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Atruaghin Clans and Darokin

by James Mishler

I'm working on my next Mystara campaign, the first I will run in some time. I'm basing it in the borderlands area between Darokin and Atruaghin, circa 1000 AC. I've made some changes to the Atruaghin clans, and added some detail to the region. I wanted to see whether anyone had made their own changes, and what they thought of mine.

The geography of the land has changed a bit. The entire region south of the plateau is now forest, deep, old-growth forest, dotted here and there with glades where the tribesmen grow maize. Two major river groups define the region. In the west (west of a line drawn through the Palace of Atruaghin) there are five rivers, north-south, from the plateau base to the Sea of Dread. In the east, there is a series of slow-flowing, meandering rivers, swampy on the banks. The top of the plateau is entirely grasslands, with only a few stands of trees here and there. The lands north, east, and west of the plateau are essentially the same.

As for the tribes, things are essentially the same with the Children of the Viper. I solved the "Viper" versus "Tiger" situation by saying that the "Children of the Tiger" was the name of the macro-tribe ruled by Danel Tigerstripes, which led the revolt against the Red Orcs in 800 BC. This tribe was overthrown and decimated in 452 BC, when Mahmatti Running Elk leads the rebellion against the horrible Kingdom of the Tiger. The modern Children of the Viper are the descendants of the survivors of the Children of the Tiger; they came to power in the eastern woodlands, pushing out the Children of the Elk, about two centuries ago. They re-established the ancient temple pyramids in their territories, and reignited the sacrificial flames, in which are burnt the still-beating hearts of their sacrificial victims. They are ruled by the Jaguar Tribe.

The Children of the Elk are no longer on the plateau (and never were); they share the western forests with the Children of the Turtle. The Turtle clans subsist off of fishing and whaling, while the Elk hunt and grow maize. The two tribes work together to stave off the depredations of the Viper tribe, and trade with each other on a regular basis. The Elk tribe is the eternal enemy of the Viper tribe, as the Viper tribe stole about half the territory of the Elk two centuries ago.

The Children of the Horse rule the top of the plateau, which is now all grasslands. They trade regularly with the Children of the Bear and the Children of the Vulture (a new tribe).There is a "civilised" border trading post at the World Elevator, known as Rattlesnake Gulch, where can be found merchants from Darokin and strangers of all odd sorts.

The Children of the Bear are essentially unchanged.

The Children of the Vulture is a new tribe, which inhabits the western and north-western cliffs and lands below, as the Children of the Bear do in the north and east. They are modelled after various South American tribes mixed with Comanche and Apache culture, and have been heavily influenced by the Sind culture as well. They are also descended from survivors of the Children of the Tiger, but they are not so outright evil as their cousins to the east. They are just plain mean and ornery.

The campaign is set in the southernmost borderlands of Darokin, between the Atruaghin lands and the Malpheggi Swamp. I have divided this largish region into four new regions: the Free City of Tenobar, the Westerlands, the County of Mondira, and the Anselbury Territories. The Free City occupies the ten southernmost 8-mile hexes. The Westerlands consist of four small provinces (equivalent to Baronies) between the northern border of Tenobar and the hills west of Elstrich. The County of Mondira consists of the remaining lands south of the Mond river. The Anselbury Territories consists of all lands north of the Mond and south of Lake Amsorak.

The Westerlands, where the campaign will be based, are modelled loosely after the Westermarck of Robert E. Howard's Conan tale, "Beyond the Black River" (itself loosely based on the colonial tales of James Fenimore Cooper and others). There are four provinces: Naronga (the southernmost), Arbandar (south-east), Conestoga (central), and Corwynia (northernmost). Naronga, pressed on the west by the Jaguar Tribe and on the north by the Python Tribe, has the largest fort, Fort Nar. Arbandar is somewhat more peaceful, and is centred on the village of Arbanville on the Arbandrine River. Arbanville is home to a clan of expatriate Averoignese. Conestoga is the most primitive of the four, opposing the Sloth Tribe lands; it has a small fort, Fort Clawson, in the west, and the village of Malphegos on the riverbank. Finally, Corwynia in the north opposes the Peacock Tribe from Fort Attleson.

The folks inhabiting the Westerlands are a mixed breed. Most of the settlers came here seeking freedom from the Old Gentry and the New Gentry (the old nobility, which still rules much of the land, and the new merchant oligarchs, who, for all their talk of "freedom," still see lesser men as nothing more than fodder for their mills and factories.) Those that can survive the rough and tumble primitive conditions thrive, start their own small farms or ranches, and are active in the local militias, which protect settlers from the Vipers, monsters, and bandits. Those that cannot, die, or quickly move on to the Free City to the south.

The Count of Mondira is "Old Gentry," being descended from a noble who fled across the Arbandrine during the Years of Chaos (after the fall of Santhral II and before the Great Merger). His forefathers carved out their own little kingdom in this region with their blood, sweat, and tears. His grandfather assented to the terms of the Great Merger only because he knew he could not resist if it came to war. The current count, a bitter, evil man, considers all "civilised" lands west of the Arbandrine to be his own, and despises the rule of the Merchant Princes. He is always scheming to take over the lands to the south, usually by pushing the Vipers to attack (not that they need much convincing) or by bribing the local (Merchant Council appointed) authorities to turn a blind eye to the depredations of his desperados. Meanwhile, the merchants of the Free City of Port Tenobar are always scheming to grift away the goods and rights of the settlers, in order to enrich their own coffers. Gamblers, snake-oil salesmen, and charlatans from the Free City do their best to free the settlers from the burden of the coins in their purses, as well. And, as if that isn't enough, strange things have recently been lurching out of the Malpheggi... (which is NOT controlled by Darokin in the least).

And the players are dropped in the middle of all this...