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Klagorst and surroundings: a mini atlasby LoZompatore
This article collects all the non-canon material about the north western coast of Brun, merges them with the few known canonical information (mostly about the Sylvan Realm and surroundings) and try to link together the work of the different authors who worked on it (for the non-canonical part they are Giulio Caroletti, Thibault Sarlat, Adrian Mathias, Christian Constantin, Geoff Gander and, maybe, Morten Greis). In my opinion it has been done a great job on this part of the setting, and it should deserve more visibility as a possible location for adventures, campaigns and future development.
I hope you enjoy this paper and I look forward to hearing new feedback from you!
While most of these locations were placed on the Vaults of Pandius a decade ago or more, a true map of the whole area including all of them was missing (especially Giulio Caroletti entries about Klagorst Confederacy and its surrounding countries were not shown on any map of the area). Here is an attempt of mine to show all these places in the same drawing:
1) As you see, I added many new locations (basically unnamed villages and towns) on the map with respect to the work of the original authors. They are here to help future contributors in further developing the region. I named just a few of these new locations, only when I felt it was truly essential to have a regional reference point on the map. Notice also that the whole area east of the Endworld Line mountains is marked as unexplored (just a few names are drawn on it, taken from an old Thibault Sarlat map). My concern was to describe just the coast and the mountain chain, I did not want to force future developers working on the eastern side of the mountains to follow my map.
2) In drawing the map I took a few liberties changing a few city names which seemed to me a too-obvious reference to real world places. Here are my modifications:
Archangelsk ---> Archonisk (the idea is that from a Mystaran point of view an Archon should be the equivalent of a real world Archangel)
Krasnovodsk ---> Krasvosk (as the original word was corrupted by a long time of use)
Gdansk ---> Dansk (same as above)
Kronstadt ---> Khoronustadt (slight adaptation to the Mystaran Immortal with the same name)
Niflheim ---> Niflheim Temple (just to avoid confusion with GAZ7 extraplanar location with the same name)
I did not change the name of the regions of Vrancea and Brasov (they both have real world equivalents in Romanian geography) as it seemed to me too large a modification (both names are repeated a few times in the available info about Klagorst and surroundings).
3) I did not explicitly mention the empire of Zuyevo as an established country of south western Brun as it can be someway conflicting with some of the very little canonical information about the area. Nevertheless I kept its northernmost settlements of Archangelsk, Krasnovodsk and Chusqvoi Selo, all of which appear in the map, but omitting any border. So, if you do not like to have those places as part of a larger empire then you could always assume that those cities are actually self-governed. In the following I included also the links I found on the web to a campaign set in Zuyevo by a guy named Morten (likely he is Morten Greis from the MMB), which adds other info about the area (see here, the website is not in English).
4) In drawing the map I tried to match any existing info about the relative position of every country. Unluckily, a few details were impossible to conciliate. Most notably, Szekesh should be just south of the Land of the Closed Society, Chevalle should be east of the Klagorst Confederacy and the White Orcs of the North would be likely on the other side of the Endworld Line mountains. Moving those countries in their predicted positions would create other discrepancies elsewhere, so the locations you see in the map are a sort of "optimum" intended to satisfy as many geographical information as possible. Moreover, Giulio Caroletti seemed to agree about the new locations for the countries he described.
LIST OF LOCATIONS:
In the following I made a list of the locations shown in the map, with a short description of each area. The original authors of every entry are credited and linked as the original source of most of the available info (please let me know if I forgot any other contributor!). The list includes also a short description of the few known canonical locations and a few entirely new contributions on my side.
In alphabetical order:
Agzanizbad: (by Giulio Caroletti) A community of iron-age Yevo barbarians who is trapped in a long and impregnable valley between the Land of the Closed Society and the White Orcs of the North. A narrow, hidden canyon is the only - easily tenable - entrance to the valley. The Agzanizs were trapped there when the White Orcs of the North conquered the coast, in AC 175, and they spent the following centuries secluded from the rest of the world. Further information available here.
Archonisk Territory: aka Archangelsk in the empire of Zuyevo (by Adrian Mathias and Christian Constantin) A thriving seaport, gate to the inland south-western Brun. Archonisk is by far the most wealthy and densely populated city shown in the map. Most food and refined goods are sent to the northern countries from here. See the notes in the introduction about its relationship with the empire of Zuyevo. More information can be found here (more details about its history can be found also here). The original map of Christian Constantin can be downloaded here, while a slightly modified replica by Thibault Sarlat can be found here (a detail of this map centred on Archangelsk/Archonisk can be found here). I was not able to find information about this place on Morten campaign, but maybe you are luckier than me, see here).
Auropolis: (by Giulio Caroletti) Small settlement inhabited by the duckmen, a magical and industrious breed between humans and ducks created decades ago in Glantri. Due to the harsh territory in which they live, duckmen are sometime forced to steal what they need from neighbouring countries, but managed to build their own industries and magical specializations nevertheless. Further information about this location available here.
Black Storm clan: see White Orcs of the North entry.
Blizzard clan: see White Orcs of the North entry.
Brasov: (by Giulio Caroletti) A kingdom of peaceful and hard-working people loosely related to the inhabitants of the Klagorst Confederacy. Some of them are actually of mixed elven-human ancestry. Land is warmer and more fertile than in the Klagorst Confederacy, famines are mostly unknown. As a general rule the Brasovians fought mostly defensive wars and never have lost one of them (so far). Further information here.
Chevalle (Land of): (by Giulio Caroletti) This vast land is a wild territory for human and demi-human standards, but it is densely inhabited by centaurs, satyrs, fey and other faerie folks. Lycanthropes and friendly humans (rangers, druids) live here as well. Government is pretty decentralized, and most of its politics is related to border disputes, especially against Vrancea. In the last century the land of Chevalle entered and exited the Klagorst Confederacy for a few times. Further information available here.
Chusqvoi Selo: (by Adrian Mathias) An isolated settlement of slowly-expanding hunters and trappers, see the notes in the introduction about its relationship with the empire of Zuyevo. Further information here, while a slightly modified replica by Thibault Sarlat can be found here . Morten actually built a campaign in this area, including a few more information about this location (see here and here, both links are not in English).
Cirrinembis: see Porteui and Cirrinembis entry.
City of Light (The): (by Giulio Caroletti) Small settlement of peaceful bargda who follow the way of Ixion and hope for a future redemption. This reclusive culture lives in a valley facing east, where the dawning light is interpreted as a sign of hope for reconciliation with their patron. Further information available here.
Closed Society (Land of): (by Giulio Caroletti) This land of towering peaks and vast glaciers - truly inhospitable for most races - was settled shortly after the Great Rain of Fire by a group of hydrax who found the polar climate and the crystal-like environment suitable to their needs. These hydrax have been living in Mystara for many millennia, but they kept their highly-hierarchical society away from contact with neighbouring cultures, and slowly expanded their territory according to their needs. The Land of the Closed Society effectively act as a major land hindrance between the Sylvan Realm (and its surrounding cultures) and the Klagorst Confederacy (and surroundings). Further information available here.
Dragonwatch Keep: Canonical. From the Dragonlord Trilogy novels. It is an old fortress of Blackmoor, run by mages who was emptied and abandoned shortly before the Great Rain of Fire and survived the cataclysm. It was later taken by the dragons (notably gold dragons), who established there an important temple of the Great One and used its vaults to keep the fabled Armour of the Dragonlord.
Endless Winter clan: see White Orcs of the North entry.
Eritteus: (by Giulio Caroletti) This is not actually a location, but rather a single individual. Eritteus is a powerful, mad and cursed bargda who roams the wild mountains of the Endworld Line creating havoc wherever he gets. Further information can be found here.
Evenkirs: (by Thibault Sarlat) From this map I was not able to find other available information about this entry. Any help is welcome.
Fewalskij (Barony of): see Klagorst Confederacy entry.
Gardener Elves: (by Thibault Sarlat) From this map I was not able to find other available information about this entry. Any help is welcome.
Garraktai Orcs: (by Thibault Sarlat) From this map I was not able to find other available information about this entry. Any help is welcome.
Gask (County of): see Klagorst Confederacy entry.
Gournzee: (by Giulio Caroletti) This is a powerful country of xenophobic lizardmen (the varkhas) who do not like any human or demi-human race (of which their cleared their territory), with the exception of the gnomes from Szekesh (a small community of gnomes is even allowed to stay and trade in Gournzee land). As expected, the varkhas possess a very strong military. Further information is available here.
Guslash Ogres: (by Thibault Sarlat) From this map I was not able to find other available information about this entry. Any help is welcome.
Ice Fist clan: see White Orcs of the North entry.
Kerminhae (Land of): (by Giulio Caroletti, based on a idea of Geoff Gander) This is a small archipelago of five islands inhabited by the hresha-rhak, an amphibian race of enigmatic human-fish hybrid who trades with humans of Fewalskij and hates the hydrax of the Land of the Closed Society (think of them as a more benign breed of the Lovecraftian Deep Ones). Centuries ago they lost a major war against the troglodytes of Stygia and were forced to abandon their mainland colonies. The hresha-rhak could have a much larger undersea civilization offshore the Kerminhae archipelago. Further information can be found here.
Klagorst Confederacy (The): (by Giulio Caroletti) This is a large confederation of five countries (although also the land of Chevalle seldom enter the Confederacy, usually for a short time) mostly inhabited by the descendants of the Visneskayan people who migrated there in AC506. The land they settled is not very fertile, the climate is cold and famines are not so infrequent. External wars and internal skirmishes lasted for centuries until a Confederacy was established. Of the five countries who make up the Confederacy at present, Fewalskij is a poor and cold land mostly inhabited by traders and fishermen, Gask is a cold and unfertile land but also the "political" entity who keeps the Confederacy from breaking, Tcheltar is a fertile but rather undeveloped, monster-ridden land ruled by a knightly order, Valerjia is the most developed and civilized district of the Confederacy and Vrancea is a poor, Transylvania-like location. Further information can be found here (some introductory info can also be found here). Info about Immortals revered in the area can be found here.
Laathol: (by LoZompatore) Based on hints from CM7 adventure module and HW boxed set. This is the land of the wyvern riders Moorkroft used for the conquest of the Sylvan Realm. It is a sub-arctic, hostile, wind-swept valley facing the cold gales from the northern icecap. Many wyverns live in the hills and mountains surrounding the valley, while cryons sometimes enter (and sometime sack) the valley during the coldest winters. Its human inhabitants are of a strong and ruthless stock who managed to tame the wyverns and use them as a help in the struggle for survival. People in Laathol tend to think to themselves when things get to the worse; in times of scarcity (which often happen) many of them are easily allured by strong leaders who suggest to raid or conquer southern, richer lands.
Larodar Chain (The): (by LoZompatore, based on an idea by Giulio Caroletti) This is an archipelago of small islands which was colonized by a party of dwarves manning a fleet of underground ships who somehow wrecked in Murrak Ful. Their magical ships did not move anymore, while sea movement was treacherous at best, so the dwarves found themselves stuck. They slowly spread in the nearby islands and established many small settlements, loosely knit together by an aristocracy of barons. The archipelago as a whole was not very rich in food or mineral wealth, and soon the dwarves found themselves at odds for the little resources of the area. A few bloody wars were fought among them. They finally united when menacing creatures from undersea (maybe related to the Kerminhae, maybe not) appeared on many shores of the archipelago. With many efforts and losses the united dwarves managed to find a southern, relatively safe route to the coast (to Grawyz, in the Klagorst Confederacy) and established a supply line. By that time most dwarves were accustomed to the islands and decided to stay there. The archipelago's name, "The Larodar Chain", is a pun on the fact that the islands were actually a chain for the wanderers ("Larodar" in dwarvish tongue, see GAZ6). Even the capitol's name "Murrak Ful" comes from Mur-Hrak-Ful, which in dwarvish tongue means "Chain of the western lake" (see GAZ6 for dwarvish words, the original dwarves mistaking the ocean they were stranded into for a very large lake).
Mortis: (by Thibault Sarlat) From this map I was not able to find other available information about this entry. Any help is welcome.
Niflheim Temple: (by Giulio Caroletti) A large temple of Hel, the main base of operations for this Immortal in the whole area. The long mountain pass leading from the Midlands to the Sea of Brun through Laathol is ridden with monsters and evil minions from the Temple of Niflheim. Further information is available here.
North Wind clan: see White Orcs of the North entry.
Nyatkai Goblins: (by Thibault Sarlat) From this map I was not able to find other available information about this entry. Any help is welcome.
Orcs of the Black Horde: From CM7 adventure module. A large tribe of orcs who obey Moorkroft Elvenbane orders (see Sylvan Realm entry). They once were part of the deadly Moorkroft Black Horde, but now they are not very different from any other orc tribe of the area. They are of a different breed than the White Orcs of the North and, while sometimes both groups fought on the same side under Moorkroft's requests, the "Black Orcs" are sworn enemies of the "White Orcs". Luckily this lasting internal feud is keeping both clans' attention away from more civilized lands.
Porteui and Cirrinembis: (by Giulio Caroletti) Porteui is a gnomish city built on a mountaintop, filled with steam-powered machines and contraptions the gnomes invented to improve agricultural yield. Cirrinembis is a very large cloud giants' settlements built in the cloud cap which permanently stands above Porteui. The two communities almost ignore each other. Further information available here.
Saanals: (by Thibault Sarlat) From this map I was not able to find other available information about this entry. Any help is welcome.
Sanis: (by Thibault Sarlat) From this map I was not able to find other available information about this entry. Any help is welcome.
Stygia (Kingdom of): (by Giulio Caroletti) A giant swamp inhabited by civilized - although xenophobic - troglodytes who established a theological monarchy ruled by high priests. They are skilled seafarers and traders, and before the arrival of Klagorst and Brasov humans they were able to rule much of the coastal area shown on the map. At the height of their power the troglodytes were able to wipe out from the mainland the hresha-rhak of Kerminhae. Troglodytes in turn were defeated by the varkhas (lizardmen) of Gournzee when they attempted to conquer the gnomes of Szekesh. Since then they reverted to more peaceful attitudes, preferring a peaceful retreat to their original swamp when Visneskayans refugees settled north and south of Stygia, and establishing more constructive relationships with their neighbours. Further info here.
Sylvan Realm (The): Canonical. From CM7 adventure module, a few info is also in the Dragonlord Trilogy novels, HW boxed set, CoM: Explorers' Manual, GAZ3 and VotPA. This land is one of the most important countries established by the elves after the Great Rain of Fire. Most notably, it was the place where Ilsundal created the first Tree of Life and where the elvish clans of Alfheim and Alphatia originated. It is a land mostly covered with oaks (maybe thanks to it being a volcanic zone), inhabited by the Feadiel elves (from the Dragonlord Trilogy: The elves appeared to be of a different breed than the frail, delicate elves of Alfheim. They were small, but heartier of build, almost stocky by elven standards, brown-skinned and black-haired.), centaurs and chevalles. This land was conquered by the evil mage Moorkroft Elvenbane and his Black Horde of humanoids and wyvern riders in AC600, and freed by a group of adventurers in AC1000. the adventurers managed to kill the mage, saved the Tree of Life, and woke up the elves, which slept for the last 400 years magically turned into trees.
Szekesh: (by Giulio Caroletti) A mountainous land inhabited by the Djikartis, a merry and pretty anarchic breed of gnomes, who enjoy freedom over most things. Their government is in force mostly to field a common army in times of need and maintain defensive infrastructure in times of peace. Some six centuries ago the gnomes were surprisingly helped by lizardmen from Gournzee against human invaders from Klagorst Confederacy (??? Entry about "Stygia" stated that the invaders were troglodytes from this country). A few skirmishes with the hydrax of the Land of Closed Society are also reported. Further information available here.
Tcheltar (Knighthood Territories): see Klagorst Confederacy entry.
Valeryia (County of): see Klagorst Confederacy entry.
Valley of Ilsundal: (by LoZompatore) Based on the Ilsundal migration route shown in GAZ5 and HW maps. This long valley was used by Ilsundal to cross the Endworld Line and reach the Sylvan Realm in the final phase of the elvish migration across the continent of Brun. Ilsundal himself placed seals and guardians on strategic locations across the valley to prevent enemy armies to use it to attack the Sylvan Realm in the future. At present most of these safeguards are forgotten, the valley being mostly a wild and secluded place away from trade routes. A section in the northern part was claimed by the hydrax of the Closed Society, further hindering any movement between the two sides of the Endworld Line from this passage.
Vrancea (Duchy of): see Klagorst Confederacy entry.
White Death clan: see White Orcs of the North entry.
White Orcs of the North (The): (by Giulio Caroletti) A cold and exposed coastal steppe facing the northern polar winds, divided among six large clans of orcs. The White Orcs' clans, sharing a common origin, are sometime united in a short-lived confederation, while most of the time they fight among themselves, against the orcs of the Black Horde and against the human barbarians of Agzanizbad. The White Orcs conquered the region in AC175, pushed southward from Hyborea by a frost demon who established in their former territory. The clans are: the Black Storm (split from the Endless Winter, powerful clan with woken and shamans), the Blizzard (climbers and cavers), the Endless Winter (warlike, use large tamed dire wolf packs), the Ice Fist (decentralized, far-reaching raiding parties), the North Wind (underground dwellers, miners) and the White Death (wood orcs, bowmen, large and disciplined clan). Further information available here.
Zenets: (by Thibault Sarlat) From this map I was not able to find other available information about this entry. Any help is welcome.
SUGGESTIONS FROM THE ITALIAN MESSAGE BOARD:
A draft of this work was presented to the Italian Message Board about a year ago. The guys there came with some suggestions useful for the improvement of the area:
- There would be a noteworthy food trade route from the southernmost settlements (Archonisk and Brasov) to the northern countries (Klagorst and the Larodar Chain), with Stygia and Chevalle acting as middlemen. On the opposite direction there would be a flow of raw materials (furs, timber, precious minerals and the like) but, due to the relative poverty of the northern countries, the economic balance would be always biased toward the southern regions (care to see greedy trade corporations from Archonisk and Stygia establishing outposts in the coastal cities of the Klagorst Confederacy?).
- Pirates and bandits would plunder over such trade routes, especially hiding along the coasts of Stygia and Tcheltar and in the wilderness of Tcheltar and Vrancea.
- Wyvern raiders of Laathol can be distant relatives of the Ethengarians: they would have split from the rest of their people during the Ethengarian wandering through Brun from BC3000 to BC2000 (see GAZ12). As an alternative, they could be related to some Ural-like or Siberian-like breed, or maybe to a people similar to the barbarian tribes inhabiting northern Norwold.
- Sea around the Larodar Chain islands could be imbued with some kind of chaotic phenomenon which impairs orientation, shifts travellers to random locations and slowly twists anyone spending too much time on the water. This magical effect would explain the difficulties Larodar dwarves find in order to stay in touch with the countries of the western coast of Brun.
- (Suggestion by Giulio Caroletti) An alternative origin for the Larodar dwarves: they could have reached the current archipelago in a time where the whole island chain was a single stretch of land, connected to the continent by a land bridge. Then some ancient cataclysm destroyed their newly acquired land, forming the current archipelago and isolating the surviving dwarves.
- The Land of the Closed Society would be filled also with a whole ecology from the Elemental Plane of Water (ice subtype). Hydrax brought with them many other creatures to be used as food, cattle or pets (plus a few parasites and the occasional opportunistic stowaway). After the very long time spent on the Prime Plane (the hydrax inhabiting the Land of the Closed Society have been living on Mystara for many millennia, arriving there long before the Great Rain of Fire) it is possible that all these creatures actually became accustomed to Mystara and now they are some sort of hybrid beings (similar to what happened to the Hephaestons or the Sun Brothers, originally from the Plane of Fire).
- The ice demon that moved the White Orcs of the North to their current location could actually follow its own agenda, which could again involve the orcs in the future. Maybe the demon is forging a "suitable" people (the White Orcs) through its policy of forced migrations and conflicts with neighbouring people.