Picking up the pace as we near the end of this long, long journey, the next section up is the Geography of Oerth, and truth to tell this is one of my favorite sections.
Here we are treated to a dozen interesting / mysterious / adventure-worthy locations in the Flanaess. These aren’t full-blown adventures (those come in the next section of the book), but they give enough high-level information and specific detail that a dungeon master could develop any of them into an adventure that could take his PCs weeks if not longer to work through.
And that, I think, is the strength of this section. It doesn’t spoon-feed things to the DM, but rather sets up just enough detail to let the DM’s own imagination take over for the details. A few game mechanic suggestions are given at the end of each entry.
The dozen locales detailed include the following.
The Pinnacles of Azor’alq, located in the middle of the Drawmij Ocean. These are a series of cliff-like islands that rise suddenly out of the sea, filled with lost interior caves, and home to all manner of fantastic flying creatures such as dragons and phoenixes.
The Sea of Dust. Already known in very truncated form from the World of Greyhawk gazetteer, we learn a lot more about its nature and its inhabitants in this section, including likely places where surviving ruins of the ancient Suloise Imperium might be found. The details don’t mesh with Gary Gygax’s novel set in the same place (for obvious reasons), but it is still great information to have at the DM’s fingertips.
The Pits of Azak-Zil, located in the southeastern Abbor-Alz. Most of the description is left to the history of the site, which is a now-abandoned dwarven mine, at the site of a meteor impact. Some of that background doesn’t quite ring true (the Principality of Ulek is going to send an expedition all the way to the Abbor-Alz?), and I wish there was more concrete information about the undead-infested mines themselves.
Skellingshald, a plateau-city located in the Griff Mountains. Originally a Flan stronghold, now abandoned to its magical and mundane guardians, its inaccessibility is as great an obstacle to overcome as the kobolds and other creatures, and what treasure remains is of course cursed.
The Sinking Isle, located near the Sea Barons. As the name suggests, this mysterious island emerges from the sea at intervals, inviting those who happen to be in the area at the time to investigate. There are treasures to be had, but the whole is dangerous in the extreme, as the island can sink beneath the waves at any time. In addition, it is guarded by both sahuagin and kraken.
The Twisted Forest, located in the Drachengrabs. Not an actual forest at all, but rather a region of stone pillars that could well be described as humanoid instead of tree-like in shape. They are, in fact, the trapped remains of a variety of evil inhabitants who wandered into the area over the years, including some ancient Suel refugees. There is treasure, but also danger from the possibility of the trapped ones taking over the bodies of explorers.
The Burning Cliffs, located along the Icy Sea. This patch of naturally hot and fiery bitumen and flammable rock is not only dangerous in and of itself because of the intense heat and smoke that it spews forth, but is actually growing each year. At the heart of this place is apparently a gate to the Elemental Plane of Fire, making the fabled City of Brass accessible to those foolish enough to make the attempt.
Csipros Erd – The Geysers of Death, located in the northern Barrier Peaks. This is pretty straightforward; a region of geysers, poisonous gasses, and hot springs that make travel hazardous in the extreme, but sweetened by the presence of a treasure hoard belonging to humanoids driven out of the Lortmils during the Hateful Wars.
Tovag Baragu – The Stone Circles, located in the Dry Steppes. This is one feature that was actually given a fuller treatment in a later module; Vecna Lives! The whole thing is an artifact that acts as a time/planar travel system. Vecna later uses it in his attempt to achieve godhood.
Rigodruok – The Rainbow Vale, located in the Land of Black Ice. Sort of a riff on the idea of the Hollow Oerth, this is a warm and fertile bowl-shaped vale in the midst of the black ice, inhabited by humanoids, spiders, and cavemen, with plentiful diamonds.
Esmerin, located in the Lortmils. This is a happy and hidden valley, rich in gems and metals, wherein tallfellow halflings and giants live in harmony.
Turucambi, located in the Oljatt Sea near Hepmonaland. A maze of limestone and coral reefs and shoals, with many small islands. The maze of reefs under the surface is home to sea-races of all types, and the whole produces weird and unpredictable tides, geysers, and the whole filled with poisonous plants and animals. The presence of many rare and valuable corals makes the whole thing worth visiting, despite the dangers.
Next up: Adventures in Greyhawk