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Ethengar, 8 miles per hexby Thorfinn TaitEthengar is a vast grassy plain, offering little protection from either the bitter winds of winter or the blistering sun of summer. This rough land tests the people who live on it every day, and those who survive that test grow strong and hardy. It is a land of warrior horsemen, as fierce and deadly as they are skilled.
from GAZ12 The Golden Khan of Ethengar, by Jim Bambra
GAZ12’s map has seen much criticism for the perception of its steppes as being far too small for the culture. This of course originated in the X1/Expert Set map. It introduced two new variations of the grasslands hex to make the blanket grasslands of the Khanates more interesting. It also introduced the Post House symbol, which was often repurposed in later fan-created maps.
This map is significant also for the large chunk of Heldann it reveals, although unfortunately there was very little detail to speak of.
Replica of poster map from GAZ12, 8 miles per hex by Thorf, replica map 1 February 2016; original colours map March 2009
Updated map of Ethengar, 8 miles per hex by Thorf, 7 February 2016
The Ethengar steppes make for a rather boring hex map, due to the lack of variation. To solve this problem, the designers created two variants of the grassland hex: poor and choice grazing land. They also added in various depressions, along with rivers and small lakes. Then there’s the Land of Black Sand. Other than that, the land is largely a featureless plain; the nomadic nature of the Khanates means very few permanent settlements can be shown, resulting in a country with but three or four camps and no cities, towns or villages at all. It’s quite unique in the Known World.
Another problem is the elevations of the terrain. The text states it to be a plateau, above much of the surrounding terrain. However, Rockhome’s rivers flow downhill into the steppes, and there is no barrier marked between the steppes and the nearby coast.
But by far the biggest criticism of the steppes is their size: they have repeatedly been said to be far too small for the horsemen’s culture.
- GAZ12 The Golden Khan of Ethengar (1989), PDF at DriveThruRPG)
- GAZ6 The Dwarves of Rockhome (1988) (PDF at DriveThruRPG)
- TM1 The Western Countries (1989)
- Rules Cyclopedia (1991) (PDF at DriveThruRPG)
Notes on GAZ12
- Altitude – “The steppes are on a plateau that rises high above the surrounding lands. Mountains border this plateau, except to the east and part of the north.” “The steppes are 3,800 feet high in the west, gradually rising to 4,000 feet in the east and south.” (GAZ12 DM’s Guide page 6a)
- Bargha – the site of the Golden Khan’s winter court. (GAZ12 DM’s Guide page 7b, 15a, 19a-b)
- Battle, 919 AC – “919 AC: Ethengar Horde under Toktai Khan attacks Hayavik in the Heldann Freeholds. The attack is repulsed and the Horde returns to the steppes.” (GAZ12 DM’s Guide page 5c)
- Battle, 926 AC – “926 AC: Toktai Khan besieges Hayavik and is killed in the final battle. Hayavik destroyed.” (GAZ12 DM’s Guide page 5c)
- Battle of Chongor, 1709 BC – “Akkila-Khan joins with the Ethengars and defeats King Loark at the battle of Chongor.” (GAZ12 DM’s Guide page 5b)
- Battle of Skullhorn Pass – “645 AC: A Great Khan attempts a major invasion of Glantri but is defeated at Skullhorn Pass.” (GAZ12 DM’s Guide page 5c) This battle could be marked on the map.
- Chagon-Nah – “Around the junction of the Hrap and Krandai river, the land is wet and waterlogged, with large expanses of water lying between the confluence of the two rivers. In spring, large lakes from here form here from the meltwaters cascading down from the Makkres Mountains. As spring gives way to summer, the lakes begin to dry up, leaving many small islands surrounded by small lakes and ponds. Great numbers of trees and bushes grow here in the fertile soil …” (GAZ12 DM’s Guide page 7a) The lakes of Chagon-Nah are therefore largely seasonal. This has not been marked on the map. Chagon-Nah is the site of the Golden Khan’s summer court. (GAZ12 DM’s Guide page 7a, 15a, 19a-b)
- Heldanntai battles, 994 AC – “994 AC: Uighurs seek Moglai Khan’s aid against settlers from the Heldann Freeholds. The settlers are slaughtered.” (GAZ12 DM’s Guide page 5c)
- Krandai River bridge – “A wide wooden bridge has recently replaced the ferry that used to cross the Krandai River below Bargha.” (GAZ12 DM’s Guide page 8c) This bridge is obscured by the hex icon for Bargha, and therefore has not been marked on the map.
- Lake Talkai – “Lake Talkai forms in the spring months from water flowing into the Sea of Flowers … In summer the grasses, although protected from the scorching winds, are subject to high temperatures … Lake Talkai dries up and fine grasses grow on its damp bed.” (GAZ12 DM’s Guide page 6c) So Lake Talkai is a seasonal lake. This has not been marked on the map.
- Land of Black Sand – formed in 1700 BC as a direct result of the explosion caused by elves in the Broken Lands. “In this strange place, permanent gates opened between the Spirit World, the Known World, and the Sphere of Entropy.” (GAZ12 DM’s Guide page 5c) “This blighted area is covered in thick black sand and boulders. … the Land of Black Sand contains a gate to the Spirit World. This lies at the top of the World Mountain…” (GAZ12 DM’s Guide page 7c)
- Land of Blossoms – “Here cherry trees burst into bloom in early summer turning the banks of the river [Krandai] pink.” (GAZ12 DM’s Guide page 7b)
- Land of Purple Grass – “The Land of Purple Grass lies in a depression in the northwest part of the steppes. It is covered with thick purple grasses that thrive all year round.” (GAZ12 DM’s Guide page 7a)
- Maghurtai, 985 AC – “985 AC: The united Murkits defeat the warring clans of the Maghurs. All Maghur males are put to the sword.” (GAZ12 DM’s Guide page 5c) GAZ12’s poster map has this battle marked as taking place in 986 AC, but this is likely a mistake. The updated map reflects the text’s 985 AC.
- Overland Trade Route – “The Overland Trade Route passes through the Ethengar Khanates to link Darokin with the Heldann Freeholds, Rockhome, the Northern Reaches, and beyond.” (GAZ12 DM’s Guide page 8b) This refers to the roads and trails on GAZ12’s map, although there is no trail marked leading to Vestland. The roads are said to be under construction – the work of Rockhome dwarves employed by the Golden Khan.
- Rivers (Dol-Anur, Hrap, Krandai, Streel, Styrdal) – “The rivers of the steppes are shallow, broad, and slow flowing. They flow from the surrounding mountains and hills and frequently burst their banks in spring as the meltwaters run off the peaks. The rivers follow the downward tilt of the land tp the west to join the Streel River before turning south to flow into the Broken Lands.” (GAZ12 DM’s Guide page 8a)
- Sea of Flowers – “In the middle of the Sea of Grass lies the Sea of Flowers. Here the steppes enter a sheltered depression protected from the worst ravages of the winds. The Sea of Flowers is the most fertile part of the steppes as this area is well irrigated by water flowing from the higher land surrounding it. In spring, this region is covered with the many colourful flowers that give it its name. … In summer the grasses, although protected from the scorching winds, are subject to high temperatures that turn the Sea of Flowers into a land of yellow grass.” (GAZ12 DM’s Guide page 6c)
- Sea of Grass – “The Ethengars call their land the Sea of Grass. A vast expanse of flat grasslands dotted with the occasional clump of trees and rocky terrain, the Sea of Grass is far from being rich and lush. In some areas the grasses grow only in small patches, sufficient to feed a herd for a day before being exhausted. Along the banks of the rivers, the grass grows thicker and is capable of feeding a herd a week or more before a clan needs to move on.” (GAZ12 DM’s Guide page 6c) Although GAZ12’s map places the Sea of Grass label in a small area of the territory of the Kaeruts west of the Streel, it seems clear that this label can be applied to the whole area of the Khanates. Therefore the label has been enlarged and placed on both sides of the Streel, covering the whole territory.
- The Steppes – “Today the steppes are not fertile enough to support crops or large herds. In some places they are little more than arid wildernesses of gravel, sand, and rock, constantly lashed by winds from the surrounding mountains.” (GAZ12 DM’s Guide page 6a)
- World Mountain – “a vast towering edifice upon which the bodies of the Great Khans are laid to rest. Here a narrow bridge connects the World Mountain to the Spirit World.” (GAZ12 DM’s Guide page 7c)
Notes on Updated map (TM1)
- Ethengar Horse fair Sites – a horse fair site south of the Krandai River along the trail going west to Bargha that was featured in GAZ12 has been omitted.
- Hex Art Error - the hex directly south of Camp Bramyra, which was marked as choice grazing lands on GAZ12's map, has a yellow grasslands background, but the darker coloured grass used for choice grazing lands. Clearly it was meant to be a choice grazing lands hex.
- Missing Labels - labels for the Land of Black Sand and Sliktor Orcs (north of the Land of Black Sand) that were present in GAZ12 were omitted from TM1.
- Pre-Blackmoor - "the steppes lay at the north pole of the Known World and the land of Blackmoor enjoyed a pleasant climate." (GAZ12 DM's Guide page 3a)
- 3000 BC - "The Great Rain of Fire obliterates Blackmoor; the planet shifts and the ice caps recede from the steppes." (GAZ12 DM's Guide page 5b) "After the ice caps shifted following the Great Rain of Fire, the steppes were a fertile plain". (GAZ12 DM's Guide page 6a)
- 2000 BC - "a sheltered land where the grass grew tall and all manner of animals roamed." (GAZ12 DM's Guide page 3b)
- 1700 BC - "the disaster that struck the Elves in Glantri ... withered most of the grass and poisoned the soil." (GAZ12 DM's Guide page 6a) "...the skies over the mountains to the west ... were engulfed in flame and grey dust fell from the sky. The grass of the steppes withered and died, in some places never to recover, and many Ethengars and humanoids fell sick. ... The desolate Land of the Black Sand was formed." (GAZ12 DM's Guide page 3c)
- 1700 BC - 1691 BC - "The changes wrought by the catastrophe in Glantri ... transformed the steppes into a landscape of parched grasses and barren lands." (GAZ12 DM's Guide page 5c)
- Migrations 3000 BC - "the Ethengars, a race of yellow-skinned, hunter-gatherer humans that had existed on the fringes of Blackmoor civilisation ... retreated before the forming ice caps and made their way south." (GAZ12 DM's Guide page 3a-b)
- Migrations 2000 BC - "For a thousand years [after the Great Rain of Fire] the Ethengars wandered the northern wastes until they reached a sheltered land where the grass grew tall and all manner of animals roamed." (GAZ12 DM's Guide page 3b)
- Migrations 1710 BC - "the humanoids swept down from the north to burn and loot the Ethengars' homes." (GAZ12 DM's Guide page 3b) "The Great Horde of humanoids led by King Loark invades the Steppes and enslaves the primitive Ethengars. King Loark's horde is joined by Akkila-Khan's humanoid horde." (GAZ12 DM's Guide page 5b)
- Migrations 1709 BC - "King Loark's Great Horde splinters: the trolls head east, the goblins south, and the rest of the Great Horde is driven out of the steppes into the Broken Lands." (GAZ12 DM's Guide page 5b) "King Loark retreated into the Broken Lands". (GAZ12 DM's Guide page 3b)
- Migrations 1691 BC - "Baka betrays Akkila-Khan and drives his humanoids into the Broken Lands." (GAZ12 DM's Guide page 5b)
- Migrations 100 AC - "The Makistan Clan is driven from the steppes by Muhuli Khan. They settle the Ust-Urt Valley". (GAZ12 DM's Guide page 5b)
To Do List
- Expand updated map - I'm working on changing the format of all my maps to make them rectangular by including neighbouring countries.
- Check the rest of GAZ12 and other relevant sources for geographic details and write notes on the updated map.
- Create replicas of
TM1 andTM2, and finish notes on this map.
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