Long Island Sandbox, Part Eight: Turn Up The Heat

[Editor’s note: This is part of a series of articles by Chandra Reyer and Timothy Connolly examining the relevance of analog games in a digital world and the eighth in a series regarding the Long Island sandbox Timothy runs.]

 

THE FIRELANDS

THE FIRELANDS

Giants, demons, and drow, oh my!

Welcome to the Firelands expansion map. Designed for our running of the classic G3 adventure module, in which our heroes hope to thwart the sinister machinations of King Snurre Iron Belly, this region is home to an astonishing assortment of places – from the Barrier Peaks, to Hawk’s Landing, to Sunholme, to the Aerie of Flame, to the Broken Spire, to the Slaughter House, to the Forest of Ashe, and more.  Each such place would tell a thousand tales if it could.

To enter the Firelands on foot, one must first endure an overland journey through the Aradondo region of the Djoosi Jungle (beware of carnivorous bananacondas, and snakeriders!) Should adventurers be lucky enough to survive these perils, their next challenge will be to traverse the Barrier Peaks which straddle the Djoosi Jungle and the Firelands. Rumors do exist of underground mines, passageways, and tunnels that run beneath the Barrier Peaks, but such thoroughfares (if real) are certainly not recommended for sensible surface-dwellers who value their lives.

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BARRIER PEAKS and HAWK'S LANDING

BARRIER PEAKS and HAWK’S LANDING

On the Firelands side of the Barrier Peaks, adventurers will see Hawk’s Landing, a mercenary training camp, with a population of approximately two hundred fighting men and women.  Most of these mercenaries belong to a sacred militant order known as the Order of the White Hawk (or just Order of the Hawk, for short.)  Hunting demons (and killing demons) is what they do best.  Hawk’s Landing is also home to the grandest lammergeier station in the entire sandbox. Thousands of wild lammergeiers prowl the skies atop the Barrier Peaks, feeding on bones, and picking clean the carcasses of the less-fortunate.  Burials don’t occur here.  Instead, lammergeiers are allowed to feed on the bones.  Waste not, want not.  Lammergeiers that meet certain criteria are taken into captivity at Hawk’s Landing, where they are trained for the carrying of messages to-and-fro. Animal handlers and trainers exist all throughout our sandbox. That’s all well and good, but to be an animal handler or trainer from Hawk’s Landing? Ah! Well, that’s a true feather in one’s cap, pun intended.

The Order of the Hawk is led by a brave man named Klavier, who recently took a position as Captain of the Guard in the Benchleydale town of Urseid.  That he took up the position in Urseid is especially interesting, because absenteeism isn’t often thought of as an agreeable quality in the Firelands; certainly not for one who leads the Order of the Hawk.  None have dared to challenge Klavier‘s leadership since his departure from the Firelands.  Some say it is better this way.  After all, there are still a great many things one can accomplish from afar.  Klavier does a fine job of that, and the Benchleydale town of Urseid is glad to have him.

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THE SLAUGHTER HOUSE

THE SLAUGHTER HOUSE

The most famous fighting arena in our sandbox (the Slaughter House) can be found in the Firelands. It seats as many as fifteen hundred people.  The price of admission is affordable for loge and mezzanine seating.  Ground level seating cost a fair amount more, whilst luxury box and skybox seating sells for ten times as much.  It’s the chief source of income for both the Order of the Shield and the Order of the Flame.  Combatants come in all shapes and sizes at the Slaughter House.  There are no weight classes.  If one combatant weighs thrice as much as his or her opponent in the Slaughter House, so be it.  On days when no matches are scheduled, paladins from Sunholme perform training exercises at the Slaughter House, because Lawful Goodness never takes a holiday.  The slaying of demons, drow, and fire giants, is risky business (and there’s far less risk involved when their training routines are up to snuff.)

Winners of matches at the Slaughter House are oftentimes enlisted into the Order of the Hawk, Order of the Flame, or Order of the Shield.

Popular merchandise sold at the Slaughter House includes authentic battle-used weapons (complete with certificate of authenticity,) miniature figurines (referred to as minifigs,) mage baubles, Eriop action figures, and whatnot.

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JAYNE’S TOWN

  Jayne’s Town is akin to Chalmun’s Cantina, if said cantina were an actual town instead of just a cantina.  Three thousand people dwell in Jayne’s Town, and half of them are in the bar/tavern business.  Gambling happens here, including high-stakes Beeramids, Old Nick The Three Captain, and Blackrazor/Whiterazor.  Betting on the outcome of matches at the Slaughter House also happens here.  The finest weighted dice in our entire sandbox can be purchased in Jayne’s Town too, if one knows where to go looking for such things.

  Jayne’s Town has become a tourism destination in recent years, for those looking to see and experience the wonders of this place firsthand.  Many exotic shops exist here as well, including Tinker Gnome Tower, The New MU, Supreme Shieldmakers, and Shaving Throw (where eight expert barbers man eight unique barber chairs “twenty-five hours a day, eight days a week,” as their slogan would have you believe.)

People generally believe Lord Turan to be the man who runs Jayne’s Town, however this is only partially true.  Lord Turan is the leader of the Order of the Shield, you see, and already has his hands quite full with that.  In actuality, Jayne’s Town is covertly run by all three Orders (Hawk, Flame, and Shield,) but that’s the sort of clandestine knowledge that could imperil someone, if it were to fall into the wrong hands.

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IRONWIND METALWORKS

IRONWIND METALWORKS

When it comes to diverse output, this prolific foundry sure is tough to beat.  Aside from the manufacture of custom staves, and other magic items for all three Orders, Ironwind Metalworks also forges desirable materials comprised made entirely from precious metals.  True masters of metalcraft, they toil tirelessly here, making marvels happen with ores harvested from the Redfire Quarry.

  Nike Moe is the man in charge here. And what a curious thing that is.  Nike Moe is already the Armorer, who oversees all operations at the Ironforge Armory.  One might suppose Nike Moe already has quite enough to do at the Ironforge Armory, and he or she certainly wouldn’t be wrong for thinking for that, what with all the necessary armorcraft and weaponcraft that occurs on his watch at the Ironforge Armory, day-in-and-day-out.  Even so, it just wouldn’t seem right to Nike Moe, if he were to delegate his authority to someone less dedicated to the cause.  And there you have it.

A dozen whitesmiths ply their trade at the Ironwind Metalworks, shaping non-ferrous cold metals (especially tin) into ornamental replicas of weapons, lavish ceremonial commission pieces, and outlandish furniture adornments – of which the Order of the Flame seem to enjoy.

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THE AERIE OF FLAME

THE AERIE OF FLAME

  Magic-Users belonging to the Order of the Flame all learn and practice their spellcraft at the Aerie of Flame.  Aurellia the Harbinger is found here too.  Now in her 245th year, it is this elven wizard from Dron Duiin, who leads by example at the Aerie, from the teaching of cantrips to younger (more innocent) pupils, to the teaching of the dark arts to those with an aptitude for such things.

  A dozen half-elven multi-classed subordinates (Lords, actually) serve Aurellia the Harbinger here at the Aerie of Flame (respected veteran survivors of skirmishes with demons, drow, and fire giants, one and all.)  One such Lord (Lord Eriop of Sunholme) has more than ninety confirmed kills to his credit (fifty of which were of the incubi/succubi stripe, having sprang forth from Fng’rath (the Demon’s Gate,)) further endearing Eriop to his fellows at the Order of the Flame, as one might expect.  Up with Eriop!  News of his exploits have traveled far and wide.  In sooth, there’s even a Swords & Fjords adventure module featuring Eriop as one of the pre-generated characters (Eriop’s Extraordinary Excursion,) intended for characters of higher level.

  Aurellia‘s subordinates are formidable scholars and professors of magic, each in their own way, and each is referred to as a Lord (a title more ceremonial in nature, as opposed to, say, having anything whatsoever to do with land-ownership.)  Students will train, study, and practice under the tutelage of these Lords of the Aerie.

  Students will learn to wage war against darkness with darkness magics.  They will learn to fight fire with fire magics.  Other notable areas of learning at the Aerie of Flame include runecraft, demonology, and summonings.  Seven students are presently enrolled in classes at the Aerie of Flame, and each student yearns to play a pivotal role in the vanquishing of their foes here in the Firelands.

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SUNHOLME

SUNHOLME

  Sunholme is where both the Order of the Flame and the Order of the Shield provide their Knights with barracks, room-and-board, three squares a day, sufficient training area for tactical purposes, wash rooms, and all the amenities that one might expect to find in such a place.  These fabled Knights are revered all throughout the sandbox, and collectively known as the Knights of the Flame, or the Knights of the Shield, depending, of course, on which Order they represent.

  A thousand of these Knights are presently at Sunholme, where special training exercises are taking place, under the watchful eye of Flavius, the High Reclaimer (the highest-ranking Knight at Sunholme, a human, fifty years of age with youthful qualities, and battle-tested with the obligatory scars to prove it.)

  The 2nd-in-command at Sunholme, beneath Flavius in the pecking order, is Lord Turan (see above, where Jayne’s Town was mentioned earlier.)  Lord Turan is well-respected as a leader of men, and is an absolutely brilliant strategist when it comes to warfare in the Firelands.  The battlements of Sunholme are still standing today because of decisions made by Lord Turan in the fog of war, during a famous clash with gibbering mouthers; a combat situation that’s come to be known as “the aberration equation,” which involved a pouring of just the right amount of acid upon those foul foes.

  The 3rd-in-command at Sunholme is Klavier from the Order of the Hawk (see above, where Hawk’s Landing was mentioned earlier.)  Even though Klavier hasn’t been seen at Sunholme in years, his status as 3rd-in-command remains intact.

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REDFIRE QUARRY

REDFIRE QUARRY

  Redfire Quarry is where valuable metals get extracted from below the surface.  Iron ores, nickel deposits, aluminum, copper, tin, phosphorous, and zinc are all found here.  Granite and slate are extracted from here too, making Redfire Quarry a key location for the three Orders.  If it were to fall into enemy hands, that would be very bad news for the lands of elves and men.

  Workers and stone masons work here day and night, in shifts lasting no more than five hours each.  The working conditions here are unsatisfactory, because of it being in  close proximity to both the Lumia River (a river of lava,) and the Hall of the Fire Giant King (inside of Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle.)  To work at Redfire Quarry is to truly know the meaning of “hazardous to your health.”

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FORT MINOR

FORT MINOR

  Fort Minor is an outpost manned by ten scouts at all times.  Keeping They’ll dispatch a horse-rider to Sunholme at the first sign of trouble.  They’ll defend themselves with axe, spear, sword, and shield, if need be.  The men and women stationed at Fort Minor are among the most courageous men and women seen anywhere in the sandbox.  Bless their hearts.

  Among their number is Matilda the Ferocious, a veteran of countless sorties into the environs of Valakut.  Standing tall at 6′ 4″, with more notches in her belt that you can shake a Rod of Lordly Might at, Matilda casts a long shadow over King Snurre Iron Belly‘s cunning plans to overthrow the three Orders.  You can bet your bottom electrum piece that there isn’t a fire giant alive who wouldn’t mind seeing Matilda roasting upon a pile of hot glowing coals.

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FORT NIGHT

FORT NIGHT

  Fort Night is guarded by ten equally-brave men-and-women who keep watch on any drow that emerge from beneath Dron Duiin, along with any demons that emerge from Fng’rath (the Demon Gate.)  Quick to dispatch a horse-rider at the first sign of trouble here, these guards (mostly members of the Order of the Hawk) must remain vigilant at all times.  There is no margin for error here, if these lands are to remain safe from the dangers of both the Underdork and the Abyss.

  Among their number, is Captain Nock Turnal, a slender fellow with a swimmer’s physique, and an expert archer with a flair for the dramatic.  One morning, at the crack of dawn, Captain Turnal felled three drow with a single shot from his long bow, at a distance of fifty meters; a remarkable accomplishment which rendered each of his Fort mates speechless for a moment.  Captain Turnal then let out a yell.  “That’s three at fifty!”  A rousing cheer erupted from his Fort mates, and it went on to become the talk-of-the-town at Hawk’s Landing afterwards.

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KEEP OUT INN

KEEP OUT INN

  Weary travelers can find comfort at the Keep Out Inn, so named for its reputation of denying entry to undesirables (so no demons, no drow, and no fire giants.)

  This unusual inn can accommodate as many as fifty people.  There’s even a wash basin in every room.

  Feathers is the proprietor; a pretty blonde-haired woman with an eye for danger, and a penchant for exotic fabrics.  Luxuriant linens and silks of every color tastefully adorn the inn’s interior.

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LUMIA'S VALLEY

LUMIA’S VALLEY

  Lumia’s Valley (named for a goddess of fire and chaos, worshiped by certain members of the three Orders,) stretches for miles in all directions, a barren badlands in which the great Lumia River flows (a lava river, flowing from south to north, beginning at Valakut and continuing underneath Sunholme.)

  No wildlife lives here.  No vegetation grows here.  And yet, this area is of great importance for the Orders.  The Order of the Flame is developing a plan, involving magic, to halt the lava flow altogether (without the usage of a wish spell.)  The Order of the Shield would then march down the river bed, and make quick work of the fire giants at Valakut.  Easier said than done, of course, but hopes are high, and the Order of the Flame is very close to a breakthrough.

 

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FOREST OF ASHE

  The Forest of Ashe is as barren and devoid of life as its name suggests.  Decimated when Dron Duiin fell, as a result of horrific battles between Sunholme‘s Order of the Shield and Dron Duiin‘s drow, all that remains now is the charred husks of hickory and sweetgum trees.

  With no druids to care for it, and no attempts (yet) by any of the three Orders to restore it to its former glory, the Forest of Ashe serves as a grim reminder of what should never have happened.

  One can only hope that it will thrive again someday.

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DRON DUIIN

DRON DUIIN

  What lurks beneath the Firelands is often just as frightening as what prowls above the surface.  Once upon a time, Dron Duiin was a mighty drow stronghold, housing nearly a thousand drow.

  A mere seventy-five drow dwell at Dron Duiin now, as much of it has been evacuated.  The remaining drow consist of scavengers (and those too afraid to leave.)

  Any drow found at Dron Duiin are captured and put to work in the Ironforge Armory.  Woe be unto any such drow.

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THE BROKEN SPIRE

  The Broken Spire rises a kilometer high up into the sky.  Three decades ago, it was the home of a powerful magic-user named Gebbeth.  He was benevolent and wise.  He was also the previous Harbinger (Order of the Flame,) prior to the current Harbinger (Auriella.)

  One fateful day, Gebbeth was captured by demons, and taken through Fng’rath (the Demon’s Gate,) where he was dragged down into the Abyss, against his will.  Gebbeth has not been seen since.  Many speculate that he still yet lives, waiting to be rescued.

  Today, the Broken Spire is an abandoned haunted prison.  All who enter there do so at their own peril.

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FNG'RATH, DEMON GATE

FNG’RATH, DEMON’S GATE

  Fng’rath (the Demon’s Gate,) is the stuff of nightmares. None know from whence it came, nor how long it’s been there.  The Order of the Hawk has made it their mission to hunt/kill the demons that spring forth from here.  Knowing of no way to destroy the gate, they hope to one day seal the gate shut.  They also hope to one day be able to send fire giants into the gate, thereby eradicating the fire giant menace once and for all.

  Some members of the Order of the Hawk have gone through the gate, never to be seen or heard from again.  Others have entered and returned to the Firelands, bringing with them somber knowledge of the Abyss that lies beyond.

  Whilst there’s been no sign yet, of demon lords such as Baphomet, Demogorgon, Graz’zt, Juiblex, Kostchtchie, Lolth, Orcus, Pale Night, Pazuzu, Yeenoghu, or Zuggtmoy entering the Firelands by way of Fng’rath, there is always a chance that there might be.  And so, the Order of the Hawk watches, and waits.

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  You’ve been enjoying this latest installment of Long Island Sandbox.  Thank you so much for reading.  Join us again next week, when we enjoy a delightful look at our cherrypicking of classic adventure modules from the 1970s and 1980s.  Until then, let the good times role.

THE LONELY OASIS

THE LONELY OASIS

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