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Mapping around Malpheggi Swamp

by Mike Phillips

In the vein of mapping around Threshold, I've created a detailed 2 2/3 miles per hex map of Darokin's Malpheggi Swamp.

(Short background: I am running a game in the Republic of Darokin, which started in the city of Darokin with the adventure seed "Action on the Athenos". The party is now based out of Athenos, with future directions chosen by the party. As a result, I wanted to be prepared with multiple possibilities.)


(If I forgot anyone, it was my oversight, and I offer my apologies)

Thanks to: Thorfinn Tait (for all his awesome maps and general inspiration), Isomage (hexgimp), the authors of malph.jpg and the other sourced materials from the Vaults of Pandius, and the kind and helpful comments in this thread and on this board.


I placed some notes on town populations and points of interest here.

Footnote: This was the seed of the larger mapping project.

(Anything not described below is from the Gazetteers. Anything not sourced was created for this map.)

Ameron: A small farming and fishing community, due to its location a day's travel south of Darokin Ameron has grown into a regular stop for many traveling merchants. Although it has no formal trading location, the largest inn has seen many, many deals brokered. Ameron is well protected from the humanoids by the river, and is far enough from the swamps to generally be safe. However, every once in a great while an adventurous splinter group of humanoids (often lizardmen) will take up residence in the bogs just across the river. They are usually quickly dispatched.

Arbanville: (from Atruaghin Clans and Darokin) This is a small mining and farming village. Of particular note among the inhabitants is a group of expatriate Averoignese.

Bethal: A small farming and fishing community, it also has a modest amount of traveling custom. Both caravans and barge crews stop here with some frequency when trading between Darokin and Athenos, although it is not as perfectly placed as Ameron. However, there isn't another good stop before the entrance to the canal...

Daripol: Once upon a time, this was known as Dariopolis (the City of Darius), a particularly grand name for what has never been much more than a small mining encampment. Curiously, though, there has been a Daripol here for nearly as long as there has been an Athenos on the bay.

Dervey: (from The Sisterhood of the Fens) A tiny village north of Port Tenobar. Known to have an Herbwoman named Mirelle. Former home of a Fenwitch, Ursalla.

Hellwych: (name from Map of the Westerlands) This village serves as the warehouse for Woodhaven's lumber (and has a few lumber camps of its own in the hills to the west). The wood is usually shipped downriver to Athenos for shipbuilding, or north to Darokin for construction. The village's primary focus is farming, though, with fields spreading miles to the east, across the river. It has a decent inn for travelers, as it sees a lot of river traffic between Darokin and Athenos.

Karthrun: This is a small farming village, of no particular note except that it is near where a seasonal stream (Kareth's Run) normally starts during heavier rains. The name is taken from the river's name, but the reason for the name has long since been lost to history.

Lockport: This small town is a mix of a small, active mining community, and a larger town servicing the entrance to the canal (being the site of the first lock). Given the traffic on the canal, its function as canal labor overshadows the production from its mines. A common name used in the town is "Jeros Hawlen", the merchant (and amateur engineer) who first began agitating for the construction of the canal, e.g. Jeros' Watering Hole (a tavern), Hawlen's Haberdasher (a hat shop), etc.

Malphegos: (name from Map of the Westerlands) This is a small farming village. The inhabitants face a hard existance, between the Children of the Tiger to the west and the humanoids of the swamp to the east. They work closely with the garrison at Clawson Keep, and have a solid relationship with the soldiers there, grateful for the protection offered.

Nethilton: Nethlinn Town when first founded among the hills, but early cartographers interpreted the somewhat relaxed pronunciation by local miners unwindingafter a long day, and this has since become the official name.

Norenaal: A small farming community, sometimes visited by the medium-to-do of Darokin seeking insight into the former duchy's history. The inhabitants still occasionally tell the tale of the nearby Battle of Callenaal here, and recall as well the founding of several villages (including theirs) at the same time. In more wistful moments, those with particularly strong local pride exhibit some regret that it was not their village which served as the site of the historic battle (ignoring the detail that Callenaal is no longer standing).

Reddelton: A small farming village founded well after the fall of Irum. It has a famous local tavern: The Red Duke's Tap, notable primarily for their "blood wine", Reddelton Red (made in vineyards not too far to the north, and colored to be a deeper red), and for the Duke's Last Meal, a house specialty. Once a year, they have a festival (a la Halloween) "celebrating" that bogeyman, dressing up in outrageous costumes and trying to scare each other.

Sheddahr: This farming village is a gathering spot for all the outlying farms protected by (and providing food for) Fort Nar. It is a lively place, far enough from the swamps to be relatively safe, but still watchful for incursions from the Children of the Tiger. The excess production from this region is generally shipped to Port Tenobar. Sheddahr is home to a monastic order, monks known for their cheese production. Sheddahr cheese is renowned throughout the region.

Stoneford: This small farming village is old and relatively unremarkable, but it has the potential to become a regional center once the trade paths to the Atruaghin Clans are completed. As the nearest non-homestead with easy access, the villagers could very well attract quite a bit of additional traffic in the near future.

Sweetwater: (from AC1017 Almanac) This village near Fort Marny is known for its cattle ranching, and is one of the primary suppliers for the Fort. It enjoys a close relationship with the the residents of the fort. The name comes from a particularly fresh spring near the town.

Tafton's Corners: This village sits at a major crossroads, and is named after an obscure general who fought a battle of some sort "years and years back". The nature of the fight (putting down a rebellion, defending against an orc attack, or making a defiant last stand) varies from villager to villager.

Woodhaven: (name from Map of the Westerlands) This village exports lumber from the woods nearby, but is otherwise self-sufficient from hunting and some farming. The inhabitants rarely deal with outsiders, except when shipping wood, and many came here to get away from more populated areas.

Wyrmsbend: (name from Map of the Westerlands) This small farming village is protected by and provides for the garrison at Fort Attleson. The name comes from a sighting of Thalkor near the river's bend when some of the earliest farmers were first tilling their fields.

Keeps and Towers:
Attleson Keep: (name from Map of the Westerlands) Established after the Great Merger (and like much of Darokin's military, using the Attleson name), this keep extends the Darokin border west of the Arbandrine by forming a line (along with Clawson Keep, Fort Marny, and Fort Nar) to decrease incursions from the Children of the Tiger. It will also serve to protect villages which may eventually spring up in the grasslands to its east.

Clawson Keep: (name from Map of the Westerlands) This small keep and its garrison helps preserve the western border, and provides immediate protection to the village of Malphegos (and other farms and homesteads in the area).

School of the Sisterhood: (extension of the ideas in The Sisterhood of the Fens) This partially ruined tower is the center of the Fenwitches' instruction (when not traveling the swamp to learn the local flora, fauna, and tribes). Like the rest of Fenwitch's Haunt, it is disguised, and an interloper will likely see nothing more than ruins -- if he isn't turned around by the confusion spells woven into the area.

Strenny Keep: Once, Streel's Knee Keep, but it became shortened with familiarity and the passing of hands. This outpost primarily serves to watch the humanoids of the swamp and curtail their forays into Darokin.

Lairs and Ruins:
"Ancient Ruins": In my view, these are either Azcan or Oltec, although a one-time Children of the Tiger settlement (overrun as Darokin pushed into this region) also opens adventure possibilities if troops from Ft. Marny and Attleson Keep are ever pulled/reduced due to troop needs elsewhere...

Andelham (mentioned in The Sisterhood of the Fens) could be in the swamp patch northeast of Malphegos. It is unmarked on the map as the village was swallowed by the swamp.

Ardannon: (from The Expanded Darokin Timeline) A city of black stone and ancient evil, it was torn down and cast into the swamp more than a millenium ago. Although long since forgotten, the evil within will almost certainly awaken again some day.

Arthor's Fall: A name of (Molharran) antiquity, the tale has long since been lost.

The Den of Dar'roshk: This cave complex houses a fearsome humanoid (goblin, hobgoblin, orc, or ogre chieftain of some sort).

Drakepoint: (name from Map of the Westerlands) This solitary peak may have once been home to a dragon (or might still be).

Greenlee: (suggested by Winnower (The Beast Blade), inspired by BigHara's module Greenlee) This is the site of the last stand of Duke Rudgard, the Red Duke of Irum.

The Grim Grotto: This dank cave, southwest of Woodhaven, is rumored to be the site of buried treasure -- and is known to have been the end of many treasure seekers seeking it.

Highburn: Ruins of a town or village destroyed when Irum was beaten.

Kareth's Cairn: This formation is taller than the surrounding hills and looks much like a giant's cairn might. Given its proximity to other things named for the long-forgotten Kareth, it has come to be known as Kareth's Cairn (despite no actual link to Kareth).

Karrash Tor: This is a rocky peak. The name currently has no history.

Karwenna: Molharran ruins of unknown history.

Malpheggi Keep: This once marked the northern border of the Duchy of Malpheggi, but has since fallen into ruin.

Markor's Mound: An unusually tall hill with an unknown history. (Markor could have been a person or a clan. The same source may have inspired the unknown Darokinian name Markuri, used for a naval vessel and a district. Other possibilities include a Traladaran or Traladaran-ancestor vampire or lich named Markoros or Markos.)

Monks' Vigil: The monks from the monastery near the village of Sheddahr use this outcropping for some of their ceremonies.

The Mossy Spire: Ancient ruins of unknown origin, they now appear to be a very overgrown keep or tower. In all likelihood, this is left over from Taymoran times, and so the architecture should be very unusual.

Siliss'Tar: These lizardman ruins have recently been uncovered by the shifting of water and land along the Malpheggi Swamp coast. They date from a time when the lizardmen has a stronger civilization and built their own cities. These ruins have been covered since the sinking of Taymor, and as a result are very well preserved. Archaelogists and students of history would find the place a treasure trove of information (plus, of course, there may be actual monetary treasure). It's possible that twisted (or undead, or both) descendents of the original lizardmen live here. (This could prove a way to bring yuan-ti in, if they're not already.) (Alternatively: A nearby tribe might well discover the ancient magics of their ancestors, propelling them to heights not experienced for milennia...)

Thalkor's Lair: (from Who's Who Among Dragons) This is actually a large, petrified ship built by a forgotten race of giants and now stranded in the middle of hills near the center of the swamp. Deep in the bowels of this strange vessel lives the great black dragon Thalkor, ruler of the draconic kingdom of Thalkoria (Who's Who Among Dragons).

Thishil'Tar: These ancient lizardman ruins have been home to many tribes of different inhabitants of the swamp in the millennia since the lizardman empire collapsed. Although the occasional valuable find might still exist, for the most part these are simply moss-covered, seriously eroded rocks in a vaguely city-like arrangement. Unless there are undiscovered chambers beneath the current inhabitants, of course...

Zenos' Solace: Name of unknown origin (although Zenos is a Meruvari name), but it is said the view from the top of this solitary peak is breathtaking.

Other Areas of Interest:
Chancellor's Preserve: This lush valley in the hills near Darokin is used as a hunting preserve by the Chancellor and those he favors. It has variously been used as a vacation spot, a place to entertain visiting dignitaries, and a reward to friends, allies, and heads of major merchant concerns.

The Duke's Depression: This is a swampy valley in the middle of a range of hills. Despite the catchy name and local legend that this is where the Duke of Malpheggi lost his final battle (and his life), it is none of the above. The name was bestowed one evening as someone was weaving tales around the campfire in nearby Malphegos.

Fenwitch's Haunt: (extension of the ideas in The Sisterhood of the Fens) These forested hills near the center of the swamp are the center of the Sisterhood of the Fen's realm. They do not appreciate being disturbed and have cloaked the region with sufficient magics that they are difficult to spot, even when one is standing in their midst.

The Gallows Tree Inn & Tavern: (from Inns and taverns in Mystara) This is a small, ramshackle building in desperate need of paint and care. The owner, Penard, considers this his retirement plan, and does little work, relying on the hired hands he browbeats incessantly. Plenty more detail in the original source material.

Mad Mab's Desolation: (from The Sisterhood of the Fens) This corner of the swamp was devastated by this Fenwitch destroying the creature she summoned in a fit of rage.

Tortle's Tears: The (alligator snapping) tortles who once found refuge in the swamp have been driven to these islands which dot the coast. The name commemorates the sorrow felt as they were overrun, and memorializes what was lost. (Specific Tortle breed from Tortle subraces)

Swamp Inhabitants:
The swamps are home to a variety of humanoids and other monsters. Any solitary encounter or small-scale group which makes sense for a swamp can easily be set here. However, here are some suggested groups:

Lizardmen: As this was once the center of a reptilian civilization, long since collapsed and degenerated, there are still many lizardmen tribes spread throughout the swamps. Tharkor and his vassal dragons command some (or possibly even most) of these tribes. Here are a few quick tribe suggestions:

Gnolls: Several small tribes live in the forested hills west and southwest of Strenny Keep, although the outpost does mostly keep them away from the river. The western tribes tend to tangle with the lizardmen living near the Mossy Spire, especially when hunting the same food. A couple tribes:
Orcs: Quite a few tribes of varying sizes live in the hills along the Arbandrine River. Although the keeps are there to keep the Children of the Tiger from raiding the area, the soldiers also attempt to keep the orcs within the swamp. A handful of tribes have villages in the swamp proper, competing with the lizardmen for area. A few example tribes:
Goblins: Goblins have clans in several locations in the swamps. Here are some notable tribes:
Sisterhood of the Fens: This group of witches has provided the inspiration for several details on the map, and they are detailed in this writeup at the Vaults of Pandius.

Adventure Seeds:
Ardannon: Everywhere from Strenny Keep to Athenos on the Streel, and Malphegos to Port Tenobar on the Arbandrine, are seeing a massive rise in humanoid activity from the swamps. Something seems to be pushing them outward, and they're desperate to find a new place to live. It is up to the party to find the source -- which might well be ancient evils stirring in the long-forgotten ruins of Ardannon...

Drakepoint: This mountain was once the home of a fearsome red dragon, ruler of his own draconic domain. He was defeated when Thalkor established Thalkoria, and his old lair has been empty since. However, in the intervening years, a ready lair has proven a real temptation, and finally a young red dragon has taken up residence with the intention of establishing her own domain (enslaving local humanoids to that end). Her thirst for treasure to push her size and age, and her lust to establish dominance will soon make her a threat to Nethilton, the mines, Elstrich, and much of the area. If adventurers don't take care of her first, the war with Thalkor will likely be brutal as his legions of lizardmen march on her orcs and goblins, and the entire region of the swamp is caught up in this conflict. (Note: this scenario could also play out if one of Thalkor's vassals decides it is time to unseat him.)

The Duke's Depression: This valley among the hills has actually been slowly sinking for decades, but it has finally reached the point of collapse. A great hole opens up in the ground, disrupting the underground dwellers beneath the swamp (shadow elves, troglodytes or some other humanoids, or some other group), causing the two worlds to meet. The subterranean dwellers blame the surface dwellers, and the surface dwellers have no idea until Malphegos is assaulted. (Alternatively: there was a gigantic jelly, slime, or ooze which had eaten away the support, and the crashing earth divided it into a large number of smaller creatures, which are now rampaging through the region while looking to feed.)

Elstrich/Nethilton/Nethlinn Hills: Across the hills, south of Nethilton's mines, is a particularly rocky area. Sometimes called the Nethlinn Badlands by the locals, or even the Nethlinn Wastelands, reportedly it was harsh enough of an environment that when some of the last inhabitants of doomed Nethlinn fled, the Duke of Irum's forces did not pursue. Now, something horrible stirs among the rocks, and villagers in Nethilton have begun disappearing, with some indications that whatever caused this fled into the wastelands.

Hellwych: The party is hired to secure a large supply of wood for an Athenos shipbuilder, but the current and near future timber production is already promised. It's up to the party to negotiate to serve their builder's interests. This could well go political, as the builder claims he's constructing a luxury ship (could be a front, could be for real), while the Darokin navy may have serious need of the same wood for their own purposes (pirates off the coast? preparing for war?)...

Lockport: It's the end of a period of very heavy traffic on the canal, and the nearby mines were shutdown briefly while the miners worked as canal labor to ease the crunch. When they returned to the mines, humanoids from the nearby swamps have taken over, in a bid to find a better base for raiding the barges on the canal.

Monks' Vigil/Sheddahr/Arbanville: It's time for the annual (solstice, equinox, major holy day) ceremony X, and the two monks sent to prepare the altar at Monks' Vigil have not yet returned. The order is now worried, and it's up to the party to find out what happened...

Port Tenobar: The lighthouse which has guided ships to harbor went dark. The first repair team did not report back, the party is hired to investigate... (Insert your favorite haunted island/lighthouse scenario here.)

Port Tenobar: Decades ago, the Tenobar mine has previously provided much needed ore, but the threat of the Children of the Tiger has kept the resources unavailable. However, with ore production decreasing at other mines and prices rising, the merchants of Tenobar are once again looking at the mines for production. It is up to the party to secure the mine and evict anything which has taken up residence, and perhaps even to provide security for the mining operation to commence. (This could also be played as the beginning of the party's domain, expanding Darokin and explicitly giving the mine to the party.)

Reddelton: This village is known for its annual Red Duke's Festival (a holiday not unlike a cross between Halloween and Carnivale), often considered to be in bad taste by those who still remember the Red Duke's atrocities. This year, though, the protesters against the event turn up dead the day of the festival, brutally slain, and an investigation into the cause of death is warranted. If nothing can be found, this annual tourist attraction may need to be canceled, damaging the town's trade for a long time to come...

Siliss'Tar: A renowned archaeologist, investigating the history of the swamp, has heard from fishermen that stones have recently been uncovered by the normal work of the ocean, and he wants to mount an expedition into the dangerous swamp to investigate. This could include dealing with the inhabitants of the swamp, the nearest tribes (who might well see the new ruins as a better place to live), and anything which might be left over in the ruins from the time of the Lizardman empire of millennia past.

Strenny Keep: One of the lizardman tribes has recently tamed a basilisk, at great cost to themselves. The tribe has since splintered into the original tribe who want nothing to do with the pet and the new Stonegaze (Shil'srathaz) tribe which uses the basilisk as its mascot and weapon. With this newfound weapon, they're driving the nearest gnoll clan out of their claimed territory, increasing the attacks around the keep. If the party is nearby or otherwise associated with the Darokin army, they may be tasked to find out what caused the sudden increase in activity, and possibly may need to help defend the keep against a small lizardman army with one or more basilisks in tow.

Tethrun: The party is travelling, and run across a faded trail and a weathered but still legible stone "Tethrun, 4 miles". Following the track, they find the overgrown ruins of a town, long since fallen. Now, though, someone, something, or some group have moved in, seeking the remoteness... Or maybe they just find a few trinkets which lead to a lot of interest from Darokin historians... (basic suggestion from this post: viewtopic.php?p=31120#p31120)

The Swamp (general): A lizardman tribe exploring ancient ruins found great knowledge, resulting in a significant jump forward for the tribe's behavior. This eventually resulted in a civil war among the lizardman tribes as this tribe tried to impose more civilized behavior on its savage cousins. This could well bear investigation as the conflict spreads, but things get very complicated when the tribe claims they are the lawful inhabitants of the Malpheggi West and Malpheggi domains, demanding their seats on the council...

West of the Arbandrine (Wyrmsbend, Malphegos, Arbanville, Dervey): A girl has recently discovered her powers, and with the fearsome reputation the Fenwitches have, the villagers cast her out. Shortly thereafter, something happens (slain or captured by humanoids or bandits, stoning at another village, etc.). Mad Mab, patrolling the area in raven form, sees this but is unable to stop it, and she snaps. Again. The party could be contacted by the Fenwitches to stop the ongoing rampage, or could be caught up in it. (Mad Mab's history can be woven in, as can a chance to explore the devastation she left in her wake last time.)

Woodhaven: The community has recently been joined by a Klantyre father-son pair. No one knows for sure why they ended up here, byt they're trying to start a whiskey distillery using the peat in the Marstrich Moor. The father disappeared while gathering materials (a daring act, given the reputation of the Moor as haunted). The distraught son hires the party to find out what, exactly, happened... (and the silly DM can make sure it's a very large hound)

Zenos' Solace: The stream near Hinmeet, flowing from Zenos' Solace, has dried up. It is up to the party to find out why. (The source of the stream is unknown, but may be tied into the Elven magics which sustain Alfheim. This could be an interesting post-WotI "flavor" adventure, when the loss of the elven magic as Aengmor is claimed has side effects in other areas.)

Parting Thoughts:
Although I don't view the frontier as close to Last of the Mohicans as the Westerlands Campaign does, I should note that the border with the Atruaghin Clans is probably not settled. It's simply the territory that Darokin is comfortable laying claim to. So, for instance, the mine west of Tenobar is probably sometimes held by Darokin, and sometimes not. (I wouldn't be surprised if it falls outside Darokin's claim due to the nearby Battle of Tenobar, depending on how one wants to define its outcome.) This area is the most likely area in the region for a party of adventurers to be given as a domain to tame.

Many of the lairs and ruins have little more than suggestions, as they are designed as empty rooms to be fitted to the individual campaign. (For that matter, I'm hesitant to provide much more detail on the villages in the guide, despite the fact that I've already sketched out some details for those along the Streel River.)