I started SW Spin Cycle almost a year ago and wanted to get back to it again. Today I want to discuss one of the cooler and larger fortresses found in the Court of Ardor: Mirisgroth. I remember when I first saw the drawing, the size and scope of the MERP/ICE products really struck home. This was something more than simple dungeon layouts on graph paper…it felt MONUMENTAL. Not only is Mirisgroth just cool (supposedly Fenlon used a similar fortress in one of his projects later?) but it can substitute for one of the Secrets of the Jerak Ahrenrath: the Ahrenraax in Thuul. I’ll admit that it might not be as good a match as some of the other Ardor fortresses to Shadow World, but to me it just feels right.
Here are the descriptions:
Mirisgroth from Court of Ardor:
Mirisgroth (S: “Mine of Jewels”)
A vast mining complex, Mirisgroth is basically a natural formation , a volcano which collapsed in upon itself not once. but twice in the distant past. Now dormant. it is two concentric rings of steep, jagged volcanic stone in the center of which, built upon a rocky spur, is a small hexagonal hold. Radiating out from the castle are six iron bridges which connect to the inner ring, and resume to join the inner ring to the outer. The rings of slag proper are laced with interconnecting tunnels and chambers, and deep mine shafts. For details of this area, see the plan diagram. The outer circle holds a garrison Of 1000 Orc miner/guards. In the inner circle resides a mixed population of 500 Human and Dwarven miner/guards. The entire facility is administered and supervised by Cambragol, ‘The Monk”, or Persuvious in his absence.
Ahrenraax from Powers of Light & Darkness:
The citadel of Ahrenraax (Ir.: “Secret Claw”) was located in the cool waters southwest of Emer. Stewardship of this volcanic island fortress was given to the Lord Ordainer Morloch (once known as Shúraax the Fire Claw, bodyguard of Kadæna).
In but a few decades Morloch had built Ahrenraax into an unsubtle palace of crude splendor. He marshaled forces and subjugated the northeast regions of Thuul by TEI 1204.
I think very little needs to be changed to utilize this fortress in your Shadow World campaign—assuming your players would even want to mess with the Secret Circle! I’ve utilized Morloch in my “Priest-King” module so I had some interest in fleshing this out on the off-chance my players actually wanted to infiltrate the fortress. A few items to consider:
- Althan Teleport System. Some of the Secrets built on Althan installations were connected via a Portal system (Bakuul Portals) that might be a convenient way to get the players into the fortress.
- The Fortress is overseen by Morloch—a powerful Ordainer Demon who was once bodyguard to Kaedena! As powerful as he is, he might also be a better arch-villian for the group than one of the members of the Circle. Morloch’s power is greatly reduced as his empire around Thuul has been absorbed by the encroaching Alliance.
- Crystal Shard. Each Secret has a splinter of the Crystal. Looking at the layout, this could be placed in # 36 in Court of Ardor:
Shrine. There is a 8′ long slab of granite set on a pedestal on a small altar at the far end of the room,. flanked by ever-burning fire-pits. The granite slab has a shallow trough running along the perimeter, and a slot at the foot of it for runoff to flow into a golden cup which sits just below. There are many dark stains on the slab. There are also four iron manacles, set into stone to hold wrists and ankles, On a narrow pedestal to one side lies a long dagger made of red laen. It, too, has stains on it . although laen does not usually stain. This is Cambragol’s altar to Morgoth, and he comes here secretly at times, bearing a sacrifice: usually a young Elven man or woman. Here he enacts a grisly ritual, and as a result is able to commune as a Cleric for the night. He can do this but once per month.
That sounds like it would work!
- This is a large fortress with a huge population of Lugroki (outer ring) and Thesian soldiers (inner ring). Like any large facility, it requires a constant stream of supplies and its mining operations continually export mined valuables. There are a lot of moving parts that should make it easy for the PC’s to gain access (if they disguise themselves) to the fortress proper but exceedingly more difficult to enter the inner parts. (I think of these fortresses as a James Bond villain fortress)