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The Thunder Rift region and Timelineby Håvard
What is Thunder Rift?
Thunder Rift is a small isolated valley, named after the characteristic thunderous roar that can sometimes be heard throughout the valley. Despite its small size, Thunder Rift is home to a wide range of peoples and creatures and has a rich history, full of wonders, glory, conflicts, violence and tragedy.
The Thunder Rift Project
In the spring of 2004 a group of us were discussing Thunder Rift on the Mystara Mailing list. What follows is my attempt to reconcile some of the ideas that appeared there. Some of the people involved in the discussions were Giampaolo Agosta, Chris Cherrington, Aaron Harper and Andrew Theisen. They, and others whose names I have forgotten, deserve credit for their ideas and contributions that made this project possible.
Where is Thunder Rift?
Several suggestions have been made to where Thunder Rift should be located. In Norwold, in a pocket dimension parallel to Mystara, or perhaps not even anywhere near Mystara at all. I have settled on placing Thunder Rift in the northeastern part of Darokin, near Rockhome and the Dwarfgate Mountains. The following assumes this to be the location of Thunder Rift.
Thunder Rift Timeline
BC ca 4000: Rise of Blackmoor
On Skothar, the Kingdom of Blackmoor begins its meteoric rise in power. The colony of New Thonia is founded in what will become The Known World. One Blackmoorian city is founded near what will become the Canolbarth Forest. This city explores the connections with the Plane of Water, and brings in creatures who are at ease with the aquatic element, such as Froglin as slaves. (See CM6 Legacy of Blood and DAB: Dave Arneson's Blackmoor).
Some Froglin escape and make their way into Thunder Rift. They eventually evolve into Newts (Knight of Newts).
BC ca 3000: The Great Rain of Fire
The Blackmoor Civilisation is destroyed in a Cataclysmic event.
BC 1500: Hutaakan Era.
The Immortal Pflarr creates the Hutaakans and places them in mountainous regions of the Known World. (HW Boxed Set)
Some Hutaakans settle in Thunder Rift. They soon establish contact with the Hutaakans of Traladara, opening a Magical Gate in the northern mountains of Thunder Rift leading to those lands (near the modern day village of Bywater in Karameikos). (Escape from Thunder Rift)
Hutaakan Clerics pull Ashai Monolith from the sky. The monolith is a holy artifact from the lands of Ashai on the moon of Patera. Centuries later, Rakasta from Ashai will come looking for the Monolith. The Hutaakans use the inherent invisibility magic found in the rock to create a protective spell around the valley, keeping it hidden from outsiders. Unfortunately, it is too late. One group of invaders have already located the valley... (Extrapolated from Rage of Rakasta).
BC 1000: Gnoll Invasions
Gnolls enter the valley destroying the Hutaakan civilisation in the valley. Failing to find a way out of the valley, the Gnolls then turn upon themselves, leaving only scattered Gnoll settlements of Gnolls alive. (Extrapolation)
Dwarves are plagued by the Humanoid Tribal movements around this time. (Rockhome Gaz). The dwarves of Rockhome send out groups of explorers in search for new fortifications to push the humanoid invaders off.
BC 900: Enter the Dwarves.
The dwarven explorers find their way into Thunder Rift
These Dwarves, lead by King Farolas ("Wreck-gravel") were a minor family of miners from the Syrklist Clan. They settle in the northern hills which they name after their king.
BC 850: Humanoids
Orcs, Goblins and Kobolds enter the valley. They are relatively small of number, but grow slowly. (Thunder Rift)
811-803 BC: Halflings arrive
Clanstrife of Shaerdon in the Five Shires. A group of Halfling refugees fleeing the civil war travel north onto the plains of Darokin. (Five Shires Gaz)
Some settle in the Emerlas region in what will become the northern Canolbarth Forest (O2, Blade of Vengeance, Gaz 5). Others find their way into Thunder Rift Valley. (Thunder Rift.)
BC 800: Elves Arrive
Mealiden's elven migration enters the Known World and settle on the steppes of Darokin. (Gaz 5). Some elves break off from the main group and discover the valley of Thunder Rift where they settle. (Thunder Rift).
The leading Clan of the Elves are the Silvercrests, their leader wielding the Silver Sword, a gift from the magical Faedorne and their Silver Warriors.
(Extrapolation from Quest for the Silver Sword and AC 9 Creature Catalogue).
By now, Elves, dwarves and Halflings have entered the valley. Elves and dwarves keep to themselves and distrust between the races grows. (Thunder Rift)
BC 790: Rift Wars
Rift Wars: Bloody wars rage between elves and dwarves, lasting probably for a century. Orcs and goblins raid both sides, blaming it on the other races. (Thunder Rift)
BC 690: Wars' End
Rift wars come to an end when elves and dwarves unite against Orc and Goblin forces. Orcs are driven back into the Burning Hills. Dwarves now retreat to their settlements in the Farolas Hills and the elves in the southern Gauntlin Forest. The two races have suffered heavy losses and actively avoid contact with each other. (Thunder Rift)
The Traladaran Witch-lord Aristicles, constructs his Red Granite Tower, south of modern day Penhaligon. Nearby he discovers the ancient Hutaakan Gate leading to Thunder Rift. He takes over the Hutaakan underground chambers surrounding the Gate, using his magic to protect this area from invaders. As dwarves enter the mountains, the Witch-lord begins terrorising the newcomers with help from mercenaries brought in from Traladara. (Escape from Thunder Rift)
The dwarves establish Hearth Home. King Farolas goes in search of Aristicles, exploring the deepest mountain caverns, eventually discovering the Hutaakan Gate. Aristicles flees through the gate with Farolas in pursuit. Farolas catches Aristicles in his Red Granite Tower and the two kill each other in the battle which follows. On the Thunder Rift side, the dwarves of Hearth Home obey Farolas' last order that the doors leading to the chamber containing the gate, never be opened again. (Escape from Thunder Rift)
BC 500: Humans arrive.
In the east, the Nithian Empire is destroyed by the immortals. People surviving the destruction of that empire begin looking for new lands.
Humans enter Thunder Rift. They build castles and towns, taking over large portions of the valley. (Thunder Rift)
Humans encounter the other races of the valley. Tensions between elves, dwarves and men again threaten to cause war, but this is avoided as goblins and orcs return forcing the three races to unite against these races. Humans earn the respect and friendship of the two other races, but distrust between elves and dwarves continue. (Thunder Rift)
A strange plague spreads to Thunder Rift, but affects only the good races. Eventually the most powerful human clerics manage to turn the plague away, and the humans manage to fight off another wave of humanoid attacks. (Thunder Rift)
Elsewhere, the first Emperor of Thyatis is crowned. (DotE among others).
AC 50 (AQ 0) Rise of the Quadrial:
The historic Council of Isle is founded with representatives of all races. The council founds the Quadrivial, a group of heroes containing one representative from each race. Representing the Dwarves was Thragat Orc's-blood. The elves sent the legendary Wizard Archeress Thessandria Starshine. From the Humans came Father Patrius Timoris the Cleric and Gray Raven the Thief. From the Halflings came the twin warriors Korian and Dorian. (Thunder Rift)
This is the beginning of the Thunder Rift timeline AQ, After Quadrial.
The dragon known as Ash the Red attacks Torlynn. It is defeated and slain by the heroes of the Quadrial, but only after slaying Korian the Halfling and Gray Raven. (Thunder Rift)
Thragat and Thessandria, former heroes of the first Quadrial announce their marriage. The two are killed before the pregnant Thessandria can give birth to her Elf-Dwarf child. An Elf-Dwarf conspiracy is suspected. Since then, all hostilities between the races have ceased. (Thunder Rift)
The human community grows. Sir Jameson the Defender establishes a fighter's academy south of the Farolas hills. Mages establish their sanctuary in the Upper Grasslands in what will be known as Wizardspire. Temples are built in Melinir, and Thieves' Guilds are established in Melinir and Torlynn (though only the one in Melinir would survive). (Thunder Rift)
The Wizards of Wizardspire give the Sceptre of Truth to the Town's Council of Kleine. (Assault on Raven's Ruin, extrapolation).
Barrik's Keep, near Torlynn is attacked by Goblin hordes. The Keep would have been destroyed had it not been transported into the future relocated in the Hollow World. (Warriors of the Eternal Sun) Barrik's descendants take over his lands.
Horned Hills are overrun by Goblins. To fend against this, humans begin the construction of Castle Kraal. (Knight of Newts)
AC 200 The Goblin Wars
The Castle of Barrik, near Torlynn is attacked by Goblin hordes. (Knight of Newts)
The Baron of Barrik and his men are believed to have been killed and only ruins are left of the Castle. However, in fact the Castle and its inhabitants are brought into the Hollow World by the Immortal Ka, appearing there 800 years later. (Warriors of the Eternal Sun)
Barrik's descendants take over his lands. (Knight of Newts)
Horned Hills are also overrun by Goblins. To fend against this, humans begin the construction of Castle Kraal. (Knight of Newts)
Henrik van Decken joins the Hattian rebellion against the Thyatians. (Phantom Ship)
Castle Kraal has served dutifully for a century, but now rumours of decadence among Kraal's warriors begins to spread. (Knight of Newts)
A new commander is placed in charge of Castle Kraal. She begins turning things around, but before she has a chance to set things right, the Castle is destroyed. A traitor among the warriors' ranks uses the artifact known as the Orb of Kraal to sink the castle, killing most of the inhabitants. The rest are killed by encroaching Newts. The Orb of Kraal is lost in the swamp, and though it is said to have lost its magic, it may still hold the key to raising the Castle from the swamps. (Knight of Newts).
Rumours of magic being used against the warriors creates tension and distrust been Academy Warriors and Wizards. This is the seed of terrible things to happen between Warriors and Wizards centuries later.
Hattian rebellion against the Thyatians crushed. Henrik van Decken flees to Minrothad, where he obtains a ship of his own and becomes a successful merchant seaman. (Phantom Ship)
Henrik van Decken and his crew attempt to make a treacherous crossing around the Serpent Peninsula (in the "teeth" between Yavdlom and the Serpent Peninsula). They fail and are cursed to repeat their journey for eternity. (Phantom Ship)
The King of Melinir and his sons travel to meet the eldest son's betrothed in Kleine. However, the King's Barge is destroyed after sailing too close to the Plunging Catatract and is lost on the bottom of Lake Ostrel. Since then, elected Mayors have been the official rulers of Melinir (Thunder Rift).
Wizards in Thunder Rift, working with dimensional magicks beyond their control, inadvertently summon van Decken's ghost ship to Thunder Rift. (Phantom Ship)
Elladin becomes lord of the Silvercrest Clan.
AC 970 Sword vs. Wand:
The warriors of Jameson's Academy have never forgotten the incident of Castle Kraal, remembered now as "the pride of the Academy", and they have always since blamed the mages of Wizardspire for what happened. After centuries of hatred between the two groups, the mages of Wizardspire go to war against the warriors of Sir Jameson's Academy. The mages unleash devastating magic that turn their enemies land into what will be known as the Gloomfens. The Wizard believed to be mainly responsible for this dreaded spell is known as the Mad Mage. (Thunder Rift)
Soon after, Sir Jameson's spirit rises as a Spectre and takes control over parts of the Academy Ruins. Sir Mathew, Sir Jameson's second in command also becomes a walking dead. (Haunted Tower)
One year later, a group of warriors infiltrate the Wizardspire and kill every last Wizard there. (Thunder Rift). The group is lead by a warrior known as the Black Knight. He flees into the swamps where he forms the Assassins' Academy. The Mad Mage is believed to have survived this attack, however. (Sword and Shield)
A vampire named Lord Ursus Longmane moves into the Tower of the old Fighter's Academy Ruins. (Haunted Tower)
The Wizard of Barrik, last of the Wizards of Wizardspire dies. He is a descendant of Baron Barrik who was spirited into the Hollow World centuries earlier, and the Wizard's Tower has been built on the ruins of his ancestor's keep, near Torlynn. Upon his death, the tower is left empty. (Quest for the Silver Sword).
Argyl, son of the Black Knight, is born. He is the last scion of the Fighters' Academy. (Sword and Shield)
The Wizard Chambrin of Karameikos studies the ancient scrolls of the Witch-lord Aristicles, retrieved at Aristicles Red Granite Tower. He learns about the gate leading to Thunder Rift and discovers the gate itself, but finds that he lacks the means to activate it. Chambrin has for a long time been considered an enemy of the Callarii elves, and while examining the gate, he is attacked by a group of elves lead by Ezrathanawel "Ezra" the Elf-lord. The magic of Chambrin and Ezra interfere with the magic of the Gate, accidentally teleporting Chambrin to an unknown location in Thunder Rift. Chambrin begins looking for the Thunder Rift side of the gate and his activities soon earn him the enmity of the Dwarves of Thunder Rift. (Escape from Thunder Rift).
Baur joins the Kleine Town Council. (Assault on Raven's Ruin, extrapolation)
On the invisible moon of Patera, the Shoguns of Ashai have long been advocates of a return to Myoshiman isolationism, and have often found themselves at odds with the expansionist tendencies of the ruling Kitamuran emperors. Recently the conflict broke into all-out war when the Kitamuran enlisted their dragon allies to put pressure on the Ashai Shogunate. Many Ashai were forced to flee their province. Drawn by the moon-rock of the Monolith, they discover Thunder Rift and settle down on the Wailing Plateau in the Gauntlin Forest. (Rage of Rakasta).
The Wererat Keshute comes to Thunder Rift from parts unknown. He discovers the abandoned tower of the Wizard Barrik.
Lights spotted in Barrik's Tower. (Quest for the Silver Sword)
The infamous Thief, known as Raven, commissions goblin servants to build him a new keep. Raven is believed to be a descendant of the Quadrial hero known as Gray Raven. Once the keep is complete, he drives them off into the hills once more. (Raven's Ruin)
The Burgomaster of Torlynn dispatches mercenaries to investigate the situation in Barrik's tower. They never return. A mysterious (and unreasonable) winter begins to set around Torlynn. (Quest for the Silver Sword)
Raven disappears from Thunder Rift. Most people are not too disappointed to see him vanish, save that his keep becomes overrun with goblins who raid nearby villages. Niloc the Hobgoblin gains leadership of the goblins. (Raven's Ruin)
The Wizard known as Pickman the Sage, begins investigating the Castle Kraal disaster in the service of the Mayor of Melinir (Knight of Newts)
The Thunder Rift Modules are set around this time. Gazetteer Era. The D&D gazetteers are set around this time.
The Castle of Barrik that was believed to have been destroyed in the Goblin Wars, appears in the Valley of the Eternal Sun in the Hollow World. There, the Baron of Barrik and his men learn that they have been brought to that world by the Immortal Ka to save the Hollow World from a terrible danger. (Warriors of the Eternal Sun).
Elsewhere, in Karameikos, Penhaligon is made a Barony.
The legendary Thief, Raven, returns to Thunder Rift, much to the disappointment of the people of Kleine. (Assault on Raven's Ruins).
Dwarves of Farolas capture the wizard Chambrin. He manages to escape, fleeing deeper into their mountains until he discovers what he was looking for all along: The Hutaakan Gate. He uses it to escape to Karameikos. (Escape from Thunder Rift.)
The events of Escape from Thunder Rift are recommended to be set only days after this event.
AC 1002 The Tainted Sword
Abelaats appear in Penhaligon. The dragon Verdilith wrecks havoc on Bywater, also destroying Artisticles' Red Granite Tower on the way. With the help of Johauna Menhir, Sir Fain Flinn regains his honour at the Penhaligon court and sets out to kill his nemesis, the green dragon Verdilith. (Detailed in novel The Tainted Sword, effects can also be seen in Escape from Thunder Rift.)
Some Abelaats find their way into Thunder Rift. (non-canon).
AC 1003-1009 Wrath of the Immortals
Wrath of the Immortals: Conflicts between the Immortals sets the Known World in turmoil, changing its face forever. Thunder Rift seems unaffected by these events.
AC 1003 The Dragon's Tomb
Johauna Menhir learns more about the Abelaats who plague Karameikos. Johauna slays Verdilith. Fain Flinn is resurrected and embarks on the path to Immortality with the aid of Braddock, the dwarf. A gate is opened to the Abelaat homeworld into Karameikan Armstead. Karameikan Armstead destroyed. (Detailed in the novel the Dragons Tomb)
AC 1004 The Fall of Magic
Massive Abelaat invasions of Karameikos. Penhaligon destroyed. Baroness Arteris barely escapes. With the help of the Immortal Flinn, Johauna Menhir stops the invasions. (Detailed in the novel The Fall of Magic.)
Johauna Menhir discovers the gate to Thunder Rift and enters the Valley, believing all her friends back in Karameikos to be dead. She takes up hunting down the Abelaat who made their way into the valley, and spreads the faith of the Immortal Flinn and the code of Chivalry to Thunder Rift's inhabitants. (non-canon.)
Reconstruction of Penhaligon begins. (Extrapolation from The Fall of Magic and K:KoA.)
Reconstruction of Penhaligon is completed, but it loses its baronial status, and is now once again only considered an estate. (Extrapolation from Penhaligon Trilogy and K:KoA).