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Physical Characteristics of Mystara
By now, most readers would have heard various rumours and fairy tales about how our world is a large hollow sphere floating in the emptiness of the void. In this void are also the sun, Matera, the stars, and a few other planets discovered by astronomers.
Well, those rumours are indeed true. Several groups have reportedly successfully crossed the large polar opening into the Hollow World, each reporting that it looks like the inside of a sphere with an eternal red sun within. Also, by recently laying my hands on a copy of certain sections of Captain Haldemar of the Princess Ark's logbook, even an outside description of Mystara from the void only serves to further validate this belief.
Prospero, the owner and author of the Poor Wizard Almanacs (property of TSR), claims that Mystara has a diameter of 6,190 miles, giving it a circumference of 16,352 miles. The three volumes also state the entire Hollow World is approximately 3,790 miles in diameter. The polar openings are supposedly 774 miles in diameter at their narrowest point, 1,030 miles in diameter on the Hollow World's side and 1,548 miles in diameter on the outer world's side. The crust is about 1,200 miles thick.
Now, where this information comes from is still unknown to the authors of the Mystaran Almanac, and Prospero refuses to reveal his sources. Most sages we have brought this knowledge to admit that the values do seem reasonable, though the Alphatians have been unwilling to confirm or refute them. It should be noted, however, that Julinius Dicrodion, a renowned Thyatian mapmaker, claims that the values are wrong and that Mystara is actually much larger than that. He is currently organising and financing several map-making expeditions to try and prove his point. Other mapmakers scoff at his, as they say, "ludicrous" idea.
From more reliable sources (not to say that the previous information is false, just that we do not know where it came from), the world of Mystara is surrounded by a magical bubble known as the skyshield. This skyshield allows objects to enter the world of Mystara, but not to leave. Thanks to this, the air that we breathe remains on Mystara and does not spill out into the empty void that surrounds us.
Again from Haldemar's journals, the skyshield is reportedly situated 15 miles above the ground. A friend of mine in the Heldannic Knights confirms this report.
Various rumours we've heard claim that skyshields occur on every planet on the Prime Plane. Although we again have no way to verify this, I've heard similar tales from various groups, so I've decided to publish this rumour anyway. Still, a sage of Aeria once told me that skyshields are only a localised phenomenon to our crystal sphere. He has yet to inform me what exactly a crystal sphere is though. I'm still trying to figure this one out.
Our atmosphere is completely normal up until about 20,000 feet in altitude. After that height, it's much harder to breathe, and most expert skyship sailors recommend some sort of magical breathing apparatus or spell.
Now, with the physical description of Mystara as a whole done with, it is time to start examining various areas in closer detail. We, the authors of the Mystaran Almanac, have decided to divide the known sections of Mystara into 10 separate areas. Each sector differs both geographically and sometimes even culturally from one another. Admittedly, each zone does vary considerably in cultures, as anyone can plainly see that Ethengar are in no way similar to the mages of Glantri. Overall, however, there is a somewhat different tone, or atmosphere, to each zone of Mystara. At least, we the authors believe so.
The heart of civilisation, which includes the fine nations of Karameikos and the Five Shires, is known as the Old World. The less civilised and more frontier area covered with the dreaded Red Curse is called the Savage Coast. The lands of feudalism to the north fall in the area of Norwold. The islands of the Sea of Dawn create another sector, while the large open waters of the New Alphatian Confederate Empire will be called the Alphatian Sea. There are also the colonies and the dangerous lands of the southern continent known as Davania, and the mostly unexplored lands of the eastern continent of Skothar and the far reaches of western and northern Brun. And of course, there is a whole second world within our own, the mysterious Hollow World, including the Floating Continent of Alphatia.
So, without any further delay, welcome dear readers, to the lands of Mystara.