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Player's Secrets of Hogunmark (2e)
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Player's Secrets of Hogunmark (2e)

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It's time for our September Setting sale, so from now through October 1st, this title has been marked down by 33%! For more values, visit our September Setting sales page.

The Hogunmarkdomain sourcebook details the people, land, customs, and culture of Hogunmark, a Rjurik domain on Cerilia's northern frontier. Queen Freila, the ruler described in The Rjurik Highlandsaccessory, has died, leaving the domain without a clear successor. This book assumes your player character (PC) is one of her six landed jarls (though you can play a different type of character if you choose). Your PC has the strongest claim to the throne, but still must prove worthy of it.

Players of nonregent characters who live in or come from Hogunmark will also find this domain sourcebook useful. The independent streak known to Hogunmark's people makes this domain an ideal home for any adventurer. Once you've finished reading this sourcebook, pass it along to your DM. Explain what you want to keep or change about the domain, and point out adventure ideas that are important to your character. With your DM, decide on material that will make Hogunmark the domain you want your PC to rule while fitting your DM's vision of the campaign.

Note that many character descriptions herein use abbreviations to denote race, class, gender, bloodlines, and so on. These standard BIRTHRIGHT abbreviations are detailed in the Ruins of Empirebook in the boxed set and in The Rjurik Highlandsaccessory.

Product History

"Player's Secrets of Hogunmark" (1998), by Carrie A. Bebris, is the last Domain Sourcebook for Birthright. It was published in June 1998.

Origins (I): The Final Domain Sourcebooks. The player-oriented Domain Sourcebooks were a big deal early in the Birthright line, but by the time TSR put out their 1997 schedule, they only had one Domain Sourcebook planned, "Hogunmark", which was originally scheduled for January 1997.

Origins (II): The Cull. Though "Hogunmark" had originally been first on the 1997 schedule, Wizards of the Coast opted to publish the other three delayed Birthright RPG books first, and didn't do anything with "Hogunmark" at the time.

Why? A clue lies in "Player's Secrets of Müden" (1997), which was probably originally intended to be the 15th Domain Sourcebook, after "Hogunmark", but was instead released in May 1997 as "an original online publication". Now, "Hogunmark" was being held back from proper publication as well.

This suggests that Wizards of the Coast was already starting to cull its D&D lines, cutting back the ones that were less successful or past their prime. Birthright would be the first to go, and it was one of the few lines where Wizards held back completed books rather than publishing them. Among the products that never made it to proper publication were these last two Domain Sourcebooks, a novel, a board game, and a few unannounced sourcebooks.

Based on this, we can conjecture that Birthright was one of TSR's worst-selling setting lines, and that the Domain Sourcebooks in particular weren't paying back their costs.

Origins (III): An RPGA Exclusive. With that said, Wizards did eventually print "Hogunmark", just in a very limited way. They produced a short run of the book with a grayscale cover and polybagged it with Polyhedron #130 (June 1998), their magazine for RPGA members. Because of its limited run, the print version of "Hogunmark" is one of the rarer D&D items, though not in the same category as rarities like ST1: "Up the Garden Path" (1986) and "The Jade Hare" (1992).

This was at least the second time that Wizards gave away a finished TSR product with Polyhedron, instead of putting into the mass market. Polyhedron #128 (February 1998) was similarly polybagged with the "Alternity Fast-Play Rules" (1997), which had debuted at the 1997 Gen Con Game Fair (1997). This time around, the RPGA clearly tied the giveaway into Polyhedron, via "Strange Bedfellows", an adventure in the magazine that was set in Hogunmark.

Fortunately for fans of Birthright, the actual content of "Hogunmark" didn't remain as rare as the published book. Wizards released it as a free PDF on their web site in 2000, to celebrate Birthright's fifth anniversary, and this time it had a color cover.

Origins (IV): The End of Birthright. Tribes of the Heartless Waste (1997) may have technically been the last Birthright release, as it was the last one released into the mass market, but six months later "Hogunmark" was the last professional publication for the line.

This wasn't quite the end of Birthright, however, for Wizards would release the final, unpublished books online. The novel, The Falcon and the Wolf (2000) went out as part of the 5th anniversary celebration. Blood Spawn: Creatures of Light and Shadow (2002), The Book of Regency (2002), and finally the board game, The Legacy of Kings (2002), appeared a year and a half later, bringing Birthright to an end.

Exploring Cerilia. Hogunmark lies in the The Rjurik Highlands, which had previously been described in the supplement of that name (1996). Within the Highlands, Hogunmark is the largest domain in the Northlands.

So, what makes Hogunmark unique? It's a vast unsettled and untamed domain, full of independent clans; the Rjurik who live there are mostly nomadic. The setup for the domain's lord is also unique: when the old Queen died, a PC had the best claim to the throne, but it may still be contested if they don't prove themselves! In other words, uniting the domain is a crucial part of the gameplay.

About the Creators. Bebris' two roleplaying products, "Player's Secrets of Hogunmark" (1998) and Blood Spawn: Creatures of Light and Shadow (2002) both had misfortune of not being printed by traditional means. Bummer. She had better luck with her novels, starting with Shadowborn (1998) for Ravenloft, which she coauthored with William W. Connors.

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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