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Mystaranomiconby Jesper Andersen from Threshold Magazine issue 3
- exploring the books of Mystara
By Jesper Andersen
At one time or another, most Dungeon Masters have had their group of player characters enter a library, a sage’s office, a wizard school or a noble’s study and heard the dreaded question: ‘So, what are all these books about?’
Mystaranomicon is a regular column that provides Dungeon Masters with books ready to be inserted into any game with a moment’s notice. Use them simply as colourful fluff or to provide clues and hooks to adventures. This time we look at books related to seafaring and the ocean realms.
20,000 Legs Under the Sea
Author: Captain Noma
Rarity: Common in the city of Seashield in the kingdom of Aquas in Alphatia, Uncommon in coastal cities in Ierendi and Minrothad Guilds, Rare elsewhere.
Year: 988 AC
Language: Originally Alphatian, but it now exists in the languages of many seafaring nations
Contents: This famous book, written by Captain Noma of the Alphatian submersible vessel The Shark, is the memoir of his and his crew’s journey down into the dreaded Abyss, below the terraces and the Twilight reaches of the Undersea.
Captain Noma was a mage of some repute from the city of Seashield, famous for his personal exploration of the Elemental Plane of Water. In 986 AC, Noma received the patronage of King Zyndryl of Aquas and the use of his famous submersible, the Shark and her crew. The mission was to explore the depths of the Abyss and find the suspected portals or wormholes to the Elemental Plane of Water believed to be there.
The expedition went as planned until they reached the Twilight. At 2,500 feet below the sea they encountered a horrifying monstrocity - a Gargantuan version of the large, aquatic millipedes known as mashers. This nightmarish creature was more than ten times as large as a normal masher and in a deadly battle nearly shattered the Shark before she finally escaped up to the warmer, sunlit ocean above. Captain Noma returned to Seashield and chronicled his exploits before finally succumbing in 990 AC to nightmares and drinking.
Number of pages: 150 pages
The Wise Mariner’s Almanac
Author: The Imperial Oceanic Explorers’ Guild (Thyatian)
Rarity: Common in seaports, Rare elsewhere
Year: 997 AC (8th Edition)
Language: Thyatian, but translations do exist
Contents: This very popular almanac is a dictionary of all things nautical, from Oceansend to the Hinterlands. It lists everything from common diseases and conditions to weather phenomenons and signs of underwater reefs or other hidden dangers. Each edition is expanded with the latest new information from all corners of the Thyatian Empire. It does not teach you how to pilot a ship, but it will teach you how to keep the galley free from rats, how to forage for fresh water and supplies on unknown shores or how much you can water down the crew’s grog without endangering the morale onboard.
Number of pages: 200
Coconut Again Tomorrow - Surviving Stranded in the Sea of Dread
Author: Harremiah Athazar
Rarity: Very Rare. Mostly known in Ierendi, Minrothad Guilds and Karameikos
Year: 993 AC
Contents: This book could just as easily have been classified as a biography, had it not been for its numerous, innovative recipes for coconut. The author, a sailor named Harremiah Athazar, got shipwrecked on a small island in the Sea of Dread and managed to survive for almost 30 years before he was rescued by another ship. By that time he had gone almost completely mad, yet he managed to write down his memoirs when he got back to the mainland before being committed to an asylum run by kind monks. Other sailors might acquire this book and read it just to prepare themselves for the worst possible scenario.
Number of pages: 75
In Her Majesty’s Service - Privateer of the Crown
Author: Captain Blaimonde of The Undaunted
Rarity: Uncommon in Ierendi (but quickly becoming Common), Rare elsewhere
Year: 1000 AC
Contents: This is the tale of the exploits of Captain Blaimonde - one of the Queen of Ierendi’s most successful and daring privateers in recent decades. Wanted for piracy in the Empire of Thyatis, at home in Ierendi Blaimonde is something close to a national hero - the personification of the island kingdom’s free spirit and love of independence.
Foreign ambassadors have seeked to have the book banned, saying that it inspires outright unlawful behavior such as piracy, but so far the daring captain remains in the queen’s good graces - which somewhat annoys the king.
Legality: Legal in Ierendi, frowned upon in other seafaring nations
Number of pages: 125 pages
Algair’s Sea Ledger
Author: Algair Teic
Year: 998 AC
Language: Thyatian mainly, but translated into several languages
Contents: The famous Sea Ledger is a popular book among seafarers because it remains one of the few and fairly accurate accounts of a voyage to the Thanegioth Archipelago - the islands 1000 miles south of Ierendi and Minrothad Guilds.
The Sea Ledger was never intended for widespread publication. It was the book in which captain Algair Teic kept accounts of his trading ventures with the natives of the isles, including commentary about observations he made about the popularity of various goods his crew had brought from the mainland. The ledger also includes a few accounts of good places to anchor around the archipelago but Algair only ever visited less than five percent of the isles. The ledger was later stolen and the entrepreneurial thief managed to produce and sell several copies before he was caught. By then, the book had spread like wildfire all along the coast from Soderfjord to Athenos.
Number of pages: 150 pages
Under the Stars – A Sailor’s Guide to Astronomical Phenomenon
Author: Fithraldor of Clan Kelar of the Waterelves
Year: 963 AC
Contents: This book is a long account of Fithraldor’s observations during decades of sailing on the Sea of Dread. It notes the patterns of moons and comets, the movement of the stars in the night sky and other matters related to astronomy and astrology. It is an impressive work but really only valuable to astronomers and collectors.
Number of pages: 125
Book Rarity Reference Table
Only the original copy of this work has ever been known to exist
Less than 20 copies of this work is known or rumoured to exist
Less than 200 copies of this work is known or rumoured to exist
Enough copies of this work exist that it may show up in private collections and very large libraries across the world. Only rarely is one sold, rather copies are preserved and passed on.
This book is difficult to come by but not impossible. If you can afford it, libraries or sages will probably allow you to have a copy made from theirs.
This book is readily available in most major cities. Books are often common if they are reproduced for teaching purposes.