The Voyage of the Princess Ark
The Voyage of the Princess Ark was an article series in Dragon Magazine relating to the Dungeons & Dragons setting of Mystara. It was a 2-year-long-running serial (from issue 153, Jan 1990, to issue 188, Dec 1992, although it was absent in issue 159) charting the titular expedition.
The titular Princess Ark was a skyship - a flying vessel - from the Alphatian Empire, charged with the mission of exploring the distant reaches of Mystera in the pursuit of wealth, alliances and trade agreements on behalf of the Empress of Alphatia. Written in the stylized journal of the Princess Ark's captain, each article ended with new rules for Basic D&D relating to whatever locale had been visited in that month's issue; among other things, this was the birthplace of PC stats for n'djatwa, phanatons, lizardfolk, lupins and rakasta, amongst others.
For a short time after it ended in issue #188, its role was taken up by the Known World Grimoire. The collected Voyage articles were, with some editing and new art & rules, published in the box set "Champions of Mystara: Heroes of the Princess Ark", released in 1993.
The Voyage returned in a single remaining fiction-only article in issue #344, as part of the celebrations for Dragon's 30th anniversary.
Stages of the Voyage
Part 1 - Issue #153: The Princess Ark is set off from Alphatia on a mission of personal amusement by Prince Haldemar of Haaken, who wishes to provide an accurate understanding of the world beyond Alphatia after proving that the standard geographical texts are fraudulent. This first leg of the voyage takes them to the "Jungle Coast", bordering the Thyatian Hinterlands.
- Crunch: This issue was accompanied by stats for a new monster; a carnivorous plant dubbed the Cestian Gobbler.
Part 2 - Issue #154: Traveling south from Cape Eriadna, the Princess Ark discovers an uncharted island subserquently named Oceania, between the Bellissarian Sea and a nameless sea on its east.
- Crunch: This issue was accompanied by a new 7th level Cleric spell, Ship Flight, which boosts the ability of skyships to reach a desired destination.
Part 3 - Issue #155: Limping away from their disastrous encounter with a dragon necromancer on Oceania, the Princess Ark settles on the previously-uncharted Ramissur Bay, on the Isle of Cestia. Slaying one of the night dragons from Oceania, they discover that Cestia is inhabited by its own native civilization, who have long warred against the night dragons.
- Crunch: This issue was accompanied by stats for a new magical weapon, the Bolas of Sunlight, and monster stats for Alphatian Imperial Navy Boltmen.
Part 4 - Issue #156: Traveling from Cestia, the Princess Ark is captured by a fortress of long-lost knights from the Heldannic Order. After a brief struggle, involving the theft of the sacred remains of the Order's patron, the Princess Ark escapes.
- Crunch: This issue was accompanied by brief details and monster statistics for Knights of the Heldannic Order.
Part 5 - Issue #157: The Princess Ark crosses into the Vulture Penninsula and discovers the ruins of a long-lost city, haunted by a huge flock of nagpas. One of these, Abatu, confronts Prince Haldemar and explains that this city was ruined when, during an ancient civil war, they summoned a powerful monster from the Sphere of Entropy and then lost control of it. It obliterated its summoner and his land, as well as his enemies, and cursed the people it had killed to eternally reincarnate, live, and die as nagpas.
- Crunch: This issue was accompanied by stats for the nagpa Abatu of Varellya, secretly essential to breaking the curse of the Vulture Penninsula.
Part 6 - Issue #158: Heading west from the Wyrms Strait, at the southern end of the Vulture Peninsula, the Princess Ark comes across Green Bay and the land of the N'djatwa - a weird people seemingly born from a crossbreed of elf and ogre. Though they inherited the fair features, intelligence and magical aptitude of their elven parents, they also possess the size and strength of ogres. Despite the fact that the N'djatwa still retain their ogrish cultural traditions of slavery and cannibalism, tentative peace treaties are forged between their race and the Alphatian empire.
- Crunch: This issue was accompanied by stats for the N'djatwa as a playable race, under the "race as class" rules for Basic D&D.
Part 7 - Issue #160: Traveling away from the land of the N'djatwa, through equal parts luck and skill, the Princess Ark breaks the "skyshield" and is carried aloft into outer space. Fortunately, its crew survives long enough to enter the skyshield of the previously unknown moon of Myoshima, inhabited by clans of flying-sabertooth-tiger-riding samurai rakasta.
- Crunch: This issue was accompanied by basic notes about the moon of Myoshima.
Part 8 - Issue #161: Traveling from Myoshima in pursuit of an escaped criminal, the Princess Ark encounters first a fleet of Heldannic star-ships and then crashes upon Mystara's southern pole, before accidentally stumbling into one of the great rifts leading to the Hollow World at Mystara's heart.
- Crunch: This issue was accompanied by statistics for the Vulcanian Sloth, a new monster based on a giant, empathic, semi-intelligent carnivorous sloth native in the region stretching from southern Vulcania on Mystara's surface to the southern White Penninsula of the Hollow World and the Dark Lands of the Hollow World.
Part 9 - Issue #162: The Princess Ark continues exploring the Hollow World in pursuit of their criminal. Accidentally crashing, they are assisted by the gnomes of Oostdok.
- Crunch: This issue was accompanied by details on the Oostdok Trade Houses, the culture of gnomes native to this floating island.
Part 10 - Issue #163: The Princess Ark does battle with the star-ships of the Heldannic Order and with the Night Dragon from Oceania.
- Crunch: This issue was accompanied by statistics for the Night Dragons.
Part 11 - Issue #164: Having been both returned to the surface and hurled forward in time 34 years by the machinations of Synn the Night Dragon, the Princess Ark finally returns to Alphatia. Due to political machinations by the Heldannic Order, it is promptly forced to restock and return to its world-roaming travels.
- Crunch: This issue was accompanied by a profile for Prince Haldemar and his first officer Talasar, as well as stats for a new Air Elemental called the Skywyrm.
Part 12 - Issue #165: Traveling southwest from Starpoint in Alphatia, the Princess Ark stumbles into a spot of bother when they are confronted by a lich survivor from the ancient culture of the Thothians.
- Crunch: This issue was accompanied by profiles for three members of the Princess Ark's crew; Myojo, a Myoshiman rakasta who has sworn loyalty to Prince Haldemar; Raman Nabonidus, the chief engineer, and Lady Abovombe, the Ambassadress from Cestia.
Part 13 - Issue #166: The discovery of a new civilization, the Emerondians of Davania, is complicated due to Prince Haldemar suffering from delusions brought on by reading enchanted scrolls taken from the tomb of the Thothian lich.
- Crunch: This issue was accompanied by details on the Emerondians.
Part 14 - Issue #167: As Prince Haldemar struggles with his curse, the Princess Ark is beseiged by terrible monsters.
- Crunch: This issue was accompanied by game mechanics for the Thothian Enchantment that had afflicted Prince Haldemar in parts 13 and 14, as well as statistics for Ashari Sunlil, the Princess Ark's navigator, Boltman 1st Class Ramissur Zumrulium, Midshipman Tarias of Arogansa, and the civilian advisor Leo of Le Nerviens.
Part 15 - Issue #168: Fatally damaged in the fight from the previous issue, the Princess Ark collapses, stranding its crew on the small world of Hakh. This ends when the spirit of the demi-Immortal Berylilth reconstructs the vessel and carries them away.
- Crunch: This issue was accompanied by details on the rebuilt and empowered Princess Ark.
Part 16 - Issue #169: Returning to their own world via a portal, the Princess Ark finds itself in the desert-based Kingdom of Sind. Whilst attempting to win a favorable trading alliance by constructing a new palace, Prince Haldemar discovers the "curse" afflicting Sind is due to the Asandra River being poisoned with a mind-numbing alchemical toxin.
- Crunch: This issue was accompanied by details on the Kingdom of Sind and its neighbor, the Rajahstan of Jaibul.
Part 17 - Issue #170: The Princess Ark returns to the Serpent Penninsula, this time to visit Thanegia Island and the Yavdlom Divinarchy.
- Crunch: This issue was accompanied by details on the Yavdlom people.
Part 18 - Issue #171: The Princess Ark travels to Slagovich in pursuit of assassins who attacked the high priest of Yavdlom Divinarchy.
- Crunch: This issue was accompanied by the first ever rules for Red Steel and its relative minerals, as well as a profile for one of the Ark's crew; Xerdon.
Part 19 - Issue #172: The Princess Ark travels to Hule in further pursuit of a conspiracy against Alphatia and other lands.
- Crunch: This issue was accompanied by further rules for Red Steel.
Part 20 - Issue #173: The Princess Ark lands upon a deserted tropical island for some R&R.
- Crunch: This issue was devoted to expanding upon the peculiar religious beliefs of Hule's natives.
Part 21 - Issue #174: Traveling to the Savage Baronies, some of the crew are caught up in the machinations of a cinnabryl-fueled specter called an Errant Soul.
- Crunch: This issue was accompanied by statistics for the Errant Soul undead and details on the Savage Baronies.
Part 22 - Issue #175: Still within the Savage Baronies, the Princess Ark becomes caught up in some very strange goings-on on the island of Saragon.
- Crunch: This issue was accompanied by further details on the territories within the Savage Baronies.
Part 23 - Issue #176: The Princess Ark's quest to investigate Red Steel brings it to the Claw Peninsula and Smokestone City, a very strange place indeed.
- Crunch: This issue was accompanied by details on Smokestone City and stats for the Cimarron Six-shooter, a rapid-fire six-cartridge dart-launcher, essentially a crossbow version of a six-shooter pistol.
Part 24 - Issue #177: The Princess Ark's travels brings it to the Confederated Kingdom of Robrenn, a strange blending of Celtic and feudal knighthoods.
Part 25 - Issue #178: On a diplomatic meeting with King Sigismund of Eusdria, the crew of the Princess Ark are captured by the Heldannic Order. Escaping requires fighting partaking in a chivalric duel.
Part 26 - Issue #179: Visiting the lupin kingdom of Renardy, the crew of the Princess Ark becomes embroiled in a plot involving the theft of the incredibly valuable Boisjolis-Nouveau wine.
- Crunch: This issue was accompanied by extensive coverage of the Kingdom of Renardy and its people.
Part 27 - Issue #180: Traveling from Renardy, the Princess Ark decides to stop in Bellayne, a kingdom of rakasta native to Mystara. The trip is soured when the Errant Soul from the Savage Baronies strikes back and kills Raman, though fortunately he ultimately finds his way back from Limbo.
- Crunch: This issue was accompanied by extensive coverage of Limbo, Mystara's realm of the dead, and its many denizens.
Part 28 - Issue #181: The Princess Ark's continued stay within Bellayne is complicated when an envoy from Myoshima recognizes Myojo. To save him from dishonor, the crew must compete in and win the Tatterham-Glenswych Derby.
Part 29 - Issue #182: This was the first of three volumes in which the story of the Princess Ark was absent, and instead the article was devoted to answering Mystara lore & crunch-related queries.
Part 30 - Issue #183: The Princess Ark travels to Herath, and discovers that the quiet and isolationist kingdom kingdom is home to aranea. More importantly, they recover notes that suggests magic is being drained from the world as a result of something hidden in Glantri.
- Crunch: This issue was accompanied by details on the Magocracy of Herath, as well as stats for aranea PCs.
Part 31 - Issue #184: This was the second of three volumes in which the story of the Princess Ark was absent, and instead the article was devoted to answering Mystara lore & crunch-related queries.
Part 32 - Issue #185: The Princess Ark's ongoing expedition brings it to the Shady River, where it discovers the Squamous Kingdoms; three warring civilizations consisting of the Lizardfolk kingdom of Shazak, the Gurrash kingdom of Ator, and the Cayma kingdom of Cay.
- Crunch: This issue was accompanied by details on the Squamous Kingdoms, the Patron Immortals of all three, the ruined city of Ah'roog, and PC stats for the scaly folk.
Part 33 - Issue #186: When the Princess Ark is attacked by lightning-spitting wyvern-like drakes, it is temporarily grounded within the grasslands of the Wallara. There, a convoluted series of events leads to a magical warning that reinforces things learned both from the Mage-King of Herath and an encounter with a Neh-Thalggu amongst the Squamous Kingdoms: that something evil is brewing in the lands of Glantri.
- Crunch: This issue was accompanied by details on the wallara, including PC stats, their homeland, their religion and their weapons.
Part 34 - Issue #187: This was the third and last of three volumes in which the story of the Princess Ark was absent, and instead the article was devoted to answering Mystara lore & crunch-related queries.
Part 35 - Issue #188: The Princess Ark finally returns to Alphatia, albeit after a brief encounter with the phanatons of Jibaru.
- Crunch: This issue was accompanied by details on Jibaru and its native phanatons, including PC stats.