Monday, December 30, 2013

Nuwmont 8, 998 AC: To Kurest Hurgon

“I still don’t like it,” Varis grumbled, as we marched along behind the line of halfling scouts. The bright bluish shadows cast by their blackflame lanterns leapt and receded against the vast bulk of stalagmite and column, shapes seeming to flit and leap in the darkness between.
Even after a mile, I found myself darting glances to the left or right, my grip tightening on my ironwood staff. The buzz of Sera’s unease prickling along my arms and the nape of my neck did little to ease my own uncertainties. She held her Power close, her senses sharpened, spread out around us.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Handmaidens of Petra: Ugly Truths

The Queen of Krakatos sat back, staring for a long while into the small, sputtering camp fire. She glanced over to Zirchev, who puffed away at a small, thin pipe.
“If this is another of your tricks…”

Saturday, December 28, 2013

From the Netbook: Magitech, continued

The difference engine was originally of gnomish design and manufacture (but said to have been inspired from some contraption they’d seen in one of the dwarven cities of the Crystal Peaks). Several of them were commissioned by the Empire to help tabulate the hundreds of thousands of responses from the decennial census. Rowena’s tinkering uncovered the machine’s ability to execute punched-card instruction rather than simply tallying and sorting the input cards.

Nuwmont 7, 998 AC: Fire and Ice

“What happened in Urzud?” I asked. I knew the name, of course. The Cursed City. The Jewel of the Wastes. Said to be the birthplace of the orcs, the resting place of their legendary Blue Knife. Aurora snorted as I recounted to her and her sister what little I knew of the place.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Nuwmont 7, 998 AC: Shadowlights

“We think this was originally built by gnomes,” Grelda told us, as we made our way along the platform. A dizzying span over the spire-ridden darkness was bridged by a wide wooden gangplank. Ghostly bluish-white lights flickered behind distant windows, from doorways. She further explained that it was not precisely wood that we walked upon, but specially treated planks and timbers of giant mushrooms that grew wild in the further reaches of the cavern.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

From the Netbook: Magitech of the World That Was

Over at the Comeback Inn forums, there has been some discussion of the magitech of Dave Arneson’s Blackmoor, throughout the settings’ various incarnations.
Artifacts from the City of the Gods can potentially make it into the hands of PCs through modules DA2 and 3: blasters, blaster rifles, glow wands, medkits, battle suits… Taken out of the Valley of the Ancients, or through the time portal in the Comeback Inn, these wondrous items have the potential to make the heroes into near godlike figures. It is noted in the various timelines of Mystara that developments gleaned from the tech of the City of the Gods are what made Blackmoor a force to be reckoned with, and promoted the kingdom’s rapid rise in power and influence.

Happy Holidays!

Aimeel had to use "Hold Animal"
on Sevenz to capture this memory-keep

Warmest holiday wishes to my small following.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Now available at the Vaults

Thanks to Shawn's hard work, the first part of the Handmaidens' tale is available at the Vaults of Pandius.

In the week following the events of Wake of the White Witch's Wrath arc, the Handmaidens return to their normal lives in and around Threshold... Or do they?

"First Quest" puts the Thorn's Chronicle spin on Tim Beach's Hail the Heroes CD adventure (TSR2502) from the 2nd edition adaptation of Karameikos, following the Handmaidens of Petra as they unravel the mystery behind the location of Halav's shield. The PDF includes a map of the area surrounding Threshold, as well as D&D stats for the four main heroines appearing in the story: Jasna, Katarin, Brynne and Petra.

Friday, December 13, 2013

From the Netbook: The World That Was, in the Late Imperium

Thorn’s knowledge of the World That Was is primarily based on firsthand accounts from the Imperial Princess herself. They are supplemented by what secondary sources could be salvaged from the library in the Reflected City, as well as what was tapped and vibrocoded from the First Throne databanks’ skylink. Clarifications — when they could be untangled from her riddles, puzzles, and enigmas — were provided by the Gray Lady, who still haunts the ruined archives.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Shadow Over the Fallen Throne Prologue: Awakening

Little more than a breath, barely more than a rustling of leaves in the gentlest of breezes, it came, a whisper on the wind.


A name, adrift amidst the sea of foggy, clinging darkness that threatened to pull her back under, back into the clutches of the black and dreamless slumber.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Busy Month, Behind the Scenes...

It's been a busy October, even if I haven't had time to update the blog....

Launched at the end of September, the premier issue of Threshold: The Mystara Magazine is online at the Vaults of Pandius. I am happy to say that Thorn's Chronicle was selected to kick off the "My Mystara" column, where Threshold highlights the community's take on our beloved Known World. But there is so much more goodness packed into the 180+ pages!

From the back cover:

Back to the Borderlands of Karameikos
     And so, we are back where it all began: whether you came to Mystara through the Expert Set, the Gazetteers, or the AD&D 2e boxed sets, chances are the Grand Duchy of Karameikos was your gateway to the Known World and beyond.
     A land of adventure, with dangerous borderlands teeming with hostile goblinoids, giants, and dragons but also magical realms, treasures and relics of distant ages, as well as towns and cities posing their own challenges, the Grand Duchy of Karameikos is, after more than 30 years from its original appearance, still the starting point for many adventurers.
     As such, the first issue of Threshold, the Mystara Magazine, aims at spinning new tales from the Grand Duchy, as well as revisiting a few lost gems.

Compiled Chronicles: Arcs 1 and 2 in PDF
For those not wanting to slog through post after post on the Mystara board at The Piazza forums, you can now get your Chronicles super-sized. I've compiled the first two arcs into three PDFs for Shawn at the Vaults, warts and all. You can find them here.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Crystal Chronicle: An Inkling

“Fine. Keep it,” I sniffed. “It’s wrong, anyway.”
Lea dropped the book, almost as quickly as she’d snatched it away. It was difficult to tell if the puff of dust that rose between us came from the book or the carpet.
Her sniff of disdain was interrupted by a sneeze.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Nuwmont 7, 998 AC: Little Help

“Stop struggling,” came a high-pitched voice from a bit ahead of me. “You’re throwing off Xychli’s balance. And it’ll only make the silks that much harder to get off once we reach camp. Just lay still like your little pet, there.”

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Nuwmont 7, 998 AC: Captured!

The dwarves led us into one of the buildings, a tumbled down stone-walled warehouse of some sort. The hunch-backed dwarf leaned down, before a jumble of decaying sacks and crates, gave a grunt, and lifted a trapdoor up through the center of the illusion. He whispered a hard word, rapping his staff on the ground, and a pale white illumination sprang up from beneath the trapdoor. He motioned us with his strangely glowing staff, and the other dwarves stepped aside as we were ushered towards the wide hole in the floor.

Friday, September 6, 2013

From Rowena's Crystal Chronicle: The First Glimmers of Reflection

Editor's Note: It is no small task, reconciling four thousand years of memories and dreams; of sorting through those dreams, to pick out which were genuine and which were shadow experiences of the Progeny. Battles, demons, and deaths -- thousands-- no, hundreds of thousands of them. How she could bear the pressure of them, I do not know. I had the luxury of spinning those memories forward, of glancing away, setting aside my work transcribing to wander the grove. There are stretches of weeks before I could go back to the work. But she has entrusted me with this task, the one last thing she wished for. How could I possibly refuse her, who had given up everything, except hope?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Realm of the Karrnath: Townships of the Eastern Empire

A waystation approximately midway between Kurest Hurgon and Vilch consists of a three room hostel, a well of barely-drinkable water, and a supply of firewood and/or coal, depending on the season. The corroded mechanisms for restocking a smoke-belcher sags in disrepair, and bins of replacement parts gather dust and cobwebs in the corners of the tool shed alongside the building.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Realm of the Karrnath: The Fungal Forests of the Glittering Empire

The warm, moist caverns beneath the Cruth Mountains have given rise to great tracts of fungi, of the normal and giant varieties. Some formed naturally, others were the result of untended fungal gardens left to run amuck. It is not known if the rapid growth of the fungi is the result of magical tampering by dwarven magewrights, a property of the caverns themselves, or something else entirely.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Handmaidens of Petra: Fire and Ice

He may as well have slammed into the stone wall of the tumbled-down hovel. One moment he was wheezing for breath as he slammed into the rim of his shield, and the next he was tumbling backwards, through the air, the little breath that was left leaving in a rattle as he hit the ground flat on his back. He saw the furred bulk of the werewolf step through the doorway, massive arm raised, blotting out the few stars winking through the trees overhead.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

In the works: Design Diary: The Echo and the Reflection

A couple busy work weeks atop deadlines for the inaugural issue of Threshold have put the breaks on several writing projects.

Certain revelations in the play by post over at the Comeback Inn have made certain characters' pasts a little more clear. I suppose now I have to nail down even more back story for two NPCs, the Empress of Pop, Aimeel, and Blackmoor University's Chief Archivist, the S.H.A.D.E. dubbed "Ivy."

Be on the lookout, for some thoughts on the origins and original plot purposes behind Rowena's Echo and Reflection.....

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Handmaidens of Petra: Windrush Woods, III

Jasna looked up, as the glow from the lantern wavered, dimmed.
“Hey! Where do you think you’re going, Stableboy?”
Justin was halfway across the small clearing, lantern held high, his sword drawn.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

T-minus 50:45:37, and counting

The trigger encounter for the second act of The Throne of Stars campaign goes live in a little over two days.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Handmaidens of Petra: Windrush Woods, II

The trees didn’t so much thin as simply… stop. Clouds swept from across Matera’s face, high in the sky, on it’s second days’ fullness, silvery light revealing a squat stone hut, the roof half fallen in. The doorway was not so dark, the moonlight only slightly dimmed by the few remaining bundles of thatch.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Design Diary: The Songbird and Her Cat

The Throne of Stars campaign opened with a question. Two questions, really: What is Aimeel, and why does the Empire want its greatest musical sensation silenced?

Nuwmont 7, 998 AC: Kurest Hurgon

First Quarter Moon (on or about Nuwmont 7, 998AC)
The dwarf slid from the back of the mule, landing with a heavy, metallic jangle punctuated by a snarled curse as he staggered, favoring his right leg.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Handmaidens of Petra: Windrush Woods

“What was that?” Jasna asked. She slowed, then stopped, head cocked to the side as she listened.
“If we’re going to stop every time you hear something, why, I’ll…” Brynne said, shaking her quarterstaff at the other girl.
“Quiet!” Jasna and Petra hissed at the same time.
The sound came again, a dry rustling, a groan.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Curtain call: Act 1 complete

The first act of the Throne of Stars Campaign finishes up, and work is underway to bring Act 2 online within the next few weeks.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

From the Armory: Demonbound Weaponry

From the Netbook, Chapter 6: Dungeon Mastering Thorn's Mystara:

Weapons of Magic: Demonbound items

Nightfang (HungerEbon’s Call, BlackRazor, Lifestealer) is said to be one of the first demonbound weapons, the hilt forged from the slag iron skimmed away during the creation of the Well of Souls.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Minor Update: The Armory

The Armory page has been updated with information on the Spellshear effect, and how different dragonstone-bound knives made use of the phenomenon.

Design Diary: Unveiling the Handmaidens

Names. If they don’t simply spring into my head, characters can go for weeks, or months before they gain a proper name.
In converting Thorn’s account of the dungeons beneath Mistamere into a proper adventure, I needed names. Lots of names.
Thank goodness for Google, Wikipedia, and a host of “name your baby” sites on the interwebs.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Handmaidens of Petra: Lake Windrush, II

Justin closed a hand over his sword hilt, but the shrike’s hand closed over his wrist. The blue stone entwined in the bracer flickered, briefly, and she shook her head.
“Nieah,” she said, adding something else in a stern tone.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Design Diary: Every Army Needs Officers...

I grew up playing the Wing Commander series, and one of the things I hated most were escort missions. Babysit the corvette, fend off two or three attempts on it before finally getting to the final way point. I lost count how many times I replayed certain missions in WC I and II, until I finally managed to get ol’ Blue Hair back on the winning path.
I hated those missions mainly because they were so hard — just me and my wingman, no reinforcements. There was no going back to the carrier to rearm.
Hey, wait a minute — limited resources against seemingly overwhelming odds… where have I encountered that formula before…?
“Rescue the damsel” missions usually mean slaying the dragon and walking away with the fair maiden and living happily ever after, right?
 But what if the heroes go in looking for the dragon’s gold, and should stumble across the maiden by accident? Or they find the maiden, but no dragon… only to encounter the dragon waiting as heroes-- maiden in tow-- are about to reach the cave’s mouth?
It’s enough of a challenge keeping one’s own hide intact in the dungeon, but now the heroes also have the well-being of the no-armor-low-hp NPC to worry about.
Escort mission. Babysitting.
Silva’s Army began as sort of a collective NPC. At the time of their initial writing, I hadn’t really cemented fixed faces, or even names. It was a lot like my senior year of high school, when I spent time as a teacher’s aide: before there were students, there was “the class.”
Gradually, several distinct voices and personalities emerged. Katarin was the first, and became the daughter of Eltan’s Spring’s Wisdom.
Brynne was next, and her bond with Katarin probably began in the ogre attack scene.
Jasna was the last, but oh, what an entrance she made. 
Thorn and company certainly had their hands full keeping the pack of girls in line and safe from the kobolds, spiders and ogres of Bargle’s dungeons beneath Mistamere. 

Those who’ve played through TC1, what have your groups’ experiences been?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Design Diary: On Building an Army, part 1

Scoundrel. Thief. Murderer. Infamous.

If you are like me, and have read through Frank Mentzer’s Basic Set Player’s Booklet, there should only be one name that springs to mind on reading those four words:

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Falling Throne

Last image of the Third Throne, as seen from the Seventh, in the year before the Twilight Rebellion.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Nuwmont 6, 998 AC: The Farstride

It seemed that the world passed beneath our feet too quickly, even faster than a blink of an eye. All too soon, the troop of brass-clad soldiers came into view, around a corner that should have taken us a good twenty minutes of hiking to reach.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Nuwmont 6, 998 AC: The Trolltop Gambit

“Thorn, take another step to your left,” Aurora said. She walked behind us, treading a circular path, her fingers moving as she counted paces.
I did as she instructed, moving closer to Gilliam. We stood as a group in the widest part of the mountain trail outside the cave. Aurora was arranging us in some sort of pattern, behind our one remaining mule, the bridle of which Silva held, rubbing the beast’s nose.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Nova, the Twilight Maiden

The Shadowmaiden. 
The Twilight Lady. 

Rowena was not alone, in the creation of a reflection based on a misunderstanding of the Travelers' technology. But whereas her First Shard's fusion with a SHADE created the entity known as "Ivy," Leansethar's First Shard was touched with that twins' affinity for Matter, rather than Thought.

The being known as "Nova" would not attain a physical manifestation until the activation of Andahar's Engine. While every other living being in the Kingdom was burned beyond ashes, their spirits trapped across the Fusion Boundary in Andahar Onyx, that catastrophe was the key that freed Nova.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Nuwmont 6, 998 AC: What Was Heard From the Shadows

Aurora’s warning hiss quieted the already low murmur of our conversation around the sputtering fire. A gleam of red-gold light from her wrists banked the fire down to a dull red glimmer among the meager branches and brambles.
Her golden eyes narrowed, and the dark stones above the red gave off deep glimmers of purple light. Silva’s pale hand closed over her sister’s wrist.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Nuwmont 6, 998 AC: Transformations

Aurora’s fingers flexed, drawing the bow again, her other three fingers uncurling, letting fall a smoking, cracked and blistered stone. Her wings gave a twitch, her tail flicking the opposite direction as she corrected her aim. Another gleaming lance of condensed fire coiled into being, but this one was less intense than the last one she’d loosed, thinner, finer. Her golden eyes scanned the peaks above, and then the jumble of stones and bodies along the trail.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Nuwmont 6, 998 AC: The Oracle Speaks

The siren’s coughing grew less, and she gave a shudder, straightening up. Her hands uncurled, and she spent quite some time staring at her hands, turning them to one side and then the other. The bobbing of her hair indicated she was also regarding the bracers. She finally sat back, shaking her head, hands going to her temples, the motion also pushing her hair from her face. She finally drew a clear breath, and rose to her feet. She brushed at her gown, the motion slowing. She plucked at the front of the dress, rubbing the fabric between her fingers, then running her hands up and down the sleeves.