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Known World modifications & musings

by combatmedic

Going back and looking over the ‘pre-Mystara’ Known World of X-1, the Expert Set version of Karameikos, and some of the GAZ series I have worked up a few ideas for a variant of the setting.

• I may play up the fairy tale aspects of this place, perhaps something like the Pharisees of Three Hearts and Three Lions, fay enchantresses and elfish knights out of the Matters of Britain and France, that kind of stuff.

Atruaghin Clans
• I will probably rework various features of these guys, but I do rather like the basic ideas described in GAZ14. The isolation of most of these people on the plateau helps explain their major cultural differences with other Known World groups. I think Geoff Gander or some other dudes have taken a ‘Robert E Howard’s Picts’ approach with some of the Clans. I can see that for the Vipers/Tigers.
The origins of these people may lay much further west…
When I think ‘Atruaghin’ I think of Atreyu from the Never Ending Story, and that gives me good vibes.

• This is another one I’m not completely sold on as written, but that I find full of good bits and great ideas. Aspects of Colonial America and of Medieval/Renaissance Northern Italy, kind of like what you see in the books. I’m going to roughen and darken things up a bit, as suggested by some contributors on Pandius, so that Darokin isn’t so ‘nice.’

Ethengar Khanates:

• Instead of Mongols, I may use Bulgars or maybe Avars as a basis for the Ethengar people. Or Magyars, in honor of Tom Moldvay? Probably a mix of tribes.

Five Shires
• I’m very tempted to replace Halflings with little rat/mice people. There’s a concept sketch on my FB page.

• I’m keeping the off world immigrants and the rule by wizard-princes. Some other stuff may change.

Heldann Freeholds:
• As much as I like the Heldannic Knights, I think I may revert to the original ‘freeholds’ set up.

• It’s not going to be so much like a pop-culture Polynesia, I think. More like certain islands in the Mediterranean, but perhaps stormier in weather because of big systems moving on the Sea of Dread.


• Pretty much as described in the Expert Set, with a lot of material from GAZ 1 used. I need to decide how big Specularum really is, and a few other things.

Minrothad Guilds
• I’m not sure about this one. I might work in some Minoan type ancient history for the humans of the islands. The name and maybe the climate and geography seem to fit, as does the idea of the Minoans as maritime trading people.

Ostland, Vestland, Soderfjord Jarldoms
• These realms were established in recent centuries through conquest and settlement by people from Norwold.
• A rough historical parallel might be the Gothic settlement of the north shores of the Black Sea and movement into regions further east and south
Ostland as in Ostrogoths, Vestland as in Visigoths?
• The older native population of ‘wild men’ still haunts the back woods and southern mountains. I might borrow some aspect of the ancient Thracian culture for these guys.

• I’m not sure I’d change all that much, besides adding a strong pastoralist element to the Dwarf culture. Dwarfs eating lots of mutton, wearing sheepskin jackets, making music on hollowed out ramshorns, etc.
• Maybe I will include a few vaguely Hebrew elements. Tolkien’s Dwarves have a Semitic influenced language, but that’s something that generally doesn’t get copied in game settings.

• Hattians aren’t ‘Germans’, but there is a significant Aalbanese minority living in Hattias, descended from people who left Glantri after the establishment of wizardly rule. Many of these people have noble backgrounds (the nobility could afford the cost of relocation better than common folk), and some families like the Von Hendricks have married into the Thyatian nobility.
• There is also a small Norwolder community in Thyatis. Alfric Oderby’s family comes of this ethnic origin. These folks might be sort of like Varangians in the Byzantine/East Roman Empire.
• Nor sure about Ochalea or the Isle of Dawn.
• I might give the Pearl Islands more of an Arabian culture, not desert nomads but pearl divers and traders, like people in coastal Arabia or Bahrain. This works because of what I plan for Ylaruam…

• Culture is more Syriac and Turkish/Central Asian mixture than Arabian
• Cooler climate, not a hot desert, still dry country

Note on the Eastern Kingdoms across the Sea—My vision for the setting is not so high magic as Mystara became, so I don’t think Alphatia will fit. Sure, I could trim it down a lot, in territory and magical might but somehow a diminished Alphatia just doesn’t feel right to me.

• I’m not sure what I will put in its place, if anything. As a smaller but still fairly potent magocracy, I could use a more ‘Eastern’ variation on the Kingdom of Izmir. Yeah, the place from the D&D movie. It’s got an article on Vaults of Pandius, IIRC. I’m thinking Izmir—>Smyrna—Greeks—>Lydia-?Asia Minor…
Or maybe Alphatia was part of this version of the world setting, but it sunk like Atlantis. Not in a recent war of the Immortals but centuries ago?