[Nation] The Shimmering Lands

Rebuilding the world in the wake of the Great Rain of Fire.

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Re: Mystara 2300 BC - The Shimmering Lands

Post by Chimpman » Thu Feb 26, 2009 11:04 pm

Logbook of the Silver Blossom as kept by Captain Lanweyll
[AF - after the fall of Grunland. 467 AF is equavelent to 2533 BC.]

467 AF White-Ewe, 13: Our search for a new homeland continues. I have heard through my Taymoran contacts of a great nation of gnomes and dwarves that has arisen on the bridge between Brunn and the Dawn Lands. Though my contacts warn me to stay clear of those lands I am determined to investigate. We are setting course straight away.

467 AF Rich-Sun, 4: Our stay at Isshum was brief, for looks our hosts gave us were most unwholesome. I did not resupply here. I shudder to think what I might bring aboard should I choose to. About this supposed dwarven nation the Mogreth were very tight lipped. I did manage to procure several items made in the lands north of here. They are beautifully crafted and of the finest quality, but I am beginning to have misgivings. I only hope that we can reach these dwarven lands before our supplies give out.

467 AF Rich-Sun, 11: The welcome we received in Gromhyeld is very encouraging. We were introduced to Errol Gwelk, the Minister of Finance and Trade, an affable gnome of middling years who supped with us and offered a personal tour of the city. I have approved shore leave for the crew in shifts. It will be good for them to stretch their legs on open ground again.

467 AF Rich-Sun, 12: The tour was given to myself and my senior staff, as promised. Gromhyeld is centered around the holdfast, an enormous fortress constructed of massive stone blocks. Eldorwyn suspects powerful magic was required for its construction. Nearly everyone we met within was a minister of some sort. I do not know how the gnomes get anything done with so much bureaucracy. The city proper is of a poorer construction. From what I saw, its walls are ramshackle, and I doubt that they would repel even a minor skirmishing force. Down side alleys I caught glimpses of mud huts and makeshift tent dwellings, but out tour directed us through more affluent areas. Minister Gwelk is a most gracious host, but still... I feel he is hiding something.

467 AF Rich-Sun, 21: I am growing restless, but Minister Gwelk insists that we stay a few more days. One of the Moadreg Elders is journeying to Gromhyeld explicitly to meet us, apparently he is very interested to see an elf. For my inconvenience he has promised to update our navigational charts. To leave now would be an insult to the minister and could possibly leave him in disfavor with his superiors. He has been very helpful to us all, and those charts could prove very useful to this voyage, so I am inclined to grant his request.

467 AF Rich-Sun, 24: Ghytar Kelgrym arrived today is a ceremony much more solemn that I expected. Apparently these elders put great stead in their own privacy. Few in Gromhyeld even suspected he was here, save Minister Gwelk and a few others. Ghytar is not what I expected. He is crippled apparently, though I know not how, and moves about through the use of a spidery construct that obeys his whims. His eyes were milky white, though based on his movements I suspect he could see, and one arm he always kept under heavy robes. It did not move. The gnomes show him a great deference, casting their eyes to the ground when he is near, but with me he cultivated a close familiarity, even insisting that I call him by his first name.

As promised Minister Gwelk has provided me with updated maps of the highest quality. They will be invaluable to us indeed. Ghytar also left with me a marvelous chest, inlayed with silver and gold and encrusted with gems of all kinds. I do not know how it opens, but Ghytar assures me that when the time is right, it will serve me well. I should feel quite honored by the gift, but instead am quite uneasy about it. I have asked the crew to lock it in the hold. We leave at first light tomorrow.

467 AF Rich-Sun, 25: Several of the crew have grown ill since our dep...

Missive from First Mate Eldorwyn to Ilsundel
I am sending the log kept by Captain Lanweyll along with this personal missive, may Thendara grant that you recieve it. We are in dire straights. Several crewmen were missing this morning and during a search of the ship we found Captain Lanweyll's head attached to the figurehead. Her cabin was slick with blood and gore, and on the walls words were scribbled over and over again. Deceivers. World destroyers. We will never forget. As soon as I saw the cabin I had men search the hold, but Ghytar's gift is gone.
...
The ship is lost... sinking fast. We destroyed the mechanical abomination that those treacherous dwarves snuck aboard, but the damage is already done. These dwarves have the taint of Blackmoor on them, I can smell it. They must be stopped before the world is destroyed again.

May Thendara keep you and preserve you Ilsundel, and may you lead our people down the right paths. I do not think I will see you again.
Last edited by Chimpman on Mon Mar 02, 2009 5:10 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Mystara 2300 BC - The Shimmering Lands

Post by Havard » Fri Feb 27, 2009 11:12 am

I think these narratives are interesting. They help make this era come to life. Am I right that elven scepticism towards the short folk will become an issue in the Shimmering Lands as well? ;) It is interesting to see the elves speak of Ordana. (Maybe they would call her Thendara?) The good old days! '

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Re: Mystara 2300 BC - The Shimmering Lands

Post by Andaire » Fri Feb 27, 2009 12:12 pm

This is off-topic, but don't you think than even an elven captain in her log would use Elvish month names rather than numerals? More flowery, less clipped, IMHO.

Anyway, keep up the good work - I love reading what you're presenting us about this obscure side, or rather time period, of Mystara.
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Re: Mystara 2300 BC - The Shimmering Lands

Post by Hugin » Fri Feb 27, 2009 4:14 pm

Fasinating stuff here! I just wish I had time to delve into it with you. I love working with Mystara's history, especially being able to see maps of historical periods. Keep up the creative work guys.

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Re: Mystara 2300 BC - The Shimmering Lands

Post by Chimpman » Fri Feb 27, 2009 5:21 pm

Havard wrote:I think these narratives are interesting. They help make this era come to life. Am I right that elven scepticism towards the short folk will become an issue in the Shimmering Lands as well? ;)
It will range from skepticism to down right opposition. You'll see Eldorwyn from the story make an appearance as an NPC later on. He, along with a handful of his crew, make it back to giant lands where they start to organize the giants and local elven populations into a force that can destroy the dwarves. This will unfortunately (for them) lead to the Battle of Drangyr, which Dranwyrf is able to use to unite the Moadreg clans and actually form the Shimmering Lands. As of present day Mystara 2300 BC, Eldorwyn has been fighting his war for roughly 230 years.

Looking at the differences between dwarven and elven culture, right off the bat I see several areas of opposition:
Blackmoor reverence vs. natural returnists - Kagyar's followers may actually have more in common with the elves than with their own people. ...that still doesn't necessarily mean that they would be able to get past the whole "elves destroyed our world" thing that is pretty deeply ingrained in the current dwarven mindset.
Zugzul vs. Thendara - this is a classic match up, as these two immortals probably don't get along very well to start with.
Rot vs. health - use of the radiance is taking a toll on the dwarves (and their neighbors), and actually spreads the Wasting.
Havard wrote:It is interesting to see the elves speak of Ordana. (Maybe they would call her Thendara?) The good old days! '
I think you're right. Is Ordana her Thyatian name? By the way I was thrilled when I realized that I could have an elf actually corrospond with (the mortal form of) Ilsundal! How cool is that? ;) Although I don't ever plan for him to make an appearance, the effects of his philosophy and migration will be felt in Brun. I also suspect that given the circumstances, some elves may leave the migration to join Eldorwyn in his fight against the dwarves. Just think - these people have already lost two homes (Grunland and Vulcania) presumably to Blackmoorian technology. Would they really be willing to just let another Blackmoor arise in their back yard? I see more than a few elven prophets showing up in the territories surrounding the Shimmering Lands.
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Re: Mystara 2300 BC - The Shimmering Lands

Post by Chimpman » Fri Feb 27, 2009 5:23 pm

Andaire wrote:This is off-topic, but don't you think than even an elven captain in her log would use Elvish month names rather than numerals? More flowery, less clipped, IMHO.
Not OT at all, and thanks. Yeah I'm going to go back and change those numbers to real names. I just didn't have access to my source material at the time of posting.
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Re: Mystara 2300 BC - The Shimmering Lands

Post by Chimpman » Fri Feb 27, 2009 5:26 pm

Hugin wrote:Fasinating stuff here! I just wish I had time to delve into it with you. I love working with Mystara's history, especially being able to see maps of historical periods. Keep up the creative work guys.
Ahhh, come on... you can make the time ;) Just kidding of course. I totally understand the pressures of RL (and other things) and of course there are so many projects going on here now that I have to pick and choose as well. Stop by when you can, I'll take all the input you are willing to give!
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Re: Mystara 2300 BC - The Shimmering Lands

Post by Chimpman » Fri Feb 27, 2009 5:43 pm

Urzud Mercenary Hregget, to his Whelp

"These long beards pay well, see. But don't be fooled by em! I only takes the gold, but they be wanting to give you jewels or trinkets. Don't go for it. Grignar Longtooth, he takes the red ruby, see. Was as big as your noggin. He whooped and howled all night long about how he cheated that crazy long beard, see. Next morning wasn't nothin left of em but a pile of ashes, and that red ruby wasn't nothin but a lump of coal. They likes doing that, see. Likes to trick you, likes to give you cursed things, things that eat your soul. Just like old Grignar got et.

"But the gold, see. That be harder for em to hex. Too much trouble, and not enough fun for em. You let others take the 'big prizes' and just stick with the gold. That how you live a long time, see. And stand behind someone else. They always got tricks, see, they likes em. You let em play out before rushing in head first. Once I seen this long beard, he was fatter than Snag of Yazak. He got a bunch of us together and says we going to smash some pointy ears. Well, we likes that just fine. So we find em, but they's ready for us see, and a bunch of the boys rush in with their hammers swung, and noggin hitters twirlin, and that fat long beard, he just smiles from ear to ear. And I stood there watchin him, cause I know they likes tricks, see. Then he starts mumblin, under his breath like, and I swear the Dark Prince hisself come jumpin outta the fire. ...no, it was the foulest thing I ever saw... and it cut into the boys just as likely as the pointy ears.

"So makes sure you see the trick before you rush in see, cause they always gots one. That how you live a long time. And don't look them in the eyes! Oh! Never does that whelp, or they roast you! Wolf Pelt do that once. He think his hex just as big as the long beard's hex, and he stare him down. Not last long. All that left of Wolf Pelt now is wolf pelt he wear... and that full of holes. So full of holes, only thing left is this here skull on my helm, and it all black and crispy too.

"Remember that whelp. Never looks one in the eyes. That how you live a long time. And when the job done, then you go home. Don't stand there kicking yer feet in the dust waitin for somethin else to do, see. Them long beards will slap chains round yer feet and march you off to Isshum like as look at you. You lets them come to you when they got killin to be done. Don't never go to them looking for it. That how you live a long time...
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Re: Mystara 2300 BC - The Shimmering Lands

Post by Chimpman » Fri Feb 27, 2009 11:56 pm

NPCs
Elder Conclave Part I

Aynmegk Yardrak
Member of Elder Conclave
Head of Yardrak Clan


History:
Born in 2643 BC, Aynmegk was an infant when his family began their migration from Skothar. Promised to Orcus from birth, the Yardrak spent his youth performing greater and greater abominations in order to appease his patron. When he was old enough he left his family and settled in the northlands across the Bridge of Oost, where he became obsessed the concept of eternal life and postponing the journey to his demonic patron. Despite that obsession Aynmegk was determined to hedge his bets, and began building up a force that would please the Black Prince. Constant attacks by giant barbarians and their elven allies frustrated him to no end, and on several occasions he was almost forced to abandon his estate.

In 2467 BC the Moadreg were in turmoil. Besieged on multiple fronts by their enemies, the dwarves and their allies were ready to fall. Aynmegk usurped control of the clan from Undwyr Yardrak (a distant cousin of his), sacrificed the former patron, and consolidated an army of dwarves and demons to lead against the giant attackers. When Dranwyrf united several of the major houses, Aynmegk threw in his support, and the dwarves were finally able to secure a home.

Personality: Shifty and paranoid, Aynmegk is always looking over his shoulder, or rather down at his feet. He is convinced that something is trying to grab him and "take him away." In private he often falls into screaming bouts and claws at unseen attackers grasping at his ankles. The only thing that can calm him in one of these states is to sacrifice a sentient being to his patron Orcus. Despite this seeming madness, Aynmegk is an expert bargainer and leads Clan Yardrak through guile and deception. His avarice might be matched only by that of Engdyr Heldfyst, with whom he has a great rivalry.

Appearance:
Aynmegk is old and shriveled, though the Wasting does not appear to have taken hold of him. His hair and beard, both long and unbraided, are stark white. His dark eyes are sunken and surrounded by gray skin, an obvious sign that Aynmegk gets little sleep. The old dwarf always wears fastidious robes, lighter and more free flowing than is the Moadreg norm, although all of his clothes are torn and frayed around the legs and feet, and his legs are more often than not a bloody mess of tares and scratches.

DMing Notes: A master of the dark arts, Aynmegk is accustomed to the use of intimidation and threats in order to get what he wants. Like most Yardrak, Aynmegk is much more social than the rest of his kin, and can call on any number of relatives and servants (both mundane and abyssal) when in need. Although he may be willing to help the PCs on occasion, anything that he touches ultimately ends up on Orcus' sacrificial table.


Dranwyrf Korrskill
First Elder
Head of Felweg Clan


History: Much of Dranwyrf's early life was spent fighting wars with giant kin and elves to the north and east. Trained as a Radiomancer, his skills proved useful in the struggles, but it was apparent to him that the dwarves were fighting a loosing battle. Each house lead their own forces, and rarely did they coordinate their efforts. Despite being barbarians, the elves and giants worked together. On the brink of defeat, Dranwyrf brought several houses together and was able to push back their attackers. After this the dwarves recognized the importance of having a single leader (at least with regard to outside forces) and named Dranwyrf First Elder, a term translated by many outsiders to be king.

In recent years he has secretly converted to the faith of Kagyar, though if the rest of the Conclave discovered this fact they would certainly remove him and have him summarily executed as a menace.

Personality: An aberration among his kind, Dranwyrf truly cares for the fate of his people. Though just as reclusive as his peers he works tirelessly to ensure the continued existence of the Shimmering Lands and its people. Dranwyrf's expression is always stolid and unreadable, a fact that he attributes to his constant commune with Kagyar. When in solitude, the old dwarf often looses his own sense of identity and thinks of himself as a direct extension of his immortal patron.

Appearance: Small and shriveled, Dranwyrf has been nearly crippled by his use of the Radiance throughout the years. Both of his legs are crippled by the Wasting disease, as well as one arm and much of his face. Heavy robes cover these deformities and the aged dwarf uses a spider like construct to help him move. Soon he will be ready to leave the useless husk that has become his body, when he completes the process of becoming a soulbound and transfers his soul into a construct body of solid stone.

DMing Notes: Dranwyrf often works behind the scenes, promoting adventurers and visionaries who will work for the ultimate good of his people. He is secretly a priest of Kagyar and siphons funds and resources to the Way of the Stone whenever he can. The closer he gets to becoming a soulbound, the more fanatical and reckless he becomes in his beliefs. Eventually Dranwryf will be transformed into the undying servant of Kagyar known as Denwarf Dwarffather and will return to his people over the eons to guide them when needed most.


Gherihk Gyrbain

Member of Elder Conclave
Karlheig Clan
Head of House Gyrbain


History: In 2419 BC, at the age of 23, Gherihk was apprenticed into the Controller's Guild and indoctrinated into the Cult of Dominion. He was a natural at his craft and spent several decades in the northlands skirmishing with tribes of barbarian giants. When the ashen clouds of Vulcania blotted out the sky in 2408, Gherihk came into his own. An expert at finding giant communities struggling in the wake of the disaster, he would infiltrate them and systematically destroy them from within, always dominating key members of the tribe and using them to slaughter their own people.

After returning from the northern campaigns, Gherihk rose in power quickly, both within the Cult of Dominion and the Controller's Guild. He enacted training programs to teach hopefuls his techniques on giant slaying, organized several slave rings that supply demands from Demhyeld in the north, to Isshum, and Colhador. In 2323 BC, upon the death of Stabon Feghwyl, he was named the youngest member of the Elder Conclave at the age of 119.

Personality: Gherihk appears to enjoy the company of others, dwarf and non-dwarf alike, although his demeanor and strange appearance tend to put others off rather quickly. He enjoys intrigue, although his schemes are rarely complex and never subtle. Gherihk prefers the act of forcing his will upon others rather than going through the tedium of covert manipulation.

Appearance: No one ever sees Gherihk's limbs, though movement is often visible beneath the heavy robes that cover his girth. Those portions of his body that can be seen appear completely normal, as if the Wasting has bypassed Gherihk completely. Younger than most in the Conclave, he still sports a full, braided jet black beard and hair. When he speaks, his voice is like gravel being smashed on an anvil, and he often emits gurgled croaks in mid sentence.

DMing Notes: A master of mind control, and devout follower of Slizzark, Gherihk is a force to be reckoned with, and not one to be overlooked. His estate near Qifhyeld on the southern shores of Oost serves as the base for a vast slave ring and a safe haven for alien entities and servitors of long abandoned gods. Slizzark herself has sent several kopru to advise and serve him and rumors are that many of the slaves he captures see the insides of his workshop where their flesh and minds are warped into horrors best not named.


Engdyr Heldfyst
Member of Elder Conclave
Felweg Clan
Head of House Heldfyst


History: Born just before the dwarves settled in the area, Engdyr has always called the Shimmering Lands home. He served the radiomancers at the Gate of Light for several centuries, living an insulated life free of worries while many of his compatriots faced extinction at the hands of giants and worse. He quickly rose through the ranks when several of his superiors disappeared and were never heard from again. As the Radiomancer Guild's chapter head, Engdyr played an instrumental role in completing that artifact and was soon after awarded a seat on the Elder Conclave.

With the onset of age Engdyr feels the need for increasing isolation. He takes great solace from the teachings of Zugzul and since his elevation to the Conclave in 2319, he has used his position of considerable power to influence the Shimmering Lands into eradicating as much of the surrounding vermin as it can. Although he would much rather spend his life in solitude studying on his estate, Engdyr finds it very hard to concentrate knowing that the world is crawling with other sentient beings.

Personality: Engdyr Heldfyst is a xenophobe who can hardly tolerate his own kind, much less any of the other races he has dealings with. Most of his servants are constructs and soulbound. Although he will employ other sentients for specific tasks, he considers them all to be fodder and much prefers a clean end to any operation, one where all concerned are permanently silenced, to one in which his pawns survive. His fiery temper is legendary, and usually results in him smashing something with his obsidian arm.

Appearance: White hair framed by bright orange streaks frame Engdyr's head, or would if it were not falling out in clumps. His beard is so far gone that he has taken to shaving his face, just to clean up the few remaining rough patches that dot its surface. Bringing attention to this fact is guaranteed to attract Engdyr's wrath. Withered from the Wasting, he has replaced his right arm with that of a golem's made of shiny black obsidian and covered in glowing blue runes. When he must go out among others, Engdyr dons heavy armor decorated with the symbols and designs of Zugzul prominently displayed, but when in the privacy of his own estate, he prefers simple robes in reds and oranges.

DMing Notes: So many years of working so closely with the radiance have taken a heavy toll on Engdyr's mind. He simply can not abide that other thinking creatures are alive (and so near to him). In the clergy of Zugzul he sees a powerful tool that can be used to help him solve his problems, however for Engdyr this is a backup plan at best. Using his intimate knowledge of the Gate of Light, he plans to turn that artifact into a weapon that will wipe out all life in the region... although he has never once considered what would happen to himself should he succeed.
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Re: Mystara 2300 BC - The Shimmering Lands

Post by Andaire » Mon Mar 02, 2009 11:54 am

Chimpman wrote:Born in 2643 BC,
Speaking of dates again, is there any calendar of that time that could be used to better relate to the time period, rather than using Thyatian years (although they should be kept in parenthesis for reference)? Maybe years since the GRoF?
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Re: Mystara 2300 BC - The Shimmering Lands

Post by Chimpman » Mon Mar 02, 2009 5:01 pm

Andaire wrote:
Chimpman wrote:Born in 2643 BC,
Speaking of dates again, is there any calendar of that time that could be used to better relate to the time period, rather than using Thyatian years (although they should be kept in parenthesis for reference)? Maybe years since the GRoF?
I've been thinking about this as well, and I haven't decided on how I want to handle it yet. I agree that flavor-wise I really need a different calendar system (and years since the GRoF makes the most sense). However, it gets hard for me to place or keep track of events (especially ones I want to tie in with pre-existing Mystaran history) once I move away from the Thyatian calendar. The best option may be to go back at some point (after I have things fairly stable) and redo all of the dates. If I do that I will keep the Thyatian dates in parenthesis for everyone's benefit.

As an aside I think it's probably likely that most cultures (dwarves, gnomes, elves (natives and migrants), humanoids, Taymorans, and maybe even many of the tribal peoples (neathar, giants, etc)) of this time would use the same dating system - years since the GRoF - even if they use different names. Exceptions to this rule might be Mogreth (who may measure time since their second empire started, or may even continue from the time of their first empire), the Kopru Dominarchy (for very similar reasons), and possibly the Azcans (though their cyclical calendar and it's world ending cycle probably still coincides with the GRoF).

EDIT: I have changed the numerical months in the Silver Blossom's log to named months. I think it looks much better. Thanks.
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Re: Mystara 2300 BC - The Shimmering Lands

Post by Chimpman » Tue Mar 03, 2009 12:02 am

I have a map with tentative city placements - all subject to change at this point.

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Re: Mystara 2300 BC - The Shimmering Lands

Post by Andaire » Tue Mar 03, 2009 10:07 am

Chimpman wrote: I've been thinking about this as well, and I haven't decided on how I want to handle it yet. I agree that flavor-wise I really need a different calendar system (and years since the GRoF makes the most sense). However, it gets hard for me to place or keep track of events (especially ones I want to tie in with pre-existing Mystaran history) once I move away from the Thyatian calendar. The best option may be to go back at some point (after I have things fairly stable) and redo all of the dates. If I do that I will keep the Thyatian dates in parenthesis for everyone's benefit.

As an aside I think it's probably likely that most cultures (dwarves, gnomes, elves (natives and migrants), humanoids, Taymorans, and maybe even many of the tribal peoples (neathar, giants, etc)) of this time would use the same dating system - years since the GRoF - even if they use different names. Exceptions to this rule might be Mogreth (who may measure time since their second empire started, or may even continue from the time of their first empire), the Kopru Dominarchy (for very similar reasons), and possibly the Azcans (though their cyclical calendar and it's world ending cycle probably still coincides with the GRoF).
Or there might be more calendars. For example, the elves might divide their history into eras, when their cultures underwent numerous changes. So there could be a Rain of Fire era, a Vulcanian era, a, Ilsundal era, a Sylvan Realm era, an Alfheim era, etc.
Other cultures, like Mogreth etc, would have their own starting date.
Since the passage of time is so regular on Mystara (with lunar and solar cycles coinciding), all aboveground races would have the same type of calendars anyway, with only the starting point differing.
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Re: Mystara 2300 BC - The Shimmering Lands

Post by Chimpman » Tue Mar 03, 2009 3:47 pm

Andaire wrote:Or there might be more calendars. For example, the elves might divide their history into eras, when their cultures underwent numerous changes. So there could be a Rain of Fire era, a Vulcanian era, a, Ilsundal era, a Sylvan Realm era, an Alfheim era, etc.
Other cultures, like Mogreth etc, would have their own starting date.
Agreed.
Since the passage of time is so regular on Mystara (with lunar and solar cycles coinciding), all aboveground races would have the same type of calendars anyway, with only the starting point differing.
Mostly agreed, although there is at least one exception - IIRC the Azcan's calendar is totally different.
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Re: Mystara 2300 BC - The Shimmering Lands

Post by Chimpman » Thu Mar 05, 2009 12:28 am

Caste System

The Moadreg have a very strict caste system, although movement between castes is not impossible, and for many dwarves at least, it is the norm. Other races living within the Shimmering Lands may also move between castes, however limitations on what can be achieved are greater for them.

Elders
This is the highest level in the caste system that can be achieved, and it is reserved for dwarves alone. Only elders may own estates, and it is from this select few that members of the Elder Conclave are chosen. Becoming an elder is the dream of every dwarf. Owning one's own estate offers increased isolation from the rest of society, and allows the dwarf to pursue whatever goals they have set for themselves with a vigor and a modicum of privacy. Achieving elder status does bring new responsibilities as well however. By the dictates set forth by Drangyr, all elders must meet with their peers at a gatherhold in order to insure the continued safety of the land. They must supply the gatherhold with a portion of their personal servants and slaves to serve in the Shimmering Land's army, and must appoint a general to oversee such personnel.

Servants
Any who serve an elder are considered to be a part of the servant class, and any race living in the Shimmering Lands may achieve this status. Although both merchants and warriors fall into this category as well, they rarely serve an elder directly. The servant caste is made up of all individuals who work on a private estate and directly serve an elder. Theses individuals can include family members of the elder not yet powerful to achieve their own estate, old friends and colleagues that the elder still trusts, and anyone else employed by an elder. Many see to the day to day activities that are required to keep an estate functional, but that their masters can not be bothered to deal with.

Merchants/Traders
Merchants and traders are the individuals who make sure that the Shimmering Lands continues to function by moving goods and supplies into areas where they are required. Merchants may live in or near to a gatherhold, or may be based out of one of the few true cities within the nation. Regardless of where they live, a merchant is considered to be a servant of any elders that have jurisdiction over their territory - thus traveling merchants may fall fall under the service of different elders depending upon where they are currently operating from. Although strictly speaking a merchant must obey any order given to them by an elder, this rarely happens and merchants are allowed to go about their business with relatively few constraints.

Warriors
Many dwarves spend their younger lives as part of the warrior caste, sent off by their elders to fight against the growing number of enemies that the Moadreg accumulate, but the other races are just as common within the ranks of the military as well. Warriors may belong directly to an elder in which case they reside on an estate (though typically far enough away from the elder's residence so as not to disturb them), or they may be assigned to a gatherhold. Typically an elder will assign a percentage of their warriors to a gatherhold for a predetermined amount of time. During this time those warriors serve the gatherhold, most often commanded directly by a general appointed by the local conclave. After the period of service is completed, a warriors service reverts to their original master.

Slaves
Slaves can be found in nearly every portion of Shimmering Lands society, serving either on an estate, in a gatherhold or city, and even in the army. A slave's lot is grim, for this is the one caste in Moadreg society that can never advance. Once a slave, always a slave. On occasion slaves have been "set free" when their current master dies, especially if that elder is in a remote location and no one learns of his death for a long time. Such slaves are far from safe unless they leave the Shimmering Lands completely however, because bands of slavers are always looking to acquire new merchandise, whether it has been pre-owned or not. Dwarves are never slaves within the Shimmering Lands (although sometime an unfortunate is sold to foreign powers), nor are soulbound or shades. Gnomes very rarely receive this fate, but any other race is fair game.
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Re: Mystara 2300 BC - The Shimmering Lands

Post by Seer of Yhog » Thu Mar 05, 2009 4:52 pm

Hmmm....are slaves ever used by the Elders in their projects? I imagine so, but I thought I'd ask. I could see an Elder, perhaps interested in golems, using an injured or sick slave as a guinea pig to determine how much living matter can be replaced before death ensues. Given Mogreth's appetite for slaves, would Elders threaten to sell their stock to the lizard men if they don't perform?
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Re: Mystara 2300 BC - The Shimmering Lands

Post by Chimpman » Thu Mar 05, 2009 5:52 pm

Seer of Yhog wrote:Hmmm....are slaves ever used by the Elders in their projects? I imagine so, but I thought I'd ask. I could see an Elder, perhaps interested in golems, using an injured or sick slave as a guinea pig to determine how much living matter can be replaced before death ensues.
That's a great question. I think that the vibe on slaves is very different between the two countries. For the dwarves in the Shimmering Lands, slaves are more of a necessary evil, not because they feel for their plight in any way, but because they are often times too much trouble to care for. A dwarf would rather have a few willing servants who stay out of his way (and whom he rarely sees), as opposed to dozens of slaves that must constantly be kept in line (and could possibly rebel and throw his estate into disorder).

Having said that, sometimes slaves are required. Certain activities may be too degrading or too dangerous for a trusted (and hard to replace) servant to perform. Slaves also make good sacrifices to dark immortals, and as you mention, they are perfect lab animals for whatever experiment a dwarven elder happens to be working on (which I agree would be a very common practice). In some cases, when they can be properly controlled or motivated, slaves also make for good fodder for the military.

Giants are probably the preferred slave in the Shimmering Lands. They are strong and hardy, and it is much easier for a member of the Controllers Guild to handle a single giant than it would be to handle the number of humans it would take to do equivalent work. A few humanoids may be kept around as house slaves - to cook, clean, etc - but most would be sold to foreign lands right after their capture. Elves are more likely to be put to the sword, or kept short term for experiments or sacrificial offerings.

Using slaves for entertainment is nearly unheard of in the Shimmering Lands. A dwarf might toy with his slaves a bit before putting them to their intended use (which most often would end in the death of the slave), but you won't find things like gladiatorial games here. It's also very unlikely that slaves would be used to toil in the fields (or manufacture any needed resources for that matter)... that's what servants are for. Gnomes fill most of those roles.
Given Mogreth's appetite for slaves, would Elders threaten to sell their stock to the lizard men if they don't perform?
An elder would never do this, but his slave master might use that threat. If an elder ever had to admonish his own slaves it would mean that all of his servants had already been killed in a slave uprising ;). A dwarven elder with good servants won't even know he has slaves (except for the ones he needs personally for experiments or sacrifices or whatever). He shouldn't even know that he has servants... they should be good enough at their jobs that he forgets they are around.
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Re: Mystara 2300 BC - The Shimmering Lands

Post by Chimpman » Thu Mar 05, 2009 11:10 pm

A Day in the Life of Kerghyd Estate
"This will not do!" Despite the fearsome appearance of the guards, decked out as they were in red lacquered armor and demonic face plates, they visibly quailed at the tone of Ellrini's voice. The old gnome's gray hair was done up in a tight bun that pulled the skin back around her face. Her eyes, framed by thin wire glasses, remained frozen on the crumpled and bloody form lying on the stone tiles before her.

The slave, a man from the west she thought, with olive complected skin and jet black hair, met her gaze. He was one of the kitchen servers, and had been caught whispering to his peers while clearing the Elder's table. Had her mistress overheard that effrontery, all of their lives might be forfeit. "Cut out his tongue," she said, turning to leave. "And blind him. Mistress is running low on animals for her... work..."

Ellrini clasped her hands together as she walked down the long semi-circular hall of the outer estate. Although she moved swiftly, she took great care that her steps were soft and made no sound. Even though the mistress rarely graced the outer halls it was always good practice to behave as if in her presence. Quickly she made her way to the Servant's Gate and exited the compound. Two of the guards there silently nodded to their fellows and fell into escort exactly seven feet behind her, as was proper. Ellrini and her small entourage made their way down a narrow gravel trail several hundred feet away from the estate to a small stone building with a roof covered half in shingles and half in thatch. Muffled growls and whimpers came from within and two figures stood outside speaking to one another in hushed tones, one with the stockier frame of a dwarf and the other slightly shorter and with a much leaner physique.

"Good, you're both here. It will save me an additional trip to track you down, Hiskel," she said acknowledging the tow headed gnome and lifting one eyebrow. "Your shipments are late. The foodstores are running low. We are down to our last weeks worth of flour, and oats, and the last of the tubers. And that shipment of wine from Fyngul that you promised me two months ago still isn't here."

"I know Ellrini. I was just telling old Sehg here to expect some company. Supply caravan should be a day away now."

"And the wine?" she asked.

"...uh, that's coming too," Hiskel stammered.

"See to it." Hiskel gulped, not daring to respond. Under the pressure of having Ellrini stare at him for several seconds he sullenly walked away. When the gnome was gone she turned her attentions to the dwarf. "Sehgdar, speaking of company, I hear we've had some recently."

The grizzled dwarf nodded and gave her a grim smile. The Wasting had taken hold of him and his lower jaw and half of his upper had been replaced with silver. "Aye," he rasped. "Something out there on the border with Derygk Estate. Seen them twice now. A small group, and fast. Could be treasure seekers. Could by spies from Derygk. Could be the Black Prince and his hounds. I've already doubled the patrols, so you've no need to come down here."

"Fine," Ellrini responded, her arms crossed. "With the day I'm having I needed to be sure." She turned to leave, but then hesitated. "When Hiskel's merchants get here, make sure they are followed at all times. See to it they don't know they're being observed. I want to know if these merchants and your recent visitors are connected in any way."
***

Ellrini sat down at her desk and let out a long sigh as she kicked off her slippers. A slave placed a hot cup of tea in front of her and then gingerly stepped out of the room. Ellrini took the cup in hand and inhaled its aroma... a hint of cinnamon, just as she liked. She took a single sip before a light knock on her office door interrupted her. Her brow furled, she set down the cup, and waited several minutes before replying, "Enter."

"I need to see Mistress. It's urgent." A burly dwarf entered into the room, dust from the road still thick about him. Tossing his sack into a corner, he began rummaging through the pouches at his belt.

Ellrini stiffened in her seat. "I take all matters to Mistress Kerghyd, Drugyr, and besides I can still smell the scaled stink of Isshum on you. What's so important that you had to interrupt my evening tea, even before washing yourself?"

"Not this time, Ellrini," Durgyr replied as he pulled out a scroll sealed with the symbols of Mogreth and dangled a polished teak token hanging from a leather strap in front of her face. "Mistress will see me. I've come straight from Tuurash' palace."
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Re: Mystara 2300 BC - The Shimmering Lands

Post by Chimpman » Tue Mar 10, 2009 6:41 am

The residents of the Shimmering Lands have several varied types of abodes, which roughly grouped fall into three different categories; estates, gatherholds, and cities.

Estates
Estates are the most numerous dwellings throughout the lands, the rights to live upon one reserved solely for dwarves. A typical estate will comfortably house its dwarven master, all of his retainers and servants, and a small guard force or standing army. Often the land on an estate, except for the main compound, is unworked and left in its natural state. In locales with dangerous wildlife, this has the added benefit of helping to keep out unwanted guests. The space for estates is limited, and their demand is high - dwarves prefer living a solitary life, especially as they mature. One of the main pressures for the continued expansion of the Shimmering Lands is to provide its upper class with more space to live upon.

A typical Moadreg estate might include the following:
Image

Estate Grounds
1) Estate Grounds - A typical estate can cover anywhere from 10 up to several thousand square miles of land, though most fall under 100. A small personal garden tended by the servants may supplement food brought in by merchants, and larger estates may support thriving plantations (although never near the estate proper). Much of the remaining territory is left wild and treated as a natural preserve. One of the ways that dwarven elders ensure their privacy is by surrounding themselves with vast tracks of dangerous wilderness.

2) Stables - Riding, and pack, animals are kept on many estates for a vast variety of purposes. Often they are not attached to the main compound, and are far enough away that the noise and stink of the animals will not upset the elder.

3) Guard Tower - These towers may be dotted around the premises of an estate, often concentrated around its perimeter. They are sparsely manned by the elder's guards and may be equipped with magical means of communicating danger back to the guard captain stationed at the main compound. Guard towers may also be disguised to match in with the surrounding environment, possibly appearing as tall trees or crags of stone jutting from the landscape.

Outer Estate Compound
4) Servant's Entrance - The largest entrance into the compound is that used by the servants. Supplies, prisoners, and guests all pass through this portal, although an elder rarely does. The servant's entrance is well apportioned and often gaudy, designed to impress and intimidate any who walk through. Larger estates may have a reception area or audience hall attached.

5) Store rooms - Store rooms hold everything from food to raw materials and magical supplies. Everything that both the elder and their servants need to keep the estate running. These rooms often have short pass through hallways that lead into the inner compound, where to provide trusted servants with easy access to supplies that their master needs. In many cases an elder will use these passages to retrieve supplies for themselves in order to avoid contact with their bothersome retainers.

6) Servant and Guest Quarters - This section of the outer compound is reserved for the servants and any visiting guests. Head servants, those who must manage others, have quarters all to themselves. These quarters are divided into living space, and an office area where the head servant can meet with their underlings. Other servants share quarters with their peers, commonly sleeping on bunks and maintaining a locked chest for their personal property. On larger estates a portion of the servant's quarters may also be set aside for a small shrine to the immortals if the elder allows it.

7) Kitchens - Meals are prepared here, both for the elder as well as for all of the servants who serve on the estate. Servants, including all guards stationed in the barracks, usually take there meals here as well, though the elder's meals are always delivered to him in the inner compound.

8) Privies - The privies are reserved for the servants and guests. Elders have their own attached to their main living chambers. Both privies share a common plumbing which typically leads to an underground chamber populated by puddings and other refuse devouring beasts. These underground chambers can be accessed through the servant's quarters, if they can be accessed at all.

9) Main Entrance - Smaller and less obtrusive, the main entrance is reserved for the elder. It is oftentimes hidden by a secret door (though most servants will know the location of this) and guarded by several magical and mundane traps. Most are connected to the servant's quarters by a small hallway so that servants may attend to an elders needs here when required. In many cases an estate will have several passages that branch off from the main entryway, leading to other locations on the estate through underground tunnels.

10) Guard Post - In addition to the various traps and wards that protect the inner sanctum, guards are stationed at posts throughout the compound at all times. Depending upon the temperament of the elder these guards could be anything from mundane soldiers, to constructs, to dark entities lurking in the shadows.

11) Barracks - Dozens to hundreds of soldiers may serve an elder, depending on the size of the estate. These soldiers act as guards, defenders, hunters and trackers, and special operatives - performing any task that their master requires which brute force or martial prowess can achieve. Soldiers operate on a rotation, being moved from duty to duty on the estate, and there are typically many more roaming about on the grounds than are stationed at the compound proper.

12) Cells - Prisoners and slaves may be kept here. Many elders have a need for "animals" to perform their experiments on. Like the store rooms, these chambers often have adjoining passageways into the inner compound so that an elder may access supplies without being observed by those beneath him.

Inner Sanctum
13) Special Servant's Quarters - Despite the desire for ultimate privacy, sometimes the help of a servant is required in the inner sanctum. Many elders feel more comfortable with constructs or other worldly beings filling these roles, although sometimes a mortal servant will earn enough trust to merit this honor. In some cases this role is also fulfilled by offspring who are too young to yet journey out on their own.

14) Elder's Living Space - All the amenities of home are provided to the elder here. Food, bathing, privies and a bed. As long as their estate is running smoothly and should an elder wish it (and many do), they never need to leave these quarters.

15) Workshop - This is the area in which an elder spends most of their time. It functions mainly as a workshop, although many dwarves also have space set aside for a library and possibly a small shrine to their immortals of choice.

16) Courtyard - An open air courtyard, this is the private domain of the dwarven elder. They may use it for a variety of purposes including for horticultural experiments, studying the stars (at night), or meditation.
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Re: Mystara 2300 BC - The Shimmering Lands

Post by Seer of Yhog » Tue Mar 10, 2009 1:21 pm

Very cool! Now I have a very good picture in my mind as to how these complexes look. I do have some questions/suggestions:

What would be the scale of the picture?

I think there would have to be an access hatch for the garbage room, as puddings grow over time, and after decades of use they might grow too large for their chamber and spill into the complex. I imagine this happened at least once, but due to the reclusive nature of a Moadreg Elder, no one noticed for many years. Until a great pudding burst from its ruined complex like a parasite emerging from its host, and proceeded to devour miles of countryside…:twisted:

Given the nature of the Elders, would any of them insist on having a separate kitchen for themselves, so they wouldn’t risk having some bits of servant food end up on their platters?
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Re: Mystara 2300 BC - The Shimmering Lands

Post by Chimpman » Tue Mar 10, 2009 10:08 pm

Seer of Yhog wrote:What would be the scale of the picture?
Good question. I'll try and throw in some kind of square grid on the structures. I'd say that the two towers flanking the servant's entrance are about 10" in diameter. Based on that (and just eyeballing it) I'd say the whole complex is about 150" in diameter, give or take some.
I think there would have to be an access hatch for the garbage room, as puddings grow over time, and after decades of use they might grow too large for their chamber and spill into the complex. I imagine this happened at least once, but due to the reclusive nature of a Moadreg Elder, no one noticed for many years. Until a great pudding burst from its ruined complex like a parasite emerging from its host, and proceeded to devour miles of countryside…:twisted:
;) I think that just might make it into the adventure section. Anyway, you're right. I envision some kind of access to lower levels in order to "take care" of such things.
Given the nature of the Elders, would any of them insist on having a separate kitchen for themselves, so they wouldn’t risk having some bits of servant food end up on their platters?
You know, even as I was drawing that picture I thought something very similar. I just had to get it down on paper (or in electrons as it were), but there are actually several changes I think I'll make. I'll keep the general placement of the kitchen, but extend it to cover the entire inner circle of the outer complex. A narrow hallway will intersect the kitchen in the middle for the servants to pass through. The upper kitchen can then be designated entirely for the elder while the lower (larger) kitchen can still service all of the staff and soldiers. Likewise I think the elder deserves his own storage space, so I might do something similar there as well.

I also think that the barracks are way too large. I may break that area up into 3 sections: 1) the barracks, 2) possibly a section for "Blackmoorian machinery" - things that pump and heat water for example, possibly a specialized factory (according to Gaz 7 the modrigswerg can their food) and 3) I'm playing around with the idea that younger dwarves might apprentice with an elder for a time (part of Drangyr's new fangled initiatives for working together to protect the nation). They would require their own space away from the servants (but still separate from the elder).
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Re: Mystara 2300 BC - The Shimmering Lands

Post by Chimpman » Wed Mar 11, 2009 6:03 pm

Ok, I've got a question for folks and I'd like to get your opinions. On my current map (see post above), I have the southern portion of the Shimmering Lands covered in deciduous forests, while the northern portion is covered in coniferous forests. Now I put the deciduous forests in there because I thought they looked cool, but in going over Thorf's updated map for the Northern Regions, I see he has the entire area covered in conifers (which I actually think makes more sense). I'll break out my reasoning for taking the map either way, but really I'm having a hard time deciding.

Deciduous Forests
- They look cool
- There could be climactic reasons for a local increase in temperature, possibly caused by the Bridge of Oost. Warm sea currents could circulate there, effectively warming the surrounding coastlines.
- Mogreth is just to the south and I envision that having a warmer temperature (but I may be wrong here - Geoff please comment)

Coniferous Forests
- These tend to do better in higher elevations and colder temperatures.
- It was colder in 2300 BC than in 1000 AC as evidenced by the glaciers. Numerous Gazetteers mention the receding ice in 2500 BC (when the dwarves and gnomes moved into the area), and I assume it would still be quite cold especially near the mountains.
- The mountains between Mogreth and the Shimmering Lands might insulate the "Ylari valley" from the cold, providing different temperature ranges.

Actually after writing this I think I've stumbled on a compromise. Make the shorelines more temperate and inland much colder. Does any of this reasoning hold water (or not)? Any thoughts?
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Re: Mystara 2300 BC - The Shimmering Lands

Post by Havard » Wed Mar 11, 2009 7:12 pm

Chimpman wrote:Actually after writing this I think I've stumbled on a compromise. Make the shorelines more temperate and inland much colder. Does any of this reasoning hold water (or not)? Any thoughts?
Temperate shorelines and colder inland temperatures reminds me of my own country, so that would make sense. My guess would be that most forests in this region would be mixed anyway, so I guess the symbol used will only indicate the dominant tree type. Keep in mind that Glaciers do not neccessarily mean that the surrounding area is all that cold. Actually, Glaciers might contain much of the cold, leaving surrounding areas milder.

Awesome map btw :)

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Re: Mystara 2300 BC - The Shimmering Lands

Post by Seer of Yhog » Thu Mar 12, 2009 1:25 pm

Chimpman wrote:Mogreth is just to the south and I envision that having a warmer temperature (but I may be wrong here - Geoff please comment)
No, you're right. Here's my thought:

We know that the ocean currents currently (as of AC 1000) move up the eastern coast of Brun. This warmer water clashes with the cooler air at it flows north, bringing dampness in the Northern Reaches and Heldann (but also making the coasts milder than they might otherwise be). The current keeps flowing north to Norwold, where it continues to warm things up a bit. However, prior to BC 1700, there was a land bridge across the Sea of Dawn, which would have prevented this flow. So, unless the ocean currents were drastically different back then, I would think that the flow circulated around what is now the Western Sea of Dawn in a clockwise fashion. The Bridge of Oost would probably (IMO) have stormy weather, and be quite damp, as the weather patterns would break upon its shores. However, this warm water would keep circulating in the sea, which means that southeastern Brun may have been a bit warmer than it is now - it would very likely have been wetter.

What does this mean for Mogreth? Warm water, and warm air masses, pass through there, combined with the heavy flow from the Issus watershed. This produces a climate that is very humid and warm (but not tropical) on the coast, and drier in the interior. So, Mogreth is definitely warmer than the Shimmering Lands, but not as warm as Ylaruam is today. Stormy weather is probably quite common, too.

Lose the Bridge of Oost and the warm water won't recirculate as much, which would lower temperatures a bit (but it would still be quite damp). The delta would likely dry out a bit.
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Re: Mystara 2300 BC - The Shimmering Lands

Post by Chimpman » Thu Mar 12, 2009 7:14 pm

Thanks guys! Those ideas help a lot. 8-) Expect to see an updated map in the next few days or so.
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