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Nations of the Duskward Rim (Blue Moon 5)by John Calvin from Threshold Magazine issue 13
Once in a Blue Moon
Nations of the Duskward Rim
by John Calvin
Forward by the author:
Eerie and alluring, the dark interior world of Matera that Sharon Dornhoff, Geoff Gander, and others, envisioned almost 15 years ago continues to fuel my imagination even to this day. In this issue of Threshold we will explore the Hollow Moon’s Duskward Rimlands region, a swath of territory abutting against the inner moon’s easternmost crystalbarrens, and delve into the nations and cultures that thrive there.
As a special note, I would also like to bring to attention, that while Sharon Dornhoff (especially), Geoff Gander, and others, have written extensive materials on the Hollow World, we are now treading into areas that are considerably less detailed. Although the initial seed for the nations and cultures detailed below was pulled from Sharon’s original work, you will find that I have largely injected my own thoughts, preferences, and ideas in fleshing them out… and we are still only scratching the surface.
I would like to encourage anyone reading these articles, who may be interested or inspired by their material, to contribute to the continued development of the Hollow Moon setting by participating in discussions on The Piazza forums. I hope to see you there!
Lunar Properties (Getting Re-Acquainted)
The Hollow Moon is a vast and strange setting, and many of its properties are quite alien when compared to a world like Mystara. This section will help readers become acquainted with all the bizarre characteristics of the moon that inhabitants of the interior of Matera take for granted. In addition to the material presented here, the readers may also wish to revisit Once in a Blue Moon articles in Threshold Issues #2, #4, #9, and #10.
A Dark World
The Hollow Moon was originally envisioned by the Immortals, Seshay-Seline and Ordana foremost among them, as a haven for all of the dark adapted creatures of Mystara, especially those creatures who would not fare well under the eternal light of the Hollow World’s red sun. Many of the sentient creatures living in the dim light of Matera’s interior are well suited to their dark environment; hsiao, aardovai, rakasta of Mauro and Margasta, Mordrigswerg, and Taurus gnomes, humanoids of the Outlands, and humans such as the Albheldri and Cynidiceans have eyes adapted to see in the dark.
This however is not a requirement for placement within the Hollow Moon, as evidenced by the many races who are not dark adapted. Most humans fall under this category, as do the gyerians of Cacklogallinia and the Independent Trade Cities. Vedal, Toroldorsk, and even the pteryx of the Apennines all require some amount of artificial light to function in their everyday lives. While living in perpetual darkness is slightly more difficult for such races, it is not detrimental to their growth and development, and acclimation to their new darker world is completely within their grasp.
It is true that Matera’s interior does not have a central sun like the Hollow World, and that the Crystal firmament filters out much of the outer sun’s light. While most visitors from Mystara would consider the Hollow Moon to be darker than the darkest night back on their homeworld, it is in fact illuminated in many ways.
A lunar day, from one fulldark to the next, lasts 28 Mystaran days. During the first 14 days light increases, until finally reaching its height at skybright (when light shines through the crystal firmament of the Farside). During the last 14 days, light begins to diminish until the sun sets at dusk and eventually returns to fulldark (when the sun’s light is blocked by the bedrock covering of the Nearside).
The light that enters the Hollow Moon is not the white light common on the surface of Mystara, but rather a muted bluish green color at its brightest.
Localized lighting is often provided by the Hollow Moon’s many volcanoes, each cycling through constant and predictable stages of activity. While the crystal firmament filters out most light in the red-orange-yellow spectrum, volcanoes produce this color of light internally, and so are one of the few natural locations where such colors can be seen.
Much of the flora and fauna of the Hollow Moon have been altered in some shape or form to produce bioluminescent light. This is especially true in sea life, but land based flora and fauna may also sport luminescent patterns across their bodies. This is one way in which Ordana modified creatures traditionally reliant upon their eyesight in order to find prey and mates.
Not uncommon throughout much of the Hollow Moon, artificial light tends to see a fairly restricted use. Many cultures use the light of candles, and lanterns to light their cities and streets, and for reading (though other cultures have simply adopted bioluminescent ink). Cooking fires are also common, but generally kept small and hidden when necessary for two major reasons. In the concave environment of Matera’s interior, bright lights tend to give away one’s position to any enemy that might be watching, and while bright lights tend to illuminate their immediate area, they rarely penetrate far in the Hollow Moon’s dark interior. Those subjected to bright light have their senses blinded to potential dangers lurking in the dark.
Lunar Regions and Directions
Finding your direction within the Hollow Moon can sometimes be confusing. Like in the Hollow World, the cardinal directions of east and west are reversed in the interior of Matera. Several other important regions and directional bearings are important in the Hollow Moon setting. These are explained in more detail in Threshold Issue #2, however brief descriptions are provided below.
The hemisphere of the moon that faces toward Mystara is known as the Nearside, much of which is covered in a layer of encrusted basalt. It is only on the Nearside of Matera that life can be supported. When travelling toward the center of the Nearside, one is said to travel nearward.
The hemisphere of the moon that faces away from Mystara is known as the Farside, or the Crystal Firmament. The severe cold of the exposed crystal prevents most life from existing here (only desert ghosts are able to survive there. When travelling away from the center of Nearside, one is said to travel farward or rimward.
The lunar crust is composed of a bluish, magical, nearly indestructible crystal. On the Nearside exposed crystal is referred to as crystalbarrens, while on the Farside it is merely called the Firmament.
This is the direction toward the location of the setting sun in the Materan east, over the rimlands past Mare Fecunditatis. Travelling farward to the east is the same as travelling duskward.
This stretch of land juts out beyond the border of the Nearside’s rim and over the crystalbarrens of the Farside’s firmament. Being surrounded by the moon’s crystal on three sides, the Redlands are subjected to more extreme temperature variations and wind conditions than many regions of the Nearside.
Nations of the Duskward Rim
Map - HollowMoon
The Duskward Rim is the name that the folk in the Hollow Moon give to the eastern region inside of Matera that separates the Nearside from the crystal firmament of the Farside. It stretches from the Redlands Peninsula in the north to the wilderness south of Vedal and beyond. While opinions may vary, it is generally accepted that anything farward (east) of Mare Fecunditatis lies within the Duskward Rim’s boundaries.
Though distant from the hustle and bustle activity around the Spindrift Sea, the nations of the Duskward Rim are far from removed in the eyes of Materans, primarily due to the mercantile efforts of Cacklogallinia and the Independent Trade Cities. These nations have a firm hand in trade throughout the Hollow Moon, visiting folk as far off as Toroldorsk. Other nations also do a brisk trade in these lands, especially the spider folk of Aran who fly through the cool lunar airways in their ships of silk.
On the Outer World
Cacklogallinia was a vassal state of the Kanastenid Empire of western Brun during its height in BC 590. A mercantile culture composed of gyerians, bird-like humanoids, Cacklogallinia was known as a trading center, and its inhabitants as shrewd and often times unscrupulous merchants. With the fall of Nithia in BC 500, one of the empire’s largest trade partners, the Kanastenid Empire began to falter. In BC 317 the empire began to crumble from within after an unsuspecting trade vessel brings an infestation of hivebrood, and the gyerians were blamed. By BC 250 the Kanastenid Empire was shattered, and the remnant territories of Cacklogallinia were known as the Land of Gyerians by invading ogre-kin of Suma’a and Gombar.
In the Hollow Moon
Since their arrival, the gyerians of Cacklogallinia have spread along the coastlands of three great seas in the Hollow Moon. The original settlements were placed in the grasslands along the eastern shores of Mare Tranquillitatis, and from there the culture spread rimward along the hilly and forested terrain between the southwestern shores of Mare Crisium and the northern shores of Mare Fecunditatis.
Cacklogallinian cities are spectacular hubs of industry and fortune, and gyerian merchants thrive in many ports and trade centers throughout the Hollow Moon, especially in the region of the Spindrift Sea.
Cacklogallinian culture is centered around trade guilds. For the gyerians of Cacklogallinia, the guild is almost an extension of family. From the moment that chicks are hatched, they are promised to the guildmasters, with little chance of moving outside the guild their family is affiliated with. Thus the chicks of woodcutters are destined to be woodcutters, while the chicks of farmers are destined to be farmers themselves. While most Cacklogallinians are born merchants, only those of the Factors Guild typically have dealings with outsiders. These are the gyerian “middlemen” who are trained to do business with neighboring races, as well as their own.
The northern cities of Cacklogallinia are agricultural hubs, producing a majority of the grains that can be found across the entire Hollow Moon. Ships often sail from the gyerian cities across Mare Tranquillitatis to the lands of Shaergarde in the west, though the nearby lands of the Margasta are studiously avoided. Southern cities, those between Mare Crisium and the Strait, tend to be more industrial in nature, focusing on lumber and finished crafts.
Very few Cacklogallinian cities are built near any of the more destructive volcanoes in the Hollow Moon, though many of the northern cities do have to contend with the periodic fumes that bellow forth from the Taurus Mountains. Sometimes these fumes are strong enough to destroy crops, forcing local farmers to seek shelter behind the nearest city walls.
A clan of werefoxes invades the northern territories of Cacklogallinia, plaguing the main trade route between the city of Clakkar and the Taurus gnomes. Putting an end to their depredations along the road is only the beginning, for the real danger comes from the werefox patron, a gnomish merchant wishing to usurp his gyerian competitors.
Dark ships have sailed across Mare Tranquillitatis and into the port of Byrrk. Though their cargo holds are filled with goods, not a single crewman is to be found on any of the three ships. Unfortunately the ships sailed too close to the city of Maskelyne, the City of Shadows, and are now infested by the otherworldly beings.
Guildmaster Kray’kaw has not been seen for several months, and what is worse is that her Tree-fellers Guild has stopped sending all shipments of lumber to Byrrk. Little does anyone know that Kray’kaw and her crew stumbled upon a nest of hivebrood in the timberlands of the far north. She, her crew, and all who have gone to investigate have fallen to the creatures, whose power is growing. Should they not be stopped, the hivebrood could decimate all of northern Cacklogallinia.
Independent Trade Cities
Map - Trade Cities
Formed in the Hollow Moon AC 320.
On the Outer World
The Trade Cities are a culture unique to the Hollow Moon, having developed there under the care and guidance of the Immortal Asterius. Much like the Merry Pirates of the Hollow World, the Trade Cities have been allowed to develop a culture all their own, in their case a mercantile culture. Although they have no direct progenitor from Mystara, they are an amalgam of many different cultures and races from Mystaran history.
In the Hollow Moon
Originally part of Cacklogallinia, several cities along the shores of Fecunditatis and the Taruntiun Strait broke away from their nation, intent on doing business in a new way. These soon became known as the Independent Trade Cities, and their borders were open to all who were willing to do business, and who could brave the dangerous waters or airways to get to them.
Since their founding, the Trade Cities have become a haven for indigent populations, especially of those like the gyerians, who prefer to illuminate their cities with the warm glow of artificial light rather than suffer the gloomy blue darkness of the Hollow Moon’s interior. Humans are especially numerous, with large populations from the nearby nation of Vedal, and smaller ones from Cynidicea and Toroldorsk. In AC 4001 another large human population migrated into the Trade Cities. These newcomers called themselves Alphatians, and were quite different than any of the other humans in the Hollow Moon. In fact these Alphatians were also natural born shapeshifters, whose ancestors suffered persecution after the lycanthropic plagues on Mystara broke out across the Known World.
Smaller populations of almost any race can also be found in the Trade Cities, which are sometimes used as a general “dumping grounds” by immortals who wish to save cultural groups that may too small to survive on their own merits. The most famous example is the disgraced Rodemus family of Thyatis, who was transported here circa AC 970, after their extreme corruption, and the fact that they were all wererats, became known to the general populace of the Duchy of Machetos.
The concept of guild rule came directly from the Cacklogallinian founders of the Trade Cities, though it has become much more fluid over the centuries. Guild membership is not restricted to family lines, but rather open to anyone talented enough to prove their worth, whether they be gyerian or not. Each Trade City operates with autonomy within its own borders, with a ruling council of guild masters to oversee its interests. In turn each Trade City nominates one of its ruling guild masters to represent it in the Council of Free Cities. This council is responsible for organizing and implementing a coordinated effort to defend their collective borders.
Unlike the cities of Cacklogallinia, the Trade Cities open their borders to all comers, or at least those willing to do business. The silken windships of Aran are particularly welcome amongst the cities along the Strait, as their ability to fly allows them to ferry goods into and out of the cities with relative ease, avoiding the dangers of the waters below.
Cities along the Strait are known for their craftsmanship, especially in iron and steel. The coasts of northern Fecunditatis are replete with giant glowworms and fireflies, and the Trade Cities situated in that region have become experts at cultivating such creatures. Their products are especially sought after by Mordrigswerg alchemists who use them in crafts both mundane and magical.
The combination of shallow seas, glaciating crystal shores, and active volcanoes in the Strait between Mare Fecunditatis and Mare Tranquillitatis, makes it one of the most hazardous regions to travel through and live in. Several Trade Cities situated in the craggy peaks along this passage must constantly deal with the threat of geological upheaval and deadly pyroclastic surges. Only those cities built upon the most stable of bases have withstood the tests of time, though numerous ruins along the Strait testify to the traders temerity.
Famed explorer-merchant Tagian Kray has not returned from his expedition to the fabled Emerald Pagoda in Vedal. Desperate for answers, his family has hired a band of explorers to follow in his footsteps and bring back any word of their missing patron. In fact, Tagian’s step-son Warrice conspired with one of the Vedal chambahara to capture and murder his step-father so that he could inherit the family fortune.
Aran shipwright Nessa Nahal, is about to unveil her latest design, the largest floating silken ship yet to sail the winds. Such an innovative design would drastically increase the amount of cargo that could be shipped from cities along the Strait, and greatly increase the coin that merchants from those cities could make. Rivals from the city of Cawdree on the shores of Fecunditatis have been sent to sabotage the effort.
The Rodemus family is at it again, with Torphan Rodemus poised to infect the newly appointed representative to the Council of Free Cities, Guildmaster Daelius Hok. Once their new agent is in place, the plan is to infect all the other human members of the council and assassinate the rest. Unfortunately, even should the Rodemus plan succeed, the chaotic behavior of the wererat family and their minions would doom the Trade Cities as they fell into anarchy.
On the Outer World
After the fall of Adhuza in the Sea of Dread, the shark-kin began their long and arduous journey back to freedom. Used as shock troops in the kopru’s empire, it was not easy for them to eek out an existence without the support of their former masters, nor for them to gain the trust of their Undersea neighbors. When Taymora sank beneath the waves, the shark-kin of the Sea of Dread finally had the means to thrive again. All of the small islands that dotted the Sunlit Sea made perfect spawning grounds for their young, and once again their numbers thrived.
This golden era of the shark-kin was not to last however. When the Ierendi and Minrothad islands became bastions for the land dwellers, shark-kin were pushed back into the sea. As sailing ships started to once again ply the waves, conflicts between the shark-kin and the air breathers intensified. It was inevitable that the scaly, semi-amphibious shark-kin, who relied on pristine uninhabited sandy shores to spawn their young, would soon lose this battle. The burgeoning Thyatian Empire put the last nail in their watery coffin. With bounties placed on their toothy maws, the shark-kin of the Sunlit Sea were hunted to near extinction.
In the Hollow Moon
With few land dwelling civilizations near the shores of Mare Crisium when the shark-kin arrived, they quickly rose to prominence in the region. The north and south-eastern shores of Mare Crisium, lined with black volcanic sand, made perfect spawning grounds, as did the numerous small offshore islands. The shark-kin’s closest neighbors, the Cacklogallinians in the southwest, had little desire to ply the waters of Crisium, and since the Mare is isolated from the other oceans of Matera, ships from other seafaring nations would never sail its waters. The shark-kin of Mare Crisium had finally found a home.
Relations with the gyerians of Cacklogallinia were lukewarm at first, but quickly solidified thanks to the bird men’s mercantile skills. They traded with the shark-kin tools and materials that could not be found or created in their watery environment, and in return received all the bounty of goods that the waters of Crisium had to offer. When the humans of Vedal began to explore their world, interactions with the shark-kin were more tense. Not having forgotten their treatment by humans of the Outer World, the Crisium shark-kin were quick to defend their borders. Since then aggression between the two cultures has cooled, though the shark-kin will still not tolerate any vessel to sail their waters.
The shark-kin of Crisium are just as comfortable on the shores of their territory as they are beneath the waves, and communities have grown up on both sides of the water. Those dwelling in the sea live a fairly nomadic existence, following the schools of fish that they hunt for food, while shark-kin living on the surface have fairly sedentary lives, trading with their kin beneath the waves and strangers from further inland. Individual shark-kin are not constrained to either type of existence, and in fact many shift between the sea and the shore several times within their lifetimes.
Communities built on the shores of Mare Crisium are generally devoted to trade, and the shark-kin will tolerate the company of most outsiders who behave themselves while in their territory. Island beaches in the Mare itself are generally considered to be off limits to outsiders, many of them being spawning grounds marked with totems sacred to the shark-kin.
Most shark-kin tribes are independent from one another, each having their own chieftain and head priestess to lead them. The tribes have been known to unite under a single king sporadically throughout the ages, often in times of duress or when outside forces threaten their way of life. Such dynasties typically never outlive their founders, with the tribes reasserting their own dominance once the king dies.
Two major volcanoes border the northeastern and southeastern shores of Crisium. The northern crater erupts once every 10 years, spewing smoke into the sky and peppering the nearby land and sea with burning rocks. While the outburst can be deadly, it is over quickly and easily avoided, and most locals have no problems navigating its dangers.
The southern volcano belches forth fumes and smoke on a yearly basis, but every 70 years it erupts violently, often clearing the nearby shores of all traces of civilization. Though the shark-kin can avoid its wrath by escaping into the sea, these times are especially dangerous for the creatures, as on several occasions, forces from Vedal have attempted to claim territory along the southern coast after such eruptions.
The Fire Times have come and the shark-kin settlements on the southern shores of Crisium have been decimated. Shark-kin returning to reclaim their homes are met by bands of Vedal war parties squatting on their lands. Abinesh, the Vedali war leader is one of the chambahara seeking “exotic fare” that he can add to his dinner table.
Kakkrr, an outcast of his people has stolen his tribe’s sacred totem and fled to the waters of Mare Fecunditatis. Without their totem, the tribe’s spawning grounds will be cursed. The PCs must help a band of shark-kin traverse the territory between the two Mares, and track down the outcast and his nefarious band.
A powerful chieftain has been uniting several shark-kin tribes under his banner around the northeastern coasts of Mare Crisium. As the tribes move westward they sing the praises of King Zllazk “Shred Tooth”, and slaughter any tribes that oppose his rule. Unknown to all, a lone kopru has somehow managed to find a foothold in the Sea and is attempting to consolidate a foothold for Adhuza using King “Shred Tooth” as his puppet. Should he succeed, Vedal, Cacklogallinia, and the Trade Cities will all suffer from his depredations.
On the Outer World
The Redlands Peninsula doesn’t represent any specific cultural group from the Outer World, but rather a unique set of circumstances that the Immortals wished to preserve and study - the Red Curse. The Red Curse is actually the amalgam of several curses and blessings which occurred in the Savage Baronies region in BC 500 including the Spell of Oblivion, Ixion’s curse on Nimmurian manscorpians, and the Great One’s magical protection of the Wallaras.
Supremely infectious, and aggressively spread, the Red Curse was an anomaly to the Immortals; something created by their magic, but not by their intentions. Due to Ixion’s magic, the Immortals determined that the Red Curse was in part powered by the rays of the sun, and so they decided to move it to a place it could be studied in relative safety… the dark interior of the Hollow Moon.
In the Hollow Moon
Ka chose the Redlands Peninsula for its unique location in the Hollow Moon, as it is essentially a large peninsula extending from Nearside out and over the crystalbarrens of the Farside. Protected on three sides by the crystal firmament, over which the Red Curse can take no foothold, Ka had found the perfect location to continue his investigation and experiments with the Red Curse. By modifying the Spell of Remembrance he was able to effectively seal the Red Curse on the Duskward Rim’s border. Creatures can pass over the seal to enter the Redlands Peninsula, however no living thing infected by the Red Curse may pass through to the Nearside.
A destination for exiles and wanderers, the Redlands Peninsula is a brutal and lawless region inhabited by brigands, cutthroats, and opportunists ready to prey on the misfortune of others. Border towns have sprung up along the border of the rimlands just outside the region affected by the Curse. These places of diminished civilization run a brisk but profitable trade with the frontier communities further farward. Fortunes can be made here trading for cinnabryl and red steal for those unscrupulous and brutal enough to enforce their own laws.
Very little volcanic activity extends this for out over the crystalbarrens of the Farside, however the real threat in this area comes not from the Fire Times, but from the effects of the Red Curse. Despite the fact that direct sunlight never finds the surface of Matera’s interior, it is filtered through the crystal firmament. Thus the Red Curse is still fueled by the sun, albeit at a much slower pace. Since Ka’s magic has effectively contained the curse to the Redlands Peninsula and it cannot expand outward, its power has been steadily increasing over the millennia, and centuries since its first introduction. Certain regions of the peninsula are steeped in concentrated energies of the Curse, while others may be only slightly affected by its powers.
PCs pursuing a wanted fugitive across Matera’s interior find themselves on the border of the Redlands. Their quarry has crossed beyond, but should they dare to follow, they may never be able to return to their homelands.
Not all is as it seems in the bordertown of Redton. For years the locals have been terrorized by Red Rory’s gang of thugs, but this changed recently when a stranger came to town a few weeks ago. With the stranger’s help, Cy Garret’s brigands have gained the upper hand, and the townsfolk have been caught in the middle of a bloody gang war. When the PCs enter the fray, the real fighting starts… but the real danger may come not from the roving thugs, but the stranger who riled everything up.
Something unexpected has happened in the Redlands, warping the Red Curse in a way unforeseen even by the Immortals. Clerics and priests from across the Duskward Rimlands receive dreams and visions from their patrons urging them to travel north and investigate the new monstrosities that are somehow escaping from Ka’s barrier to terrorize the rest of the Hollow Moon.
On the Outer World
Shapeshifters have been a part of Sindhi culture since its inception. Collectively know as the chambahara, these shape shifting races included were-tigers, rakshasa, dopplegangers, bhut, and others. In AC 186, after the death of Rajah Vijay Pratikuta, his inheritors seized control of the land, dividing it between them into the territories of Jalawar and Jhengal. The corruption and brutality of their rule quickly becomes apparent, and though it is suspected that the Pratikutas may all have been replaced by shapeshifters, the populace can do nothing to free themselves from their tyranny. It seems as if every level of Sindhi society had been infiltrated by the chambahara, and was firmly within their grasp.
In AC 451 a daring group of Sindhi mages, united by Maga Aditi, make an audacious bid to overthrow the chambahara. With amazing alacrity, these mages, calling themselves the Jadugeryas, succeed in their bid for power, and after eliminating the “Pratikutas” and their inheritors, begin the Dark Inquisitions to root out and expose all remaining shapeshifters. The rule of the chambahara was broken for good, however Jammudharrah2, patron of the bhut, convinced Ka that the evil races of Mystara deserved preservation as much as the good.
In the Hollow Moon
Tucked away in a remote corner of the Duskward Rim, the nation of Vedal quickly grew into its own. Their borders extend from the southern shores of Mare Crisium along the western coastlines of Mare Fecunditatis. For over 500 years, the chambahara of Vedal, led by the elite nobility of bhuts, has expertly managed their human cattle, expanding their holdings at a phenomenal rate. Few Materan explorers dare to brave these lands, and fewer still are ever allowed to leave.
On Mystara the bhut’s transformation was bound to the night, causing the creatures to change form whether they wished to or not, however inside of Matera things are different. Bhuts are only forced into their monstrous form during the 56 hour period of fulldark, and into their human form during skybright. At all others times the creatures have full control of their shapeshifting powers, allowing them to change form at will. This have given them a tremendous advantage over those that would hunt them, and has allowed them to solidify their control over the populace.
The nation of Vedal is divided into several clans, each presided over by its own ruling family. Smaller clans in turn are vassals of the larger more powerful clans, with the titular head of the nation being the Pratikuta family. Though each of the clans share a common ancestry, they have diverged over the centuries. They worship the gods, dance, dress, and eat each in their own unique way. To outsiders these differences may go unnoticed, but for a Vedali, these minor variations define their self image.
The real disparity in Vedal exists between the common and the noble, those who are rulers and those who rule over them, the humans… and the monsters. Vedal is a land where the chambahara still reign supreme, secure in their strongholds, and free to harvest the lambs in their flocks as they see fit.
Mountains bordering Mare Crisium in the north harbor some of the more violent volcanoes in the region. Most tend to grumble with smoke and fire on a regular basis, every few years or so, though they erupt violently on somewhat longer schedules. There are few large settlements in the north that have to contend with them however.
Volcanoes in southern Vedal tend to vomit forth slow moving tendrils of magma. Though the timing of these events is well known, the direction these rivers of lava will take is not, and they often cut fiery swaths through towns and villages. Luckily they are slow enough that very few are ever injured or killed in the process.
Upon entering a small village on the outskirts of Vedal, the PCs are increasingly unnerved by the behavior of the locals. Sly and secretive, the villagers welcome the PCs in the light of skybright, yet desperately try to dispose of them once the moon darkens. Although the PCs may suspect the locals of being chambahara, they are in fact simply a small community of Alphatian shapeshifters desperate to keep their identity a secret.
Nearly 150 years ago a single werebat was banished to the Hollow Moon after having caused a certain Glantrian Prince a great deal of embarrassment. The creature, a Cypri named Desdemonda3, now masquerades as Mistress Ayvaer and resides in an ornate pagoda in Vedal’s second largest city. A group of locals suspects her of being a vampire, though she has yet to succumb to any of their religious icons and wards. Desperate to deal with this menace, the locals plea for aid from the PCs.
Civil war looms imminent amongst the cities of Vedal, as three of the largest clans vie for ruler over the populace. The Nabendu of the west, controlled by dopplegangers and mujina, gather their forces to face off against the Pratikuta bhuts, who although fractured, are far more numerous than their foes. Little does either side know that the rakshasa lord Indubhushan has maneuvered them both into this battle, and his forces patiently await to dispose of the victor. Should the PCs be clever enough, they may be able to use this conflict to remove the chambahara from power entirely4.
On the Outer World
Descended from dragons, the Wallaras once had a mighty civilization on the Savage Coast. Though powerful, they were also wise and peaceful, and lived in harmony with all of their neighbors. Not all of their neighbors reciprocated, and in BC 700 Herathian mages began capturing Wallaras to conduct magical experiments on. The Wallaras put a stop to Herathian depredations, and discovered their secret in the process; that the Herathians were actually aranea in disguise.
Being a wise and peaceful people, the Wallaras were content to leave the situation at that, however the paranoia of the Herathians knew no bounds. Rather than risk the Wallaras revealing their secret, the spiderfolk unleashed a terrible plague upon the chameleon men; a magical curse designed to destroy the Wallara’s memories. The plague worked too well, and within two centuries the Wallara people had almost devolved back to the stone age. Their patron, the Great One halted the progress of the curse, but too late. There was little that could be done for the chameleon men of the Outer World, but the Great One took a small portion of those people, and placing them in the Hollow Moon, restored their memories.
In the Hollow Moon
In the 15 centuries since their first arrival, the Wallaras have attempted to rebuild their civilization. Though their memories had been returned to them, they were never a populous race, and their numbers grew only slowly. Still they struggle to rebuild the grandeur achieved by their ancestors. Thus the Wallaran Dreamscape remains a rather sparsely populated land, and one which holds many secrets of its own. Though not bellicose toward strangers, the Wallaras are mindful of how the Herathians behaved towards their ancestors, and wish to avoid any similar incidents in the future.
The few true Wallaran cities are hidden deep within the Dreamscape, while smaller, simpler communities can be found at the boundaries of their borders. Those who venture into the heart of Wallaran territory must contend with the visions and apparitions that assault their senses.
As descendants of dragons, the Wallaras have an innate desire to collect valuables, however the treasure that they seek is knowledge. Itinerant wanderers, they traverse Matera’s interior investigating every region they pass through, and every culture they come into contact with. Aran is avoided, though most Wallaras realize that the spider folk who dwell there are only distantly related to the wizards of Herath who challenged them long ago on another world.
Wallaran leaders are chosen from the eldest and wisest among them, though they do not rule over their people as other nobility might. Rather they act as trusted counselors and advisors, guiding their people in a direction that one day might allow them to reclaim their greatness. Few outsiders see this side of the Wallara however. Those that believe the chameleon men actually exist know only of their mountainous monastic redoubts. Most others think of them only as a passing dream.
A smoky haze blankets the Wallaran Dreamlands, granting visions to any brave enough to to traverse their territory. During certain times of the year the visions shown are beneficent, revealing answers to questions and improving the lives of those on walkabout. At other times the smokes coalesce into darker phantasms, unveiling the very stuff that nightmares are made of.
Ominous omens portend a looming catastrophe, and the only clues to preventing it can be found in the Wallaran Dreamlands. The PCs must journey to the Duskward Rimlands and brave the mists of their darkest, most dangerous nightmares in order to find their answers.
Monks from the mountainous redoubt of Kuparr are slowly losing their memories. The oldest among them have begun falling into unwaking trances, and the others fear a similar fate. The Elders of Jindalee must be consulted, for it appears that the Herathian Curse may once again be taking hold of Wallara.
A wizened old mystic asks the PCs to help him steal a family heirloom back from an unscrupulous Aran merchant. The PCs must brave the defenses of the spidery tradesman and his henchmen in order to retrieve the treasure. After helping the mystic he mysteriously disappears and shortly thereafter the PCs are contacted by a group of Wallaran elders. The mystic is in fact a rogue Wallara bent on vengeance and will use the artifact to kill thousands of the spider folk if not stopped.
http://www.thepiazza.org.uk/bb/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=2344 [Hollow Moon] Ruminations Over a Blue Moon
1This date differs with Sharon’s original time estimate of BC 400, however I suspect that date is in error, since lycanthropy broke out in AC 400, and that specific event is referenced in her notes.
3Desdemonda/Mistress Ayvaer was an NPC first conceived of by Sharon Dornhoff during the initial creation of the Hollow Moon setting.
4At least temporarily. The Spell of Remembrance would eventually bring the chambahara back into power.