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Places of Note

Herein you can find more in-depth descriptions and pictures of some of the places mentioned in the Arkaela world book. This is to provide DMs with further ideas & adventure hooks for bringing Arkaela into their own campaigns. Below you can also find descriptions of some of the many player characters who populate Arkaela and the Tanu nation, who gave it the flavor and history it has.

{NOTE: this page is still under construction, there's more to come. Last update: 3/30/99}

 

Arkaela:

{155k} Map of Arkaela

{109k} Map of Western Arkaela

{100k} Map of the Secret Lands

 

The Battle Plain & Doom's Gate

In the early days of Andraxas' war on the Cthulan gods, he and his first cleric, T'andrax, came upon this great, dry bed of an ancient inland sea. Its unique flat expanse struck the new godling as an excellent place for a field battle against his foes, and its southern-most tip further offered an excellent cliff-top vantage on which one might construct a great fortress, or even a city. As his following grew, Andraxas began construction of a castle upon the tall cliffs above the plain, which soon expanded to become a small fortified city. Naming it Doom's Gate, the God of Doom gathered his followers here, and erected the many buildings that would become the capital of his church and empire.

Here one can find the Guildhouse for the four Tanu psionic guilds, as well as the First Church of Andraxas. There are also many barracks, supply houses and repair shops for the Tanu Void Legion, and the Battle Plain below is used as a landing zone, bustling with military spelljammer traffic.

The city is divided into two sections, the High City and the Low. Most citizens dwell in the Low City, and this is also the section of Doom's Gate that most visitors will see. Above is the High City, the domain of the god, separated from the Low town by the Rampart, a tall, curved fortification which curtains off the entire southern side of the great tower of stone around which the city was built. The Rampart itself is a semicircle built of huge glass blocks, rising many stories high even at its lower end, within which is a maze of corridors and elevators which one must pass through to reach the area where the god dwells. Those who are granted admittance to the god's area must pass several checkpoints and many guards and traps, before reaching the final elevator which rises to the wide, paved roadway that runs atop this armored wall. One then traverses the Climbing Road, high above the city, until they reach the final checkpoint. Past this is a cozy, paved plaza surrounded by tall Tanu towers. Clustered here are the towers of T'andrax's private residence, the Legion Treasury and Central Office, and the tallest edifice in Doom's Gate, the Steel Tower, which is the lair of Andraxas himself. There are rumored to be several false buildings which are actually deathtraps for any invader able to sneak this far into the god's domain.

For most of the time, Doom's Gate is a closed city, and all who enter or leave are scrutinized by a dauntless guard force who make sure all are as they appear to be. However, once every five years, the plain below becomes the center of the highest Tanu holiday, the Grand Combat. Pilgrims from far away, not only from across Arkaela but from other worlds as well, travel to the Battle Plain to either observe or participate in the three-day war-like festival. A makeshift city of tents and pavilions sprouts at the mouth of the slope leading from Doom's Gate onto the plain, as pilgrims, warriors, strange beings, and merchants arrive to see the clash of arms and magic which occur in honor of the Tanu liberation. While the High City remains closed to all but the most honored guests, the Low City receives a brief influx of curious visitors who come to view its alien architecture, and famous places of Tanu society & lore. Security for the city is at its most tense at this time, so as to prevent the ill-intentioned from penetrating the closed city's defenses.

The Secret Lands

This lone island continent, very far away from the main lands occupied by the Tanu, remained unknown to Arkaelan society for a large portion of history. Before the time of the Paring, a small, sea-faring civilization existed here, probably seeded by travelers from the main continents, but the cataclysmic events at the end of the Age removed all traces of it. After the rise of the great sea beasts, travel this far across the ocean was impossible, and only those psionicists {and off-world mages} capable of transporting themselves over great distances visited here, and few ever really divulged its existence. With the advent of spelljamming, Andraxas discovered and settled this lush, untouched island and claimed it as a secret base where he might continue his efforts to gain power and enlarge his fleet. Though its existence is known of in modern times, travel there is forbidden, and those caught trespassing are never seen again.

There are two main encampments here, the spelljammer port Argallus, and the monastery of the Crimson Brothers. Many miles of forest and hills separate the two, so as to allow each operation to proceed with its activities without the distractions of the other. Also, guard units from each settlement patrol the island to search for interlopers, and the encroachment of Cthulu's fish-men minions.

Argallus is the primary construction complex of the Tanu Legion. The original site began as a series of exercises in which different Legion brigades assembled experimental, prefabricated settlement structures for use off-world. Soon the area became dotted with these encampments; eventually the structures were made permanent, and a wide landing zone was built for spelljammer craft. In time a complete city arose on the wide, grassy plain in the center of the island, and dry docks were assembled to service the growing Tanu military. Complete manufacturing facilities were built to complete the center, and now, nearly 40 berths for ships of varying sizes and needs are in operation in the Argallus complex.

Argallus is warded by many weapons batteries, both to protect it from invasion from space but also to keep away the raiding bands of Deep Ones, who have created a small underwater city to the west of the island itself, beyond the Great Reef. The city's sole purpose seems to be the spawning of raiding bands, and those Legionnaires assigned to Argallus find constant duty repelling their efforts. The alien space vessel Dimensional Vengeance also orbits high above the island continent to further protect Andraxas' investment. Alas, its semi-functional energy weapons cannot penetrate the sea enough to cause damage to the Deep Ones' city, so more mundane efforts must be used to combat Cthulu's minions.

The Monastery of the Crimson Brothers shares the island with this spelljamming base, but it sits many miles distant atop a coastal plateau. The training of these monks necessitates their being isolated from the activity of the port, so they may commune in peace and develop their inner powers. Only after they have attained a certain rank may the initiates travel back to visit the spaceport.

The Monastery, which has no formal name, receives supplicants from all over the spheres, who must sleep at the gates until one of the masters beckons them in. They then begin a brutal training program, which may last for years, or decades; it all depends on their progress and the whims of the masters. After attaining level 6 in rank, they are free to travel on their own back to the island's other populated area during their free time. The monks and initiates-in-training share duties with the Legionnaires in patrolling the island and repelling Deep One incursions, as well as maintaining roads and guarding the dock facilities. As the years pass, they grow in power, and ascend the ranks by defeating a higher ranked monk in full, bloody combat {this is, after all, a Lawful Evil monkish order}. At some time, the masters deem them worthy, and a monk or group of monks is transferred to a Tanu outpost for further assignment. This is another test from the masters: after being told where to go, the monk must reach his new home, even many spheres distant, completely on his own. Most return to Argallus and take ship on a spelljamming vessel, or attempt to slip between worlds using the dimensional gate between Doom's Gate and Kelna-Ia, but each must rely on their own ingenuity to make their way.

The Great Falls

This wonder of Arkaela first formed shortly after the world suffered the cataclysm of the Paring. The rapidly drifting Northern & Southern continents passed very close to each other at this point near the equator, and for a time a low mountain range thrust up where the two collided. However, while the Northern continent continued its eastward drift, the Southern lands moved north-northwest, eventually ripping the new hills apart as the land masses passed each other by. The spreading gap was inundated by seawater, and several miles of this isthmus are now occupied by a series of thundering waterfalls. Here, the Eastern Sea plunges through the widening continental gap and into the Western Sea, often dragging sea creatures, both large and small, over a brink three hundred feet high at its lowest point. These dead or stunned beasts are often harvested by clever Tanu 'fishermen', who scour the beaches below the Falls for carcasses which wash up on the sand. Folk with useful psionic power also suspend nets across the actual Falls themselves to sweep up schools of fish and other critters battered in the tremendous currents of the Falls. Needless to say, other predatory animals also hunt here for the same prey, and truth to tell, fishing the Falls is a risky proposition at best. Those who do are respected locally as either brave, foolish, or both.

There are no permanent settlements within several miles of the Falls on either side, as the rapid spread of the continents causes many subsurface quakes which, assisted by the massive erosion caused by the Falls, frequently dump huge chunks of land into the sea without warning.

Mount Vormidurth and the Forge

After the destruction of the fire deity Cthuga, Andraxas took the Old One's lair as his own. Originally, a large stone coliseum sat within a deep, volcanic cauldera within Mount Vormidurth, right within a nexus to the Elemental Plane of Fire. The slain god's body fell into the lava and dissolved, causing the entire contents of the lava lake to absorb and retain a magical essence. Andraxas saw the value in securing this site for the construction of magical items, being a weaponsmith himself, and so, he explored the many lava tubes within the mountain, eventually building a forge complex in the mountain's heart and sealing all access to the surface. The coliseum-like structure that Cthuga used as a nest still remains, visible in the bubbling magma, but the empty tubes are now stone-paved corridors and chambers of various functions.

Only the most trusted of Andraxas' worshippers and allies even knows of the Forge's existence, and efforts are made to keep it that way. The mountain was never a popular place when Cthuga reigned there, and the general populace is told many rumors about it being haunted, and that Flame Creatures still lair there, awaiting their master's return. This is not true, but the landscape contains many illusory objects and traps to keep these rumors alive. All lave tubes open to the surface are sealed, and the stone constructions within the Forge, especially the stone of the walls, are mortared with gorgon blood and other esoteric substances to completely prevent both scrying and entry from the astral & ethereal planes. There are also a number of obscurely worded Wishes in effect to keep out intruders. The only locale that allows access via teleport or similar effects is a small balcony, which hangs, shrouded by illusion, directly over the furnace-heat of the volcano's heart. From here, visitors find a winding maze of interconnected chambers, which contain the alchemical equipment, research materials, foundries and esoteric components necessary for the creation of magical items of great power. At one time, the spirits of the god's enemies were held here, where they were transformed into his dark servants, the Dreadknights and Dreadlords.

Somewhere within the tunnels and chambers, there stand a trio of strange, crystalline tubes; very close inspection will reveal a small, tri-fond flower glyph engraved on their surfaces. Within these stasis chambers, Andraxas found three members of the Great Race, after his defeat of Cthuga. These creatures, once freed, thanked the godling with a suit of near-impregnable plate armor, before disappearing without a trace.

Needless to say, a lot of high-powered item construction occurs here. Considering the spells and other effects the god has lain here, it is considered a really bad idea to be inside the Forge without the god's permission.

 


Greyhawk:

 Kelna-Ia

Its name is translated from Tanu as 'stepping stone', Kelna-Ia is the fortress from which Andraxas commanded the armies which conquered the nations of Greyhawk. The original occupants of the site at Redspan were attacked by a powerful force of Andraxas' worshippers in the Fall of CY 595. The castle keep was overrun, its defenders slain to a man, and the location sealed off from the outside world. During the next month, an arch of volcanic Arkaelan stone was raised within the original structure's courtyard, while its twin {with stone from Greyhawk} rose within a redoubt at Doom's Gate. With mighty magics, the two arches became linked, interdimensional gates which allowed the Tanu armies to pour forth onto the soil of the new world. After securing the surrounding countryside, the Tanu force formed a ring of armed might to hold the new fortress while more equipment and manpower was put in place, and events played out elsewhere across Greyhawk to set the stage for a full-scale invasion.

Today, the fortress complex of Kelna-Ia acts as the nerve center of the Tanu occupation. The original structure has grown to swallow several square miles of land, being comprised of battlements and barracks, spelljamming landing zones and construction facilities, governmental centers, magical research bunkers, treasuries, libraries, records storehouses, and the small city's worth of support personnel and supplies which allow this tight control center of distant nations to operate. While there are many places across the Eastern Kingdom that are emplacements of Tanu military might, this is their central headquarters. As with many of his most important locations, Andraxas has declared Kelna-Ia a closed city; those arriving and leaving do so on his expressed allowance. The walled city maintains the ability to screen who enters & leaves, and defend itself from attacks from both land & air.

The original dimensional gate that leads to Arkaela still stands, in its own guarded courtyard within Kelna-Ia. Alongside it, there also now stands a similar gate leading to an arch outside the fortress at Mount Bluetop on Krynn. The Legion is in the process of raising similar arches to connect them to their base on Vulkarus, and perhaps to new lands on Thesalyss and elsewhere. They are, of course, expensive and difficult to create. They are in constant operation, though, and one has merely to step across the threshold to pass into the other locale {assuming one has permission to pass the guards and do so, naturally.}.

Freehold of Candlespire

In their adventures while still mortals, Dead or Alive received asylum from the dwarvish Duke and his elven Duchess who controlled a large swath of farm land in Furyondy. In secret negotiations some time later, Andraxas himself offered Duke Sardac and Duchess Rachael {and the rest of their adventuring band, known collectively as the Cannabis Crusaders} a possible reprieve from the planned invasion of Greyhawk. Essentially, the deal said: remain completely out of the conflict that was coming, and in return, keep all the land you can grab before we arrive. As other-world armies poured from planar gates across the globe, the Duke & Duchess, never on good terms with the ruler of Furyondy, sent out feelers of their own. With quiet precision, they expanded their land's borders and warded all access to them, claiming a wide swath of land bordered on much of its area by the upper Att River. The incoming tide of war kept Furyondy's leadership focused elsewhere, and the hemp plantations from Sardac's original lands financed the stockpiling of supplies they needed to weather the reshaping of the rest of the world.

Today, this small free zone, renamed the Freehold of Candlespire, controls a triangular swath of land in what was once the lands of Furyondy. After the complete obliteration of Chendl by the Archdevil Drax during the war, Candlespire has become the de facto capital of the region, and its freedom lures many settlers unhappy with Tanu rule. However, they are all politely turned away, as the Duke and Duchess do not accept new homesteading citizens.

The original lands of this kingdom are warded by strange, precipitously tall mountains, which appeared mysteriously many years ago after the Crusaders confronted the demoness Lolth and foiled her own plans for invasion of another world. It is surmised the mountains were the gift of some alien deity whose world was saved from the demoness' predations. They ring, in a near perfect circle, the lush valleys that housed the family's plantations of hemp and grain. At the center of the ring stands Castle Cannabis, which has a long and colorful history all its own.

The Castle of Dragonsloft

In the Eastern Kingdom, the Rakers Mountains border what was once the Theocracy of the Pale. Nestled in a valley amid the tall, stony cliffs and mounts, lies a small village which was once the domain of a powerful vampire.  He kept the populace of the village below his castle in terror, with his fell magic and evil hunger. An adventuring party, including in its number the young Abbadon Doomgiver, happened by chance upon this place and learned of the plight of the villagers. They invaded the vampire's domain and battled him, eventually winning the day, and claimed his castle as their own.

Abbadon and his companions renamed the keep Dragonsloft, made it more suitable for living occupants and cleared the surrounding lands of the vampire's old servants. The village became revitalized, and with the help of Abbadon's retainers, they cleared much of the surrounding dark forests for use as vineyards and crop fields. The area's occupants are now happy farmers and cultivators, and the vale produces some of the finest dark wines in the Eastern Kingdom. Many outbound Tanu ships carry cases of Chateau Dragonsloft's blood-red vintage for sale to distant worlds. {DM's should purchase the original Raven's Loft™ module for ideas on the valley & castle layouts, and adventures in that region.}

 


Krynn:

 

Mount Bluetop

Krynn was visited by a Tanu exploration vessel in the early days of the Legion's spelljamming; they found it a lush new world with thriving cultures and enough frontier areas to allow a new colony. {It should be noted here that the gnomoi gnomes who serve in the Legion originally came from a tower upon Hitehkel, the Burning Sea, and were recruited during this first, exploratory visit to Krynn}. First surveyed by the original Tanu spelljamming vessel, the Squidship, Mount Bluetop was found to be a strange, lonely mountain in Taladas that fascinated the Tanu explorers. An ancient, tall stone wall of unknown origin rings the mountain's base, and its crown is riddled with shallow caves. After several bloody adventures in which the monstrous occupants of those caves were cleared out, the Squidship left behind a portion of its crew to begin construction of a Tanu settlement and returned to Arkaela to report and gather more colonists. The first settlers built prefabricated homes above the caves, and settled in to await the return of their fellows.

It was not to be. During the winter, an expeditionary force from Thenol discovered and attacked the Tanu camp. The defenders were outnumbered and overcome by the undead soldiers, and the Legion ships that arrived overhead the next Spring found the settlement burned and deserted, its occupants massacred.

Far more cautious and determined to prevent another such event, the Tanu set about building a reinforced, battle-ready fortress of dressed local stone and Tanu glass. Now defended by both armed ground patrols and spelljammers flying overhead, the settlement has grown. The caverns below Bluetop have been expanded, and the fields that gird the mountain are now farms, their main produce being giant space hamsters in many varieties, who roam the grassy fields of Bluetop, shepherded by the gnomes and dwarves who make up a majority of the Legion population here. There is some trade with locals, and other areas of Krynn have been explored, but the Tanu have not attempted to settle beyond the ancient stone wall that surrounds the mountain, preferring to create a stable, respected colony here before turning their eyes elsewhere.

 


The Fortress of Controlling Power

{as mentioned elsewhere, the Fortress of Controlling Power is, in our game, actually the Rock of Bral with several changes. DMs including it in their campaigns should acquire the Rock of Bral™ boxed set for details on this cool locale. For purposes here, a mageocracy of 7 powerful wizards are the rulers of this place, though all other details remain the same. An exception is the addition of a size C cubic world in the second orbit of this sphere, named "Valendaril", on which is located 'the Rock' prison, a mountain fortress into whose dark depths many are sent, never to return. It is the lair of an evil spirit of Solar-like strength, and an army of goblinoid soldiers and cleric minions. }

 The Tanu Enclave

Early in their spelljamming efforts, the Tanu purchased a small property on this bustling asteroid city, eager to have access to this place, a way-station for many travelers through the spheres. The Tanu Enclave serves as both a safe house and temple-in-space for Legionnaires far from the Homeworld. A complete description, including floorplans, can be found here.

 


Vodonispace

Vulkarus 

When the Alliance of the Known Spheres battled its way to the homeworld of the Vodoni, an epic space-land battle like none other recorded occurred at the capital city of this invading empire. At the center of Vulkaran's circular city rose a miles-high crystalline tower, its crown capped by a combination palacial throne room, and spelljamming vessel of unique design. This mighty vessel broke away from the rest of its towering dock in the final moments of the conflict, intent on ramming the Star of Doom and shattering the main Tanu fleet command once and for all. However, at the last moment, heroes in bloody combat with the Emperor Vulkaran himself and his most powerful minions inside the crystal ship itself won the day, and diverted the onrushing vessel off its course with mere feet to spare.

After the feting and celebration were over, the allied races divided both Vulkaran's city and collection of spheres up among themselves. The Tanu chose the great crystal palace itself for its territory, and began construction of an elaborate settlement within the vast structure. In time, they repaired the shattered crown of the crystal, and created a spelljamming port for themselves among the clouds. Within the rest of the huge elemental tower lay miles upon miles of tunnels, living and military quarters, plazas, and vast spaces in which the Vondonispace Tanu dwell. This is one of few Tanu space ports open to civilian craft, and trading vessels seeking to sell to the Tanu may alight here, and engage in barter with a breath-taking vista laid out below.


"The War Song Of Arkaela"

Your head is off-
The land is bare-
The door is broken down-
 
We are here-
You are dead-
Best start bowing now-
 
We'll slay your kin-
Steal your wife-
Rush your sons to their grave-
 
We'll make your life so miserable-
We'll free all of your slaves-
 
War song - War song - War song of Arkaela!-
 
The Armies Of Doom-
And minions of Hell-
Will crush you where you stand-
 
We're not prejudiced-
We'll kill you all-
Neogi, Wolf and man-
 
You'll see the heroes-
And attempt to flee-
But to no avail-
 
Now you die-
Were doomed to fail-
None left to tell the tale-
 
War song - War song - War song of Arkaela!-
 
Realize this as you fade-
We'll enjoy all that you've gained-
 
We'll raise our flags-
And sing this song-
As we party on your graves.

- Traditional Tanu battle song, written by Admiral Kain, on the occasion of the surrender of the Vodoni on Vulkarus.

 

 

COMING SOON! Hall of Heroes: the Lists of Tanu Heroes and their Deeds

This section will detail some of the Player Characters who participate in the Arkaela campaigns. It's your Humble Dungeonmaster's way of thanking many good friends who made our gaming worthwhile.