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Thoughts about Ghosts of Saltmarsh placement in Mystara

by Demos Sachlas

I finally had a chance to check this out. It's a pretty cool compilation. Here are all the references to Mystara that I could find:

First adventure: The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh

Mystara. Saltmarsh stands on the border between the Grand Duchy of Karameikos and the Five Shires, just inside the edge of the Blight Marsh (sic). The smugglers who use the haunted house as their base might be hin pirates, or at the very least count some halflings among the crew, keen to avoid the authorities at Rollstone Keep up the coast.

When I was first considering Known World locations for AD&D 1e modules, I originally favored Athenos as the location for Saltmarsh. The city only shows up for the first time in X10, and so might have been a smaller, fishing village in the B/X era. Saltmarsh lies to the east of the Hool Marshes, and so the location fits with Malpheggi Swamp to the west. Once the gazetteers came out, Athenos became a major port city, but still works.

I think Karameikos was chosen mostly for name recognition, but I don't think it's necessarily the best location. Plus I wouldn't want to have to deal with substituting hin for pirates. Western Karameikos works better as a wilderness region.

Second adventure: Danger at Dunwater

Mystara. Lizardfolk have been discovered in the Blight Marsh (sic) of Karameikos. Because the marsh sits on the border of the Five Shires, the halfling folk might play a larger role in the alliance. Baron von Hendriks of Fort Doom might be aware of the lizardfolk, even indirectly supporting them. As an alternative, set the adventures in Darokin's other port. Port Tenobar is larger than Saltmarsh but a good deal seedier, and the vast Malpheggi Swamp is an excellent location for lizardfolk and other creatures to hide.

Darokin fits a lot better as a setting for this adventure. Port Tenobar is an option for Saltmarsh, but is on the wrong side of the swamp. I'm not sure if the map in the 5e publication was changed to situate the marsh to the east of Saltmarsh, in which case it could work. The lizardmen of Malpheggi swamp already exist, and could easily be incorporated.

Fourth adventure: Isle of the Abbey

Mystara. The Minrothad Guilds are always interested in consolidating their power on the sea and would be glad to wrest control of the island away from the cult that holds it. Due to interference from the Thieves' Guild, the scholars of North Isle have had little luck convincing the guilds to help. As a result, they have hired mercenaries to remove the threat on the Abbey Isle, located between North Isle and Fire Island. The cult could be followers of Alphaks, inspiring Thyatian privateers to set out from Terentias and brave Minrothad territory to wipe out the renegade cult.

The neat thing about this adventure is that it was originally written as a tribute to Holmes, only using monsters that were found in the Holmes rulebook. It's a great follow-up to the sample adventure in Portown. I actually converted the entire adventure to the Holmes rules.

Sixth adventure: Tammeraut's Fate

Mystara. Concerned by growing evidence of a Thyatian attack, Duke Stefan of Karameikos saw a need to establish an outpost on an island near Rugalov. As tensions faded and concern waned, Duke von Hendricks of the Black Eagle Barony saw an opportunity, and dispatched agents of the Iron Ring to seize Firewatch Island as a naval base. In the Known World, Nyx or Orcus could be Syrgaul's patron and Janore Stormswake could be a follower of Protius.

I'm not familiar with this adventure, but it sounds very cool.

Above all, I agree that it's quite notable that Ghosts of Saltmarsh referenced Mystara as one of the 4 campaign settings. I think it's definitely owing to such fan-based efforts as the Vaults and Threshold magazine.