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Once, In a Blue Moon: Nations of the Spindrift Seaby John Calvin from Threshold Magazine issue 4
Once, In a Blue Moon
Nations of the Spindrift Sea
by John Calvin
Forward by the author:
Eerie and alluring, the dark interior world of Matera that Sharon Dornhoff, Geoff Gander, and others, envisioned almost 15 years ago continues to fuel my imagination even to this day. In this issue of Threshold we will explore the Hollow Moon’s largest ocean, the Great Spindrift Sea, and delve into the nations and cultures that live along its shores.
Lunar Properties (Getting Re-Acquainted)
The Hollow Moon is a vast and strange setting, and many of its properties are quite alien when compared to a world like Mystara. This section will help readers become acquainted with all the bizarre characteristics of the moon that inhabitants of the interior of Matera take for granted.
When the prehistoric comet crashed onto the surface of Matera, the impact was strong enough to fracture the entire Crystal Firmament. Although the most violent fractures - those large enough to allow voidships passage from space into the interior of Matera - are only located around the impact site at Mare Orientale, the fractures from the impact stretch across the moon’s entire surface. These can be seen when the light from the sun shines on the Farside, and they have been used by Materans for eons to help tell the time. As the sunlight passes over specific areas of the Farside new fractures are illuminated while others fade away. Materans keep track of these fractures just as their counterparts on Mystara track the movements of constellations in the night sky.
Great Spindrift Sea
The Great Spindrift Sea lies directly in the center of Nearside and takes up a great portion of the Midlands. It is the largest body of water in the Hollow Moon and connects nations of the Midlands to the Northlands, Southlands, and Duskward Rimlands.
Like most of the seas in the Hollow Moon, the Spindrift Sea’s floor lies directly atop the crystal firmament. Portions of the seabed are covered in a layer of encrusted basalt. This layer, formed long ago after the great cometary impact at Mare Orientale, rises up from the sea to form the many islands that dot the Spindrift, and it is kept geologically active by the tidal forces of Mystara and Patera. The rest of the seabed is crystal - the same crystal that comprises the Firmament and the Crystalbarrens.
Where the edge of the Spindrift Sea meets the unnatural cold of the crystalbarrens, the sea itself turns solid. Massive amounts of ice build up along this border creating a curving glacial wall that separates the sea from the crystal it sits upon. This icy layer usually ranges from 10 to 30 miles, but is prevented from forming on the seabed itself due to the tremendous pressures of the water there.
Oddly enough, during Fulldark, when the sun lies directly beneath the Nearside and the Hollow Moon receives its least amount of light, is when the Spindrift Sea is the brightest. Sunlight filtering through the crystal seabed illuminates the sea from the bottom up.
Circle Tides occur twice per Materan year, and cause the waters of the Spindrift Sea to all circulate in one direction for a period of three days. The first Circle Tide happens in the month of Itiukkin and spins the waters in a counter-clockwise motion, while the second Circle Tide in Itinissatu spins them in a clockwise motion.
Alignment: Lawful (OD&D); CG (AD&D)
Race: Humpback whale
Clerical Alignment: Any non-evil but LN
Followers' Alignment: Any (placated by many evil lunar races)
Symbol: A whale with a shiny crescent moon for her tail-flukes
Interests: Materan weather, Materan seas, tides, whales, migration, natural and biological cycles
Worshipped in: The Hollow Moon, all oceans
Once a grey whale living in the oceans of Mystara, Seshay-Selene attained immortality after creating a new migrational culture for her people - the Unending Sojourn. Her intimate knowledge of tides, seasonality, and celestial workings made her the ideal candidate to run the Hollow Moon (after Ixion declined the honour, seeing little benefit in guiding a world with no sunlight).
Many of the undersea races still worship her, though she is little known by the surface folk… at least on Mystara. Inside of Matera she has many names. To the Albheldri (and the Nithians before them) she is Nephthisi, Goddess of the Moon, while to the cryions of the Crystalbarrens she is known only as the Great Stormspume. Shark-kin of Crisium and Humorum call her Moonsinger, in the fashion of the long lost Aquarendi (which when translated into the elven tongue is Seshay-Selene). She has other names as well - most often related to silver, or moonlight, or singing, or to the endless crashing of the waves against the shore.
Materan natives are not restricted by the Spell of Remembrance in the same way as natives of the Hollow World are by the Spell of Preservation. Although they will remember their culture and its proclivities, they are not bound by them, and thus it is much easier for DMs to run a group of native Materan PCs. New armor, weapons, or tools - all are fair game to native Materan PCs.
Matera is not a humano-centric setting, and in fact humans are in a distinct minority (and at a distinct disadvantage inside of the dark world). Luckily most races are fairly tolerant of the different species living around them. It is easy for adventurers from different cultures to join forces and work together.
As the “right hand” for Seshay-Seline, the Nephthisian priestesses hold a unique role in the Hollow Moon setting. Believing that they speak and act for their Immortal patroness - who they believe created and rules over the interior of Matera, they see it as their solemn duty to nurture and care for both the world, and the cultures living there.
Though based in Albheldri, Nephthisians have missionaries spread out across the Nearside, always striving to bring communities together in order to work towards Seshay-Selene’s goals for their homeworld. As such they act as counselors and advisors, and it is not beyond them to gather like minded folk together to complete their assigned tasks. Thus adventurers are routinely employed the Nephthisians and may be true believers in their cause, patriots of their own nations, or simply mercenaries paid to do a job.
Plots requiring multi-species cooperation in the Hollow Moon can be driven by enemies just as easily as they can be driven by some shared ally, such as the Nephthisians. Both the pteryx, and the Adhuzan Dominarchy (controlled by the kopru) can serve as some pretty spectacular enemies in the Midlands. The kopru are always trying to expand their territories and their influence, and once the pteryx begin to stir from their aeries in the Apennines, no one is safe.
Not all antagonists in the Hollow Moon are mortal. Several evil Immortals have taken an interest in the Hollow Moon, including Thanatos and Demogorgon. Though typically in hiding, their servants are sprinkled throughout the interior of Matera, having infiltrated nearly every Hollow Moon culture to varying extents. Thanatos especially works towards the downfall of the cultures descended from Nithia (both Thebit in Adhuza, and the Nephthisians in Albheldri), while Demogorgon is obsessed with causing as much mayhem through the pteryx as possible.
Plain Old Greed
Many cultures, including Adhuza, Albheldri, Aran, Cacklogallinia, Taurus, Vesper, and even the Trogs of Putrescence, are driven by a need to improve themselves. In many, this is expressed by explorers, merchants, and even adventurers. Such folk are driven to travel through vale and dell, across twisted and volcanic mountain ranges, and over every sea in the Hollow Moon. Explorers and merchants constantly seek out new routes to open up new trading possibilities, or to give them an advantage over their competitors. Vessels in the Hollow Moon traverse land, sea, and some even fly the skyways (the fabled silver ships of the Nephthisians and silk dirigibles of Aran). Still, wherever goods and riches are transported, folk will have to defend themselves against the predations of pirates, bandits, and other brigands.
Likewise adventurers are not unknown in these lands, for the Hollow Moon has a long and varied history, and though cultures persist thanks to the Spell of Remembrance, many nations have risen and fallen inside the moon. As such there are countless ruins scattered across the Nearside, waiting to be explored by those daring - or foolish - enough. Abandoned Adhuzan outposts, ancient stongholds of the once great troglodyte empire, even a handful of pteryx repositories lost to time.
Nations of the Midlands
The Spindrift Sea is the largest single body of water in the Hollow Moon, and its central location in the Midlands plays a key role in the politics and dynamics of the region. It connects the Midlands and Southlands to the Duskward Rimlands and the Northlands, and vessels from half a dozen different nations or more ply its waters.
Two of the most powerful nations in the Hollow Moon lie along the shores of the Spindrift Sea, namely the Pteryx Apennines, and the Adhuzan Dominarchy, but even more distant nations like Taurus and Cacklogallinia have a presence here.
On the Outer World
The aardovai developed in the Yazak Steppes region along the savage coast. Encroaching Oltecs, and later humanoids, drove them from their ancestral lands eastward toward the southern coast of Brun. The aggressive nations in that area (namely Intua and Taymora) easily dominated the primitive lupins and eventually drove them to extinction, though pockets may have survived in Sind and Hule until about 1000 BC..
In the Hollow Moon
Aardovai territory is located on the broken marshy promontories of “the Rilles” that juts out into the southern Spindrift Sea. A narrow strip of land connects the Rilles to the elven Vesperlands of the southeast. The Sukate Fen dominates the central and eastern Rilles, while the Spaasuka Bog covers most of the western territory.
A small, primitive, lupin breed similar to modern hunter and vermin hunter breeds, the aardovai are nomadic. All aardovai in the region are organized into four major clans, the Mnisukai, Wiyakai, Ainilai, and Tokai, each of which controls roughly a quarter of the Rilles. All of the tribes share a common heritage and culture, including a belief in Lakoahnu - a many legged, insectile, god who dwells in the heart of Mount Sotepeta and watches over their lands, taking care of their people. Among other things, Lakoahnu blesses the highly ritualized giant termite hunts, upon which the aardovai rely for much of their resources and sustenance.
Though all aardovai worship Lakoahnu and hunt the giant termites of the region, that is where their similarities end. The Mnisukai, who dwell along the eastern shores of the Rilles, are the most sedentary and maintain a permanent settlement all year round. From there the Mnisukai patrol their territory in leather canoes and occasionally conduct trade with visiting gnomish steamships. The Wiyakai, in the south, are the most receptive to outsiders and often deal with elven hunters and trappers from Vesper. Most distant and isolated are the Ainilai, though they are not as hostile toward outsiders as the Tokai. Of all the tribes, the war-like Tokai are feared the most. They have been known to attack unwary seafarers, Vesper elves, and even neighboring aardovai tribes.
During Fire Times, the aardovai tribes gather into larger semi-permanent settlements, while the most courageous warriors brave the wilds to hunt fledgling termite queens on their maiden flights. It is also during these times that trade is conducted with outsiders - mostly Vesper elves and steamship traveling gnomes from as far away as the Tauran Mounts.
Times have been hard for the Mnisukai tribe, and its larders are nearly empty. As the next Fire Time approaches, it is obvious that something is wrong with the giant termites of the area. None of the nests are preparing for the flight of the new queens. Unless the PCs can determine the cause of the termite’s plight and remove it, the tribe will surely starve.
Aardovai families have been flocking to the call of the strange white fox known as Ghost Sister, who lives near the ruins of Taakaglesk. Ghost Sister warns that the spirits of the troglodytes who once ruled this land are becoming unrestful, and will soon lead forth an undead army to slaughter the four tribes. The PCs must brave the dangers of the ruins in order to stop this foul plot.
The Tokai are being driven into a murderous frenzy by some unknown power. Once their bloodlust peaks, they will descend upon the other tribes in slaughter. All signs point to something foul in their native hunting grounds of Yupemni Kaska that is feeding their madness. Can the PCs discover this mystery and put a stop to it before the aardovai fall into war?
The Adhuzan Dominarchy is intended to be one of the major antagonists of the Hollow Moon setting. It is a monolithic nation composed of many dominated cultures, and it is the intention of the author to revisit this land in more detail in the future with a dedicated article.
1800 BC to 950 BC.
On the Outer World
The Adhuzan Dominarchy has had many incarnations on Mystara dating back to before the rise of Blackmoor. Its last incarnation was on Vulcania where the kopru brought together satrapies consisting of merfolk, dwarves, minotaurs, and humans from various cultures. When the satrapies began to destabilize (due in equal parts to natural disasters and foreign attacks), the immortals rushed to save their unique culture. Various immortals have added other dominated cultures to the Hollow Moon over the centuries since then.
In the Hollow Moon
Adhuza stretches from the Spindrift Sea, home of the Twaal merfolk, to the Straight Wall of Thebit. The Aiwadrazuh mountain range runs that entire length, supporting several human populations along its base. Beneath its surface are heated lakes of water and lava, and the secret domain of the kopru who rule this land. To the west they are bordered by the Crystalbarrens of the Cryions, to the east by the elven Vesperlands and the hin of Shaergarde, and to the south by Cynidicea and Toroldorsk.
Twaal merfolk form the backbone of the empire. Their territory stretches across the western half of the Spindrift Sea and they are connected to the dominions of the Midlands through man made canals and secret underground waterways. Just beneath the Twaal in the social pecking order of the empire are the men of Limor and Vareinya. They serve as merchants and ambassadors to the rest of the world, as well as forming the majority of the Adhuzan military. In the south, descendants of Nithia, and the inheritors of that nation’s once mighty magical legacy, pursue the arcane arts in Thebit.
Other races have also been brought into the fold. The satrapy of Kogalor is the homeland of dwarven craftsmen and artisans, whose fabled forges draw their power directly from the molten magma beneath the Aiwadrazuh mountains. The city state of Labrys is the home of minotaurs, many of which serve as elite shock troops and elite martial forces in the Adhuzan military, Orc slaves are also common throughout the Dominarchy’s territory, their spirit and savagery long ago ground down by their masters.
Beneath the facade of it all lie the kopru, who control their puppet states from hidden thermal pools that are common along the Aiwadrazuh range. Masters at what they do, the kopru use subterfuge and manipulation more often than not to command their subjects, though outright mental domination is employed when necessary (the kopru use strategically placed colossal statues to help boost their mental powers across their territory). Their subjects have been engineered over the centuries to be more susceptible to the kopru’s powers, and in fact many of the human figurehead-rulers even have a merfolk ancestor - much like the Queen of Aquas on Mystara does.
Fire Times are mild in Adhuza, because many of the underground volcanic vents are controlled (and manipulated) by the kopru. They still need to vent some of the volcanic power, but they can shunt activity to areas of their territory that are less populated. Alternatively they can also use it to punish populations that have displeased them (or somehow managed to break free of their control).
Mount Ammonius is the exception to this rule, and belches forth poisonous gasses on an annual basis that can drift over large swaths of land. Although its active period is well known, now one ever quite knows where the winds will carry its poison. Mount Flammarion, in the north, doesn’t erupt quite as often (once every two years), but it sends gouts of fire and flaming rock into the air which often fall in Labrys, but have been known to reach faraway Vareinya and Limor.
A small band of Vesper elves has infiltrated Thebit, and are planning to destroy the Straight Wall. Should they succeed, the massing hordes of cryions prowling around on the nearby crystalbarrens will swoop in to pillage and plunder the ancient city of Thebit.
The statue of Adhuza-M’Thaz in Labrys has been desecrated by dissidents. The PCs must brave the maze-like wastelands of Labrys to remove the rebels, and find and repair the statue (lest the kopru lose much of their control over the surrounding minotaur population. Alternatively, the PCs may have been sent to destroy the statue, in which case they must defeat forces loyal to the kopru in order to carry out their mission.
Strange fumes have begun seeping out from the Plains of Ammonium. Though not quite deadly, the gases do induce a semi-catatonic state in those breathing them, resulting in entire populations who exhibit mind numbing, zombie-like traits. The fumes are in fact caused by the kopru deep in the heart of the Aiwadrazuh Range, who are experimenting with ways to make their populations more pliable and easy to dominate. The PCs must journey to the heart of kopru lands and assault their underground stronghold before the kopru can succeed in their plot.
On the Outer World
The Albheldri culture is actually a combination of two outer world cultures, the Nephthisian priestesses (who were an ancient religious sect in Nithia) and the Albharendi albinoes of the Ierendi Islands. Allies of a sort on the outer world, it was the Albharendi who granted the Nephthisians sanctuary on their islands when the sect was being persecuted by the ascending priesthood of Rathenos. During the last years of Nithia, once it had fallen completely under the corruption of Thanatos, the priestesses and their allies were once again persecuted. Following the proscriptions of their Immortal patroness, the Nephthisians build ships that could sail the dark Void in the sky and fled to the moon. While not all the Albharendi could flee with them, several populations were taken up by the immortals and deposited in the new homeland inside of Matera.
In the Hollow Moon
Although the arrival of the Vareinyans and Limorans of Adhuza preceded the Albheldri, the albinos and their allies had one distinct advantage over their human cousins - their eyesight was already adapted to living in the dark. Because of this the Albheldri spread across the Nearside, and have since integrated themselves into many of the nearby cultures as counselors and advisors. Taurus gnomes, aardovai of the Rilles, hin of Shaergarde, and others all welcome council from itinerant Nephthisian priestesses.
The Haemus Islands remain the power base for the Albheldri culture, and the center of their population on Nearside. Their shipwrights are known throughout the Midlands, and merchants and traders from Albheldri ply the waters from the Spindrift Sea to Mare Tranquillitatis and further Duskward.
Albheldri culture is the amalgamation of two Mystaran cultures - Nephthisian cultists from ancient Nithia, and albino Albarendi mystics of Ierendi. Deeply spiritual, the Albheldri people live their lives in the service of Seshay-Seline. The Haemus Islands afford the Albheldri relative protection from foreign aggressors and allow the populace to live and practice their religious beliefs in peace.
Master shipbuilders, the Albheldri are also well known for their mysticism, and there are several mystical orders scattered throughout the islands. Most of these fall under the auspices of the Order of the Moon, which was established in ancient times on Mystara as a way of controlling those infected by Taymoran lycanthropy. The founders of the Order were able to regulate lycanthropy by tying its magical effects to the phases of the moon, and through training and magical items were able to give those afflicted by lycanthropy some modicum of control over their lives. Today in Albheldri lycanthropes are considered blessed by Nephthisi, and the Order of the Moon sends its mystical shapeshifters across the Nearside to further the goals of their immortal patroness.
Although spiritual life is dominated by Nephthisi, other immortals also hold sway in Albheldri culture. Bastet, Maat, and even Pflarr, have devotees throughout the islands and beyond. Many Nithian immortals also have pocket followings, though not all of them are welcome. The Cult of Rathanos is frowned upon by the dominant Nephthisians because of their patriarchal chauvinism and active plotting to bring down the followers of Nephthisi.
Fire times happen fairly infrequently in Albheldri, although when they do occur they can be extremely violent. Mount Djedwesh erupts once every 50 years, causing the populations of Nephtet, Tetis, and Pharis to evacuate. Most move to the southeastern shores of the island and to Albarend and Shemew islands just before the event, leaving those three cities as virtual ghost towns for a full lunar month.
Mount Awiaped erupts once every year, but its effects are very minor. A small, steady plume of ash and gas seep from the mountaintop, and thin rivulets of magma pour into the surrounding sea. These times are sacred for the Cult of Rathanos, who use them to meet in secret inside the heart of the volcano.
The Cult of Rathanos has discovered a means to control some of the volcanic vents connecting Mount Awiaped to the Pteryx Apennines and is planning to use that power to destroy a pteryx city. The Cult of Rathanos plans to seize control after the pteryx destroy the entrenched Nephthisian theocracy. Unfortunately for the cult, should they actually succeed, there may be very little left for them to take control of.
An ancient Taymoran artifact resurfaces in the mystic fortress of Menra, causing all lycanthropes in the area to lose control of their shapeshifting abilities and mental faculties. The Order of the Moon is sending a band of adventurers to find and destroy the artifact before its members lose all control and a new lycanthropic curse is unleashed upon the islands.
The Immortal Nephthises (Seshay-Seline) has been sending dreams to her priestesses telling them to once again sail the stars. Adventurers are gathered together to explore the caverns beneath Hetese, where the fabled silver ship, Moonlight, awaits rediscovery. Once freed from its current guardians, the ship and its crew will be tasked with taking Nephthises’ word throughout the Hollow Moon and possibly beyond.
On the Outer World
The devilfish were undersea nomads that migrated across the seas of Mystara raiding and pillaging the tritons, merrow, and other races that lived there. Shortly after the fall of Taymora, the devilfish became infected by a strain of undersea vampirism which spread through their culture like wildfire. To preserve their original culture, a small group was moved into the Hollow Moon before they could become infected.
In the Hollow Moon
The devilfish thrive in the waters of Mare Vaporum, where the floor of the Spindrift Sea is covered by basalt runoff from Albheldri and the Pteryx Apennines, and very little light shines through from the crystal bedrock, even during Fulldark.
Nomadic raiders, devilfish culture is cyclic, and based around times of feast and famine. During most of the lunar year, the warm waters of Mare Vaporum team with life, and devilfish raiding parties are content to remain within to hunt. During this time their numbers increase, rising to a point that is almost unsupportable. When the Circle Tides come (in the months of Itiukkin and Itinissatu respectively), devilfish society is thrown into chaos. Tidal forces caused by Mystara and Patera cause the waters of the Spindrift Sea to rotate, siphoning the warmer waters out of Mare Vaporum and jetting them around the sea. Though the Circle Tides last for only three days, their effects on the region last for much longer.
During these times, swarms of starving devilfish make a mass exodus from their traditional hunting grounds, and begin to raid and pillage across the entire Spindrift Sea. Both undersea dwellers and surface going ships are at risk from the ravenous locust-like hordes of devilfish, but such activities take a toll on their numbers as well. Within a month, devilfish populations are greatly reduced (either through starvation or violence) and when they return back to Mare Vaporum their numbers are much more sustainable.
Though savage and unpredictable, smaller devilfish communities can be reasoned with on occasion. Small kelp farming villages on the outskirts of Twaal controlled waters will often send tributes to local devilfish tribes in return for being overlooked during their depredations, but sometimes more sinister pacts are made with the creatures. A handful of pirates operating in the Spindrift Sea strike bargains with the devilfish, who will track merchant vessels and even help bring them down - the pirates take the plunder and the devilfish take the vanquished crews.
Though relatively mild in this region, activity from undersea vents and volcanic runoff from the Apennines increases two to three fold once every twenty years. Such an influx of heat sends the local ecologies, including the devilfish, into overdrive. During these years the devilfish populations can become so bloated that they nearly turn the Spindrift Sea black when making their exodus on the Circle Tides. Afterwards, the waters of the Spindrift Sea choke on the toxicity of dead devilfish corpses, crashing neighboring fishing societies and causing widespread famine both under the sea and above it.
PCs are stranded on a small island during circle tide and the devilfish swarm the waters around them. A shipwrecked boat on a nearby island may be their only means of escape, but in order to access it the PCs must figure out a way to cross the devilfish infested waters to reach it.
A small village of Twaal kelp farmers has been suffering the depredations of local devilfish for decades now, and they fear their village will be overrun as the 20 year cycle of the Fire Times approaches and devilfish populations explode. The PCs are asked to help the Twaal defend their village, and must prepare to survive an assault from overwhelming numbers.
Mauro pirates have been attacking and sinking Nephthisian merchant ships for several months, and the priestesses believe they are receiving help from a local tribe of devilfish. The PCs are tasked with finding the pirates and their allies, and putting a stop to them. The savage tribe of devilfish are actually worshippers of Thanatos, and are gathering surface dwellers for use in a sacrifice that will create a new breed of vampiric devilfish. If they are not stopped, such an undead plague could destroy all life in the Spindrift Sea.
Errata: In Threshold Issue #2, the Hollow Moon timeline states that the Mauro rakasta are placed in the Hollow Moon in BC 400. This is actually in error. Myoshima is founded on Patera in BC 400, but it is not until 800 years later, in AC 400 (when Myoshima is finally united under a single leader), that rakasta are placed on the Mauro Isles inside of Matera.
On the Outer World
Rakasta fleeing from Mystara in BC 400 established the city of Mara on Patera. The banished rakasta spent the next few centuries dominating their new homeland, conquering tribes of primitive rakasta and creating a kingdom of feudal lords throughout the Myoshima Islands. In AC 300 civil war breaks out among the Myoshimans as various daimyos attempted to unite all of the feudal lords under one ruler. After a century of fighting, Daimyo Hirameki succeeded in uniting all of the warring clans, but not before several are whisked away to the Hollow Moon by the immortals.
In the Hollow Moon
Being very similar to the Myoshima Islands on Patera, the rakasta clans placed here took little time to subjugate the territory. The Mauro Islands consist of several ancient craters and caldera strung together in the western Spindrift Sea. The three major populations are centered on the islands of Hyoto in the north, and Shimtora and Raitochi in the south. The central crater chains are more sparsely populated, although their waters are shallow and support a wide variety of fish. The soil on these islands also tends to be more fertile, though the dangers of the Fire Times in these areas is greater as well.
The Mauro rakasta are primarily fishermen, and ply their trade from a flotilla of ships as well as along the shores of their country. Many villages lie along the coast, and are composed of wooden stilt houses designed to weather circle tides that raise the sea levels twice a year.
All rakasta in Mauro, regardless of their station, owe fealty to one of the great daimyos of the land. The three most powerful are Anori, Kageoku, and Taniokura, all of whom employ sizable military forces led by powerful samurai, warriors with braided fur and tattooed pelts. Samurai warriors are the only rakasta in Mauro that are allowed to bear iron weapons - for others owning such tools is little more than a death sentence.
Shamans and oracles are abundant in the country, and are often sought after to provide advice on every aspect of daily life, from where to fish, when to harvest crops, and even when to make war upon a neighbor. Mauro rakasta are fond of stories, especially those related to their ancestors, and take great pride in crafting songs and ballads that can last for hours on end. Though aware of the greater world, most pay it little heed, being focused instead on their family, their honour, and their lord. Even the daimyos, more intent on fighting one another than any outside force, largely ignore the nations surrounding them - though on occasion one or more of them has sent tributes to Adhuza to curry favors or buy support for local conquests.
Most of the Mauro Islands sport some number of craters and calderas, many of which are active throughout the year. Because of this, and because there are very few real volcanoes in the Spindrift Sea (relative to the rest of Nearside), Fire Times tend to be mild in these lands. The one exception is along the rim of Baningu Kureta, which sports several live volcanoes. These spit out gouts of ash on a regular basis throughout the year, but once every 20 years more violent eruptions throw chunks of burning basalt into the sky.
Rumblings along the Baningu Kureta during the latest Fire Times have awakened evil spirits deep in the earth. Filled with bloodlust, and a seething hatred for the living, these spirits wage a campaign of terror against the villagers and fishermen of Hyoto. The PCs must brave the treacherous terrain and poisonous vapors of the great crater to find the spirit’s lair and destroy them before entire villages are carried off to be devoured.
Diamyo Taniokura has claimed the title of shogun, and is amassing a large army of samurai to attach his neighbors. Several villages have already fallen prey to his forces and soon the other major clans will be forced into an alliance to stop him. Unfortunately the shogun has sold his honour to Adhuza, and is little more than a kopru puppet. The PCs are sent to discover from where the shogun’s newfound power issues and to put a stop to it before all of Mauro falls to war.
The court of Daimyo Anori is thrown into turmoil after a stranger is found washed up upon the shores. After nursing the stranger back to health, Daimyo Anori gives him the run of his palace and then promptly secludes himself behind closed doors while his sons bicker and fight for the aging rakasta’s title. When the PCs determine that the stranger, a mordigswerg dwarf, is behind the entire fiasco, they must put an end to his treachery before the entire island falls to infighting.
Marsh of Putrescence
Marsh of Putrescence troglodytes are one of the few Hollow Moon cultures originally detailed by Sharon Dornhoff and Geoff Gander, and as such there is a plethora of information that can be found on the nation already in the Vaults of Pandius.
Mystaran Origin: First wave - Brasol Range of Davania, c. 12,500 BC (Shovelfaces); Second wave - Northwestern Davanian plains, c. 7,000 BC (Longlegs)
On the Outer World
Two distinct troglodyte cultures were moved from the outer world to the inside of Matera, on two different occasions. The Shovelfaces lived in the Brasol Range of Davania, allies of the pteryx in the war against the carnifex, and were transported to Matera along with the other defenders of Attyx just before that last bastion of freedom fell.
Longlegs troglodytes were transported to the Hollow Moon later. They lived in the northwestern plains of Davania and served the dreaded Y’Hog carnifex, albeit unwillingly. As Y’Hog was pressed by enemies on all sides and ready to fall, the Longlegs rebelled. Unfortunately for them the enemies of Y’Hog made little distinction between the carnifex and their servitors (even those who no longer served the carnifex) and rather than let these courageous creatures be destroyed the Immortals moved them to Matera.
In the Hollow Moon
A fitting home for the troglodytes, the Marsh of Putrescence stretches outward from the Pteryx Apennines and into the crystalbarrens of Mare Imbrium, with a small stretch of beach bordering the northern coast of the Spindrift Sea. Shovelface clans dominate the marsh’s interior, running along the massive cliff face bordering the towering Apennines to the east. Later arrivals, the Longlegs created abodes along the outskirts of the marsh, bordering both the crystalbarrens and the Spindrift Sea.
Troglodyte culture is far from monolithic, or peaceful, as the two troglodyte species living in the area do not get along. The older of the two species, the Shovelfaces, believe that it was the pteryx who saved them from the carnifex and brought them to the Hollow Moon to escape destruction. They share their former allies’ disdain for non-reptilian races, and in general distrust strangers. Few outsiders (even other troglodytes) are ever allowed within their territory, and they will meet any uninvited guests with suspicion and violence.
Longlegs troglodytes are far more open to outsiders, and are in fact who most Materans think of when troglodytes are mentioned. Merchant vessels ply the waters of the Spindrift Sea to do trade with Longlegs along the coast of the Marsh, and anyone wishing to traverse the length of the swamp (to gain access to northern lands) do so under their auspices.
Little known to most outsiders, there is yet a third population of troglodytes living within the confines of the Marsh of Putrescence. Mixed bloods form a buffer zone between the Shovelfaces and the Longlegs. Though every bit as isolationist as their Shovelfaced kin, these mixed bloods are more apt to warn off intruders rather that attacking them outright.
The Blue Smokies, the marsh’s two semi-active volcanoes belch forth a deep blue-tinted vapour during Fire Times, causing nearby ground to become soggy and un-farmable. Hot-springs and noxious sulphur-tainted geysers also become more active during these times, and many trogs in the area (mainly Longlegs) must either live on stores stockpiled throughout the rest of the year or migrate southwest along the border of the crystalbarrens.
A caravan of merchants from the Spindrift Sea has hired the PCs to act as guards and guides through the Marsh of Putrescence. Men from Thebit to the south have heard of the fabled works of the Mordrigswerg and have brought crates of spices and precious metals to trade with the dwarves. The PCs must protect them from the perils of the crystalbarrens as well as from the Shovelface clans that block their route.
Troglodyte kingdoms once spanned the majority of Nearside, and there are still those among the Longlegs that wish to reclaim that former glory. The PCs are tasked with journeying to the fabled ruins of Attyx and retrieve artifacts that could be used to unite the clans… and from there to conquer the nations around the Spindrift Sea.
A blood feud has broken out among two families of neighboring Shovelfaces, and threatens to expand to allied clans. What started as an argument over who brewed the best bur-reed moonshine has quickly devolved into an all-out war. PCs need to brave the Marsh’s interior and find a way to stop the feud, but may be in over their heads.
[Image: Vesper Elf]
On the Outer World
Elves living near the vicinity of Glantri have had a dark and perilous past, being driven beneath the ground on at least two separate occasions - first after the Great Rain of Fire, and again after an ancient Blackmoorian artifact was detonated circa BC 1700. One group of Schattenalfen, having rejected the enticements of Atzanteotl, finally achieved their dreams of living on the surface. Small numbers, and increasing attacks from humanoids (mostly influenced by Atzanteotl), doom the elves to extinction on Mystara.
In the Hollow Moon
Vesper elves are most densely populated along the shores of Sinus Medii, but their territory stretches from Mare Vaporum bordering the Albheldri Isle in the north, all the way to the Hypparq Sea in the southwest. The northern lands hold some of the largest grass plains in the Hollow Moon, and are separated from the rest of Vesper by the Rima Ariadys, a vast gorge running east to west across the entire Vesper Peninsula.
Moving south, the grasslands turn to coniferous forests, which in turn become vast swaths of giant fungal forests along the coasts of Sinus Medii. The center of Vesper is dominated by the Rhanqal Mountain Range that stretches from the shores of Sinus Medii to the Hypparq Sea, and holds a myriad of cold and crystal clear lakes amongst its many dells and valleys.
The Vesper elves are organized into several different city states throughout their territory, each controlled by one or more ancestral clans. City states are very competitive with one another, especially those situated along the Sinus Medii. Rivalry amongst the states can become very heated, and even on occasion lead to outright war, though all of Vesper is quick to band together when facing outside threats.
Though each of the city states have their own rulers and customs, one common factor binds all the elves in Vesper together - the relic-keepers. Gifted to the elves upon their placement into the Hollow Moon, their relic is called the Prism of All Colors, and is located deep within the sacred temple of Angkar. The Prism’s magic affords the keepers the power to see things as they truly are - a rare gift for those living within the dark confines of the Matera’s interior. Such powers are also especially beneficial for a people living so close to the Adhuzan Dominarchy, for it allows the keepers to see who has been dominated by the kopru.
Most elven cities in Vesper are built far enough away from the active volcanoes in the region as to not be affected by the Fire Times. Mount Kodyn erupts once every five years, sending a great plume of ash over the shores of the Spindrift Sea. The Caldera Horrocks, near the Temple of Angkar on the shores of the Hypparq, erupts once every 157 years. The devastation it causes is enormous, but the elven relic-keepers at Angkar use their clan relic to protect the ancient temple from destruction.
Monsters have once again begun to creep out of the Valley of Horrors, and the PCs are sent to investigate. A new Cult of Atzanteotl has formed around the Great Flying Viper, a half-dragon, half-viper, that is gathering minions and preparing to attack the fortress of Hyccal.
Vareinyan pirates haunt the Hypparq Sea, raiding and pillaging villages along Vesper’s territory. When the PCs are sent to stop the attacks, they find that the pirates have an unexpected ally - the Nixie Queen has secretly dominated them and is using them to gather all the elven males in the area.
The relic-keepers have discovered a kopru plot in the very heart of Angkar, and task the PCs with rooting out those corrupted by the creatures. Three kopru puppets, hand-picked and slowly dominated over the last few hundred years (so as to not be detected by the Prism’s powers), are now close enough to the Prism of All Colors to poison it permanently. Should they succeed, the Prism will no longer be able to protect Vesper from the mind dominating powers of the kopru, and city by city, the elves will fall. PCs must uncover the conspirators and stop them… but who can they trust?
http://www.pandius.com/seastide.html Hollow Moon Planetology: Blue Moon - Seas & Tides, by Sharon Dornhoff
http://www.pandius.com/emerge.html Hollow Moon Planetology: Blue Moon - Emergence, by Sharon Dornhoff
http://www.pandius.com/sor_efct.html The Spell of Remembrance: Recursive history, by Sharon Dornhoff
http://www.pandius.com/anmllife.html Hollow Moon Planetology: Blue Moon -- Animal Life, by Sharon Dornhoff
http://www.pandius.com/matera.html Hollow Moon Introduction: "Freiburg, der Adler hat gelandet...", by Sharon Dornhoff
http://www.pandius.com/troggies.html Hollow Moon Cultures: The Marsh of Putrescence (troglodytes), by Sharon Dornhoff and Geoff Gander
http://www.pandius.com/materasp.html Materan Spells, by Sharon Dornhoff
http://www.thepiazza.org.uk/bb/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=2344 [Hollow Moon] Ruminations Over a Blue Moon, Discussion at The Piazza
http://www.pandius.com/moontime.html Hollow Moon Planetology: Blue Moon - Timekeeping, by Sharon Dornhoff
http://www.pandius.com/exp2c.html Hollow Moon Exploration: A Brief History of Space (Travel), by Sharon Dornhoff
http://www.pandius.com/bluemoon.html Hollow Moon Planetology: Blue Moon, by Sharon Dornhoff
http://www.pandius.com/eclipses.html Hollow Moon Planetology: Blue Moon -- Eclipses, by Sharon Dornhoff
http://www.pandius.com/altspell.html Hollow Moon Magic: Altered Spells, by Sharon Dornhoff
http://www.pandius.com/monsters.html Monsters' Abilities and the SoR, by Sharon Dornhoff
http://www.pandius.com/exp2ccon.html Hollow Moon Exploration: An Outer Moon timeline (continued), by Sharon Dornhoff
http://www.thepiazza.org.uk/bb/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=5615 Map of the Aardovai Rilles, by John Calvin
http://www.thepiazza.org.uk/bb/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=2450 Map of Albheldri Islands, by John Calvin
http://www.thepiazza.org.uk/bb/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=6688 Map of Adhuza, by John Calvin
http://www.thepiazza.org.uk/bb/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=6382 Map of Vesperlands, by John Calvin
http://www.thepiazza.org.uk/bb/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=2435 Map of The Marsh of Putrescence, by John Calvin and Geoff Gander
http://www.thepiazza.org.uk/bb/viewtopic.php?f=22&t=8381 Map of Mauro, by John Calvin
http://pandius.com/varellyt.html Varellyan Timeline, by Geoff Gander
http://pandius.com/ierendi2.html Alternate setting for Ierendi v2.0, by Sharon Dornhoff
http://pandius.com/lupnhist.html History of the Lupins, by Giampaolo Agosta
http://www.pandius.com/pat_time.html Patera Timeline, by Andrew Theisen