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Broken Lands (Upper and Lower), 8 miles per hexby Thorfinn Tait
Upper Broken LandsCovering 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 LandsThe 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.
- GAZ10 The Orcs of Thar (1989) (PDF at DriveThruRPG)
- GAZ12 The Golden Khan of Ethengar (1989) (PDF at DriveThruRPG)
- TM1 The Western Countries (1989)
- Rules Cyclopedia (1991) (PDF at DriveThruRPG)
- Wrath of the Immortals (1992)
- GAZ13 The Shadow Elves (1990) (PDF at DriveThruRPG)
- Poor Wizard’s Almanac III (1994)
Notes on Upper Broken Lands
- Altitude markers — two markers present in GAZ10 were missing from TM1.
- Blank hexes — a number of hexes were coloured but left symbol-less on GAZ10’s map. These were corrected on TM1.
- Broken Lands trail — the trail leading into the Broken Lands from Ethengar was reduced to a straight line on GAZ12’s poster map. This simplification unfortunately later crept into TM1, causing further errors. The eastern trail even has a part missing where the trail crosses the volcanoes. The updated map reverts to GAZ10’s trails.
- Dol-Anur River — a greater cataract was added on TM1. The updated map includes it.
- Streel River — on TM1, the southern cataract was reduced from GAZ10’s greater to lesser. For the sake of variety, the Atlas has gone with the lesser cataract.
- Trintan — this Glantrian village bordering Bugburbia was misspelled “Tritan” on GAZ10’s poster map.
- Trollhattan swamps — the single tree swamp icon has been replaced with the Atlas‘s swamp icon, splitting Trollhattan’s swamps into two swamp and two marsh hexes.
- Vesubian River — the southernmost run-off into Trollhattan was missing from TM1. Additionally, two of the three greater cataracts shown on GAZ10’s map were missed out.
Notes on Lower Broken Lands
- Compass error — the direction indicated as north on the Poor Wizard’s Almanac III Lower Broken Lands map is actually east. This error was most likely introduced in the process of changing the map from landscape to portrait orientation.
- Fonts — for reference, the poster map uses the following fonts: Title 11-11.2 pt Feinen Bold; Dominion names: 9.6 Feinen Bold; Lakes and Rivers: 8 pt Feinen Italic; Settlements and Terrain Features: 7.8-8 Feinen Bold; “Boundaries of the World Above” caption: 7.8 Feinen Regular; Legend and Lava Flows: 6.3 Feinen Regular. Dominion names, “Boundaries of the World Above”, and Lava Flows in all capitals; all other labels in title case. Lake Morkia mistakenly marked as a terrain feature rather than a lake.
- Oenkmar — the updated map shows Oenkmar floating in the Lava Flow. It moves around, so the position is not exact.
- Palette — a hybrid palette for underground maps, using mostly GAZ13’s colours, with some of GAZ10’s added, has been used on the updated map. This is Atlas standard for underground mapping.
- Sandy Cave — one of the hexes adjoining the lava river was marked as volcanic sand on GAZ10’s map, but with the cave hex colour. Judging by the way the other hexes bordering on the river are all sand, this is most probably just an error. The updated map goes with sand.
About Replica Maps
Unlike Updated maps, Replica 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:
- Replica maps present the world of Mystara as the original source materials depict it, warts and all. No attempt has been made to fix errors of any kind — even typos. Replica maps are always marked as such on this site.
- Updated maps present the Atlas of Mystara‘s consistent view of the world, with all errors, alignment issues, and so on fixed. Anything not marked as a replica map is an updated map.
References - Lower Broken Lands
- Broken Lands at the Vaults of Pandius
- Broken Lands map thread at The Piazza
- Mapping Issues: Underground Palette thread at The Piazza