08 · Gamemaster aids
The Court of Ardor as a quest scenario
No doubt, as is clear by the intimations in the text so far, the Court of Ardor was designed as a unit, and can be played as an extended quest scenario, the central figure being Moran, who must slay his evil mother to prevent the downfall of the sun and moon. But Moran cannot do it alone, and certainly the other players will desire illustrious backgrounds for their characters. Below are a few suggested histories:
- A younger prince or princess of Hathor (the last of seven or eight) or Taaliraan, sent away for their own safety in anonymity.
- An unknowing child of yet another Court member. (Fëatur?)
- Kirani or Koronandan nobleman/politician’s offspring sent to recover an item of power, which (it is learned) is held by the Court.
- Someone tutored, or even brought up by, an old mage who tells the youth of a lost artifact (of the Guild of Elements? Ty-Ar-Rana?) who is assassinated by an agent of the Court before he can tell of its whereabouts. The PC must piece together information to locate the item (no doubt at a Court hold).
These are just a few of myriad possibilities which exist within the text for creating PC backgrounds, which will in turn enliven the flavor of the game overall.
The Court can also of course be simply used as a backdrop for a series of adventures, eliminating the quest elements.
Notes on the completion of the quest
Firstly, there is one gem of Unlight remaining for the Court to recover. It is in the castle Kirnak, a ruin in northern Taaliraan, in a special case made of kregora, a material which will block all magical emanations and prevent its detection. Naturally the Court is eager to collect the gem, and has minions everywhere seeking it. As of early 1703 they had narrowed the area to the Taaliraan region. A potential early-on adventure for the PCs might be to snatch the gem before the Court gets there (directed to Kirnak by notes/hints from the Guild).
In the long run however, Ardana believes that the Ritual can take place without one gem — although she would prefer it otherwise.
Ironically, the best time to slay Ardana will be at the time of the Ritual itself. Before then Ardana will be extremely difficult to get to. During the ceremony in the great cave beneath the tower, the lords will all be gathered, and will be in a trance-like state, scattered about the cavern. Ardana herself, deep into the trance, will be particularly vulnerable. But only Moran can kill her (or even wound her) and only then in hand-to-hand combat, and with a weapon of mithril (or perhaps there is a specific ‘Holy’ weapon which must be found).
The details of the final fulfillment of the Quest are up to the GM, such as: (a) will any of the Guild of Elements go to aid them? (b) will Moran, or any of the other group members gain special powers at the ritual, such as great strength, immunity to stuns, etc.? (c) how quickly will the Lords of Ardor become aware of the group, come out of their trances and act to defend Ardana?
With Ardana’s death, after a short delay the entire citadel will fall into a ruin, so tied to her was it; and with its destruction the structure and power of the Court of Ardor will also fail.
Text for the player-characters
Following is a text designed to aid the PCs in the completion of their quest. The text, “The Book of Andraax”, was written in fact by (the male) Fëatur, and copies can be found in various Court holds and in out of the way places, large libraries, etc. It is somewhat informative, without giving specifics about citadel layouts or other facts which might make things too easy.
(The following is bound as a book, and can be found in any language or script.)
The Book of Andraax
“Herein is held the book of Andraax the Scribe. AH that is recorded is all that is known by those Outside of the Court of Ardor: Council of Darkness. Heed the words, for all are truth, of at least rumor. Many of these places I have seen. How, I shall not tell. Understand, and fear these places, as well you should.
1 — The Citadel, Tower of Darkness
The most imposing of all the places of Ardor, the Citadel itself consists of a single, eight-sided tower constructed of an unusual black stone (probably the same nearly indestructible stone of which the tower of Orthanc in Isengard was later built by the Numenoreans). Three hundred twenty feet in height, the tower is based on a small, rocky isle in the center of a 30 mile wide “C” shaped island, amply shielded from the curious and unwary.
It was built under Valmorgûls personal supervision; the huge blocks of stone magically mined, moved, and fused so that the slick faces of the Tower walls are as single unbroken planes, smooth as glass. Out on the ring- island are eight outposts which guard the perimeter from any intruder.
2 — Aurax-Dûr
(S: Deepwater Darkness) Element: Water; Suit of Helms.
A narrow inlet along the rocky southern shore of the Mûmakan leads to a sea-cave entrance in a cliff face. Within is a strange wonder of Middle- earth: Aurax-Dûr, the hold of Gorthaur, the Lord of Helms. Here lies a huge grotto, the floor of which is entirely water many feet in depth except for the very center where there juts a rocky outcrop. Upon this is constructed the castle proper. The entire cave is illuminated by many varieties of lichens which grow abundantly across the roof of the cave, casting an eerie blue-green light. Access to the castle is via a narrow causeway leading to the far end of the cavern, and through a long tunnel to the surface. There are also docks adjacent the causeway; for small sailing ships may pass through the sea entrance. Gorthaur is master here and guards his privacy with jealousy, only attending monthly Council meetings and performing his required functions.
3 — Taurang
(S: Iron Tree) Element: Water; Suit of Helms.
The citadel of Taurang was built in the period Y.S. 50 – 90, well before the founding of Ardor, under the supervision of Taurclax and his Aide
Khelekar, the Recorder. Smaller in sheer size and grandeur than most of the Holds of Ardor, yet strong behind walls of steel and stone, Taurang is also a meeting place of the Taurang Council: a cult of priests and mages who hold sway over the surrounding forests. Taurclax being a direct lieutenant of Morgoth, Taurang’s original purpose was two-fold: first to serve as a center from which spies could operate to observe the actions of the Eldar in the South during the early years, and second to act as a focus through which could be channeled Dark forces to thwart any powers of good that might arise. Some of the most terrifying manifestations of the latter are the “Winds”. Supposedly a ring of assassins, shrouded in mystery and misinformation, it has been suggested that the “Winds” are actually supernatural in nature. This is purely speculation, but would explain the curious fact that no description of any of the assassins exists. They leave only a strange black iron dagger-like weapon in their victim, and it is said that the first person to touch the weapon feels a chill wind. According to rumor, the “Winds” have never failed to eliminate their target.
4 — Naurlindol
(S: Mountain of Fiery Pools) Element: Fire; Suit of Staves
In the distant past when the Valar wrestled with Morgoth in the forming of Arda, the tormented earth erupted in volcanic explosions. It was one of these places still hot with flowing lava that Rilia, “The Sorceress”, chose to make her home. Situated in the hills west of Koronande, it is a complex of tunnels and halls of dark grandeur. Mourfuin the Lord Demon comes here as well, but it is the domain of the Mistress of Flame. It is believed that Rilia was among the Noldor who returned to Middle-earth to recover the Silmarils from Morgoth, but was instead seduced to his service. Her training in the early years was under the Lord of Sorcery, Valmorgul; but as she grew in power she sought ways of securing a place for herself. Granted leave by Morgoth to depart Thangorodrim and construct a citadel at a place of her choosing, she went far south knowing that the Master desired far-flung outposts through which to monitor the activities of the Eldar. It was only natural that she be chosen as one of the hierarchy of Ardor Then, in Y.S. 410 Sauron, Morgoth’s chief lieutenant, came to Naurlindol and spoke at length with its mistress. It seemed that the war against the Eldar was going well, but work on the purpose of Ardor was at a standstill. The master was not pleased, and his wrath would descend on Ardana and Morthaur if progress was not made soon. All this Sauron told Rilia, and he urged her to leave and serve him in Beleriand instead. She refused (not, certainly because of any allegiance to Ardana or the Court, but perhaps she was confident of an eventual success, and that she had become enamoured of her own powers and position in the Ardan Council), and bade Sauron depart. He did, reluctantly, resisting the temptation to simply force her to come; and destroy Naurlindol, thinking that perhaps it would have future use. At any rate, her actions were to spark the beginning of an intense rivalry between Sauron and the Court.
In T.A. 1120 Eldarion, acting for the Guild of Elements, entered Naurlindol and secured many secrets, but he was detected and caught on the way out by Rilia herself. To her surprise her spells were useless against the magician, as his staff was apparently cancelling all magical attacks. Mour- fuin, however, was able to subdue Eldarion by brute force, and wrest the staff from him. He was tortured but would reveal nothing of his intent or associations and Rilia, in a rage, ordered him slain and his body dumped, decapitated, on a Guild of Elements Pentagram platform. The staff was cursed with a word Etarkas and cast into a vault.
5 — Ithilkir
(S: Silver Mine) Element: Fire; Suit of Staves
One of the three mines of the Court of Ardor, it lies beneath the hills north of Tanturak, and is one of the very few mines of mithril known in the entirety of Middle-earth (Moria, the Dwarven city of Khazad-Dûm, is the greatest and only other commonly known mine of mithril). The mine was first opened in Y.S. 200, and placed under the supervision of Lesh-Y, the demonic master of Alchemy and one of the chief forgers of Morgoth. Not only mithril, but blue and clear laens, aluminum, and many other precious metals have been discovered many of which were utilized by Rilia to enhance the strength and sophistication of Naurlindol. Ithilkir itself was at first relatively crude and simple in design, but as the years saw greater riches uncovered, Lesh-Y sought to make it a place of strength and grandeur. It was well for his sake, for it was soon after Sauron made himself head of the Ardan Council that one of the Nazgûl (the Ringwraiths of Mor- dor) appeared at Ithilkir and demanded that Lesh-Y release lordship of the mines. Lesh-Y refused, and summoned Rilia and a force of demons from Naurlindol and together, utilizing the defenses of the citadel, they forced the wraith to depart. Sauron never spoke of it, and it can be safely assumed that Sauron chose to allow the incident to pass, rather than risk a disruptive rebellion forcing him to destroy most of the Court. Since that time Ithilkir has functioned quietly and efficiently under the Demon’s direction, growing ever more beautiful and secure.
6 — Tirgoroth
(S: Watch of Terror) Element: Air; Suit of Swords
Perhaps the most awesome of the holds in a purely visual attitude is Tirgoroth, the communications center of the Court. It is the domain of Valkrist, the Lord of Arms; and the Messenger makes his home here as well. By design a graceful palace of high walls and slender towers, it is perched upon the summit of a sheer peak jutting out of the waters of the Koros bay to an impossible height. Part of Tirgoroth’s mystique is, no doubt, the large cloud which hovers perpetually about the top of the peak, giving the impression that the castle is in fact floating on the cloud.
Only one entrance to the citadel is known for certain: the great drawbridge gate which opens onto thin air. Indeed, it serves only as a runway for the great grey falcons of Tirgoroth and their silver-and-blue clad riders. Another way is only rumored: the “ten thousand steps”, a spiral stair which runs from the bottom chambers, still thousands of feet above sea level, to deep below the sea floor, where a tunnel leads to the mainland. Whether this stair even exists is a matter of eternal speculation.
7 — Mirisgroth
(S: Delving of Jewels) Element: Air; Suit of Swords
Situated upon a rocky island in the center of a large, deep volcanic crater lake, Mirisgroth is a relatively small holding. But this is not all of the complex. Mirisgroth is actually an island within an island, in an extinct volcano which itself is an isle. Thus, the castle is surrounded by two concentric rings of sheer, jagged igneous peaks. The rings themselves are honeycombed with tunnels and halls, and the deep shafts which lead to the rich mines below. These mazes are such as to defy most any intruder.
Under the dominion of one known simply as “The Monk”, it is a mine of long history. Constructed and originally under the control of Drul Chaurka, one of the Chief servants of Morgoth long before the forming of Ardor, the Monk was the captain of the guard at the time. But, in Y.S. 220, Drul Chaurka left Mirisgroth without fanfare or notice as to when he would return. In fact, no one saw him leave save the Monk, who swiftly consolidated his position as acting Lord of Mirisgroth, so much so that, after the Court reconsolidated, the Monk was offered the second in command of the Suit of Swords, Mirisgroth being the secondary citadel. Foul play would be suspected of the Monk, but any such rumors were quickly squelched with the disappearance of his critics. It is also rumored that Mirisgroth is not only a rich jewel mine, but a source of green and red laens, as well as eogs and platinum (necessary for the making of mithrarian and kregora) and many other valuable metals.
8 — Angkirya
(Q: Iron Mine) Element: Earth; Suit of Orbs
Angkirya is a design of Dwarven origins, but was apparently long abandoned when it was discovered by Fëatur in the later years of the Two Trees. From that time on, this mine in the hills of southern Taaliraan was not worthy of mention, until Y.S. c. 200 when Fëatur chose it to be the location of the main citadel of the Suit of Orbs, and refined and expanded it to house the lords and ladies of that house. The mine itself yields black laen, veins of gold, amethyst, ruby, and black eog.
For many years Angkirya operated smoothly, until Y.S. 570, just eight days before the time of the Great Eclipse, and the Ritual. All of the Court was at Angkirya feasting in anticipation of their imminent success, when word came of the attack by the Luingon Alliance upon the outlying installations of the Citadel. In the ensuing confusion Morelen, Ardana’s daughter and key to the Ritual, vanished. Fëatur was not suspect, of course, as she was at the defense of the Citadel with the rest. The Eclipse passed, and the sun and moon remained aloft. Morgoth was of course, livid with rage, and made plans to destroy the entire Court. But he did not have the time he thought, for five years later the Valar came East and cast him into the Void again. Morelen reappeared at the Citadel in S.A. 1000 with no memory of the event of her disappearance, or her location in the interim. Since that time, Angkirya has continued to function as it had in the past.
9 — Menelcarca
(Q: Fang of the Heavens) Element: Earth; Suit of Orbs
A single tall spire resting upon the tallest peak in the Mûmakan, the Menelcarca is the ideal location for an observatory. It exists under the official dominion of Fëatur, but the Lord of the installation is Ardûval the Astrologer. Unlike many of the other holdings of the Court, Menelcarca has seen little in the way of violence, and has always been under Ardûval’s personal control. Also, few of the other members of the Court have ever been there, thus fostering an air of mystery about it even within the hierarchy. Its exact location is virtually unknown, since it is inaccessible by normal means. The very lack of information breeds fear; among the lesser servants of the Court it is a name of terror and Ardûval, despite his fair appearance and considerable charm, is held in fearful awe. It is rumored that the Menelcarca is so close to the Outer Void that Ardûval is able to converse with Morgoth Himself in his exile. These rumors are, of course, completely unfounded…”
Master Military Chart
Healing Herbs Chart
|Abaas||Green Leaf||Coastal Beaches||Crush/Eat||Heals (2−12)||1 gp|
|Fiis||Tree Resin||High Altitude Lakes||Dilute/Drink||Heals (1−5)||5 sp|
|Grarig||Red Shrub Leaf||Volcanic Isles||Crush/Boil/Drink||Heals (30)||15 gp|
|Mirenna||Silvery Berry||Vales above 10,000 feet||-/Chew||Heals (10)||12 gp|
|Rewk||Brown Nodule||Lowland Forests||Crush/Brew/Chew||Heals (2−20)||5 gp|
|Thurl||Brown Clove||Temperate Forests||Brew/Drink||Heals (1−4)||2 sp|
|Winclamit||Green Vine Fruit||Spruce Forests||Boil/Eat||Heals (3−300)||200 gp|
|Yavethalion||Golden Fruit||Westerly Isles||-/Eat||Heals (5−50)||60 gp|
|Carneyar||Red Flower||Jungle Vine||Boil/Drink||Heals (all hits; stops bleeding)||400 gp|
|Anserke||Shrub Root||Tropical Coasts||Make paste/Apply||Stops bleeding||150 gp|
|Harfy||Shrub Resin||Hilly Regions||Dry on Wound||Stops bleeding||200 gp|
|Vessin||Clam Extract||Tropic Coasts||Smear on Wound||Cures to 2nd degree burns in seconds, 3rd degree in one day||30 gp|
|Culkas||Succulent Leaf||Desert Hagrir Tree||Smear on Wound||Cures burns up to 3rd degree||50 gp|
|Jojojopo||Grey Leaves||Base of Glaciers||Dry on Wound||Cures Frostbite||30 gp|
|Hoak-Foer||Yellow Flower||Semi-Arid Hills||-/Eat||Hallucinogen which prevents movement but cures mental diseases and mind loss||10 gp|
|Gort||White Leaves||Tropical Plants||Powder/Inhale||Euphoria (1 hour); psychologically addictive||2 gp|
|Zulsendura||Mushroom||Dark Caverns||-/Eat||Haste (3 rounds)||20 gp|
|Fraw||Lichen||Hot Seashores||Boil/Drink||Restores bloodflow||80 gp|
|Ucason||Yellow Grass||Temperate Seashores||Burn/Inhale||Cures blindness||50 gp|
|Ul-Ucason||Golden Grass||Temperate Island Shores||Burn/Inhale||Restores eyes||250 gp|
|Degiik||Leaf||Tropical Forests||-/Chew||Lifekeeping (24 hours)||800 gp|
|Olvar||White Flower||Ice Bays (rare)||-/Chew||Lifekeeping (2−12 days)||2,000 gp|
|Oiolosse||Gold Clove||Cool Freshwater Lakes||-/Chew||Lifegiving for Elves||33,000 gp|
|Laurelin||Gold Leaf||Western Isles||-/Chew||Lifegiving||46,000 gp|
|Lestagii||White Crystal||Unknown||-/Chew||Restores one stat (only lost amount)||28,000 gp|
|Valanar||Blue-green Leaf||Warm Seashores||-/Chew||Antidote for Karfar*||1,000 gp|
|Menelar||Pine Cone||Northern Fir Forests||Crush/Boil/Drink||Antidote for Sharduvaak*||1,500 gp|
|Mook||Bronze Berry||Hilly Forests||-/Eat||Antidote for Jegga*||100 gp|
|Shen||Pink Leaf||Temperate Lakes||Dry/Eat||Antidote for Acanna*||2,000 gp|
|Arduvaar||Blue Powder||(Imported from East)||Dissolve/Drink||Universal antidote||5,000 gp|
|Naza||Red Leaf||Ice Plains||-/Chew||Neutralizes poisons||6,800 gp|
|Klandun||Fern Leaf||Tropical River Bottoms||-/Eat||Cures Thrayniis** and other forms of paralysis||300 gp|
|Klynyk||White Cream||Oyster Derivative||-/Smear on Skin||Removes hair for several days||5 gp/20 dosest|
|Tharm||Clear Oil||Kelp Extract, etc.||-/Smear on Skin||Protection from sunburn; aids in||5 bp/10 dosest|
Poisons of the Mûmakan
|Name||Color||Effect||Minimal Effect||Source||Form||(attack) Level|
|Ul-Acaana||Black||Kills Instantly||Coma (1 day)||Flower||Paste||60|
|Acaana||Black||Kills Instantly||Kills Slowly||Flower||Paste||15|
|Galenaana||Green||Kills Elves||Coma (1−3 Days)||Leaves||Powder||12|
|Vurnaana||Pink||2 – 200 hits||1 – 100 hits||Flower||Paste||20|
|Karfar||Red||Kills (2−12 rnds)||-||Leaves||Powder|
|Jegga||Brown||1 – 100 hits||-||Bat Venom||Liquid||50|
|Jeggarukh||Black||10 – 100 hits||5 – 50 hits||Bat Venom||Paste||30|
|Jitsu||Yellow||1 – 100 hits||5 – 50 hits||Clams||Liquid||20|
|Zaganzar||Blue||Blinds||2 – 20 hits||Root||Liquid||5|
|Carnegurth||Red||Blood Clots (death)||6 – 60 hits||Flower||Liquid||10|
|Kly||Brown||3 – 300 hits||1 – 100 hits||Berries||Paste||5|
|Thurviik||Pink||Sleep (3 hours)||-||Volcanic Caves||Gas||20|
|Umakilis||Red||Kills Instantly||Coma (1−10 Days)||Tree Frog||Liquid||Touch 10 — Bloodstream 60|
|Murtan||Yellow||Paralysis||Fever/Delerium (4 days)||Trees||Sap||10|
|Sarnumen||Blue||Nerve Disorder||-||Numen Eel||Liquid||30|
|Pentanoth||Clear||Coma (1−4 days)||Loss of will (6−12 hours)||Blue Kelp||Liquid||–40|
Miscellaneous Indigenous Beasts
|Animal Type||Avg. Lvl||Avg. Hits||At||Attack Patterns And Adds||Misc.|
|Ape||4||120||3(-15)||Large Grapple +50; Med. Bash +75||Arboreal Herbivores; 1 – 4 norm.|
|Grey Bear||5||170||4(-20)||Large Grapple +60; Large Claws +80; Med. Bash +40||Omnivores; 1 – 4 norm.|
|Great Cats||5||150||4(-25)||Large Claw +70; Large Bite +75||Carnivores; 1 – 20 norm.|
|Uvag-Aak (Apc)||6||140||3(-30)||Med. Bash +90; Large Grapple +65; Large Bite +50||Blood-drinking carnivores; 1 – 3 norm. Very rare.|
|Wargs||4||130||3(-20)||Large Bite +70||Carnivores; 1 – 50 norm. Rare.|
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