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A Loss of Inspiration

Yet Young Grasshopper is Set Upon His Path

As I write this, last Tuesday, E. Gary Gygax, co-creator with Dave Arneson (and probably a few others) of Dungeons & Dragons, passed away at sixty-nine. I certainly cannot let this pass without remark, because he was a remarkable man.

Mr. Gygax defined role-playing for millions, and inspired millions more. Perhaps his legacy lies more in the field of computer gaming and entertainment in general than in the pen & paper game he offered. He will be missed, and the world is a little poorer for his absence.

This last weekend give or take, Ken visited me in person at my very own home for three nights and two full days. Unfortunately, his second full day was seriously interrupted by the fact that I had to wander off and get chemotherapy, but the rest of the time was fruitful, and not just for the hour or so of sightseeing we got done. In case you did not know BC, where I live, is one of the most beautiful, unspoiled places on this planet. I like to think of it as one of only three places where Peter Jackson could have filmed LotR ;)

Ken came to learn how to make the new style Atlas/Regional maps and got to work on part of Hèpekéria… While he will need to practice quite a bit, there are now two of us who can make these rather special maps.

It is sometimes a bit too easy to forget how important great maps are to a great environment. Maps give us the lay of the land and the land usage in settled areas; they tell us about vegetation and topography that must inevitably be significant to anyone living nearby. They explain the course of rivers and the run of roads. They make sense of why someone built that bridge or town here instead of there, and why no one really wants to live in that particular part of the world. They might even tell us the order in which lands were settled and why any given region might be heavily contested by two or more nations. They can suggest the extents of tribes or nations, and the limits of military campaigns. Maps can even tell us quite a lot about the folk who live on the land. This is why I have always believed that before you can properly understand the culture, you must understand the geography; the map may not be the ‘territory’, but it must always come first. The best way to learn about a place is to draw a map. This is why I have always enjoyed mapping so much.

It is through mapping that I learn the myriad details of history and politics that make up the world.

I feel pretty good these days. I get surprisingly tired going up the stairs, but apart from that I’m really happy at the absence of false and tricksy nausea. Here today, here tomorrow… the rest is wossname…

I won’t know if my ‘folorn hope’ chemotherapy is working until the end of April. I may not know then. I know people who won’t go to the doctor because they are terrified that they might be told something unpleasant. I understand this now. It fits in nicely with the ‘stick your fingers in your ears, hum and think of puppies’ strategy which I am assured is a ‘valid way to fight cancer’… or was it ‘don’t think of puppies’?

To be honest, this idea of ‘fighting cancer’ has always puzzled me; it’s a bit like saying the battlefield is fighting the battle. My experience is that we just lie back and hope the battle is over soon.

That seems a bit of a downer on which to end. So let’s remember that we have all the pieces in place to keep producing high quality HârnWorld publications for many years to come. Keléstia Productions feels an obligation to the work that goes beyond what would be considered common practice for a publisher (beyond what would normally be considered sane really). All we ask in return is a little respect for our rights and whatnot… Oh… and huge wads of cash would be excellent too… :)

Product Update - 10 April 2008

Several people have asked for an update progress on Kélestia Productions products.

While I can't give precise dates as to when things will be published, I can share with you all that two publications are very near to completion.

The first is the long-awaited Chélemby City module, which will provide, I think, the most detailed description of any urban centre on Kèthîra yet published. These things always seem to take a lot longer than we expect; but that is because we hold ourselves to a pretty high standard.

The second is a module covering the Kingdom of Lédenheim; one of the sub-kingdoms of Hârbáal. This will give GMs and players the opportunity to explore beyond Chélemby into Hârbáal and towards the wild lands of the principalities of Huriséa.

Work is continuing apace on the mega-regional module of Venârivè. We think this is a very important module, because it will give people an insight into the major cultures that have spread their influence all across northwestern Lýthia; particularly the Àzeryáni, the Tríerzi and the Karéjians. Even if your players never leave Hârn, these cultures have influenced the world they live in; and if you do wish to travel beyond Hârn, then Venârivè will be the key social, cultural and political guide for that exploration.

This is just a sample of the work in progress at Kélestia Productions. Our team is working hard, despite Robin's ill health, and will hope to be able to delight and surprise you very soon.

Regards and best wishes

Project Director

History of the Mángai

History of the Mángai

One of the features of advanced societies across northwestern Lýthia is the pervasive nature of the association of Guilds known as the Mángai. The Mángai is considerably more wide-spread and powerful than equivalent Terran medieval guilds, and as an international element that is largely unique to Lýthia.

How did this situation come into being? The answer to this question will be explored in the upcoming Venârivè module, but some of the key facts are related here.

The Mángai as an institution originated in the region now known as Karéjia in the third century TR. It evolved from much more ancient "trade associatons" amongst the Kàruía peoples (the ancestors of the Karéjians). The first meeting of the "Mángai" took place shortly before the conquest of Karéjia by Ázeryàn. In the following decades, under the cloak of the Imperium, the Mángai formed relationships with similar organisations in the Far East, Mafán and Anzelôria.

Eventually, in TR321, in alliance with Ázeryàni "merchant associations", the Mángai sought and were granted an Empire-wide Charter, which gave them extensive privileges in the areas of trade and the control of crafts. The new, Imperial-sponsored, Mángai came to dominate large areas of economic activity all across the Empire, and beyond, including sponsoring trading and exploration expeditions and the foundation of an number of key trading posts (such as Beldîra in TR348). By TR493, even the Hârnic "Court of Pentacles" had allied itself with the powerful Mángai.

The Mángai, by offering payments to new rulers as the Ázeryàn Empire retreated, was able to maintain its position even as the Empire which had launched it declined. Even today, the Mángai remains an extremely powerful institution, although it is not as unified as it once was.

Miscellaneous Content: 

Scenario Idea 1: Tyána's Shade

Saturday is still part of the week, right? ;) -- As promised in the previous announcement, we hereby launch our new website feature: Scenario Ideas, an intermittently published series of inspirations and material for adventures and campaigns set on Kèthîra.

We start out with a revised version of the classical mini-scenario Tyána's Shade. It comes as a PDF document and contains maps and statistics for HârnMaster Gold and GURPS. Additional support for the d20 System is planned for future issues of the series; should you want to play Tyána's Shade using d20 rules, please say so -- we will then provide an appropriate stat sheet as a separate download.

A certain innovation is the "Information and Rating" system: On the title page of each Scenario Ideas document, game masters are given a quick yet differentiated overview over the material within the respective issue -- without giving away any possible spoilers to players that might be looking for an adventure for their group. In this regard, I would like to thank our member Allan for encouraging the employment of such a system.

We are going to quote the Information and Rating part in each issue's announcement here on the site -- like in the following for Tyána's Shade.

Setting: a hilly forest area close to human civilisation,in a temperate climate zone of Kèthîra

Overall Threat Rating: low

Generic Specific
Site-based Event-based
Self-contained Open-ended
Wilderness Survival:
NPC Interaction:

Extras: maps, NPC statistics

We hope you have fun using Tyána's Shade in your campaign and are looking forward to feedback of any sort.
Miscellaneous Content: 

More Meat and More Meeting

Website news and a new scheduled chat

As correctly pointed out over at HârnForum, we've had a spam bot being up to mischief at kelestia.com. Creating fake user accounts, it posted the usual links to the usual dubious websites.

We hope this wasn't too annoying or embarrassing. ;) In either case, as the webmaster I apologise for not making it even more difficult for these pests. On the bright side, I already took the appropriate measure: User registration now requires a so called "visual confirmation" -- i.e., entering numbers and letters shown in an image as distorted figures. Thanks to the spam bots' poor eyesight, they now seem to be held at bay! :)

Apart from having had some spam (of which we will hopefully be staying free from now on), we are planning to publish some new actual "meat": a new website column (in addition to Penny Arcane and Lore) that we hope will turn out to be a treat for all Hârn GMs and players. We call this new column "Scenario Ideas". It is going to be a very special answer to the call for more "Hârnic adventures" in providing both generic, open-ended and more specific, detailed material to be used in your (ongoing or freshly started) campaign on Kèthîra. You can expect this material to consist of locations, characters, and story hooks. Some issues will include maps or illustrations, some will be similar to small fleshed out adventure modules while others will be collections of inspirations and ideas for you to develop further.

The Scenario Ideas are going to be launched next week!

As indicated by the intended pun in this story's title, we are also planning to have more community activity going on on kelestia.com. This Sunday (March 2, 2008) will see the first in a series of scheduled chat meetings, that will be held in our Tavern ("chat section"). The session will begin at 22:00 GMT/UTC, and both Hârn fans and HârnMakers are invited to join in a live discussion of what Robin called "Looking to the Future". We hope to see you there -- if you can make it.

We would like to make the chat meeting a regular event -- every Sunday, starting 22:00 GMT/UTC, open end. I set up a countdown timer (non-JavaScript, refreshing with each page load) that tells you exactly how long it is until the next HârnChat. To find out what 22:00 GMT/UTC is in your time zone, the time converter on timeanddate.com can be of help.

So much for now. See you at HârnChat! :)