CruelSummerLord writes "Places like the Temple of Elemental Evil, the Ghost Tower of Iverness, the Tomb of Horrors, and White Plume Mountain are the most famous places spoken of where countless adventurers lie in early graves. However, new areas are always mentioned in the lore of taverns and campfires...
Newly Discovered Dungeons of the Flanaess
By: CruelSummerLord (email@example.com)
(Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.)
Respected Iquander and Respected Sir Pluffet:
I write to you in regards to many of the newer places of myth and adventure that heroes can explore in search of vast hoards of wealth and fortune. Many of these places have no recording in canon, as they have been newly discovered, are simple rumor, or have simply been ignored in favor of the more famous lairs cited above. Before I discuss these, I think that a brief reminder of the history of dungeons is necessary...
"Dungeoneering", as the term goes, is still the most famous and traditional of things done by adventuring parties, and their existence shows us that the Flanaess, even before the Wars, is not nearly as civilized as we think. The keeps of free nobles, border towns, wizard's castles, temples, monasteries, orc hovels, dwarf mines, and other small realms and strongholds are raised yearly across the Flanaess, and an equal number of them fall. These ruins naturally attract humanoids wishing to hide within civilized states like flies to a corpse, and of course other stupider creatures quickly follow.
For every dungeon or orc hold that is "cleared out," three more send adventurers to Nerull's cold embrace before their time. Blackthorn, for instance, is thought of as "an enclave of orcs and ogres." The town of Harrgred Kukulend, in the Cairn Hills, is also mentioned. What these esteemed writers overlook is that these two places are merely the most famous--more than a hundred known humanoid lairs exist in the Gnarley Forest alone, and Lendor knows how many in the Cairn Hills! The frontier is indeed moving, but it is not moving in our favor. Civilization can and does clear out monster dens and wilderness, but it loses just as often as it wins. Civilization, if anything, is receding!
With that in mind, there will never be a shortage of work for enterprising heroes and explorers. And so, I turn to the main topic of this dispatch, the newly discovered dungeons of the Flanaess...
-- The Dragon's March: Somewhere in the Bluff Hills is rumored to be a keep where reigns the ancient King of the Dragons, Bahamut. Within a valley ringed with twelve towers of pure platinum, is said to exist Bahamut's home, or at least a gate to it. Whether this is the place "beyond the east wind", as Xagyg originally described where Bahamut lived, is not known, but it is known that ogres attempt to storm a certain valley annually, always returning home with significantly reduced in number.
-- The Endless Road: In the days of mythical Aerdy, Overking Tenmeris was expanding the empire into the reaches of what would become Ferrond, now Furyondy. At that time, a group suing for peace was sent to Rauxes by a group of knights who were attempting to create a kingdom of their own, resisting Aerdy's urges. The peace party turned out to be an assassination team, which had the audacity to attempt to kill Tenmeris within his own court. They failed, of course, and were promptly repaid by being forced to walk an endless road that reflected their own worst fears and nightmares, as well as glorifying images of the Great Kingdom.
The Endless Road now appears at random throughout the Flanaess, as the ghosts of these would-be assassins attempt to sweep up unwitting people to join them on their endless walk.
Being swept into the Endless Road means that people must travel it, dealing with things and people they meet either on the road itself or beside it, being drawn into a world of illusion and dreams. People who arrive here often find that the Endless Road's phantoms will deal with them with puzzles, tricks, or outright attacks. The force animating the road seems to favor forcing people to determine which of its forks will allow them to escape, or continue in an endless trek to escape. People who are trapped here need neither food nor water--the road's magic sustains them.
-- The Eddri Lines: The people of Idee were known for their line of military fortresses before their nation's destruction in the Greyhawk Wars. While the soldiers of Ahlissa are busy building their own keeps and mantaining order in the still-unsettled region, many of these fortresses, several of which had secret ways to the DeepOerth, are as yet unexplored. Rumors of an underground movement dedicated to liberating Idee are persistent in Naerie City, though Overking Xavener is more concerned with ensuring that the last few recalcitrants in the region will not continue their futile struggle.
-- Northwick Castle: The eastern Burneal Forest actually has a loose confederacy of barons within its eastern reaches, the descendants of, if I am correct, Blackmoor lords who broke away from the Archbarony when it was released from Furyondy and Keoland. They did not sink to the depths of evil and depravity as did their neighbors, and would soon accept a number of Chakji into their domains. Loyal to ancient Aerdy but mindful of the evil that had overtaken distant Rauxes, they were careful to avoid the same descent suffered by so many others.
Northwick Castle, a castle-city to rival Blackmoor Town, was built on the ruins of an ancient Ur-Flan temple, when the Oeridians came and chased these cultists out of the area. A prosperous (for such a remote region) town exists above the temple, though Colinn's Doors were built to seal and block the horrors of the temple below, said to be a major stronghold of the "Horned Ones," who some say are the predecessors of the Horned Society.
Attempts were made to explore the temple, but all who entered returned as shambling zombies, needing to be burned before they would rest. Foolhardy adventurers may pass through the doors if they like, but no one knows what they will find down there, or even if the people of Northwick will open the doors to let them out again...
-- Rhiannon Hall: Tavish III originally built this massive military keep in the southern arm of the Good Hills during the height of Keoland's imperial phase in 441 CY, to guard against raids north of the Hool Marshes by the Sea Princes. Man and gnome lived here together, a fearsome force that crushed every group of river pirates the Sea Princes sent against it. Finally, the Princes were forced to pay three wagonloads of booty to a mob of hill giants to tear the place down by attacking from behind while the Sea Princes mounted a frontal assault. The Princes suffered heavy losses in this assault, and the giants chased them away before they could recoup their losses from the fort's plunder. Rhiannon Hall is now known as a gathering place and neutral ground for all rival clans of hill giants from as far away as the Barrier Peaks.
The hall is not always fully manned, and many of the sacred treasures of the giants are said to lie unguarded. Hill giants motivated by loot are dangerous enough, but enraged hill giants are worse still....
-- Silverstone Hill: These hills in the southwestern Celadon are thought to be a place of good, benefitting from the wood's wholesome reputation. Elves and humans who come to study at Stalwart Pines report that lammasu and ki-rin come here to dance and frolic by the light of the twin moons and are willing to grant boons to whoever of pure heart and noble intent makes their through the maze to visit them. This maze is of non-lethal nature, though its tricks and puzzles will confound even the most intrepid adventurers.
--The Temple of Scythe and Skull: A fearsome temple to Nerull the Reaper in the barrens east of the Howling Hills, this horrifying place is said to be filled with undead monstrosities and clerics who conjure the dead to bring terror to all the lands around. Not even the Horned Society deals with them, as they are viewed as dangerous lunatics by the Hierarchs. People who have attempted to explore the temple find grinning skulls asking riddiles, huge caverns wherein gigantic skeletal limbs swing and dance from chain platform to chain platform, and areas that prove deadly to any and all mortals, though they allow undead to pass through freely.
-- The Twilight Hall: Many versions of the Twilight Hall exist in song and script throughout the Flanaess. This one is said to exist within the area of the Gnarley Forest claimed by Celene, a preserve of the past. It is almost a museum, with statues of crystal and bronze, priceless works of art, frescoes, and decorated temples all speaking to the glorious, if fractured, past of the elven race. Only appearing on the full moon of Celene, the smaller moon of Oerthly, the Twilight Hall straddles that mystical seperation between the matieral plane and the realm of the Seldarine, the elven gods.
The Brother of the Cruel Summer."