Atlas Rules Resources Adventures Stories FAQ Search Links
Flight of the Nachtklaueby John Calvin with contributions by Havard and RobJN from Threshold Magazine issue 15
From the time that the Heldannic knights found the Star of Vanya and began producing skyships of their own, captains like the famed Wulf von Klagendorf, Gretchen von Straus1, Friedhelm von Donnerschlag2, and others have explored nearly every mile of Mystara, both on the surface and in the Hollow World. Now they turn their eyes to the black void, and they mysteries that lay beyond Mystara’s skyshield.
This article introduces the Nachtklaue and her crew. Commissioned in AC 1018, the Nachtklaue is the new flagship leading the Heldannic Knight’s space exploration program.
The Order of the Heldannic Knights is officially founded in 952 AC, by a sect of Hattians who follow the teachings of Vanya and who have begun to chafe under the strictures of Thyatian Imperial law. From the time of its founding until the present day, the Order is very active both on the Outer World, as well as the Hollow World, and even in the space around Mystara. The following is a short history dealing with the Heldannic presence in space. For a more detailed history of the Heldannic Knights see Bruce Heard’s timeline articles Heldannic Knights -- Historical Timeline (http://pandius.com/hk1000.html, http://pandius.com/hk2000.html) located on The Vaults of Pandius.
AC 952: The Heldannic Order is founded by Hattian followers of Vanya.
AC 961: Luftkapitän Franz Eindecker flies a new warbird equipped with breathing devices to outer space and begins exploring. The polar entrances to the Hollow World are discovered.
AC 963: Myoshiman rakasta hail a warbird traveling near Patera, an invisible moon. First contact is established. The existence of the invisible moon is discovered3.
AC 964: Heldannic knights seize some land on Patera, outside the Myoshiman Empire. The rakasta emperor is offended and the knights are expelled. Both sides suffer heavy losses.
Prince Haldemar of Haaken arrives in Myoshima, and enters into diplomatic relations with the Empire. Myojo Katamura joins the crew of the Princess Ark. Lady Abovombe is held prisoner.
AC 965: Alphatians discover the Order's secret warbirds, Vanya's Rest, and how to reach outer space. They hold a Heldannic hostage on board one of their ships, the Princess Ark. Hochmeister Stamhoffer orders the Alphatian pirate, Haldemar and his band, to be destroyed by any means and as soon as possible.
AC 968: The Heldannic Warbird Adler, under command of Luftkapitan Kauser' reaches the surface of Matera4 after traversing the cold void for 58 days. They find little more than dirt grade quartz on the surface, however Herr Kaupf the geologist does find fragments of Krystall in the moon's highlands.
AC 993: Alphatian wizards teleport to Freiburg and wreak havoc on the warbirds and the surface fleet. The docks, warehouses, and the entire Freiburg fleet are engulfed in flames when the Alphatians depart. The illustrious "Adler" is among the destroyed skyships.
The prototype Uhuboote-class ship Nachtritter5 is commissioned. It is a stealth ship designed to operate in the void of space beyond Mystara’s skyshield.
AC 995-997: The Nachtritter spends the following two years on reconnaissance missions beyond the Skyshield, including a careful surveying of Myoshima.
AC 999: The Nachtritter was dispatched on an exploratory mission, again concentrating on Matera. Shortly after piercing the Skyshield, all communication with the Warbird was cut off. The Vessel, and its crack crew, has not been heard from since. More remarkable even than this is the fact that even the most powerful of divinatory magics have failed to uncover any information about the fate of the ship, its crew, or their whereabouts.
AC 1000: A strange, yet unknown skyship is sighted on the Savage Coast. It appears to be under the command to the Alphatian pirate Haldemar, thought to have disappeared in outer space some 35 years earlier. Several warbirds give chase. Two are destroyed, others are damaged in combat. The Alphatian pirates escape.
AC 1003: The existence of Vanya's Grave is revealed to the faithful through the Churches of Vanya in the Heldannic Territories and Hattias.
AC 1006: Troubling news of the Myoshiman Empire reach Freiburg. There are indications they might be planning a military move against objectives on Mystara. Freiburg suspects they may be a target. The majority of the warbirds are ordered into space as a first line of observation and defence. Remaining warbirds are stationed at Vanya's Rest to patrol the region and protect the Holy Citadel. Their mission is to prevent foreign ships from following the regular pilgrim flotillas and discovering the location of Vanya's Rest.
AC 1007: Warbirds skirmish with Myoshiman scout units near Patera.
AC 1010: The Myoshiman skirmishers return to the surface of Patera. A few warbirds stay behind to keep an eye on Myoshima while the others return to Freiburg. Heldannic forces turn their attention to Alphatia’s presence in the Hollow World.
AC 1013: The Heldannic Inquisition under the command of Manfred Himmelbrand begins. Unusual lion-like rakasta, the Simbasta, are sighted in the vicinity of Vanya's Rest.
AC 1014: The entire Heldannic fleet of warbirds sails to Davania. They find Vanya's Rest abandoned. They attack the Simbasta in the open. Soon all the warbirds crash land as the Simbasta's Great Shaman finds out how the artifact works. Severely outnumbered, the Heldannic expeditionary force surrenders. Seeking merely to establish themselves as the knights' overlords in Davania, Chief Ikwanza convinces the Hochmeister to swear fealty to the Simbasta in exchange for the return of the artifact and the prisoners. For the permission to occupy Vanya's Rest, the Order also must pay a yearly tribute to the Simbasta.
AC 1015: Myoshima invades the Heldannic Territories. Secure with the knowledge that they can stop the Heldannic warbirds, the Myoshimans launch a massive assault on Freiburg's Great Fortress from the air. Heldannic warbirds, filled with knights and Simbasta nonetheless arrive from Davania and threaten to tip the scale in favour of the knights. Manipulated by Pyre, the dragons of the Wyrmsteeth Range join with the Myoshimans, inflicting staggering damage to the warbirds. Wulf von Klagendorf challenges the King of the Dragons as the fortress goes up in flames. Kindling saves the day and reveals Pyre's plans to the king. Pyre escapes. The dragons leave the battlefield. The Myoshimans, believing the knights defeated the dragons, are terrified at the awful turn of events and surrender. Forgiving and eager for peace, Wulf allows them to retreat to Myoshima. He then wows to restore true faith in Vanya among the knights and rebuild the Order, free of Thanatos' corruption6.
AC 1016: Uhubootes (Owlships) are recent additions7 to the Heldannic fleet, and are otherwise used as long range recon and spy ships. They sometimes act in owl packs when a specific target needs to be dispatched rapidly.
AC 1020: Nachtklaue launches after two years of construction efforts have been completed. Under the command of Leeradmiral Graustehlen, its mission is to explore the planets in the void beyond Mystara’s skyshield.
The Heldannic voidship differs from the normal class of airship warbirds. It is a modified Uhuboote class vessel modeled after a Great Grey owl8, rather than an eagle or hawk. Its upper decks are fully enclosed, to help protect from the rigors of void travel.
Larger than a standard warbird, the Nachtklaue was designed for long term operation and self sufficiency on voyages through the void. The flagship of the Heldannic Voidfleet has the firepower and crew capacity to stand toe to toe with Alphatian Man of War ships, but because of its unique design it is equally adept at performing stealth missions, especially in the cold dark of space.
The Uhuwaffen class of vessel combines the stealth features of a standard Uhuboote ship with the size and capabilities of a larger Sturmkondor class ship.
Uhuwaffen-Class (Man-o-War) Warbird
Tonnage: 1300 tons
Hull Points: 420
Armour Class: 1
Lift Capacity: 1900 tons
Cargo Capacity: 200 tons
Air Speed: 180' (60')
Void Speed: 360' (120')
Mov. Factor: ½
Length: 200' (incl. tail)
Beam: 275' (incl. wings)
Crew: ~100 sailors, ~350 marines
Weaponry: Blight Belchers (1 heavy, 4light), 2 ballistae, 1 light catapult, War Talons
Defences: Globe of Darkness.
Nachtklaue also contains 4 ship to shore boats that attach to its sides. The capacity of these vessels is not enough to evacuate the entire ship. Each shore boat can accommodate a single squad of marines (10 to 20 individuals), and are often used to transport soldiers and dignitaries to planetary locations while Nachtklaue remains in orbit.
Heavy: The heavy blight belcher9 may be fired once per 24 hour period, and acts as a disintegration ray that can strike targets up to 400 feet away for 40d6 points of hull damage. Heavy belchers are designed to target enemy vessels rather than crew, although any crew member caught within its area of effect must make a Save vs Death Ray or suffer 10d6 points of damage. Targets further than 400 feet away may still be affected by the blast, however the potency of the ray diminishes by 1d6 for each additional 10’ of distance. Nachtcklaue’s heavy belcher is located in its forward beak.
Light: Light blight belchers are designed to target crew on enemy vessels during close quarter combat. They fire a 60 feet long by 30 feet wide cone of energy causing all living flesh to suffer a withering effect. Living creatures within the blast radius must make a Save vs Death Ray or suffer 4d6 points of withering damage. A second Save vs Death Ray must be made in order to avoid a lingering Wasting Disease that may lead to loss of limbs and abilities. Light belchers are powered by a charged cylinder that can be fired 12 times before it needs to be replaced. Nachtklaue mounts two light belchers fore and two aft, and carries enough charges cylinders to reload each belcher 10 times.
Nachtklaue’s war talons are mounted on the underside of the ship and are powered by complex clockwork machinery derived from Snartan10 Earthshaker technology. The war talons can operate in several configurations. It takes the war talon crew 6 rounds to change from one configuration to another.
Grappling: By extending and retracting the claws, Nachtklaue can attempt to grasp onto the hull of enemy vessels. Enemy ships successfully hit suffer 10d6 points of hull damage and are grappled. Once grappled an enemy ship may make an opposed attack to break free, but suffers an additional 5d6 points of hull damage upon succeeding.
Slashing: In this configuration the talons may be used to slash at enemy sails and rigging. Successful attacks will reduce the maneuvering class of an enemy vessel by 1.
Landing: Whenever Nachtklaue lands on a planet (or other solid object large enough to support it) its war talons must be set into their landing configuration. Unlike other configurations it takes the crew a full turn to manipulate the talons so that they can support the weight of the entire vessel.
Globe of Darkness
Like other Uhuboote class ships, Nachtklaue may shroud itself in a globe of darkness once per 24 hour period. The darkness lasts for 6 hours or until a physical object passes through the boundary of the globe (from either direction). The darkness is one way, blocking the vision of those outside the globe while allowing those inside to see normally. This ability is typically used during reconnaissance missions or to facilitate Nachtklaue’s escape.
Most Heldannic skyships are powered by the Star of Vanya, an artifact located in the Holy Citadel on Davania. The power granted by the Star has limitations in both scope and range, restricting the Heldannic Knights early attempts at space exploration to Mystara and its two nearby moons.
[Sidebar: Star of Vanya]
In AC 1016, the Star of Vanya created a nearly identical duplicate of itself, and the Heldannic space program was born. Slightly smaller than the original Star, the new Star, aptly dubbed the Celestial Star of Vanya, was earmarked to support an entirely new brand of flying ships. These new skyships, or voidships, were designed to operate in the cold dark of Mystaraspace, so that the Heldannic Order could continue to expand its influence across the stars.
Rather than risk both artifacts falling into enemy hands it was decided that the Celestial Star would be moved from Vanya’s Rest and installed in a new location, one more befitting its new role. To that end, the Celestial Star was ensconced aboard the Nachtklaue and secreted away to the vastness of open space.
The Celestial Star currently only powers a handful of ships which includes the Nachtklaue and a few other smaller vessels designated to support the Heldannic space effort. For now the artifact remains aboard the flagship of the voidship fleet, but once a secure location is found it will be moved to a more permanent home.
Celestial Star of Vanya
[Image: Celestial Star]
Having just been created by the “mother Star” two years ago, the Celestial Star of Vanya is still growing and has not yet reached its full potential. As the Heldannic Knights continue to acquire territory in space and gain new followers, the Celestial Star will continue to grow. Currently it is capable of supporting a total of 200011 tons of material telekinetically. Once the Celestial Star reaches its full potential, that capacity will double.
Like its terrestrial counterpart, the Celestial Star of Vanya can redirect its telekinetic powers to another ship, as long as there is a remote vessel designed to receive its energies. Normal skyships use an item called a skygem12 to harness this power, however the leeradmiral and her crew discovered that a more potent form of skygem could be created by infusing a magical jewel with shards of moon rock called krystall13. These krystall infused jewels, called voidgems by the Heldanners, are capable of doubling the Celestial Star of Vanya’s carrying capacity. While a 30 carat skygem could provide lift to a 300 ton vessel for a day, a 30 carat voidgem could provide lift to a 600 ton vessel for a day (or to a 300 ton vessel for two days). This unique property of voidgems only functions in space, outside of a large gravity well such as that produced by a planet or planetoid. If operating within an atmosphere on a planet, the voidgem’s power is reduced and it behaves exactly as a similarly sized skygem would.
As the flagship of the Heldannic voidship fleet, Nachtklaue supports a large crew complement14. The brother knights and brother squires serve as ship sailors as well as soldiers when called upon.
Leeradmiral Wilda Graustehlen
Leerekaptain Kass von Himmelsturm
20 brother chaplains
3 Knight Bannerets
16 Knight Bachelors
175 brother knights
250 brother squires
These are the officers that serve on the ship. Many have been hand picked by the captain herself for their dedication and loyalty. There are 3 Knights Banneret on the ship, each commanding one squad of marines. In addition, each Knight Banneret has 3-4 Knights Bachelors serving them as sub-commanders.
Dame Leeradmiral Wilda Graustehlen
Thief 18 / Fighter 8, AL: L; Str 9, Dex 16, Con 10, Int 12, Wis 14, Cha 17; Hp 68, AC 7
[Image: Leeradmiral Graustehlen]
Wilda Graustehlen has served in the Heldannic Order nearly since its founding. She first saw action in the second siege of Torgsdal where her sharp thinking and brutal efficiency brought her to the attention of her superiors. Rapidly rising through the ranks she felt her true calling as an agent in the Eyes of Vanya, proving instrumental in establishing their dominance.
Her crowning glory was championing the Uhuboote program and in the winter of 998 AC Wilda, along with several other members of the Eyes of Vanya served under Knight Banneret Zimmerman, luftkaptain of the Nachtritter during its fateful flight to Patera. She is one of the few people alive that knows of that ships true mission, and what happened to it after it was lost.
Now well into her 80s, Dame Leeradmiral Wilda Graustehlen has resurrected the Heldannic voidship program, and is literally sitting at its helm. She is stern, uncompromising, and used to getting her way. Little on board escapes her eyes, and one of her favorite pastimes is pitting the crew against one another. She feels that such a spirit of competition brings out the best in her subordinates… and proves to her which of them is truly worthy of her attention.
Herr Leerekaptain Kass von Himmelsturm
Cleric 22, AL: N; Str 14, Dex 11, Con 10, Int 12, Wis 17, Cha 9; Hp 64, AC 4
Kass von Himmelsturm served as a Prior aboard the Nachtritter along with, then Knight Banneret, Wilda Graustehlen. Advancing to Abbot in the Heart of Vanya after his mysterious return, Himmelsturm was sought out by the leeradmiral to captain her newest void ship, Nachtklaue.
A bristly perfectionist, Himmelsturm’s seething hatred of of Leeradmiral Graustehlen is a secret kept from none. Though his distaste of his superior is palpable, even to the leeradmiral herself, the leerekaptain obeys her commands without debate or hesitation. Himmelsturm’s apparent respect toward the leeradmiral is actually little more than a patient psychosis. He believes that the voice which speaks to him from the Celestial Star is that of his patroness Vanya, and that for now the leeradmiral is acting according to her will. Should he ever feel otherwise, Kass von Himmelsturm would not hesitate to remove Leeradmiral Graustehlen from command.
The captain also has direct control over the Rear Guard, who serve as ship security.
Knight Banneret Nadine Jodel
Fighter 15, AL: L; Str 15, Dex 14, Con 13, Int 10, Wis 8, Cha 14; Hp 60, AC 6
Always one to lead the charge regardless of the odds being faced, Kight Banneret Nadine Jodel is greatly respected and admired by the troops she leads. Although this boldness has served Nadine well in battle, it was not that quality that brought her to Leeradmiral Graustehlen’s attention, but something much more discrete. Behind a loud and boisterous nature Nadine hides that fact that she is a leading operative in the Eyes of Vanya15, a Heldannic sect that recruits and controls mercenaries and spies in cultures outside of Heldannic territories.
Since her return from a brief expedition to the surface of Ishtar16, Jodel has been behaving rather strangely. While on the surface of Ishtar, the Knights encountered and destroyed a band of roaming spirits. Unbeknownst to all, one of the unclean spirits possessed Jodel to escape destruction, and now it is hiding out in her body, plotting revenge on the knights and an escape back to its home planet. To avoid detection the spirit has kept Jodel in her quarters and attempted to steer clear of other crew members. For now the leeradmiral assumes that Jodel is working on a mission for the Eyes, but once her duties begin to lapse, the spirit will have very little time left before being discovered. If exposed, Jodel may yet be freed of the spirit. Prior Nkiruka, Leerkaptain Himmelsturm, and the Heldanner’s new guest Darzayitr all have the power to exorcise the spirit, but the small fey creature may also be able bind it to an inanimate object, preventing it from possessing others.
Knight Banneret Jodel commands the Main Battle force, many of whom are also secretly members of the Eyes of Vanya.
Knight Banneret Fritz “Schatzy” Schotts
Lupin 10, AL: L; Str 13, Dex 16, Con 13, Int 9, Wis 12, Cha 8; Hp 37, AC 6
Fritz is a constantly bristling lupin (of the Doggermen17 breed) from Hattias, who spent his early career with the Knights in various campaigns to conquer and suppress the Heldann territories. Those who make the mistake of using his sobriquet only do so once, rarely getting away with less than unbridled snarls and a swift thrashing. The only person on board who does not receive this treatment is the leeradmiral, who succeeds only in raising the hackles on the back of his neck whenever she uses his moniker.
Short on temper and long on memory, Fritz is nonetheless an exemplary Knight of the Order. He demands perfection in himself, as well as all of those in the Vaward force reporting to him. Among his peers, Fritz is standoffish. He shares a love-hate relationship with Prior Nkiruka, and while he admires her abilities and accomplishments, he is also extremely jealous of the time she spends with the leeradmiral.
Knight Banneret Gerhold Nashorn
Fighter 17, AL: N; Str 18, Dex 10, Con 14, Int 13, Wis 11, Cha 11; Hp 71, AC 6
A lumbering mass of sinew and muscle, Gerhold spent five years in the steamy lands of Vulcania operating a Heldannic schreckmaschine18. His campaign in the southern lands consisted of mounting periodic border skirmishes with a number of gnomish clans in the area, most notably against the Empire of Snarta. Gerhold’s ability to keep his schreckmaschine operational, as well as his tenacity and dedication to Vanya, were what caught the leeradmiral’s eye while she was putting her crew together. Now Gerhold, along with much of his former team, toil with the inner workings of Nachtklaue, operating the clockwork mechanisms in both the ship’s wings and claws.
In addition to Nachtklau’s gearworks, Gerhold is also responsible for commanding the Reward company, which is composed of his brutish compatriots from his time in Vulcania, as well as several stray ruffians picked up from across Mystaraspace. Although gruff, and often crass in demeanor, Gerhold is extremely loyal, especially to those with whom he has a shared combat experience.
Simbasta Shaman of Vanya 12, AL: L; Str 16, Dex 11, Con 13, Int 10, Wis 15, Cha 11; Hp 37, AC 7
Nkiruka first met the leeradmiral at Vanya’s Rest, shortly after the return of the Nachtritter. She took it upon herself to become the stern woman’s personal overseer, but was quickly won over by Dame Graustehlen’s strategic mind and warrior’s heart. In the short years that followed, the young simbasta was enthralled with Heldannic traditions and has come to believe that The Grey Lady speaks to her. She is the first of her kind to ever take the Oath of Service and become a full member of the Order.
A consummate warrior, Nkiruka spends her days drilling with her fellow simbasta and the few knights who have the courage to spar with her, and her nights discussing strategy with the leeradmiral. She has taken a special liking to Trebouxior, who Nkiruka sees as a kindred spirit. Himmelsturm hates her, and she avoids him as often as possible, though her duties as a prior bring the two into regular contact. Nkiruka is itching to test her skills in combat and dreams of the day when she can lead the forces of Nachtklaue to conquer Myoshima and its upstart rakasta. Until that day comes, she remains prepared, and tries her best to practice the leeradmiral’s patented brand of strategic patience.
Unlike most Heldannic warbirds which only allow those who have taken the Oath of Service to serve aboard as crew members, Nachtklaue’s crew roster is slightly more flexible. Leeradmiral Graustehlen herself has authorized several non-commissioned crew members onboard.
Gnome 5, AL: N; Str 7, Dex 13, Con 11, Int 15, Wis 13, Cha 10; Hp 24, AC 8
Bazyli and a few dozen of his Snartan brothers were lucky enough to escape the purge of male clones from their home city of Quelquarun19. For years these poor gnomes lived their lives on the run, constantly hunted for by the moving city’s reigning Warmaster, Azonia. As the fates would have it, Bazyli and his brothers were rescued by a Heldannic warbird exploring the region, and have since then been instrumental in the Heldanner’s schreckmaschine program.
Far from a young gnome when he first fled his home city, Bazyli has nonetheless aged gracefully, and is still happiest when climbing amongst his machines despite the amount of white hair now atop his head. His last years in Vulcania were spent serving with his friend Gerhold Nashorn as chief engineer of their schreckmaschine unit, but the old gnome nearly lept at the chance to serve aboard Nachtklaue when he heard the offer. Bazyli is close to the men of Rearward company, many of whom he served with in the past, though somewhat distant with other Heldanners on board.
Soulbound-construct 7, AL: N; Str 8, Dex 12, Con 6, Int 17, Wis 13, Cha 16; HD 7-14 (Hp 16), AC 9 (4/2 when bracers activate)
Only a little taller than the ship’s halfling cook, the elfin girl Darzayitr is frail to the point of being almost bird-like. Due to the strain of the Nachtklaue’s gravity, she usually spends her time in her water-filled crystalline sleeping-cylinder. If she needs to go anywhere else on the ship, her warforged companion carries her while she keeps herself submerged in one of Morpho’s cauldrons (much to the halfling cook’s consternation).
When she bothers to dress (an odd custom the ship’s crew is constantly reminding her about), she wears a simple, floor-length, long-sleeved robe of a gray wool. The sleeves hide the intricately twined bracers of platinum, each of which wind from wrist to elbow, very nearly blending in with her alabaster skin. A tiara of the same metal weaves through her jet-black hair, adorned with a single, flawless sapphire. Almond shaped, slightly up-turned eyes the same deep blue never seem to blink.
She can imitate and interpret Raksakra’s mechanical language, (her own voice, though, being silvery and musical, particularly her laughter when rattling off jokes with the hulking warforged).
Possessions: Vara-candra beacon stone, capacitor staff, platinum Val’kiran bracers of defense, Val’kiran circlet. Spells commonly memorized: L1: Read Magic, Light, Locate; L2: ESP, Locate Object; L3: Create Water, Clairvoyance
[Sidebar: Darzy’s Equipment]
Morpho Heartwood; Ships Cook
Halfling 5, AL: N; Str 12, Dex 16, Con 12, Int 15, Wis 12, Cha 15; Hp 25, AC4
This peg-legged halfling from Heartshire in the Five Shires serves as a the crew's chef. He is a somewhat somber halfling, but is well liked among the crew for his excellent food and his penchant for telling grim tales that always have horrific endings. Morpho is also in charge of administering the ship's alcoholic beverages, tobacco, herbs and medicine as he also serves as the ship's surgeon. Secretly, Morpho is actually a secret agent of Alphatia (He switches allegiance to Thyatis after the Wrath of the Immortals) and reports back on all discoveries made by the crew whenever he can. In spite of this, he has gotten rather fond of the crew and will fight to the death to protect his fellow crew members. As reporting back to Mystara becomes increasingly difficult, he keeps his notes in a secret compartment in his wooden leg.
Possessions: "Fillet Master" (Short Sword +1, +2 against Aquatic Creatures), Ring of Teleportation, Leather Armor, Shield, Healing Potion, Pipeweed, Carved Meershaum Pipe.
As long as Morpho serves on The Talon, all crew members recover faster from rest as they are under the care of a proper Halfling cook. Some optional rules for this can be found in this article http://www.thepiazza.org.uk/bb/viewtopic.php?f=43&t=11727&p=138645.
Warforged 9, AL: N; Str 17, Dex 10, Con 16, Int 10, Wis 9, Cha 11; HD 9+8 (Hp 60), AC 5
Thought to be a decommissioned iron golem, the knights brought the hulking warforged from Vara-candra onto the Nachtklaue as scrap. They may well have had most of him melted down, had he not reactivated on the knights’ tampering with the other treasure they’d plundered: a crystal and metal coffin containing what appeared to be a sleeping faerie child.
Raksakra’s speech is a wheezing click-clack that often sounds like loose bolts being dropped down the waste-chute, but the marines been teaching him the hand-talk usually reserved for silent boarding missions, and they are finding him to be quite the punster.
Possessions: Cydonian warblade+2, +3 vs. elementals, tower shield, lightning-shroud docent, self-repair kit (treat as either a use of the Healing skill or a half-strength potion of healing)
Pyrithian Fighter 4, AL: N; Str 17, Dex 12, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 8, Cha 13; Hp 24, AC 4
Trebuxior belongs to the same race as the people of Emerond (see Dragon #166). This green skinned, silver haired humanoid warrior comes from an asteroid field known as the Pyrithian Archipelago. He was part of an exploration mission in search for the lost Emerondian Colony that left for Mystara. Pyrithians are much more warlike than the Emerondians and look with scorn on their betrayal. It is also believed by many Pyrithians that the Emerondians brought with them to Mystara some secret treasures that the Pyrithians treasure. Unfortunately, the Pyrithian expedition was attacked by Myoshiman Void Riders and all but destroyed. Trebuxior was the sole surivor of the attack and was stranded on Patera until he was captured by The Talon. Gradually, he has earned the trust of the crew and now serves as a fellow crewman. He has even been allowed to keep his loyal mount Buzzer, a Pyrithian War-Hornet (See below).
Trebouxior suspects Morpho might be up to something, but since Trebouxior himself has been trying so hard to prove his loyalty to the captain, he feels like he cannot risk voicing his suspicions without solid evidence.
Possessions: Thorn-Steel Spear, Thorn Steel Banded Armor
[Table1: Pyrithian War-Hornet]
These insects are magically enlarged so they can be used as mounts by the Pyrithian Warrior Caste. They do not die when they sting and can sting multiple times. Pyrithians attack from their backs using spears and lances made from Thorn-Steel.
Monster Type: Insect (Rare)
Load: 500 cn at full speed, 1000 cn at half speed
Barding Multiplier x 1
Lupin 8, AL: L; Str 14, Dex 16, Con 13, Int 9, Wis 10, Cha 13; Hp 27, AC 7
A Heldann Shepherd, Ulfir serves as Knight Banneret Schott’s personal squire. Larger and more imposing that the other lupin, Ulfir nonetheless defers to his superior in all things, and is extremely loyal. He was little more than a pup when Vanya’s knights conquered the Heldann Freeholds, even then living on the outskirts of society. Never fully accepted by his own pack, Ulfir found kindred spirits among the Hattian lupins that liberated his homeland.
Ulfir dreams of one day becoming a Knight of the Order, and believes that his commander and mentor, Fritz, is personally grooming him to take up that mantle. Ulfir gets along well with most of the lupins on board, and many of the humans as well, but has had several confrontations with the simbasta, whom his has an innate distrust of.
There are several marine squads on the ship, each tasked with specific duties while onboard.
Simbasta (Nkiruka’s Pride)
10 warriors (simbasta F6 - F9)
This group of elite female warriors is completely loyal to Prior Nkiruka, and by extension the leeradmiral. Though none of these simbasta are dedicated enough to the Order to have taken the Oath of Service, they are consummate warriors who embody the teachings of Vanya, and are therefore respected by many onboard Nachtklaue.
A petty rivalry exists between members of the Pride and the Void Hounds, though so far none of their confrontations have resulted in real bloodshed. Nkiruka and her pride serve as unofficial bodyguards for the leeradmiral, and always accompany her on any mission planetside.
Vaward Company (Void Hounds)
4 Knight Bachelors
40 brother knights (lupin F5 - F8)
60 brother squires (lupin F1 - F3)
The Vaward Company, lovingly known by those onboard as the Void Hounds, is composed mainly of Hattian lupins. Hardened veterans all, the lupin soldiers in Vaward Company have seen campaigns in Heldann, Norwold, and Ethengar, were many served as forward scouts and trackers in the Heldannic army. On Nachtklaue the Void Hounds perform much the same purpose, with at least one or two being assigned to every away team where their heightened senses can be put to best use.
While manning the ship, Vaward Company is responsible for port side defenses and weapons installations. The company falls under the command of Knight Banneret Fritz Schotts.
Main Battle Company (Jodel’s Banshees)
4 Knight Bachelors
40 brother knights (F5 - F9)
60 brother squires (F2 - F5)
The Main Battle Company is composed of battle tested knights and squires from across every Heldannic territory, from the Heldann Freeholds to Hattias, and even the far reaches of Davania. While some of the strongest and most skilled warriors on board, they are also the most travelled, and the most at ease with blending into native populations. Many of Jodel’s Banshees are also secretly members of the Eyes of Vanya, and are always actively looking to recruit more agents into the fold.
Before battle these soldiers perform a hauntingly eerie chant culminating in a high pitched war cry (something their commander taught them), for which their company gets its nickname. The Main Battle Company falls under the command of Knight Banneret Nadine Jodel, and is charged with leading most assaults and holding the forward defensive positions on the ship.
Rearward Company (Gerhold’s Brutes)
4 Knight Bachelors
40 brother knights (F4 - F10)
60 brother squires (F2 - F3)
Rearward Company is comprised of equal numbers of shipwrights and veterans of campaigns against the Snartans in Vulcania. Most are thick-armed and barrel-chested, proudly sporting the wounds and scars received in previous campaigns. While more than competent warriors, Gerhold’s Brutes are also engineers and mechanics, a good portion of whom have seen action from inside a Heldannic schreckmachine. Their skills and experience are put to good use operating Nachtklaue’s War Talons and mechanized rigging, and many carry large “war-wrenches” which double both as weapons and as tools to operate the ship’s machinery.
Commanded by Knight Banneret Gerhold Nashorn, the Rearward Company is charged with defending Nachklaue’s starboard side and with keeping all of the shipborne weapons and machinery in working order.
Rear Guard Company
4 Knight Bachelors
40 brother knights (F4 - F6)
60 brother squires (F1)
The Rear Guard Company reports directly to Leerkaptain Himmelsturm. Most new recruits accepted onboard are brought into this company for training. In addition to learning the ropes, the Rear Guard is responsible for maintaining Heldannic order on the vessel.
Ports of Call
While one of Nachtklaue’s primary missions is one of exploration, there are several locations that the ship visits on a semi-regular basis.
Very near the original landing site of the Adler20, the Heldannic Knights have built a prison mining facility. An early survey by the Nachtritter during one of its shakedown flights revealed something near Mare Orientalis that the Adler’s crew never saw… signs of an ancient civilization. Little has been gleaned about who originally built the now shattered outpost, though based on artifacts found throughout the site, the inhabitants were probably humanoids of some type living inside of a magically protected environment. Whatever safeguards once existed are now long gone, and the ruins of this ancient site are just as exposed and deadly as the surrounding Materan terrain.
Cursory exploration by the Heldannic Knights did however reveal a shallow cavern system, which they have since secured and made marginally habitable. From this small refuge the Knights mount mining expeditions across the nearby highlands, where fragments of krystall can be found in profuse quantities. The outpost is maintained by a small, dedicated cadre of Knights, and a slightly larger prison workforce, made from some of the most hardened criminals in the Heldann Freeholds; heretics, apostates, and rebels.
Nachtklaue visits the prison on a semi-regular basis, bringing in new prisoners, refreshing the guard, and transporting the gathered stockpiles of krystall off the moon. This is a very important operation for the Heldannic Knights, as the krystall is a crucial component in the creation of the void gems that will help power the Order’s new generation of void ships. Despite this, the Knights have been relying on secrecy rather than defensive fortification to keep the site safe.
Originally founded as Mondorf in AC 963, this small military outpost has been razed and rebuilt several times in the half century since it was first established21. It was last destroyed in AC 1015 during the Myoshiman first assault wave against the Heldanners. They attacked the outpost, setting fire to the three warbirds stationed there before proceeding with their invasion of Freiburg. In the aftermath of that conflict, the outpost was rebuilt a final time and renamed in AC 1017 to honor their recently departed leader. Recent years have seen an influx of simbasta colonists along with a bolstering of the Heldannic Order’s troops, enough so to turn what was once a lone military fortress into a small fortified village.
A cordial relationship exists between Port Klagendorf and the country of Selimpore22. The Knights trade off world goods and in exchange the Matriarch of Selimpore recognizes their sovereignty and has agreed to offer aid in the face of Myoshiman aggression. Indeed the Knight’s plans for this area run much deeper. Heldannic advisors can be found throughout Selimpore, providing that nation with council regarding military tactics, weapon and armor manufacturing, and even shipbuilding techniques. The Heldannic Order intends to prop Selimpore up as a buffer state between themselves and Myoshima and use it as a beachhead to invade that nation once their forces are fully prepared.
In the meantime, Port Klagendorf is the primary shipyard for the construction of voidships in Mystaraspace. The Nachtklaue and her crew berth here regularly, bolstering the outpost with supplies, simbasta colonists, and rotating crew and personnel for the fortress and accompanying voidships. Leeradmiral Graustehlen considers Port Klagendorf as a potential candidate to house the Celestial Star of Vanya, once that artifact achieves its full power and potential. Of course the outpost is far from being secure enough for that honor at the moment.
Vara-candra, near-side of Amiva, first moon of Sarimaar
Located on the edge of the near- and far-sides of Sarimaar’s first moon Amiva, the site called Vara-candra is incredibly ancient, dominated by a huge stone monolith towering nearly 300 feet over the desolate moon’s surface. There are signs that other buildings might have once been part of a larger temple complex, but most have either been blasted to rubble by impacts, or buried in the gritty sands that cover much of the moon’s surface.
The monolith is not of any stone native to Sarimaar, Amiva, or her smaller sister moon Sadara. Slick, smooth, but not reflective, if anything, it seems to absorb light, and the shadow it casts is somehow darker than the others cast by Ixionis over the moon’s surface.
The Heldannic crew discovered the means of entering the seamless, featureless monolith quite by accident, when they flew into the stone while in its shadow, to find themselves in what looked to be something of a sky-port: aerial berths for at least half a dozen ships even greater in tonnage than the Nachtklaue, as well as what looked to be resupply and cargo hoists, warehouses, barracks and offices.
On initial exploration, the entire complex appeared abandoned, though signs of battle — an unknown number of years, decades, or even centuries past — were evident: scorch marks, smashed and broken furniture, wrecked machinery.
The Knights have since marked the site for further exploration and retrofitting for use as a resupply station and garrison.
Nachtklaue and her crew have several missions to accomplish while traveling the void lanes in Mystaraspace.
One of the ship’s primary missions is that of exploration. Although the Heldannic Knights are well aware of the invisible moon Patera and its inhabitants, there are several other nearby planetary bodies waiting to be explored.
When prisoners break free of the krystall mines and flee over the crystalbarrens of Matera, the crew of Nachtklaue is in close pursuit. They track the prisoners over the barren sea of Mare Orientallis, but when the trail leads to an unexplored cave, the Heldanners discover more than they bargained for. Following the labyrinthine caves deep underground for several days the party finally emerges in a world of constant twilight. Whether or not they are able to apprehend their former prisoners, the Heldannic Knights have an entire new world to explore… one that was literally under their feet.
Only two planets lie in the direction of the sun, but one of those, Ishtar, is nearly as large as Mystara itself. Damaged in battle the Nachtklaue finds itself flying low over the caustic northern seas of Ishtar when an strange and ominous island23 drifts into view. Having little choice but to land and make repairs the crew is beset by one mishap after another, until inexplicable the Celestial Heart of Vanya disappears. The party must track down the Star, and retrieve it from the Hag who took it before they can leave the deadly island.
A band of pyrithian pirates flee the Nachtklaue after an ill fated attack in the asteroid belt, seeking shelter on the nearby planet of Sarimaar24. Unable to catch them in time the crew nonetheless tracks them to the frozen northern polar region where the pyrithian’s ship darts into a glacial tunnel. Following their prey the crew finds a lush land hiding beneath the icy crystal dome of the north pole. Who or what awaits them should the venture further is unknown, but it is clear that the pirates have friends nearby.
At their core, the Heldannic Knights, just like their patron Immortal, are conquerors, and are constantly on the lookout for their next military challenge. Not only concerned with expanding their territory across the stars, the Knights are also driven to bring the worship of Vanya to like-minded souls.
For nearly 80 years the Knights and the rakasta of Myoshima have been at odds with each other, but the balance of power may be about to shift. In the past decade an increasing number of simbasta have been immigrating to Port Klagendorf, and they and their Heldannic allies are itching to test their mettle against the Myoshiman samurai to the north. The nation of Selimpore, another ally of the Knights, launches an invasion fleet to storm the island nation, and Nachtklaue is tasked with leading the battle.
Beyond the reaches of Sarimaar, or even the Pyrithian Asteroids, lies the gigantic planet of Tarastria25. Essentially a large ball of air, Tarastria nonetheless is capable of supporting life. Nachtklaue, while exploring the upper atmosphere near the violent weather pattern known as The Blood Storm, stumbles upon an ancient floating fortress of known design. Ancestors of the Alphatian Followers of Air colonized this region of Tarastria centuries ago. The crew of Nachtklaue must decide whether to attack or befriend the inhabitants of the fortress before otherworldly beings pouring forth from The Blood Storm descend upon them all.
Star of Vanya
As the Heldannic Knights expand their influence into space, other nations of the Known World may take notice and begin to enter a larger arena… but the mortals of Mystara are not the only ones to take notice. From their city of Pandius, the Immortals may begin to stir and feel the ripples of energy radiating from the Stars of Vanya as the Heldannic Knights grow in power.
Even as the crew of Nachtklaue searches for a safe haven for their new Celestial Star, minions of the other Immortals move to block them. Whether the crew falls under the influence of the Star, or begins to understand its true nature, they will be faced with deadly opponents and nearly insurmountable odds.
[Sidebar: Star of Vanya]
The Star of Vanya, which the Heldannic Knights found when they discovered the earthly remains of their patroness Vanya, is a telekinetic artifact that allows them to create and power their skyships. Telekinetic force is channeled from the artifact and through a “skygem” which is housed in a small chapel on each Heldannic skyship.
In actuality, the Star of Vanya is more than any of the Heldannic Knights suspect, although Vanya herself does have an inkling into its true nature. It is an artifact created by the Old Ones, and its powers go far beyond simply keeping skyships afloat. The Old Ones created the Star as a test to the immortals. As more and more mortals come to rely upon it, the Star will continue to increase in power until finally it is able to reproduce itself. At this point, should more than two thirds of Vanya’s followers begin worshipping the Stars instead of her, the Immortal will be consumed by the artifact. This process will continue until either the Immortals discover the threat and end it, or the Multiverse is cleansed of all current Immortals and the Old Ones can start over again afresh.
For more information about the Star of Vanya and the Old Ones’ plot see Bruce Heard’s article Vanya's Artifact http://pandius.com/starvany.html at The Vaults of Pandius.
[Sidebar: Darzy’s Equipment]
A beacon stone is an ovoid-cut blue dragonstone26, specially attuned to the Keysong siren of a Blackmoor military base or facility. Normally, they merely function as maintenance and service Specialty AIs, coordinating service of hardware and upkeep of a facility and its complement of vehicles, as well as the garrisoned flights shrikes and choirs of sirens.
Because Darzy is only the Second Voice of the Vara-candra facility, she does not have access to the Mind Bridge feature.
While wearing the Val’kiran circlet, Darzy has full access to the records stored within the beacon stone. These include comprehensive maps of Colonial Void Expeditionary Service travel lanes and charts, the captains’ logs, as well as Colonial Ministry of Research & Development plans for ships hulls, weaponry and propulsion systems. The extent of these charts and plans is left up to to the DM.
Magic Item: Capacitor Staff
Composed of rare Sarimaarian wyftwood, this six-foot length of coppery-veined gray wood is tipped at one end by a metal sleeve, and the other with a slotted cylinder. Twisting the grip of the staff aligns the copper veins, closing the circuit, and allows the latent electricity held in the lightning-enhanced wood to build up in the metallic ends of the staff, to be discharged on the next successful hit within three rounds. The target takes an additional 2d4 electrical damage and is stunned for the next round. On a successful save vs paralysis, the target only takes 1d4 damage and loses initiative the next round from the jolt.
[Table1: Pyrithian War-Hornet]
7 (12 when mounted)
The Nachtklaue by I. Calvin [used by permission of the artist]
Star cut teal cubic zirconia, April 2010 by Humanfeather / Michelle Jo [Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported] via Wikimedia Commons
Leeradmiral Graustehlen by John Calvin, 2017 [used by permission of the artist]
young-girl-mystical-black-and-white-1149701 by Unsplash [CC0 Public Domain] via pixabay
Drawing-dog-german-shepherd-art-1470278 by pmtopdecoul [CC0 Public Domain] via pixabay
Mars et Phobos par Celestia 1.3.2 - Mai 2005 by jihemD [Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported] via Wikimedia Commons
JUPITER proccessed image by Ukstillalive [Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International] via Wikimedia Commons
3This differs slightly from Andrew Theisen’s accounting of first contact happening in AC 961 as listed in his Patera Timeline http://pandius.com/pat_time.html article at The Vaults of Pandius. This article will assume that contact was made in AC 963, and that war was declared a year later (in AC 964) as is detailed in Bruce Heard’s Heldannic Timelines.
5The Nachtritter is a unique Uhuboote-class shyship created by James Ruhland in the article The Nachtritter http://pandius.com/nacht.html located at The Vaults of Pandius. The date of construction of the Nachtritter in AC 993 conflicts with the date of AC 1016 given by Bruce Heard as the first time Uhuboote-class ships see service in the Heldannic fleet. To reconcile these dates, this article assumes that the Nachtritter was a unique prototype ship (the first of its class).
6For a full accounting of the Knight’s struggles from AC 952 until AC 1015, see Bruce Heard’s
7See the article Heldannic Warbirds: Uhuboote http://pandius.com/uhuboot.html by Bruce Heard at The Vaults of Pandius for more information on the Uhuboote class of Heldannic warships. Although a prototype Uhuboote-class ship, the Nachtritter was in service in AC 993, additional ships were not included into the fleet until AC 1016.
8The scientific name for the Great Grey owl is Strix nebulosa, something that seems fairly appropriate for a voidship in the service of the Grey Lady.
9More information about blight belchers can be found in the article Blight Belchers http://pandius.com/bbelcher.html by Bruce Heard at The Vaults of Pandius. The properties of blight belchers in the article have been slightly altered from the original ideas presented by Bruce Heard.
11The original Star of Vanya is capable of supporting 5000 tons of material, however the Celestial Star of Vanya will never be as powerful as its mother artifact. For more information see The Warbirds' Propulsion http://pandius.com/propulse.html by Bruce Heard at The Vaults of Pandius
13Krystall is a sharp, nearly indestructible crystal that comprises most of Matera’s solidified mantle crust. See more on krystall and the Hollow Moon at the Vaults of Pandius, or in previous articles of Threshold.
14For more information about Heldannic military organization see the article General Organisation of the Order -- 2. The Military http://pandius.com/military.html by Bruce Heard at The Vaults of Pandius
16See the article The World of Ishtar by Stefano Leonardi in this issue of Threshold. The knights visited the region of Ruuva which is known to be haunted.
17See the article Lupin Breeds http://pandius.com/lupnbred.html by Átila Pires dos Santos at the Vaults of Pandius, and the article History of Lupins by Átila Pires dos Santos (and Giampaolo Agosta) in Threshold Issue #2 http://pandius.com/Threshold_2.pdf.
20See the article Revamping Matera http://pandius.com/materarv.html by LoZompatore at The Vaults of Pandius. The Materan Mines can be found very near the marker for the Blackmoorian Outpost #9, B.O. #9 on the Matera: Full Settlements Map http://pandius.com/Matera_full_settlements_00.png
21Port Klagendorf can be found on the southern polar peninsula 4 hexes southwest of Jorung in Selimpore. See the article More details about Patera http://pandius.com/patera2.html by LoZompatore and Patera World Map with Political Borders http://pandius.com/Patera_Map_full_with_text.png at The Vaults of Pandius.
23This is the Sea Hag’s Island. See the article on The World of Ishtar by Stefano Leonardi in this issue of Threshold for more information.
24For more information on Sarimaar, see the [Thornspace] TS1: Sarimaar, The Red Wanderer http://www.thepiazza.org.uk/bb/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=15733 thread by RobJN at The Piazza
25For more information on Tarastria see the [Mystaraspace] Tarastria http://www.thepiazza.org.uk/bb/viewtopic.php?t=3371&p=43786 thread by ripvanwormer at The Piazza forums.
26Thorn’s Mystara incorporates dragonstones (and elements from other campaign settings. For more information about Thorn’s Mystara, see RobJN’s blog http://thornschronicle.blogspot.com/p/about-thorns-chronicle.html.