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Firelord Sagaby Ville Lähde
4) Fleshing out the Islands: Important Locations
As I lack a scanner I cannot provide you with my original maps of Thanegioth. Also I lack the skill to use any of those nifty computer programs to make map files. Still, you can find good map bases for Thanegioth in Thibault Scarlat's web pages. There are also small-scale maps of Thanegioth in the old Expert Set map and the Rules Cyclopaedia map.
Below I have detailed the various isles as they exist in this campaign scheme.
The Isle of the Firelord
This is the easternmost island of the archipelago, and one of the three largest ones. From east to west it is approximately 150-160 miles long. It is shaped like an arch, and the western base of the arch is approximately 100 miles south from the northern tip. This is the main base of the empire of the Firelord.
The western half of the island is mountainous and barren land. In the southernmost rugged hills lives a formerly isolated tribe of fire giants, who have made a loose alliance with the Firelord. North of the hills is about 20 miles or broken land, which ends in a volcanic mountain range. These mountains separate the western part of the island from the rest. Only a narrow pass allows traffic. There is also a small forest and a sandy beach on the western coast, sheltered by the mountains. So far Firelord's troops have either ignored or missed it. It could be used as a secret landfall.
The mountain range is inhabited by fire salamanders, which survive here due to the presence of one active wormhole-volcano. Some more isolationist Red Dragons live here also, they have very little or no contact with their people in the western islands. In the northern end of the pass is a fortress, which has a strong garrison. It functions also as a school for fire cult initiates. There is a lava basin ("firestone plain") to the north. The initiates travel there to meditate and study the secrets of the starfire sphere. From the fortress a well-kept Thyatian-style road leads to the eastern parts of the island. About 10 miles from the fortress a smaller road forks to the right and ends at a military training camp.
The northern areas of the western half of the island, are grassy plains.
The northernmost areas of the island, the middle of the arch, are dominated by the Plain of Fire, a plateau that rises steeply from the ground, with sheer cliffs. (east-west: 40-50 miles, north-south: 12-15 miles at most). A great dome-shaped temple has been built in the middle of the plain. The only accessible path to the plain is guarded by a huge bronze golem, which lets only members of the Cult to pass, if they utter the right incantations and make the right gestures. Many creatures of fire prowl the Plain of Fire. South of the plateau is jungle, which stretches to cover also most of the eastern half of the island.
The eastern half of the island is, as said, dominated by the jungle. However, the southernmost parts are grassy plains, where most of the grain of the Empire is being grown. The road that leads to the western fortress cuts through the jungle, and it is heavily guarded. In the jungle, near the northeastern shore and close to the plateau, is a secluded school for advanced fire cultists. There is also a temple of Rathanos. Woe those foolish adventurers who decide to storm its gates.
The only real city of the archipelago, the City of Fire, lies in the middle of the southern plains. It is a relatively large city, with a population consisting of enslaved Nuari and slaves captured in the pirate raids, and the "cosmopolitan" mix of Daricus's followers. Four roads lead out from the city. One of them to the northern jungles and eventually to the mountain pass fortress. The northeastern road leads to heavily guarded zzonga plantations (greenhouses). The eastern one lead to the shore, where is the harbour of the Fiery Navy, the shipyards and a small town. The western road leads to the shore, where are the main barracks and training grounds of the Firelord's army. Also, a smaller path leads to the south, ending in the southern tip. There is an isolate lighthouse, which is used to lead back the ships that sail for the Hinterland route, and for ships returning from pirate missions (they always take "a detour").
The Central Archipelago and the Red Dragons
The central archipelago consists of the Four Draconic isles, and one island called The Farthest Shore. The latter islands is about 30 miles southwest from the southwestern tip of the Isle of Firelord. The name was given by the Rakastae, and it was passed on to the Red Dragons. On this island a certain ancient Red Dragon ruler, an ally of the first Firelord, was slain by the king Rak'Asta. The king also perished in the dragon's fiery breath. The sword of Rak'Aste is still buried in the remains of the Ancient Red, waiting to be found. The island is a taboo for the Red Dragons.
About 50 miles west lie the Draconic Isles. First comes the Isle of the Snake, which is actually a very small and a larger island, connected by a coral reef. Then is a roundish island called Death's Head, roughly 20 miles across. The largest one is the Jaw, which is about 90-100 miles long from southwest to northeast.
About 70 miles north of the Draconic Isles lies the Dragon Reef, a sacred place of the Sea Dragons. According to legends is grew on the body of a slain sea dragon.
Isle of Dread and the Descent of the Rakastae
Because of the adventure module "Isle of Dread", there is a ready-made map available. It can be found in Thibault's page also. You can use the standard map, and even some information from the module, but I have made many significant changes. First of all I removed the Kopru and the temple on the central plateau. I replaced it with the ruins of the rak'astan civilisation.
The rakastae that now inhabit the island are of the standard breed, a "degenerated" version of the elder race. They live in primitive matriarchal tribes, where the female population lives in the villages, ruled by a strict caste system. The males wander in the jungle, hunting and gathering food and other materials for the females. The latter are mainly crafters. One significant part of their culture is a religious program of breeding that casts out "deformed" children - much like the Shadowelves. Only this time the children who show signs of their elder heritage are removed from the gene pool, speeding up the process which "animalises" the former were-species.
Other inhabitants of the island include phanatons and bugbears, who fight each other sporadically. There is also a community of aranea, a tribe of lizardmen and the old green dragon Abode. Tribes of Nuari, subjugated by the Firelord, live in the southern part of the island. There are four villages: Terinu, Waranu, Usi and Nunala. Waranu has the Fiery Navy harbour and the biggest garrison. Firelord's troops man the Great Wall.
North from there open the southern and central parts of the island, bordered on all sides by the sea or the mountains. In the southernmost area, close to old tar pits, and the nearby swamp, live the lizard men. Firelord's local commander is in the process of instigating them to attack the rakastae. This area is separated from the jungle by a series of hills. In the northern part of the hill country live the aranea. They have become Firelord's allies and have been attacking the rakastae too (one method has been to magically enrage the Lost World-type monsters living in the jungle. (OK, If you like to stick with some laws of ecology, you should dispense with the dinosaurs. But they are JUST too cool.) The jungle belongs to the rakastae. The main village is ruled by a matriarch priest, who worships a distorted version of "the Lion god" (she still gets spells, though). The four male tribes, the Panthers, the Lions, the Tigers and the Sabretooths, have dealt out the jungle between themselves - although during the mating season the fights for the privilege get fierce, but seldom lethal. (IMC I made the rakastae compatible with humans due to their heritage, and the PC who gained the lost soul of King Rak'Asta actually agreed to. The claw marks stayed a long time, since the group cleric didn't see it fit to heal them magically.)
To the northeast, across the mountains there is a small jungle, where the phanatons live. They war with the bugbears who live in the mountains. Abode lives in the jungle north from there. The rakastae who have been cast out and who have survived live near the northwestern swamp. During the years they have created a small community. But due to the small gene pool they are in a sorry state.
The Elven Island: the Children of the Swan
This is the next large island to the west. The elves call it "Kulan-Gath". The vegetation is more diverse than on the other islands due to the influence of the elves. There are some plains, some thick jungle, and some more elfesque forest. The western part of the island is dominated by the elven trees. There is one large sweetwater lake also (The Swanwater), and a river leads from it to the gulf on the northern part of the island. The shores of the gulf are sandy beaches, which have a golden tint (The Golden Sands). South of the gulf, after some stretches of forest, is a large plain (the Hoof plain). To the west the forests grow more dense and dark, until at the western cape they are sinister indeed.
The Children of the Swan live in the western part of the island. Some centaurs and chevalls live on the Hoof Plain. West from there begin the treants' area, and there is also a small community of flitterlings in the northernmost tip.
But lately a darkness has been spreading to the island. The darkest western forests have been spawning terrible plant monsters that eat anything that moves. Good trees are dying, and bad ones stretch their roots over large areas. Now a tribe of Wood Imps has been moving east with the darkening of the forest, and it is threatening the Flitterlings. Treants are worried also.
The Children of the Swan haven't been able to intervene, since they have their own problems. Firelord's troops landed on the Golden Sands, began cutting down the trees and built a stockade. Now they are building a naval shipyard. Elves couldn't match the fiery magic of Firelord's servants and Rathanos's clerics, since the tribe isn't exceptionally large. The situation has worsened even more as the Sea Witch, an ally of the Firelord, has been sending her minions to harry the elves.
The Sea Witch Darwa lives on the westernmost island. It is unknown how she got there, but she is very powerful. I suggest giving her most of the Witchcraft powers in the Glantri Gazetteer, and perhaps some more. She should be a tough adversary. She uses her summoned creatures as commandoes, through which she can channel her powers.
The Northern Firelord Defences and the Route to Thanegioth
"The First tower" is an island about 180 miles north from the northeast tip of the elven island. Firelord had a strong fortress built there to guard the secret sea routes to the north. There are ballistae and catapults equipped with magical and alchemical fiery ammo, trained hellhounds, elite troops and several capable Cultists.
The Great Whirlpool and the Sea Dragons
The Great Whirlpool is situated south of the Isle of Dread. It is a large wormhole to the Plane of Water. The Sea Dragons live around it, hiding from their enemies.