One of the founders of our hobby and one of the most unsung contributors to Dungeons & Dragons, Len Lakofka has passed away at the age of 76.
Along with the many adventures, classes, spells, and rules he created, Len was also father of the Suel in Greyhawk, designer of their gods, and namesake of the Lendore Isles.
The value of his work goes without saying, but his presence will be sorely missed. The adventures of Leomund go on.
Yet another masterful piece by Rasgon, weaving together bits of Ravenloft, Greyhawk, his own inventions, and even a little bit of Mystara (Yay, Wyrds!), to give some background on who exactly the Rhenee and Atloi are and where they came from, as well as what happened to the Ur-Flannae and the titular city.
I wish I had explained a bit more for the uninitiated about the Ravenloft background. A "dukkar" is a member of the Vistani gypsy folk bound by fate to be the enemy of other Vistani people, born with the ability to see the future and immune to the divination skills of other Vistani. The Manusa are the rarest and most mysterious of the three tribes of Vistani, immortal, lacking offspring and able to travel through time. The character I created for this article, Attla, is a dukkar of the Manusa, an impossible creature of destiny invented to explain the rivalry between the river-riding Rhennee and the land-roving Attloi.
"Darcalas" is the ancient ruler of the domain of Darkon. He is a product of the "false history" that the rulers of the demiplane of Ravenloft impose on the mortal inhabitants of the realm, which creates an appearance of a long chronology to nations that may have only existed for a relatively short time in the demiplane. But he is in another sense the same being as Azalin, the lich-lord ruler of Darkon and a former inhabitant of Oerth, a version of the same person projected into the nonexistent past. Because the fall of the City of the Fallen Stars was long before Azalin was brought to Ravenloft, the history recorded in my article has Eleandereth interacting with Darcalas rather than Azalin himself; this is likely not the "true" version of events, but truth and time can both be malleable things in the demiplane.
Azalin is under a unique curse by Ravenloft's Dark Powers that prevents him from learning new magic. I wasn't clear in the article, but this curse does not affect Darkon as a whole, just its ruler. I decided a version of this curse also affected the various mages of the City of the Summer Stars pocket domain, giving them more of a reason to act as patrons of mages from outside their pocket, and forcing them to work through pawns in their attempts to escape.
The original genesis of the article was simply the observation that three events in Oerth's history - the fall of the City of Summer Stars, the appearance of the Rhennee, and the disappearance of Azalin - were all connected to the Adri Forest and involved passage to or from a mysterious otherworldly realm. In one of those cases, this realm is explicitly Ravenloft. In the other two cases, it could easily have been Ravenloft. I'm not the first one to suggest that the Vistani and Rhennee might be related, of course, but I'm not aware of another explicit story of how the connection came to be.
Excellent article, Rasgon... you may want to provide a link for it on the message boards at www.fraternityofshadows.com for those fine Ravenloft fans who don't frequent Canonfire on a regular basis. I'm sure that many of them will be interested in your article (as well as in the additional comments you provided in this thread).
As I said in the gleemax thread: Rasgon, please submit it to the next issue of Quoth the Raven netbook! It even fits this issue's theme: Darkened Corners - Small domains and obliettes. (For questions or to submit just send an email to RotipherFoS -at - hotmail.com) For a sample of the QtR netbooks check the FoS library
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