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Jyrdri Kerghid, the Mad Mistressby John Calvin from Threshold Magazine issue 16
A Mystara 2300 BC Villain
Most have heard the tales of the Great Rain of Fire, the catastrophe that destroyed the ancient nation of Blackmoor and devastated Mystara. The destruction was so great that the planet itself shifted on its axis, plunging entire civilizations into turmoil and laying waste to entire cultures and societies.
Few understand the true extent of the catastrophe, or the struggles that Mystaran civilizations had to endure in order to be reborn again. 700 years after the Great Rain of Fire, nations on Brun finally began to rebuild… but it was a very different place from the world known today. Mystara 2300 BC1, was a darker world, where it was sometimes necessary to cross the line between good and evil just to survive.
One such nation struggling to endure during this time was the dwarven realm known as the Shimmering Lands.
[Image: Jyrdri Kerghyd]
Jyrdri’s domain is Kerghyd Estate2 on the eastern shores of Gromevand. While fairly secluded amidst a tangled and overgrown forest, Kerghyd Estate is one of the larger and more prosperous territories in the southeastern Shimmering Lands.
Like many dwarves from Clan Felwig, Jrydri has an affinity for the ancient Blackmoorian arts, including her field of specialization, radiomancy. Dabbling in the radiance is not without its costs, and decades of harnessing its powers have left Mistress Kerghyd twisted and scarred. Pallid gray skin sags over the left half of her face, often causing her words to slur. Blisters and boils meander from her scalp all the way down to her wizened and crippled right arm, obsessively kept tucked close to her torso under heavy robes.
Jyrdri shakes and twitches constantly, her head often jerking to peer into dark corners and crevasses in the shadow filled rooms of her demesne. Invariably mumbling as she goes about her daily routines, Jyrdri often has conversations and even heated arguments with unheard voices.
Like many dwarves in the Shimmering Lands, Jyrdri’s main concerns are focused almost entirely around her studies. Jyrdri has spent the better part of her life probing the ancient secrets of Blackmoor and its technomantic crafts. She is entranced by stories of the Blackmoorian Crusades against the beastmen, and has dedicated her life’s goals to finding one of the ancient Earthshaker war machines deployed in those battles. Over the decades Jyrdri has gathered enough mythology, rumors, and clues to piece together the possible locations for several of the colossal juggernauts.
Jyrdri along with her brother, Sehgdar, both grew up on Kerghyd Estate serving their father. Jyrdri was a prodigy, sent off to study with the radiomancers of Himnem while still at a young age. Despite her youth she was instrumental in completing construction of the Gate of Light in BC 2319, receiving the highest praise and awards that Himnem could offer.
[Image: Gromevand Province]
Once her studies were complete and she could learn no more from the radiomancers of Himnem, Jyrdri returned home to her ancestral estate. Shortly thereafter a terrible accident befell her father, and Jyrdri took up the mantle of Mistress of Kerghid Estate. With the disappearance of many of her father’s most trusted advisors, Jyrdri consolidated her power and plunged herself further into her studies, becoming increasingly more isolated.
As the Mistress of Kerghyd Estate in the Shimmering Lands, Jyrdri has a plethora of sycophantic followers to call upon.
LE Female Gnome Wizard 8
The daughter of the previous majordomo, Ullinth Draithwan, Ellrini was groomed to serve Jyrdri from a very early age. When Jyrdri finally ascended to Estate Elder, Ellrini’s first task was to silence her father and all of the old guard who served the previous elder. Ullinth survived the transition, secreted away by his daughter before he could be put to death. Although quite ancient, his mind is still sharp, and Ellrini calls upon him often for his advice. Should anyone find out about her secret, Ellrini would surely not survive her mistress’ wrath.
Few dare to oppose the wrinkled and spectacled gnome however, for Ellrini runs the estate with an iron fist. The biggest threat to her position is Jyrdri’s brother Sehgdar, who manages the estate stables and guard patrols. Ellrini knows that if Sehgdar ever inherits his sister’s estate, his first task will be to eliminate her.
CE Male Dwarf Fighter 6/Rogue 3
Sehgdar is Jyrdri’s younger brother, and the only other of the Kerghyd line to survive his sister’s ascension to Elder. As a child he was the recipient of many of Jyrdri’s early experiments with the radiance, an experience that left him damaged and scarred. His lower jaw and a portion of his face have been replaced with chrome, lending his raspy voice a hollow metallic echo.
As Master of the Grounds for the estate, Sehgdar has a wider latitude of freedom than most others in his sister’s service. No only is he able to roam about the estate in pursuit of his tasks, but he is also often entrusted to lead missions off the estate grounds. Sehgdar puts his liberty to good use, plotting the demise of his sister. In fact he can think of little else, and has built up a small cadre of followers loyal only to him.
NE Male Shade Rogue 13
[Image: Allon Tornn]
A shade drawn to Kerghyd Estate through Jyrdri’s radiance receptacle during the opening of the Gate of Light several years ago, Allon Tornn is only able to attain corporeality once a year on the anniversary of that event. In Blackmoor Tornn was a lieutenant in the Goltti Crime Syndicate, but his ambition was ultimately the cause of his own downfall. Just before Blackmoor was destroyed, Tornn was betrayed by his lover who sealed him inside of a radiance chamber during their last caper.
Expecting to die a horrible and lingering death, Tornn instead woke up face to face with Jyrdri Kerghyd. He quickly discovered the limitations of his new shade body, and rather than wander through his strange new world as little more than a ghost, Allon Tornn chose to remain on Kerghyd Estate. Realizing that Jyrdri’s obsession with Blackmoorian artifacts may be his best shot at regaining some of his former power, Tornn spends most of the time whispering to his “mistress” and is a major contributor of her insanity.
There are over a thousand soldiers serving on Kerghyd Estate, 300 of which are stationed in the main compound at all times. Overseen by Major Wynkar Ghers, these soldiers act as guards, defenders, hunters and trackers, and special operatives - performing any task that their mistress requires which brute force or martial prowess can achieve. Soldiers operate on a rotation, being moved from duty to duty on the estate, and there are typically many more roaming about on the grounds than are stationed at the compound proper.
[Sidebar: Special Equipment]
Commander: Major Wynkar Ghers
200 expert (D1) dwarf and (G1) gnome light footmen armed with crossbows and axes; plus 2 sergeants (D4), and 1 Lieutenant (D6)
50 elite (D6) dwarven heavy footmen, armed with battle axes and broadswords; plus 1 Lieutenant (D8)
20 elite (D4) dwarven artillerists armed with dragonbelchers and short swords; plus 1 Lieutenant (D7)
30 giantkin thralls armed with warhammers; plus 3 thrall masters (D6) and 1 Lieutenant (D8)
The Home Guard is tasked with the management and protection of Kerghyd Estate proper. They patrol Jyrdri’s main compound and are responsible for her personal protection.
Commander: Sehgdar Kerghyd
50 elite (D4) dwarven cavalry armed with dragonbelchers and broadswords riding war mastiffs; plus 2 Lieutenants (D7)
250 expert (D2) dwarven cavalry armed with crossbows and halberds, riding war mastiffs; plus 10 sergeants (D4), 5 Lieutenants (D6) and a captain (D8)
Sehgdar’s Rangers are constantly roam throughout the estate grounds. There are usually anywhere between 5 and 10 active patrols on the estate at all times. The mounted squads journey between waystations set along the estate’s perimeter and are tasked with keeping unwanted visitors (everyone) from reaching the main estate compound.
Company 1 - 3
Commanders: Captain Nolli Gheryd (Company 1), Captain Elwyd Hurgkvyr (Company 2), Captain Jerra Mavrkh (Company 3)
100 expert (D1) dwarf and (G1) gnome light footmen armed with crossbows and axes; plus 2 sergeants (D4), and 1 Lieutenant (D6)
20 elite (D4) dwarven artillerists armed with dragonbelchers and short swords; plus 1 Lieutenant (D7)
30 expert (D2) dwarven cavalry armed with crossbows and halberds, riding war mastiffs; plus 2 sergeants (D4), and 1 Lieutenant (D6)
Each of the three remaining companies are composed of 150 soldiers apiece, and are tasked with maintaining order across the wider estate grounds. They are usually stationed at one of the several estate camps (makeshift fortresses in the forest) and spend most of their time performing training drills and fending off wild beasts.
The following adventure plots can be used in a Mystara BC 2300 setting.
Intrigue in Isshum
The search for Blackmoorian era technology has led Mistress Kerghyd outside the lands of her estate, beyond the Shimmering Lands, and across several of the nations of Brun. Like the dwarves, the lizardfolk of Mogreth can trace their lineage back to the time of Blackmoor and before, and in their country Jyrdri Kerghyd has uncovered ancient lore found nowhere else. The lizards of Mogreth however, are not always willing to part with their secrets, and Jyrdri has hired a group of intrepid explorers to enter the swamps of Isshum and retrieve an ancient artifact.
Deep in the heart of the swamp is a relic from a bygone age, something known as the Giant’s Heart, but it does not lie unprotected. An entire tribe of degenerate froglings surround the artifact, worshipping it as their god. The PCs must infiltrate the frogling village, avoid the abominations guarding it, and return to Kerghyd estate with their prize… and their lives.
Assault on Derygk Estate
Spies from the neighboring estate of Derygk have infiltrated Mistress Kerghyd’s innermost compound and absconded with several of her most valued secrets… including the artifact known as the Giant’s Heart.
Though smaller than Kerghyd, Derygk Estate is every bit as dangerous, and Elder Farwyl Derygk is as cunning and treacherous as they come. The PCs must traipse over the hills of Gromevand and penetrate the small well defended valley surrounding Derygk Estate. While the soldiers of Kerghyd fend off the clockwork horrors and other automata under Derygk’s control, the PCs must infiltrate the dwarven elder’s private sanctum and put an end to Jyrdri’s rival once and for all.
For decades Jyrdri has searched for the Giant’s Heart, and the long lost Earthshaker3 that it once powered, and finally she has found the last piece of her prize. The Earthshaker’s husk lies beyond the Shimmering Lands and Mogreth, in the Frontierlands of southern Brun, but reaching it may prove problematic.
While Jrydri has organized a large dwarven war party to raid the Frontierlands for slaves, and has negotiated with the lizards of Mogreth to grant passage through their lands, dangers still abound. The armies of Taymora will surely marshal themselves against such a threat, and others, such as the dragon Ehrssus4, will take notice as well, but the real danger comes from within. Sehgdar Kerghyd has chosen this time to betray his sister and seize her prize. Should be succeed and return home in command of the Earthshaker, he would destroy his sister and anyone else who got in his way.
While Jyrdri may initially serve as a patron to the PCs, ultimately her instabilities and paranoia will prove to consume her. Once she has control of the Earthshaker, Jyrdri will seek to stamp out all life in neighboring estates, and eventually turn her sights on the city of Gromhyeld to the north.
Those who were once closest to the Mad Mistress, including the PCs, become her immediate targets as she seeks to cut any loose threads before moving forward with her plans. Unfortunately neither she nor her brother, if he still lives, can be reasoned with and the Elder Conclave will move quickly to oppose her, enlisting any ally they can find to fight her. As former associates, the PCs may be at the top of their list. Should the PCs and their allies be able to stop Mistress Kerghyd, the Elder Conclave would surely reward them… perhaps granting Kerghyd Estate for them to rule over in the Mad Mistresses place.
Jyrdri Kerghyd is a figure from a bygone time, and while little is left of her, or of the Shimmering Lands and all of its great works in the modern era, it is still possible that the will of the Mad Mistress might reach across the ages. Though ultimately her plans are thwarted, either by the PCs or by other enterprising adventurers of the time, some small portion of Jyrdri has managed to survive the millennia.
[Sidebar: Blackmoorian Consciousness Devices]
Before she was defeated, Jyrdri sacrificed herself using the last bit of her fading powers, infusing her essence into her radiance receptacle and creating a crude version of an Ethereal Seneschal.
The following adventure plots can be used in a modern era campaign.
Glantrian mages operating covertly in Rockhome stumble across what appears to be an ancient radiance receptacle. One of the mages, secretly a member of the Brotherhood of Rad, is determined to extract the receptacle and return it to Glantri, however it is too large to be moved unnoticed. The PCs are hired to excavate the object and move it overland via caravan to the border of Rockhome where a Glantrian dragonfly awaits them. Should the dwarves find out they are Glantrian agents, or that the dwarven artifact is destined for the nation of wizards, the PCs will be pursued relentlessly.
The Earthshaker gnomes have suffered a number of misfortunate events over the past several months, and their precious relic is precariously close to shutting down. To remedy the situation the gnomes have decided to automate the Earthshaker’s mechanisms, however they lack a power source strong enough to run their machinery. Hearing of an artifact uncovered in Rockhome, the gnomes believe they have found the solution to their problems, and have bought the artifact for an exorbitant amount of gold. Unfortunately for them the artifact is Jyrdri’s old radiance receptacle, and houses a portion of her intellect. Should it be installed the Earthshaker will be completely under Jyrdri’s control.
[Sidebar: Special Equipment]
There are items and equipment available to dwarves in the Shimmering Lands that may not be found in other nations of the Known World circa BC 2300. A few of those items (many used by the troops of Kerghyd Estate) are listed below.
Dragonblechers: A technomantic device that can expel the magical charges stored within potions in a directed blast. Dragon belchers can be crafted to hold from one to five potions concurrently. The one and two potion variants are smaller and can be held in a single hand, while those that hold three or more potions require the use of both hands to aim and fire.
Belcher Potions: Belcher potions replicate the magical powers of spells that are not normally stored in potion form. Fire ball, lightning, web, hold person, and other offensive spells may all be crafted as belcher potions. In addition the typical attack spells, the dwarves also store pure radiance in potion form. This radiance potion causes radiance damage as well as constitution drain to affected targets.
War Mastiffs: Selectively bred from captured dire wolves, many varieties of hounds serve as mounts across the nations of Brun. These are the mount of choice for warriors and knights, since hounds can be trained to complement their master’s battle techniques in combat.
[Sidebar: Blackmoorian Consciousness Devices]
These items simply store information allowing users to easily access it at a later time.
Ethereal Advisor: Created as brooches or amulets, these items store the collective knowledge of experts in a specific field (typically historic military information). The Advisor can be asked a number of questions per day related to its field, and will answer truthfully and to the best of its abilities, however Ethereal Advisors do not have the capacity to make any kind of decisions – they only provide information.
Personality Echo: A small piece of jewelry used among the Blackmoorian nobility, a Personality Echo records the personality of the wearer throughout their lifetime. When passed down to younger members in the family line, the Echo can provide valuable opinions (based on the personality of the original owner), although it does not contain any specific knowledge or information.
These items store and maintain an individual creature’s entire “intelligence” or essence. Some strip portions of that intelligence (such as ambition or emotion) to make dealing with such entities easier.
Heirloom Brooch: Some Blackmoorian noble lines took to the practice of wearing Heirloom Brooches. These trinkets were worn throughout the life of the noble, and were able to “record” the knowledge and personality of the wearer during that time. Upon death, the brooch was placed in an Heirloom Vault – a location accessible by future generations of the family line. Various brooches (and their stored personalities) could then be consulted during times of family crisis.
Techno-lich Shard: These small dark crystals, based on the same principles of Heirloom Brooch, are able to capture the wearer’s “essence” during a special ceremony that culminates in the physical death of the wearer’s body. Unlike the Brooches however, these shards are designed to be placed in an artificially constructed body of stone, steel, and wood. Many powerful wizards, in the late Blackmoorian era, transferred their intellects into such shards in order to prolong their lives. Unfortunately these transferences rarely maintained attributes of the psyche such as morality and emotion.
Ethereal Seneschal: These large crystal balls could store all of the knowledge and intelligence (although rarely the personality and emotions) of a trusted advisor – typically an expert in a particular field. They would then be incorporated into a large vessel (such as a ship) or stationary structure (such as a castle or fortification). The Ethereal Seneschal could then take over many of the mundane operations of the facility that they control. Some Seneschals also have the ability to manifest as an illusory image of their former selves anywhere within their domain.
Jyrdri Kerghyd by John Calvin 2017 [Used by permission of the artist]
1See the Mystara 2300 BC Campaign Setting http://pandius.com/Mystara2300BC_SettingOverview.pdf
3For more information on the Earthshaker see Module CM4 Earthshaker! and the Mystara 2300 BC thread [City] Building Urzud http://www.thepiazza.org.uk/bb/viewtopic.php?f=63&t=3586. There are possibly three Earthshakers on the continent of Brun after the Great Rain of Fire.
4For more information about Ehrssus see the thread Dragons of 2300 BC http://www.thepiazza.org.uk/bb/viewtopic.php?f=63&t=4681 at The Piazza. Ehrssus (as a dracolich) also appears in Threshold Issue #13 http://pandius.com/Threshold_13.pdf in the article Undead of Elegy Island.