Atlas   Rules   Resources   Adventures   Stories       FAQ   Search   Links


by Jesper Andersen from Threshold Magazine issue 6


Exploring the books of Mystara

By Jesper Andersen (Spellweaver)

At one time or another, most Dungeon Masters have had their group of player characters enter a library, a sages office, a wizard school or a nobles study and heard the dreaded question: ‘So, what are all these books about?’ Mystaranomicon is a regular column that provides Dungeon Masters with books ready to be inserted into any game with a moments notice. Use them simply as colourful fluff or to provide clues and hooks to adventures.

This time we take a look at tomes from Norwold.

Foolish King Alinor and the Destruction of his Realm

Author: Unknown

Rarity: Uncommon in libraries on mainland Alphatia, probably unknown elsewhere. One copy does exist, however, in the royal library of king Ericall in Alpha.

Year: The original work dates back to 33 BC, but to preserve the work, copies have been made over the centuries.

Language: Alphatian

Contents: This book describes how Alinor settled in Norwold in 125 BC on the Alpha peninsula to found a kingdom of magic. It describes his problems with controlling the barbarian tribes and fighting off evil dragons. It ends by describing, in general terms, the destruction of his realm in 40 BC, when terrible earthquakes buried Alinor’s city and harbour, ending the colony and slaying the mage king. The book hints at Alinor having a powerful magical staff or rod that was lost with him. It correctly identifies a mountain range known today as Alinor’s Ridge as roughly the place where the city was in ancient times, but gives no further clues to its exact location.

Legality: Legal

Number of pages: 100

References: This book is a reference to a small part of the classic Companion level adventure CM1 “Test of the Warlords” from 1984, which details the colonization of the region by King Ericall I. For more information on Alinor, see the following articles on the Vaults of Pandius:

Cab, "Journal of Averyx: A Shadow Falls",

The Italian MMB, "The Norwold Region",

Michele Carpita (Lo Zompatore), "A City of Alpha Mini-Gaz",

The Italian MMB, "Timeline of Norwold",

The Age of Winter and the Rule of Akra, Witch-Queen of the North

Author: Unknown

Rarity: Very Rare. The original work is kept in the royal library in Alpha Castle in Norwold.

Year: Around 500 AC

Language: Originally Alphatian, translations may exist in other languages

Contents: This book is a collection of legends about a time long in Norwold’s past, when Akra the Witch-Queen and her Sisterhood of the Ice Witches ruled the land. Because of their influence, the lands were caught in eternal winter for decades until someone finally slew the evil witch and freed the land of her curse of winter. The book builds on a collection of oral tales passed down in generations amongst the Halflings of Norwold and the barbarian human tribes.

Legality: Legal

Number of pages: 100

References: For more information about Akra and how her spirit tried to return to the world of the living, see the following articles on the Vaults of Pandius:

Michele Carpita (Lo Zompatore), "Rogues to Riches: A Synopsis",

Simone Neri, "The Nainartas",

The Italian MMB, "The Norwold Region",

The Italian MMB, "Timeline of Norwold",

Vanity and Dreamsthe Colonization Policies of Emperor Volospin III

Author: Imperial court historian Kedaeldan, loyal subject of Empress Tylari I of Alphatia

Rarity: Rare in Alphatia, Very Rare elsewhere

Year: Around 540 AC

Language: Alphatian

Contents: This tome describes how Emperor Volospin III (428-506 AC) sought to reclaim Norwold for the Empire of Alphatia. After creating a settlement at the mouth of Sabre River, his forces pressed up the valley and began a war of conquest against the barbarian tribes and dragons of the region. Eager to expand his empire and dreaming of glory, Volospin III transferred large sums of money from the imperial treasury to Norworld to fund the war. This was against the laws and the will of the Grand Council and caused much upheaval at home.

Supplies and reinforcements for the troops were halted by the emperor’s opposition in the Grand Council and eventually around 503 AC, the Alphatian army was defeated and its general killed on the banks of the Sabre River. A skyfleet sent to relieve the colony and bring back survivors the next spring was decimated by dragons over the Great Bay and never returned.

Volospin III was blamed for the fiasco by the Grand Council and died a broken man in 506 AC, leaving his daughter Tylari I as the empress of Alphatia.

Legality: Legal

Number of pages: 150

Reference: The information in this book ties in with the classic Companion level adventure CM3 “Sabre River” from 1983, in which the PCs will try to rid the land of a curse dating back to the defeated general and find the lost treasure. For more information please visit this timeline:

Italian MMB, "Timeline of Norwold",

Also, a revised version of the timeline will be available in:

Simone Neri, "A Traveler's Guide to Norwold", to appear in Threshold Magazine Issue 7, March/April 2015.

Troubled Shoresthe sad tale of a region torn by war and the ambition of two empires

Author: Helsgrim Axelsson of Oceansend

Rarity: Uncommon in Thyatis and Alphatia, Rare elsewhere

Year: 915 AC

Language: Thyatian

Contents: This book chronicles the events of the years AC 900-912, namely the “Trial of Norwold” diplomatic conference between the empires of Thyatis and Alphatia over who should rule the North, and the following Bog War of 904-912, in which the empires tried to settle their claims through military might.

Legality: Legal

Number of pages: 120

Reference: For more information on the peace talks and the war please visit:

Italian MMB, "Timeline of Norwold",

The Milfroy Manuscript

Author: Unknown

Rarity: Unique

Year: 984 AC

Language: Heldannic

Contents: This tattered collection of papers held together by a thin metal wire is probably one of the most dangerous non-arcane books to posses in all of the Known World. Upon first inspection, the papers appear to be a collection of case notes from the criminal investigation of the Milfroy Murders – a gruesome case in 981 AC, in which three dozen women were brutally murdered in Landfall within the span of a single year. Further reading will reveal, however, that the author added his or her own notes to those of the investigation, often commenting on the conclusions being reached while investigating the crime scenes. From there, the author continues to present his/her own theory of how the murders are connected and who the killer really was.

Shortly after the book was completed, the manuscript disappeared and the author died horribly in a huge, mechanical grinder. Word on the street was, of course, that the murders were not the work of a maniac killer but a cover-up for something else – and that the author paid the price for connecting the dots.

The information in the book is thought to be extremely valuable, but also incredibly dangerous to posses. If used with caution it is the perfect setup for blackmail. At the same time, however, being in possession of the book makes you a mark, not only for the assassins and thieves of Landfall, but also agents of the Thyatian Empire, the Alphatian Empire and the Heldannic Knights, all of whom are searching for the manuscript.

Legality: Illegal in Landfall and the lands of the Heldannic Knights, could be dangerous to posses elsewhere in the Thyatian and Alphatian territories.

Number of pages: 75

Reference: The murders described in this book are introduced in the “Streets of Landfall” Gaz-F, a fan-made Gazetteer about the city of Landfall. It can be downloaded from the Vault of Pandius website:

JTR, “The Streets of Landfall”,

Book Rarity Reference Table




Only the original copy of this work has ever been known to exist


Less than 20 copies of this work is known or rumoured to exist

Very Rare

Less than 200 copies of this work is known or rumoured to exist


Enough copies of this work exist that it may show up in private collections and very large libraries across the world. Only rarely is one sold, rather copies are preserved and passed on.


This book is difficult to come by but not impossible. If you can afford it, libraries or sages will probably allow you to have a copy made from theirs.


This book is readily available in most major cities. Books are often common if they are reproduced for teaching purposes.