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Broken Lands (Upper and Lower), 8 miles per hex

by Thorfinn Tait

Upper Broken Lands

Covering a region of rugged hills, mountains, and narrow canyons near the centre of the Known World, the area is thought to be abandoned by civilisation.  Few humans and demi-humans ever venture any distance from the treacherous merchant tracks along the Vesubia and Streel Rivers, but the Broken Lands are far from deserted.

Although the rugged surface may be baked by the sun of summer and frozen by the winds of winter, many are its inhabitants.  These are denizens of the depths, nomadic hordes of darkness, and fierce caravan raiders. They are the Hordes of Thar.

from GAZ10 The Orcs of Thar, by Bruce Heard

Lower Broken Lands

The ten tribes of the Broken Lands occupy a vast underground network.  These caves are huge, the largest stretching over 100 miles.  A forest of colossal stalagmites supports the vaults, arching up to 300 feet high.  The bottom of these caves is very uneven, deserving its name: the True Broken Lands.  Their depths range from 800 to 1,600 feet below the surface.  Huge, fortified gates often block passageways from one cavern complex to another.  The largest can reach several miles wide.  Rivers bubble up to the caverns, or seep in from large rivers on the surface, creating underground lakes.

The most breathtaking feature is the Lava Flow, a huge lake of molten rock that emerges from the bowels of the Known World.  Magma flows into vast tunnels, and sinks back into whirlpools.  […]  Three underground rivers fall into the Lava Flow, producing a fearsome roaring noise and a thick fog that fills the cavern.  […]  Beyond the fog, at the centre of the Lava Flow, lies Oenkmar, Jewel of the Depths, an ancient city rumoured to be the Immortals’ Throne and the land of fallen warriors.

from GAZ10 The Orcs of Thar, by Bruce Heard


Replica of Upper Broken Lands from GAZ10 poster map, 8 miles per hex by Thorf, replica map 1 February 2016; original colours map August 2008

GAZ10’s map is a peculiar beast.  Like GAZ6’s Rockhome (but even more so), the Broken Lands map gives you a strong sense that this is only the tip of the iceberg.  In this case, there’s really not a lot to speak of in the above-ground map.  All we can really see is which tribe of humanoids resides where, and that’s basically about it.  The forested swamp hex is unique to this map.  It’s interesting because in fact swamps and marshes can be distinguished by the presence or lack of trees.  The Atlas‘s updated maps split swamp and marsh into separate icons, just as they are here.


Replica of Lower Broken Lands from GAZ10 poster map, 8 miles per hex by Thorf, replica map 1 February 2016; original colours map May 2009

GAZ10’s second hex map was something very special: it was the first hex map to extensively detail an underground realm in the Known World.  It has some very nice touches, though the varying depths make reading the map quite challenging at times.

This map began a wonderful trend in Mystara that unfortunately has seen quite limited output, with just GAZ13’s maps and Bruce Heard’s 2012 Stoutfellow map, along with a precious few other subterranean maps.  We need more of these!


Updated map of the Upper Broken Lands, 8 miles per hex by Thorf, May 2009; last revised 7 February 2016


Updated map of the Lower Broken Lands, 8 miles per hex by Thorf, May 2009; last revised 7 February 2016


Comments - Upper Broken Lands

The real Broken Lands of course lay beneath the surface, but the Upper Broken Lands have their fair share of interest, too.  There’s quite a variety of terrain in the relatively small space occupied by this humanoid enclave between civilised lands.

Comments - Lower Broken Lands

The Lower Broken Lands map was Mystara’s first fully detailed underground hex map.  It was followed soon after by GAZ13’s map, which inexplicably changed the palette quite drastically.  The Atlas uses a standardised hybrid of GAZ13’s and GAZ10’s palettes.

The altitudes marked on the map are quite interesting.  It would be fascinating to have an isometric version of this map, showing the different layers of cavern, with the Shadowlands below and the surface lands above.


Notes on Upper Broken Lands

Notes on Lower Broken Lands

About Replica Maps

Unlike Updated mapsReplica maps are exact (or sometimes colourised) replicas of primary source maps.  These source maps form the main source material of the Atlas of Mystara, from which all of the updated maps are made.  Put simply:

References - Lower Broken Lands

  1. Broken Lands at the Vaults of Pandius
  2. Broken Lands map thread at The Piazza
  3. Mapping Issues: Underground Palette thread at The Piazza