Placing X4/X5 while using Champions of Mystara - Question!

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Placing X4/X5 while using Champions of Mystara - Question!

Post by Big Ulf » Mon Apr 16, 2018 7:56 pm

Hey all, I'm just about to run X4/X5 for the first time and pretty excited. But I just got Champions of Mystara, and Sind seems way more developed than is briefed in X4.

I realize some of this is due to the natural evolution of the setting over the couple of years between publication, but how did those of you who have run X4/X5 dealt with that discrepancy?

There are a number of significant Sind cities between Darokin and Parayama, so wondered why Sind would let big Darokin armies in...and why Darokin would be cautious of desert armies starting up.

I'm sure I can come up with other ideas but happy to hear yours:)

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Re: Placing X4/X5 while using Champions of Mystara - Question!

Post by stebehil » Mon Apr 16, 2018 9:33 pm

I did not read up on this subject any time recently, but I´d guess that Sind and Darokin would have some kind of mutual understanding - Darokin wants trade and wants to stop wars, because war is bad for business. I don´t see a reason why Sind would not want some sort of agreement with Darokin. Darokin might want to protect its trading interests when one of their trading partners is threatened and might send an expedition army to deal with the threat. Furthermore, Darokin would have its own spies and diplomats keeping an eye on Sind, Jaibul and maybe even on Slagovich, and probably be informed on any major development there. SInd would be the only kingdom between Darokin and any threat from that direction, so stopping any enemy well before they reach Akesoli would be better for Darokin. So, Sind gets the "Darokin Expedition Force" to fight the nomads, and Darokin can keep the war from its own ground. The Kurish Massif would hinder any Glantrian involvement here, and the Athruagin Clans probably won´t be a big help anyway, so Darokin would do well to take matters in its own hands here.

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Re: Placing X4/X5 while using Champions of Mystara - Question!

Post by NPCDave » Mon Apr 16, 2018 11:43 pm

Very little of X4 requires a depopulated Sind of isolated towns and villages. If you want to combine X4 and X5 with Champions of Mystara, then the PCs could be part of a Darokin expeditionary force sent at Sind's request to help fight the invaders from the west.

The starting village is where Darokin's reserve force arrives, with the main Darokin army having fought the invading vanguard and moved further west in pursuit. All you have to do is add an encounter or two of populated Sind areas which may or may not be occupied by foreign troops.

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Re: Placing X4/X5 while using Champions of Mystara - Question!

Post by Dartamian » Tue Apr 17, 2018 2:24 am

If I remember right, X4 starts with the party late to the show and missing the war before they go searching for it. That would make Champions of Mystara the prewar Sind and the X4/X5 the devastated post war Sind.
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Re: Placing X4/X5 while using Champions of Mystara - Question!

Post by Big Ulf » Tue Apr 17, 2018 4:55 am

thanks all, yeah X4 starts with the party looking for the Darokin army which was heading deep into Sind and toward the Great Pass/Hule to take on the M's armies. I seem to recall reading Champions, like WotI, really screwed with the timeline TSR was building after X4/X5 was published. You'd think they would have adapted the later supplements to the earlier ones, but hey...

I'm saying a big screw that to pushing 4/5/10 into the far future of Mystara (and 10 would have some problems there too), so will take the advice of a few posters here and establish a Sind-Darokin alliance which kinda makes sense anyway. Also will neglect to mention some of the other border towns...

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Re: Placing X4/X5 while using Champions of Mystara - Question!

Post by BotWizo » Wed Apr 18, 2018 3:27 pm

I typically ignore the new timeline and follow the x 4/5/10 timeline. I thought it was bad writing editing to implement WotI and other timeline changes say like champions and then say to people hey push 4/5/10 way into the future. so I just lay 4/5/10 right on top of those products if I was to use them and modify the new "timeline" since it was a mess and has implications to say CM1 and all other modules after x10.

Plus I felt WotI was just bad anyway and many of the almanac timelines seem rushed rather than well though out.

tldr;
I always default to module timelines rather than the "new" (for mystara) rushed products.

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Re: Placing X4/X5 while using Champions of Mystara - Question!

Post by agathokles » Wed Apr 18, 2018 4:04 pm

I do the opposite: I keep the modern time line, and adapt the modules. Obviously X4 assumes that Sind is basically unpopulated, but this is easily solved by moving the encounters mostly into the Great Waste, except the cursed swamp, which works fine in Sind as well.
The idea that the Darokin expedition is meant to support the Sindhi army seems very reasonable -- actually much more than the idea of Darokin pushing into Sind to confront the nomads on unfavorable and mostly unexplored territory.

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Re: Placing X4/X5 while using Champions of Mystara - Question!

Post by BotWizo » Wed Apr 18, 2018 6:06 pm

agathokles wrote:
Wed Apr 18, 2018 4:04 pm
I do the opposite: I keep the modern time line, and adapt the modules. Obviously X4 assumes that Sind is basically unpopulated, but this is easily solved by moving the encounters mostly into the Great Waste, except the cursed swamp, which works fine in Sind as well.
The idea that the Darokin expedition is meant to support the Sindhi army seems very reasonable -- actually much more than the idea of Darokin pushing into Sind to confront the nomads on unfavorable and mostly unexplored territory.

GP
perfect, as you will see you will have the whole range across all of us here. :)

Darokin pushing into Sind would be similar to a strategic move made during the crusades. :)
But it works out better for Darokin than it did for the crusaders since the PCs save the day.
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Re: Placing X4/X5 while using Champions of Mystara - Question!

Post by Knightfall » Wed Apr 18, 2018 7:15 pm

I have a follow up question: How would you run X4 and X5 in AC 1200 if, say, "political" Sind has been completely destroyed and sent to the Hollow World? (The Great Desert still exists without Sind, however.) Now, Hule is still around and likely a bit stronger (so X5 wouldn't be as big a deal, I think). However, Darokin is a sundered land full of undead; the last of its people become refugees long before AC 1200. Five Shires still exists and is stronger in political power (borders expanded). Karameikos was ruined by a tidal wave and Ylaruam has been sundered and flooded. Ostland is significantly more powerful in the Northern Reaches.

So, would Five Shires work well as an alternative to Darokin for those two modules? Or should i go with Ostland?
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Re: Placing X4/X5 while using Champions of Mystara - Question!

Post by Mike » Wed Apr 18, 2018 10:28 pm

Something that is often overlooked is that, according to X4, Sind is part of Darokin, not a separate kingdom. So Darokin is not helping out a neighbor, they are defending their own borders.

These days we would probably say that Sind (as protrayed in X4 context) is one of Darokin's "borderlands", though of course X4 was written long before the gazetteer and even before BECMI, so the concept of Darokinian borderlands did not exist yet. The module seems to portray Sind as a largely unpopulated frontier, where Darokin has interests due to trade routes. There is a narrow fertile strip along the river where there are small villages like Pramayama and persumably Darokinian garrisons or outposts. Possibly Prayama is the largest village in the area. But it's almost certain that Gola Keep and Khamrati don't exist; if there was a road around the salt swamp the PCs would surely take that route instead trying to cross the muck, and if Gola keep existed they'd have to pass through it on the way to the great pass.

Champions of Mystara essentially kept the map but retconned everything, including the history, so nearly everything in the module that pertains to Sind (and why Darokin's army is there) is obsolete.

There are three canonical timelines for X4/X5/X10:
  • The original timeline is undefined, hence "the present" or "anytime." It is not presented as a major historical event, just the ordinary type of stuff adventurers have to deal with in the wild and woolly known world.
  • in the gazetteer era these modules were placed 200 years in the future. The gazetteer era known world was a stable place, and currently in an era of placid enlightenment. The sort of war envisioned in X10 is uncommon in the Gazetteer histories, and would also represent a failure of Darokinian intelligence and the DDC. It didn't fit the past history, and didn't fit the present, so was pushed far into the hazy future.
  • WOTI took the opposite approach and embraced chaos, setting the modules around AC 2005. Rather than being a defining event, in WOTI the Sind invasion is more like a distraction from even bigger events.
In my recent (unfinished) campaign, I basically took the same approach as Agathokles, keeping a version of modern Sind and adapting the modules to it. In my world, Darokin is a kingdom not a republic and the DDC does not exist, and Ylaruam is in the great waste south of Jaibul. The desert nomads allied with the Master are then Ylari and Urduk nomads, both of whom are warlike and rapacious. The nomads have long preyed on Darokinian caravans, but in the past were easily bribed or driven off due to disorganization. In my campaign, Sind is a collection of kingdoms (each with its own rajah) not a unified empire. The maharajah is more ceremonial than effective.

The nomads attacked led by wizards and bolstered with monstrous hordes, and overran Gola Keep; the nomad forces then split north and south around the Salt Swamp, attacking Bharatkhand and West Jhengal. Darokin finally sent a relief force. The enire land south of the Asanda was under nomad control, an the region around Sayr Ulan was also under nomad control. Pramayama was a central marshaling ground earlier in the war, but by the time the PCs arrived, the Darokin army was at Naral. The PCs arrived at Naral during the siege and fall of Sandapur, and the Darokinians were grimly preparing to make a last stand defending Naral as the hordes fully surrounded them. In Naral they hooked up with a few Darokinian adventurers not wanting to get trapped and willing to escape in the only direction nobody expected them to go. The darokinian general was supportive but could not spare any supplies as he was expecting a bitter siege. Their river guide also told them legends of something evil that haunted the salt swamp.

Going around the swamp in either direction meant facing vast numbers of nomad forces, but going through the swamp they could get behind the armies. They'd have to avoid Khamrati as it was now a nomad stronghold; Gola Keep had also fallen to nomads, but since the main force had moved on it might only have a small garrison and they could slip through. The could also avoid it to the north, striking straight for the plain of fire, but it would be better to try and buy or steal supplies at Gola Keep. Sticking to the cavaran track also means occasional oases and not getting lost, while the plain of fire means probable death.

That's as far as we have gotten. It's a win either way for me. If they go to Gola Keep and the caravan route, it will be a stealthy cat-and-mouse adventure. I'll use the caravan and nomad army encounters, and the scorpion temple can be a wayside ruin. (Despite the war, merchants are still trading, at least ones that are friendly with nomads and can bribe their way through. The master is not stupid; why conquer except to profit from trade?)

If they go into the plain of fire, there will be virtually no nomads. But I can use the scorpion temple and desert monsters until they run out of water. I'm thinking a dragon probably also claims some territory there. Then they'll run out of water and be forced to descend into Grakhaalia to find it.

My plans is that in X5, they won't defeat the master, but they will steal the war plans and secrets needed to defeat him, such as info about the artifacts in X10. Then they'll need to race home in time to save Darokin. The great pass will be too hot by then, now that the master knows spies are about, so the return route will be north of the Black Mountains and then by way of Lake Hast. It will probably be a quick journey trailed by Hulean assassins. The kingdoms of Kadesh, Peshmire, and Gunjab did not fall to the master. I think of these like the Afghuli of the Conan stories, with a nearly impregnable landscape and strange things like the People of the Black Circle, yetis, the ghouls of yanaidar, the city of Meru... a fun place for adventures. Or they could cross the Adri Varma itself. Either way this is a relatively clear route back to Darokin by way of Glantri. The return journey will probably be winter. During the quest, Sind is completely overrun and the Darokinians put up a stiff resistance in the mountains west of Akesoli. By the time the PCs return, they nomads will have ground through the mountains and have encamped on the plain west of Akesoli, where we pick up with X10.

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Re: Placing X4/X5 while using Champions of Mystara - Question!

Post by Big Ulf » Wed Apr 18, 2018 10:51 pm

very nice, like it!

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Re: Placing X4/X5 while using Champions of Mystara - Question!

Post by stebehil » Thu Apr 19, 2018 10:09 pm

Mike, that is quite a narrative you´ve built there. Kudos! Quite different from dungeoncrawls, and sounds like a ton of gritty fun to be had.

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Re: Placing X4/X5 while using Champions of Mystara - Question!

Post by NPCDave » Fri Apr 20, 2018 12:01 am

Mike's post has reminded me of something about X5 that was fine at the time it was written but is now an open gap. The adventure ends at the Temple of Death with the PCs getting what they need to turn the war in Darokin's favor...but nothing is described for how they return. It makes sense that they would not go back through the Great Pass, too easy to intercept them with an army at the entrance or exit. But plotting out an alternate route would require fleshing out more of the Known World and there simply wasn't room in the adventure to do that. Also, teleport was a 5th level spell in B/X so I think a 9th or 10th level magic-user could cast it, but I think that only gets the wizard out, not the whole party.

Now that it has all been not only fleshed out but extensively mapped and detailed, perhaps it is time for someone or someones to take a shot at writing up that return trip in the same style as David Cook's sword and sorcery style in classic B/X format.

In addition to the routes north that Mike outlined, there is also the possibility of heading south and southwest to reach the Savage Baronies and get passage onto a ship heading east, which would be faster than going around the mountains.

Hmm...this might be a good article submission for Threshold Magazine's Adventures and Campaigns issue.

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Re: Placing X4/X5 while using Champions of Mystara - Question!

Post by NPCDave » Fri Apr 20, 2018 12:14 am

Knightfall wrote:
Wed Apr 18, 2018 7:15 pm
I have a follow up question: How would you run X4 and X5 in AC 1200 if, say, "political" Sind has been completely destroyed and sent to the Hollow World? (The Great Desert still exists without Sind, however.) Now, Hule is still around and likely a bit stronger (so X5 wouldn't be as big a deal, I think). However, Darokin is a sundered land full of undead; the last of its people become refugees long before AC 1200. Five Shires still exists and is stronger in political power (borders expanded). Karameikos was ruined by a tidal wave and Ylaruam has been sundered and flooded. Ostland is significantly more powerful in the Northern Reaches.

So, would Five Shires work well as an alternative to Darokin for those two modules? Or should i go with Ostland?
From what you describe, Ostland has Darokin as a land of undead acting as a buffer between their holdings and Hule's expansion. In that scenario I just don't see Ostland caring at all about Hule's expansion unless Ostland has built up their navy and expanded all the way into the Sea of Dread in the west...and even then only if Hule is threatening some colony or port they have established.

So in your scenario I would say the expanded Five Shires would be the right choice, or possibly Thyatis if they are still around.

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Re: Placing X4/X5 while using Champions of Mystara - Question!

Post by Knightfall » Fri Apr 20, 2018 3:52 am

NPCDave wrote:
Fri Apr 20, 2018 12:14 am
Knightfall wrote:
Wed Apr 18, 2018 7:15 pm
I have a follow up question: How would you run X4 and X5 in AC 1200 if, say, "political" Sind has been completely destroyed and sent to the Hollow World? (The Great Desert still exists without Sind, however.) Now, Hule is still around and likely a bit stronger (so X5 wouldn't be as big a deal, I think). However, Darokin is a sundered land full of undead; the last of its people become refugees long before AC 1200. Five Shires still exists and is stronger in political power (borders expanded). Karameikos was ruined by a tidal wave and Ylaruam has been sundered and flooded. Ostland is significantly more powerful in the Northern Reaches.

So, would Five Shires work well as an alternative to Darokin for those two modules? Or should i go with Ostland?
From what you describe, Ostland has Darokin as a land of undead acting as a buffer between their holdings and Hule's expansion. In that scenario I just don't see Ostland caring at all about Hule's expansion unless Ostland has built up their navy and expanded all the way into the Sea of Dread in the west...and even then only if Hule is threatening some colony or port they have established.
Ostland's power will be based on seafaring, but they won't be as concerned with the Sea of Dread as with the eastern seas. Ostland now controls much of the coastal region that was once Vestland, but most of the interior lands of Vestland aren't as habitable. Landfall and Oceansend of the Heldannic Territories, as well as Vestland all stand in ruins and their peoples were forced to become refugees. Many of them were accepted into Ostland, but there is only so much room.

Rockhome was destroyed and there are dangerous creatures in the sundered mountain range, as well as cursed dwarves. Aengmor and the Ethengar Khanate were lost as well. None of these land were able to be saved and sent to the Hollow World.

The Soderfjord Jarldoms are still around, but survival was hard on its people. (It's borders remain intact, for the most part.) The orcs of the Broken Lands managed to survive, but they are even more isolated and vicious now. They control more territory but it is very dangerous territory.
NPCDave wrote:So in your scenario I would say the expanded Five Shires would be the right choice, or possibly Thyatis if they are still around.
Most of Thyatis was wiped out by the tidal wave that took out Karameikos. The bulk of the survivors fled to the Thyatian Hinterlands on Davania. Part of Thyatis ended up in the Hollow World, as did parts of the cultures of the Atruaghin Clans, Glantri, Ierendi, and and the Minrothad Guilds.

Five Shires is the one land besides Ostland that expanded outward, significantly. I haven't work on my map in a while, but I'm thinking that it's borders have increased by at least one or two hexes in every direction, maybe more. Of course, Five Shires border won't extend into Old Darokin very far. It will have expanded into what was once Karamekios but those lands won't be tamed.

Five Shires was lucky. The tidal wave didn't hit its coastline. The Immortals were watching over them, it seems. Perhaps having to face the Master and his forces is there Fate.

EDIT: Of course, there are 'new' lands but I haven't even decided names for them yet. :P
Last edited by Knightfall on Fri Apr 20, 2018 3:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Placing X4/X5 while using Champions of Mystara - Question!

Post by Dartamian » Fri Apr 20, 2018 3:57 am

NPCDave wrote:
Fri Apr 20, 2018 12:01 am
Mike's post has reminded me of something about X5 that was fine at the time it was written but is now an open gap. The adventure ends at the Temple of Death with the PCs getting what they need to turn the war in Darokin's favor...but nothing is described for how they return. It makes sense that they would not go back through the Great Pass, too easy to intercept them with an army at the entrance or exit. But plotting out an alternate route would require fleshing out more of the Known World and there simply wasn't room in the adventure to do that. Also, teleport was a 5th level spell in B/X so I think a 9th or 10th level magic-user could cast it, but I think that only gets the wizard out, not the whole party.
There is a way in the module for the characters to return to where ever they want, below quoted from module

From X5 Temple of Death
"Room C6. The Master of Protocol's Chamber
...In the corner of one room is a secret door. This door may be opened by sliding a baseboard. Inside is a small bare closet-a special escape route for the Master and others. Once a person is in the room and the door is closed, the chamber teleports him to any place he visualizes. If the person enters the room and does not think of a specific location (that he has seen) in five rounds, he teleports to some random point 1-100 miles away from the temple. If more than one person is in the room, they all arrive at the same place."

So the Master and others know about this escape route which means there are ways the characters can learn about the teleport closet.
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Re: Placing X4/X5 while using Champions of Mystara - Question!

Post by Mike » Fri Apr 20, 2018 7:40 pm

Good catch on the teleportation room.

My plan was to was to either have the master slip away before the characters arrive, or to try to destroy them and then teleport away. I don't really like the whole "you can't kill him" bit so would prefer to avoid having it come up. The master (and Alrethus) would go east to join the army and personally oversee and accelerate the invasion.

It seems reasonable that the temple would have lesser "sub-temples" elsewhere that the master might use to regroup, and/or as a headquarters-in-exile.

The teleportation room simplifies the escape. I thought I'd have to have Alrethus do it.

It seems to me if the players stumble upon the room, if someone happens to mention some other place (for any reason) that is where everyone goes instantly. If nobody mentions anyplace them it would be random.

An NPC could use it as a trap, telling the players the master escaped to X (where X is someplace in the wrong direction) and that there is information in the closet. That would prime the PC's thinking to send them there when they go in to search it.

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Re: Placing X4/X5 while using Champions of Mystara - Question!

Post by NPCDave » Tue Apr 24, 2018 10:07 pm

Dartamian wrote:
Fri Apr 20, 2018 3:57 am
There is a way in the module for the characters to return to where ever they want, below quoted from module

From X5 Temple of Death
"Room C6. The Master of Protocol's Chamber
...
So the Master and others know about this escape route which means there are ways the characters can learn about the teleport closet.
This is why David Cook is a creative genius and why it will be difficult for me to come close to copying his style. Of course, that's why the teleporting closet is there. He debated how to make sure the PCs could have a way to get home quickly. So he comes up with this room but it isn't a giveaway because it works more like a trap when the PCs first find it and they could end up separated or stymied if they aren't careful. But the room is there so the clever and lucky players figure out an easy way home.

Having had a chance to review the adventure, you can also use the magic item House of Zebulon to teleport once per week through the doorway, and escape that way if I am understanding the magic item correctly.

There is also the possibility of escaping via the Masters' flying ship although no way to control the ship is described.

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Re: Placing X4/X5 while using Champions of Mystara - Question!

Post by Mike » Wed Apr 25, 2018 12:17 am

Oh man I never thought of the players gaining control of the flying ship!

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