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Thoughts on Heldann

by Geoff Gander

This is another one of the maps of which I am especially proud. Thorf expresses the Zeitgeist exactly in his article: The Mystaran fan community hungered for any scrap of official information about Heldann and the Heldannic Knights, and Bruce’s posts on the old Mystara Message Board (MMB) constituted the closest thing we would have to “official” setting material.* It’s since been expanded by a lot of additional material, and now I think we have a rich region for players to explore.

When I made the map, I started with the northern fringe of TM1 (The Western Countries), as that was the only official 8-mile hex map covering Heldann we had. I also had X3 (Curse of Xanathon), and added Lake Erid since that, too, was official. I added additional settlements – mainly additional villages – where I thought they made sense, and extrapolated the 8-mile hex terrain types from the larger-scale maps. And... I added some rivers.

Of course, I had to take some creative license. The lakes around Pflenzen (which were later named the Lorelei), for example, are entirely my own creation and in my mind this region of Heldann is quite idyllic and almost has fey overtones. This would be a good place to stage adventures drawing from German folklore, as there are trolls, giants, and other perils mixed with fairies and other mysterious creatures. The Heldanner clans probably gave parts of this area a wide berth, while the Hattian-descended settlers might be clearing forests at their peril. An interesting region, to be sure.

Although it’s not completely clear on the map, Kammin in the north is a small town, originally conceived as a staging area for further northward expansion, as well as the intended commercial port to take some of the strain off of Freiburg. Whether this actually comes to be is up to the individual campaign, but again in my mind Kammin ends up being somewhat successful as a port, but as military operations move northward the place acquires a quieter feel as the burghers take over. The Ostbergen have adventure opportunities, however, so it’s not a dull place…

* I’ll go out on a limb and dredge up some memories from the late 90s – apologies in advance if I misremember something. As I recall in conversations on the MMB, TSR did have active plans to produce a Gazetteer for Heldann, but the author (who was never named) hired to write it was uncomfortable with developing what could be considered an “evil” nation. The project didn’t advance so it was shelved, then other developments we all know about happened and what might have been GAZ15 never came to be in its original intended form.