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Thoughts on Lhomarr

by Geoff Gander

I could say a lot about this map and what led to Lhomarr's* creation, so I will.

As I said about the posting of the map of Selhomarr, I have long been fascinated by Atlantean myth. Not only is it a great epic tale of destruction; it's also a powerful allegory for a fall from grace. The Atlanteans were far from ideal people as portrayed by Plato, and this motif of an exalted people being struck down has resurfaced again in more recent literature - the most prominent to my mind being Tolkien's account of Numenor, and I'm sure its later being referred to in-world as "Atalantė" ("the Downfallen") is more than coincidental.

But why in Mystara? To be perfectly honest, while I understand the designers' focus on the modern era, and confining the scope of history to everything since the Great Rain of Fire, I felt the world lacked an epic mythological past whose echoes might feed long-held beliefs and hold clues to the great struggle between Order and Entropy. This latter aspect was to become further developed, and become more of a central focus, in the years that followed as I developed the Outer Beings.

I also remember reading the scene in module CM1 (Test of the Warlords) where the Crones of Crystykk mention that Alphatia's "secret name" was actually Atlantis and - I'm being honest here - being somewhat underwhelmed by that revelation which was obviously intended to shock the players. Seriously, folks? I suspect there was a long-term narrative plan to sink Alphatia (and this was indeed played out in Wrath of the Immortals), but this not only foreshadows the whole thing; borrowing from real-world mythology just doesn't fit. Mystara deserved its own Atlantean myth, and I decided to create one.

For this to even work, and being well aware of the focus on "canon" back in the early days of the Mystaran fan community (which I will not get into now), I knew an "M-Atlantis" could not exist in the post-Blackmoorian age if it were to have a truly mythological feel to it. (Taymora, which was official, does have some Atlantean elements to it, but its tone wasn't what I wanted, and the realm itself was not epic enough). So, I decided 4000 years before the Great Rain of Fire (or ~7000 BC) would be sufficiently remote to craft the end of a previous historical cycle, whose echoes would only be faintly perceived - if at all - in the modern Gazetteer era.

What followed was the creation of a new branch of humanity, whose survivals still exist in various places on Mystara, whose own struggles were against a force of chaos and evil that - I hoped - would be unimaginable in the modern setting. Lhomarr and its allies were realms of great power and heroism who literally extinguished themselves in their struggle to push back the Carnifex of Y'hog, and the implication is that if they had not done so the world would have been a very different - and much darker - place. This great struggle, which was an ultimately failed attempt to end the later-developed eternal struggle between the Old Ones and Immortals on one side and the Outer Beings on the other, is something that I intended should be revealed to the players piece by tantalising piece. By learning of Lhomarr and its struggle, the players would receive insights into the true scale of the cosmic struggle, of which Mystara is a key battleground. What they do with that information - and more importantly what that information does to them, and how they deal with it - is the main focus of this sort of campaign.

One of my goals, when I first created Lhomarr, was to develop setting information for that remote era, similar to the BC 2300 material developed by John Calvin. Although I never came back to it and did that work (my energy shifted to Selhomarr for a good while), various pieces have been produced over the years that could be used to create a resource like that. I'm not ruling out coming back to it at some point, though.

*Lhomarr's name was inspired by the realm of Lomar H.P. Lovecraft's "Polaris" (which you can read for free here since it's now public domain). That's all I took from that story, however.