should leave it open where the valley is exactly, providing with a few suggested locations. The overall assumption though, should IMO be that the valley is in the Known World and that it has been influenced by Known World culture. The timeline is already based around this assumption.
2) How big is TR? While I'm okay with the cannon scale to the map (1 inch = 1 mile), I guess I would like to see a larger scale if possible (though this decision may depend on where we ultimately locate the rift) as it allows for larger communities, and greater separation amongst them.
IMO, we should stick with canon, but we could add a small section about the consequences of changing it size on population etc...
3) Do we see TR as an integral part of another nation (like a barony), a sort of nation within a nation (e.g. the elven communities within Karameikos), or a completely separate "lost world" setting (e.g. Haven or the lost valley of the Huttakan)? By default, I've always leaned toward the lost world idea, but there are clearly merchant roads leading out from the rift.
The only merchant road with some activity is the one leading through the Horned Hills. The trading route here is patrolled by Minotaurs. While some trade is allowed to pass through, this would still leave the valley mostly isolated. Thunder Rifters know there is a world outside, but most don't really have a strong desire to leave their valley.
4) How do we integrate the published and fan material in the Gazetteer? Do we keep everything that has been published as canon, and simply add to that? Or, should we feel free to edit some of the canon material to make it fit better with the additional material we come up with?
I think staying fairly true to canon is a good idea as that will allow more people to make use of what we make. Ofcourse, this needs to be expanded considerably and integrated properly into a greater Known World context.

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Re: [Project] The Thunder Rift Gazetteer

Post by Havard » Sat Nov 22, 2008 12:31 am

Gawain_VIII wrote:This should be kept intentionally vague, IMO. If there must be mention of it, I would prefer an obscure reference to Davania, since that was the original intent of the line.
Kidradical did mention Davania as one of the locations he had considered for Thunder Rift, but I don't think it would be fair to say that that was the originally intended location of the line. I am pretty sure the original intent was "keep it generic, so it can be placed anywhere". Seeing as the valley is so generic, I think it fits better into the Known World and it wouldnt really add anything to Davania as we might want to keep "generic" out of that continent?

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Re: [Project] The Thunder Rift Gazetteer

Post by yellowdingo » Sun Jan 25, 2009 6:46 am

I considered it set in an Alternate reality TRALADARA (reached through a dimensional Rift in the Mountains) where the Black Knight's Keep was on the Edge of the Blight Swamp - I only had the BLACK KNIGHT adventure and Thought Karameikos was Butchered by Veiled Society Assassins in AC971, and the Region was declared "open" by the Emperor THINCOL. It soon became divided amongst Petty Barons and self styled Dukes fighting amongst themselves for control of this territory. The Duchy of Marilenev, The Barony of Black Eagle, The Barony of Kelvin, The Barony of Vorloi, The Bishopric of Halaran are all there but they are different.

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Re: [Project] The Thunder Rift Gazetteer

Post by Belathauzer » Thu Mar 26, 2009 5:31 pm

*Casts topic resurrection spell* :ugeek:

Havard's topic on Karameikos BC1000 got me thinking about Thunder Rift's history. In this topic the following conversation took place:
Chimpman wrote: The dwarves of Rockhome are in an expansionist period at this time. In just under 70 years they will occupy the Shires, so I think it can be assumed that dwarves are out and about in the world (and not just holed up in Rockhome). There may be dwarven traders around. Perhaps they do a good business with the Hutaaka of the region?
Havard wrote: Great idea! Thunder Rift is also a Hutaakan Valley at this time (soon to be completely wiped out by Gnolls) which would be even closer to Rockhome, meaning Dwarves could possibly access the Traldar Kingdoms from there (via portals or more mundane means).
Now, the Hutaakan Valley aspect of Thunder Rift is non-canon and an invention of Havard's; but one that I like and tend to use in my game, as well as other aspects of both Havard's & Phoenixmcl's (as well as my own) history/timeline. (Side note - I think Phoenixmcl should be added to the Project contributor roster) What could we agree on regarding Thunder Rift's history? I think this is the single most important facet of the Thunder Rift Gazetteer next to the status quo.

With regards to Thunder Rift originally being settled by Hutaakans:
Havard has established the Rift as being settled circa BC1500 and later destroyed by invading Gnolls in BC1000; who eventually turn upon themselves leaving scattered tribes throughout the valley.

How else can we expand upon this? What achievements could the Hutaakans have made during their 500 year occupation of the region? What legacies have they left behind? Havard has already established the following:
  • Hutaakans of Thunder Rift establish contact with Hutaakans of Traladara, opening a Magical Gate in the northern mountains of Thunder Rift leading to those lands (near the modern day village of Bywater in Karameikos) - extropolated from Escape from Thunder Rift.
  • Hutaakan Clerics pull Ashai Monolith from the sky. The monolith is a holy artifact from the lands of Ashai on the moon of Patera. The Hutaakans use the inherent invisibility magic found in the rock to create a protective spell around the valley, keeping it hidden from outsiders. Unfortunately, it is too late. One group of invaders has already located the valley (i.e. Gnolls) - extrapolated from Rage of Rakasta.
I really like the first idea of the Hutaakans creating the magical portal between Karameikos and TR. I think this could be expanded upon to create a "gate network" similar to that which exists in the Forgotten Realms. This would give the Rift some other points of entrance/exit and perhaps some additional fluff for TR as different creatures, races, and cultures could have entered the Rift at various points using these modes of travel. Obviously the majority of the gates would lead to former Hutaakan settlements (e.g. - the Lost Valley would be a good candidate), but what about gates to areas that the Hutaakans were exploring/researching? Some gates could lead to other continents or even other worlds/planes?

I also like the idea of using Eisenmond more in TR as discussed in the Eisenmond topic. It was established that the dwarves (who come to the Rift after the Hutaakans - non-canon) discover the Eisenmond (canon). Could the Hutaakans have known about Eisenmond as well? If so, how would they have used it? Would the Hutaakans have made any magical artifacts using Eisenmond? Are any still in the Rift waiting to be discovered? Could Eisenmond have been used in conjunction with the creation of these magical gates? I think we need to define the properties of Eisenmond some more beyond the fact that it appears to work similarly to Mithril, but with the possibility of an added effect against draconic races.
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Re: [Project] The Thunder Rift Gazetteer

Post by Havard » Thu Apr 02, 2009 4:43 pm

Belathauzer wrote:Now, the Hutaakan Valley aspect of Thunder Rift is non-canon and an invention of Havard's; but one that I like and tend to use in my game, as well as other aspects of both Havard's & Phoenixmcl's (as well as my own) history/timeline. (Side note - I think Phoenixmcl should be added to the Project contributor roster) What could we agree on regarding Thunder Rift's history? I think this is the single most important facet of the Thunder Rift Gazetteer next to the status quo.
Good job bringing this thread back into life Belathauzer! :) I have added Phoenixmcl to the OP. I haven't asked him yet, but lets hope he doesn't mind! :)

Good to hear you like the Hutaakan addition. It really makes sense in alot of ways.

I really like the first idea of the Hutaakans creating the magical portal between Karameikos and TR. I think this could be expanded upon to create a "gate network" similar to that which exists in the Forgotten Realms. This would give the Rift some other points of entrance/exit and perhaps some additional fluff for TR as different creatures, races, and cultures could have entered the Rift at various points using these modes of travel. Obviously the majority of the gates would lead to former Hutaakan settlements (e.g. - the Lost Valley would be a good candidate), but what about gates to areas that the Hutaakans were exploring/researching? Some gates could lead to other continents or even other worlds/planes?
The network of gates makes sense. Perhaps this can be linked to how some Hutaakans ended up on the Savage Coast, as described in the Black Vessel. The Pit, which I theorized connects to the Hollow World might also be of Hutaakan origin somehow? Whatabout the Gloomfens? Perhaps the magic the wizard used to summon those deadly fumes made use of a Hutaakan gate? Maybe that gate still brings undead into the fens? And whatabout the magic beneath Mage Isle?
I also like the idea of using Eisenmond more in TR as discussed in the Eisenmond topic. It was established that the dwarves (who come to the Rift after the Hutaakans - non-canon) discover the Eisenmond (canon). Could the Hutaakans have known about Eisenmond as well? If so, how would they have used it? Would the Hutaakans have made any magical artifacts using Eisenmond? Are any still in the Rift waiting to be discovered? Could Eisenmond have been used in conjunction with the creation of these magical gates? I think we need to define the properties of Eisenmond some more beyond the fact that it appears to work similarly to Mithril, but with the possibility of an added effect against draconic races.
If Eisenmond was brought to TR from downfall from the Great Rain of Fire it would have been around already at the time of the Hutaakans. Perhaps Eisenmond is somehow linked to how the gates are enchanted?

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Re: [Project] The Thunder Rift Gazetteer

Post by Phoenixmcl » Sat Apr 11, 2009 12:03 am

I'm in the middle of a long distance move but the good thing is I will have the time to contribute to Thunder Rift (I maybe able to finish the Blight of Brichtwood). I don't have my TR collection back yet, but soon.

Anyway Thanks For Signing Me UP :)

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Re: [Project] The Thunder Rift Gazetteer

Post by Phoenixmcl » Sat Apr 11, 2009 12:18 am

Hey which rules set are we using for this?
And your format is going to be the TSR style GAZ or are we moving forward to the DM/Players Guide sets?

I think we should redo the map so we can get a better idea of the regions. I don't think the orginial poster map is of much concern. I noticed some new scale maps that are better suited. A good hex map is a good place to start.

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Re: [Project] The Thunder Rift Gazetteer

Post by Havard » Mon Apr 13, 2009 12:33 am

Phoenixmcl wrote:I'm in the middle of a long distance move but the good thing is I will have the time to contribute to Thunder Rift (I maybe able to finish the Blight of Brichtwood). I don't have my TR collection back yet, but soon.

Anyway Thanks For Signing Me UP :)
Hehe, you were drafted ;)

I think there are alot of people here who would be interested in seeing the Brichtwood adventure!

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Re: [Project] The Thunder Rift Gazetteer

Post by Havard » Mon Apr 13, 2009 12:37 am

Phoenixmcl wrote:Hey which rules set are we using for this?
And your format is going to be the TSR style GAZ or are we moving forward to the DM/Players Guide sets?
There are several ways we could do this. PErsonally, I like the idea of a FGaz style pdf which would mean using a very light version of Classic D&D. It would be intreresting to see versions for other editions as well though. Do we make separate versions of the entire book for each edition, or do we create smaller rule based guides for each ruleset/edition?
I think we should redo the map so we can get a better idea of the regions. I don't think the orginial poster map is of much concern. I noticed some new scale maps that are better suited. A good hex map is a good place to start.
I am all up for hex maps, though I'm not very good at making them myself. There should be a hex map posted here somewhere. Come to think of it, I promised to put labels on that one.... :oops:

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Re: [Project] The Thunder Rift Gazetteer

Post by firebee » Tue Apr 14, 2009 7:10 pm

Phoenixmcl wrote:Hey which rules set are we using for this?
And your format is going to be the TSR style GAZ or are we moving forward to the DM/Players Guide sets?
Actually some of the gazetteers did have separate DM and player sections, but I'm fine with just a single, more dm-based product. Then if someone wanted to develop a player redux version, it would be pretty easy to do.
Havard wrote:There are several ways we could do this. PErsonally, I like the idea of a FGaz style pdf which would mean using a very light version of Classic D&D. It would be intreresting to see versions for other editions as well though. Do we make separate versions of the entire book for each edition, or do we create smaller rule based guides for each ruleset/edition?
In my (admittedly totally biased!) opinion, I would like to see the gazetteer be developed with the classic rules, if not RC, then BXCMI. This will keep them consistent with the canon gazetteers and the majority of the fan developed ones. I don't think it is worthwhile to make totally separate versions for the various rules system. However, there could be a section at the end similar to what was at the end of the RC, showing how conversions could be made. Or if someone wanted to create a short appendix with conversions (major NPCs, monsters, magic items, and/or spells), then that could be tacked on. I'm imagining that most of the gazetteer would be descriptive and fairly system-neutral anyway.
Phoenixmcl wrote:I think we should redo the map so we can get a better idea of the regions. I don't think the orginial poster map is of much concern. I noticed some new scale maps that are better suited. A good hex map is a good place to start.
I am in total agreement with this. Hex maps are far more useful than free form. I would also love to see some more fleshed out versions of the major settlement maps: Melenir, Torlynn, and Klein, as the official maps left a lot to be desired.
Havard wrote:I am all up for hex maps, though I'm not very good at making them myself. There should be a hex map posted here somewhere. Come to think of it, I promised to put labels on that one.... :oops:

Havard
Shame on you Havard! :P (says the guy who has yet to contribute anything! :roll: ) Seriously though, I really like the maps some others have shared in the "Considerations for the placement of TR" thread. Maybe they'd be willing to contribute to this project.
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Re: [Project] The Thunder Rift Gazetteer

Post by Havard » Sun Nov 15, 2009 11:58 am

Time to take a new look at this one maybe?

One of the things I really am not quite happy with yet is the Timeline. I feel that there are decisions made there (by me) that are not solidly enough founded in canon. The fact that canon is vague and contradictory on a few of those issues (how long ago did all of these things happen anyway?) is perhaps the core of the problem, but I think a solid reworking would be useful.

I think our aim should be to produce a Thunder Rift gazetteer for every edition of D&D. Coming up with a purely fluff based booklet first might be a good start, because then we can copy and paste most of that info between the books as we add cruncy bits.

Right now, I am thinking that TR should be presented as "one nation" even if there is no central government in the valley and it basically consists of various factions. That is another thing that has bothered me for a while, so it is worth having thought through.

I would like to see the Gazetteer remaining fairly flexible in terms of location, size etc, but with suggestions from the editors along the way.

If we could get Colin to write a foreword, that would be totally awesome... :)

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