Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Foresthome: The Marches of Ogresfell

Continued from the previous section.  Click HERE to go back.

Mystara Alphatia Foresthome Ogresfell map
Marches of Ogresfell, map scale: 8 miles per hex

For the longest time, this region between the Great Clans’ forest and the Realms of Ar and Frisland remained a dangerous wilderness claimed only by ogrish hordes living beneath the crags.  They once dwelled on the surface well before the founding of Ar and Foresthome.  In the face of Alphatian supremacy, the hordes retreated underground and reinforced vast networks of fortified lairs.  From there, they raided the land above until the jaws of Ar and Foresthome locked upon the last of the ogres’ ancestral lands.  Famine threatening, the hordes came out in vast numbers until their final defeat at the battle of Ogre Tusk.  The end of the ogrish peril came when Ar and Foresthome set aside their disputes and agreed to coordinate their efforts.  Ar held its ground and sent airships to rain a storm of magic upon their foes, while Foresthome’s warriors marched and struck the beasts like a hammer on an anvil.  Clans of every sort fought at the side of humans, combining their skills to decimate the hordes so thoroughly that the few survivors had no chance but to retreat once more to their caves.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Foresthome: The Barony of Shielldon

Continued from the previous section.  Click HERE to go back.

Mystara Alphatia Foresthome Shielldon map
Barony of Shielldon, map scale: 8 miles per hex

When Westford was elevated to the status of Duchy Palatinate, its duke took the opportunity to put in place a barony in its far northwestern possessions.  There were several reasons for the decision, the first being the existence of dominant clans of Hsiao rather than centaurkind.  Its main town, more than 200 miles from Haggleby, controlled a heavily-wooded region connecting with the remainder of the duchy through a vulnerable 20-mile-wide bottleneck along the Snake River.  Furthermore, with its location at the doorsteps of two foreign realms, Frisland and Blackheart—neither being genuinely friendly—Shielldon required strong local leadership that would be able to better focus on the area’s challenges and implement the duke’s authority.  The Hsiao agreed, and a cousin of the duke earned the title, duties, and responsibilities of baron.

This didn’t quite address all the duke’s concerns.  Although generally good natured, Hsiao (pronounced sh’HOW) aren’t the easiest creatures to govern.  Part of the problem is that missionaries of Elarion have done well among them, and as a result have become more able to influence their followers.  A cult of archons, avian-like Lawful immortals of whom one advocates woodland beings, has been very appealing to Hsiao.  In general, northern clans of Foresthome (including the fey-in-the-summer, phanatons, flitterlings, and sasquatches) have become somewhat partial to the Elarion aspect of Bettellyn’s philosophy.  Southern dominions have fared differently in this regard since they resent Bettellyn’s pressure and have fought against their neighbor on multiple occasions.  Consequently, southerners distrust anything from Bettellyn, especially undercover preachers.  When not disembarking at Orfil or Soctel, missionaries slip into the northern country from Frisland and Ar into Grünfold and Shielldon
respectively.  Meanwhile, Alphatian aristocracy grit their teeth at what they see as blatant sedition.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Foresthome: The Duchy of Westford

Continued from the previous section.  Click HERE to go back.

Mystara Alphatia Foresthome Westford map
Duchy Palatinate of Westford, map scale: 8 miles per hex

On the far side of Middle Weald lies a very large dominion and the old clan lands of centaurkind.  The past realm responsible for establishing towns like Shog (see County of Ashbury) relied on monsters and humanoid tribes inhabiting the territories west of the Snake River to help capture this region.  As a result, centaur clans were reduced to struggling enclaves or fled eastward into heavier forests.  The birth of Foresthome, a clan-friendly realm, sparked a “reconquest.”  An immense effort was made to expel the monsters and secure these western lands.  Nearly all of the forests that once covered the region had been felled and replaced with swaying grasslands.  It was a catastrophe for woodland beings, but centaurs accommodated themselves of the open plains so well that they became experts in cavalry tactics, something that the sylvan kingdom had lacked thus far.  There were many attacks and counter-attacks from both sides, their borders changing substantially over the years.  Scars remain with old battle sites like Crimson Hooves, Westford Banner, and Death Riders, bloody clashes heavy with magic cast in anger.  They are still haunted today, and spirits of the dead can often be seen there, forever fighting those battles.  Bones and implements of war survive in the grass, petrified by some unknown curse.  With a regular supply of troops from the County of Wessith, the fate of the hordes was sealed and they were finally beaten back across the river.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Foresthome: Tarston-Wall & Llynsey

Continued from the previous section.  Click HERE to go back.

Mystara Alphatia Foresthome Tarston-Wall map
County of Tarston-Wall, map scale: 8 miles per hex

As they ventured south, Foresthome settlers from Tirenios and Weilat ran afoul of Bettlellyn troops pushing north.  The theocracy had monitored the expansion of the sylvan realm with mounting annoyance.  Wessith’s ability to defeat the onslaught of monstrous tribes was a wake-up call for the theocracy.  Even more so, the multiplication of trading posts on the west bank and the growth of settlements convinced Bettellyn this wasn’t a fluke.  The theocracy mustered companies of pioneers and sent them across the woods beyond Deacon’s Rock.  Problems started almost immediately.  Pioneers ran afoul of the woodland clans inhabiting the nearby forest.  However skillful at surviving in the wilderness, these pioneers weren’t a match for angry actaeons.  After sustaining significant casualties, pioneers stumbled out the forest’s north side where they regrouped and built a series of small wooden forts, torching any farmsteads they found.  Tarston-Wall at the time was a borderland that hadn’t yet joined the sylvan kingdom—or from Bettellyn’s point of view, a virgin, lawless, heathen expanse at risk of being “conquered” by the Greenwood renegades.

After a number of skirmishes with pioneers, local settlers began organizing their fight.  These people had some experience dealing with forest clans since most already came from settled areas of Foresthome.  It wasn’t long before they established good relations with actaeons because they fought the same fight.  Repeated attempts from Bettellyn missionaries to sway actaeons only served to push them closer to the settlers’ side.  A merchant guild chimed in as well to protect its trading posts, loaning cash, supplies, and arms to settlers, and blockading with its own fleet the narrow gap between the lake’s western bank and the Principality of Llynsey.  They also faked a murder attempt upon a visiting Randel dignitary to incriminate a Bettellyn spy they’d recently captured.  Immediate reprisals across Bettellyn’s southern border turned the fight in the north into a minor issue from the theocracy’s point of view.  Meanwhile, the guild negotiated the use of royal rangers as combat advisors for the forest folk and for mercenaries it had hired privately.  One by one, pioneer forts surrendered and control of the river fell back to the settlers.

Mystara Alphatia Foresthome Tarston-Wall heraldry
After several more years of sporadic fighting, Bettellyn gave up.  There wasn’t enough wealth there worth fighting for.  The region became peaceful once more, and settlers enjoyed a good relationship with nearby woodland clans.  Alas, returning outsiders had become heavily indebted to the merchant guild.  Their situation was bad enough they became known as “debttlers.”  Most lost whatever land they’d fought for, becoming serfs serving the guild.  To guarantee these gains against Bettellyn aggression, the guild convinced the Greenwood monarchy to claim the land and establish it as a new county—a bulwark against Bettellyn to cover its southern flank while pushing westward to the Snake River.  To help in this endeavor, the guild financed the development of its main trading post in the area, which grew to become the Town of Tares (pronounced TAH-ress).  It strengthened the guild’s stranglehold on the region.  With the founding of Tares, the merchants adopted a new name for their enterprise, known henceforth as the League of Eight.

The monarchy named a count, settled official borders with Mersey & Weil, and enfeoffed remaining lands from there to Bettellyn.  Royal troops sailed in from Lakim  and reinforced the town’s fortifications.  The count and his family showed up when all seemed safe, only to be handed a bill by a league representative.  And a stiff bill it was.  Since much of the land had become property of the league, the count had to compensate the “investors.”  Part of the reimbursement came from the count’s own wealth.  Loans from Greenwood, including the monarchy, helped cover another part.  The count obtained from the merchants mortgages on rural lands while the league retained ownership of the port and many buildings in Tares, all at a profit for the league.  Merchants used these assets to house their local businesses, or collected rent and port fees, locking out any competition.  To this day, the count’s descendants still pay interest on loans and mortgages, having failed so far to eliminate the principal.  In other words, league merchants are free to impose their wishes upon the county authority.

Mystara Alphatia Foresthome League of Eight heraldry
At the present, the League of Eight uses Tares as its headquarters.  Mercenaries from the county’s formative years became full-time troops serving the league, nowadays mostly Yannifey immigrants.  Tares also houses a fair amount of royal troops, the county’s household banners, and the town’s own militia.  The old pioneer forts have long since rotted away, and small stone fortifications replaced them along the river’s northern bank.  Rangers use them as rallying points.  It’s how the river earned its name.  The whole county is seen as a southern bastion facing Bettellyn, at least on Foresthome’s western half.  Should an invasion take place, and there are clues alluding to such an eventuality, woodland clans form the first line of defense.  If need be, rangers have arranged for them to withdraw north of the Wall and fight alongside settlers there.  The Tower of Fyrpoint stands as a forward vigil should an invasion come from Corona Castle.  Tares and Oakstaff are both fortified and sit on the river’s northern bank.  Both feature ferry barges (no bridges.)  From Tares upstream, small galleys and longships can navigate up to the edge of the woods west of Oakstaff.  From this point on, the river flows through a rocky ravine ideal to hold off an army.

Actaeon: AC3, HD 11**, MV 150’ (50’), AT 2 spears/1 antler or breath, Dmg 1d6+6/1d6+6/2d8, Save C11, ML 10, Int 12, AL N.  Special defenses: camouflage (as if invisible), surprise (1-5 on a d6).  Special attacks: breath weapon once/day (cloud 10x10x10), save vs. dragon breath or be polymorphed into a random forest animal; if the save was successful, transformation only lasts 24 hours; can summon 1d6 creatures arriving 1d4 Turns later (1. Boar, 2. Bear, 3. Centaur, 4. Griffon, 5. Chameleon, 6. Treant).  Magical abilities of spellcasting actaeons are equivalent to 8 HD druids or wokani.

Actaeon population in the woods is actually somewhat limited, considering their sizes and the land area they need.  They share the forest with blink dogs, crones of chaos (Creature Catalog), and small, slender, flower-like humanoids known as florians.  While actaeons distrust crones and neighboring wood imps from Mersey & Weil, they act as protectors and representatives for wildlife and all forest clans.

Florian: AC9, MD ½*, MV 90’ (30’), AT sword, bow, or pollen, Dmg 1d2 or special; Save NM, ML 6, Int 10, AL varies.  Special defenses: look like large wildflowers when bunched in a shrub.  Special attacks: pollen (effect varies with individual florian colors); cloud size 1’ radius per flower of the same color.

Twin-legged, florians stand about a foot tall.  They can conceal their facial traits located at the center of their flowers, between their petals.  A florian’s face becomes visible if someone leans to smell the “bloom,” at which point the florian open its eyes and blows a small cloud of pollen into the victim’s face.  Clans of florians harbor a multitude of breeds with different colors and shapes.  When threatened, florians bunch up in a tight group and can hide their weapons under their leaf-like limbs.  They could easily be mistaken for shrubs  Like roses, they also feature sharp thorns causing 1d2 pts of damage if picked up or fallen into.  They’re usually found in groups of 10-12 individuals.  When secure or sleeping, florians grow roots so they may feed and repair any damage sustained during the day.  Florians are dormant during winter, hiding their stem-like bodies amid brambles or dense bushes (petals fall off in late fall and regrow in spring). Florians are thought to be the result of magical experiments conducted in Shraek some century past.  Neutral and Chaotic florians often decorate the cottages of crones who nurture and protect them.

Florian Colors & Effects

  • White: AL L; sleep (as the spell)
  • Pink: AL L; charm (as the spell)
  • Yellow/Gold: AL N; dispel magic (as the spell)
  • Red: AL N; victim falls in love with the next creature of opposing gender encountered (other than a florian).  The victim must leave immediately in search of a “lover” if none is immediately available (the last one seen being the primary target); permanent until dispelled.
  • Blue: AL N; allergy—save vs. petrification neg.  If the saving throw fails, the victim is disabled while sneezing uncontrollably.  Sneezing inflicts 1d2 pts of damage per round, for a number of rounds equal 20 minus the victim’s Constitution score + 1d4.
  • Purple: AL C; hold person, animal, or monster (as the spell)
  • Black: AL C; poison—generates an intense sensation of pleasure while inflicting 1d6+1 pts of damage per Turn for the next 2d12 hours.  Once initial saving throw vs. poison negates the effect—no other saves afterward.  While in a poison-induced dream state, a victim also suffers from addiction, seeking to breathe more of the pollen every morning until the poison is neutralized.
Although one save per victim is sufficient to overcome one type of effect, the number of flowers of the same color determine the area of effect (generally one victim per flower, except as described by the spell).  Rare double- or triple-color hybrids exist and are spellcasters equivalent in ability to level 4 druids or wokani.

Mystara Alphatia Foresthome Llynsey map
Principality of Llynsey, map scale: 8 miles per hex

Soon after east bank counties were established, permanent settlements cropped up on the nearby island.  Its previous occupants had departed a long time before as earlier realms fell, leaving nothing but wilderness.  Forests were few and very light, with high grass, reeds, and marshy banks ringing the shores.  As they had done earlier, the merchants guild of Llyn Lake (the future League of Eight) invested in port facilities and a trading post at the site of the future Town of Lakim (pronounced Lah-KEEM), attracting more settlers.  Seeing the island’s strategic value, the monarchy claimed it and established it as the personal domain of the direct heir to the throne, thus making it a principality.  It was intended as a naval base where royal troops could be safely garrisoned and easily dispatched to any theater around the lake (nearby Tutleby in particular).  There was also a wish to entrust to heirs a land that they could learn to rule, as a preparation for their royal duties later.  It was a convenient solution since apparently there were no local clans with which to contend.  The royal garrison would also provide ample security to the ruling heir.  If none was available, or the heir was too young, a steward would rule in the heir’s place or as a regent.

Mystara Alphatia Foresthome Llynsey heraldry
Placing an heir on the faraway island was also a measure ensuring the monarchy did not keep all its “eggs” in the same basket.  Although palace intrigues in Greenwood (see the Queen’s Lands) weren’t deemed auspicious to princely youth, it wasn’t long before cohorts of ne’er-do-well aristocrats would flock on the island and turn it into an expensive resort area.  The relatively warm waters of the lake, rich in healing minerals, were another attraction.  Steam and mud baths are now all the rage there.  Tiara and Princestone are examples of “jewel-villages,” with varnished cobblestones, gilded streetlights, and white-marbled villas.  Colored pebbles were shipped in and dumped on local shores to cover the marshy beaches.  Quaint and small though luxurious, these properties huddle together and overlook the idyllic lakescape.  They were built on the ruins of older settlements.  Commoners live on the outskirts, in hamlets dotting lowlands surrounding the hills.  The eastern side is the poorer area, where workers depend upon employment in the copper mine recently excavated there.

Mystara Alphatia Foresthome Navy heraldry
The truth is that non-human clans did actually live in the area.  In particular, a race of frog-like people had claimed the thick, marsh-like reeds lining the eastern shores.  They return to the reeds when it is time to release their spawn into shallow pools.  Known as broggas, these odd people look like five-foot-tall humanoids, with webbed hands and feet, and facial features reminiscent of batrachians (wide mouth, bulgy eyes, small nose, small ears, etc.)  Perfectly amphibious, they maintain villages near the shore, just below the lake’s surface.  When they were discovered, a ruling princess offered a bargain, granting them parts of the coast they had used to raise their progeny in exchange for accepting the protection and authority of the princes.  The attractive offer was readily accepted, considering the broggas’ issues with a colony of kopru (Creature Catalog) dwelling deep under Lake Llyn roughly northwest of Tiara, near hot water springs.  At first eminently proud of herself for her first act of statesmanship very much in the spirit of Foresthome’s monarchy, the princess later realized she had gotten embroiled in a fight with kopru.  Water-breathing wizards were dispatched and indeed helped the friendly broggas, but their ancestral enemy responded with raids and abductions along Llynsey’s coast.  Since then, the shores and villages are carefully watched, while royal vessels patrol nearby waters.  Before winter, broggas leave their watery realm and burrow under the shore where they go dormant.  Entrances into these lairs are carefully concealed with mud and silt held together with gooey saliva.  Part of the lake may freeze, especially near the banks.  The kopru live at a greater depth, where the water is warmest, and they do not hibernate.

Brogga: AC 5, HD 3+1*, MV 90’ (30’)/120’ (40’) swimming, AT 1 tongue or spear, Dmg 1d4 + glue or by weapon, Save F3, ML 7, Int 9, AL any (usually N).  Special defenses: water-breathing; underwater can blend among algae or silt (1-4 surprise on a d6); above water can leap 15’ vertically or 40’ horizontally once every other round.  Special attacks: tongue can reach 10’ away and capture small prey or snatch small objects (25% chance targets are caught off guard and something taken right out of their hands); +2 to hit when leaping over a foe.  Clan leaders can have as many as 6+2 HD.  Spellcasters are equivalent to 6HD druidic shamans or 4HD wokani.

Kopru: AC 3, HD 8+4*, MV 30’ (10’)/150’ (50’) swimming, AT 1 bite/1 tail or charm, Dmg 1d4/3d6, Save F9, ML 9, Int 10, AL C.  Special defenses: +2 bonus on saving throws vs magical attacks.  Special attacks: charm (once per day; 30’ range; lasts until dispelled); a victim obeys its kopru’s mental commands (a kopru knows all that its victim is thinking or can remember); only one kopru can charm the same victim; with a successful saving throw vs. death ray, a target becomes immune to all further charm attempts from a party of kopru.  Spellcasting kopru are equivalent to 8 HD shamans or wokani.

During midsummer nights, kopru may visit to their blackroot allies, swimming up the Darkmoss River and its tributary.  Muddy lairs under the surface allow kopru to take shelter during the day.  Some actually connect with unnaturally warm, steamy dungeon levels beneath Shog (see County of Ashbury).

To be continued.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Foresthome: Wessith with Mersey & Weil

Continued from the previous section.  Click HERE to go back.

Mystara Alphatia Foresthome Wessith hex map
County of Wessith, map scale: 8 miles per hex
It is best known as the place one stops before traveling west.  Many of those sailing round the lake by its north route disembark at Shog to save on the fares the League of Eight extorts from passengers.  Shog being somewhat sinister, travelers head to Tirenios on foot—a far more pleasant place despite being a boom town. Those sailing from the south are far more likely to disembark at Weilat.  The two towns connect with the Wessith Trail.  The part of this trail stretching from Weilat is known as Wessith-by-the-South.  The other running from Tirenios is called Wessith-by-the-Niverback.

The Niverback River marked for a time the westernmost border of the new kingdom, well before the Duchy of Westford was established.  It was where rangers crossed to head west or south.  Most of them left for extended periods, prompting locals to say in their strongly accented vernacular: “Nee’vah back, he be.  Nee’vah back, says’ah.”  The river itself is a minor one, slow and caked with muddy banks.  Longships can manage their way up, but no farther than Axe-in-the-Fyr.  This village’s name came from a renegade woodcutter who got into an argument with an angry treant.  His axe got stuck in the creature’s trunk.  “Eevah the lath ’aing he dun, ‘ath was.”  It was a mighty axe indeed, and so deep it sank that no one could pull it from the treant’s trunk.  There it remained for as long as the treant lived.  It is rumored that the famous creature returned to the Lonely Forest, there to live its final decades before turning into an elder tree.  Its mind and soul slowly bled out through its roots until Ol’grayun-witha-n’Axe was no more.  The blade still exists, somewhere in the Lonely Forest.  Some say it has become haunted with the late treant’s spirit.

Mystara Alphatia Foresthome Wessith heraldry
Wessith was once considered the last of the kingdom’s warrior marches.  Beyond lay the domain of monstrous tribes migrating past the Snake River.  They pushed on toward Wessith, seeking more land to settle, slaves to torment, treasure to plunder, or food.  The county then was a royal bastion filled with hardened troops.  The number of battles fought west of the Niverback was forgotten amid the fog of war.  The assailants burned or felled a wide swath of forest, building siege machines on the way.  However inventive and ferocious, they never broke through, and their misbegotten bones littered the bottom of the Niverback.  In time, outsiders struck back, and the heroic westward push resumed once more to the beat of drums and the bellows of great horns.

Nee’vah back.  Nee’vah back.

Ravaged by war, Middle Weald never quite recovered after its greatest residents had been slain or turned into lumber or kindling.  Wessith eventually grew enough to reach what survived of these woods.  It happened when the neighboring Duchy of Westford was proclaimed.  Borders were traced upon a piece of parchment, rough, bearded faces nodded, and hands were shaken with the spittle of agreement.  In the absence of clans, druids moved in, grave and silver-headed with age and wisdom.  Theirs became the task of healing the forest.  A short-lived clash flared before it was also agreed that, by law, no traveler should wander into the forest away from the Wessith Trail.  Royal rangers came to ensure everyone stood by the agreement, and life at last took on the normalcy of civilization.  Though peace prevailed, a lingering conflict among druids simmered in shadowy confines of the crippled woods.  They had uncovered the existence of the Spell of Burgeoning.  Most agreed it was an odious abomination, a travesty of nature.  For them, wilderness should stem from seed, nut, and spore.  Yet, a few hard souls disagreed.  They believed that returning the land to its rightful sylvan state, magically if need be, was imperative in the face of growing outsider pressure.  They veiled their feelings and quietly formed the Green Circle.  During the next decades, this secret sect devoted itself to the study of the spell and its origins, and the implementation of a strategy to convince or coerce the great clan leaders to release it.  There is no telling in recent times how they fared, who or where they are, and what dark webs of intrigue they’ve spun.

Today, Wessith is better known for its vast apple tree orchards and production of the kingdom’s best cider.  Chestnuts are another local crop used in many different ways--flours, candied sweets, dense breads, fruitcake-like pastries, rare and expensive liquors, druidical saps and oils, perfumes, medicinal syrups, and a unique beverage made from ground and thoroughly roasted grits through which one pours boiling water to produce a bitter concoction.  Some say that it can be made strong enough to wake up old bones in the Niverback.  Better yet, a secret process enables an elven merchant to manufacture bars of concentrated chestnut meal, cackleroot, and honey with very high nutritional value, most favored by campaigning warriors and rangers.  A single bar not more than five inches long is enough to feed a man for a day.  There are many copycats, some connected with the League of Eight.  Wessith is now a merchants’ concern, with goods to acquire and transport, travelers to shuttle and house, and westward caravans to sponsor.  Along the way came taverns, bawdy houses, theaters, and all the trappings of a fast-growing community.  Law followed, a few steps behind as always.  The biggest headaches now come from smugglers, thieves, and crimes quietly perpetrated by the League of Eight.

Mystara Alphatia Foresthome Mersey Weil hex map
County of Mersey & Weil, map scale: 8 miles per hex

Once Wessith had succeeded in repelling the monstrous hordes, a wave of settlers moved down the coast.  Early on, few came from the south as the area still was a dangerous wilderness.  A fortified trading post was founded on the coast, becoming the Town of Weilat.  The name derives from local speak.  When one asked, “Where ‘bouts ye be ath?” the other would respond, “Weil’ath.”  And thus came the name, spelled in the manner of the learned ones from the east.

With relative peace, the population of outsiders grew, mostly at the expense of nearby woods whose inhabitants struggled to defend their land.  They were wood imps, nasty little creatures riding giant spiders.  Druids from Wessith came and attempted to separate the protagonists, with mixed results.  Armed with a royal warrant, rangers intervened later and brokered a halt to the fight.  Wood imps reluctantly accepted to become part of a new county for their own protection.  Aristocrats from Greenwood were dispatched to settle the matter, and thus was born the County of Mersey and Weil, illustrating the river and the town as they were known then.  Wood imps enjoyed their relative autonomy and, with the help of druids and assigned rangers, put an end to any further outsider encroachment upon their land.

Wood imps now delight in riding the oldest, biggest, fattest spiders they can muster when visiting Weilat to attend Clan House meetings.  They trot through the streets, puffed-up and arrogant, making the most of their natural creepiness.  The good people of Weilat scamper from the streets, locking themselves behind sturdy doors and shutters, trembling with horror until the visitors leave town.  Wood imps take great pleasure in any other shenanigans they can think of, under the disapproving gazes of their druidical chaperons.  From the point of view of the counts, these imps are malingering, manipulative, lying, cheating, thieving, mischievous little creeps.  The ruling aristocracy must often bite their tongues to avoid giving in to the imps’ odious little games, cultivating virtues of patience, abnegation, and persistence to carry the day.  It doesn’t do well to come out openly again the imps, for they are woodland beings, and belittling them would be denigrating the whole of the sylvan kingdom’s clans—a most unwise approach.

Wood Imp: AC6, HP ¾*, hp 1d6, MV 90 (30’), AT 1 bite or 1 bow, Dmg 1d3 or 1d6 + poison, Save NM, ML 9 (7), Int 10, AL C.  Special defenses: ride upside-down spiders and attack at no penalty.  Special attacks: spend one round to coat an arrow with wood spider poison; the arrow must be shot during the following round; poison inflicts an extra 1d8 dmg (save vs. poison neg.) plus sluggishness (-2 penalty to initiative, move at ½ speed for 2d4+2 rounds; not cumulative).  Wood imps can use miniature two-handed swords in melee (1d6 dmg).  A war party leader has a full HD; if a leader is slain in combat, wood imp ML drops to 7.  Clan leaders and wokani can have as many as 6 HD.

Huge Wood Spider: AC 6, HD 1+3*, MV 120’ (40’), AT 1 bite, Dmg 1d6 + poison, Save F1, ML 8, Int 2, AL N.  Special defenses: camouflage (surprise with 1-4 on 1d6).  Special attacks: poison (see wood imp), can cling to vertical or upside-down surfaces, and leap down to attack.

Mystara Alphatia Foresthome Mersey Weil heraldry
These small evil humanoids live in the woods stretching from the border with Wessith to the border with Tarston-Wall—a dark forest known as the Ruffletuft Woods.  These clan lands straddle the border with Imperial Territories.  Wood imps (Creature Catalog) thumb their warty little noses at imperial law, the queen’s law, and the count’s authority whenever rangers aren’t looking.  Of all the clans, they prefer the blackroots, whom they occasionally visit as honored guests.  Their dark green skin and wood-brown hair makes them hard to distinguish in their natural environment.  Their spiders are green with brown stripes and just as hard to notice.  In combat, wood imps favor hidden pits, snares, and ambush tactics, using bows and poison arrows.  They almost never pick a fight in the open (if so, it would be a nocturnal encounter).

Druids often act as their guides.  These druids are most likely members of the Green Circle (see Wessith for details).  A number of them have quietly moved to Imperial Territories, with wood imps as their scouts and companions.  Their activities there, illicit to be sure, are unknown, although rangers recognized druids thought dead long ago crossing the Snake River, much farther north between Westford and Shielldon, and vanishing into nearby hills.  Despite their best efforts, rangers remained unable to track them down.

Mersey and Weil is known nowadays mostly for its livestock.  Local farming specializes in raising hogs and producing the best cured hams in the kingdom.  When herds of the snorting, grunting, squealing quadrupeds are driven to Weilat from all over the county, the smell overtakes the whole town.  Not that it is much better on other days, but on Pig Day woe be those crossing a muddy street without wearing boots.  The streets’ sticky black muck finds its way into all homes, dragged in under soles or bare feet alike.  It is said that it spares not even the count’s palace.  There’s no escaping it.  By the end of Pig Day, herds are sold at the fair and thankfully taken aboard merchant ships traveling to whatever ends.  The stench remains.

Special Thanks to Janet Deaver-Pack for her creative and editorial contributions.

Click HERE to continue.