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Aliens In Mystaraspaceby Marco Dalmonte
"There are different worlds out there: worlds made of air, of fire, of water and of earth. But all of them share the same basic need: the need for heroes."
- - Terari
Mystara is a spherical hollow planet that exists in the Prime Plane, which is basically the equivalent of our RW Universe, with many other galaxies, and as such other solar systems and other races. This is the layout of Mystaraspace according to the Old Immortal Set (and WotI didn't change anything about it since it didn't deal with it). Note that the Mystaran names have been proposed by myself as the Thyatian version of the planets and there are some elven names for the planets and constellations in CM7 as well:
Real Name (Mystaran version)
Asteroid Belt (Tears of Asterius)
Note 1: The core of the sun is formed by a large, hollow sphere, whose walls are pure black. Within it, a Fire Elemental Ruler (80 HD, 600 hp) rules over all the creature that can be found in the sun (which looks like the Elemental Plane of Fire). See M4 for details.
Note 2: Damocles is destined to explode after 1,000 AC (see old Immortal set). Its fragments form the Asteroid belt between "Jupiter" and "Mars", while the largest two pieces shoot off and become "Mercury" and "Pluto". Other pieces become the gas giants' retrograde moons. Damocles is a flat world (semisphere) with a thriving civilisation living on it. Neither Mystarans nor Damoclites know of each other, though.
Aliens from the Prime Plane
"The Truth is out there"
- -Per Kirvik, Glantrian Spacelore expert
There have been many discussions about other alien races, and in Joshuan Almanac there is even an article about the Circular Crop Cuttings phenomenon that clearly shows the ignorance of Mystarans about the existence of otherworldly civilisations. The strangest thing is that while most mages are capable of plane-travelling and know the existence of other Planes inhabited by other Creatures, they have never thought about the possibility of other cultures living in the Prime Plane, only on other planets! It seems easier for them to explore other Planes of existence rather than other planets on the same plane: you can call it a perverse effect of magic.
Anyway, we do know of at least three other civilisations on the Prime which are not native of Mystara: the Damoclites, the Pyrithians, Alpha Centauri aliens, Aelosians and the inhabitants of Patera.
The Damoclites are an advanced civilisation that thrive(d) on Damocles (Asterius). Nothing concrete is known about them (they were first mentioned in the old Immortal set), but many speculations want them masters of magic and psionic powers (although not to the level of Old Alphatia). They won't last much however, since Damocles is destined to blow itself up for mysterious reasons. Below are some ideas about why and when they could disappear.
Scenario 1: A Space Sargasso
Damocles was somehow held together magically - perhaps its civilisation was remnant of the mostly-unknown-on-Mystara "Earth" and "Water" groups from Old Alphatia. One day, the planet ran into a large sargasso (no-magic areas of Mystaraspace), which cancelled the magics holding the planet together, resulting in its utter destruction. If this is true, then the asteroid that crashed on Glantri and formed the Great Crater could have been a large chunk of Damocles, perhaps holding inside itself several new species of monsters and plants.
Scenario 2: The Week of No Magic
Damocles boasted a high magic culture similar to that of Mystara and revered even the same immortals. However, during WotI it got caught up in a magical side effect of the Doomsday Device activation that spread all over Mystaraspace and this caused its highly magical core (which gave Damoclites incredible superpowers and magic capacities that exceeded those of Mystarans, as long as they lived on Damocles) to overload: it then exploded and created the two large asteroids that have now become Mercury and Pluto. Or maybe it was a Megalith and the combination of the surge of power from the Doomsday Device, the apparition of the Old One on the Prime and the Week of No Magic made it go crazy and ultimately it committed suicide.
The Pyrithians lived in the Pyrithian Archipelago in some other part of the Galaxy. The Emerondians are descendants of the Pyrithian culture (survivors from the destruction of their planet), but they're fairly dissimilar to their ancestors. The Pyrithians were a race of savage space pirates. A stray war band became stranded on the Known World and eventually founded the more peaceful Emerond Kingdom. They brought their unique vegetable fibre with them. The common Emerondians have forgotten about this old tie with their warlike Pyrithean ancestors. A handful of the high priests and greater druids remain as the keepers of this archaic lore.
The Emerondians of Mystara are essentially farmers and gatherers. Their knowledge of agriculture and flora in general is extensive, but they remain almost totally ignorant about the ways of the sea and navigation. A peaceful people, the Emerondians are very respectful of their ancestors and laws. They benefit from an ancient culture that provides them with a rich artistic and literary background. Their philosophy is mostly druidical, but several insectlike figures are known to be part of the Emerondian pantheon of immortal patrons.
These are four possible scenarios about the real history behind the Pyrithians.
Scenario 1: Pyrithians = Damoclites
Pyrithians could be the survivors of Damocles' doom. Haldemar first encountered Emerondians on Davania back in the X century and they had already been living there for some time. However Damocles didn't explode prior to AC 1000, so here's a possible explanation: Damocles exploded during WotI creating "Mercury" and "Pluto", the Great Asteroid Ring and the big asteroid the crashed on Glantri. Some Pyrithians, foreseeing the event after studying the variations in the energy fluxes in the Galaxy (not all Pyrithians were pirates: some must have been mages to build flying ships), tried to warn their fellows of the danger but were laughed at. They built a ship and decided to flee before it was too late, but they were caught in the explosion and a temporal rift formed, sucking them in. They crashlanded on another world, in a forested area, and thought to have been transported to another part of the galaxy. After meddling with some powerful emissaries of a decadent empire, they managed to survive a great curse and relocated in another part of the forest, abandoning their magical studies and becoming nature oriented. Never they imagined they had crashlanded on Mystara, only at the time of the Nithian empire!
In fact, instead of travelling to another part of the galaxy, the energy released by their planet's doom caused them to travel to another part of time continuum and landing on Mystara (which was near to Damocles after all) in its past (in BC 600 -shortly before Nithia's fall). This wouldn't create a temporal paradox or anomaly, since the first settlers will be long dead when they will see the light on their home planet in the future (prior the destruction) and so the lifelines won't be doubled (see Chronomancer supplement). More: they will think their planet is gone forever and will never suspect that one of the planets they see each night in the sky is their homeland. So they won't make any attempt to warn their fellows of the future catastrophe: they will not be able to change the course of the events, which will replicate forever and ever...
Scenario 2: Pyrithians = Creators of Mystaran races
The Pyrithians can also be one of the faraway cultures that visited Mystara long ago, maybe altering some of the species' evolution with their tampering and experiments, and later escaped their planet because of a long forgotten menace from another part of space (or time) and fled to Mystara.
Scenario 3: Pyrithians = Beagle crewmembers
Another theory has some crewmen of the F.S.S. Beagle who learned enough about the magic of Mystara return into space, only to discover that Mystaran space was very unlikely that they were used to. They settled the asteroid girdle in Mystaraspace and their culture thrived. Some millenniums later a small group split apart and landed on Mystara, the same planet their ancestors had left after their crash. There they finally became: the Emerondians!
Scenario 4: Pyrithians = Faraway Settlers
The Pyrithians are originally from Alpha Centauri. They arrived really long ago, sometime between the Blackmoor explosion and BC 1000. The reason for this is that at the time the Pyrithians should have had a very powerful culture on Epsilon Eridani. They had even started colonising the nearest solar systems and had a mining colony on Charon. In this colony criminals were used as slaves.
However, something happened on Charon and some of the slaves and mining engineers were able to flee before it was too late, landing on Damocles' moon. When Pyrithians discovered they received no more news from Charon they sent a scouting expedition to find out what was wrong.. but it never returned.. So they barred Mystaraspace from their charts and forgot about it.. Damocles had only one moon and an asteroid field orbiting around the planet. The Pyrithian survivors settled in the asteroid field and on the moon, forming two different cultures (one of pirates and the other a more settled and civilised one). When the Damoclites started colonising their planet's moons with primitive voidships, the Pyrithians who dwelt in the asteroid field started raiding ships and colonies.
[Note: this scenario also fits very well with scenario #1]
The inhabitants of Patera can be divided into rakastas (from official sources, see Voyages of the Princess Ark), pachidermions and rakshasas (from unofficial speculations inside the list). For more detail on these cultures, see Andrew Theisen's Patera Files.
Alpha Centauri Aliens
The only mention about an alien culture in Alpha Centauri is in the old Immortal set, but aside from this mention, nothing is really revealed about them. It is not even sure they have ever come to Mystara (unless you believe they are the Pyrithians) nor that they know the use of magic (they could be a simple technological civilisation).
Similar to the previous one, there is another reference to a possible alien civilisation in an outer galaxy known by the Alphatians as Spillworld (see Dawn of the Emperors), but nothing is really described about it.
In CM6: Where Chaos Reigns, the world of Aelos is introduced. Nobody from this world has ever come to Mystara, but there is a trace that testifies that somebody from Mystara has visited Aelos in the past (before the PCs go there). In fact, there are some Gargantuan spider guarding the Great Library, and this means the great Gargantua has travelled there and has probably had magical exchanges with the Aelosian wizards of the Island of the Mages.
Aside from this, Aelos lies in another part of the Prime Plane, possibly in the same Galaxy of Mystara (the Milky Way, aka the Mystery Path) and it's also very similar to Mystara (a world full of magic). But there is a threat that comes from the future: Oards. These creatures half-human and half-machine (very similar to Borgs but without a collective mind) want to erase magic from the face of Aelos and use timetravel to reach their goal, in order to convert all Aelos' people to the mundane arts of technology which they master.
Aliens from the Unknown
"The First Directive forbids us from interfering with these creatures, Captain Riesling."
- - Lt Benekander while monitoring Mystara, before the Beagle crashed
Four other alien civilisations not native of Mystara but whose exact origin is unsure are known from the D&D products: the Federation, the Alphatians, the Eldars and the Adaptors.
First of all we must clarify a point: the F.S.S. Beagle (a spaceship from the mysterious alien Federation) never arrived on Mystara voluntarily. The adventure modules labelled "DA" and WotI shed some light on this point when they say that the Beagle's technology reacted awry with Mystara's magic and caused the ship to loose power and to crashland on Mystara in BC 4,000. The same fact that nobody went to search for the Beagle in more than four thousands years testifies that probably the Beagle didn't really choose its route but found itself stuck in this part of the Universe.
Canon (Wrath of the Immortals or WotI) says that the Federation exists in another dimension (or if you don't like the word just substitute it with "alternate universe", which must not be confused with "alternate reality"), and since nobody came to retrieve the Beagle, we can hypothesise the Beagle was caught up in a rift of timespace (maybe caused by its experimental engine or other gear on board to be tested, or simply an existing rift in the continuum which the Beagle unknowingly stepped into) that transported it to Mystara. The Federation has not the power (technology) to cross dimensions (alternate universes), and may not even have the technology to cross planes of its universe of existence (after all, relying only on technology they could ignore the existence of other planes which are not scientifically explained). So the Federation is basically a universe spanning civilisation very similar to Star Trek's United Federation of Planets.
Another idea could be that the Federation never searched for the Beagle because it collapsed after the Beagle's departure. Maybe it was indeed located in the hub of the Galaxy and the Beagle (even travelling at spelljamming speed -100 millions of miles per day) had to travel for a lot of time before arriving to Mystaraspace (after all the existence of the chambers of "stasis" inside the Beagle and the fact the crew members were sleeping in them when it crashed suggests that they expected a long trip). In that lapse of time (years? Decades?) the federation somehow collapsed and so nobody cared about the Beagle's fate anymore. Remember that the former crewmember Benekander is an Immortal. Surely he would be capable of crossing the dimensional barriers to seek out the Federation. WotI says he has made Mystara his home. It could mean that the Federation is no more. It could even mean that Benekander's home planet is no more. The Federation was supposed to maintain internal peace and order. It is easy to assume it also served as an alliance against some outside threat such as Star Treks (OS) Klingons. Perhaps the "Klingons" struck or did something to undermine the Federation's unity. Time to pull out Tale of the Comet if you want some of this to follow the Beagle to Mystara.
The last idea involves again timetravel: the rift was not a dimensional but a temporal rift, so that the Federation exists somewhere else in the Prime but it hasn't sent anyone to retrieve the Beagle cause the incident hasn't happened yet on their homeworld! The Beagle could very well be coming from Mystara's own future!!
In BC 5,000, on the faraway world known as Old Alphatia, a group of people began its meteoric raise to civilisation exploiting their incredible affinity with magics. Over a millennium, they had built the most powerful empire based on magic ever known in the Multiverse: these were the pure Alphatians. Soon after, they began exploring their space and colonising other planets, later conquering the lesser races. Among these, the Cypris culture was assimilated.. or rather ended up assimilating the Alphatian one, creating the mixed Cypri-Alphatian culture that still survives today on Mystara. In BC 1,000 Old Alphatia experienced a great period of crisis and civil war erupted among the Followers of Air and Followers of Fire, two magical-philosophical factions that vied for predominance over one another. The final result of this infighting was the utter annihilation of the planet, which caused the Alphatians to migrate to another world, escaping their doom. This way the Followers of Air arrived on Mystara and colonised the eastern continent later renamed Alphatia. The Followers of Fire instead landed in the Glantrian region and established the first Flaemish Duchies. The history of the Alphatians was first told in module M1: Into the Maelstrom, and in this adventure Old Alphatia was located in a faraway galaxy on the Prime Plane. However, in a later D&D supplement (WotI), Old Alphatia is described as an Outer Plane adjacent to the Plane of Energy, thereby explaining the high affinity of Alphatians for magic (affinity which was somehow dulled by their migration to Mystara). Either way, Old Alphatia is now a great space filled with breathable air where the survivors of the old Alphatian colonies dwell. Some of these are even capable of travelling through space via flying ships, and could probably come to Mystara if it wasn't so detached from their world.
The Dragonlord Trilogy introduces a new alien species on Mystara: the fabled Eldars, ancestors of the elven and draconic race, according to the books written by Thorarinn Gunnarson. Apparently, these Eldars were a race of powerful and wise shapeshifters who interbred with mortals in the past millennia and lived in Norwold. They suddenly disappeared and the legends tell that dragons and elves were spawned by them before leaving Mystara. Some sages still speculate that the last descendants of the first Eldars still live among dragonkind in Norwold or among the Wendarian elves, even though no real proof has ever been presented.
Some theories do exist about the Eldars' real past and present. The first one is loosely based on the High Ones from Wendy and Richard Pini's ElfQuest graphic novels.
From the far reaches of Space came a race called the Elai'dar. They were a highly advanced civilisation based on Magic, rather than Technology. Their race colonised worlds, plundered them of all resources and moved onto the next world. They travelled through Space in huge crystallic vessels. After some time they realised that they had to learn to live in harmony with the natives of the worlds they came to. The Elai'dar were not conquerors as such. They integrated with other races, but they didn't realise or care that the worlds resources were limited and spent them all. leaving the worlds barren. However, at first they had very little respect for nature and life in general. Most of the worlds they discovered had no intelligent life so they merely hunted animals, consumed huge masses of food and soon destroyed their ecosystem, leaving for other planets to exploit. They were shapechanging creatures, took the shapes of creatures on the worlds they approached and interbred with them, learning their ways of life and gradually becoming like them.
One crystal ship of the Elai'dar came to Mystara. They were not a violent race. As a matter of fact they were peaceful and gentle, innocent you may say. They hadn't encountered many hostile cultures before. Since they saw that the humans were (somewhat) intelligent, they greeted them coming in peace. The humans reacted in fear and caught the Elai'dar by surprise. The result was terrible. However, part of the group was saved by elves. The Elai'dar took the shapes of the elves and lived among them. Generations later, Dragons came to this world. Some Dragons contacted the elves and some Elai'dar who hadn't become too attached to their elven form, took the shape of Dragons and became part of these majestic creatures' society. As the years went by, the Elai'dar became known as the Eldar and forgot about their origin. They now believed they were the ancestors of both Dragons and Elves. It is suspected that the Eldars bloodlines may be the reason why some Dragons have the ability to shapechange into humanoids. Also, some elves have special affinities for certain types of Magic. [Coolhands (Elves of Alfheim) has affinities for Healing magic.] This could be a result of Eldar blood mixed with elfblood.
The Eldar are virtually immortal. However, the history of Mystara is one of violence and death. Only a few individuals still exist. They can take the form of Elves and Dragons and are highly skilled magic-users, but have forgotten most of their other magical abilities. The only known Eldar live in Wendar, the Elven kingdom north of Glantri.
According to the second theory, the Elai'dar were a race of knowledge seekers who merged with the other races of space to know their customs and magic rather then invading them and stealing their richness. The Elai'dar were not conquerors in the common sense of the term. They didn't impose their superiority on others using the brute strength: rather, they assimilated and imitated the race's powers after studying it and later placed members of their race in key positions to exploit the resources of the society unseen.
During one of their voyages they arrived on Mystara in BC 3,200 and settled in Brun near Blackmoor (or if you think Blackmoor was on Skothar, then imagine there was another Blackmoor city in Brun) and among the elves who lived there (ancestors of the Shadowelves). When the Great Rain of Fire struck, they were caught off guard. They tried to exit the atmosphere with their spaceship before it was too late, but the explosions damaged it and they crashlanded in the Wendar area. There they were probably hailed as messengers of the gods and worshipped as such. Some of them stayed and tried to help these people survive the after-effects of the catastrophe, while others decided to migrate northwards trying to escape the radiations. It might be that some of the Korrigans who saved Wendar from the side effects of the Great Rain of Fire were in fact Eldars (or maybe all of them were Eldars).
Eventually, the Eldars were hailed as Fathers of the elven people (at least by Wendarians) but then the Glantri catastrophe erased part of their memories and this is why currently nobody knows of the Eldars. Those who went northwards met the dragons, who seemed to resist better the effects of the catastrophe, and lived among them in their form, breeding with them and gifting some of them with the ability to shapechange to humanoid forms as well. It could also be that the Aquarendi contacted some Eldars before going into the sea and after breeding with them they gained the powers to water-breathe. It is not known if the Eldars are immortal or can die of old age. Today the only known Eldars live in Wendar, the Elven kingdom north of Glantri, and in Norwold, among the dragons.
Finally, one more thing to mention is the close link that exists between Eldars and Polymars, two true shapeshifting races that share many similarities. Currently there are two possible explanations for this link: Professor Novar (who created polymar race) was an Eldar himself and tried to turn other people into new Eldars using biotechnology. This could have many causes, but the first and foremost would be repopulating a dying race. In this case he obviously failed, although he himself became a bit more powerful after his experiments. Currently he doesn't know about the other Eldars' fate though he suspects they've died or fled Mystara after the Blackmoor incident. He never told his "children" of his real heritage nor of the Eldars' existence, so IF they ever come to meet them, the reaction will probably depend on the Eldars' objectives on Mystara. If they join the polymars for conquering the world, a new alliance is born, otherwise the polymars will see the eldars as a potential threat to their own plan and try to eliminate them (while Novar would like to talk with them); Professor Novar and Oregar created the Polymar Project using a captured Eldar as guinea pig. The Blackmoor Government discovered the Eldars infiltrated in their society and imprisoned one of them. Believing they were alien creatures about to conquer Blackmoor, they wanted to fight them with their own weapons and to gain their abilities as well, and so instructed Oregar and Novar to study the sample and come up with something to imitate his powers. So the Polymar project was born, although it then took two different routes (see Polymar: the Shadow Legacy). Nowadays Novar still views the Eldars as superior beings and would like to discover more about them and to have them by his side. Other polymars have never met an eldar and ignore their existence (see above).
Adaptors are another alien race of interplanar and interplanetary travellers with the strange ability to adapt their body to different kind of energies in order to avoid damage. They are superior beings, smarter and more intelligent than the common Mystaran, always equipped with strange technological items and ready for every unexpected situation. It is not known if they hail from another planet in the Prime Plane of another plane entirely, even though from the information gathered they seem to boast an advanced technology and no trace of magic wielders among them. Some speculate they "devolved" from Eldars, or that they are the result of another interbreeding between two races with Eldars being one of them. Nothing is known for sure however, up to now.
Alternate Universes and Alternate Realities
"I'll be back!"
- - Wesley the Chronomancer
Now a clarification of my distinction between "alternate universe" (or dimension) and "alternate reality" or "timeframe". The concept of alternate universe has been masterfully explained by André Martins and I am quoting his definition here for the sake of clarity:
"Imagine you are a being with only 2 spatial dimensions, living in a sheet of paper. That sheet of paper would be what people usually calls a plane. Now imagine your sheet is not alone, but is in a book, with many other sheet-planes next to it. As you live only in your sheet, you will never know about it, but there might be ways to change sheets, so that you'd go to other planes. What WotI calls a dimension, would be the whole book. Other dimensions would be other books, with many sheet-planes inside it."
This fits perfectly with the concept of alternate universe. Now regarding alternate timeframe or reality, just imagine a scribe that copies the text of a book (universe) and either voluntarily or involuntarily alters its contents in some parts: each time it alters its text he creates a completely different text even though it still deals with the same topic. We could also say that different universes (dimensions) are books that talk about different subjects, while different timeframes are books that deal with different versions of the same subject. So for each book we'll have different versions of it (though I don't believe infinite versions) to the point that nobody will be able to tell which one is the original one anymore.
Last Note: Alien Civilisations and Immortals
If Mystarans aren't alone in the Prime, it is likely the Immortals know it and have established other followers in different civilisations living on the other planets (not doing it would be fool!). Aelos is probably the most explicit example of Immortals meddling with other planets, as well as Old Alphatia. This also means there are other Immortals coming from other planets, but Mystara is so important to Immortals because of its position inside the universe (its centrum) and because it has produced the greatest number of Immortals among all the populated worlds in the Prime.
"Full Impulse ahead. Navigator, engage!"