Thursday, June 27, 2019

Deeper Cuts into DDA2: "Legions of Thyatis" (1990), by John Nephew,

The corrupt Thyatian senator, Helenites Osteropolus, his latest scheme smashed by the adventurers and their gladiator allies, hatches a new plot to destroy the influence of the Order of the Sands (even, perhaps, to attack the Emperor himself!). Yet greater dangers lie ahead. If his plot succeeds, it will remove the guardians that protect the city from the creatures that lurk in the caverns and catacombs below. Can the players block his gambit? Will the wheels of justice grind small, or will the greasy palm of political corruption reach out and save the senator once again? YOU decide, in the chaotic swirl of the Thyatian capital's politics."
DDA2: "Legions of Thyatis" (1990), by John Nephew, is an adventure for the Basic D&D game. It was published in August 1990. Taken as a whole this is a module that's like a ticking time bomb with a campaign coupled with DDA1: "Arena of Thyatis" (1990), by John Nephew. These  two books should have been one product in my humble opinion.
But back to the blog entry because what DDA2: "Legions of Thyatis" (1990) represents is a mini campaign waiting to happen. I've used this series of modules with Greyhawk, Dark Sun, Astonshing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea, and many more. But for the moment let's concentrate on Mystara.

"The player's PC's have to venture into a labyrinth of catacombs to prevent the senator from eliminating the wards that protect Thyatis City from the monsters in the subterranean realm beneath it." And this is where things get very interesting because DDA2: "Legions of Thyatis" (1990) catches, codifies, & twists the expectations of the setting of The Empire of Thyatis like a rag doll. There are monsters below the empire & all of this ties directly into the history of the empire. According to the Thyatis wiki entry;

Karameikos is ruled by a Thyatian nobility, but the Empire's territories consist of the western half of the Isle of Dawn, the island realms of Ochalea and the Pearl Islands, and the Thyatian Hinterlands on the southern continent of Davania, in addition to its mainland territories on Brun, which are the smallest of the Empire's territories by geographic size, but the most heavily populated and developed of them. The total land area of the Empire is approximately 800,000 square miles (2,100,000 km2). Because of its political geography, Thyatis can best be described as a thalassocracy.
In its long history, Thyatis has ruled other lands, including Traladara (which became Karameikos), the islands of Ierendi, the southern half of Ylaruam, and the city of Oceansend in Norwold. Thyatian settlers have colonized part of the Savage Coast and also the Heldannic Freeholds, which are ruled by a religious order devoted to the Thyatian-descended Immortal Vanya.
Thyatis has a historic rivalry with the Alphatian Empire, and the two imperial powers devote much of their energy and attention to each other. At the start of the official timeline (AC 1000, or thousand years after the crowning of the first Emperor of Thyatis, in the Thyatian calendar), they are locked in a struggle resembling that of the Cold War, and several published high-level modules have their territorial disputes as a backdrop (notably CM 1, M1, M2, and M5)." This struggle ties directly into the material of the Hollow World itself.

So what happens if the events Wraith of the Immortals box set  never happened?! Well the Wiki entry hints at that much & possibly more saying; "The adventures of the boxed set Wrath of the Immortals takes place within the context of a great war between the two, climaxing in the weakening of Thyatis and the sinking of the continent of Alphatia. Subsequently, Thyatis conquered a few formerly Alphatian territories, suffered setbacks and plague, and by the final official publication that made much mention of Thyatis (Joshuan's Almanac) seemed to be on the road for a gradual recovery. Many campaigns did not use Wrath of the Immortals and the development of their versions of Mystaran countries, particularly Thyatis and Alphatia, may have diverged greatly. In particular those who used earlier published modules, such as CM1 Test of the Warlords or M5 Talons of Night, which involved different conflicts and possible resolutions, could have ended up with very different versions of the Empires than what occurred in the Wrath timeline.
In a review of the adventures Arena of Thyatis and Legions of Thyatis, game designer Ken Rolston called Thyatis "a D&D-game version of ancient Rome", and the city of Thyatis itself an "ancient Roman city", saying: "You have your basic criminal syndicates, debauched and corrupt senators, sinister intrigues, big parties, and lots of hearty Spartacus-style gladiators.""
All of this is wrapped up with a spectacular issue of Threshold magazine #11v2 that addresses this & several other issues tied in with the altering of the Mystara timeline 

The real issue is the strong adventure connections between 
Arena of Thyatis and Legions of Thyatis, with 'The Milenian Empire' of the Hollow World. What if the same basic criminal syndicates, debauched and corrupt senator's network extends down into the Milenian Empire. Could it actually be that the Merry pirates are working with the this corrupt network & thieves guild in disguise?! Think I'm kidding?! Think again.

In History of the Thyatian People by James Ruhland the secrets are laid bare for all to see. The corruption & horror of the gladiatorial game of the Thyatian people is laid bare. The Merry Pirates line their pockets with the gold of the Milenian Empire while new gladiators are brought into the capital. While above on the surface a minor gladiator revolt revolves around the empire of Thyatis? No this isn't going to end trade at all because the pirates are part of the smugglers of Mystara. That tight network has been ferrying goods, contraband, slaves, etc. for centuries.
What does any of this have to do with Mentzer edition BECMI Dungeons & Dragons? Everything because the Expert set's rules build on wilderness & sea adventures. This raises the stakes a bit if the PC's are going to carry the fight & revolt into and about the Thyatian empire.

Taken as a whole these two modules make an excellent start to a mini campaign that can lead to epic campaign lead ins.  Arena of Thyatis and Legions of Thyatis, are classic BECMI Dungeons & Dragons adventures that expose the dirty underside of the Thyatis empire & remain a favorite of mine. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.