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Chapter 3: Backgroundsby argentmantle
The focus of the MYSTARA campaign setting is focused on the KNOWN WORLD, specifically the eastern portion of the continent of Brun, the surrounding seas, and their inhabitants. The KNOWN WORLD is bordered to the east by the Sea of Dawn, to the south is the Sea of Dread, to the west the vast wastes and the Northern Reaches of the continent eventually give way to the White Sea. The KNOWN WORLD is a grand setting for adventures, with examples of all sorts of geography and environment, from the deep forests of Alfheim to the sand-filled wastes of Ylaruam, the craggy peaks of Rockhome to the rolling lands of the Halfling shires.
Several times, the KNOWN WORLDS have been wracked by cataclysm that have changed the face of the world, releasing destructive fires upon the world. Yet life survived, rebuilt, and flourished, building empires out of the ashes and on the bones of the ones that came before.
For those brave enough, the KNOWN WORLD holds endless opportunity for adventure, wealth, and roads to power. There are whispers are whole nations hidden away from prying eyes, primal knowledge forgotten in ancient ruins, and new frontiers waiting to be pushed back by young heroes making a name for themselves.
This chapter presents the most interesting lands of Faerûn from the perspective of adventurers, focusing on the areas from which such characters are likely to hail. Each section contains the following information:
This chapter presents the KNOWN WORLD from the perspective of the heroic adventurers who hail from each area. Each section, contains the following information:
Regional Benefit: A benefit granted to player characters who come from the region.
Common Knowledge: General facts about the place that every resident of the region knows, including an overview of the region’s notable features, both civilized and natural.
People of the Region: A look at the region’s populace, along with possible backgrounds and motivations for player characters who call this region home.
The Empire of Thyatis is composed primarily of the southeastern corner of the continent of Brun. It is guarded to the north by the Altan Teppes Mountains. To the west, its border extends to the Dymrak Forest, home to elves and goblins. The sea sets the borders to the east and south of the Empire. Thyatis has expanded beyond these simple boundaries with holdings across the seas.
THYATIAN REGIONAL BENEFIT
You gain a +2 bonus to saving throws against charm and fear effects.
You also gain a +1 bonus on initiative checks
Thyatis is a military power, famous for its imperial ways. Thanks to the machinations of its rulers and strength of the Thyatian legions, the nation controls the Pearl Islands, the western third of the Isle of Dawn, Ochalea, and parts of the Hinterlands. Yet, for all the strength of the nations fleets and legions, its nobility has fallen into decline and decadence; Emperor Thincol I is an exception to this, but time will tell whether he can raise the nobility backup or join them in their destructive spiral.
Mainland Thyatis is mostly a land of fertile plains. These plains allow the nation to support large cities that share a national identity. Yet it is the coast that has allowed Thyatia to truly succeed, the sea is the shield which Thyatia is protected from her enemies, the road upon which her ships travel, and the home to her diverse peoples.
Kerendan Plains: The western marches of Thyatis are called the Kerendan Plains. These fertile plains are home to the best horse country in the nation, and are quite famous for their breeds. It is also home to Kerendas, the second largest city in the nation and citizens who considered themselves to be stronger, faster, and less dissipated than citizens of Thyatis City.
Thyatis: The heart of the Empire, is home to the city of the same name. Though not as flat nor as fertile as the Kerendan Plains, Thyatis is perfect to rule the rest of the Empire. Thyatis City is the seat of the navy, merchant fleet, and government, as well as the heart of the Thyatian people. Thyatians don’t use the name “Thyatis City”—the city, to them, is Thyatis, and the nation is Thyatis because it is an extension of the city.
Tel Akbir: A blending of Alasiyan and Thyatian culture, the Tel Akbir peninsula was settled by the Alasiyans and expanded by the Thyatians. Though the Thyatian holdings in the Emirates to the north have fallen, the Empire still holds the peninsula. The Alasiyans here follow the cosmopolitan teachings of the Thyatians more than the philosophies of Suleiman Al-Kalim.
Hattias: Once the equal of Thyatis and Kerendas, Hattias rebelled against Thyatis centuries ago and the county was crushed; ever since, the Hattians have resented other Thyatians. Hattians are reluctant to mix with other races, and seem cold and arrogant to those outside their communities.
Hinterlands: The most recently added Thyatian territory is the Hinterlands. The barbarians here resist the military conquests but have taken well to the Thyatian customs and military training.
Isle of Dawn: The Isle of Dawn was once a colony of Alphatia, having been settled before Thyatian history began, however, the Thyatian forces managed to seize nearly a third of the island on the western shores during its war of independence a thousand years ago.
Northlands: The Northlands are home to the humans and dwarves of the Empire whom work the many mines throughout the metal rich region.
Ochalea: The large island of Ochalea is home to a large number of Alphatian descendants that have turned to the study of divine magic rather than the arcane pursuits of their Alphatian cousins.
Pearl Islands: Calling themselves the Nuari, the islanders are potent warriors and philosophers, with a philosophy of excellence in all things. Conquered long ago, the Nuari consider themselves to normal imperial citizens and quite proud of that fact.
PEOPLE OF THYATIS
By an ancient decree the population of Thyatis is broken up into three tiers, slaves, citizenry, and nobility. It is the citizenry that defines much of the Empire’s success. The Citizens are equal; each has equal rights to bare arms, marry as they choose, vote, and to trial before punishment. The Citizenry is also where the bulk of the military’s troops come from, and many citizens feel they have an equal share in the victories of the nation.
With a proud martial tradition to look back upon, it is no wonder that the Thyatians see martial ability with such high-estem. Martial ability is looked upon with the highest regard in from slave to lofty senator. Thyatians are disciplined and efficient in their daily lives. Yet the Thyatians are quick to embrace an individual that preserves the state yet still manages to live outside its rules.
Off of the battlefield, Thyatians are shrewd and wily traders. Their merchants, politicians, and military officers tend to prosper in the intrigue heavy court and backroom dealings of the Empire.
With its preoccupation with this sort of martial heroism that drive many of the Thyatian adventurers to their course. What a better way to prove oneself than as a warrior-knight doing works that raise their standing in the eyes of the benefactors, Thyatians, and Empire.
Gladiator: The arenas of Thyatis are famous throughout the KNOWN WORLD. From the hard life as a gladiator has even arisen the most powerful man in the Empire. Through your life in the arena, you have amassed considerable experience in the ways of the battle, enough to seek your own glory in the world.
Roleplaying Tips: You have learned how to be ruthless and efficient, having to sometimes put your own friends to the sword to insure your continued survival; never forget that you are your own person.
Legionnaire: Thyatia has long prided itself on the strength of its legions, the power of her fleets, and the victories they have won in the Empire’s name. You have served your time in the Legion, and now for one reason or another have decided to strike out on your own; or perhaps you are following the clandestine orders of a superior.
Roleplaying Tips: You focus on discipline and efficiency. Though a gladiator might carry the hearts of the people, the legion carries the standards to victory. You always function as part of the team, working within the confines of your place to bring about success.
Explorer: You are focused on expanding the KNOWN WORLD and the Empire. You seek to bring the gift of civilization to the uncivilized and take great treasure and glory for yourself in such discoveries.
Roleplaying Tips: You may be a bit rough around the edges, but you do what you must to survive in the dangerous wilds. Yet a strange curiosity drives you as well, to push back the edges of the uncivilized lands, and ambition drives you to bring those places civilization.
Thyatians need look no further than their own history for examples of adventurers and heroes. Many see the world as a mercantile opportunity waiting to be had, others see dreams of Thyatian legions raising the banners across the world, and it still others seek individual glory and honor; all told, it is this attitude of victory that drives every aspect of the Thyatian world.
Disgraced: The webs of intrigue within the Empire are complex and vicious. The people are fickle. Your family fell into disfavor for one reason or another, so you have taken the life of adventurer in hopes of regaining honor, glory, and wealth.
Roleplaying Tips: You have been crossed, but rather than laying down dead; you are striking back in the one way your family’s enemies can’t stop, by proving them wrong. You seek to right injustices and wreak a bit of revenge, all while restoring your good name.
On the Path to Glory: You have decided to take on the mantle of a Thyatian warrior-knight, an example to both the common man and the noble courtiers. You are driven to pursue glory, wealth, and power all to make yourself a hero.
Roleplaying Tips: You are driven and ambitious in your pursuit of your quests, from saving a town from a goblin tribe to rescuing a princess from a hungry dragon, you always strive to be the hero.
Run-Away: Following the age old Thyatian tradition, many young citizens runaway from home to escape a host of reasons, from arranged marriage to longing to be a warrior-knight. Or you may be an escaped slave, giving up your past in search of something better.
Roleplaying Tips: You have given up who you are to become something greater than the fate others had chosen for you. You are an ambitious individualist seeking to personally better yourself.
Alphatia is a nation built upon the shoulders magic, from its ruling house to the lowliest peasant, magic is a daily part of life in Alphatia. Everything in Alphatia is based upon magic, even one’s station in life; those who are able to use magic rule, whereas those who cannot, serve. The Empress herself is a powerful wizard.
ALPHATIA REGIONAL BENEFIT
You add Arcana and History to your class skill list, and you gain a +1 bonus to Arcana checks and History checks.
Fully a fifth of all Alphatians are able to cast arcane magic, this gives their society a predisposition to thinking outside the realm of the mundane. Each of these magic-users is an aristocrat in their own right, employing magic to fuel their empire. Even to the extent that none of the kingdoms are considered truly landlocked, their rulers can employ magic of one form or another to grant access to the sea.
Yet beyond all that Alphatia is a powerful empire that has holdings along the coasts of the seas that it can reach. In the past it has warred with several nations, including Thyatia. Only four decades ago it launched an attack Thyatia that was nearly successful in destroying the opposing empire.
The Empire of Alphatia is a powerful empire constituted of many smaller kingdoms and territories, though each recognizes Imperial law and rule, they are ruled as they fit by their . The bulk of Alphatia is located on a continent of the same name in the between Brun and Skothar. The southern part of the island continent is far more populated and civilized than the northern. The rest of the Empire extends as far its ships and sail, with colonies along many coasts.
Sundsvall: The imperial capital of Alphatia, and capital of the Empress is composed of large estates of the aristocracy. It is called the City Built by Magic, with more magical building occurring here than in other cities. Sundsvall is home to the more sky-ship construction than anywhere else in the Empire.
Draco: Capital of the Kingdom of Stonewall, Draco is the friendliest city towards non-magic users. Its founder, an adventurer, had friends among his lesser and founded a city where they could find opportunity not present in the rest of Alphatia. Draco has the largest population in all of Alphatia, but its population is mostly non-magical. Few spellcasters live here, since most don’t agree with the philosophy of the land.
Ambur: Starpoint, capital of Ambur, is home to many astronomers, advancing their science and art. However, Starpoint is also home to many actors and playwrights, with a large number of theatres and amphitheatres to house its many stage productions.
Bluenose: The capital Arogansa is the second richest city in Alphatia. It is a place where the wealthiest go to buy property impress others with extravagance, excess, and personal worth. It is named Bluenose because of the dolphins that once came to shallows to interact with the fishermen of the villages. Now the beaches are choked with the rich, enjoying the sands and seas in this idyllic community.
Floating Ar: Chunks of terrain, from mansions to open fields to mountains to towers have been worked with powerful magical spells to float in the air. Some of them float only a few feet off the ground, while other idly orbit miles in the sky above. Skyreach, the capital of this surreal nation, attracts wizards interested in air magics and aeronautical research.
Alatian Islands: At the southern end of Alphatia are the large islands of the Alatian chain. Once depopulated and used as artistic centers, all but two have returned to farming and trade communities.
Bellissaria: Nearly the size of Alphatia, Bellissaria is the primary grower of food for the empire. The large island is nearly the same size as Alphatia. Much like the more urbane continent, it is home to many individual kingdoms all swearing loyalty to the crown.
Esterhold: A harsh climate and meager fertility conceal vast amounts of material wealth in Esterhold. Gold mines, under constant threat of savage Jennite attacks, require the Alphatian presence here, with nobles granted the right to colonize it based on their ability to take and hold the land.
Isle of Dawn: The long Isle of Dawn is home to some of the most primal scenery in the empire. Its people, the Thothians, have been part of the Alphatian empire for many centuries, over the course of which Alphatia has added her own colonies to the Isle. The Isle of Dawn is now split between the Alphatians and Thyatian empires, each controlling half the populated areas of the Isle.
Norwold: Alphatia’s farthest flung colony is a land of Norwold. It is one of the few places in the Empire, where non-magic users can achieve noble titles and rule dominions. It has a far heavier presence of Northmen, Halflings, Heldann, and Thyatian settlers than Alphatian, and comes under frequent raids by the Thyatians.
Qeodhar: Technically an ally of the Alphatian Empire, the recent actions of the ruler has forced the Empire to consider subjugating the island. It is similar in outlook and avenues for success to Norwold, accepting non-magic users as equals.
Yannivey Chain: These poor islands, part of the Imperial holdings, are home to a few fishermen, raiders, pirates, and the lot. It is a cold and bitter place with constant rumors of fell experiments befalling its residents.
PEOPLE OF ALPHATIA
Alpathians are a chaotic, free, and very individualistic society. They value expression, performance, individual achievement, and privacy far more than an organized front that squelches creativity.
The above is true if the individual in question is an aristocrat; read able to use magic. If not the person is expected in one capacity or another to serve Alphatian society either directly or indirectly, but serve they will.
Alphatia spawns many to seek a life of adventure. Much of this is for the sake of furthering their individual power but others do it to escape their position within the rigid system of Alphatian society.
Collector: From exotic spell components to butterflies to coins, you have started a collection of something that you must complete. Sometimes you will collect things for others, but you secretly long to fulfill your own.
Roleplaying Tips: You are constantly on the look out for the next piece, specimen, or item. Sometimes you sell them, sometimes you horde them away for yourself. Whenever, possible look at how the situation can help you find whatever it is you seek.
Colonist: There are always new lands to settle. The frontiers of Alphatia require hardy folk like you to push back and make safe. It is here on the edge of civilization that you feel the most comfortable, fighting bandits, slaying a cruel monster, or even clearing fields.
Roleplaying Tips: You grumble a bit in civilization and chafe under its yoke. In the less civilized lands, you come alive. While it is your element, you seek to bring civilization to it; my aren’t we a strange one.
Monster Hunter: The lands of Alphatia are rife with strange creatures, oddities of existence, and even exotic beasts. Sometimes these creatures escape and need to be brought in or taken down. You excel at pitting yourself against the beasts.
Roleplaying Tips: You hunt these creatures for the thrill of the hunt; remember to prove your skill by capturing or slaying the monster.
A healthy respect of individual fame, fortune, power, and glory drive many Alphatians. Though Alphatia lacks the patriotism that other nations have, the drive for individual success gives a great resource to call upon.
Gloryhound: You are trying to accumulate as much glory and fame as possible to curry the favor of your betters. Whether this is for mundane rewards, glory in its own accord, dominion, or even magical secrets, you constantly try to take credit and make you out to get ahead.
Roleplaying Tips: You constantly try to take credit and make yourself out to be the hero. It is you’re your presence that allowed the success of a mission or it was someone else’s fault that it failed.
Power Hungry: You have decided to adventure to accumulate power. Through experience, wealth, and glory, you see the tools to accomplish your other goals, whatever they may be.
Roleplaying Tips: You are greedy, expecting a reward for everything. If it benefits a cause you support, so much the better. Never do anything for free, except where it will reap a larger reward in the long run.
Second-class Citizen: Whether a slave, a ‘common’ Alphatian, or someone who cannot wield magic, you feel cheated by your place in Alphatian circles. So you have decided to leave them behind and seek out adventure to prove your worth.
Roleplaying Tips: You have been cheated by fate, never let anyone forget that you the underdog succeeded. You have been slighted by birthright, never let anyone forget that you, a lowly something or other succeeded where they failed.
A mix of Thyatian and Traladaran cultures, the Grand Duchy of Karameikos is a land balanced as a fulcrum in many directions. The bulk of the people are Traladarans but have Thyatian rules. The cities and towns are somewhat safe, but the forested wilderness is rife with dangers. All the while, the Empire of Thyatis looms perilously on the eastern border.
KARAMEIKAN REGIONAL BENEFIT
You add Traladaran to your list of languages known, you add Perception to your class skill list, and you gain a +1 bonus to Perception checks.
This human dominated land was formerly known as Traladara, a nation that was little more than a confederation of smaller states in the heavily forested woods. Thirty years ago, Traladara became the Grand Duchy of Karameikos when Stefan Karameikos, a cousin to the Thyatian emperor invaded Traladara at the head of a mercenary army. Once victorious, he renamed the nation the Grand Duchy of Karameikos. Today, the nation is still slowly amalgamating the Thyatians with the native Traladarans, a long and painful process.
The Grand Duchy of Karameikos is situated on coast and rivers between the Gulf of Hulag and the Dymrak Forest. It ranges north and south from the coast to the Altan Teppes mountains. It is a very heavily forested region, perhaps the most so in the KNOWN WORLD.
Specularum: The largest city in Karameikos is the capital Specularum. Home to the fortified family palace of Stefan, it is also the seat of the new government. Once called Marilenev, Specularum sits upon an expansive bay making it a perfect center for trade going into, out of, and through the nation.
Kelvin: Kelvin is the second largest city in Karameikos is a fortified stopping point for trade. Located at the conjunction of three rivers, the walled city of Kelvin is home to a large garrison purposed with protecting trade moving through the nation and serving as a safe stop-over point for caravans.
Threshold: The town of Threshold is a logging community in the middle of a large area of untamed wilds. Though not overly large, it is not as rustic as many of the other towns scattered throughout the nation. It is an ideal home base for adventurers operating in the Grand Duchy of Karameikos.
Fort Doom: The Black Eagle Barony and its capital of Fort Doom is the home to the power-crazed Baron Ludwig von Hendriks, Duke Stefan’s own cousin. The Baron is known for utterly terrorizing this small barony’s populace, inflicting his maddening cruelties at whim. The entirety of the farming community here is generally a sullen, guarded lot, seeking little more than to eek out an existence while avoiding the Baron’s wrath. There is only one law in the Barony, the Baron’s Law; Obey the Baron or Die.
PEOPLE OF KARAMEIKOS
Most of the people of the Grand Duchy are native Traladarans, a free-spirited rustic people, yet the power is firmly located in the hands of Stefan Karameikos’ Thyatian, pragmatic and self-serving, leaders. In the past thirty years, there has been a mixing of the two, but there is still a bit of dissent. The Traladarans are a very superstitious lot, tending toward a more rustic lifestyle than the more urbane and cosmopolitan Thyatians. There is also a small community of gnomes and a larger group of elves, the Callarii who call Karameikos home.
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