Nordmaar is one of the most mysterious places in all of Ansalon. While civilization elsewhere has rebounded since the Cataclysm, at the time of the War of the Lance, this savage peninsula remains locked in a dark age of superstition and fear. Within its dark jungles and humid swamps, players will face dangers and wonders unlike anyplace else on Krynn.
Nordmaari culture is the result of both its tumultuous history and its geographic isolation. It is a haven for pirates and slavers, a land of savage beauty, where the unwary traveler often meets with a swift doom.
After the Chaos War, the wilds of Nordmaar hold even greater dangers, for the forces of chaos were able to wreak much havoc in this sparsely populated land. The inhabitants of entire villages disappeared, wiped out by the minions of Chaos, while stranger creatures appeared in the wake of the Black Tide.
In the Fifth Age, the proximity of the islands known as the Teeth of Chaos has also given rise to tales of strange creatures coming ashore. No matter what the time, the people of this land need brave heroes to explore their home and protect them from its dark denizens.
The tribal inhabitants of the Nordmaar Islands had no written language, as such there is little in the way of recorded history. What is known of their land before the arrival of the Ergothians in 215PC is shrouded in legend and myth. The founding of the Ilmatar colony on Nordmaar Island is when historians typically begin their histories of the region. The arrival of the colonists and their impact on the existing cultures there is well documented in the diaries of missionaries, colonists and the few islanders that the colonists taught to read and write. Each presents a different tale. The historians take their characteristic passive stance, while the colonists speak of the great gifts they bring to the uncivilized barbarians. The islanders themselves though tell a very different tale. Theirs is one of tragedy and despair, of history of slavery and disease, poverty and destruction all at the hands of the colonists.
The earliest accounts of the islands are in a journal sent to the Imperial Court in Daltigoth, from the hand of Kavalie Heyeirdah, the explorer credited with discovering the Nordmaar islands. Her words are lost now, but secondary sources note that she described the inhabitants, with their pale, painted skin and simple clothing as heathens and savages, simple children who could greatly benefit from the benevolence of the Ergothian Emperor. Based on her report, the empire sent several ships to establish colonies. It was the establishment of these towns that spelled the doom of the island dwellers.
The troubles began slowly at first, according to the manuscript of Anouto Mikwande, a slave bookkeeper on a large cotton plantation. The colonists kept to themselves first, building their villages close to the sea from which they had come. Soon walls of earth and wood surrounded the settlements, presumably to protect those within. The new colonists began to clear away more of the dense rainforest on the island’s coast for planting, and within a few years, huge fields of cotton, sugar cane and rice were being worked. Tragedy struck the colonists when an epidemic killed many on the Ergothians. The leaders of the colonists, fearing dark magic at the hands of the savage islanders, leapt into action. At the same time, they requested aid from Daltigoth. By the time the ships of soldiers arrived, the surviving colonists had rounded up many of the islanders and herded them into camps. With so few people to work the fields, new blood was needed in order to make the colonies survive. That new blood was the islanders. Slavery had come to the Nordmaar Islands.
Using superior technology and mounted cavalry, the forces of the Empire easily dominated the Islanders and their simple tools. Soon most of the natives of the islands were in irons working the fields, or were hiding in villages deep in the jungle, where the horsemen could not reach. So things remained for over one hundred years. The natives remained hidden in the jungles, while the slaves and colonists lived in ever growing towns and plantations. As the Cataclysm approached, the original colonies became small cities, and great mansions were built at the plantations. No longer fearing the savages in the jungle, people began to move out of the walled towns and villages.
The clergy were the only group that took an interest in the Islanders as anything more than slaves. Seeking to civilize those who remained in the darkness of their jungle heathenism, priests of all kinds would come to the islands, to convert wayward children to the true worship of the Gods. Towards this end, mission churches and schools were built throughout the islands, and small forts were built to protect them.
The life of a slave was a harsh one, for though the initial settlers were kind and simple people, who appreciated the wisdom of nature and survival that the natives shared, their descendants were not. Decades of production had made the landowners wealthy and greedy, and this only increased with the discovery of metals in the Northern Island, Lessinamaar.
The commencement of mining brought an increase in pirate raiding both in frequency and ferocity.
Piracy had always been a problem in the area, even before the arrival of the Ergothians. Islander legends speak of horned demons from the sea that would come and drag the unworthy back to the underworld with them. The colonists scoffed at such tales, dismissing them as superstitions, at first. Not so after the first minotaur slave raid. The settlers, unprepared for such an event, were easy pickings for the seasoned slavers. Once the minotaurs and other pirates found out that there was gold on the islands, they would prowl the seas like hungry wolves, swarming on any ships they could. The pirates, whether human or minotaur, decreased their trade in slaves- gold and silver were far more valuable. The colony did not maintain any sort of protective fleet, so the area became a haven for pirates, some even making their lairs on the islands. Coincidentally, the increase in pirate activity around the islands and the corresponding decrease elsewhere allowed the spice trade out of Vellas to flourish, causing much rivalry between it and Palanthas, the center of world trade at the time.
One might wonder why Ergoth itself did not send a fleet to protect its colonies, but at the time, Ergoth was in a steady decline. In fact, the establishment of the Nordmaar colonies represents to historians Ergoths last effort to assert itself as a world power. The arrogance of the Kingpriest would put that effort to an end a few decades later.
The Natural World of the Nordmaar Archipelago:
The islands are generally tropical and dominated by thick rainforest. If there is a paradise on Krynn, this group of islands is it. Hundreds of species of birds and animals, species found nowhere else on Krynn, flourish in the lush jungles. Unfortunately, the rare wildlife also make the islands a popular hunting destination.
The archipelago consists of three large main islands and two smaller ones, although the waters around them are dotted with dozens of tiny isles. The sea between the islands is also filled with coral reefs, making navigation treacherous for larger ships, though the canoes and sailcraft of the natives have no difficulties with the shallows. The natives often put to sea in huge flotillas, casting their nets or whaling in the bountiful waters.
The vegetation varies according to ones elevation. Much of the islands are covered in dense jungle, its multi-layered canopy soaring hundreds of feet above ground. These rainforests have all manner of animals and plants, some growing and feeding on others, without ever touching ground. The forest floor is a maze of fallen trees, warm mist and ferns, a haven for larger animals and those who do not wish to be found. Nearer to the lowlands, the jungle gives way to tracts of misty swamp, crossed by canals. Willows arch over these like a roof, moss and vines hanging low over the waters.
The primordial environments of the islands are also home to dozens of types of giant reptiles, beasts that have not walked the face of Krynn since the time of the Bakali. The ground shudders with their footsteps, and many are the boats the seagoing ones have sunk among the reefs. A popular pastime among the colonists involves taking armed parties deep into the jungles to hunt these fantastic creatures for sport. The disappearance of hunters only made the quarry that much more prized by their comrades in the cities.
At sea, the maze of coral reefs that surround the island harbor animal life of all kinds. Schools of fish, sharks, whales, all make at least temporary homes in the clear blue waters. The natives harvest much plant and animal food from the waters, which is why they figure so prominently in islander mythology. The colonists see some of the virtues of the reefs, especially regarding food. Mostly though, the reefs are an inconvenience to their shipping, to the point that several attempts have been made to clear paths through the reefs with metal clad ships. The iron hull plates corrode quickly, but by dragging these low-riding hulks across a reef, furrow can usually be carved out of the fragile reef that will allow an Ergothian galleon to pass without lightening its load. The natives, whose traditional fishing grounds have been damaged because of this practice, were less than impressed, and continually try to thwart the efforts.
People of the Nordmaar Islands:
The native residents of the Nordmaar Islands are a simple people, living generally in harmony with nature. Much of their time is spent building their massive oceangoing canoes, fishing or engaging in lively storytelling. Compared to farmers and herders, such as the colonists, the average islander has a great deal of free time. Physically the pale skinned islanders are thin and tall, the average height for males and females being over six feet. Eye colors are green or brown, and the islanders’ wavy hair is typically fire-red or black. Hair length varies, but it is typically worn no longer than the shoulders. They wear little clothing, typically loose wraps or loincloths of bright reds, oranges and greens. White is worn by pre-adolescent members of the society- after their initiation to adulthood they wear the clothing of that group. Ornamentation and body adornment consists of bracelets, anklets, neck rings, earrings, nose-rings or pendants. The islanders are very superstitious; consequently, no piece of jewelry is without perceived protective significance. Shamans wear animal skins, and adorn themselves in bones, rattles, skulls, and mummified animal parts, all with magical significance. Their bodies are normally unmarked, but during religious events or warfare they paint themselves with geometric shapes or patterns that mimic animal markings. In warfare, the islanders typically use long spears, bows and shields. Hand to hand combat is performed with heavy clubs, the edges of the hardwood cudgels sharpened or studded with stones. They rarely wear armor, except for animal skin capes.
Prior to the arrival of the Ergothian colonists, the natives feared the deep jungle, claiming that malevolent spirits dwelled within it. After they began to be rounded up as slaves, many natives overcame their age-old superstitions and fled into the darkness. Islander villages are found sporadically along the coastline, usually concentrated around good fisheries or abundant fruit and nut gathering areas. The arrival of colonists and the discovery of gold on Lessinamaar shattered this peaceful tribal existence. Soon after, prospectors, miners, more colonists began to arrive, pushing the locals further and further into hostile lands, while they gathered the bounty from nature. The pirates cared little for the islanders, except when it came to slaves. The islanders, are known for their beauty, and usually fetch a high price in slave markets all across Ansalon. Thus, pirates sometimes abduct entire native villages, the women for brothel slaves and the men for slave labor. Some of these they sell to the colonists, who, in their ever-increasing laziness, gave up the practice of capturing new slaves on their own. They would rather simply pay someone to do it for them. Thus, the sadistic economy of the region sustains itself.
Colonists: The first generations of dark-skinned Ergothian colonists were a hardy lot, and were not responsible for the institution of slavery in the islands. They learned from the islanders, and were able to survive because the natives taught them to use the resources of the new land and to heed its dangers. Their children however, were not so kind. Once the plantations were established, and the wealth began to accumulate, the colonists’ descendants grew greedy. The plague epidemic of 192PC was the turning point in the fate of the primitive islanders. Seeing their cohabitants suffering and dying, the natives offered their aid. They soon came to regret their kindness. Seeing the healthy natives working their fields, the leaders of the colonists believed that the savages were using magic to try wipe out the settlers, to drive them from their lands. Many of the people, already fearful and suspicious of the ‘savage’ natives, were only too willing to turn on them. The few healthy colonists, using mounted cavalry and superior technology, were able to round up many of the islanders and force them to work. After the epidemic passed, the people continued their vengeance upon the natives that tried to kill them, by enslaving more of them and burning their villages. This set the remaining free islanders running, deep into the heavy jungle where the colonists would not pursue them.
The wealthiest colonists live in a frivolous world all their own, of fanciful art and costume balls, carriage rides and sport hunting, while nearby their slaves eke out a living on scraps.
Slaves: The native slaves of the Ergothian landowners are a miserable lot. After decades forced labor in the fields, the spirits of many are broken. When the days work finishes, most are simply retire to the slave camps on each plantation to live out their sad existences. The shanty-filled slave camps are small towns in themselves, with a central hall or clearing, around which are clustered small, barracks-like dwellings. Social life often consists of music, dancing and religious ceremonies, rituals that the superstitious landowners have done their best to discourage. The no longer wear the colorful clothing of their free relatives, instead clothing themselves in loose white leggings and tunics. Their hair is kept short so as to stay clean in the filthy slave camps, and they are not permitted to wear any of their traditional jewelry and adornment. The Ergothians have systematically stripped the islanders of almost every aspect of their traditional culture, though the islanders are growing more resistant to their masters.
Savages: After the enslavement of the natives, groups of islanders fled their coastal villages into the deep jungles. Once there, they built small compounds, some high in the trees, some in large caves, all to escape their oppressors. From time to time, they would strike out, raiding a plantation too close to the jungle edge, freeing the slaves there. These slaves would join the groups, working to help further slaves escape their owners. Over the decades, they have lost much of the rich culture that the other islanders possessed, descending into cannibalism and barbarism, little more than animals. In the centuries they have lived in the jungles, the average height for savages has decreased to little more than five feet, regardless of gender. They tattoo their small bodies and ritually scar them in elaborate patterns even on their faces to show their totemic allegiance. Adornment consists of feathers, bones, stones, and animal claws woven into or tied to untreated animal skins. They wear masks in battle to draw power from their animal totems. Their weapons are very crude; being made of heavy bone clubs, sharpened sticks and animal horn picks. Their ferocity has developed in response to the dangerous lands they inhabit.
On Lessinamaar, the savages are somewhat different, as they are lead by Bakali and Jarak-Sinn. In their damp caves and jungle huts, they worship the lizardmen as living gods. The few Bakali maintain their hold through the use of impressive magic and their ability to control the giant reptiles of the jungle, things the savages cannot do. In turn, the human savages show their devotion by tattooing their bodies and wearing masks that emulate the faces of the giant beasts the Bakali control. Their raids on colony towns and islander villages are all the more fearful because of these masks. The survivors speak of demons ride out of the darkness on dragons and killing anything that dares stand against them. Consequently, the islanders have begun to build shrines at the rainforest edges to placate the vengeful jungle spirits. Few have escaped these fierce jungle dwellers. Those that have describe them as living in caves, crude lean-to’s or on platforms lashed to the crooks of trees. The savages, who file their teeth sharp points, eat mainly meat that is raw, as they apparently no longer have knowledge of fire-making.
Sea Pirates: Pirates rule the seas around the islands. The riches of the colonists, as well as the abundant slaves, made the area ripe for the picking. Humans and minotaurs alike, they came from all around Ansalon to plunder the green isles. Making their lairs in the many coves around the islands, the pirates prevent much traffic from reaching the island unmolested. Of course, the pirates are smart enough to know that they cannot rob or sink all of the ships- that would bring military action from Istar, Solamnia or Ergoth. As numerous as the pirates are, they are not united, and a determined armada from any of these nations could set them running. In light of this knowledge, they usually board the ships, exacting a tax, in the form of goods, coins or prisoners, to allow the ship safe passage. The veteran merchant captains who ply their trade in the area have adapted to this situation, which occurs with alarming regularity.
River Pirates: Many of the river deltas on the islands lead further inland, to lakes and river networks. Those who sought to avoid piracy at sea were often surprised to find the same threat on land. The river pirates often masquerade as savage native groups, travelling in dugout canoes or paddle-driven catamarans. True natives engage in piracy too, charging out of their riverside villages, taking to the water to surround their prey, while others climb out onto the trees over the rivers, to drop into the midst of their quarry. Some even live on their boats, towing a large barge where their leader lives. As a group, they migrate up and down the murky waterways, gathering food from the jungle around them and the travelers they raid. Anyone who lives through a river pirate attack should consider themselves lucky, their survival is wholly unintentional.
The beliefs of the islanders and the colonists both before and after the Cataclysm are vastly different from elsewhere in Ansalon. Before the arrival of the Ergothians, the islanders maintained a system of beliefs that venerated most gods in some form or another, though their tribal beliefs focus on spirits and forces of nature. These spirits are representations and combinations of the traditional Krynnish Gods, based on their spheres of influence.
The savage’s beliefs are very crude, consisting of sacrifices to their totems to gain benefits, to avoid negative effects or to give thanks. Their sacrifices are myriad, some are blood or liquid libations, others volcano sacrifices, still others are ritual drownings or sacrifices to animals. Regardless of the method, the sacrifices are frequent and violent. In some instances, they steal objects from colonists, burning them or otherwise destroying them so that they can gain the power that the colonists have and drive the foreigners from their shores. The savages also engage in divinatory practices, very similar to their more civilized islander cousins.
The colonists and their religions are very similar to the faiths as practiced in other lands of Ansalon, as they were brought from them. From the savage villages of the interior, to the slave towns of the plantations, religion was a communal affair. Rituals were participated in by all, and were led by shamans in elaborate costumes.
Shamans are respected in the native societies, although they are rarely liked. They are tolerated for the knowledge and power they wield, but generally disliked and mistrusted for the same reasons. They are a necessary evil to the islanders; a source of contact with the spirit realm, fonts of wisdom about the natural world. Often, even the leader of a tribe will defer to the shaman, but they know their place, and would never try to take control openly. Instead, they manipulate the superstitious islanders and live comfortable lives, often believing the wild tales they spin.
Zivilyn, the patron of time and its passage, is particularly important to the islanders, who know him as Zoyobra, and rely on him to regulate their lives and the cycles of nature. As such, the arts of divination are widely practiced throughout the islands. Outsiders will likely find the methods of divination distasteful at best, horrifying at worst.
The worship of Zoyobra takes the form of a diverse variety of divinatory styles, their practice aimed at removing the uncertainties of life. They are practiced throughout the islands, though some may only be practiced by a few specific groups. Scholars from the Library of Palanthas journeyed to the region, chronicling the cultures there as they came into contact, changed and assumed new forms. It is they who determined the importance of the Zoyobra worship practices, and categorized them into the following types. While they are listed separately, often times several different ones are performed together as one ritual.
Divination through Observation of the Atmosphere:
Aeromancy: Observation of atmospheric conditions such as storms or ripples on water, such as tides. In this way, the success of an expedition to sea can be determined before it leaves.
Astromancy: Observing the movements of the stars, planets and constellations will reveal the fate of the world as a whole, not just the islands and their dwellers.
Austromancy: Winds bring the future if they come from the east, the past if from the west. By listening to the words they whisper, a shaman can bring wise council to a chieftain.
Nephelomancy: The observation of clouds, specifically their movements and forms, reveals specific events in the past or future, depending on the direction in which they move.
Botanomancy: Plants and herbs are often used by the native shamans to induce a trance-like state. In this state, the shaman can communicate with the dead, and with animals or plants.
Divination through Animal Means:
Animals are particularly important to the islanders. They speak with the shamans, often revealing guilty parties, evil sorcerers or other causes of misfortune. This is the most important thing to the natives, as knowing the source of their problems allows them to cope with an unfair world. Not coincidentally, divination assumed a greater importance after the arrival of the oppressive colonists.
Oomancy: The examination of bird or reptile eggs and their contents can reveal the past of a specific person.
Ornithomancy: Prediction of the future is done by observing bird flight or listening to their songs. Birds also bring news of distant lands in poetic styles.
Ichthyomancy: The future is predicted by examining fish entrails, their contents and markings found therein. The intestines reveal the future successes of the angler, as well as where they will die. The time of their death however, is unknown.
Aruspicy: Animal intestines are inspected in the same manner as fish intestines, but the goal is to see the present in another place, not the future. As with fish intestines, the hunter is the focus of the augury, though the entrails reveal past acts and successes, not the results of hunts yet to come.
Divination Through Objects:
Belomancy: Arrows are useful for determining the fate of a dead person. In the ritual, a suspended arrow will point towards the location of a departed soul. If the arrow does not point south, towards the island of the dead, it is an indication that the soul is not at rest, and sacrifices must be made until it is. Failure to do so, the shaman warns, will result in nocturnal visitations by the vengeful spirit.
Ceromancy: Shapes and patterns found in melted wax reveal the future of the candleholder, according to the shamans who observe the ritual.
Lecanomancy: When a shaman throws an object belonging to a sailor into the water, the ripples and sound reveal the present situation of a person away at sea. The water can be in a container, a lagoon, river, or the sea itself.
Cleromancy: Pebbles, bones, shells, pearls or other objects thrown on a flat surface reveal the events yet to come for the caster.
Crystallomancy: By gazing into a shiny surface, the present in a distant place can be seen. In some cases, the shaman can communicate with the person viewed, thus altering the future.
Divination through the Elements:
Hydromancy: Water is the medium by which the Native shamans and witch doctors foretell the success of a voyage to sea. It is practiced on inland waters, on the coasts and at sea when a ship heads for its home port.
Capnomancy: Altar or hearth smoke reveals the future events that are to take place in a specific place, but they are unreliable, as they present only one possible future in uncertain terms.
Lampadomancy: Lamp flames reveal the past of a specific place, of events that transpired there.
Pegomancy: After they were enslaved, fountain water became a source of seeing the present in faraway places for the native islanders. In this way, they could see distant family, though they could not communicate with them.
Pyromancy: As with smoke, fire is examined for visions of the future. The images in the flames are more reliable than those presented in smoke.
Divination through Human Means:
Anthropomancy: Truths can be found by examining the intestines of a human sacrifice or other dead person. The knowledge revealed pertains only to the past, ending at the time of the individuals death.
Ciromancy: Hand shapes and lines are the guides to a person’s life. They map out the roads walked and hint at those to be traveled in the future.
Gyromancy: By drawing a chalk circle, and having a person run around it until they collapse, a shaman can determine their fate in the coming hours.
Spodomancy: Ashes of a sacrifice are powerful, as they combine the power of both an objectual and an elemental divinatory practice. As such, they are able to predict the future with a great deal of accuracy. Consequently, they are among the most difficult and taxing for a shaman to perform.
Tephromancy: The remnants of a burnt offering are useful, as ash-writing, when performed by a shaman in trance, can reveal the past and future of a person, but not its present.
Oneiromancy: The dreams of a shaman hold great power, as do the dreams of another when a shaman interprets them. They give warnings, reveal secrets of the past and present and hint at events yet to come.
Sciomancy: Shadows act in much the same way as dreams. They are consulted by a shaman for the wisdom they hold about past events. They are eternal witnesses to time passing. Wherever an event occurs in any amount of light, a shadow observes it. It is the shaman’s task to find and communicate with that shadow.
The Gods of the Archipelago:
Habbakuk and Zeboim are also very important to the islanders; aspects of them, Kahene-ma and Hecali-ma, are worshipped as the king and queen of the seas. Feasts are held in their honor several times each month, whenever a moon is full, and a great festival occurs yearly to mark the Night of the Eye. While the lord of the sea is given great homage and thanks, his wife is feared and sacrifices are made so she will grant safe voyages. Often times, the natives mark these sacrifices and ceremonies on huge barges, floating temples that they tow out to sea with their huge dugout canoes. At the culmination of the ritual, the barge-temple itself is set ablaze, a burnt offering to their gods.
Takhisis, known as Gtaka, is the twin of Gtoko, an aspect of Hiddukel, the trickster. Whereas he is sly and cunning, she is slow-witted and vicious. Together, with the aid of their servants, the Kangata, they trick mortals into fighting each other for the spirits amusement.
Sargonnas, known as Kothanele, is the main evil power that the Nordmaari placate. He is the central cause of misfortune in the world, the granter of sorcerous powers to his followers. Sacrifices are made to drive him off and suspected followers are driven from their villages.
Paladine is worshipped as Mahune, the mover of the sun and clouds. He rows it across the heavens in his ship, the clouds forming his wake in the sky. Without his daily journey, there would be no rhythm to the cycles of Nuerde.
Nuerde, as the islanders know Mishakal, is very important to the islanders. She is an earth spirit that renews the world and its cycles, setting life in motion again and again. She decides the number, gender and fate of all children that people have. Consequently, many sacrifices and ceremonies are held in her honor, by parents hoping for many healthy children. From her spring the plants and the jungle itself, which is part of the reason the natives fear and respect it so much.
Chislev is not worshipped specifically by the islanders. Rather, aspects of her, in the form of animal spirits are venerated. Sacrifices are made, sometimes in town squares, or at crossroads, or in jungle shrines, to ask for the blessing of the animal spirits. These spirits in turn lord over the animals of their species, according to the believers, and act according to the worship given. This changed very little after the Cataclysm, except in the savage islanders who fled deep into the jungles. Their worship involves living blood sacrifices, designed to bond the animals with the people, and give them attributes of each other.
The Moon Gods are very important to the people, both before and after the Cataclysm, as they regulate the tides. Tisifon (Solinari), Mayara (Lunitari) and Ouama (Nuitari) determine the good times for fishing and whaling, and as such, are equated with great sea creatures that sail through the skies in Paladine’s wake. No one is venerated above the others, although Nuitari, the dark moon is often linked with Taratemaar, the isle of the dead, where the entrance to the underworld is.
On the southernmost island, Taratemaar, where it is forbidden to go before the end of ones life, lies the kingdom of Tarano-me. It is the isle of the dead and of death itself, for he reigns there on a throne of bones. So say the legends of the islanders. He leaves his grim seat of power, flying out into the world on Ouralobus, an enormous serpent. Dragging a net, his task is to catch the souls of the newly dead as they leave their bodies, and judge them. The worthy are released to continue their journey to the afterlife, while the unworthy are hauled in and forced to serve him. His serpent mount has a head at each end of its body, to tear apart the souls of the wicked and trap them in the world to serve him. The islanders greatly fear the coming of Tarano-me, who combines aspects of Chemosh and Morgion, but the being itself is viewed as essential to the continuation of the world itself. Certain people, if they have not been diligent in their sacrifices, may be forced to join his journeys to haul in the day’s catch of souls. They are known as Suli-Tar, the soul-fishers. If one displeases Tarano-me while in his service, they may be forced to return to the world of the living, as slaves to a witch or shaman. In the centuries since the colonists’ arrival, an elaborate cult grew up around this idea of resurrection, often connecting it with prosperous landowners or the wealthy. These people, their rivals would claim, bribed a witch to drag a departed soul back to the world as a slave, to work their fields without need of food, rest or water. The presence of the undead on the islands is accepted by the islanders as a fact. They cannot be destroyed, rather they must be appeased, and thus elaborate sacrifices are made to them. The natives of the islands do not believe that all undead are evil- most are selfish and jealous of the living, but some are helpful, and can provide much wisdom to those with the courage to ask. Since they gain their powers from Kothanele, those who summon the undead risk being cast out of their communities. Because of his association, their acts are kept secret from family and friends, performed in the wilderness away from civilization and prying eyes.
To the islanders, Sirrion is not a singular being, but rather a whole series of dangerous, unpredictable fire-spirits, the Biel Makh. Because of this, much effort is spent trying to calm their restless nature. Among the people who dwell near the grassy coasts, this is especially important in the dry season. If the fire-spirits are displeased, or too pleased, they run amok, causing huge fires, which can quickly escalate into forest fires if they reach the dry jungle edges. As a counter to the fire-spirits, people pray and sacrifice to aspects of Habbakuk and Zeboim, who bring the rains to the world.
Reorx is mostly unknown to the Nordmaari Islanders. To them, the world is made up of Paladine’s body in the skies above and Mishakals body beneath it. They believe in creation out of divine love. The idea that the world could be created with tools, as though it were a canoe, or a home, is alien to them.
Branchala, the patron of music and the arts is also not specifically worshipped by the islanders. This is because music is essential to their culture, so much so that it has never been separated from it. Percussion and wind instruments are the most common among the islanders, their sounds often echoing throughout the lands at night.
The savages worship their gods, which are essentially aspects of Chislev, the Moons and Tarano-me. The exception to this is the savages of Lessinamaar, who worship the Bakali and the giant reptiles of their jungle.
The buildings of the colonists are heavily influenced by their builders’ Ergothian heritage, though adaptations have been made to suit the materials available. The plastered, whitewashed buildings are roofed in red clay tiles, while green-painted shutters and awnings block the frequent rains that batter the islands. The mansions and plantations are similar in style, but the slave shantytowns are built crudely, of castoff wood and thatch. The arched windows and doorways of the buildings are welcoming, often opening onto the street. Some townhouses have yards filled with exotic plants and animals, hobby gardening, topiary and private menageries being popular among the decadent colonists. The natives fear these gardens, with their animal-shaped hedges and wrought-iron fences. More than one person has disappeared in the lavish estate gardens of Ilmatar, and the superstitious slaves know why. Nature they say should not be bent to mortal will, nor should it be imprisoned. The disappearances are its way of sending a message- one that has fallen on deaf ears.
The arrival of the colonists meant the end of the natives’ unique technologies. Their tools, made of natural materials, were replaced with the Ergothians metal implements. Those islanders that fled into the jungles found new ways to use what they found there. Bows, spears and axes are the typical weapons of the islanders that are free, while the slaves, the colonists use steel swords and shields.
The islanders make use of the natural materials around them. Bones, teeth, horns, and claws are easily worked, but retain keen edges and points. For this reason, the natives make extensive use of them. Coral and stone from Lessinamaar are also utilized, for the same reasons. Talismans and charms, popular among the people regardless of the time period, are made of all manner of materials. In addition to the above, mummified animal parts, feathers and carved wood are used. Islander clothing is an elaborate combination of skins, masks, furs and feathers, a variety only enriched by the arrival of the colonists and their textiles.
Places of Interest in the Archipelago:
Prior to the Cataclysm, much of the islands were shrouded in heavy jungle. This makes exploration inland difficult, but not impossible. There are many towns and forts to be found, abandoned by settlers, pirates and missionaries, some mysteriously predating the Ergothian arrivals. The coastline is dotted with pirate lairs, while the rivers are frequented by hostile natives, river pirates and traders.
Villages vary widely, depending on the environment they are in. Those on the seashore or riverbanks have little in the way of fortifications, instead, the residents rely on being able to flee into the jungle or out to sea if they cannot fight off a foe. Their woven-reed huts are cylindrical with coned roofs and can be collapsed and rolled up for travel in minutes.
In the jungles, the savages build their homes in the boughs of trees, on vine-lashed platforms or in caves. Travel through the jungles is on the backs of a variety of large lizards or in the massive interwoven tree branches. The people learned of the lizards from the few remaining Bakali who inhabit the islands, ancient beings that passed on stories of their glorious civilization. These lizard mounts climb quickly through the trees, leaping gracefully between the branches or swimming in the many rivers and tributaries of the jungles.
The pirates that plague the islands make their lairs in many different places. Some have chosen caves along the coasts, others in ruined monasteries a few miles up the rivers. The majority live in secluded coves or on the countless small uncharted islands in the area. They range in size from simple hidden docks where a ship can lay safely at anchor, to villages where the several ships of the larger pirate fleets can hide.
Missions and Forts:
The religious expansion that occurred after colonization resulted in numerous missions being built in various places on the islands. They were often very isolated, being so placed as to have the closest contact with the heathen natives. Dedicated to many different gods, some are in use, some are in ruins, while others have been taken over by the natives when the priests abandoned them. Villages often sprung up around them, becoming trading centers and eventually small towns.
Selinn, the Ruins of a Bakali City:
On the coast of Lessinamaar, strange ruins emerge from the jungle, cross the beach, and continue into the sea. They are the ruins of an ancient Bakali city, a relic from the Age of Starbirth. The stonework of the ruins has survived the interceding ten millennia well, although the decorations on those that are exposed have long since been worn away. Further inland the ruins continue though they are cloaked in layers of vegetation and prowled by vicious animals. Exploration is dangerous but ancient secrets abound if the body and spirit are willing.
These massive structures are high upon the tree-covered volcanoes, and are built as massive stairways leading to the cloud-shrouded peaks. There are some chambers along the way, but not even the islanders recall the origin of the structures. At the time of the Ergothians arrival, the natives are believed to have been making regular human sacrifices into the volcanoes. This practice continued after the colonist’s arrival, but to a lesser degree, due to the outsider’s interference and the destruction of the indigenous cultures.
These massive rock towers stand of the southeastern coast of the Island of Nordmaar, running for miles parallel to the islands high cliffs. In the ancient days of the earliest race, the Bakali, a series of massive fjords and inlets stretched along the coastline, but over the millennia, they were eroded away. The pillars themselves are anywhere from a few hundred feet to a mile or more off shore, and the tallest ones are hundreds of feet tall. They are riddled with caves at their bases, making perfect hiding places for pirates and raiders. One of the governors even had a pillar turned into a prison and asylum, hiring dwarves to expand the caves at its base and delve a spiraling tunnel up to its peak. Few knew of the prisons existence let alone its location, for inmates were not known to leave it once condemned.
Reefs and Shoals:
The waters of the archipelago are laced with coral reefs and sandbars, making navigation in deepwater craft hazardous at the best of times. The most well-known of these sites, and the most dangerous, is the Boneyard Shoals, the place where the Ergothian Armada met the Pirate fleet in 96PC. Even decades later, the masts and rigging of some of the hulls can be seen at low tide. The natives have little trouble with the reefs, as their watercraft sit high enough to sail anywhere safely. Many a slaver has heedlessly pursued an islander boat, only to have their ship run aground in the shallows, the hull holed by the razor-sharp coral. In the last few decades before the Cataclysm, some of the pirate groups began to use stolen native boats, allowing them greater speed, mobility, and the advantage of surprise.
One of the sandbars off the Western coast of Siwerdemaar presents a hazard to navigation second only to the Boneyard Shoals in magnitude. While not a true reef, this sandbar has destroyed many a ship over the centuries. Depending on the moon phase, the tides can allow safe passage or bring doom to a vessel. The danger is compounded by the fact that the area is surrounded by coral reefs and the sandbar itself shifts from year to year. From time to time, the movement of the sandbar, through the work of waves and wind, exposes some of its past victims. The crushed and broken hulls of the half-buried ships provide temptation to many adventurers and treasure-seekers, dozen of whom disappear each year when the tides suddenly change. Those who heed the tidal cycles still face dangers inside the rotting ships and the crews that folklore says still pilot them. Zeboim’s Tail has become a grave for wise men and fools alike.
Nuerde Mare (Nordmaar):
This is the largest island, situated in the center of the cluster. Its central bay is the first place Heyeirdah’s ship, the Kinshaya, made landfall, and where first contact was made with the islanders. The first colony village was founded here, on the eastern coast, and the island is surrounded with sandy beaches on its coasts and many calm coves. The northern tip rises into a volcano, Atanuerde, the daughter of Nuerde. The island itself is heavily jungled in its interior, but on the eastern coast, much land has been cleared for irrigated plantations. The Governors Road runs the length of the island, while the Heyeirdah Trail runs its width. Most of the colonist residents do not leave their walled plantations except to go into towns. The cliffs of the southern tip are also home to several families of rocs, giant birds that terrorize the islands and the seas around them.
Cities, Towns and Villages:
This fishing port is the second settlement the natives built in the archipelago. It was founded after the natives showed the colonists one of their most fruitful fisheries and sea-harvesting grounds. Initially the town was accessible only by land. The only craft that could make it through the treacherous reefs were the nimble and high-riding islander boats. After the bounty of the region was discovered, the settlers began to search for ways to allow larger fishing ships to the area.
The fertile hills of Northern Nordmaar’s tip provided the colonists with much of their crop variety. Beans, squash, wild rice and corn all grow here, and seeds were transferred to the other colony sites. Some plant types did not survive in their new locations, which necessitated the founding of an agricultural center here. The deep waters of the northern coast area also allowed a port to be founded, one that began to ship exotic foods to other parts of Ansalon. This shipping trade grew, until Demares became part of the spice trade route around northern Ansalon. Demares quickly became one of the wealthier towns of the islands.
This is the first town settled by the colonists. Heyeirdah landed here and made first contact wit the islanders, so it was only natural that the Ergothians set up their first town at the same site. The town is built on the shore of a deep natural bay, one of the few in the archipelago. The town grew quickly, overtaking the walls that were built in less than twenty years. Much of the land around it was cleared, either for farming or for building materials. Consequently, the landward side of the town is a maze of bridged irrigation canals and bulwarked fields. Islander workers and slaves live in encampments built against the town walls, while most landowners live within the town or on protected plantations in the country. The largest single building in the town is the great temple, although the hilltop garrison and the governors mansion dominate the landscape. As the town expanded and outgrew its existing walls, new ones were added where needed. The result was a maze of walled and gated city quarters, each having only one or two ways in and out. The buildings are crowded together, often one using the wall of the next for support. The west end of the town is prone to flooding, and as a result is empty of all but the most unsavory characters. Vermin, of both the two and four-legged kinds, lurk in the sewers and catacombs beneath the cobblestone streets, emerging from the gratings to prowl and plunder in the dead of night. Ilmatar was conceived as the capital of the colonies, but it never attained the economic prominence of most other cities, due mainly to its lack of natural resources. In the rapidly growing colonies, fertile land is not rare, and without a major second industry, the city languishes in mediocrity among the many colony towns.
Perched on the rocky western shore of Nordmaar, the rough plank town of Belanus was founded for two reasons-wood and gold. The advent of mining on the Lessinamaar had resulted in an increase in piracy throughout the archipelago. The losses were especially high on the long northern route to Ilmatar, which crossed Felinna’s Deep before sailing down the eastern coast of Nordmaar. After the loss of several shiploads of newly minted coin, the colonial government took action and sought out a new route. By skirting the southwestern coast of Lessinamaar, the captains of the transports could land at the new port of Belanus, then send their cargo overland to Ilmatar for safekeeping. This route was particularly effective because there were few places where pirates could hide, and the transports were close to land for much of the journey. Belanus is also known for its gigantic trees, useful in all manner of building. The town boasts several drydocks for shipbuilding and repairs, as well as several mills where useable lumber is cut for sale in other parts of Ansalon. The presence of loggers, shipwrights and mercenaries to guard the gold shipments makes Belanus a very rough town, full of brothels, taverns and gambling houses. It is also one of the first places missionaries built temples in, so that they might preach to the workers there about their sinful ways. Clergy are tolerated in Belanus, but they are definitely not welcome. More than one priest has had to defend their preaching with their fists in this rough coastal town.
The pirates of the seas around Nordmaar were the founders of Gandulla. Originally, it was nothing more than shallows where ships would drop anchor for trading. Weapons, slaves and stolen goods were traded and stolen, the pirates would say that if it could be found in the islands, it could be found at Gandulla. Eventually gambling dens and docks began to appear on land, followed by artisans and herbalists who would repair or heal with no questions asked. There was no law in the town, or even a local government. Everything changed in 95PC, when the colonial government, tired of the raiding and piracy, raised a militia in Ilmatar and Belanus. They marched overland, hacking through the thick jungle for days before reaching Gandulla. The town, at the end of a line of cliffs and nestled among the children of Nuerde, was undefended. Few ships lay in the cove, and the army swept aside resistance simply by its presence. The next time a pirate ship docked in Gandulla, its captain was surprised when the other anchored vessels turned weapons and demanded surrender. Gandulla became another safe port among the colonies.
Lacyna Mare (Lessinamaar):
Gold was the main reason the port on Lessinamaar survived. The Northern parts of the island is windswept and barren, the jungle of the other islands being absent here. The deforestation a result of the extensive mining that has taken place over the years. The smelters belch black smoke and ash into the sky year round, casting shadows over the rest of the island, and turning the whitewashed walls of the buildings to a dingy gray. Much of the western coast, including the waters around it, are polluted with the toxic byproducts of the refining process. Strange creatures dwell in the land and the sea here, giving rise to fearful legends whispered among the slave miners in their shantytowns around the smelters. The southern half of the island is unexplored and carpeted in jungle, a shroud over the extensive Bakali ruins that lie there.
Cities, Towns and Villages:
This is the third colony port built on the islands. Situated on Lessinamaar, the western island, it is the center for the minerals trade, several foundries and smelters being found within its walls. The existence of Jotan is purely accidental, as it was the only sheltered cove where the second wave of colonists could wait out a storm on their way to Ilmatar. Once they had dropped anchor and come ashore, they discovered the mineral riches that lay close to the surface. One of the ships went on to Ilmatar, seeking supplies and workers, while the remainder set up a compound and began surveying the area. The thirst for gold was the main reason the emperor dispatched further colonist fleets. The port grew slowly at first, before exploding when the gold rush began. Within a decade, its wooden walls were replaced with stone, and buildings several stories tall began to rise above the simple dwellings and warehouses. As the number of colonists grew, they surveyed further and further, finding surface deposits and founding two new towns. The natives were unconcerned with the arrival of the colonists, that is, until the mining began. The smelters needed fuel, which the trees provided. With the loss of the trees and plants, the rich soils disappeared, washing into the waters with the heavy rains. The black smoke fouled the waters around the port, but the colonists were unconcerned- they could buy food with gold produced in the minting houses. The advent of mining and commerce brought with them the arrival of the first guilds in the islands, the priesthoods of Reorx and Shinare. Together, these two groups had a firm hold over much of the industry and goods trade across the archipelago and Ansalon itself. The city is heavily policed, and maintains the largest standing militia in the islands. Its island-based prison is well known across Ansalon, so much so that Ergoth itself sends its most dangerous convicts there.
Sheltered by the Emperors Wall Shoals, Aiusa’s main mineral product is silver. It is also the departure point for the treasure fleets bound for Belanus. Coins and ingots minted in Surid are brought here overland, as it lessens the time and distance for the laden ships to travel in the treacherous waters. Consequently, Aiusa is almost as heavily guarded as Jotan, and maintains the only cavalry forces on the island, for patrolling the roads and escorting the treasure caravans. Architecturally, it is similar to Jotan and Ilmatar, although, as it is a much smaller town, being the most recent of the settlements on Lessinamaar. In addition to its role in treasure transporting, Aiusa is also the operations base for many of the expeditions into the heart of the island, whether explorers or big-game hunters. Not surprisingly, there are many mercenaries and much disposable wealth in Aiusa. From time to time, the savages of the southern portion of the island attack Aiusa, riding in on enormous lizards, sinking ships in the harbor or destroying caravans before they arrive. In response to this, Aiusa is aggressively hunting natives, offering bounties for every savage’s head brought to the local magistrates. The mayor has also contacted the governor of the colonies on several occasions, seeking to gain aid from Ergoth, but so far, the efforts have been fruitless.
Sitting on the edge of the dying grasslands, Surid is a city devoted to the harvesting of gems. The hills south of the city abound with different types of precious and semi-precious ornamental stones, the backbone of Surid’s wealth. The town also quarries a great deal of building stone, material the towns on the other islands have snapped up to replace the baked bricks they had been forced to use for walls. The proximity to the desert has also created a thriving glassware industry in Surid, with products that fetch high prices throughout Ansalon. As with the other cities on Lessinamaar, the pursuit of wealth is of singular importance, regardless of the environmental destruction that is caused. Surid is largely untouched by the savage raids, which is surprising, as it is the source of food for the island. Its proximity to Forseti and Demares make it the major agricultural trade port, as it is often easier and faster to ship good across land on wagons than through the storm-tossed seas and their treacherous reefs. If the natives were to turn on this largely undefended town, they could quickly starve out the other two. The semi-circular bay the town is built in is almost all harbor and warehouses, with most people making their homes in flats above the storehouses or in tenements near the town wall. Large wagons rumble down the wide streets constantly, bringing food or mined goods to the other two cities. Shipping, whether on sea or land, is the real source of Surid’s wealth. The grain merchants control prices for the rest of the island, a contributing factor to the tensions between the cities. Surid can survive without the others because of its crafty arrangements with sea captains, the other two towns however cannot survive without Surid. Rumors persist that the savages who raid Aiusa are not completely undirected in their attacks, but evidence to support this theory is scarce.
Istayen Mare (Istinamaar):
Smallest of the major islands, Istinamaar’s main industry is agriculture. It was here that the colonists originally found many of the wild plants the subsist off of. The unique ecology of the land also prevented many of the more exotic plants from thriving on the other islands. It is the trade in these that Forseti finds its wealth and significance.
Most of the island is arable plains, except for the southern tip. It is covered in jungled hills. Among these hills dwell all manner of primates, creatures that have proven very popular in the menageries of the wealthy across Ansalon. Expeditions regularly leave Forseti with the intention of capturing some of these peaceful and shy animals, and it is not uncommon to see them on chains or in cages in the markets of the city.
Cities, Towns and Villages:
The city of Forseti allowed the colonies to survive. From the lands around it came the crops that feed and clothe the colonists as well as provide no small measure of its economic prosperity. Sadly though, the other part of Forseti’s wealth comes from the exotic animal trade. The island is devoid of large predators, and consequently, a huge diversity of small animals has developed. The wealthy across Ansalon purchase these as pets, dissection specimens and even buy parts as spell or potion components. Much of the city is warehouses or makeshift selling zoos, where buyers from Istar to Tarsis can pick and choose for their distant customers. The proximity to the open sea also makes Forseti home to a thriving whaling industry, whose products can be found throughout the merchants quarter. The city is one of the major trade ports for the group of islands as Istinamaar is unfettered by the reefs and shoals that surround the rest of the islands. Goods come from all the islands and when a trader comes to the Nordmaar Archipelago, they go here first. It is the most diverse of the cities, having many temples to many gods, and being the first stage for the arrival of many guilds and trading companies in the archipelago.
Cuerde Mare (Siwerdemaar):
This island is mostly mountainous, with some flatlands on its eastern coast. The steep mountains are covered in vegetation, their slopes almost impassable to travelers. Much of the animal life here is birds, snakes or small mammals, all living high in the lush forest canopy. The interior and western coast of the island is mostly unexplored, though savage native groups do live within the rugged jungle valleys. Much of the wealth generated comes from fisheries off the eastern coast, among the reefs and shoals that lie in the fish migration routes. The reefs also provide many exotic corals, shells and pearls that the residents sell to art supply buyers and jewelers when they stop to trade. The towns of this island are the poorest in the archipelago, as the settlers are not Ergothians and the other colonists are fearful that other nations are jealous of the archipelagos wealth.
Cities, Towns and Villages:
The survivors of a wrecked Istaran trade fleet landed here in their lifeboats, quickly building a palisade to protect themselves from the fearsome indigenous peoples. Their paranoia was well-founded, as they were quickly attacked by savages from the islands interior. Siwerdemaar was almost completely depopulated during the height of the slave raiding times, with the exception of those who fled into the jungle depths. The survivors and their children had a long memory, and the sight of foreigners on their shores brought back old hatreds. Consequently, many of the Istarans live within the town’s walls, only venturing out into the surrounding fields during the day when their mounted guards and watchtowers can protect them. The town is a popular seasonal base for whalers from as far away as Palanthas, who have found that the Ergothians, though willing to trade and do business, are not as welcoming when it comes to foreigners taking up residence. Architecturally, Turan is very different from the Ergothian towns. The buildings are Istaran in style, with central courtyards and colonnaded walks, statuary pillars and detailed door lintels. The excess of the few stone buildings stand in stark contrast to the simple wooden buildings that surround them. This arrogance in everything is typical of Istarans, and, not surprisingly, the Ergothians rarely visit these shores.
When the Istaran trade fleet was destroyed, some survivors were sent north, and founded Turan, while others were blown south of Zeboim’s Tail. Where they landed, they built Kubera. As with Turan, there are a few stone buildings in the Istaran style, while the remainder are simple wooden structures. The residents live off their fisheries and pearl harvesting, but have started to explore some of the fruits of the jungles edge for possible orchard growing. The Istarans have recently requested that the Kingpriest send troops to protect them from the savages. The Istaran Legion built a fortress at Kubera and is currently doing the same at Turan. Presumably, they are laying the groundwork for an increased Istaran presence on the Island.
This town was established shortly after the discovery of the Istaran towns. Although it is a fishing town, many of its residents cast nets for more than fish. The true reason the emperor ordered the town built was to keep spy on the Istarans and to act as a base for Ergothian troops should a war erupt between the dying Ergothian Empire and the all-encompassing might of Istar. Its buildings were mostly wood, hastily erected so that stone walls could be built. Slave labor quickly replaced the wooden structures with stone once the town was secured. In only a few years, the Ergothians had established a deepwater port and a military garrison that could defend itself, if not overtake the Istaran settlements as well. It maintains a large militia, the largest of all the islands for a town of its size, as well as a mounted police force that patrols the countryside of the southern half of the island. Its fishing and whaling fleet operates mainly on the southern and eastern sides of the island, which occasionally causes conflict with Istaran fishing fleets. The Ergothians could easily fish elsewhere, but the fishing fleet is merely a cover for several spy vessels which keep close watch on the Istaran towns activities, as well as observing the arrival of any Istaran ships. After losing much of its empire in the past, the Ergothian Imperial Court takes few chances with its newest prize possession.
Tara ta Mare (Taratemaar):
Known as the island of the dead, it is the dwelling place of Tarano-me on his throne of bones. The island is heavily forested, with high cliffs surrounding it. It rises straight up out of the sea, climbing steeply into Tarano-take. a steep sided volcano covered in jungle. Natives fear the place more than any other, and will not go there under any circumstances under their own death. Here is only one location where ships might land, Heyeirdah’s Cove, and it is choked with the half-sunk wrecks of the first colonists who attempted to live there in 177PC. No one knows whom, if anyone, inhabits the dark jungle island, and few have been daring enough to try to find out. Those who have been were never found.
Cities, Towns and Villages:
There are no known settlements on this island. The colonists built one, Ackal’s Landing, in 177PC, but it was destroyed shortly after it was founded. The town is in ruins, plants will not grow there- not even insects dwell in its devastation. From time to time though, the beating of strange drums can be heard drifting across the waters towards the other islands. When they hear these drums, the islanders panic, rushing about to find cover, so that they are not in the open when Tarano-me comes. Many of the natives on the other islands regularly sacrifice animals and paint the central posts of their huts with the blood, to ward off Tarano-me.
The impact of the fiery mountain upon Krynn was an act that changed the world forever. The world of the islanders and colonists, always small and self-contained, was irrevocably altered, some say for the better, others for the worse.
After the Cataclysm, the Islands were no longer islands. Instead, they were part of a huge peninsula, thrust above the sea in the turmoil. A section of seafloor, hundreds of miles long, now connected the islands with the mainland.
As with the remainder of the continent, little is known of the history of Nordmaar in the first two centuries after the cataclysm. Much of the time was likely spent rebuilding and cleaning up the wreckage, or devoted to creating fortifications to fend off raiders. Many refugees came to Nordmaar after the cataclysm, lured north by the climate and the abundance of unpopulated fertile land. Tragically, many of these first refugees fell victim to disease and the strange denizens of Nordmaar’s jungles. The savanna is dotted with the ruins of farms, trading posts and towns, their builders dead or long since fled to the coastal towns.
Geography After the Cataclysm:
The rise of the Nordmaar peninsula during the Cataclysm resulted in a rapid expansion of the former island environment. Bordered by a band of desert in the south, the new land was quickly overtaken by colonizing plants and grasses. Slowly trees and shrubs began to appear, and in less than a hundred years, the great jungles of the islands had expanded to fill much of the risen seafloor. Some areas of land were lower in elevation than others, which gave rise to the Great Moors of Southern Nordmaar, west of Valkinord. Within the humid confines of both environments, animal life abounds, without the threat of settlers. As a result of this, and because of the rich ecology, animals in the jungles, from insects to birds, reptiles and mammals, grow to huge sizes, some fully half again as large as elsewhere on Ansalon.
To the north of the desert band is a broad swath of grassland. Across this stretch of savanna herds of wildebeest and antelope graze, survivors of initial post-Cataclysmic migrations.
The desert itself is a vast dune sea, with mountains of sand, some from the seafloor, some from before the Cataclysm, soaring as much as two hundred feet high. Closer to the mountains, the desert land is much more rugged, taking the form of badlands, deep ruts carved out of them by rains and flash floods. This arid wasteland is an effective barrier against incursions of land-hungry conquerors, but also keeps much of Nordmaar’s most dangerous fauna trapped there. Indeed, they only people who are foolish or brave enough to cross the desert are merchants in their caravans.
The decrease in population as well as the increase in land area has made Nordmaar a very sparely inhabited place. As a result, much of the coastline is pristine sandy beach or thick jungle, giving rise to its reputation as a savage wasteland devoid of civilization. Travel through the interior is on the numerous rivers, lakes and deltas carved by the Cataclysm, as roads quickly become overgrown. Consequently, most villages are on a river or other body of water. The weather of Nordmaar also plays a part in its habitation patterns. There are several other larger cities in Nordmaar, most being remnants of colonial towns rebuilt after the Cataclysm.
People of Nordmaar (Post-Cataclysm):
Islander-Colonists (The Nordmaari):
The destruction of the Cataclysm affected all the residents of the Nordmaar Islands. From savage to slave, pirate to plantation owner, all suffered under the wrath of the Gods. In the tumultuous years that followed the impact, nature ran amok in the new peninsula of Nordmaar. The survivors of the tidal waves, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions were forced to put aside their differences to survive in this new land. The two groups grew together over the years and decades, becoming the Nordmaari as history knows them. Their beliefs and religions, as well as their cultures, melded together as the groups intermarried and old hatreds began to dissolve. Forced to cooperate, the groups found that they were not so different after all.
Little changed for the savages when the cataclysm happened. Many died in the natural disasters, but as the jungle expanded, so too did their homes and numbers. There are now many groups of savages living throughout the jungles, some have even migrated out onto the plains to find abundant food there as well. They still attack the settlements, albeit with decreasing frequency. The Nordmaari leave them alone, being concerned with rebuilding their shattered nation, while they have grown even more fearful of civilization. Some of the natives that fled deep into the jungles, and the slaves they rescued took to a life of raiding after the Cataclysm. They thunder out of the jungle or grasslands on horses or giant lizards, and into a village seeking treasure and slaves. Their attacks typically take place at night, so that their numbers and appearances can be disguised under animal skins. Day raids are known to occur, but with much less frequency. To further add to the terror they spread in their nocturnal raids, they carry torches, setting the simple fenced villages alight as they retreat into the darkness. In the jungle, they are equally vicious, but much more subtle. They will often sneak into villages in the night, drugging people with potent insect venom, and stealing them away. In the morning, the village awakes to find many people missing, giving rise to legends of supernatural creatures that steal children away to feed themselves. After the Second Cataclysm, many fled the deep jungle of the north, telling tales of strange creatures within. Creatures that can raise fear in the savage jungle dwellers must be terrible to behold.
Rivers crisscross the peninsula after the Cataclysm, new places for the pirates to prowl after the islands disappeared. Travel on the waterways is unsafe at best, for the predators stalk the tributaries in sleek, oar-driven craft, overloaded with rowers to overtake even the swiftest of vessels. Riches or slaves, the pirates have no preference. No survivors are left in their wakes, only drifting, burned-out hulks. Some are descendants of native river pirates, some of sea pirates who took to land after the cataclysm. All are ruthless and brutal raiders.
The pirates that roam the sea around the peninsula are mostly Minotaur, the brutal might of the beast-men having slowly forced the humans out. As a result, a journey through the seas around Nordmaar is costly. The Minotaurs attack mainly for slaves, seeking captives to work in their island nations. The pirates are not fools though, and are careful to raid only ships and towns far from the few naval bases Nordmaar maintains.
Religion among the mixed descendents of the Islanders and Colonists is very different from either group’s practices before the Cataclysm. The forced mixing of the islanders and the colonists in order to survive also mixed their belief systems. The result was a blend of primitive beliefs in spirits, divination and the undead, coupled with the hierarchical organization of the colonist’s traditional religions.
The civilized residents of Nordmaar after the Cataclysm have become a superstitious people, much like the natives their ancestors enslaved. Offering sacrifices to spirits in their homes, at sea, in the fields and in the rebuilt temples, the believers of the new, combined religions have a rich and varied spiritual life. The Nordmaari always wear numerous charms and amulets to protect themselves, fearing the curses and witchcraft of others. So great is their fear of certain malevolent spirits that great festivals are organized frequently throughout the year to placate the beings. These festivals involve elaborate dancing, sacrifices, and fire-lit nightly processions through the streets of the towns. Often times, people wear costumes representing the power they specifically wish to calm or invoke, hoping that the spirit will notice them and act accordingly. As before the Cataclysm, the festivals, which can last for days, culminate in great sacrifices, either of animals, idols, objects or foods, all to show piety to the spirits that surround the people. In times of great stress and danger, people have even sacrificed themselves for the good of others.
The divinatory practices followed by the islanders before the cataclysm were adopted and modified when the various groups banded together to survive after the Cataclysm. Even the ‘civilized’ town dwellers make signs to ward the evil eye, bad luck, and evil spirits. Fortunetellers and shamans are fixtures in cities, often having their own quarter filled with gaudily painted buildings where they perform elaborate rituals according to their specialty. The Nordmaari have a complex spiritual life, often using the abilities of the mediums and oracles to maintain contact with dead kin or exorcise a possessed individual. The influx of refugees from the mainland around the peninsula also provided inspiration for many new practices.
The beliefs of the more isolated tribal islanders and the savage jungle dwellers are very similar to their pre-Cataclysmic beliefs. To them, the Cataclysm was a punishment visited upon the evil colonists and their empires.
Settlements of the Peninsula:
In parts of Nordmaar, particularly around the Great Moors, entire buildings are built on massive pontoons, made from hollowed-out tree trunks or on huge log barges. Casinos, inns, marketplaces, all can be found on these floating platforms, connected to each other by mazes of gangplanks and catwalks. Smaller boats of varying designs also have homes and buildings built on top of them. These are all lashed to each other by vine ropes, and then tied to strong anchor trees along the river’s edge. Some of these villages migrate up and down the rivers acting as travelling markets and bazaars, breaking apart, only to reform in a different pattern at their destination. This is where many of the inland settlements get supplies. The coming of one of the floating markets may be the only outside contact a village has throughout the year.
This city predates the Cataclysm, and was an important center in the spice trade. From its docks the exotic goods of the islands were sent to faraway lands, a tradition continued after the Cataclysm. With the rise of the Nordmaar peninsula and the expansion of the jungles, the variety of exotic trade goods exploded, meaning more profits for the merchants of Jachim. The traders have long ruled the city, even blocking outsiders from certain parts of it during trading season. In this way, the shippers never know the true worth of the products traded in the market district, only the inflated prices the traders sell them for. Before the destruction of Istar, Jachim and Vellas, the city that controlled Istars spice trade, maintained a strong rivalry. The competition escalated at times to blockades and even combat on the high seas.
After the War of the Lance, Jennison is a city of refugees, a home for the displaced. The town was originally built shortly after the Cataclysm, as a fishing village on the newly risen coasts of Nordmaar. After the destruction of Valkinord in 348AC, many of the survivors who escaped the slave march fled north and settled in Jennison. It is a rough and tumble town of stone and plank buildings; most of them built hastily when the homeless began to flood through the gates. Consequently, it is also filled with slums, beggars and petty crime.
This was one of the first cities built on the islands by the colonists. It weathered the destruction well, but after the Cataclysm, the city was forever changed. The waters of the harbor had slowly risen, in some places as high as the second floor of buildings in the town. People fled the lower floors of their homes, leaving the main floors submerged. Rather than moving completely, they simply began to travel throughout the flooded streets in rafts and barges, continuing with business as usual. At first, people built crude hovels on the red tile roofs of the shorter dwellings, but in time, they began to build new structures on them as well. Some took a different approach, opting instead to live on their barges, lashing them together to for stability. It has become known as the city of canals, a testament to the flexibility of people and their will to survive.
This small town subsists on fishing, harvesting the exotic plants of the jungle and as a base of operations for explorers and treasure-hunters. From its shores groups set out for Turan, the sunken city, as well as to the mysterious Islander temple that rises from the open sea. It is here that some of the great barge-temples are built each year to be sailed to the temple and burned as a sacrifice.
The colonial capital of Ilmatar has changed little more than its name in the years since the Cataclysm. Its harbor is gone, much like Tarsis in the south of Ansalon, but it has found several new industries by which it survived. The rise of the peninsula lands and the plains of Nordmaar allowed the extensive farming to continue, while the Mureau River allowed provides a great deal of fish and waterborne animal life.
This small fishing village is made up mainly of the descendants of survivors of the towns of Lessinamaar. As before the Cataclysm, this rough town is plagued by savages raiding on the backs of giant reptiles. It is one of several towns made up of the mixed descendants of colonists and islander slaves. The residents farm, herd and fish to survive, in the traditional ways of the pre-cataclysmic islanders. The fertile hills to the east of Pentar are grazed or worked on occasion, but herdsmen that bring their charges into that area risk attacks by the beast-riding savages, who may thunder out of the jungle at any time or by the many marauding predators of the jungles edge.
Perched on a hilltop, this city sits at the intersection of three roads and three climates. Consequently, it has the most diverse population of any city in Nordmaar. This diversity in turn results in a wide range of available products from the desert khans, the swamp dwellers and the plainsmen of central Nordmaar. In a land with so few roads, if products from eastern Ansalon wish to enter Nordmaar by land, they must come through Robann. The city also has a large library and a thriving black market antiquities trade, all plundered from the ruined cities in the desert or the Sea Elf City of Votana in the Great Moors. As with products entering Nordmaar, if something is leaving Nordmaar by land, it will likely come through Robann.
After Pentar was raided several times in its first year, some refugees fled further north, towards Jotan. A group of militia from Jotan met them en route, demanding that they turn back. The now homeless people refused, but without weapons, could not continue. Instead, they searched the area, finding a suitable location for a town of their own. The site chosen by the settlers was a hilltop overlooking the inland countryside and the seas to the west. Ubasta is a city with two main parts, the docks and the town proper. The town on the hilltop is walled, as are the docks. The road down the hillside to them is also walled, so that the fishermen can be defended wherever they are. The long walls run along the wide road, and over the years, the town has started to build up along the path. Booths and shops are built against the walls, and in some places, the road has been completely covered by buildings, forming a tunnel of sorts. The wretches of the city fill this area, forming a gauntlet of poverty that people must pass through on a daily basis. Pickpockets, prostitutes, beggars and muggers all haunt the stretch of road, from the wharfs to the gates of the upper town.
The survivors of Forseti’s destruction built Unger in a sheltered bay a few miles from the ruins of their town. Forseti was heavily damaged and remains mostly flooded, centuries after the Cataclysm. Unger has become a trade point for Demares and Jotan, as it sits along the only route between the two. Its local government exacts tolls from caravans that pass through, unless they are willing to set up camp outside Unger. If they stop, and force customers from the city to travel to Unger to do business, the tolls are waived. The exotic animal trade that had made Forseti famous before the cataclysm continues, but to a much lesser extent. Now, creatures are sought mainly for spell or potion components. The access to the jungles on the rest of the peninsula has made this new enterprise profitable as well, much more so than selling live animals. The savages of the jungle regularly raid the caravans en route to Unger, as well as waylaying hunting parties. In a few instances, groups of the tattooed jungle dwellers have even entered the city, climbing over its earth and wood walls to free animals within. This has lead to a bounty being placed on the savage’s heads.
This town, the only deep-water port on the peninsula, was built after the Cataclysm to house refugees from sunken Nordmaar cities. The urgency of the task make its architecture and style somewhat different than North Keep. The town is very simple, with buildings made of rough masonry and thatch, and a simple grid layout. Much of the city is devoted to tenement-style housing, each building being several stories tall. In this way, the most people can be fit into the smallest space. Unfortunately, the crowding has also lead to Valkinord having crime, vermin and disease problems. The most prominent feature is its high walls and fortified breakwaters. It was destroyed during the War of the Lance and never rebuilt. The towns crude sewer system is woefully inadequate, the waste canals in the city often come close to overflowing. Work crews have been sent into the tunnels to clear blockages and widen them, but more often than not, the laborers disappear somewhere in the maze of dark tunnels.
One of many floating towns on the rivers of Nordmaar, Willik was originally an anchored barge on the Mureau River Delta. Over the centuries, this floating town has developed a well-deserved reputation as being a seedy den of villains. Willik, the town’s first captain, died long ago and his barge has long since sunk, but the criminal element he harbored remains. The layout is ever changing, as boats leave or join the floating town. Various gangs and river pirate groups frequent the place, but it is mostly neutral territory for them all.
This town is little more than a trade site, a gathering place for caravans of goods from across Nordmaar and the surrounding region. The town itself is very small, but well fortified. The trade grounds are outside its walls and certain areas have been claimed by merchants from particular cities. There few buildings on the trade grounds, most are seasonal booths or open-walled wagons. The majority of the walled town is built around a small pond fed by an underground spring, and it is this need of water that brings traders. There are few other places where drinkable water can be found on the grasslands, consequently, if the traders want to get water and do business, they must pay the town leaders. Some of the city groups have banded together, using their own funds to build portable stockades, so that their goods and people can be protected from the raiders that plague the peninsula. The people of Wulfgar care little about the outsiders, as long as they can pay their trading fees and water rights. If the town were not so well-defended, the other cities would have hired mercenaries long ago to do something about the problems.
The homes of the former Islanders are very similar to their Pre-Cataclysmic counterparts. Some are permanent while many are easily transported, as most of the small barbarian groups are nomadic. The frequent floods and long rainy season have caused the residents to adopt many unique architectural adaptations.
In most places, flood or storm surges can be as much as ten feet, and so the dwellings in the jungle interior are typically built on tall stilts. These also help to keep out some of the larger predators, although if they are hungry enough, the raised shanties provide little protection.
On the savanna, the majority of natives are herders, and live in round reed or thatch huts. These are collapsed and rolled when the village moves, as is the tall fence that surrounds them. These nomadic groups are often small, consisting of only a few dozen members of a family.
The coastal villages are similar to their jungle counterparts, being built on stilts or on the land above the high tide marks to avoid flooding. The native villages on the coast between Melkar and Demares are different though, even from other coastal dwellers. Unlike most of the other natives, their settlements are permanent. The structures are simple in layout, often built square or rectangular out of split log planks. The stilts themselves are elaborately carved trees trunks, raised as pillars, stairs and ladders forming part of their intricate artwork. The secretive inhabitants of these mist-shrouded villages are known for their fishing and whaling prowess, as well as their skills with their massive oceangoing canoes.
Places of Interest:
Some towns the colonists built survived the Cataclysm, while others were destroyed instantly. Some though, like Turan, went to their doom silently, surviving earthquakes and storms only to sink slowly into the azure sea. The process took days, but when it was finished, the town, still intact, lay almost completely submerged. After the Cataclysm, the red tiled roofs of the buildings, as well as their uppermost stories, jut above the surface of the water, the only evidence that land once existed there. The inhabitants fled to the new peninsula, abandoning homes that now stand in the open sea.
This ruined Bakali city now rests upon a grassy plateau on the edge of the Oghama highlands, slowly being swallowed by the greenery surrounding it. The sands of the sea, which had long protected it, were washed away in the Cataclysm, revealing one of the best preserved examples of the architecture of this mysterious ancient civilization. Its egg-shaped domes, soaring arches and elevated roadways seem at harmony with the lush surroundings, as though they were born out of them.
Only one of the Islander temples survived the Cataclysm unscathed, the temple of Istinamaar. The others were destroyed or submerged, although the one built on Siwerdemaar is still accessible. Its great stairway rises out of the sea, the mountain it is carved into forming an artificial island. Islander boats often dock at these stairs, so pilgrims may climb the stairs to seek the wisdom of their ancestors.
The Boneyard Wastes:
After the Cataclysm, the Pre-Cataclysmic reef that was the Boneyard Shoals was thrust above the waters. Now known simply as the Boneyard Wastes, it sits on the great savanna, in the middle of a vast field of scrub and short grasses. No larger vegetation grows there, and animals shun the place. Natives avoid it too; their legends say that spirits wander through the scattered hulks, seeking vengeance for their deaths and looking for souls to feed upon.
As with the Boneyard Shoals, vast coral reefs were thrust above the sea when the peninsula was created. It is an alien landscape, of arches and caves, populated with strange plants and even stranger ruins- the former homes of sea elves and other underwater races. These are found throughout the peninsula, in any of the lands that were once beneath the sea.
Sea Elf City:
Just as Selinn, the Bakali City, was revealed during the Cataclysm, so too was the Sea Elf City of Votana. Its architecture is unlike anything else on Krynn, elegant and ornate, strangely familiar to those who have seen Silvanesti, yet very different. Buildings are built of brightly colored coral and other stones, and carved with bas-relief images of sea life.
The Pillars of the Sky:
During and after the Cataclysm, rapid erosion destroyed the cliffs and shoreline of the former island further, as well as some of the pillars themselves. Now they stand as sentinels over the savanna of central Nordmaar. In the vast grasslands, the natives believe that it is these stone towers that stop the sky from falling. Their tops have become overgrown with vegetation, which has even begin to creep down the sides of the towers, like a green curtain. The pillars are riddled with Pre-Cataclysmic pirate lairs and ruins, the most feared of which is the ruins if Esimau’s Aerie, the Ergothian Prison.
The War of the Lance in Nordmaar:
What transpired in the Nordmaar Peninsula during the period surrounding the War of the Lance is largely a mystery. What is certain is that the ranking commander of the Red Dragonarmy, Hakael Sepharoth, ruled the area with an iron fist. Educated in Kalaman, Sepharoth knew the problems learned people could cause his rulership. Anxious to prove his worth to Emperor Ariakas, he systematically rounded up and executed herbalists, librarians, even bookkeepers- Any who might speak against him. Anyone literate disappeared in the night. His brutality was revealed early in his reign, in the razing of Valkinord. Though he commanded more than enough troops and dragons to demand the small city’s surrender, as a show of force he sacked the city, burned much of it, and force-marched the citizens south to Neraka. Thousands died en route, those that lived were never seen again. When Valkinord had been obliterated, the commander’s terms for surrender were immediately sent to North Keep. In open mockery of the city’s raised defenses, a red dragon flew over the capital, dropping a sack into a fountain in its center. The sack contained the head of Valkinord’s mayor, the treaty of surrender stuffed in the mouth. North Keep surrendered less than a day later. The savages of the jungles and the plains struck at the Dragonarmies from time to time, using their trapping skills and knowledge of the landscape to harass the occupiers. The end of the war saw the Dragonarmies defeated, but not driven out of some occupied areas. Sepharoth held onto his rule, even after the dragons left, eventually building Jennison into a major northern trade port.
Nordmaar and The Chaos War:
Two years after Sepharoth’s death, the armies of Ariakan swept across Ansalon, followed by the minions of Chaos. The Knights of Takhisis conquered Nordmaar with little trouble, their brute footsoldiers adapting very quickly to the jungle terrain of Nordmaar. The ruler of Nordmaar, Sepharoth’s son, Bezrial, had such a tenuous grasp of his power that even his own troops threw down their weapons when they saw the ebony-clad knights stride out of the surf.
Suthysa Camuel, one of the dark knights, took over as provisional governor of Nordmaar, establishing a garrison while the remainder of his forces continued on their conquerings. His rule was short-lived, only weeks later the Chaos War began.
The summer had been unseasonably warm, even in Nordmaar’s dense rainforests. Fires raged across the peninsula, through the jungles and the savanna, blotting out the sun with their smoke. Tremors began to rock the earth, until finally, Tarano-take, in the great swamp, erupted. The blast was heard hundreds of miles away, and a rain of fiery ash blanketed the region, creating a perpetual twilight for the wars duration. At the same time the mountain erupted, a wall of water appeared off the northern coast. Silently, the wall of water swept southwards with an unnatural slowness, strange shadows writhing within. Over a hundred feet tall and scores of miles long, the tainted waters engulfed the beaches, then pressed into the jungle itself. After what seemed like an eternity, the wall finally stopped. It remained in place, like a murky glacier, covering huge areas of the northern peninsula, until Chaos was banished. With the departure of the Father of All and Nothing, the mass of water collapsed, flooding a huge area.
Nordmaar in the Fifth Age:
The end of the Chaos War and Second Cataclysm had little physical effect on most of the Nordmaar Peninsula. The flooded lands were the exception. Jotan, Ubasta, Pentar, Demares and Unger were all destroyed by the wave, and their inhabitants fled or wiped out. The shells of the buildings remain and have since been reclaimed by survivors. Plagued by nightmares, strange beasts from the sea and the jungles, the residents would leave, but they have no where else to go. In the lowlands, where the tainted waters pooled, strange creatures and plants appeared, their presence accompanied by even stranger events. Many savages, former dwellers of the jungle depths began to leave their sheltered home, emerging into the plains, seeking work and a place in the realm of mortal civilization. They spoke fearfully of creatures prowling the jungle depths, of monsters that destroyed and ravaged the settlements within. In 16SC Mohrlex, the Black Dragon known as Pitch arrived and took up residence in the Great Moors of Southern Nordmaar. With the arrival of Pitch came the resurgence of the reptilian Bakali and their kin, who have begun to rebuild their ancient civilization under the dragon’s protective gaze. The remainder of Nordmaar is a free realm and has become a center for refugees from the conquered lands.
The lands of Nordmaar, both before and after the Cataclysms, are filled with adventure and danger. Its dark history holds many secrets, while its future lies in preserving its freedom. In the fifth age, it is one of a few free realms, and consequently it is lusted after by many powers. It is a land that has a unique relationship with the gods, and with magic itself. Regardless of the time, heroes are always in short supply in this savage land.
Appendix 1: A Timeline of Nordmaar’s History
The history of Nordmaar before the Cataclysm is one of tragedy and despair, a pitting of two peoples against each other. Only when the world was sundered in the Cataclysm could they find peace and learn to live side-by-side.
The natives of the islands had no written history before the arrival of the Ergothians. It was only the arrival of the colonists, and their subsequent enslavement of some of the natives that precipitated literacy amongst the natives. The events of the archipelago’s history before colonization are shrouded in mystery, myth and legend. Consequently, the following timeline begins with the first contact.
220PC (2341 Years after the ascension of Ackal Ergot) The Ergothian explorer Heyeirdah makes landfall on the island of Nuerde Mare during his circumnavigation of Ansalon. As she sails in from the south, the islanders believe she comes from the island of Tara ta Mare, and prostrate themselves before her.
219PC After several months in the company of the Islanders, Heyeirdah leaves, to continue her journey and report to Terrapyn IX, the Emperor of Ergoth, of what she has found.
218PC Heyeirdah arrives in Daltigoth, to the accolades of the people and her liege.
216PC After hearing of Heyeirdah’s journey and the bounty of the islands, emperor Terrapyn decrees that Ergoth shall protect the humble Islanders by establishing a colony there.
215PC A fleet of ships leaves Daltigoth for the islands, now named the Nordmaar Islands by Imperial decree. After rounding the Cape of Storms, the naval escort turns back to Ergoth to defend the imperial seat of power. The slow ships of the colonists, and their inexperienced crews are easy prey to pirates, storms, and shipborne illness. Fully half of the flotillas is lost in the months-long journey to the islands.
214PC The colonists finally make landfall on the eastern shore of Nordmaar Island, establishing Ilmatar, their first town, there. The numbers of colonists and their alien appearance makes the natives apprehensive, and contact is not made between the groups for almost two months. In that time, deaths occur due to disease and accidents, but are blamed on magic of the savages that inhabit the island.
213PC The colonists survive their first year, and begin to establish themselves, building granaries, mills, clearing fields and stone walls for Ilmatar.
212-193PC The natives and the colonists begin to conduct trade and the mistrust between the groups fades. Some natives, attracted to the curiosities of the colonists leave their coastal villages and enter the towns, seeking to make themselves like the colonists. Always looking for more workers, the colonists accept their aid, eventually some are taught to read and write, and are given important tasks on the rapidly growing plantations.
207PC Jachim founded.
206PC Jotan founded.
203PC Demares founded.
199PC Forseti founded.
192PC A plague epidemic breaks out in the colony, but affects only the Ergothians, not the natives. Many people die, so many that the survival of the colony itself is threatened because there are not enough workers to procure food. The islanders offer further aid, this time though, the paranoid colonists and their militia imprison many of the natives, accusing them of using magic to try and trying to destroy the colony. With mounted soldiers, steel armor and weapons, the natives are helpless to stop the colonists from throwing them in irons as slaves.
191PC The governor of the Islands, Shinial Perrakys, declares that the islanders must be made to pay for their bewitchery and evil magic, and slavery is officially instituted on the islands. Many of the natives who are not imprisoned flee deep into the jungles when their families are rounded up or killed for resisting.
190-153PC The colony grows, especially when a second wave of settlers arrives from Ergoth. Smaller outpost villages are founded on each of the outlying islands.
177PC Ackal’s Landing founded.
176PC Contact is lost with the village of Ackal’s Landing, on Taratemaar, the southernmost island, within months of its founding. Search parties from Nordmaar find no bodies, just the remains of the buildings.
152PC Gold is discovered on Lessinamaar, causing a gold rush on the islands. Soon after mining begins, pirates begin to appear in the waters of the archipelago with increasing frequency.
152PC Aiusa founded.
150PC The economic boom on the islands continues, and priests journey to the islands, setting up missions, churches and schools in the towns at first, but soon in the jungle itself, to reach the savages there. The religious expansion culminates in the founding of the great temple of Paladine in Ilmatar, a project that will take almost ten years to complete, as the stone must be quarried on one of the other islands.
150PC Surid founded.
140PC The Great Temple is completed, Giusecchio, the current Kingpriest of Istar, visits the islands to commemorate the temple. His ship is guarded by Solamnic and Istaran warships.
138PC Belanus founded.
117PC The slaves in the plantations, lead by the holy man Seala, put down their tools and refuse to work, demanding that they be set free of slavery, be allowed to own land and have rights equal to the colonists. Their resistance is proven futile, when the colonial militia attacks, forcing them back to work with violence and threats.
101PC Turan and Kubera founded by Istaran shipwreck survivors.
97PC After over fifty years of pirate raids, stealing riches and slaves, the new emperor of Ergoth, Kovabiel IV, sends a fleet to protect the islands.
96PC The Ergothian fleet arrives, and engages a pirate fleet at the Boneyard Shoals. The Ergothians, unfamiliar with the area and heavily outnumbered, are wiped out, dying at the hands of the pirates, or when their ships run aground on the reefs in the shark-infested waters. The pirates suffer heavy losses as well, resulting in a decrease in pirate activity over the next few years.
95PC Gandulla is occupied.
93PC The decrease in pirate numbers clears the way for Minotaur pirates to enter the area. Some are pirates, and some are part of a Minotaur Imperial Fleet, both are seeking slaves and gold, and use any means to get it. Entire towns of natives and colonists disappear in their wake.
36PC Frustrated with Ergoths lack of aid in dealing with the pirates, the colonists, under governor Ouranos, declare their independence, and petition Solamnia and Istar for aid. Both nations recognize the independent status of the islands, hoping to drive the final nail in the coffin of the Ergothian Empire, long a nuisance to both.
35PC Ergothian troops arrive to put down the rebellion by occupying Ackal’s Landing and blockading the harbors of the colony’s other ports. They are forced to retreat after being defeated in a series of sneak attacks by colonists being covertly supplied by Solamnia.
35PC Gorias founded.
33PC Ergoth finally grants independence to the islands after Solamnia signs a treaty of alliance with the Islands provisional government.
29PC A native uprising occurs, lead by Yawid Misolon, an Islander sorcerer, who leads hordes of undead to destroy the towns and bring freedom to the natives. The colonists, with the aid of missionary priests, fight them off, but not before Ilmatar is sacked and the Great Temple burned.
25PC Raids by savages out of the jungles, intended to free slaves, had always been an infrequent problem. They begin to escalate in frequency and severity, several plantations are burned and their owners disappear.
23PC Istaran troops, led by members of the Order of the Divine Hammer, land at Kubera, to aid in civilization of the heathen natives. They disappear in the jungles of Siwerdemaar, and are never found.
0 The Cataclysm. The Island of Lessinamaar sinks, while the peninsula of Nordmaar surfaces. Natives, slaves and colonists band together to survive n the devastation.
0AC Unger founded.
1-30AC The struggle for survival. As the cooperation of the groups continues, the cultures blend together into the earliest forms of contemporary Nordmaar. The jungles of the islands expand rapidly, taking advantage of the fertile new land of the peninsula.
5AC Pentar founded.
7AC Valkinord founded as a new port for the new land.
8AC Willik founded.
14AC Wulfgar founded.
53AC Ubasta founded.
238AC Jennison founded.
348AC The Red and Green Dragonarmies sweep into Nordmaar, under the leadership of Hakael Sepharoth. They never manage to fully stamp out the persistent resistance, but hold the lands even after the war ends.
383AC The Chaos War. As fires destroy the jungles and grasslands of Nordmaar, the Knights of Takhisis appear and conquer it, using the ports as bases to land troops and strike other parts of the continent. Soon after the conquest is complete, a huge tidal wave engulfs the northern coast, destroying many towns and causing flooding miles inland. In the south, Tarano-take, in the Great Moors, erupts, darkening the skies. Chaos and his minions arrive, laying waste to much of the region.
0SC The Second Cataclysm
16SC Mohrlex, the black dragon, arrives and establishes dominance over Southern Nordmaar. Northern Nordmaar becomes a free realm. Refugees flood its coastal towns from the dragon realms around it, as in the days after the first Cataclysm.
Appendix 2:Resources and Products (Pre- and Post-Cataclysm)
The islands, and later the peninsula of Nordmaar are very rich in natural resources, which is why they were so prized by Ergoth before the Cataclysm. There are several types of environments, each providing a different bounty. They are grouped by environment rather than by island as the islands ceased to exist after the Cataclysm, and most types of environment found there are also found on the peninsula..
- exotic birds and game
- herbs and medicinal plants
- fruits, vegetables and nuts
Oceans, Rivers and Lakes:
- pearl diving
- plant life
- clay for pottery and tile
- treasure hunting
- large game
- flowering plants
- menagerie creatures
- coffee, sugar cane, maize, yams, cotton
- textiles, sugar
- gold, silver, copper
- semi-precious gems
- ornamental stone
- small game
- medicinal and hallucinogenic plants
- sand for glass making
Terrain types by Island:
Nordmaar: Savanna, Mountains and Jungle
Lessinamaar: Desert, Hills, Mountains, and Jungle
Siwerdemaar: Jungle and Mountains
Istinamaar: Jungle, Mountains, Savanna and Hills
Taratemaar: Jungle and Mountains
Appendix 3: The Spirits and the Gods
Majere: Not worshipped prior to the arrival of Ergothian colonists.
Sirrion: Worshipped as the fire-spirits, Biel Makh
Branchala: Not specifically venerated, since music is integrated into every aspect of tribal life.
Kiri-Jolith: Not worshipped prior to the arrival of Ergothian colonists.
Gilean: Not worshipped prior to the arrival of Ergothian colonists.
Chislev: Worshipped in the form of animal spirits.
Reorx: Not worshipped prior to the arrival of Ergothian colonists.
Shinare: Not worshipped prior to the arrival of Ergothian colonists.
Appendix 4: Encounter Tables
The following Encounter Tables are appropriate for use among the Nordmaar Islands before the Cataclysm and after it.
Tropical or Subtropical:
- plains, forests, hills, swamps, mountains or desert
- saltwater, freshwater, surface, depth,
(** Before the Cataclysm, prehistoric creatures were only found in the waters around the islands or on the island of Lessinamaar. After the Cataclysm, the giant lizards spread throughout the peninsula, but not beyond because of the southern desert.)
Appendix 5: Adventure Seeds
Nordmaar is a region filled with adventure possibilities, regardless of the time a campaign is set. Urban, dungeon or wilderness adventures- whatever the DM’s and Player’s particular tastes, this little-known area of Ansalon can fill them.
- Spying for Ergoth or Istar on Siwerdemaar
- Caravan guards on Lessinamaar
- Hired guards for gold shipments to Ilmatar
- Animal catchers on Istinamaar
- Exploration of the Selinn Ruins
- Investigation of the ruins of Ackal’s Landing
- Pirate Hunting
- Rescuing pirate captives
- Hunting escapees from the prison on Lessinamaar
- Spying on the pirates of Gandulla
- Hunting a sea monster that has been attacking ships
- Treasure hunting in the wrecks on Zeboim’s Tail
- Exploration of the mountainside Islander temples
- Fighting off savage raiders
- Undead hunting on Nordmaar
- Searching for lost explorers
- Rescuing survivors during the Cataclysm
- Exploring city ruins
- Caravan Guards
- Exploring Bakali and Sea Elf Ruins
- Exploring the Boneyard Wastes
- Exploring the Esimau’s Aerie, the Ergothian Asylum
- Guerrilla warfare against the occupying Dragonarmies
- Fighting the minions of Chaos
- Spying on Mohrlex
- Hunting raiders or marauding monsters
- Rescuing pirate captives
- Searching for lost explorers