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Hi All, here's another review of an article appeared in issue 1 of Threshold magazine.
I've already extensively commented on The Demography of Karameikos by Simone Neri (Zendrolion).
Now is the turn of History of Karameikos by the same author. You can see a provisional html copy of the article here, while the original article is here.
You can also find the individual links to the maps that appeared in the article here.
This great work by Zendrolion is of particular interest to me as I wrote an History of Traladara myself here and I'll then take advantage of this thread to update my history and integrate mine with the one by Zendrolion, which has several differences.
Thoughts and expansion on the History of Karameikos articleby Francesco Defferrari
First of all, the very first paragraph lead me to think at the History of the land now called Karameikos in the remote past... As I use the HW precataclysmic map as it is, the place was not the North Pole IMC, as explained in my article about New Blackmoor in issue 2 of Threshold magazine. From the map of that article you can see the area was inhabited by Albai humans, but more on this later..
I also wrote down some ideas about the remote past of Mystara here
From all this, I'd like to expand a bit on the ancient ruins that could be found in Karameikos...
Ancient Ruins of Karameikos
As written by famed Ylari scholar, explorer and wizard Aamir Ibn Saleem, teacher at the Krakatos School of Magecraft,
to his friend and colleague Erik in the year 1013 AC (see also Threshold magazine issue 3, page 174)
Dear friend, I hope my letter finds you well and I pray you to give me some more news about your travels and discoveries in the North, for my part I now write to report the last discoveries of the Delvers, our little group of daring adventurers.
I already told you something about the mysterious ruins beneath Krakatos and Mirros in my last letter, but I have much more information now on the ancient history of Karameikos. Only in the latter years indeed, after the School of Magecraft was established, a concerted effort has been made by scholars and sages to gather the historical chronicles and the ancient tales of this land. Before that, only the churches and the elves had any historical knowledge worth mentioning.
Well, maybe also some of the not human inhabitants of this land have it, like the giants or the dragons, but unfortunately it seems they do not have shared it with us, so far. One of my colleague at the school indeed is now trying to contact some of the Karameikan dragons to discover what they know about the history of this land. Time will tell if he'll be successfull, or not.
In the meantime, I've spoken with elven clerics and wizards at lenght. They consider certain creatures, now very rare or entirely disappeared from this land, to be the most ancient inhabitants of the world.
Dragons and fairies are among them, but there are also araneas, hivebroods, decapus, wurmlings, scamille, fungoid, rockmen, tortles, frogfolks and chameleon men. According to elven sources such creatures were numerous in the remote past of Mystara, thousand and thousand of years ago. Then it was the turn of the many races of lizardmen and troglodytes, and after them lupins, rakasta, gyerians and other beastmen, and later of giants and the people the elves called the First humans, or Ka-Na, or People of the Stone. Then there were elves, dwarves, gnomes, halfling, humanoids and many different human cultures.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. My primary purpose here is to investigate which ancient races ever lived here in the Land of Traladara and, if they did, what traces are left, if there is any trace left.
Well, I've heard and discovered plenty of rumors and legends. Investigating them all is going to be a daunting task, so probably The Delvers will have to ask for the help of other adventurers...
According to several reports by adventurers, the frogfolks, or froglins, or frogmen, would exist in the Blight Swamp or in great subterrean caves all over Karameikos.
I've also tracked down a statement written one century ago by a priest of the Church of Traladara. The priest maintains he spoke to a frogfolk shaman, and the creature told him that frogfolks once had a great nation in this very land. It was so much time ago, according to him, that Karameikos was nothing similar to what it's now, but rather a series of wet lands and islands. The frogfolk said that fairy folks and giants destroyed the nation of his people with powerful earthquakes, but it's hard to say how much of this could be true.
I was able however to submit this story to Calaarii elves: it's said they often speak with the reclusive fairies of the Radlebb woods. According to the elves, fairy folks have a matching story, but their one says that an alliance of fairies and giants destroyed a corrupted and decadent nation of frogfolks.
I've read reports that such frogfolks are still supposed to live in several locations of far away Davania and Skothar, but I've not find any decisive proof, so far, that they could still survive in Karameikos, or under it.
It may well be impossible to prove, if they are too few or to reclusive, but I hope the Delvers will eventually get to discover more about them!
(Differently from other strange creatures, frogfolks aren't mentioned in any official products about Karameikos, but I'd like to have the possibility to use them somewhere
Other ancient creatures
I've also investigated about the existence in the past of some creatures that, according to elven histories, came straight from the ancient past of Mystara. Several adventurers claim to have encountered a breed of intelligent insects in different caves and tombs under Karameikos. We encountered them ourselves under Mirros, (1) and I wonder if they are ancient inhabitants of this land or if they've come from somewhere else. I fear this will remain a mystery if we don't find a way to communicate with such creatures, but from all I've heard and seen, they are quite nasty and hostile.
Another strange creature, the decapus, is rumored to live around the area of the fair city of Haven (2). It too could be a living relic from a past age.
What we could think of other strange creatures as Scamilles, Wurmlings and Fungoids? They are certainly intelligent. They seem to be respectively some kind of intelligent ooze, intelligent worms, intellingent fungus. Do they came from some other world, from some other plane or from Mystara's past? I know there are groups of them in Brun, but I've not so far found certain proof that they could be present in Karameikos too.
What about Rockmen and Geonids? Do thy came from the Plane of Earth or from Mystara's past? The Rockmen have definitely been spotted in the mountains of Karameikos, but not much is known of them. (3)
Same goes from the mysterious Chameleon men, a people who interest me very much as I know for certain that many of them live beyond the far away Savage Coast. How it's possible that there are some of them in northern Karameikos too? Did they once lived in all Brun? I plan to track the location of one of their communities soon, and ask them (4).
That'll be the next adventure of The Delvers!
(1) As described in issue #3 of Threshold magazine, page 174. The insects would be hivebrood, they appear under Specularum in the adventure "Of Nests and Nations", Dungeon Magazine #13
(2) It appeared in B3.
(3) Rockmen appeared in B8
(4) Chameleon men also appeared in B8
A Fairy Land, with giants and spiders
According to several mentions in a number of elven books I've read, fairies had kingdoms in what is now Karameikos for hundred, maybe thousand of years. Some if not all of such kingdoms also had a sizable population of giants and dragons.
One story also mention an imprecisate number of invasions by "spider people", I suppose the author means aranea here, who took this land from fairies, giants and later also from the People of the Stone.
What exactly happened to the araneas it's hard to say. They could have been driven out by fairies, or by giants. Or they could have left the land for some climatic accident or other reason.
In Luln and Halag there is a legend about a Dark Pyramid in the woods, at an equal distance from the two cities, where the spider-folks would live, devouring anyone foolish enough to roam their woods (1)...
As that would be roughly the location of the so called "Forest of Shadows" known to also harbor werecreatures, harpies, undead and hostile humanoids, it could prove difficult to investigate the truth behind this particular rumor.
I hope however that The Delvers will manage to do that eventually, appropriately equipped with magic and followers.
(1) This is fully my creation, as IIRC araneas do not appear in B modules but only from X1 onwards.
People of the Stone
First humans, or Ka-Na, or People of the Stone: according to elven histories these people were numerous in Brun and Skothar in ancient times, but it's not clear if they would be the ancestors of modern humans or a separate breed that died out for mysterious reasons. Some scholars also speculate that they could have evolved into beastmen and, later, humanoid breeds.
Nowadays, several groups of adventurers mantain to have meet creatures that match the elven description in remote valleys or underground, but all the reports I've read refer mostly to the Altan Tepes mountains of Rockhome and Thyatis but, as part of the chain is inside Karameikos, their presence in the north east of the nation cannot be excluded. As the area is inhabited by giants, humanoids and white dragons, it's possible however that such ancient humans survive only in the deepest location under the earth (1).
(1) Zendrolion places some brutemen in the east in his Demography of Karameikos. That's because they appear as wandering monsters in B2 (as Neanderthal) and B5 (again as Neanderthals, they have a community on the Hill, so about 21 miles north of Kelvin and 12 miles east of Highforge), as Zendrolion kindly pointed out to me (Edited on March, 12th)
Further on the above, it seems Brutemen - Cavemen - Neanderthal could have numerous groups in the Karameikos Underdeep..
For such remote times, my friend, even elven records are confused, mostly because the elves didn't live in this land at the time but in faraway Davania. I suppose fairies, giants and dragons could have much more precise records, and I hope to be able to speak with some members of this races soon, and ask them directly. What I do know at the moment is that the land that is now Karameikos has been inhabited for thousand of years by the People of the Stone, along with fairy folks and giants, and invaded from the east by aranea and later from the south by lizardkin, probably the ancestors of modern lizardmen and troglodytes.
As it is well know, lizardmen (1) seems to be still numerous in the Blight swamp, and troglodytes (2) are common in caves all around Karameikos. According to elves, it was only after the fall of the great reptilian empires that modern humans had the possibility to spread and thrive in the area that is now known as Karameikos. And from those times onwards, we begin to have some more precise history.
(1) They appear in B9, but not really connected to Karameikos. Are mentioned as living in the Blight Swamp in KKoA however.
(2) They appear in B1, B3 and B9, i.e. Cruth mountains, Wufwolde hills and Dymrak hills, this suggesting they could be quite common in Karameikos Underdeep
Before the Great Rain of Fire
5000 BC is the traditional date of the founding of Evergrun, the elven empire in Davania. Is also the traditional date of the founding of the human empire of Thonia in Skothar. The area of the world that now comprises Karameikos at the time was inhabited by human tribes, but the real power of the region was the Dragon Empire, which had its capital in the region of the modern Wyrmsteeth, and the lizardman nation of Mogreth.
Their rule however was not uncontested, as Oltec humans, the ancestors of modern Atruaghin and Sindhian, giants, dwarves and gnomes resisted the power of dragon and lizardmen.
Records about the land of Traladara at the time are incomplete at best, but elven chronicles say it was inhabited by humans who called themselves Albai. (1) Such humans would have black or brown hair and be paler of skin than the Oltecs to the west, but darker than the modern traladaran. From 4500 BC small groups of elves began to arrive in this land from the south, some of them the ancestors of Wendar elves. According to the elves, in 4000 BC the Oltec had a powerful empire in the west, and in 3800 BC Mogreth fell to human and dwarven attacks. From 3900 to 3260 BC more and more humans arrived from the east, Blackmoorians and Thonians, who colonized the modern Known World and crushed a new surge of southern reptilians and the Dragon Empire.
Neverthless, the land that is now Traladara was still mostly inhabited by the humans called Albai.
The elves chronicles name a city called Albimia in the area of modern Mirros. That indeed fits with the plaque we found recently in the dangerous dungeons under the capital. (2)
Other obscure elven chronicles led me to believe there must be Blackmoorian ruins somewhere in the northern mountains of Karameikos (3), and more Albinian ruins all over the nation, the major ones below Kelvin, Threshold, Penhaligon and Dmitrov. There was also a major Kingdom of Giants in the Altan tepes mountains, and probably the local giant know much more about this.
Another obscure reference I found mentions a Oltec city somewhere in the Cruth mountain (4), while in the area of Luln was mentioned another mysterious human culture called Eokai (5), of which I know almost nothing.
All this is just a sketch of the many cultures that once lived in this land before the Great Rain of Fire, and much extensive research in old ruins and in the chronicles of the more ancient races would be needed to shed some light on this. I hope I'll be able to obtain enough funding to do that, but the work could well be too great for my lifetime. I hope other will be able to continue it after me.
(1) See Threshold magazine issue 2, New Blackmoor 3050 BC article
(2) See Threshold magazine issue 3, Darkness Beneath article
(3) The idea of a Blackmoorian station in the nowadays lost valley of Hutaaka was proponed by RobJN in Thorn's chronicle I believe, reference here
(4) That would be a reference to Koskatep, check Threshold magazine issue 1, Mirror of Eternal Night.
(5) Also in Threshold magazine issue 2, New Blackmoor 3050 BC article
After the Great Rain of Fire
Elves have several histories of these times, but they are often confused and fragmented, as these were difficult times in most of the Known World. There are however some established facts: one is that humans were again marginalized in the area, after the Great Rain of Fire. A great nation of giant and fairies called Grondheim came to dominate a vast area from modern Glantri to Karameikos. Dwarves and gnomes ruled nowadays Rockhome and the Northern Reaches. The lizardmen nation of Mogreth rose again in the area of modern Ylauruam and northern Thyatis (1). Yet humans continued to inhabit the area and slowly became dominant again after some centuries, with a new Oltec kingdom in the west and mostly the human nation of Taymora in the area from modern Karameikos to Ierendi and Minrothad. The latter two nations indeed at the time were not island chains but emerged lands connected to the mainland of Brun, and separated from it in a serie of cataclysmic earthquakes from 1750 to 1700 BC.
Taymora was apparently a human nation, yet not exactly so, as it seems that undead, werecreatures and possibly minotaurs had a dominant role in it. We do not know enough of its society and history, mostly comes from elven chronicles, but elves at the time weren't very numerous in the area, and from tales of the undersea people, but so far we have yet to fully examine their records.
From what we saw recently in our delving under Mirros (2), I think that the area of modern Karameikos was a contested land between Taymora and Grondheim and from several clue I think that in later centuries the taymorans slowly conquered part of the land from fairies and the giants. To know more of this, is fundamental for me to speak with fairy folk and giant historians. I hope I'll be able to do that soon.
(1) Do you know the wonderful 2300BC setting by John Calvin? If not, check here and here
(2) See Threshold magazine issue 3, Darkness Beneath article
The mysterious civilization
We know that after the great earthquakes of 1700 BC all the realms of the previous age had fallen. Yet the people that inhabited them were still around obviously, so in the land that is now Traladara there were fairies and giants, humans descendants of Taymora, lizardmen and troglodytes. Humanoid invasions hit the modern lands of Glantri, Ethengar, Darokin and Rockhome, but didn't reach Traladara yet.
The southern Known World was rather dominated by a mysterious culture, that in a few centuries became dominant in a vast area of the world, at least near the coasts, containing the expansion of humanoids in the interior lands of Brun and beyond.
In Traladara the Traldar people arrived around 1500 BC. They were probably allies of the culture mentioned above, but not of the same ethnicity. Indeed my theory is that the mysterious culture that has left ruins from the Savage Coast to the Isle of Dawn and from Davania to Norwold, a culture also mentioned by early alphatian chronicles as composed by powerful wizard, wasn't human at all. It was indeed an hutaakan culture. Before the description of the Hollow World by Claransa (1) and the discovery of the Lost Valley (2) the importance of hutaakans in the history of Traladara was indeed completely unknown. The hutaakans, probably a breed of lupins originated in the modern ylauruam area, were confused with gnolls but they're not gnolls.
Speaking with Claransa I rather think that they heavily influenced the human culture of Nithia in the Hollow World, while in the Outer world they probably dominated human cultures in a great area, hence the reason why the alphatian chronicles mention "human wizards from the west", and not lupins (3).
They had for certain a huge influence on the Traldar and on the Hin, who settles the modern Shires around 1300 BC and, even after these lands were occupied by orcs and gnolls, they still maintained a huge empire.
It seems however they suffered a decline after 1000 BC while two other civilizations, Alphatia and Milenia, were quickly rising. By 500 BC their culture had completely collapsed, leaving only ruins, and the reason behind this collapse is so far an utter mystery.
(1) That happens in the Poor Wizard's Almanac
(2) That happened IMC after B10
(3) As the Spell of Oblivion should affect nithians but not hutaakans, it is reasonable that Known World sages could attribute the whole nithian civilization to hutaakans, once the existence of the latter is known. For the extent of the Nithian Empire, see here.
Weeell, been some time since I posted in this thread, as I was busy working on Threshold magazine, but my interest in Karameikos history is not ended yet so I will proceed by comparing Zendrolion's interesting maps with mine. Here is his map just after the Arrival of the Traldars in 1500 BC While here is my maps on the same period: Traladara_1500BC.png (at the time of the arrival of the Traldars several cities, underlined in purple, are ruled by vampires. The Traldars will aid the native Tal population in destroying them) Html version of Zendrolion's history which appeared in Threshold 1 My history: There is also Agathokles' timeline, but I believe it mostly match Zendrolion's one It would be a great time for a campaign with a mixed party of Traldars and Tals, followers of Ixion and Nyx who unites to fight the minions of Thanatos and then are torn apart when Nyx's followers are targeted too
In the next period, Zendrolion has one map covering The Dark Age of 1000-500 BC While I have Halarov Kingdom And The Last Halarov Kings In Zendrolion's history the major events are the Vandar invasion of 933 BC, the arrival of the Callarii in 800 BC and the Leptar humanoid invasion in 491-488 BC. Traladara is not an unified kingdom but a collection of clans. The Vandars are a populations created by the italian mystaran community (Agathokles, Zendrolion, Marco Dalmonte at least) to explain the slavic culture of the Traladarans, while ancient Traldars had a achaean culture (and the related milenians a greek one). They should have come from Norwold after 1000 BC. I like the idea but my history is a little different.. in my article about the Known World at the time of Blackmoor (3050 BC) in Threshold issue 2, I imagined the Traldar as a slavic population deported by the blackmoorians from the north to the area of Nithia. The Vandars of Norwold would be a related population, which came from the north to join their long lost cousins living in the south. Their arrival rekindled the slavic cultural element of the Traldar and eventually toned down the achaean element, derived from Taymoran descended people. I like this explanation better because otherwise, IMHO, traldars and traladarans are not really related, the traladarans being mostly the Vandars who supplanted the Traldars, and that is quite a big deviation from canon. Anyway that's a matter of preferences. Regardless of the above, I suppose the Traldar culture remained very "greek"-like, influenced by thyatians and milenians, at least until 500 AC, and the slavic element prevailed only later. I also had not included in my history the Leptar invasion, as I overlooked or did not know Leptar's history at the time, but I like it much and so I want to merge it in my Traladara history. But probably the biggest difference between Zendrolion's history and mine in this period is the fact that in my history, an unifying monarchy was created in Traladara by Halav's heirs. There is a line in Karameikos Kingdom of Adventure, page 17, which explicity says Traladara was not unified, but at the time I did not own it or remembered it and anyway I liked the idea of Halav unifying the nation, so in my history he did. GAZ01 indeed IIRC is not so explicit in denying the existence of a unified Traladara. Even in my history anyway the power of clans remained strong, as their local autonomies, and any effort to establish an hereditary monarchy failed. The king (or the queen) was elected for life, among constant struggles between the clans, and eventually in 523 BC the Halarov clan was divided in three by siblings infighting, leading eventually to a failed Radu coup that destroyed Lavv in 484 BC. I'd like to link this latter event to Zendrolion's and Agathokles' Leptar invasion. The unscrupolous Radu may have called Leptar as a mercenary, but the ploy exploded in their hands. Traladarans eventually united to destroy the humanoid army, but Lavv was burned to the ground. The Radu were punished by removing their rule over Mirros, which became the new capital. The Radu maintained however riches and power. Lavv was an abandoned ruins for many years. This time was also marked by the decadence of the Nithian empire, with the nithians attempting to invade Traladara twice, and by battles with the orcs occupying the Five Shires. The gnolls too maintained a strong presence in the west for centuries. Koskatep for example was ruled by Red Orcs from 1021 to 954 BC, by the dwarves of the Glittering Realm from 954 to 912 BC, by the gnolls from 912 to 603 BC, and by Ogres from 603 BC to 95 AC.
Lately, I also thought I'd like to use a Etruscan-like culture in the area of Kerendas from 1000 to 300 BC, when they will eventually be supplanted by Thyatians. I would simply call them Etrusna (merging Etruscan and the name they used for themselves, Rasna). They could have been allies of the Nithians, at least for some periods, and maybe rivals of the mileanians, who at this time should begin to appear on the seas. The Etrusna could well be the ones who aided the thyatians escape the milenians, even if that action eventually sealed their doom.
Zendrolion has the next period as The Rebirth of Traladara, from 200 BC to 400 AC, when two kings, Ithron Zatlarev and Bogdan Ivanovich, also managed to unify the nation for some periods. Here is his map The period also saw the arrival of gnomes and dwarves in Traladara.
In my History, the period from 483 BC to 313 AC is dominated by the Ivanov family of Threshold (named in different periods Vatresh, Lugsid, Prahe). The family was strongly pro-alphatian, and frequently opposed by other, pro-thyatian families. Thyatians attempt to invade several times, but are defeated: here and here.
Bogdan could be used in my timeline by having him as an alias of my Boris or Sergej Ivanov. The timeline of his reign is not indicated in KKoA. Ythron (appears in KKoA with this spelling) could fit with Grigory Dimitrevich of my timeline, but it could be assimilated to anyone as only names (or surnames?) are given.
This period should also have frequent contact with alphatians and milenians, at least until the fall of the Milenian empire.
The dominion of Achelos in the west become quite important at this time both in Zendrolion's timeline and in mine. In Zendrolion's history, which I think comes entirely from Agathokles' Lord of the Cruth Lowlands descendants of Ivanovich conquer Achelos.
In my timeline, mostly taken from Patrick Sullivan, Achelos was a descendant of Halav who fought against his sister and brother in 523 BC, and was exiled in Luln. His son Achelos Chardastes occupied the ancient town of Goros, renaming it Achelos, in 496 BC, freeing it from gnoll occupation. (He could have been a reincarnation of Chardastes or just a child named after the Immortal, as each DM prefers). He become an ally of the Ivanov and increased his dominion in the west, defeating gnolls and orcs. In 95 AC his descendants were also able to take Koskatep from the ogres, with the aid of priests of Ixion, but they lost it again in 227 AC, when The Last One took residence in the complex. Troops of Achelos later tried several times to retake Koskatep.
Next period from 400 to 900 AC, is named by Zendrolion The Traladaran League and The Holy Wars: here and here Several things happened, as the spreading of lycanthropy and vampirism, Darokian invasions and the creation of a Traladara league, a religion wars that sent a wave of traladaran exile to the Gulf of Hule, Achelos becoming an independent Kingdom in 612 AC, Gygar dominion in Threshold and Elendorath of Vaion Reign, the Vampire War against Morphail Gorevitch-Woszlany.
In my History, the political scene was dominated by Marilenev and Radu, with growing thyatian influence and a further fragmentation of the nation. Many of the other noble families were removed from power or chose to rule their own territories, and slowly the King or Queen authority was limited to Marilenev and surrounding areas. By 452 AC in my timeline Achelos was already an independent territory: here, here, and here. In the above map I already inserted the religious war of 450 AC hinted in the Savage Coast material and described here by Agathokles, which were not present in my original timeline. I think all the rest of Zendrolion and Agathokles timeline can be easily inserted into mine, which did not take into consideration several canon info I did not have or overlooked at the time (like Gygar, Elendorath and the religious war).
In the West Achelos became more and more strong, ruling all over the west after the religious war. In 720 AC however the Kingdom was weakened by an increased humanoid activity, and the King Ilya Radu tried to destroy it in 850 AC, severely weakening Achelos just some decades before the thyatian invasion. In my timeline Ilya was beheaded in 868 AC by Marilenev and Torenescu, who seized all the Radu lands. The incapacity of the noble families to agree on a central government eventually prompted the thyatian invasion.
Last period is the Thyatian Conquest and here and here are my maps I like the many details present in Zendrolion's and Agathokles' timelines. The resistance of Achelos is taken from Patrick Sullivan's work both in theirs and in mine. I also imagined another small resistance lead in 901 AC by a group of adventurers returned from Ierendi in central Traladara. About Stefan Karameikos, I recently