Sunday, December 13, 2015

Peril and Villainy: Threats from the Rise of the Winter King

Inspired by EPK’s “Mystara’s Enemy Number One” post late last month, and watching the ensuing discussion and polls on the Mystara 5th Edition and Mystara Reborn Faceborg groups, I got to thinking about the threats to my own iteration of the Known World.

Thorn’s Mystara hasn’t really yet expanded into Expert-set territories yet, so many of the villains from those modules — the Shadow Lord of Denagoth, the Master of the Desert Nomads — simply haven’t come up yet. Similarly, the Immortals and their celestial struggles are a bit out of scope for the Chronicle. (I leave dealing with Immortals to the Handmaidens)

That leaves me with a bit of a short list, which I think I’ll tackle by story arc.

The Winter King

Zadamar was once the Hierarch of the Gray Circle, a druidic order some would consider a blight on the name of the other orders. That he twisted their goals and means to his own dark purposes does nothing to lessen the image of the order as treading blatantly over the line of neutrality and helping nature along its course only too willingly. Ill at ease with his failing health and the looming specter of his own demise, the hierarch reached all too easily for the promises of a body free from the ravages of time and sickness whispered by the voice on the first of the cold winds from the north. What was an eternal winter to one impervious to its cold?

The Shepherdess of Winter’s Night

Infatuated at first with her hierarch’s plan, Jaleel soon grew resentful at being pushed away from her rightful place at her king’s right hand, relegated to overseeing the harvesting bloodstones. She is all too willing to throw away the lives of others in pursuit of her own dark ambitions. It is not known how much demon-tainted jewelry has been distributed across Karameikos, or how many of the incubating demons have been compelled to turn their control of their hosts over to the Shepherdess.

The Dark Heart of Winter

Some tales would tell that Cryonax was born late in the last age of Blackmoor, a being from the cold and ice in the darkness above the skyshield. But the Lord of Winter’s Night was old even then, worshipped in the depths beneath the Black Sea, called “Stodos” by the Sar-Aigu. Its rivalry with the demon lord of flame and terror is said to have begun when Zugzul stole away half the giant clans, and the two have been locked in an eternal struggle over the world ever since. Will Cryonax’s eternal enemy respond in kind with the coming of summer?

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