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Replacing Ylaruam

by Mike Harvey

I chose to place M-Bulgaria in the Alasiyan basin. I think it's a perfect fit. Historically, Bulgaria was north of the Byzantine Empire (Thyatis), and Serbia (Karameikos) was west of it, so it's unquestionably "realistic". The slavic states were a buffer and trade route betwen Byzantium and the Nordic countries so it works with respect to Soderfjord as well.

Ancient bulgarian history has Thracian and Persian elements. Thracians would be related to the M-Greek roots of Thyatian culture -- the Doulakki and Kerendans. The Zoroastrian religion of Persia is secretive and holds Fire and Water as sacred, and Persia was also famous for its mages.... so it fits perfectly as a cultural origin (or replacement) for the Fire-Magians. The city of Parsa makes a perfect analogue for Persepolis, the capital of Persia, and I envision it as built on the ruins of a vast ancient city, with mysterious temples and statues, as well as catacombs. The Fire Magians are a cultish offshoot of Zoroastrians, and they continue to exist side by side in the region.

Both Thracians and Persians are indo-Europeans, so a good cultural fit (Antalian) for this portion of the continent. The Ylari always seemed out of place.

I'd place the Persians in the west around Makistan with a grassland climate, and the Thracians in the eastern basin in a maritime forested climate. Instead of M-Egyptian ruins, you'd have M-Persian and M-Greek heritage.

The Bulgars were Turkic nomads, and in Mystaran terms would be a branch of the Ethengars. It would make sense for them to have migrated south just like the Makistani, except in this alternate Mystara they conquered the entire basin. It probably makes most sense around BC 450, during the power vacuum after the fall of Nithia, and before Thyatis was a regional power.

The M-Bulgars could also be the source of the "slavic" culture in Karameikos. At Castellan Keep there is a mysterious road north through the mountains, past the Caves of Chaos. Perhaps hundreds of years ago it connected to Makistan, before being closed by humanoids and giants.

That makes a culturally unique state north of Thyatis with a historical parallel, so unquestionably realistic; it reinforces the slavic influence and makes the Ethengars less of an isolated oddity; it makes an interesting rival to Thyatis. Historically there were shifting three-way alliances and rivalries between the Byzantines, Bulgarians, and Serbians. The Serbian ruling families were tied to both the Bulgarians and the Bynzantines by marriage, leading to lots of intrigue and shifting alliances. That fits perfectly with Karameikos' dual slavic (Traladaran) and greek (Thyatian) culture.

This scheme results in a nearly contiguous "slavic crescent" including Boldavia, Ethengar, Alasiya, and Karameikos. One could also include the Broken Lands as having some related cultural identity.

As for Ylaruam, I have moved it to the Great Waste south of Jaibul, the same as Ramelin Mystara, where it fits nicely and adds some cultural texture to an otherwise rather homogenous region. There is no reason not to have Nithia dominate Alasiya. Whether Nithia spread from Thothia in the east or Ylaruam in the east, it still works.

IMC I have added a Thyatian colony south of Ylaruam, south of Nicostenia. Something similar to Trebizond/Trabzon. After being abandoned by Thyatis it became an independent kingdom. The Abbashani mounted a jihad and would have wiped it from existence and sold everyone off to slavery, but an order of paladins were able to defend the city. It is now similar to a crusader state, ruled and protected by a Lawful relgious order. After order was established it briefly expanded in the lands south of Ylaruam, before stabilizing. It controls a few rich mines, some grasslands, and the maritime trade along the south coast; otherwise it survives through sheer stubborn defiance.

Trebizond provides a place for the Thyatian-Ylari wars, a trade center and destination for the ships of Ierendi and Minrothad, as well as prey for the Ierendian pirates. Basically the whole region seemed kind of dull and lifeless and monochromatic to me. Adding Ylaruam and Trebizond adds a lot of texture, conflict, and merchant activity. I see Trebizond as being on good terms with Sind and with the northwestern emirs proper, but with Jaibul and Abbashan in between, travel is complicated. The Kin faction would love to wipe Trebizond out of existence, and Jaibul is a shadowy land full of demons and danger. Piracy plagues the sea lanes, but this cloud as a silver lining as the Trebizond earns a tidy profit and considerable goodwill by hunting down pirates. Rumors that Trebizond sponsors its own freebooters are greatly exaggerated.

West of M-Trebizond are the Sand Flats and the Burning Waste... awesome sounding places the DM can have fun with. M-Trebizond is the jumping off place to explore them. I think it is likely that Nithia was centered on the Silt River. When it was destroyed, NOTHING was left but mysterious buried pyramids and desert wastes and strange abominable monsters. Basically an adventure magnet.

M-Trebizond also provides a link between Thyatias, Slagovich, and the Savage Baronies. Without it the gap is awfully wide, and I wonder how Thyatis reached the Savage Coast without stopping along the way? It surely expanded along the seacoast, and establishing havens and supply posts along the way only makes sense. Now we have a connected Thyatis-Ierendi-Trabzon-Tyjaret-Savage Baronies route.

Anyway thats my take on it.