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Returned Blackmoor: A Darkened Grim Shadow of its Former Selfby Brian Rubinfeld from Threshold Magazine issue 20
[Image: Blackmoor City]
Caption Blackmoor City, a drawing by Aleksei-Liakh
Ever since I became interested in the Known World and beyond, I was always fascinated by Blackmoor more than anything. My modus operandi when it came to D&D always leaned towards "Science Fantasy" rather than the straight up Medieval Heroic Fantasy that the game is better known for. When I discovered that there were plans to bring Blackmoor into Mystara via a boxed set, I was amazed and all the more disappointed that this ended up scrapped, along with the rest of the line. As for the article itself, it borrows heavily from dark fantasy, dystopian fiction, post-apocalyptic fiction and gothic science fiction... with tons of subtle nods here and there to things. Not to mention, other projects and ideas from the community are alluded to here, like Mystaraspace. Because of these inspirations, this article takes a slightly more mature theme, even though certain topics are only examined briefly or alluded to.
The gist of the actual game that inspired this was the heroes found the good ol' Inn from the DA series and helped save Blackmoor from many plots. They then discovered the Oard (from CM6) and battled them a fair bit (not the whole module, just enough to introduce them), only to discover they've found their way to Blackmoor. The semi-episodic game detailed the war against the Oard and the development of Blackmoor, leading to its prophesied doom. The players helped use the Oards' time tampering tech, alongside the Comeback Inn, to help save Blackmoor. When the players returned to see the fruits of their labors, they were greeted with the outskirts of the dark, dystopian mockery that is Returned Blackmoor. The game sadly ended there, which is where the article picks up and elaborated in the timeline slightly.
This work is made with the assumption of the year 1000 AC, when the Adventures in Blackmoor modules takes place initially. Albeit, this is an alternate timeline created by the events of the DA line as well as CM6 Where Chaos Reigns. However, this article wasn't made with any mechanical assumptions in mind, despite a heavy basis off the original Basic/BECMI books and AD&D 2E Boxed Sets. However, beyond looks into the earlier age of Blackmoor, very little official material exists on its rise to becoming a world conquering technomancy superpower. As for placement, it was decided by plenty of debates and research to be set in Northeastern Skothar.
"Those who seek out this tundra gem always meet the same fate, a gruesome demise. Every time, some addled exploration team with grand notions of fame and fortune plot their expeditions to the northern reaches of Skothar. They say the remains of a once mighty civilization rest there in deathly slumber. Before they set foot on the continent, the majority of their own troops are wiped out in some horrid manner. And those left? Why, they're too mad to communicate properly! We need to end these insane plans to head there, or we'll be next! Besides, how could such things be permitted to occur? There's only one logical reason behind this, the Immortals are sending a grave warning to all who dare to challenge them. Some subjects are best left unknown. There are things out there that our feeble mortal minds dare not try to comprehend. Such knowledge leads to oblivion! Something is alive up there, something we are not prepared to handle. I pray to the Immortals we don't discover it. May we either be granted ignorance or survive the same fate as those before us."
A waterlogged journal entry of a Marcos De'Casagrande, First Mate of the sunken wreckage formally known as The Ever Vigilant Mariner.
A Greatly Altered Timeline of Events:
1,000 AC: A team of adventurers learn of The Blackmoor Comeback Inn1. Hepath Nun, Gern, Charo and Rilk discover its incredible power. Due to some tampering, Duke Markovic discovers useful powers from it. Meanwhile, the events of the adventure CM6-TSR9158-Where Chaos Reigns concludes slightly differently. In short, a back door is left open to the Known World by accident, and what's left of the Oard take notice. Upon skimming through history, they discover the same Comeback Inn as the heroes of Blackmoor.
3976 BC: Adventurers from the future aid King Uther, after discovering a plot from Duke Markovic alias "The Iron Duke". The heroes, and the Oard2 by proxy, discover the City of the Gods and the problems that it has caused. After St. Stephan is dealt with and outreach to Capt. Riesling is attempted, a brief calm comes to the region.
3975 BC: As conflicts are being addressed in the Duchy of Ten, the Oard begin to sow their treachery and deception across Blackmoor. Magic in nearby regions is slowly being corrupted, as the Oard do what they can to render mages insane and find means of tainting their power. As a result of this corruption, Blackmoor City is attacked by a mysterious wizard called “Egethar the Astounding”3. The ensuing assault cripples outward city defenses. Following the mad mage's defeat, the Oard trace him back to a dread entity called "The Egg of Coot". An unholy allegiance is made. Through this partnership, the Oard find their means of twisting magic into something wicked.
3974 BC: Bolstered by the Egg, the Oard do whatever they can to coax the Afridhi into raiding the City for whatever strange technologies lie within, while infiltrating the city and shifting any blame to magic users. The heroes, who attended to Uther, banished St. Stephen's Cult of the Frog and aided the City of the Gods, return to find a new menace. Beastmen are armed with strange devices they barely understand, mages are going insane in droves, the metallic grand city beside the desert is under siege by the very raiders that helped get the party inside in the first place, St. Stephen has taken up new allies. A joint effort between the Kingdom, Riesling's crew and the extra temporal heroes not only expose the Oard, but push them back. Much of the cyborg menace is wiped out, but many vow revenge. Artifacts are given to the heroes that send messages transcending time itself.
3489 BC: The Oard slightly slip up, almost revealing themselves again after helping to push steam based technology throughout the region. To their dismay, magic continues to help to build these creations. In response, they weaponize steam inventors that rebuke magic in all forms. This age of steam ends in a great war. The heroes are brought back to face a familiar menace.
3030 BC: Greatly wounded and soon to be eliminated, the Oard enact one final plan... to obliterate Blackmoor and put all blame on magic. They return to their plan of corrupting magic users from the shadow, capturing countless mages to either push into tampering with dark powers or abusing them to the point of madness. Chaos magic is introduced to Blackmoor in part from the Oards' mischief and in part from The Egg, causing disaster after disaster around the region. Government officials within the original city greatly worry about the uptick in unstable magic. Efforts to preserve the main city and nearby regions are put in place.
3001 BC: The "Plague of the Arcane" reaches a feverish outbreak, as wild magic surges rampage through the continent, causing mass destruction and leaving a magical radiation in its wake. Those who can sense the Egg realize that it has become far more powerful than ever before. It begins to absorb its remaining allies of the Oard any way it can, much to their horror. A forcefield-like shield against this corruption proves to be useful, but not a permanent solution to this issue. However, life seems to somewhat stabilize amidst the apocalyptic chaos. The Heroes are called to return one final time, to help put an end to the Oard as well as the Egg, who has finally revealed itself. All sorts of horrific arcane mutants are created, many being former Beastmen, as well as a variety of other races. This timeline has accidentally created the progenitors to a variety of new humanoids in Mystara. Countless Blackmoorians are affected by this.
3000 BC: Although originating from a different cause, The Great Rain of Fire occurs like as if it was meant to be. Either way, most records of this cause are lost. The constant use of the Comeback Inn, along with the Oard time travel technology gave protected Blackmoorians the kind of power and gateway needed to leave. Many Blackmoorians near the edge of the blast zone (who weren't' shielded) absorb enough of the powerful energy to become Immortals in their own right. These Immortals decide to remain in the destroyed landscape, awaiting the return of their home. Much of Blackmoor is plunged into what they’d consider the distant future. However, the coordinates of the heroes' timeline of 1000 AC are altered due to some of the corrupt magic seeping in and causing damage to the machines. While there is no widespread carnage like the other regions, it causes a glitch that sends them several decades too early. The remains of the Oard are wiped out in the Great Rain of Fire, at least in this timeline.
ALT2999 BC: The New Immortals, fearing the wrath of the Mystaran Immortals, leave the Material Plane.4 However, they continue to watch over Northern Skothar from afar, making sure nothing tampers with the region much. This persists until Blackmoor’s return. Few new Immortals make their presence or names known, even after Blackmoor resurfaces. However, more dangerous entities such as “The King in Crimson” become all too well known.
[Image: The King in Crimson]
Caption: The King in Crimson
ALT967 AC: The surviving Blackmoorian colony emerges through a demiplane to witness a tundra wasteland containing some unearthed bits of their old home. The machines used to measure time distance have completely broken down, only succeeding in giving the current age of their new Mystaran home. In truth, it's the fault of both the chaos magic from past and present tampering with the systems. Word begins to spread that the time they have chosen was off by decades. The general response from the public is disappointment, despite their gratitude for being saved. Attempts to reassure the population are made by seeking out any trace of the famed heroes. Reger I and Andahar still maintain influence of this new Blackmoor, for now. The Immortals of Blackmoor plea to have the land spared from the wrath of Mystara’s Immortals. They’re met with silence, for now.
ALT969 AC: Sickness, below zero temperatures and low morale ravage the displaced colony. Reports bring back that most of the heroes are likely not even born yet. This further damages morale as civilians become more fed up with the current rulers. General Gwyn Allogost, a faithful aid to Blackmoor's military, begins to boost the hopes of civilians through careful planning, rationing and empowered speeches. His true motives aren't clear to the rest of the empire yet.
ALT970 AC: Allogost stages a violent coup against the ruling powers of the empire. The insurrection goes on for over 2 years, resulting in annihilation of the royal line. With approval of the citizens, he's appointed supreme emperor of Returned Blackmoor.
ALT976 AC: New energy shields are completed to block the lands off from the awful climate, attempts at maintaining crops and cattle are made far easier with enclosed artificial climates. The people have been won over to their strict "yet fair" emperor, as life seems to improve.
ALT978 AC: Loki, completely unaware of Returned Blackmoor, harnesses the chaos magic that still resides around Skothar. While his control over it is limited, he’s capable of infusing it into pockets of magic.. Some theorize it infected the Red Curse of the Savage Coast5 as Loki traveled with his mad acquisition. Fortunately, the chaos magic isn't strong enough to cause much damage. However, its appearance in the region has lead to wild mages becoming a reality. The Blackmoorian Immortals are sent into a panic trying to understand the reason for Loki’s mischief, later discovering that he is oblivious to Blackmoor itself. Other Mystaran immortals are curious by Loki’s actions.
ALT979 AC: Blackmoorian scientists improve the energy shields, allowing them to expand and take more land with it over time. In one year alone, several miles are assimilated. Outsiders take notice of the strange magical alien wall that eats the land itself. The word slowly spreads and most commoners are deeply afraid. .
ALT980 AC: A tribe of fast-runner rakasta find themselves taken by the barrier after dismissing the rumors from crazed adventurers. Their original goal was to create an oasis in the frozen tundra, using various shamastic magics. Due to their skepticism regarding “magic land-eating walls”, they’re grabbed during a consumption phase of the barrier. Much of the tribe migrated further into the region, only to be discovered by Allogost's fleets. The tribe manages to petition for their stay within the region, eventually settling down in a far off plot of land. They are mostly left alone, but the later rise of extreme rule results in them being a heavily repressed minority. However, their knowledge of terraforming has given them some leeway compared to others.
ALT982 AC: Overly curious adventurers discover that the wall has two phases, the blockade phase and a very quick consumption phase.6 By exploiting the shield’s timing and use of teleportation magic, they find their way inside after hearing rumors of a rich and glowing city deep within the coastline of Skothar's coldest reaches. After being taken in by guards, they are brought before The Emperor, slowly becoming more delusional from trauma and isolation. He mistakes the group for the heroes of ancient Blackmoor, welcoming them in. The adventurers took to looting whatever they could when eyes weren't on them. However, they were quickly caught and questioned. Upon learning that the General-turned-Leader had been tricked in one of his delirious states, the group was executed in public on a day dubbed "Traitor's Day". This holiday becomes a yearly event where anyone who "betrays" the nation is executed as a publicized display. Brutal sanctions are passed to discourage any trespassers, ranging from capture to immediate execution (should they resist or prove unruly). While Allogost would favor execution on sight, his personal council encourages keeping captured outsiders alive for enslavement, brainwashing or even more insidious purposes; should the need arise. However, this hasn’t stopped a small handful of curious and powerful outsiders. Although, they’ve just proved to be very evasive and lucky.
ALT985 AC: Researchers from Blackmoor University have helped to develop a new technology alongside the portal tech of Khoronus Laboratories to rip the whole domain into a demiplane, to prevent further incidents, as other Immortals begin to take more and more notice of the sprawling colony. As a result, Blackmoor's ascended Immortals begin to interact with the Immortal politics of Mystara on a larger scale, in hopes of preventing a conflict of cosmic proportions. While both sides are met with resentment and distrust, no major action is taken by either side at this time.
ALT986 AC: The demiplane experiment is completed. The actual lands themselves are lifted off the material, while what’s left is a replica of Skothar as if it were untouched by Blackmoor. Meanwhile, the consuming wall has been changed to sample Skothar land and recreate it in the new plane. The wall otherwise functions as it did before, blocking out most of the time while consuming some of the time. However, most organic life forms can't be taken into Blackmoor without direct intervention. Further interaction between the Blackmoorian and Mystaran Immortals leads to an impasse. However, both accept the demiplane being created.
ALT991 AC: A combined effort of elves and druids from the Red Woods to overthrow the state fails spectacularly. Legions of troops blaze through the area, claiming anything salvageable for land development. Prisoners are taken to work demeaning jobs while civilians are given the chance at being integrated into mainstream Blackmoor after a lengthy screening process. Those who weren't noticed flee deeper into the woodlands, in hopes of remaining hidden.
ALT993 AC: A troop of venturing tribesmen lead by a powerful shaman accidentally make their way past the various defenses and into the demiplane, managing to kill several soldiers patrolling the border against all odds. They are ultimately defeated by a roving bandit gang. The survivors, including the shaman, escape using the same process that lead them into Blackmoor. They eventually go mad from being lost in a desolate region of the continent for so long. No one believes their encounter with Blackmoor when they do eventually return to their home.
ALT994 AC: The secrets of space travel are slowly recovered once more. The prototype ship, Uther's Blade, discreetly launches (with the protection of Blackmoorian Immortals) beyond Mystara's Crystal Sphere and into wildspace. The vessel receives a faint and cryptic message in a strange Thonian dialect informing the crew that other Blackmoorians are living out in wildspace.7 This news is brought to Allogost, who is filled with both hope and dread.
ALT995 AC: Further attempts at communicating with the Thonian-speaking Wildspace denizens is cut off by some force. The crew behind the project are deeply distraught. One of the Blackmoorian immortals, known as “The King in Crimson”, tries to influence the material plane… or at least the regions beyond Blackmoor. A tribe of arctic barbarians is manipulated into random acts of violence around the Blackmoorian border, further discouraging intruders. However, this sudden outbreak of madness intrigues adventurers.
ALT996 AC: Uther's Blade successfully returns from its voyage. However, the ship returns with a group of new passengers, a rather odd group of gun-obsessed mercenaries. The creatures are humanoids with hippo shaped heads and are clad in military-style uniforms. The hippo-like passengers8 are brought before a state council, where they agree to work for Blackmoorian weapons development in any way possible. The appeals to the state mostly amounted to declaring utmost loyalty to the state, showing off a vast knowledge of weaponry/military experience and payment options for their services. The strange humanoids have mostly stayed out of public eye, working for the government where needed.
ALT998 AC: Massive innovative leaps have seen the Kingdom expand into something of a small empire. However, prolonged isolation and alienation has not only taken its toll on the leader, but its populace. Surveys return that people are either afraid of each other or apathetic, while opinion of the state is hardly positive. On top of that, they wish Blackmoor be returned to the Material in full. Meanwhile, the leader has become hyper delusional. He has begun to experience frequent hallucinations, as his authoritarian rule has become even worse. Physicians have done all they can to aid him, but his conditions continue to become more drastic. Allogost begins to consider equally drastic options, including recently re-established cybernetics.
ALT999 AC: Opinions regarding the state begin to feel that Allogost's regime is likely to crumble in a couple of years. He has failed to make a public appearance for over 4 years at this point. Many speculate he's already dead, as others plan to take the empire for themselves. A faction of "knights" has arisen out of duty and radical dedication to Blackmoor's ancient ideals. While they stand by their leader, they care more about national identity than paying service to a "dying" dictator. Many continue the tradition of wiping out explorers who get too dangerous, but many are reluctant to do so. The frequent treks into the wastes have resulted in archeological digs throughout the ruins. Most of the results are repurposed for other technologies.
ALT1000 AC: One of the "knights" of returned Blackmoor was deployed to a recently established explorer's guild of Esterhold, after hearing their plans to explore Blackmoor's ruins. Tales of "the land of ghosts", as locals call it, intrigued the guild. However, their destruction brings unwanted attention and bedlam.. Allogost has forsaken his old body, replacing with a mechanical one. Eventually, he resurfaces, a brain-in-a-jar bonded to an intimidating robotic body.9 Despite a superior physical form, his mind remains heavily damaged and unhinged. The cyborg creates a paranoid campaign to root out anyone who planned to overthrow him during his time of weakness. This campaign roots out the governor of the Outer Province of Woodenbridge, who conspired to kill Allogost in his frailer state. The governor is executed in his own office. This is broadcasted across the region. Several denizens take the opportunity find exploits in the demiplane barrier to leave Blackmoor entirely. A combination of the Esterhold incident and the faults in Khoronus Lab Portal Tech results in the Blackmoor name surfacing more around Mystara. Despite all of this, Allogost feels Blackmoor is on the rise once more.
Population: 1.3 Million (62% Humans, 9% Dwarves, 8% Gnomes, 4% Halflings, 4% Elves, 13% Others)
Ruler: Allogost the God-King of Blackmoor
Politics: Authoritarian/Militaristic Dictatorship
Technology Level Equivalent: Estimated equal to Real World 2070-2170.
Capital: Blackmoor City
Military: nearly 400,000
Religion: Allogost the God-King (and to an extent Khoronus and The Ascended of Blackmoor)
Currency: Digital Credit (worth 1 silver pieces), Commemorative Hybrid Alloy Coin (worth 2 gold pieces)
Climate, Environment and Weather
Much of the area outside the massive bubble shield surrounding the region is a desolate, frozen landscape. Besides the few hidden ancient artifacts accidentally left behind, very little lies within these reaches. Rumors of flying shining ghosts and sinister disappearing spires have kept many nomadic travelers and the possible once-native populations in the area away. Much of the terrain is mostly flat, ice cover lands. Further inland sports some jagged inclines and frigid crags. Jutting frozen spears keep much of the coastline hostile towards docking ships. Harsh gusts of wind and the occasional snow storm are common within the region. Much of the powdery dust is blown out towards the sea, further inhibiting any sailors who dare to get too close.
The area inside this ever expanding shielding bubble proves to be far different. A mixture of a greenhouse effect and weather regulating devices allows for a temperate climate, much akin to home. Likewise, weather tends toward the mild; save for mandatory drills which force situations to their extremes, especially with "winter" weather. The general feel of the area tends to shift thanks to artificially regulated seasons. Much of the "natural" spaces are man-made parks and reserves, quiet pockets of serene wilderness built up for both aesthetics and preservation of old world wildlife. A wide variety of deciduous and pine trees line the reserves, alongside various types of plants long thought to be extinct. To promote geographical diversity, the scientists of Blackmoor have helped to craft various hilly rock formations, forests, marshland and various other types of biomes within this space. In fact, they've even simulated other types of biomes that are a good match for other parts of the world. As for areas that are assimilated into the realm, they slowly transition from the arctic of outside to the changing landscape found inside with the help of the constantly busy science divisions.
Despite the dystopian society that has been imposed on Blackmoor, it still retains much of its culture, with an added sense of stubbornness to it. For all the pride in advancing innovations and a new form of government, the region remains heavily conservative. Genuine cultural change is rare and often met with criticism. Whether out of maintaining graces with the rulership or comfort in traditions, people aren't overly likely to adopt too many new ideas. Even proxy rulers for areas like the provinces or the citadel tend to be the same as both the mainstream ideologies and the state itself. But, in their defense, they are essentially the puppets of Allogost himself.
However, some critics of Blackmoorian tradition have successfully petitioned or proposed some new ideas, as Allogost fears too much stagnation settling in. For example, law abiding citizens have been granted a couple of work rights allowing them to earn "home time" after a certain amount of hours are worked each day. As such, new forms of leisure and entertainment have slowly emerged. Much of it has been filtered due to government approval systems and other forms of censorship. However, what has been cleared has still found its way into public consciousness. This ranges from newer forms of music to traditional art movements to even technological media itself. However, all of these required to advance the state and the "image of its people" in some regard. This proud and chauvinistic approach is either embraced by its citizens or hated behind closed doors. In fact, wherever you go within the civilized majority of Blackmoor, you will see some symbolism related to the nation or the face of the ruler featured clearly. However, frivolous and distracting novelty that bears no threat to the state is allowed in certain amounts. As such, all sorts of pointless and fascinating devices crop up in Blackmoorian markets.
Following the fall of the noble houses and royalty of Blackmoor, this colony has been ruled through a brutal dictatorship. The supreme overlord of this empire is Allogost, the former general under Blackmoor's military. Following his usurping of power, he has ruled the land rigidly. His elite military team, the Exe-Corps or Executioner Corps, helps to crack down and suppress dissenting opinion while the rest of his armed forces carry out his will. And, what the militarized police and army can't handle, surveillance techno-magic covers. Very little of the land isn't being watched over by something. Privacy within the borders is almost non-existent.
[Image: The Exe-Corps]
Caption: The Exe-Corps
Equally important to maintaining order is maintaining secrecy of Blackmoor itself, despite the fact nothing within country limits is secret. Despite the calming look of the natural reserves and awe of the sprawling cities, the ever moving borders look anything but. No façade is kept here. Guards are on constant patrol, looking for any outside "contaminants" that might stumble past the cloaking illusion of just more frozen wastelands. Most intruders or outsiders who react negatively are killed on sight, while others are taken for questioning. Those who escape gain bounties on their heads or are left to fend with the strange things outside of Blackmoorian civilization. Those who are taken in are often enslaved or brainwashed into pawns to be used for Blackmoor. Only the "mythic heroes" are granted special privileges. But even then, these unique individuals would be constantly under watch.
When it comes to unruly behavior or lawbreaking, forgiveness is extremely rare. Should this happen, it often has a catch to it. This can range from enslavement to usage in secret experiments. Otherwise, execution is a common reality. As Blackmoor doesn't really have the accommodating space for prisons, it's very rare that they take prisoners of any kind. As it is, political prisoners are often slain after "outliving their usefulness". In some cases, they’re lumped in with the lab guinea pigs, to be used for all sorts of unethical research. There have also been talks of sites being used solely for the purposes of mass slaughter, but no one from the public has been able to confirm this as fact. Meanwhile, the government only confirms that they take actions to further the empire’s will.
As for the leadership of the land itself, Allogost rules as the god-king, supreme commander, overseer, emperor or whatever else strikes his fancy that day. His trusted cabinet of associates serve directly under him as glorified obedient mouthpieces and servants to his causes. The classic Blackmoor castle now serves as his dark base of operations. Offsite locations include a barracks by one of the borders of the actual city, a fortress and battery that also acts as a carryover from Old Blackmoor and several classified bunkers below main city limits. The final location is top secret information only shared with top informants and other "trusted" elites of the land.
Cities and Domains
The capital of Returned Blackmoor. This region is by far the most built up, as this urban sprawl was well maintained before the big jump. Expansion mostly lies in increased security and anything seen fit by the supreme leader. It is here that both the center of commerce and culture for Blackmoor resides. Or at least, whatever is permitted by the ultra strict laws and far harsher government. All the same, a chaotic underground thrives in the city’s cracks, just outside of the regime’s eyesight.
A small colony created many miles away from the prime city. Once next to the ever expanding energy walls, it now resides as a midpoint for any guards and military that are actively on patrol. Originally meant as a resting stop for workers helping to terraform the land, it's now a recuperation stop for Allogost's soldiers.
Mobile Work Towns
What can only be described as industrial buildings carried by a slab with mechanical crab legs. These mobile locations are used to shelter workers while keeping them near sites relevant to their jobs for that day. These were created after Torchlight outlived its purpose.
A collapsed former colony of citizens descended from outsiders and immigrants. Discrimination and unfair conditions lead to a revolt, which was sadly squashed. This incident wasn't erased by propaganda, as news of this was already widespread before the government could do anything about it. It's left as a grim reminder of those who turn away from their ruler. Some scrappers and monsters have found their way into the ruins though.
Originally an encampment, now a compound, this archeological base is the center of operations for any funded treks to discover what's left of the old world. Blackmoor University often sends out scholars and professionals for briefing on where to explore and what to hopefully unearth. Unfortunately, this was how the Serpentine Ruins were unearthed... strangely intact! A lot of the larger laboratory and technical groups have moved here over time, turning it into the central cluster of knowledge and innovation. Meanwhile, Blackmoor University stands as a reminder of a historic age.
Built up by priests who became dismayed by the failing leadership in Returned Blackmoor, prior to the upheaval, this place remains an important center for religious affairs. The current regime tolerates its presence, as many of the leaders revere the Immortals (including those who ascended during the chaos magic storms). However, these religions tend to be reworked and woven to fit the agendas of the state. Many of the largest supporters are fervently devout to the religions of Blackmoor.
Large territories in their own right, they pale in comparison to Blackmoor City itself. None the less, they are maintained by puppet-leaders that directly serve under Allogost in some manner. However, it's possible that one of these division leaders could have their own subversive agenda. Nonetheless, little is extraordinary. Residential ranges from comfortable homes for those who have connections with the regime to humble establishments and slums for everyone else. While industry is often found in other parts of the colony, the provinces are still developed enough to help support the colony's central hubs. Many of the residents are likely employed under these services. These can range from agriculture to manufacturing supplies for the military. Otherwise, nothing is exceptional about these areas.
A savage wasteland that, while converted, has remained very much barren dirt. Due to little attempt to cultivate, little is usable. However, some effort has been made to maintain areas reserved for future provinces or other spaces. The only populations out here are the growing number of "wild men", escapees and fugitive criminals, outsiders who broke out of the fake demiplane and former military who snapped under pressure. Many of these people have degenerated into raiders and bandits. Small towns exist out in the wastes, but lack the protection of locales overseen by Allogost. Help for these settlements often comes well after carnage has been unleashed. Tribal grounds and forest kingdoms like the Red Woods are considered part of the outlands, due to a disconnect with the rest of Blackmoor. These insulated lands prefer to keep to themselves and are unlikely to unite under some revolutionary banner. However, nothing is outside of the realm of possibility.
Below the city and stretching far beyond its limits is a series of bunkers and shelters occupied by the government and any allies within the elite. These winding, maze-like places serve many uses; a private retreat, top secret planning, a place to interrogate or execute potential enemies without any prying outside eyes or a place to conduct all sorts of heinous experiments. Of course, should things go terribly wrong, it's secluded enough that it won't affect anything up above.
Locations of Interest
Blackmoor University (Blackmoor City): One of the few relics from the "earlier age". The medieval-esque architecture of Old Blackmoor stands strong through the ages. A mixture of archaic and contemporary, this place is the font of learning from which the Blackmoorians gain knowledge from... Or rather, whatever is currently allowed is taught here. Until change is enacted, this institution is a glorified center for propaganda.
Blackmoor Zoo (Blackmoor City): If the menagerie details Blackmoor itself, this captures the exotic world around them. Many scouts and mercenaries have captured all sorts of fascinating wildlife from around the world. However, the means of doing so were probably very illegal, but somehow discreet enough to not get too much attention drawn. Despite xenophobic views of the outside world, this park is approached with enthusiasm and learning. There is a stranger side to it, as many of the scientists utilize dying and crippled animals for all means of tests. Some of them result in bizarre hybrid creatures and unspeakable abominations. In fact, the zoo lab techs have made their own aberrations similar to those from other Prime Materials, drawing many frightened questions and ire from superiors.
Carr Memorial Hospital (Blackmoor City): Named after a famed priest of days old (and also known as “St. Carr Memorial Hospital” to many), this long running establishment helps to provide medical aid that mixes the best of old healing techniques with modern arcane sciences. For nearly five centuries in Blackmoor’s original time, a sanitarium within the hospital has operated as a means of understanding and conquering mental illness. While many have been treated, the likes of Allogost refuse to acknowledge an issue. Law-abiding citizens with spotless records are granted free healthcare, while those who display the most minor of infractions must pay out of their own pockets. Those who are unable to pay up are granted experiments for future treatments, which are often gruesome and inhumane. Many of these patients are moved to undisclosed locations for particularly heinous experiments. Eerily enough, these experiments are overseen by the main medical instructor for the Blackmoor University division of the hospital, Dr. Gorble.
[Image - Blackmoorian Mental Patient]
Caption: Blackmoor mental patient
Castle Blackmoor (Outskirts of Blackmoor City): The seat of power for the land. In the recent past, it housed the greatest rulers of the seemingly invulnerable empire. In more recent years, it is the base of operations for the current regime. The castle itself connects to an annexed basement floor fortified with technologies not yet seen by civilians. This secret government lab holds all sorts of sinister experiments. Its presence casts an eerie shadow on the city limits, a reminder that the citizens always watched from afar.
Cootbane Dams (Outlands): Named after the site of a great battle against cultists of the Egg of Coot, this well fortified dam acts as both a buffer for the massive lakes beyond it, as well as a backup power source for much of the territories. In recent months, the dam has been decommissioned and blocked off. However, far below the dam itself lies a decent sized laboratory and excavated relic bristling with foul power. Rumor has it the dam recently went defunct due to an experiment gone horribly awry. Cleaner crews have been sent to destroy any evidence, but that won't stop any rebels from discovering what horrors have been unearthed. The barricaded secrets could very well tie into the fate of the serpentine and something even the dark mages wish they could have had.
Dungeons of Renewal (Star Gardens): Deep beneath the religious sector above lies a sinister series of passages and chambers operated by the Cult of the Cleansing Mother. Part political war room, part torture chamber of horrors; this is where spared enemies of Blackmoor are sometimes taken.The cult takes maniacal joy in tormenting all within its grasp some times, while planning their end-times final solution for the rest of the world. It is here where the cult also stockpiles enough hidden supplies to prepare for the off chance that Allogost's regime topples, so that they can replace it and continue his vision.
Entertainment District (Blackmoor City): Despite rampant censorship and constant control over anything consumed by the public, people are still given the opportunity to unwind and enjoy themselves... within reason. It is here where performers are welcome to perform sanctioned works of art and permitted beverages are poured. Almost everything here is sanitized and relatively fake, but most visitors barely care. The Commandant Club is a popular place for elites and military personnel to unwind. It's common to see powerful officers engaging in casual discussion over some rare ales or over a game here. For those who wish to evade prying eyes, there is "The Skewered Devil Swine", a wretched hive of scum and villainy. Of course, the place is routinely searched by military and security for wanted criminals and mercenaries alike. The tavern is out of place, especially since it's founded by one of the few outsiders to successfully sneak in and integrate into Blackmoor.
Fast-Runner Tribal Grounds (Outlands): The site of a tribe of rakasta that made their way into Blackmoor following rumors of a better land free from the strife of the world. What they received was relatively accommodating at first, until harsh sanctions crippled their ways of life. The tribe lies impoverished, acting in service to the empire. While younger generations have adopted the ways of Blackmoor, many resist in an attempt to keep their own traditions alive. In fact, in reaction to the harsh Blackmoorian state, many have taken up a slightly technophobic stance. Some of the rakasta created from the wild magic plagues have found their way into the tribe, in part to infiltrate and survey the everyday happenings of the people there.
Historic Blackmoor Village (Outskirts of Blackmoor City): A famous historical site used to help boost patriotic morale. This classic small town resembles Blackmoor in a far earlier age. Re-enactors portray various famous icons of history while various events take place based on chapters of Blackmoor's progress. Much of it is a sanitized version of reality, if only to further encourage children into being proud of their ancestral home. Those who have pushed for the living museum to be more realistic have either been silenced or removed from the picture. Until then, the historical site remains a place of idyllic propaganda for a past that wasn't quite as portrayed.
Khoronus Laboratories (Blackmoor City): Named after the Immortal, much to his dismay. This laboratory has always been cutting edge in regards to new scientific ideas and experiments. They've often helped to propel the empire further and further forward. After the great leap into Mystara, they were part of the main reason that the estranged colony recovered so quickly. Rumors have surfaced that many at the laboratory have gotten influence from somewhere outside of this space and time. These rumors have persisted for countless centuries, with the City of the Gods being the only proof. It's likely they've somehow gotten into contact with far more than the ruined F.S.S. Beagle crew.
Knowledge Vault (Citadel Archivis): Comparable to Candlekeep in Abeir-Toril, this massive fortress contains vast records of knowledge through the ages. While everything has been absorbed into Blackmoorian data banks, physical records are still stored for tradition's sake. Only the most prestigious and privileged are granted access to this fabled library. Copies are made physically and in the electronic magical databanks that fill the scholarly fort.
The Living Forest (Outlands): One of the major projects of Blackmoor City was to recreate the wilderness as it was far before many of Blackmoor's revolutions. Sadly, recreating the exact wilderness was a failure, but they created a convincing simulation of what it might have otherwise been like. While actively maintained for both wildlife preservation and research, various people of importance have been allowed to walk around the area with enough caution and perception. Many elven citizens have taken up protecting and maintaining the region.
Menagerie of the Extinct (Citadel Archivis): One of the preserves has several small biomes dedicated to wildlife that would have been exterminated in the Great Rain of Fire. Visiting this location requires special privileges or at least strict supervision. The few that have visited these contained reserves have helped to turn them into a symbol of national pride. Those who are allowed inside must follow a strict rules conduct, perhaps harsher than the rules of everyday life. Any antagonism or violence against any plant or animal within this safe zone is grounds for execution, due to potentially threatening the existence of extremely endangered life. Some think the higher ups care more about this menagerie than the actual populations of people.
Power Shuttle Stations: Altered and Tinkered Blackmoorian technology given new purpose! These locomotive-like cars zoom across an energy rail in record speed, allowing for quick and seemingly instant travel. So far, these shuttles operate between Blackmoor City and the various "Hub Urbs" or Outer Provinces. The only set sights for expansion is Citadel Archivis. Their incredible speeds are outdone by the spaceships that Blackmoor hopes to get fully operational again.
The Rogues' Gallery (Outskirts of Blackmoor City, Outlands, Backburner): Whoever said they could monitor ALL of Blackmoor is a fool and a lunatic. Through the cracks lies chaotic scum like the rogues' gallery. This is the modern Blackmoor version of the thieves' guild, more than aware of counter-measures against all the state's tricks and traps. However, many of their operatives have been tracked down, caught and/or killed. Their numbers dwindle, but they remain ever strong. They operate in cells around parts of Blackmoor City, with a few expansions in other territories.
Serpentine Ruins (Outlands): The Serpentine tortured Blackmoor in its later years, as they were rumored to be minions of the Egg. As their time was numbered, they tipped off the Oard invaders about many secrets of Blackmoor and beyond. While unaware of this, the falling armies were slowly being converted into undead by mad necromancers who were either in service to Blackmoor or just insane mages. The ruins remain swarming with the living dead. Only the toughest of patrols and units dare to quest into there. These serpentine are quasi-mindless, only acting territorial. The mages themselves? They only respect Allogost, worshipping him like a deity. The few soldiers who discovered this ponder if this might set their leader on the track to becoming an Immortal.
Temple for the New Ascended (Star Gardens): A place to honor the brave heroes who helped push Blackmoor through the temporal vortex as all hell broke loose. Doing this changed them into the Immortal protectors of the land. While slightly distant, they remain an active part of this new Blackmoor. These are detailed halls of glory, detailing the mighty heroes of Blackmoor's still somewhat recent past. Each of these new immortals has a devoted space to them, even the more unsavory ones that none the less generate national pride.
The Temple of Hope (Star Gardens): They say in times of darkness, a sliver of hope is needed to keep people moving. It is perhaps this reason why this religious charity is allowed to continue. The weary and weak travel here to seek healing and rejuvenation, at least on the state's terms. Other priests have slowly tried to infiltrate this temple to turn it into a place of furthered propaganda.
The Cloaking Shields (Outlands): This bubble-like formation has three functions: disguising the region to fit in with the mostly barren and bland icy scenery, acting as a force field against outsiders and curiously acting like a portal key to throw visitors completely off. This last function is largely experimental, finding surprising approval from the state. When it works, outsiders who come into contact with the barrier are whisked away from the hidden demiplane. It looks like pre-return Blackmoorian Skothar. Small bits of ancient artifacts and general Blackmoorian influence can be found within the material plane itself. However, sometimes the barrier malfunctions and sends outsiders into an endless void. One such scientist discovered this, utilizing a portal device to get back. Sadly, they perished the next day from exposure to whatever that void was. This glitch doesn't bother the officials who gave the research grant.
The Great Heroes Monument (Blackmoor City): In Grand Thonian Park, a group of statues were erected in honor of the heroes that helped to save Blackmoor several times before vanishing. Before it was discovered that the kingdom traveled too far into Mystara's past, they were thought to have died. The statues have since been left as a tribute to honor them, rather than in memoriam. Allogost finds the statues tacky and a remnant of a "tragic age", but refuses to tamper with them, as they are a treasured symbol of Blackmoor's people.
Uther Space (Citadel Archivis): A program dedicated to helping Blackmoor achieve travel into the stars. Before the Great Rain of Fire, Blackmoor had already discovered the stars beyond. Many Blackmoorians were stranded in the reaches beyond the Mystaran crystal sphere for ages after the fall of Blackmoor. By all means, it's possible that Uther Space Program could receive message by these long since detached descendents. The message they did receive could have been that, but it's also possible that was a hoax. The ships they have available now are by no means as capable as their older ones. They've slowly been gathering the means of replicating their mightiest vessels, as the originals were scrapped to help build the colony back up. The prototype spacecraft, Uther's Blade, did prove to be an outstanding success. This has since spurred on increased funding and more projects.
Warrens of Madness (Outlands): A ways away from Backburner is a series of caves hollowed out and dug by a deranged wererat and its equally unhinged cult. They believe that Blackmoor's technology is needed to help build a Machine God. So far, they have assembled a robotic creature that is sentient, but lacking in self-awareness. Strangely enough, it is capable of using priestly spells. They seek to complete what they call a god. All of this was caused by a cleric sent with a scouting party to learn about Mystara, only for the priest to be a sole survivor infected by a wererat's bite. The infection rendered him insane as he vanished mysteriously. Rumors declared him dead soon after returning from the mission. In truth, he was grabbing up foolish explorers to help with his warped vanity project. However, as the robot has grown stronger, it has slowly been taking control of the wererat priest's cult. Attempts to kill off the priest have been made, as the mad wererat has been completely oblivious to this.
God-King Gwyn Allogost - At one time, he was a widely admired and beloved military hero who helped to end the terrors of the serpentine, the oard and many other threats. He ended up accompanying the heroes to learn all he could before settling down in Blackmoor's original final years, embodied as a seemingly immortal hero. The fame and glory went to his head, as he began to imagine himself as larger than life. He also thought of himself as the ruler that his people deserved. To him, the government of Blackmoor had become decadent, incompetent and corrupted. With that, he devised his scheme to take it back from bloated old monarchs and bureaucrats to help set up the governing forces of a new age. His narcissism and paranoia ultimately distorted his vision into Blackmoor's equivalent of a fascist state. As his withered human form is replaced with a disturbing cybernetic body, his weakened empire seems to be making a rebound, but perhaps not in ways he’s anticipating.
[Image: God-King Allogost]
Caption: An anti-allogost propaganda drawing
Lady Galvena Gailendawn - A cruel overseer for Citadel Archivis. She cares solely about obtaining knowledge through any means necessary. She cares little for her cohorts or associates, and honestly little for the supreme ruler of the land himself. Allogost often leaves her to whatever goals, as they typically align with and aid Allogost's as well. She often surveys over what new information has been brought to the Citadel and catalogued. While few are allowed to leave the bubble, her most trusted scholars are repurposed into spies for discovering everything about the changed world. Her main concern over outside information is discovering weaknesses and strengths, so she may gain more favor from Allogost.
Sir Bertrin - The commanding knight from the Knights of Returned Blackmoor. He is responsible for the protection of not just the mighty empire, but its people, its projects and its ideals. Despite serving diligently, he has pangs of regret and sorrow. Many of his missions have involved the butchering of curious minds and scholars who were accused of being like the other pirates and brigands he was sent to hunt in the first place. Upon sparing two members of an exploration guild, he has had a slight change of heart. While he doesn't actively work against the state, he has subverted them on several occasions in more subtle ways, such as informing citizens of places where rampant surveillance won't always catch them.
Tsabalya - Originally an outsider from an explorer's guild bend on plundering the ruins of North Skothar, her company was obliterated by Sir Bertrin. She pleaded to join in whatever Bertrin was up to, as she personally hated the guild she was part of... outside of good pay. While a cold-blooded and morally devoid mercenary, she is passionate about finding new experiences and interacting with all she can. It's why she became an explorer to begin with. Her experience in Blackmoor, under the protection of Sir Bertrin, had been a surprisingly positive one. Granted, she never really needed the protection, outside of from her own ignorance. Keeping her identity out of the light, she has had the chance to marvel at the uncanny and alien world that Blackmoor has brought with it. Her roguish tendencies do directly butt heads with the strict order present in the State itself. For a number of years, she's found a way to fend for herself, as this land is far detached from her Alphatian roots.
Asanis - An exile from the Tangor region. He's greedy and bitter, living in one unfulfilling place after another. Like Tsabalya, he cares deeply about good money. It's the main reason he stayed in the same guild as her for a long time. After being spared and offered a job with the knights, he turned this down in favor of security work for caravans, archaeologists, work teams and more. Upon discovering the growing issues with bandits, he has since regretted this decision. Unlike Tsabalya, he's itching to find a proper escape. However, he's more than aware any attempt at deserting duty will mark him a dead man. All the same, he'll probably find doom if he tried to help bandits too. This internal conflict keeps him at his station, for now.
Lord of Bloodshed - Once a high ranking army official by the name of Sir William Erentimen, he helped organize and carry out campaigns to thwart traitors and secure the expanding boundaries of the region. A mix of redundancy of the job and violence against Blackmoor's civilians ate away at his mind over time. During an excursion in the outlands to deal with talks of bandits, he threatened his troop to abandon the mission. Those who stayed loyal to the state were slain. Not long after, a raider gang approached the shot up camp. The thugs were little match for the official and his deserters. Many thugs were spared and assimilated into this new army, The Bloodshed Conquest. William, now the Lord of Bloodshed, recruits workers and soldiers alike as captured slaves for his desire of overthrowing Allogost by force. His alternative for a better Blackmoor is far from better though. The Lord of Bloodshed has long since become a thorn in Allogost's side, but he's far too proud to be worried about a "deserter who aligns with misfits and tribals".
Blunthammer and Battlestein - Two dwarven fraternal twins, sister and brother, who frantically come up with new schematics for all sorts of seemingly ridiculous devices. They've been accused of squandering funds to pursue passion projects. However, many of the plans are repurposed for more practical goods which they help to create. Despite their slight slipping into the mad scientist trope, they are genuinely good natured folk in the otherwise dark world of Blackmoor.
Uther, V.1 - One of the first successful attempts at artificial intelligence. Uther, V. 1 is closely modeled on the famous King Uther of Blackmoor. However, he is currently loyal the regime as it stands. He bids his time, awaiting for the right moment to help bring back a noble age of chivalry and kingdoms. However, he's tactful enough to play along with whatever plans the government has for him.
Ssst'lexteth - A Serpentine Lich and one of the few of his kind to retain an intelligent mind. During the assault on the last bastion of the serpentfolk, Ssst'lexteth quickly aligned with the dark mages laying siege. In the process, he learned forbidden necromantic arts. While he hates Blackmoor, he finds the current regime to be a suitable punishment. All he cares about is being left alone and seeing Blackmoorians suffer.
Scratchy Pete - A very scruffy looking Lupin who was captured by one of many patrols during a daily run around the border. While the rest of his party was slain, he offered up knowledge as a reason to stay alive. He was captured immediately and taken to a containment center for questioning, shackled with devices to prevent use of magic. After several days, he earned his worth, remaining as a prisoner. His only "release" is for more discussion on the outside world. However, he is given limited access to Lady Gailendawn's libraries under strict surveillance, should an army troop head in the direction of Citadel Archivis. The fluffy mage's uniform fails to show his Renardie heritage, as he has long since been clad in slave's rags. He expects few visitors and fewer allies to communicate with.
Zaddergath Wentlestone - A gnomish explorer from Serraine, this wayward folk hero went on a journey to travel through all known realms of the known world and beyond. However, his flying machine was shot down during his travel over Returned Blackmoor. He has been kept in holding ever since. Still ever chipper, he seems more concerned with examining all that Blackmoor City has to offer. Sadly, the guards still have suspicion that he's a spy, albeit a horribly incompetent one. Plus, the guards enjoy torturing him for fun.
The King in Crimson - By far, one of the most insidious Immortals to come out of Blackmoor's changed timeline is this one. His name long since lost, this ascended one was a devoted mage, corrupted by the Egg of Coot and deceived by the Oard. The end result changed him into the something more akin to the Egg itself. Upon becoming immortal, it’s likely that any essence of humanity was completely discarded. Now, he bids his time doing all he can to sow chaos until his influence breaks from Blackmoor into the rest of the known world and beyond. In truth, Blackmoor is a means to mobilizing an army against the world, crumbling all of the progress and changes they have made. He wants the world to collapse, so Blackmoor can help revert it back to how it once was. Part of his essence is trapped under Blackmoor City itself. His lingering mania has helped to propel the distrust and paranoia within the lands, making his agenda even harder to accomplish. While most Immortals from this realm have intentionally remained out of the way, The King in Crimson has made his influence and presence well known, at least to his cultists and others affected by him.
The Cleansing Mother - The leader of an apocalypse cult, but a crooked devotee of The God-King as well. While not de facto overseer of the Star Gardens, she holds much sway here. Her agenda end game is to cause catastrophic damage to every other region, all for the sake of easy conquest later. She proves to be one of the few people to unnerve even Allogost himself, as her personality and charisma are destabilized by her absolute madness. However, her cultist zeal proves to be far too useful for the religious sects of Blackmoor. If it weren't for her obsession with Allogost and flawless organization skills, she probably would have been executed long ago. However, some say she might actually be an immortal in disguise. Of course, most will deny this... as far as they know.
Lady Angelsgleam - Lone survivor of the original clergy of Blackmoor. Daughter to devoted priests, she was one with the cloth at an early age. However, the Great Rain of Fire brought her to maturity for sooner than she expected. Now, very much a mature adult, she does whatever she can to aid the citizens of the land while avoiding the wrath of all around her. To many, she is one of the last good souls within the church of Blackmoor.
The Machine God - A confused and childish construct. It seeks admiration and worship however it can get it, but doesn't understand much of what's going on in the world around it. While this construct is as powerful as some of the strongest heroes, it's far from stable. It frequently throws tantrums and loves causing destruction out of spite. The cult that worships it usually fails to completely pacify it. Many cultists who have realized their mistake are found out by the Machine God, as they are "removed" as the construct calls it. This doesn’t mean it’s stupid. It continues to create all sorts of plots on not just seizing the cult for its own agendas, but finding ways of assimilating any tech in the area for its own resources.
Doctor Garvin Gorble - Don't let the silly sounding name fool you, he embodies the concept of mad science. Originally a medical technician for Blackmoor University, he was granted transfer to work for the government. Eventually, he was tasked with utilizing prisoners and slaves for whatever research he desired. His proposal was creating bioweapons out of "undesirables", reprogrammed to lay siege to enemies of the state while defending all that the regime holds dear. Of course, only Dr. Gorble knows the "fail-safe switches", in case of personal emergency. His specialties lie in "defeating death" through his arcane sciences as well as aiding the experimental underground in Blackmoor's zoo. It's rumored that he has received inspiration from the depths of the stars themselves or worse, The Egg of Coot. Few have seen him in public, save for his appearances in Carr Memorial Hospital as an occasional medical instructor.
Rogues’ Gallery Cells: Not so many an individual, but an anonymous collective of brigands, bandits, pirates, anarchists, rebels and outsiders. Some are members of the outlander gangs that terrorize the border reaches. Others are to blame for the black markets that are hidden in the deepest parts of Blackmoor City, peddling all sorts of contraband tech and drugs to any civvie with the right amount of money and a mouth that knows when to shut up. However, many of the “rogues” aren’t actually criminals and are in fact good minded folk who want to help liberate the realm from the tyrannical grasp of Allogost. They have come to the realization that they might require outside help to turn the tides. In fact, their magic users have been secretly sending out messages to any traveler, bard and explorer within the region who happens to take notice. It’s partially the fault of these rebels for the Esterhold incident. Most of these rogues are just citizens who operate in private. Most of the more noble minded rogues know few of their fellow rebels, due to the secrecy of their operations. However, many of these “noble rogues” have resulted to terrorism to get their point across, murdering government official and civilian alike.
[Image: Intruder caputed by Blackmoor border guards]
Caption: Intruder captured by Blackmoor border guards, drawing by Toni Roads www.artstation/toniroadsart.com
Sneaking into the lands of Blackmoor should prove to be no easy feat. For starters, travelers must brave the brutal tundras of northern Skothar, finding their way to where the “ancient ruins” of Blackmoor should be located. Harsh storms, frostbite, unstable icy ridges and impaired vision alone would prove to be deadly adversaries for any explorer foolish enough to fight the elements. The tell tale sign of finding your way is an uncanny glimmer in your path ahead. Everything looks distorted, as if a magical painting was made of the frozen reaches beyond. In reality, this is the barrier wall that cuts off Blackmoor from the outside world.
Penetrating the wall while it lies in its protective mode is next to impossible. Outside of extremely powerful magic, any creature that attempts to enter is repelled backwards and shot back onto the icy ground. When the barrier rarely turns to its consumption phase, teleportation magics have been known to succeed. However, there is a 50% chance that you’ll instead be sent to the facade crafted by Blackmoorian scientists, a barren wasteland of ice; the endless void that Northern Skothar was originally meant to be. For those who lack the proper magic, one can wait for the wall’s second phase to move past them and hope that the scientists that survey wall import the “organic matter” that the wall has consumed. However, it’s also likely that the teams monitoring the wall will “delete” anyone who ties to enter through the barrier in this manner, to avoid “contaminations” from entering the land.
Another, less savory alternative, is to not only know of the guards that patrol the perimeter but get their attention from the outside zone. This will result in combat or capture. Should a fight break out and the party succeed, a hefty bounty will be placed on them at the very minimum. Perhaps they could become a national threat. Should they not resist arrest, they’ll be brought into the territories where they will face all sorts of horrible trials. They could range from being transported to a secret laboratory, a prison complex or be assigned into servitude (slavery) under some Blackmoorian official.
Less likely is to gain the contact of a powerful Blackmoorian. By some circumstance, they might be willing to let “the gates” down for you to grant you entry into Blackmoor. This assumes that you can fulfill the nation’s agenda, or the ruler’s to be more specific. Barring that, a rebel or rogue that has either infiltrated a powerful inner circle or one of Blackmoor’s magical science institutions is willing to recruit help, should you find a way to reply to their message for help.
The Future of Returned Blackmoor?
Suffering under a harsh tyrannical rule for many years, it is unlikely that this new version of Blackmoor will find happiness. In time, it is likely that the heroes that helped to save Blackmoor in the first place will stumble upon the consequences of their actions. Despite having missed the heroes by decades, many still recall them from either direct contact or the mythic tales they produced. While the denizens of the land want little to do with outsiders, it is likely that the party that traveled back to the ancient kingdom to begin with would receive at least cautious fanfare.
Returned Blackmoor can't sustain itself in a reclusive and repressed state forever. Eventually, the current state will falter, people will leave, outsiders will find their way in and change will occur. Eventually, Allogost's reign of terror will come to an end; by the hands of his own trusted council or a civilian revolt. While all revolts up until this point have been crushed by him, a brave group of adventurers could help turn the tide.
Will the Immortals take kindly to one of the largest examples of temporal tampering in the multiverse? It's hard to say. The alternate events that created this colony also created its own share of Immortals who watch over the somber land. It's likely that massive conflicts will stem from both mortal turf and the domains of Immortals over the controversy of Blackmoor's resurgence... not on the Mystaran Immortals terms, but the Blackmoorians themselves! This new City of the Gods will eventually find its purpose, perhaps branching out and sharing the secrets of its once lost technologies!
Possible Adventures in Returned Blackmoor
Cousins!: In their attempts to venture far into the Known World and beyond, a troop has accidentally found itself in the Hollow World. In an attempt to hide from Ka's wrath, the expedition team accidentally stumbled upon the Blacklore Elves. Somehow, this group of elves wasn't saved by the protective shields in time. The expedition troop's findings proved to be quite surprising. In the end, their similarities allowed them to bunker down in the region, at least for now. Perhaps your team has made their way into the Hollow World, finding Blackmoorian knights as well. Even stranger, perhaps an archaic version of Blackmoor rests within there too!10
Demiplane of Dread:11 The corrupted realm of Blackmoor is well on its way to catching the attention of The Mists, with Allogost as its Darklord. As it is, the realm is already cut off as a demiplane. In this scenario, the Demiplane of Dread absorbs Blackmoor and nearby regions into into dark pocket dimension. What’s left behind are the original ruins of a Blackmoor destroyed by the Great Rain of Fire. Meanwhile, the domain that surfaces in the realms of Ravenloft is a distorted mockery of Blackmoor’s glory. Allogost’s subordinates chafe under his rule and seek to thwart him, pushing the dictator further into madness. Even worse, adversaries surrounding the land are far stronger than ever. Allogost’s grasp on the realm is constantly in peril as total demoralization has slowed down the progress of technology… that only works in this domain. This is a domain of dread where technology has truly run amok!
Devour, Assimilate: The shields are controlled by a super computer that's hellbent on converting the land into something akin to ancient Skothar (Blackmoor age). However, this might cause a lot of damage in the process. Any landscapes and settlements would be absorbed into Blackmoor while a frigid abyss is all that’s left behind.. Who's to say it will stop at there? It might try to convert all of Mystara, if given the chance! The scientists themselves will admit that changing or halting the program will be hard, near impossible! They made their program a little too well.
Nightmares of Carcosa: The floating and distant realm of Carcosa is a wretched place beyond dream itself. This land is decadent and failing, but still shares its curse with other realms. In this scenario, the entropic Immortal known as The King in Crimson realizes there are great beings like him, greater than him, older than him. He wants to know more, even going as far as bringing Blackmoor into Carcosa’s realm. Or worse, melding the Dreamlands with the Dimension of Nightmare. The results of such a planar calamity would be unfathomable. However, Crimson bids his time waiting and plotting. Should such a plan occur, the other Immortals of Blackmoor would be forced to find cooperation from the rest of the universe.
God that I Am: Allogost hasn't just become a powerful cyborg, his technomagical infusions have helped him on the path to becoming an Immortal as well. If not stopped, he shall ascend to said ranks and lead the new Blackmoorian Immortals in a relentless crusade; whether to take Mystara or expand Blackmoor into a deadly superpower unlike what the known world has ever seen! This scenario would require the heroes to stop Allogost from becoming an Immortal. Will his bizarre mixture of magitech rituals and eldritch sorceries propel him to new heights? Such a fight would prove most deadly. Or worse, should he succeed in his plans, the heroes must find a way to gain a level of power needed to take down a deific level villain.
Iron Gods:12 Experiments in new technomancies have transcended what was thought possible, an artificial intelligence capable of wielding the same powers as mortals and immortals alike! Journey not just into Blackmoor's prime lands, but the wasted world tainted within the grasp of its ever expanding barrier shields. This adventure takes heavy inspiration from the Iron Gods adventure path for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Many liberties would have to be taken, especially in regards to Silver Mount and the littered ruins of ship parts around the wastes. A viable alternative would be unearthed ruins from the cataclysm. As for Silver Mount? What if the Blackmoorians tried to recreate the Beagle? And even more, what if Khoronus Laboratories did gain the attention of alien life? Or even stranger, what if the Beagle wasn't the only ship to crash? Perhaps the colony traveled in time once more to rip the Beagle out of the ground, taking it with them? Perhaps another ship finally caught the Beagle's distress signal and found its way to Mystara not long after Blackmoor returned?
It's Party Time!: A group of insurrectionist rogues have launched a terror attack on Cootsbane Dam. The ensuing flood has subsided, but they've just unleashed something far worse. A magical construct of the serpentine, wielding infectious chaos magic, has broken loose from the facility below. Waves of mutants and undead follow the monstrosity in its wake. The revolutionaries themselves are trapped, but aren't going down without a fight.
Return of the Wrath of the Immortals: Messing with space and time is a major taboo in almost any prime material plane. Something of this magnitude would certainly get the Immortals involved. To make matters worse, this strange new colony has brought its own cast of Immortals with it. A direct clash over Blackmoor's shattering of reality is inevitable.
Returned Egg of Coot: Blackmoor wasn't the only thing that survived its jump to Mystara. The dreaded Egg of Coot has made the jump as well. The moment the Oard made their way into the past was the moment the Egg caught a glimpse of the would-be future and began to plan, bidding time till it could abandon its old conquest and set sights on a new prize, the known world and beyond! Whether or not Allogost remains in power, the forces of Blackmoor must take arms alongside other nations and factions to purge the greatest evil never meant for this world!
Revolution!: For those who are able to find their way into the new empire, they quickly discover a heavily oppressed people. Gone are the days of a fair and noble monarchy, here are the days of totalitarian rule over a once trusted and beloved warrior. This scenario involves heroes from the outside world helping to start an uprising against their usurper-leader, Allogost. The backlash from his forces would be intense, but would draw focus to squashing this rebellion. But, he's no fool. He'd anticipate help from the outside world... either to liberate his people or to topple Blackmoor as a whole. Be careful who you trust, you might just help create a far more dangerous world.
REVENGE!: The Red Woods was greatly crippled by Blackmoor, even before the failed revolt. Any characters connected more to nature, such as rangers and druids, would be sought out for one last strike against a now weakening state. As far as the various enclaves across the forested lands are concerned, anything Allogost must go. As for the various decadent technologies and strange creations? That will be addressed later, as long as it doesn't overly tamper with or harm the ways of nature.
The Great War of Fire: Glantri can be said to be the modern stand-in for Blackmoor. Needless to say, the Blackmoorians themselves dislike this greatly. Once discovery of the Nucleus of Spheres is made, all hell shall break loose in the name of either securing it or destroying Glantri with it. Other lands are caught between a war between two forces they dare not intervene with. However, whether out of fear or strange admiration, some might even take arms alongside the two powers. By all means, this could lead into the Greater Rain of Fire scenario.
The Greater Rain of Fire: An End All Be All Scenario, should the tyranny of this new empire prove to be too great. The only way to purge it for good is to kickstart something the denizens of Blackmoor are more than familiar with. Under normal circumstance, the Immortals would obliterate the threat, but the rise of Blackmoorian equivalents has made this more of a challenge. This scenario would risk destroying Mystara as it is currently known, causing far more damage than the Wrath of the Immortals saga accomplished. The world would be shifted once more, majority of the great nations would collapse in an instant, the survivors would once again have to fend for themselves and sacrifice centuries to rebuild a civilization. An adventure with this conclusion would truly be the end of days, or at least of the Known World as it is currently known.
The World of Tomorrow: Assuming Allogost is deposed and new order is established, the denizens might either turn towards finding a way to hide themselves once more or establishing themselves better with the new world. In the latter case, they learn from the mistakes of the F.S.S. Beagle crew and try to establish better relations with the world at large. Perhaps their shielded demiplane returns back to the material realm. In fact, allies might even learn their secrets of technomancy. By some miracle or means of intervention, these newer devices seem more stable than the original devices that should have caused the Great Rain all those ages ago.
[Image: The King in Crimson]
Modified from wikimedia commons
[Image: The Exe-Corps]
http://wordsenvisioned.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Astounding-Science-Fiction-1950-08-p-45-Walt-Miller.jpg (By Walt Miller - Last Enemy - Astounding Science Fiction)
[Image - Blackmoorian Mental Patient]
Mental Patient by Ambroise Tardieu https://drive.google.com/open?id=1nE6e8veqco0XxaGYc3a5CpUYRPas6sR4
[Image: Intruder captured by Blackmoor border guards]
Original drawing by Toni Roads
1The Comeback Inn is detailed in DA1-TSR9172-Adventures in Blackmoor.
2Oards appear in CM6-TSR9158-Where Chaos Reigns.
3NPC from a campaign, implied to be a manifestation of the Egg of Coot itself.
4As the Immortals of Mystara considered Blackmoor dangerous in canon, the Blackmoor Immortals would not be allowed to join them. Thus, they remain in their own space for the time being.
5More on the Red Curse can be found in the Red Steel boxed set.
6The shields operate on two cycles, a protective wall and the consuming barrier. The first phase blocks things out majority of the time. The second functions for no longer than 1 hour. Despite grabbing material, it is monitored by guards, who can “extract” material and push it away. Clever stealth and magic can get past this.
8The “hippo-like” Giff appear in the Spelljammer: AD&D Adventures in Space boxed sethalfling/hin
9Similar (non-magical) cyborgs are detailed in DA3-TSR9191-City of the Gods.
11The Domains of Dread are further elaborated in the Ravenloft: Realm of Terror boxed set.
12More details on the Iron Gods adventure path are detailed in the Adventure Path adventures #85 - #90 for Paizo’s Pathfinder RPG