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The Dangers of the Dymrak Wilds

by Håvard from Threshold Magazine issue 1

The lands of Men have their kings and nobles. So too does the wilderness of Karameikos have its hierarchy of lords and minions, power and intrigue. Dating back to the Beastman Invasions and the age of King Halav, the Dymrak Forest has always been a haven to the evils of Karameikos. These forces are ever seeking to expand their influence north into the Kelvin Moors and beyond. At the same time, there are forces of good within the wilderness trying to forge alliances against these evils, hoping perhaps that the wilderness itself can stand against the darkness instead of depending on heroes from the so-called civilized parts of the Grand Duchy. These conflicts go back to the ancient history of the Traladaran Lands and wars between enemies have been fought in the wilderness without civilized men even knowing about it.

Argos the Worrier

The True Master of the Dymrak Forest is Mighty Argos, the green Dragon. The entrance to his lair is reached through the Lake of Lost Dreams, but Argos rarely leaves his den -- in draconic form, that is. Once, he was almost bound to servitude by the dragon queen Attura, and he vowed never to be so powerless. This led him to make a pact with the Immortal Orcus. He became a Cleric of Orcus, thus enabling him to cast both clerical and arcane spells. However, an alliance with a Demon Prince cannot become known among other dragons or Argos will become an outcast from Draconic society.

Another gift from the Demon Prince was the power to take on humanoid shape. This ability was also passed on to Argos three children. One of these children, the Dragon Verdilith was even able to infiltrate the court at Penhaligon and is working his way into Karameikan politics by using this ability (See the Penhaligon Trilogy for more details).

Allies: Argos has also been able to dominate most of the goblin tribes of Dymrak Forest, on both sides of the Rugalov River. This he has achieved by forging a magical weapon -- the Blood Blade -- a sword made of rare Red Steel. Through the aid of his Immortal Patron, Orcus, Argos was able to empower the weapon with intelligence of its own. Argos gave the sword to Ghnass, the leader of a goblin tribe. The goblin chieftain quickly fell under the Blood Blade’s domination. With the aid of this blade the goblins forming the Red Blade Tribe were able to subjugate several other Wolf Riding tribes, all of whom now serve Argos and revere the dragon as a god. Orcus in return provides clerical spells for the goblin shamans.

Some of the goblin tribes still resist domination by the dragon and have allied themselves with other powers of Dymrak, such as the Witches who live there, but it is only a matter of time before Argos decides to deal with this problem.

Enemies: Among dragons, Argos’ main rival is Attura, a powerful dragon whom he once tried to mate. The Witches of Dymrak contest with Argos for the domination of the goblin tribes, but Argos feels confident that he can deal with them. Since Argos made the pact with Orcus, his main enemy has become the Seer of the Lake of Lost Dreams. The Seer is an agent of the forces who seek to protect Karameikos against the likes of Argos and his masters and this has actually made it more difficult for Argos to move around.

Game Statistics: See Who’s Who Among Dragons. Has the ability to take human form.

The Witches of Dymrak

Another powerful force of evil lurking in the Dymrak Forest are the The Witches of Dymrak. These powerful Crones of Chaos are sometimes rivals and sometimes allies of Argos. This ancient circle of nine Witches dates many centuries back. The Witches have divided the forest between them and usually prefer to work on their own individual schemes. However, they are the most dangerous when they join forces. The Crones, who refer to each other as “sisters”, see themselves as the representatives of the Dark Fey Court of Karameikos. They hate each other, but will always come to the aid of another if one is in trouble. If all nine Witches are gathered, they are able to weave powerful magic.

Best known is the Witch Grizzelda (powerful Crone of Chaos, HD8** Hp 60, Wokan 6, AL C). She has had some dealings with the various Centaur tribes of the Kelvin Moors. Grizzelda is allied with the Firemane Centaurs, who have provided various services for her. It is not known which services she has given the Firemanes in return, but the Firemanes rivals the Stormwinds have theories of their own. Magical weapons in the hands of the Firemanes is at least one of the gifts that they must have received. Grizzelda has been harassing nearby families of forest gnomes (Earth Gnomes) living in her area, and these gnomes fear the Witch greatly. In spite of her malicious nature, Grizzelda has surprisingly managed to stay on relatively friendly terms with the Seer of the Lake of Lost Dreams. It has even been speculated that she has aided the Seer in his battles against evil in the past. Grizzelda lives in the northern edge of the forest in a small grove of dead trees. The trees are actually undead Treants who guard her cottage. Grizzelda is closest to her sister Esmeralda (Crone of Chaos, HD 6*, Hp 55, Wokan 3, AL C) who is allied with the Dymrak Horde, a goblin tribe in the western parts of the forest. A third Witch, Gelphora (HD6*, AL C) is among those witches most closely devout to Orcus.

The Seer of the Lake of Lost Dreams

When Halav and his companions were fighting the Beastmen, Halav sought out Oberon of the Fey Realm for help. Oberon agreed, but at a price. The pact between Halav and Oberon involved the fate of Haven and is still honored to this day. The keeper of the Pact is known only as the Seer.

This old hermit lives in a small wooden cottage on the coast of the Lake of Lost Dreams in eastern Karameikos. The Seer is known for his great wisdom and knowledge of the lands of Karameikos and its history and legends. Also, he is known to have powers of divination. The origin of his powers is not known to the common man. Some say he was trained by the Witches of Dymrak. Others say that he is a demigod and the son of King Halav himself. That he has some connection with the Traladaran Three is undisputed. The Seer seems to see himself as a protector of the Traladaran lands. He shows little interest in mortal affairs in general, but when the land itself is threatened -- such as when the servants of Arik attempt to free their master -- the Seer always intervenes if he can. He has very few dealings with the nobility and other high ranking members of Karameikan society, but The Seer is a popular figure among the Traladaran commoners, especially the rural population. While he lives in a remote location, the Seer often travels the countryside, giving aid to common Traladarans.

The Seer is a friend of the people of Haven. He is also on friendly terms with the Three Sidhe Priestesses of Halav who reside on the Island in the middle of the Lake of Lost Dreams. While Sidhe cannot normally become Clerics, it is believed that these Three serve the Pact just like the Seer does. It is said that it was the Sidhe Priestesses who gave the Seer his most valued possession, the Eye of Traldar.

The Eye of Traldar is actually one of two such magical gemstones. The one in the possession of the Seer is known as the White Diamond Eye while another, the Black Opal Eye, is found somewhere in the Radlebb Woods. The two eyes were created by a Nithian Wizard called Traldar. According to some legends, he was the one who originally led the Traldar from Nithia to their current homelands. Some say that the Eyes of Traldar were actually Traldar's own eyes, which had become gemstones after the Wizard had died and still contained his magical powers.

Appearance: The Seer is an old man, yet physically he is in a better shape than many youngsters. His skin is tanned from the sun and his grey hair is set in a ponytail. The Seer has a trimmed grey moustache and beard. He wears old grey robes, held together by a rope belt. From the belt hang numerous items of mystical significance such as a bird’s leg, a bag of coloured sand and the fingerbone of a goblin.

Game Statistics: 11th level Magic-user. St: 14, Dx 15, Co 17, In 18, Wi 18, Ch 16. AL: N.

Possessions: Wooden staff, robes, the Eye of Traldar (a magical artifact with several divining and detection magic spells. It also functions as a Crystal Ball, but only areas within Karameikos and Haven [from module B3] can be scried.)

Notes: The Seer of the Lake of Lost Dreams was originally mentioned in DDA1 Eye of Traldar. There he was referred to as the Seer of the Lake of Lost Souls.

The Centaurs

The lands north of the Dymrak Forest are home to a large number of Centaur Clans. These are of a barbaric and warlike race, placing great value on physical strength, courage and honour. They are a proud race and often show a hostile attitude towards non centaurs. The Centaurs often wear their hair Mohawk-style or spiked. They cover their upper (human) body with runic tattoos and in times of war use blue war paint. The Centaurs worship spirits of nature and ancestors as well as the Immortals of Nature (Terra, Ordana, Djaea and Faunus). They speak a form of archaic Traladaran resembling the old Vandar tongue.

The clans are divided into two major tribes; the Firemane Tribe and the Stormwind Tribe. The Firemane Tribe is a chaotic and wild bunch. They tend to have red hair and gold-brown eyes. This tribe is known to be the most aggressive and warlike. They are rumoured to occasionally sell human captives to the Iron Ring, and have had an alliance with Grizzelda, one of the Witches of Dymrak (See the Witches of Dymrak) in the past. The Firemanes live in the lands between the Kelvin Moors and the Lake of Lost Dreams. Fire is holy to the Firemane Tribe. Their leader is Rathanuk Flamehoof, a powerful warrior easily recognised by his flaming red lion-like hair and a scar below his left eye. He wields a powerful scimitar, said to burst into flames when engaged in combat. (Centaur 7, HD7 Hp 56, St 14, Dx 13, In 11, Wis 10, Co 12, Cha 12, Al C, Sword of Flaming),

The other clan, the Stormwinds, is considered to be more reliable. Still, the Stormwinds dislike outsiders and prefer to stay away from civilisation. However, someone meeting with the Stormwinds will notice that they have many humans living among them. These humans find acceptance by the centaurs, in spite of the usual resentment most of that race have for humans. The Stormwinds live on the Kelvin Moors. They have black hair and deep blue eyes. Stormy weather is considered a blessing by the Stormwinds. Their leader is Arthane Stormchild (Centaur 6, HD7 Hp 56, St 17, Dx 12, In 10, Wis 15, Co 13, Cha 14, AL N) an aging, yet powerful centaur warrior, with greying black hair worn in a ponytail, who is never seen without his great spear and a rune carved hunting horn hanging from a leather string around his neck.

There is a third group of centaurs also living in these lands. These are the Clanless, a group consisting entirely of centaurs and chevalls many of whom are druids (See Monster Spellcaster Rules). These centaurs act as judges, sages, storytellers and healers and enjoy great respect from all centaurs. The most powerful of all the Clanless is the chevall druid Loshad (see B10). He was trained by a treant druid (Treant 10, Druid 7, HD 10, Hp 79 St 15, Dx 12, In 13, Wis 18, Co 13, Cha 14, AL N) known as Master Temor. Loshad works to protect horses, and preserve the peace between the centaurs. He hates the werewolves of the realm with a passion and has sometimes allied himself with werewolf hunters from Kelvin in order to destroy this evil.