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A theory on the Thyatian early centuries

by LoZompatore

What follows is an attempt to detail the origins of the Thyatian (and Kerendan and Hattian) people by assuming that all information found in the Great Library of Edairo (M5 module page 22) is true.
While I agree that the final result is debatable at best the speculations provided below may be of some interest the DMs wishing to add an aura of mystery and a few dark secrets to the three Thyatian tribes and to the overall conflict with the Alphatians.

Note: An early and much summarized version of this theory is also listed in the sidebar at the end of Threshold Magazine 15 article "A training day for the Typhatia's first wing".

Canon sources

Let's start with all the relevant quotes from canon sources, listed in what I feel is a suitable chronological order from the oldest to the most recent, approx. covering the BC 1000 - BC 600 timeframe. I added a few extra references to help fixing a timeline and to add other useful information.

1) The combined Cypri-Alphatians conquered their world and then extended their empire to other worlds near them... Distant colonies broke away from mother rule as the Alphatians' hold slackened. - DotE Player's Guide to Alphatia page 4

2) BC 1050: Odious experiments in Nithia turn Black Moon trolls into gnolls. Gnolls rebel; they escape and later invade Traladara. - GAZ 10 page 4

3) The Isle of Dawn has long been a nexus for contact with other worlds; first came the spider people to the high jungles and then the folk from the star kingdoms to form the dominions of Alphatia, Thyatis and Thothia (Visitors from the Beyond) - M5 page 22 Fragment #8

4) The Home Gate in the Isle of Night is located in the middle of the Night's Watch Plateau, corresponding to the Scar Mesa in the Prime Plane Isle of Dawn - M5 map of the Isle of Night page 24

5) Scar Mesa and the Scarlands are rugged broken lands, home both to fierce creatures and to excellent mineral resources. Wormholes here lead to the Elemental Plane of Earth. - M5 page 46

6) ...other planes and planets were opened to the incursions of the Nithian mages and priests (Some of the most ancient Nithian scrolls hint that the Alphatians were invited to colonize the Known World by the Nithians. Others refer to the Nithians aiding the Followers of Air in the struggle that destroyed Old Alphatia) - HWR2 Kingdom of Nithia DMís booklet page 2

7) BC 1000: In the time of the eleventh dwarven king, Blystar III, nonhuman tribal movements pit marauding tribes of orcs and goblins against the dwarves. This is the same tribal movement wave that sends the gnolls into ancient Traldar lands in what is now modern Karameikos. - GAZ6 page 45

8) The Northlands fell under Nithian domination around 1000 BC. The Nithians themselves showed little interest in these lands with their cool, wet climate and they avoided the highland wilderness out of fear of the hill gnoll and troll clans. While a few trading posts were established along the fjords and rivers, many Northlanders' only connection with the empire was when they or their kin were taken as slaves and transported to the Nithian Empire. - GAZ 7 page 4

9) BC 1000 ... The humans of the Northern Reaches areas are conquered and enslaved by the Nithian Empire. - HW Boxed Set DM's Manual page 14

10) In those days, Tokoramses V, the far traveller, pharaoh of all Thothia, the dream lands, and the northern provinces, laid claim to the frozen lands surrounding the Great Bay in the northlands. From even that great distance he could scry the flaming twins and their arc of fire (Thothian Annals, vol III) - M5 page 22 Fragment #2

11) "Although the trachery of the Thyatians can be traced to King Thyatis's mentor Alphaks..." - M5 page 22 Fragment #11

12) Meanwhile, the Fire Wizards decided to try to make peace. They rose against Alphaks, banished him, and made overtures of peace to the Air Wizards. But the Air Wizards, bitter at the destruction of their families and their world, rejected the offer. - - DotE Player's Guide to Alphatia page 5

13) "And there came from ether a migthy host of the lost on great airy winds. These settled in the east calling it Alphatia after their own lost land. Later, other refugees came in a fearsome chariot of fire. These built a smaller dominion in the west, calling it Thyatis after their leader" (The people from the Void, by Geshepsut, scribe to Tokoramses V) - M5 page 22 Fragment #3

14) Helskir... This region of the Isle of Dawn was settled by Alphatians 2,000 years ago. - PWAI page 41

15) The nightcrawler tunnels [below Lord Zaar manor in Helskir] lead into gray mist (etherealness), which soon solidifies into a tunnel again, opening on a great underground lake [Avernus] (at least 24 miles across). The shores of the lake are lined with shipwrecks. - M5 page 36

16) BC 1000 ... Gnolls invade Traldar lands. The Hutaakas retreat to their valley while the Traldar and gnolls practically annihilate one another. Many seafaring Traldar, led by a lesser king named Milen, flee south across the Sea of Dread and reach the southern continent to the east of what would later be called the Hinterlands. They travel far upriver, and establish a new kingdom there... - HW Boxed Set DM's Manual page 14

17) Around 1000 BC, when gnolls overran the Traldar lands of modern-day Karameikos, a Traldar king named Milen fled south with his people anoss the Sea ot Dread The sea voyage was dreadful; an enormous voracious fish unlike anything the Traldar people had seen hounded the immigrants' progress across the Sea. Hundreds of refugees, including the king, perished during the voyage.After many terrifying months battling the sea and the fish, the Traldar landed on the coast to the southeast of the modern day Hinterlands (this land has been deserted for about three centuries) - PWAIII page 21

18) BC 1000... The Nithians, made curious about the southern continent by the Traldar flight in that direction, transport many Northern Reaches slaves to Harbortown and thence to the southern continent, to colonize there. This is the southern limit of Nithian expansion, and isn't very successful. The Northern Reaches slaves soon rebel and slay their Nithian overlords. These tribes carve out their own territory in the southern continent, and are the forefathers of the Thyatian, Kerendan and Hattian tribes who later found the empire of Thyatis. - HW Boxed Set DM's Manual page 14

19) Long before the Thyatians learned to write, they lived on the southern continent. They weren't called Thyatians then; each tribe had its own name... In those times, the three greatest tribes were led by three brother-kings named Thyatis, Kerendas, and Hattias. - DotE Player's Guide to Thyatis page 3

20) There were no kings named Thyatis, Kerendas and Hattias. The tribes had borne those names for century or millennia already, having taken their names from far southern mountains where they used to dwell. - DotE DM's Manual page 4

21) Two thousand years ago, semi-sentient monsters such as trolls settled here [in the current kingdom of Limn] in great numbers. - - DotE Player's Guide to Alphatia page 9

22) "BC 800 Antalians" tag in Davania at the current location for the Thyatian Hinterlands - HW boxed set Outer World Post-Cataclysmic Migration map

23) BC 700: Thanatos, Immortal of the Sphere of Entropy, helped by the Immortal Ranivorus, corruprs the pharoh of the Nithians. The pharaoh turns the Nithian empire toward worship of Entropy. The Nithian colonists in Thothia turn away from the Entropic faith of their homeland and increasingly turn to a new form of mysticism. - HW Boxed Set DM's Manual page 14

24) In 600 BC, Milenian aggression drove three warrior tribes out of the northern jungle. The Thyatians, Kerendans, and Hattians migrated to Brun... - PWAIII page 21

25) Sailors of their day had discovered that a beautiful land lay to the north and north-east, and so the kings decided to forge themselves new kingdoms there. They built ships and sailed across the unfriendly body of water which separated the two lands. The crossing was long and dangerous, and great storms killed many tribesmen, so the waters were named the "Sea of Dread" by those who survived. - DotE Player's Guide to Thyatis

26) The Empire [of Milenia] spread through Davania's northeast region But in every seaside community, fishermen reported sighting an enormous fish... ...superstirious Milenians, remembering tales of the fish that pursued their ancestors on their journey across the Sea of Dread, refused to live near the coastline. The Empire retreated to the continent's interior... - PWAIII page 21

27) Not all these of Thyatian descent migrated north in those ancient times. Some tribes remained and were absorbed by the next wave of migrants, who loosely refer themselves as the Men of the Four Kingdoms in their own tongue. - DotE DM's Manual page 67

28) Toralai: These plains-dwelling tribes once lived in the land now called Thyatis; the late-arriving Thyatians, Kerendans, and Hattians drove them out of their own lands or conquered and assimilated them, all but the Toralai tribes transferred to the Hollow World. The Toralai are great runners and hunters of bison. They live in semipermanent villages of wood-frame huts covered in bison skins. They wear skin foot wraps instead of sandals. - HW Boxed Set DM's Manual page 91

29) Both Thyatis City and Hattias were at the fringes of Metropolitan Nithia borders. - GAZ 5 map on page 6

30) As the Nithian Empire fell into slow decline, the trader-colonists of Trader's Isle began their ascent. Calling themselves Minroth traders after the cult that had sprung up to honor the Nithian, they carried rare woods and handicrafts to peoples who lived on the shores of the Sea of Dread. Over the next centuries, trade developed between growing Thyatis and the islands. - GAZ 9 DM's Manual page 4


A possible tale of the Thyatian early centuries:

From pieces of info #3, #11 and #13 the Thyatians, Kerendans and Hattians (in the following named "the Thyatians" for brevity) were originally people from Old Alphatia, themselves a faction of the Followers of the Flame under the leadership of Emperor Alphaks (#11). They were led by three warrior kings of the Old Alphatian Empire named Thyatis, Kerendas and Hattias, (#19) with King Thyatis being possibly the most prominent (#11). They took part in the war against the Followers of the Air that ultimately lead to the defeat of the Followers of the Flame and the destruction of Old Alphatia.
The three leaders where among the first to repudiate Emperor Alphaks (#11, #12) and turned against him together with other factions of the Followers of the Flame. Treachery against Alphaks by the Thyatians cannot be ruled out (#11). While they were rebuffed by the Followers of the Air (#12) this early act of rebellion earned them asylum on Mystara by the Nithians who, as allied of the Followers of the Air (#6), were already busy in helping the Air Wizards (who possibly appeared on the Isle of Dawn over current Helskir from #3, #14 and #15 - consider also that air is dominant over water) settling Helskir (#14) and then the island-continent east of the Isle of Dawn.
The fact that the Thyatians were helped by the Nithians - instead of being enslaved by them - could be inferred by the sequence of the events: the Thyatians first appeared in Nithian-controlled territory over the Isle of Dawn (#3) and then moved to recently-settled Nithian areas in eastern Brun (#8, #9, #10,#13), suggesting some kind of agreement between the two people. Possibly the help provided by the Nithians to both factions was due to the fact that the very first Nithians actually came from Old Alphatia (#3), representing a splinter branch of Old Alphatians who migrated off-world around BC 1700 and later became independent from the Old Alphatian Empire (#1).
Whatever the reasons for Nithians' help the Thyatians conjured a great magical chariot of fire (#13) which brought them to the Isle of Dawn (#3, possibly appearing at the Great Mesa (from #4 and #5 - consider also that fire is dominant over earth), where the Nithians addressed them to the stretch of the eastern coast of Brun located between the Northern Reaches and Norwold (#8, #9, #15). This land was just recently opened for colonization by the Nithians (#8, #9, #10) and was large enough to accomodate all the refugees from Old Alphatia. The newly arrived possibly settled the land around the current city of Landfall, whose name acquires a rather deep meaning in the light of these findings.
Unfortunately, the Thyatians' stay in the new lands was very short-lived as, from the south, a large horde of gnolls approached the fledgling settlements (inferred by #7 and #8). The gnolls were created some decades before by foolish Nithian and hutaakan magical experiments (#2), then fled to the inner Northern Reaches where they multiplied uncontrolled for half a century, and finally dispersed into various hordes across the Known World and beyond. The Thyatians were still too weak and battle-weary to stand against the rampaging gnolls, so they asked again for Nithian help.
The Nithians already witnessed the genocidal war between gnolls, hutaakans and Traldars (#14) so they decided that direct confrontation with the humanoids over the newly-settled lands of Landfall was not the best course of action. The Traldar migration to the southern continent showed the Nithians that there were vast unpopulated coastal lands ripe for colonization (#15), so the Nithians decided to move the whole Thyatians and many of their Northern Reaches slaves there and establish new settlements in the south (#16).
The coastal city of Harbortown (current-day Minrothad) was used as a staging point for the migration (#16) but, in order to circumvent the dangerous crossing of the southern sea - at the time infested by the giant fish who decimated the Traldar exodus (#17) - the Nithians made large use of the flying chariot of fire of the Thyatians to move the bulk of the colonists.
Possibly some Thyatians stayed in Harbortown and made up part of the local population which, over time, diverged from pure Nithian stock. The bulk of the Thyatians was moved inland into northern Davania, close to three isolated mountains (#18) which represented the most significant landmarks of the region. The Nithians, with the hope of establishing sea reoutes with the mainland once the giant fish menace ended, settled along the coast and the main river.
The Nithian colony of Davania was thus succesfully established without losses, while the gnoll horde ransacked the empty settlements of the Thyatians in the Landfall region. After that they moved further north along central Norwold coast, where they displaced large groups of humanoids which ended up in the current Alphatian kingdom of Limn (#21).
To summarize the above points in a picture, political borders and migrations in and around the Nithian Empire as of BC 1000 could be as shown in figure below:

While a suitable location for the three mountains in my opinion may be as shown below (basic map excerpt from the excellent work of Christian Constantin):

While in Davania the Thyatians soon discovered that they were not treated anymore as equal by the Nithians who - in exchange for their help in saving the Thyatians from the gnolls - demanded to become the rulers of the new Davanian colony. Interference in Nithian-Thyatian relationships by the Followers of the Air who settled in the Alphatian continent cannot be ruled out, as no peace treaty was ever enforced between the two branches of Alphatian refugees (#12). The status of the Thyatians soon became similar to that of the Northern Reaches' slaves; disputes over Nithian access to the more advanced magic of the Thyatians (the chariot of fire above all) led to outright rebellion (#18), with the Northern Reaches slaves being likely fomented by the Thyatians against their masters.
The rebellion was swift and successful as the Thyatians hid the chariot of fire while to prevent it from being captured by the Nithians, while the outnumbered Nithans were not able to send significant reinforcements from the metrolpolitan lands due to the looming menace of the giant fish roaming the Sea of Dread (#17, #26). So the colony gained its independance, albeit at large cost for the Thyatians, who lost their best magic users (including their leaders, who were buried in the three mountains who took their names, #20) in countering their magical-strong Nithian opponents. Morevoer the newly-free Northern Reaches slaves did not accept a new servitude under the Thyatians, so the Davanian colony became fragmented into warring tribal lands. The Thyatians were forced to abandon their original settlements around the three mountains and pushed to the former coastline territories of the Nithians; in this process they lost most of their history and arcane knowledge and reverted to barbarism, to the point they even forgot their writing system (#19) and became much similar to the Antalian tribes surrounding them (#22). This could explain the conflicting theories about the origins of the Thyatian people widespread among the population in AC 1000 (#19, #20).
In order to feed their communities the Thyatians were forced to fish in the Davanian Shallows. The risk of impending attacks by the gargantuan fish made them daring and skilled sailors and competent shipwrigths (implied by #25; this could be true for the Kerendans and Thyatians, less so for the Hattians, who possibly settled more inland territories).
Around 600 BC the Thyatians made their well-known migration to the Known World pushed by Milenian aggression from the south (#24). The giant fish was still roaming the Sea of Dread (#26) but, thanks to the ability of the Thyatian sailors, the crossing was less dramatic than the Traldar one (#25). Some of the Thyatians stayed back on Davania and later merged with other people (#27), while the bulk of the migrating Thyatians settled in the lands of the primitive Toralai, who were led to extinction (#28). Given the final location of the Thyatians, Kerendans and Hattians - just at the fringes of the metropolitan Nithian Empire (#29) - it is possible to infer an explicit invitation by the Nithian pharaoh (or by some of his political rivals) to settle the Nithian borderlands. At that time the Nithian Empire was utterly corrupted by Thanatos and already suffered the Thothian schism (#23), so it is possible that the Nithian pharaoh (or his rivals) made use of the seafaring Thyatians as mercenaries against internal enemies or against independent Thothia. This could also explain the familiarity of the Thyatians with the seas around the Isle of Dawn, as in DotE Thyatian pirates seem to easily cross them to raid the Alphatian trade routes after the fall of Nithia.
The Thyatians were not involved in (or they resisted) the corruption by the Entropic Immortals that affected the Nithians and so they did not suffer the same fate as the Nithians, albeit Thanatos creeping presence in Thyatian society may be traced back to the final century of the Nithian Empire. Instead, in the final decades of the Nithian Empire the Thyatians they were helped by the now-independent Nithian colony of Harbortown and by the nearby elves of Alfeisle and prospered (#30).

Some remarks and further suggestions:

The theory above assumes that all the rest of the canon sources quoted in the first section are true, while it partly contradicts the sentence from DotE DM's Manual which states that: "There were no kings named Thyatis, Kerendas and Hattias. The tribes had borne those names for century or millennia already , having taken their names from far southern mountains where they used to dwell.".
This sentence is in contradiction anyway with the HW canon sources which maintain that the Thyatian tribes do not come from the far south but from people living on the coastal part of the Northern Reaches and were brought to Davania by the Nithians. So I don't think the contradiction of DotE is much of an issue. In the reconstruction above I did my best to keep both ideas about the three mountains and about the three battle brothers, by assuming that they refer to two different phases of the Thyatians' early vicissitudes.

In my opinion the theory above provides some interesting sparks for those wishing to add some deeper meaning to some parts of the setting.
For example:

- Alphaks favourite tactic (as also stated in M1 module) is to start a major conflict between Thyatians and Alphatians because, in this way, he may take ravenge on both his ancient enemies (the Followers of the Air-descended Alphatians) and on those who betrayed him (the Followers of the Flame-descended Thyatians).

- Thyatian expansion is not governed by chance but, instead, is focused on lands where an early Thyatian presence was established in the past, possibly with the secret aim of recovering the ancient lost lore of their ancestors. The truth abouth the ancient Thyatians may be known only to the most erudite scholars and to the upper echelons of Thyatian elite, and this information is kept strictly secret. Thyatian commoners just believe the empire needs more lands to expand, possibly at the expenses of their Alphatian arch-enemies.

- The colony of Oceansend might be established in AC 900 with the purpose of recovering ancient Thyatian lore in mind; if the Nithians were generous in providing lands to the ancient Thyatians refugees like they were with the Alphatians then we could assume that the original land granted to the Thyatians stretched from Freiburg to Oceansed, as a buffer placed between the Nithian colonies of the Northern Reaches and of the Great Bay. Possible assigment could have been as follows: current Freiburg to the Hattians; current Landfall to the Thyatians; current Oceansend to the Kerendans. This would also introduce some hidden reasons for the Knigths of Vanya conquest of the Heldann Freeholds and for the Thyatian attempted invasion of Norwold described in CM1 and M2 modules.

- Expanding on point above, canon sources states that the Heldannic Knights are just following the Immortal Vanya's dictates in their path of conquest of south-central Norwold. By the end of AC 1012 the Heldannic Knights could have conquered all the original territory of the ancient Thyatian Mandate originally granted by the Nithians, so their path of conquest may be ended for good. This could be part of a project by Vanya to establish a Great Thyatian empire comprising all the ancient lands of the Thyatians in Norwold, in the Known World and in Davania. As an alternative theory Vanya, disillusioned by Thyatian treachery and decadence, wishes to establish a new country where the ancient martial values of the Thyatian (the same values she followed during her mortal life in Davania of BC 600) are represented without the corruption lingering in Thyatis City.

- Ancient Thyatian ruins may be found below Freiburg, Landfall, Oceansend, Minrothad City, Raven Scarp and other places in Davania, providing a whole new layer to the history of these places and new places to explore in these locations by daring adventurers.

- Ancient Alphatian ruins dating back to the Followers fo the Air arrival on Mystara may be found below Helskir, possibly below the hill of Eerul Zaar manor. This is also where the extraplanar tunnels to Avernus are located.

- Possession of the extraplanar gates of Helskir and the Scar Mesa on the Isle of Dawn may provide an advantage over the rival Empire, thus explaining part of the fighting for these lands, which are among the most contested between the two Empires. According to M5 from Helskir it is possible to reach the lake of Avernus through the Ethereal Plane; similar planar connections link Avernus with the plane of Thorne and with the settlements of Aran and Kenaton on the Thothian Plateau. The lake may be reached someway also by sea, given the large number of shipwrecks found on its shores (even if such shipwreks may be made of flying ships abandoned by the Followers of the Air once they reached the lake). The Avernus lake seems to be some kind of extraplanar nexus connecting many places on the Prime Plane and other Planes.

- The most ancient language and writing system used by the Thyatians would actually be... the Old Alphatian! Current Thyatian language evolved after prolonged exposition to Northern Reaches speech (i.e. Antalian, which is a Neathar dialect), while writing skills were lost on Davania and then recovered (using a different writing system) in the Known World, likely thanks to the aid of Nithians and elves living in current Minrothad archipelago. No surprise that a Thyatian scholar of AC 1000 would not recognize an ancient Thyatian writing discovered among forgotten ruins in Davania or in Norwold because, being it written in Alphatian, most often than not the scholar will assume the writing actually refers to ancient Alphatian history. This is part of the confusion over the lost origins of the Thyatians.

- Some math using TM2 and DotE values show that Alphatia has at least 1000 36th-level magic users within a population of at least 5'800'000 people (i.e. one 36th level magic user every 5800 people). There may be more than 1000 36th level magic users on the Alphatian empire but, on the other hand, TM2 says that the population of metropolitan Alphatia may be up to three times the listed value, so let's stick with the ratio calculated above. On its part, Thyatis has 250 36th level magic-users (mostly confined in Sclaras) within a metropolitan population of 3'200'000 people, i.e. one 36th level magic user every 12800 people. So the Thyatians produce about half of the magic users of the Alphatians which, to me, looks like a pretty high number for a people mostly devoted to development of martial skills.
While this result is likely due to an oversight by game developers it could be exploited to support the Alphatian lineage of the Thyatian people, by suggesting that the ancient Old Alphatian blood produces a larger than usual amount of magic-users also among the Thyatians. The Thyatian government is not interested in screening all the population for magical abilities, and all people who master the ultimate level of magical arts are strictly controlled by the Empire and confined to the relatively small (compared to Alphatian standards) estates of the island of Sclaras, away from the eyes of the commoners. It could be inferred that the Thyatian goverment does not wish to publicize the larger than usual amount of magically-gifted people among the population. While the Empire recognizes the usefulness of magical powers agains the enemies, study of magic is encouraged only for the most promising (and loyal to the Empire) individuals, which are always kept under a stern surveillance by Thyatian officers and are not allowed the same degree of freedom of their Alphatian colleagues.

- The chariot of fire may be buried somewhere in Davania, possibly beneath one of the three sacred mountains of the Thyatians where, likely, the tree original leaders of the migration from Old Alphatia are also buried. Who knows which arcane treasures are stored in the three tombs, waiting for some daring explorers to bring them back to the light and to their rightful owners...