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The Domain of Aenglyrby Rodger Burns
Here's an AH that pulls together a couple of Thorf's earlier ideas into something even wilder. The turning point is 2200 BC, with the elven discovery of the Blackmoor artifact that in 'prime' Mystara detonated and created the Broken Lands. Here, its discoverers keep it intact and manage to take control of it.
The result is the Domain of Aenglyr, a rapidly-expanding realm built on elven longevity, Blackmoor magic and technology, and a certain degree of arrogance in the middle of southeastern Brun. The humans of the region, proto-Nithians, Traladarans, Daro and Sindhi, are no threat to the new domain; they're subjugated or driven off. The Immortals are worried about the sudden growth of this new kingdom, but refrain from direct action initially - and before they can make up their mind to do anything, the Aenglyr elves have discovered the Nucleus of the Spheres and started to tap its power, and direct intervention becomes impossible to contemplate.
Some details of the present-day world follow:
- Aenglyr: The domain itself covers almost all of 'prime' Mystara's Known World, with the exception of the Northern Reaches and parts of eastern Rockhome and Heldann, and north across Wendar and Denagoth and west to the Black Mountains as well. The elves of this realm are counterpart to 'prime' Mystara's Shadow Elves and Schattenelfen (both!) and so have their own fair share of hubris; the power of their Blackmoor technology only heightens matters. Though somewhat 'thin on the ground' near the edges of the territory they claim, they're easily the dominant power on the planet.
Blackmoor technology and the Radiance are exploited by the Aenglyr elves, though cautiously; the slower pace of elven culture means that even thirty two centuries of research hasn't caused explosive progress. A greater understanding of the Nucleus has resulted in a nearly fivefold increase of its range, allowing its power to be drawn on across the Dominion; the Aenglyr elves have worked out certain makeshift tricks to keep the magic-draining effects of the Nucleus at bay. (Some of these - like periodically encouraging a powerful mage to attempt the Transcend Life Force ritual, and then insuring that said worthy fails and sends their lifeforce to feed the Nucleus - aren't that nice, mind you...)
Humans under the rule of the Domain are sometimes treated benevolently, as junior partners, sometimes abused or enslaved, depending on the whim of those in power. Both attitudes have led to the occasional revolt, of course, which generally gets flattened; this is one of the reasons why Aenglyr doesn't yet rule the planet. Exactly which attitude prevails in the present day is up to DMs to determine.
- Alphatia: When the Alphatians first arrived, twelve hundred years after the rise of Aenglyr, they got a rude shock - no longer were they the top dogs in matters of wizardry. Fortunately, the elven technomages weren't interested in aggressive expansionism, and Alphatia had the chance to establish its own sphere of influence over the home islands and western Skothar.
In the present day, Alphatia is seen by many as the best available opposition to the Domain - skilled wizards in their own right, somewhat able to adopt the use of Blackmoor technology and refreshably human. (They aren't that much different, attitude-wise, from 'prime-world' Alphatians, mind you; it's just that compared to the Aenglyr elves, they're a lot easier to live with.) The empire still has as many individuals interested in excellence, power and eventual Immortality, but these worthies are less inclined to pursue wizardry and the path of the Paragon than otherwise - which means more interest in clerical magic, and more Dynasts and Epic Heroes.
- Antalian Clanholds: In this history, the Antalian people responded to the Aenglyr threat with a renewed stubbornness and vigour - part inborn, part inspired by a watchful Odin - and survived as a free people through the present day. They claim most of the old Northern Reaches, Heldann, and Norwold as their territory, and are fractious among themselves but absolutely unified in the face of any 'stinkin' tricksy elven threat'; they hold out against the Domain through fighting prowess, strong Immortal backing, defence pacts forged with the dragons of the Wyrmsteeth, and pure raw stubborn refusal to roll over and die. So far, this has worked.
- Great Hule: Aenglyr's presence in this world's history has actually done much to help Great Hule, giving it a secure border to the east and drawing away the humanoid hordes that ravaged it across 'prime history'. Not, of course, that the Huleans would be very grateful if they knew; they consider the elves bad neighbours, and are mightily interested in seeing the Domain defeated. Unfortunately, no real means exists to bring this about; the Huleans can defend well enough, with a desert and a mountain range between them and Aenglyr, but pushing forwards is something else.
The actions of the small city-states and petty baronies to Hule's south and west are another concern. Aware that their northern neighbour would likely swallow them should Aenglyr disappear, these states are more than willing to stir up unrest and cause trouble for Great Hule. Recently, the Huleans have begun to investigate the Red Curse, hoping that agents empowered by it will be able to cause enough trouble for Aenglyr to allow Hule to act elsewhere.
- New Dengar: The creation of the Domain of Aenglyr doomed the dwarven homeland almost before its creation; there was no way the dwarven people could live in mountains under the domain of elves armed with Blackmoor technology. Instead, the dwarven people dispersed in all directions, seeking to found new homes elsewhere. Not all survived, but enough did to found several outposts of dwarven blood in mountainous areas around Mystara.
Today, the united dwarven kingdoms are likely Aenglyr's greatest foe, opposing elven growth wherever it comes from and encouraging others to do the same. Though widely dispersed, they have developed magical effects that allow rapid communication and travel between their holdings (possibly using planar travel through the plane of Elemental Earth) and consider themselves one people.
- Shazharai Imperium: Located on Davania's northern coast, this kingdom was founded by Sindhi nobles fleeing south across the Sea of Dread. These nobles met and joined with the Thyatian and Hinterlander tribes of the region, offering them the benefits of civilisation - including improved weapons and means of making more. In the present day, this empire has expanded across much of northern Davania, and has a cavalry force unequalled on Mystara (similar to RW-Sassanids) plus a capable navy.
- The Sylvan Realm: Moorkroft Elvenbane's rage was redirected in this world's history, and the Sylvan Realm survived through the present day. It's only a minor power, however, far removed from the larger empires, and its people are not often trusted. A few of the Sylvan elves choose to travel abroad, opposing the actions of their 'corrupt' cousins; others become intoxicated with the potential for power offered by the Aenglyr, and choose to join the Domain.
Campaigns in this AH can take one of two forms - subjects or allies of the Domain of Aenglyr, seeking to defend it against enemies inside and out (culminating, possibly, with a race to stop another Blackmoor Event), or alternately natives of one of the other great nations, opposing the actions of the Aenglyr elves and trying to make their own culture supreme.