Sunday, January 12, 2014

Thorn's Blackmoor: Filling Gaps

Five years. It doesn’t seem like a very long time, but in the case of a prolonged and ongoing writing project, it seems… endless. Thorn’s Chronicle has only spanned a matter of months. The adventures of the Handmaidens, not even a week. (Well, two thousand years and a week.) Likewise, the action of the first two acts of the Throne of Stars campaign.

And in that short span of time, hundreds of plot threads have been cast out. Histories have been unravelled, re-woven, and patched. Perhaps the worst of the “damage” has been dealt to Dave Arneson’s Blackmoor, its shoehorning into Mystara’s distant past given a further wrench or two.
I assure you, it has all been in the interests of a good story.
And what a story it has turned into….
Thorns’ Blackmoor is primarily based on the lands as outlined in the DA series of modules, and expanded somewhat by the Wrath of the Immortals boxed set. Though the third edition treatment of the setting was released by Zeitgeist Games, I didn’t have access to it until well after I’d begun the Chronicle. Bits and pieces from that version creep in every now and then, but for the most part, I have kept to the Blackmoor outlined for the BECMI version with which I am most familiar.
The major deviation from baseline Blackmoor began with the root cause of the Great Rain of Fire. It was hinted at— though never, I think, outright stated— that the Great Rain of Fire was a result of tampering with nuclear energy. Whether it was war, or an accident is never explained.
In the case of Thorn’s World That Was, it was war. A desperate gambit to rid the world of demonic infestation that worked… at the cost of the civilization itself and the magic upon which it had been built.
The thousand years between the crash-landing of the City of the Gods and the Great Rain of Fire is quite a lot of time to play with, and not very well mapped out as far as ‘canon’ material is concerned. It was in tinkering around with “what ifs” associated with that time span that the Progeny snuck into the works.
I’d never seen any mention of who assumed rulership of the Kingdom after Uther. Did he even marry? Did he have any children? Canon sources that I had access to did not provide answers. I think I even stumped Havard on this one.
Thus, the second major deviation from canon was born: Uther’s daughters. (Pardon the pun) Details on the twins’ origin and Uther’s early life can be found in the reblog sections on the Thorn’s Chronicle blog.
Legendary though their exploits may be, just how much is actually known of Rowena and Leansethar in the modern, cosmopolitan Empire? Surprisingly, very little. Records have been scrubbed, events downplayed. So far as the Empire is concerned, it was the hard work and developments of the University of Blackmoor’s research team that won the Afridhi wars and put an end to the bloody Beastman Crusades. Not even the Draconic Empire could stand against the might of Blackmoor’s starfire weaponry.
Details of the various battles and conflicts are taught in the broadest and most general of terms in the Empire’s public education. Even three hundred years after the conclusion of the Second Beastman Crusade, many details are still classified as state secrets.
Among those, Projects SONATA and VALKYRIE, Rowena’s master plans, the tremendous sacrifices she and her twin Leansethar made to ensure the survival of the Empire, were sealed away under Imperial Edict 40353.

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