Atlas Rules Resources Adventures Stories FAQ Search Links
Engdyr’s Gameby John Calvin from Threshold Magazine issue 16
A Mystara 2300 BC Adventure Path
[Image: Engdyr’s Game AP]
The Engdyr’s Game Adventure Path will take PCs on a journey through the Shimmering Lands and introduce them to the bizarre and fantastic technomagical world of the Moadreg dwarves, last inheritors of ancient Blackmoor. They will contend with the mad dwarven elder, Engdyr Heldfyst, and his plot to silence all living things within his domain. However, even as Engdyr attempts to remove the hateful living creatures around him, a new form of life may be stirring… one created by accident, by the mad dwarf himself.
This adventure path is intended to introduce DMs and Players to the Mystara 2300 BC setting in general, and to the Shimmering Lands and its inhabitants specifically. Players will start on the plains of the northern province of Kargthyne, but from there they will be sent across the dwarven nation. During their journeys the PCs will be introduced to all facets of life in the Shimmering Lands, from the fiery forges of the Yardrak dwarves in Himmevand to the gnomish controlled hills of Qivar. As their careers advance, PCs may have the opportunity to gain dominions of their own within the dwarven lands, meeting the movers and shakers of the Elder Conclave and even possibly determining the fate of the dwarven nation on Brun.
Articles comprising this adventure path will attempt to provide much of the information required to run a campaign in these lands, however it will be impossible to cover all aspects of game play and the source material. Additional references can be found in the following sources:
[Image: Mystara 2300 BC Overview]
Mystara 2300 BC Campaign Setting Overview [http://pandius.com/Mystara2300BC_SettingOverview.pdf]
GazBC 1, The Shimmering Lands DM's Guide [http://pandius.com/GazBC1_DMs.pdf]
GazBC 1, The Shimmering Lands Player's Guide [http://pandius.com/GazBC1_Players.pdf]
Map of the Shimmering Lands [http://pandius.com/m_shiml.html]
[Sidebar: Game Mechanics]
The World of Mystara 2300 BC
The Mystara 2300 BC campaign setting is a dark and foreboding world, full of despotic oppressive rulers trying to hold on to their increasingly tenuous rule with increasingly brutal methods. It is a post cataclysmic world, where the golden age of yesteryear and the advancements of Blackmoor can still be remembered, firsthand in some cases. It is a world brimming with suffering and struggle, but it is also a world of hope.
Only 700 years after the Great Rain of Fire, Mystara is just starting to recover from the catastrophe. New nations and cultures have emerged from the ashes of destruction, despite the dreaded Wasting disease that has continued to plague the Known World since Blackmoor was destroyed. Now, however, the power of the Wasting is waning, and for the first time in centuries Mystarans are beginning to see the faint gleam of hope.
Not all welcome this new world of hope however. In the face of the Wasting, many nations were forced to take drastic measures, lest their culture wither and die entirely. Some sought solace in the darkness of undeath, while others fled underground and petitioned the forces of entropy for sustenance, and still some few clung onto their belief in Blackmoorian technology – something that only worsened their personal plagues. Now those who fought for their nation’s existence, those who fought so hard to survive, are faced with the fact that their world is changing. They are no longer needed… and no longer wanted, for their choices brought other plagues onto their people nearly as unbearable as the Wasting.
The Shimmering Lands
The dwarves of the Shimmering Lands, or the Moadreg as they call themselves, colonized the lands that would later be Rockhome, the Northern Reaches, and portions of Ethengar circa BC 2500. The Moadreg however, are not a monolithic people, for their culture is comprised from several different dwarven nations, gnomes, and even giantkin and other folk.
In the dark years and decades following the Great Rain of Fire, even just surviving seemed a hopeless endeavour. Dwarves, no matter where they originate from, are stubborn, and before coming together in the Shimmering Lands they had found several solutions to their problem. The Yardrak dwarves of northern Brun turned to dark powers and entropic forces deep below their frozen homeland. They pledged their service, and their lives to these powers and in return were spared the worst effects of the Wasting. Likewise the dwarves of Karlheig made pacts with other worldly creatures while those of Hurgon sought succor on the Shadow Plane for a time. Felwig dwarves, those few who actually survived the death of Blackmoor, clung to their broken technology.
While the threat of the Wasting has lessened, and the prospects for survival are no longer as bleak as the once were, the baggage that these dwarven clans brought to the Shimmering Lands still remains. The pressures of entropic pacts, other worldly influences, and radiance soaked technology has left the dwarves of the Shimmering lands in a tenuous position. Many are paranoid hermits, desperately trying to maintain their own sanity, and their culture shows this.
Not all hope is lost for the dwarves and their ilk. Leaders such as Dranwyrf Korrskill and immortals such as Kagyar, still strive to save their chosen people. It is from this atmosphere that the dwarven heroes of the time must arise. Will they slip into madness and follow in the steps of Engdyr Heldfyst, or will they rise to the challenge of saving their people and side with Kagyar and his followers? Only time… and the choices of the PCs, will decide.
Engdyr’s Game Adventure Path
Engdyr Heldfyst, one of the founding elders of the Shimmering Lands and master radiomancer, has long been suffering from radiance induced madness. Fearing that the thoughts of other living creatures will somehow infect him, he has locked himself away in an estate populated by automata and constructs. Recently, however, his agents have found an ancient stronghold in the Aether near the mountain of Hrokyrdran1, and Engdyr has devised a more permanent solution to his problems. He plans to turn the ancient machinery in Hrokyrdran into a weapon capable of destroying all life in the Shimmering Lands.
The PCs will stumble upon Engdyr’s plans while investigating the ruins of Layhash. From there the PCs will journey into the Aether, discovering the Blackmoorian facility and using it to travel across the dwarven realm. Once the full extent of Engdyr’s madness is known to them, the PC’s must rush back the Hrokyrdran and confront the crazed elder.
With Engdyr defeated, the PCs will be free to strengthen their positions in the Shimmering Lands. Some may come to be masters of their own estates, or even be elevated to the Elder Conclave in place of Engdyr. This relative peace however, will not last long. Ultimately, the PCs will need to decide the fate of the Shimmering Lands, and of the dwarven people. Will they choose to fall into darkness, or will they side with new Immortals and bring the Shimmering Lands back into the light?
[Image: Map of the Shimmering Lands]
Part I: Grondheim’s Folly
While exploring the abandoned Estate of Layhash, the PCs stumble upon a treacherous plot from Grondheim. Unfortunately for the agents of the Troll Queen, they themselves have blundered into the middle of more nefarious dealings. Engdyr Heldfyst, one of the founding members of the Elder Conclave of the Shimmering Lands, has recently found an ancient Blackmoorian outpost, and is probing it for its secrets.
The PCs must put an end to the plotting from Grondheim, and in the process clear out the abandoned estate of Layhash.
Changelings of Grondheim: The giants and fey of Grondheim have been enemies of the dwarves since before they colonized the Shimmering Lands. Changelings, fey who look like dwarves, have established a base in Layhash and are attempting to infiltrate dwarven society to cause havoc.
Undead Aetheric Spiders: Once the backbone of Blackmoor’s Aetheric network, the otherworldly spiders have only recently been twisted by dwarven magic and unleashed on an unsuspecting populace. Their motives may remain unknown, but one thing is certain… they are expanding their territory.
Sentinel of the Dusk: Those who join the Sentinels are members of a secretive society and military order based out of Mount Hrokyrdran (which will one day become the World Mountain in Ethengar). Whatever is happening near Layhash and in the conjoining Aetheric, the Sentinels play some role.
Part I of the Engdyr’s Game Adventure Path, is designed to introduce PCs to the Mystara 2300 BC setting and the borderlands of the Shimmering Lands. At the same time it can also be used to showcase the lifestyle of the Moadreg (one of solitude, reflection, and study), and some of their staunchest enemies including Grondheim, extraplanar entities, and even the dwarves themselves.
The newly liberated ruins of Layhash may lead PCs to new and exciting discoveries, revealing ancient weapon caches and unthought of magical equipment. Once cleared the estate may be used as a base of operations by the PCs and may eventually be an available dominion.
At its heart, this is a wilderness exploration adventure, where the PCs can have some real skin in the game, and a real opportunity to break into the political arena of the Shimmering Lands.
Part II: Aetheric Invasion
Exploring an aetheric portal near the Estate of Layhash, the PCs are led to an ancient Blackmoorian facility now under the control of Engdyr Heldfyst. In trying to occupy the facility he and his soldiers inadvertently unleashed ancient horrors upon the land. Engdyr asks the PCs for their help, and using the facility, sends them through the Aetheric to the far corners of the Shimmering Lands.
The PCs must journey across the land, putting an end to the depredations of aetheric predators and rogue elements from Engdyr’s entourage.
Fire Giants: Holdouts from when the Troll Queen conquered Grondheim, these fire giants quietly plot their revenge upon both Grondheim and their hated dwarven neighbors. Should they be able to relearn the lost art of ironcraft from the dwarves, they may be able to realize their dreams.
Shades of Hrokyrdran: Shadows of their former selves, barely aware of their past lives in Blackmoor, the group of shades from Hrokyrdran are intent on re-establishing their former glory. Should they be able to overthrow the Dream Guard in Qifhyeld, their own dreams may come true.
Cultists of Zugzul: Cultists of Zugzul have been suppressing a rival sect based out of Abhuld for decades, but finally they have had enough. When the dispute between the two groups turns violent, hundreds of innocent dwarves may be caught in the crosshairs… but who is in the right, the Cult of Zugzul or followers of the new Way of the Stone?
[Image: Fire Cultists of Zugzul]
Part II of the Engdyr’s Game Adventure Path is designed to showcase the history and heritage of the dwarves who founded the Shimmering Lands. At the same time it can also be used to explore general Mystaran history, the Great Rain of Fire, and how Blackmoorian technology led to the destruction of the world.
As the PCs use aetheric portals to traverse across the Shimmering Lands they will meet and interact with many of the sub-cultures that comprise Moadreg society. Not only will they face dangers and trials on their journey, but they will also have the opportunity to make allies… allies who will be much needed as their adventures progress.
At its heart, these adventures are city and dungeon crawls where the PCs can meet many of the important personalities of the Shimmering Lands and build their political cache.
Part III: Light at the Tunnel’s End
As the Tide of the Shimmering Gate2 nears, Engdyr puts his plans in motion. He siphons the radiance from the Gate of Light to the lone mountain of Hrokyrdran, powering eldritch machines of mass destruction. Should the machines reach critical mass, Engdyr will use the aether hub to send their destructive energies across the Shimmering Lands, killing thousands.
The PCs must cut the connection between Hrokyrdran and the Gate of Light, and gather their allies to help them put an end to Engdyr’s reign of terror.
Radiomancers of Himnem: One of the most powerful groups in the Shimmering Lands, the Radiomancers of Himnem literally crafted the Gate of Light with their own hands… and many owe a debt to Engdyr Heldfyst, formerly one of their own.
Aetheric Horrors: Engdyr’s experiments on the aetheric spiders have yielded many results, some more potent than others. His monstrous creations have been unleashed upon the Shimmering Lands in order to buy the mad elder time to complete his plot.
Engdyr Heldfyst: To defeat Engdyr’s schemes the PCs will ultimately need to confront the mad elder himself. Once their former patron, Engdyr knows many of their secrets and will not be easily vanquished.
Part III of the Engdyr’s Game Adventure Path is designed as the culminating battle between the PCs and the mad elder Engdyr Heldfyst. Obsessed with silencing all other thinking creatures around him, Engdyr has embarked on a path of mass destruction and no amount of reasoning will dissuade him.
Engdyr’s defeat will create a power vacuum in the Shimmering Lands political arena… a vacuum that the PCs may be able to fill. By now they will be hobnobbing with the movers and shakers of the Shimmering Lands, including many members of the Elder Conclave and possibly even Dranwyrf Korrskill. They should have the opportunity to create real change in the nation.
At its heart this adventure is designed to the culmination in the battle between Engdyr and the PCs. Should they succeed, the PCs will be hailed as heroes by all around them, and reap the rewards that come with their new status.
Part IV: End (of the World) Game
With Engdyr gone, life in the Shimmering Lands can go back to normal… at least for a time. As the PCs and their allies fall back into their daily routines, ancient powers awakened by Engdyr’s machinations, once again begin to stir. Vying for power, and the fate of the Shimmering Lands, these immortal beings begin moving their pawns into position and prepare to execute their master strokes.
The PCs must confront some of the most powerful entities in the world, or risk losing everything that they have built up to this point, however they are not alone. Others also strive behind the scenes to change the Shimmering Lands for the better.
Zugzul: Once a power in ancient Blackmoor, Zugzul lost many of his followers during the Great Rain of Fire. He does not intend to lose the populace of the Shimmering Lands to neophyte upstarts like Kagyar and Garl Glitterlode.
Slizzark: Something rotten has been corrupting the dwarves on Brun for decades… and that something is Slizzark. What his plans for the dwarves are is unclear, but should he succeed the Shimmering Lands will never be the same again.
[Image: Egg of Coot]
Echoes of the Egg: Remnants of Engdyr’s experiments still stir in the Aetheric, but they no longer behave as mindless beasts. Something dark is waking up within them, something that has walked these lands before. Should the Egg of Coot emerge once again the catastrophe could be worse than the Great Rain of Fire!
Part IV of the Engdyr’s Game Adventure Path is designed as an introduction to the paths of immortality for characters in the Mystara 2300 BC setting. It can be used as a showcase to introduce players to the wide possibilities that the multiverse has to offer, and all of the Immortal intrigue that comes with such power.
As the PCs struggle to effect changes in the Shimmering Lands, and expand their own power bases, they will encounter entities with far greater power that their own. To save the Shimmering Lands, and the people who live there, the PCs may need to challenge the Immortals themselves.
Concluding the Campaign
PCs who survive this adventure path will surely be among the movers and shakers of the Shimmering Lands, and will have the opportunity to mold that nation to their liking. Will they side with the ancient Immortals of Blackmoor, or the new Immortals of the Way of Stone?
Although the intention is to run characters native to the Mystara 2300 BC setting through this adventure path, some groups may want to use characters from Mystara’s modern era. This can be accomplished in any number of ways, most prominently by using the Comeback Inn3 as a time travelling device. Such characters may have a slight advantage over native groups (modern era characters will have access to iron and steel level weapons) but the adjustments needed should be minimal.
See Threshold #12 for more ideas about how characters can travel through time in Mystara.
This campaign is designed to be run within the dwarven controlled Shimmering Lands, however there are many options when it comes to character creation. Dwarven characters have the potential to receive the greatest rewards from this adventure, especially with respect to dominion rewards later in the adventure path, however many creatures live, work, and prosper within their lands.
The dwarves first journeyed to Norwold over the Ostland land bridge from the Dawn Lands. Forced to leave their native lands by the dreaded Wasting, a disease that slowly eats away mind, body, and soul, the dwarves have only recently found a new home to call their own. Initially claiming the colder northern realms of Brun, the dwarves have been fighting a losing battle with the native inhabitants of that realm, mostly tribes of elves and giant-kin. Finally driven to desperation the disparate clans have begun to combine their efforts in defense of their new lands and are beginning to hold their own.
Most dwarves prefer to live quiet and isolated lives in secluded estates hidden in the wilderness. Those that cannot be masters of their own domains swear fealty to those that can. Even so, the population that makes up dwarven estates is only a fraction of the total. Dwarves who are underprivileged and unlucky enough not to have the money or means for solitude end up living in the few scattered cities of the Shimmering Lands.
Dwarven culture is not monolithic, but instead made up of several varied beliefs that have meshed together throughout the years as different dwarven clans merged throughout the long pilgrimage that brought them to Brun. One thing that they all have in common though is the dreaded Wasting disease. It is a plague brought with them from their ancestral lands in Skothar and affects all dwarves in some shape or form. The most common manifestation of the Wasting is physical deformities, though mental deterioration often takes hold in older generations as well.
Dwarven Characters: Dwarves are thoughtful and studious. They excel in the arcane arts and many strive to become wizards and artificers. Martial arts also come easily to dwarves leading many to take up the profession of soldier or guard in the service of a dwarven elder.
Magical experiments and breeding programs of the dwarves have created a race of hardy and obedient servants. Although still large, the giantkin do not tower over the smaller races as their ancestors did and kin to the north still do to this day. Giantkin stand 8 to 10 feet tall with corded muscles throughout their bodies.
Though many of their kin remain slaves to the dwarves, a few of their number have been granted their freedom and have chosen to remain in the Shimmering Lands, to eek out their own existence. This commonly occurs with the demise of their current master, as few dwarves are concerned enough with the fate of one of their fellow’s slaves (being concerned more with the fate of their own slaves) to re-establish mastery. Many giantkin end up in the few organized settlements scattered throughout the Shimmering Lands. Although they hold little love for dwarves, they find that gnomes are tolerable enough and often get along well with the smaller creatures.
Giantkin Characters: Giantkin are known mainly for their strength, and many often find service as warriors or soldiers. Being less disciplined than their dwarven compatriots, some are known to fly into berserker rages during combat.
Gnomes migrated to these lands from the frozen northwest. Those that have settled in Moadreg lands are treated as near equals by the dwarves. The gnomes are hardy and can endure the harsh conditions of the world, and as such they take on all societal roles that the dwarves either shun or are unable to perform.
Many swear fealty to one of the dwarven Houses and serve them directly, though most gnomes are content to live on the surface of the land, beholden to the dwarves but for the most part left largely to their own devices. In fact gnomes hold many positions of prominence in the Shimmering Lands and are largely responsible for keeping the country cohesive. They are the merchants, tradesmen, and administrators of the country.
Like the dwarves, gnomish culture is a union created from several different tribes. Unlike the dwarvish culture however there are many commonalities between the tribes that bring the gnomes closer together. Gnomes tend to enjoy the company of their peers, and often work together – even when a single gnome is enough to accomplish the task at hand. The gnomes of the Shimmering Lands also hold a singular distinction, of all of the (flesh and blood) races in Brun, the gnomes are the only one that has proven resistant to the Wasting. Whether this is a cause of their fey heritage or some other factor is unknown.
Gnomish Characters: Like dwarves, the gnomes of the Shimmering Lands tend to gravitate toward the arcane arts. Many are practiced wizards and sorcerers. Gnomes often find service as advisors, counselors, and scholars, and many have an affinity for creating mechanical contraptions.
[Sidebar: Using Ghostwalk with Mystara 2300 BC]
These creatures hail from the Gate of Light, and from the Blighted Lands beyond. While at times they can appear substantial, they are in fact mere shades of living dwarves. Many are ancestors of the dwarves who first began the migration to Brun, but did not make it to their promised land.
Drawn to the radiance in all of its forms, shades require that magical substance in order to survive. With the radiance nearby, shades take on a more solid existence and can interact with their surroundings just as well as the truly living can. As the power of the radiance fades, so too do shades, becoming little more than insubstantial shadows. Despite this, they are valued members of society. Shades are revered and consulted as oracles in some communities. Their ties to the past make them excellent guides for the future.
Shade Characters: Shades come from all walks of life, but their incorporeality makes them especially good at serving as thieves and spies.
[Sidebar: Using Eberron with Mystara 2300 BC]
The soulbound appear to be constructs made of stone, metal, and even sometimes pieces of wood and other materials. Often they are shaped in the likeness of a great dwarf warrior or mage and are encrusted with jewels and precious metals of all kinds. These are living constructs, that have been imbued with the soul of a Moadreg dwarf whose body was too weak or frail to continue its existence on its own.
All soulbound bodies have one thing in common, a large centralized crystal, most often embedded in their torso, which is the receptacle for housing the dwarven soul. The transference process is difficult, and many dwarves lose their memories once placed into their new bodies, at least for the short term. In some cases, over time, a soulbound may come to remember its former life, but most often they continue in their new existence without much thought for the past.
Every hundred years a soulbound must be infused with the power of the Radiance, or it will cease to function. Unknown to the dwarves, each time this is done, a portion of the soulbound’s soul is consumed. Over time this loss of soul leads to increasingly chaotic behavior and eventually insanity.
Soulbound Characters: Essentially dwarves “reborn” into stone bodies, the soulbound have many of the same affinities, becoming wizards and scholars. Their sturdy bodies also make them adept warriors.
[Image: Tiefling Dwarf]
The results of unions between dwarves and other worldly creatures, tieflings have become more prominent in the Shimmering Lands, especially in locales where Yardrak dwarves hold sway. In many instances these tieflings are nearly indistinguishable from other dwarves, especially considering the heavy and concealing clothing that most dwarves wear.
Although tieflings of the Shimmering Lands may have the appearances of their dwarven brethren, their outlook on life is very different. Of all the dwarf-kin, tieflings are by far the most social, even rivaling the cooperative behavior of the gnomes. Unfortunately for those around them, most tieflings are less altruistic than their gnomish neighbors. Though some are able to overcome the urges of their heritage, most are thoroughly and unrepentantly evil.
Tiefling Characters: Like many dwarves, tieflings may tend to gravitate toward the arcane and martial arts. Unlike their pure brethren however, many tieflings also have an affinity toward the spiritual realms, becoming acolytes and priests in the various religious orders throughout the Shimmering Lands.
Antalians are the predominant race in the freezing north, and the undisputed rulers of Thaul. They tend to be tall with fair complexions and light hair color, though rumors abound that in some their veins flow with ice water giving them a deathly blue pall (possibly having genasi heritage). Antalians tend to be grim and stoic in battle, but are prone to cheer and festivity when the occasion calls.
Though traditionally seen as enemies of the Shimmering Lands, many Antalians may be found in the northern regions of that land, serving as merchants or mercenaries.
Humanoids of Urzud
Beastmen are a varied and chaotic race, and it is said that no two are born alike. Although the old chaotic blood is still evident, it is no longer as potent as it once was. New bloodlines have appeared and are breeding true.
Burly, muscled orcs, as tall as most humans, but much bulkier are brutal warriors and effective tacticians. They might have overrun the city ages ago if it weren’t for their hatred of the sunlight. Weak eyes make it difficult for them to function when the sun is out, or even with bright light shining.
Goblins have no such impediment, although they are small and sinewy compared to their larger cousins. Masters of stealth and trickery, goblins also have a knack with ancient Blackmoorian artifacts, though their countenance tends to be cowardly.
Wargs are more bestial in appearance and nature, though far less chaotic than the original beastman bloodlines. They are as large, or larger, than orcs with thick gray fur, heavy black claws, and wolf-like maws, though their twisted bodies rarely allow them to stand upright. Many are just as comfortable moving on four limbs as on two.
Humanoids often serve as dwarven mercenaries, especially outside of the Shimmering Lands, but can sometimes also be found within the borders of that nation. Generally they are more common in the northern and western regions of the country.
Lizardfolk of Mogreth
Troglodytes and lizard men are the most numerous races in Mogreth, and the former are the backbone of society. These two races are found in all castes (although troglodytes are more concentrated at the lower levels), and performing almost every profession. Of the two, lizard men tend to be more outgoing and social, and are more similar to humans in terms of behavior. Most Mogrethians encountered abroad are lizard men. Troglodytes tend to be more taciturn – but this is also a reflection of their preference for communicating through scent.
Frogfolk are the most uncommon inhabitants of Mogreth, and they consider themselves to be in many ways superior to their saurial neighbors. They claim descent from an empire that predated Mogreth by millennia, and maintain their own institutions, language, and traditions in their villages on the swampy Issus River Delta. Despite their strongly isolationist tendencies, the frogfolk are tolerated by the lizard men because they tend to be competent, loyal administrators, and their spiritual inclinations have led many into clerical professions.
Relations between Mogreth and the Shimmering Lands are generally cordial, and the lizardfolk and their kin are not uncommon in dwarf lands, especially in the south. Many of the lizardfolk visiting dwarven lands are merchants and mercenaries.
The scattered remnants of Grunland's failed colony to Blackmoor have managed to survive in these hostile lands. Beset on all sides by enemies who blame them for the Great Rain of Fire, many struggle to eke out a living from the harsh land. While some of their kin fled underground to avoid the Wasting disease that followed, the northern elves weathered the plague on the surface.
These elves include the Geffronnel and other clans that will eventually go on to help form the nation of Wendar. In the BC 2300 era the Geffronnel elves have been magically put to sleep by the fey prince Shurmaleigh, although a few other scattered clans remain awake.
Of all the peoples in the Known World, the elves are the most unwelcomed in dwarven lands. Still blamed for the Great Rain of Fire, few elves will find friendly faces among the dwarves. They may be tolerated in borderland communities, or just as easily targeted for violence.
Adventuring in Mystara 2300 BC
While still Mystara, the 2300 BC setting differs from the modern era in several significant ways. The following text describes some of the largest differences. For more information see the Mystara 2300 BC Campaign Setting Overview [http://pandius.com/Mystara2300BC_SettingOverview.pdf] document.
The Common Tongue
No single language is spoken across the entirety of Brun, however several languages are commonly known in certain areas and these are typically used when communicating with members of foreign nations. In practice, very general terms and emotional states can be communicated cross culturally by the folk living within a single region. Communicating more complex ideas however, may be problematic.
Within the Shimmering Lands most inhabitants speak a form of derived Thonian. Some dwarven populations, especially in the north, are also fluent in the Antalian tongue.
The root of the Antalian tongue is shared by many cultures in northern Brun. For centuries, even before the Great Rain of Fire, dwarves living on Brun absorbed and adapted portions of the language as their own. Likewise, giantish folk of Grondheim, as well as several other giant kingdoms, had very close interactions with the ancestors of the Antalians. Even the beastmen of Urzud have picked up a smattering of Antalian which they use whenever communicating with potential employers in Antalian lands or the Shimmering Lands.
Many folk in the area, and indeed across the globe, speak some form of language derived from the Thonian tongue. Although these languages have had more than 700 years to drift apart, basic concepts can still be understood across cultures. Descendants of Skotharian dwarves, speak this language in the Shimmering Lands, as do the Makers in Teknuria and most folk that they have contact with (including those on the Corsair Isles and in the Frontierlands). Creatures of Mogreth remember some Thonian from ancient times, and use that to communicate with their neighbors.
Adhuzan is really a patois created from the mixing of Azcan, Oltec, and Aquan tongues, along with a few other languages from northern Davania. This is spoken and understood nearly everywhere Adhuzan merchants can be found from the southern coastal regions of Brun and across the Sea of Dread into northern Davania. Taymoran and Elven merchants in the area learn the language of necessity, though for the latter it is distasteful to their tongues. Enough Azcan can be teased from the language that the Inti can speak it haltingly as well.
Coins in this time period vary greatly, although there are some typical denominations that can be found throughout the Shimmering Lands.
Hacksilver is the most common form of currency in Antalian lands, along with the bartering of jewelry and gems, and various ancient coins. The northern regions of the Shimmering Lands may also see such currency.
Early dwarven coins from across Brun and Skothar are still commonly used as currency in the Shimmering Lands. A few of the larger gnomish communities (including Fyngul, Gnen, and Gromhyeld) also mint their own coins, mainly in copper and silver, as do many of the Yardrak communities. Coins of “red gold” are typically exchanged amongst the Yardrak, though few others are willing to accept such payment for fear that Yardrak gold is cursed.
Each of the queens mint their own coins, with most using a standard weighting system. Generally the queen’s face appears on the obverse while the symbol of her city appears on the reverse. Some Taymoran coins radiate faint necromantic magic. These Blood Coins have been infused with Taymoran blood which the populace uses to pay their Blood Tax for continued respite from the Wasting.
Though quite distant from the Shimmering Lands, currency from Intua occasionally makes its way to the dwarves. Beads and spindles of marble, jade, and copper are most common but valued poorly by the more civilized dwarves. Of more interest, and value, are the large golden sun disks that the Inti nobility use.
Ancient coins, both known and mysterious, still abound throughout the Known World, and the Shimmering Lands sees its fair share of this currency. Most hold little intrinsic value outside of the metals they are cast from, however some may hold more value to historians and collectors.
Weapons and Tools
While the modern era of Mystara assumes that most cultures possess iron age weapons, the world of Mystara 2300 BC is slightly more primitive. Much of the knowledge and technology of Blackmoor has been lost since the destruction caused by the Great Rain of Fire.
Most weapons in Mystara 2300 BC are crafted from bronze. DMs may decide how to treat Bronze Age weaponry as they see fit. There are rules from the Hollow World Campaign Setting regarding less advanced weaponry, or they may apply a simple damage reduction modifier to all standard weapons in order to simulate bronze weapons as opposed to those made from iron and steel.
As the inheritors of Blackmoor’s legacy, the dwarves have been able to maintain certain crafts lost to most other civilizations in the Known World, chief among them the working of iron. This is a tightly guarded secret among the dwarves, specifically those in southern Himmevand who still craft iron weapons for use against the giants and fey of Grondheim. This technology won’t become widespread again for another 300 years or more, when the smiths of Nithia once again rediscover the techniques.
Mounts and Transportation
The use of horses as mounts was not practiced on Brun until after BC 1675, when Tahkati Stormtamer of the Atruaghin Clans first domesticates the animal. Instead, the folk of this period have other means of transportation.
Horses and Ponies
Used mainly as draft animals in the Shimmering Lands, these animals are fairly rare, and represent all of the Blackmoorian stock that could be saved by dwarves migrating from Skothar. The dwarves take great pride in the bloodlines of these creatures and are loath to part with any of them.
The use of these large goats was brought into the area by dwarves migrating from northern Brun. They are hardy animals that can survive in some of the most inhospitable conditions. Dire goats mainly serve as mounts in mountainous or rocky terrain, where their sure footing makes them indispensable.
[Image: Wolf Rider]
Savage and brutal, dire wolves are the mount of choice in the colder northern lands. The Beastmen of Urzud favor these creatures above all others, but their use extends even into Antalian lands, and sometimes beyond. They are also the favored mounts of Taymoran nobility, though the southern breed is somewhat smaller than the northern.
Selectively bred from captured dire wolves, many varieties of hounds serve as mounts across the nations of Brun. These are the mount of choice for warriors and knights, since hounds can be trained to compliment their master’s battle techniques in combat.
Although rare, skinwings are used as flying mounts by the lizards of Mogreth. They can carry little more weight than a single passenger, so when using them for long distance flights a traveler must pack light.
Domesticated by the Taymorans before they migrated to southern Brun, these are the draft animal of choice in Taymoran and Inti lands.
These reptilian creatures see service as mounts mainly in Mogreth, but their use may extend from those borders into parts of the Shimmering Lands, Grondheim, and Frontierlands. The lizards are hardy and strong, and able to carry a great deal of weight for long distances, however they fare ill in colder climates.
Starting the Campaign
Part I of the Engdyr’s Game Adventure Path will be presented in the next issue of Threshold. In the meantime please make use of the source material presented above to familiarize yourselves with the Mystara 2300 BC Campaign Setting.
Following are a set of pregenerated characters that can be used with this adventure, either as characters for the players or as NPCs for the PCs to interact with.
Dwarf (Clan Felwig), Level 1 Magic User
Str 8, Dex 14, Con 10, Int 18, Wis 9, Cha 8
HP: 4, AC: 2 (robes)
The third child of the master of Drynneg Estate, Paghun set out to find his own fortune once he realized he had little chance of seeing his inheritance. He spent years studying with the Radiomancers of Himnem, but felt too constricted by their strict structures and so left to find adventure on his own.
Spells: Identify, shocking grasp, color spray.
Equipment: Dagger (bronze), wand of magic missiles
Shade, Level 1 Rogue
Str 10, Dex 15, Con 8, Int 10, Wis 15, Cha 13
HP: 5, AC: 4 (leather, incorporeal)
Kerral awoke one day to find herself an insubstantial body amidst a crowd of dwarves standing before a gigantic archway of light. She remembers nothing before this event, but is certain that she had another life somewhere far away. For a time she performed tasks for the Radiomancers of Himnem, but longed to discover the secrets of her past. After finding a kindred spirit in Paghun she decided to join him in his wanderings.
Equipment: 2 daggers, 1 short sword (ghost-touch)
Tiefling (Dwarf), Level 1 Fighter
Str 16, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 11, Wis 8, Cha 11
HP: 11, AC: 10 (half plate, shield)
Jharrohk grew up amongst a large community of Yardrak dwarves in Ghorrash where she trained as an estate soldier. After an unfortunate dispute with her superior, she was forced to leave the compound as quickly and discreetly as she could. Now she journeys from settlement to settlement, doing od jobs and mercenary work… and trying to stay one step ahead of her former employers.
Equipment: Axe (bronze), dragon belcher (1-shot), 3 belcher charges (fireball)
Gnome, Level 1 Cleric
Str 12, Dex 12, Con 11, Int 10, Wis 16, Cha 13
HP: 8, AC: 6 (splint mail)
Apprenticed to the church of Silver and Gold at a young age, Telson found quite an affinity with the tenets of Belnos4 and Garl Glitterlode, rising through the ranks of acolytes like a shining star. He is currently performing his missionary services, spreading the word of Silver and Gold… and perhaps earning some coins... before returning back to the order.
Spells: Guidance, inflict minor wounds, light, cause fear
Equipment: Mace (bronze), scroll of healing (3 uses)
To be used by Layout
[Sidebar: Game Mechanics]
It is the intent of this column to remain game rule independent whenever possible, however when developing an adventure it is desirable to provide Dungeon Masters with some guidelines for actually running their games. To this end, where game stats and mechanics are required, they will be provided along with relevant suggestions for usage. DMs may still need to adjust and flesh out encounters according to their rule system of preference.
[Sidebar: Using Ghostwalk with Mystara 2300 BC]
Ghostwalk is a 3rd Edition campaign setting designed by Monte Cook and Sean K. Reynolds, that deals with continuing campaign play even after a character's "death". Although not strictly undead, the shades from Mystara 2300 BC share much in common with Ghostwalk ghost characters.
Shades as “Ghosts”
While shades share many of the properties of ghosts including incorporeality, they are not truly dead (and thus cannot be turned). Shades in Mystara 2300 BC are spirits trapped in an alternate state by the Great Rain of Fire.
City of Manifest and the Radiance
In Ghostwalk, the City of Manifest is built around a special region in the setting that allows spirits to maintain a corporeal existence even without their living bodies. In Mystara 2300 BC, a shade’s body is beyond reach (having been destroyed nearly 700 years ago), however being near a source of the radiance brings them the same level of corporeality that being in the City of Manifest would bring. Similarly, any item imbued with the radiance should be treated as a “ghosttouch” item. Radiance based weapons can always physically harm a shade, and radiance based armor can be worn as if they had a physical form.
[Sidebar: Using Eberron with Mystara 2300 BC]
Eberron is a 3rd Edition campaign setting created by Keith Baker that infuses high fantasy with pulp adventure and film noir concepts. Many designs and themes from Eberron evoke the feeling of magic combined with technology, and as such may find a good use in a Mystara 2300 BC campaign, especially in the Shimmering Lands where Blackmoorian influence can still be felt.
The soulbound are living constructs powered by the “souls” of a dwarven hero. Although they rarely retain the memories of their original forms, the soulborn are an integral piece of Shimmering Lands society, and many dwarves prepare for the day when their own bodies will be too frail to continue and their spirits must be transferred into a body of stone. Treat the soulbound as warforged who are built to look like large dwarven statues.
To be used by Layout
Engdyr’s Game AP by John Calvin [used by permission of the artist]
Map of the Shimmering Lands by John Calvin, 2009 [used by permission of the artist]
Offering to Molech, by Charles Foster 1897 [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons
The Nameless City, Angela Sprecher's artwork based on H. P. Lovecraft's story The Nameless City. [Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported] via Wikimedia Commons
Soulbound by John Calvin, 2009 [used by permission of the artist]
Demon touched dwarf by John Calvin, 2009 [used by permission of the artist]
Hyrrokin rides to Baldr's funeral on her wolf, by Pietsch 1865 [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons
1Hrokyrdran will one day be known as the World Mountain in Ethengar.
2The Tide of the Shimmering Gate occurs on the first of Kayldlyn, and is the annual celebration of the opening of the Gate of Light. See GAZ BC1-Players Handbook for more information.
3See DA1 Adventures in Blackmoor for more information about the Comeback Inn.
4Belnos is the name used by Asterius in the Shimmering Lands.