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Gazetteer 14 – The Atruaghin Clans

Basic Dungeons and Dragons

  • Publisher: TSR
  • Rules: Dungeons & Dragons BECMI
  • Developer: William W. Connors
  • Reference: Gaz14 9306
0e-gaz-14 Atruaghin
0e-gaz-14 gaz14 – D&D BECMI The Atruaghin Clans

From the ashes of an ancient culture of proud warriors rises a race of people unlike any other in the Known World.

Long ago, the power of Blackmoor all but destroyed the mighty Azcans. Some of them, the bravest of the brave, sought refuge under the shadow of a great plateau. For decades, they struggled to preserve their lives and their culture. Now, centuries later, their secrets are revealed. From the buffalo hunting Horse Clans and the whaling Turtle Clans to the pueblo dwelling Children of the Bear and the evil Children of the Viper, five distinct Atruaghin Clan cultures are laid out in detail.

The Atruaghin Clans is the fourteenth book in the best-selling Gazetteer series. It provides a complete description of the culture, history, and goals of the noble Children of Atruaghin. Included in this product are:

  • A 64-page Player’s Book that provides rules for Atruaghin character creation and introduces the Shamani, a new character class.
  • A 32-page DM’s Guide that details the history of the Atruaghin Clans, the unique Immortals that they worship, and several sample characters.
  • A large, full-color map that details the geography of the Atruaghin Plateau and the lands around it.

Note on the Print version: The Player’s Book, DM’s Guide and Map have been combined into a single Softcover volume.

Product History

GAZ14: “The Atruaghin Clans” (1991), by William W. Connors, is the fourteenth and final book in the “GAZ” series of Gazetteers for the Known World. It was published in August 1991.

Continuing the “GAZ” Sourcebooks. In the early ’90s, sales and marketing staff at TSR believed that accessories with higher module codes had lower sales. Since the “GAZ” series had definitely reached high numbers, its production was slowed down in its final days. Meanwhile, Basic D&D was experimenting with new lines such as the “PC” series (1989-1990, 1992), a similar set of books based on unusual PC races. When the “GAZ” series finally returned a year after GAZ13: “The Shadow Elves” (1990) with GAZ14: “The Atruaghin Clans” it would be the last book in the “GAZ” series.

There was a second reason for the Gazetteers coming to an end: the first 12 supplements and the Dawn of Emperors (1989) boxed set had detailed the entirety of the Known World in a broad square. “The Shadow Elves” had to go underground, and now “The Atruaghin Clans” moved off the core map to the southwest.

Mind you, there was still room for expansion. One GM suggested in Dragon that Gazetteers of the Heldann Freeholds, Hule, Sind, and Wendar would be obvious next choices — or that TSR could move over to Norwold, the home of the “CM” adventures (1984-1987). TSR however was done with Gazetteers of the Known World’s surface lands.

Wizards didn’t abandon the Known World of Mystara entirely following “The Aruaghin Clans”. Instead they supported the newly revealed lands of the Hollow World Campaign Set (1990). Its “HWR” series was nearly a continuation of the “GAZ” series, with setting-based books split between GM and player reference. This “HWR” series began with HWR1: “Sons of Azca” (1991) in July — just a month before the demise of the “GAZ” series.

Like its predecessors, “The Atruaghin Clans” was split into two books, but there were several changes to the format. First, the trend of the last few books was reversed, and now the player’s book was the larger of the two at 64 pages, while the GM’s book was just 32 pages. Second, the tight three-column format of the previous books was abandoned for a much looser two-column format. The result was probably considerably fewer words (and less overall information) than earlier books in the series.

Expanding Basic D&D. As with all the “GAZ” books, “The Atruaghin Clans” supports extended character creation, full of plenty of new D&D rules. That begins with a new class, the shamani. TSR probably added the “i” suffix because of the huge number of shamans already found in the “GAZ” series, including a spell-casting variant for GAZ10: “The Orcs of Thar” (1988), a complete class for GAZ12: “The Golden Khan of Ethengar” (1989), and a shadow elf shaman for GAZ13: “The Shadow Elves”.

“The Atruaghin Clans” also contains rules for totemic spirits and introduces character backgrounds via rules for family history, parents, and siblings. Though “The Atruaghin Clans” contains new skills, it surprisingly doesn’t contain the core rules for skills (though they’d been endlessly reprinted in other GAZes). The book instead refers players to the “D&D® Games Cyclopedia”. The Rules Cyclopeda (1991) would indeed appear just two months later.

Exploring the Known World. “The Atruaghin Clans” details the Atruaghin Plateau, an area slightly off the beaten path in the Known World, but not too far southwest of Darokin (and the “square” that TSR was filling in). Parts of the area had been mapped in TM1: “The Western Countries Trail Map” (1989), but “The Atruaghin Clans” fills in considerable detail of those hexes. It also totally disclaims “facts” from TM2: “The Eastern Countries Trail Map” (1989).

The societies of “The Atruaghin Clans” are clearly based on Native American tribes, following on the cultural mirroring that was prevalent throughout the “GAZ” series. However, the scope of the supplement is considerably larger than that. Five different clans of Atruaghins are each based on different Native American cultures. For example one clan lives on the plains while another is cliff dwelling. The Atruaghins of the jungles find their inspiration further south, in the lands of the Aztecs and Mayans.

As with “The Shadow Elves”, the other late-era Gazetteer, “The Atruaghin Clans” links to the Hollow World. Some of the tribes have connections to the Azcan of the Hollow World, while the plateau also has a mighty elevator, which is one of the main access methods to that place far below the Known World.

About the Creators. Some of Connors’ earliest work for TSR was in GAZ11: “The Republic of Darokin” (1989), so it’s only appropriate that he returned to finish off the “GAZ” series with one of Darokin’s close neighbors. Connors would become much better known for this Ravenloft work, starting with RR1: Darklords” (1991) and MC10: “Monstrous Compendium Ravenloft Appendix” (1991).

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons – a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to shannon.appelcline@gmail.com.

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By thedarkelf007

I am a long term gamer, I run 6 RPG's a fortnight, host board game, card game and LANs each about once a quarter and have an addiction to buying more games. Games I am currently running are Pathfinder (1st and 2nd Edition) and Dungeons and Dragons (5th Edition).

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