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Hollow Moon Introduction: "Freiburg, der Adler hat gelandet..."

by Sharon Dornhoff

To misquote Spelljammer: Everything you know about the Moon is wrong.

At least, that's what can be true of the visible Moon -- i.e. Matera -- in your Mystara campaign, if you like the ideas I've come up with. (Sorry it took so long ... it's been one of those cases of the more research you do on a topic, the more new details you come up with, that require still more research, ad infinitum!) Up until now, the moon Matera has seemed downright boring, next to Mystara -- hollow; hundreds of races; magic and mystery and historical background up the yin-yang -- and Patera -- invisible; Japanese cat-people; home to Myojo, everyone's favourite fuzzy samurai -- its companions in space. Apart from a single city of Immortals -- who seem to have had pretty lousy taste in neighbourhoods, and won't let PC mortals find it anyway -- there's nothing to see, nothing to do, nothing to bother investigating, on Matera.

That's surprising, considering that -- from what I've been reading, while boning up on the Moon's role in fantasy -- the face of Earth's only natural satellite was THE first fantasy-setting in literature! Long before Gulliver's Travels, writers used the Moon (the real-life one, that is -- hereafter called "Luna", to distinguish it from Matera & Patera) as the place for races of human giants, utopian otherworlds, and satires of humanity's political and moral failings. The folklore of fairylands and of exotic realms of the dead may have preceded these books -- which first appeared in the 17th century, immediately after the invention of the telescope -- by millennia, but lunar fantasy-lands were the first otherworlds to be created specifically as popular fiction; it's in them, that the roots of both sci-fi and fantasy novels can be found.

This being the case, I could almost say we owe it to those early writers, not to leave Matera -- the only direct counterpart to Luna in the OD&D/AD&D game settings! -- as a lifeless hunk of rock. Moon-men were the first true "demihumans" that creative minds ever came up with; and the mythical mountains and rivers of Luna were being mapped, centuries before Tolkien or Gygax set lines on a piece of paper. Why should Mystara and Patera have all the fun, while their celestial sister is left (literally) all alone out in the cold? I hope, once you've read what I've dreamed up for her, you'll agree that Matera has a lot to offer a campaign ... and I welcome you all to contribute to the Hollow Moon setting, because a whole moon's a big piece of real estate to fill.

Before I start posting my material, I thought I'd stick this Introduction on the board, so as to clarify a few points as to where I'm coming from with this concept; and also, to give folks time to dig up an IRL moon-map, so you'll know what place-names I'm referring to (more on this later). I also wanted to submit a new Immortal for consideration, as Mystara seems short one Moon-figure in its published pantheons. If you have thoughts on who she's likely to get along with or oppose, among the established Immortals, please reply with all the juicy details -- I'm still missing my Hollow World material, so I don't have a full roster of Immortals to go by, in deciding Seshay-Selene's role in Immortal affairs.

So, here's those few points:

1) There's going to be a fair bit of historical revision, in the backstory of the Hollow Moon -- as if that doesn't go without saying, for ANY Mystara-related product! ;-) -- which I hope won't contradict too many peoples' home campaign histories. In particular, I'm aware that my decision to withhold interplanetary travel from the Blackmoor culture is at odds with some of the home-grown timelines already available on the Web; I'll try to explain my reasoning for this in my first post on lunar exploration, and I hope my choice won't ruffle too many feathers. Other than that, most of the alternate Mystaran history I'll be proposing should concern things that happened so long ago, PCs won't know the difference.

2) As I mentioned above, I'm missing most of my Mystara materials at the moment, although I've asked my family to send my copy of the Hollow World by mail. I also neglected to purchase the Almanacs when they were available (Doh!), and am forced to rely on Web timelines, for information on recent Mystaran events. If anybody spots any glaring errors, please e-mail me with details or post a correction that resolves the discrepancy: I'll appreciate it. (I'll kick and scream and yell about "my" concept getting changed, but in the long term, I'll appreciate it. ;-D) Just don't bury me in e-mail, if the flaw's already been pointed out and dealt with on the boards.

3) One critical question, for any Mystara-based campaign which might involve space travel, is whether to use the version of outer space that's presented in the Spelljammer rules -- wildspace, phlogiston, solar systems inside crystal spheres -- or the "realistic" version from the Princess Ark's adventures. Whenever possible, I'll try to give alternatives for both space-settings, in terms of the rigours of space travel, the history of the Mystara-Patera-Matera planetary system, and how such things as gravity can work in the game. (For reasons that you may or may not be able to guess, the Hollow Moon setting assumes that the AD&D/SJ system does, at least, EXIST; what's debatable, is whether Mystara is actually a single solar system in a crystal sphere, or if it's in an alternate universe, reachable from, but not the same as, the Spelljammer setting.) If you haven't yet decided whether Mystaraspace is sphere-bound or part of a galaxy, it might be best if you adopt the SJ "fantasy astrophysics", when adding the Hollow Moon to your games: it may or may not be as good a system as what the PA materials describe, but it does make incorporating the HM setting a lot simpler.

A word of warning: While it's not hard to find copies of the map of Luna (you'll only need the near side), either on paper or on the Web, one of the first things my moon-research turned up is that selenologists -- yep, that's a real word -- can't get their directions straight! Lunar maps from before the 1980s tend to put the South Pole at the TOP of the map, to match inverted images seen through compound telescopes. Only since bitmapping and computer imagery became the norm in astronomy have moon-maps been flipped to the same orientation seen from Earth's Northern Hemisphere. On a positive note, moon-maps tend to also reverse their East/West directions, so as to match the compass-points of observers who look up from the moon-facing side of Earth; this is actually helpful, at the Hollow Moon, like the Hollow World, really SHOULD have reversed longitudinal directions! Given that moon-maps' directions are so screwy, and inconsistent from one map to another, I'll try to cite specific external landmarks such as craters or maria (so-called "seas"), rather than compass bearings, in all geographic references.

Finally, here's the lunar Immortal that we've never seen before ... an ol' friend of Protius with a very similar origin. As I've pictured her, she's a bit younger than Ka, got involved in the HM project on Khoronus' say-so when she was an Eternal, and attained Hierarch status only after fulfilling her duties for millennia as the custodian of Matera's tide-based weather and hydrodynamics (which is why we've never heard of her before -- she's been working her flukes off).

Seshay-Selene (Hierarch of Time) "Singer-To-The-Moon" [cetacean], "Tchirichee/Great Stormspume" [cryion], "Tidemother" [var. lunar cultures], "Nephthisi" [ancient Nithian]

Alignment: Lawful (OD&D); CG (AD&D)
Sex: Female
Race: Humpback whale
Clerical Alignment: Any non-evil but LN
Followers' Alignment: Any (placated by many evil lunar races)
Description: Once the wise matriarch of her pod, Seshay-Selene (seh-SHAY see-LEEN = "Moonsinger" in Aquarendi; her original, whale-language name would probably crack the glass on this monitor!) attained Immortality after uniting her kind into a common nation of whales, and devising ways by which they might defend themselves from the dire threat of their kraken enemies. Her greatest innovation, the Unending Sojourn, was the custom of continuous pole-to-pole oceanic migration she instilled in her followers -- one that permitted them to forever leave their cephalopod predators behind, while becoming the farthest-travelling race of nomads Mystara has ever known. Because of her intimate knowledge of tides, seasonality, and the role played by celestial phenomena in regulating such cycles, Ka invited Seshay-Selene to take Ixion's place in making the Hollow Moon livable, after the solar Immortal disdained to consider assisting a world without a sun. She has faithfully maintained the tidal forces that give Matera's interior its winds and geothermal heat for countless millennia, and is virtually forgotten on Mystara except in the seas; her own cetacean kind still revere her, as do Matera's inhabitants and those marine races who haven't turned to Calitha Starbreeze as a mother-figure for their pantheon. Though a gentle sort, the Immortal whale has a soft spot for the shark-kin race, who have never forgotten her, and it was she who brought some of their kind to the Hollow Moon on not one, but two, occasions. Ancient Nithians once worshipped her as the Immortal Nephthisi, mistress of silvery moonlight and, by extension, wealth (silver is more precious than gold to Nithians), but her following died out among Nithians long before the culture was transported to the Hollow World.
Symbol: A whale with a shiny crescent moon for her tail-flukes
Interests: Materan weather, Materan seas, tides, whales, migration, natural and biological cycles
Worshipped in: The Hollow Moon, all oceans