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History of Great Hule

by James Mishler

A Few Notes and a Warning

Much of this timeline reflects the fact that I have excised from my history most information regarding the relationship of Tortles and the Great Northway Lands found in the adventure "Tortles of the Purple Sage" [Dungeon magazines #'s 6 and 7]. There are, for example, no "Ancestral Tortle Hatching Grounds" anywhere to be found in the Dry Flats of the Yazak Steppes. The Dravish culture has also been radically altered; the teleportation circuit found between the three great Dravish (actually, Yazak) ruins of the steppes are not connected to the Tortles in any fashion (they are, rather, related to the history of Great Hule). These are the major differences from the earliest developments of the Savage Coast. This is not in any way meant to be an insult to Merle and Jackie Rasmussen's creativity; rather, I felt that the way I wanted my history of Mystara to develop differed greatly from their vision.

Other differences include the origins of numerous species found in the region (including the Enduks, Wallara, Phanatons, and Lupins, among others); the cultural admixture found in the region, historical as well as modern; and the specific dates and natures of various migrations throughout the region. I have also expanded on much of the history, especially as regards the barbarians to the north of Great Hule and the Nomads of the Yazak Steppes.

Thus, if you feel that this timeline is a bit odd in some places, and does not fit in with Canon Mystara, well, that's because it IS a bit odd in some places as it is not MEANT to fit in with Canon Mystara. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. I invite CONSTRUCTIVE comments. Please, please, please, do NOT remind me that this is not Canon Mystara; I am well aware of the fact... I hope you enjoy...

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History of the Savage Coast, Yazak Steppes and Great Hule

As of 4000 BC, the lands that will become the Savage Coast, Yazak Steppes and Great Hule lie much further to the north at this time than they will in the modern era. In fact, the Black Mountains are only a short distance south of the Arctic Circle (and run east-west, rather than north-south). The climate of the region north of the Black Mountains is generally arctic through sub-arctic; tundra and taiga lay in the interior, while, thanks to the warm currents found in the Izondian Deep, temperate rainforests are found along much of the coastline (as far north as the modern Orc's Head Peninsula). Much of the Black Mountains lies under permanent ice.

There are only a few major intelligent races inhabiting these lands. On the great tundras and in the taiga are found the far-wandering hordes of Beastmen; the forests of the coast are the home of the mysterious and mystical Aranea and their servants, the Phanatons. There are also the nomadic Snappers of the ocean, who follow the warm currents from the south to the seas of the north during the spring. Many more tribes of Beastmen are found to the north and east, while Humans are found to the south and east; the Oltec Empire to the south and east, and the Neathar Tribes to the far east.

Then around 3500 BC a rift occurs in the Oltec culture to the south and east. The Azcan Kingdom secedes from the Oltec Empire and begins a genocidal war with their former masters. Many Oltecs migrate north west, across the Black Mountains, where they coexist moderately peacefully with the Beastmen (still lots of room left). Their culture begins to evolve into a nomadic society, assimilating many aspects of that of their Beastmen neighbours. By 3300 BC, these groups of Oltecs will become known as the Oltec Nomads, and have a language and culture divergent from their cousins to the south east. Around this time the town of Yazak is founded in the tundra as a trading post where the natives can trade with merchants from Blackmoor and other kingdoms. It is held mutually by the Oltec Nomad and Beastmen tribes of the region.

Then in 3200 BC the Thonian Crusade against the Beastmen forces the eastern Beastmen tribes not only north into Hyborea but also into the west, into the lands now known as the Yazak Steppes. The native Beastmen and Oltec Nomads resist the invasion of the new tribes extremely violently (the new tribes mostly worshipped Entropic Fiends, which was the main reason for the Thonian Crusade; the local Beastmen and the Oltec Nomads revered Hel; the difference was slight, but there). All three groups are decimated by the savage battles, and eventually things quiet down, as all sides need time to recover. The Aranea of the forests to the west are unaffected by the wars.

In 3000 BC occurs the Great Rain of Fire. Mystara shifts on it's axis; the lands occupied by the Oltec Nomads, the Beastmen and the Aranea are thrust into the temperate/sub-tropical zone. Over time the tundra will turn into steppes; the coastline rainforests will eventually become mixed coniferous/broadleaf forests, while the temperate rainforest of the Orc's Head Peninsula transforms into tropical rainforest. The inhabitants will slowly adapt to the changing climate.

Shortly after planet shift, numerous Oltec, Azcan and Neathar refugees flee en masse from the ruined lands to the east and settle among the Oltec Nomads and Beastmen. Some of these refugees, primarily Oltec and Azcan Refugee Clans, settle in the forests of the coast, which to this time had been solely inhabited by the Aranea; these clans become the Aranea's first study in human nature. The Aranea move deeper into the forests of the Orc's Head Peninsula, giving the new human inhabitants lots of space, thus keeping their existence from becoming little more than myth and legend among Humans.

The town of Yazak is spared the destruction of the Great Rain of Fire. The population is a mixture of native Oltec Nomads and Beastmen as well as Thonians (Blackmoorian and Imperial), Skhandaharians, Oltecs, Azcans and even a few Tangor, Elves and Dwarves. Their technology mostly destroyed by the fallout from the GRoF (and having neither the ability nor the materials to reconstruct it), the Yazak Cityfolk begin to rebuild their society based on magic. By 2800 BC the Yazak Cityfolk have built a new society; it is not a kind society, but it is much higher in technology and much wealthier than the nomads surrounding them. Around this time they found the colonies of Dravya to the west and Billeot in the hills to the north. At Yazak they farm the lands along the modern Gatorbone river for 100 miles up and down river; at Dravya they also farm along the former Great Northway (now the Empty Valley); the Billeot colony is primarily interested in mining the rich mineral deposits of the Billeot Hills. The three cities are connected by mystical teleportation gateways, which depend on the maintenance of a series of monoliths found in between the cities. To enable such maintenance with as little difficulty as possible, the Yazak Cityfolk form alliances with various tribes of Beastmen and Oltec Nomads (primarily those among whom Fiend worship is predominant). This causes a disparity of power among the nomad tribes, and warfare becomes even more fierce and ferocious.

In 2700 BC Rakastan exiles from Myoshima arrive on the Yazak Steppes and found a city on the Upper Shady River. They trade with the native Oltec Nomad and Beastmen Tribes, as well as with the Yazak Cityfolk (whom they do not trust, but find more civilised than the nomads around them). Only 100 years later (2600 BC), the reservations of the Rakasta of Plaktur are shown to be well founded, as the cities of Yazak and Billeot are decimated in a civil war with the Dravish colonists, who had become utterly consumed with Fiend worship. The various tribes of Oltec Nomads and Beastmen then allied with the cities are heavily involved; many of the tribes are utterly extirpated in the battles.

The few remaining peoples of Yazak and Billeot will, over the next century, form a new tribe, called the Yazak (the Yazak Steppes gained its name from this tribe, not the city). The centre of the new semi-nomadic Yazak culture is the Rakastan city of Plaktur, where they find allies against the Fiend worshipping Dravish (many of the Yazak settle in Plaktur, and maintain their mystical studies). The cities of Yazak and Billeot are quickly recolonised by the Dravish victors.

By 2500 BC, the Yazak Steppes, Forest Coast (modern Savage Coast) and the Great Valley (modern Great Hule) are populated by a patchwork of tribes descended from the Beastmen, Oltec Nomads, the Oltec, Azcan and Neathar Refugee Clans, and the Yazak Nomads; there are also the Rakasta of the city of Plaktur and the Dravish Cityfolk. Over the last 500 years, other tribes, distinct in language and culture from their forebears, have formed from the merging of different clans from these primary groups.

The Steppe Clans are pastoral and nomadic in nature; the Forest Clans are semi-nomadic, with some being hunter-gatherers, some horticulturalists and others fishers along the coast; and the Great Valley Tribes are settled, farming the land and clearing away much of the forest along the river banks. Technology is bronze age (the Great Valley Tribes and some Steppe Tribes), with some tribes still being in the stone age (most Steppe Tribes and the Forest Tribes). The Rakasta of Plaktur and the Dravish Cityfolk are iron age; the Yazak also maintain an iron age level through trade with the Rakasta of Plaktur.

At this time here is no real unifying element between these societies; warfare is endemic, as the populations thrive and expand in the new climate. To add to the division, the tribes of the Steppe, Forest and Valley each worship different Immortals. The Beastmen and Nomads of the Steppe generally worship Hel, the Immortal of Chaos and Patroness of Beastmen, or various Fiends of Entropy; the Forest Tribes worship Ordana, Patroness of the Forest and are Druidic in nature; and the settled Human tribes of the Great Valley worship Ixion and Valerias, Immortals of Sun and Moon (Valerias is the primary patron in these lands, as Ixion is more concerned with combating the Entropic Taymoran culture to the east, and is thus otherwise occupied). The Rakasta of Plaktur worship their own strange pantheon. The Dravish Cityfolk do not revere the Immortals per se; they deal on a regular basis with Entropic Fiends in order to gain infernal knowledge; they do not regard this as reverence, rather as simple commerce. Of course, the Yazak view this as little more than Fiend worship; the Yazak themselves revere magical prowess and their ancestors. All tribes and clans venerate various ancestral spirits and the odd minor Immortal or three; the tribes often find excuses to go to war over differences in worship.

The forests to the south and west are still primarily inhabited by the Aranea, who observe the Forest Tribes and their interaction with the Steppe and Valley Tribes with fascination and curiosity. They add a new factor to the chaotic mix; the worship of Korotiku, their Patron Immortal. Several tribes of Beastmen and Humans readily take to the worship of this cunning and crafty Immortal.

Also by this time numerous clans of Snappers, affected by the energies given off in the Great Rain of Fire, have evolved over the last 500 years into the land-dwelling Tortles. These clans settle all along the Forest Coast, generally going no further inland than the treeline. They trade with the Forest Tribes further inland, and cooperate with the fisher clans.

In 2400 BC the Beastmen of Hyborea migrate south and east into the Borean Valley, pushing out the native Neathar Tribes. The Beastmen found the city of Urzud on the banks of the Borean River. Several of the Neathar tribes, cousins to the Urduk and Antalian tribesmen, settle in the Great Valley, bringing their own faiths and beliefs, further complicating an already chaotic situation.

Also in 2400 BC the Yazak, along with their Rakastan and Beastmen allies, destroy the city of Dravya and the Dravish colonies in Yazak and Billeot. Many of the powerful mages of Dravya flee to the Great Valley. They will eventually be assimilated by the native tribes, but they will leave behind a strong tradition of magic as well as a strong tradition of evil. They also bring with them their system of writing as well as the technology for smelting steel. The Yazak regain their ancient cities, and rebuild their society.

By this time, the worship of Korotiku has spread throughout the Steppe and Valley Tribes; the Forest tribes remain true to their Druidic ways, though Korotiku does become a figure of their myth cycle. The worship of Hel has also spread significantly throughout the Great Valley.

At this point the three main Immortals worshipped in the Great Valley, Hel, Korotiku and Valerias, come to the conclusion that they will have to cooperate if a true civilisation is to form in the area; they found the Temple of Chaos as a unifying factor, and begin to spread the new faith among the tribes and clans of the Great Valley. Many of the Dravish refugees are early and fanatical converts (their magic having failed them and their Fiendish allies having deserted them, they reach out to the Immortals at last). Within 100 years time (2300 BC) the Temple of Chaos has spread throughout the Great Valley; nearly all tribes have assimilated the faith, though that is the extent of the cultural assimilation. Each tribe continues to maintain its own cultural distinctiveness while allowing the Temple of Chaos to maintain ties outside the tribe. Religious unity hardly equates cultural unity; the various tribes still vie for supremacy, though the Temple of Chaos allows for cooperation and control across cultural boundaries.

The "civilising" factors introduced through the Temple of Chaos and the Dravish refugees allow Nine Kingdoms to conquer much of the Great Valley. Numerous lesser states form as well, some consisting of as little as a single tribe or clan (such is the nature of chaos). The Nine Kingdoms (in order of relative power) are Boludir, Karsun, Huyule (modern Hule; heavily populated by Dravish folk), Yozgulak, Birgidir, Karsile, Eivanjan, Jandir and Kuliye. Though some states will wax and wane in power, this will be the status quo for several centuries. No one state will become powerful enough to conquer the entire region, though several will try over the centuries.

The Temple of Chaos has Hel as the pantheon leader; Korotiku as the Patron of Warfare and Cunning; Valerias as the Grain Goddess and Earth Mother; Faunus as, well, Faunus (Patron of the Vine); Thanatos as the Patron of Death, with Pearl (Immortal Dragon) his assistant; Tyche as Patroness of Luck; and Rathanos as Patron of Fire and Sun (a portfolio taken from Ixion (Ixion was not invited to the party; his worshippers went underground, so to speak; this is a bone of contention between him and Valerias to this day)). The priesthood is drawn from all the tribes who have become part of the Temple of Chaos. The Temple is rather loosely organised, as is only natural considering it's chaotic nature. At this time the Temple of Chaos, while ethically Chaotic, remains mostly neutral vis a vis good and evil. The Temple of Chaos has some converts among the Nomad Tribes of the Steppes, though Templar tribes are still outnumbered by those that worship Hel specifically, or Fiends in general.

During this period, the Elves pass through the Forest Coast and Great Valley along their long migration. Several clans decide to settle in the deeply forested regions, avoiding the darker sections found on the Orc's Head Peninsula (the homes of the Aranea). They have little contact with the native tribes and kingdoms, avoiding the Humans out of principle and the Beastmen out of revulsion.

By 2100 BC the destruction of the Taymoran Empire far to the east is well under way through the "graces" of Thanatos, and Ixion is able to concentrate on what he regards as the Beastmen "Scourge" at Urzud. He casts a very subtle Immortal level spell that begins to bring order into the chaotic nature of the Beastmen; the modern tribes of Beastmen begin to form, as their chaotic genetic nature is slowly leeched from them. Ixion believes that this will cause internecine strife and that the Beastmen will eventually kill themselves off (unfortunately, it was not quite as effective as he had hoped). The spell is not as effective on the Beastmen of the Yazak Steppes as it is on those Beastmen at Urzud, as the culture at Urzud was the primary target of Ixion. The Beastmen of the Yazak Steppes retain much more of their chaotic genetic nature than their cousins.

Having seen a distinct imbalance forming in the Great Valley vis a vis Law and Chaos, Ixion also forms the Lawful Brotherhood to counter the growing Temple of Chaos. Ixion causes his remaining worshippers from the Great Valley to migrate to the region to the north, where they convert the local barbarian tribes to the Way of Law (the former worshippers of Ixion now form the core of the Inner Circle of the Lawful Brotherhood; they are a "Secret Society" that is active to this date throughout the Known World and beyond). The northern tribes are descendants of Oltec and Neathar tribes that did not come under the sway of the Temple of Chaos. They will become the eternal thorn in the side of the kingdoms of the Great Valley, and eventually of Great Hule itself.

The pantheon of the Lawful Brotherhood (brought together by Ixion) consists of Odin (pantheon leader, in opposition to Hel); Thor (in opposition to Korotiku); Terra (in opposition to Valerias); Frey (in opposition to Faunus); Ka and Diamond (in opposition to Thanatos and Pearl); Freyja (in opposition to Tyche); and Ostara (in opposition to Rathanos; Ostara is a lawful neutral Eternal of the Sphere of Energy; in mortal life, a Skhandaharian sun-priestess who achieved immortality when Blackmoor was young). Ixion himself, not aligned with Law, remains outside the pantheon of the Lawful Brotherhood, and his part in its formation is known to but few mortals.

Also at this time Lokar, a mage of the Antalian Tribes of the Antalian Plains (modern Ethengar Steppes) achieves Immortality under the tutelage of Thanatos. He quickly becomes popular as a lesser Immortal in the Pantheon of the Temple of Chaos.

Beginning around 2000 BC, the Dragon Elves of Pelatan invade the Successor Kingdoms of the Golden Empire (in Izondian on the southern continent). Many clans of Enduks, Wallaras and Manscorpions flee from their ancient homelands to the northern continent. The Enduks and Wallaras arrive on the Orc's Head Peninsula; the Enduks found the Kingdom of Nimmur while the Wallaras form the Kingdom of Risilvar. They trade Lizard Men Slaves to the Aranea for the lands that they claim (Lizard Men are native to the southern continent; the eastern Lizard Men were brought to the north by Set, while the western branch were brought in by the Enduks and Wallara). The Manscorpions arrive on the southern shores of the Great Valley, where they find employ with the kingdoms of that land as mercenaries.

Also about this time, the Aranea begin to take to Human and Elven forms, building towers of wizardry deep in the forests (they have realised that the humans and others of the region are becoming more civilised, and decide to hide amongst the other races rather than try to maintain their previous status as creatures of myth and legend).

The modern Beastman races have developed at Urzud by this time. The Beastmen of the Yazak Steppes still experience chaotic mutations, though the modern strains are also much in evidence. The less genetically-chaotic tribes tend to be those not aligned with the Temple of Chaos or Hel (ie, the Fiend worshipping tribes; it has been conjectured that Hel was able to protect the Yazak Beastmen tribes from the effects of Ixion's spell).

In 1800 BC the Steel Wars begin at Urzud, far to the north. By 1700 BC numerous tribes of Beastmen from Urzud migrate out; several tribes arrive and settle in the Yazak Steppes. Many of the native Beastmen tribes not aligned with the Temple of Chaos or Hel unite with the newly arrived tribes and begin a genocidal war with the Oltec Nomads and the Beastmen Tribes aligned with the Temple of Chaos or Hel. The Oltec Nomads and Beastmen allied with the Temple of Chaos or Hel are driven from the steppes; many of them settle in the Great Valley, while a number of Beastmen Tribes cut their way through Risilvar and Nimmur to settle in the jungles of the Orc's Head Peninsula.

The city of Plaktur is destroyed and occupied by a number of Beastmen tribes; the Rakasta take to a nomadic existence, battling both Humans and Beastmen for survival (their territory will eventually conform to that held by the modern Hupkur Tribe). The Yazak cities are also invaded; they hold their own against the Beastmen until a great earthquake strikes the area (related to the vulcanism caused far to the east by the explosion of the Blackmoorian Device in the modern day Broken Lands). The three Yazak cities are destroyed, and the route of the Great Northway River changes course. The few survivors eventually drift into the Great Valley.

The next four hundred years (1700 through 1300 BC) are a time of cultural and religious evolution in the Great Valley, as several new Immortals begin to rise through the ranks in the Temple of Chaos. Eiryndul, Cretia, Demogorgon and Set all appear at this time (though Demogorgon was known to the Dravish, he only recently began to be regarded as more than a simple Fiend); Loki is also becoming much more popular at this time. This is the era when the philosophy of "Holy Deceit" begins to form.

In the years 1300 through 1263 BC the Wogar Tribe of Beastmen settle in the Yazak Steppes and the Great Valley. They conquer the local kingdoms, destroying several of the smaller kingdoms and tribes utterly, and decimate secular society in the Great Valley (the Temple of Chaos is left mostly intact, as Wogar (known in Hule as Maglubiyet) was not willing to cross the Immortals in his quest for Immortality). The Temple of Chaos becomes even more of a unifying factor among the local populace. During this time Hosadus, a Human Priest of Loki, begins to rise to power in the Temple of Chaos. In 1263 BC King Wogar dies of natural causes. The Tribes of the Sons of Wogar begin to migrate east after the Great Shaman receives a vision concerning the Blue Knife. (In official histories of the Hagiarchy, it is Hosadus who tricks the Beastmen into migrating east; in actuality, Hosadus deceived the people of the Great Valley about his involvement in the vision; he was simply a bystander all the time. The tribes that remained in the valley as his followers were not inspired by his powers; they were simply well paid. The part that Hosadus supposedly played in the Blue Knife Vision is the Biggest Con pulled in the history of Great Hule; it is a Great Deceit played within a Big Lie).

Hosadus emerges form this as the culture hero of the Great Valley, and he initiates the Rule of the Hagiarchy (the Holy Men were already the de facto supreme force; he institutes a bureaucracy which fills the power vacuum); the Great Valley becomes known as the Sanctified Land. The worship of Loki begins to eclipse the worship of Hel (who was, after all, the Immortal worshipped by the Tribes of Wogar). By 1250 BC Hosadus is supreme in all of the Sanctified Land, and declares the King of Huyule (his native kingdom) as the Overking of the Sanctified Land. Rebellions on the part of several smaller kingdoms are ended quickly through the use of the Beastmen at Hosadus' command. Of course, the Overking is merely the pawn of Hosadus and the Hagiarchy. This ushers in the First Imperial Era of Great Hule.