Sunday, September 30, 2012

Bettellyn: Land of Farmers, Devouts, and Warriors -- Pt. I

This article continues from the original post. Click HERE to go back.

The Holy Realm covers an area close to 186,000 square miles (between the sizes of real world Spain and Sweden).  Its capital, Citadel, sits in the Northeast and is home to 325,000 people.  Overall, more than 2.1 million Bettellyners live in a land of lush farmland, light forests, and gentle hills.  Wide rivers meander eastward across the country, toward the Sea of Esterhold.  To the north lies Foresthome; virgin Imperial Territories and Vertiloch form the western border, with Theranderol and Randal locking the south.  Many of the old towns derive their names from the original Cypric language.

Temperate weather is ideal to farming which is more than sufficient to satisfy the needs of Bettellyn’s population.  Spare produce head mostly west to Vertiloch.  This merchant traffic goes mostly by land, down the Vertiloch Road and the trail from Quanfax via Vonboby and Epitaph.  Snarling traffic jams are frequent at this border, at the level of Regalia Castle, considering Vertiloch’s infuriating border controls and peculiar transportation policies.  Some of the most colorful language can be heard there, among lines of ox-driven carts, that would normally embarrass the usually prudish and lawfully-minded folks of Bettellyn.  Much praying and repenting follows, when access into the Imperial Demesne is finally earned, which reinforces Vertilian opinion of Bettellyners as sanctimonious, hypocritical hot-heads.  This is the image initially confronting foreigners, since the majority of visits to the Holy Realm come through this border as well.

When beyond Bettellyn’s border, pious citizens of the Theocracy loosen up in the face of relative liberty and unlawfulness.  After one too many drinks, some ill-inspired comments, and a few brawls later, the most misguided visitors end up getting kicked out.  Naturally, the issue isn’t forgotten on the home side as the clergy then copiously admonishes transgressors for their sinful behaviors and the poor image they give of Bettellyn.  It is keenly seen as counterproductive to missionary work abroad.  Fines, service, fasting, self-flagellation, and much praying help teach rabble-rousers proper manners.

The main drivers of Bettlellyn’s wealth are agriculture and the city of Citadel.  By the sheer weight of its population, the capital city generates a disproportionate amount of business, purchasing vast quantities of food and raw materials, and producing finished goods and services.  Nearly half of the monarchy’s income flows from taxes on businesses and households in Citadel.  Tolls from roads and bridges, duties on foreign trade, and port fees collected throughout the realm generate the next big source of revenues, easily exceeding taxes imposed on rural communities.  Mining yields valuable minerals, but otherwise produces a negligible amount of cash.  From the point of view of Bettellyners, much of the realm’s trade involves producing weapons, armor, and raising war horses.  

In the eyes of a visiting foreigner, it seems the greatest part of local business involves the trading of relics, from worthless, obvious fakes sold as cheap souvenirs in curio shops to fabled artifacts imbued with arcane spirits that no one in their right minds would dare tangle with.  As might be expected, the lion share of the monarchy’s revenues goes to support Bettellyn’s armed forces and maintaining castles, roads, bridges, and fortified military ports like the ones in Brocto and Leweo.  Another fair share serves to support the clergy and related assets.  Monasteries and abbeys are self-sufficient.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Cracking Mystara: Ten Last Thoughts

Here's part of a review posted on Age of Ravens that you might find valuable, if you haven't seen it yet.

Now that I've finally finished my review of the Gazetteer series, I have a few final thoughts. I pull links to all of those reviews in my previous post: Gazetteers of Mystara: the Review List.


I’ve said it before, but the volume of rich material in these books means that WotC really ought to be offering some kind of reprint or electronic version. I understand some of the logic for avoiding that: piracy, driving players towards new editions, production costs. Of these only the last seems to hold any merit. But illegal electronic versions exist already and I would love to be able to purchase clean, well-done and legal editions. The OSR movement has peeled off players- better to gain some market share within that rather than ignoring it. I doubt the existence of these materials with significantly impact sales of a present edition.

During the brief time WotC did sell electronic versions, I picked several up. Some of them had been scanned well- pages aligned, clean up done, contrast balanced. However many sucked. They were nearly useless because whoever’d done the scanning job had been asleep at the switch. Producing good quality materials will obviously take some time, effort, and therefor expense. I’m not saying I want Original Electronic Version quality, just something relatively clean. If WotC's serious about drawing back fans across all of the editions, then reprinting- electronic or otherwise- ought to be an arrow in their quiver.

I’m saying this because I really want a PoD copy of
The Rules Cyclopedia. (. . .)

Click HERE for the remainder.

I thought Lowell's post was pretty much spot-on.  I'd be interested in seeing similar evaluations of the more obscure accessories, such as Creature Crucibles and the Poor Wizards' Almanach.  In any case, my thanks to Lowell Francis for his work!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Alphatian Province of Bettellyn

Gazetteer Map Bettellyn Alphatia
Vicinity of Citadel, 8 Miles per Hex

It is a kingdom of zealots.  Mostly.

Since their arrival on Mystara, a sect of Alphatian devouts settled a region along the eastern coast that would later become Bettellyn, and established it as a sanctuary for their faith.  Indigenous population was swept aside or absorbed, as elsewhere in mainland Alphatia.  Prior to the clash that led to the destruction of their former world, Scions of Llyn had begun following a new pantheon of immortals, known then as The Three:  Eyoth, the leader and patroness of magic; Sabbaiah, embodying war; and Horana, death, honor, and ancestry.  By the time the realm of Bettellyn was founded on Mystara, three more beings came forth—Astafiel, life and love; Ardoryl, light and lawful purity; and last, Elarion, huntsman and herald.

Oddly, these other-worldly patrons were archons who’d mysteriously gained immortality.  Therein lay a conflict with other Alphatians.  Common wisdom inferred that archons were created by the Great Ixion as servants of great power—mortal servants.  They weren’t meant to attain immortality.  Furthermore, it wasn’t clear under whose auspices they had broken the bonds of mortality.  As doubt, suspicion, and bigotry mounted, the self-proclaimed followers of immortal archons were shunned by all.  Yet, the mystery of the greater archons’ existence drove their followers to a more profound insight.  This led to the unveiling of a seventh lord named Samarion who was the pantheon’s true Hierarch.  Thus was born the faith of The Seven.  It was found that the previous six had gained their immortality under Samarion’s patronage.

Coat of Arms Brocto Bettellyn Alphatia
But the mystery persisted.  Who had put this greatest of archons on the path to becoming a Hierarch and inviting others to join him?  Worse, ecclesiastics of other pantheons came to the conclusion that none of their divine patrons had ever heard of The Seven, nor that they thought they existed at all.  Ostracism and persecutions turned grimmer and led Bettellyn’s faithfuls to arm themselves and learn the arts of war to protect their beliefs.  This enduring realm attracted the inquisitive minds of imperial questors seeking to pierce the secrets of Bettellyn’s faith: how archons earned immortality and why other immortals could not see them.  Most of them not only became convinced of the greater archons’ existence, but also that a fundamental truth lay behind them, beckoning all to unveil it.  None of The Seven would let on any clues.  In fact, these sharp, inquisitive minds came to believe that the only way to learn more involved attaining immortality and joining the pantheon.  This resulted in an even more exalted and fanatical faith in Bettellyn, one profoundly Lawful yet warlike.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Navies of Alphatia -- Revisited

Alphatian ships at the ready
This is an update to the original post comparing the navies of Alphatian dominions.  Updated numbers are posted here for convenience and include the last three realms described on this blog.  

Click HERE to access the original article.

So far, we have a grand total of 508 ships, 106 of which are airships, and another 58 of which are submersibles.  More will be added as I cover the remaining five realms.  Compared to this Vertiloch (which is to say Empress Eriadna) controls directly 47 ships, including 9 airships and 5 subs, or less than 10% of the current total. 

Click HERE to access the previous post, which details economics and land forces for all these kingdoms.