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The Hidden Kingdom Cycle

by Siroh

Hi folks. I'm writing down background for a short(ish) adventure cycle I intend to pursue if the players take the bait. I have situated a pocket dimension called the Shadow Realm next to but separate from both Mystara and the Nightmare Dimension. The ethereal plane touches this plane but the connections are not coterminous with those same connections elsewhere. I.e. if you had a magic portal that would reach all 3 of these worlds, you would end up in an entirely different part of the ethereal if you opened a pathway to the ethereal from the Shadow Realm than if you crossed over in Mystara. The natural elements in the Shadow Realm are blackflame, miasma, earth and water.

The thing I need help with is the migratory timing. I want a group of halflings to be exiled here during the time of the elven migrations, and later on alphatians are exiled about 200 years after Alphatians arrive on Mystara. I'd also like it if some orcs or beastmen were exiled as well. I don't have a good timeline to hand, so I was hoping people could poke holes in my thinking if this doesn't make sense.

This is what I have so far:

The Hidden Kingdom Cycle

The Heroes stumble upon a doorway to the Shadow Realm, a pocket world which is next to the Material plane but separated by a strong barrier. There is no access to the traditional Elemental Planes of Fire and Air from the Shadow Realm, only access to the plane of Nightmare's attendant elemental planes. The Primal elements in the Shadow Realm are Blackflame, Miasma, Water and Earth instead of fire, air, water and earth.

Over the millennia several empires worth of people have been exiled to the Shadow Realm. The first to be sent over were halflings from the time of the elven migrations. The second people to be exiled here are the alphatians of the Rock. These wizards were initially devastated but eventually mastered the nightmare elements and grew their powerbase around the element of Miasma, as they had built their previous power around Air. The unique nature of the elements here has allowed them to stay masters of some normal primal elemental magic.

They have not mingled their blood in all this time and have actually grown quite strong in the ways of magic, compared to every other population on Mystara. They came to call themselves the Illuminated Kingdom, with their fortress city being named Bastion the Bright Jewel.

Those of these people who had no talent for magic were cast out. So while the Illuminated Kingdom is peopled with strong magic users they have still dwindled in terms of population. When these people began to be exiled in greater numbers they grouped together for survival and created the third major population of the Shadow Realm, the Ruined. Over time this became transliterated as the Ruiners, a society dedicated to conquering the Illuminated Kingdom and enjoying the fruits of Bastion's safety.

There are plenty of native creatures to the Shadow Realm, and plants as well. A significant majority of fauna creates its own light, glowing with a pale green, blue or purple hue. A significant portion of the animals are very dangerous to humanoids, so nobody travels alone if they can avoid it. Just as many nightmare travelers show up in the Shadow Realm as on Mystara. The Illuminated Kingdom is well protected, with their mastery of nightmare elements for offensive magics, so these creatures normally plague the halfling community, and the ruiners.

The sky in the Shadow Realm is always somewhat dark. There is no sun, so a bright day has silver appearance to the sky. While there is no sun, there are plenty of brightly glowing stellar bodies which resemble glowing orbs in the sky. These orbs travel around the sky, presumably because they orbit a planet in the Shadow Realm, and they keep regular time. Someone from the Shadow Realm can tell what time of year it is by the positions of the orbs, which is what they are called. Just as with a moon that is visible in the daytime, these orbs are more visible at night.

The entry to the cycle is the revamped Journey to the Rock adventure, and after that it involves rumors of darklings (Shadow Realms hin) cropping up in areas near caves, an invasion of same from out of the Shadowdeep and into the Five Shires, and the hunt for the second token needed with the one obtained in Journey to the Rock to release the Illuminated Kingdom back into Mystara, or to make sure that never happens.