After a thousand years, the last thing the Great Thonian Republic wanted was disorder creeping into the cogs of its structured and ordered society. They were content to let the lawless barbarians have the lands to the North, with their swamps and endless lakes and forbidding mountains.
The North was the last refuge of natural chaos on Skothar — its forests and rivers and lakes were home to ever increasing numbers of dryads, nymphs, and sylphs driven from their ancestral lands by men from the South and their farmland and cultivation.
Like the moon and the oceans, the magics of the North ebbed and flowed, waxed and waned. At the center, as awash in magic as it was the waters of the Black Sea from which it rose, was the spire of black stone, at once natural and unnatural.
While some magical effects could be guessed due to the phase of the moons, or the stage of the oceans’ tides, more often than not mages were as surprised as their opponents when any given spell was cast to disastrous effect.
It was found, though, that in successive generations born in the North, those who had the ability to use magic suffered fewer and fewer mishaps. Some few were said to be able to use the North’s unpredictability to their own advantage, empowering their own spells while their opponent’s spells failed, misfired, or ran wild. It was unknown whether or not this ability was something inborn, or was something men of magic could learn.
Elves and the fey, of course, found Men’s blunderings with the wrinkled fabric of magics of the North rather amusing. Several Wizards of the Woods write of fortunes won and lost among the sidhe, who watched the wars of men from behind their Veils, wagering on the effect of this or that spell on the battlefield…
Some historians have guessed that it was the exposure to the “wild magics” that tamed the Beast Men, causing their stock to stabilize into the “common” goblinoid species men know of today. Some might go so far as to surmise that Blackmoor’s crusades against the Beast Men were as much in retaliation against their demon-worshipping ways as it was backlash against the growing incursions into the lands of men. Were the Beast Man invasions their attempt to reach and put an end to the source of energy that caused the steady decline in their own chaotic influence?
Given the effect tampering with those powers had in purging the planet of the scourge of demon kind, one shudders to think what could have happened with that kind of power bent to the will of the Beast Men and their Immortal patroness.
Rob’s blog and website chronicles a bit of a darker take on the Mystara presented in the D&D Gazetteers. Thorn's Chronicle is posted semi-regularly on the Mystara board of The Piazza.
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