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Adventuring in the Northlandsby Giampaolo Agosta from Threshold Magazine issue 7
The Skaufskogr and Beyond
A Gazetteer of Southern Norwold
by Giampaolo Agosta (Agathokles)
This article, and its companion map introduces the Skaufskogr region, set in southern Norwold, between Landfall and Lighthall, as well as the human and non-human tribes that live there and in the neighbouring Ransarn-Vinisk valleys, such as the Vatski and Vrodniki.
Sidebar: NPC Statistics
Capsule statistics for the main NPCs of the region are provided using both the AD&D 2e rules, including character kits (mostly from The Savage Coast Campaign Setting), and BECMI, including optional classes (see my “Adventuring in the Northlands” article in Threshold Issue 6 for an overview of BECMI classes in Norwold). The AD&D versions of the NPCs are designed for a relatively low-level campaign, whereas the BECMI D&D versions are designed to be compatible with the classic Norwold adventures, and in particular with CM1 “Test of the Warlords”. Thus, instead of using the standard conversion rules between AD&D 2e and BECMI D&D, most NPCs have a wider level difference between the two versions (10 levels, except for a few cases where it does not make sense).
Sidebar: History of the Skaufskogr and the Ransarn Valley
Compatibility Note: this timeline is generally compatible with the history of Norwold as exposed in “A Traveller’s Guide to Norwold” in this same Issue of Threshold. Specific incompatible events are noted as such.
1725-1709 BC The Great Horde crushes the Antalian civilization in Norwold. First settlement at Midway Haven is destroyed. The goblinoids sacrifice dozens of captured Antalians to dark powers.
1200 BC The Helskir land bridge collapses, isolating the Skaufkogr and Heldland regions from the Isle of Dawn.
1000 BC Foxfolk from the Yalu Sea region cross Wendar and Heldann, settling in the Skaufskogr Hills. They have learned the Antalian language from Yalu Sea tribes and Wendarians, but stay aloof from the more primitive Heldanners.
Foundation of the Foresthomes
ca. 600 BC Many Shiye Elves migrate to Norwold, founding the first Foresthomes.
ca. 500 BC Shiye clans, led by Fainrus the Old, settle in the Skaufskogr. At the same time, the ancestors of the Heldann Shepherd Lupins migrate north from the Darokin plains.
ca. 490 BC Gnomes fleeing the Hardanger reach the Heldland, settling the Schnauzwald.
0 AC The Treaty of Edairo establishes Norwold as a neutral buffer territory between Alphatia and Thyatis. Foundation of the Empire of Thyatis.
ca. 15 AC Alphatia instigates Qeodharan raiders to destroy Cape Alpha, a recently-built Thyatian outpost in Norwold. Thyatis retaliates by attacking Alphatian holdings on the Isle of Dawn, leading to the Bog Wars.
ca. 100 AC Faeralas Treebringer brings a branch of Lornasen’s Tree of Life to the Skaufskogr.
322-336 AC Reign of the Ice Queen, Akra, in central Norwold.
ca. 400 AC Death of Fainrus. The clan elders choose Talagan as the next Clan Holder of Taur Fainrus. Meanwhile, Ostland raiders threaten the coasts.
First Alphatian Colonization
450-510 AC Alphatian Emperor Volospin III sends a first colonial expedition to Norwold. The attempt fails after the Alphatians are defeated by barbarian forces.
596 AC King Nebunar founds Essuria.
640 AC The Battle of the Skulls along the White Bear River pits the forces of Frosthaven and Pojaara against a coalition of Kaarjalan and Littonian forces.1
648 AC Battle of Naga River. Nordurlander Jarls defeat the Essurian army of King Arus, halting the eastward expansion of the Kingdom of Essuria.
793 AC Talagan dies, his daughter Nirwen becomes Clan Holder of the Skaufskogr elves.
Foundation of the Vatski Rodina and Second Alphatian Colonization
828 AC The blue dragon king of Wyrmsteeth ascends to Immortality. The king’s son, Dominagon, resettles in the Lirovka’s Alps. Released vassals battle for supremacy, causing the Vatski to flee from the Wyrmsteeth foothills. Influenced by the mystical aura of the ascended dragon king leads them to leave their nomadic ways and look for a land to settle.
830 AC Vatski from the Wyrmsteeth cross the mountains at Ershal-Kur and invade the plains south-east of the Final Range.
834 AC After four years of conflict, the Vatski invaders are rooted. Their leader, knyaz Volodymyr, is killed in single combat by the Shepherd hero, Hrotgarmr. Some of the fleeing Vatski settle along the Saffir Stream, most flee back beyond the Final Range.
840 AC A son of Volodymyr, Volodya Volodymyrovic, settles along the coast of the Azure Lake. It is the birth of the Duchy of Vyolstagrad, and of the Vatski Rodina.
ca. 860 AC Foundation of Niður (on the site of Landfall) as a trade port for Essuria’s merchant king Gallathon.
868 AC Second Alphatian colonization attempt in Norwold. Meredoth becomes Lord of Todstein. Prince Gaernil of Shiye Lawr guides the Alphatian attempt to colonize southern Norwold. The Old Fort is built.
869 AC Battle of Frodhulf Creek (Alphatians led by Prince Gaernil of Shiye-Lawr vs. Heldanners and Heldann Shepherds). Nirwen refuses to send help to Gaernil, who dies in battle. Nirwen becomes known as Demris, the Weeping Queen. The Old Fort is reduced to ruins.
870 AC The Long Winter: one of the coldest winters ever seen hits Norwold as Frota, the second Ice Queen, begins her reign. The winter exhausts the resources of the few Alphatian colonies in the Oceansend area, many colonists die. The Mists draw Meredoth into Ravenloft.
874 AC The Ice Queen is defeated by a Norwolder rebellion.
900 AC Thyatian settlers create the colony of Oceansend.
ca. 900 AC Vatski tribes south-west of Vyolstagrad are united into the Duchy of Stamtral by knyagynia Rada, a warrior woman devoted to the dragon god, Volos.
915 AC Prism Wars in Ghyr, unrest among the goblinoid tribes. Fighting between Shepherd and Foxfolk clans and Mengul ogres and orcs. A warband of Heldann Shepherd becomes known as Hrotgarmr-klo, the Fang of Hrotgarmr.
ca. 940 AC The Zhucharnov boyars conquer the western coast of the Azure Lake, founding the Duchy of Lazarsk.
950 AC Conquest of Haldisvall (Freiburg) by the Heldannic Knights.
960 AC The Spike Assault hits Thyatis. Oceansend claims independence. Thyatis relinquishes control of Landfall and other Norwold holdings. The Thieves’ Guild emerges as the main power. Refugees from the Heldann Freeholds flood into Heldland.
977 AC The boyar Stano rebels against knyaz Boroda of Stamtral, kills him and takes his throne with the help of Heldanner mercenaries.
978 AC Altendorf Rebellion. More refugees flee to Norwold. Elsewhere, Eruul Zaar takes control of the village of Helskir. The town will pass from Alphatian to Thyatian control several times in the following years, but Zaar always manages to stay on top.
980 AC Heldanner warbands settle along the eastern coast of Lake Gunaald, subjugating the Vatski boyars and founding the Duchy of Gunnvolod.
Third Alphatian Colonization
985 AC Alphatian settlers and soldiers cross the Western Sea of Dawn from Helskir and begin the construction of the port of Lighthall and the city of Alpha. Elsewhere, heroes undertake the Quest for the Heartstone. Guildmaster Dahnakriss dies and is replaced by Guildmaster Prosper at the head of Landfall’s Thieves’ Guild.
989 AC Nevik becomes knyaz of Vyolstagrad, taking the place of his father Volodya III.
990 AC Midway Haven is founded as an Alphatian waypoint between Lighthall and Landfall. Construction of the Royal Palace of Alpha begins.
992 AC Ericall is appointed King of Norwold, but his authority only extends as far as the Alphatian army can reach – Alpha and the surrounding region, plus a number of ports, including Lighthall and Midway Haven. In retaliation against Alphatia’s bid in Norwold, Thyatis occupies Helskir, with Eruul Zaar’s help.
995 AC Lernal the Swill named Governor of Landfall.
997 AC Alphatian commander Theobold Redbeard, a Dunadale native, is named Governor of Lighthall.
999 AC Goblinoids from the Mengul Mountains invade the Skarsholm region. Helskir declares independence from Norwold.
1000 AC The present.
Dwellers of the Skaufskogr
This section describes the native people, human and non-human, of the Skaufskogr forest and the neighbouring provinces, including the Ransarn-Vinisk valley north-west of the Final Range.
Elves of the Foresthomes
The Foresthome elves left Alphatia when the major clans of that land merged into the Shiye-Lawr monarchy – they were an independent minded people, and cared little for politics. A few small clans live in the Skaufskogr. Like most Foresthome elves, they worship Ilsundal, Zirchev, and the hero-queen Lornasen, who brought a branch of the Tree of Life to Norwold. Eyrindul is also worshipped by most as the father of the Shiye elves.
Sidebar: Lineage of the Fainrus Tree of Life
The elven clans of the Norwold Foresthomes are a dissident branch of the Shiye of Alphatia. They were exiled from the Kingdom of Shiye-Lawr for refusing to turn from Ilsundal to the worship of Eiryndul. Lornasen, the most powerful among the exiles, petitioned Ilsundal for Immortality on Catspaw Mountain, and created the Lothbarth Forest, where she planted her clan's Tree of Life.
Faeralas, who would be later known as the Treebringer in the Skaufskogr, was Lornasen's youngest son. He explored Norwold, finding more of the Shiye-Lawr exiles in smaller Foresthomes. Later in his life, he became the mate of Nirwen, the clanmistress of Taur Fainrus. He brought there a branch of Lornasen's Tree of Life, which is currently the only Tree of Life in the Skaufskogr.
There are 7 small elven clans in the Skaufskogr. They tend to keep to themselves, but recognize the need to cooperate, especially given that the small forest does not allow them more than a single Tree of Life. The Tree is held by the Fainrus clan, which is therefore somewhat more prestigious than the others. However, each clan provides a priest to the Treekeepers’ council (not all of these priests are really Treekeepers, though the majority are – some are priests of Lornasen or Eiryndul, or even Balancer followers of Zirchev). The Fainrus clanmaster, currently the Elf woman Nirwen, is the informal leader of the clanmasters’ council, the major government body of the Foresthome. In addition to clanmaster and treekeeper, each clan has a third official, the clanholder, generally a middle-aged warrior or wizard who is in charge of the clan defenses.
Location: Fainrus, Skaufskogr Hills
Clanmaster: Nirwen Demris, the Weeping Queen (AD&D: e,f,B2/Minstrel; BECMI: Elf Wizard 12)
Treekeeper: Himind (AD&D: e,f,P7 of Ilsundal; BECMI: Elf Treekeeper 17)
Clanholder: Callondir (AD&D: e,m,F7/Defender of Lornasen; BECMI: Elf Paladin 10/E)
Typical NPC: Defender of Lornasen
The Fainrus (“white fox”) clan was the family of Fainrus the Old, the founder of the Skaufskogr Foresthome (known as Fainrus Tauramar in the elven tongue). Fainrus was actually very young as a clanmaster when he led the clans out of Shiye-Lawr, and became known as "the Old" because he ruled for centuries. The clan was later ruled by one of his granddaughters, who was for a long time the mate of the northern elf Faeralas Treebringer, son of the Immortal Lornasen, who brought a branch of his mother’s Tree of Life to the Skaufskogr. The clanmaster of Fainrus is considered a primus inter pares among the clanmasters of the Fainrus Tauramar.
Location: Daemar, Frodhulf Vale
Clanmaster: Cumbrethil (AD&D: e,f,T4/Scout; BECMI: Elf Lord 10/C)
Treekeeper: Fergalas (AD&D: e,m,P5 of Eiryndul; BECMI: Elf Cleric 15)
Clanholder: Maegaith (AD&D: e,m,F4/T4; BECMI: Elf Lord 10/D)
Typical NPC: Scout.
The Daemar (“shadow home”) clan lives on the north-eastern border of the Skaufskogr, nearest to the human lands. The Daemar have perfected the art of disappearing in the woods, and keep the border secure by means of stealth (and with some help from the local druids). They are also the only elves known to the people of Frodhulf Vale and Midway Haven – the local Heldanners know there are elves in the woods, but most think it is a single clan.
Location: Fainrus, Skaufskogr Hills
Clanmaster: Handhol (AD&D: e,m,W2/Mystic; BECMI: Elf Wizard 12)
Treekeeper: Laerant (AD&D: e,m,P4 of Ilsundal; BECMI: Elf Treekeeper 14)
Clanholder: Glirbrennil (AD&D: he,f,B8/Meistersinger; BECMI: Demi-elf Bard 182)
Typical NPC: Minstrel or Meistersinger.
The Glirvaen (“song skilled”) elves are a music-loving folk, living in the deep woods. They are friendly with the Foxfolk and the Little People. The Glirvaen are also the only clan to have a halfbreed clanholder, the demi-elf Glirbrennil (or Brennil for short). This minstrel is a wonderful musician, able to calm even raging beasts with her lute.
Location: Fainrus, Habadorn
Clanmaster: Hilmarad the Young (AD&D: e,m,F3/W2; BECMI: Elf Lord 10/C)
Treekeeper: Alphnir (AD&D: e,m,P4 of Zirchev; BECMI: Elf Cleric 14)
Clanholder: Gaelthor (AD&D: e,m,F5/Archer; BECMI: Elf Lord 10/D)
Typical NPC: Archer or Ranger.
The second “clanmaster” of Fainrus Tauramar, Hilmarad the Hunter, came from this clan, from which many good archers arise. Clanmaster Hilmarad “the Young” is actually almost 600 years old, and is a grandson of the original Hilmarad. Brandaras (“noble deer”) clanmembers worship Eiryndul and even the Korrigan more than Lornasen or Ilsundal, and there is some old attrition over Hilmarad’s loss of prestige when Faeralas brought the a branch of Lornasen’s Tree to the Skaufskogr.
Location: Fainrus, Cirlad
Clanmaster: Bragolaith (AD&D: e,m,F3/W3; BECMI: Elf Lord 10/C)
Treekeeper: Angolbarth (AD&D: e,m,P4 of Ilsundal; BECMI: Elf Treekeeper 14)
Clanholder: Adunoth (AD&D: e,m,W6/War Wizard; BECMI: Elf Wizard 16)
Typical NPC: War Wizard.
The Aglarant (“glorious gift”) clan is more militant than most, harboring several war wizards and fighters. Clanmaster Bragolath, an old warrior, is more hotheaded than most, often favoring direct solutions to whatever problem the clanmasters’ council has. His treekeeper, Angolbarth, lends some strategic thought, but generally agrees with the clanmaster when he calls for straightforward actions.
Location: Sirraen, Skaufskogr Hills
Clanmaster: Thoronthel (AD&D: e,f,R6/Local Hero; BECMI: Elf Paladin 10/E)
Treekeeper: Faenlos (AD&D: e,f,P4 of Lornasen; BECMI: Elf Cleric 14)
Clanholder: the Clanmaster himself is the clanholder here; his second in command is Rhiwol (e,m,R3/Wilderness Warrior; BECMI: Elf Paladin 10/C)
Typical NPC: Wilderness Warrior.
A wilder (and smaller) clan, the Sirraen (“crooked river”) live along the Sirraen river, on the northern border of the Skaufskogr. They tend to keep to themselves, and apparently enjoy the Foxfolk company as much as that of their fellow elves. Most members of this clan are simple hunters. Even their clanmasters are chosen more for hunting and foresting skills than for wisdom or experience. Clanmistress Thoronthel is quite young for her job, and holds the position of clanholder as well.
Location: Cirlad, Habadorn
Clanmaster: Finnelor (AD&D e,f,0-level; BECMI: Elf 9)
Treekeeper: Sidhiel (AD&D: e,f,P3 of Lornasen; BECMI: Elf Cleric 13)
Clanholder: Eithel (AD&D: e,f,W6/Water Elementalist; BECMI: Elf Wizard 16)
Typical NPC: Water Elementalist or Archer.
The Gaerlind (“sea song”) elves were the ones who built and sailed the ships that led the Skaufskogr elves from Alphatia to Norwold. While they build large ships no more, the Gaerlind are still wise in the ways of the sea, living as fishermen as well as woodsmen. They use light, easily carried boats made of bark, flexible branches and leather, so that they do not need ports – actually, the Cirlad coast doesn’t appear to house any coastal community, and that’s a testament to the elven ability to live in harmony with the land.
The heavily forested Skaufskogr hills are the home of a large Foxfolk tribe. These white-furred Lupins look remarkably like humanoid foxes. While they have absorbed civilization from the neighbouring elves and humans, their strong druidic faith keeps them close to nature. A friendly folk learned in the way of the forest, the Foxfolk hold the path of the druid as the highest, deferring all major decisions to the leader of the local druidic circle (which is part of the Druidic Circle of Norwold). The Foxfolk druids are Balancers, worshipping a pantheon composed of Zirchev, Skauf-halli (Korotiku) and the Night Hunter (Saimpt Loup). Interaction with the local human communities brought also the worship of Frey and Freya.
Their small villages dot the area, and a major druidic site can be found at the heart of the Skaufskogr Hills. The remaining Foxfolk live within the Taur Fainrus forest, or along the course of the Sirraen. Each village takes the name of a totem tree (e.g., the Birch village or the Ash village).
Within each village, the Lupins are divided into four patrilineal exogamic groups (the Fire, Earth, Water and Sky clans). Members of each clan cannot marry into their clan, into the clan of the opposite element, or into the clan of their mother. So, the son of a Fire father and Earth mother must marry into the Water clan, but his sons will have to marry into the Earth clan.
Moreover, the village is divided into five totemic clans, the Salmon, Eagle, Hare, Snake and Elk. Totemic clan membership is inherited from the parent of the same gender, and members of a clan cannot eat the totem animal, nor any animal of the same type (fish, birds, small mammals, reptiles, large mammals). However, only a member of the Eagle clan can, by decree of the druids, raise or hunt birds, and so on for the other totems. This way, each clan provides its totem animal to the others in exchange for foods they can eat, but must not overhunt, since each animal killed weakens the clan.
The druids here are the upper caste, but they are considered outside the exogamic clans – a druid must respect his or her parents’ clan constraints, but a son or daughter of two druids can marry into any clan. Anyone becoming a druid loses his exogamic clan name, and replaces it with the name of his native village tree totem.
Membership in a totemic clan restricts the allowed professions – a beginning character should take one non-weapon proficiency related to his clan, and should avoid those specific of other clans:
Salmon fisherman, boat builder, weaver, gardener
Eagle bird breeder, fletcher, bowmaker, carpenter
Hare hunter, trapper, tanner
Snake herbalist, scout
Elk herdsman, big game hunter, tanner
Each totemic clan also favors some classes. Characters wishing to play Foxfolk Defenders or Wizards should select a patron or specialization appropriate to their totemic clan:
Salmon Defender of Freya, Abjurer
Eagle Bard, Defender of Frey, Diviner
Hare Filcher, Defender of Korotiku, Mage
Snake Scout, Defender of Saimpt Loup, Necromancer
Elk Wilderness Warrior, Defender of Zirchev, Invoker
Foxfolk Druids usually become Totemic Druids, choosing the totem animal of their clan (except the Salmon druids). Local Heroes and Pacifists are also frequent, especially among the Salmon clan, where Totemic Druids are not present.
Skaufskogr Foxfolk can become Shamans3, able to contact the spirits of their totem animal, tree and element, but Shamans are much less common than druids.
Settlements and Prominent NPCs
Three Foxfolk villages, Elm, Oak, and Spruce, are found within the borders of Taur Fainrus. Jogvan Fire-Elk (AD&D: m R8/Wilderness Warrior; BECMI: Lupin Ranger 184) of Oak Village is the war leader of the Fainrus Foxfolk, while Grimur Fire-Eagle (AD&D: m B7/Skald; BECMI: Lupin Bard 17) of Spruce Village is their loremaster.
The villages of Birch, Ash, and Poplar, are located upstream from the Sirraen clanhold. Rannva Water-Snake (AD&D: f T9/Scout; BECMI: Lupin Thief 19), Arnleyg Water-Salmon (AD&D f P7/Shaman; BECMI: Lupin Shaman 17), and Bjarni Sky-Snake (AD&D: m T7/Scout; BECMI: Lupin Thief 17) are the leaders of these three villages.
Foxfolk villages in the Skaufskogr Hills proper include Fir, Hickory, Walnut, Larch, Maple, and Locust, while Pine village is the major Foxfolk settlement in the Western Skaufskogr hills.
Drifvita Eagle-Larch (AD&D: f D10/Totemic; BECMI: Lupin Druid 20) is the Druid in charge of the Final Range area, from the forest borders to the south-west to the Final Range and up to Oceansend. She reports to Archdruid Tarn Oakleaf5, the leader of the Druidic Circle of Norwold, and is on friendly terms with her neighbours, Geoffrey of Heldann to the South and Yarovoj of the White Banner to the north-west. Since she has a large territory, she relies on Ingalvur Elk-Fir (AD&D: m D8/Totemic; BECMI: Lupin Druid 18), a powerful follower of the Way of the Druid, to keep tabs on local events in the Skaufskogr.
Other notable Lupins of the Skaufskgor hills include Kjeld Earth-Hare (m R9/Local Hero), huntmaster of Walnut Village, Eydhun Earth-Snake (AD&D: m F7/Defender of Saimpt Loup; BECMI: Lupin Paladin 17), the chief warrior of Hickory Village, Oddvor Sky-Salmon (AD&D: f F7/Defender of Freyja; BECMI: Lupin Druidic Knight 17) of Maple Village, and Steintor Fire-Salmon (AD&D: m W6/Wokan; BECMI: Lupin Hakomon 16) of Locust Village, one of the most powerful Foxfolk wizards. Hedhin Sky-Hare (AD&D: m F8/Defender of Korotiku; BECMI: Lupin Avenger 18), of Pine Village, is the leader of the Western Skaufskogr Foxfolk.
The Vatski and the Vrodniki
Holding the valleys between the Wyrmsteeth and the Icereach Range are the Vatski, and the related Vrodniki. The Vatski share similar looks with the Heldanner, but have a different culture and language. Less civilized than the coastlanders, these warring tribes have a long history of unrest – their knyazhestvo, or principalities, are often dictatorships that last as long as the current knyaz (duke) is able to control his vassals by showing his strength – both personal and military. The presence of the Wyrmsteeth dragons – and their mysterious kingdom – is thought to be the reason why the Vatski rarely mount raids against the coastal settlements.
The Vrodniki are a semi-nomadic branch of the Viatski. Somewhat less belligerent, and more primitive, than their city-dwelling cousins, these nomads are rarely seen east of the Final Range. Together, Vatski and Vrodniki are referred to as Vanatics, although this term is only used by outsiders, such as Heldannic or Thyatian explorers.
The Vantalian peoples of Norwold are among the more primitive of their kind – while the Zuyevan descendants of the Yevo horde have brushed with civilization for centuries, the Norwold Vantalians have only recently started a process of nation building, and then only among the western tribes. These Vantalians, who go under the name of Vatski, have formed two principalities, Vyolstagrad and Stamtral, after being chased from the Wyrmsteeth Range less than two centuries ago.
The two principalities have fared quite differently. While both are semi-barbaric at best, Vyolstagrad has enjoyed a stable government, with the exception of the brief reign of Yarok the Usurper, a powerful boyar who managed to take control of the duchy for a few years after the death of knyaz Volodya II, who left no direct heir.
On the other hand, Stamtral’s even shorter history has been plagued by several bloody coups that brought to power treacherous boyarin and generals, as the line of the founder, knyagynia Rada, quickly died out. An ambitious boyar, Yaro, took power after murdering Rada’s weak son, only to be assassinated a few years later. His widow and later his son Zivon carried on Yaro’s claim to the throne against a cadet branch of Rada’s family, until the militia general Boroda ousted Zivon and named himself knyaz with the help of a contingent of Heldanner mercenaries who had left the Freeholds after the fall of Haldisvall. His autocratic rule lasted for more than twenty years thanks to the support of the large military class, but when Boroda became old, the boyars and the mercenary captains plotted against him, bringing one of the most powerful boyars, Stano (AD&D: m,h,F12 Myrmidon; BECMI: F22/Dominion Ruler), to the throne.
The society of the principalities is simple enough – the knyaz is at the head of the nation, helped by his druzhina, a warband of knights (muzhi) and veteran infantrymen (druzhinnik). Below him, the boyarin (barons) – leaders of noble families – hold large territories (volosts) and keep their own armed retinues. Retainers sometimes change masters, but this is not considered a betrayal.
Below the boyars are the okolnichy (landed lords), lesser landed nobility holding only small patches of land. The okolnichy and boyars form the Duma, an advisory council similar to the Thing of the Heldanners. In Stamtral, the hofdhingi, mercenary captains of Heldanner origin, are also part of the nobility and take part in the Duma, while in Vyolstagrad some fiefs and most towns and villages are administered by appointed officials (namestniks and mechniks). In Vyolstagrad, a small craftsman class is emerging, forming a trade guild led by a Guildmaster (starosta, or elder).
The Vatski occupy the lands around the Azure lake, south of the Giants’ Mountains and the White Mountains, as well as the eastern coast of Lake Gunaald. Besides the two major principalities of Vyolstagrad and Stamtral, three other small duchies, Gunvolod, Odna and Lazarsk are present in the area, and many freeholds are located in the neutral territory south of Vyolstagrad and east of Stamtral. The minor duchies have been established in the last century. Gunvolod is ruled by a Heldanner dynasty, related to the hofdhingi of Stamtral. Odna is the smallest duchy, but controls a critical asset, the mines of Zmeynk. A sizable dwarven population is found here, and the knyaz of Odna are rumored to have dealings with the Wyrmsteeth to protect their territory from Stramtral’s encroaching. Finally, Lazarsk is an agrarian dominion, which pays tributes to Stamtral and to the green dragon kingdom of Zilantsk to the west6.
The Vrodniki, on the other hand, are still nomadic, following the migrations of large cattle herds across vast territories in the Ransarn Valley and north-west of the Wyrmsteeth. They are divided into three voyskos (hosts, or banners), the White, Red and Blue Banners7. Each voysko is composed of many different tribes, each lead by a starosta (tribal chief or elder), but all defer to a single knyaz. In wartime, each tribe may also elect a voyevod, or war leader, if the peacetime chief is considered too weak to lead in war. Knyaz Barkal of the Red Banner (AD&D: m,h,F12 Wilderness Warrior; BECMI: F22) is currently the most powerful Vrodnik leader, as well as one of the most accomplished warriors.
The Vanatics worship a pantheon of powerful Immortals – they respect only power, in mortals and in Immortals as well8. In Vanatic theology, Dazhbog (Ixion) is the Lord of the Sun, eternally locked in a conflict with the Dark Lord, Chernobog (Thanatos), lord of winter. Volos (Pearl), the dragon god of earth and water, and Perun (Thor), the thundering god of sky and fire, complete the pantheon. The sedentary Vatski also worship the divine twins, Yaro (Frey) and Yara (Freyja) as patrons of crops and agriculture.
The clergy among the Vatski is usually very militant – powerful priests set themselves up as boyarin, with lesser priests and defenders as their druzhina. Within the household of a priest of a given Immortal, worship of any other Immortal is usually forbidden. Priests of all four main gods are equally common, though in Vyolstagrad worship of Chernobog is discouraged by the local rulers.
On the other hand, there is no hierarchy beyond that of the clan – unless a powerful priest manages to set himself as knyaz, the principalities are generally not very religious. A few Heldanner clans in Stamtral and Gunvolod still worship Odin, Thor and Frey, but most Heldanner-descended Vatski simply follow the teachings of Perun and Yaro.
The Vrodniki worship the same powers as the Vatski, but put more emphasis on Perun and Volos, considering Dazhbog and Chernobog more like natural forces than actual Immortals. On the other hand, they offer much respect to some powers borrowed from their neighbours, including Zirchev (the Eagle Spirit) and Saimpt Loup (the Wolf Spirit), as well as to a number of other animal spirits. Finally, the Vrodniki also fear Mara (Hel), goddess of death and witchcraft and worship Zemlya (Terra), the Mother Earth, and Semargl (Simurgh), the god of travellers and guardians.
The typical Vrodnik priest is a shaman (focusing on animal spirits) or a druid, often with an animal totem. Vrodnik priests are less involved in the political life of their tribes than Vatski priests – they are never clan leaders, as a shaman or druid always leaves his family when starting his training, and rarely pursue power, though they are always available to help their tribe with advice and magic.
Table 1: Genealogy of the Vatski princes of Vyolstagrad and Stamtral
Princes of Stamtral
931-935 (widow of Yaro)
935-943 (cousin of Radoslav I)
943-953 (son of Yaro and Sveta)
Princes of Vyolstagrad
899-915 (nephew of Volodya II)
The Mountain Rakasta
Small Mountain Rakasta clans can be found almost anywhere in the foothills and slopes of the Final Range, the mountain chain that runs parallel to the Norwold coast. They are most common on Lirovka’s Alps.
These Mountain Rakasta call themselves Chíze Chogh (Mountain Rakasta), or Chogh Dene (mountain folk). Semi-nomadic hunters and herders, they live in small clan units, numbering less than fifty rakasta, though some sedentary groups, settled in villages in the high valleys of the Final Range can also be found.
Mountain Rakasta clans take names from specific habits – clothing or weapons, e.g. “Red Knives” or “Long Coats”, or by a tribal totem animal – generally given by neighbouring clans whose habits are different.
About one half of the Chíze Chogh in the Lirovka’s Alps are sedentary, living in the villages of Hhaiyé, Tazé, Ttizi, and Holuké. The people of the villages are divided into five clans: the Delk’oske (red shoes clan), Delgaike (white shoes), Delzenke (black shoes), Deltseske (brown shoes), and Delbaike (grey shoes) Chíze. Most clans get their living from river fishing, small game hunting (birds and hares, mostly), as well as mountain goat herding.
Nomadic Mountain Rakasta are divided in six tribes: the Yáhtóȩ (deer clan), Sastses (bear), Dlíe (squirrel), Taá (beaver), Gah (rabbit), and Dzen (muskrat) Chíze. The clans wander through the high mountains, hunting small and large game.
Each tribe is led by an elder (Setsíe), and the council of all eleven elders rules the entire mountain range – or at least, the part controlled by the Chíze Chogh, for about one half of the area is controlled by goblinoid tribes (mostly goblins and hobgoblins, with many bugbears).
The Centaur Hetmanates
Centaurs are common in the forests and plains of Norwold. They usually live in semi-nomadic clans of hunters and shepherds. The clans in a given region recognize a single ruler, called the hetman, while individual clan leaders are called otamans. In the area north of Lighthall and east of the Skejdar river, two Hetmanates vie for control of the windswept coastal regions -- the territory of the Kabarda Hetmanate -- and the woodland -- the home ground of the Peseny Hetmanate. Both groups belong to the same culture, which is related to both the Centaurs of the Ethengar plains9, and to the centaur Hetmanates of the Vinisk valley.
The Vinisk centaurs, however, have dealt extensively with the Kingdom of Essuria in the past, as well as with the Vatski and Vrodniki of the Ransarn valley. At the height of Essuria, the Vinisk Hetmanates were vassals of the Essurian Kings, charged with the protection of the Vinisk valley trade routes to Heldland and to the north. The language of the Strelets and Kosh centaurs of the Vinisk valley shows a significant amount of loan-words from the Vanatic and Essurian languages, and their equipment is also influenced by their neighbours, as well as the need to fight off resilient opponents such as trolls and yowlers: in particular, Strelets centaurs favor a long hafted axe (or short pole-axe) in melee combat, and the Kosh employ sabers, whereas Kabard and Peseny centaurs wield spears. Of course, the short bow is employed by all centaur Hetmanate troops.
Clan leadership is usually passed within the clan in patrilineal agnatic succession -- the eldest surviving son of any past otaman becomes the new chief at the death or retirement of the previous one. Thus, typically the clan leadership is passed from elder brother to younger brother, or between cousins of the same generation, rather than from father to son. The Hetman is an elective position among the Kosh, with a yearly term, but is linked to “royal” clans in the other Hetmanates -- so the clan leader of the royal clan automatically becomes the Hetman, which in this case is a position held for life.
The centaurs follow the teachings of the Druidic Circle of Norwold, and have their own druidic initiates. Occasionally, a high level centaur initiate manages to become a true Druid. Due to their druidic faith, most centaur clans are aggressive towards those who would despoil the land. In the Vinisk valley, the moor trolls are the primary enemies of the Strelets and Kosh Hetmanates, as their hunger is considered unnatural and wasteful of resources. Along the coast, the Kabarda are wary of human colonists, and defend their territory from encroaching homesteaders from Lighthall, as well as from the Alphatian pretenders during years following the Land Grab10.
Atlas of the Skaufskogr and the Ransarn-Vinisk Valley
This section describes the Skaufskogr region and its major subdivisions.
Map of the Skaufskogr and the Ransarn-Vinisk Valley
The Skausfkogr Forest and Hills
In the deepest reaches of the Skaufskogr, majestic trees house the elven clans of the Fainrus Foresthome. The magic of the only Tree of Life of the area blesses the forest and its dwellers, who are all elves, Foxfolk lupins, and faeries.
The northern border of the Skaufskogr is crossed by the course of the Sirraen. A small elven clan and several lupin tribes lives along the creek. Home of the Daemar clan, the north-eastern border of the Skaufskogr forest, Taur Daemar is an heavily wooded region. The elves do not allow trespassing, so little is known of the area.
In the southern reaches of the Skaufskogr, the regions known as Habadorn and Cirlad are inhabited by elves, though they make themselves almost invisible, attracting no attention from Landfall or the Helskirian and Ostlander raiders. The Brandaras and Aglarant elven clans have their strongholds in Habadorn and Cirlad respectively.
To the northwest, the ground raises into the Skaufskogr Hills, which are the homeland of most Foxfolk lupins of the region. Many lupin villages are found in the wooded hills, and one major druidic site near the Hoegtoenn peak is the primary ceremonial center of the Druidic Circle in the coastal area between Landfall and Oceansend.
Dyrland and Kloskagi
The tongue of land that closes the Kamminer Bay is swept constantly by the winds. Heldanner and Halfling shepherds and fishermen dwell here in small villages and isolated farms. At least one pirate cove is thought to exist in the area, probably used by Ostlander raiders as a support for extended raids against the Alphatian colonies.
The mountain range north of the Skaufskogr is mainly inhabited by mountain rakasta (the Chogh Dene) and goblinoids (the eastern Gnomstal goblins), although a small dwarven clan, the Syrrak, has established a mining outpost in the area. The highest peak of the Lirovka’s Alps is Catspaw Mountain, known for being the place where Lornasen first contacted her Immortal sponsor. Elven clerics of Lornasen sometimes make a pilgrimage from the Lothbarth Forest to the mountain, seeking illumination and communion with the Immortals.
The Gnomstal Forest
The heart of the Gnomstal Forest is patrolled by a clan of warped, aggressive gakaraks. Other dangerous plants, such as killer trees, thrive in the forest, making it dangerous for humanoids and animals alike. It is not known what warped the gakaraks -- Vrodniki tales tell that, before their time, the gakaraks were a gentle folk, but then, Vrodniki tales do not distinguish between gakaraks and treants. Even older legends connect the corruption of the Gnomstal Gakaraks with the disappearance of Olen the Warden, an actaeon who was the guardian of the forest, and point to the hag Koldunya as the party responsible for both events.11
Both Upper and Lower Skarsholm have been invaded by goblinoids from the Mengul Mountains one year ago. In the past, the area had a bad reputation – several of the lower wetlands were thought to hide the lair of Skars, some kind of ogress (possibly even a hag) feared by the few Heldanners and Heldann Shepherds who lived here.
Shepherd Tribelands and the Frothulf Battlefield
These plains, to the west, north and east of the Skauskogr forest, are home to large grazing cattle, herded by the local Heldann Shepherd lupin and Heldanner population.
The Eastern Shepherd Tribeland is a large stretch of plains, alternating grasslands and rolling hills, which lies between the Frodhulf valley and the Alphatian colony of Lighthall. The Southern Shepherd Tribelands are part of the Dominion of Landfall, west of the Skaufskogr hills. Both areas are sparsely populated by nomadic Heldann Shepherd clans. These Lupins herd a rough breed of sheep, which gives a dense, flavorful milk as well as wool and meat, thus fulfilling most needs of the clans.
The Western Shepherd Tribelands used to be quite similar to their eastern and southern counterparts. However, the recent occupation of the Skarsholm by goblinoid tribes has led to overcrowding, with different tribes and clans competing for the same resources.
The upper section of the Frodhulf creek runs through the northernmost tip of the Skaufskogr, after merging with the Sirraen. The Sirraen lake, surrounded by bogland, is not popular with the superstitious Heldanners, but the area is regularly crossed by Shepherd tribes moving from the Western to the Eastern tribelands. Due to the fact that several of the largest battles of the area have been fought on the banks of the lake, the area is considered haunted by the dead soldiers, and even the Heldann Shepherds don’t stop here, preferring to cross quickly.
An old, ruined Alphatian fort (generally called the “Old Fort” by the locals) is still visible on one of a group of low hills east of the lake. The fort is built over an ancient giantish barrow. A few other barrows dot the eastern part of the province.
Midway Haven and the Frothulf Vale
A recent Alphatian foundation, built over the ruins of an ancient Antalian town (Kunghaven). This colony is ruled by an Alphatian military governor, Zalosar (AD&D: m,h,F9 Myrmidon; BECMI: Knight 14), supported by some 50 troops, mostly heavy marines from the Imperial Army.
The two other main power blocks in town are the Heldanner natives, led by the priesthood of Odin – in the person of Asmundur the Raven (AD&D: m,h,P7 of Odin; BECMI: Cleric 12 of Odin) – and the local branch of the Landfall Thieves’ Guild, headed by Larus of Landfall (AD&D: m,h,T7 Fence; BECMI: T12).
Population: 1700 Humans, 200 Lupins, 100 others (Elves, Halflings, Gnomes, Dwarves)
Settlements: Midway Haven (500), Nýkunghavn (200), several smaller villages, homesteads and some nomadic tribes
Alphatian Troops: Alphatian Garrison (20 Heavy Infantry/Crossbowmen), Dunadale Rangers (10), Constabulary (20 officers)
There is a second major village in the area, Nýkunghavn, less than one day north of Midway Haven. It is much older than Midway Haven, having been built by survivors of the fall of Kunghaven centuries ago. A half-dozen smaller villages and many homesteads dot the countryside of this area, the most civilized along the coast between Landfall and Lighthall.
The middle section of the Frodhulf creek is settled by a dozen Heldanner families or so, as well as a few Heldann Shepherd clans. A small outpost has been recently built by Alphatians from Midway Haven.
Population: 500 Humans, 250 Heldann Shepherds, 60 Foxfolk, 20 Elves
Settlements: Frodhulf Outpost (40), many homesteads and several nomadic tribes.
Local Tribes and Bandits
The local elves belong to the Daemar clan that lives further west into the forest. They are in charge of keeping the humans from entering the Skaufskogr, and are led by Feredir (AD&D: m,e,R3 Wilderness Runner; BECMI: Elf Druidic Knight 10/C), a capable forester, assisted by his mate Eirien (AD&D: f,e,F2 Defender of Lornasen; BECMI: Elf Paladin 10/C).
Four Heldann Shepherd tribes move through the eastern reaches of the region. They are similar in most respects to those of the Eastern Shepherd Tribelands. Their strongest leader is Armann Ofrhugi (“Armann the Fearless”, AD&D: m,lu,F6 Barbarian; BECMI: Lupin F16), a courageous warrior, but the wisest clan chief is Hinrik Raudhr (AD&D: m,lu,P4 Shaman of Korotiku; BECMI: Lupin Shaman 14), a Lupin well known and easily spotted for his red-dyed fur. The richest tribe, though, is led by of Rurik Fedrjugr (AD&D: m,lu,F5 Barbarian; BECMI: Lupin Fighter 15).
Jorunn Aegirsdottir (AD&D: f,h,T5 Bandit; BECMI: Thief 15) leads a gang of some 25 bandits hiding in the southern reaches of the forest. Jorunn and her bandits have proven too strong and crafty for the thin elven forces in this part of the forest, and have been able to establish a fortified hideout.
The forested area west of the Heldland river and north of the Forton river is mostly inhabited by forest gnomes and Gnomish Snoutzer lupins, although Heldanner settlements are also present along the trade routes and the Forton river itself. The largest human community is the village of Isodhur, which also has a sizable lupin population. Gnome settlements are found in the hills north of the village.
This mountain range, known as Skýfjall to the local Antalian-descended folk, is connected to Lirovka’s Alps by a large tract of rough, hilly, and heavily forested territory. The area between the Wolkenberg and Lirovka’s Alps is lightly inhabited by an independent, hardy folk of Heldanner origins. The town of Saffir, nested in a very defensible position in one of the valleys on the flanks of Lirovka’s Alps, is the only major settlement of the region. It is a remnant of the second Alphatian colonization, and it is populated by a mix of Heldanners, Alphatians, and sedentary Vrodniki from the Ransarn valley.
The Finsterwald (Mørkskog in the local Norwolder language, Morkskogr in Heldanner) is one of the major forests in Norwold. This dense woodland is only sparsely populated by centaurs of the Peseny Hetmanate, who sometimes cross the Skejdar river to hunt, and by Shiye elves. Small clans of bugbears challenge the elves for dominance of the woods, in an eternal contest of stealth and archery prowess.
The Ransarn Valley
One of the largest rivers in Norwold, the Ransarn is partly navigable. Barbarian Vrodniki tribes live along the river, hunting in the forests, fishing in the Ransarn and herding cattle. They move seasonally from the higher lands near Lirovka’s Alps to the lower lands near the Duchy of Gunvolod. They also sometimes cross the pass at Ershal-Kur to sell furs and cattle in Saffir. Along the course of the Ransarn, in one of the denser parts of the woods, the Serdste Les, is the headquarters of the Vrodniki druids, led by Yarovoi of the White Banner. Northwards, near the foothills of the Wyrms’ Head Mountains, the Witchwood is rumored to be the lair of many lesser hags and witches.
The Vinisk Valley
The Vinisk river flows through a cold moorland nestled between the Hettafjall Mountains and the Essurian Arm. Mostly uninhabited by humans and demi-humans, the Vinisk valley is the domain of dangerous monsters, such as the Rock Trolls and the Yowlers, and the more civilized, but still quite barbarous centaur Hetmanates. Few traders attempt to cross the valley, and those who do make a point of avoiding the estuary of the Vinisk and the Troll meeting grounds. The Gate of Henadin, while still rather dangerous due to the presence of goblinoid raiders, is relatively safer, and armed caravans periodically cross the Harfara and Lagfara passes in summer. The Strelets Hetmanate also maintains a steady, if small, trade with the Duchy of Gunvolod.
The Vatski Rodina
The homeland of the Vatski is a vast swath of land between the Azure Lake and the Wyrmsteeth Range. It has increasingly become settled in the last centuries, with states (called “knyazhestvo” in the Vatski language, and variously translated as duchies or principalities in Thyatian) forming around the leadership of strong land-owning families. The heartlands of the Vatski Freeholds, clustered around the Blessed Hills, still resist the push towards the formation of a national state.
Ruins and Lairs
This ruined Thyatian castrum was built at the estuary of the Heldland river around 900 AC, and destroyed by Alphatian forces only months before the Spike Assault. It was originally designed to control the bridge over the Heldland river. Nowadays, it mostly hosts brigands and marauders who prey upon the travellers from Strondborg to Landfall.
A ruin on the northern border of the Dominion of Lighthall, Castra Lucina is a Thyatian foundation. It was settled multiple times before being finally abandoned in 960 AC. The town was razed and burned down by Alphatian forces, but extensive underground works had been created by the Thyatians, and may survive to this day.
Only a day or so of march north of Nykunghavn, Ur-Edin was founded by the Alphatian colonists under prince Gaernil of Shiye-Lawr. It was abandoned by its defenders during the Long Winter, crippling the supply lines for the Alphatian forces further inland. Later, it was razed by Vrodniki raiders, although several buildings still stand, possibly defended by Alphatian magic.
On the Wolkenberg foothills rises this ominous fortress. It was built by a Blackheart wizard during the last Alphatian colonization attempt. The magician later disappeared -- although it is unknown whether he went back to Alphatia or was killed by enemies. The fortress became the hideout of a powerful Ice Witch, until the fall of the second Ice Queen forced the Sisterhood to withdraw northwards. Recent rumors picture it as the lair of a witch coven.
This ruin was once part of the line of fortifications built by the Alphatians to prevent attacks on their coastal colonies by barbarians and humanoids from the inland regions. It was abandoned after the demise of Prince Gaernil for lack of personnel. The last defenders set up a number of traps to prevent outsiders from entering the keep and its dungeons, and retreated to Saffir.
Ruins of Drax Galathon
A town built around a caravanserai along the trade route from Drax Tallen to Landfall, Drax Galathon fell to humanoid hordes during the reign of Landryn Teriak. Following the Prism Wars, the Kingdom of Ghyr12 built a new, fortified caravanserai at a short distance from the ruins.
Lair of Koldunya
An ancient Black Hag, Koldunya (AD&D: Hag, Annis; BECMI: Black Hag, 20 HD) lives in a sprawling cave system, which was originally used as a necropolis by the Antalian civilization. Koldunya surrounds herself with undead she raises from the Antalian corpses stored in the crypts. Her draugir patrol the area around the lair, which was rendered dead long ago when Koldunya raised several Odics to fight the Alphatian invaders. The hag preys equally upon the Vrodniki, who fear her as a servant of Mara, the goddess of death and witchcraft, and on the goblinoids of Lepa Krak.
Hamarki is a mountain giant who lives in the peaks of Lirovka’s Alps. This grumpy loner is not aggressive, and is on relatively good terms with both the Mountain Rakasta and the Syrrak Dwarves. A renowned trainer of giant eagles, Hamarki is often visited by Cloud and Storm Giant customers. He is wary of the blue dragon, Dominagon, to the east.
Lair of Nykur
Nykur, a feared Nuckalavee, spreads terror along the western banks of Lake Gunaald and the estuary of the Vinisk River. Considered a death god by the centaurs of the Strelets Hetmanate, Nykur’s evil influence extends to bands of savage centaur outcasts. The expansion of Nykur’s influence is currently held in check by the Hoof of Zirchev, a Chevall living among the centaurs of the Strelets Hetmanate, and by the Lady of Gunaald, a Fairy Queen who holds court in the depths of Lake Gunaald.
Forge of Kuznets Svarozhich
This volcanic area in the Hettafjall Mountains is the home of Kuznets Svarozhich, an Hephaeston13. This gigantic being is reputed by the Vrodniki and Vatski to be the smith of the gods, and is in particular connected with Dazhbog and Perun. A small number of fire giants serve Kuznets as assistants and apprentices.
Palace of Koshchey the Deathless
The ancient sorcerer Koshchey has built a magnificent palace on the mountain spur overlooking the Sineva Gorge, from which the excess waters of Lake Gunaald flow into the lower Azure Lake. The opulent and extravagantly decorated palace of Koshchey starkly contrasts with the lack of wildlife and even vegetation in the surrounding mountains. It is rumored that Koshchey maintains his seemingly eternal life by consuming that of beautiful women -- although speculations vary regarding whether he needs to do so yearly, or on every solstice, or according to some mysterious schedule. Powers attributed to the sorcerer include a nightmare mount as well as shapeshifting and poison magic. Koshchey is actually a Lich, and a sworn enemy of the black hag, Koldunya, as well as of the Wyrmsteeth dragons.
Koshchey the Deathless
AD&D: Lich 11 HD; Salient abilities: Fool’s Feast, Meta-polymorph; Spellcasting as 18th level Mage
BECMI: Magic-User Lich 28
Haunt of the Seryy Mudrets
Sidebar: Legend of the Seryy Mudrets
Vatski legends tell of a priest, Andrej Nutov, who was a member of a new cult, one brought by foreign missionaries. The cult philosophy purported that there was only one true Immortal -- the cult's patron -- an omnipotent, omniscient and benevolent god, whereas all other Immortals were actually evil demons, or servants of the one true Immortal.
Andrej had been attracted to the cult, for he longed for a deeper understanding of the world, and the missionaries had knowledge that the Vatski did not. However, when Andrej started preaching the creed of the cult, a wandering, one-eyed skald from the distant coast came to the Vatski Rodina. He heard of Andrej, and visited him, and heard him expose his philosophy.
The skald then said, with a voice full of scorn: "Oh, philosopher, tell me, if there is one omnipotent and omniscient god, and he is as benevolent as you say, why then are the innocent killed at the whim of the warlords? Either your god is not so benevolent as you say, or he is not as powerful and all-knowing."
Andrej, struck by the one-eyed skald's words, pondered the question for days. Unable to find a solution, he retreated to a secluded hermitage, Okhrana, where he continued meditating on the skald's question for years.
As he grew older, Andrej despaired finding a solution to the skald's question -- his time was running out, he had consulted all the sources he could gather in the Vatski lands, had spoken at length with all the sages and elders who, in the years, had visited him, and had even read books written by philosophers from distant lands such as Essuria and Alphatia, to no avail.
Then, when age was about to take its toll, two shady peddlers came to Andrej's refuge, bringing with them a pouch of black powder -- the pollen of the dreaded black lotus, which gives dreams and death. They told Andrej the powder would allow him the time he needed to finally solve his life-quest. Andrej dropped a pinch of the black powder into his pipe, drowning in the poisoned dreams of the black lotus. In that altered state of mind, he saw truth -- there could be no benevolent god. Good, all good, was merely there to allow mortals to perceive the unavoidable evil that would, sooner or later, meet them.
Pondering the many faces of evil, the drugged priest did not even notice his own death. It is told that he still sits on his stone siege deep in the dungeon of Okhrana, thinking thoughts of evil, which boil out of his undead mind as foul vapors raising from his nostrils and pipe.
The legends portray Andrej Nutov, now known as the Seryy Mudrets ("Gray Philosopher"), as the desiccated corpse of a once stout, tonsured, long-bearded warrior-priest, covered in moldy furs.
Up in the reaches of this small valley sits Okhrana, once a hermitage for solitary Vatski priests, now a dungeon inhabited by foul undead. It is said that in the depths of the dungeon, a Gray Philosopher sits, pondering for eternity. The legend of Andrej Nutov, the Seryy Mudrets, tells its sad tale.
The dragon lairs marked on the map refer only to huge dragons, whose ascension has caused major upheavals in a large area around the lair. There are, of course, hundreds more large and small dragons in the Wyrmsteeth. At least one dragon ascended to the status of Immortal Guardian in the Vatski Rodina area, causing the transition of the Vatski to a sedentary lifestyle. Due to the large number of dragons in the Wyrmsteeth, major storms and unusual weather patterns frequently hit the region as a consequence of small dragons becoming large. The lair of Khukh, a huge blue dragon, contains a portal to Yggdrasill, whereas the lair of the red dragon Raruk lies in a network of huge volcanic passages that lead all the way down to the Hollow World, in the frozen lands north of the Beastman Wastes.
Map of the Skaufskogr and the Ransarn-Vinisk Valley, Draconic Omens of Coming
The Italian MMB, “Norwold Region”, http://www.pandius.com/nrwldreg.html
JTR, “Map of Landfall and Kamminer Bay”, http://www.pandius.com/landfall.gif
JTR, “Beyond the Final Range: The Ransarn-Vinisk Valley”, http://www.pandius.com/ransarn.html
Khuzd, “Ransarn Valley adventure/campaign ideas”, http://www.pandius.com/ransvala.html
1 This event follows James Mishler’s version of the history of Kaarjala, rather than the version found in GazF10, where the opponents are humanoid hordes.
2 Using demi-elf/half-elf rules from Dragon Magazine 178, and Bard rules from Dragon Magazine 177.
3 For Classic D&D, use the Shaman class from GAZ12 “The Golden Khan of Ethengar”.
4 Using the Ranger class from F-GAZ9 “The Free City of Oceansend”.
5 Or whoever is the Archdruid in charge of Norwold, if in your campaign Tarn is lower than level 30 -- in particular in CM1, Tarn is only level 24, and he is not the Archdruid.
6 With the last Alphatian colonization, Lazarsk’s ruling Zhucharnov family aligns itself with Ericall as a way to reduce the influence of Stamtral.
7 The three banners and Barkal are canonical elements from CM1 Test of the Warlords. Note that in the article “A Traveller’s Guide to Norwold”, these elements are associated with the Viaskoda, an M-Uralic nomadic people east of the Icereach Range. The option presented here allows involvement of the three banners and Barkal in a Skaufskogr campaign, whereas the one presented in “A Traveller’s Guide to Norwold” may be more useful if the campaign is set near the Great Bay. Note also that the Viaskoda were originally introduced in the Mystaran Almanac as the “Norwold Barbarians”, and set in the same area where the Vrodniki of this article are based. The Viaskoda were moved north of the Great Bay in later works to fit with the presence of a barbarian fleet belonging to the Red Banner on the northern shores of the Great Bay in M2 (page 23).
8 Note that the pantheon proposed here is different from the one proposed in Marco Dalmonte’s Codex Immortalis, volume 2. The differences are primarily due to the fact that the Three Banners are not related to a Slavic-inspired culture in the Codex. Also, the version presented here tends to borrow Immortals from neighbouring peoples, avoiding unrelated Immortals such as Halav.
9 See PC1 Tall Tales of the Wee Folk.
10 If Brogahn, Allisa Patrician, or Winnifred of the Lake, who have an Ethengarian background, receive a barony in the Kabarda territory, they may be able to strike a deal with the centaurs. Other Barons are likely to be less compatible with the Hetmanate. See “Rogues, Barons and Pretenders”, to appear in Issue 8 of Threshold Magazine, for more details on these NPCs.
11 This event may have happened at any time between the fall of the Antalian civilization (before 1700 BC) and the first Alphatian colonization attempt (450 AC). The actual date can be selected based on campaign needs, but is probably best set before the crowning of the first Emperor of Thyatis.
12 See XL1 “Quest for the Heartstone” for more information on the Prism Wars.
13 Hephaestons appear in AD&D in the Mystara Monstrous Compendium Appendix, under the Giant, Hephaeston entry.