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Vatermont 1, AC 1019

A Trial It Will Be.

Location: City of Mirros, Kingdom of Karameikos. OW

Description: Ludwig von Hendriks is brought before King Stefan to hear the decision concerning his petition for a trial in Karameikos. The king announces that the former baron will be given the benefit of a trial, though he will be charged with treason.

The Black Eagle asks to be judged as nobility, as he was a baron at the time the crime of which he is accused. The king agrees, after reminding his cousin that it means he will be presiding over the trial. The Black Eagle is then taken to his holding cell, where he will await a trial by a jury of his peers. (See Nu. 19; Fl. 1, Ei. 28.)

What This Means: The Black Eagle is content with the decision: he has brought his cousin, with his sense of honour and justice, to allow him a second trial, and one that he feels he has a chance of actually winning. He knows it will not be easy, of course, but other landed nobility of Karameikos may be swayed by his lies especially if several are old Thyatian barons who often had to be harsh when they came with Karameikos to Traladara. In any case, he does not fear being stripped of his lands and titles, as this has already come to pass. This decision will not be received kindly in the Five Shires, as King Stefan had previously agreed to extradite the Black Eagle. Queen Olivia argued against a trial, as she thinks that it might be perceived as a weakness, as if the king was not certain of his own decision, but King Stefan does not like the fact that he condemned his cousin without a trial in the first place although it was within his right to do so and favours a just system over a just decision.

Ochalean Core at Risk.

Location: Kiang Province, Exarchate of Ochalea, Thyatian Empire. SD

Description: Monster attacks increase in the countryside villages of the Ochalean interior. (See Nu. 11, Nu. 26; Va. 7, Fl. 26.)

What This Means: Even the core of the exarchate is not immune to the increase in banditry and monster attacks that sweep the land, though the large population centres remain unaffected so far.

What the PCs Can Do: The PCs can go and fight the increasing monstrous threat.

Busy Robbers.

Location: Kingdom of Eirundrynn, Continent of Bellissaria, Nayce. AS

Description: With the economic decline in Nayce, robberies have been increasing throughout the empire. The worst increase has come from bands of robbers operating out of Eirundrynn and the Turmoil Territories. Governor Jhedryll takes several measures to stop them. He makes a proclamation that the border to Turmoil will be heavily guarded in the time to come, and that robbers taken inside Eirundrynn can expect to be fined and expelled whether they are inhabitants of Eirundrynn or Turmoil. He then sets up several patrols to guard the border and posts a bounty on robbers and rewards for information that can lead to their capture. (See Nu. 21, Nu. 25; Va. 11, Kl. 10.)

What This Means: With the economic decline, the poor are getting desperate enough to resort to crime. Due to their chaotic natures, Turmoil and Eirundrynn are the most likely places where such bands can form, without stricter supervision by aristocrats. Jhedryll counters that by putting out bounties and rewards, so that the robbers will risk being turned in by other poor people looking to earn a little money. Combined with the threat of being expelled, this will prove an effective way to reduce the robberies.

What the PCs Can Do: Time to go bounty hunting.

Vatermont 2, AC 1019

First Stop in Ierendi.

Location: City of Ierendi, Kingdom of Ierendi. OW

Description: Two ships arrive in the port of Ierendi City, buying supplies for a long sea voyage. The ships sport an Oceansender banner. After a little inquiry, the port authorities let them go. (See Nu. 3; Th. 4, Fl. 13.)

What This Means: After a month of lucky sea voyage in the dangerous winter sea, the two ships of the Folgen expedition to Davania need water and supplies. They stopped in the port of Ierendi hoping that the heavy naval traffic of the city would hide their true identity and goal. Their hope proved true, and the port authorities of the city let them go without too much inquiry.

What the PCs Can Do: If the PCs are on board they could have some sea encounters during the voyage to Ierendi, and in the port they could be sent to speak with the port authorities or to buy supplies and fresh water. If they are Ierendis or adventurers in the city they could board the two ships, as stowaways or succeeding in the hard task of persuading Wilhelm to let them come along.

The Eagle Has Landed.

Location: City of Thyatis, Duchy of Thyatis, Thyatian Empire. OW

Description: The Thothian skyship Eagle and a Thyatian airship sail over Vanya's Girdle, and land in the parade field in the Zendrolion, where they are met by a Thyatian delegation. The Thothians turn the ship over to the Thyatians, and proceed to several large warehouses nearby, where the Thyatians turn the contents over to the Thothians. (See Nu. 13, Nu. 21; Va. 9.)

What This Means: When she entered Thyatian airspace, the Eagle was escorted by a Thyatian airship as she flew up Vanya's Girdle till she reached the city of Thyatis. Thothia has made a trade with Thyatis: In exchange for the Eagle, the Thyatians have given the Thothians the hulls of six Alphatian skyships that were grounded in Thyatis when magic failed at the end of the Great War. These ships are damaged, but can be repaired (at some cost). For reasons of prestige, Eusebius would rather regain control over the Eagle than repair these Alphatian skyships especially since Alphatian windriders do not fit with Thyatis's current airship doctrine.

The deal is a good one for Thothia on several levels. First, while they will have to pay to transport the salvageable hull sections to Thothia, and then fund the rebuilding cost, in the end Thothia will be significantly better off with six skyships than it was with one. This deal will also somewhat improve relations with Thyatis. A desire for vengeance against Thothia has been strong ever since they unleashed mummy rot against the Thyatian civilian population and humiliated the empire in the war for control of the Isle of Dawn. Pharaoh Ramenhotep has grand ambitions, but they are best achieved by keeping the empire's growing might focused elsewhere. Now that Thyatis is powerful once again, he does not want it turning its attentions back to Thothia.

What the PCs Can Do: As noted, many Thyatians yearn for vengeance against the Thothians. People who lost family members to mummy rot and famine may try to attack them while they are in Thyatis. The PCs could help protect them. The Minrothaddan ships the Thothians hire to transport the skyship hull sections back to Edairo will also need to be protected against those who would like to steal their cargoes.

Empty Hands.

Location: Town of Polakatsikes, Dominion of Polakatsikes, Heldannic Empire, Meghala Kimata Plains. DV

Description: The people in charge of the investigation ordered by Governor Wolfgang Stemmel report that they have been unable to identify the culprit since everyone in the company is covering for him. (See Nu. 7, Nu. 27; Va. 6, Va. 7.)

What This Means: It has always been difficult for the newly arrived to blend in. This is all the more true for the Heldannic Knights who are not particularly good at it, as open-mindedness is not a common trait among the Heldannic officers, especially among those coming from Vanya's Rest where bigotry and zeal are widespread. Wolfgang is now facing a hard choice: either he punishes the whole company, or he finds another way to act.

What the PCs Can Do: They could be advisers to the governor, and help him find another way to unmask the culprit.

Vatermont 3, AC 1019

Next Stop: The Unknown...

See map of the route of the Thyatian expedition to Davania, AC 1019.

Location: City of Mahajanga, Kingdom of Manakara, Island of Cestia. DV

Description: After wintering in the court of King Mananjary, the Thyatian expedition, led by Julius Ambrosius, takes its leave of the Manakarans, thanking them for their hospitality. Those continuing on their voyage head southeast, into unknown waters. (See Va. 24, Va. 27.)

What This Means: After encountering the Manakarans last year [Ambyrmont, AC 1018. Ed.], the Thyatians spent the winter in the kingdom as honoured guests. Over the past few months, Julius and his closest associates were given leave to tour the kingdom, and see its many wonders for themselves. This was partly a gesture of friendship on the part of Mananjary, but also a way of determining the Thyatians' intentions while they were out of the king's sight. In truth, many of the Thyatians' guides were Mananjary's spies, who kept a discreet eye on what their guests were doing.

Mananjary has become convinced that the Thyatians harbour no desire to conquer his kingdom, or to do it harm, and in this he is correct. Julius concluded that, while Manakara is rich in resources and valuable trading commodities, the empire would be better served by ensuring that this isolated kingdom becomes a Thyatian ally in this part of the world. The cost militarily and economically of conquering and occupying this kingdom would make any material gains to the empire very small indeed.

Since Julius was granted authority by Emperor Eusebius to conduct diplomatic relations in his name, an ambassador, Marcus Septimus, plus a small staff, has been appointed to represent Thyatis pending a final imperial ratification.

What the PCs Can Do: A higher-level Thyatian PC might be appointed by Julius to serve as ambassador. This is actually a challenging job, as it would require that individual to learn as much as possible about Manakara and its neighbours, and to conclude a wide variety of treaties and other agreements on the most favourable terms possible.

Vatermont 5, AC 1019

A New Start for Oceansend.

Location: City of Oceansend, Kingdom of Oceansend, Tranquil Coast. NW

Description: After the departure of Thyatian forces for Heldann, King Olaf Yarrvikson announces he has come to a decision on Oceansend's destiny. Today, a large gate opens above the city, through which the Augusta Valentia, flagship of the Thyatian skyship fleet, flies. She extends a docking plank to the Royal Palace, and Emperor Eusebius, clad in full imperial regalia, descends, followed by members of his Sacred Guard. He is brought before King Yarrvikson, and the two exchange greetings.

King Yarrvikson goes to the royal balcony overlooking the city square and makes his announcement. Oceansend had good reason to declare its independence from all empires years ago. But times have changed, as has the Thyatian Empire. They promise not repressive control, but partnership, and have offered an invitation to join the empire as a full member. Olaf has thought long and hard on the matter, trying to weigh the interests and hopes of his people with political reality, and he has decided that independence, under the friendly protection of the Thyatian Empire, is what is best for his people at this time. Oceansend's people will benefit from a new partnership with the empire, and the door is always open to them to participate fully in the empire as citizens, should they wish it. But, under the Thyatian wing, they will be free, something they have not been as the conquered or as pawns in the plots of stronger powers. That will now end. He bows as Emperor Eusebius emerges in his full splendour to stand beside him, and bids Olaf Yarrvikson to rise, and embraces him. Eusebius then turns to the assembled masses and announces that he is pleased to return to the city of his heritage, and proclaims to them that the empire will be there for them, for it does not forget its own; nor does it forget its roots. (See Nu. 4, Nu. 27; Th. 28, Fl. 21.)

What This Means: Oceansend is now a protectorate of Thyatis. Thyatian influence in Norwold is secured, and Oceansend will find renewed stability as well. For the average Oceansender life will improve noticeably, not only because he or she has personal freedom once more; the rapidly growing economic ties with the rest of the empire will soon bring trade from the farthest corners of the Old World (and beyond) to the Thyatian Quarter, some of which will find its way into the city proper. Oceansend, after declining for many years, will experience a renaissance of sorts.

Eusebius, despite his happiness over Olaf deciding to remain under Thyatian protection, considers the job unfinished; he would have preferred Oceansend to join the empire fully as an exarchate. Nevertheless, he understands that Olaf faced a difficult decision, with his people having lived under Heldannic domination for several years, and only now being independent once more. He raised the matter privately with Olaf before the announcement, and the king indicated that he would opt to maintain the current arrangement; but he would not close the door on a deeper partnership with the empire in the future. He told the emperor that his people have faced too much turmoil in too short a time, and suggested an evaluation or transition period, during which the benefits of full membership in the empire could be clearly demonstrated to his people, after which he could decide. Understanding that Olaf was inviting Thyatis to win over the Oceansenders, Eusebius assented.

In the coming months, substantial investments will be made in the city, demonstrating the benefits of having a Thyatian presence and improving the lives of Oceansenders, but there will always be an implicit message: Oceansend is stronger and more prosperous than it has ever been, but it could be even stronger, even wealthier, if it were part of the empire. The Barony of Canium and the Thyatian Quarter will develop rapidly, and many Thyatian and Minrothaddan merchant vessels, laden with mundane and exotic goods, will unload their cargoes there, some of which will find its way into Oceansend. Many Oceansenders will find well-paying work with the Thyatians on their various projects, but even better jobs will go to Thyatian citizens, including those Oceansenders who decide to become citizens themselves. This lobbying effort will continue throughout the year, and into the next.

To Set a Course.

Location: Tower of Zynillith, Kingdom of Blackheart, Floating Continent of Alphatia, Alphatian Empire. HW

Description: Lady Ardana and her comrades put together the results of their work, and decide to look for an appropriate new home in the void, where they will definitively be out of reach of Stonewall and any other rude intruder. Should they find some good candidates they will decide how to proceed. To get there they will build a small voidship for only two or three "voidonauts." This part of the work will be done by Lady Ardana, Lady Polint and Lord Loraan. The rest of the group will continue to comb the tower for anything useful, and they will work on plans to acquire a bigger voidship. Kossan, Iris, Olanth and Xanax are given the additional task of preparing themselves for the dangerous mission. (See Nu. 16, Nu. 27; Va. 19, Va. 20.)

What This Means: The group around Ardana has finally made a decision on how to proceed. The idea of creating a new island like Ar did 2,000 circles ago had to be dropped, as they simply cannot muster the necessary magical power. Moving an existing island is another matter, but relocating to the void was hotly disputed. The fact that there are many other floating continents besides Alphatia orbiting the Hollow World might serve their reclusive mindset rather well.

Their plan is difficult though. Of course, Alphatians have manufactured voidships before, but such ships have often been developed, provisioned and paid by the governments, rarely by individual nobles. Besides the cost, the basic problem of losing air in the void has never been satisfactorily solved; the crews on Alphatian voidships must rely on spells like survival or magical items like air masks to survive. A few ships have pressurised compartments to make life easier for the crew, but to enchant the whole ship with a full atmosphere would be a tremendous task. The planned vessel must have one, though, as a long-term mission would not be possible otherwise.

What the PCs Can Do: Most likely the Island will have to make some voyages to get the necessary material components to build the new ship. PCs can be part of the crew.

Vatermont 6, AC 1019

Second Time's a Charm (a.k.a. Mivosia Strikes Back).

Location: Twenty miles north of the ruined Village of Doleria, Dominion of Polakatsikes, Heldannic Empire, Meghala Kimata Plains. DV

Description: The troops manoeuvring around Doleria once again spot and attack a caravan. This time, it is a much bigger one, comprised of 30 wagons and escorted by no less than 60 pikemen and a handful of riders. Yet, as soon as the pikemen have fled and the Heldannic Knights are ready to check the wagons' contents, it turns out to be an ambush! Many chariots are full of spellcasters and archers who retaliate by loosing their spells and arrows upon the Meghalan riders caught by surprise. Sleep, charm person, and some fireballs and lightning bolts take a heavy toll. Only 30 Heldannic Knights and Meghalan horsemen manage to retreat safely to Doleria. (See Nu. 27, Va. 2; Va. 7, Va. 10.)

What This Means: The Mivosians are no fools. They were caught unawares once, but this time they have planned their ambush well, counting on the overconfidence of the Heldannic Knights and their allies. It worked fine for the Mivosians, whose forces comprise many more battle mages than there are Heldannic Knights. It will take some time for the Heldannic forces to launch another attack on the Mivosian caravans, which will certainly be much better defended from now on.

What the PCs Can Do: They can help the Heldannic Knights retreat and try to save many of them from being taken prisoner, or if they are Mivosians they can enjoy their revenge.

Vatermont. 7, AC 1019

New Land Claimed in Ochalea.

Location: Kiang Forest, Kiang Province, Exarchate of Ochalea, Thyatian Empire. SD

Description: Deforestation increases in some provinces particularly along the Shingao River. Many countryfolk (i.e. men), seeking work, flock to the new logging and farming towns that are popping up as the nation expands. (See Va. 1; Va. 12, Ya. 6.)

What This Means: With the end of the wars and its rejoining the Thyatian Empire, Ochalea is again opening to the outside world, both politically and economically. Thus, the exarchate is going through a period of growth that has consequences not only on the merchant class, but on the land itself.

What the PCs Can Do: Frontier lands are a haven of opportunities for PCs.

An Heir for Adlerturm?

Location: Barony of Adlerturm, Principalities of Glantri. OW

Description: Herr Franz Löwenroth, Baron of Adlerturm, receives at his winter mansion a pregnant young woman, Reghina Philipe, who is accompanied by her very regal mother, Marchesia Philipe, Mistress of Conjuration from the Great School of Magic.

Mistress Marchesia delicately broaches the matter of paternity of her unborn grandchild. The father is none other that Herr Rolf Löwenroth, son of the baron and heir to Adlerturm and husband to the Frau Viktoria von Drachenfels, cousin of Prinz Jaggar von Drachenfels of Aalban.

When confronted with irrefutable proof of paternity (a total of seven magical testings and divinations from various experts, including the Master of Divination at the Great School of Magic), Herr Franz proposes to cover expenses to terminate the matter. Feigning outrage, Mistress Marchesia carefully makes a counterproposal of merely hushing the matter, until and should the time come that Adlerturm will need an heir. Tentatively, the baron agrees to the plan. (See Nu. 25, Fl. 2.)

What This Means: Marchesia Philipe is a powermonger with ambitions not only in the academic hierarchy, but in the political field as well. She has found a perfect opportunity for her aspirations of nobility, when her daughter became pregnant by Herr Rolf Löwenroth.

Almost two years have passed since the baron's son and Frau Viktoria wed, and the only product that has come out of the union are bawdy comparisons of Frau Viktoria to the Glantrian Alps in winter and possibly, even the barren Sind Desert and tawdry rumours of Herr Rolf's lechery and boundless appetites, his late-night hunting trips, and a certain private lodge hidden deep in the forest...

Unknown to even the Löwenroth family, the reason that Frau Viktoria is infertile is that she is not even human. The real Viktoria was replaced years ago by an oard, an alien cyborg come from the future in search of FFS Beagle (now known as the Nucleus of the Spheres).

Bad News from the Front.

Location: Town of Polakatsikes, Dominion of Polakatsikes, Heldannic Empire, Meghala Kimata Plains. DV

Description: The news of the ambush reaches Polakatsikes. It is a big surprise for the Meghalan chiefs and a great source of grief. Governor Wolfgang Stemmel orders the surviving men to be tended to by clerics and to later report to him on what happened. (See Va. 2, Va. 6; Va. 10, Va. 11.)

What This Means: This is exactly the kind of event the die-hard Heldannic Knights, whose discontent has risen lately, were awaiting to support their warmongering stance.

What the PCs Can Do: They might stir up the discontent if they are among the die-hard Heldannic Knights, or if they were the investigators they can pursue their scrutiny.

Thyatians Visit Torreón.

Location: Town of Ciudadela de León, Baronía de Torreón, Savage Baronies. SC

Description: The Thyatian exploratory expedition to the Savage Coast arrives in Torreón by way of the road from Vila Franca, Texeiras. After presenting themselves at the main gates of the town, Paulus Angelinus and his closest advisers are approached by representatives of Baronesa Isabel "La Terrible," bearing an invitation to meet with her over dinner at her villa. Surprised that they seem to have been expected, but nonetheless pleased that they can avoid going through the hurdles of obtaining an audience, the Thyatians accept.

That evening, Paulus and his companions are treated very hospitably by the baronesa,who asks them many questions about their tour of Hule, and what they plan to do during their sojourn in the Savage Coast region. Paulus and his companions relate their mission to Isabel, and indicate that they would be interested in establishing formal relations with Torreón. Isabel then asks about the Thyatians' intentions concerning the trade in cinnabryl and red steel, to which Paulus responds by saying that Thyatis only wishes to obtain a reliable source of cinnabryl (so that citizens of the empire may be protected from the Red Curse) and red steel.

Isabel then offers Paulus an interesting commodity: the services of her soldiers as mercenaries. Before Paulus can respond to this surprising offer, Isabel states that she is well aware of the dangers of the Red Curse, and of the distances between the Thyatian Empire and its growing interests in the Savage Coast region. The empire, she is sure, would be loath to expend considerable resources garrisoning remote outposts, when it could pay capable Torreóner soldiers to perform the same tasks. Isabel assures Paulus that her soldiers are honourable men who respect the terms of their contracts. Paulus thanks Isabel for her hospitality, and informs her that he will provide an official response soon. (See Nu. 18, Nu. 28; Va. 11, Va. 22.)

What This Means: Thyatis is aware that the baronía is located next to the coveted Terra Vermelha and its cinnabar deposits. Paulus and his advisers also know that Torreón has tried to conquer that land in the past, and could very well try to do so again; it would be good politics to establish cordial relations with all nations bordering Terra Vermelha. Baronesa Isabel has hoped that she might be able to secure Thyatian support for any future Torreóner adventures in the region, in exchange for favourable concessions afterwards (she had hinted at such a potential arrangement during her discussion with Paulus and his companions), but was not surprised at the neutral response in that regard. Nevertheless, the Thyatians did not expect a sales pitch for Torreóner mercenary services. Isabel is an observant woman, and knows that Thyatis would prefer not to expend more resources than necessary to hold onto its growing trading network in this part of the world, and it would not wish to expend further resources protecting Thyatian troops from the Red Curse over a prolonged period. She is also acutely aware of the financial situation of her realm; a steady source of Thyatian coin would do rather nicely.

In the end, Torreón and Thyatis will establish diplomatic relations, and, over the following days, minor trade agreements will be reached, in which Torreón will export small quantities of rare woods, in exchange for wine. A side agreement will also be reached concerning Thyatis's use of Torreóner mercenaries: Thyatis agrees to hire a hundred men to help garrison existing outposts, with the possibility of more in the future. The expedition will then explore the remainder of the baronía, with Isabel's blessing. Before resuming his voyage, Paulus will also appoint former military commander Sabathius Julinianus as imperial ambassador.

What the PCs Can Do: While León is a relatively safe place, the river valleys to the north and west can be rather dangerous. The PCs could run afoul of brigands, Hulean spies, or monsters. Once again, an experienced PC could be appointed Thyatian ambassador in Sabathius's place.

No Lead on Late Oltecs.

Location: Town of Buenos Viente, Baronia del Grande Carrascal, Savage Baronies. SC

Description: The hutaakan priests and archaeologists studying the artifacts found in the ruins of Buenos Viente are dumbfounded. Although they surmise that those artifacts, attributed to the Late Oltec period, are somehow related to their past, their studies have not brought forth any new piece of knowledge about their origins or about the mythical Late Oltec era, for that matter. The hutaakans have been unable to decipher the hieroglyphs they found on some objects, nor find evidence about the Late Oltec culture and history, or how it relates to hutaakans. They have found representations of both hutaakans and gnolls, but could not deduce anything from it that they didn't know before. Pflarr remains adamantly silent about the subject, offering His communing priests no titbit of information.

The sage Mazrooth al Yedom, tired of the lack of progress despite the finds, decides to travel to Herath in the hope that the extensive libraries of the araneas, added to his first-hand knowledge of the artifacts unearthed in Grande Carrascal, may prove more fruitful. (See Kl. 13, Am. 24.)

What This Means: The Late Oltec period is in fact the Nithian era, erased from mortal memories by the Immortals. As the origins of both hutaakans and gnolls are indeed tied to Nithia, it is next to impossible to puzzle out the mystery, even with the help of Herathian archives, and the Immortals, including Pflarr, naturally remain silent about it.

What the PCs Can Do: There is a lot of information about Nithia being discovered here, so PCs who are investigating it (maybe across the world, in Ylaruam and Thothia and elsewhere) may find a whole slew of clues in the hutaakans' finds.

Vatermont 8, AC 1019

The Hand of Brotherhood.

Location: City of Hattias, Duchy of Hattias, Thyatian Empire. OW

Description: A group of Hattians known as the bruderschaft announces the opening of a fellowship house to help their Milenian brothers find their way in a new land. They say that "we are all brothers under the skin, and Hattias should work to help those who come to us in need lift themselves up, so that we will all prosper." (See Nu. 11; Ei. 23.)

What This Means: The bruderschaft was founded by followers of Vanya, as a Plot by Her, as an anti-Milenian group. However, their first public act is to serve as an aid society for Milenian immigrants. They will work to help Milenians integrate into Hattian life for now.

What the PCs Can Do: It's hard to see how anyone would be suspicious of the brotherhood at this stage, but who knows. Perhaps the PCs could be drawn into joining its ranks out of a sincere desire to help immigrants with their problems, not knowing that the group has another agenda entirely.

Vatermont 9, AC 1019

Great Immortal's Shield Expedition.

Location: City of Emdur, Kingdom of Gombar, Arm of the Immortals. SC

Description: The famous merchant Garugto announces he will lead a major expedition into the Great Immortal's Shield, with a threefold goal. The prime goal of the venture is to discover a route to the eastern coast through the high peaks of the mountain range. A secondary goal is to make contact with the legendary winged denizens that are said to inhabit the mountains. Finally, Garugto hopes to discover and lay claim to new veins of ores that his expedition will certainly encounter during their trek. The expedition will enter the mountain range this spring. (See Th. 18, Ei. 15.)

What This Means: Garugto is a rich merchant who has been down on his luck for several years now or maybe he has just lost his touch and is no better than his competitors. Rather than persist until his whole fortune is depleted, or enter a certain-to-be-dull retirement, he has decided to fund a large expedition that will try to achieve an old dream of the demi-ogres': open trade with the eastern nations.

The demi-ogres of Suma'a and Gombar are great merchants who conduct their trade with many nations up and down the coast of western Brun and as far as Davania and Skothar to the west. However, they are frustrated over not being able to trade with nations quite close by, across the Great Immortal's Shield, whose presence they know from their contacts with the northern Zuyevan and Yezchamenid empires. Unfortunately, the mountains form a great barrier that is not easily crossed and harbours many dangerous monsters (notably chimeras and manticores); furthermore, the ee'aar and enduks that live on the plateaus, in the kingdoms of Aeryl and Eshu, are reclusive and distrustful of strangers.

What the PCs Can Do: Garugto is hiring demi-ogres of all trades for his expedition.

When Dragons Attack.

Location: Western Sea of Dawn. SD

Description: An immense black dragon swoops down on the convoy carrying skyship hull sections back to Thothia. The Thothians, the Minrothaddan crews of the ships, and adventurers travelling with them fight back in a fierce battle. Acid spews down on the decks of ships, spells fly, men are ripped apart by tooth and claw, and steel pierces draconic hide. Eventually the combined efforts of the shipmates drive the dragon off, but not before four vessels are crippled and sinking. A few of their crewmen are saved, but the ships go down in the watery depths. (See Nu. 21, Va. 2.)

What This Means: This attack is just one of the perils of sailing through dangerous waters with a valuable cargo. Or at least that's how it seems on the surface. But the truth is that the dragon was induced to attack the convoy, through a chain ultimately leading back to Emperor Eusebius but with no apparent ties to him. Although Eusebius thinks that even the dragon does not know that the information its own monstrous contacts provided about the ships ultimately came from Thyatians, this is not the case. The black dragon, a cunning female called Xyagiz, has some agents in Thyatis herself.

Eusebius sees his actions as justified, and not as a betrayal. As far as he's concerned, the cargoes were the Thothians' from the moment the exchange took place, and it was up to them to protect it. He owes Thothia nothing, and surely does not want them to become more powerful which the addition of six skyships would surely make them. Though his goals were not entirely achieved, the Thothians now have only enough hull sections to put together two skyships, not six.

Sir Grygory's Company Returns to Mirros.

Location: City of Mirros, Kingdom of Karameikos. OW

Description: Unable to find Sir Grygory in the Barony of Rugalov, his men-at-arms and the monk Mikhail have been forced to return to Mirros to report him missing to Baron Yuschiev. The baron is sad to have lost his favourite knight, as it seems clear that Grygory is dead by now. (See Nu. 13, Nu. 27; Va. 13, Va. 22.)

What This Means: This is aftermath to the novel Dark Knight of Karameikos.

What the PCs Can Do: Baron Yuschiev could send PCs he trusts to search for his favourite knight. They won't find him, but for the DM this can be a good excuse to have the PCs come to the area.

Vatermont 10, AC 1019

Would the Enemies of My Enemies Be My Friends?

Location: Town of Polakatsikes, Dominion of Polakatsikes, Heldannic Empire, Meghala Kimata Plains. DV

Description: After pondering recent events, Governor Wolfgang Stemmel decides to rally as many allies as possible to defeat the Mivosians. Many plenipotentiaries are appointed and sent in all directions. (See Va. 6, Va. 7; Va. 11, Va. 13.)

What This Means: The governor knows that his position is still very weak, and that he cannot count on any further troops from Vanya's Rest this year. Since the Mivosians are obviously waiting for their own fresh troops, probably to arrive in mid-spring, he badly needs to find allies he can count on. Yet this move is sure to anger the die-hard Heldannic Knights to whom any alliance with an inferior civilisation is an abomination especially with people of Milenian stock. But the messengers' exact mission is known only to the most trusted of advisers. They have been granted full power to negotiate in the best interest of the Dominion of Polakatsikes.

What the PCs Can Do: PCs on the side of the Heldannic Knights can be sent as messengers to remote Davanian places to seek allies; diplomatic skills are required here. They must of course avoid the recently conquered Mivosian cities, where they could endanger the network of spies already at work there.

Vatermont 11, AC 1019

Torreón Enters Terra Vermelha.

Location: Terra Vermelha, Savage Baronies. SC

Description: The forces of Torreón enter the rich, disputed, and unclaimed lands of Terra Vermelha, in defiance of the Treaty of Tampicos. Armed with a substantial artillery including cannons and complemented by an elite force of afflicted with powerful legacies, the Torreóner army moves quickly out of its strongholds in eastern Torreón: Pueblo Real, Puebla de Alcázar, Casanegra, and the Bastión de los Caballeros. (See Va. 26, Th. 16.)

What This Means: Baronesa Isabel has finally made her move on Terra Vermelha. She intended to invade the red land earlier, not too long after the end of the Narvaezan Wars, but getting her troops ready and rebuilding the forts at Casanegra and los Caballeros took longer than she expected, and the arrival of the Thyatian expedition further delayed her move. In the meanwhile, agents of hers have scouted and infiltrated the land at length, in an effort to facilitate the takeover through sabotage, bribery, coercion of local clans of humanoids or bandits, and the knowledge of key enemy positions. The baronesa desires to add Terra Vermelha and its cinnabryl mines to Torreón, and maybe even push as far as Texeiras itself.

Despite the delay, Baronesa Isabel does not really expect too much trouble from the baronies that were at war with each other until mid AC 1017; the real opposition will come from Texeiras, and possibly from Vilaverde if it tries to defend its mines. There also exists a possibility of Hulean meddling, but the baronesa is betting on a lack of reaction from the huge empire, and she is confident enough that the Thyatians will not meddle and may actually become an eager client for Torreón's future production.

What the PCs Can Do: The PCs may have been recruited either as spies or as soldiers even if they are afflicted in which case there is already a lot going on, and more ahead. If they are not working for Torreón, they may be on the frontline to learn about the invasion, and try to warn Texeiras, Vilaverde, or Hule. Thyatian PCs serving the recently appointed ambassadors to Torreón, Texeiras, and Vilaverde will hear of the invasion once it is well underway. Although they will be encouraged to spy on all combatants, and advise the emperor of each side's relative strength as well as possible outcomes, no direct action will be taken at this time.

A Project Renewed.

Location: City of Ionace, Island of Ionace, Nayce. AS

Description: In an effort to inspire special projects and thusly reverse the current economic crisis, the Naycese Council revives the plans to connect the two Alphatian empires by digging out the Aegos Pit to the Hollow World. (See Nu. 21, Va. 1; Ei. 8, Ei. 22.)

What This Means: The fate of the Aegos Pit has been in a state of uncertainty for years, but with the failing economy of Nayce, its revival can create many needed jobs for the unemployed commoners, and even create new potential for Nayce, if reliable contact with the lost Alphatia of the Hollow World can be established. For example, Notrion's surplus of grain could be sold to combat the current famine in Stonewall on the floating continent for much needed income. A lot of unemployed Alphatians, especially from Notrion, will find themselves working on the project shortly.

The Sultan Questions Mujibur.

Location: City of Ylaruam, Emirate of Alasiya, Emirates of Ylaruam. OW

Description: Khalid "Tale-Teller," on behalf of the sultan, goes to meet Mujibur al-Jaboor on neutral ground, at the University of Ylaruam.

The Kin Faction is very worried that Mujibur might be able to muster enough influence to reinstate the Preceptor Faction. First, they must determine if this really is Mujibur of the Desert Rose. The questioning soon turns into a storytelling session as Khalid matches his wits against those of Mujibur. Word spreads quickly, and soon every street is empty in Ylaruam, as everyone flocks to the university to hear the two battle in their tales. (See Nu. 15; Th. 2, Th. 20.)

What the PCs Can Do: Mujibur is famous for giving very moving speeches before battles to his troops. The sultan knows this, and believes Khalid (with the theory of him being the chosen one or al-Kalim) would be able to quell any upstarts like Mujibur. PCs that have an excellent storytelling rating could try to compete against this master storyteller, or be hired by the university to write down the tales as they are being told. Any attempts to turn the crowd against Mujibur or Khalid will be matched by the other's disapproval; this is an honourable match between two epic heroes.

Look Around Here, You Fool!

Location: Town of Polakatsikes, Dominion of Polakatsikes, Heldannic Empire, Meghala Kimata Plains. DV

Description: In an attempt to attract the attention of the Mivosians away from the Meghalo Fithi River Valley (to the north) where messengers are heading in their quest for allies, Governor Wolfgang Stemmel has ordered a display of troops around Doleria to officially test the resistance on the entrenched Mivosians. The long line of troops leaves Polakatsikes at dawn. (See Va. 7, Va. 10; Va. 13, Va. 15.)

What This Means: Wolfgang wants to give his men the best chance to leave Polakatsikes unnoticed by the Mivosians. This is also a move that should please the most fanatical members of the order since this is exactly the kind of tactic they would fancy. It is also a good way to test the Mivosian defences it has never been clear to what extent the Mivosians have laid their grasp over the peoples of Tyrnae and Syropolis [see Ya. 2 and Ya. 8, AC 1018. Ed.].

What the PCs Can Do: They can be the officers appointed to lead the manoeuvres. This is a good time to show their valour.

Vatermont 12, AC 1019

Trading Deals in Ochalea.

Location: Exarchate of Ochalea, Thyatian Empire. SD

Description: Ochalean combines announce significant deals with Ierendi, Minrothad and Darokin, trading many leases on near-shore islands for tax revenues. (See Va. 7; Va. 25, Ya. 6.)

What This Means: The reopening of Ochalea to foreign trade is a direct result of its rejoining the Thyatian Empire, which pursues an active policy of trading expansion. Thyatian and Minrothaddan merchants, encouraged by the policies of Emperor Eusebius, actively pursue opportunities in Ochalea, closely followed by competitors from other mercantile nations.

What the PCs Can Do: Cutthroat competition among the merchants constitutes a steady source of employment.

Humanoids Attack Ardelphia!

Location: Camp Ardelphia, Republic of Darokin. OW

Description: The Darokinians and the dwarven engineers have been very busy during most of the winter, mapping and fortifying the tunnels below the ruins of Ardelphia against humanoid encroachments. Unfortunately, the humanoids have noticed these strange activities and after a few skirmishes against the workers they decide to attack in force. The battle rages for nearly a day and a night, but the Darokinian army, with its complement of human and dwarven mercenaries, manages to repulse the enemy. (See Fe. 15.)

What This Means: Humanoids have looked on Ardelphia as a sign of their power and as a playground for many years, and want it to remain so. But the number of Darokinian soldiers, and adventurers from around the Old World, active in the region is so great that the humanoids will probably lose, and Ardelphia will be rebuilt.

What the PCs Can Do: Fight the humanoids alongside the other adventurers if they are in Ardelphia, or fight those nasty adventurers if they hail from belowground!

Vatermont 13, AC 1019

Political Pressure on the Rise.

Location: City of Darokin, Republic of Darokin. OW

Description: A discussion on tariffs on imported goods turns in the favour of Linton House in the Merchants' Guildhall. Chancellor Corwyn Mauntea leaves the hall with a bitter expression on his face, as Mauntea House opposed the proposal. (See Th. 10, Fl. 27.)

What This Means: This is just another small defeat among several for Mauntea House over the last year or so. Usually the merchant houses balance each other, but the chancellor senses that a coordinated opposition is now beginning to threaten him. The problems began when his wife's necklace was stolen by the thief called Shadow last year, and Mauntea House then put a hefty bounty on Shadow as well as a significant reward for the return of the necklace. Mauntea House has several opponents, but they don't usually form an organised opposition. However, due to the rough treatment of several important members of the merchant houses during the Darokin Masked Ball last year and the subsequent search for Shadow, a number of key people in the other houses have become greatly annoyed with the rule of Mauntea House. They were insulted during the masked ball, but the search for Shadow and the necklace has upset the peace in Darokin, as ruthless bounty hunters and similar folk have kicked over every rock in the country looking for a big payday. This has made life difficult for everybody else, as nosy adventurer-types have been lurking about everywhere.

The main houses opposing Mauntea are Linton, Umbarth, and Hallonica. They are usually unable to form lasting alliances against Mauntea House, but the incidents of the past year have given them a common cause, which is an opportunity Corwyn Linton, current head of Linton House, was able to use to stir up resentment against Mauntea House. Always looking for a weak spot in the Mauntea armour, he is hoping to use the situation to push Corwyn Mauntea from the chancellor's position and then assume it himself, though he knows that it will take some time and a lot of work before that can happen. Today's discussion plays right into the hands of Linton House: as the major merchant house involved in overseas trading and settled in the sole port city, Athenos, Linton House can make a lot of profit from the new agreements.

What the PCs Can Do: Whichever side the PCs are on, there is plenty of opportunity for behind-the-scenes spying and investigation here. Mauntea House will hire PCs to uncover and sabotage the alliance against them, while Linton House will want to dig up more dirt on Mauntea House. Umbarth and Hallonica Houses will investigate both houses to discover more useful information to be used against the chancellor while keeping an eye out for trouble in case their allies are leading them into a trap. The other merchant houses will investigate everybody, uncertain what is going on these days. Such assignments could include eavesdropping on secret negotiations, stealing important documents, conducting surveillance of suspects, and generally trying to uncover information.

The Discovery.

Location: Countryside of the Barony of Rugalov, north of Dymrak Forest, Kingdom of Karameikos. OW

Description: A woodcutter makes a ghastly discovery: in the forest he finds a naked, half-frozen young man. He brings the stranger back to his home where his family tries to nurse him back to health from his near-death condition. The stranger remains unconscious. (See Nu. 27, Va. 9; Va. 22, Th. 25.)

What This Means: This man is actually Sir Grygory, the hero of the Dark Knight of Karameikos novel. He has had some horrible experiences, but since he remains unconscious nobody will know about it, let alone be able to identify him.

What the PCs Can Do: If the PCs are in the area, they could also find Grygory, or they could meet the woodcutter who asks them to help him bring this poor stranger back to his home. They might then have to protect the woodcutter and the stranger from monsters or predators in the wilderness.

Run, Baby, Run.

Location: Ten miles south of Town of Syropolis, north of Town of Polakatsikes, Mivosian Empire, Meghala Kimata Plains. DV

Description: The first skirmishes occur when a small Mivosian patrol is spotted by a band of Heldannic scouts. (See Va. 10, Va. 11; Va. 15, Th. 8.)

What This Means: This is just a minor event, a test from Governor Wolfgang Stemmel, who wants to know for sure what territories are still under his rule, especially lands where crops could be harvested. After all, soldiers need to eat, and Polakatsikes has to replenish its food stocks for the next harvesting season. Each acre gained is a win for the Heldannic Knights, who can only count on the food they can produce on their own.

What the PCs Can Do: They can be the scouts in contact with the Mivosians.

Vatermont 15, AC 1019

Tell Me What You See.

Location: Dominion of Polakatsikes, Heldannic Empire, Meghala Kimata Plains. DV

Description: Governor Wolfgang Stemmel orders outposts and watchtowers to be constructed as soon as possible to survey any military activity in the north. He also orders a close watch to be established three days west of Polakatsikes, to be aware of any reinforcements the Mivosians could receive. (See Va. 11, Va. 13; Th. 8, Th. 9.)

What This Means: As spring draws nigh, Wolfgang fears that Mivosia could bring more troops into the conflict. The Heldannic Knights have been able to contain any attack so far since AC 1017 and the siege of Polakatsikes, but any fresh troops for the Mivosians would certainly be the first signs of an upcoming full-scale attack, perhaps even another siege. Wolfgang wants to be prepared.

What the PCs Can Do: They can be sent to one of the outposts and spy on the Mivosians.

Canal Opened.

Location: Town of Tenoboa, Kingdom of Foresthome, Floating Continent of Alphatia, Alphatian Empire. HW

Description: Another section of the Foresthome Rim Canal is now open for trade, with the town of Igoin linked as Soctel and Tenoboa were before. Only one of the notable towns in Foresthome, Orfil, is still unconnected, but the section between Orfil and Soctel is already under construction, and its counterpart between Igoin and Orfil is about to get started. (See Nu. 25, Nu. 28; Va. 27, Th. 4.)

What This Means: Most of the dry harbours are operational again, which should really improve the lives of the people living there.

Vatermont 17, AC 1019

King Bussnox.

Location: "City" of Izchnizoy, Kingdom of Omegaran, Underside, Floating Continent of Alphatia, Alphatian Empire. HW

Description: The vampire Lord Bussnox of Limn swears fealty to "Emperor" Zandor of Omesro and Alphatia, "King" of Omegaran, etc., etc. In front of the whole court of Dark Sundsvall (i.e. mostly dressed-up golems), Bussnox is crowned King of Irsch, a 9,977 sq. mi. area located right below the Kingdom of Limn, in the western-central rim of the underside of the floating continent [directions are not reversed on the Underside of Alphatia. Ed.], and ordered to build his capital, Siottiotoz, underneath Trollhattan, even though there is no Trollhattan River on the Underside to justify its location. (See Fe. 3, Kl. 10.)

What This Means: Finally Zandor has found himself some subjects of Alphatian descent, willing to serve him, and not just some constructs or undead created by the powers of Zargos. Undead, but Alphatian aristocrats, whose presence mean that at last Zandor's dark empire is not a total joke anymore, although it is still a far step from Alphatia of the unending light.

Lord Bussnox, an old rival of The Count of Limn whose authority he refused more than once, cautiously investigated Zandor, ensuring that the would-be emperor was not a vampire but a powerful spellcaster with a rightful claim to the throne of Alphatia. If Zandor fails as an emperor, his fealty will matter little; if he succeeds and seizes Alphatia, or at least builds a successful rival empire underside, Bussnox will become a powerful figure. Bussnox does not realise that Zandor, who has had access to unknown necromantic secrets from Zargos (Nyx), may hold more sway over him than he thinks possible.

What the PCs Can Do: Alphatian aristocrats with sufficient credentials may flock to Zandor and be awarded rulership over a dark kingdom. It means answering to unpredictable Zandor, but it is an unrivalled opportunity for building a kingdom in their own images, from scratch: no initial population, no flora or fauna, except for what the DM deems appropriate; shape and surface area must match those of one of the kingdoms of Alphatia but the actual landscape is up to the DM.

Vatermont 18, AC 1019

Carlotina Confers with Kol.

Location: City of Glantri, Principalities of Glantri. OW

Description: During the parade at the annual Monsters Fair, a sight stranger than the bizarre creatures and exotic beasts is seen: Princess Carlotina Erewan cordially exchanging words with her archrival, the kobold Prince Kol XIV of New Kolland. Sensing the significance of the incident, gossips and politicos quickly mill around to eavesdrop on the conversation.

Princess Carlotina is heard merrily relating a legend from Aengmor, about certain shadowelf children born so deformed that they appear as goblins, bugbears, orcs, or even kobolds! Carlotina then wistfully asks in rhetoric, "Imagine if such a misshapen shadow elf came to rise in the ranks of the humanoids, and if its secret became known to those very enemies. What chaos would come of it?"

Prince Kol, greatly taken aback, grunts out in clear Elvish, "What do you want from me, elf?"

Then, in a firm voice and in perfect Kobold tongue, the elven princess replies, "Leave Erewan in peace."

The elven princess then retires, maintaining her civility, leaving the kobold prince with an inscrutable look. (See Nu. 7; Fe. 20, Fy. 27.)

What This Means: It is not customary for the princes of Glantri, particularly bitter enemies, to be conducting business personally and candidly. But given the delicacy of the matter and afraid that Kol would miss out on subtlety and innuendo Princes Carlotina decided to be direct (or at least as direct as a Glantrian can be!).

Princess Carlotina had learned from information revealed by the hero Tel'Erond and the divinations of the clan oracles of Ellerovyn that Prince Kol has shadowelf blood in his ancestry, a fact that can undermine Kol's already tenuous rule of the Great Crater humanoids.

But having no solid proof of this secret, Carlotina could only use it as a political threat. And having only the good of Erewan at heart, Carlotina bargained for the cessation of humanoid hostilities towards Erewan, rather than manipulating Kol otherwise.

What the PCs Can Do: This is a private matter between Carlotina and Kol, though it involves all the citizens of Erewan and New Kolland. Rivals of the two, such as Princesa Carnelia de Belcadiz or Princess Dolores Hillsbury of Fenswick (Kol's former ally), will want to know what transpired between the two, and might hire the PCs to eavesdrop on the conversation or even sabotage this delicate agreement of armistice.

Vatermont 19, AC 1019

Decision at Basement.

Location: Tower of Zynillith, Kingdom of Blackheart, Floating Continent of Alphatia, Alphatian Empire. HW

Description: Lady Ardana's son Wakzun is delving in the lower sections of the tower when he meets an apparently old woman. Even worse, she looks definitely dead, and is moving towards him. He spins around and runs away, but the old witch seems to be quite agile and fast, and he cannot escape. Finally he is trapped in a dead end, and fearfully he awaits his end, when he hears an old man's voice in his mind: "Don't be afraid!" Wakzun is puzzled, but the voice continues, "I know you can do it. Use the amulet." Wakzun gropes for the amulet and holds it in front of him. The dead old lady moves around the corner, and Wakzun's hand is trembling. "Have faith, my boy. You can do it." His grip becomes firmer. The witch sees the amulet and bounces back, the ugly face filled with fear. Her look falls upon a spot beside Wakzun, her eyes widens, and she gasps, "YOU! But it is forbidden!" In the corner of his eyes Wakzun sees the old man from his dream and he realises that he can see the wall behind him. The old man says, grinning: "But, my dear, you must realise that I'm doing nothing. Well, I'm not even here. And now, I suggest you go." Hissing, the old witch waves a hand and vanishes.

"Well done, young Wakzun," the old man says, "but perhaps you should turn your amulet upside down the next time." Still shaking, Wakzun turns it, and suddenly he realises that he is holding the holy symbol of the Immortal Palartarkan. Surprised, he gasps, "You! You are... I mean, I am... er, what I want to say... could it be...?" Palartarkan replies grinningly, "I am Palartarkan, you are Wakzun, and yes. And now, young Wakzun, we will have a talk a long talk." (See Nu. 27, Va. 5; Va. 20, Va. 25.)

What This Means: The old witch is none other than Zynillith herself, no longer among the living but a feared undead, a lich... or a "licha," as she demands to be called. Knowing that the old crone was still creeping about her tower, Palartarkan had hidden a special holy symbol where Wakzun would find it. Obviously, He sees great potential in the young man, and has been nudging him towards becoming a priest for some years now. During the last few weeks He had intensified His efforts, and finally Wakzun has been able to set free the necessary clerical power to use the amulet properly; Palartarkan will soon have another priest. Besides, Palartarkan has not lied to the old Zynillith: He has never entered the tower in His manifestation form, and thus His action was permitted by the Immortals' laws.

What the PCs Can Do: A young PC may have the opportunity to become a priest of Palartarkan. The DM may thus add a new member to the party, maybe to replace a dead PC.

Vatermont 20, AC 1019

The Path to Glory and Nobility.

Location: Tower of Zynillith, Kingdom of Blackheart, Floating Continent of Alphatia, Alphatian Empire. HW

Description: Wakzun tells his mother that he wishes to travel to Eagret as soon as possible, to follow the path of the priest at the temple of Palartarkan. His mother is happy and sad at the same time, as her son wants to leave her, but with the hope that he will become an aristocrat in the not-so-distant future. She promises to send him there on the Island in a few days. (See Va. 5, Va. 19; Va. 25, Th. 1.)

What This Means: Wakzun has made his decision. Although Palartarkan has not elaborated on the mysterious dreams He sent young Wakzun, the future He has depicted sounds very good to him. The temple in Eagret is the right place to begin the training. The fact that he would become an aristocrat is not unimportant, but it is not the boy's primary motivation.

Vatermont 22, AC 1019

Expedition to an Unwanted Land.

Location: Region of Guadalimas, Savage Baronies. SC

Description: Not long after visiting the Baronía de Torreón, the Thyatian expedition comes across a land that is unsettled compared to the regions further north. Consulting the gazetteers he purchased from the Texeirans, Paulus Angelinus, commander of the expedition, concludes that his ship is sailing by the region known as Guadalimas, an unclaimed land described as being a haven for bandits, as well as a place where mysterious ruins may be found. His interest piqued, Paulus issues the order to find a good place to drop anchor, so an exploratory party can go ashore. (See Nu. 28, Va. 7; Va. 26, Th. 1.)

What This Means: While the Texeiran gazetteers are generally correct about this land, Paulus feels that there is more to the story than what he has read. In his view, the risk of tangling with bandits, or worse, is worthwhile if his people can discover treasure or ruins. Paulus is also interested in this land because of its perceived worthlessness it would make an ideal location for a hidden outpost, where Thyatis could observe the baronies with relatively little risk of being detected, and thereby uncover more information than would be available through diplomatic channels. It might also be a useful location for trading, as it lies outside of any other barony's territory.

What the PCs Can Do: Paulus plans to be part of the exploratory party, and the PCs should go, too. Assuming they are interested in exploring the Guadalimas, the party could encounter bandits, religious refugees from Narvaez, or less savoury types inhabiting the ruins that lie scattered throughout the swamps and in the hills to the west.

Could He Be Alive?

Location: Estate of Baron Yuschiev, City of Mirros, Kingdom of Karameikos. OW

Description: A travelling merchant who arrives in Mirros describes how a woodcutter found a naked stranger half dead in the forest. Word of it reaches Baron Yuschiev, who promptly summons the merchant to his estate to tell him the story in person. As the merchant describes the stranger, the baron realises that it might be the lost Sir Grygory. He immediately sends riders to the Barony of Rugalov to find the stranger and bring him back to Mirros if it is indeed his lost knight. (See Va. 9, Va. 13; Th. 25.)

What This Means: Once the riders find Grygory, they will be able to identify him, but he will still be unconscious. Even after they bring him back to Mirros will he remain so.

What the PCs Can Do: The PCs could be sent to find Grygory if Baron Yuschiev trusts them and if they know Grygory. Doubtlessly a few of Grygory's followers will insist on going as well.

Vatermont 24, AC 1019

A Forbidding Land of Mystery...

Location: Southern coast of Island of Oceania. DV

Description: After having spent several weeks sailing northwards, the Thyatian expedition, led by Julius Ambrosius, comes within sight of the mysterious Island of Oceania. By nightfall, the vessel drops anchor just off a narrow promontory on the island's southern shore. (See Va. 3; Va. 27, Th. 3.)

What This Means: During his time as a guest of Mananjary, Julius learned a great deal of what the Manakarans know about their part of the world. He carefully documented the legends surrounding the flight of the Manakarans' ancestors to Cestia from their old homeland of Oceania, which, as far as anyone knew, was now an uninhabited and forbidding land. Curious, Julius was determined to see the island for himself, and to stage a few short forays if he could.

What the PCs Can Do: If they are part of the expedition, the PCs could have been very busy during the voyage to Oceania. Part of this leg of the journey passes through waters claimed by the hostile Cestian nation of Ambiroa, which borders Manakara to the north. The Thyatians' vessel is large, and would almost certainly be noticed by Ambiroan fishermen, who would then alert their kingdom's warriors. Although Julius's ship is faster and far sturdier than anything the Ambiroans can muster, the PCs could, nonetheless, have a tense sea battle on their hands.

The Strait of Oceania, which separates the two large islands, poses its own problems. The ocean current through the strait is very swift, and the region is prone to tropical storms. DMs may increase the chance of being caught in a storm by 10-20%, at their discretion. Once they reach Oceania, the PCs could be sent ashore to investigate the island.

Vatermont 25, AC 1019

Protection Business.

Location: Exarchate of Ochalea, Thyatian Empire. SD

Description: A small number of Ochalean nobles are publicly revealed to reap enormous revenues for providing foreign trade houses with "protection" from piracy in Ochalean waters but the greatest monies continue to come from the now decade-old free trade ports. (See Va. 1, Va. 7; Ya. 6.)

What This Means: The boom in trade made possible in Ochalea by its return to the imperial fold, and the current policies of the empire, means increased revenues but also more corruption and racketeering.

Contact with Refugees Made.

Location: Region of Guadalimas, Savage Baronies. SC

Description: After exploring the low-lying swamps of the Guadalimas for a few days, Paulus Angelinus and his party discover a collection of crude huts, many of which show signs of recent habitation. Curious, he leads a search of the dwellings, finding nothing of interest. Just when he and his companions are about to leave, they come face to face with the village's inhabitants, who were returning from somewhere else. Expecting a fight, Paulus is surprised to be greeted with suspicion, and later relief, when it becomes apparent that he and his associates are neither bandits nor Narvaezans. After a quick round of introductions, Paulus makes it clear that he and his companions wish the inhabitants no harm; they are on an exploratory mission. Some of the inhabitants seem to accept this explanation. (See Va. 7, Va. 22; Th. 1, Th. 2.)

What This Means: Due to its undesirable nature, the Guadalimas has become a refuge of sorts for Narvaezans who have been forced to flee the barony due to their religious beliefs. Since the refugees keep to themselves for the most part, Narvaez has been content to let them rot in the swamp, save for the occasional foray to remind the refugees of what may happen should they get "uppity." As a result, the refugees are generally very cautious, and will strike only if they know their foes are Narvaezan, and outnumbered. The refugees will tell the Thyatians about recent events in the region, and places the foreigners may wish to visit, but will not tell them how many refugees there are (they don't know, anyway), or where other refugee villages are located. The Thyatians will learn quite a bit from the refugees namely, places where they can search for interesting ruins, and the locations of a number of Narvaezan outposts along the frontier. Having heard from the Texeirans about the Narvaezan inquisition, Paulus has no desire to run afoul of them.

What the PCs Can Do: If they speak Ispan, the PCs can help translate for expedition members who do not speak the language, otherwise they have an opportunity to gain some insights into what is going on in Narvaez.


Location: Tower of Zynillith, Kingdom of Blackheart, Floating Continent of Alphatia, Alphatian Empire. HW

Description: Lady Ardana's son Wakzun and some others leave the tower and set sail for Eagret. His mother would have preferred to accompany him, but she does not dare to leave her work behind. So she bids him a warm farewell and returns to her current project. (See Va. 19, Va. 20; Th. 1, Th. 13.)

What This Means: Ardana and her friends continue with their project and while Wakzun will start his training as a priest. The crew of the Island has a list of things to obtain that will be necessary or at least useful to Ardana.

What the PCs Can Do: The PCs may not realise it yet, but they may be accompanying the latest addition to their group, a young cleric of Palartarkan that will nicely round out their numbers. Rather than go to the temple, the new PC may immediately join the PCs' party and head with them to new adventures, be they with Ardana's group, on other enterprises the PCs may have planned, or on to whatever plan Palartarkan has for that young cleric (in the case of a new party).

Vatermont 26, AC 1019

Mina do Sul Taken.

Location: Mina do Sul, Terra Vermelha, Savage Baronies. SC

Description: The Torreóner troops from Casanegra reach Mina do Sul and Campo-Ladrão, and engage the Vilaverdan force and the bandits that lair nearby. The Vilaverdans are outnumbered and outgunned, though, and pose no real threat to the Torreóners, especially since the bandits quickly disperse rather than fight at their side. Once the opposition surrenders, the Torreóners take control of the mine and set to reopen it and fortify the position, while patrols are sent to flush out the bandits who took to the hills. (See Va. 11; Th. 16, Fl. 9.)

What This Means: Against such a major assault, the Vilaverdan mine could but change hands all the Torreóners had to do was to follow the trail from Casanegra. With another force deploying along the border with Texeiras out of the Bastión de los Caballeros, the southern half of Terra Vermelha can now be considered under Torreón's control.

Vatermont 27, AC 1019

Claudia Comes.

Location: Canal Construction Site, North of Town of Tirenlos, Kingdom of Foresthome, Floating Continent of Alphatia, Alphatian Empire. HW

Description: Life and work at the construction site have become routine, almost boring most of the time. Three new shifts of workers have been training in the use of the golem caterpillars, and the third one is now operational. (See Nu. 28, Va. 15; Th. 4, Th. 6.)

All Things Well in Caurenze.

Location: City of Glantri, Principalities of Glantri. OW

Description: Amidst the rumours of the death of Signor Innocenti di Malapietra, the mad Viscount of Sirecchia and former Prince of Caurenze, Signora Lucrecia di Malapietra, Innocenti's sister and official representative at the parliament, hosts a magnificent banquet at the Malapietra Estate, showcasing the finest of all things Caurenzan.

In attendance is Princess Dolores Hillsbury of Fenswick (to whom House Sirecchia owes allegiance), escorted by Prince Urmahid Krinagar of Bramyra. The two princes have been making joint appearances more frequently, a sure sign of an affaire de cœur in Glantri. Another guest of note is Frau Hildegarde von Drachenfels, the matriarch of the rival House Ritterburg of Aalban, but a personal friend of Signora Lucrecia. She is escorted by none other than her son, Prinz Jaggar von Drachenfels, Dolores's past lover and present political nemesis.

Throughout the event, Signora Lucrecia speaks of the Caurenzan people and how their culture and heritage remain unforgotten, despite the fact that their principality was blasted away by the Great Meteor in AC 1006. But what the guests are mostly paying attention to by far is how their most gracious hostess mixes and mingles through the motley company of friends and enemies, political and personal.

Only one incident in particular gets the party guests on edge. When Signora Lucrecia is engaged in a conspiratorial tête-à-tête with Frau Hildegarde, she does not notice till too late Princess Dolores walking towards her former lover Prinz Jaggar, with a glass of Caurenzan red wine in hand and a murderous look in her face. While onlookers surreptitiously duck to safety, sidle closer for a better view, or pretend to be oblivious to the entire scandal in the making, Prince Urmahid suavely escorts the princess to another room, averting disaster and disappointing many Glantrians. (See Nu. 1, Nu. 4; Th. 4, Ya. 7.)

What This Means: The Glantrian way of dealing with matters is subtle and roundabout. To deal with the rumours of Innocenti's death (which are true), Lucrecia opted for a display of Caurenzan elegance and a rallying of allies of House Sirecchia. The Malapietras, however, are known for their treachery, so while Lucrecia is allaying Princess Dolores's fears of Innocenti's death and suspicions about the continued support of Sirecchia to House Hillsbury, she is also making arrangements of allying with the Drachenfels matriarch.

Frau Hildegarde now holds the High Mastery of Earth Elementalism, to which Lucrecia gives obeisance. She also reminds Lucrecia of the old ties of their families, the Malapietras from Kerendas and the Drachenfels from Hattias, who were among the first Thyatian settlers in the Highlands. Finally, and most importantly, Frau Hildegarde knows that Innocenti is truly dead (in fact, it was Hildegarde who killed him in secret, then arranged for a decoy to be killed "in secret"), and for Lucrecia to keep her power and status, and the lifestyle to which she is accustomed, she needs Hildegarde's cooperation and such cooperation comes with a price...

In the meantime, Signora Lucrecia must be masterful in her power plays in order to arrange for the future of House Sirecchia.

A Gathering in Seelitz.

Location: Village of Seelitz, Territory of Heldland, Heldannic Empire. NW

Description: Part of the former Heldannic garrison of Oceansend, stationed in Seelitz since autumn, AC 1018, gathers its gear and heads southwest, into the wilderness. Local authorities are very close-mouthed about the purpose of this troop movement. (See Nu. 4, Nu. 27; Th. 4, Th. 27.)

What This Means: Following an agreement signed late last year [Fyrmont 12, AC 1018. Ed.], former Oberherr Wulf von Klagendorf, and his successor, Ordensmeisterin Anna von Hendriks, agreed to a complete withdrawal from the city of Oceansend, in exchange for which Thyatis would render aid to her faction. With the repositioning of more than 1,500 troops in Seelitz, the opposing faction, led by self-styled Oberherr Heinrich Straßenburger, has found its position in nearby Landfall less secure. The movement of roughly 300 troops to an undisclosed position, possibly closer to Landfall, could presage a shift in the military balance in Heldland.

What the PCs Can Do: If they were part of the garrison in Oceansend, or if they were somehow associated with it, the PCs could be among those soldiers tasked with this mission. PCs employed by Straßenburger will certainly want to find out what is going on.

... More Like an Uneventful Land.

Location: Southern coast of Island of Oceania. DV

Description: After two days of exploring, the Thyatian shore party returns empty-handed. They report that the immediate area is lightly forested, but the foliage grows much denser a few miles inland. They also mention that the terrain is very rugged, with many hills and valleys, and many swiftly flowing rivers and streams teeming with fish. Aside from wild dogs and birds, nothing was encountered.

Dismayed, by optimistic that something noteworthy is bound to be discovered, Julius Ambrosius decides to head south along the coast tomorrow. (See Va. 3, Va. 24; Th. 3, Th. 8.)

What This Means: This part of Oceania was sparsely inhabited, even during the height of Oceanian civilisation the party would have had to venture much farther north or south to find ruins or other things of interest. Nevertheless, the trip was not a complete waste of time the crew managed to restock its provisions with fresh fruit growing nearby, and one of the botanists noticed several new varieties of herb.

What the PCs Can Do: The PCs can naturally be part of any party sent ashore. If this is the case, the DM may throw in a few encounters with dangerous wildlife to keep them on their toes.

Topic of the Month

The Thyatian Commercial Commonwealth

Advisory Report to Emperor Eusebius Torion

Imagine you're a trader in Athenos, Darokin, with a cargo bound for Mirros. It will take you several days of sailing through the pirate-infested Sea of Dread to reach your destination. Then you must unload your cargo, find a buyer in a foreign country, buy goods to reload, and then it is several days of sailing through the same pirate-infested waters before you return home. If you travel by caravan over land, it may take more than a month to go from Darokin City to Mirros, beating back brigands and monsters along the way.

Now imagine you're a Thyatian merchant in Port Pilion. After a few hours' travel across the most secure waters in the known worlds, Vanya's Girdle, watched over by the imperial navy, you will be unloading your cargo in the largest market on Mystara, the grand city of Thyatis. Since you have already made this journey countless times before, you have already lined up a buyer for your goods, as well as a consignment to return home with. Your cargoes are efficiently transferred, and you are back home in Pilion the same night. In the time it takes a Darokinian caravaner to go from Darokin City to Corunglain and back again, you can make ten round-trip transactions, making a steady profit each time.

That is the advantage of Thyatis, the largest market on Mystara. Even before Alphatia sank, there were more customers within easy access in mainland Thyatis than in mainland Alphatia. Our cities, located mainly on the coast, lay within easy reach of each other, facilitating trade. The main trade route passes right through our capital city, while Sundsvall or Darokin require lengthy riverine diversions to reach.

Because of our geography the compact size of the Thyatian mainland and its long coastline Thyatian merchants take advantage of short turn-around times with their ability to conduct internal trade. The presence of the imperial navy keeps these sea lanes secure, which in turn gives us a geographic advantage over landlocked nations. Only Minrothad can rival it, but their much smaller population meant they were forced to trade outside their own waters to reach as large a market. Thus they were only too happy to join with it, and now enjoy the benefits of imperial security as part of the Thyatian economy.

The Thyatian people are nothing if not resilient. For a long time, our focus was guided by the need to keep vigilant against the Alphatian menace. This necessitated certain sacrifices on our part, and demanded actions that many found unsavoury. These priorities also meant that we did not pay as much attention to developing our own resources and business as we could have, even though many Thyatians learn the art of trading at their parents' knees. But the trials we have been put through and the shadow years that followed forced us to adapt to survive and overcome. During the shadow years, many Thyatians, including nobles, decided to invest in trade as a means of improving their revenues. This is starting to pay off, and commercial investments now supplement the incomes of most Thyatian nobles.

The Thyatians have done this in four principle ways:

Engineering Projects

Expanding Internal Mercantile Networks

Creating New Markets for Thyatian Goods

Influx of New Blood into Thyatian Trade

The first have included expanding and improving agricultural production in Thyatis, diversifying the crops and insuring proper husbandry, with magical support, to improve yields. But this, while vital to keeping our people well fed and prosperous, is less interesting than the widespread building of millworks. At the hub of the Thyatian trading network lays The City itself, which has seen the creation of the most innovative of these. Built to take advantage of the already existing aqueducts, they power mills producing flour to bake bread for the citizens, but also pottery mills, glassworks, forges for our widely renowned weapons and armour industry, and textile and cloth mills. The latter produce silk that garbs the imperial family, and now spider silk as well in a plant that has been running for several years now, exporting throughout the world. Bright dyes of all shades are likewise produced in Thyatis, books printed and sold, and countless other high-value items for our own use and to export. But goods do not just flow out of the Heart of Thyatis. All this requires raw materials, shipped in from around the empire and indeed the world. To take just one example of the interconnectedness of the Thyatian economy, wine is imported from the aforementioned Pilion, in ceramic jugs that Pilion imports from The City for this purpose.

With some fits and starts, Emperor Eusebius has worked to encourage the growth of these internal mercantile networks. More and more Thyatian merchants trade side by side with their brethren from Minrothad and tradesmen from Darokin and elsewhere. Protectionist measures aimed at restricting foreign traders may have helped some, but in the long run cost more than they were worth, and so have been dropped in favour of encouraging the growth of our own export markets alongside those of other countries rather than trying to substitute our products for their imports. That was not only economically inefficient, but hurting already delicate relations with our neighbours. But, as noted, Thyatian merchants have every natural advantage within the empire. They do not have to cross hundreds of miles to reach another city. Indeed, within the boundaries of The City of Thyatis there are more potential customers than in all of Karameikos, or the entire Isle of Dawn or Bellissaria.

Our craftsmen and traders use this to their advantage, and the steady profits they make are now being put to use in the growing Thyatian trade network that is now reaching out across Mystara. The Thyatian commonwealth is not just an informal, but real, community of Thyatian-speaking peoples and the empire's allies. It is an economic commonwealth as well, reaching from Oceansend in the north to Kastelios in the south, Minaea and Thonia in the east to the so-called "Savage Baronies" of Thyatian origin in the west. In addition to Thyatis's own imperial cities of Beitung, Dunadale, Helskir, Newkirk, Oceansend, Raven Scarp, Redstone, and Seagirt, many foreign ports are links in the commonwealth's trade network. Jahore, Zeaburg, Mirros, and Freiburg are just as vital to it, and it extends to lands far beyond the empire's boundaries. The Gulf of Hule is linked to it through the towns of Tyjaret and Kladanovic at the neck of the Serpent Peninsula. Edairo, Aquas, and Spearpoint now import most of their spider silk from Thyatis. The Jennites of Esterhold are supplied with weapons from our armouries, and a profitable commerce is conducted with the dwarven Kingdom of Thorin and the Davanian Kingdom of Emerond.

A network of long-distance trade is growing up to complement our short-haul traders. Thyatian engineering is making our economy more efficient and productive. We are learning from the merchants of Minrothad, and both peoples are benefiting from the union between us. Vessels built in shipyards in Thyatis, Julinius, and Port Lucinius are as fast as any, able to hold as much cargo. Because our cities are closer to each other, even skyship-born trade might be economically feasible, whereas in Alphatia it was done for prestige, but did not make economic sense.

Market-hungry Thyatian merchants have another advantage. In the often cutthroat world of business, they are not afraid to do what it takes to get their goods to market first and undercut their competitors' prices. This, combined with the efficiency that is the hallmark of a sound economy, means that the world's sea and caravan routes will never be the monopoly of another people, so long as there are cunning, sharp-eyed Thyatian merchants in the world. The days when traders from other nations thought they only had their own countrymen for competitors is over, if indeed it ever existed in reality. An odd myth, to be sure, because back in the days when it was said Minrothad monopolised the sea trade and Darokin the land, I remember traders from Specularum and merchants from Biazzan frequenting the Heart in Thyatis as well. But now all know they must compete for their markets, not just be given them as if by the Immortals, and this will benefit everyone involved, as they'll be forced to innovate.

But competition is balanced by cooperation. In Thyatis, this is embodied in organisation. The Mercantile League of Thyatis is an association of Thyatian merchant families, joined together for their mutual benefit. They compete among themselves, but work to resolve disputes through a commission consisting of their most prominent and successful members, led by Salvatore Trebanionos. Many say this syndicate has underworld ties, but these whispers often come from jealous competitors.

Another benefit available to Thyatian merchants is financial. The City of Thyatis is fast becoming a centre of merchant banking. The imperial family has made low interest loans available to worthy tradesmen as an investment, and many other nobles have emulated this practice. In the Heart there are also underwriting syndicates that will insure cargoes for a price, thus broadening the risk so that the loss of a ship does not mean financial ruin for a merchant or his investors. These underwriting offices are sponsored by the Mercantile League of Thyatis, but anyone with the money to invest can participate in one of the underwriting syndicates. They just need to find a trustworthy agent to invest with.

Finally, the Thyatian people have long had a tradition of "running away from home" in their young adulthood. Many of these runaways find work with traders, merchants, and serve aboard ships. Over the last several years, more and more have run to the merchant trade, and continued on with this profession. This has meant an infusion of new, ambitious blood into the empire's commercial life. While some of these youths return home after awhile and turn to other careers, they have all gained familiarity with trade and see commerce as respectable, continuing to invest in it and seeing it as a good source of revenue, while others keep trade as their primary profession.