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Adventuring in the Northlandsby Giampaolo Agosta from Threshold Magazine issue 6
Adventuring in the Northlands
Planning a campaign in the northern regions of Mystara
by Giampaolo Agosta (Agathokles)
The primary theme of a northlands campaign should be frigid climate found in these areas1. Its presence, besides any ad hoc rules the DM may want to use, is underlined by the great distances between cities and other centers of civilization. The climate can serve as a plot element, providing isolation -- which can be exploited to force rulers to rely on small parties of experienced agents (i.e., the player characters) instead of armies. Climate can be used to limit transportation modes -- e.g., the Mengul Mountains are impassable by flying in X11 “Saga of the Shadowlord” -- and distances can leave isolated outposts undefended, as is the case of the Barony of Two Lakes Vale in CM2 “Death's Ride”.
The climate issue becomes even more critical when the War Machine is involved -- campaigning and army movements are all but impossible in the winter season, except perhaps for specialized units (e.g., Leeha Hin on skis).
Colonization is a typical theme for the northern regions. Large expanses of untamed wilderness allow for campaigns dealing with dominion building, attracting colonists, securing a new settlement against various kinds of monsters, and dealing with barbarian tribes and competing neighbours.
While this kind of campaign typically targets Companion-level characters, as showcased in CM1 “Test of the Warlords”, it is also possible to play it at the Expert levels, with the player characters taking the roles of advisors and troubleshooters for an NPC ruler, or as would be rulers themselves, trying to establish a base of power in a given region. Dominion rulership takes a backseat in this case, being more of a long term goal than an immediate issue, allowing more traditional adventures.
High Fantasy in the “Tolkiensque” style can be at home in the lands north of the Known World. X11 “Saga of the Shadowlord” is the paragon of this theme, pitting the characters against a powerful, shadowy enemy, hordes of minions, in dead or dying nations. Even “Test of the Warlords” can take this turn, with a more “shakespearean” interpretation of its events (perhaps with Max I as a Macbeth figure, and the Crones of Crystykk as the Three Witches).
Anyway, the vast expanses, with the grand sights of snow-capped mountains, fire-sprouting volcanoes, and ancient forests serve well as the backdrop for this kind of larger-than-life adventuring.
While the colonization theme relies on a lack of civilized nations, it does not mean there cannot be ancient threats ready to awaken. In both CM1 “Test of the Warlords” and X11 “Saga of the Shadowlord”, ancient, crumbling or entirely destroyed nations have been swallowed by the wilderness. The first Alphatian colonization of Norwold, in particular, can serve to provide undead enemies, large dungeons, and artifacts to add variety to a Norwold-based campaign, whereas the fallen kingdom of Essuria provides the background for the Shadowlord saga. Other ancient civilizations, such as those of the Giants, can serve a similar purpose, as well as providing a backdrop against which the wild nature of the region can shine even more.
Humans: Alphatia and Thyatis
The two empires can be excellent motivators for adventure, starting from the low levels and ramping up to the Companion level, with CM1 “Test of the Warlord” presenting the campaign from an Alphatian point of view. At lower levels, the player characters can be involved in the struggle for control of Norwold as explorers, pioneers, and guards establishing new settlements and outposts for either empire. At Expert levels, the characters can become spies and agents working for either empire in cloak and dagger adventures to sway the various neutral powers to one side or the other -- Oceansend, Leeha, the northern kingdoms of Kaarjala and Littonia, and the Thieves' Guild of Landfall are all good targets that might require extensive campaigns to be turned into allies. Alternately, the player characters might serve as advisors to the lord of a new domain. CM2 “Death's Ride” presents such an arrangement in the Barony of Two Lakes Vale, where Baron Pharo has installed personal retainers in the positions of Seneschal, Magist, Chaplain, Marshall, Castellan and Guard Captain. A typical party could easily fill these positions, giving the players the opportunity to share the burden of dominion management, with the DM playing the role of the well-meaning but incompetent ruler.
In this kind of campaign, the opposing empire is the primary adversary. If the PCs are aligned with Ericall and the Alphatian Empire, then the opposition should include Thyatian spies, bent on subverting Ericall's rulership. These opponents should leverage the weaknesses of Alphatia, such as the favored status of spellcasters, by recruiting disillusioned mundane NPCs (and possibly tempting the PCs as well). At the same time, these agents should be vulnerable to stereotypical Thyatian weaknesses, and therefore prone to be corrupt and greedy themselves. The uncaring attitude of Alphatia towards Norwold -- seen as a colony to be exploited -- and its noblemen -- commoners from the Alphatian point of view -- could be stressed through the use of appropriate NPCs: legates from the Grand Council might treat Ericall with a condescending attitude (which might be shocking to Known World characters), commanders of Alphatian reinforcements in a war against Thyatis might ignore the local commanders who are not spellcasters, and so on. Also, these NPCs may be characterized by extravagant retinues -- the imagery of Xerxes’ army in Frank Miller’s “300” might be useful here.
On the other hand, if the players are aligned with the Thyatian Empire, the campaign should portray the struggle of agents having to deal with a decadent but magically rich opponent, as well as with corruption on their own side. In this case, the Thyatian paranoia should be stressed, with the PCs unable to trust even their own allies, and the magical abilities of Alphatian agents might take a role too. In some cases, the PCs might not even know who their allies are, as the Empire keeps many agents in Norwold, and most of them are not aware of each other. The PCs might thus want to perform both missions against the Alphatians and adventures aiming at discovering the plans of their superiors -- perhaps to use them to their advantage, but likely just out of the distaste for being used as pawns.
In both types of campaign, the Dungeon Master needs to balance the good and the evil aspects of the two Empires, depending on the players’ preferred play style. Players who prefer a straightforward challenge will be better served if “their” empire is presented as the “good guy”, perhaps with some flaws, but clearly the one to side with. For players who enjoy the “shades of gray”, both empires should be portrayed with dark aspects, possibly outweighing the positive aspects. Another option is to start with a black-and-white scenery, representing the heroes’ limited knowledge at the beginning of the campaign, and let the portrayal become more shadier as the campaign progresses. In these cases, the PCs may at some point decide to switch sides, probably to the other empire, but possibly to the Heldannic Knights or even carving their own nations, independent of both empires.
Giants: Frosthaven and the Arch of Fire
Giants, and frost giants in particular, feature prominently in CM1 “Test of the Warlords”. Their invasion of Norwold is a major event, which has significant repercussions during the campaign. However, the role of giants can be even greater, if a few considerations are taken into account. Giants are an old race, which used to dominate the world in a past era2. As such, they must have left a significant legacy, in terms of treasures -- all giants are known as great craftsmen and artisans -- but also of history. AC10 “Bestiary of Dragons and Giants” does provide a number of interesting adventures featuring various types of giants, but giants become an even more useful set of adversaries when modules and adventures from other settings are used, starting with the classic AD&D “Against the Giants” series.
The last section of this article provides ideas for adapting many adventures featuring giants to Norwold, or to other northern regions of Mystara. A campaign featuring giants as a key element could start with an adaptation of Birthright adventure “King of the Giantdowns”, with lower-level PCs building up a power base in a region where giant burial mounds are located, and providing an introduction to the history of cloud giants. It could follow up with a combination of G1-3 “Against the Giants” and UK7 “Dark Clouds Gather”, when the PCs have neared or reached name level. At that point, the invasion of the frost giants in CM1 “Test of the Warlords” will become an almost expected event, spurred by the destruction of the hall of the frost giant king, as well as the climax of the entire campaign arc.
Dragons: The Wyrmsteeth
With an entire kingdom populated by thousands of dragons, Wyrmsteeth, and a dragon-oriented evil cult, Idris, in Denagoth, it seems immediate to set dragons as a primary adversary in a northern campaign. Also, several modules in the CM and M series, such as CM2 “Death’s Ride” and CM3 “Sabre River” feature dragons. Korbundar, Incendiarious, and Dominagon are all worthy adversaries, as are Brulefer and Vitriol in X11 “Saga of the Shadowlord”. However, in many cases these are individual opponents, who are only marginally related to the plot. A campaign featuring dragons as the main adversaries needs to put the monsters in a more central position, at least in key adventures. The structure of draconic kingdoms, described in “From Hatchling to Immortal Guardian: Dragons in the D&D game’s Known World”3, can provide a hierarchy of draconic opponents to challenge adventurers of increasing power. Expert level adventurers will face smaller dragons, who perhaps manipulate goblinoid tribes for their own purposes, such as accumulation of treasure. Companion-level adventurers and dominion rulers may enter into conflict with the vassals of Wyrmsteeth, whereas Master-level adventurers may have to face King Eruptaar and his forces. Given the scale of Wyrmsteeth, it is also expected that its agents -- gold dragons in human form, drakes, and others -- may be part of a more political game, with the dragons oscillating between policies -- evil dragons may push for the destruction of encroaching human kingdoms, while good dragons may use a softer approach based on misdirection and alliances to keep the humans far from the Wyrmsteeth region.
The dragons’ relations with Thyatis (usually friendly), Alphatia (variable) and the Heldannic Territories (often hostile) will also play a role in the campaign.
An in-depth coverage of the Wyrmsteeth can be found in “The Dragon Kingdom of Wyrmsteeth” by Giulio N. Caroletti, in Issue 2 of the Tome of Mystara4.
Adapting Resources from Other Campaign Settings
This section discusses the adaptation of adventures and setting modules designed for campaign settings other than Mystara, or without a specific setting. The AD&D adventures generally require little mechanical conversion, since monsters have the same structure in Classic D&D and in AD&D. NPCs might need to be redesigned, taking into account the usual guidelines for high level characters when needed.
The Birthright setting shows remarkable similarities to Mystara, including the use of strong real-world models for the various cultures, and a focus on dominion rulership and warfare. Thus, it is a good resource for a Norwold campaign.
In particular, “The Rjurik Highlands” boxed set describes a region inhabited by Norse-like people. The Highlands could easily be used to flesh out a more populated Norwold, since the coastline stretches more or less to the same length as the distance between Landfall and the Great Bay in Norwold.
Of the main subregions, the Taelshore includes kingdoms that remind more Vestland and Soderfjord than Norwold, although Svinik might be a good match for Oceansend. On the other hand, the Northlands and the Wildlands can be used effectively to model native Norwold kingdoms and jarldoms and recently established baronies respectively. It is worth noting that druids are prevalent in the Rjurik Highlands. Their patron god, Eirik, can be replaced with Frey. Several humanoid nations are also described, which could be easily adapted to Norwold and/or to the Mengul Mountains5.
The set includes “Njalgrim's Doom”, a straightforward adventure for Expert level characters featuring wilderness travel, a ghost story, and goblinoid and undead adversaries6.
A separate adventure module, “King of the Giantdowns”, set in the same region, can serve effectively as the basis for a smaller scale Norwold colonization campaign, where Expert-level characters can build their way to dominion rulership in a region comprising six or so 24-mile hexes.
A few of the Rjurik kingdoms are detailed in their own Gazetteer-like sourcebooks, which expand over the information provided in the main set.
A more barbaric northern land, Vosgaard, is described in “Tribes of the Heartless Wastes”. The Russian-inspired Vos might serve as an inspiration for the Norwold Barbarians, the Vrodniki7, although with a darker tone -- the Vos gods, Belinik and Kriesha, resemble more Bartziluth and Hel than Thor or Freyja. Alternately, barbarians from the Northwestern Wildlands or the Midlands can be modeled on the Vos.
The Forgotten Realms' northern setting, the Savage Frontier, is well known as the setting of several CRPGs, including Neverwinter Nights and Icewind Dale. “The North: Guide to the Savage Frontier” boxed set and the earlier “Savage Frontier” book can be used as resources for a northlands campaign in Mystara. However, the Forgotten Realms' northern lands are dominated by large city states, which do not appear in Norwold or in other Mystaran northlands.
"The Great Glacier" supplement describes an Inuit-inspired society, which may be useful for far-north campaign set north of the Great Bay or in other regions near the polar opening, such as Hyborea8.
Ravenloft includes at least one arctic domain of interest, the Nocturnal Sea with the islands of Graben and Todstein. The Darklord, Meredoth, was an Alphatian necromancer and nobleman who participated in the first, failed, colonization attempt. The Grand Conjunction module, “Ship of Horror”, which involves both islands, could be used as “weekend in hell” style adventure for Mystaran characters starting out in the Sea of Dawn, which could be followed up with an expedition to the prime-material Todstein.
Greyhawk is the setting of many classic adventures. The “Against the Giants” series is especially amenable to adaptation to the northlands of Mystara. Indeed, Frost Giants are a main feature of Norwold, and “The Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl” fits very well with the theme of the Frost Giant invasion in CM1 “Test of the Warlords”. “The Steading of the Hill Giant Chief” can be easily set in most areas of Norwold, especially the foothills of the various mountain chains, and “Hall of the Fire Giant King” can be set in the Arch of Fire region, or in any other volcanic region.
In the classic campaign, “Against the Giants” serves to lead the player characters into the Underdark and to the Vault of the Drow. Unfortunately, the later parts of the “Queen of the Spiders” adventure do not fit as easily in Mystara. Unless you are willing to use Drow, or to adapt the Schattenalfen to fill their role, you may find it easier to use a different hidden menace instead of the Drow, and drop the D and Q series modules from the campaign entirely.
Good alternate masterminds are Alphaks, the Thyatians or the Heldannic Knights, especially if the player characters are aligned with King Ericall and the Alphatian Empire. Of course, if the characters are aligned with Thyatis or the Knights, you might want to use the Alphatians or the Wyrmsteeth Dragons (primarily for the Heldannic Knights) as the instigators of the giant series.
Other AD&D Modules
UK5 “Eye of the Serpent” features a group of adventurers abducted by a Roc and trying to escape from the great bird’s nest down the side of Hardway Mountain. This module, developed by the TSR UK team, also responsible for one of the best Classic D&D modules, B10 Night’s Dark Terror, does not have a predefined setting -- Hardway Mountain does not exist in Greyhawk or any other published setting, as far as we know. Thus, adapting the module to the northern regions of Mystara is actually quite easy, since there is no need to remove or replace setting lore beyond a few names.
The entire adventure takes place on the mountain itself and in the vale beyond it, which was originally populated by dwarves, and later by duergar. Human horse-clans known as the Kharg also make an appearance. To convert the adventure to Mystara, Hardway Mountain can be set in Vestland or in the Heldannic Territories (or the Heldann Freeholds, if the adventure is run before the arrival of the Knights). The Kharg are easily replaced by the Ethengar clans -- actually, they can just be one of the minor clans. Duergar could be replaced by Modrigswerg, which points to a Vestland setting as the best option.
“Eye of the Serpent” can serve to startup a campaign, since it targets a party of 1st level characters. Its focus on the AD&D druid, ranger and monk character classes is not lost, since it can be used in Classic D&D with druidic initiates (i.e., using the druid rules for characters below name level), mystics, and Oceansend rangers (using the rules in FGAZ9 “The Free City of Oceansend”).
UK7 “Dark Clouds Gather” is another TSR UK module without a definite setting. It features heavily aerial combat, including a skyship -- another staple of Mystaran adventures! The story is set on a mountain chain, Cloudscape Mountains, in a cold region where cloud giants dwell. Other involved races are the aarakocra and the ba’atun, as well as goblinoids, frost giants, and dwarves. Overall, aarakocra are easily replaced by the faenare, which are their direct match in Classic D&D. Ba’atun do not have a direct correspondent, but could be replaced with cryions, who share a similar form, as well as the same hit dice. The Cloudscape Mountains would be best set in the northern parts of Norwold, such as the Icereach Range, but could work in the Final Range, the Northern Reaches or the Heldannic Territories as well.
An additional opportunity is to replace the main adversary in “Dark Clouds Gather” with the second Ice Queen, Frota, or with the spirit of the first Ice Queen, Akra. This adaptation poses some difficulties, since neither Ice Queen was a ba’atun. This issue can be overcome by considering the ba’atun as a creation of Frota or the ba’atun leader could be possessed (or replaced) by the spirit of Akra -- in either case, it might be better to replace the ba’atun with sabreclaws rather than cryions9. Other than this (rather limited) issue, no further adaptation is required. The ice palace in the adventure could be identified with the Ice Tomb in the Ljallenvals Mountains.
“Dark Clouds Gather” is a good adventure for PCs nearing name level, which can serve as an introduction to a portion of the campaign featuring skyships (and the Heldannic Knights, typically), or simply as a way to solve a local conflict and gain the support of non-human tribes -- e.g., if the PCs have consolidated their hold on the Giantdowns, and are expanding their influence further inland towards the mountains.
Gary Gygax, G1-2-3 “Against the Giants”, TSR9058, 1981
Douglas Niles, CM1 “Test of the Warlords”, TSR9117, 1984
Garry Spiegle, CM2 “Death’s Ride”, TSR9118, 1984
Douglas Niles & Bruce Nesmith, CM3 “Sabre River”, TSR9119, 1984
Graeme Morris, UK5 “Eye of the Serpent”, TSR9125, 1984
Jim Bambra & Phil Gallagher, UK7 “Dark Clouds Gather”, TSR9151, 1985
Stephern Bourne, X11 “Saga of the Shadow Lord”, TSR9165, 1986
Paul Jaquays, FR5 “The Savage Frontier”, TSR9233, 1988
Anne Brown, RA2 “Ship of Horror”, TSR9321, 1991
Rick Swan, FR14 “The Great Glacier”, TSR9351, 1992
Anthony Pryor, “The Rjurik Highlands”, TSR3121, 1996
various, “The North: Guide to the Savage Frontier”, TSR1152, 1996
Ed Stark, “King of the Giantdowns”, TSR3142, 1997
Ed Stark, “Tribes of the Heartless Wastes”, TSR3147, 1997
Sidebar: Bestiary of the North
This sidebar aims at helping in re-skinning some classic D&D creatures to cover the roles of monsters and fey from the Norse myths.
Hellhound or Yowler
Totem Animal Spirit (as per GAZ14, The Atruaghin Clans)
(see Planescape Einherjar)
Nature Spirit (as per GAZ12, The Golden Khan of Ethengar)
Sidhe (and Wee Folk in general)
The “Dark Elves”, also called Svartálfar, are difficult to distinguish from dwarves in the Norse myths. In Mystara, this could be a name for the Nightshades, or even for Demons in general.
The “Light Elves” could be simply the Elves, but if the Dark Elves are assumed to be powerful outsiders, such as the Demons or Nightshades, then the Light Elves should be equally powerful, like the Titans
Mountain Giant (also pure Storm Giants)
Sea Giant (also sea-dwelling Storm Giants)
Cloud Giant (also levitating Storm Giants)
Sidebar: Characters of the North
This sidebar aims at helping in re-skinning the classic D&D classes to adapt them to Norwold. Of course, all basic classes are found in Norwold and need little to no adaptation, although Magic Users are less common here than in the Known World.
Godi (Thor, Odin, Loki, Hel)
Godi are Specialty Priests of the four main Norse deities. They can be easily used for Norwolder clerics, as well as for the priests of Perun in the Vatski lands.
Most Norwolder Druids should actually be Specialty Priests of Frey or Freyja; Druidic initiates should be allowed.
Ethengar Shamans can be used to represent the shamans of other ethnic groups, in particular the Viaskoda.
Hakomons can be used to represent the (rare) Viaskoda witch doctors.
Atruaghin Shamani can be used to represent the Mountain Rakasta Shamans of the Final Range (see “The Skaufskogr”, to appear in Issue 8 of Threshold Magazine)
The Wise Woman, also known under a variety of other names (seidhkona, spakona, witch), can be easily part of a Norwold campaign. However, it is an NPC class. PC Seidhkona should be covered by appropriate choices of the spells for a standard Magic User.
Skald, although other character classes could be used as Skalds as per GAZ8.
Druidic Knights could easily be used as “Paladins” of Frey or Freyja. They are also present among the Foxfolk of the Skaufskogr.
While Foresters are usually found in Thyatis, they could conceivably be found among any community that worships Ilsundal and has relations with humans.
Mystic traditions are not especially common in Norwold. Most Mystics would likely come from Alphatian or Thyatian territories where such traditions exist. Besides, Mystics are not terribly appropriate thematically.
These characters serve a church or similar religious body. Organized religions are not especially popular in Norwold, but could be easily found in Alpha, and to a lesser extent in the other large cities, Oceansend and Landfall (Avengers only in the latter).
These character might be less common in Norwold, due to the limited contact with high-magic human cultures.
Elf Treekeepers are likely present in Foresthomes that follow the teachings of Ilsundal and Lornasen.
Werewolves and werebears might well be part of the Ulfhedhinn and Berserker warriors. Wereseals and wereboars would also be found in the wildernesses of Norwold, whereas wererats would likely be immigrants in Alpha, Oceansend or Landfall.
All goblinoids except Kobolds can be found in Norwold. Civilized Goblins are found in Littonia.
Most Norwold Dwarves are followers of Kagyar, and have clerics as in Rockhome.
While the Treekeepers are the primary priests of Ilsundal, followers of Eiryndul and other elven Immortals (such as Ordana, Lornasen and the Korrigan) could use the Elf Cleric class.
Wee Folk and Forest Creatures
Most of these racial classes can be used in Norwold. Emphasizing Fauns, Pixies and Treants might be advisable. Drakes might also appear as agents of Wyrmsteeth.
Several organizations can play a role in a campaign set in Norwold. Some are centralized orders or guilds, others are more templates for a number of similar (albeit smaller) organizations.
Agents of the Wyrmsteeth (LN). The Dragon King, Eruptaar, maintains a small intelligence force to keep tabs on encroaching humans, as well as on unruly subjects. These agents are often drakes or lycanthropes, but spellcasting dragons and humans are also recruited. The agents infiltrate the main courts of Norwold, especially those near the Wyrmsteeth (e.g., Vyolstagrad), but generally take a much less proactive stance than the Thyatian Speculatores or the Eyes of Vanya. They remain in the background, gathering knowledge and acting only when the interests of the Wyrmsteeth are threatened. These agents may offer missions to PCs, but these will be more aimed at recovering magical objects or items of historical relevance, or at obtaining valuable information.
Eyes of Vanya10 (LN). These members of the Heldannic Order are in charge of establishing an espionage network in strategic areas outside the Heldannic Territories, besides managing counter-espionage operations within the Order’s lands. In Norwold, they have established a strong network of informants across the Heldland region, especially in Landfall. Their influence, however, extends all the way to Alpha, with small cells of agents in Lighthall, Oceansend, Stamtral and Vyolstagrad. Like other espionage organizations, the Eyes have limited numbers and prefer to let mercenaries do most of the work, especially when their own clerical abilities are not particularly helpful.
Thyatian Imperial Speculatores (LE). The Speculatores are members of the Thyatian armed forces specializing reconnaissance and espionage, while the Agentes in Rebus are individual agents of the Magister Officiorum, with special training and a wide degree of autonomy. Their leader in Norwold is Longtooth, himself an imperial “Agens in Rebus” who is posing as a claimant to the title of Baron at the court of Ericall. However, dozens of agents are at work in Landfall, Alpha, Oceansend, and Gaudavpils, weaving a web of intrigue to weaken King Ericall and to subvert the Alphatian control of the region. The Thyatian agents may recruit PCs, possibly under cover, offering missions aimed at weakening key supporters of Ericall, or at gaining favor with specific groups such as the Landfall Thieves’ Guild or the King of Oceansend.
Druidic Circle of Norwold (TN). This organization is composed of Druids, Druidic Initiates (Godar of Frey and Freyja), and Druidic Knights. While the druidic organization is a worldwide one, lead by the Great Druid, the Druidic Circle of Norwold is led by a single Archdruid (a druid of level 30 to 35), a mysterious character who only communicates indirectly with other powers of the area, through messengers who are themselves powerful druids, such as Tarn Oakleaf. Druids are extremely influential among the Heldanner communities, the Foxfolk Lupins of the Skaufskogr, and the Vrodniki nomads. The Druidic Circle aims at limiting the anthropization of the Norwold forests, and may offer missions aimed at removing or dissuading offending colonists, as well as dangerous and unnatural monsters, especially the undead. Odics, a class of undead spirits possessing plants, are particularly offensive to druids.
Landfall Thieves' Guild (NE). Landfall is Norwold's hive of scum and villainy. The city is basically ruled by criminal gangs. According to CM1 Test of the Warlords and other sources, there is a single Thieves' Guild, whereas GAZF8 The Streets of Landfall provides a more complex scenario with multiple competing gangs. In any case, the Thieves' Guild works well both as opponent and as patron. The influence of the gangs can easily extend beyond the city, through slaver rings and raiders.
Sisterhood of the Ice Witches (NE). The Ice Witches are a magic user and clerical tradition descended from the teachings of Akra, the first Ice Queen. Magic using Ice Witches favor ice and frost themed spells, while clerical Ice Witches are always clerics of Hel. The goals of the organization are, in the long term, to bring about a new ice age, and rebuild the reign of the Ice Queen. In the short term, Ice Witches work to undermine their nemesis, the Crones of Crystykk, and to free the banished second Ice Queen, Frota, and her white dragon minion. Ice Witches are more appropriate as enemies than as patrons in most campaigns, but individual Ice Witches may hire the PCs, possibly posing as Wise Women.
Barbarian Hosts (CG). There are many barbarians in Norwold. Most of them are nomadic tribes of herders and hunters. The Viaskoda live north of the Great Bay, and are distantly related to the Kaarjalans, while the Vrodniki live in the valleys around the Wyrmsteeth Range. Due to their nomadic nature, the barbarians can cover significant distances, and thus appear in different areas. Moreover, they are often exposed to the many threats of the wilderness. On one hand, it may mean that they can require the help of PCs -- especially those with magical knowledge, which the barbarian tribes usually lack. On the other hand, it means they can act as a rapidly available, mobile fighting force for allied PCs. Adoption into a tribe and/or blood brotherhood are other options to involve the PCs.
Heldanner Mercenary Bands (CN). Following the conquest of the Heldann Freeholds by the Heldannic Knights, many Heldanners have been displaced to Norwold. The dispossessed jarls and their retinues now operate as mercenaries in service to the Vatski dukes, or in the Alphatian cities. Unemployed bands often turn to raiding and banditry. While there is no centralized control, most bands still consider themselves Haldis partisans, and may unite against Heldannic aggression (especially if paid for their efforts). Heldanner PCs might form or join a mercenary band, finding work in the Alphatian Norwold fiefs after the Land Grab, in Landfall (for those who do not care too much about the legitimacy of their employers) or in the Vatski lands.
Alphaks' Dark Avengers (CE). An order of fighters devoted to Alphaks' teachings, the Dark Avengers serve as the agents of the Black King of Alphaks' Volcano in Norwold. They are few in numbers, and operate alone or in small groups. Their main goal is to weaken and finally topple the Alphatian Kingdom of Norwold. While the Dark Avengers can be used as straightforward threat, but they are as much likely to attempt to discredit the King as to cause direct damage. Note that Dark Avengers are typically high level fighters with clerical powers. Thus, individual Avengers may recruit (and would be able to keep in line) goblinoids, mercenaries, and other lower level minions.
Cult of Idris (CE). This evil denagothian cult worship the Immortal Idris and enjoys the support of several young dragons who wish to free themselves from the rule of their elders. The cult has sent many spies into Wendar, the Heldannic Territories and Norwold to subvert the local governments. The cult of Idris supported the Shadowlord, Landryn Teriak, for its own purposes and may attempt to ally itself with similar would-be tyrants in other regions. Idrisian spies may attempt to exploit the expansionist policies of the Heldannic Order to pit it against Wyrmsteeth, fostering chaos in Norwold.
1 For 3ed rules see here. Ford AD&D rules, see FR14 The Great Glacier, page 13-14. Otherwise, in any edition, an unprotected or not well protected character in cold weather (below 40° F or 4.4°C) must make a Saving throw/check each hour or take 1d6 points damage. A character who has the Survival skill may receive a bonus on this saving throw and may be able to apply this bonus to other characters as well. Even well protected PC have to make a check if temperature is below -4°F/-20°C, if they are wet, if there is strong wind or heavy snow.
Failing one checks will result in a frostnip. Two checks failed will result in frostbite blisters that will heal in a month. Three checks failed will result in deep frostbite, gangrene and permanent damages. If the PC fail the first check he will also suffer mild hypothermia (shivering). Two checks will be moderate hypothermia (drowsy, -5 to all rolls), three will be severe hypothermia (unconscious) and death will occur in half an hour (at 0°C/32°F, time halves for each 10 degrees below). Saving throw/checks have a progressive penalty depending on temperature: -2 for each 5 degrees below 40° F or 4.4°C or, at the DM’s discretion, for insufficient clothes. Partial immersion in cold water will gives a -5 penalty, -10 penalty for full body immersion.
2 See AC10 “Bestiary of Dragons and Giants”
5 In Birthright, Orcs are replaced by Orogs. Revert them to Orcs for use in Mystara.
6 Some adaptation may be required. In particular, the background story includes a bloodtheft performed using a tighmaevril weapon, i.e., a murder committed using a special magical weapon able to steal the divine bloodline of the victim -- a major theme in the Birthright setting. However, such details can easily be edited to fit Mystara, as long as the ghost of a man killed using an evil, magic sword can be used as the main NPC motivator.
7 See “The Skaufkogr” article on page XX.
9 Sabreclaws, however, have a very different challenge level, so it might be necessary to change the PC level as well, pushing the adventure in the Companion level range.
10 see Bruce Heard, “Heldannic Knights - The Eyes” http://pandius.com/eyes.html