The town of Threshold

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Re: The town of Threshold

Post by stebehil » Sat Apr 28, 2018 7:36 pm

There can be several things learned in Threshold: Fogor Island is an area shunned law-abiding citizen. The Black Peak Mountains have a serious gnoll problem. And while the guard won´t give any information away while on duty, off-duty it takes only a few beers to loosen tongues - in the Hook and Hatchet, right beside the old wall (which is not a very precise description. Near the south gate? By the town hall?). Valuables can be secured at town hall, along with "illegal" weapons.
Fogor Isle is described (p. 36) as being fully under control by the thieves guild after dark, and that a full patrol did not make it out of the island when trying to arrest someone there. Apparently, there are quite high-level thieves around, as groups may have their pockets picked by a thief of 6th to 11th level.
On page 37, some more details are described: at the town hall, 2 to 5 patrols are stationed there at any time (meaning that I must revisit my calculation of the guards above), and a cleric on duty escorts people picking up their weapons to the gate. The temple houses 20 clerics, with spellcasting up to 4th level available for payment. So, there is at least one cleric of 8th level available (higher level spells are only available from Sherlane himself, meaning that no other cleric of name level is around). Also, there are parades from Tarnskeep to the city temple at certain occasions, at which Sherlane is borne aloft on an palaquin.
On Fogor Isle live wererats as well, not only human lowlife.

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Re: The town of Threshold

Post by stebehil » Sat Apr 28, 2018 7:58 pm

NPCs from B10, pullout sheet V.
Sergeant Arthol: he breaks the mold of the usual guard servants, in terms of level and stats. I already tried to convert him to 5e here a while back:
viewtopic.php?f=3&t=17780#p195476 I´m not so sure about his alignment any more, he might be seen as NG.

Mafka, Thief: A fifth-level thief apparently proficient at disguises and bluffing, it would seem. I´d see her alignment as neutral evil if converting.

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Re: The town of Threshold

Post by stebehil » Sat Apr 28, 2018 9:13 pm

B10 gives quite some information on Threshold. A few things are a bit strange:
Population numbers: this is too low. The later number from the GAZ fits much better. But then, 5000 people in this out-of-the-way place? Logging seems to be big business.

Guards: quite a lot - I´m not sure if quite as many are really necessary. OTOH, see below.

Fogor Isle: If this number of guards are at hand, I have some trouble accepting this Isle as a "Den ov Evil" in such a strong way. Pickpockets, gamblers, bordellos and all kind of seedier persons surely, but to the extent that they kill off a whole guard patrol without repercussion? That is too strong IMO. An attack on the guards would bring down the full wrath of the baron on the perpetrators, and he would probably get some backup from the Duke himself. Furthermore, having thieves of level 6-11 running around picking pockets leaves the question just what all these thieves do to earn experience and money here. (It makes even less sense with the original 500 inhabitants, of which maybe 200 could resonably live on the isle.)

EDIT: Weapons laws: Still, they don´t make sense to me. The idea that limiting weapons leads to a more peaceful town may be right, but then, allowing swords? The (pseudo-) medieval sword of european design is probably one of the most efficient (read:deadly) melee weapons ever designed (or rather, developed in a centuries-long process). A dagger, which may be used as a tool, and a staff, which might not be such a deadly weapon, are somewhat reasonable. I would disallow anything but daggers and staffs for all but nobility, guards and maybe clerics. /EDIT

Other considerations: I would see the Black Peaks as being quite hostile, with lots of snow. That snow melts in spring and leads to seasonal floods. The lake with the dam and weir might be able to hold this back partially, so the town is relatively safe. But avalances could cause freak waves (and disturb sea monsters...) Mountain lakes can be quite deep, the lake could hold any number of secrets at any depth.

The bridges we see in B10 along the trail to Rifllian might be damaged by seasonal floods. They are probably built from wood, and might be secured by chains to not have them washed away.

The town walls are not shown to have any towers, which is somewhat odd. I visited Tallinn 10 years ago, a city that still has its historic center and the wall, with a lot of towers. Estimated inhabitants in the late middle ages are around 5000. It still has its wall, with over 20 towers on less than 2 km (it were more than 40 on 2.3 km). Having no towers at all may point to the walls being a defense primarily against wild animals and humanoid brigands (there is a gnoll problem in the mountains, they would probably not attack this town, but the wall keeps them away effectively). Military attacks might be unlikely. The idea that the old, inner wall is opened up in many places seems reasonable. This old wall would hinder traffic and take up space for no good reason. Furthermore, material from the old wall might be usable as building material, either in the outer wall or for something else.

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Re: The town of Threshold

Post by paleologos » Sat Apr 28, 2018 9:59 pm

I'm really enjoying your analysis!

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Re: The town of Threshold

Post by stebehil » Sat Apr 28, 2018 10:30 pm

paleologos wrote:
Sat Apr 28, 2018 9:59 pm
I'm really enjoying your analysis!
Thanks, I sure hoped that this might be interesting or enjoyable.

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Re: The town of Threshold

Post by Hugin » Sun Apr 29, 2018 3:00 am

stebehil wrote:
Sat Apr 28, 2018 10:30 pm
paleologos wrote:
Sat Apr 28, 2018 9:59 pm
I'm really enjoying your analysis!
Thanks, I sure hoped that this might be interesting or enjoyable.
I've been enjoying it too! Thanks!

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Re: The town of Threshold

Post by stebehil » Sun Apr 29, 2018 2:10 pm

I think I got all the important information out of B10 by now, and will move on to GAZ 1. p. 39/40 holds the community description, and p. 56/57 the two NPCs. The foldout map shows Threshold and the Lost Valley on the main map, and the map of Threshold is repeated with a changed scale (and colored) from the expert set.

The focus and tone has changed considerably, if you look at the whole product. The earlier products aimed at creating a backdrop for adventures, the GAZ tries to give a background that creates a believeable "world frame" for adventuring. This was visible in B10 already, with quite some information going beyond the description of adventure locales, and some effort to create NPCs that are more than just a set of stats. With the GAZ line, this is taken a huge step further, with history, society and politics, a description of places and many pages on NPCs. Adventures are reduced to a collection of ideas. D&D moved away from its wargaming roots considerably at this time. This started probably with the Dragonlance setting in 1984, and sees some culmination with the GAZ line, started 1987, as well as the Forgotten Realms setting, started the same year with the box set.

Back to the information. Threshold is now said to have 5000 inhabitants, which fits better IMO. Maybe the 500 number is the number when the Thyatians came, and before lumber became big business (building houses, military structures, ships etc. needs lots of lumber, not needed previously due to lack of concerted effort. Furthermore, as I learned recently, in older times, charcoal was used for heating houses, so the demand of wood for that purpose would also have raised dramatically). A tenfold growth within 30 years is huge, of course, but not unheard of.

The laws about magic-user spells and weapons are repeated, as is the view of wearing armor in public. The guards are mentioned in passing only, Sergeant Arthol seems to be the only officer, judging from the wording here, and is reduced to 3rd level (I guess the information from B10 got mixed up). Aleena is said here to be the barons daughter. The 50ft. building decree is also mentioned. The description goes on to contradict B10 partially, only Fogor Isle is said to be tight-packed, dirty and squalid, the rest of the city is spacious due to the building decree. Short descriptions are given of the fishing village, Fogor Isle (mentioning criminal activity in passing, and telling us again that the watch does not enter the Isle after dark). The Old Mill on Fogor Isle gets its own entry, implying that it was a lumber mill. Ruins are mentioned on the west shore of the lake, and identified as a Hutaakan village. The remaining entries - Tarnskeep, Town Hall and the weir and dam - don´t offer new information, besides describing the Town Hall as a very large building.

For players, the population development is probably of minor interest. However, kids growing up in Threshold will know the town is growing and new homes are built all the time, and the new city wall might not have been ready for too long.
The Town Hall is probably built from stone, the Temple definitly is, according to B10. I would assume the two bridges to Fogor Isle to be stone as well. The town walls are stone as well, I´d say, probably with a covered wooden walkway from gate to gate. As B10 stated, the town is otherwise built from wood, as locally available building material. I would guess that there are at least some quarries as well, but as long as wood remains easily available and the traditional building material, this will remain predominant.

The scale given on the fold-out map is off IMO. As stated elsewhere, this would mean that the size of threshold would fit better to the 500 pop. number. Mainland Threshold would measure in at a 1000 ft each direction, which is very small for holding 5000 people, meaning that it would be quite cramped. So, I will go with the original scale from the expert set.

If we assume that Threshold had only about 500 inhabitants prior to the Thyatians, which might make sense, it could be that the whole population lived on Fogor Isle. The main danger are wild animals and marauding humanoids. Living on an isle keeps many wild animals at bay, and makes defense against bands of, say, gnolls much easier. Given the chaotic nature of most humanoids, they probably don´t make too much of an effort to get to the Isle, especially if there are some defenders with bows. Of course, seasonal floods are a problem, but as there is no real indication given towards the height above the water level, it might be that this is not too dangerous - otherwise, the place would not be settled that densely if it were flooded each year.

In AC 1000, I would think that about 1000 people live on Fogor, 1500 in the old town and 2500 in the new town, give or take a hundred or two. This would make Fogor about twice as densely settled as Threshold Main. Maybe there was a small settlement on the mainland 30 years ago, which expanded rapidly, got walled as soon as possible, and 15 years later, got crowded, so construction of the new wall began. The first rush of settlers might have peaked out after a few years, with a more steady growth thereafter. So, Fogor is crowded, the old town somewhat or partially crowded, and new town is the spacious town described. The old wall might have been partially torn down to build the new one, after the new one reached a functional height, explaining the partial gaps seen in B10.

The old mill on Fogor is an oddity, as mills of any kind are usually built away from settlements, due to the noise and with grain mills, the fire hazard. I would not see that as an sawmill, as the text implies - it does not make much sense on that side of the river. A grain mill will be somewhere, this is essential. Maybe a mile or two downriver.

The ruins on the west shore of the lake are a new addition. These are obviously not meant to be the ruins from the basic set, as this ruin was a castle, not a village. The ruins are apparently from stone buildings and have openings leading to catacombs of some sort. As these ruins are identified as being from Hutaakans, they are 2000 years or so old, and their builders are not readily identifiable. I assume a climate with abundant rainfall and quite some snow, which cracks down structures over 2000 years as to be reduced to rubble for the most part. Maybe the old caves seen in the basic set were also from Hutaakan times?

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Re: The town of Threshold

Post by stebehil » Sun Apr 29, 2018 2:59 pm

The NPCs:
Baron Halaran is described as having been a patriarch of the Church of Thyatis prior to coming to Karameikos, so he has been 9th level even back then, and gained only 5 levels at most in the last 30 years. He is in his early 60ies in 1000 AC, born probably 937/38. HIs personality indicates to me a LG alignment when converting. His hit points are above average, considering his low con - should be 27 or 28 if average rolls are assumed, not 34.

Aleena Halaran has been retconned from the cleric Aleena from the Basic Set, of course. Here, she is described as being the barons niece, having come from Thyatis a few years ago. As she is said to be 22 right now, she probably was 17 or so when coming to Threshold, gaining experience rapidly, probably due to her involvement with the Order of the Griffon. Her personality seems to indicate a LG or NG alignment. Her somewhat trusting and naive personality might make her vulnerable to some sinister scheme. Other than that, she is probably every Threshold bachelors dream - beautiful, likeable and heir apparent to the baron. The retconning as the barons niece might explain why she is alive, regardless of the Basic Set - whom would the baron raise from the dead, if not his niece? She is a powerful character, one of the most experienced clerics in Karameikos (only her uncle, Jowett and Oderbry are of higher level), and one of probably a handful clerics capable of raising the dead. (Baron Desmond Kelvin II is also of sufficient level). She also has a few hp above average, and her stats indicate that she is quite a capable adventurer.

How about raising dead anyway? Does it cost 500 gp? Or would the baron raise the dead for free if, say, a guard died while in service? In Basic D&D, spells do not cost any money per se, so taking money for spell casting is just a tool to empty the players pockets and keep them from frivolously abusing NPC spellcasters.

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Re: The town of Threshold

Post by BotWizo » Tue May 01, 2018 10:47 pm

To your post above about the weapon laws I agree, it didn't really make sense.
I think you go with your strategy of further reducing acceptable weapons, or allow all weapons.

I htink you can DM the town either way and not change Threshold signifigantly.

Many times after a big success nearby adventurers could get an exception from the laws if the prove to be responsible in town. This of course depends on the campaign
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Re: The town of Threshold

Post by stebehil » Wed May 02, 2018 7:18 pm

I like the idea of basing the allowed weapons on individual merit. After all, we are talking about a pseudo-feudal society, where the feudal lords make the laws and can easily lay down rules who can and who cannot bear arms, and can grant weapon-bearing privileges to folks who have earned the merit in the eyes of the lord, and fellow lords. I can hardly imagine that a visiting dignitary would be forced to surrender his weapons.

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Re: The town of Threshold

Post by BotWizo » Wed May 02, 2018 9:57 pm

stebehil wrote:
Wed May 02, 2018 7:18 pm
I like the idea of basing the allowed weapons on individual merit. After all, we are talking about a pseudo-feudal society, where the feudal lords make the laws and can easily lay down rules who can and who cannot bear arms, and can grant weapon-bearing privileges to folks who have earned the merit in the eyes of the lord, and fellow lords. I can hardly imagine that a visiting dignitary would be forced to surrender his weapons.
Yep, I beleive we are on the same page.
Makes it fun for party starting out, they need to be wary in town.
Then later they feel like cool kids with special privileges.
Next twonsfolk run to those with the means to help or defend them :)

:)
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Re: The town of Threshold

Post by stebehil » Thu May 03, 2018 9:21 pm

So, on to K:KoA (before I go on a much-needed holiday next week...)

On p. 3 of the Explorers Guide is a picture of Fogor Islands northern tip: There is an intact mill to be seen, with a mill building which is way too small. The ruin is not pictured. The tightly packed buildings are not represented. The bridge leading to Main seems to be a stone bridge. The Town Hall apparently has a very tall bell tower. The town wall might be seen to the right.

Overall, I think that this is a depiction that diverges from the descriptions in several ways, as noted above. (In general, I like the interior art of the GAZ line better than the Mystara boxes art. With the AD&D2 MM, I came to like Tony Di´Terlizzis art after a while, but the art here and in Glantri never grew on me.)

Description of Threshold, p. 44-46: FOr the most part, this repeats the GAZ information verbatim. A few new tidbits of information can be gleaned: the predominantly wooden buildings have foundations made from stones pulled from the old ruins. The weapons laws state that "Only daggers, swords, and staves may be carried within town limits without special permission" (emphasis mine) This could be taken to imply that "special permissions" are a possibility at least. (and fits nicely with our ideas above).

Fishermen´s village: Travel upriver is mentioned. On Handout #5, Map to Eltan´s Spring, there are a few small streams shown, but I think that they are not navigable by any means.

Weir and Dam: This mentions a "logging camp north of Lake WIndrush" - this was not mentioned before, and is not indicated on any map. There seems to be some loose proofreading here.

Fogor Island: Most information is known already, but I think that the "Black Jug tavern" is new. Aleena comes here to meet with adventurers pseudo-incognito? What is this meant to be? A good, upper-class girl getting a taste of "adventure" venturing to the seedy side of town? this is a strange idea, and strikes me as not well thought out. I mean, most criminals would give her a wide berth, for sure - robbing or even hurting the barons niece would be a tremendously bad idea. But if one powerful and ruthless enough would get wind of this, he might enter a high-risk gamble trying to kidnap her. And the adventurers she meets with? They are on everyones watchlist thereafter. Still, I don´t really get it.
With the "Crossed Sword", if rumours fly that this is a illicit meeting place for criminals, the place is burned, figuratively speaking. This is one rumour that should be hard to get wind of.

The Mainland: The town hall is a "large building" (not mentioning a bell tower). The temple of the church of Karameikos is a "tall cathedral, topped by sky-arching spires in the Thyatian style". Well, this is inconsistent to the artwork on p.3, as well. The 20 priests are still there, apparently. The Church of Traladara only has a few small shrines.

The old town wall is riddled by openings. Most businesses are said to be inside the old town wall, while the residential area is between the old and the new wall. Well, sorry to say so, but this is not how most late medieval town look like: Work and living was not separated at this level for the most part. Of course, this might be different here, but building a house is expensive, so that most folks won´t be able to build two.

The ruins on the west shore are mentioned again, and it is noted that Threshold is built on similar ruins "unknown to most". This would mean that there are next to no ruins above ground.

Personalities:

On p. 72, Lord Lucas Tormandros, the townmaster of Mirros, is introduced. He is said to be about 46 and a Threshold native. As I´m not quite sure what the date of K:KoA is (at least 1012, as the renaming of Mirros is stated to have taken place in that year), I´m not sure just what year he was born in (where is that reference I´m missing here?). Anyway, his birth predates the foundation of the Grand Duchy, if only by a few years. So, his family has been there early (I guess this is just another slip on the designers part rather than design), and maybe the Tormandros family still lives there. The name sounds Thyatian, however.

p. 81-83 details the Halarans again, with the barons age given as "early 70s", and Aleena said to be born 32 years ago. This is inconsistent with the GAZ details, where Halaran is in his early 60s in 1000 AC, and Aleena is 22. As the box is apparently set in 1012 earliest, he should be noted to be in his mid-70s, and she as 34. Later dates would add to this, of course. Both characters are LG alignment. Aleena is a level lower than in the GAZ.

I think that this is all information from that book. I did not repeat the information that is just repeated from the GAZ. Maybe I´ll be able to look at the adventures tomorrow.

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Re: The town of Threshold

Post by Sturm » Fri May 04, 2018 10:43 am

stebehil wrote:
Thu May 03, 2018 9:21 pm
On p. 72, Lord Lucas Tormandros, the townmaster of Mirros, is introduced. He is said to be about 46 and a Threshold native. As I´m not quite sure what the date of K:KoA is (at least 1012, as the renaming of Mirros is stated to have taken place in that year), I´m not sure just what year he was born in (where is that reference I´m missing here?). Anyway, his birth predates the foundation of the Grand Duchy, if only by a few years. So, his family has been there early (I guess this is just another slip on the designers part rather than design), and maybe the Tormandros family still lives there. The name sounds Thyatian, however.
Thyatis conquered Traladara in 900 AC, canonically. In 970 Stephan received it as a practically independent Grand Duchy. So it is not strange a Thyatian family may have lived in Threshold before 970 AC. See also this article which appeared in Threshold issue #1 http://pandius.com/k_hdnyrs.html and other histories of Karameikos/Traladara http://pandius.com/karameik.html#history
That said, as the Traldar in the hollow world are inspired by Achean greeks and the classical Traldar originated the Milenians, Tormandros could be an ancient Traladaran name, and Lucas also fits because it is indeed greek.
To explain this inconsistency between the classical greek like Traldar and the later slavic like Traladaran, many fan supposed Traladara was slowly settled by slavic like people originally from Norwold between 1000 and 500 BC.
But it also could be explained IMHO more simply by assuming the greek-like cultures comes from the Taymoran natives who already lived in the land when the slavic-like Traldar came. The original Taymoran culture prevailed in ancient time but was slowly modified, maybe also by the migration of other slavic-like populations after 1000 BC.
As the Thyatians too were heavily influenced by Milenians, Tormandros could be Thyatian or Traladaran as you prefer.
Canon as other similar things: the Azuros in KKoA, Zemiros Sulescu, Dmitrios, all Traladaran with a "os"
Vorloi is clearly slavic, but supposedly Thyatian. My personal explanation is also that Machetos and western Thyatis had many people who were of Traladaran descent, in fact I'd like to think Stephan came because his family was related to the Vorloi and had an ancient claim to the Traladaran throne (or could fabricate a good one). Also the original inhabitants of Thyatis before the Thyatians should have been greek-like and Taymoran descended too.

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Re: The town of Threshold

Post by stebehil » Fri May 04, 2018 4:46 pm

Yes, I´m aware that the Thyatians were there from 900 AC. Still, judging from the descriptions of Threshold, it probably was a real backwater at that time, so I´m wondering what they wanted there back then.

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Re: The town of Threshold

Post by Robin » Fri May 04, 2018 9:14 pm

Although very busy with my own work and artwork for Seer of Yogh...
I still desire to place some input here
if you follow the adventure in the KKoA set, you will see a picture of the Nithian temple of the Master of the Canals Key-Hamintep on page 6 and 12 and 15 of that adventure where you can also see some streets(Juggling Ogre, and 3 shops) although the upper map is not to scale, you can still use it to make estimates of the area. as it was placed on the Island (where also B10 gives more details), you can almost create the whole island out of this meager indformation if you take the illustration of the PC handout 4...if you know this temple is 8 x 2.5'square wide =20', thus with a 10' entry, you (and a very small entry as according to the handout, you can calculate that the cave is rougly 20'high, and with aminimum of 10'rock (protecting infrom cavein and discovery this gives that the island of Threshold must be at least partially above 30 feet above the water level of the river.
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Re: The town of Threshold

Post by Sturm » Mon May 07, 2018 8:54 am

stebehil wrote:
Fri May 04, 2018 4:46 pm
Yes, I´m aware that the Thyatians were there from 900 AC. Still, judging from the descriptions of Threshold, it probably was a real backwater at that time, so I´m wondering what they wanted there back then.
Well it depends on your preferences, the original B series of modules tended to have all communities as quite underpopulated and isolated, while by KKoA they seems to be more populated and connected. I prefer my Mystara to be a bit more developed, so my Threshold has always been an important community in Traladara, therefore never truly backwater, despite having times of less or more prosperity.
Hence I consider that the Thyatian occupants of 900 AC certainly sent people there. In proportion, as if you occupy Germany and ignore Dortumd because it's the 8th city for population? not going to happen.

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Re: The town of Threshold

Post by oleck » Wed May 09, 2018 7:18 pm

info on the iron ring at treshold you can look here http://thepiazza.org.uk/bb/viewtopic.ph ... cb824275ce

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Re: The town of Threshold

Post by stebehil » Sat May 12, 2018 8:12 pm

Robin, thanks for your pointer! An astute and important observation.
Sturm, as always, your comments are invaluable. I did not delve into the history that deep at that point - just like a starting adventurer, I chose a low-level starting point for examining the world.
oleck, I will check that out more closely for sure.

I think I will continue with the K:KoA adventure book and the remaining box content tomorrow.

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Re: The town of Threshold

Post by stebehil » Sun May 13, 2018 8:32 pm

K:KoM Adventure Book, "Trouble in Threshold", page 4. An Inn a named the Juggling Ogre is introduced, and a merchant named Juster Dainworth and his wife Seledina. Apparently, the Iron Ring operations in Threshold are not fully established yet. The Juggling Ogre is placed on the map of Threshold (on the fold-out map) at #1, in the southern part of the "new town", right in the middle of Thresholds east-west length.

p. 5, sidebar: Skritch is introduced, a thief missing his hand. He crossed a man named Peltro Brastus in his youth, and got his hand cut off for that. Brastus is said to be a "fairly important member of the Iron Ring".

p. 6. Map overview of the adventure locations. Top most an overview of the "dungeon", not to scale. Bottom left interior of the Juggling Ogre, bottom right the alley needed for the adventure.
Several things are odd here: first, the scale of the bottom maps at 2.5 ft per square - this is the smallest scale I remember seeing in any product. This would make for a crowded inn there, with 4-ft tables seating 6, apparently, and bar stools close together as well. I´m not sure if stable boxes at just under 2.5 ft are viable. second, we are in new town here - why are the buildings back-to-back? Overall, I get the impression that the design of the place is quite generic, and not too good anyways, with the usage and placement in Threshold seeming random or at least more of an afterthought. This part could have used more design and review.
Other than that, we learn that an apothecary, a tinsmith, a tailor and a chandler have their businesses there.

On p. 7/8, we learn that the apothecary did not use his cellar in years, but apparently forgot an "elixir of health" down there (odd situation, but obviously owned to the adventure design). Apparently, the tinsmith and the apothecary shared the cellar once, but the access to the tinsmith is bricked over from that side. (another oddity is the full stat block for the commoner on p. 7 - this is not needed for anything). Furthermore, some dimensions can be deducted from the description and map of the cellar. First, stairs leading down from the alley to the door are shown, five feet long. If we assume that they also go 5 ft. down, and see that they continue another 5 ft. inside the cellar, the cellar floor lies 10 ft. below street level. (Incidentally, the door has to open to the inside) There is a window going out to the alley, so the ceiling of the cellar is at that point probably 1 ft. over street level, which gives us a total height of 11 ft. for the cellar. The platform inside the cellar leading to the tinsmiths house should give at least 5ft. of headroom in front of the door. The stairs leading there are only 5 ft long, and raise probably 5 ft., giving 6 ft of headroom - quite good. We can only assume another flight of stairs inside the tinsmiths house to make up for the difference.

p. 9 describes under "The Hidden Tunnel" that a shaft with iron rungs descends about 40 feet to a cut stone tunnel, and gives the information that the Iron Ring built this. So much for being not "fully established". Besides the fact that cutting a tunnel through stone takes a lot of work and quite some time (manually working the rock makes about an inch a day for a man-sized tunnel) and produces debris (that could be thrown into the river), and producing iron rungs and setting them in, this makes quite some noise as well. Furthermore, where did the Iron Ring start from? The cellar or the fissure? Both answers give more questions.

Combining the cellar with the shaft, the "dungeon level" lies about 50 ft. below street level here. Apparently, this is still above the water table.

The spider cave has the almost off-hand explanation that an opening to the surface leads to a field near merchant street and is hidden from the outside by bushes. Well, the field and bushes are somewhat strange inside the town, and furthermore, the spider apparently never leaves her lair in that direction, or some investigation would have been made to see where it came from. The opening has to cover the level difference as well.

p. 10 shrieker cavern: apparently, shriekers and piercers live in that cave, from whatever nutrition. The cave is high enough to allow piercers to thrive with their unique method of hunting. The slight depression in the cave still does not break the water level. (I would guess that the rock is not of some extremely dense kind that would be "watertight", but rather a softer stone, like limestone or sandstone. Otherwise, working that hard rock with manual tools only would be extremely slow, and natural caves not common.)

p. 10/11 the crypt: The tunnel continues for another 400 ft. to the southeast until reaching the cave-in. This distance would result in the tunnel crossing below the town wall, but the wall would probably not be founded that deep - in any case, not lower than the bedrock below Threshold. The cave-in seems to indicate that the rock here is not all that solid, as is the crypt itself, where the floor is said to have settled.
A traladaran monastery once stood in this place, and the traladaran monks apparently had the resources for high-quality masonry, at least for the crypt, and had a written language differing from the writing used in the "current day" Karameikos. The monastery obviously did not find the older tunnels while digging out the crypt. I would interpret this crypt as being the resting place of some high-ranking members of the monastery, probably the abbots. If we take monasteries here as vaguely following european traditions, not every monk would warrant such a treatment, much less having a secret cache of valuables built in the sarcophagus. Thus, these people were probably important.

p. 12 ff. the canals and the shrine. There is an ancient, mostly destroyed canal system below Threshold. A few parts of this are still usable and in good shape. The rock below Threshold is somewhat unstable, I´d assume, explaining how older structures might sink below ground. The canals are 10 ft. wide, with a narrow ledge of 2.5 ft. to one side, and the tunnels have an inverted u shape, being probably about 10 ft. high, making walking along the ledge somewhat cramped with the round part probably starting at the shoulder or head of people walking there.
In the central cave with the shrine/ziggurat, the water is said to be 8 to 10 feet deep. This should probably be true for all the canals. This makes falling into the water not trivial, especially if wearing heavy armor.

The further I read into this adventure, the more I gain the impression that description and intent and the map scale do not match up. Here, it gets clear that something is off. The shrine is situated in an "enormous cavern" according to the description, but it is 30 ft. wide at its widest point. That is surely not small, but far from what I would see as enormous. The shrine is 20 ft. across on the outside, and at three points, the distance between the ledge and the shrine is just about 3.5 ft. The depiction of the situation on Handout #4 does not feel that small to me - sure, there is no scale given. The dock is just 2.5 ft wide, according to the map on p. 15. Looking at the handout, the stairs would have an elevation of less than 1 ft or so, if the drawing is somewhat to scale, and the "massive bronze doors" are probably 1 ft. square. The whole structure would be about 5 ft. high, with each elevation about half as high as the dock is wide. The sphinxes are housecat-sized. Either something is quite off here, or I´m missing something important. I concur to what Robin wrote earlier: if the cave is 30 ft. wide, it is probably 20-25 ft. high at most. As we already know that the dungeon level is about 50 ft. below street level, and the cave being 20 ft. high, there is plenty of rock above it. Now, to adress the scale, you might consider doubling the scale here (and probably in other rooms as well). That leaves us with just 10 ft. of rock above the cave - not much, especially considering that the rock seems to be unstable anyways, and if the stalagmites are any indication, it is not waterresistant. So, I would recommend not only doubling the scale, but changing the rock above. THe rock could be magically reinforced - the builder of the shrine had access to high-level magic (permanency on the magic mouth) and wanted to erect a shrine supposedly to last an eternity. Reinforcing the rock could be within their means here.

The description gives us a statue inside the shrine said to be 8 ft. high. Besides noting that ziggurat-style building is not ideal for creating walls with big spaces inside as opposed to massive structures with small spaces, this means that the interior needs to be at least that high, probably higher. The floor plan of the shrine disregards the form of the ziggurat as well, there is no indication that it gets any smaller.
The skeletons are shoved into crypts that are just 2.5 by 1 ft. - doubling that measurement makes 5 by 2 ft., just sufficient for a smallish skeleton. The secret room would also be less of a closet and more of a room at double the scale.

tbc soon.

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Re: The town of Threshold

Post by stebehil » Mon May 21, 2018 7:16 pm

The River (p. 15/16) The canal is said to empty into the Windrush river. As water continually flows into the canals (waterfall p. 12), this makes sense. The canal is described as having been flooded at some point - this should probably be visible farther in as well, unless somebody (or something) cleaned them. Maybe the canal is indeed at least partially magical, so it stood the test of time better, and may have some self-cleaning properties.

The map on p. 12 is odd again considering the scale. The smugglers skiff would be about 3 ft. wide at most and maybe 8 ft. long - quite small for transporting several crates, and holding four people on the way out.

Iron Ring Headquarters (p. 16/17): This is a basement below a warehouse near the wharves. This placement might actually work, the warehouse could be inside the old walls south gate, between the main road and the waterfront. The overview map on p. 6 is not to scale, so this gives some leeway about the placement of the rooms. Still, to place the canal exit outside the town, the crypt and the shriekers cave would be outside the town as well. If so, the northward leading canal would have to be quite long. But the crucial information here is that there is a warehouse with a cellar right beside the subterranean canals, probably some 50 ft. underground. Does this mean the stairs inside the HQ leads all the way up to the warehouse?

The handouts #1 to #4 are for the most part well-drawn replicas of some of the locations, but hold no new information. #4 (the ziggurat) shows the problem with the scale, if you try and measure things from it.
One of the audio tracks states that the slaves will be brought "downriver". The destination remains unclear.

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Re: The town of Threshold

Post by stebehil » Mon May 21, 2018 8:52 pm

On to "The sound of Madness". The village of Eltan´s Spring is introduced, the intro blurb informs us that the inhabitants don´t take Thyatian money. Aleena Halaran is stated to be "an administrator" of Threshold, and having a romantic relationship to a local druid her uncle is unaware of. The village was founded "nearly a century ago" by a brewer named Eltan Durgovitch who used the clear spring water. His descendants make up at least part of the villages population.

The adventure starts with the heroes once again in the Juggling Ogre Inn. The Iron Ring sends a death threat via crossbow bolt, and the heroes are summoned to Aleena. She explains her situation and provides us with the information that Knights of the Order of the Griffon and druids are not on the best terms. (audio track 32). (Do Karameikan druids venerate Zirchev? Or abstract nature? I did not find any information on that in the main book.)

Apparently, the Iron Ring runs around in Threshold and environs pretty much unchecked - after the warning, the PCs get ambushed on their way to Eltan´s Spring.

The map on p. 21 shows the Threshold area (I did not check the scale, at 1 inch = 5 miles, this seems pretty big), showing a path along the western bank of the lake leading up into the Black Peak Mountains. There are hills indicated to the west, and mountains to the north and east, which seems consistent with earlier maps. The river Foamfire is not shown, it might be just outside the mapped area.

Other than that, no more information about Threshold can be gained from the adventure.

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Re: The town of Threshold

Post by Sturm » Tue May 22, 2018 9:52 am

I think druids were not even mentioned in Gazetteer 1. They appeared originally in the Companion set as neutral clerics of level 9, then in the Rules Cyclopedia and in passing in the Immortal set, and it is not even clear if they should follow an Immortal. It seems reasonable, as they were supposed to be cleric before, but it is never said explicitly, as if they could be generically followers of Balance.
In Wrath of the Immortals the topic is not clear either, even if clerics of Djaea are able to cast druidic spells and indeed it seems they are the best candidates to become full druids at 9 level. Druids afaik are not mentioned in the entries of Ordana and Terra.
In Karameikos Kingdom of Adventures instead, following AD&D rules, druids can start from 1st level. On page 123 is written "The druids of Mystara have come to the Dread Coast only recently, arriving from the west and south", and later it says they could be followers of Terra. This is a reference to Robrenn and the Four Kingdoms (the "Celtic" people of Mystara) where druids are mentioned, but Zirchev is not mentioned as a patron of druids.
The fan made Codex Immortalis has more information, assuming druidism originated with Djaea among the Neathar (Celtic-like) people of Brun before the Great Rain of Fire, who later spread to Central Brun, Eusdria, Robrenn, the Isle od Dawn and north eastern Davania (the five kingdoms). In canon products Zirchev was described as a wizard, and indeed he is from the Sphere of Energy but given its interests, maybe he could have druids.
You could decide druidism is a cultural things of certain neathar (the celtic ones) and therefore it is typical only in the church of Djaea, but may appear also in other appropriate churches such as Ordana, Terra and Zirchev.
Indeed the topic is complex enough I think it deserves its own thread. I'll start one.

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Re: The town of Threshold

Post by stebehil » Fri May 25, 2018 9:45 pm

Starting with "Hail the Heroes", we learn in the introduction that the events of the Song of Halav date back about 20 centuries, or ca. 1000 BC. The Shield of Halav, the centerpiece of the adventure, was found about 500 years ago, the Temple of the Shield erected sometime thereafter and used for "many years". Nowadays, the position of the temple (and the surrounding town of Zadreth) is unknown. Strange contradiction here: apparently, the Song of Halav was an oral tradition for ~1500 years, but a town is utterly forgotten after, say, 400 years.

p. 14 states that the adventure was designed with the ruins of Zadreth a few miles away from Threshold, placing it under Threshold is an option. I would recommend the original idea. If Zadreth was depopulated by a plague a few 100 years ago, even if the exact story was no longer known, the place would probably still have a taboo surrounding it - dubious religious claims, a plague sent by the immortals would see to that. So, most probably no Traladaran would have build a new town on top of that place.

p. 15-17 gives a number of clues to the location, presented as fictional works to be found in two libraries (one by "Johauna Menhir", describing Threshold as having 500 inhabitants...) These introduce the name of Lugsid for Threshold, and add to the original adventure design of placing Zadreth outside of Threshold. P. 18 and 20 repeat the info about threshold, p. has the well-known map again, with an "old road" added towards the east. Threshold boasts two sages in residence, and gives their names.
Zadreth is placed to the east, probably at the foot of the mountains. This might help explain why the location is almost unknown: a mudslide/rockfall might have buried it, after it was abandoned. Taking the map handout 5 from K:KoA, I would place Zadreth probably in the middle of the south coast of the lake.

The rest of the adventure describes the lost temple in detail, and gives no relevant information on Threshold.

I think I got all canon sources on Threshold covered - did I miss one? Please feel free to point it out then. Next step should be rereading this thread and condensing its contents, before commenting further and starting with non-canon sources.

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Re: The town of Threshold

Post by stebehil » Sun Jun 03, 2018 12:04 pm

I started writing a bit about the town now, taking the canon sources into account and interpreting them as to give a (I hope) believable idea about the town.

Sources:

The town itself is at varying points said to have 500 or 5000 inhabitants, and is shown in different scales. As I have tried to show, the scale given in the expert set is somewhat more fitting, if you take 5000 inhabitants. Judging from what is available in Threshold, and what the adventures and the descriptions show, 5000 inhabitants seems much more fitting overall. (Take, for example, the number of guards supposedly in town – about 100 guards are available, which would mean basically every able-bodied man at 500 inhabitants). The expert set scale basically allows every single building to be shown, incidentally (at about 1:2000). This assumes a setting at AC 1000, so to reconcile the conflicting sources, you might argue that the population increased tenfold in a space of just a few years – possible, but unlikely. The boom would have stopped in AC 1000, so that in AC 1012 (K:KoA setting), it is still at 5000 people. I can easily imagine a boom from 970 onward, though.

Another point conflicting with the description are some adventure details, showing houses built closely together in parts of the town where the baronial decree specifically forbids this. Either ignore the baronial decree, or change the adventure details. I would change the adventures, as I think this decree gives the town a certain feel and serves to point out the differences between the new town and Fogor Island. Also, I would think that the old town was at least partially built before the baronial decree, so this might be somewhat more densely populated.
The town walls are sadly undetailed, only the two gates are shown. It can be argued that the walls are meant to keep out wild animals and the occasional marauding humanoid, and not organized armies, so the walls need only be good for that, and a wooden walkway along the top may be all that is needed. Usually, city walls have a multitude of guard towers. The old inner wall is partially torn down already, as shown in one source. This is not unusual IMO.

The town hall and the temple are stone or mostly stone. As seen in the K:KoA illustrations, the style of the Thyatians seems to be an vaguely Italian gothic style (the dukes palace), maybe reminiscent of venetian architecture. The temples are surely not as impressive as the Duomo di Milano, but the style might give an idea what the builders might strive for.

The river is a problem, in a way: The adventure “Trouble in Threshold” puts the water level at 50+ ft. below street level. The ziggurat introduced in that adventure needs quite some space to fit in there, and is relatively close to the river, so that even some slope inside the town (which is probably there, seeing that the town is situated in hilly terrain) does not take away all that much from this height. Maybe the ziggurat is situated inside a hill inside town, and from there, the terrain slopes down to the river. A difference of about 50 ft./15 meters from town to river generates quite some problems. It would explain that the town is flood-proof, though. But loading/unloading ships and even reaching the ships is bothersome, to say the least. Most cities I recall are no more than maybe a third of that above the river at the riverside, with many being even lower. Steep hills leading down to the water are not unusual, though. (I recall that from my hometown, incidentally. One church is built on a hill, and a steep slope is not too far away down to the river) But then, this is nowhere indicated. Granted, RPG maps almost never have any topographical information unless it is relevant for the adventure. So, I´d take the liberty to introduce some slopes toward the river and probably a hill above the ziggurat. OTOH, a certain height above the river makes the site somewhat flood-proof – otherwise, spring time sees a lot of flooding.

Sewers were mentioned, but I don´t think that they would be extensive – otherwise, underground structures might have been found before. They are probably mostly rainwater drains, as sewage drain needs a lot of water to function properly, and I think this can only be achieved with running water, not water from wells or the river, which is used sparingly.

History:

The place was settled by Nithians and ancient Traladarans at least, with Hutaakan ruins nearby and more ruins and caves of unclear origin nearby. So, the area seems to be well-suited to being settled, even though it might have been abandoned at times. It might be that older buildings sink below ground, but OTOH, the structures introduced in the K:KoA adventure might have been below ground to begin with.
The place was settled when the Thyathians (or rather, Stefan Karameikos) came, otherwise Fogor Isle would look much different. At least one NPC is mentioned to have been born here more than 30 years ago. It was a much smaller place, regardless of using the 500 people population from the expert set or not. The New Wall states as much IMO. Again, I´d assume that Fogor Isle was settled first, because it was easily defensible against wild animals and marauding humanoids. If we assume a certain height above the water level, say, 3 meters or so, the isle would be reasonably safe against flooding. This would also explain why the old mill was built on the isle rather than at some other place, to keep it inside the defenses. (there might be a burned-down ruin of an even older mill on the riverbank somewhere…). I´d assume a wooden bridge crossing the river, easily torn or burnt down in case of a humanoid attack, and secured by a sturdy gate against animals.

When the Thyatians arrived, they set out immediately to build the castle and the city wall, and probably the dam also. Now, predates the old city wall the Thyatian takeover, or was there only a wooden palisade beforehand? From my ideas of the Traladarans, I´d see them building a palisade at most – wood is their traditional building material, and stone working is harder business. The “Siege at Sukyskin” in B10 has a palisade defense, and is even depicted on p. 10.

Maybe the traladarans built a palisade where the old wall now stands, leaving enough space inside to not having a crowded place (and being thus able to accommodate folks from the outlying farms, fishermen etc. in case of an attack). The Thyatians saw this as too feeble (and also maybe fearing an uprising from the outside, which is more easily fended off from a massive wall than from behind a palisade), and built a massive wall. Over the next few years, the city grew, quickly using all the available space inside the wall (and keeping in mind the barons building decree, which might be put in place after a damaging fire, an all-too-common occurrence in “medieval” towns), soon requiring building outside the wall. Soon, the new wall became necessary to provide the same protection to the new buildings. It was built large enough to be sufficient for at least a decade or two, even if this meant building it around a lot of empty space, which was probably used as agricultural plots, gardens etc. until needed for buildings. In fact, with the spaces between buildings, I would expect each house to have a garden, maybe some trees, pens for various small animals (chicken, goats, geese etc.), leaving quite a rural impression overall.

Town impressions

This leads me to the question just what picture the town presents to visitors. Assuming these visitors come by road from the south, they would encounter the gate and wall, a rather modest affair as walls go. Passing that and being informed by the guard of the special laws, just 200-300 feet behind the gate is yet another wall, this one older and without a gate. The area between the walls towards the river is a dead end, it might contain an inn and some minor buildings behind that. This dead end surely is not the best part of town.

Passing the inner wall, the main road lies ahead. To the right, the first bridge to Fogor Isle can be seen. Along the main road, the area is probably more densely built and dating back to before the building decree, as even if the town was less populous in earlier years, the main road will have been an area where every business wants to be. Towards the river behind the main road lies an area dealing mainly with everything needed for river traffic and commerce – boat and ship building and repair, equipment, warehouses, specialized markets and probably a tavern or two. To the other side of the main road, the town center is situated. Perhaps the area close to the market square burned down decades ago, resulting in the building decree and allowing for the town hall and temple to be built. The town hall might rest on older foundations of a predecessor. The market square is probably busy all day. The size of the square remains unclear, the expert set covers it with writing, and the map in B10 is unscaled. Later maps leave out the market square. I´d assume a roughly square market place with a side length of perhaps 50 meters/150 ft. The town hall is to the south, and the temple to the west, according to the B10 map.

Further northward, the density even of the inner town declines – that direction was not as important in earlier times. Maybe some people associated with the baron or the town government are living here. (I´d imagine a townhouse for the baron himself as well, probably relatively modest). Shortly before reaching the old wall again, the second bridge to Fogor Isle is to the east. The houses in the new town are spacious and give a more rural impression overall.

The bridges to Fogor isle are probably built of stone nowadays. The isle itself should have a rock beneath it, or it would have been eroded long ago. In earlier times, this was a normal village on the island, nowadays it is densely packed, has lots of crooked alleys, dead ends and more or less dilapidated buildings, the most prominent being the old mill on the northern tip of the island. The people here are the fringe of society, the poor and the outcasts, not to forget those of more criminal leanings. People here do make a living any way they can, and provide most of the menial labor needed throughout Threshold and the barony. Of course, this makes this area a prime recruiting ground for criminals, as well as a target for the Iron Ring slavers – people from Fogor are not important enough to warrant going after them, if they are even missed at all.

tbc...

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Re: The town of Threshold

Post by stebehil » Sun Jun 03, 2018 1:24 pm

The laws: I want to get a bit away from the very modern idea of equal rights and legal precedent. If we accept a feudal society, even if more or less benevolent, we should accept that the feudal lords, the knights and the clergy differ from the peasants, legally speaking. Adventurers break these boundaries routinely, and are probably closely watched in civilized areas.

As indicated earlier, I find the weapons law nonsensical, as swords are free. (I´d guess that this is in place to prevent armed riots by the peasants, and to keep unlawful folks that can be found in frontier regions in check. There you have the "cowboys with swords" motive, if you want to see it that way.) I´d change it to: everything but dagger/knife and walking stick/staff (and tools, like sickles, senses, saws, hammers etc.) is forbidden, unless the individual bearer is decreed otherwise by the baron or his administrators. Clerics of the church of Karameikos do get this permit routinely, other clerics normally do unless known to be a troublemaker. Visiting dignitaries and their followers are exempt as well. Adventurers are judged individually and by association - if one party member is a troublemaker, the whole party will be denied the right to bear arms. In severe cases, even clerics could have their permit withdrawn. Association with a wizard that was convicted for having cast a spell inside town surely is a severe case.

The law against wizards casting spells inside town is probably meant to prevent severe property damage and influencing people. Imagine a wizard casting a number of charm spells to influence the populace against the lord. Interestingly, the expert set states that no spells may be cast, while B10 and GAZ 1 state that no magic-user spells may be cast. This poses the question what happens if a spell appears on both spell lists? Are clerics generally exempt from this law? Could a wizard pose as a cleric, and, as long as he only uses these spells, fly under the radar? As wearing armor in town is frowned upon, there is no easy way to find him out. I assume that harmful wizard spells are in the focus of that law. Again, what might be the reason behind this law? Was there an incident that led the baron to introduce it? Maybe even my assumed fire, which led to the building decree, was started by a wizard casting some spell. This would give a little bit of history to the laws in town, other than being just arbitrarily imposed. I love the idea of wizards getting curses on them after being judged in court. I would also assume that repeat offenders will get their spell book confiscated and probably destroyed.

Law enforcement: I already discussed the relatively high number of town guards, numbering about 100+ guards. They probably will escort any visitors to town hall to take their weapons in custody. In B10, is is implied that the criminals on Fogor killed an entire patrol - no feudal lord, benevolent or no, would let that stand. If need be, he would call upon the duke to sent troops and raze the whole island. An attack on his men is as good as an attack on the baron himself. So, I would think that maybe the patrols have been threatened, fake attacks (like just missing missile attacks) and stuff like that led the patrol to leave without their target, and hide the true reason out of shame. Afterwards, the guard has lost its punch on the island, and won´t venture there after dark. I guess guard members won´t be recruited from Fogor Isle...

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