"It is early, and low over the mountains the sun set the sky ablaze. The little red creature yawns, stretches its small bat wings, and scratches its horny head. Suddenly, a gong echoes in the room below, making the creature jump. Almost falling, it grabs hold of the large statue on which it was sleeping.
"Down below, the students are preparing for their daily barrage of courses in geography, economics, history, royal lineages, and magical instruction (including new spell research and casting). It is rumored that each of the school's instructors is a member (or leader) of one of the Seven Secret Crafts—with strange new abilities."
All who live or come to live in Glantri are searching for a secret: the Radiance, a mythical force covering the whole of the Principalities. Now your characters can join the adventure, with this Gazetteer. Here are complete maps of the Principalities, a street map of the capital, and all the information you'll need to interact with the citizens—people ruled by wizard-princes, not all of them satisfied with that situation.
GAZ3: "The Principalities of Glantri" (1987), by Bruce Heard, is the third book in the "GAZ" series of Gazetteers for the Known World. It was published in September 1987.
Continuing the “GAZ” Sourcebooks. Like its two predecessors, "Principalities of Glantri" offered an extensive description of a country within the Known World. However, it was also marked by two major changes. First, the size of the book grew from 64 pages to 96 pages. Second, this new book was written by de facto Known World line developer Bruce Heard. Heard choose to author this book himself because he wanted to update the scope of the Known World sourcebooks and also to provide his freelance authors with a blueprint for what the "GAZ" sourcebooks should include.
As before, there's a lot of attention to big-picture elements including the geography, history, miltary, and politics of Glantri; a description of "guilds and brotherhoods" adds to the detailing of the nation as a whole. However, Heard also went beyond the traditional purview of the series in two major ways.
First, Heard provides considerable detail on a single locale: Glantri City (and its Great School of Magic). In a later review, Ken Rolston says that it is "With the exception of Lankhmar: City of Adventures… the best-developed AD&D or D&D game city I've seen." This was high praise given the work of Judges Guild and Midkemia Press in the field. TSR would just a month later complete their trilogy of great cities of the '80s with "FR1: Waterdeep and the North" (1987).
Second, Heard includes much more crunch than was present in the previous "GAZ" books, making it more immediately practical for GMs. Much of this focuses on new rules for magic — including mechanics for crafting and the secrets of "the radiance". However, there are a few new monsters as well.
Bruce Heard's book varies from its predecessors in one other way: it's more over-the-top and light-hearted. For example, Glantri has a yearly parade of monsters, who are then sold to the highest bidder, while elven factions within the city have guilds named F.A.E.R.Y. and E.L.F. Some people enjoyed the tongue-in-cheek look at a D&D setting, while others didn't.
Horror Inspirations. Though most early D&D adventures were pure fantasy, this is one that has clear horror inspirations. One noble family is made up of werewolves, while the country's ruling council of mages includes vampires, liches, and necromancers. The horror elements aren't played up, but they're there for a GM's use and are a clear predecessor to the Ravenloft campaign setting (1990-1999).
The Clark Ashton Smith Connection. The earliest look at the country of Glantri occurred in X2: "Castle Amber (Chateau d' Amberville)" (1981). However, that adventure was mostly set in Clark Ashton Smith's fictional Province of Averoigne, which lies in an alternate dimension. As a result, the connection to Glantri is exceedingly loose.
Heard resolves this problem by bringing the backstory of "Castle Amber" more fully into the background of Glantri. The d'Ambreville noble family is an important part of Glantri, and they're not the only noble family to have fled Averoigne for Glantri; there's even a principality in Glantri called New Averoigne. It's a well-done retcon that helps to adapt the unique color of "Castle Amber" more fully to the Known World setting.
Expanding the Known World. Prior to the publication of "The Principalities of Glantri", very little was known about the country, except as a location on the Known World maps. As noted, it was mentioned in "Castle Amber", but in that adventure players soon leave the principalities behind. The original censored version of B3: "Palace of the Silver Princess" (1981) was also set nearby, in Gulluvia. However, when "Palace" was revised by Tom Moldvay the Known World connection was erased; the adventure would later settle in Karameikos instead.
As a result, Heard had a pretty clean slate as he presented Glantri for the first-time. He details a magician-ruled land with horror touches where clergy is outlawed. Heard also used the module to connect up different portions of the Known World by having some of the noble families come from distant lands, including those detailed in GAZ5: "The Elves of Alfheim" (1988) and GAZ12: "The Golden Khan of Ethengar" (1989).
Future History. The Known World investigated another magic-dominated country when it detailed Alphatia in Dawn of the Emperors: Thyatis and Alphatia (1989). TSR later returned to the country of Glantri when it updated the Known World for AD&D and released Glantri: Kingdom of Magic (1995) and Mark of Amber (1995).
About the Creators. Because he was in charge of freelancers, Heard became the de facto line developer of the Known World. He later wrote GAZ10: "The Orcs of Thar" (1988), but is best-known for "The Voyage of the Princess Ark", a long-running article series that appeared in Dragon (1990-1992, 2006).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.