I think that "Twilight of the Dawn" [Tome of Mystara #3] was excellent! I always enjoy seeing the vividness of Mystara expanded in new and interesting ways - and this is no exception. Andrew Theisen has done well is adding more interesting details to what was once an unremarkable geographic feature. Should my players ever venture to this part of the world, I now have an excuse to drag out the ship-to-ship combat rules, and add a little pirate flavour to the game.
One or two minor questions for the author:
One thing that might be interesting to see down the line, is perhaps some descriptions of the storyline's characters, or perhaps some sample NPC pirates from the region.
We sent this one straight to the man himself, Andrew Theisen. His answer:
Good questions. As far as flag costs go, I'd say that they'd run pretty steep- maybe nearing 1,000 gp. They're generally useful for an entire shipping season, although actual length would probably vary according to the amount of imperial activity in the region. During times of heavy patrols, the pirates would probably change flags quite often. The corollary to that, of course, would be that merchants might not actually need to purchase such forms of "safe" passage. An alternative to the high costs would be to contract with a pirate or pirates who fly the flags, and have them serve as an escort to your own ship. This means is far less costly (running from 150-500 gp), but less trustworthy pirates have been known to sell out their charges, or even to turn on merchants and seize their booty for themselves once they are on the high seas. Most merchants who are planning on doing any substantial activity in the southern Isle of Dawn region opt to make the investment in the friendship flags. The profits they can make usually outweigh the costs in the long run.
I'm glad you mentioned the Letters of Marque. I had intended to mention Letters of Marque originally, only to forget when I sat down to put the finishing touches on the article. Many pirates of Caerdwicca and Ne'er-do-Well carry Letters of Marque in case they are caught by Imperial authorities, but there is little illusion as to their true intentions. Legitimate privateers (legally endorsed by the imperial authorities) tend to operate from safer harbors, such as Beitung or Aegos. Lately, there is ample opportunity for such adventurers to ply their trade as hostilities between the imperial powers escalate in the eastern Sea of Dawn. There are several ways to acquire a Letter of Marque. The most expensive would be to journey to either Sundsvall or Thyatis, and attempt to garner favors from the nobility and imperial governments to obtain one. This is a time consuming affair, and can be costly. The purchase price of the Letter itself is 5,000 gp, though the additional costs of bribes, parties, and the like can easily send this figure much higher. The advantage, of course, is that the purchaser may operate freely anywhere in imperial waters, and the legitimacy of the Letter may only be illegitimized by the Emperor or Empress themselves. With the upsurge in unsanctioned piracy, Governor Catullus Florus of the Provincia Meridiona has been granted the ability to issue Letters of Marque to privateers. They may be purchased for 2,500 gp, although they may only be issued by the governor personally. The prospect of journeying to his keep in the dark forests of the Shadow Coast is enough to steer away all but the most determined. Such Letters allow freedom of activity anywhere along the coasts belonging to the province, though their writ does not extend into the waters of Furmenglaive. Most common by far are forged documents claiming to be official Letters of Marque. A set capable of passing all but the closest of legal scrutiny would run in the region of 500 gp in Caerdwicca. Anyone caught holding such illegal documents will be charged with treason against the empire, with the standard penalties such would incur. In the backwater regions of the Shadow Coast, however, it is very rare for anyone to be caught.
I plan to post stats for the characters eventually, though I'd like to give them some time to develop and demonstrate their abilities first. Since you mention it, though, I'll ask how you, the reader, would like to see them. Would you prefer certain rules or formats? Let me know!
I enjoyed "Shadowy Cloaks and Silent Daggers," by Geoff Gander [Tome #3], quite a bit, as these are the sorts of campaigns I like to run - heavy on politics and skullduggery. I can't wait to see some of the "secret societies" of the Known World.
One thing that bothered me, though, is the Silent Kill skill. I have never been a fan of the "instant kill" abilities of 1st edition Assassins or OD&D Thugs, and making this ability an easily purchased skill seems a bit unbalanced to me. Even for 3/4 of the characters level seems a bit awkward. Wouldn't simply allowing a free round of attacks suffice? It seems to me that if someone were to be properly prepared for his kill, then he should have some means by which he can take his target out (or has a better than normal chance) just so long as he is able to get the first strike (which this skill would provide). And thieves would benefit the most, for even an unprepared thief could get his backstab bonus with using this skill.
Anyway, just a thought. Looking forward to seeing more!
"Shadowy Cloaks and Silent Daggers" had some great ideas for integrating espionage into a campaign setting. My only disappointment with this article was that little to no information was given on actual organizations in Mystara. I was happily surprised to see that Geoff planned just that for a future article! However, I want it now... [John is making an Interrogation (STR) skill check].
Hang on, John! Geoff's sequel to this popular article will appear in an upcoming Tome of Mystara.
I just want to ask why the writers of the "Timeline of Thyatian History" [Tome #3] decided not to use any previous material done by Mystara fans. For instance, I have written the history of House Sirecchia in Glantri, where the leader who led Thyatians from Alasiyan land were Giuseppe di Sfonti, and di Malapietras came to Glantri only in 898. Otherwise, I think it was great.
Quite simply, it is the authors' choice to create a timeline of their own making, according to their interpretation of official sources.
While there are many excellent fan histories of Mystara, we at Tome of Mystara believe that every work is of equal merit, regardless of date of completion. Therefore, we stand fully behind this timeline as one of many - none more "correct" than another.
Regarding the "Timeline of Thyatian History": What can I say? I love timelines, as a quick glance at my site or many of my works for the MML can attest.
I have one question, though. I've finally picked up the third of the Dragonlord Chronicles trilogy, and I noticed that it mentions a Thyatian Emperor Cornelius, who isn't mentioned in the timeline here (should be circa 495 AC). Was this an oversight, or was it deliberate (some have mentioned that they don't like the series at all. Myself, I find it...okay)? Just curious.
Editor Jennifer Guerra has the answer to this question... "This oversight is, in fact, my fault. Prior to editing, while I was discussing the timeline with the authors, I mentioned Cornelius. As the authors did not have the book in which he appears, I offered to send the material...which I was never able to do. Therefore, the authors compiled their own timeline without the info from the novels. My sincerest apologies to the readers. To the authors: James, I owe you one!"
"Novices and Neophytes" [Tome #3] was an excellent article. A DM can never have enough "random" NPCs on hand. I especially liked the format used to provide the various details of background, personality, etc. In the future, it would be neat to also see other articles where the characters presented as "Novices and Neophytes" are shown at later stages of their "career" - 5-7 and maybe again at 10-12. It would certainly help DMs keep the NPCs introduced early-on increasing in level, along with their PC's.
Definitely more like this!
Jenni A. M. Merrifield
Note that Greek letters (the "Alphatian Alphabet," issue #3) can be produced by simply changing the font face to symbol, so if either the author or the editors want to make the actual characters appear (rather than the names), they can simply do that.
Wonder what sort of alphabet the Milenians use...
Kizarvexus, aka Porphyrogenitus
The decision to go ahead with using the letters' names, rather than proper symbols, stemmed from the fact that one editor's browser does not support fonts. Thus, editing an article written in symbols woud have been impossible. Apologies to any disappointed readers.
The maps by Thibault Sarlat [Tome #2 and #3] are very cool. I was so glad that I found them; I can assure you that they will be used in my campaign, and can only implore you to keep them coming. Thanks for making my life as a DM a little easier.
"Ice Gnomes" [Tome #3] was an entertaining read! I enjoyed Alan Jones's brief, but effective, descriptions of the gnomes and their society, and found the proposed adventures and side treks to be well-designed and eminently playable.
I would like to use this forum to ask Alan to share with us a little more about these little folk. Specifically, I am wondering if he intended these gnomes to have anything to do with the Ice Gnomes displayed in the migration map of the HW boxed set? If so (or even if not) I would love to learn a little bit about their history - how they found Snowymeadowundermountain, what they have gone through since that time, and how they interact (if at all) with surrounding peoples or nations. Also, I'd like to read a little more about those nasty ice trolls! What is the source of the conflict between the two races? All in all, an excellent article! Can't wait to see more!
Well, Geoff, you just may get your wish! We've asked Alan to expand upon the Ice Gnomes for a future Tome of Mystara. Stay tuned!
...I am so happy to see this site and so many others on the net. I thought I was the only person who liked this world this much (it is the only world I will run a game in or play D&D in). The music was terrific from the article you had ["Mystaran Music," by Damon Brown, Tome #3], and I will be using some of your ideas in my own campaign soon.
And please, can we all stop Thyatian bashing? After all they are the world's foremost military power.
Thanks for writing, Matthew - we're glad you like the Tome! And rest assured, we are not a forum to tolerate the "bashing" of any nation: every view of Mystara is equal here.
Thanks for creating this marvelous project. I was trying for a long time to find a Mystara site not bound by a collective, restrictive "official" timeline. Swell.
You're welcome! :-)
I think you are doing a excellent job - a very well-presented magazine. But can writers actually write rom numbers down, rather than use formatting, which doesn't come out in Word? Also, are you thinking of adding a Classifieds section? I'm desperate for access to Gaz1 and DotE - I'll even pay for scanned copies if necessary.
Thank you for the compliment, Hayley! Now, as for your questions: We're not quite clear on your formatting question; all our formatting is done in HTML on Yahoo!GeoCities' Advanced Editor. We do not currently have an offline edition compatible with MS Word.
At this time, there are no plans for a Classifieds page in Tome of Mystara. You are very likely to find the two modules for which you are searching at ebay or another used gaming store online. We do remind you (and others) that the photocopying or scanning of published materials is a violation of copyright laws, and is illegal.
Guidelines for Letters to the Editors:
So, how do you write us? Send an e-mail to Tome of Mystara at firstname.lastname@example.org .
- Kevin Turner
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