Minaria – Sunken City of Parros

So for my Age of Autarchs campaign I’m going to swipe the Minaria map from Divine Right. Others have blogged before about using this map for their game – I originally got the idea from Jeff’s Gameblog.

The most excellent Minaria map, from Divine Right

The land of Minaria even has an elaborate history, which was published in Dragon Magazine between issues #34 and #57. I will not be using any of this backstory, however. Just the map itself and the names. This is not meant to impugn upon the worldbuilding of Glenn Rahman – I just have my own ideas I want to push, and need a cool map to play in.

So I’m going to start posting little snippets about my Minaria, which I intend to eventually compile into a reference document for my players. Let’s start with the Sunken City of Parros, located in Rombune on the shores of the Sea of Drowning Men…


Sunken City of Parros

Parros was the old capital of the Bright Empire. By convention, the Fall of the Empire (in 1476 AC) is dated from its occupation by mutinous Orcish Ninth Legion and the execution of the Emperor. The Sinking of Parros later that year – the result of a powerful ritual performed by the Council of Thaumaturgy – wiped out occupying army but further exacerbated the Empire’s collapse.

Although the Golkus now serves as Rombune’s capital, sunken Parros still holds symbolic value as the seat of ancient power. In the two centuries since the Fall, new structures have been built on top of the waterlogged ruins, which are now home to over 12,000 inhabitants (2500 families, MC III) – a far cry, however, from the nearly million residents at the height of the Bright Empire.

Traversed by canals, the city serves as a maritime trading hub. The bay is still riddled with submerged hazards and larger ships must dock at a port on the mainland, transferring their cargo to gondolas and shallow-draft barges.

Parros is also the subject of much political intrigue. Rumours swirl that distant Girion (far to the south) seeks to annex Parros as a sign of its (purported) ascent as the “new” Bright Empire. The city’s Steward (Dragastes, Venturer 7) has gone so far as to begin hiring independent mercenaries to defend Parros from a possible attack. (This move is opposed by the Autarch of Golkus, who has responded favourably to ambassadors from Girion.)

(Sunken Parros is essentially Venice, except with underwater ruins. It’s ruled by a Merchant Council and an appointed “Steward” – so-called because Porrus still waits for the return of the “rightful” Emperor.)

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The Spire of Iron & Crystal

The characters in my Black City campaign recently took a break from unleashing cosmic evils to visit Iomnogoron, one of the last surviving Old Hyperboreans. The rumour is that he dwells in the Spire of Iron & Crystal, located north of the Great Glacier. This, of course, was all an excuse for me to use Matt Finch’s module of the same name.

Here’s part of the adventure blurb:

For centuries, out in the wilderness beyond civilization’s reach, there has stood an enigmatic tower known as the Spire of Iron and Crystal. It is a bizarre and ancient structure; four massive, egg-shaped crystals are mounted into a twisting, ornate structure of rounded metal girders, one crystal at the top and the other three mounted lower down. Moving lights seen inside the huge crystals suggest that they are hollow and even inhabited…

You can read some (positive) reviews from Grongardia, Dreams in the Lich House, and tenfootpole. I made some modifications for my game, so this post is less of a “product review” and more “adaptation notes/session summary”.

Hyperborea HR

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Age of Autarchs (Campaign Idea)

You might have noticed that a few of my recent posts have been quite different than usual. With the Black City campaign unexpectedly over I’m getting the familiar itch of Gamer ADD. It’s time to pitch ideas for my next game…

The two-word concept for this is “Wizard-Kings“. But not weird Wizard-Kings (like ASE); more like “traditional D&D” or “faux medieval-fantastic” Wizard-Kings. I’m going to lean heavily on the Stronghold & Domain rules from the Adventurer Conqueror King System (ACKS) and try to dabble in high-level rulership and large-scale battles.

Something like this:

It has been two hundred years since the collapse of the Bright Empire and onset of the Dark Years. Mutinous legions of orcs and barbarian raiders from distant lands laid waste to the glory that was the Bright Empire and slaughtered its citizens.

The only bulwarks of civilization to survive were the fiefdoms huddled for protection around the towers of the Wizard-Kings and Sorcerers. Known as “Autarchs”, these powerful spellcasters preserved knowledge and learning through the centuries and slowly gathered power to form the patchwork of baronies and domains which exist today.

But as the realms slowly rebuild, the Autarchs form alliances and wage war against each other in an attempt to conquer their competitors and rule over a new Empire. Meanwhile, the Barbarian Kings and remnants of ancient Demihuman realms jostle for control against the Autarchs.

In this age, the balance of power can be shifted by the actions of bold adventurers who have accumulated fame, wealth, & glory and now seek to put a permanent mark on their world…

I think I’ll call the campaign (somewhat pretentiously) the Age of Autarchs. This one’s going to be a lot more “Vanilla Fantasy” than my last few games. There will be Elves & Dwarves instead of Goat-Men & Lumpen-Ones or Vikings & Hyperboreans. I’d like to use the magic system from the Heroic Fantasy Companion, but with some tweaks and house rules (most significant – “normal” humans can become spellcasting wizards and sorcerers).

The PCs will be an allied group of mid- to high-level characters with a common goal. They might be the principals of an independent Mercenary Company. Perhaps they’re vassals of a particular Wizard-King. Maybe they’re a conspiracy against the Wizard-King that they’re supposedly serving. Or are they malcontents and rebels seeking to overthrow all the Wizard-Kings and rule as free men?

More to come…

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The Warlock of the Wind-Swept Downs

Before I get to my main topic today, I’ve made some tweaks to the Feathergale domain based on feedback from the Autarch forums. Here’s a revised summary:

Feathergale (& Red Larch)

Domain Population: 120 urban families, 480 peasant families; Domain Alignment: Neutral; Domain Ruler: Baron Thurl Merosska (Ftr 5); Domain Income: ~1500gp per month; Stronghold Value: 81,500gp; Urban Investment: 10,000gp; Market Class: VI (Red Larch); Liege: Warlock Kalinoth; Vassals: Knight Durand (Ftr 3), Knight Guidon (Ftr 3).

Feathergale Spire serves the dual role of keeping watch over the Sighing Valley and protecting the village of Red Larch (120 families, MC VI). Its ruler – Baron Thurl Merosska – is commander of the Feathergale Knights, an elite force of aerial cavalry who ride giant vultures. At present, this garrison consists of a platoon of 15 Knights and mounts.

Merosska’s personal domain is a borderlands realm of 240 peasant families plus Red Larch (about 1600 people). He is served by two vassal Knights: Durand and Guidon, each controlling about 120 peasant families. The “air force” is actually shared between these realms; with the Baron and six other riders (plus mounts) stationed at the Spire, and each vassal Knight leading three other riders (plus mounts) from their own strongholds.

The Baron’s liege is the Warlock Kalinoth. Kalinoth dwelt here before he claimed his current stronghold and rewarded Merosska with rulership of the barony for his support in battle.


But today I want to provide some info on Baron Merosska’s liege, the Warlock and his domain of the Wind-Swept Downs

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The Eternal Flame

An unexpected end to the Black City campaign tonight!

The good news is that Earth was saved from the alien Khepri.

The bad news…

Eternal Flame

This was my first TPK / campaign win combo. I’ll do some session write-ups in the coming days. In the meantime, I’ll start posting some other material that I’ve been prepping.

Hyperborea HR

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Sample Domain – Feathergale

Feathergale Spire

I have schemes for an upcoming campaign – something higher-level that uses the ACKS Domains at War rules – and want to come up with some sample stronghold and domains.

Back when I was dabbling in D&D 5e, I picked up the Princes of the Apocalypse (PotA) hardcover. I’m never going to run it as-written, but there are some pretty neat ideas for enemies plus some decent maps.


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Messing With PCs (Radiation Poisoning)

One of the “science-fantasy” elements in the Black City campaign has been radiation. This began in our very first prelude session – where Tolbert experienced lethal radiation poisoning. I’ve adapted some radiation sickness rules from my old play-by-post post-apocalyptic game, and have been doling out “irradiated” items and secretly dosing the PCs with radiation.

I’ve also used a major plot element / NPC / campaign location from Dreams in the Lich House, which is itself inspired by a 1935 film. Below the Black City, in the great underground cavern of Kihago, the PCs encountered the immortal Hyperborean Priestess-Queen known as “She Who Must Be Obeyed” (SWMBO). SWMBO derives her power from a blazing blue fire called the Eternal Flame. What the PCs haven’t figured out yet is that this an exposed nuclear core.

Anyhow, the reason I’m posting this now is that several of the characters are suffering from radiation poisoning. SWMBO can temporarily “heal” the PCs using the Eternal Flame, but the characters will become increasingly dependent on its powers. Eventually – depending on circumstances – they’ll either degenerate into “radiation wights”, or gain a kind of “atomic immortality” as long as they remain close to the Eternal Flame.

And if the PCs reject the Eternal Flame (and their irradiated gear), they’ll still suffer the effects of contamination until they recover or find some other source of Restoration.

Hyperborea HR

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