Atlas   Rules   Resources   Adventures   Stories       FAQ   Search   Links

Koll from Dungeon Magazine #9 and the Arm of the Immortals

by LoZompatore

This is a translation of a very old post I originally made in the Italian Message Board with some speculations on the possible placement of the port town of Koll described in Dungeon Magazine #9 D&D adventure "The ghostship gambit".

I think that what follows may be useful to flesh out the southern half of the Arm of the Immortals following Carillon's excellent new map of the Yalu Bay / Northern Arm of the Immortals available here.

Now, in the adventure, there are explicitly mentioned several possible placement for the town, incidentally providing some population figures for the settlement:

DMs using the Known World of the D&D game may wish to place this adventure in either the city of Mule Beach or the port of Sea Camel... or any town of under 5000 population.

Mule Beach and Sea Camel are the old names (pre-GAZ era) of the towns of Kladanovic and Tijaret respectively, located on the "neck" connecting the Serpent Peninsula to the Great Waste.

Furter insight provided in the module sets Koll's population at approx. 5000 people:

Larger cities, such as Slagovich or Specularum, would not need the services of a small party of adventurers as they have powerful militias and high level magic users and clerics on the public payroll who are well equipped to deal with any waterborne menace. Smaller cities and towns simply cannot afford to hire mercenaries or pay large bounties.

A map of Koll's surroundings is also provided (24 miles/hex scale), which does not match with local geography for Kladanovic / Tijaret.

So, to exploit the map and to avoid providing a third name to locations that already possess two (i.e. Koll = Sea Camel = Kladanovic), I guess the best option is to say that Koll is another town different from Kladanovic and Tijaret and located elsewhere on Mystara.

In my opinion a suitabe location is the southernmost tip of the Arm of the Immortals where, as you may see below, there is a very good match between the coastline of the adventure map and the general coastline of Mentzer's Companion Map. Also the mountian ranges are fitting.

Other features of Koll according to Dungeon Magazine #9:

The followings are direct quotes from the adventure description. In particular, I guess the "out of the way port" description of Koll is fitting for its suggested location on the Arm of the Immortals. Other details allow to set the land area under direct control of Koll's authority at 20 miles around the town (and the surroundings are not very safe; there are bandits and the town has a well-trained city guard); moreover, Koll's laws considers slavery at least for criminals.

Koll is a busy but rather out of the way trade port. It has an excellent deepwater harbor and is a stopping point on a major caravan route.... Ships leave and arrive daily, and the land caravans do the same.
All this activity makes Koll richer than actually is. Adventurers examining the ships and their cargoes notice many in poor conditions. While some of the merchandise is valuable, a great deal is not. Most of the cargoes waiting on the docks are cheap goods: large kegs of rogut mead; thin, watery wine and sour beer; piles of poorly made furniture; bolts of coasrse cloth; boxes of inexpensive earthenware, etc.

The masters of the port of Koll offer pledge... to any group of brave and noble souls willing to rid the local sea lanes of a dread menace.

The PCs are guests of honor... they are made honorary members of the local Seamen's Guild and they are given a symbolic "key to the city". This key is 4'long, made of carved wood painted gold. It weighs 15 lbs, has no intrinsec value and cannot be disposed of within 20 miles of Koll without offending the city and its inhabitants.

Koll has a well trained city guard...

With the sea lanes cleared, brigands may begin attacking the caravan routes near Koll, forcing the port masters to issue another bounty.

Sork and Bryndle, if captured, are sentenced to 20 years as galley slaves.

The "ghostship" mentioned in the adventure's title is actually a submarine ship named "Old Ghostly" with a crew of dispossessed/exiled Aquarendi elves who turned to piracy to follow the evil intentions of their leader Sork the Enchanter. The elves themselves are not truly evil as in the adventure's epilogue it is said that, after their leader is dispatched, the Aquarendi will gladly accept any job offer by the PCs.

the elves are glad to stay, for without Sork they have nowhere to go...

The water elves might come from the Sunlit Sea offshore the Known World or, as an alternative, they could be part of those water elves who stayed back during their migration to the northern emisphere and did not reach the Known World. They could be part of some clan thast stopped around Izonda establishing a colony there (the map on this article could be of some help as a reference).

I guess most of the trade of Koll actually comes from Izondian countries of from settlements in the Arm of the Immortals facing the Izondian Deep. Little trade should come from the Far-End Ocean as, from Dragon Magazine #200, the nations of Gombar and Ssu-Ma on the other side of the Arm of the Immortals actually beleive that no civilized nations exist in this part of the world:

The two other nations on the other side of the Great Immortal Shield have been settled by a race of civilized demi ogres (mixed human Tanagoro blood) from Tangor.
Their kingdoms are made up of merchant principalities more interested in sea trade than overland exploration. They know of the strait between the southern end of the Arm of the Immortals and Davania that leads to the Western Sea. They haven't settled it because they think only savage nations exist beyond.

Finally, the town of Koll may be a settlement of Yavi (Tanagoro stock) established following their temporary migration to the Arm of the Immortals and who were left behind when Yav brought back his people to the Serpent Peninsula in BC 400.