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The Exiles Campaign Settingby John Calvin from Threshold Magazine issue 15
A Spelljammer Campaign in Mystara
by John Calvin
The Exiles Campaign Setting is derived from both the world of Mystara and the Spelljammer setting, and is intended to be an epic space adventure series in the same vein as Star Trek, Star Wars, Firefly, and other “space opera” settings. In the Exiles Campaign Setting, Known Space is a place where magic and technology meet. It is a place of ancient wonders and long hidden secrets… and it is populated by all of those who have been cast out by the immortals.
On Mystara, throughout the ages, great civilizations have arisen and grown in power… some of them powerful enough to travel the void and visit other worlds… some nearly powerful enough to challenge the immortals themselves. Each in its turn was punished for their ambition. These nations of upstarts were all defeated, but not completely destroyed. Instead they managed to escape from their home sphere and their planet of origin, Mystara, spreading out across the rainbow seas. Now they have grown strong again and the immortals should be fearful.
Likewise, the peoples of Mystaraspace should count themselves lucky that the ancient exiled races have never been able to find their way back to the sphere. Even those few Mystarans that remember the myths, have little comprehension of the terrible power that the exiled races wield. If they did, spacefarers would never journey past Mystara’s crystal shell, for should they ever be discovered, the outcome would be inevitable… the exiles would be coming home...
The Exiles Campaign Setting combines aspects of both Mysara and the Spelljammer Campaign1 setting in order to create a new and unique spacefaring environment for PCs to explore.
In the Spelljammer universe, campaign worlds and their solar systems are encapsulated within gigantic crystal spheres. The sizes of crystal spheres vary, with the general rule being that their radius equals twice the radius of the furthest planet orbiting the central star of the system. Wildspace, the void within a sphere, and the planets that traverse it, are all governed by the specific rules and properties of that sphere, though different spheres may abide by different physical laws.
[Image: Travel between the Crystal Spheres]
The outer shell of the sphere is an opaque crystal, indestructible and impenetrable, except through specific magical means. Those who travel between spheres are able to open temporary portals in the shell, large enough for spelljamming vessels to pass through.
[Image: Flow River over a Crystal Sphere]
The phlogiston, an infinite plane filled with magical rivers of a colorful and explosive gaseous element, connects all of the crystal spheres in the multiverse. The phlogiston, or flow as it is sometimes called by spacefarers, can be traversed by spelljamming ships, allowing travelers to visit far away crystal spheres2. Phlogiston rivers (also called flow rivers) can be one-way only, or allow travel in both directions. The magical properties of the phlogiston allow vessels traversing it to attain unthinkable speeds, however ships that leave the flow slow down, and may end up trapped; essentially “stilled in calm waters”. The distances between spheres is vast, and typically measured by the number of days it would take a spelljamming vessel (travelling at spelljamming speeds) to travel from one sphere to the next.
Spelljamming vessels, essentially naval ships in space, make use of a magical item called a helm. Oftentimes shaped as a large chair, the helm siphons off all magical energy of the person or creature sitting in it and converts that energy into a motive force for the ship. For this reason spelljamming vessels require a magic user, cleric, or similarly empowered individual to act as the ship’s navigator, and many ships employ multiple such individuals.
A ship’s helm must be firmly attached to the hull of the ship, and when powered provides motive force both when traveling through wildspace within a crystal sphere as well as through the phlogiston.
The Lost Sphere
Within the Mystaran Cluster of spheres, Mystaraspace3 is unique in that it is not permanently attached to the phlogiston. Rather it bobs up and down in the flow, coming into contact with nearby flow rivers for brief periods of time before once again passing through them entirely. It is because of this unique property that Mystaraspace has remained hidden from the cultures inhabiting nearby spheres for millennia. Even races which were spawned within the sphere, including the carnifex, Blackmoorians, and Nithians, have no way to return home unless the timing is right. Though they may not know how to return home, many of those races still keep the memory of Mystaraspace alive in their tales and legends.
Finding the Lost Sphere again, could be the ark in a major plotline centered around the races and cultures of the Mystaran Cluster. The ramifications to native Mystarans could be astronomical should any of those ancient races find their way back home again.
[Sidebar: Immortals vs Gods]
Campaigning in Exiles
The power level of the Exiles Campaign can range from that of first level characters all the way to immortal level, and a campaign in this setting could unfold in several different ways:
Characters could be natives of Mystara who have just found passage out of their own crystal sphere. They would be thrust into the turmoil of the spheres surrounding them and would soon learn that their origins could cause them to be hunted down ruthlessly.
Characters could be natives of any of the Exiled Nations. They would soon hear rumors of a ship traveling through their space that claimed to hail from the mythical home world. The characters would have to track down this ship and take its secrets before their enemies had a chance to do the same.
Characters could be immortals set with the task of combating the Exiled cultures. This could either be played out as a series of war games with armies of the Faithful pitted against the Exiles, or as immortal level encounters. In the latter case the players will match up against Blackmoorian Hierarchy lords and the Outer Beings.
Thousands of years have spanned since the first culture, the carnifex, left Mystaraspace to traverse the spheres. Although too many events to chronicle have happened since that time there are several incidents that have shaped space in the Mystaran Cluster over the eons, foremost among them, the exile of three of Mystara’s most powerful cultures.
The carnifex are an ancient saurian race (very similar in appearance to a velociraptor) that lived on Mystara over 15,000 years ago. There their culture saw its height as the race gained mastery over the entire world and developed magic and technology to rival the immortals themselves. And rival the immortals they did. Many of the carnifex turned from their worship of the immortals to worship of the Outer Beings, vast and disturbing entities. With the help of their new servants, the Outer Beings wished to overthrow their immortal brethren and win control of the multiverse. The immortals proved too strong for the Outer Beings however, and both they and the carnifex who served them were sealed into a prison plane.
[Sidebar: Carnifex Dominance]
14,000 BC: The Carnifex are driven from Mystaraspace and begin to explore and colonize the Inner Spheres.
13,000 BC: Remnants of Outer Being worship begin to slowly work their way back into Carnifex civilization.
12,000 BC: Carnifex civilization thrives across all of the Inner Spheres, although it is not monolithic. Various carnifex empires rise and begin to compete with one another. They also begin to explore and colonize Core and Elemental Spheres.
11,000 BC: The first Outer Being purge begins. Carnifex society is torn in half and civil wars rage across their space. Followers of the Outer Beings make their bid for power, but are eventually put down.
10,000 BC: Carnifex interests begin to invade the Core and Elemental worlds in earnest. They make war with any native species that they encounter.
7500 BC: The Carnifex are now well established throughout the Inner, Core, and Elemental Spheres. They spend most of their time waging war upon one another.
7000 BC: The second Outer Being Purge begins. Once again the Outer Being cultists try to seize power. After centuries of bloody conflict they are driven to the dark corners of space.
6500 BC: Elven ships first make their way into Known Space. First contact with the Carnifex does not end well and the two cultures are plunged into conflict. Unfortunately for the elves their presence in the area is not strong, and there are no reinforcements forthcoming. [This may have been due to the fact that the Mystaran Cluster is relatively isolated from the crystal spheres that the elves hailed from.]
6000 BC: Some elves stumble upon Mystaraspace and land on Grunland. They are the ancestors of all elves on Mystara.
5900 BC: Elves in Known Space (outside of Mystaraspace) are crushed. They are relegated to slave species status within Carnifex space. Their numbers will dwindle to near extinction over the next few centuries.
4000 BC: On Mystara, the culture of Blackmoor rises.
Blackmoor was a small feudal nation on Mystara over 4000 years ago. In a short period of time that small nation rose up to be the dominant power on the planet, and they did so because of a freak accident. A starship crash landed on Mystara and soon the Blackmoorians were recovering technology from it. They used this “new magic” to conquer their neighbors and eventually venture into Mystaraspace. Unfortunately for them, magic and technology don’t mesh well together. Some claim that it was an accident. Some claim that it was hubris, and still others claim that it was an attack on Blackmoor by its rivals. The only claim that can be for certain, was that it was bound to happen sooner or later. 4000 years ago a catastrophe occurred when Blackmoorian technomancy caused the Great Rain of Fire and nearly destroyed all life on the planet.
The Mystaran Blackmoorians were doomed. Only those that were off world survived. The immortals however were horrified. Whatever the cause of the Great Rain of Fire, the immortals were determined to never let such an occurrence happen again. They sought after the Blackmoorian remnants, determined to destroy them and their hated technology. The Blackmoorians did not wish to die, and they were powerful enough to defend themselves. The immortals however had the upper hand, and like the carnifex before them, the Blackmoorians were driven from the sphere.
3000 BC: The Great Rain of Fire occurs on Mystara devastating the planet and destroying most of Blackmoor. The immortals drive the rest of the Blackmoorians out of the sphere with the intent of destroying them utterly. The Blackmoorians fight back turning some of the Inner Spheres into what are today called the Shattered Spheres. Several immortals are subsumed into Blackmoorian Furnaces creating the first Hierarchy lords. The immortals do not press the attack and the Eternal War is born.
2999 BC: Blackmoorian refugees begin to explore their surroundings and find a multiverse populated with hostile saurian creatures.
2950 BC: Remnants of Blackmoor find refuge in the sparsely populated Fringe Spheres and some of them begin to put down roots. Others maintain a nomadic lifestyle.
2100 BC: For the third time in 12000 years carnifex society is infected by Outer Being worship. This time the cultists manage to take control of several nations, and the Carnifex culture as a whole is weakened. Those territories seized by the cultists transform into dark and foreboding places.
2000 BC: Blackmoorian elements in Fringe space have become strong once again. They begin to push their way into more desirable space, dislocating the Carnifex already established there. In order to help them combat these fearsome foes the Blackmoorians begin to develop sheens, which are self-replicating constructs designed for war.
1950 BC: Permanent outposts are built by the immortals on several of the Inner and Shattered Spheres, and the first waves of the Faithful are sent to occupy them.
1500 BC: The nation of Nithia is born and begins its rise to power.
Blackmoorian incursions into Carnifex space have begun to isolate their colonies in the Inner Spheres.
1000 BC: Sheens and sentient Blackmoorian constructs rebel from their masters and the Sheen War starts. Blackmoorians begin to purge their territories of all artificial life.
900 BC: The first Nithian colonies are established in some of the nearby Inner Spheres. The local inhabitants (mostly carnifex) do not view them on friendly terms and hostilities begin. Due to their relative isolation (thanks in part to the Blackmoorians) these carnifex holdings are in a weakened state4 and are hard pressed to keep the new invaders out.
The Nithian culture arose on Mystara nearly 1,500 years after the Great Rain of Fire and was the last major culture to be exiled from Mystaraspace. They built unparalleled monuments around their world and eventually built great pyramid ships that would take them to others. Although technologically primitive compared to the Blackmoorians before them, the Nithians developed magic that none on Mystara had ever seen before nor since.
Unfortunately the age of Nithia was not to last.
Dark immortals desired the downfall of the culture and worked hard to bring it about. Many of the pharaohs turned from their immortal patrons to worship other things (some even say that they began to worship the Outer Beings). They began to rain destructive magic upon the face of the planet that would have rivaled the catastrophe caused by Blackmoorian technology, had not the immortals opposed them. Nithia was destroyed and all memory of it was erased from mortal minds… at least on Mystara. Planar and planetary colonies did survive, although greatly reduced in power once support from their homeworld was removed.
500 BC: The Nithians have turned from the worship of the immortals and are expunged from Mystaran history. A handful of Nithian colony worlds in the Inner Spheres are spared.
450 BC: Nithian colonies, newly cut off from their home world (and each other) begin to struggle for survival. Surprisingly resistance from carnifex neighbors has died down considerably, and the carnifex threat has all but disappeared.
300 BC: Carnifex civilization has disappeared in nearly all of the Inner Spheres. The Nithians now have enough space to stabilize their positions. Even with the carnifex threat gone, this is not an easy task, and many of the colonies die out due to other factors. The few that manage to survive will require centuries before attaining their former glory.
500 AC: Most sheens have been driven from Blackmoorian and Carnifex held spheres and are relegated to inhabiting the Shattered Spheres.
1000 AC: The current era. The Carnifex continue to hold most of the Core Spheres as well as all of the Elemental Spheres. Blackmoorian culture thrives in Fringe Space and has managed to expand into former Carnifex Core territories as well. Nithian culture is once again on the rise and the immortals are gaining more influence throughout Known Space.
This is a listing of the major cultural groups that can be found in the Known Spheres, and to a lesser extent in the Shattered Spheres. It is not a comprehensive list by any means, and all of the names and titles are subject to change.
Those carnifex escaping the Immortal’s purge fled to the far reaches of the Mystaran Cluster, but their resilience and aggression helped them to conquer nearly every sphere they encountered. In a few millennia after their exile, the carnifex became the dominant life form throughout the region.
Blackmoorians entering their space proved the first real threat that the carnifex had faced since the Immortals drove them from Mystaraspace. Though battles between the two cultures were fierce, the carnifex never really lost much territory until the Nithian Plague. Despite this, the carnifex are still a major power in the region, firmly in control of the Elemental Spheres and with a strong presence in both the Inner and Core Spheres.
While the carnifex culture still dominates many spheres, it is far from monolithic. Over thousands of years, and across multiple spheres that they control, the carnifex culture has continued to fracture and evolve.
The Carnifex Clans are the most prolific group of carnifex roaming the spheres. There are countless clans, each controlling anywhere from two to thousands of ships. Many of the clans are semi-nomadic. For the most part they roam across the spheres in search of game or battle and make camp at semi-permanent way stations and compounds along the way. A few of the clans are more sedentary and have built up larger settled communities on several planets and planetoids. Any single clan is rarely organized enough to control more than one such of these communities.
Degenerate Outer Being Worshippers
These carnifex practice the “New Ways.” They worship entities known as the Outer Beings. This is the same worship that their Mystaran bound brethren were punished by the Immortals for. Now these corrupted creatures slink through dark places in the spheres.
Several dragons have taken it upon themselves to rule over the carnifex and have carved out kingdoms of their own, both minor and major. The dragons maintain a more orderly society than exists in the free clans, but even so there are numerous disturbances. Many of the dragons fight amongst themselves for ultimate supremacy over their carnifex subjects. In order to better maintain control several dragons have taken to breeding with their subjects to create half-dragon/half-carnifex offspring. These creatures become trusted advisors and generals.
Some carnifex spurn the rulership of their dragon overlords and have set out on their own paths. Ironically, many of them claim to have some dragon blood in their ancestry and they are often just as cruel and power hungry as the dragons that they shun.
The Blackmoorians that escaped the initial onslaught of the Immortals found themselves in a multiverse of little mercy. Their early years outside of Mystaraspace were fraught with peril, and oftentimes death. With most of space being dominated by the carnifex, there were very few footholds for the Blackmoorians to claim. For centuries they were relegated to the Fringe Spheres, and to other hidden backwater refuges.
In an attempt to turn the tides of their fortune, the Blackmoorians created sheens, a fighting force of intelligent machines that could help them wrest territory from the carnifex, but it wasn’t until the Nithian Plague struck that they finally managed to gain the upper hand against the reptilian races.
Now there is a strong Blackmoorian presence in the Core Spheres, and they continue to expand from there into the Elemental and Inner Spheres. Like the carnifex, Blackmoorian culture has fractured over the millennia giving rise to several different societies.
Hierarchy / Immortal Slayers
The Hierarchy Lords are the very same individuals who fought off the immortals millennia ago. Each managed to slay one or more of the immortals and assume some of their powers. Now the Hierarchy Lords are themselves like unto gods, and they rule their minions with an iron fist. Their only desire is to return to their home sphere and exact revenge upon those that rule it.
Hierarchy members are organized into a pyramid type structure with Radiant Lords (those who have built and powered their own Furnace5) at the top, and those of lesser powers, who are reliant on somebody else’s Furnace, trickling down to the bottom.
Each Hierarchy Lord is semi-nomadic. They spend most of their time traveling throughout the spheres searching for immortals to slay. During their travels they may demand services and resources from local populations, and may use force to acquire them. Occasionally they will conquer native populations but their nomadic nature means that they never stay long enough to exert their control.
The Hierarchy Lords meet infrequently in order to discuss tactics, and organize larger assaults against their immortal enemies.
Technological / Imperial
This technologically advanced culture is composed mainly of humans, emerondians, and dwarves. They have used their vast abilities to build a small empire that spans across several spheres (although they don’t dominate any of the spheres completely).
The Empire is very structured and is essentially the force holding human (and demi-human) society together in the Known Spheres. They are constantly at war with their carnifex and Sheen neighbors. These Blackmoorians especially despise sheens and other artificially constructed life forms (they fear that their ancestors created the first sheens by accident – which is correct) and seek to eradicate them at every opportunity.
These territories are located at the fringe of Imperial Blackmoorian space. Although they conduct trade with both the Imperium and the Hierarchy, they rule themselves independently. Many of the free cities are friendly with the various sentient constructs as well (although not with sheen life) and this is the one place where they can be found in abundance.
Most of those who live in the Free Cities live a more sedentary lifestyle. Spelljamming is known to them, but they rarely journey far from their homes.
Progeny of the Frog
This group is composed of those emerondians that are directly descended from Saint Stephen’s6 Cult of the Frog. Although they have several small bases throughout Blackmoorian space, they rarely take open control of planetary systems and prefer to work behind the scenes. Their goal is to transform Blackmoorian society into something more to their liking.
The result of Blackmoorian technology run amok, the sheens7 are a semi-sentient race of constructs that have overrun vast portions of known space. They are a scourge to everything that lives, for their appetites (for raw materials and resources) know no bounds and empathy is not within their programming.
Sheens are the only major race that came into existence outside of Mystaraspace, although they were created by the exiled Blackmoorians.
Several small groups of sheen cysts are controlled and led by ancient (and quite sentient) Blackmoorian constructs. These creations fled the Blackmoorian Imperium during the machine wars and went to live among their non-biological brethren. The centuries since then have fostered a deep seated hatred for all things Blackmoorian (and to a lesser extent, all things living).
The Empire hunts these groups most vigorously, and the constructs return the favor whenever they can. They also battle with the pure sheen cysts over resources and sometimes are able to supplant the machine mind with their own rulership.
Pure sheen cysts are the scourge of the known spheres. Nearly every sentient creature is their sworn enemy, for they ravage any environment they enter in order to gather raw materials for their own replication. Indeed replication seems to be their only goal.
The one factor that keeps these cysts in check is their inability to produce spelljamming equipment (namely helms). Their only way of traveling throughout the spheres is to acquire spelljamming helms from others (by force…they know no other way). The Empire will often try to eradicate any sheen cyst that they come upon before it has the chance to acquire a helm and spread.
Unlike the great cultures that had come before it, Nithia’s space exploration was in its infancy when the Immortals decided to purge them from history. Despite this, a few off world colonies did exist, mostly in the Inner Spheres, and managed to escape the fate of their motherland. Those that did not starve due to lack of infrastructure and support, managed to expand and thrive.
Whether the Nithians developed a biological weapon to combat the carnifex, or unknowingly brought a reptilian plague with them when they first colonized the spheres, the resulting decrease in saurian populations is what allowed them to establish their power base. Soon after the arrival of the Nithians, the carnifex and their saurian allies fled the Inner Spheres and to this day continue to avoid them.
Since their founding, and the subsequent destruction of Nithia, the isolated Nithian colonies have had to rely on their own self-sufficiency to grow and thrive. Over the centuries this has caused their societies to evolve in very different ways.
Eb-Or (Entropy worshipers)
Not all Nithians ventured into space in stone pyramid ships. Many made use of magical gates crafted by planeswalkers. After contact was lost with the mother world, the lore required to operate the gates quickly faded from the minds of the Nithian colonists, causing them to turn toward the worship of dark immortals in order to sustain themselves. Most of these populations now live in abject terror while their rulers practice dark rituals that will grant them everlasting life…as the living dead.
This offshoot of the Nithian culture shuns worship of the immortals and instead focuses their energies on arcane learning. Many of their leaders are powerful wizards who spend their time creating magical servitor races. Just as their ancestors created the gnolls on Mystara, these wizards vie to create the best servitor race that they can. In fact, the number of servitor races that one has created is seen as a sort of status symbol.
Like the Eb-orians, these people have forgotten all about their spelljamming past and have focused instead on planar travel. They have succeeded in re-opening several gates to other lost Nithian colonies. Plagued by ambition, paranoia, and infighting, the pharaonic leaders of these people spend much of their time plotting against one another. Battles near ancient portals are common, whether the Gate Masters currently claim such land or not, as their armies are known to pour through the portals at the drop of a pin.
These Nithian descendants control a dying sphere. Its once hot sun is growing dimmer and dimmer and all of the planets in the system grow cold. In order to survive the Nithians are using their pyramids to build a habitat nearer to the sun. In time they hope to encircle the entire sun with a sphere of their own… one made from the stones of their own pyramid ships. Each of the planets is filled with slaves who work desperately in the quarries mining stone to build more ships. Eventually nothing will be left of the frozen planets.
There are several minor cultures that inhabit known space along with the Exiled Nations. These are either natives to the area, or else they were brought to the area by one of the Exiled. Rarely do they control more than a single planet, and most often they survive by keeping themselves hidden from their neighbors.
It is unknown whether or not the spider people are natives of this space or of Mystara space, but small pockets of them exist throughout the Known Spheres. Other spidery creatures can also be found in or near these communities. Phase spiders often serve as allies or servants, as do ettercaps. Dokufu8 can be found in some communities as leaders.
Communities of those who still worship the immortals are interspersed throughout Known Space. Most of them are strongholds set up by their immortal patrons to do battle against the Blackmoorians.
The Faithful can be members of any race and creed. Most of them hail directly from the plane of their patron immortal, and their only purpose in being in known space is to fight against the Blackmoorians.
Elves are a rare species in most of Known Space, although there is evidence that the elves journeyed through this area in the distant past (some 7000 years ago). Most of the elves in Known Space now are either Nithian slaves, or followers of The Faithful. The Blackmoorians despise elves (blaming them for causing the Great Rain of Fire), and the carnifex see most mammal life as a source of food, so elven populations don’t last long in either territories.
Lizard-kin9 cultures are numerous throughout Known Space due to the fact that their species have been in the area for over 14,000 years, brought here by their carnifex masters. Most still serve as servitor races to the carnifex and the dragons, but a few scattered colonies have managed to gain their independence.
Goblin-kin are rare in Known Space, having never ventured out into the void on their own. The majority of them were brought as slaves by the Nithians, and so they are most numerous on the few Nithian home worlds. Several populations have managed to win their freedom, and some are also known to offer their services as mercenaries to any who can afford them (and can afford to trust them).
Although they do not have a culture of their own, aberrations are common among communities of Outer Being worshippers.
Features of the Flow
The crystal spheres of the Mystaran Cluster10 are not the only features of interest in the region. The vast phlogiston expanse that connects the spheres holds just as many, if not more secrets11, waiting for explorers brave enough to find them.
[Image: Mystaran Cluster]
Connecting the southern spheres in the cluster, Mystara Flow enters the region through Thanatos’ Sickle, and flows eastward passing through Bugspace, Webspace, Bluespace, and Coldspace before finally exiting the cluster. Passage through the Sickle is slow and arduous, but the flow speeds up between Bugspace and Webspace.
East of Webspace, Mystara Flow becomes more turbulent, and is plagued by phlogiston eddies and vortices that can send ships off course for days. Unlucky travelers may even be pulled out of the flow by such phenomenon, becoming stranded in the void between the rainbow rivers of the phlogiston. Offshoot rivers sporadically form in this flow, but wary travelers assiduously avoid them, for their destinations are unknown, and their existence is temporary.
Casa Flow enters the Mystaran Cluster from the east, meandering westward through Dustspace and the Dustbowl Sargasso, to Emberspace, Oceanspace, and then leaves the sector as it passes through Thanatos’ Sickle. It intersects with Pillar Flow near Dustspace, and passes near the head of Eadhel Flow at Oceanspace, but despite this, Casa Flow is considered to be a relatively calm flow to travel.
The headwaters of Eadhel Flow spring forth at Oceanspace, and move southward from there to Pillarspace and Bugspace, before exiting the Mystara Cluster. Most of the flow is unidirectional, however backwater currents travel northward from Bugspace to Pillarspace regularly enough to be traveled by spelljammers in the area.
Although the flow parallels Thanatos’ Sickle, it never actually crosses through that dark region of the phlogiston. Despite that, the flow comes close enough to the Sickle that flowfiends often enter the river making the journey from Oceanspace to Pillarspace especially dangerous.
Pillar Flow springs forth from Pillarspace, the phlogiston river is thick and turbulent from that sphere to Scarredspace. From there it flows to Spindlespace, and then passes through the Dustbowl Sargasso and beyond Dustspace to regions unknown. Phlogiston storms are common along this route and when the occur next to a crystal sphere ships may be blown off course or even smashed against the outer shell of the sphere. Despite this Pillar Flow is widely traveled by most races in the region, since it is the gateway to the inner spheres of the cluster.
A myth to most space travelers in this region, the Lost Flow is a transitory river that leads the way back to Mystaraspace. Speculations for where this river exists run high among believers, though none who have ever found it (if any have) ever return to tell the tale.
In fact the Lost Flow is real, and forms at specific times over the eons between Crackedspace and Coldspace in an area plagued with phlogiston vortices and other perils that scare away most sane space travelers.
Several large asteroids, made of solidified phlogiston, float in the phlogiston river between Gardenspace and Spindlespace. Seven of them are large enough to have settlements built on them and are referred to collectively by travelers as Asterius’ Bazaar.
Due to the often volatile nature of the phlogiston, violence of any kind is expressly forbidden in The Bazaar, making it one of the few places in the Mystara Cluster that all races and creeds can come together. The Bazaar is used as a sanctuary by those fleeing persecution, a meeting place for those who have little faith in their business partners, and in general a refuge for lost souls.
Phlogiston rivers in this region become very thin and slow flowing. Despite this, vessels traveling through the Dustbowl Sargasso are often coated in a fine granular material very similar to dust, from which the sargasso gets its name. Those lingering in the area for too long may find their ships buried in flow dust and risk being mired in the Dustbowl Sargasso forever.
The flow dust gradually clears and dissipates once the region is exited, allowing ships and other vessels to resume normal operations again.
Maw of Crakkak
An immense flow maelstrom, with Spindlespace at its heart, the Maw of Crakkak, is the doom of even the most experienced spelljammers. Formed by the merger of Pillar Flow and three other rivers around Spindlespace, the Maw of Crakkak is a roiling cacophony of phlogiston that buffets and blasts ships of all sizes. Navigating near the crystal shell is extremely dangerous. Ships entering and exiting the system are always in danger of being smashed to pieces against the sphere.
Expert navigators can use the Maw’s power to their own advantage. By skirting along the edges of the maelstrom, skilled spelljammers can reduce their travel times by days, by using the power of the massive storm to slingshot their vessels into one of the intersecting flows. Such maneuvers are still dangerous however, as less skilled navigators have crippled their ships attempting to ride the violent currents.
Ravagers, wild bands of carnifex pirates, often frequent this region in the hopes of finding disoriented vessels ripe for pillaging.
This dark expanse of the phlogiston nearly spans the entire western border of the Mystaran Cluster and beyond. Though rivers of phlogiston still flow through the region, their normal inner glow is greatly dimmed, and the entire region appears as if bathed in continual twilight. Crews who remain in the area for extended periods begin to hear voices calling them to jump overboard into the darkness, and those who succumb are never seen again. Even those who manage to stay aboard their vessels do not come away from the experience unscathed, and many suffer from pallid humours and reduced constitution.
Even more pressing dangers lurk within, as the region is rife with flowfiends, evil creatures living in the dark phlogiston waiting to waylay and spirit away unsuspecting travelers. Especially large and powerful flowfiends may even journey some distance from Thanatos’ Sickle and into intersecting flow rivers, making neighboring areas nearly as dangerous as the dark region is itself.
The exiles campaign uses the classic Spelljammer cosmology in which crystal spheres (each encompassing a separate star system) float in a medium of flammable, rainbow colored gasses, called the Phlogiston (also sometimes referred to as the rainbow seas). The Known Spheres are grouped into several broad categories, each of which will be described below.
[Image: Mystaraspace Diagram]
This crystal sphere gets its own grouping because it is unique among all of its peers. Although most crystal spheres bob gently up and down in the rainbow sea, Mystaraspace’s crystal sphere behaves more violently. It travels up and down in a great arc, sometimes coming into contact with the phlogiston, and sometimes leaving contact with it. It is only during these periods of contact that ships can enter and leave the crystal sphere freely. Each of the above mentioned Exiled cultures happened to leave the sphere at a time when it was in the rainbow sea, but none have ever been able to find it again because of its highly variable location.
There are also several phlogiston vortexes near the Mystara crystal shell that can confuse and confound space travelers. These are areas of intense storms where the flow just roils with activity. Ships entering the storms can be thrown off course, damaged, and sometimes even destroyed.
The Shattered spheres all have one thing in common: they are all battered, blackened, and nearly destroyed by the ravages of war. Not any normal war, but a war against the gods themselves. It is in these spheres that the Blackmoorians made a stand against their immortal pursuers. Very few creatures live here now, but the systems still see much activity.
Sheens dominate these spheres, constantly searching for spelljamming helms that they can hijack. Some aranea manage to eke out a living here, as well as small communities of escaped slaves (elves, lizard-kin, goblin-kin), or stranded ship crews.
Blackmoorian incursions into the area are frequent, as this is one of the major battlegrounds against The Faithful. The carnifex also come here, although slightly less frequently, searching for treasure and ancient artifacts. Both the carnifex and the Blackmoorians attack sheens on sight. They clash with each other as often as not.
[Image: Crackedspace Map]
The crystal shell of this sphere is cracked in several places. Phlogiston actually leaks into the sphere and makes its way to the central sun. Once the phlogiston makes contact with the sun it ignites and creates a fiery inferno across the sphere, burning itself out until the entire process begins again.
Long ago the sphere was controlled by the carnifex and several of the charred planets still hold crumbling carnifex strongholds. Near the sun hovers an obsidian spindle the size of a small moon or large asteroid. It is rumored to be the ancient stronghold of carnifex Outer Being worshipers. Few dare to access its reaches for it is constantly bathed in the fire brought by the phlogiston explosions.
Sheens dominate this space now. They are fairly impervious to the firestorms that rage across the void. The sheens have mining operations on many of the charred worlds here, and are ready to pounce upon any unwary travelers in the area in order to acquire more spelljamming helms. The sphere also sees many confrontations between the Blackmoorians and The Faithful.
The inner and outer layers of this sphere’s crystal shell sport severe craters, as if violent explosions had marred their surfaces.
The Ring of Asterius is located here, a giant stone ring floating in the void. The Ring is a portal to the home plane of Asterius, and the immortals use it as a staging ground from which to send their troops into Known Space.
There are a half dozen worlds in this sphere, all of them pock marked with black craters, and all of them completely devoid of native life. Those who spend too much time in this sphere find that they have contracted a strange wasting12 disease. Only the magic and protection of the immortals can ward off the disease and sustain life in this sphere.
The crystal shell of this sphere is flaking away, producing vast shard spindles that float off into the void of space (and sometimes collide with the planets therein). Over the years, the spindles have collided with each other, as well as with the planets of the system, and have destroyed nearly everything within the sphere. Now the sphere is an obstacle course of death. Those who cannot avoid the quickly moving spindles are doomed.
Its sun, if there ever was one, is now dark and lost to the reaches of time and space, leaving this shell without any natural light source. There is illumination however, provided solely by the sphere’s multitude of sheen inhabitants.
Spindlespace also conceals an abominable new form of sheen life in the artificial planetoid called Lattice near the center of the sphere. Unique from their brethren across the spheres, these sheens are amalgams of biological and metallic life. They scour Spindlespace for spindles to continue building Lattice, and also journey beyond the sphere in search of other resources, both organic and inorganic. Unlike other sheen ships that leave their home cyst, these sheens are programmed to return to the cyst with their prizes.
This grouping of crystal spheres also has a highly variable location in the Phlogiston. Each of the spheres bobs with a noticeable movement in the rainbow sea, though few of them actually leave it. These spheres are the closest to Mystaraspace (when it is in contact with the phlogiston).
The Nithian culture is dominant in these spheres, but theirs tends to be a very fractured existence. Most nations only control a portion of the world that they inhabit, and none are world spanning. These spheres also hold the highest concentrations of aranea, elves, free living lizard-kin, and goblin-kin.
There is also evidence throughout these spheres of more ancient cultures. The oldest structures here are believed to have belonged to the carnifex forefathers who journeyed out from Mystara during the First Exile. Younger structures (nearly 7000 years old now) are believed to have been built by the elves on their migration13 through this area.
[Sidenote: Elves in the Exiles Campaign]
Carnifex and Blackmoorian incursions into this area are rare, although they do happen. A handful of The Faithful’s strongholds can also be found in these spheres, many of them containing portals directly to their patron’s home planes.
This is a small sphere with several planets orbiting a blue sun. The Nithians colonized one of the worlds in this sphere when their empire was still strong on Mystara. Just before the immortals took revenge upon their nation a group of dissident Nithians (those who worshiped darker forces) fled to this place. Here they have seethed for centuries. Their domain has increased and they now control the entire planet.
The Nithians who live here live under the rule of dark necromancer kings. Many of those who serve the kings willingly are lycanthropes, but most of the population lives in abject terror of their masters.
These clerical orders are most like their progenitor culture. The Eborian culture dominates one entire planet, with several small colonies on different planets. Eborians keep in contact with their colonies in two ways. First, they still heavily use the ancient Nithian practice of spelljamming pyramids. This form of communication is very slow however. The second is by using the portal system. Eborian portals are not as powerful as those of their Menkothian cousins. People looking at the portal can see and hear the other side, but can not physically pass through.
Eborian clerics can send their spiritual force across the portals to inhabit the body of a specially prepared mummy (usually a former cleric of their order). In this way, the clergy can maintain a firm hold on their colony states.
It is rumored that a lone Eborian pyramid ship crashed somewhere on Mystara14. All aboard the ship perished, but a working portal survived the crash. The Eborian priests have been trying to make contact with suitable receptacles (mummies) on the other side of the Portal. If the pyramid crashed anywhere near an ancient Nithian outpost, the priests may just be able to accomplish their goal.
Bluespace also contains a large number of lycanthropes. Undead and lycanthropes in various states of interaction (allied, at war, master and slave) dominate this sphere. For normal humans who exist here, this is a living hell. For them the struggle is over, and they are little more than domesticated cattle for their vicious masters.
[Image: Coldspace Map]
This sphere’s sun is dying. Once a strong and vibrant fire body, the sun has decreased in size. The amount of light and heat that it puts out has decreased as well, turning once living worlds into cold, frozen wastelands.
The Nithians first colonized this sphere when their empire was at its height on Mystara, but since that time the sphere’s sun has grown smaller and colder. Now the Nithians left here have turned the worlds orbiting their star into vast slave labor camps. They intend to disassemble the planets and use the materials to construct another sphere around the star. This sphere will be made of stone, and much closer to the star so that the Nithians might once again feel its heat. They have already constructed several small continent sized land masses that orbit the star. They do this by creating pyramid ships, flying them into orbit, and then slowly but surely connecting them together.
This small sphere is composed of a warm central sun, several spherical planets, and an asteroid ring. The two inner planets are small, desolate but life sustaining earth worlds. The third world from the sun is an asteroid ring full of small debris. Next from the sun is a spherical earth planet with several concentric water rings around it. The last planet in the system is a large air planet with water and fire bodies inside of it.
The first planet, and large portions of the asteroid ring, is dominated by the Gate Masters, a Nithian offshoot culture. The second planet is dominated by the civilization of Menkor-Thoth, more Nithian descendants, and all of their magical creations. The Menkothians keep many servitor races including humanoids, elves, dwarves, halflings, and many creatures never before seen.
Aranea share portions of the asteroid ring with their Nithian neighbors. The spider people use their silk webbing to tether several asteroids together to form a larger world. The aranea go to great lengths in order to protect these communities from fire and other attacks. The spider people are also known for traveling through the sphere on giant balloon webs that they spin to catch the solar winds. Ships traveling through the void often come into contact with hibernating aranea or their old web remnants.
The worlds of the Core Spheres are the most inhabited in all of Known Space. Roughly 70% of the worlds are controlled by the carnifex clans and dragon emperors, while 20% are controlled by the Blackmoorian Imperia. The rest of the worlds are either free states or native populations. Many of the planets here are lush, green worlds, although many of those occupied by Blackmoorians are still recovering from the scars of war. At one time all worlds were controlled by the carnifex, but the Blackmoorians managed to wrest control of some of them.
Blackmoorians and the carnifex clash often in these spheres as they try to maintain or expand their territories.
[Image: Bugspace Map]
Bugspace is a small crystal sphere with two main worlds inside of it. The first is watery toroid that cuts across the center of the sphere. The radius of the toroid is half of the radius of the sphere. From the center of the sphere extending outward, completely encompassing the toroid and growing all the way to the crystal shell, grows the second planet of the system, the World Tree. Portals through the shell only open up along the shell’s equator where the World Tree attaches to the shell.
The sphere is lit from within the toroid where a fiery colossal fish constantly swims in circles. Its passing brings light and warmth, for the fiery body, whatever it may be, heats the oceans that it swims through and causes gouts of steam to issue forth from the toroid. It takes the fish an entire month to complete a full circuit around the toroid. Two days of “dawn time” herald the fish’s approach, followed by three days of “full light” and another two days of “dusk time” as the fish leaves. Night times are variable, lasting anywhere from 18 to 24 days long.
Even though Bugspace is a relatively small sphere it is not well explored. Spelljammers rarely have enough space to reach spelljamming speeds because the world tree branches all about them. Ships entering this sphere must travel at tactical speeds (which means that it can take years to actually reach the toroid sea). In addition to the impediments of travel, this sphere poses other threats. Ships traveling through the sphere are constantly beset by swarms of insectoid pests. The humid weather also causes most organic materials to rot very rapidly, affecting both personal equipment and wooden ships.
This sphere is replete with vibrant, living planets. The void itself is teaming with life, filled with kindori, scaver, krajen15, and a handful of radiant dragons. Gardenspace is under the control of the Carnifex, and several distinct Carnifex cultures dwell there. At least one of those is devoted to Opal, and that immortal counts them among the number of Faithful that serve her. Lately she and her Faithful have had to turn their attention from combating the Blackmoorians to repulsing the Outer Being worshippers that have been infiltrating the system.
This is a large sphere dominated by a spiral structure that bisects the inside of the shell. Once a carnifex stronghold, the sphere has recently (1500 years ago) fallen under the control of the Blackmoorians. Although the carnifex frequently mount campaigns into this sphere to regain it, the Blackmoorians are well entrenched and the sphere is now one of their prime holdings.
The spiral is a cluster of small, flat, water worlds, many still ruled by the kopru, a carnifex servitor race with mental domination powers. Many earth bodies lie embedded in the watery spiral, with sides exposed to each hemisphere.
A different Blackmoorian Imperia controls each of the hemispheres of the sphere. Hierarchy ships frequent the area, providing services for the local warlords and receiving resources in payment. Once the two empires worked together to wrest control from the carnifex, but now there is unrest. The Cult of the Frog has taken hold in the eastern hemisphere and they work to spread their ideologies across the entire sphere.
Kopru control the center of the sphere (from within the spiral), and several of the dragon spawned have moved in to try and gain some kind of advantage here. The kopru also have some dealings with the Cult of the Frog, with whom they share several ideologies (control of the weak, creation of servitor races, etc..).
The Elemental Spheres are composed of planets, many of them irregularly shaped, that are strongly aligned with each of the four elemental types. Rarely is there a planet with a balance of the four elements, and when there is, it is strongly contested. Trade is very important to the communities that live in these spheres because rarely does one community have all of the resources necessary for survival.
The carnifex dominate these spheres, with the dragon emperors maintaining control on the core worlds. Carnifex clans roam on the outskirts of space, basically leading the life of pirates. Some communities of freed slaves (mostly lizard-kin) exist here and there, but their freedom is tenuous and can end as soon as the next carnifex overlord rediscovers them.
Sheen incursions are frequent here. The constructs have learned that these inhospitable spheres are packed with the resources and raw materials that they so desperately need. Blackmoorians often send well armed forays here as well, and there are several permanent strongholds that they have been able to maintain despite carnifex aggression.
[Image: Emberspace Mock Cover]
Emberspace16 is a dark sphere populated by many small earth bodies (referred to by travelers as the “embers”). Each of the earth bodies is heated from within, and fracture lines across their surfaces glow red with volcanic activity. Clouds of soot and smoke permeate the sphere, some of them hiding electrical storms.
There are unique gemstones that can be found in this sphere. Called smolder gems, these jewels constantly emit a stream of smoke and ash. They are highly sought after by fire loving creatures, as well as communities living in Bugspace.
Two competing dragon ruled empires operate here, as well as one free carnifex clan, a renegade dragon spawn and its followers, and the remnants of the sphere’s native life forms – efreet. The efreet live in brass citadels, many connected to the fabled City of Brass17, and travel through the sphere in brass ships. Though marginalized for millennia by the carnifex, the efreet and their elemental allies are beginning to take back the sphere. Fellxixaari, a carnifex dragon-spawn, is currently negotiating an alliance with the efreet in order to carve out an empire form himself, however the efreet have other ideas and are preparing the way for a full scale elemental invasion of the sphere.
[Image: Pillarspace Map]
A pillar of flame extends along the inner axis of the sphere to form this shell’s sun. Three planets orbit the pillar along the innermost orbital paths. They are all geo-synchronous orbits which means that the same face points toward the pillar at all times. Each planet orbits at a different speed, with the innermost planet having the fastest path, the outermost the next fastest, and the middle planet the slowest path. These planets are inhabited by dragon ruled carnifex and are constantly either warring or trading with one another. Alliances shift furiously as the dragon lords vie for dominance.
[Image: Pillarspace Mock Cover]
This is a small sphere with a large amorphous water body in its center. Inside of the water body are half a dozen fire bodies which both boil the oceans around them, and light up the sphere. Steam clouds boil up from the surface of the water body filling the void between it and the crystal shell. As the steam gets closer to the crystal shell, it begins to cool down and condense into clouds which eventually release downpours of rain back into the ocean planet.
Upon entering Steamspace a ship has an equal chance of being engulfed by either a column of steam or a thunderhead ready to burst.
Dozens of small earth bodies, little more than large asteroids, are affixed to the ocean world’s surface, and they drift along with the currents often coming into areas of intense heat. The earth bodies are made up of extremely light and porous rock, and contain hardly any heavy ore deposits. Some sages theorize that at the center of each earth body is a large cavern filled with air that keeps the continent sized rocks afloat.
Life teams in the seas, but only in the cooler surface regions between the submerged fire bodies. Elemental life also abounds deeper in the core of this sphere. Sometimes the native elementals come into contact with the carnifex who have taken up residence near the surface. This contact is nearly always violent and bloody.
The Carnifex control much of this sphere, although Blackmoorian incursions are frequent. Both cultures harvest the abundant water from this sphere and ship it to their more inhospitable domains throughout known space.
These spheres see little trade for the simple fact that they have little of value in them. A few planets will support life (barely) and these are inhabited by the misfits, some would say scum, of Known Space. The Blackmoorian Free Cities are all located in these spheres, as are several colonies of freed slaves. Construct controlled sheen enclaves also have strongholds here, as does the Progeny of the Frog. Several Dragon Spawned carnifex have also carved out small domains for themselves.
There is little reason to journey into these spheres, unless you have illicit business, or you just want to be left to your own devices. None of the major powers in Known Space bother with establishing permanent bases in the area because they would just be too expensive to maintain. Occasionally either the carnifex or the Blackmoorians will conquer some small community for strategic purposes, but after their tactical objectives are achieved they simply leave the area.
A large red sun rests at the center of this sphere, with several thousand island sized asteroids orbiting it in various patterns. There is little here that would make life easy, but enough to make it livable.
Dustspace was one of the first spheres that the Blackmoorians were able to colonize after their exile. Several Blackmoorian Free Cities still exist here, having staked a claim to some of the asteroids and setting up permanent settlements on their surfaces. In the early days of Blackmoorian colonization, when the human populations were smaller and more unified, this sphere was the pinnacle of their society. Now it is a haven for outlaws and corruption, where rules are only enforced by the strong.
Multiple construct ruled sheen enclaves exist here as well. Some of them interact with the Free Cities, while others maintain a lower profile. Asterius also has some of his Faithful in this area.
Violent storms frequent this sphere, powered by a sickly orange sun at its heart. Pockmarked asteroids of all sizes tumble erratically throughout the system, though rarely do they ever collide with one another.
Upon first entering the sphere, the ancient Blackmoorians found several large and fertile oases tucked away in deep cratered planetoids, and quickly flocked to such sanctuaries. Their thrill at finding these bountiful refuges quickly soured when they realized that all metal within the sphere slowly but steadily degrades, leaving only a fine red powder in its place.
Seven small planets20 orbit the dim red dwarf that barely illuminates the sphere of Scuttlespace21, and beyond them shards of rock and ice careen in scattered orbits reaching all the way to the crystal shell. A pervading feeling of dread assaults any who enter this system, and many claim that the central sun is watching them, as if it were a gigantic red eye in the void of wildspace.
When the Blackmoorians first discovered the sphere, they found signs of an ancient and ruined cyclopean civilization littering the system. Abandoned planetary structures are just as common in the sphere as is wreckage of massive fleets floating in the darkness. Who or what built the ancient structures is unknown, for no trace of the original architects has ever been found.
Following are some of the more powerful and influential NPCs in the Mystaran Cluster.
Captain of a Blackmoorian Kennel ship operating in Emberspace, Artor is tasked with discovering the secrets of this sphere as well as keeping an eye on Carnifex and efreet activities. Captain Fell is a hard and unforgiving man who will brook no disobedience from his crew. However he is also resourceful and looks for the same qualities in those who serve him.
After several initially disastrous encounters with the environs of this sphere, Fell has had his ship plated in brass. This has offered the ship and its crew a modicum of protection from the environment. Fell acquired the brass from several carnifex and efreet ships that he happened upon, and he would not hesitate to acquire more if given the chance. This has not made him popular with the local inhabitants.
Delya is a rogue and one of the Faithful devoted to Asterius in Scarredspace. She is in command of a small but elite task force conscripted from Asterius’ home plane in order to perform precision “jobs” against his Blackmoorian enemies. She is a veteran of the Eternal War, having traversed through a handful of the spheres in Known Space and completing several missions. Currently she and her team are on shore leave on Charr.
Treid is a fastidious, thin, spindly man, apparently of Blackmoorian ancestry. His gray hair is balding and his thick rimmed spectacles distort the vision of his face giving the impression of large frog like eyes bulging from beneath his brow. Few ever see this vision however, because Treid keeps himself sequestered away, living at the very heart of Lattice in Spindlespace.
A devoted follower of the immortal Rafiel (or perhaps even a mortal identity of Rafiel), Erek Treid journeyed to Spindlespace decades ago in the hopes of founding a Chamber22 for his patron immortal. So far he is accomplishing his task, although the sheen cyst he took over has been twisted in ways not even Treid ever dreamed of. Still, the details are inconsequential to Treid, as long as the results are favorable.
A half carnifex, half dragon offspring of the emperor Haugrissyl, ruler of nearly a third of the planet Secundus in Pillarspace, Fengriss is a creature of much ambition. Over the past several decades he has been recruiting Carnifex from the free clans into his own personal army. He plans on using this army to conquer territories outside of Pillarspace.
Unlike his father, Fengriss shuns the Outer Beings. He subscribes to the philosophy that the Carnifex (himself included) are the most powerful force in the multiverse and so should not bow down before any other entities. Once he can build up a power reserve he will turn against his father and try to wrest control of the Secundus territories from him.
After millennia of existence, KAL-2 is little more than a disembodied head. Still, it is one of the founding members of the Cabal and arguably one of the most powerful mortal entities in all of the Known Spheres. It was KAL-2 who devised the plan to create a machine god in the heart of Crackedspace, and KAL-2 who personally designed the form and function of Funnel, a colossal structure designed to harness the power of the sphere to give the machine god sentience. What the other members of the Cabal do not suspect, is that KAL-2 has no intention of creating a new god. Instead, it plans to ascend past the mortal planes itself.
The captain of a small spelljamming vessel in Coldspace, Menketh leads a band of mercenary hobgoblins. He and his crew spend much of their time outside of the sphere gathering slaves for the massive projects undertaken by the pharaohs in the area. Menketh always makes a point of returning to the sphere with a full hold of slaves, lest his employers lose faith in his abilities and find “other work” for him to do (in the frozen quarries of that sphere).
Few carnifex travel down the path that Xanthesis has, the path of their ancestors, the path that lead to their banishment from the home sphere. Xanthesis worships the power of the Outer Beings in Bugspace. Several carnifex journeyed deeper into the World Tree shortly after the sphere was colonized, around 11,000 BC, during the time of the second Outer Being purge. Xanthesis and his band of followers are all descendants of that original expedition. Other carnifex have tried to retrace their steps throughout the millennia, but the crazed Outer Being worshippers make sure that they are never heard from again.
Xanthesis is obsessed with the fish that travels the toroid sea, which is actually the physical projection of an imprisoned Outer Being. As his forebearers before him, Xanthesis worships the fish as a god, and is granted limited powers for doing so. Each year of worship weakens the bonds of the Outer Being’s prison and brings it one step closer to escaping.
The underlying themes and structure of the Exiles Campaign can lend themselves to several overarching plots and campaign arcs.
The Eternal War
From the instant the Great Rain of Fire devastated ancient Mystara to the present day, the Immortals and Blackmoorians have been locked in a deadly conflict known as the Eternal War. Those Blackmoorians who escaped Immortal reprisals after the catastrophe, though few in number, grew very powerful. The most powerful among them were the Radiance Lords, Blackmoorians who were able to build and harness the power of devices known as Furnaces. Similar in power to the Nucleus of the Spheres below Glantri, these Furnaces were able manipulate the radiance.
When the immortals first chased Blackmoor from Mystaraspace and into the Known Spheres, a catastrophic accident occurred. During a confrontation between an immortal and a Blackmoorian spelljammer something went terribly wrong. The spelljammer, powered by a Furnace, malfunctioned and absorbed the immortal’s life essence. Although not killed, the immortal was was trapped, and its power was made to serve another. Thus the first Hierarchy Lord was born. Only a handful of the creatures exist, but with them resides the knowledge of consuming immortal souls.
This secret is one that the immortals are loath to allow, though few are willing to risk their own essence to destroy those possessing it. Instead the Immortals have unleashed their Faithful upon the spheres, devoted mortal worshippers, many from the home planes of the Immortals themselves. The Eternal War will not end until one side or the other is eradicated, and the threat of being drawn into the conflict is high for unwary travelers of the spheres.
Outer Being Escape
Eons before the first mortals ventured into the void, unknowable, stygian entities drifted through the dark reaches between the spheres. Since time immemorial, or at least for as far back as the oldest Immortals can remember, these Outer Beings have wrought havoc upon the Prime Material Plane, and any mortals who were unfortunate enough to discover their existence. For millennia, the Immortals and Outer Beings contested the fate of the multiverse, with neither side gaining the upper hand… at least until the age of the carnifex.
During the height of carnifex power on Mystara, the saurian culture fell victim to rampant Outer Being worship. Carnifex mastery of the arcane arts, combined with the dark lore of the Outer Beings, threatened to end Immortal rule of the Multiverse once and for all. In desperation the Immortals set a plot in motion to capture and imprison their foes in a pocket universe. Though the cost was high, the Immortals ultimately prevailed, sealing both the carnifex and their dark patrons away in a prison plane.
The power of the Outer Beings however, cannot be contained forever. There are places among the spheres, where the bonds separating the prison plane from the rest of the multiverse are thin, and the Outer Beings can still be heard through these cracks in reality. Dark cultists, never fully expunged from carnifex culture, still seek to free their ancient patrons. Should they succeed, the multiverse could be plunged once again into an epic struggle between titanic powers.
Rise of the Sheen God
Not all threats to the multiverse are old. A new form of life is stirring from the ashes of the Shattered Spheres. Originally created by the Blackmoorians as a mechanical weapon against their foes, sheen life has grown in complexity over the millennia. Ever expanding, these evolving constructs have come to dominate huge regions in Known Space, and threaten every culture they come into contact with.
The mortal races are not alone in facing the sheen threat. Deep in the heart of Crackedspace, the sheens are attempting to create a god of their own. Should they succeed, a new power may arise in the multiverse, one that could rival the Immortals or even the Outer Beings.
Finding the Way Home
While most Mystarans continue through their existence, blissfully unaware of the larger multiverse around them, the exiled cultures in the Mystaran Cluster are all too cognizant of their place in the cosmos. So too are they painfully aware of their past, and the homelands they were driven from.
Though most living amongst the spheres know the tales of their ancestors’ exiles, few would ever dream that they could find their way back to the Lost Sphere of Mystaraspace. Should travelers from the Lost Sphere find their way into the greater reaches of arcane space, then all life in Mystaraspace may be put at risk. If the path of Mystaraspace natives can ever be traced back to its origin, the Exiled races would surely attempt to return home.
[Sidebar: Immortals vs. Gods]
These are rough notes, and as yet many of the details are not finalized. Since I’ve never actually ran an Exiles Campaign, I’ve never needed to do this. The words “god” and “immortal” are used interchangeably (rest assured I am talking about Mystaran immortals when you see either word). The terms “Known Space” and “Known Spheres” describe the same thing (this campaign setting) and can also be used interchangeably. The Known Space of this setting is not the same as the Known Space of the classic Spelljammer setting.
[Sidebar: Carnifex Dominance]
One concern regarding the Exiles Campaign setting is the vast amount of time between the original carnifex exile and the introduction of any other Mystaran culture into space. Given the power of the carnifex, and the amount of time they had to establish themselves in space, it may be hard to believe that any other culture could have dislodged the carnifex enough to establish a hold in their territory.
The time between Carnifex exile and Blackmoorian exile is roughly 11000 years; more than enough time for the carnifex to solidify their control of all of Known Space. There are however, several factors which might explain how the lesser (mammalian) races would have been able to carve out their own domains from carnifex territories.
Carnifex Corruption: Carnifex society has always been plagued with the cancer of Outer Being worship. This provides a source of constant conflict within carnifex cultures and may help to keep carnifex interests turned inward rather than outward. Several times throughout their tenure in space, the carnifex have instituted purges on a stellar scale to rid themselves of these vile cultists.
Sheen Life: Once they were exiled, it didn’t take the Blackmoorians long to deduce that they were greatly outnumbered by their enemies. Both the carnifex and the immortals wanted nothing less than to wipe the memory of Blackmoor from Known Space permanently. Desperate, to turn the tides, the Blackmoorians fell back one old crafts they had developed on Mystara and created the sheens, sentient machines, as the vanguard of their armies. Despite the fact that they ultimately lost control of their creations, the end result still proved beneficial as carnifex resources were squandered on removing sheens from territories that they had invaded.
Saurian Plague: The third exiles from Mystara, the Nithians, brought with them a deadly plague… but one that only infected saurian life. As the ancient Malpheggi lizardmen of Mystara discovered, the Nithian plague was epidemic, decimating all saurian life that it encountered. In the wake of Nithian expansion, entire carnifex populations were removed from the spheres, leaving their cities and structures to waste in eerie silence.
[Sidebar: Elves in the Exiles Campaign]
Elves play a large role in the Spelljammer Campaign Setting, and are one of the few races powerful enough to have a unified, multi-sphere nation. Assuming that the DM wishes to run a Spelljammer campaign from Mystaraspace, one of the questions they may need to answer is how Mystaran elves relate to other elves in the setting. Ultimately it is up to the DM to decide this issue, however we present three different options below.
Elves Evolved on Mystara: If you choose to go this route, then any elf met outside of the Mystaraspace system would be the descendant of some elf that at one point in time left the system to travel the multiverse. This option works fine, especially for a Mystara-centric campaign, where discovering other RPG worlds (like Krynn, Greyhawk, or Faerun) is not an option. Going with that option however, almost defeats the purpose of using Spelljammer, since those rules were intended to tie multiple RPG campaign worlds together.
Elves Migrated to Mystara: Elves first appeared on Mystara about 7000 years ago (circa BC 6000). One way to integrate Mystaran elves with other elves across the spheres is to assume that at some point in the past an elven expedition stumbled upon Mystaraspace, and decided to colonize it. This explanation may not fit with other Mystaran creation myths (that the elves were created by Ordana, or the elven mythology of the Dragonlord series).
Elves Evolved in Multiple Locations: One of the unexplainable mysteries of the multiverse (especially in a magical multiverse) may be that elves evolved in multiple locations independently. Perhaps elven life was seeded in these areas by elven gods or immortals. Perhaps the magical nature of the multiverse itself shapes these beings in very similar ways. The truth may never be known, but despite this, elves from different systems still share a feeling of kinship with one another.
Camille Flammarion, L'Atmosphère: Météorologie Populaire (Paris, 1888), pp. 163 [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons
Aurora Australis Observed From the International Space Station, 21 June 2010 [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons
Carnifex Warrior by John Calvin [used by permission of the artist]
The Mystaran Solar System by Havard [used by permission of the artist]
Sphere Map of Crackedspace by John Calvin [used by permission of the artist]
Sphere Map of Coldspace by John Calvin [used by permission of the artist]
Sphere Map of Bugspace by John Calvin [used by permission of the artist]
The Mystaran Cluster (from nerik’s Map of the Phlogiston) used by permission of the artist.
Modified from https://www.pexels.com/photo/space-galaxy-stars-universe-24758/ [CC0 License] via pexels
Lava planet (need to find this reference)
Sphere Map of Pillarspace by John Calvin [used by permission of the artist]
Pillarsapce Mock Cover by John Calvin
Modified from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Starsinthesky.jpg [Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license] via Wikimedia Commons
2This is the mechanism by which the Spelljamming Campaign Setting connects all of the different D&D campaign worlds.
3Mystaraspace is the name spacefarers use to refer to the crystal sphere containing Mystara. Generally crystal spheres are named for the primary (campaign) world inside of them.
4It is unknown exactly when the Nithians brought the Saurian Plague (the very disease that also destroyed the Malpheggi lizardman culture on Mystara) to the spheres. It is quite possible that the plague co-existed with the Nithians from their very first forays into space. For one possible theory of how the plague developed, see Threshold Issue 13 http://pandius.com/Threshold_13.pdf The Undead of Elegy Island, and the entry for Jaime “Honey-Creeper” Ahua.
5Radiant Lords build a device called a Furnace, which is able to control and manipulate the radiance in a fashion similar to that of the Nucleus of the Spheres (see GAZ 3), or Chamber of the Spheres (see GAZ 13).
6Saint Stephen was one of the Federation aliens who survived when their ship crash landed on Mystara.
7The idea for Sheens was borrowed from Dragon Magazine. More information on Sheens can be found in Dragon Magazine issues 258 and 260.
8Dokufu are evil shape changing spiders found in the Oriental Adventures setting.
9The term lizard-kin includes lizardmen, troglodytes, siss’thik, caymen, gatormen, ophidians, and many other reptilian species.
10The map of the Mystaran Cluster of spheres is an extract of a much larger flow map created by nerik. See the [Mapping] That's a lot of Spheres! http://www.thepiazza.org.uk/bb/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=6292 thread at The Piazza for more information. The full map can be found here Flow Map http://nerik.orpheusweb.co.uk/files/Spelljammer/Flow_map_01-12-12.pdf
11For more discussion of such secrets, see the Features of the Phlogiston http://www.thepiazza.org.uk/bb/viewtopic.phppic.php?t=8875 thread on The Piazza
12This wasting disease is very similar to the effects suffered by those who come into prolonged contact with the Radiance on Mystara.
13DMs may decide to handle elven history as best fits their own campaigns. It may be that elves originated in Mystaraspace, or perhaps they migrated to the region from other crystal spheres. See the sidebar on Elves in the Exiles Campaign for several different options. Regardless, elves were not exiled by the immortals as the other races in the Exiles Campaign were.
14See The Tome of Mystara Issue #1, Pyramid Down http://pandius.com/tome/tomevol1/pyramid/advpyr1.html and The Tome of Mystara Issue #2, Night of the Blue Sun http://pandius.com/tome/tomevol2/bluesun/bluesun.html by John Calvin for adventures based on this idea.
15Kindori, scaver, and krajen are all Spelljammer creatures that live in the void of wildspace. Kindori are huge creatures akin to seagoing whales, scaver are cyclopean shark-like creatures, and krajen are colossal squid shaped horrors (the kraken’s of wildspace).
16For more information on Emberspace see the [Sphere] Emberspace http://www.thepiazza.org.uk/bb/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=2739 thread at The Piazza.
17For more information on The City of Brass see the The City of Brass
http://www.thepiazza.org.uk/bb/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=3495 thread at the Piazza.
18For more information on Pillarspace see the [Sphere] Pillarspace http://www.thepiazza.org.uk/bb/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=3105 thread at The Piazza.
19Rustspace does not appear on the map of the Mystaran Cluster, but can be placed by DMs anywhere in the vicinity of the Dustbowl Sargasso.
21Scuttlespace does not appear on the map of the Mystaran Cluster, but can be placed by DMs anywhere in the vicinity of the Dustbowl Sargasso.
22See the article Rafiel's Home Plane http://pandius.com/reidyll.html by John Calvin at The Vaults of Pandius, for more information about Rafiel and his plans for constructing multiple Chambers across the multiverse.