Ravenloft Gazetteer I
Forlorn and Hazlan were split between me and Chris Nichols; telling you which parts were mine and which were his would require a map. I can tell you that I wrote up Tristen and he updated Hazlik. Everything else is pretty heavily mixed.
John W. Mangrum
On the Ravenloft Gaz in general - these have been the Kargatane's baby for a long time. In the latter 2E era, Ravenloft fans clamored for WotC to publish gazetteers for Ravenloft. The WotC Kargat put their first gazetteer on their internal development schedule in the last days of the line. I believe the gazetteers would have been written by members of Azalin's Kargat, but that's all we know about WotC's specific plans. (We don't even know if the plans had progressed that one point yet.) Anyway, in the brief period when we actually held the reins of the setting, the Gazetteers were a major part of our plans. We had S and the metaplot worked out in fairly sharp detail by the time Arthaus picked up the license.
We sent a product proposal to our original developer (shortly before he handed off the reins), setting out formats, narrator info, the entire metaplot in broad strokes, the works. The developers refined our chapter outline and nailed down the number of domains per book. Since then the overarching plan has changed in only minor detail. (In other words, we ain't making this story up as we go along, to say the least.) Really, the only significant change our first developer made to our "grand scheme" was to start in Barovia rather than Darkon, which makes sense. In other words, by our original plan, the domains covered would have been in order of Gaz II, Gaz III, Gaz IV, Gaz I, Gaz V, before continuing onward.
As a note, in our plan S was set to start exploring the clusters and islands in Vol. VIII. Although we purposefully left the exact order of domains she visited flexible, Gaz VIII's focus was just about set in stone: Souragne and the Verdurous Lands.
One more hint -- and this one might as well be the last one I ever give out. The very, very last domain S was to visit -- the absolute final domain in the series -- was Bluetspur.
In our plan, the reader would have been told in Vol. VI (The Nocturnal Sea) exactly how many volumes the Gazetteer series would contain (or at least a strong hint for readers putting 2 and 2 together). In Vol. VII (The Sea of Sorrows), S finds out just as she thinks she's finally, completely done. It would have led to the reaction above -- but wouldn't end there.
As a note, Vol. VII would also have revealed the purpose of S' bracer.
'Course, that's all out the window now, so it's literally anyone's guess what'll happen.
In the real world, limiting the Gazetteers' scope to the Core served two purposes. One was a wrinkle in the metaplot -- as you're putting together above. The other was an "exit plan" for we authors. We knew that getting to the finish line with the complete Gazetteer series would be a remarkable achievement, and that the odds of that actually happening were slim. In case anything did go wrong, seeming to ignore the lands beyond the Core would let us quit midway through without losing face, so to speak.
(Of course, it wasn't our intention to actually leave half the setting next to unplayable for three years...)
On Gaz I - I wrote the Foreword and Kartakass, as well as contributing a bit to Hazlan and doing my usual shadow developer work. (Whoever writes a chapter generally also writes the related material in the Attached Notes as well.)
Initially, the Gazetteer language primers were proposed to be longer. Unfortunately, they were one of the first things trimmed for space. However, I managed to save my original Forfarian primer, which I've attached below. The first section and the 'Van Richten nine' section were initially supposed to be part of every primer, followed by a selection of domain-specific words.
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