Foreword and an HistoricOverview of Heldann
Welcome to the Heldannic Territories,home of the Glorious Order of Vanya!This gazetteer is the seventh in the
series of fan-created gazetteers. It waswritten using information pulled from theMystara Message Boards and the Vaultsof Pandius, as well as some new conceptsby the lead designers.The area formerly known as theHeldann Freeholds appeared on theearliest maps of the Known World –courtesy of
X1 The Isle of Dread
byMonte Cook and Tom Moldvay – but italways remained just outside the focus of products released under the BECMI line.Possible military units were given brief War Machine statistics in
X10 Red Arrow/Black Shield
(Michael S. Dobson),and the southern Freeholds served as anadventure location for the Vestland-oriented
X13 Crown of Ancient Glory
(Stephen Bourne). Bourne’s previouswork,
X11 Saga of the Shadow Lord
, alsoprovided topographic information.Finally,
Gaz12 The Golden Khan of Ethengar
(Jim Bambra) informed us of the long running conflicts between theEthengar and the Heldanners.Despite all this, little more was knownabout Heldann beyond its originalIcelandic inspiration. Then in 1990Bruce Heard’s “The Voyage of thePrincess Ark” appeared in
, andthe Heldannic Knights were born.Instead of a land of herders andfishermen, the Heldanners – or ratherforeign Knights appropriating the name –ruled a powerful, far-flung empire thatkept its true nature secret as it preparedfor conquest. The Heldannic Knights’star continued to rise during the
Wrath of the Immortals
(Aaron Allston) and thesubsequent
.The demise of the Mystara product linescuttled any hope of an official gazetteerdetailing the Heldannic Knights and theircustoms, yet all was not lost. Over thefollowing years, Bruce Heard posted asizeable amount of information on theMystaran Message List and Board – somuch information that it more than filleda standard gazetteer. Other members of the Mystaran community also contributedtheir ideas as time passed on.This then was the genesis that led to theproduct you now hold.
Until fifty years ago, these lands wereknown as the Heldann Freeholds, a near-anarchic land whose families resembledthe early settlers of Iceland in the real-world. Spirits, dragon-like creatures,trolls, southern horsemen and sea-borneraiders made life difficult for this semi-barbarous people. The cold land was noally, and the Heldanners eked out theirlives in desperate isolation.
Fifty years ago, Knights from the landof Hattias took the Freeholds by force,claiming it as a promised land from theirpatron, Vanya. Conflicts with the nativeshave flared in times past and present, butthe Knights have held their Territoriesfirmly.The Heldannic Knights are inspired byseveral orders that arose in Europe andthe Middle East as a consequence of theCrusades. The Knights Templar began asguards for pilgrims to the Holy Land.Over time they became the mostpowerful banking system in the medievalworld, only to be destroyed throughoutEurope on a single day (Black Sunday)by agents of the Roman Catholic Churchand various courts. The fictional legacyof the Knights Templar continues todayin novels, film, and video games,particularly where they intersect thefreemasons and other extra-religiousorganizations.The Hospitalers also cared forpilgrimages in Palestine, establishingnumerous resting sanctuaries. Theycared for the sick and wounded.Finally, the Teutonic Knights wereoriginally a religious and military orderfounded in the Middle East that soonbecame a political institution controllingmuch of modern Germany and Poland.They maintained their ecclesiastical statefor some time, before finally releasing theterritory to national powers. TheTeutonic Knights still exist today as acharitable organization within the RomanCatholic Church.
Campaigning in the Territories
Heldannic campaigns can vary wildlydepending upon the thematic emphasis.Opportunities for monster-bashingabound in almost all regions of Heldann.They are not as strong for traditionaltreasure quests, but characters couldalways try to uncover the secrets of theOrder.Geopolitical campaigns can range fromthe traditional Ethengar-Heldannerconflict, to Glantri’s persecution of clerics, to clashes with the Alphatian orThyatian Empires or their proxies such asNorwold. For more wide-ranging affairs,characters attached to the Order cantravel the globe and beyond seeking newallies and new lands to conquer.Mythic campaigns center on the fusionof Vanya with the pre-existing Northmanfaith of the Freeholds and ancient terrors.Finally, campaigns of faith and mercygo straight to the paradox of the Knights.Are they a force for good or for evil?Order or instability? There is a battlewithin the Order that outstrips anythingon the field of war – a battle for the soulof the Knights themselves. Willcharacters feel the plight of the nativeHeldanners? Will they be seduced by thelures of plunder and conquest? Threepowers struggle to control the Order andset its destiny: the Immortal who createdthem, the allure of death and destruction,and finally an exotic artifact whose plansmight prove even more dangerous.
Kudos and Corrections
First and foremost, the lead designerswish to thank Bruce Heard. By dint of his numerous postings and articles, Bruce“wrote” the gazetteer prototype. It hasbeen modified to fit within the
version of Mystara, but I believe we haveretained the spirit of his work. Inrecognition of his substantialcontribution, Bruce has been listed asHonorary Lead Designer.The 1004 AC
24mph map wasassumed to be principally correct, subjectto 8mph maps for surrounding regions.The Territories’ border has been droppeddown to the Altenwald, allowing forcharacter participation in any conquests.